San Jose’s Permanent Ruin recently went on tour in Europe. Drummer Rich Gutierez wrote an extensive tour diary, edited by Leslie Patron, a portion of which can be read in MRR 388, available here. Check out the band’s interview in MRR 366 — back issues available in our webstore!

Perm Cru takes Europe

Tuesday, April 21: SFO to Bologna, Italy

I can’t tell if it’s Friday or Thursday. We left on Tuesday and travelled forward through time, and somewhere in the space from Calgary, Alberta to Glasgow, Scotland floating above the clouds we lost Wednesday. We left SFO at 6pm and almost immediately got in a fight. Fred flipped off some lady who honked at us and her husband barreled out of the airport with the bird out yelling in some bullshit ass British accent. I think he was forcing the accent to seem tougher. Fred yelled at him screaming “it’s none of your concern!” with the biggest, widest shit eating grin. The guy didn’t know what to do. I mean come on dude! You aren’t going to fight us so just go inside! We yelled at him to go away and he just kind of stood hard and unsure, then sauntered off. Who wants to pay for an ass kicking over a middle finger really?

Anyway the flight was long! 13 hours and a straight shot from SFO to Istanbul, Turkey. I have a slight head cold and have been dripping buckets of snot nonstop. There was a graveyard of tissue paper surrounding my seat; the lady next to me across the row was pretty horrified. What an unfavorable situation to be in on a plane. I watched 4 movies and listened to some sad music and passed out on this donut pillow that was cutting off my circulation. We landed in Istanbul and had a 3 hour layover, Merm was texting her new crush or real love or future husband or whatever and we all sat at around talking about bands we’d like to start. Mariam tried to do a headstand against a wall, but missed and fell, it was some straight up Jackass shit, Merm Knoxville freaking out the airport crowd.

We got on our flight and popped over to Milan, Italy at 12 midnight their time and headed down to gather our luggage and meet with FEBO who was swooping us and driving us the 3 hours to Bologna. When we got to the luggage we could not find the guitars and after some wandering and staring and confused looks and even more confusing language-locked convos we found out FEBO was lost! This is like what you always think about, but doesn’t happen, lost and found says they might show up in time before our first show, but they don’t know, what the fuck?

We eventually met with FEBO outside and his partner LAURA. FEBO is a sweet tall man with long hair dressed in all black. He’s got on a few rings and reminds me of the bad guy from The Crow; he smoked about a whole pack of cigarettes from the moment we met till when we finally got to Bologna where we crashed in the AGIPUNK basement HQ. It is huge and sorta confusing because it’s like an apartment complex and MILA who runs AGIPUNK gets this basketball-court-sized basement to store equipment and records and silkscreen gear!

We got our records and shirts and looked over our back line and grabbed the wifi key and chatted with FEBO about what the game plan was for the guitars. He organized us a guitar and bass to borrow and was trying to track down our tour itinerary because at this point we still don’t have addresses as to where we are going! We are pretty lax to a fault apparently. We do need to know where to go, but in our defense the homey who booked our tour has been having some poor correspondence. I think he is a very busy dude, and we are too polite to bug people sometimes.

Anyway Febo headed to bed, he told us not to shit in the toilet and taught us how to say “go fuck yourself” in Italian just in case.

Thursday, April 23: Bologna, Italy

We woke up in the basement around 1:30pm. Febo came in and announced we should get up or else we will fuck up our sleep cycle. We popped up and headed upstairs to poo and pee and wash our asses in the BIDET. Febo made us all some espresso and we chatted about rent prices: a problem for all us turds worldwide. We tried the airport again and still no guitars! We are just kinda like “I dunno.” Hopefully the less we care the better it’ll turn out?

Febo told us where pizza was and we headed out for a walk. We stared at some buildings ate some gelato and some olives and cheese and sat at a coffee shop, talking shit and drinking espresso, felt like some real chill laid back motherfuckers.

I feel like a real goon when speaking to anyone because the moment they realize I don’t speak Italian they are kinda just like “aww fuck” haha. It could be just me being hyper aware or self-conscious though. I bought some Vegan gelato and was too embarrassed to go get more, so I convinced Merm to go back and get me another cone, she ratted me out to the two girls working, but it was v worth it!

We got back to the basement and hung out until later in the night when our hosts had to go to the Acid Witch gig where they were working the record store inside the venue. We got there and didn’t want to spend any extra cash so we just checked out the spot and dipped out. We walked around center city and grabbed some pizza slices. I’m sure the pizza we got was probably like low-grade street fare, but man it was so good. I felt like a punk Anthony Bourdain walking down the old city streets of Italy eating street fare watching as the Italian night life pops off around me.

Friday, April 24: Bologna, Italy

We woke super late again. We were up all night talking and are still not used to the time difference. We did finally get ahold of someone at the airport and discovered our guitars never left SFO with us! Such bullshit, but they are sending them and we will pick them up in Madrid in a day. We had to be ready quick in the morning so Febo could take us to his favorite pizza place, it was fucked up good! He ordered for me because mine had to be vegan and I couldn’t explain what I wanted in Italian. After we chilled and tested out our equipment and packed up the van, and we talked more shit in their kitchen where Laura made everyone drink these orange liqueur spritzers. That is all the rage here; Fred took a serious liking to the spritzers immediately. It’s like an all-day mimosa, I think. Laura got a little buzzed and started telling me about her friend who was coming to hang with us and then looked me in the eyes and said “NO”! I don’t know what she meant but I guess she doesn’t want me to talk to her friend? She kept telling me her friend was married, I got really confused and embarrassed, but everyone else loved it. Everyone got a little buzzed before we left and we walked out as Laura stared at me above her friend’s head mouthing the words “hands off” while she pulled an imaginary knife across her throat, hahahahaha.

We got to the gig. It was at a cool squat called Atlantid. We helped set up and sat around and then they brought out some massive pots of food! I was starving so this was tight. Me and Fred were like, if they continue to feed us like this we will be eating healthier than we do at home! We ate and the other band and people ate on the steps. Me and Merm starting trying yoga poses and the whole gig exploded! Everyone was out front doing headstands and trying not to fall while holding all these poses. It was pretty awesome, people were laughing and cheering a bunch.

