Thursday 31st March 2011
We had a first at the airport: after going through passport control, a couple of people spotted us and wanted their photo taken with us. We did our duty and they walked away happy. Great start to the adventure! Vikki had some free coffee vouchers so, after checking-in for our flight to Stavanger we found a Nero place. This later turned out to be a less than good idea as Rob, who is already somewhat of a nervous flyer, got extremely hyperactive because of all the caffeine (he’d had several tins of Relentless as well) and was practically clinging on to the chair for dear life at even the slightest hint of turbulance! Luckily, the flight wasn’t crowded so most of the other passengers were able to re-assign their seating rather than stay within earshot of him. I must confess, it was rather bumpy coming in to land.
We were met at the airport by the promoter, John, who somehow managed to squeeze us and our luggage into his car and then drove us to the venue, Tribute in Sandnes. There we were greeted by the venue owner, Michael, a couple of his friends, Sara and Tiril (who looked remarkably like my cousin) and our agent, Martin Jarvis. Sitting around, all getting to know eachother, it was soon very clear who the completely bonkers one was. Ladies & Gentlemen, may I introduce to you our host for this evening, Michael:
Having a look around the venue, it was exactly the kind of place we love to play. Dark corners and walls covered with memories. Funniest thing was the toilet doors which had “Cuntz” and “Cockz” painted on them. At first, I saw the “Cuntz” sign and headed for it, until I realised it was a description of the genitalia of the customer, rather than the personality.
It was great getting to know everyone but, at about 3.30am, we headed across the road (literally 10 metres away) to our hotel. We were very happy and impressed by the quality of it – so far, we had received 5* treatment all the way. Checked in, unpacked and attempted some sleep (failed miserably).
Friday 1st April 2011
My first daylight view of Norway out of the hotel window was quite unimpressive as it was of construction. No fjords, no mountains, nothing. So, we grabbed brekky and headed downstairs to meet Martin and John, who presented us with a newspaper complete with a large picture of us and article. Always very strange being in another country to find out that your reputation has preceded you. Had to wake up Rob & Gilez so, once they arrived in the lobby all bleary-eyed, John took us out to see some rather spectacular sights.
Once we got out of Sandnes, we were essentially on the equivalent of country lanes, except these lanes were in mountains. The scale of Norway is quite extraordinary – it is a massive country with vast vistas and not a lot of people – or evidence of people – to ruin it. After going through a 3km tunnel through a mountain, we emerged at a fjord so stopped to take in the scenery and have our photo taken, standing on a rock with a sheer drop behind it.
We continued our journey through more incredible scenes stopping every now and then to witness nature at it’s best. The final stop was at a stream surrounded by mountains. John insisted the water was drinkable so I filled up a bottle and it was quite delicious. Refreshing and you could tell it was full of nutrients. All around us was vastness, quite difficult to take in. Being around all this makes you completely understand how insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things. Breathtaking.
We left there and headed back to the venue for soundcheck. It was about 4pm and the hired drum kit should have arrived. It had so, whilst Gilez set that up, the rest of us went about sorting our own gear out. Very grateful to the support band, Borderline Case, for letting us use their cabs & heads – cheers guys! Soundcheck was pretty fast (we tend not to dick around) so John took us, and Martin, to his cabin by a lake for food. He really couldn’t have been more accommodating and hospitable if he had tried.
The cabin was just a few years old so smelt of the pine it was built out of. Really nice – and the view was pretty amazing too. What a place to have dinner! John was preparing a Chili so I decided to help. I am no cook so he essentially pointed at stuff and I stuck it in a pan and waved a spoon at it. My diet meant I was having chicken and sweetcorn whilst Vegesaurus Vikki was having a pizza. We all tucked in and, before we knew it, it was time to get back to Sandnes to ROCK \m/
Back in the hotel at 9pm to get ready. I was really nervous, for some reason. I guess being out of my comfort zone or something. My throat was feeling a bit tired (as I write this, I am sick as a dog, so I think it was the first stages of me coming down with something) so that didn’t help. Ultimately though, I think it was because I wanted to impress our hosts. They had been so friendly and kind, I wanted us to be worth it.
I needn’t have worried though, we were on fire that night! A slightly slower start than I would have liked (damn you Gilez) but, by song 3, we were rocking along. There was a mad drunk lady in the front who became my new best friend, except she wouldn’t leave me alone. When I suggested that she sucked off our agent (sorry Martin!), she misunderstood and tried to climb up on stage. Thank fuck for security. She was soon replaced by another mad person, this time male, who took a liking to my muscles and insisted on arm-wrestling me mid-performance. Never had that before. I think he was a victim of SMS (Small Man Syndrome) as he would not leave me alone and, later on, told me I looked like a super hero.
More people should tell me that.
The gig was a total adventure. Thankfully, Norweigians speak very fluent English so there was no language barrier. They shouted in all the right places and laughed when they were supposed to. Someone said that Vikki looked like Russell Brand (which I guess makes me Katy Perry), so we had a laugh about that. Went down a storm and got an encore, always a good sign.
Came off stage to tons of merch sales and autograph signings and photo takings. Got hassled, in just the right way. It was a great gig and the best way to end an incredible day. Tired but happy, headed back to the hotel at about 2am, showered and attempted that sleep thing again; an impossible task when you are on such a high!
