VENOMOUS SPEED METAL

  • Here’s two articles I wrote which make sense pair together as one. If you ain’t into 80s metal or old speed metal even you might feel a bit like a cheap alloy but don’t fear the reaper as I have loads of contentious, irritating and opinionated a-hole pieces on politics, society and culture coming up….
  1. RATTLE YOUR GOD DAMN HEAD……..

What is the damn difference anyways between thrash and speed metal? I was discussing this very point with my good friend and satanic speed metal acolyte Rob from Vomitor only last weekend. We were playing ‘Obsessed by Cruelty’ and debating it as proto death metal? was it black metal or speed metal…black speed metal even? of course we are metal nerds just like all of you so it became pretty complicated and heated.

What speed metal is is implied in the name of course, it needs the speed, the manic intensity but the difference really is in the style of guitar playing and notation. If we take what is for example an archetypal speed metal record like ‘Killing is my business’ by Megadeth and let’s say a standard thrash metal album, Testament’s ‘The new order’ or ‘practise what you preach’ of course you will notice ‘rattlehead’ and ‘the mechanix’ are without a doubt faster then the mostly mid paced thrashings of Testament but in thrash you have this palm muting technique, which basically in simple terms is this staccato right hand wrist action while strumming, very tight but creates the thrash chunk…can we call it that? mix that with the typical power or bar chord structure, ala ‘Master of puppets’ and you can hear what i mean right?

Speed metal can have a more Iron Maiden approach, or rather Maiden and Priest on crack, more attention to open string strumming and single note harmonies. Raven for example are the perfect proto speed metal band but you could never really call them tonally ‘heavy’, it’s more a manic note based attack with the nasty amphetamine attack of Motorhead rock n roll . Early Bathory for example we could call satanic speed metal even, ‘Show no Mercy’ is a great example of the difference. The whole album owes even more to Priest and Maiden than anything else, ‘The Antichrist’ or ‘Crionics’ and even Raven then thrash metal, or what became thrash metal. This very fast picking movement through notes and more traditional metal harmonies. So…..’Show no mercy’ is speed metal…..but is ‘Reign in Blood’ thrash metal?……we could probably justifiably argue this point.

Heaviness is translated as this manic intensity, less distortion for the most part as the sensibilities of Maiden, Priest and Fate were not about about the heaviest tone, I mean we could probably still discuss ‘Rust in Peace’ as speed metal….in fact a part of me really doesn’t think of Megadeth as a thrash metal band whereas ‘Among the Living’ is full of this mid paced palm muted ‘chunk’ I mentioned earlier, ’I am the law’? this is thrash metal…..yet ‘Armed and Dangerous’ is more like speed metal. Confused yet?

When I think about it it’s always been the dirty speed metal that has attracted me more than the hefty chunk of thrash, despite considering myself a thrasher back in the day, it was always the filthy rasp of ‘Armageddon’ from the first Bathory that appealed to me more than the Bermuda short thrash metal of ‘State of Euphoria’ or where most of the Bay Area went after 88. The frenetic youthful burst of adrenalin was where my heart was at and still now on the cusp of middle age when I hear the scraped pick and bass intro to ‘Take this torch’ i feel the rush of speed metal power!!!! you don’t get that from ‘Practise what you preach’…..

Yet I would argue that the lines between speed and thrash are very fine and cross over of course all the time but if any style of metal is so hard to recreate in 2017 it seems to be speed/thrash, for me it so stylistically and culturally belongs in 1985, it exists riding on the wave of nwobhm and the naive yet beautiful energy of 80s metal in virgin territory, where the scene moved so fast and quickly. One month ‘Hell Awaits’ shifted the world and then without a moments pause we had ‘Morbid tales’ and then ‘Rrrooaarrr’…..month after month of genre altering and defining classics. We were part of a moment that was taking over the world on it’s own terms, pushing boundaries and despite the sound looking forward. Now we are compelled to look backwards and try to recreate what once was.

It can never quite be the same…..but take a moment to enjoy and worship at the altar of youthful impetuosity and abandon because at it’s heart that is what speed metal is. The energy and recklessness of naked aggression.

My speed metal 20 playlist

megadeth ‘rattlehead’

agent steel ‘mad locust rising’

at war ‘rapechase’

destructor ‘destructor’

slayer ‘evil has no boundaries’

exciter ‘stand up and fight’

razor ‘take this torch’

destruction ‘total desaster’

holy terror ‘debt of pain’

metallica ‘no life til leather’

helloween ‘ride the sky’

raven ‘i dont need your money’

enforcer ‘live for the night’

sadus ‘certain death’

destroyer 666 ‘satanic speed metal’

rigor mortis ‘wizard of gore’

flotsam and jetsam ‘hammerhead’ 

hallows eve ‘plunging to megadeath’

anthrax ‘deathrider’

bathory ‘armageddon’

2. VENOM

Nightmare before the Storm

In the old Virgin Megastore in Dublin in the 80s they used to have a sale at the end of the year of vinyls and cassettes without covers for the princely sum of 50p. Me and a friend used to spend hours and hours going through huge buckets and boxes and then I would draw my own covers or copy the original as faithfully as I could when I should have been paying attention in school. I still have some of those hand painted cassette covers, a clear indicator of the artist I was born to be 🙂 Was about summer 1987 perhaps and my long suffering grandfather had been sent with me into town to buy new football boots but I had brought him to the Virgin Megastore to stand by as I rooted around looking for 50pence cassettes. The patience of a Saint that man had!

Note to you all that it was Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin Megastore who was the first to break the Irish republics law on selling contraceptives openly over the counter in that very shop in 1990! Yep 90! that was the country we lived in. Anyway….back to the cheap cassettes. 

‘Nightmare’ by Venom was one of that days cheap finds, along with Exciter, Helstar and Omen all for the princely tithe of £2. I’d graduated from AC/DC to Maiden and Priest and by the end of 86 and start of 87 was descending quickly to speed metal hell via Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer. I’d just started buying Metal magazines and of course in 87 to a 12 or 13 year old 1983 seemed like a lifetime away, but 80 and 81 was another country entirely. by 87 Venom were more or less done and the early albums got mentioned in dispatches now and again in those mags but they were not easy to find, scenes moved fast and by 87, thrash metal was king and ‘Welcome to Hell’ was not what young teenagers were on the move for. Well except for me that is but back in those days you would only have found a copy in the second hand vinyl racks. 

‘Nightmare’ on cassette was quite a find, little did I know it was something of an anomaly in the Venom cannon, their last stand so to speak. To say I wore out that cassette would be an understatement, even the answerphone message somehow seemed engaging…..

It started what was an utter and consuming love affair between Venom and myself, while most of my peers were waiting for ‘The new order’ or ‘and justice for all’ I was busy going around all the second hand shops scouring the bins for old Venom records. Very often you would find albums that had just been released second hand the following week as they sold so many copies back in the day in Dublin that the % game would bear fruit and X amount of copies would show up for half the price one week later. It was at this time my burgeoning Venom obsession was nearly derailed, standing in some old vinyl shop debating whether to buy ‘Welcome to Hell’ on the one hand and ‘Calm before the storm’ on the other…..well the newer album has to probably be the best one right? the heaviest? right…….but on the other hand these guys have axes on the back of the other album sleeve, much cooler right? In the end I was way to logical for my age and went with ‘Calm’, it was the same weekend that someone gave me a cassette of ‘Pleasure to Kill’ and ‘Obsessed by Cruelty’. I stared at ‘Calm’ going round on my turntable with indignation. This was Venom? At that time there was a cable TV show called ‘Monsters of Rock’ on SKY tv presented by a guy called Mick Wall, who is still writing about metal today as I recall, my still long suffering grandfather had brought a satellite disc back from NY so every Saturday me and my cousin watched Monsters of Rock and held up a little tape recorded to the speaker to catch songs we didn’t know…..’Seven Gates of Hell’ from Hammersmith came on one Saturday with the curtains drawn. This was not ‘Calm before the storm’, this was what I was expecting, still probably my favourite Venom track, despite what I wrote elsewhere 🙂 this sent me back out into the record shops with a mission to find pre Nightmare Venom! 

