The Container Drivers
Perverted by Mark E promo tour of South Germany & Switzerland, September 2004
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Darmstadt 8 September 2004
My day began at 5:30 (urgh!). I caught a flight down to Stansted and then another to Hahn. A lengthy bus ride took me to Frankfurt, where a shorter train journey brought me to Darmstadt, once I'd worked out how to use the ticket machine. I arrived at Woog Riots HQ (Marc's flat) at about 5 pm, German time. On Wednesday night the Woog Riots had a rehearsal and we played the Container Drivers songs for the tour as well. We ran through the two new ones, "Run" and "They Found It Buried in the Ice". Tour mates Knarf Rellom and DJ Patex from Hamburg arrived later. Due to work commitments, Mathias, the Woogs' bassist was unable to play in Munich on Thursday night, so Knarf and Patex said that they'd share bass duties for the gig. So after I'd finished rehearsing, I had to wait while they ran through seemingly endless takes of the songs in the Woog Riots set. They also rehearsed The Fall's "Cruiser's Creek", which Knarf intended to play on the tour. I was shattered after the early start I'd had, and after a couple of beers I dozed off on the settee in the rehearsal space's common room. They finally finished around 1 am! It was straight to bed for me.
Munich 9 September 2004
The Woog Riots The Woog Riots Crashing Dreams    
Silvana had invited Marc and myself to her flat for breakfast, which is where Knarf and Patex were staying. We sat in the sunny garden at the back of the house. Knarf decided to liven things up by throwing a ball to me. A game ensued which was only stopped when he accidentally managed to land the ball in the middle of the breakfast table, sending crockery flying. Oops. We set off for Munich in the afternoon after picking up two more of the Woogs, Ali and Rainer. Nearly 5 hours later, we arrived in Munich. The venue, Harry Klein, was located in what seemed to be a ghetto area of clubs and discos. We met the Crashing Dreams (ie the Steinbach twins) inside. They are the pair who back Barbara Manning as the Go-Luckys. They were supplemented on the tour by a petite girl called Tebe on bass, who was very cute. Knarf's mate Phil Hayes from Zurich turned up, to play drums with Knarf and Patex. He also did the lead vocal on Knarf's "How I Wrote Mark E Smith", something he replicated on the tour. Phil came from Brighton originally, but now lives in Switzerland. Nice bloke too! It was good to have a native English speaker to chat with at times. The Woog Riots played first, then it was my turn to join them, transforming them into the Container Drivers. We played "Searching for the Skylon", "The Girl on the Bus", "Run", "They Found it Buried in the Ice" and "The Ex-Members of The Fall Club". "Run", a new song, was a bit ropey, I thought, and I wasn't happy with my vocals, so I dropped it for the next two nights. "They Found it Buried in the Ice", the other new song premiered on the tour, sounded very good however. At the rehearsal the previous night, Knarf had said that cowbell would sound good throughout the song (it's used at the start of the demo version), so he improvised in Munich using a champagne bucket he grabbed from the bar! Knarf was on next, with Crashing Dreams closing the gig with their instrumental indie rock. Somewhere in between, various band members teamed up and I sang a cover of The Fall's "The Container Drivers", with Phil on drums, Marc from the Woogs on guitar and Knarf on bass. The Container Drivers sing The Container Drivers! It had to be done. Knarf also did a cover of the Fall's "Cruiser's Creek", with the Woogs backing him, singing in German. He translated the title as "Kreuzwald Ost"... Silvana and myself also presented Jeffrey Lewis's "Story of The Fall" slideshow again, as we had done on the previous tour. After the gig, the Woogs and myself stayed in a tiny flat which I think belonged to the club promoter. It was a bachelor pad alright - ONE room with a tall ceiling, with a toilet and shower in a boxed-off corner and a wooden ledge sticking out halfway up the wall with a double bed on it. It was alright though, I got a proper bed, while Ali and Rainer had mattresses on the floor!
Stuttgart 10 September 2004
Knarf Rellöm and DJ Patex The Woog Riots Mathias meets the fans    
We went out to find some breakfast, then went for a walk around Munich city centre. The weather was glorious - never mind the dismal English weather, at least I saw some sun this summer. We popped into the famous oompah pub there (the Hofbräuhaus), just so I could say that I'd seen it. I joked that I thought every German pub was like this... Then it was off to Stuttgart; another long drive. The venue in Stuttgart (the Tea Room) was a glass-fronted bar on the corner of a row of shops, with flats above. It was quite a small venue, but fun to play there. The stage was rather small and in a corner by the windows, so people walking past could see the back of you. Mathias rejoined the Woog Riots for this gig. After soundchecking, we went out to find something to eat. I decided to try the legendary currywurst. Hmm. Well, at least I know what it's like now... There was a curfew of 11 that night for the live music because of the flats above. Unfortunately, some people I spoke to had arrived late and missed some of the bands. Crashing Dreams played first, then me, then Knarf Rellöm, then the Woog Riots. It was a good night, with an appreciative crowd. That night, Rainer the Woogs drummer played "Skylon" a lot faster than the night before - but it sounded great! So we kept it like that. I think the Container Drivers set got faster and wilder every night. Great! The Woog Riots played "Babuna Honig" that night, a song on which Silvana plays a saw with a violin bow. I never knew what made that sound until then. I joined Knarf, Phil and Marc again for a cover of "Container Drivers", and then joined Knarf on stage for "Cruiser's Creek". He sang the first half in German, then I took over. Excellent stuff. Using members of the Woog Riots, Knarf and Patex also played a cover of the Tocotronic track from "Perverted by Mark E" ("Ich habe gerträumt, ich wäre Pizza essen mit Mark E Smith"). When the live music stopped, Mathias from the Woogs put on his DJ hat and spun some records. I talked to quite a few people after the gig, including some bloke with impressive knowledge of Manchester and its bands. At the end of the night we stayed at the roomy flat of a friend of the Woog Riots. We stopped for some beer on the way there, and had an amusing encounter with a couple trying to push a broken-down car... It was 4 am when we crawled to bed.
