Ballast Tour Diary 2006

Ballast is a great melodic crust/peace-punk band from Montreal, Quebec. The lyrics often deal with politics and the current state of the world but also with strong personal issues. Line-up – Nancy: bass, Adam: guitar, Spoke: vocals, Dave: drums/vocals, Scott: guitar/jug. Discography: Demo Cassette (2001, Self-released), Demo Cassette (2003, Self-released), Numb Again 7” EP (2004, Self-released), Sound Asleep LP/CD/Cassette (2005, Profane Existence/Trująca Fala, Cassette), Ballast 7” EP (2005, Stonehenge), Fuse LP (2006, Trująca Fala)

Sept 11 – So Adam is leaving on Monday… We’re sending him out first to make sure Paris is still there.

Sept 13 – Me (Nancy), Scott and Spoke leaving today. Running around trying to tie up loose ends. then we get the new LPs and covers… and start assembling them tomorrow whilst eating bagels, drinking wine and wearing berets in Gael’s apartment in Paris. First show Friday in Paris and then we’re off to Belgium… maybe we’ll add more to this as the tour goes by…

Sept 14 – So, yeah, now we’re in Paris, fuckin’ jetlagged, I’m drinking gin. Some guy went on a shooting spree in downtown Montreal yesterday while I was running errands getting ready to go… a couple of dead, 20 injured, whoa. Anyway, playing our first show tomorrow…

Sept 21(?) – In Berlin today, playing with Mönster at the Köpi, should be good…. Last night we played with our friends Witch Hunt at Rota Flora in Hamburg, great show and good times. The other shows so far were okay too. Especially Aachen where some Polish oogle guy wanted to punch Adam for his emo sweater, ha ha. Also Bremen was really good, Apocolipstix were great and nice people… tomorrow should be madness at the Zoro Festival…

Sept 26 – Drove all day yesterday from Copenhagen to Oslo….
Leipzig was crazy, tons of people, seeing many old friends from all over, staying up ’til dawn. Hannover was also a good show…. played with November 13, who fucking raged. Then we went to Copenhagen, the day of the second big demo against the eviction of Ungdomshuset, a very old and militant squat here… as we drove into town we didnt know what to expect… many people were coming from all over Europe to resist this eviction…

…arrived at Ungdomshuset and hear that 266 people have been arrested and many more beaten by police, many people with visible bruises and injuries…. so the mood was pissed off. We were told, “if the police come to the show and make trouble, we will lock ourselves inside and fight them as best we can.” Apparently the rooftop was well equipped with premade molotov cocktails and various other projectiles with which to do so….. whoa.

The show went okay (the pigs never did show up) and people were being released through the night and into the early morning…. and across town there was still rioting outside Christiania (another squat in Copenhagen, and I think the largest in the world- I heard that there were around 1000 inhabitants…) while the show was going on, in solidarity with Ungdomshuset. We met people from Germany, UK, Norway, Sweden, and many other places who had traveled here for this action. Fuck yeah.
Anyway, yeah, now we are in Oslo, and tomorrow is Linkoping in Sweden.

The showspace in Linkoping was next to the train station and we slept at the space too. Pretty much after the show everyone left, and we slept there but since in the shops you can only buy 3% beer, we were feeeling alittle… sober. But Hubciu, the loneliest roadie on the tour, shared his wine with us and we sat next to the fire escape until we were drowsy enough to fall asleep… We accidentally locked the other band out for the night, which we felt like total asshole about in the morning, but nobody warned us that they were coming back, OOPS! Anyway, the interesting thing about the show in Linkoping was the 8 or 10 year old girl watching us play. I hope she didn’t hate us and that she starts a band one day!

Stockholm was hospitable but unfortunately there were not that many people becuz of Deadmoon sharing the city with us that night (I wish i could have gone too, actually, but it was a little pricey and there was no time) we didn’t get to play at Fullersta but we went there after the show, and wow! What a nice place. The next day found me and Hubert, and Dave taking the train from Fullersta to the city centre on a quest for liquid smoke which Hubert was determined to bring back home to Wroclaw… We finally got some!

-> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> GOING on 16 hour ferry ride to Poland tomorrow, alright. To What End was pretty rad.

I’m allergic to Scandiniavia. It’s kicking my ass hard and these damn Swedish thorn bushes won’t leave me alone!