For the record the title track of ‘Calm’ is f’kin awesome and it has a few great tracks but my heavier, faster nastier pre pubescent self wanted something entirely different. I saved up a few more 50ps, I think my allowance back then was £2 old Irish pounds per week, so what we used to do was get up for school earlier and get off the bus to school 3 stops early to save 20p on the bus fair, do that every day of the week and you had £1 more at the end of the week. Mow a few lawns, paint a few walls and you might have two second hand vinyls every Saturday. Thankfully one whole week later  sitting at the back of the box in a dingy vinyl shop in Temple bar, (where you all go to Irish theme pubs claiming they all exist since 1778 when you visit Ireland and pay extortionate prices for Guinness) called Comet Records if I remember correctly and sure enough ‘Welcome to hell’ was still there for £2.95 second hand. This was my eureka moment. When the needle hit the vinyl it all became clear, the face that launched a thousand ships, ground zero…..whatever you want to call it. The rest as they say is history! and I never did buy ‘The New Order’……

 

Alan Averill

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HATING THE GAME

HATING THE GAME

  • This was written for the second last issue of Zero Tolerance magazine, late summer of 2018. Slightly amended for this post. 

So I post the Joe Rogan interview with Ted Nugent on my facebook. Make some innocuous enough comment that he should tour with Morrissey. It’s early enough and I’m not fully caffeinated enough to really analyse my decision to do so properly. Part quarrelsome Loki, part crankiness.

It says so much about modern society that two men in their late 50s in M’s case and 70 years old in TN’s case could draw so much ire for doing what they always did,  shoot from the hip and speak their mind. This is what they’ve always done, why would we expect it to be any different now? A quick journey through Youtube of The Best of Morrissey from the 80s reveals a ton of interviews that would be used to build your Twitter Gallows in a heartbeat now. Nugent of course by then was a peripheral character musically speaking, no doubt if he was all over 70s TV the interviews would be a flared cowboyhatted parallel. 

They have both enough ‘fuck you’ money so can more or less do as they please. The rest of us are not quite so lucky. We can probably call them the last of a dying breed, men out of time, some might applaud that but it really speaks volumes about the nature of modern social networking society that men in their twilight years can be reborn as not only vanguards of free speech for one side but cast as literally Hitler for the other side. Like…literally Hitler.

So the next two or three hours are an absolutely perfect storm of everything that’s wrong with the game, or at the very least a squally shower of the negative power of social media of it’s manipulation of our time, energy and resources. It’s normal for me to sit and email, absorb some media, listen to podcasts and administrate once the caffeine has been taken on board but this morning is all about the Nuge and at the end of the mud wrestling we all come out feeling dirty and used.

After I post the interview my comments section is brimming with people calling him a piece of human shit within 2 or 3 minutes, the podcast is 3 hours 30 minutes long. I respond, stupidly and perhaps predictability by going on the front foot and telling people to listen to it first and secondly to F off back to their own page, poking the ever vigilant eye of the AI bots and off we go. When all the shit slinging was done and everyone had retreated back to their hovel what did I really expect?

Responding and judging in less than 5 minutes a 3”30 podcast means you obviously never listened to it, but weigh in all the same. I mean he is literally Hitler right? So no need to bother listening for some people already jumping up and down on one side of the fence. I don’t have a Facebook feed anymore, I found an extension that kills it, just couldn’t take anymore post Trump political geniuses or cat memes but the wheels were in motion and we all clicked through the gears quite nicely.

For the next two hours I find myself debating and arguing with friends about Nugent, a man I admit to not knowing a hell of a lot about, I’ve watched a few things here and there and have a few old vinyls. ‘Strangehold’….what a tune! but the truth is musically he was always more of an American phenomenon and no one I knew growing up had any of his records, he only verged on becoming a household name during his 90s and 00s TV career as a hunter/conservationist/asshole. However on some kind of juvenile principle anyone who can piss off that many people who need to take themselves a little less seriously, well I’m on side, as exemplified by my new found love for the ‘Moz’.

His PA however I am not. As it transpires most of the podcast is about hunting, wildlife conservation and him taking a sharp knife to the society of victimhood and gutting it with glee. There’s no apologist white knight SJW woe is me ism or ‘I’m the source of the worlds ills’ genuflection, in fact it’s entirely the opposite. Now I grant you he’s a brazen and often irritating narcissist with a cinema hucksters grasp on fact if it suits and often peppers the end of a relatively reasonable point with a complete facepalm of juvenile deliberately offensive barbs that make him easy to find grating, but over 3 hours in his company I think even those of us who often fail to feel when they are having their leg pulled would admit and submit to the element of theatre within it all.

If you are on the left, right or centre of any issue we do have to admit that as long as we allow the media to give the bullhorn to the loudly opinionated for opinions and clickbait then we will have to accept some of it as drama, high jinks and that not every point declared is the final word. We created this insanely instant culture so we have to suck it up. It’s one of the reasons we can’t get the world to care as much about issues like climate change, it just ain’t loud and sexy, quietly spoken and well mannered debate is something we’ve stomped out of the mainstream with a few exceptions (Sam Harris for example) but we demand some blood! and Nugent delivers. 

I make the point to a relative…..we’ve never been hunting so maybe we should consider the fact that he is an authority on this. Seems reasonable. I’m told he’s a racist….and therefore nothing he says matters. The consistent mantra of the new left, everyone we don’t want to debate, discuss or even hear is a racist, therefore there is nothing more to see here. Yet when you ask which racism they are referring to in particular it’s all kinda vague and well, shame on you for asking.

I’m sent a link…..’12 things Ted Nugent should apologise for’. Buzzfeed style. It’s not an opinion piece. The implication is clear, he should apologise for. No discussion, no debate and no doubt if he was playing in colleges anymore there’d be dozens of anti Sweet Poontangers in the courtyard screaming blue haired murder. Buzzfeed? right yeah…..

First of all, as with anything now I need to check a/ who wrote this….despite it nearly being always anonymous and then b/ where did it come from, which site and what is their agenda. Thirdly we might get to the content and then try and verify it. So now I am in the position of defending the guy and the rather weighty implication is, if I don’t toe the line with the view he’s racist then I am by proxy also a racist. Now some of the quotes are just prime cuts of silliness and some are a little more serious. I’d need to take time to look into them, you also have to always consider context and nuance. All things the platform does not want us to have, it wants us wading in up to the neck.

On a scale of Richard Pryor to Uni-bomber how serious was Nugent when he said he wanted to shoot Obama? This is what stories like this are designed to do, morally divide and conquer. So here I am for the next two hours arguing with genuine loved ones about….well about Ted Nugent. How did it come to this? And for the record we all need a bit more Richard Pryor.

Yet this is where we are. It’s become clear that we as a human race face a very dark and complex future as our society is very clearly driven by algorithms, social media uses us, it manipulates us and ultimately it divides us. The platforms want time, all of our time, they are in the business of keeping us tethered to the platform at all costs…..so the algorithm behind it has figured out very clearly that conflict, aggression and anger is what rises far quicker than empathy and understanding and time away and understanding context is Kryptonite to the narrative.

Bad news travels fast and we stay around longer to argue. Not face to face….but screen to screen, angrily typing our attack and defence of standpoints we didn’t have 3 minutes ago to people we have never met on a social platform that is carved in the circuit board forever. No doubt to be hauled up in evidence against us when we are tried in absentia and sent to the Google Gulag in the very near future as no doubt this article will in due time if not already. 

The platforms want your time, that’s all and how they manage to capture it is open season. It strikes me that most of this current left right divide whether created or not by Silicon Valley has been manipulated as a very nasty side effect, a pustulating sore on the backside of human nature. We can be a bunch of cunts and when prodded and poked the dopamine hit pushes us on through our morning, like Rats who can’t stop drinking from the cocaine pipette and forget to eat.

It’s clear to me now, and forgive me a little drama and pathos but if the future is Retina go pros recording and live streaming our whole lives…..at all times, or our integration with AI, where no one speaks their mind, no one criticises or argues for fear of recrimination then switching off is going to be the new coming out. I can see no pro bars in the city where people meet to be able to speak freely and openly. Is this what the guardians of morality are really campaigning for when no platforming? Did anyone even mention Nano MRSI technology? Thought crime? The fact is Nugent will probably be dead before most of this kicks in you’d have to think but I doubt we can dial back the instinct of Mob Justice.

An almost terminal argument breaks out and I have to say to a mate before deleting the post which is my want…..’see how we have been manipulated? this is a perfect mini shit storm’, I post….we engage and argue, ending up feeling we have to defend positions and people we didn’t have. I may not agree with Ted Nugent but I will defend his right to say as he does. Yet this my friends doesn’t make me as bad as Hitler or literally whatever ism is that mornings pill….although Nugent much like Hitler loves dogs. I’m more of a cat person but that’s another story.

