Suspect Parts Euro Tour Diary 2017

7 Nov

Suspect Parts, An Introduction

Apocalypse Pop…waiting for the Apocalypse to…drop.”

– Suspect Parts biography.

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Suspect Parts in Berlin

About 10 years ago my band Clorox Girls fell apart and I moved to Madrid after an 8 week Euro tour that involved 3 van breakdowns, blood, sweat, tears, and debt (Sex, drugs, and alcohol are a given. Exhaustion beyond belief a more accurate description. I’m working on a book called “Clorox Boy” about it. I’ve also been to therapy.)

Another American expat Chris Bell, from Seattle band The Briefs, was living in Berlin and he suggested that we start a side project and record a 7″ single. That winter we found ourselves rehearsing in sub-zero concrete Berlin. Smail from The Shocks recorded our debut single. Gangly and dapper Englishman , James “Sulli” Sullivan from Ripchord, was recruited on lead guitar. The stylish and punctual German Smail Shock agreed to play bass. Our Apocalypse Pop super-group was formed. We semi-promptly released 4 singles and toured Europe.

2 years ago, Smail dropped out of the group to focus on his analog recording studio. Andru Bourbon from Berlin punk band Radio Dead Ones was enlisted on bass.  We toured Germany, France, and Spain with L.A. punk band Maniac and recorded our debut album in the biting chill of another Berlin winter in Smail’s analog studio.

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Suspect Parts soundcheck, Gleis 22, Munster, Germany

October 2017 found the release of Suspect Parts debut album on independent labels Taken By Surprise Records (Germany) and Oops Baby Records (USA). I procured a $550 round-trip ticket from L.A. to Berlin and we hit the autobahn once again.

Stream or order Suspect Parts new self titled LP in North America here

Stream or order Suspect Parts new self-titled LP in Europe here

Leaving Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic.”

– Norman Mailer

I found a new roommate to help me cover rent while away on tour and had a bunch of pre-tour chores including renting a U-Haul, hauling furniture to a storage space, doing laundry, packing and picking up merch. I criss-crossed Los Angeles, completed most of my list, and grabbed a Lyft to LAX.

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My cheap flight was on Air Lingus, an Irish airline that I hadn’t flown before. The merch suitcase was overweight by a few kilos and they wanted to charge me $100 to check my backup guitar. I stashed a few things in my guitar cases and told Air Dingus that I was going to the parking lot to put my backup guitar in the trunk of my car. I checked my free bag and clandestinely boarded the plane with 2 guitars and my carry-on suitcase.

Surprisingly, security at LAX overlooked the half-full bottle of Jimador tequila in my guitar case from a recent Maniac  show in Long Beach.  Jimador and Sprite went down a treat.

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During my layover in Dublin, I stopped by the Guinness gift-shop where the Irish kid working the bar informed me of oblivious American tourists ordering “Irish Car Bombs” not realizing the harrowing bloody history with the IRA (embarrassingly enough, in my early 20s I made this same mistake in London and a massive fellow who was in the army ripped my copy of Don Quixote in half while saying repeatedly, “I had mates killed by the IRA.”). Moral of the story, while abroad, if you want to drop a shot of Jameson topped with Kahlua or Irish cream into a Guinness,  call it a “Baby Guinness,” not an “Irish Car Bomb.”  Or just a Guinness will do.

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Days 1 & 2 Berlin, Germany

You are crazy, my child. You must go to Berlin.”

– Franz von Suppe

 

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Snacking on some carrots in the rehearsal room in Berlin. Photo by Daniel Distraction.

Sulli came in from London Heathrow and Andru and Chris grabbed us from Tegel in Berlin. Of course Andru Bourbon brought some beers and a bottle of pfeffy to greet us. What a gent.

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Pre-flight Sulli before British Airways lost his duffel bag

In Berlin, we spent most of our first 2 days rehearsing. We also found some familiar sights, excellent Turkish and Syrian falafel, classic Berlin graffiti, and some quintessential Kreuzberg rock n roll bars like the Franken, Wild At Heart, and Rock N Roll Herberge.  Daniel Distraction stopped by our rehearsal room and made a video of us practicing “Alright With Me.”

Andru our bassist is vegan, and always has excellent vegan spreads on-hand.  We had breakfast most days at his house, but splurged on the last day on a band favorite, the “Bon Scott Breakfast” at Rock N Roll Herberge which costs about 4 Euros.

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Story time with Falcon at Rock N Roll Herberge, Berlin

British Airways lost Sulli’s bag and so he had to borrow my clothes for a few days. Luckily, the bag was delivered to Cortex Records right before we left. I also had some severe tuning problems with my guitar and we stopped by our friend Martin’s flat for repairs.

