Hardcore isn't about what it says on the back of your shirt, it's an exchange of ideas and experiences, a broadening of horizons and an escape from everyday life. Whilst everyday life means I'm never going to have the time to do a fanzine or maintain a reasonable blog I'd like to compile what I can here for anyone who cares to read it.
"Communication, that's where it begins..."
I could tell you about my trip to Barcelona, but beyond recommending you check out Aloha Tattoo and make sure you have plenty of time to see all the sights of that beautiful city there isn't too much to add. However, as Bleak Reality have just been all over Europe, smashing it up with their Scottish chums in WarCharge and following the daily tweets about cool new bands they had encountered and places they had seen I thought it would be a good idea to get them to document their trip and link people to bands/labels/scenes that maybe you'd not come across yet.
Here is what Louis had to say about that, with links to everything to keep it simple for you;
Summarising the events of 12 days is a difficult task but the essence of it is really just 11 lads crammed into a stinky van with an 18-inch dildo, a bunch of gear and the drive to explore. I’m incredibly humbled even just to be writing about our experiences touring Europe this summer because it will definitely stand as the most memorable adventure of my life. We played 11 different cities in 6 different countries, with each show being incredible and uniquely memorable in its own way.
Southampton was the first show, which was cool seeing as we’d never played there before and kids went off which is always a plus. This London band called Crimes played a sick blend of old school hardcore and they were all safe guys (shout out to Ron for the shirt and being a legit dude).
The following morning we caught the ferry to Calais (a first experience for Grimes) and headed to Genk in Belgium. Our friends in Grim played and their drummer Stef and his girlfriend Laura organised the show. We were all psyched before we even arrived purely because we were hanging out with those guys again. Plus, Stef’s house could easily be on MTV Cribs and Gijs is the funniest motherfucker on the planet. Check them out if you dig The Icemen. Stef is also the head behind Open Up Records.
We woke up early and drove to Antwerp to hangout and buy ridiculous second-hand clothes and later Stef took us to swim in this beautiful Lake near his house. Sam dived in the shallowest part and completely fucked his finger up which was hilarious so props to him for not wussing out and still smashing his drums every night. We played with Grim again in Duisberg the same night. For me this was easily one of the craziest shows we’ve played. To see kids beating the fuck out of each other to our music in another country was insane. The promoters managed to get a bouncy castle outside the venue too, which was an enjoyable novelty. Everyone was cool, the show was packed out and we got fed full to the brim with Europe’s infamous vegan chilli.
Arriving at the venue in Leipzig was a surreal/exciting experience for me. It was a little squat in a corner of the city that seemed to have been completely overrun by punks, skins and hardcore kids. Every street was dressed head to toe in graffiti, most of which gave clear warnings to police or Nazi’s dumb enough to venture into the area. To me, this really captured the spirit of hardcore as a community. Everyone was welcoming and open-minded, and clubbed together to sustain an incredible scene in a city otherwise plagued by moronic right-wingers. A band called Light It Up played before us and they covered Floorpunch and Guns Up. They are essentially Germany’s answer to Soul Search with riffs coated in the armour of bands like Demize. Also, shout out to Wolfie for the show, great food and giving us a place to stay.
Next up was Bielsko-Biala in Poland. Our friend, Lukasz (AKA XveganXjusticeX on YouTube) flew out to the show and let us crash with his parents. Grimes got naked and played his Dad’s mandolin so if you’re a I honestly can’t thank him enough; he’s unconditionally supported this band since the beginning and for that we owe him eternal gratitude. The show was sick and exceeded my expectations in every way. We were fed great food in the name of Food Not Bombs and were welcomed into a tight-knit community full of real-deal coremen with good morals and stories about the history of Polish Hardcore: What more could you want?
The next morning we drove to the Auschwitz Death Camp. I could talk about this all day but I think it’s better to be experienced rather than merely read. You can just feel an overwhelming presence of evil in that place. It really fucked me up. We played Prague in Czech Republic afterwards. We were all shook about the flooding on the news and the rain on the drive in didn’t help quell our fears one bit. When we arrived however, it was almost poignantly familiar. It just looked like a rainy day in Britain. The show was hooked up at a café in the middle of a field by Pavel from Czech Straight Edge band Daydream. If you’re into 90’s Hardcore in the vein of Battery, Strain or Abhinanda then this is definitely a band you should listen to.
