Tour diary “Reflective Dimensions”

October 16th 2018 | 1’30am: Three hours until the nightliner that will pick me up for the Reflective Dimensions tour is supposed to arrive. Finished all packing just three hours ago. Usually I am even more last minute than this, I am almost proud of myself. Boxes in the stairway, half a “forest to go” on the terrace.

Reflective Dimensions Tour with Agrypnie, Totalselfhatred, Arroganz & Aspagor

And the “magic suitcase”, a small suitcase with all kinds of items that one could need to improvise at an exhibition, from cable tie, knife & scissors to ducktape, glue & rope. It sounds actually like the contents of a kill bag and makes me wonder what the Swiss border patrol might have to say to it, they always liked to search through my stuff when I visited in the past. In my defense, the suitcase also contains a sketchbook, pens and pencils and some business cards. I’d be a bad killer if I leave the later behind. My personal luggage is minimized, I always prefer to travel light. Just a small backpack with most necessary clothes only, a notebook bag and a very small handbag that is actually my sponge bag. Sponge bag is a funny word by the way, the German word is “Kulturtasche”, translating to “culture bag”, which is funny as well. Culture definded by items to keep yourself clean. Obviously all the Brits need for this is a sponge.

After a short attempt of sleep I am discarding the idea, after all, none of my tour mates of the coming days is asleep now, the show is on the road already, kicking Dresden tonight, so why not jump into schedule right now. I have never slept in a bus before, so I am very curious about this experience. It will also be strange to be so close to a bunch of other humans for some days, none of them I have met in person so far. My imagination of a bus bathroom makes me cringe a bit, but I am comforting myself with the thought that a nightliner is not a public transport bus, I am totally convinced this will be great.

[Actually, this is were the tour diary ends already, before the tour even started. Everything else I have written a few days after the tour, back home. I simply missed the time on the road to keep up with my writing schedule…]

October 25th: Last Sunday afternoon I returned from a wild ride, the Reflective Dimensions Tour organized by QUANTHEON Touring. If you ever visited a show organized by them, you know these shows are quite different form the ususal gigs, with a very special flair, decoration and art attached.

Tourphoto in front of Club From Hell / Erfurt

I joined the tour the night before the Erfurt gig and entered the nightliner at 5am. It’s a strange feeling to start touring like this, when everyone is living in the bus since days already and you actually don’t know anyone personally, some internet contacts aside. Someone with a Scandinavian accent offered me wine upon entry, but I declined and went to bed, which felt like climbing into a shoebox. Luckily I am a small person, so I could stretch myself completely in it. Surprisingly I also got at least a bit of sleep before Erfurt. As most people were sleeping already when I entered the bus, apart from the two winedrinkers and the tour management, I got to meet the whole horde the next day, when we all woke up in Erfurt. But it was a good welcome and everyone made it easy for me to be “the tour newbie”. Special thanks to the frontman of Asphagor, who was the first one to talk to me and offered me a seat after I woke up.

At Viper Room / Vienna.

My initial plan to write a tour diary was quickly abandoned. After two days I found myself responsible for the decoration part of the events, because we lost a tour member in Vienna. It turned out to be a lot of fun and everyone was content with my work, even me. The killbag came in handy for the job, too.

Usually, we arrived at some place to do immediate loading. I almost never left my bed much earlier, because sleep (or, if impossible, at least rest) is one of the three things I need on the road. The other two ones are food & beer and an occassional shower. Apart from that it makes me happy to have people with a brain around, even that wish was granted on this tour. From interesting to inspiring I have met a few great persons who I hope to see again some day.

When you wake up in a different location every day, the details quickly become blurry without notes, so I will not write about every event in epic lenght. I remember one night, after a gig, I only woke up half, with one foot still in a dream. I had no idea where I was, in which direction we were going or what had happened. I had to wake up completely to realize that I was in a nightliner with more than 20 people closely around. By the way, the bathroom of the bus stayed a place that I avoided as much as possible. It was not dirty like the ones in a public transport of course, nevertheless I did not feel comfortable squeezed into the plastic box while the bus was moving around.

While on the road, I got a message from home, telling me that when I return, I should make sure the nightliner will turn off its engine. Obviously my leave had awaken all the neighbourhood and there were some complaints. Dear (former) neighbourhood, I am very sorry I have disturbed you one time, after I have been silent about you mowing your lawn early mornings when I still sleep after a long work night, or doing construction work. One and a half years I swallowed down every complaint I could have had. But let me tell you one thing that I have learned from our very nice bus driver W. You can’t just turn the engine off in a nightliner at any given point of time. Because if you do, that thing might not start up again and would block your road for half an eternity. Did you ever leave your radio on in a car, or the lights, and wondered later, why your car won’t start? Well. A nightliner hosts more than 20 people, air condition, lights, electricity outlets. Do the math! Luckily I came home with a small private bus during daytime.