So it’s Pride week, have some pride, come out…..and switch off

Hail Satan over and out

AA

IN SEARCH OF SANITY…..and my vocal chords

HEATHEN CRUSADE TOUR REPORT

In Search of Sanity

and my vocal chords

or……acting your age

It’s a strange old thing coming back from a tour. Some people achieve the balance quite well and despite a rough landing mentally click back into regular day to day quite easily. Some on the other hand don’t, I know plenty of my peers who come home and reach straight for the booze, or a line and can’t quite get to grips with being back home again. I’m not as bad as some, in fact not that bad at all but surely the soft landing and re-assimilation into conventional society that some of my band members can champion evades me.

It’s a strange strange environment, and it goes by in the flicker of an eye despite almost every hour of everyday filled with some action, drama, a problem to overcome or every inch of personal space taken up with someone else’s business, and then there you are turning the key in the door to an empty apartment wondering if you forgot to pay the electricity bill or if there’s any coffee left.

You go from being the absolute centre of attention and all that entails, which on a tour like this means thankfully 100s and 100s of people paying proper money into to see you perform to sitting starting out the window at the rain for an hour thinking about nothing in particular.

As the band have grown and we moved from opening to headlining, ticket prices increased, the set length increased, our ages keep on hurtling forwards and yet the crowds thankfully increased so too does the pressure. The pressure to be in good form, to be healthy, you can be sick and play the bass but being sick and singing? It’s shaky ground. I love the pressure and love being on that shaky ground but even then now and again it gets me.

So in Bruges on day four I find myself on that shaky ground to say the least. Despite all the vitamins and running and training I might do before the tour your voice is not quite prepared for 1”45 every night of pushing it to the limit. I’m worried…..I can speak but just about. I think of my voice in %’s, which may seem strange unless you know me and then it perfectly fits into my vaguely autistic view of the world, but I am operating at 50-60%. All my high end is gone, and the thought of doing the black metal harsh parts makes me wince. I am standing around cutting up ginger root into tiny parts and scraping them all into a pint glass, lemon tea bags, honey, squeezed lemons and litres of water. It always happens 4/5 shows in, my body is complaining at having to do this much exercise for the 5th night in a row, another one or two and it will submit and just get in the groove but for now I am worried. Yet worrying is just about the worst thing you can do. Worry you will lose your voice can be the final nail in the coffin as somehow you need a bit of carefree reckless abandon to push for the note when your vocal chords are telling you not to, and what helps you on the way to abandon? Old Dutch courage and a drink or two, or three. Yet the booze is paradoxically what will do your voice in as well.

Here is the patented Averill ‘I’ve lost my voice’ recipe….

  • take on pint glass
  • 1/4 bourbon
  • one sliced lemon, squeezed
  • manuka honey, two big spoonfuls
  • two lemon teabags
  • cloves
  • fresh cut, skinned and ground ginger
  • hot water

DRINK x 2

  • one shot of hot Jager and warm salt water….gargle

DRINK x 2

  • Basin of hot water and dissolved Vicks vape rub in the water, tower over the head….inhale for 15 minutes
  • stay fucking quiet!!!!
  • 20/30 minutes before the show start to quietly hum…..and make E, O, U noises……
  • DON’T WORRY!!!!!

The feeling of pressure is something I personally welcome, I like having the weight of expectation upon me, stepping up to the plate and accepting that emotional responsibility to move people, this is of course the ultimate reward for creating the music in the first place but in Bruges running on a half tank of gas I have to admit fear gets the better of me and I have to improvise in a lower range and three songs in drink about half a bottle of vodka straight to calm the nerves. There’s few more lonely places that being onstage when you know your armour is pierced and you seem vulnerable, dressed up as christ dug from an early grave with no voice to raise the dead.

I get by, just about and head to bed early. That my friends is a strange sentence to type.

I remember distinctly on day one of a tour with Rotting Christ back in 2002 perhaps buying enough drugs to kill a horse, we were opening, whiskey everyday, waking up in places I shouldn’t, getting into scrapes and generally being young and foolish as perhaps we should be but how I could justify behaving like I was 28 now in my 40s to myself would be a long conversation. Of course you need to cut loose now and again and I’m not a saint by any means and have my moments but quitting early, being hydrated and getting some sleep is the more honourable thing to do now with that extra weight on the shoulders.

So my voice bounces back and I do get one night out in Budapest to stand around in some warehouse night club listening to European Turbo Pop drinking gin and shouting about politics with Der Weg Einer Freiheit, stand up gentlemen to a man they are indeed but unknown to me the air conditioning in the bus is broken, the windows upstairs are tarred (yes tarred!!) shut and we wake in Vienna to find ourselves sleeping in an inferno caused by an insanely hot weather snap, we have literally been cooking upstairs. Waking in a pool of sweat and fetid air I have no voice, literally nothing, not even a whisper. No voice, no electricity on the bus, no wind beneath my wings. Damn son.

This is when you have to trust yourself and not freak out, so I hide and sleep under a couch for 3/4 hours and can whisper when I wake up. This ain’t the rock n roll dream i was promised Lemmy, how did you do it? So in this case you have to trust that you can deliver the goods with violence and force and somehow out of the fire I have a voice again and the sharp emotional contrast between knowing I got this and in Bruges knowing I ain’t got it is drastic, like watching the arrows bounce off that armour. Or eh…..something

So who knows perhaps the search for my vocal chords is a metaphor for you all? the philosophers stone, some kind of spiritual alchemical tale designed to waken the dormant warrior spirit in you all (yeah yeah I’ve been listening to Into Glory Ride) or just because not very much rock n roll happened on the Heathen Crusade other than great people, great crew, great local crews and great shows that I don’t have much else to write about other than the mystical and mythical search for the upper ranges of my vocal chords. Well that and the word count! 

over and out

AA

THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE me vs. the new Puritans

This was written for the January 2018 issue of Zero Tolerance magazine

THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE

Arguments with the modern day Puritans

Religion and drugs right? Only the names have changed. What’s absolutely apparent to me is that in a world of intersectionality and privilege no one changes their mind. Everyone doubles down regardless. I’ve tried to rationally explain without irony the values of the enlightenment to angry twenty somethings last night but what was clear is that despite the irony being delicious the fact that a middle aged (when does that start by the way?) white male was trying to explain something was enough to shout it down before we had even got anywhere. The concept of intersectionality, in this case that because of who I am, a white male that my opinions could be discounted before they were even recounted is so dangerous and antithetical to the intellectual building blocks of the West. We built a society where church and state are separate, one built on reason and debate, all intersectionality does is shut down the debate. It states in vulgar terms, we have nothing to discuss, and if so how can there be negotiation, how can any impasse be reached on even the most straightforward arguments. If you simply say to a % of the population that their voice cannot be present then how do we expect them to respond.

It’s clear to me that arguing with angry twenty year olds is a fools errand, despite my twenty plus years of life experience the concept that I might know something more of the world is anathema to them. The enlightenment? means nothing more than a history written by old white men. Where are the black scholars they cry? We try and broach the subject, Europe was in a different stage of civilisation then. It descends into shouting about white privilege as quick as you can say Mongolia. Before we even get to that, we are discussing the enlightenment, the birth of modern science and the evaluation of reason but it’s clear after another few minutes that SJW culture which my young apostates most clearly belong to is a zealot cult. It’s religious, and they bear many puritanical hallmarks and this is what might be the most scary thing about young people today. This declaration of reason and more importantly science as being subjective. Gender is fluid and biology is a mere state of mind it seems as we progress further down the rabbit hole. There’s so many staggering talking points we could all make some $ from youtube if we staged such an argument online but for now it’s old school and in the pub. I might as well be talking to creationists.

