Back to the Bride book
We had never played out of the U.S. before, and now there came the opportunity to play in Germany. We were booked to play two shows. One of the shows would be at a place called The Subway. The second, for a promoter in Dusseldorf at an annual event called Christmas Rock Night. We would be playing with several other Christian bands from the States, (The Choir, Rick Elias and Guardian). We were picked up at the airport by this huge, Viking type fellow named Reinholt and his American friend who we nicknamed "Dennis Weaver." Dennis Weaver was an actor in the seventies that had played a cowboy police on a TV show called "McCloud".
We took the long, scenic route from the airport down the road next to the Rhine River. The countryside along the Rhine was beautiful, but McCloud, our tour guide, had not stopped talking about German history since we left. Anytime we would stop along the route for a break, everyone fought to find a place in the van away from McCloud. He was like a walking megaphone with the volume set on 11. Reinholt seemed to drive faster and faster, and he seldom looked at the road. He would turn completely around in the driver's seat when he talked to us.
The ride seemed forever, and all we wanted to do was sleep after the long plane ride. We ended up picking up Marcus, the promoter of the first show. He drove us to a warehouse, where they expected us to help load some of the equipment for the show into the van. I thought they were joking, but they were serious. I did not budge. I was exhausted and just wanted a bed to crash in.
After I cleared up that little episode with my refusal to participate with the loading, they took us to where we would be sleeping. It was a boy's club of some sort, with no TV, radio not even a telephone. Fortunately, we did not have to spend much time there. The night of the first show we eventually got settled in the club where we were scheduled to perform. They had a tiny looking PA system mounted up high on the ceiling, but we found out that it had been specially designed for the room. This system really kicked.
McCloud was at the show and during our sound check. In addition, through all the van rides he had this tiny electric guitar that he would play fanatically. McCloud seemed to be a nice person, but he could really get under your skin with the history lessons and that midget guitar that seemed glued to his hands.
There were some press people there, asking the same old questions. "Tell us about how the band formed," "how long have you been together?" Etc., etc., etc. The German band Creed opened the night. Our set went well, and the crowd of about three hundred seemed to really appreciate us making the long trip to play for them.
I was glad that this show was over because now we could change the supervision of promoters. Marcus was a proud German, and corrected us on every turn about the proper German way, and how everything in Germany was better than America. He even corrected our way of holding our forks when we ate. I hold the fork in the right hand, and seldom use a knife unless I am eating a tough steak. He informed me the fork was to be held in the left hand and a knife in the right. I like to free up my left hand for my drink. Rheinholt said that Marcus was rude even for a German. It was also a relief to escape the tour guy McCloud and that miniature guitar.
Detlev, the second promoter, was much more professional. He seemed to have himself together. He put us up in a nice hotel, and seemed to be a matured promoter. Christmas Rock Night was a sold out show of about 1500 adolescents in a decent room in Dusseldorf. We would be the last band of the night to play.
Guardian went on right before us and worked the crowd into frenzy, but the German crowd stayed under control. We took the stage and played all our radio hits (some old tunes), which the crowd seemed to enjoy more than the new ones. Overseas countries were shipped our albums long after they had been released in the States. Some of the people had not caught up with our new record yet.
At the end of the night, as we closed the set with Hell No, the crowd went wild stage diving and moshing and become uncontrolled. When we hit the last note, we were sharing the stage with about twenty German fans that were jumping around on the stage. It was incredible. We had arrived in Germany and won the hearts of the people.
We returned to Europe after a short while back in the States, where we would play two more shows. We would play a couple of shows with Bloodgood. Bloodgood was a very theatrical Christian metal act, and our first encounter with them had been in the States some time past. If I recall correctly, we had arrived at a venue to be the opening band for Bloodgood. When Bloodgood arrived, they did not know we were the opening band. I guess they assumed we were road hands. There had been a party in the venue the night before, and a lone balloon was still floating around on the stage. I remember one of the Bloodgood members making the remark that the balloon must have been a Bride stage prop.
At the first show in Germany, the same enthusiastic crowd that we had left after our first German encounter greeted us. The crowd was about the same in number, and not as out of control this time.
Holland was a one day event with a lot of bands. We would go on right before Bloodgood. We had some time to kill, so we went with our ride into Rotterdam to do some shopping. We were not thinking clearly (must have been the excitement of being in Holland), but we had left some valuables in the van. We thought everything would be safe since we parked on a busy city street full of people. We even had to pay to park in this seemingly safe area.
When we returned to the van after a couple of hours of taking in the sites and buying a few gifts to take home, we noticed that the side door of the van was no longer locked. Inside the van, our bags had been gone through, and things had been scattered around the vehicle. We had been robbed. The thieves had stolen Rik's video camera (about $800.00 dollars in cash), and a Walkman. (For me, the Walkman was the most important item because it had my Tom Waits "Swordfishtrombones" cassette in it.) Rotterdam is notorious for drug addicts that steal to buy drugs. We figured we had just gotten somebody really high. We had been warned before we had gone into the city, but being silly Americans, we messed up.
We returned to prepare for the show. We were mad at ourselves for being so naive and careless. We went into the show very aggressive. I guess we were blowing off steam during the show because of the misfortune of having been robbed. The fans in Holland had no emotion, and seemed very cold. We had not only been robed, but also now felt as though we were given the cold shoulder by the crowd.
We were bummed, and could not understand the lame reaction of these people. I was later told that people in Holland just do not respond like the Germans do to shows. I was not comforted by the comments.
All of our overseas trips were a thrill a minute. Rik, who could crawl into a shell and never say a word, was also the quick witted one. It is impossible to put into words how humorous Rik was. His spontaneity for cracking jokes or turning a non-funny situation into a hilarious one was unequaled by anyone I had ever met.
By this time, Rik and Jerry seemed to be bonded at the hip. It was not long until I nicknamed them the "old married couple." They would constantly disagree and bicker between themselves. Their arguments usually were in fun and about nothing in particular, (music, the Bible, life) but they would always make a big deal about every conversation. I guess it was a good way to break the boredom. They would argue sometimes for so long, neither would remember what the original dispute was about.
Sitting in my hotel room on several occasions after a show, I could hear the two of them down the hallway. Jerry's deep voice saying something like, " that's not right," then Rik would respond by saying, "You don't know what your talking about." This type of behavior sometimes would carry on through the night. More than once I had to go to their room and ask them to keep it down. I told them jokingly they should just get a divorce and get it over with if they could not get along. Jerry and Rik were very funny, but at three o'clock in the morning, I thought sleep was better than laughter. I never understood how they could remain awake half the night and still be able to groove on stage so well.
The morning after the Holland show we got an unusual phone call from Les Carlsen, lead singer in Bloodgood. He wanted to come by for breakfast before we parted ways, he said. He brought with him Andres, the promoter of the Bloodgood tour. They handed us $500.00 cash in American money and said they felt like the Lord wanted them to help us out. They had heard about the robbery and decided to do the Christian thing. I was really blessed by what Les had done. When we told our record company of the incident, they had no compassion and seemed indifferent. We returned home, and Kentucky never looked so good.
Back to the Bride book