Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'm Free...

The blog's gonna suffer while I'm home. Too damn busy to keep it up…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Home Again...

Off until I fly back out on July 31th.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Travel Day Home

I hear my name. Someone's telling me we're almost to the hotel. Roll out of my bunk to check everyone in. Werner's managed to circumvent the tachometer wheel and skip his break, meaning that we're arriving far earlier that expected. From all the tossing and turning in my bunk, I know he was also speeding (on our behalf and at our request, of course). We refer to that as the running of the Werner 500. I get all the room keys, wake everybody else up and get 'em going. Hang out with Werner for a few minutes and then it's hugs and goodbyes with him, too. I'm in my room by 7am and suddenly have time to kill. Shower and drop onto the bed for another hour of slumber.

Out the door around 10:30,. Ridley rings me in hope of meeting for breakfaxt, but we're in separate terminals. We'll have to have that breakfast in Long Beach, I guess. Have my stuff x-rayed TWICE at different locations, and I've produced my passport 4 times by the time I reach the gate. Finally get to the gate around 11:15.

Flying business class – Yay! I don't really mind flying coach going west, but I'm still glad to be up top. I'm in the dome of a 747. Food's much better up here, too. One of the flight attendants, an Asian woman in her late 30's (can you say hottie?) gets all excited when she sees my Apple Powerbook. She just bought her first Mac (a G5) yesterday online, and she can't wait to use it. She's never used a Mac before, but like a lot of people these days, is making the switch. I tell her that within 7 days she'll wonder why she didn't switch years ago. Just like I did back in '98.

Land at Washington Dulles and have to go through Immigrations and Customs. I'm the first U.S. citizen to queue up at the immigrations counter. Finally get through THAT little nightmare about 10 minutes later. I've never been asked the kind of questions that bitch put me through. Didn't seem to like any of my answers, even though they were all truthful.:

Have you ever broken any laws? Well, yeah, there was that little ticket scalping thing in Charlotte in 1982, the bogus B&E in 1991, and the DWI in 2000. Other than that DWI, I haven't had so much as a parking ticket since 1992.

Where else have you lived? Columbia, SC. Charlotte, NC. Suitland, MD. Raleigh for 21 years.

No, I've never lived in Illinois. Yes, I'm sure. Yes, that's the truth.

Now she wants to see my drivers license. Never had to pull it out before for immigrations.

Have you ever owned a handgun? No. I hate guns. Never owned one, never will. Yes, I'm sure. Yes, that's the truth.

She starts in with the old "if you don't tell me the truth now, it'll be worse for you later" bullshit. I'm fucking steaming inside, but don't want it to show.

She finally gives up whatever she's doing on that damn Interpol computer of hers and lets me go.

Off to customs…

Not my day. My bag goes through X-Ray 4 times. Each time after the first, the dude takes more and more crap out of my bag to dump into trays to be X-Rayed separately. FYI, my shoulder bag is the most intricately packed bag of all time. Not 10, but 25 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag. He's got the goddamn thing nearly empty before he finds something which to him evidently justifies all of his efforts – a stupid little (2") screwdriver that's been through at least 10 airports since I bought it.

I'm sorta glad he had THAT to keep his little mind occupied, becaue I'm carrying in excess of $40,000 in various currencies, and if you don't declare when carrying amounts over $10k you can get into really deep shit. He asks if there's anything of value in the locked bank bag. I tell him there are documents and some cash, but that the amount is well under the limit. He bites. I'm free…

All the flights are fucked. Bad weather in the NY/NJ area is screwing everything up. My flight's oversold and they're asking for voluteers. I'd consider it if I hadn't just taken an 8 ½ hour flight from Germany.

I hope my plane's coming in from down south of here, or I may not get home tonight.

Don't these idiots know I've got dinner plans??????

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Show Day in Interlaken, Switzerland

The Alps
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Wake up around 9am. We're about 50 miles away from Bern, Switzerland. I can see the Alps in the distance, so after a leftover cheese sandwich for breakfast, I grab my camera and sit up front with Werner to enjoy the view. Once we get past Bern, the view gets much better. Switzerland is such a beautiful country. Everyone should see what I'm seeing. I snap a bunch of photos, but they're only gonna look so good from inside the bus. I can tell that this is gonna be my favorite 2 hours of the whole tour.

Today, we're playing the Greenfield Festival in Interlaken, Switzerland. The festival site itself is nestled in a valley deep in the Alps. You can keep Red Rocks in Colorado. I think this is the most amazing place I've ever seen for putting on a show. All day long, there are dozens of Para-Sailers dropping into the valley from various mountaintops surrounding us. At one point, I count nearly 30 in the sky at one time. I try to get some shots of them, but they're too far away.

Twenty-five thousand kids today. They've all been camping our here for days. Today is the fourth and final day of the festival. And damn is it hot!!!! All the kids keep jumping into the river running through the site, and lots of them are only wearing swimsuits.

My buddy Greg was here last night with Green Day. I'm sure they had a wild time.

It's the last day of our tour, so guys keep coming out the woodwork with receipts and needs for this and that, keeping me pretty busy.

My bus will depart tonight about 45 minutes after our set. We've gotta haul ass 300 miles to the Frankfurt, Germany airport because some crew guys have flights before 10am. Here in Europe you only average about 50 mph, and by law the driver has to take a 45 minute break every 4 hours. I don't think anyone will miss their flight, but everyone would at least like to grab a quick shower before getting on their planes. The good news is that the Frankfurt Airport Sheraton is built INTO the terminal. You check out, walk through a side door and you're inside. Great!

FYI, my countdown timer (for when I step into the plane) is at 18 hours, 19 minutes, and 50 seconds.