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Martin repairs Justin’s guitar in Berlin

It was good to see our old friend Ricky as well as our new album for sale at Cortex Records.

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Suspect Parts new LP for sale at Cortex Records, Berlin

 

After 2 long days of rehearsal and a long night partying with old friends, both Sulli and I were on the verge of losing our voices, but we hit the autobahn, hoping for the best.

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Day 3: Dresden, Deutschland @ Chemiefabrik

There was a big number over the door of the building. The number was five. Before the Americans could go inside, their only English-speaking guard told them to memorize their simple address, in case they got lost in the big city. Their address was this: ‘Schlacthof-funf.’ Schlacthof means slaughterhouse. Funf was good old five.”

– Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five

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Our first show was in Dresden at Chemiefabrik where we founded the Down With Dons Movement 2 years earlier. Our friends Red Dons were simultaneously on a European tour playing many of the same clubs, so we started a Blur-Oasis online rivalry which was a lot of fun.  The Down with Dons Magnum opus was our Citizen Kane, shot and directed by our Minister of War, Andrew Zappin. Check out #downwithdons if you want to witness the havoc we wreaked on our old friends during the wartime of fall 2015.

Chemiefabrik was exactly as we remembered it, a shack on the outskirts of the city, not unlike a militia compound. On the inside is a bar and a few Foosball tables as well as a ton of band graffiti and posters.  The sound-man called himself “Flash” and proceeded to mike everything. The tiny concrete room was LOUD.  We sound-checked, had our dinner which was a vegan pasta (Andru opted for the spicy pasta sauce option which I opted out as I was already suffering from diarrhea).

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British Airways lost Sulli’s bag and he had to borrow Justin’s clothes for the first few days. Here’s Justin and Sulli in Fat White Family t-shirts pre-schlaff.

The first band were called Tanning Bats from Berlin and had really interesting time-signatures and cool changes in their songs.  Usually opening bands in Germany are quite unimaginative, so Tanning Bats were a pleasant surprise.

Our set in Dresden went down really well and the crowd especially knew the familiar tunes towards the end of the set, “Run For Your Life,” “Change Your Mind,” “17 Television,” and “Flowers Of Evil.”

We played some Foosball, chatted to a few Frauleins, and slept in the band flat which was walking distance from the club. In Europe, many of the clubs have an apartment just for touring bands to spend the night in. If only the US and UK could follow Europe’s example.   The crowd seemed to really love our show and we sold a bunch of records and shirts which always helps out on the road.

The DJs were fantastic and played mostly Canadian hits including The Modernettes, Teenage Head, The Tranzmitors, and the non-Canadian standout was the Village People’s punk tune “Food Fight.”

At the band flat, I slept on the top bunk and in the middle of the night couldn’t find the bathroom, it was pitch black.  I managed to find the room where Tanning Bats were sleeping and was having a true middle-of-the-night-midlife crisis.  With luck, I finally found the bathroom and the crisis was mostly averted.

Day 4 Brno, Czech Republic @ Kabinet Muz

Opakování matka moudrosti.
Repetition is the mother of wisdom.

– Czech Proverb

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On a typical Suspect Parts morning, we hit a supermarket and/or a bakery to stock up Mobicool Maxi which is our cooler filled full of vegan and vegetarian supplies. Sulli and I opened up a kitchen in the back seat where we learned to excel in the art of sandwich making.

There was some serious traffic so we took a detour through magnificent Prague, one of Europe’s finest cities. Prague is located in what was formerly known as Bohemia, and the general feeling of the place is for lack of a better word… Bohemian.  They appreciate art, culture, music, fashion, and sex perhaps better than anyone else. The architecture is breathtaking, the women are beautiful, and the men sure know how to wear a scarf.   As Kafka said, “Prague never lets you go…this dear mother has claws.”

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Storybook Prague

On the Czech highway we noticed that the billboards every few feet had nothing but Czech flags.  Later we found that the Czech government banned roadside advertising. The Czech mafia was upset about this and in retaliation, installed Czech flags to replace them, as it is illegal to take down any Czech symbols (no doubt a reaction to the heavy hand of Soviet rule).

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Brno is the 2nd largest city in Czech after Prague, and we found our venue Kabinet Muz  to be a very civilized cafe/beer bar.  The local beer was creamy and delicious.  We sound-checked and checked out dinner backstage which was an interesting vegan goulash. It had something similar to falafel balls in it. Not bad at all.  The opening band was called Wasted Whatever, an early 80s style energetic punk band. They hung out in the dressing room smoking and drinking white wine out of plastic bottles with their friends. Nice kids.   Sulli and I shaved in the venue bathroom.  We have come up with a few pre-show routines to survive the grueling tour schedule.

