CANNABIS CORPSE (AND GRIM KIM) SMOKE EUROPE: PART 1
Richmond, VA stoners ov death Cannabis Corpse are currently burning their way through the European continent, with planned raids on Russia and the UK coming up quick, and yours truly is along for the ride to hustle merch and document the madness. Full disclosure: I work with the band and their label, but I’m doing this tour diary not as a sneaky promotional trick, but because I’m in fucking Europe with a bunch of awesome death metal dudes and wanted to write about the experience. So here goes.
We’re currently hauling ass through France, heading towards Motocultor Fest. This has been a marathon driving day; our intrepid driver/tour manager Michal has been an absolute champion, not complaining once,even when it took us a full hour to get through the 1km tunnel beneath Mont Blanc, and we’ve still got about 800 kilometers to go. I think the plan now is to keep going for a couple more hours then try to find a cheap hotel and hopefully cheaper food, ’cause the rest areas in France have the fine art of price-gouging down to a terrifying science.
Last night the gig went off in Italy, in a small town (whose name I didn’t catch) an hour or two outside of Bologna, where we’d originally planned to be playing that night before the gods of misfortune intervened. I managed to convince the bartender to allow me to use beer tickets to get red wine and Coke (I SWEAR it’s delicious!) so I was doing fine, and the boys are big fans of beer so they’re always doing alright. The venue was this funny tropical-themed joint called Tacu Tacu; the kids that were there really dug the ‘Corpse, and dropped a surprising amount at the merch table when they weren’t plying us with red wine or the mouth-melting carbolic acid they call grappe. I randomly reunited with Claudio, an acquaintance I’d made during last year’s Nuclear War Now! Fest in Berlin. I’d bumped into him and his other Italian buds at the Berlin airport (they spoke a little English, I had a smidgen of German, it all worked out as well as can be expected) and we’d muddled our way towards the venue together. Now he’d turned up at this weird tiny venue in rural Italy. It’s really a small world, especially when you’re on tour! We had to bounce straight after the gig and find a hotel in hopes of nabbing a bit of shut-eye before today’s grueling drive, but mad love to all the assorted ‘Corpse buddies that made it out to Tacu Tacu that night.
To backtrack a bit: I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe and the UK, and traveled all over via planes, trains, and automobiles. So, when the band told me that instead of being picked up in Amsterdam, I’d have to make my way to Frankfurt to meet up with them for the first gig, I wasn’t too worried, especially since past experiences have taught me that the Dutch and German mass transit systems are incredibly efficient. Once I got from Philly to New Jersey (gotta visit the grandparents!) back to to NYC and over to JFK, I was looking at a seven or so-hour flight, two hour layover in Dublin, two more hours on a plane to Schiphol, then what turned into an hour and a half to Utrecht, an hour and a half of waiting in the cold (because of course I’d left my leather jacket at home in NYC, where the barometer had been hovering near 100 degrees while I was packing for the tour), then four hours on a train to Frankfurt. Four countries and I’m not sure how many time zones in one day – suffice it to say, I was a fucking zombie by the time Michal scooped me up at the train station and drove us back to the venue. We rolled in just as Cannabis Corpse were setting up, so after a round of bear hugs, they stepped onstage and proceeded to rock the fuck out of that place. The show was booked pretty last-minute as a warm-up gig for Brutal Assault Festival the next day, but kids definitely came out and went absolutely nuts! It was a good start to a long tour, and my weary bones didn’t even mind that we had an overnight drive to Josefov, Czech Republic to look forward to once everything was packed up.
Brutal Assault is the biggest open-air metal festival in the Czech Republic (or at least on par with Obscene Extreme) and put the boys onstage in front of a couple thousand people at 10:30am. Load in was at 7 a.m., breakfast beers were cracked, and t-shirts were counted in and spirited away by the festival’s merch team (which meant day off for Kim, woo!). Excremenatory Grindfuckers kicked things off at 10 a.m., and a good-sized crowd has already amassed by the time my Richmond dudes were ready to go. They fucking nailed it! The crowd swelled as their set progressed, and by the end, fans were roaring for more. The ‘Corpse came offstage grinning from ear to ear, and now that the hard part was over, we all sloped off to enjoy the fest. Lots of necessary napping and drinking happened (absinthe lemonade for the win!), and I personally only had the energy to check out a handful of bands. Dordeduh played after Cannabis Corpse, but even though I’d been excited to see them because I love Negura Bunget, I was just not having it at 11 a.m.. I did manage to see bits and pieces of The Exploited, (cheers for playing “Fuck the USA,” lads), Decapitated, Satyricon, Cathedral, and all of Mayhem, who were fucking fantastic! “Freezing Moon” into “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” into “Deathcrush?” I was standing next to Frost on the side of the stage when Attila busted that out – can now die a happy woman. We dipped out after their set ended around 2 a.m., checked into the band hotel (discovery: Satyr from Satyricon looks like a total bro when he washes off his makeup and hair dye) and slept like the dead.