Tick, tock, tick, tock…

Tha band finally arrives around 8pm. Johh, the drummer, comes in raving about the location and asks if I'll come outside and take some pictures os him with the mountains as a backdrop. Spend about 20 minutes doing that and he likes the photos so much that he wants me to have them all printed and sent to him.

We're crazy busy in the production office, between the tour manager, the production manager and myself. Winding down this tour, and gearing up for our U.S. Arena Tour starting the first week of August in Long Beach, CA. Both of those guys will be on (separate) 2 week vacations with their families in the Bahamas during July, so I'll probably get a few extra phone calls during their absence. Both of them put management, crew and band on notice that they would NOT be taking their laptops or mobile phones with them. Translate: won't be anwering email and will call screen to avoid work. Can't say that I blame them.

Shortly after the band hits the stage, we all 3 start tearing down. I've gotta be onstage for the last song tonight. Mick Ridley, our merch guy, will be running out during the song and a lot of his clothing will be coming off.

Crap! I'm out at the bus when the song starts. I grab my camera and run for the stage. He's already down to his boxers and is running around like a madman. The whole band is cracking up while trying to play. Serj, the singer, tries to "pants" him to no avail. Shavo quits playing bass for a few seconds in another attempt to bare his buns. They start wrestling for control of his boxers on stage left, nearly tumbling over a few monitor wedges. Mick manages to keep his dignity (like hs has any left by now) and then the drum tech gives him a mondo wedgie. Band and crew alike are doubled over with laughter and everyone with a camera of any sort is getting it all. Then it's over.

I head back to production for goodbyes, then to the dressing room for hugs and goodbyes with the band. Next, a fond farewell to Sasha, our promoter rep. She's done 3 shows with us on this tour is just super. She grew up in the states and attended Bowling Green (or is it BG State?) in Ohio. Anyway, it's been fun, so hugs and byes and I'm off to the bus.

We split right on time at 12:15. Last round of cheers and beers – I’m off to bunkyland by 1:15.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Show Day in Oberhausen, Germany

Ferris Wheel
Originally uploaded by bd58.
As I type this, the countdown timer's at 46 hours, 4 minutes and 15 seconds. That's how long it is until I step on the plane.

Overslept this morning because I slept with earplugs in. Nice and quiet! So… up around 9. Today we're in Oberhausen, Germany at the Area 4 Festival. Tonight Nine Inch Nails is on right before us. We'll be on from 10:30 to midnight, then depart around 2am for a 10 hour drive to the last show.

As always, it's raining here in Germany. Temp's around 76, with the high forecast for 80. Quite a relief from the last few days. Just checked the weather for Interlaken, Switzerland for tomorrow, our last day. They're looking for 94 today, 89 tomorrow. Crap! Can't wait to get home and sit in my air conditioning.

Pooch sticks his head in the office to tell me there's a Starbucks nearby. YAY!!!! FIrst sighting in 13 days. Off we go…

Turns out there's a H-U-G-E mall about 2 blocks away. I swear, there must be 300 stores or more. And there's at least 2 Starbucks. The place is unbelievably packed. There's so many people in here that it looks like Christmas. We walk around for about 45 minutes, window shopping but not buying anything. I get a few photos of the area – cool train station.

The head of security for today's show is my German buddy Bert, who did venue security for Metallica last year when I was out with them. He comes to hang out whenever he gets a break, and then comes back after the show to spend the last hour with me.

I meet Mark Tremonti during the afternoon. He plays guitar for Alter Bridge, which is the 3 dudes from Creed with a new singer. As much as I disliked Creed's music, I gotta admit that Mark is one of the nicest people I've ever met in this business. As is Scott Phillips, their drummer, who's also in Alter Bridge.

As usual, I don’t watch our set.

Just before rolling, we all give Werner a card, inside which we've all stamped our fingerprints. We also give him a bunch of McDonald's gift certificates. Don't ask, it's an inside joke. Tomorrow, I'm gonna give him a nice bonus for being such a great driver.

Bus call is 2am. We're off to Switzerland for the last show of the tour.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Show Day in Dessel, Belgium

Dinner With Werner
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Wake up at 6:04 to pounding, grinding, and traffic noise. I feel like crap. Need some more sleep, but there's no way with the shitty window not sealing properly to keep the noise out. Lay around the bed for another hour trying to sleep, and finally get up at 7 to start my day. It's 65 miles to the festival site. When we leave the hotel at 10, I crawl into my cave in hopes of a catnap.

Wake up at the festival. It is so damn hot. Feels like a million degrees and 98% humidity. The production office is barely cooler than outside, so it looks like I'll be sitting in wet cotton all day again today.

Unlike most of the festivals we've been playing over here, this one is strictly heavy metal. In other words, all the bands SUCK! Mid-afternoon, I'm working in the office when a familiar melody floats by. Alter Bridge, the remnants of Creed (the worst band ever in the history of the known world) are onstage and they're butchering Deep Purple's "Highway Star". For a few seconds, I consider going on stage and beating them with their instruments, but the rage subsides. One or our crew guys, Andy Battye, tells me about his favorite t-shirt from a few years ago. It had a picture of Jesus on it, along with a caption that read "Even Jesus Hates Creed".

Note to Paige: I don't care. Get over it! Creed sucked! They sucked then and they suck now! For all time, they will suck, suck, suck!

And fucking Nickelback, too! They SUCK!

End of rant.

Did I mention how hot it is?

I've been running a countdown timer on my wristwatch since Monday. As I write this, I have 65 hours, 48 minutes and 30 seconds until I step on the plane to go home.

Did I mention that I'm ready to go home?

Today is by far the worst catering I've had in years. The one thing that everyone keeps saying is that it isn't good enough to feed a dog.