Pre-Show Routine #1: “The Triangle”

The triangle consists of 3 things in this order:  food, coffee, alcohol.  To realize its full effect, the triangle must be completed in the correct order and ideally at least 2 hours before playing. If whiskey or cognac or schnapps is placed inside of coffee, this can reduce the triangle to 2 steps. Caffeine must be consumed at least 1 hour before playing, followed by beer or liquor. Beer will make you sleepy, so liquor is ideal.

Routine #2: “Triple S” (Shave, Shiesse, Schnapps)  Sulli and I found that to feel fully awake and look our best, we shave after eating as well as change our shirts and shoes.   This is followed by evacuating the bowels (which is harder than you might think in a crowded club that often has only 1 bathroom),  some vocal warm-ups, some stretching, some high kicks, and some schnapps.

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Pre-sound check back stretches

The men’s bathroom sink was right next to the urinals where folks kept coming in and it made it nearly impossible to shave, so Sulli and I shaved in the hallway next to the women’s bathroom which lead to some people laughing at us.  No big deal, our mission was accomplished and we successfully completed all of our pre-show rituals.

Martin the promoter filmed us through a triangle-shaped hole in the backstage curtain.

The Czech kids danced and only knocked over the microphones a couple of times. We drank some more delicious creamy beers at the club then went to the promoter Martin Slovak’s flat to sleep. I stayed up all night with Martin listening to 60s Czech ye ye which was fantastic, but not great when I discovered staying up til 8am made me nearly completely lose my voice.

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Justin and Chris loading the van in Brno before discovering Andru’s cell phone was stolen from the front seat. Photo by Martin Slovak

The best part about staying up all night was listening to Marta Kubisova. She was a Czech singer who was perceived as being anti-authoritarian and anti-imperialist and is still an inspiration in the Czech Republic. Her music is absolutely beautiful. Her song “Prayer for Marta” became a symbol of national resistance against the occupation of Warsaw Pact troops in ’68. During the Prague Spring, she recorded over 200 SP records and one LP which was immediately banned from stores. In 1970, the government falsely accused her of making pornographic photographs leading to a ban from performing in the country until 1989. (Disclaimer: I plagiarized much of this from Wikipedia)

Martin told us a story about the first time he went into Germany with his parents in the 1990s. He said that the Germans had made signs along the way that said “Czechs, don’t steal,” and “Czechs don’t stop here to clean your teeth.”

In the morning, I started drinking immediately to help the hangover. Martin joined me. Unfortunately, Andru’s cell phone was stolen from the driver’s side door which was unlocked when we were loading our gear out from the venue. Ox-strong Andru took it in stride and didn’t have a phone on the rest of the tour.

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Justin and Martin, the morning after the night before. Brno, Czech Republic

Day 5 Vienna, Austria @ Rhiz

Vienna is a handsome, lively city, and pleases me exceedingly.

-Frederic Chopin

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Austria was home to many famous folks including Sigmund Freud, Arnold Swartzenegger, Falco (“Rock Me Amadeus”) and some bad ones who we won’t mention.

Rhiz is a very civilized little cafe underneath a railroad bridge. Members of the opening band “Bad Weed,” were present and served us a civilized Viennese coffee before soundcheck.  When the train went by overhead, the sound in the club made this wacky little buzzing. The sound-man had worked there for 20 years or so, and wore one of the best sweaters I have ever seen. Wish I had a photo of the man and his sweater.

We were reminded of the derogatory term that the Germans call the Austrians, Schlucten Shiesse, which means “valley shitter.” Remember the Austrian Alps.

I have neglected to mention how cold Deutschland and Austria were. Being used to California weather, the central European October cold chilled me to my bones and made me feel like I had a constant cold or flu. Paired with the jet-lag and my new mandatory vegan diet, I felt like I was constantly being sat on by a large Germanic man.  Thankfully we had our pre-show routines to save us, as the show must go on.  In the bathrooms, a few African men were coming and going. They locked themselves into bathroom stalls presumably to organize some drugs that they were selling. I’m not trying to racially profile Austrian drug dealers, but this touring rock and roll musician knows a drug dealer when he sees one.

The shaving situation in the bathroom was again a tough one. A bespectacled middle-aged man in a brand new 500 Euro leather jacket commented, “Shaving, that isn’t very punkrock.”

On the contrary,  shaving in a cracked bathroom sink in the venue bathroom shortly before playing your set may in fact actually be “punk rock,” but that’s another argument for another time.

Arno, the drummer for opening band Bad Weed was formerly a promoter in a small town called Klagenfurt where Clorox Girls and The Feelers played in 2007. It was nice to see him again. Also bumped into Tom Jirsa and some other familiar faces.