The show itself was such a great first show. We played last, so the band had to pace themselves with all the free drinks. It is almost expected that the headlining touring band back lines the gig which is how it should be I think, well at least the back lining part. The touring band back lining is weird because what if the other bands bust the shit up and we gotta head to the next city with a broken floor tom and take the hit money wise? Also it’s not our equipment so I feel weird being like “sure”! but it worked out well. The first bands played and were some heavy jammy stuff, it wasn’t my cup o tea, but the second of the two were near my cup of tea and were tight as hell, they were called MO’E pronounced moi, they are supposed to come to The Bay in September, I’m tryna party with them. The funniest thing was that the first band took themselves real serious and the power would go out every 2-3 songs because the power was janky as fuck at this place. Haha, I loved it.

I asked someone at the show who had toured the US before what they thought about it because it’s all house shows and no one really cares for the most part. He said “IT’S FUCKING WEIRD, BUT I LIKE SO MUCH.” It made me feel good because I’ve thought for years of booking international bands that it be a bummer. I always tried to overcompensate with chillaquiles or tacos and nice spot to sleep.

Any who, we played and we pummeled through 15 songs if I do say so myself! We borrowed guitars because we still don’t have ours, but it was tight! People were doing some ignorant ass push moshing like it was 98 Ozzfest and I was feeling it, it felt like home. The crowd chanted to play more because we played 20 minutes shorter than every other band so we gave them a taste of two more and there was a fight. I felt like I was back in San Jose. We had a great time. After the set some boy from Sweden bought Merm a beer and asked, (I shit you not): “how long have you been lifting”? and then someone said “your vocals sound like Melt Banana mixed with Infest.” So funny, much better than what we got once: “hardcore with Nausea chick vocals,” hahaha!

We packed and headed out for more pizza. I ate a falafel burger.

Saturday, April 25: Bologna, Italy and Montecchio, Italy

We finally are leaving Bologna. We hugged Febo and took off. We got to two blocks before we needed his help because we couldn’t map out the address in our GPS, Febo to the rescue again! He came out smiling as we apologized and he said “I’m happy to see you.” WHAT A FUCKING SWEETHEART.

On the road we stopped at the first rest stop and I milled through about 50 snack bars looking for anything without dairy. It’s fun learning all the different ways to say milk in anything but English, most places HIGHLIGHT milk and allergens in the ingredients which is helpful. There was a coffee shop, but these shops don’t really give to-go cups, you drink your espresso in lil ceramic cups and head back out. It’s amazing to me how moderated their waste is! There is guilt ingrained in me living in the states because of the amazing amount of waste that is normalized in our culture and if you choose to be somewhat sustainable you are alienated like some freaky whole foods dork, which is real haha, but it’s true that I just feel pressure living/being alive, it’s a fucked up feeling but I don’t feel that here.

There is a quiet calm surrounding the seeming sustainability here, because it’s not something you have to think about, it’s just how it is here. I like that.

We have to drive ourselves till Germany where we pick up our driver Didi. After securing our van for tour we realized only Jason can drive stick shift, so we had to scramble around to find a driver last minute. I wish we all knew how to drive stick then we could’ve driven ourselves the whole tour, but we got lucky to get a driver 5 days before we left the states, it’s probably for the best, we barely know what we are doing anyway, like I said we are lax to a fault. We do work well under panic.

We got our stride after stopping at a gasoline station to stock up on snacks. The snack selection was weird, there was like real ass salami and cheese and wide assortment of chocolates it is To. Die. For. I wish I could eat all of it, but whatever. We skipped out and tried to avoid all interaction with so many annoying d-bags with bad haircuts and v-necks at this fuel station. We got to the gig around 6:15 and I hopped out quick to immediately get a vegan gelato. Most of these gelato spots have a “soia” option. We talked to the promoter, this young thrash boy with killer side burns named Enrico and he told us when to be back for set up and food! Which was at like 7:30. He was a chill ass dude, like so calm.

Also, I absolutely love it how everyone says “JIG” instead of “GIG.” So fucking dope!

We got back after eating more gelato and the other band playing that night Rage From The Deep came up and started chatting our ears off, they were funny and had so much energy and looked as though they hadn’t been crushed by time’s heavy hand yet. They had Pantera shirts on and tight ass pants, I could see their bulges fairly easily. We all set up the equipment because we were all sharing and then the place just started relentlessly bringing out plates of bruschetta with olives and oil and little pizzas made with this flat bread which I guess is very popular in this region. It looked like something similar to a Lunchables pizza but tasted like heaven, the boys in the other band asked if it was true that in America pizza is made with ketchup! I was grinding down all these foods and then realized it wasn’t the main course! Then they brought out big plates of pasta!!! WHAT THE FUCK! I ate so much food it was amazing!

Everyone wobbled around for a bit and then all these metal head ozzfest hessians started arriving and girls with Dark Throne t shirts, metal culture is real as fuck out here, I feel like I’m in Oakland going to like some butt punk pirate Juggalo “Jig” but I actually appreciate these people and they are nice and so pumped on anything fast!

The show finally started at 11pm. A major gripe for me is that the shows start so late and the bands play FOREVER!!!!! We finally played at 12:45 and sped through our set in 15 minutes with a one song encore because people were mosh chanting which was tight. After we played, we got all these weird close talking hugs from metal guys, which I would usually be pissed off about if anyone touches me, but it seems so much sweeter, like it’s much more normalized and less creepy to be affectionate, people kiss and hug and touch a lot. It’s funny the little things people do like that and I connect it to a larger picture about living spaces and the co-op culture in Europe as opposed to culture in the states, which is another plague on our existence, the constant isolating force to be “independent.” It really separates us from simple things, like greetings. There are like 20 diff ways to greet and say goodbye here and everyone loves to greet and say goodbye.

Anyway enough with the rant. Next we chilled and headed to Enrico’s after hugging a million people. Also, every man winked and smiled after I hugged them, I found that so endearing. Before we left some guy stumbled over to me and Merm, he put his arms around us both bringing us in close like we were old pals about to snap a class photo or some shit and he said “you drum good” then turned to Merm and said “you sing great, you have it all: the boobs and the balls.” I paused to see Merm’s reaction and she fucking lost it laughing and then so did I because, well what the fuck haha. He got really embarrassed and apologized because he was so drunk and didn’t know how to say what he meant, but I think we both picked up what he was puttin’ down.