Zurich 11 September 2004
The Woog Riots The Container Drivers The Container Drivers The Container Drivers Knarf Rellöm, DJ Patex with Phil Hayes
After breakfast we made our way to Switzerland. Another long drive of several hours. We got through customs ok and found the picturesque city of Zurich eventually. We avoided the autobahn because you need a permit in Switzerland to drive on it. The venue (the Helsinki Klub) was a converted garage! Very good atmosphere though. After the soundcheck a group of us went off to have a swim in a lake. The Woogs, Knarf and Patex swam, with the Crashing Dreams and myself spectating. We particularly admired Mathias's Union Jack underpants! After this we went off and had a good meal in a restaurant. When we got back to the venue me, Knarf, Marc, Phil and Mathias rehearsed "Victoria" outside, which took a while to get right. The Woog Riots played first again, then it was my turn to join them. "They Found it Buried in the Ice" sounded damn good. Knarf banged a tray for percussion during this song. "The Ex-Members of The Fall Club" sounded thrashy and (totally) wired that night. Phew! There was great crowd in the club as well, which made a big difference. I returned to the stage later to sing covers of "Container Drivers", "Victoria" and "Cruiser's Creek" (the latter at the end of Knarf's slot). That was damn good; Knarf started singing in German, then handed over to me. But the English lyrics had gone missing! So I half-remembered some of the words and improvised the rest. Who would know? At the end of the song, Knarf came back in on vocals and we, erm, rocked out together. The song ended with me rambling "Cruiser's Creek... Cruiser's Creek..." on the megaphone while the crowd cheered. The highlight of the tour for me! Crashing Dreams played last. They were very good that night. The audience loved it and the instrumentals seemed to make perfect sense. Excellent stuff. It was my favourite gig of the three. I had a chat with a few people after the gig, including a couple from Litchenstein (hello Arno!). We stayed the night at the flat of the guy who ran the club (Tom), who had kindly given us the run of the place. I went to bed happy, but also sad that this was the last gig.
Darmstadt again 12 September 2004
We all met up in a cafe for breakfast. We had some traditional Swiss dishes, including oatmeal mixed with yoghurt and fruit, and a kind of potato pancake (rosti, I think). Then we divided up the money. The tour made a profit, so everyone came away with something. Yippee! Then we posed for photos before swapping CDs and email addresses and saying goodbye to each other. The long drive back to Darmstadt... at the customs post, some officious Swiss bloke stuck his head in the car and barked a question at me ("anything to declare", probably). Since my grasp of the German language extends as far as saying "where is the airport?" and "the bill, please" I didn't have a clue what he was saying. So I just looked at him stupidly and hoped that he'd go away (as usual). So he asked the question again, a little more urgently. Erm? But we got away with it. We stopped soon afterwards to look at some famous waterfalls, then carried on the drive. We arrived back in Darmstadt at around 7:30. I think Silvana said she'd driven nearly 1200 km (750 miles) since Thursday. When we got back to Marc's flat, his friend Michael ('Bohnny') from Berlin was there. We stayed at his flat when we played there in June. It was nice to see him again. We all went out in the evening to a lecture hall to see a book reading by a chap called Franz Dobler who'd written a book on Johnny Cash. Unfortunately, it was all in German. Not so good for me, although he paused every now and again to play songs to illustrate points. After he'd finished, a local band played 45 minutes of Country tunes and Cash songs. They had a female singer with a very convincing American accent. They weren't bad, but the venue was too big for them. They'd be sensational in a smoky bar, I thought. Klaus Walter, the local radio DJ who'd compered the 'Perverted' launch party in May, was also there. He was doing the DJ job on the night. We had a few beers, then a chat to them both. We returned to Marc's flat and had another beer on the balcony. At 2 am! But it was getting chilly so we went to bed. A really pleasant last night though.
Back home 13 September 2004
A long day of travelling back to the UK for me. Silvana kindly gave me a lift to Frankfurt airport, where I caught the bus to Hahn. I landed at Stansted at about 2:30 UK time, then I had to sit around for 4 hours (groan) until I could get the flight back to my local airport. It was cheaper and easier than catching the train and in the end it was ok, I bought a sandwich and a couple of newspapers and sat and read them both. When I got off the plane back home, it was cold, lashing down with rain, and blowing a gale! After leaving behind the glorious sunshine of Germany, it was quite a shock! Welcome home!
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