So, early morning I take a taxi to the Arlanda airport outside of Stockholm. This is where our adventure begins. The main characters are all the members of The Hives, Management Cyndy, Soundman Dave, Tour manager Zok, Instrument Technicians Svala and Fredrik (yes this job used to be called "roadie" but the union has declared it politically incorrect), Lighting Engineer 'The Kid' and a couple hundred thousand Central European Rockers.
We board an airplane for Budapest where we will play at the Sziget festival. We have done this before and we are very excited as the festival has always been good to us. My seat on the airplane is - as always - closest to the engine to ensure a really loud noise for the duration of the flight. The curve of the airplane body means that my ass is positioned way out to one side of my legs, this to ensure a multitude of back problems the following day.
We get to the hotel in central Budapest and after spending a few hours at the hotel head off to the festival (god I miss The Hellacopters). At the festival we realize it is exactly the same line up at the beginning of the day as it was late in the night at a festival in Fagersta in 91 or 92 called Bergslagsrocken. Toy Dolls and Gwar! Wow! The food is REGAL at this festival. Fancy wines and lots of courses and the like, a total 5 star kind of deal altogether. We hang out for a bit and eat some glorious whitefish salad that management Cyndy has brought from New York. After all this I feel it is necessary to quickly hammer a couple quadruple espressos in order to get my shit in gear for the show. This drives me absolutely crazy, and the first half of the show I feel like everything is slow motion and at a slight angle all the time. I do the first 60 minutes completely without inhaling which means the last 15 are really hard. The crowd is very appreciative of the blur of action that only that particle accelerator in Cern or The Hives after a week off can muster.
After our show everybody we talk to says it was the best thing they´ve seen. Some people may say other things, but I can’t really focus on their voices for some reason. I see lips moving but hear no sound. Maybe because it was loud on stage and in front of the stage. I have never met a guitar amp or a drum that damaged my hearing. It is all down to our lovely crowds and less-lovely airplanes.
We hang out for a bit and eat and drink and have a good time (as we always do) until Chris spots some hooligans in our midst. It seems that two young lads have gone astray from their path to the stage and instead ended up in our beverage cart in OUR dressing room. They assure us it is ok since their dad is in another band, but we can’t help but think that Daddy shouldn’t have let them become dropouts of “Mrs. Wannabee’s Academy For Manners”. Thoughts of sending them crying to Papa cross our minds, but instead Vigilante settles on flinging some delicious tiramisu in their faces and we Head Off (Hellacopters man).
The next day is a day off in Budapest. Me, The Vig and soundman Dave head to the market to check it out. Beautiful architecture here in Budapest. It is one of few European cities never destroyed by war. It feels like a cross between Italy, Russia and Turkey because that's where you are. At the market we eat the local speciality LANGOS. Langos will be familiar to everyone who is a regular visitor to Northern European rock festivals. It is very good drunk food since it is basically fried potato dough with sour cream and cheese and onion. You can get other toppings too but that’s what we settle on. (Good gawd I want one as I am writing this). Ít is a hot day. After Vigilante buys a flick knife and some fruit we head out the door and decide to cross the bridge to the cool art nouveau bath house. We hang out here for a few hours dipping in and out of pools and drink a beer or two. After this we head up to the castle area in a cable car. It is really nice up there. We try our hand at some archery and have a beer or two. We go to the Heroes Square in town and have a few beers. We meet up with the others and listen to their stories of the day at an italian restaurant and have a few beers.
The next morning we fly very early to Frankfurt airport where unfortunatly our favourite falafel place has closed and made room for a McDonalds or some shit like that. I´m not lovin' it.
We are scheduled to play the Rocco Del Schlacko festival - a 3 hour drive from the airport. It is set in the woods. We see lots of weird insects. We watch Gaslight Anthem, Shout Out louds and Bad Religion play. All of whom do a fulfilling job. Vigilante and Chris go to the free hair cut truck. Some festivals will have hairdressers or masseuses who wanna hang out and see the bands and in exchange give their services to the bands for free. Well Vigilante discovered too late that there is no such thing as free lunch when the first thing the guy does is shave a line straight through his scalp. He looks something like a USMC dude or Walter from Big Lebowski. He decides against removing his beret during the show.
We play last and it is a pretty great show as I recall. Something tells me I was mad at something but I can’t remember what it was. We all then pile into a shower trailer in the woods where there are 6 showers but only hot water enough for one.
The next day we wake up in Eschwege. It is a beautiful historical town, a river runs through it (2 euro to whomever says the name of the author first). We have a lot of spare time this day so Nicholaus finds out that there is a lake nearby so most of us go there to lounge in the grass, swim in the lake and discuss our forthcoming album.
Gaslight Anthem and Against me play. Such nice people! It should always be this fun to hang out at festivals! We also play and spend the remainder of the evening wrestling with our crew on some kind of inflatable banana island in the catering area and drinking great local german beer. At the end of the night our mega solid equipment truck driver Ove tells us he always has a bike we can use in his trailer. What a guy! A lot of times at a festival you wish you had a bike.
The next day is Sunday and it is raining like hell in Rothenburg ob der Tauber at the Taubertal festival. No fun, no fun at all. We played here two years ago with our good friend Moneybrother. That was fun. Rothenburg is an even more beautiful historical village. Because of the rain however we chicken out and just check it out online instead. The entire day is spent hanging out at the catering area or in the dressing room, chatting to Gaslight Anthem, watching bands play etc.
I have now written so much that I was just trying to get out of this last day by starting a sentence with "The entire day is spent"... It feels cheap. I will do better.
This place is in a really cool forest. You know the kind that just feels like a ceiling. Long trunks and then a thick crown of leaves. I believe these are elm trees. My last name means branch of the elm in Swedish. True. I feel a kinship with these woods like I am a fantasy author. We mostly just hang out with Gaslight Anthem cause they are such great people. My body hurts. Playing on a Sunday is weird. Everybody knows the festival is almost over. When we get up on stage the audience presents us with a beautiful castle! Thank you! You shouldn't have! When do we move in? There is a slope towards the center of the center of the crowd and people dancing are sliding all over the place and it looks a little like Woodstock. I have some form of happy angry feeling inside during the show. That’s usually a good thing. Afterwards the Prodigy play. Again. They always do at some point in the summer and you know it because you´ll be sitting in the dressing room and everything will go "BOOOOM!!!-ticktiticktiticktitick-BOOOOOM!!!-ticktiticktiticktitick" constantly for an hour and a half. We do that thing where the big band invites the smaller band into their dressing room for drinks minus the vanilla scent and weird teas that the big band usually has. We don’t have any of that stuff. I tell stories about Desmond Child and Bon Jovi so loud that people think I am crazy, Cyndy thinks somebody puts something in her drink and Nicholaus is unsuccessful in explaining to the bass player in Lagwagon exactly how much he loves his playing on the intro to "Betrayed" his old band Rich Kids On LSDs song.
Home again after a happy rock'n roll spree that covered the Hungarian capital Budapest as well as some hit and runs into Germany. The Hives were as always at the top of their game and as bonus we got to see and meet some great bands like Gaslight Anthem and Peaches etc.
I think Pelle might have a full version coming on the topic.
Check this out for Taubertal gig. Zero boys song and we are fucking up the lyrics a bit I think but Pelle has some invaluable info at the start of the song. Real truth!!! The mic can't handle the heat either...