Oct 1 – So we drove from Stockholm to the ferry and because of traffic and bullshit we arrive just in time to see the auto loading ramp go up on the back of the ferry. FUCK. So at first we think we have to go back all the way to fucking Copenhagen by car, then drive all the way to Gdansk through Poland and North Germany (like at least 20 hours driving) to get to our show the next night, but then we go to an internet café and find another ferry from Karlskrona to Gdynia (near Gdansk) which leaves at 9:00 the next morning…. So we drive to Karlskrona (like 6 hours) arrive at dawn, sit for like 2 hours and then load onto the ferry. Sit on the ferry for 10 hours watching terrible movies with Polish truckers (A.I. and American Pie 2, fucking UGH, so stupid), then get off the ferry and drive directly to the show, arrive and have to load in and play immediately (after 24 hours of transit), and of course play like crap, but the show was fun anyway. Today is the next day and were basking in the clean and quiet paradise that is Filip and Magda’s house, eating amazing food and sitting around the fire, drinking vodka (“little water” in Polish”) with cranberry syrup and Tabasco sause (sounds gross but it’s very good) and relaxing… Tomorrow we play in Warsaw…

Warsaw on a Monday night, and any show on a Monday night you can expect not too too many people, but it was a good lineup with a band from Poland called ZłodziejeRowerów, which means, the bicycle thieves, like the Italian movie, and Defiance, Ohio, who are very nice people and a good atmospheric live band. So luckily the place was packed and during our set when we played the Post Regiment cover, a lot of people were singing a long which was great, fun show! Tonight, we go to Lublin, but first today we got to go to the Asia town area in Warsaw to get tofu.

Oct 8 – Got to Lublin and had a nice supper, then went to the show where we were the only band and proceeded to blow their PA speakers. Oops. Then went to sleep in a nice quiet house after a few beers and a little conversation… Next day was Wroclaw, and we met up with quite a few old friends from Infekcja as well as others from this fine city. The show was packed but unfortunately we were fed “spiritus” by Infekcja which, i would say, impaired our ability to perform, so to speak. But a fun night and we were very sad to say goodbye to Sloma and Hubert (our drivers up to this point) but also happy to say hello to Filip and Magda. Anyway, the next show was in Roznov, which was also very good as we expected from our last experience there… nice people, fun show and nice drive through the mountains to Wien the next day… Played at EKH in Wien, a huge amazing squat, like half of a big city block with like 5 or 6 floors, a huge concert space, living places and what I gathered to be a very large refugee resource center on one floor… Anyway, after we load in I go back out to the van to get a clean pair of socks and am almost run over on the way back in by a bunch of squatters with bats and sticks, one of which is shoved into my hands as I am urged in German to participate in whatever shit kicking is presumably about to occur… So I follow and it turns out there is some scare with Nazis, so we stand around the main door “guarding” it while another crew sweeps the neighborhood trying to find them (it turns out they had, in typical cowardly Nazi fashion, jumped a squatter from EKH, with a 4 to 1 ratio, then ran away…) Anyway, they didn’t come back and the show went well enough…

The next day we got up very early to drive across Hungary to play in Timişoara in Romania. The show was in the remains of what I think was the old city walls, our first show with No Rest from Brazil who were rad and also really nice people… We also walked around the center and saw some leftover artillery from the ’89 revolution as well as the worlds most hideously attired mannequin. Next day was Brasov… we were driving to this show and the fucking hydrolic clutch went out on the road, which delayed us a couple of hours finding some random person in the middle of nowhere to fix it (actually we were very lucky to get it fixed at all.) We made it to the show just in time to find out that A) this was supposed to be the first hardcore show in the town EVER and that there were 200+ kids waiting all night for us and B) the show now couldn’t happen because the owner decided it was too late. Very, very annoying. Anyway. So yeah, today we left VERY early from the trauma of last night, and hung around in Bucharest for the afternoon, sitting with some beers in a park in front of Ceauşescu’s old palace – who, for those not familiar with the ’89 revolution, was the oppresive dictator bastard who the ’89 revolutionaries threw out and later executed… just waiting now for the show to start…

Oct, um, 12th??? – The show in Bucharest was the best in Romania. Craiova was good too, although not so many people…. anyway, it was fun to play with No Rest again, as well as to meet Skarpretter from Denmark… Next morning we drove to Bulgaria and got picked over by the border cops on both sides, pay the transit tax, pay the road tax, pay the bridge tax (over the Danube…) and ended up being robbed like 40 Euro… We even had to pay for “disinfection” which meant driving through a pit of muddy 6 inch deep water. Ridiculous. Anyway, we drove to Varna and played to like 5 extremely enthusiastic kids who drove like 500 km to see us (meanwhile the promoter couldn’t even be bothered to make posters and watched a football match while we played). Well, okay. So yeah, we drive to the beach now, supposedly the nicest beach on the Black Sea, and then we head for Greece which hopefully will be possible to enter given the supposedly extreme flooding thats going on pretty much right where were going…

– a few days later…

So a few days have passed. Greece was great, played in Thessaloniki at a squatted room inside of a university, apparently in Greece there’s an asylum status for university campuses and cops can’t enter them for almost any reason… anyway tons of people and a good show… Athens was even better, like over 300 people, great food, lots of fun. One of the best shows we’ve ever played. Crazy crowd. Next day we had off so went walking around drinking beers in a park overlooking the city with some new friends. Went to bed early and got up for the long drive to Skopje, made it over the border with no real problems. Played in a club and then went to sleep….