My awesome bus driver Werner ("FINGERPRINTS!") takes matters into his own hands and whips out his cooking gear from under the bus. He makes a tomato and onion salad and cooks up a bunch of Spaghetti Arrabiata – enough to feed everyone on my bus. Dan puts a sign on the side of the bus that says "Fuck Festival Catering". We take turns sitting around the card table on the shady side of the bus while Werner feeds us. What a great guy!

Funny little story about "fingerprints". Werner is completely anal about his bus. He keeps it spotless at all times. Which we love. If anyone dares knock on one of the windows, he yells "FINGERPRINTS, FINGERPRINTS!" in his Austrian accent. It just totally cracks us up!

He is so good natured and puts up with a lot of our crap. Some of our humor goes over his head, and vice versa. But he's the best driver I've ever had in Europe and his is by far the best bus I've had.

Didn't watch the show tonight. Grabbed a shower during our set to get the grubby offa me. Bus call is 3am tonight because it's only 150 km to the next gig. Head to bunkworld around 3:15…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Day Off in Brussels, Belgium

European Union Building
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Today is our last day off during the European leg of the tour. We've got 3 festivals in a row to finish (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and then everyone flies home on Monday.

I woke up on the bus around 9am. Never fails – as soon as the driver gets off the highway and starts doing start/stop driving, I wake up. I can only sleep as long as the bus is moving on the open road. Same shit as in America.

Make it to the hotel in Brussels by 10:30. After getting everybody checked in, I take a walk to find a USA Today. I've only read (maybe) 5 of them in the month we've been here. I feel like I don't know what's been going on back home.

Holy Shit! It is so fucking hot here today! It feels like North Carolina. I want to sit in my room in the air conditioning all day.

Take a bath and fall asleep in the tub. Follow that with a nice shower and then spend most of the afternoon working in my room. Finally get out late in the afternoon and walk to a park nearby. Spend a couple of hours people watching and watching the kids play. What a great way to veg out and spend the afternoon. But it's so hot I could just melt into the bench! Oh well, at least it's in the shade.

Lots of cool buildings here. Stark contrast in architecture between the old world buildings and the uber-modern EU buildings. The European Union is headquartered here and seems to have buildings everywhere you turn.

Mick Ridley, the merch dude, rings me up and wants to go eat seafood for dinner. We make plans to do that later.

Can't find any seafood places in the neighborhood and wind up going for curry instead. None of the restaurants have A/C, so they're all stifling hot. I'm miserable from this heat. The food doesn't help because it's hot as all hell. The waiter brings a fan over by our table and that helps a bit. Afterwards, we go to Kelly O'Shea's, a nearby Irish pub. I nearly get sick trying to drink beer in the heat. Can't do it. Off to try one more pub, but it's hot as hell, too. It turns into a disco at 10 so we head back to the hotel. Great relief to walk in the air conditioned lobby. We sit and drink a couple of beers. Werner, my bus driver joins us, as does Za, the guitar tech. I run grab my laptop and check my email from the bar while hanging out. There's no high speed in the room, but it's available free downstairs.

Finally get to bed around 1am after fighting with the window frame in my room. It opens, and someone has managed to bend it slightly, resulting in a bad seal against the frame. I'm on the 10th floor and the road noise is significant. Plus there's a huge skyscraper going up next door and I'm sure the noise will come early. We'll see how well I do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Show Day in Berlin, Germany

Berlin Beachfront
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Woke up around 8am on the bus. Sat up front with Werner (the driver) as we came into Berlin. It's such a beautiful city, everything is so green. It reminds me of North Carolina.

We're not supposed to load in until noon, but my bus is at the gig at 8:40. The local promoter wasn't expecting us, so there's no catering set up for us. Have a cup of coffee and a bag of crisps for breakfast and go set up my work area.

What a strange venue! The building used to be a train repair shop. Now it's an entertainment complex. There's an artificial beach set up at one end of the building, and there's a swimming pool built into the river. I've never seen anything like it.

It's another one of those days where I hardly ever leave production until 1am. Didn’t see the show, but I did take a few photos outside the building.

Drink a couple of beers with the guys on the bus after the show, and finally head off to sleep around 2.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Show Day in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam Statue
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Woke up early – 6:04am – just couldn't sleep. Got up and tried to do a little web surfing, trying to get caught up on friends' blogs.

Today we're playing the Rotterdam Ahoy, a venue which has no air conditioning. It's hot as hell outside today, so guess what? It's hot as hell in here, too. I spend 14 hours sitting in wet cotton. Joy!

Not much to report today. The Cirque Du Soleil production of Dralion is set up in the parking lot of today's venue. I saw the show last year with Paige. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen and worth every cent of the $65.00 it cost to see it. I'd like to go stick my head in and see it for a few minutes, but it doesn't look like I'll get the chance.

Didn't see our show. Mountains of receipts to process. More Joy!

Didn't have tiime to take any photos today, so I'll just stick one in from yesterday.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Day Off in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Mick Ridley Shares The Love
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Woke up around 10:30am on the bus, still another 2 hours to go to the hotel. Woke up roasting – seems the bus A/C has taken a crap. By the time we get to the hotel, we'll all be a bunch of miserable bastards. I have a leftover cheese sandwich from last night's aftershow food for breakfast.

Pull in to the Rotterdam Hilton about 12:30pm. Get my bus checked in. Turns out the other crew bus (along with the 2 band buses) got caught in the logjam caused by an accident in Germany. My bus passed the scene of the accident just after 8am, being delayed by it for only 15 minutes. We had bolted the venue an hour ahead of the other buses last night (wanted to spend every precious minute here, rather than there), to by the time the other buses got to the accident, the backed-up traffic was crazy. The other crew bus finally gets to the hotel at 5pm. I'm glad we split early – sitting still all that time with a broken A/C would have SUCKED!

Worked, showered, and generally lazed around the room until around 5:30, then went walking around in search of today's cool photo.