My special highlight location was definetely Stuttgart (Club Zentral), space, showers & the immensely good catering were perfect. And a friend who came to the show bringing some special beers for me made it even better. And thanks for helping me pack up in the end T., this way we had time to find out what a nightliner’s bar has to offer when all beers are gone. The evening was intense in many ways, including a breakdown in a street of someone who obviously should not smoke… things. But hey, no details, some things that happen on tour, stay on tour. But every location had something special or a special visitor, in Vienna I met my old friend Gerhard of Allerseelen, even if the visit was brief, it was good to see you again old mate! We also stopped in Innsbruck and Olten, the last location of the tour being a vast hall and a paradise for decoration. Not so much a paradise of catering though. It was the first night I went to bed very hungry and ate all my nut supply while half asleep already, that I had kept for exactly such a case. Oh, and before I forget, thank you staff of the Erfurt location From Hell for the nice extra drinks and for the attempt, to take me into town late at night for more, I would have followed your invite, but I had a date with a nightliner already.

All in all, I had a blast touring with this wild horde. It was a lot of work, yes, often under time pressure, but who knows me also knows that I like challenges. And there did not pass one day without special moments of happiness to be a part of this production. Musically, I liked all the bands a lot, I didn’t even get tired of watching the same shows (they are never really the same though) more than once. Totalselfhatred was a complete surprise for me, I didn’t know the band before the tour, I watched ALL their shows from beginning to end, because they are just so fukking good. Their music has become a work soundtrack of many nights since then.

Many many thanks to everyone involved to make this happen. Specially to Diana & Chris from QUANTHEON Touring who organized the whole thing. I’d share a bus with you again any time! And many thanks to Arroganz, for driving me home in the end.

 

 

Disneyland can wait

(This true story is based on the original text from October 2014, that I had written in German language. With the translation I also added some details that got lost in the first version.)

disneyland

One of the countless displays within the hotel

I met quite some people in my life who would be delighted to go to Disneyland, but be assured I have never been one of them. Theme parks, amusement parks, all that sounds like a nightmare to me. I would probably get drunk, beat up Mickey and end up peeing into some fountain. But as we know, the universe loves irony.

In October 2014 I spent some time in Portugal (again) and on my way home, I had to catch my connecting flight to Leipzig in Paris. My flight in Lisboa left in the morning already and I arrived in Paris before noon, but it made no sense to leave the airport, so I waited bravely for a few hours for my connection. When the flight was finally ready for boarding, the responsible airline decided out of the blue rather not to fly. Without any informations, the flight was cancelled. For hours the airline company chased the passengers from one counter to another, it was spoken about alternative flights to leave Paris, but in the end it turned out that none of the passengers would fly anywhere that night. The fight about the morning flights started amongst the passengers, the first airplane flying out did not have enough seats to take all. I managed to get promised a seat, because I told the woman behind the desk, that my cats were home alone. Which was true, my cat sitter had left my place in the morning and had no time to return.

It was after midnight already, close to 1am, when finally someone gave every passenger a hotel voucher. We were told that whole Paris was booked already, and a bus took us on a quite long ride, spiting us out in front of a huge Disney Resort Hotel. The reception was closed already, bar and restaurant as well. Two people were called to check us in. I asked for something to drink and some food, I got a small papercup with water and some candy instead. And a keycard to a room that I wasn’t able to find for quite some time because the place was huge.

It was so late at night and the bus for the morning flight was going to leave at 5am, so I decided not to go to bed at all. Instead I took a long shower, to find out that my only clean t-shirt was a bandshirt of NON/Boyd Rice. How naive I was, when I bought it and thought that DISNEYLAND CAN WAIT (1). After the shower, I went exploring.

The whole place seemed to be made out of plastic. Completely air-conditioned, the windows would not even open. Huge glass displays filled with Disney figurines everywhere. I started to feel trapped and went outside, passing by a vending machine with water and more candy. I had no small cash and starred longingly at the overpriced small Vittel bottles. I did not dare to drink water from my bathroom, not in plasticland. Who knows, maybe I showered with recycled urine of other hotel guests. With candy flavour. In a place like this, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out. The reception was closed again, of course, no one to change some money.

I had a few crumbs of tobacco left, which I forced into some paper, to pretend to be a cigarette. Smoking, wandering around, I was quickly caught by two security guards. One huge black guy and a tall skinny white fellow, both in uniforms.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? – What does it look like, I am obviously smoking! The guards seemed to have problems to process this information. It seems no one ever smokes at night in Disneyland. Next they asked me, almost with an impending voice, do you have a problem!? – Well yes, actually I do have a problem. I need food, a strong drink and now also obviously tobacco. Both of them looked at me with regret and shook their heads. I raised my eyebrow and replied: Well then, Disneyland clearly sucks!

