On (and off) the road

Burning Hell with Al at Hardegsen

photo by Jörg Linnhoff at Hardegsen Castle

Well, our Public Library release tour seems to be over.

Despite the long hours, the lack of sleep, the occasionally terrible food, the relentless self-doubt and questioning of life choices, nine out of ten musicians agree that being on tour is a lot of fun. After 60 shows in as many days, I (Mathias) find myself gripped by that old familiar post-tour blues. I once read in a waiting room magazine that one of the best ways of dealing with the blues is to wander lonely backroads under the Delta moonlight while strumming an old guitar. The second best way is to write it all down.

I think the most exciting thing about touring is that it’s full of the kind of contrasts that you don’t encounter so often when you’re not constantly changing location. Being in a new place every day can be exhausting and disorienting, and when time is tight it breaks my heart a little to feel like all I got to see of Whereversville is the venue we played at and the parking lot outside of it. I live for the moments when we do have time to wander around a new place or a familiar old one, because I know these are the things I’ll remember best once it’s all over: kayaking down the river while waiting for soundcheck in Diksmuide, Belgium; learning about plants with Quintus from our record label BB*Island at the botanical gardens in Hamburg; wandering the beaches near Clonakilty, Ireland. In typical Burning Hell style, we only had one day off in six weeks in Europe, and we spent it on the moors near Manchester shooting a music video and then watching Green Room, a horror movie about a punk band slowly being hunted and murdered by evil Patrick Stewart and his neo-nazi henchboys. These are the magic moments I will treasure forever.

Back to those contrasts I mentioned: on this tour we had the good fortune to play to some wonderful venues packed full of people in Big Important Cities, but we also loved getting to play smaller, often stranger but no less wonderful rooms in places like Elgin, Scotland—where nearly the whole audience stayed around afterwards to initiate us into the bewildering and delightful world of Speyside whisky. And that’s really the thing I miss most once a tour is over—all the wonderful whisky people.

One of the most wonderful of those people is Al Harle (second from left in the photo above), who bravely agreed to get in the van with us and come on tour as our sound engineer. Having someone of Al’s considerable talent mixing us every night was amazing (he also recorded our new album), but Al comes with the sizeable perks of being a never-complaining road warrior and an extremely fun guy to be around—not to mention an excellent music video director.

A complete list of all the other superb human beings who made our tour memorable and exciting is nearly impossible and probably ill-advised. In a week or two, once my mind-dust has settled a little, I’m going to write about one subset of these folks in more detail: the other musicians we had the pleasure of sharing stages with. Watch this space.

In the meantime, to all the people that came out to gigs, fed us, encouraged us, helped us find parking, gave us tips on which public libraries were the most exciting to visit: thank you. We will see you again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lonely Delta backroad to wander down and an old guitar to strum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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