Nine of us go across the street to Thai Thani for dinner around 7. Great food. And for once, when we asked for extra spicy, we GOT extra spicy. Whew! By the end, everyone was sweating. Couldn't drink beer fast enough, but I sure tried! ;-)

After dinner, a few guys want to go to the Irish pub around the corner. I want to sit in the open-air plaza cafes and people watch while drinking, but I go along with the crowd. One beer there and we're done. Another round or two outside a cafĂ©, then off to yet another Irish pub. When a bunch of guys decide to take a taxi to a strip club, me and a few others decide to head home to the hotel. Twenty minutes later I'm snoozing…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Oresund Bridge

Oresund Bridge
Originally uploaded by bd58.
I decided to sleep in, not wanting to get up to take shots of the bridge. Werner, my driver, said he'd be happy to do it for me. After seeing the photos he took, I hate missing it.

The Oresend Bridge was opened on 1st July, 2000. The bridge links Denmark and Sweden together for the first time since the Ice Age. The new road and rail project covers 10.5 miles (17km) between Malmo and Copenhagen and now physically links together Sweden and the rest of Western Europe.

The ferry that goes between Malmo and Copenhagen takes three-quarters of an hour while travellers using the bridge can get across in a car in just over ten minutes.

Plans to link Malmo and Copenhagen dates back to the 1800s. However, nationalist objections in the 19th century and environmental protesters in recent years were able to block plans to link the people from these two great cities.

The Oresend Bridge took four years and cost £3.3 billion to build. The bridge at 1,624 metres, is the second longest suspension bridge in the world. The main bridge pylons are the tallest structures in Sweden, with a height of 203.5 metres. The Oresend Link passes over the artificial island of Pepparholm and through the world's longest submerged tunnel beneath the Danish section of the sound.

Designed by George Rothne, the bridge has no cross-beams between the pylon towers. Rothne explained: "I don't like too much flamboyance. And I wanted the bridge to be, if not S-shaped, then curved, and for the girders to be black. Bright colours would have faded away; but black is versatile and can serve as a variety of colours, depending on the light and from where you view the bridge."

The venue looks like a overgrown high school gym, but it holds 5,000. Didn't see the show tonight – getting caught up on work. Actually TRIED to see the last 2 songs, but it must have been 110 degrees in there and it was so humid that when I opened the backstage door, my glasses completely fogged up. I'll pass on the heat & humidity.

12 hour drive on the bus tonight to Rotterdam for a day off. I sit up waaay too late hanging with the audio crew and Ridley. What a bunch of funny fuckers.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos from my travels.

It's All About Mars...


The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.

The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within
34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification.

Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.

By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this with your children and grandchildren. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN !

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Show Day in Hultsfred, Sweden

Hultsfred Festival
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Sat up late last night on the bus ride. Eventually, it was just Mick Ridley and myself, splitting the occasional John Smith's Extra Smooth.

Amazing moon tonight. We're so far north that it just sits upon the horizon and is an incredible shade of bright orange. I tried to get a couple of pictures of it, but didn't like the way any of them turned out. Mick and I discussed the upcoming tour of the US. Even though he's British, he'll be coming over on a work visa to do the tour because he's handled the band's merch throughout Europe for 7 years now, so he's family.

Finally got to Bunkyland around 3am. Woke up just aroung 9am, about 50 clicks (kilometers) from the gig. Today, we're at the Hultsfred Festival in Hultsfred, Sweden. Sold out again today – 31,100 strong. The stage is set right beside the lake. The kids in the audience don't like to use the Porta-John's, they just piss in the lake. The guys do it all day, the girls wait until after dark (11:30 pm). There's no safety barrier or fence of any kind to keep them from walking right out into it from the audience area, so all day long it's swimmers and pissers. One of our audio guys (Florian) went swimming in the lake this morning – ugh! Later, Florian and Dave Coyle (another audio tech) took a tumble off the edge of the stage.

Not much room in the production office today, so I did settlement early, packed my stuff, and was hanging out on the bus by 5:00. Heard a familiar song, so I went to the stage to see who was playing it. There was some sort of Swedish All-Star band backing singers from other bands that had played the festival over the last couple of days. The song that got me up there was "Shake Some Action" by the Flamin' Groovies, which dates to the early 70's. Some drop dead gorgeous chick in a business suit and heels is standing in the wing on stage left, strumming a Strat. She's next up with the band and does a smokin' version of Nick Lowe's "Heart of the City". Talked to her later in the catering tent and found out she's one of the girls from Sahara Hot Nights, my fave all-girl rock band from Sweden. I saw them in Glasgow 4 years ago opening for The Donna's, who they completely smoked. Chilled out with the audio guys for awhile and then I watched our show for the first time this tour. Watched all 90 minutes from stage left. Took a bunch of photos – be sure to click on the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right near the top of the page to see some of them.

Sat up late again with Ridley. Finally crawling in around 2am. Want to get up early to get photos of the Oresund Bridge…

Friday, June 17, 2005

Show Day in Oslo, Norway

Originally uploaded by bd58.
Wake up around 6:30, beating my alarm by an hour. After a shower, I meet up with another couple of early-rising crew guys for breakfast. I want to be awake when we go through the fjords to get a few photos. Unfortunately, it's too foggy for any good shots.

As we reach the fjords, a couple of outbound submarines pass by on our port side (that's the left for all you landlubber's).

Even through the fog, this is some of the most beautiful scenery you could ever imagine. I'm amazed that you see the occasional house in such isolated places. No access by land, no electricity, only way to get supplies is via boat. Not for me, but wow…

We dock soon after our scheduled 9:15am slot. Through immigrations and onto the buses. Most folks crawl into their bunks for more sleep on our 5 hour journey. Me, too. Get a couple of hours of naptime, which I'll pay for tonight with a bunch of tossing and turning. Either that, or it's Ambien Time! Some guys are sporting massive hangovers. Mick Ridley looks like shit and so does Brett Stec. Several crew guys got laid last night here on the "Love Boat".

