Malmo – Plan B, March 18, 2019

Bright and early for the ferry from Rostock to Gedser, the crossing was pretty uneventful, the seas calm with only a gentle pitch and roll to the boat, but on the other side we got the old sniff down from Denmark’s finest dog cops. The Danish border patrol’s suspicions were stirred up by the fact that we looked the way a rock band looks after they’ve been in a van for several weeks, and also because of our van’s Dutch plates. After finding nothing, despite Officer Dog giving us all and the van a thorough inspection, the border cops, made up entirely of the kind of stiff humourless lads wearing perpetual frowns and pronouncing ‘Marijuana’ with four syllables, let us continue our travels on towards Malmo in Sweden. The venue was named Plan B, and was a converted garage, and in places it still retained that feel, the band room for example, was a caravan trailer tucked in the corner of the building. It was tucked away in an industrial kind of area, and the blokes at the venue were very impressed that we’d managed to get there by ourselves without resorting to phoning them up for directions, as they said bands usually did.

As SF soundchecked I went on another prowl about for records, finding a very cool video store with some decent stuff and a legit supermarket with a vinyl section full of avant-techno and minimal-synth nestled next to the bakery. I wandered into a Swedish mall and the band came and met me and we got some food in a restaurant that didn’t take cash. In Sweden, almost no-one carries cash. They all seemed perplexed by the idea that they couldn’t pay using some kind of Swedish equivalent to PayPal, despite the fact that that app requires a Swedish bank account, something you would never expect a touring American band and the scruffy English punk that tagged along with them to possess. Some people also tried to engage me in a Brexit conversation and I respectfully declined.

Back at the venue, nestled into the pile of beanbags up against one wall, Jarrett turned to me and asked, “What city are we in?” to which I gave a non-committal reply of “Malmo, I think?” Tour fatigue was definitely creeping up on us. On the homestretch now, but fully unmoored from place and time, I could not have told you what day of the week it was if you’d given me seven guesses. You realise why songs like The Ramones’s I Wanna Be Sedated exist, why people get so attached to the few constants you have like the van, your instruments, or a particular playlist or song. It’s a weird form of existence, and total respect to everyone who fits into it and powers through. Touring is an immensely fulfilling thing though, it’s knackering, it’s stressful and surreal, it’s great fun, but Jarrett had nailed it when we were talking about it a few days before that the most important thing about it is that it just gives you an incredible sense of purpose. Knowing exactly what you have to do every day. Gotta get to the show, gotta play as hard as you can, and you gotta get up the next day and do it again. Playing music, at whatever level you do it, to thousands or just in your bedroom, whether you can shred like Marissa or just working your way through your first power chords, is one of the best feelings in the world. And it’s an incredible privilege to have people who want to come see your band.