We left and got to Enrico’s house where he had two bedrooms full of beds made for each of us! I was in awe. Such a chill dude and he hooked us up with the comfiest sleeping quarters! I went to the bathroom and next to the toilet was another BIDET.

Now up until now I have never used a bidet so I will explain my first experience with one.

I pooped. Then after I was not sure if you’re supposed to wipe and then bidet or just dive right into the butt waterfall, so I wiped and then turned the knobs all the way up on the seat. I always thought the water shot straight up into your donut hole, but this one just sadly flowed out with a light amount of water pressure, slightly pointed up but mostly to the side. I really hope that I didn’t get a bunk one because that would make this more embarrassing. I lightly hovered above then eventually rested my thighs on the porcelain and had to pat the water against my b-hole and I didn’t think it was cleaning so I started to like rub my butt hole and then eventually just put my finger in my butt because I decided I’m already here I might as well rinse out and clean shop, but I mean this can’t be right because there is no way people get poop hand when using a bidet, right!? It just splashes and you’re done? This seemed too involved. I rubbed some soap in it and turned the water off. I wiped again and just kinda stared at it with my pants off. For the record I also took my shirt off because I didn’t know how wild these things got so, in conclusion I just basically wiped my butt with my hand completely naked. I washed my hands thoroughly and decided I would never use a bidet again. I’m sorry.

I ate a chocolate bar and fell asleep on my baller-ass cot.

Sunday. April 26: Montecchio, Italy

We left Enrico’s just in time to meet his lovely grandmother who offered us caffe and biscuits, but we had to cut out. She was so sweet and reminded me of my grandma, I thought for sure she would be bummed seeing a group of punk trash rats, but she had thee biggest smile and was SO SO PROUD of her grandson. He had to translate for us that we couldn’t stay, and Merm jumped to the front and told him to tell her that he’s a sweet young man. When he said it the little old lady squeezed him like a pillow, I thought she was going to pick him up over her head she was so excited! There were gunshots everywhere because I guess it’s hunting season and Montecchio is out in the cuts, twas very spooky.

We got lost trying to find a gas station mid-drive and almost ran out of fuel. It was scary as fuck, the roads have like zero quick turnarounds, I was so afraid, also upset because we missed what looked like could have been a very sick rest stop. You know I’m thirsty for that WIFI baby.

We showed up to the JIG at 2 pm as we were told with THREE exclamation points so we figured we NEEDED to be there that early. At first it seemed cool, it was in a squat underneath some apartments, Illaria (she said it’s like Hillary) who I met upon arrival told me it used to be a furniture store, it looked like a massive white stucco cave sprinkled with bad graffiti and your usual bright street art stuff, like cops and repeated snakey/wormy creatures and the occasional ACAB (sorry I’m a hater at heart). They gave us food which was great, some lentils and potatoes and bread and some seitan. I ate my food with almost four huge breath strokes and sat down full as fuck. It went downhill from there on out. I tried my best to just have a positive outlook, but fuuuuck let me tell you it was real rough. It’s safe to say it’s not a good idea to have bands show up at 2 when they play at 10:30 (maybe). There was a scribbled set order on the door which was confusing to everyone playing or maybe just us haha, it was like 12-13 bands. We just played the waiting game and they all played for like 45 minutes each, it was kind of like being in a really crappy bar. The whole place was filled with cigarette smoke, like so thick that if you took a hard breath out you’d see your path clear the fog for a second and drunk people would just appear in the space between, they were everywhere just splashing beers around and creating the perfect scenario for my worst nightmare (hater, I know, just being honest).

We got to talk to a few cool folks throughout the night, but it’s real hard when you are so tired and confused. We talked about the punk culture here, mostly to this kid Mike who is half Chinese and Filipino and most of his band The Seeker is Filipino. He told us about how rampant racism is in Italy and Europe explaining his experiences as a person of color (the show was still mostly white here) and was just explaining to me to be careful because I am the darkest one, but I already knew, I’ve always known, but yea I understand the threats might be different here, I’ve been getting hard stares everywhere we’ve gone, but its honestly mostly because I look dirty and have my head up my ass. I’m just trying to put on the blinders and enjoy myself. He also just talked a lot about how punk is more focused on a community effort and some acts of selflessness, which is so rare where we are from, but also where we are you HAVE to depend on yourself and it’s hard to go out on a ledge because you will be alienated. The punk scene in the states seems to be more focused on riffs than culture, but I have to say I am a fan of the riff, but also hate COOL. I really appreciated that.

Merm and the boys bought a pizza and I was sad because I couldn’t have any. I ate a protein bar and whined about it.

We received our guitars from one of Febo’s friends who picked them up from the airport and brought them to us! We finally played at like 11 at night! They stuck us at the end and I honestly could not tell if this was normal at all, but if fucking sucked because a lot of people had left. I would have never put touring bands that far at the end of a long ass show! It’s pretty rude. I think the local big draws should take that spot, but also I know nothing about how things work here and really we are nobodies, definitely not famous, just your normal butt hurt american rock band. As I was bring my snare up several people came up to me and said “are you playing now”? And when I said yes they let out a big “thank god!” Which showed me that 1- maybe this wasn’t normal and we got hosed and 2- up until now I had no idea if anyone knew who we were or wanted to see us, so that made me feel good.

It was a fun set, but everything went wrong with the amps cutting out and Jason’s bass stopped working and my drums were falling apart. We played fast and ended prematurely and were already pretty frustrated and tired so we didn’t care much, plus there was another band after us who were also on tour and we wanted to make sure people saw them and wanted to make a point of promoting the short fast and loud set.

Before we played this band from Scotland called Clocked Out came up to us because there was confusion on when we played, because they were told they were playing first, the promoter who we both talked to seemed to have a very hands off approach to the gig, he seemed disappointed and maybe overwhelmed, I felt a little bad. The show seemed to be a bunch mooshed together into one delicious pile of italian caca. It was so frustrating. They said he scolded them for not showing up at 2pm, but they didn’t show mostly because there was an address change for the show that they were unaware of. I told them they dodged a bullet with that move anyway. Our friend who hooked us up with the JIG told us that someone named Roberto would help us with a place to stay and then he left. Booking shows is stressful, I know the feeling.