Small festival tonight, only 7800 people or so. That's a sellout of course. It's a small amphitheater in a park in downtown Oslo. I get a few crowd shots from the ground and from the stage, and a few of the band while they're playing.

It's after 11pm and it's still daylight. Daylight junkies would love this place. Bus call's not until 1:30, so I've got time to upload some photos and blog entries.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Day Off On The Ferry

Princess of Scandinavia
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Today we're taking the ferry from Newcastle, UK to Kristiansand, Norway. We'll be aboard the Princess of Scandinavia, part of the DFDS Seaways fleet. Departure is scheduled for 3:00 pm and it'll be a 19 hour journey.

Get onboard and throw my bag into my cabin. Our crew races for the bars. As everyone else boards, Mick Ridley and I pop into one of the bars for a beer. Afterwards, we go outside on deck 6 to get some air. After the ferry departs, Mck's wife and his son are waiting to wave goodbye about a half mile from the dock. Turns out that Mick lives about 10 minutes away from here.

I run into some crew folks and have an early dinner with them, then go back to my cabin for a shower. Deciding that I want to see "Hitch" (the Will Smith movie), I go to the guest services desk on deck 5 to buy a ticket. I ask about the capacity of the cinema, and I’m told there's not many tickets left, and that the bulk of them have been purchased by early-teens and pre-teens. Not wanting to suffer through that, I'm back to my cabin for a nap.

Wake up around 8:30pm and start blogging a bit. Sure wish the ship had internet access.

Bounce back and forth the rest of the evening between the band bar, where the really cheesy lounge band is playing and the "adult bar", where the folks 40 and over are enjoying conversation and and an acoustic guitar player. While I’m in there with a couple of crew dudes, three drunk-as-hell girls come and take seats with us. They're from Denmark and had taken the ferry over to Newcastle to go shopping. Now they're heading home and living large on the Love Boat. One's Korean, her name's Ki (pronounced Key), and she is w-a-s-t-e-d. All up in my face and wants to talk about American movies. Keeps begging me to go back to the other bar to go dancing. I'll pass.

Meet some biker dudes form Phoenix. They're over here riding across Europe. One of them is a big System fan, so I hook 'em up with some tickets for our show tomorrow in Oslo.

Back in the band bar and I notice it's after 1am, time for me to turn into a pumpkin. I slip out and head for my cabin, sticking my head into slot machine world on the way because it's on my deck. Three or four crew guys are in there and every one of 'em is talking shit to a pretty Scandinavian girl.

I give a couple of the guys a handful of shitters (Norweigan Kroners) and tell 'em to hit the slots – I get half if they hit.

In my jammies and in bed at 1:30.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Show Day in Glasgow

Rainy and cold in Glasgow today. Same old, same old. The promoter here is Donald Macleod (pronounced McCloud). I've been doing shows with him for 13 years now. He's a fucking hoot, and always takes good care of me, no matter what band I'm here with. A day off in Glasgow is a guaranteed good time – wish we had one today. Today is Donald's 44th birthday. He regales me with tales of hurling last night while celebrating. His wife is just hearing about it for the first time as he tells me, and she's less than impressed. Oops.

Today is also Shawn Shebetka's birthday. He's our Set Carpenter. That's him with the dog in my blog entry photo from May 29th. I order Shawn a birthday cake and a case of assorted local Scottish beers and ales for the celebration after the show.

After the show's down, the drinking starts. Donald produces a bottle of some shit I've never seen or heard of.

Shots are poured.

Shots are consumed.

Faces are made.

More shots are poured.

I'm not much on liquor, but he's my buddy and it's his birthday.

Wish I could remember what it's called, because I never, ever, ever want to drink that shit again. Hope my head doesn't hurt tomorrow.

I was busy when Shawn received his cake. Heard he took a big bite our of it, then did a faceplant into it. Would've loved a photo of that.

Take a drunken shower and crawl off into Bunkyland…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Show Day in Manchester, UK

Ahhh, found the Ambien last night. Dead asleep around midnight. Up at 6am, feeling like a million bucks. Check email, and I'm waiting outside Starbucks when they unlock the door at 7. Hang out there for about 40 minutes, then it's back to the hotel for a shower. Bus call for my bus isn't until 9:45, so I've got some time to kill. Although we get free breakfast here at the hotel, I'll hold off for the catering at the gig. Can't believe this hotel doesn't have beans for breakfast. The traditional English breakfast consists of eggs, sauteed mushroom, broiled tomatoes, and baked beans. Plus meat for those of you that like to chew on dead rotted parts from animal corpses. Then again, eggs are just unfertilized chicken periods, so what do I know?

Doing our own show today here in Manchester at the M.E.N. Arena. That's the Manchester Evening News Arena for those of you in the audience. Typical Enormo-Dome. It was voted "International Venue Of The Year" by Pollstar Magazine in 2002 and "Busiest Venue Of The Year" in 2003. About 10,000 will be in attendance for tonight's show.

It's nice to be indoors after 4 rainy cold festivals in a row. I take a break during the afternoon to got get a couple of photos of the Boddington's Brewery, which is directly across the street. If you've never had a pint of "The Cream of Manchester", run right out and find some. I'll be picking up a couple of six-packs from the Peace Street Market as soon as I get home to Raleigh.