What’s clear though is the salty religious zeal with which every standpoint is carved from, it’s no wonder on some subconscious level these young European apologists bend over backwards for Islam for example at every opportunity, on some level it seems to me they want the same theocracy, the same censorious social climate. Yet if religion was once the opiate of the masses it’s clear to me that social networking provides the same place in society right now. If you’ve grown up with social networking all your life you’ve been encouraged to share every waking moment, to virtue signal your peers, like or dislike. This provides the dopamine hit, just like the rat who keeps pressing the cocaine button over and over and forgets to eat. The old social structures are dying, the debate, even as it is right here in a noisy pub is obviously uncomfortable for my combat partners as they are simply not used to having a living breathing lump of meat standing there looking them in the eye disagreeing with them. The old left and right could be at odds with each other but at least stand on the same platform and debate realising that consensus would arrive in the middle ground. Asking this collegiate religious order to cast aside the cassock or habit for the next hour is almost impossible. Activism on their belonging, it’s their mob, their tribe, and I’m asking them to take the needle out of their arm just for a moment and have a lucid evaluation of history. The withdrawal symptoms are too much to bear.

How much do I blame them? in ways they have my understanding and some form of pity, without condescension as the structure of social networking is Orwellian and they can’t see themselves as unwitting foot soldiers of the establishment. What separates them from many of the leftist movements in the past they constantly claim to be like, whether it’s the anti fascists in Spain, which is a ridiculous concept comparing the rifle to the tweet but how and ever, all the way to the counter culture movement of the 60s is the fact that this generation are inviting the state to intervene. Segregate us, safe space us, no platform them…..they are unwittingly inviting the institutions of their control them. This fake right vs. left, alt right vs. new left narrative is created to keep society at odds with itself, to allow the state more control while ultimately both sides have the same enemy? I put it to them that this is the narrative design, they are supposed to hate me….it’s contrived and fake. They won’t have it, as it’s clear this would mean taking on board some of what I say, debating enlightenment values and engaging in reasoned debate. Yet also what’s clear to me is that this would give them no purpose. While we are engaged in activism we are engaged in purpose in a world often devoid of purpose. It’s not just the marching but the handing out of leaflets, painting the banners, creating the websites, getting to chose your foe, activism is community and it’s replaced the old concept of community. We have set our new community up as the mob. If they sit down and talk and realise we aren’t that different then the simple fact is, what purpose do we have?

They rage about Brexit, painting it with the usual xenophobic racist narrative. I make the point, do you support Catalonia? yes…..so how does this movement to take some power back from an unelected Brussels elite differ? Not what they want to hear. You guys were against the G8 no doubt, look at the names on the receipt and you will find the same Brussels elite, broader federalists against Brexit? Did you vote for Juncker and Legard? or Merkel? None of us did. You claim to have working class interests at heart? but then act against the working class when they vote democratically? I think you’ll find yourselves on the same side of the debate as Tony Blair, is this where we are? My angle doesn’t go down well. The Catalan uprising was all cute girls in pig tails draped in the Catalan flag and police violence. Contrast this with the story from the Ukraine? all muscle bound men in balaclavas. Yet both a broad stroke against oppression and suppression, or not? Soros much? None of it goes down well. Brexit was racist and that was that.

Of course some of it has to be said to agitate and get the cogs whirring and encourage debate but the theocrats pull the first the intersectionality card on me and then the white male privilege card a short time later. The intellectual equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and so we are done and dusted. We should have stuck to football.

The argument ends with one of their party walking away in disgust. Just another Saturday night. I’m reminded of a quote from John Locke

“To prejudge other men’s notions before we have looked into them is not to show their darkness but to put out our own eyes.”

Alan Averill

A DAY IN THE LIFE ON TOUR….get in the van

A DAY IN THE LIFE…..a van tour Touring in a night liner is one thing, but the van tour is the test of your metal. It’s how you earn your stripes as a metal musician. It’s tough and unforgiving and separates the men from the boys. Primordial paid the dues back in the day and every summer gets back in the van here and there but I would admit it ain’t 2000 anymore, we have moved on a bit. Of course this doesn’t mean last summer I didn’t woke up on the floor of an over heated van more or less sizzling like a piece of bacon with the engines heat from Brutal Assault in Czechia to the mountains in Austria. 14 hours we spent in the van with no air conditioning that day after no sleep whatsoever the night before….and the air conditioning was broke. Anyway, sweating is good for you right? Get’s the toxins out.

This said I went back in time recently to do a Dread Sovereign van tour for three weeks with our comrades in Procession. So here is a typical 24 hours The journeys are generally 6 to 10 hours at least, but sometimes this can drag on to 12 or 14 hours if you have to drive the whole length of Poland for example! So the wake up time is 6-8am, anything longer is a sleep in. You wake in a shared dormitory or the floor of some punk venue, sometimes you get your own bed, sometimes not. There’s no money in a tour like Dread Sovereign and Procession so proper hotel rooms are a luxury. So let’s say this time it’s 7am waking time in the boys dormitory. The room stinks from the gig the night before, booze sweat and wet leather. If like me you have trouble sleeping then you’ve had 2 or 3 hours sleep lying awake listening to snoring or someone drunk trying to put the key in the door at 5am the night before and then falling round the room trying to find their space. Depending on where we are in the tour this could be the 3rd or 4th night in a row you are living on a handful of hours of sleep. I can’t sleep easily in a van. Comes from a lifetime of insomnia and being unable to switch off so I always ride shotgun with the driver. In this case our great friend Daniel from Killtown, It’s important on long journeys to keep the driver company, to keep him alert and awake and simply not let him feel like he’s the only one concentrating while everyone else passes out. The amount of times I’ve been sitting on the backseat and had to clamber over sleeping bodies to reach a driver about to blackout is more than you might think. So we talk……and we talk……and also a happy coincidence of sitting upfront is I control the stereo and the music. If you are driving through the night and want to put drunks to sleep then Bohren und der club of Gore is like a sleeping pill, if you want people to wake the fuck up some classic Motörhead is the answer….a dramatic Alpine mountain pass? Let’s roll with some Woven Hand or who knows, we might rock some Depeche Mode or Can.

You allow everyday for something to break so you have to set off earlier than you imagine. In Barcelona the van was broken into and we were robbed so we spent the morning in the police station. In Italy we find the alternator in the van is having trouble with the mountain climbs….we crawl over the Alps. So you learn to snatch an hour or two if you can, there’s no place to worry about sleeping on top of or snuggled in beside someone. You do it. I find a tiny crawl space right on top of the gear where I can lie wedged against the roof. Every now and again I relieve myself of talking duty and sneak an hour or two there, I always have sleeping pills on me. They are essential on any tour as when you have to sleep you have to. Or else no voice the next night. We ration them out when we have to…..On a 12 or 14 hour trip I might take 4/5 hours in the crawl space if I can. Usually not…..

So let’s be frank now. Motörhead is called Motörhead for a reason and the reason is that they did this exact same thing back in the 70s and found one simple and effective method of pushing through with no sleep. Speed…..You aren’t naive enough to think three weeks or more in the back of a van would be a holiday right? 6pm is medicine time. If you are lucky enough to have had some sleep by now then good for you, if not then you won’t by now….Usually between 4-6 we should be arriving at the venue, but sometimes you have to load out straight onto the stage and play 20 minutes after you get there. No time for sleepyheads so I call it tactical speed. It’s functional and serves a purpose and in my opinion better for you than drinking 3 cans of red bull a day. Cocaine is a pointless luxury, we will leave that for our tour of Narnia but Speed is the medicine you need.

So taking into account the usual fuck ups on the van journey, from robbings, police encounters, piss stops, broken GPS co ordinates, driving around for an hour looking for parking eventually you get to some small venue and go straight to the load out. There’s no money for anyone in a tour like this so some venues have people to help, others don’t. Sometimes you load the back line (drums/amps/hardware) straight from the back of the van up three flights of stairs and onto the stage. You might get fed properly, you might get a bowl of cold pasta and ketchup. You never can quite tell…. Some of the band choose to live on chocolate for 3 weeks. We won’t say who… Backstage? What backstage…..we all share a tiny space with guitar cases and amp heads. Change where you can and get up there and do it, this is where all the fucking long hours pays off. The moment you get to make some noise and get up there and play. Like I said Primordial is one thing, we don’t thankfully play to no one anymore but Dread Sovereign is like going back in time…..starting at more or less the beginning, so if there is 100 people there then that’s a fucking triumph. However there could be 25. In the end the worst headcount is about 20 in Slovakia and near to 200 on some of the doom nights. We sell out of our CDs and lips halfway through and come home with only s, xl and xxl shirts. However tonight we find ourselves playing to let’s say 65 people in a tiny sweat box in Spain. I crank the bass amp up louder than it should be….you need to feel it in the pit of your stomach right? There’s nowhere to change so you do what you can in a usually fucked up toilet. Some guys can sit around in the wet stage clothes but I can’t, I’ll strip in public for dry clothes, I really don’t give a fuck. However 18 people all trying to find somewhere to dry their clothes? Everyday……in the backstage? You need to be made of stern stuff to not get sick. No doubt people can smell us from a mile away. I tend to throw socks and jocks away every day but there are days in some freezing cold backstage where it’s either live in your wet stage clothes or nothing at all. You want privacy or a moment alone…..fucking forget it.