Afterwards, there was a unmistakable tension in the club for the free DJ night when a few sketchy characters piled into the tiny smoke-filled bar. The tension was so intense it was almost physical, like you could reach out and touch it. It seemed like a fistfight was inevitable. A grade-school mating ritual unfolded where men wearing camouflage pants, hair gel, and cologne would dance uncomfortably close to a woman they were attracted to. If the woman danced with him, it was on, if she didn’t, most of the time the man didn’t seem to get the idea and kept coming back again and again to harass her. Most of the women seemed to go to the bar in groups, and so usually it was up to her female friends to shoo the humping greasy harasser away.

The other guys went to bed and I went to an 80s night with some folks and danced to songs like “Ghostbusters.” I danced with a school teacher who unironically had tickets to David Hasselhoff the following week.

At the 80s night I met some nice folks from Antwerp where we were soon headed to, and then stumbled through the freezing Alpine rain and finally jumped in a taxi when I couldn’t find our sleeping place.  Luckily, Andru woke up to the sound of the buzzer, and let me in at 4am as there wasn’t any wifi and I didn’t have any cell service. It would have been a bad night to sleep on the sidewalk in Vienna.

Day 6 Munich, Deutchland @ Kafe Kult

Of one thing there is no doubt: if Paris makes demands of the heart, then Munich makes demands of the stomach.

-Rachel Johnson

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Our Euro record label Taken By Surprise Records is located in Munich. Our drummer Chris has his screen printing shop Flatland  in the same building as Black Wave Records which is located near the Augustiner Brau Haus. We picked up some merchandise from the record store and screen-printing shop and headed over to the venue Kafe Kult, which is an old WWII military hospital. The caretaker’s name is Herbie, and he is a wild-eyed hippie who fishes Nazi memorabilia out of the river. His collection is pretty insane, if you ever stop by Kafe Kult it is well-worth it to take a look.

 

The Kafe Kult backstage is full of black-markered penis drawings and band-tags, as many of our friends’ touring bands have played here in the past.  Suspect Parts played one of our first shows in 2008 here.

 

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Andru warming up on bass in the Kafe Kult band room

Dinner was a vegan “almost burrito,” which actually wasn’t too bad. Europe has improved on the availability of spicy food these days. A particular bottle of spicy sauce at Kafe Kult almost killed Andru and I.

Kafe Kult’s bathroom is nearly impossible to shave in. The mirrors are covered with band stickers. We used my cell phone as a mirror. I held it for Sulli as he shaved, he did the same for me. Yes, yet another low pressure cold water shave for the ‘Parts. The bathrooms also have a permanent shiesse smell which proves that the place reeks of authenticity.

The openers were a grunge band from Vienna called Baits.  They were extremely friendly folks. They had to drive the 3 hours back to Vienna after the show and then go straight to work the next morning. The drummer even had to get on a bus to Zagreb, Croatia afterwards to play another show. That is dedication.  Baits sound reminded me of growing up in the 90s in Seattle.

One of the bartenders was a foxy girl with bangs named Veronica who plays in a noise-art kinda band called Friends Of Gas. She hadn’t heard of the Archie comics, and I told her about them. (Maybe it has something to do with my days living in Portland.  I’m a sucker for a dark-haired girl with bangs.)

At the beginning of our set my guitar amp stopped working which led us to scramble around, find a backup, and hastily commence our set. Sulli and I had almost completely lost our voices and were really pushing it as the vocal monitors were barely audible. We tried our best to play well, and sold a bunch of merchandise but my band mates told me afterwards that we played the worst set of the tour so far. Our Euro label boss Michl Krenner seemed to like the show (or he was lying to make us feel better). I gave him a kiss.

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Justin smooches Michl

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Suspect Parts with Taken By Surprise label boss Michl Krenner at Kafe Kult in Munich

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Andru’s art in the Kafe Kult guestbook in Munich

My crush, the bewitching beauty Veronica, left without saying goodbye much to my chagrin and we slept in the band room which was dirty, dusty, dark, and cold.  With all of the lights turned out, Herbie the caretaker’s handmade creations seemed to creep up the walls. A trip to the bathroom was like a barefoot walk in some filthy post-apocalyptic construction site. Luckily there was a space heater and it finally started to work as we drifted off to sleep.

In the morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn and contemplated what was going wrong with my life. A few hours later, I accidentally took one of the Kafe Kult volunteer’s sleeping bags which wasn’t the one that Michl loaned me. It apparently was a 200 Euro thermal sleeping bag for Alpine camping. Whoops. Luckily Chris lives in Munich and was able to bring it back after the tour.  The shower was grubby, located in a storage room full of Herbie’s ongoing projects and various broken appliances. It was covered in black muck. Andru was brave enough to take a shower, but Sulli and I opted out. The friendly volunteer who slept in the band room with us made us breakfast which we ate in sub-zero temperatures and we packed up the van and headed out to pick up Chris and his wife Laura at their place.