The show was uneventful for me. Tried to take a few photos, but they all turned out shit. Maybe tomorrow night…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Day Off in Manchester, UK

Manchester Piccadilly Gardens
Originally uploaded by bd58.
After getting in my bunk at 4:30am, I'm up at 5:45 to check everyone in to the hotel. Meet Big Bob Bender (our venue security guy) for breakfast, then off to bed again around 8:30am. Get up at 11:00am, because I'm meetiing Mike Amato (tour manager) for lunch. Also have to give him the videotape and CD of last night performance. The band did a "runner" (straight from the stage to the warmed up and waiting buses to beat the crowd away from the site), so he couldn't stick around to take possession of the recordings. Considered uploading the material to the Web for a minute (just kidding, Serj, really), then decide I like getting regular paychecks in this business.

Mike cabs over from the band's hotel, and he and I have fish & chips nearby. Afterwards, he heads back and I'm back to my room for a long soak in the tub, followed by my first shower of the day. Afterwards, I go for a walk. Do a little shopping – HUGE mall right down the street from the hotel. Run into some crew dudes. We head for Starbucks for my first fix in 2 weeks, maybe more.

Wander around, take some photos, then back to my room for blog work.

Take another shower. Four days between showers and you really feel like scrubbing your skin off.

Get a few phone calls about meeting in the pub across the street and/or going for Indian food. I decide to chill alone. Walk down the street for a jacket potato with beans and cheese, which I wash down with a pint of John Smith's Original Bitter. Stop for another J.S.O.B. at the C-store on the way back, and plan to finish my evening by surfing, blogging, and believe it or not, one more soak in the tub. I'd love to sleep for 7 hours tonight. Now where did I put that Ambien?

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Show Day in Donington, UK

Today is the Download Festival at Donington Park, not far from Nottingham. My buddy Dave Clayton is coming to the show today and bringing me some way cool CD's and DVD's he's made for me. Dave's a great friend I've known for some 12 years now – you'll remember he's the guy that came to hang out at the Brixton show in London.

I wish I had a day off here. I'd love to go hang out at Dave's house and veg out watching music videos. He's got the most awesome collection of stuff you could ever imagine. And the best fish & chips shop I've ever gotten food from is just around the corner from him.

Also, not far away in the Nottingham City Centre, is Nottingham Castle. Under the castle is the oldest continually operating pub in the world, "Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem." Been there a few times with Dave. Great pub. Check it out HERE.

Go there next time you're in Nottingham, if you can.

We had a helluva journey getting here. Left Scheessel around 3am last night, drove to Calais, France for the ferry to the UK. Had to go through UK customs on the French side. No problems. But as we approach the ferry lanes, we're flagged down by 4 French policepersons (3 dudes and a chick). It's like they just magically appeared to stop US. Produce passports (AGAIN!). Damn, now it's everyone OFF the bus. They want to search all the luggage bays, and then the interior of the bus as well. Guitar tech Za has some sort of heart pills with him, and their presence sends the Froggies into "bad cop" overdrive. The drug dog appears and spends 20 minutes in the bus. We consider running for it, but don't think any of us can swim the 22 miles across the English Channel.

Za's briefcase gets hauled off the bus by the ladycop. Once it's confirmed to be his, he's done for. Out come his other bags, and off he goes to a building across the street. Later, we find out they kept asking him about cannabis use, and were using all the usual intimidation tactics – "If you tell the truth now, things will go much easier for you"… blah, blah, blah.

The poor guy is put in a small room and told to strip. He's buck-naked in front of the 4 cops. Yep, including ladycop. He warned 'em that when he stripped, the smell could get funky. Remember, it's now Sunday and none of us has had a shower since Thursday morning. He told me that when he took off his boxer's HE nearly gagged. All 4 Froggies put on rubber gloves to search his clothing, but he got lucky and they didn't practice amateur proctology on him. Of course they found absolutely nothing, because he'd tossed his chunk of hash (living in his crotch) into the bushes by the bus when they weren't looking.

45 minutes after being stopped, he's back and we're on our way onto the ferry.

Arrive at Donington around 5:30. System's on at 8:45, so there's lots of work for the crew to do to get ready for our set. Bands have been playing all day, and I've got lots of band friends and crew friends here. Get quality hang time with the Slipknot boys and the Mudvayne gang. Used to work for both bands. Slipknot was the first band I ever did tour accounting for, so I owe 'em for giving me a shot.

Takes me 20 minutes to do my show settlement, so I’m done for the day.

Dave Clayton shows up and hangs out with me for a couple of hours, Like me, he doesn't give a crap to see the show. Says he only came to give me the CD's and DVD's anyway. We go to the VIP tent to watch a couple of songs on the video monitor. It's the best I can be motivated to do, as the stage is about a half-mile from my office. I wanted to get a couple of photos from the stage of the crowd - 45,000 strong - but it's just not to be.

Horrible storm blows in, just like when we were here in 2002. Rains like hell, then clears out. The temp drops bigtime.

It's decided that we're bussing to Manchester at 3am. I've got to stay up to wake up the bus drivers, finally getting to my bunk around 4:30am. Won't be sleeping long.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Show Day in Scheessel, Germany

Woke up on the bus not far from Scheessel, Germany, where today's festival (3 of 4) is being held. Scheesel is a lovely little town not far from Bremen, which is home to the Beck's Brewery.

Again…cold…rain. High around 45 degrees, and again it rains all day. Didn't see any bands again today, including System.

Sorry for being so damn boring right now. I'm still reeling from the food poisoning episode.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Show Day in Neuhausen, Germany

Still feel like crap (sorry!). Gonna be a long day. Doing the Southside Festival in Neuhausen, Germany. Second of 4 festivals in a row, which the only way to get through is to pretend you're at the dentist. Be patient, relax, and it'll be over before you know it.