I try and tune my bass and get my eye in. I’m not a natural bass player so need to concentrate more than the others, Primordial is like muscle memory now but finding a square metre of space to just play for 20 minutes can be impossible. Yet we all watch out for each other. We sell each other’s merch, when you gig is finished you aren’t finished at all…..you will watch the stage in case something fucks up for Procession, and they do the same for us. it’s not an exaggeration to say you become family, you see more of them then possibly any other person in life. Certainly your own family or best friends at home. Throwing a tantrum or bitching and complaining and moaning is not an option or else you will simply get what’s coming to you.

I push through the tiredness with the elation of playing but it ain’t easy, I ain’t 26 anymore. You sell some Merch, you chat to people….we pack up and take down the stage, load out the gear. You might now have anything from 2 or 3 hours before we start again the next day, or he’s case scenario you have 5 maybe 6 hours to put your head down. Most small venues don’t have showers, some do…..but 18 people all trying to take a quick, often cold shower in the same 1 or 2 hour period. Forget it. Some people try and get laid…..with half an eye on hopefully a cleaner, dryer bed, a shower and maybe not listening to snoring all night and some coffee in the morning. Yeah….not much has changed Lemmy. I lie awake and listen to the snoring, the drunken conversations, the gig still humming in my ears. 3 hours to van call and we go again.

We are the road crew…… Lyrics Another town, another place Another girl, another face Another truck, another race I’m eating junk, feeling bad Another night, I’m going mad My woman’s leaving, I feel sad But I just love the life I lead Another beer is what I need Another gig, my ears bleed We are the road crew Another town I’ve left behind Another drink, completely blind Another hotel I can’t find Another backstage pass for you Another tube of superglue Another border to get through I’m driving like a maniac Driving my way to hell and back Another room, a case to pack We are the road crew Another hotel we can burn Another…

GET ME OFF THE FUCKING RIDE

IMG_0279I know I know….I’ve been neglecting my word press for quite a while. What can I say, I lost some heart in the good old fashioned concept of conversation and debate, or at the very sad reality that no one wants to listen. Anyway here is a scatter gun column I wrote in the late Summer of 2016 while riding on an old train in Eastern Europe. Not my most mature work but let’s kickstart the heart of my word press once again. Did you know most Eastern European countries have different train gauges to stop the movement of troops between them in case of war? Clever auld fella that Stalin….

COLUMN JUNE 2016

The world has become fucking crazy. I think it’s about time to get off the ride. To jump the train, risk the fall, lick my wounds and head off into the wilderness. I admit it, back earlier in the year I lost my mind a little. It had been coming without a doubt but I found myself waking up in the middle of the night to continue arguments online, dragged out of half sleep by the urge to prove a point. What point? only really that I seemed to be constantly angry, irritable, tired from lack of sleep and goading people into arguments face to face. Of course a part of me enjoys the confrontation but it was becoming something that was consuming my health. It took me a full descent into an old school insomniac’s paralysis to reconsider my keyboard warrior status.

When I type some of this and read it back it sounds petty and juvenile considering what a short spin around this ball of dirt we get but it I’m sure many of you are the same. The first step came by weaning myself of posting anything online that encourages debate. Was almost like going cold turkey. This is really the Soma society Huxley predicted in ‘Brave new world’, that self righteous high you get from flinging your opinion at the world is addictive, it takes a step back to realise we are little more than apes in a zoo flinging shit at the bars.

How did it happen that modern politics were now being shaped in areas by the whims of teenagers? I think back to when I was 19, and true enough i can say without a doubt I was a self righteous idiot most of the time. Self absorbed and convinced of your own truths simply because you’ve started college, read the odd book or two. Yet the truth is you know fuck all about the world, you most likely haven’t travelled, haven’t worked, paid bills, not even had proper relationships or responsibilities . Yet our news is filled with words like no platforming, trigger warnings and safe spaces. Who has to take responsibility for this, some of it has to rest with the colleges themselves. Did the old right really leave the college campus and head for the fields of government and economics and allow the left to do as they please? it cant be that simple but there might be a grain of truth in that observation. The lines now between left and right are so blurred it’s hard to tell.

Are millennials simple the indulged endgame of decades of society placing the individual above civic responsibility, the sad and bloated carcass of 60s counter culture full of the rotten gas and chatter of empty youth looking for the next narcissistic crusade.

I’m so fucking glad I was a teenager before the internet, and went to college before we descended into this Orwellian nightmare we seem to be sleep walking into. When we acted like fools we policed ourselves, you were out of order one of your mates told you. If you said Sabbath’s best album was ‘Technical ecstasy’ someone would put you straight, we hung out and talked enough rubbish but this is how you learned. Now one idiotic thought is only a click away from bias confirmation. All you need to know about where we are as a society is that there’s a flat earth movement once again. The internet, created by some very clever people no doubt never imaged the idiots would be running the asylum.

Yet this is where we are now in 2016, every story I read now I have to research the author, consider the agenda of the site it came from or the political leaning of the paper/editor and consider that statistics drive the advertising algorithim, no traffic no $. This is a visually dominated world where people don’t often read beyond the headlines so consider the authenticity of every photo, meme or gif purely designed to trigger. Coverage of the Vietnam war changed public perception, it made the propaganda war almost impossible to win for the American government yet now one viral image of a drowned child can be the most important world news piece of the week. Yet ask, what child, where, how….question it’s authenticity and you might as well have drowned the child with your own bare hands. Yet we are reaching the point where almost all news seems like spin, is Putin really in that hospital? or is it stock footage, who knows….is the child Palestinian, is he Greek? is X band member really wearing a right wing political t-shirt? or is it photoshopped, doesn’t stop the Antifa from trying to get their shows pulled. Round and round we go.

How did the left become the opponents of free speech? and unwittingly swing the pendulum so far round, reset it and can we call them the new new right? I guess we can. No doubt I’m already behind the curve.

how does being conservative now chime with the old left? where right wing gays oppose the feminists of the new left for supporting Islam. Where hair styles are appropriation, Where being gender fluid is now not enough that we have to consider people who want to be species fluid? where female victims of sexual attacks are intimidated by other women, where it seems to take a business man with candy floss for hair to play cartoon the cartoon villain of American politics and possibly change it forever, where young feminists seem to be advocating paedophilia as it represents a sexual orientation and therefore cannot be criticised, where the gaming community seem to be the most sensible and they stay in doors all the damn time, where college campuses have to fire teachers for saying the title of curriculum reading material and tell their students which halloween costumes are offensive or not. We’ve created a society that now places the process of the crusade and the embrace of victimhood above personal responsibility and even worse above personal liberty.

I’m staring out the window of a train travelling through the countryside of some Eastern European state and for the first time thoughts of buying land, moving here, getting off the grid are becoming more and more serious. Giving two fingers to the city and all of it’s concerns and politics is not just a vague idea anymore but gaining more and more traction every week. Victorian cities had to deal with streets flowing with actual horse shit, cities now seem to be drowning in the moral equivalent. Paradoxically I understand more and more the people going clubbing at the end of my street every night of week, fuck the news, fuck the world, fuck how dark everything seems to be. I get it…. Maybe it’s time to just turn our backs on all of it, head for the hills and let the cities burn.

aa

 

Unexpected adventures in the East….

 

Do you do the New world order much?

This is my latest column which will appear shortly in Zero Tolerance magazine and possibly a few other places, remains to be seen where. Although it would appear right now my tone, politics, rhetoric, black sense of humour, opinion, gender, good old geography and a healthy sense of irony are working against me when it comes to getting this published in the US and A, but we’ll see what happens.