Touring is hard on the body.

Day 7 Cologne, Deutschland @ Sonic Ballroom

In Köln, a town of monks and bones, And pavement fang’d with murderous stones, And rags and hags, and hideous wenches, I counted two-and-seventy stenches, All well defined, and several stinks! Ye nymphs that reign o’er sewers and sinks, The River Rhine, it is well known, Doth wash your city of Cologne; But tell me, nymphs! what power divine Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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This was only the 4th date of tour and our 6th day in Europe but it felt like we had been on the road for ages.  Me and Sulli’s voices were nearly gone and I felt like I had a constant flu. This was the longest drive of tour – 6 hours (which is a relatively short distance compared to US Tours), and I took the opportunity to try and sleep in the back and get my voice back.  Our van kitchen was fully powered and Sulli had become a sandwich making gourmand. Our vegan spreads and veggies and cheeses were truly delectable.

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At most Deutschland gas stations, they have paid bathrooms with attendants – which usually ensures that they are cleaned on a regular basis.  I was out of change and tried to sneak into a bathroom by ducking and rolling through the child-sized free entrance and was promptly caught by the bathroom attendant. She was not impressed.

The last time we were in Cologne, we filmed a short episode of our web-series “Guten Morgen Deutschland” at the Dome as we had filmmaker and Minister Of War Andrew Zappin in tow.

Sonic Ballroom is another classic Deutschland venue.  Small, great little bar, band flat upstairs and it has it’s own kitchen and bathroom. Roman has been the promoter there for many years and a strong supporter of ours since 2008. It was his birthday and so he was off somewhere enjoying it. Happy Belated Birthday, Roman!

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Our favorite band names and DJ name from the tour: “Fuck It Head,” “DJ Tobias Sheisse,” and last but certainly not least, “Ape Shifter.”

Sonic Ballroom’s staff made us a nice vegan lasagna in the oven, soundcheck went smoothly, and we continued with our pre-show routines.  In Cologne the local beer is called Kolsch and this is ordered as opposed to Alt which is the rival beer from nearby rivals in Dusseldorf. Our kuhlshrank was filled with Kolsch.  The local cheap schnapps is called kettenfett which is like a black licorice shot. Not too bad. One of our biggest local supporters Frau Mony filmed a few of our songs.

Another local supporter, a 60 year old woman from Greece, knocked my microphone over a few times when she was dancing too hard. She apologized afterwards by kissing me on the neck and face. Suspect Parts’ German groupies are primarily women and men between the ages of 50 and 70.

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Sonic Ballroom Cologne, photo by Frau Mony.

The audience under 60 didn’t dance much but seemed to enjoy our tunes. We had some more kettenfett and Kolsch and went to bed in the bunks upstairs. The promoter told us that our first single “Seventeen Television” was a local dance floor hit. The DJs that night had a set that went on until about 5am. Their set included The Shocks “More Kicks”and Red Dons “Auslander”

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Sweaty Suspect Parts post-show at Sonic Ballroom in Cologne. Photo by Frau Mony.

Day 8 Antwerp, Belgium @ Venue 219

“It’s absurd to see an enchanted princess in every girl who walks by. What do you think you are, a troubadour?” 
― Roberto BolañoAntwerp

If you open the door of a bar in Brooklyn, you know exactly who is the mobster, who is the nice guy, who is the drunk, who’s the waitress, who’s the lonely heart. If you push open the door to a bar in Antwerp, people will talk five different languages. You don’t know who’s who. You don’t know if that guy is a banker or a mobster.”

– Thomas Bidegain

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We pulled into Antwerp and it felt a bit like France with its narrow streets and cafes. Antwerp is in the Flemish part of Belgium which historically has a rivalry dated back to medieval times with the French part of Belgium.  Flemish is similar to Dutch but they also have a rivalry with the Dutch. You can drive across the entire country of Belgium in about 3 hours but its a complicated place with an intricate history.

As the venue was closed and locked, we stopped into an extremely civilized local bar and tried the local beer.

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Sulli and Andru sample some Belgian beer. Justin’s personal favorite: De Koninck. Smooth and creamy with a consistency similar to Guinness.

The show was a Halloween party and most of the folks there seemed to be there for the dance party, not our band, which was fine. The local band were these kids who left their gear on stage for way too long and it annoyed all of us into playing a seriously blistering set.

The owner of the bar had a box full of Halloween supplies that he let us dip into. We did alright!