Didn't see the show. Can't really say much about today. It's as if I'm not even here. At least I can keep food down today.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Show Day in Nickelsdorf, Austria

Holy Shit! What a day! Woke up with severe cramps and some serious Montezuma's Revenge. Went for Chinese food in Eisenstadt last night with swaggie. I got the shrimp, he got something chicken. Guess the shrimp was a bad idea. Faulty lower plumbing 6 times today and threw up 3 times. Really, really cleaned it all out. Felt like shit all day (pardon the pun).

Worse yet, today we're at the Nova Rock Festival, which is the first of 4 festivals in a row. High temp around 50, and rained all day. I mean every single minute, never stopped. Which made it a lot of fun the 3 times I had to step out of the production office trailer to throw my guts up. Couldn't make it to the portajohn fast enough, so I'd just open the door and toss beside the trailer.

You're welcome – I know right now you're thinking "Gee, Bob, thanks for sharing that with me."

Make several attempts to eat something. No go, can't even hold water down. Can't wait for this day to be over.

This is a big festival in the middle of nowhere in Austria. My buddy Greg Howard's gonna be here Sunday with Green Day. Maybe I'll leave him a map to my puke trench.

There's so much deep mud that people keep walking out of their shoes. You know what I mean, you take a step, the shoe stays in the mud, and your foot comes right out. Sucks!

No photos today. Can't hold the camera. Can barely hold my head up.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see photos of my travels.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Day Off in Eisenstadt, Austria

Esterhazy Palace
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Finally, a real day off. Not a day spent driving a thousand miles, but some quality time to do as you please.

The bus arrives at the hotel just past 9am. I jump off and get everyone checked in. Wake up everybody on my bus so they can get into their rooms.

Today we're staying in Eisenstadt, Austria. Eisenstadt means Iron City in German, which is the native language here. Tomorrow's show is in Nickelsdorf, Austria, about 35 miles from here. This is supposedly as close a hotel as we could get to the festival site for a group our size. The band's staying in Vienna today because there are better rooms there and more things for them to do.

I've got a great room with a nice view of this part of the town.

Off to breakfast with a few of the guys, and then I head out for a walk. Mick Ridley, our British merch dude comes along, and soon we're sticking our heads into a few shops. He buys a few CD's. I'm just window shopping. New Levi's 501 jeans on sale for 60 Euros ($77 usd), regularly 80 Euros ($102 usd). Wow! Local clothing is much more reasonably priced. Mick wants to spend too much time shopping and I want to walk. When he decides to stop and get his hair cut, I keep going and wind up at the Esterhazy Palace, near the Zentrum (city center). That's it in the photo above. I learned that the palace provided composer Joseph Haydn with over 40 years of inspiration for his extraordinary music. Inside the palace is Haydn Hall, one of the most beautiful and acoustically superb concert halls in the world. Un-be-liev-a-ble would do for a description.

I wind up spending most of the day walking around, just vegging. The high temperature never reaches 60, and the wind is strong all day. When the clouds obscure the sun, it gets downright nippy. If we could have weather like this every day for the rest of the tour, I'd be happy.

The buses are leaving the hotel at 5pm to go load in at 6pm for our show tomorrow. The crew won't get back to the hotel until 1am, and I have no reason to go to the festival site tonight, so I stay here and continue my adventures on foot. Mick, the swaggie, also stays behind and we make plans for drinks and dinner later.

I found 3 cool restaurants and about 6 bars that looked interesting while I was out, so we'll go hopping in a bit…

Be sure to click on the Bobzilla's Photos link at the top right of the page to check out some of the photos I shot today.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Show Day in Munich

Nothing special to report today. Got caught up on posting all the previous Blog entries and did a bunch of paperwork. Didn't see the show. Linus, a tech friend from the Deftones, was in town with another band and came to the show.

Pooch fired up the blender on the bus after the show. Can't remember the name of today's drink, but I can tell you it tasted strongly of rum, with a hint of some fruity flavor hidden in it.

Around 2:30am, I'm off to bunkyland…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see more photos.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Day Off - Travel to Munich

Calais Lighthouse
Originally uploaded by bd58.
After leaving the London venue, we finally make it to Dover around 3:30am. The ferry we'll be on doesn't leave until 4:45. Sucks! The ferry loads around 4:15, and about 7-8 of us head to the bar for Boddington's. I go to the Duty-Free shop and buy 4 huge bottles of Barcardi. Pooch's gonna get the blender going again later today on our all-day drive to Munich. Today's drink is going to be called Pooch's Orange Orgasm.

As the ferry approaches Calais, the captain announces that there's no operating dock available. We'll have to wait an hour or so before we can dock and unload. Brutal.

Beautiful red sunrise. By the time I got to the outdoor deck to get a shot, the clouds had obscured it. Starts to rain as we pull out of Calais. Gonna drive through France and Belgium on the way I think. That's the best I can think after being up all night. Again.

Off to my bunk shortly after 8am.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see more photos.

Day Off - Travel to Munich, Part II

Killing Time On The Ferry
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Wake up around 1pm. Feel pretty good considering I was up all night and have now gotten only 5 hours sleep. We hope to get to the hotel by 7 this evening. It'll be shower, dinner, bedtime, pretty much just that quick.

So much for that idea. Finally pull into the hotel just after 8. Grab a shower and meet some guys in the bar for some pre-dinner drinks. Budweiser!!!!! Yay! I'm so sick of Corona's over here. Figures that the Munich Hilton would have Buds. We knock back a couple of rounds and then head downstairs to the Chinese Restaurant in the basement. Wow! What a meal! It may have been the best Chinese food I've ever had. Expensive, but worth every Euro.

Afterwards, everyone's off to bed except me and Brett. We head back to the bar, he's craving one more Scotch. It's around 11 now, so the bar's full of German businessmen (and women). We pack it in after one more round and head upstairs…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see more photos.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Show Day Three in London

John and Serj
Originally uploaded by bd58.