It was written after a short but curious trip to the country of Moldova earlier this year! Just above Romania and below Ukraine. Well more or less! Google map it

  • COLUMN MAY 2016

    “So this is a nuclear bunker right?” I ask in belligerent mischief. “Well” she smiles ” there is an ounce of truth in every joke I think”. She smiles and walks on ahead down the gilded hallways of polished marble. I always have the urge to smash glass when I’m around for example thousands and thousands of wine bottles. This could be an expensive urge and I’d never be seen again I imagine. So rewind a little, I’m in a place called Circovia outside Chisnau the capital of Moldova. This is the poorest country in the European region, a rusting decaying former Soviet Satellite that never seems to have dragged itself out of the 50s. The hotel has a faded photo of Yuri Gagarin shaking hands with some rather serious suits in what looks like the same lobby. I stand out a mile, I try not to but in the brisk freezing morning air as people bustle outside the main train station selling random clothes and trinkets on the muddy ground I might as well have what the fuck am I doing here tattooed on my forehead.

    Moldova was before the Soviet annexation part of Romania hundreds upon hundreds of years ago, in fact the moustachioed hero on their money, Peter the Great is still something of a hero. I stand looking at his statue outside the Natural History Museum which in classic Soviet style just decided to shut for no apparent reason. You get the impression not much has happened since auld Peter popped his clogs. Every factory I pass seems to be at a standstill, quietly rusting. There seems to be no movement of goods along the roads. The average wage is about 30-40euro per week. Some of the country is agitating to rejoin Romania to the South which seems like a financial powerhouse in comparison yet on its own terms one of the poorest countries in the EU. This is a whole other broken step on the ladder down. The previous year over 700 million euro went missing from the banks….just missing.

    Gangs of angry men gathered and marched on the parliament. I saw glimpses of it online but it looked like a scene from any former Gulag state over the last 50 or 60 years minus the tanks. There are gangs of men standing around on every street corner the morning I arrive. You get the impression things could kick off. The woman in the hotel lobby is staring at my neck tattoos in disbelief. So much so she can’t quite not stare and ends up handing me the wrong key. I trundle down in the lift, grinding gears and cogs moving beneath my feet. Getting stuck in here I have the feeling I might step out actually back into that 1958 lobby and join the queue to shake Yuri’s hand.

    Moldova is also it would seem the human trafficking gateway in Europe. I digress but I’m trying to set the scene. Outside of Chisnau, about a 25 minute taxi rampage across busy lawless intersections, down dark cul de sacs with random men standing around making road blocks to streets of total darkness in ramshackle suburbs is The Circovia wine cellar. A 130km network of tunnels far underground, it boasts of being the second biggest in the world? No one else is on the tour as we spin down the tunnels in cold silence, past vast barrels and golden locked doors. The tour costs about 30euro. I guess the equivalent in Ireland of paying 250euro for a tour of the Guinness factory. I’m standing in a kind of jaw dropped confused silence looking at the photo gallery along one wall, she is wittering on about wine making traditions and blah blah. In the meantime I see Manuel Boroso, Putin, Merkel….the list of world leaders, dignitaries, Eastern European, African and South American strong men and women it must be said all standing where I am standing on the opulent steps into the main dining area is impressive, revelatory and maybe it’s just me but it got pretty fucking dark pretty fucking quick. Bilderberg much?

    “And these are Angela Merkels wines”, we pass hundreds of bottles of red wine to our right. “These on your left are Herman Goering’s wines”. Wait what, Goering’s wine? Opposite Merkels? I guess I underestimated the Moldovan sense of black humour. See wine doesn’t depreciate as a currency, just like gold. This is essentially a bank. “This is where Putin celebrated his 50th birthday” the guide proudly proclaims and I’m sitting at the head of a long feasting table tasting some of their wine. She leaves me alone sitting in the feasting room. It’s pretty obvious to me the fate of some small nations have been decided here and with a clap of the hands for dessert mountains of cocaine and girls, let the bunga bunga party commence. It’s perfect really, placing this in such a poor country. No intrusive western free media, no border complications, without opposition and without being reported the worlds leaders can slip in here and gather at this table. This is where you would come, dink and be merry and take shelter from the impending zombie apocalypse. New world order much?

    The tour ends and we are whizzing back up to the surface in the little golf car. No part of my cynical pessimistic political mind believes I haven’t just been in a nuclear shelter Dr. Evil style NWO satellite bunker. Back out in the cold dark dismal Chisnau suburb a taxi arrives through the darkness ploughing through the potholes. The drive back into Chisnau is grim to say the least, whatever money exists in the nuclear wine industry of Moldova hasn’t spilled over into the local economy. We went backwards about 50 years in 500 metres from the ostentatious entrance to Circovia.

    Later that night I’m still mulling over what I saw watching the local youth dance to turbo pop on the top floor of what passes for a mall. I’m reading an article about Moldova, it’s widely considered begging on the streets of Dublin in one day can be the equivalent of a weekly wage in Moldova. You have to wonder what hope for a country like this if that’s the case. Where the last hero seems to be dead about 500 years.

    “The morning train to Odessa is cancelled” the classically grumpy Eastern European blonde rinse old woman in the train station informs me. No reason, no alternative, it just is. You get used to things like that in Eastern Europe. I stand around outside the train station debating my options. Turn back to Bucharest or take a 10 plus hour bus trip to Odessa and the Ukraine. Fuck it, let’s press on. My wallet is searched at the border with the muzzle of a machine gun. Must be the damn neck tattoos again. But that’s a story for another day.

    Alan Averill

 

 

 

Dublin depression

This was originally written in the summer of 2015 and was one of the first times other than in lyrics I’d really confronted not only mental illness but my own depression. Something I knew that always lurked in the wings but occasionally took centre stage for a couple of weeks or months a year. It took a long to admit that this was a problem and this proved when I originally posted it to be one of the most popular pieces I’d written. It struck a much greater nerve than some abstract political polemic or ironic rant about social networking. Go figure.

DUBLIN DEPRESSION

Another Grey summer

There are two ‘crazies’ in my area, well known to everyone. Every postcode has a few here and there knocking around, no one is quite sure where they came from, how they go to this place and where they lay their heads at night but over time become urban legends. How long is the process? from the first signs of mental illness to standing in the street shouting at cars. I’m not sure.

For the first time the female of this pair is talking to me, or at me to be more precise. She is standing in front of me in a cafe, wild white hair framing what once would have been a quite beautiful face. I guess she is in her mid 50s. Wearing a bright red bathrobe, pink slippers and holding the tiniest glass of water I’ve ever seen. I half expect a nurse to come in rushing after her to take her back to the daycare centre she’s escaped. I have Drudkh’s gorgeous hypnotic monotony on the headphones low to blot out the ubiquitous pop music but i can still hear her shouting at me.

‘It gets harder every day…..it gets harder every day’ she gestures at my headphones….’take your headphones out’. I make eye contact and just sit calmly and listen, for a moment I’m more curious to read something in her eyes, to make some contact with whatever madness is driving her. She shouts at me to take the headphones out, a part of me wants to do that and ask what’s behind all this but maybe someone should have asked her that many years ago. The polite but stern Polish woman behind the counter comes out to have a word and she storms out hair flailing and slippers scuffing. A week earlier I had seen her get asked to leave nearly every shop or bar on the strip one by one. Where does she go? I go back to reading about German naval expansionism in the 1890s but keep wondering who is looking after this woman.

The male of the pair you can usually find standing stock still in the street staring straight ahead, his face framed by a kind of sun/cricket hat pulled down just above his eyes and wild grey hair to his shoulders. Obviously a handsome man in his day. He doesn’t meet anyones gaze and might stand like that for several hours and then turn up like a statue somewhere else in the area. I never see him walking, how did he get there?

One day I dropped some shopping coming over the canal bridge and realised…I turned back, he was standing there stone still holding it for me. Waiting for me to realise, I walked back, tried to make eye contact, took it from his hands and said thank you. He quietly nodded and got back to standing still. I wanted to ask him something, I didn’t know what but the words nearly spilled out of my mouth before I caught them and turned tail.

We have become conditioned by modern society to not ask how, why, where and when to people suffering from mental illness, as if they don’t exist. I sit and wonder perhaps they were a couple once upon a time but fell foul of Ireland’s dark past where we imprisoned and tortured tens of thousands in mental hospitals across the country. Threw away 3rd and 4th borns who were not entitled to land or the cruelty of the church or the work house to a new darkness.

Maybe they had lost their firstborn in some tragic circumstance and been driven mad with guilt? given electro convulsive shock therapy to ease the pain, or perhaps it was genetic bad luck and they were always going to end up in this place, standing in the street looking for someone to listen or someone to ask.