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Suspect Parts’ makeshift Halloween costumes in Antwerp.

That night was another 80s music dance party. The place was packed. The guys went to bed at a reasonable hour and I foolishly stayed out and went to another after-hours party. I was playing roulette with the devil as far as my singing voice went.

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Justin and Andru enjoy Halloween in Antwerp

Parking the van Halloween night in Antwerp proved to be extremely challenging and only Andru was up to the daunting task. We circled the city and finally found parking down by the river. Andru felt that the van might be at risk for a break-in so he slept in the van. It was freezing cold and only Ox-Strong Andru would take on this noble cause.

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Ox-strong Andru Bourbon

The next morning we only had a 1 hour drive to Kortrijk, so we had one of our only touristic days to walk around the city and see the sights. Our hosts Joris and Ann made us a lovely home-made breakfast in their flat and gave us an absolutely enjoyable walking tour with their dog, Clipper. Antwerp is exquisite. Here’s some of the highlights of our tourist day in photos:

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L to Right Joris, Andru, Sulli, Ann and Clipper enjoy a civilized coffee at a cafe in Antwerp

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Belgian fries with mayo of course!

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Andru enjoys a Jupiter on the 2nd best day of his life.

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Day 9 Kortrijk, Belgium @ The Pits

I’m half-Irish, half-Dutch, and I was born in Belgium. If I was a dog, I’d be in a hell of a mess!

– Audrey Hepburn

Chris and Andru finally trusted me enough to drive our rental Mercedes Sprinter Van and I successfully drove 1 hour through Belgium without incident. There was some backseat driving, but not too bad. The Pits is a legendary 20 year old garage punk venue that has hosted bands  like The Mummies, Supercharger, Dead Moon, The Spits, King Khan & BBQ, Black Lips, Alex White, Clorox Girls, Briefs, The Feelers, The Chemicals, and many more.

We were told that there was another show going on that night in Lille, France and that 11 of their regulars were headed to that show.  The Pit’s (sic) is tiny and can be filled to the absolute brim with about 40 people.  Tonight we had about 15 in the crowd so it was only about half-full. The staff was nice and dinner was tasty.  Again we had some issues with our pre-show shave as there was no bathroom mirror or even a sink to shave in.

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The Pits urinals and toilet across from the merch table. Note: no sink or soap to wash hands with. Who needs soap to enjoy primitive beer-soaked garage punk?

 

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The Pits DJ played some great stuff including The Kids from Antwerp.

The Pits staff told us that we could park the van overnight at the venue and then walk to the sleeping place. Our host was named Stoppe. He kinda looked like Andre The Giant. Stoppe was totally wasted and insisted that we drive to his flat. All of us had been drinking and since we were told that we could park at the venue, we all had enjoyed a few Belgian beers. As I was feeling sick, I didn’t really drink after the show and had been sober for a few hours.  I drove our van to Stoppe’s house and parallel parked half on the Belgian side walk.

Inside his flat, Stoppe had a fish and shrimp curry that he had made for a girlfriend of his.  I ate some despite Chris’ reasonable concern that I would get food poisoning from the shellfish that had been sitting out.  Stoppe’s friend had some home-grown weed and they brought out some fancy Belgian beer for us that was very tasty.  Stoppe put on a jazz record on 78 speed and proceeded to dance to it which brought most of us to tears laughing at his antics.  In between eating, drinking, and dancing, Stoppe cooked some samosas and brought out some more beer.

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Justin and Stoppe

My favorite record that he played was this Belgian female singer from the 60s which I wish I could remember.  The record he put on 78 speed was Ottone Pesante.

My all-time favorite tune is Lio’s “Le Banana Split.” Despite Lio hailing from the French side of Belgium, everyone should know this tune.

Stoppe told us that Facebook had blocked him from using his name “Stop Stop Stop” and he was trying to resolve it as it was his only way of communicating with many of his friends. Good luck, Stoppe!

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Our drawings for Stoppe’s guestbook

Day 10 Munster, Germany @ Gleis 22

In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the US, I’m a bum.”

– John Carpenter

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Promoter Markus Schmauck has been booking concerts in Munster for nearly 20 years. The opening band was called Conta. It was their 4th show. Their pre-show schnapps was also Berliner Luft which caused us to immediately bond with them.

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Sulli and Markus

There are also some scenes from our music video for “Run For Your Life” filmed at Gleis 22.

A local amp shop called Rare Guitars fixed my broken guitar amp which was fantastic. We had dinner, shiesse’d and schnapps’d and then had even more schnapps with Conta backstage.  It was their 4th show and they were real nervous.

