After many days of planning, preparation and packing, it's time to go. The Kanonenfieber regiment moves out for the first tour. The tour bus is full up to the roof and the guys and we move from Bamberg towards Brno. We have given ourselves three hours buffer, but this should not be enough. Already at the Czech border we have to wait. Endless queues at the vignette sale spoil our mood. After one hour of queuing and consuming dozens of tobacco products we finally have our window sticker attached to the tour bus.
Cheerfully and with a firm step on the gas pedal we drive into the first traffic jam. Renewed discontent spreads and the time melts away between tar, car tires and exhaust fumes. The loudspeakers of the tour bus play an endless loop of black, death and thrash metal. We are moving forward again. After 6 hours we reach Brno.
Our booker is already waiting annoyed in front of our first accommodation. "Unload, pack and dispose and off to the venue! We're already half an hour over!" Arrived at the cult club Melodka, the first signs of nervousness make themselves felt. We lug guitars, drum hardware, sandbags, barbed wire and uniforms up the seemingly endless stairs through the club into the already completely cluttered backstage area. Set up, sound check, grab food. Our booker invites us to a restaurant in downtown Brno and the first tankards are emptied.
Euphoric tension is in the air. Back at the Melodka, the first band Vanguard is already performing their first song and the place is packed. We gather in the backstage. I hold a short speech with motivating words, when already the guys of Vanguard come stomping sweaty grinning into the backstage. In pure hectic, the stage show is set up and uniforms are put on. Short sound check, fits. We can start. I wait in the darkened backstage, while the first notes of Die Feuertaufe sound from the stage.
Three, two one, and out!
After a short night marked by a lot of beer and little sleep we continue to Poland. Departure is at 11:30 AM. The first show was a great success and we are still reeling from the impressions we experienced a few hours ago.
Arriving in Poland, the backyard of an old, run-down industrial building awaits us. We park and get a first overview. I descend the well-worn stairs of the Rudeboy Club, open the creaky, heavy iron door, walk down a loading ramp, and find myself standing in a cult store unlike any other. A stage fenced off with metal fencing, a powerful PA system that is currently blasting Rammstein's "Du Hast" into the sprawling space, and a large, dark wooden bar filled with every spirit you can imagine. Here already the greatest bands of death and black metal have presented their live shows.
The big unloading starts again and we move into the backstage. We get to know the guys of the band "Proch" and get along well right away. While the place has already filled up, we are welcomed by Poli, the promoter, with two shots of Cherry Vodka. These will not be the last shots this evening.
Covered in blood and hung with heavy iron chains Porch are now on stage and celebrate Black Metal of the darkest kind. For us it is now time to change. Masks pulled into the face, uniform straightened, it starts again. A short speech and for 55 minutes we hurl one song after the other into the crowd.
Dripping with sweat we get off the stage. Show two of three. But the evening is not over for a long, long time. At 01:30 AM I managed to tear the rest of the guys away from the bar. The organizer Poli was very hard on some of the band members. The cherry vodka took its toll and 60% of the band completely shut down. With two unconscious guys in the tour bus we leave for Munich.
I take over at the beginning and drive the first 4 hours. As the sun slowly rises, I hand over the steering wheel. I don't get much sleep on the rest of the drive.
The biggest show of this weekend. The first concert in Germany. Park the tour bus, get beer, unload. Slowly we get routine. Afterwards we go to the catering. Our booker has not promised too little. The food is great. After exciting conversations with other bands we get ready for tonight's gig.
The club stage will be it tonight. The band in front of us finishes their set and we have stagetime. During our 20-minute sound check, the room in front of the club stage fills up more and more. This lets us hope for great things for tonight's gig.
The sound fits and the band gathers backstage. An employee of the backstage comes to us and tells us that they already have to drag people out of the club and close the doors. The place is packed. A certain air of panic spreads among us, but we are ready to give the crowd what they want to hear.
The guys stomp out onto the stage in full gear. Again Die Feuertaufe, again waiting. Three, two, one, I march onto the stage. Hundreds of people are spread over two floors in front of the club stage. I look into the expectant faces and intonate a collective "HEY! HEY! HEY!". The air is electrified and I thoughtfully move the microphone towards my mouth: "ZUR VERTEIDIGUNG DES VATERLANDS..."
The first tour weekend has found a great conclusion with this performance. We head home to catch up on many missed hours of sleep.
Thursday, 9:30 pm. I'm sitting in the pub with a buddy and we're palavering about the latest happenings in the metal scene. My cell phone rings. Who dares to disturb me on my Beer Thursday! I don't know the number. Annoyed, I run out of the bar, take the cell phone to my ear: "Hey, this is the organizer of Ragnarök! Groza is cancelled, can you play tomorrow at 4pm?!"
19 hours before the gig we get the confirmation for the Ragnarök Festival. A festival I have been attending myself for many, many years. Only this year I will actually be on the other side of the stage. Lichtenfels - Ragnarök Festival The guys are informed, the cars are packed. Friday at 12:30 we leave.
Arrived in Lichtenfels we inspect the backstage area. The catering is from another star, the beer tent is filled with icons of the metal scene and I am impressed.
Apart from the defective fog machine, which partially floods the stage completely with opaque haze, the gig is terrific. The audience is top, the sound is very good and the stage gives me enough space to move around.
Of course we got officially drunk after the show and watched "The Spirit", "Ensiferum" and "Dark Tranquility".
In retrospect, this was one of the most important days in my life as a musician and I am very grateful to the organizers of the festival for giving us this opportunity.
The last gig of our short tour period is coming up. The gig at Club From Hell should be a fitting end. The almost two hours drive is no problem and at 14:00 we arrive in Erfurt. Friendly we are greeted by familiar faces. The guys from "Vanguard" are with us, since the actual opener for this show bailed out!
We start to clear out and set up. In the meantime everything runs by itself. Everyone knows where he has to be when, the clearing in and out runs by itself and the stage decoration is set up within a few minutes.
After a long, good conversation with the owner of the club about - what do you think - types of beer and armed with lots of culinary recommendations, I get ready for tonight's show.
The stage looks insanely good. Glowing pentagrams, skulls and lots of space. "Vanguard" are on stage. The crowd is fired up with technical deathcore. We prepare ourselves.
After a short line check we go on stage. I look into the front row and see some familiar faces! Many of those who signed up on Instagram and Facebook are here today. I give it my all. Mosh- and circlepits bring the place to boil. For the grand finale, the skull mask pulled into the face and take the stand one last time for Yankee Division. After about 55 minutes the gig is over.
With a beer we watch the great show of "Waldgeflüster" and start our journey home at 01:00.
At this point I would like to thank the organizers, our booker and especially our audience on behalf of the whole band. It was a feast for us. I hope to see many of you again soon in front of the stage, when it's time for us again to make the horrors of war audible and tangible.