The next day was Belgrade… kinda strange being North Americans and going to a city that the US bombed a few years ago. Expected a lot of tension but the people there were really nice…..

The next day was yesterday with La Fraction in Zagreb, big show and it was nice to see them again… Today we are in Slovenia, waiting to play…

Here we are in Krsko,  roasting chestnuts and drinking young wine, it’s pretty GOOD, so I won’t stay too long on internet, but yeah, this is the 2nd and last show in Slovenia and then tomorrow I guess we are officially out of the Balkans, and welcome to Italy!  Long drive to Cesena, but hopefully lots of stops for pizza.

28th – Again with the long breaks. Anyway, we drove to Cesena and it’s like in the middle of nowhere, but super nice people, the show was packed and one of the best of the tour. And of course we discover the next day in Rome that we forgot some gear there so we have to drive back… thanks to Alberto and Al Confino squat for helping us out…. anyway, the Rome show was good but started too late (3 bands starting at 1230 with us last after a lot of driving…)

After we played outside of Grenoble in a squatted summer camp in the mountains…. again way out in the middle of nowhere, and we think that it’ll be nobody there but it turns out well and some old friends show up as well….

The next day in St. Etienne with Daïtro and Hyacinth (sorry if I spelled it wrong, I’m an ignoramus.) Which was a really good show with lots of people, great food etc. Hung out as long as we could after but I didn’t last so long… also we have to drive to Barcelona the next day so another early day… we wake up at, I think, 7:30 or so, have coffee and drive, drive, drive. Stop along the way at the beach in France, nice but damned windy. The show in Barcelona was with Sick Terror from Brazil. I’ll leave the controversy gossip aside as I don’t know any of the parties involved and anyway things circulating third hand unsubstantiated internet rumors (valid or not) is kinda irresponsible… (for those who know or care about what I’m talking about) and leave it at saying the show was good, and we again saw lots of old friends – also this place (Los Blokes I think was the name?) was really nice and cool people as well…

Then was Zaragoza, which, fuck was really good as well…. again lots of people and a fun show, although the PA was a little dodgy – as I was singing I could see the lights flicker every time my wet face touched the microphone… Getting shocked and I don’t know if the flickering lights was the electricity in the building draining through me, or just my eyes vibrating… Either way kinda creepy. Then we went to sleep, hung out and listened to Doom. Who else? Now in the morning it’s The Smiths as we make breakfast, later driving up into the Basque country to play with Asphixia in llodio….

So we drove to llodio and it was weird getting off the highway, apparently ETA stole over 300 guns from an arms plant in the Basque region of France, so the Spanish military police are out in full force in the Basque country to assert themselves… we get off the highway and have our van searched by a 19 year old with a machine gun. The show is good, Asfixia are really nice people and a good band… the next day we drive up to Bordeaux which is alo great, we get to see our friends from Gasmask Terror and also Christophe, and we have some time after the early show to walk around… the next night is Angers, really nice people and the show is again good, and after we walk to a huge castle and hang out… and of course since Adam hasn’t gotten lost on this tour now is the time. So he gets lost and ends up sleeping in a parking garage while we wonder where he is. The next morning we wake up and go to Paris for our last show, it’s in the basement of a squat and the room is really, really small…. we play a few songs and are getting shocked from the PA – again with the electricity jumping from the mic to my teeth, and the lights flickering… We go to Gaels and go to sleep, and wake up and thats the end……….

Anyway, now me and Spoke are in Germany in Neubrandenburg, just watched La Fraction play and now were hanging out…. tomorrow we go to Poland and then to Berlin, then Paris and then home… Too many people to thank but for sure thanks to Filip and Magda, Sloma and Hubert, Christophe, No Rest, Hyacinth, La Fraction, Villa Amalias, Köpi, Zoro, Stumpf, Subwar Collective (Belgrade), Ivan (Fuck Yoga – Skopje), Asfixia, Al Confino squat, Bencivenga, Rota Flora, Ungdomshuset/Christiania, To What End, EKH, Christiano, Tavi (Romania), VRAH, Fullersta, all the people who made shows or fed us, or put up with our bullshit… fuck, so many people and I’m braindead now…

Nancy

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