Anyway, Clocked Out were awesome and were just saying the same shit we were saying all day about every band playing forever. We were in our sad confused zone with everything, I wish we met them sooner, we could have been hanging all day! Totally goofy ass Scottish dudes, they played and were raging thrash core with nonstop and an unrelenting intensity. All that waiting must’ve made these pasty freaks amped as hell. The drummer asked the crowd for weed in like 20 different ways, I think he may be addicted to marijuana.

I saw some interesting Italian mosh moves during the day though. One was the shoe mic, where they took off a shoe and pretended to sing into it put the shoe in the crowd like a sing along! Another was the rowboat where a group would sit on the ground crotch to butt and pretended to row a boat together. They were also obsessed with picking people up (I later learned that this was true in most of Europe) which was funny to watch, but also sort of frightening because the ground was drenched with beer and possibly shit and piss combo meal, because the only restroom was in the show space and it had started overflowing at 4pm. I expected way more casualties, death by Italian CACA cocktail.

After all that we were unsure where we were staying, we didn’t wanna stay at the squat and I lost Roberto, but luckily a friend from San Francisco, Hanna, had wandered to the jig wasted and pumped! She offered us some space on the floor of her airbnb in exchange for our rock music and a ride. She was telling us she barely dodged being attacked on the street and ran into a store where she saw some punks and she said she was in danger and said she was trying to find the Permanent Ruin show and they said that’s where they were going and she got an Italian punk escort! I’m happy she was safe. I am surprised she convinced her airbnb hosts to let us all stay without an extra charge, some people have wild drunk survival skills! I can barely order a smoothie correctly sober!

We hung outside with Clocked Out, swapped some stories and contacts, took a photo, hugged and gave our fond farewells.

We got to her place and after some confusing parking situations and Hanna insisting on us eating fries. I crashed on the couch, wifi in hand till my eyes were too heavy.

Monday, April 27: Milano, Italy to Munchen, Germany

We left the pad at around 730 a.m. I was awoken by a trifecta of odd sounds: Hanna’s whispering, Fred’s alarm and Mariam’s fart that could be best described as catastrophic. We all peed and drove Hanna to a bus station. We tried to find a grocery store, but just got angry driving around packed-ass Milano where driving lanes don’t exist. Hearing our GPS shout orders while it rained and people scooting by and fiats weaving around us was making us dizzy and our empty stomachs were making us all little moody turds. We eventually just parked and found a caffe to sip some espresso before we all started killing each other. I was luckily able to grab a vegan croissant: score one for me.

It’s a 6 hour trek to Munich where we gotta pick up Didi (our driver) and where our show is so we wanted to rush out, no time for tourist junk :/ We didn’t realize we had to cross through Switzerland. I guess you need a Vignette sticker to cross into there which we didn’t have, also passing through Switzerland they will search your van and tax you on all merchandise! We scrambled and panicked about what to do. Reroute? Stop and text? Call someone? Question risking it? After doing all of those things we decided to go through and play dumb and maybe have to buy a Vignette. We got to the border with sweaty palms. A patrol officer flagged us in and every Canadian border debacle played out in my mind, I was ready to sit in a room and be questioned about a million things I didn’t know and feel 2 feet tall. She said something which none of us understood, to which we responded “uhhhhh englisse Americano.” Her eyes rolled a little and she said “bye” and that was the extent of our border trouble, what a joke! Luck of the annoying american I guess? Hooray we are more trouble than it’s worth! Munich-bound baby!

I suggest this drive to anyone cutting through to Germany. It is breathtakingly beautiful! Huge mountains, greeny greens, old castle like structures weathered and standing on one leg. The fog sits low and heavy at certain points and goats trample around like you are in a Ricola commercial. We popped on some sad music and imagined we were living for real. Waterfalls just peek through mountain sides on every windy turn and the views of small towns from miles up is unmatched by anything I’ve seen before.

München, Germany is so cool. Well, I guess the place we played KAFE KULT is. I haven’t explored yet. The venue is in this weird place that looks like it was at one time like army barracks or sleeping quarters and each separate building was repurposed to have its own business or art space. We showed up and ROBERT greeted us and showed us around, while Jason and Merm left to go pick up DIDI from the bus station. We got fed a big ass bowl of chili and bread that was already prepared in this communal kitchen space in the center of the venue. I ate several bowls and drank a few weird sodas, they are always trying to keep you properly bevved up in Europe, whether you drink beer or not they always want you drinking, it’s tight. He showed us where we were sleeping, in an awesome room with 5 queen beds butted up against each other, it looked like one of those trampoline places. He showed us the “backstage” that was filled top to bottom with bands’ graffiti over the last 15 or so years! Some of my faves I saw were DS-13, ETA, Holier Than Thou, Blank Stare, Ohuzaru, and soooo many more, we made it baby!

They said someone was coming back in the morning to cook us breakfast which is just mind-blowing to me. I told them that I honestly did not know how to respond to such hospitality and people being so nice, I felt as though I had to state that because I felt really awkward being treated so well. They said “oh good” and it made them laugh, but Germans laugh after everything they say so I couldn’t tell if I was actually funny to them, but I wasn’t trying to be funny here, I was dead serious, I felt weird hahaha! Fred and I chilled hard in the backstage area drinking soda and drawing in the guest book.

Jason and Merm hadn’t come back for a long time and Fred’s phone was dead so we started joking that they were trying to contact him while they were sitting on the road somewhere with a flat, and then at that very moment Robert walked in and said they called him and they were stuck behind a demonstration! FREEEEAKKKYYY! I guess there has been an uprising in the fascist community here and Munich is somewhat conservative compared to other places in Germany so it’s even worse. Conservative groups claiming to not be fascists but accepting nazis to be a part of their groups have been demonstrating every Monday for a while and ANTIFA and others come out to counter their demonstrations. Cops come out every time, so it’s apparently very sketchy at the moment here or sketchy-esque. Jason and Mariam were stuck behind this mess searching for Didi.