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Conta at Gleis 22, Munster. Photo courtesy of diegoldenehor.de

 

Gleis 22 was pretty packed, Conta killed it and we killed it in turn.  We all went to a bar called Boheme something and enjoyed some kettenfett, jagermeister, and beers until they closed.  Markus is a local legend and for good reason. Munster should appreciate Markus bringing hundreds of touring bands to their student city over the years.

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We stayed in this flat that some local hippies lived in. One of them introduced himself to us and said that he was a digital nomad. I guess that we are analog nomads.  The handle on the bathroom door kept falling off and the shower was dirty but the water was hot.  Hot and dirty.

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Sulli at Gleis 22, Munster Photo courtesy of diegoldenehor.de

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Andru at Gleis 22, Munster Photo courtesy of diegoldenehor.de

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Sulli, Justin, and Chris at Gleis 22. Photo courtesy of diegoldenehor.de

Day 11 Hamburg, Germany @ Molotow

You’re not getting any sleep tonight.

– Graffiti seen on the Reeperbahn, Hamburg

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I’ve known local promoters Jens Keller and Michael for over 10 years. Their old promotion company Wildwax previously booked shows in the now defunct Beatclub. Jens and Michael in their younger years would take shots of hot candle wax and force the touring bands to do the same. Wildwax hosted loads of touring bands like The Spits, Black Lips, King Khan & BBQ, Jay Reatard, and more. The last couple of times I was in Hamburg I was sick and would sleep in Jens’ bunk bed (often he would not sleep). We may have shared the bed a few times. One particular night with Holy Ghost Revival, Jens convinced them to buy a pigeon to throw into my face while I was sleeping.   They bought the pigeon at the Fisherman’s Market at 7am or so, and John let the pigeon free. Jens was pissed off at John for years (and probably still is).  Another time Jens convinced me to try to give Colin from Clorox Girls a roman soldier, which is one of the worst things I have done to any band mate. Colin, I’m sorry.

In the morning in Munster I had some schinken (ham) with breakfast. I hadn’t eaten any meat on the whole tour as all of the venue-provided food was vegan and vegetarian.  The ham tasted very strong and didn’t agree with me at all.  My stomach was a wreck during the whole drive to Hamburg and I felt like I had food poisoning. If any of you have had food poisoning before, you know what it feels like – a flu with your head, body and stomach all in volcanic disorder.  Our van was subjected to a melee of bad smells coming out of my body during the drive to Hamburg.  I honestly didn’t know if I could play.  I slept in the back of the van with a scarf on and rode it out.

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Justin dying in the van

At Jens’ place in Hamburg we met his new son, Sixten. Jens made us a delicious chili. When serving a heaping serving of chili,  a plate suddenly shattered above his son’s head. Uncle Justin grabbed the baby and the rest of the ‘Parts cleaned up all of the spilled chili and broken plate.

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Sulli and Sixten in Hamburg

After the near disaster, we enjoyed Jens’ chili paired with a glass of Schwabish red wine.  I was feeling a little bit better from my run-in with the schinken earlier but still pretty rough, sweaty and sore all over.  I took a shower and shaved then we headed out to soundcheck at Molotow. We were playing with 2 bands that night, 1 that sounded like The Strokes and another one that had crazy mohawks, bondage and whatnot. It was their last show, they streamed a backdrop banner across the rear of the stage, and sound-checked for a very long time.

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39 Euro Sex on the Reeperbahn, Hamburg

The Molotow is a proper indie venue and has a downstairs, upstairs, and outside stages.  It’s located right on the Reeperbahn which is in the heart of Hamburg’s red-light district. If you haven’t been there it’s like Las Vegas but sleazier, shadier, with legal prostitution mixed with kebab shops, dance clubs, strip clubs, bars, restaurants, music venues, and some American chain restaurants like Burger King and Hooters.  The Beatles also kick-started their career here.  A description of the Beatles early days in Hamburg:

McCartney later said, “We lived backstage in the Bambi Kino, next to the toilets, and you could always smell them. The room had been an old storeroom, and there were just concrete walls and nothing else. No heat, no wallpaper, not a lick of paint; and two sets of bunk beds, with not very much covers—Union Jack flags—we were frozen.” Lennon remembered: “We were put in this pigsty. We were living in a toilet, like right next to the ladies’ toilet. We’d go to bed late and be woken up next day by the sound of the cinema show and old German fraus [women] pissing next door.” After having been awoken in this fashion, the group were then obliged to use cold water from the urinals for washing and shaving. They were paid £2.50 each a day, seven days a week, playing from 8:30-9:30, 10 until 11, 11:30-12:30, and finishing the evening playing from one until two o’clock in the morning. German customers found the group’s name comical, as “Beatles” sounded like “Peedles”, which meant a small boy’s penis. (From The Beatles in Hamburg )

Luckily Suspect Parts seemed to have it slightly better than the Beatles in their early days, and at Molotow, had our own private dressing room upstairs where we could sit quietly away from the cigarette smoke and eat some erdnuss flips (the best German snack).

