Sweden – Land of the Swedish

Swedish Fish[Warning: the following includes occasional swearing, and thus may be inappropriate for more sensitive readers; but fuck them, anyway.]

OK, here’s a low point for you, if you’re interested, and I sure as hell can’t think why anyone would be…

My stupid band, the Indelible Casuals (about whom Dave Wilson -not The Dave Wilson, but the other one -once said, “I’ve never seen three guys make so much noise for so long”) suddenly got it in our tiny heads that it would be a great idea to go on a tour of Sweden. Out of nowhere, we decide, yes, Sweden, fucking excellent. (And jesus, I just dotted an “e”… whaddaya know.)

Did we know anyone in Sweden, or have fans there, or had we released any records there, or interests there, or any hope of making any money whatsoever there, or any conceivable reason at all for going there apart from change of pace?

Nope.

One of our guitarists (we always carry an extra) had a friend over there who booked bands who thought he could book us enough gigs to do a short tour, a couple weeks maybe; thought he could get us $600 a week each, and for the Casuals, in October, that pretty much qualified as a windfall, so, presto! off we went.

Suffice it to say that we haven’t been anywhere together in about fifteen years and why the hell we would suddenly pick fucking Sweden -Sweden! -is just… utterly, majestically unfathomable, and all the more so exactly right now, as I write to you from -you guessed it, Sweden.

Not to mention that the members of the band, the actual Indelibles, don’t even like each other any more, necessarily. I mean, we’ve been working together for twenty-five years or so at this point (except for the one new guy, the rookie, who only joined about fifteen years ago but somehow got caught right up on the whole hatred thing we had going already almost right away through his natural god-given abilities.)

Ask anyone who has been in a band that long, and I’m sure they’ll be delighted to tell you how little they can stand their colleagues, but I defin… dif… oh fucking christ I just dotted the “e” in “definitely” so many times in a row I had to give up writing the word completely for a bit and come back after I composed myself.

I was trying to say that I can definitely stand my idiots less than anyone else can stand theirs, and I know this for sure, and I will fucking dot anything that moves, I am so certain.

So here’s what happened so far in this (goddam fucking) tour:

  1. First day, in the airport in Boston, I somehow fumble an exchange of my driver’s license with a security guard and lose it.
  2. Turns out we’re staying at a small hotel in a tiny town out in the middle of nowhere called Hofors, in the northern province of Gastrikland (and never was a theme park more accurately described) for the entire first week (I think we get to come back a bit in the second week, too!) Nice folks, good food, clean, basic accomodations. Two channels, both Swedish (a source of mild consternation toward the end of week one; not to say that we were ungrateful for the late-night re-runs of “Cagney & Lacey”, because, goodness knows, it’s nice to catch up, and who knew the Swedish were so crazy about “Cagney and Lacey”?)
  3. On arrival in Hofors, we are notified that our first gig has been cancelled. To make up for it, the promoter books a second night later in the week at a club we were already playing in Sandviken, about thirty miles away; which sounds reasonable, until we actually play there.

Sure enough, it’s a disco. There’s ten people there, and they actually like disco music! After our first (way too loud) set, the swarthy middle-eastern owner very courteously offers us the opportunity to play way less than originally agreed upon, and we are delighted to comply. (Unfortunately not quite lost in the “crowd” is a burly, drunken, bearded fellow who keeps trying to hug us, and a woman with spiky blond hair who doesn’t speak enough english to be understood but who will not stop trying, even in the midst of our neo-modern entertainment presentation when we really should be trying to do our, uh, show. She wants to be our manager; she wants to cook us dinner; she’s down to her last couple of brain cells and she wants us to have them.) There’s incredibly loud disco music; there’s smoke; we leave as fast as we can.

We don’t draw quite as well the second night, so we only have to play one set. It’s a corker. As we pack up, the spiky blond pointedly ignores us, perhaps feeling snubbed from the night before; but, luckily, the burly guy is back for more hugs (obviously not feeling at all snubbed from the night before); and the club’s d.j. is snickering at us with a couple of friends. Do you know what’s lower than being snickered at by a d.j.? Me neither. Very possibly fucking nothing. Unless it’s having one of your guitar players then dissect your performance on the drive back to Hofors. Yup… that sucks.

Got home, though, got through it just fine (after all, we’re men.) Got home to smoke the last few particles of the World’s Smallest Piece of Hash, Part 2 (we had dealt with the World’s Smallest Piece of Hash Part 1 at exactly the same time the night before.)

After the boys returned to their rooms, I noticed that the W.S.P.H. has made me feel more buoyant and zesty than usual, so I start going over a new song I had started on the night before on the acoustic guitar the promoter had graciously loaned me, eventually getting to the point where I think it might be a good idea to record a quick demo version on my old nemesis, a portable Sony DAT recorder (a total piece of garbage, by the way, as most DATS are, but worse. I’d love to smash it to a thousand pieces. It’s a Sony TCD-D100 -don’t ever buy one unless you’re a big fan of being endlessly fucking irritated.)

So I very considerately head out to the foyer of the lobby of the hotel, a place I have already established will be entirely deserted at this not particularly late hour, where I can make a small amount of noise without bothering anyone, and once I get down there and get a chair in position I notice that I have cunningly left my guitar back in my room, so I trudge back up there, only to find that I have also left my key in my (fucking) room. I already know there’s no one on duty, no office open, and no one around at all. It’s clear that I’m screwed.

So, great, I have to wake up one of the other assholes to get them to move whatever unmentionable detritus/old food/extensive semi-edible souvenirs of a fun-filled week in Hofors off their fucking couch so I can fail to sleep there.

On the way back up the stairs (after a quick, hopeless double-checking of the lobby for the missing key), I reflect on my candidates for New Best Friend: a deaf guy, our drummer, who probably won’t hear me; a guy who can always sleep through anything (guitarist #1); and Roger Ebert Jr (guitarist #2), who had so recently delivered the post mortem.

I pick the deaf guy, who, sure enough, doesn’t answer, so I spend the night on the wicker couch in the lobby, but only after writing this whole sordid tale with a pen tightly attached to a gigantic paperweight -the only writing utensil I could find.

God, I love show business!

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