The next day, we were at the Escape Metal Corner in Vienna, Austria. I was sequestered upstarts away from the action that night, but judging from the stream of kids headed down into the basement and the amount of merch sold that night, Vienna was definitely down with the ‘Corpse. The band’s old friend Thomas and his girlfriend were awesome hosts, and we had a killer time getting drunk, watching Phil and Josh wrestle, and blasting tunes with them and their dogs. The next morning, as we all dragged our hungover bodies up from whence we’d fallen and narrowly avoided the pile of human feces some Viennese resident had been gracious enough to leave right next to our van, we (plus Thomas) hopped in the van and trundled off to the next gig in Hohenems, Austria.
Austria is a gorgeous country, and the small town in which we found ourselves was picturesque beyond belief. The show was booked at a small bar that was housed within a log cabin and surrounded by cars and thrasher kids clutching cans of cheap swill in full-on Heavy Metal Parking Lot mode (I even spotted a pair of lime green Reebok high-tops – chyeah, brah!). Despite its humble appearance, the Hohenems gig ended up being one of the best nights of tour thanks to the super rad band dudes and ever-accommodating, long-suffering promoter. Vibrator kicked things off with some toothsome Motorhead worship and balls-to-the-wall old-school heavy metal vibes, Discopowerboxxx thrashed it up, and Indyus dealt out some high-quality death-thrash before the ‘Corpse hit the stage. The punters went mad for them, and as most of the crowd cleared out, our newfound buddies in Vibrator and Indyus hung out, challenged the Hall brothers to a wrestling match (we’re still not sure who won), and ended up coming with us to the silliest strip club ever. They swung by the place we were staying as well, and helped us kill way too many beers and a bunch of whiskey (and the ubiquitous herb, of course) before wandering back to Innsbruck and leaving us to our own devices. Lots of sore heads the next morning – thank god we had an off day!
After everyone finally woke up (the last straggler roused around 3pm), we went off to traditional restaurant to get some schnitzel, then headed off to check out one of the enormous mountains that ringed our temporary abode. One uber beautiful (but sort of terrifying) trip up the mountainside in a tiny little cable car later, we were at the top! Talk about breathtaking — the view from the top reminded me of the last time I was in Bergen, looking out over the quiet harbor nestled between the fjords. Absolutely gorgeous. Beers, picture-taking, crashing-through-the-woods-ing, and bullshitting commenced for a few hours before it got too nippy for even leather jackets to withstand, and we zipped back down the mountain to hunt for more beers and unwind. Thanks for a helluva time, Austria — hope to see you again soon.
Italy was the next country on our list, so the whole cadre woke up early and settled in for a long ride. Upon arriving at the venue, we discovered to our immense chagrin that some wires had gotten crossed somewhere between Richmond and Livorno, and the club in front of which we’d parked was actually the wrong one — Cannabis Corpse were meant to play there the next night instead. We were supposed to be at the Livorno Metal Festival, about three hours away, so after a few frantic phone calls and a lot of pacing, we piled back into the van and sped off in the right direction (we hoped). Lots of winding backroads and one amazing Tuscan sunset later, we finally arrived, and were more than a little taken aback at what we found. Carnival rides, bouncy castles, a merry-go-round – we’d stumbled right into the middle of a goddamn community fair, replete with bingo tent and nonplused Italian grandmothers. Turns out that this was a yearly event, and one that always featured a stageful of metal bands. Cannabis Corpse were slated to be the first international band to ever play there, and it ended up being a pretty cool gig, if a bit surreal. They stuffed us with awesome homemade food and red wine, and I dud what I could to stretch “gratzie!” and “si” as far as I could as the merch table. Kids were stoked, we had a good time, and the hotel the fest sorted for us was amazing – a gorgeous old renovated villa several kilometers outside town. We had a short drive the next day – only three hours – so we got to enjoy a bit of the atmosphere and explore the small village of Vada before heading off in earnest. Swimming in the Mediterranean after a long week or traveling and accumulating tour grime was fucking amazing (and of course, we all looked like sheets of paper next to the town’s deeply-tanned denizens. I picked up a bit of a tan, though – stoked!). I can’t say enough good things about the food, either; I’m boring and have been subsisting pretty much exclusively on pizza and red wine, but even that has been amazing. Hell, even the rest stops have seriously solid pizza and sandwiches on offer. Viva Italia – thank you guys so, so much!
The sprinter van we’ve got for this trip awesome – Blue Steel is about as comfortable as a six-people-in-one-vehicle scenario can get, and the TV setup means that we’ve all developed crippling additions to Da Ali G Show, Metalocalypse, Twin Peaks, and Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule (a Tim & Eric spinoff featuring John C. Reilly — seriously, you need it in your life), as well as Phil and Josh’s massive collection of vintage wrestling videos from the 90′s. Driving through the breathtaking majesty of the Alps earlier today while blasting ‘Sons of Northern Darkness’ and watching sweaty meatheads inflict severe bodily harm upon one another might just be the most metal thing we’ve done so far. “The mountains of madness…”
Kim Kelly (or Grim Kim, if we’re being formal) scribbles for a number of sweet metal publications (Terrorizer, Brooklyn Vegan, Invisible Oranges, Hails & Horns, and tons more), promotes wicked records with Catharsis PR, and road dogs for your favorite bands. Keep up with her exploits & numerous band recommendations on Twitter, or peep her blog Ravishing Grimness.