We were supposed to play Budapest the following day but due to financial issues and poor planning on our part, we had to pull out so we got a hostel in the centre of Prague and had a day off. The first thing we did in the hostel (AKA the dick room) was get naked and jump around like fucking idiots. We got chance to explore the city and eat at a restaurant together. Later, we wandered off into the city to hit up clubs/bars and just hang out with the locals. The thing that struck me the most was the constant bombardment by scumbags trying to force us into ‘strip clubs’ which gave an insight to how bad the illegal sex trade really is over there. To anyone reading this, if you ever consider paying for sex, don’t: It’s an awful industry. Think with compassion, not with your dick.
Switzerland was up next. Police and border control stopped us about 5 times in 24 hours, which sucked so we were a little late. The show was in a sick venue and everything was paid for by the city council (UK councils take note). A Bulgarian band called Expectations opened the show and they were really funny dudes. One of them had a distro/label, which I think was called Ugly and Proud so most of us left armed with new records. This was the last show with our guitarist Ben. He flew from Zurich the following morning to travel and return to Australia and honestly I haven’t been that upset in a long time. I was sobbing in the back of the van. I have so much love for that guy. Check out his photography work at Benjamin Hardman Photography.
We played a small town called Berchtesgaden in the German Bavarian Alps the next day. It was honestly the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited in my life. There are trees, mountains, hills and rivers everywhere. It seemed like nature dominated man rather than the other way around which was a refreshing change to the concrete abyss of Leeds. A dude called Roman organised the show and he was probably the coolest guy I met on the entire trip. He gave us a tour of the city and taught us about its history. He had a great knowledge of Hardcore and we shared a lot in common so it was a shame to have to say goodbye. His friend Martin let us crash at his place in Austria. He had a pool in his garden and a really chilled out cat called Barney so I think for me this was the gnarliest place we stayed at throughout the whole tour.
The show in Aue was at an old venue above an Italian restaurant next to a river so we all ate pizza outside and hung out together. A band played an Inside Out cover so I was definitely endorsing that (although I can’t remember what they were called). I also got introduced to the guys fromRisk It and they were all real humble and genuine dudes. That night we stayed at our friend Toni Trasher’s house who put us up when we played Zwickau on our weekender with Grim a few months back. For some reason every time we’ve stayed there we’ve raised the bar for fucking with Sam I.E. Me and Ash farted on his pillow and someone smeared Nutella on a tissue and dropped it next to him so he fully lost his shit and flipped out. Hilarious viewing for everyone involved.
Hamburg was our final show on the mainland and honestly the coolest venue I’ve ever had the opportunity to play in. It was an abandoned theatre that had been squatted a few decades back. The first thing we saw were several makeshift beds on the steps of the venue which served as home to a couple of old homeless folks, one of which was wearing OG Biohazard shirt from the 80’s. There was a DIY skate park round the back and I was so gutted I forgot my board because it looked so sweet to ride. The innards of the venue were dripping with graffiti. It was heaven. There was a protest outside about the horrors occurring in Istanbul but with me not being fluent in German I had no idea what they were saying. The show had about 150 kids there and it went off hard. We played with 2 other German bands: an emo band called Client and a band called World Eater which sound similar to Victim In Pain era Agnostic Front. They also covered World Peace so they got a thumbs up from me.
Immediately after the show finished we hopped back in the van and drove 13 hours to Birmingham. I honestly thought it would be a horrendous journey and everyone would bitch out but it actually wasn’t that bad. Obviously we were all grumpy and sleepy but considering I think we dealt with it pretty well. The Birmingham show was cool but I think we were all gutted that the tour was over and we were back in the UK so if we came across as arseholes I wouldn’t be surprised.
Reading this back there’s so much more I wanted to include like buying a banana shaped thong, visiting a sex shop or celotaping Sam’s clothes to his body but obviously I have to leave some stuff out. We’re all still majorly suffering from post tour blues but I think it’s important to be happy that we’ve created these memories for ourselves rather than be sad because they’re over. I can’t recommend how important it is for people to travel. You’ll learn so much about yourself, your friends and the world. I’m so grateful for the things I’ve been able to experience over the past 2 weeks and I couldn’t have picked better friends to do it with. A sincere thank you to anyone involved in making this tour absolutely incredible and to anyone who has ever supported this band in any way. You have my undying gratitude and appreciation.