Saturday 2nd April 2011
Woke up way too early and made our way downstairs to the restaurant to see what breakfast was all about. It was plentiful and had every kind of food you could think of, buffet style. Wish we had discovered this yesterday. Vikki totally pigged out and took up my offer to make her a crepe on the hot plate (something I had to repeat for both Gilez and Martin, what is it with me cooking all of a sudden?!). John arrived at about 10.30 to take us to the airport for our flight to Oslo. Goodbyes happened way too soon for our liking: we had made a new friend in John and we were sad to see him go.
Flight to Oslo was fast over mountains and frozen lakes. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the ground below and took so many photos!
Jon Engar was the promoter for our gig in Oslo and he met us at the airport. Again, we had the fun of trying to fit all our gear into his vehicle (some went on the room and Vikki was tucked away nicely in, what was essentially, the boot!) and we got driven to Oslo. No spectacular scenery this time – just a motorway which pretty much look the same whatever country you are in. There was a bit of snow here though and it was much colder (Oslo is further north). Took maybe an hour to get into Oslo city centre, we parked up near the venue and dragged our gear through the streets to the hotel. Which was closed. So, back to the venue!
Elm Street Rock Cafe was warm and the walls were clad with old covers of Sounds and the NME, which made for interesting reading. Jon left us to go and attend to some other business so the four of us, plus Martin, had some refreshments whilst waiting for the hotel to open. The hotel was situated in a street with a few prostitutes and it was right next to a porno shop. Not quite the same sort of surroundings from the day before! The rooms were small, functional and clean but, compared to yesterday, a bit more utilitarian, to say the least. We even had to make our beds! But, hey, they only exist for us to get changed in and have an overnight stay, so it’s nothing that even a fussy tart like me can’t complain about…too much
Vikki and I wanted to explore Oslo a bit, so wandered around in the drizzle. I must say, it didn’t have as much character as I expected it to. It was nice, don’t get me wrong, but it lacked something. I guess the dearth of shops that we wouldn’t find in the UK made it seem more like a British town than I would have liked. Some of the architecture though did make you realise that you were in a foreign land.
Went back to the Elm Street Cafe at about 6 to meet Martin and have some food. Soundcheck was at about 7 – yet again I had to go and collect Rob and Gilez from their room as they seemed incapable on this trip of getting anywhere on time by themselves. Yesterday they didn’t get in to the venue until past our stage time. Lucky things were running late. Rob had thought it a good idea to dye his hair an hour before we were due on. They both need a kick in their organisational groins sometimes. Soundcheck took an age today – things didn’t run so smoothly – but we got there in the end. Once it was done, headed back to the hotel.
I must confess I wasn’t really feeling this show as much. Although the club was cool, it didn’t have much of a vibe about it and not much excitement hung in the air. Difficult to get excited in those circumstances. Plus, my throat was now feeling the symptoms of whatever it is I have come home with, so I was very concerned about that. I spent an age warming up but it didn’t help much.
I’m afraid we missed the opening band and the second band on were really good at what they did, it just wasn’t too original. Only young guys though, so they will find their own sound and style eventually. When it was our turn anticipation was high as we launched into the opening song “Dragged Kicking & Screaming”. I realised fairly fast that my throat was in a bit of trouble. The smoke machine was on constantly and the ceiling was low, so my head was just bopping around in all this drying fog. I got Martin to get it cut and things improved, but I wasn’t myself up there, vocally. I don’t fully enjoy shows like that as I have to really concentrate on what I am doing singing-wise to make sure that I don’t lose my voice. The Oslo crowd being similar to crowds in most major cities (ie generally a bit too “cool” to really let lose and go crazy) meant that this was our 2nd favourite show of the weekend. We DID really enjoy ourselves and would love to go back, but the gig at Sandnes was more like a proper SLT show.
All said and done, we packed up our gear and made our way in the rain back to our hotel. Completely exhausted by now, we actually got a bit of sleep.
Sunday 3rd April 2011
Again, up way too early (don’t these people understand that a band’s waking time should be about 2pm?!!), we had to vacate the room by 11am. This was fairly annoying as we had all our gear and luggage so had no other option than to go to the airport about 7 hours before our scheduled flight time. We went to Oslo train station and waited for the train which, when it showed up, looked like something out of Battlestar Galactica!
The journey was fast so we arrived at the airport with about 6 hours to kill. We wandered around looking at food, Rob being the only one brave / stupid enough to spend the money on it. Norway is EXPENSIVE. About 3 times the price of the UK. Rob got a cheeseburger and it was just shy of £7. For a cheeseburger. Crazy. I think I would starve to death if I lived there! We sat about taking daft photos and generally dissecting our time in Norway. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed it and would do it all again in a heartbeat. It was also the first time we had worked with our agent, Martin, who was like a breathe of fresh air to us. Often in this business you encounter situations that don’t run as smoothly as you might like. Martin though was like a steamroller, making sure our every whim was taken care of before we even noticed it was necessary. This is the “next level” up the rung of the success ladder, and we like it. Having someone take care of us makes a really, really nice change! It means that we can concentrate fully on the job in hand. Here’s to more of that!
Finally, after poncing around the airport, putting on £100 moisturiser creams and generally killing time, we boarded our flight home. The 2 hour journey went fast and, before we knew it, we were touching down at Gatwick. Tired but happy, we collected our luggage and got the taxi back to SLT HQ, already looking forward to our return trip to Norway!
To see more photos from our tour of Norway, follow this link!