Me and Fred stayed in the back room for a while longer as a few people piled in and then everyone showed and we set up. The crowd was a bit sparse, but I mean it’s a Monday and no one is famous here so I wasn’t expecting much, I thought it was actually a good group. Robert said we should come on a weekend and it would be better, which most promoters say, but I had a blast, the P.A. was feeding back a ton and Jason’s bass head was acting up, but I thought it was cool. A “ton” of people came up after and were hanging, telling us where to go the next day and just chatting us up, that was really worth it, feeling at home at a gig that isn’t in your hometown is huge! I might have also felt better because I drank more caffeine today then I had the whole trip. I met Didi finally and he was cool as fuck, we just sat around all night talking and I drank my first Club-Mate and they were giving me a German bev tour, I drank sooo many sodas it was fucked up. Didi made sure I tasted this malted non-alcoholic thing, I had to clarify I was straight edge because I thought they were fucking with me, but he assured me. It was SUCH A HEAVY DRINK it taste like I was drinking a loaf of bread and tasted like beer, I felt like one of the boys tossin back a couple of beers post gig (lol). I cheers’d Merm several times.

We decided tomorrow’s plan and I took a shower in this weird closet-like shower room. The hot water lasted about 3 minutes so I just cleaned the essentials. Then we headed off to our sleeping chambers.

I wish we had a place like this back home or that it was even a possibility to have a space such as this.

Tuesday April 28th: Munich, Germany to Offenberg, Germany

We took a trip to the Dachau concentration camp and spent a few hours walking through the memorial. It was so much heavier than I was expecting. I feel like I can be receptive a lot, but am also able to separate myself sometimes. I don’t want to delve too far into it, because it was a lot.

Being in that space and recognizing how many band names are taken from the holocaust really grossed me out. The disconnect seems too real and it’s disappointing. So many people play with nazi/fascist imagery and it makes NO GODDAMN SENSE!

The space was real and feeling the rocks crush under my feet and birds chirp and the beautiful scenery was such a mind fuck to know that we as humans could truly take away that beauty from people. The space itself would have been lost if it weren’t for survivors pushing to have it rebuilt as a memorial and preserve the atrocities. It wasn’t even a memorial until 1965! That is so recent! After the fall of the NSP the people had no money, no family, no housing, absolutely nothing but their own mortality which was still being questioned. There was a rush to forget so they basically turned the camps into transitional housing for people who were already in them and just pretended that they were not work/death camps previously.

The gate in front of Dachau had the words “Work will set you free” emblazoned along the top, but the entire gate was stolen in 2014! The people who stole it were never found. Positioning that idea with the prior day’s fascist demonstrations in the same town and some people saying that fascist thought has been picking up in Germany makes me so uneasy, because fascist demonstrations is how it began. It makes me imagine the gate is probably just hanging in some Fascist group’s clubhouse as a trophy.

It’s hard to be into punk currently when it’s such a trend to be some a-political ding dong and just the push of sketchy behavior and fetishizing nazi/fascist imagery. If you have a Death in June shirt on and I ask you if you are white power don’t fucking look at me like I’m the idiot! To you these problems seem worlds away, but they could become closer every day.

After we left, the van was quiet for about 30 minutes until we exploded into some lengthy heavy processing conversations, about a MILLION different things were brought up. We had a 3 hour drive to Offenberg where Didi lives so we let loose. I think one of my favorite parts of tours are the heavy conversations sparked by passing trees and the existential / introspective ideas that come from being cramped in a tin can barreling down unfamiliar roads. I absorb the most information in these moments and also I get to hash out my own constant internal dialogue, but by letting it leak out and bouncing these thoughts off others laid about haphazardly in this tiny space with me. These moments are the realest and are something “magic” or whatever hippyesque feeling that I’ve noticed and is one of the biggest pay offs for me because it brings you closer to people you know and maybe barely know. It is the gluing of ourselves to one another and it is humanizing. It is also something that can’t be weighed, the amounts of emotion involved in touring, but it’s all a building block, stacking you into something you weren’t before.

Didi took us up these mountains and into a forest where we decided we were going to die, we tried to think of a title for our horror movie that we were filming in our heads, spouting out scenes that would happen and deciding who would die first and how. We hopped out of the van and were greeted by a gargantuan castle-like structure on top of this mountain overlooking towns that were now spots of white in the distance disguised under fog and towering trees. It was decayed and basically in ruins. Didi told us it was built in the second half of the 14th century! We all laughed because this thing was so fucking old and it really dates our American existence. Fred said he thought it was wild that his house was built 100 years ago! Haha! California has built things only like 400 years ago and we already can’t take care of them and here’s this fucking bag of bones castle, which according to Didi was once a monastery for monks and destroyed by a lightning strike and subsequent fire. This thing was built and destroyed before we even threw together our first bullshit ass mud-rock fire pit. We walked down to a waterfall, but not before Merm and I snapped some handstand photos in front of the stones. During our stroll down Jason stopped me abruptly to show me a really big pile of shit he saw. We ultimately decided that the scary movie we were in was about a ghost monk at the monastery that left piles of shit along the path to spook away the visitors, our movie quickly turned into the worst movie ever, I think Didi thinks we huff glue now.

We drove to Didi’s and grabbed some food to cook from the grocery store. He picked me up some soda from this venue he helps run which is like 6 doors from his house! It was like walking through some freaky Parisian horror movie where it’s a long underground venue lined with bricks and markings like it was once used as a dungeon and at the end of the corridors there was a bar and little stage. He said it’s been here for 40 YEARS! Anyway, the important thing is the soda he got me, SPEZI, it was COLA, orange concentrate and lemonade and it was a game changer. After we ate, we plopped down in Didi’s room and him and Merm talked about German punk and Didi played us a million records and gave us the lowdown on classic regional German punk bands and some stories about their members, it was a cool punk history lesson. It makes punk seem like something actually real and that people can be historians about stuff that shaped them.

We all talked shit and after a couple rounds of chuckles we passed out.

Wednesday April 29: Offenberg, Germany to Leipzig, Germany

We drove up to a castle on a hillside to eat breakfast. It was very beautiful. I started to have that undeserving feeling creep up finally during my second sandwich while leaned up against the bricks and a crow stared at me.

I left the states during one of the worst mental health months I’ve had in a while. I was surprised I was even able to make it to tour, I felt mentally and physically weak, exhausted beyond a controllable realm. I sat with death a few times in that month which has happened before, but I was close to harming myself in a very mortal way. I’m happy I was able to make it out this time. Being out and participating in international hardcore is the only thing that’s ever really made me feel real or worth anything, it has been the most constant driving force in my life since I first decided I might want to die. I’m trying my best to feel worthy of all this hospitality that everyone is giving, but it’s hard for me. I am giving myself to the thought of resting my hatred for myself. It helps that I get to be around people I really care about and that they are in it with me, it is settling. My mom used to quote Susan Sarandon from that movie Bull Durham (I know haha) when I was young I didn’t understand and it fits so much more now that I’m older and constantly reviewing my impact in every situation and feeling shameful for it.