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We were at least 2 hours early for the show, so I had time to take a 30 minute power nap in the dressing room.  Sulli went to the train station to pick his wife Chris up. Here’s Chris modeling a Suspect Parts shirt.

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The Strokes band sounded a lot like the Strokes. To paraphrase Pablo Picasso, “Bad art is imitation, great art is theft.”

The crazy mohawk band sounded better onstage than their soundcheck. I was really worried about my voice and my energy level but I managed to get up to “adult chimp strong.”  As I may have mentioned earlier, in the German language, the strongest animal is an ape. “Affenstark,” or “Ape-Strong” is the strongest that one can get in Germany as well as in Suspect Parts land.  On my worst times of day I was a newborn baby deer, one that could barely walk.  On the Munster to Hamburg drive I was a newborn salamander, a slimy creature that could be easily crushed.  Onstage in Hamburg, I made it to adult chimp strong, which is almost as strong as “Ape Strong” but not quite.  Andru Bourbon was steadily “Ox Strong” throughout the tour except one time when he apparently passed out behind our merch table.

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At the end of our set in Hamburg I thought I would die, but ran to the merch table to sling some records, buttons, and shirts to folks.  We did pretty good.  Hamburg didn’t kill us. I had to go to bed early to attempt to get Ape Strong before our last show in Berlin, and we went back home where Jens’ wife Julika played us some of her favorite Plimsouls tunes.

Sulli’s wife Chris took this photo of us the next morning next to the river.

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Suspect Parts in Hamburg. Photo by Chris Almeida.

Day 12 Berlin, Germany @ Kastaniankeller

I still keep a suitcase in Berlin.”

– Marlene Deitrich

 

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Suspect Parts have played Berlin 6 or 7 times between 2008 and present, so it’s the closest we have to a hometown. We knew that we would have a lot of friends there but were literally gobsmacked by the amount of friends that came down to support us.

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L to R Jakob, Daniel, Andru, and Smail. Kastaniankeller, Berlin

Slime The Boogie and Gang Zero opened up the show and were both fantastic. There were these hilarious bearded guys in Harley Davidson jackets who kept chest bumping each other and “moshing.”  They were half amusing, half annoying.  It was packed in the place and a Suspect Part couldn’t go 3 steps without bumping into someone who wanted to say hello or offer food, drink, or drugs, so we had a hard time getting Ape Strong for this one.  We had to give it our all though. The monitors onstage literally had static coming out of them, but we sang our hearts out and tried our best to kick some ass and take some names.  One of the big bearded fellows was grabbing at my leg and hugging me during our first few songs. The beards finally got bored and left, which was great because it opened up the front row for about 10 girls to dance.  Finally, dancing in Deutchland!   Success! We blasted through our set and closed out with Chris singing “Do It Clean” by Echo and the Bunnymen. We had some “Animal House” -reminiscent call and response and brought down the house.  Thank you Berlin, our last show was easily our best show, and couldn’t have gone down better. Ich leibe dich Berlin.

Stream or order Suspect Parts new self titled LP in North America here

Stream or order Suspect Parts new self-titled LP in Europe here

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Sulli retires his Chuck Taylor’s in Berlin

Post Script, German Vocabulary

I’ve been to Deutschland a few times and always try and pick up some new insults and vocabulary words. Here’s the list from this trip:

Schwips – buzzed, Ich Habe einen schwips or Ich bin beschwipst (“I am buzzed”)

Motorat – Motorcycle

Kinderwagen – stroller

Ampel – Traffic Light

Ampel menschen – traffic light men

Hamsterer – a hoarder

Rucksichtslos – regardless

Festgennomen – Arrested

Keks – Cookies

Dar ist ein hund in einer tasche – there is a dog in a bag

Schlucten Shiesse – Valley Shitter (what the Germans call the Austrians)

Spaten – Idiot  (literally means shovel, but if you call a person this it means idiot)

Laberbacke – someone who talks too much

Best quotes of this tour go to Andru Bourbon:

Chris: “You have to step into the modern world, Bourbon.”

Andru: “Sometimes I do.”

Chris: “She has the right to cut you off, she’s driving a Porsche.”

Andru: “Do I have the right to kill her?”

You can stream or order Suspect Parts new self titled LP in North America here

You can stream or order Suspect Parts new self-titled LP in Europe here

Suspect Parts on Facebook

Suspect Parts on Instagram: @SuspectParts

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Suspect Parts in Antwerp

 

And some wonderful extras for those of you who stuck around this long:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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