Who put this dirty rag in my mouth? Slept in again, gotta get it in gear to make bus call. Have to be at the desk a half hour early to get through the check out.

Show 3 of 3 tonight. Then off to Munchen (Munich) for a day off.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see more photos.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Show Day Two in London

London Tube Station
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Sleep in. Imagine that. Up around 10, not much to do today. Not going to the gig until 4:30, so I take a nice long walk through the neighborhood. Sit for awhile at Starbucks, people watching through the front windows.

Guess the show went well. I didn't see any of it. In my office catching up on receipts.

About a dozen of us gather at the hotel bar again. I'm hooking the bartender up with 4 tickets for Sunday night's show, so he refuses to let me pay for anything. Great! Spend most of my time in the bar tonight talking to Jenny and Carole. They've come down to London to see a show. They're both in their 40's and work in a lab at a hospital in the Newcastle area. Big night out for them here, then several hours via the train to get home tomorrow. They're both funny as hell and cool to hang with.

Stay up waaaay too late. I'll pay for this tomorrow…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see more photos.

Friday, June 3, 2005

Show Day One in London

Brixton Academy in London
Originally uploaded by bd58.
First of 3 nights at the Brixton Academy in London. 5,000 capacity, all 3 shows sold out. My buddy Dave Clayton from Nottingham comes down to hang out, arriving mid afternoon. Since I won't be settling the shows until Sunday night, I don't have much to do today. I'd planned on getting caught up on a few things, but I'll blow them off until tomorrow so I can hang with Dave. We go out in search of a Starbucks, but we're in Brixton, which is a kinda rough neighborhood, so there's none to be found.

The band's British accountant (Ian Thomas) also comes out tonight. He, Dave and I watch the show from stage right. Sounds like ass from here.

Just before the end, Dave has to split for home. It'll take him 2 hours to get there, and he has to be at work at 5:30am. No way I could make that drive – I'd be sleeping in the car.

After the show, we're off to the hotel bar. It's our only option nearby. All the pubs close at 11pm, except for the ones that pay (dearly) for the "late night" license. Hotel bar's getting 3.80 gbp ($7 usd) for draft beers. Comraderie wins out, money's blown, good time had by most. Off to bed…

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see more photos.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Day Off in London, Part I

Originally uploaded by bd58.
Wake up around 5:30am in the Calais-Dover Ferry waiting area. Pooch, our foh engineer fires up the blender by 6, and the drinking commences. He makes a concoction he calls Virgin Pussy Juice. Orange juice concentrate, grenadine, ice, and rum. Lots of rum. We get hammered. Onto the ferry and straight to the bar for Boddington's beer, which is known as "The Cream of Manchester". When I step away to buy a round, Pooch takes the self portrait shot.

Try to get to the outside deck to shoot some photos of the White Cliffs of Dover, but it's so foggy you can't see much beyond the end of the ship.

After landing, I finally get a shot of the cliffs. From the bus, of course, driving away. Needless to say, the cliffs look a lot more impressive when seen from a distance, like from the ferry. Especially just as the sun is rising. Maybe you can make out the UFO's in the photo…

Fall back in the bunk to sleep off the VPJ buzz en route to London.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see more photos.

The White Cliffs of Dover

Cliffs of Dover and UFO's
Originally uploaded by bd58.

Day Off in London, Part II

Vauxhall Bridge
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Make great time getting to the hotel. I stagger in to check everyone in and head for a shower. Great hotel, although everything seems to be a few blocks away from it. Find a pub called the White Swan to take care of my Fish & Chips craving. Average at best. I hate that there's no authentic chipshop nearby, where the F&C is served in a paper cone. Have a beer with lunch, which completely kicks my buzz back in.

Walk over by the Thames and take the shot above. Across the street to my rear (out of the photo) is MI-5, the British equivalent to the U.S. Secret Service. They deal with domestic intelligence. To the left in the photo is MI-6 (their version of the CIA), who handle international. You know, all the James Bond type stuff. I take a couple more shots of the building and can't help thinking that there a lens of some sort (surveillance, sniper rifle, etc.) trained on me as I do so. I thought the condo towers to the right looked pretty cool, and that's the Vauxhall Bridge below them.

Back to the room for a nap, then meet up with a few guys back at the White Swan to start our evening of festivities. After several rounds of John Smith's (hand drawn from the keg), we're off for a curry dinner. Find a great place a block away and between the 5 of us, we order an obscene amount of food. 150 gbp (about $275 usd) later, we're stuffed and back to the White Swan for the last hour before closing.

Follow the Bobzilla's Photos link at the right to see more photos.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Show Day in Paris

Eiffel Tower
Originally uploaded by bd58.
Late arriving in Paris this morning – hit the edge of the city around 8am. I'm up with the driver doing my sightseeing from the shotgun seat. If you look close enough in the photo, you can make out the Eiffel Tower. OK, so it's a few miles away, but that's as close as we're gonna get today.

Today's venue is called Bercy. That's it. No sponsor names, nothing. Bercy. As far as I know it's the only venue in the world that has an exterior covered in grass. I've heard for years how they mow and maintain the grass, but until today I've never done a show here on mowing day. Their mowers look sorta like little hovercrafts and they let them ride down the slopes of the exterior via ropes. The guy on the left in the photo has his going horizontal to the ground, the guy on the right going vertical. Pretty cool to watch…

As usual, a sold out show tonight. The crowd's some 17,000 strong. I tried to get out to the front of house position to watch a song or two, but the floor is so tightly packed I can't even get ON it. Don't feel like swimming through The Sweaty Things, so it's back to the office for me.

After the show, we all have a big hang in the bus area. I finally head to my bunk around 2am in hopes of getting some sleep before the ferry...

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Mowing The Arena

Bercy Mowers
Originally uploaded by bd58.

Mowing the arena in Paris...

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