“The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.”

I slept most of the 6 hour trip from Offenberg to Leipzig. We showed up 2 hours late because of traffic, but people were just barely showing up. The area seemed pretty uniform to everywhere else we’ve played: small streets which might have been condemned at some point but were now flats on top and show space on the bottom floor, peppered ANTIFA and ACAB tags up and down the block and every door. There was a hanging banner on the building kitty corner to the show space for the squat, which I later found out was fake, because they were filming a TV show and they put up the banner to pretend the neighborhood was “one of those spots” I guess Leipzig is going to be the new Berlin. It was once a town no one cared for and now it’s an increasingly gentrified area soon to be filled with cafes and over idealistic people slummin it till it’s no longer cool or cheap. People were talking about it.

We met our host Basti, a very German boy who looked and seemed 25 but was 33. He was very intense, but in a way I liked, you could tell he loves the things he liked, they were things that he worshipped. He came from a v small village. He told me about how he grew up in a town with no punks just 3 metal heads and how he chose punk over all the fascist bullshit he could have fallen into. He was well versed in American punk and talked about how he would just order from catalogues until he was old enough to leave and how he would never go back there.

We got fed some delicious potato salad (Basti’s grandma’s secret recipe) and these falafel like bean patties and they made sure we had every freaky soda they had to offer like Rhubarb and some local mate drink. I love when they say vegan because they say “WEGAN”—it’s cute.

The show piled in and was quickly packed and Drux played first, it was their first gig and they were straight ahead American style hardcore, like Youngblood records I’d say.

We set up and tested Jason’s bass head because it has been acting wonky. When it turned on it shut off all the power in the venue, which it has been doing, so we had to borrow a head and hopefully we can get it fixed soon. We played the best set of the tour so far IMO, we got a couple people to crawl along the edge of humans, which is a big thing I think, it’s hard to get folks to move around in some places especially for a band they don’t know and on a weekday. I saw some promising head nods and we sold the most merch so far.

We headed directly above the venue up to Basti’s room after where he showed us to our super comfortable sleeping quarters (his bedroom) and we laid about a little. In the meantime Didi and Merm were having a tiff with German police. Apparently I tapped the car behind the van earlier and the lights started flashing which I just took as normal and it would go of eventually. I guess the owner came down and called the police and they brought Didi out and made him show all the info and in Germany when those lights flash you are supposed to call someone? So they called it a hit and run! She was claiming we broke part of her bumper and we absolutely did not. They tried to intimidate Didi but he held his ground and they took down our info and maybe we will get a ticket one day. Basti was going on about how he wanted to go down stairs and pop her tires or let the air out hahaha he wrote her license plate down so he could do it later if she moved her car. He is very intense haha. He said it would be hard for him to let it go, I thought it was so funny!

We sat in Basti’s room listening to his records and talking about punk for a long time and also talked about personal feelings about everything in-between and then we all slowly faded away. Right before bed we were all reading things about the rioting in Baltimore that started when we left after a young black man was killed in police custody. It’s hard to just get blips of info every night before bed when we get wifi. It’s an eerie feeling being around so many places that are staunchly anti fascist / anti racist and to hear about all this tragic racial inequality at home, makes my heart hurt.

Thursday April 30: Berlin, Germany

We chowed on some bread and spread (a classic German breakfast) and took Jason’s bass amp apart at the breakfast table, we just basically stared at it gutted until we realized we don’t know anything and walked to a music store where they said they couldn’t look at it. I bought a bass drum head and stole some random crap. I asked Didi what happens when you get caught stealing, he said you get cited, so I plan on stealing a lot because if I get caught I live in California and I ain’t payin shiiittt!

We googled a music store in Berlin to take the head too and we jet out, stopping at a HUGE German war monument on the way out that was pretty Romanesque, the statues looked like roman gods, larger than life I’d say.

We drove more through beautiful landscapes while listening to Thin Lizzy.

We got into Berlin the day before May Day, which is huge here. The day of usually yields gigantic events everywhere and the day before has become traditionally a day with rioting, so the roads were littered with piggies. There were sprinter vans packed tightly with cops and several just driving around, within 5 minutes of pulling in we got pulled over by cops. I didn’t know because I heard no sirens, but they pulled in front of us and flagged us down. DIDI slammed it into park and said “I hate Berlin.” The cops said a bunch of stern bullshit and ticketed us for not having some kind of sticker in the window that allows you to drive in Berlin, I think it’s equated to a smog check sticker in the states..They told us to leave Berlin or else we would get ticketed every time we got pulled over. We ultimately decided to just park the van at the venue and walk around after we dropped off Jason’s bass amp (we ultimately found out shit was fucking fucked) it was a sketchy situation because the cops were everywhere. It was gross. I later learned that the reason for pre May Day rioting is because the city now tries to make May Day some big family event so that people don’t smash or riot as much, it seems to work and so many tourist walk around all dumb fuck happy that they can grub a curry würst and soak in the culture. As if.

We got to the venue which was this gigantic building in property that spanned a whole city block. The building towered over me and it was dizzying looking up at its enormity and at all the painting and murals and signs plastered on every corner of its front. After we passed the gates at the entrance which had a sign stating NO PHOTOS we walked past a whole shanty town built by its occupants. The building itself was half squat / half rented, it’s really confusing.

We keep getting varying information about every “squat” and how they started. One person said that sometimes a person will squat a space and then just have their rich parent buy the property, one person told us that this place WAS a squat and that it was once a shopping center in the 1800’s which once again was mind blowing to me because 1- I believe it and 2- how do you even fathom building everything they have here, 2 venues, a full communal kitchen, a theater, a climbing wall, bike kitchen, housing and everything else you could think of and 3- how do you keep a building that old structurally sound while building all this bullshit on top of it and without proper funding? I guess the way most squats in Germany came to fruition (to my limited knowledge) is that when the GDP collapsed there were entire neighborhoods of empty structures without owners, not even city owned, just lonely islands in the center of oceans of concrete, so people could just occupy them and claim squatters’ rights because no one actually owned it and even if a company would buy them, if they were occupied prior to the sale than they could not kick them out. I feel very confused and naive, I really want to unwrinkle this confusion, but I don’t think I will. I also heard that squat culture is almost gone due to gentrification, because the city government has cracked down the last couple years with brute strength and in violent ways to which most people have responded by just saying they will take a deal and just pay a low amount of money, which is what the posers I suppose do because they just want to live in this “cool” space without the trouble. It’s gross, reminds me of people moving into poor neighborhoods in the states and sacrificing their comforts to live in spaces they are not accustomed to, these places are others reality. They ‘slum it’ just so they can live in a popular space and they ultimately change the entire climate of said place.