Everyone now seems to think they are mentally ill, it’s the greatest victory of the pharmaceutical companies in cahoots with local GPs and doctors getting kick backs from the meds they prescribe to make us medicate ourselves. They took advantage of the more spurious notions of pseudo psychology and as we began to develop the drugs in pill form in a post world war two society they saw their market blossom.

We can now go online and checklist ourselves, rate our personality disorders. Handy conversation pieces over dinner that we can use to justify our relationship to society. Kids are on anti depressants, we fill them with ridilin, we prozac ourselves into a state of non committal calmness. The zombie apocalypse is already well and truly here, glue a smart phone to your hand and you may as well withdraw from this world not only emotionally but socially as well. Yet you know what? some days are bad and some are good, we have ups and downs, they are called human emotions. Maybe it sounds dumb to say but if there is a ‘man’ out there then one of his greatest victories is getting you to medicate them.

I was watching a documentary about the Norwegian writer ‘Karl Ove Knarsgaard’ whose painfully descriptive almost Joyce-ian novels can be hypnotic torture to read but he said he never wakes up feeling positive or happy. It struck a chord with me, I thought about it, I never do. I never wake up in good form, it takes me time to set into the day. I don’t want to hear people speak or have human contact. Sometimes when I’m at a low ebb I time my trips outside to coincide when there are hopefully no people around or I simply hide away from the sun inside and only come out at night. Trips to packed shops become unbearable. A choice 90 second conversation with some distant acquaintance I hardly know anymore is torture. I only see despair and futility in peoples faces. I find myself staring into space as friends talk to me, unable to empathise or feel anything. Depression can last 2 maybe 4 weeks sometimes longer and it comes every year no matter what. I’ve learned to make peace with it, try and use it to write music or harness some of that negative energy but when it comes it comes and there’s little I can do. Some of us are wired up differently, a friend of mine studying string theory forgets to eat for a weekend, drinks 12 red bulls and then wonders why he collapsed at the end of the stairs. He is a genius but he can’t make toast or talk to women, but he’s the kind of cunt who will find a cure for cancer. Neither of us needs medication in my opinion,

The point is that the gulf between those who do have real mental health problems and those of us who either use what we think are problems as a crutch to beat life with or an excuse for their behaviour are kinda polluting the waters and we are making the pharmaceutical companies rich in the process. Freud has a lot to answer for, these idiotic online check lists are his bastard offspring. Sometimes we get depressed, we just need to find a way of dealing with the darkness. Either that or it’s just another grey Irish summer.

Alan Averill

 

Observations in glamour, or the glory of a 15 hour van trip

I wrote this after the ‘Redemption at the Puritans Hand’ tour cycle in 2014, we played a couple of shows with those stand up gents Hell and Winterfylleth in the Uk. To some people the backstage is a mythical magical place where men who should know better get up to all sorts of hi jinks and indulgences. Touring to them is a glamour engagement and being in a band is not really work at all save the hour or two you are onstage. There are a few additions to the original piece as I added a little snippet of some more recent good time van experiences. I do love a good road trip

A day in the life of….observations on the glamour lifestyle

Travelling to a show

It’s 4.45 am. I’ve had my head down for about 2 hours, maybe a little more. It’s always the same with early starts. Even if I had tried to push the off button it’s not possible, it’s been stuck for years. So you just lie there waiting for the alarm to go off knowing it’s all a futile exercise. It seems to have been rainy and windy in Dublin for about none months now and it’s no different this morning. The city hasn’t woken up yet. There’s always some alcoholic detritus milling about the canal at all hours and this morning is no different. Two shambolic barflys are propping each other up arguing about the fiscal treaty. ”Jaysus the country is gonna get it either way so we might as well vote no after all, feckin Germans trying to take over as usual”. If I hadn’t been feeling like a zombie he might have got more than a wry smile.

I am usually on my way to the airport for the red eye hell but today as a special treat we are going back in time to the days when we used to take the ferry across to the UK. I’m reminded of one especially illuminating trip where we took the over night ferry from Dublin to Holyhead then the train to London, arrived bleary eyed in Liverpool st. to then traipse across London to the bus terminal and then take the coach to Bradford. I was woken by Mayhem sound checking ‘Deathcrush’ about an hour after falling asleep under the pool table in the Rios. Being stuck to the floor by the decades of grime and scum was the least of my worries. The high point of the day being an attempted hit and run by a car full of Pakistani gentlemen as I stood on a traffic island down the road. I had my wits about me, must have been that couple of glorious hours shut eye under the greasy pool table. Hadn’t moved so quick since I scored the winning goal for the Sutton Park under 12’s in the regional cup final. Never made it as a footballer.

The ferry is a dismal place. Decorated as half dayglo nineteen eighties emigrant abortion, half truckers desperation. Tired middle aged men dole out fatty sausages and stodgy breakfasts to OAP’s in comfy shoes. We lie on the scuffed couches trying to sleep but there seems to be about a dozen dozen kids in football jerseys running around screaming and shouting up and down the stairs. We were once stranded in Holyhead in Wales for an entire night in the station. If anyone ever tells you x city is the asshole of the world ask them have they ever been in Holyhead. Before Ryanair came to our rescue it was our dismal port of call on our way to London on overnight trains to see or play gigs. As we emerge out into the Welsh rain and wind I realise I’ve probably spent more time in Holyhead in my life than I have spent relaxing on a beach reading a classic novel of my choice with a mojito and scantily clad company. That said there is a beach at Holyhead. Made up entirely of sharp and unforgiving pebbles, fag butts, empty cans and nuclear waste from Sellafield I imagine. I may not get a job in the Holyhead tourism board after this blog. Glamour.

Trying to sleep on the floor of the van is no joke. It’s like some sort of obstinate gear and merch tetris set to a constant motor drone. Everyone seems to smoke now, all the cool kids are at it. Smokers wisdom = smoke out the window, despite air rushing in and blowing smoke around the van, then close the window. Hmmm…..pointless so what can one do but roll your eyes and wrap your spine around the metal chair legs and breath in the fetid air. A cymbal bag falls on my head somewhere around Chester. The truck stop is confusing, are we in England or Wales? There are union jacks everywhere. “It’s the sixtieth year of the Queens anniversary I’m told by an enthusiastic till clerk”. I try to think of a joke about the Welsh freedom movement. I can’t. Back to the floor of the van.

Fast forward a couple of years to last summer and we have a three day van binge. Just to prove we haven’t stood still with our lives. Germany to Czech Republic and then back to Austria during the hottest weekend of the summer. We spend nearly 40 hours in a van in 3 days. The air conditioning is broken, I haven’t slept as usual, morning as you can gather isn’t my thing. It’s 8am. I wake up around 9.30 covered in a greasy film of stinging sweat, almost completely wet through after a short doze on the floor. It had seemed like a good place to try and sleep, under chairs between peoples legs wrapped around my trustworthy merch bag but the small matter of there being an old grinding stuttering angry engine right under me Id not bargained for. The floor was hot enough to cook an egg on and I was sizzling. Successfully bang my head off the corner of a guitar case just to add a little blood for effect and much to the amusement of everyone else have a red mark down my face where the floor has burnt my sunglasses into my head. We arrive an hour before playing in Czech Republic. Pull the wet leathers and the paint on and it’s heading into evening still nearly 35 degrees open air. The paint starts to run off my the end of my nose before the intro is even over.

So back in time to our Uk trip we arrive in Moss Side. We all make Shameless jokes. (google it….) It looks like Dublin in 1986, but hey lots of Dublin in 2012 looks like Dublin in 1986.  You really would need a sense of humour to live here. Still no sleep, it’s been by now 27 hours possibly? I buy old battered vinyl copies of “Grace Under Pressure” and “Slide it in” for £2 in a charity shop. I can’t remember if I have them already so sit staring at them for half an hour in a Romero stupor while they start the drum check. I’ve spent more of my life listening to drum checks than I have spent relaxing on a beach or…well doing anything I actually enjoy. Scantily clad or not.

Mystery meat? What is it? A hybrid of lips, cunt, conjoining fluid, and gristly fat from different tasty animals rolled into a pink/grey slice of loveliness. I contemplate making a sandwich and think better of it. The energy drinks are called ‘Lightning bolt’. Whatever happened to drugs? Energy drinks are the new dirty speed and probably even worse for you. I shrug and go back to looking at my Rush vinyl. Men’s bums do seem to feature a lot for some reason? The soundcheck is deafening, the monitor war is on. The ceiling is too low. We trudge through the city in the rain. Dublin used to look like Dublin but now could really be any city from the North of England. Sainsburys, M & S,Tesco, Dixons. I’m too tired to think of a rant. The hotel has chandeliers and scuffed skirting boards. It might have been beautiful in the 60s.  The elevator is broken. I’m on the sixth floor and the merch bag is 25kg of sweet happiness to pull up the stairs step by step.

