Guest Columns



Shane Woods of Ypres

[Blackened doom metallers Woods of Ypres are currently touring North America on the so-called “Pain & Piss Tour.” Bassist Shane Madden will be taking us along with him on his journey of pain and piss, to be delivered in four parts throughout the tour. Part 1 follows.]

Part One: The Manifesto

Were I to choose one thing to say about touring in North America it would be that it’s not a memorable experience. The day to day is exceedingly dull and occasionally overwhelming. The windshield and its filth don’t change no matter how long I stare at them; the view broken at a gentle curve midway by the one-and-only existing mechanical arm that continues it’s symmetrical dance partnerless. We roll through here and there, and admittedly it’s a nice time of year to tour. Everything is green and it’s warm, but not hot (until we get to the desert), and there are minimal expectations for anything. Folks in the northeastern States feel that it’s springtime when the weather is pleasant here for a few weeks, and there’s hope. Nothing can go that badly. Any wrong can be righted. It’s Aphrodite or Freya or the Easter Bunny fooling humans into procreation and continuation and perpetuation. All in all, probably the best season to tour.

Now, let’s get down to brass tacks:

The drives are long. We don’t always eat enough every day. Money is important to do this. The shows are good. The shows are okay. There’s booze and debauchery. We do it out of passion. Name-drops. Tour blog rehash. Tour blog falsehoods.

The rest of this will be the Finnegan’s Wake of “metal journalism.” After only four shows there are still bits and pieces that stick out in my mind from, say, show number one, but soon the nonsense will take over and nothing definite can be said of the results, least of which are this blog’s validity, honesty, and credibility. Who said what and where it was said are jumbled and contorted, memories veiled especially after sleep and time. Drive, drive, drive. Venue, venue, venue. Drink, drink, drink. Smoke and mirrors. Full disclosure: I’ve only been touring regularly for approximately two years and I can’t keep it straight. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just Woods of Ypres. Who cares? It goes on and on. Tour is a means to an end, right? Or, is it an end to a means? It’s both a means and an end. Or, likely, nothing at all. Touring is just another way to pass time on the planet.

Focus! The past four shows, all lovely in their own right:

“The French don’t have leaders… like, they said they were leaving and then went to have a smoke about it. Then they came back in. Then they went back outside for another smoke about it, but decided they should have their picture taken, and wandered around to different trees, waiting at each one for like, ten or fifteen minutes, to see if it felt right. It took them two hours.”

“Hey man, do you think I’m too drunk to drive? I only live like fifteen minutes from here. I think I can go.”

“We’re having a party in here. I’ll throw your shit down the steps if you don’t get out now!”

“I don’t care what Earache Records says, I will not play a show in outer space. Ever.”

“If you don’t get that van out of here right now, I’ll have it towed.”

The fact that I remember five quotes fairly accurately over the course of four shows is like batting more than a thousand, as Mr. Violette tells me. Make no mistake: we don’t do any of this out of nihilism or skepticism or mysticism. We do it because we want to do it and we make it happen for ourselves. We don’t do it out of righteousness. There’s no “why” beyond that, nor should there be. We drive from city to city and work for the best, hope for the best, prepared for the worst. If you can’t go 36 hours without eating and without complaining then you’ll never have a place in the Woods van.

So, what did happen during those first four days?

A guitar amp blew out during the first or second song of the first show of the tour. Novembers Doom from Chicago were out east for three of the shows. We confronted four-hundred-pound bouncers and a half dozen NYPD officers in a ten-minute span. Friends came through huge with support and hospitality. Intense traffic was endured for hours. Merch was sold. Terms that had been negotiated were renegotiated professionally when the shit went down. Food was sought and elusive at two in the morning but always found. Essential pedals weren’t used at the correct moments. Volumes weren’t always turned up. Vocals were good, sound was okay, response was solid. It all becomes lists. Boasts. Stats. Incomplete sentences. Ramblings.

Now we begin week number two: four shows in the Midwest and then it’s Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The land will be flat and the sun high in the sky without clouds, shining down on endless fields, some may even be picturesque with light reflecting off the greens and yellows of tall grass or sunflowers. Tour is the environments. That’s what you come to remember most. Across the world people are the same but the places change. That is what this tour will be. There will be pain. There will be piss.

– Shane / Woods of Ypres

Woods of Ypres Pain & Piss Tour

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