Anyway this place KÖPI was very famous and utterly fascinating regardless of its current squat or no squat stance. We entered and met Robert who runs Refused records and who was booking the Jig for us. He’s a sweet dude who is straightedge and very proud. The label is mostly straight edge and intentional in the sense that most the bands are edge and politically aware. I really appreciate his existence in that sense as I am straight edge and am very proud of it, but I don’t usually feel connected to most straight edge people or scenes. They are usually so devoid of substance (pun not intended) or especially just not wanting to be anything else other than moshing, riffs, and clothes. We immediately had some long convos about edge bands we both liked and bands he’s released, which I found out that I am actually on a record that he released! He released the seven inch for this band No Mistake that I played in for a bit. He had a huge distro with him that really pumped me up! I talked about how growing up every show would have labels or distros set up with a ton of records and I discovered so many bands this way, it was a cool way to interact at shows other than being on your phones, just sifting through records and chatting about certain bands and the person selling the records would suggest bands to me and there was no apprehension about not being aware or less of a cool demeanor just a couple of excited people chatting. It also was a lot easier to sell and trade records that way if you ran a label, now it seems basically non-existent.

I met Jenni, Robert’s partner who also runs a label Emancy Punx which is also intentional in the sense that it’s releases are largely all womyn. Her distro was awesome and packed full of Bay bands and I commented on each one that had a friend in it. She said “you all have a great scene” and I kinda giggled because maybe it seems that way from far away, but also it is great that in the Bay it would be weirder to see an all male bill. Most bands have womyn in them, which isn’t huge, but compared to other scenes it’s gigantic. How cool it must be to be partners that both have awesome labels and distros! I was reading some of the books Robert had and I realized that hardcore is not just held together by “glorified comic book Nerds” which I read once before, because it’s one thing to collect records and be a prick, but these people remind me that sometimes it’s more about collecting histories. I mean they could be punk historians through all the books and DVDs and records and zines they have themselves and sell. It’s just a really exciting thing! People really care about this stuff.

We set up our equipment in the basement that looked like it was once used as a Stoney dungeon, the walls were leaking from the rain 15 feet above us and the place was already fogging up with cigarette smoke but I was on my 4th club-mate cola, full of the wegan pizzas we were fed and floating on cloud nine about Robert and Jenni. I was feeling good as fuck.

The first band was a group of three queer women jammin some simple slow doomy stuff, they were from Finland but now lived in Berlin, it was their second show and they brought us a bass head because ours was surely fucked. I was excited to finally play because it was fucking freezing and I was ready to rock because at this point (1130 pm) the place was snug with people and I was pumped. We played a solid set, but could not get one person to budge or even crawl a tad bit. After we finished, like 5 people came up and told was we were amazing. Hahahaha, oh really!? It was so hard to gauge by all the stiff stares and crossed arms! I totally get it though, I was so happy nonetheless, everyone was really sweet and moshing isn’t everything. We sold a bunch of merch and drank sodas while chatting at high volume over very bad German acid rock techno.

I found out from talking to Jenni that all the cops are so focused on protecting the people with money during these two days that they leave the refugee housing projects open and susceptible to attacks from racist fascist groups. It really bummed me out, but it’s real and I tried not to think about it too much.

Friday May 1st: Berlin, Germany and Kassel, Germany

Jenni made us a big breakfast with delicious spreads that she made from scratch! I read a bunch of feminist literature she had laying around, some talking a lot about the intersection of color in feminism. I really liked them—Jenni is so cool

Robert and I got on a tangent about new straightedge hardcore bands worldwide and I wrote down some of my current faves and gave him my contact info so we could chat more in the future. He offered to help or maybe actually release a Busted Outlook record (another band I play in who was supposed to go on this tour aswell, but we cancelled) and he said he’d book our euro tour if we wanted to come! I feel real bad we couldn’t come with Perm Ru after all, I didn’t think so many people on this trip would be bummed we couldn’t come or even cared at all! Me and Jason headed out to pick up his amp, we walked 2 miles, picked it up, and took the metro to meet everyone at the core-tex store where there was a free show outside for May Day and to buy some bootleg tees. The streets were full of people and food. I searched for some club-mate cola on the walk to the van but to no avail. We got to the van and snuck out of town without any trouble from the cops, but I’m sure they were very busy with other stuff, thank god.

I woke up in Kassel as we were pulling up to the show. We hopped on this show last minute, because we were supposed to play in Göttenburg, Sweden right after Berlin, but it was going to be an 11 hour trip and then a 9 hour trip the next day so we said fuck it and cancelled. We were lucky to hop on this metalish show. The drive would have cost us a fortune and although I really wanted to visit Sweden, we wouldn’t have been able to see much and probably would have been beat! I heard there is a 6 hour long ferry you take, that sounded pretty cool. Luckily the show in Kassel was being co-run by an Internet friend of mine Annka who I’ve never met in person so I was excited I would get the chance to meet someone I only slightly know from world’s apart. The food was great as per usual, a massive pot of seitan and some veggies, I made like 3 huge sloppy sandwiches and rolled myself over to fully meet Annka, they were so sweet and had made us a peanut butter and jelly pie. We played in between 4 bands that sounded like emotive metalish crustish bands. A band from Greece played called Ruined Families and they were probably the best out of all the bands, the singer went pretty nuts and it was funny because by the time they played we were all really tired and/or drunk so at one point he read our set list aloud on stage that we left and Merm was pretty wasted at this point and screamed “TOP THAT MOTHERFUCKER! I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU” in Greek, somehow drunk Mariam could speak Greek, I don’t really know how that happened. The crowd lightly snickered and the singer looks v surprised and possibly scared. We left the gig early and headed to ANNKA’s flat. They gave me some fancy sodas and headed back to the gig while we all found our rooms to sleep in. Fred and Jason in Annka’s room, Merm, Didi and I in one of the flatmate’s rooms. I could not sleep because Didi and Merm snored SOOO loud, I was caught in stereo sound of what was like a muffled motorcycle engine. So I went out in the kitchen and ended up talking to Annka and slept in the room they slept in and we talked about current affairs in greater Europe and they filled me in on some things I was unaware of and we talked about where we grew up it was nice to meet them and connect in a cool way, I felt uncharacteristically calm and comfortable. I passed out in a snore-free zone thank god and dreamt that I lived in a town that wasn’t San Jose.