We have to set the drums up in the toilet because the backstage is too small. Two backlines on a stage the size of my front room seems like a crazy idea but hey I’m just the singer. The general chivalry and good natured ribbing involved in a dozen grown men sharing such a small space can make you forget the fact that finding a yard to pull on the wet leathers and hop around on on one foot trying to avoid puddles on the tiled floor without slipping and banging your head (no pun intended) could drive you to mystery meat. The vodka is cheap and cheerful, the whiskey isn’t worth stealing. The set is that long the wine runs out. The show is great but absolutely deafening. It’s been well over 30 hours now I’ve been awake but after a 120 minute set weary bones never give way to adrenalin and cheap vodka. We stand on the steps of the hotel in the rain watching two women fight with white stilletos. It’s 3am and tipping out time. I lie and look at the cracks in the ceiling. The bus call is 5am.

Alan averill

We come from the land of the ice and snow (adventures in Iceland)

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WE COME FROM THE LAND OF THE ICE AND SNOW

This column was originally  written for Zero Tolerance magazine back in early 2014 after a strip to Iceland. A truly remarkable and inspiring place, I was reminded of this column recently as several close friends finally got to visit and share in the experience. So here is adventures in Iceland!

I’m awoken from a deep sleep by Addi from Solstafir, almost left behind on the ferry from the Vestmann islands (or vestmannaeyar). An archipelago off the south coast of Iceland. Needless to say we’ve been up all night taking advantage of usual madcap Icelandic hospitality by gatecrashing a house party on an island with only a few thousand inhabitants. We left when they got out acoustic guitars and started into Wonderwall. We hid in the toilet for a while discussing tactics and whether or not it was cool to eat from their fridge while they strummed out of tune guitars. Hearing a room full of Icelanders croon in Manchester accents wasn’t enough to make us stay. I view the unmarked containers of what could be rotting fish with suspicion, think better of it and by noon had found a dark corner on the tiny ferry to crawl onto as we headed back to the mainland. I could still be there.

The story goes that the Vikings raiders used to call the Irish Vestmenn (in old Norse) or west men as they came from the most westerly point before the Atlantic. To wax historical for a moment the story goes Ingólfur Arnarson arrived in Iceland, his blood brother Hjörleifur was murdered by slaves he had brought as they fought for freedom, They fled to these small islands and in epic fashion Ingolfur tracked them down to Vestmannaeyjar and killed them all in retribution, hence the name Vestmannaeyjar (the islands of the west men). The locals tell me this was about 1200 years ago or so….Gummi, Solstafir’s man mountain of a drummer is telling me as we sit and watch Svavar fiddle with bass pedals. Tonight Solstafir will play in the main lobby of a hotel sitting in the shadow of an active volcano.

“Look at that bastard anyway” Gummi laughs and points at Svavar “Could he look anymore like a cliched Irishman? His name means east man…” he has a point, red haired and ruddy cheeked mini Axl looks like he walked on from an add for the Irish tourism board. He has the look of a man always plotting mischief, I doubt he could hold down an advertising job. He’s a night porter in an insane asylum. The irony isn’t lost on any of us. “He is gathering an army” he tells me later to take the city by night and be Emperor in the morning. Later on I am in the penis museum, you have to right? I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find Svavar a willing totem for the new Icelandic revolution.

“In the 17th century the islands were captured by Ottoman pirates from Algiers. They took several hundred people back to Algiers to live out their lives in bondage”, we both laugh at the word bondage. “There are Turks with blonde hair and this is where they came from”! Explains Gummi as we check out a dusty cupboard filled with mannequins and crash helmets. Do gingers have shorter concentration spans, on the evidence of this trip it would seem so.

It’s at this point I decide to climb the scree face of the active volcano, in 1973 a massive volcanic eruption forced all the inhabitants to the mainland and they returned to find drastic changes, a new smoking mountain stood beside where a pasture had been, risen out of the sea bed. It’s still smoking so I decide to climb it. About three quarters of the way up I realise this may not have been my best brainfart as a tumble or slip could see me cut, broken and bruised a hundred feet or so below. A child below is standing watching me make this fools errand, he disappears and re-emerges with two friends. Waiting for some slapstick comedy to ensue as I am inches from tumbling down the mountain. The alcohol sweat from a 6am night out in Reykjavik is pumping but I manage to make it over the cusp and find myself lying on the still warm earth at the opening of the volcano. The local people still bake bread up here. It starts to rain, a few seagulls swoop to mock but I make it before soundcheck.

When I come back the local schoolkids are eating their dinner and watching Solstafir play Fjara. The kids have been taken there as an excursion to watch a band. They ask Addi questions afterwards and he stands, full rock god that he is with Flying V slung over his shoulders and talks to them about writing music and travelling. There’s giggles and exclamations and wide eyed wonderment. I try to think of a group of kids in primary school in Ireland being brought down to see Primordial soundcheck, ask us questions and possibly be inspired to pick up an instrument. Unlikely. So Iceland….

Later on the local kids dance maniacally to Whitney Houston ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ in the local disco, I can’t tell if this is ironic or not, there are drunk Icelanders asleep on the tables everywhere, Addi is laughing hysterically at my confusion. Whitney Houston? “Oh you’re Irish?” a girl outsides smoking says to me, “we are all descended from the Irish here…” we both stare in the window at the whole pub getting their freak on to WH. “Although I’m not sure it explains this…”. I don’t have an answer either.

Later on that day we nurse hangovers and stand on the “Svartir Sandir”, the black sands that inspired the last album’s title. The sea is cold and unforgiving and the wind bracing, “Did you know the whale from Free Willy lived on the islands”….”seriously…fuck off”, only in Iceland would a sentence like that make sense. We wrap our impractical metalhead jackets around ourselves and shudder in from the cold.

Every now and again someone shares a meme or gif or some story or other about how the Icelanders stormed their parliament, threw out the bankers and crooked politicians. Laughed at Merkel and told the World Bank where to stick their plans for Icelandic slavery. All seemingly done with the blackest of the black humour, it’s not hard to see why when you spend some time here. To begin with everyone knows each other, ripping off someone and disappeared into the night is not an option as they don’t have to look to hard to find you and the chances are they are related to your aunt or uncle. It’s almost like stepping through the social looking glass, normal circumstances don’t apply and to Icelanders the concept of letting faceless EU bureaucrats or the Troika set their interest rates and plummet their currency is a nonsense. “Our prime minister had a Crass tattoo…” a wild eyed man in a festival jumper and deer stalker shouts in my ear in the night club later. “Have a drink with me Irishman”. That’ll do pig.

“We come from the land of the ice and snow….that song is not about Norway or Sweden it’s about Iceland you know that right?” Addi explains as we drive through a black ash landscape that looks like something from the moonlanding, a few minutes pass and it slowly gives way to a red Mars landing via the Arizona desert as we make our way to the Glacier. Every house is on the map, every family name more or less etched into the landscape. We stand on the glacier, I take a selfie on a glacier, I actually think selfie means being selfish on the internet for some reason, which apprently seems cute? Anyway. There are empty houses everywhere we look. Someone needs to make a photo book of them, they probably have. No doubt Sigur Ros recorded an album in one. “I don’t get them” is not something I am ever going to say about Sigur Ros again, I do now.

We sit in Addi’s kitchen drinking honey whiskey and listening to Howlin’ Wolf. “So what happened during this revolution?” I ask, making the parenthesis rabbit ears with both hands (which makes me even more of an Ulrich cunt). “What do you mean?” Addi asks me confused. “That shit where you took over the parliament?”. “Oh yeah well we kinda walked in and threw out the politicians”. Their glorious fuck you to the IMF should have been an inspiration to the world. For a short while Icelanders threw their hat in the ring with international banking and came out shrugging their shoulders, bought loads of stuff they could never repay and shrugged again and got on with things. People here are brusque and don’t suffer fools. I like them for that. “Our Mayor has a Crass tattoo you know that?, I sang karaoke once with him, he was dressed as Hitler. He really likes karaoke actually”. It’s all making sense now.

Alan averill