...But I Still Love the Old World...
by Nanne Tepper
"Just looking at these vacant, stoned Hollandeers, all hip as hell, made me feel disgusted and weak. I wanted to pound them into the floor like nails. Knock those "knowing" grins off their ignorant beans. These people don't know shit. They don't understand the literal meaning, so how can they possibly get anything implicit? Good thing we're breaking up or I'd start carrying a gun." - Steve Albini after playing Amsterdam on the final Big Black tour
Yes, it’s fun to play Europe. We love to have ya. We ARE devoted to your work, even to a point where it bothers the shit out of you. We might look a little startled sometimes when you’re playing our local clubs, but that’s only because most of us stopped mushing when Europe turned gay for Political Reasons, or because you’re playing the most horrible shit we’ve ever heard.
Weirdest thing though. After Europe missed out on a couple of hundred ITR package deal tours, and never seeing the Catholic Boys, The Tears and the rest of ya, I started ranting about never having seen The Reigning Sound perform in our fine town on some message board, and the same afternoon a John Wayne impersonator yelled on my answering machine that I should get me a hobby in stead of whining about never seeing Grunnen Rocks’ Hitband in Grunnens Vera Club.
Now there’s a real rock ‘n roll attitude.
Well frankly, Duke Dicklicka, I got your “rock & roll fatalism” hangin’ boy!
I know the problem is money. It’s always money. And after discussing this problem for the past two years with bookers and clubowners and musicians I came to the conclusion that nobody’s got a clue how to solve this problem, how to get our favourite bands to Europe before they split up, go Major, or even glamrock.
So I turned to the oldest guy that roams the European clubs, Ned The Mumbler. He’s been around for over hundred years. His Jimmy Page hairdo is still intact, but his fur coat looks like a rotting poodle and his body is a magic carpet, thin as a rug and tattood all over. Ned knows everything. No wonder, cause he lives in these clubs. He is also the guy that you hear all of a sudden behind you in some European Club toilet when you’re taking a piss: "Wash your wiener for 55 cent?"
Hey, the guy has got no teeth anymore and like The Sailors said after visiting The Vera: "Don’t knock it till you tried it."
But anyways. Ned explained that back in the days they had a ‘secret system’ (always humour him) to get the bands they really wanted to see, over to Europe, most of the time for just one show. They had a ‘a society of freaks’ (eerrr, yah), who checked out tourschedules, saved up money, contacted foreign bands and local clubs, picked a date, made up a bill, split the costs, sent the money over to the band before they flew in, saw them perform, treated them to local specialities and then put them back on a plane.
"You fucking hippies," I said. "And what when UK punk came around?"
"I hid under my bed with earplugs in to wait until it was over."
Oh yeah! That was The Massive European Pyjama Party. I was there too!
Ned left for the shitter to shoot up and was heard to mumble: "That’s how they do it in classical music, sell subscriber’s tickets to the rich folk, so you get the money first, you can pay the band upfront, the secret rock and roll society pays, extra audience is bonus money for the band."
"You fucking hippie."
"By the way...."
"No, you don’t need to wash it and I ain’t gonna squasch it."
Now let’s not forget that when I talk about Europe I am refering to that piece of land where nobody has got a fucking clue about international politics, where we have a civil war every summer just so some faggots can get their Ya Ya’s out, and where suicide will become very easy in the near future cause we’ve got about a billion miles of unprotected railroad lying around, so all you got to do is become a hobo. All we Europeans ever wanted to know from Miss Rice anyway was if she can suck a good dick.
Europe, yes, but not the UK. Talk about the shitload of bands that play the UK and don’t even bother to hop over to the mainland. I know what these bands are after. A Record Deal! With A Major! Or let’s say an imprint of A Major! Who will fuck up your career in six months. But you don’t want to hear this. You left Estrus (and according to Ned The Mumbler everybody wants to leave Estrus), because some Executive told you after seeing you falling over drunk on stage that You Could Make It Big In Iiiiiiiiiiingland!
If any of you musicians out there think this is still possible... forget it. The NME got tired of easy teenage punkrock. The Majors who told you that they will put out your record will release it in The UK on an imprint nobody’s ever heard off. If a rockjourno from Europe asks the mainland division for that record, nobody at the Mighty Major Company has ever heard of it. I’ve seen a dozen bands make the jump to this Major Imprint Cul De Sac, fail horribly to make the cover of the British Rags but nevertheless were forbidden to play the clubs they once played, cause they were supposed to be BIG now. And when you are big, you play an unplugged gig in that nice little room they got upstairs in the Paradiso, for journalists and PR people, while they serve martinis and crabcakes. And then you fade away. And within two months you are buying Ned drinks at a bar somewhere in a basement in Europe.
Think about it. It all starts with label hopping in America. Stop that shit. Stay put. It’s not like ‘the amount of money’ ITR can put behind a band made us ever see Reigning Sound or The Mystery Girls performe over here. Hunches, Ponys, Cath Boys and even Sailors, stay put!
Someday soon there will be a Society Of Freaks who will send you money, fly you in, enjoy your gig, treat you to all the local goodies (including Ned’s gumrolling routine) and then put you on a plane back to where ever you came from.
Cause we love to have ya! And it’s fun to play Europe. We might be a little stoned, but there is only one Amsterdam. Everywhere else we’re just as “into yo’shit” as can be. Ask Steve Albini. He just played The Vera Club with Shellac last week. Doing his audience participation piece, invented in 1998 (but still no fan has got a clue what it’s all about), at a moment of total silence, a diehard Albini fan yelled out: "Stop trying to be funny and play on!"
Never seen a big black eye come up so fast.
Cause there’s only one thing we don’t do, and that’s humour you.
9724 KN Groningen
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