I’ve been thinking about leaving my hometown of San Jose a lot lately and this trip has kind of been a catalyst in that thought because I see there is so much more for me possibly elsewhere. Emotional ties can be great and that closeness is rare but also can tie you down and hold you back. That is a whole different conversation, but it’s sad to think I may have nothing more to offer my town or the people I care for or vice versa. It was just a dream, maybe this whole thing is a dream.

Saturday, May 2: Kassel, Germany to Kiel, Germany

I woke up so late and almost missed all the pancakes that were being cultivated in the kitchen. The Greek band came over to eat as well and we all chatted and gulped coffee till our guts split. it was time to cut out, we said our goodbyes and I gave Annka a big hug and began our short trek to Kiel. I am starting to feel a little tickle in my throat and the last thing I want is to get sick on tour! Fred has had this nasty cough since we left, actually this morning he ate all pancakes and when he coughed he vomited his whole meal up, a real RETURN TO SENDER moment. I started pounding Emergen-c and thought maybe I should try and get some rest, so I slept the whole drive, waking up intermittently to fill empty fizzy water bottles with not so fizzy human pee.

The venue Meirerei looks very punk like all these places we’ve been playing, but its huge and has a big stage and sound system. I’ve noticed that most venues are equipped with a kitchen which is so fucking awesome, I still can’t believe how efficient every place is and how it makes tours move like clockwork, it makes me feel like I play in Pearl Jam or something. I wish all venues came with kitchens, I would feed every band chillaquiles.

The support band helped us unload our equipment and the bassist tripped on a step and fell, putting his hand through my snare head :[ I didn’t say anything because he seemed embarrassed. I guess we gotta make another pit stop at the music store. We did our sound check, which is probably like the second time EVER that we’ve sound checked. It took so long because we don’t know how to turn down and instead of playing our songs we played AC/DC Thin Lizzy, Tom Petty, and Metallica. So we will probably sound like shit, but it’s all good, if we flop at least we have a career in a bar rock cover band.

I noticed that at most shows when I watch the bands I just smile politely because I have no idea what they are saying, I think maybe they think I’m feelin’ it or that I’m high. The best part of this gig was the dad-like man in bell bottoms skanking wildly for the first band, I don’t mean to mosh police or hate, actually who am I kidding it was pretty embarrassing to watch, but also so hypnotic.

They told us that, in northern Germany, if people start to head nod that means they love it, while we played there was a 3 person pit and a wide assortment of head nods so I feel like that is the equivalent of a full on DRI circle pit in northern Germany.

“The roof was on fire” as we say in the states.

After the gig, I pocketed a few club-mates and we headed to Jön’s, who was this really pumped punk dude with dreads. He had a room set up for us and he tried to convince everyone to smoke weed a few times trying his best to not seem desperate to smoke a lil rat dick joint, but no one was down. He played us some of his fave current German records which were really cool.

I sent someone a pic of myself in the large full body mirror to document my disrepair and have something other than food pics to send friends.

Sunday, May 3: Kiel, Germany to Hamburg, Germany

We went to the flea market today in town right after breakfast. Jön has a hanging jungle gym in his hallway that you can swing on, we all gave it try, seeing who could make it the furthest down the obstacle course. Another thing is when you open the door to the bathroom the light comes on, a fan and the radio lightly hums german pop music, it is so cool! I am gonna try and do that when I get home except I want it to play. Return of the Mack or Whitney Houston.

The flea market was a 15 minute walk across town to the city center. Most things are closed Sundays and the day was really nice so it was naturally packed to the fucking gills with people. None of us actually needed anything but it felt great to stretch our legs and walk somewhere outside and be somewhere that wasn’t a venue’s back room for a little bit. We tried to find a pouch for our money but ended up with records and a lot of sausages instead. Our friend Niels had his haggling jacket on that day because he was able to chat down some sellers for us. There were so many ancient electronics I don’t even know if they thought people would use them or if it was as a vintage aesthetic thing, I still can’t tell!

We said our peace out to the local hambones and headed onwards to Hamburg. The venue in Hamburg was the fanciest so far! It was still DIY but had this real nice official venue feel. We parked and immediately another tour van parked ahead of us. Before the van could even pull the e-brake, 9 Russian folks started pouring out of the van like bugs from an ant hole. They marched straight towards our van and all introduced themselves all while lightly smirking and were wildly social to my surprise! We all went in and grabbed the wifi and the lowdown on the gig, the place was making us food but the Russians went across the street with 4 bottles of vodka and invited us over to a bbq. At the bbq they had us take shots “in honor of international friendship.” There was a large crew of friends from Russia who lived in Hamburg now and people who tagged along and a band called What We Feel from Moscow. They told us stories about Russian punk and how it’s all encompassing HC, punk, straight edge, ska, etc..They also started telling us how involved the band is in the anti-fascist movement and to be punk it is a must because they are constant targets to nazis and the dangers of their ideals. They said it’s hard because they have to fight and defend so much to people who are ready to kill, but they are not. They told us about their friend Ivan who was murdered by a nazi group. One of the people who murdered him was afraid after and when he’d jog alone he would jog with a grenade with the pin pulled so he wouldn’t get attacked or arrested, until one day the grenade went off.

We sound checked and then ate more food, which was in my opinion the best food of tour. It was mashed potatoes flavored perfectly and steamed vegetables and this mushroom gravy loaded with seitan and a pinky-out fancy arugula salad. So good. The only bummer is we had to share it with this dumb band from Montreal who were playing upstairs in a separate show. They were just some random smug crusters who were slugging along and not speaking to anyone and the one dude with them was so obnoxious and just like really puffin his chest out and making a bunch of noise and flopping around taking up so much space and just felt like a scummer who probably likes

Show more