*squeal* WHAT???? NO!!!! You are going to see Disneyland tomorrow, how can you say that? (The big black fellow suddenly spoke in a very high voice) – I HOPE NOT, with some luck I am out of here before dawn. – BUT, but, you’re a girl! Every girl loves Disney!!! *squeal*

Did those guys look at me? I came from the forests & mountains of Portugal, and although I had showered, my fresh shirt did not really smell fresh after mingling with my dirty clothes a long hot day in Paris. I wore army boots, an army jacket and I roll my cigarettes myself. All in all, that doesn’t sound very girlie to me. Also, I am not 12 years old. A few minutes earlier they seemed to want to arrest me, to  squeal like happy cartoon pigs a minute later, every time they say Disney. The big black one with the more badly-fitted uniform even jumped into the air a bit when squealing DISNEY! DISNEY! DISNEY! *jump-jump-jump* I was not really sure if I wanted to listen to the song “People”(2) or “All Pigs Must Die”(3) first.

I wish the story would stop at this point. But it didn’t. I booked Etihad, I paid the price. Lesson learned. In the morning, the bus brought me back to the airport. The airplane did fly. Just not to Leipzig. I landed in Berlin instead and the airline company did not really feel responsible to get me to Leipzig, my booked destination. Most passengers gave up and took the train or bus on their own cost. But I was not willing to pay for that transfer. No one fukks around with me when I am that hungry and tired. To make a long story short, I ended up traveling in a bus with an Indian travel group, who did fly in from Paris as well, and needed transfer to Leipzig. I functioned as their translater and with a group that big behind me, no one ignored me at the airport anymore. The old German bus driver was very happy about my presence, because he spoke no English and all the continiously babbling Indian students seemed to scare the shit out of him. He has never been to a Disney Resort Hotel I guess.

All in all, I arrived home almost 20 hours after my planned arrival. The cats were fine, but very very hungry. Disneyland waited in vain.

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(1)

(2) Boyd Rice: People (album: Music, Martinis & Misanthropy)
(3) Death In June: All Pigs Must Die (album: All Pigs Must Die)

Leger des Heils Installation | Release “Imperium”

I have mentioned this work before in my old Archives, but today I will write a bit more from “behind the scenes”. I created this piece(s) in the second half of last year, after Mario, the man behind the musical project Leger des Heils had contacted me, to ask me for some visual works for his album release “Imperium”. I could not be happier with this request, because I have known and liked Mario’s music for many years and before he asked, I had no idea that he had followed my work as well for quite some time.

While the previous releases all have a more bright approach in design, Mario was looking for something more dark to illustrate his musical works. He came to the right place. Although I have created some pretty bright things myself, it is still the darker side of art & design that I enjoy creating the most.

He gave me the (at that point unreleased and of course top secret) tracks of the album, as a soundtrack to work to. I loved the album immediately. Because I was going to create something entirely new for the album art, I decided to do it on a larger scale. The result is this installation, each piece measuring 40x40cm. These images are not paintings, but digital collages based on photographies. Every piece has been printed once and I mounted it on medium density fibreboard and sealed it with various layers. It is still possible to frame them additionally, but not necessary. The whole installation measures 120x80cm plus a few tolerance cm between the images.

While working in the area of media design, it sometimes is more of a service work than a collaboration. But in this case it was very different. It was a true collaboration and certainly not our last artistic project together. When it came to picking the covers for the cd release and the record (they are not identical), we immediately picked the same pieces.

Ususally, when I reveal art to a client, I am a bit nervous, will he really like it, or not? But I remember the evening before I revealed the final works to Mario, a friend was writing to me, to wish me good luck for the viewing. My spontaneous answer was, I do not need luck, I know he is going to love it. And I knew I was right, when I saw his face the next day, looking at the artworks. Thank you very much, Mario, it was an absolute pleasure to work with you!

I had various requests to sell just one or two images from this installation, but I am not willing to take the pieces apart from each other. It would destroy the installation forever. The six pieces were created to stay together in the special order they are displayed in. It’s either all of them or none. (Price on request)

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Leger des Heils: Imperium

“Five years after their latest opus Leger des Heils return with their new album “Imperium“, their most intense and personal work to date. “Imperium” contains ten songs of ritual poetry, fragility and enlightenment, which cast a glimpse in to the spiritual life of Leger des Heils. It’s an album of hymnal music, designated to the guardian of light. The artwork created by Laetitia Mantis, high priestess of magical art, is woven into the concept as a perfect visual supplement to the music while the album was mastered by Michael Powers (Area Bombardment).” (Text from the official release announcement)

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