"blotsnabel" and "fleischsnabel"
Was kann man von einer norwegischen Band erwarten, die sich Schtimm nennt, deren Musiker sich hinter ihren Initialen wie "B" oder "E" verstecken, die ihre CDs mit russisch anmutenden Titeln versehen und die Kopfhörer an ihr Publikum verteilen, damit es möglichst authentisch klingt? Vermutlich so einiges. Schtimm, das sind Songs für Individualisten und Leute, die nach wie vor das Besondere in der Musik suchen. Und Schtimm gehen natürlich auch auf Tour. Exklusiv für Gaesteliste.de wird die Band von unterwegs berichten...
It all startet in the middle of the night. A tired bunch of people crawled into a rented van and started out for a journey to Germany. For the next 16 days, we the people of Schtimm will play 13 gigs in Germany and one in Switzerland.
The trip from Trondheim to Oslo went like a dream for some, while the ones who were doing the driving kept each other awake by telling stories about the Russian staring dog race "Laika" and Human wolverins. The standards were set for the tour. The Oslo-Kiel ferry "Color Fantasy" was brand new; a lot of glitter and glamour. It had shopping streets, casinos, Jaccuzies, a lot of restaurants and several stages for shows and cabarets.
All in all, there was a very high cruise-factor on board. We missed the old ferry: Less Las Vegas and useless thrash, and fairly good chairs you could sit in and just watch the sea. On this new "Loveboat", you got more a feeling of being in a shopping mall from the eighties. This boat wasn't exactly made for us.
Indiego Glocksee and ants in the bus!
The first destination on the trip was Hannover, and a Venue called Indiego Glocksee. Our stay here was extremely nice and relaxed. Indiego Glocksee is run by a volunteer group of people, has a capacity of 450 visitors, and is ornamented with loads of politically correctly graffiti. All the people we dealt with there were kind, and the technical standards of things was fine.
It took some songs before we got ourselves and the audience in the right mode, but after a couple of songs the atmosphere changed. We suffered some minor technical problems, but nothing that could contribute to damage the concert. The audience looked a bit shy in the beginning, but they loosened up and delivered well when they were invited to a little sing-a-long on the last song. When we returned to do encores, we did something we never have done in Germany before: We played a song from our home village Saltdal. It had been a good night in Hannover. But there was one thing that was bothering us: We had noticed that a colony of ants had found their way into the bus. Little black ants were crawling around in the back, and even if some of them met their maker in the vacuum-cleaner, we couldn't get totally rid of them. But the ants didn't manage to take over the bus completely, and we could leave Hannover without further drama.
After the show, we spent a few hours driving, and since we were caught in the rush-traffic, it took quite some time. The next stop was Bochum: A middle sized city (in Norway, it would of course have been big). We didn't know much about it, expect from the fact that the musical "Starlight Express" supposedly had been playing there for the last 60 years.
The venue of the evening was Bastion, which is a large building that was used as a bomb-shelter during the second world war. The walls were 2,5 metres thick, but ironically the ceiling which was even thicker had a leakage (even that's information that doesn't have much relevance for this story). The local promoters were simply very nice and helpful people. We felt welcomed from the first moment on. Just like yesterday, there were shown some Norwegian shortmovies. But to the main issue of the day: The concert. The audience didn't count very many, but just like the local promoters they were very good. To put it this way: They followed the dynamics of the concert. All this in combination with the the intimate venue contributed to make it a totally great evening for us. After packing down the equipment we hang out with the promotores, forced them to drink some Norwegian Booze, and told some cock and bull stories from the high North until the new day dawned.
After a good breakast, farwells and one hour of driving, we arrived Viersen; a nice little place not very far from the boarders to the Netherlands. We hung out on the venue, drank coffee, got a shower and were in general taken very good care of by Max, who was today's host. The guy who delivered the gear for tonight's concert really had done his homework and everything was in perfect order. The rigging and the soundcheck took some time, but time was something we had enough of that day.
Conny's Come In
When Conny's Come In opened, people started to come - and there were quite a few of them: Both old and young. The youngest was maybe 10-12, but the average age was relatively much higher. They ate pizza, laughed, and had a nice time. We started to be a bit sceptic, and feared that we were going to play for a handful people that were listening, and very very many others who weren't interested at all. Since we come from a small place in the Norwegian countryside, we dare to say that we know what we talk about. So this was going to be a sad evening. But we were surprised, indeed.
Many came to buy merch, and to have a nice chat after the gig. Our host Max even gave us a disk with pictures he had taken during the concerts. Even when thinking very hard, it's hard to find something that could have been better - without it being too much of the good stuff. This was really one of the nights where everything, in some strange way, was right.
Then it was the concert. We had some stress, because we had to start the gig a bit earlier than expected. Not too many people had found their way to the Mashinenhaus this evening, but the ones who did were both listening and responding. We also sold quite a lot of merch after the concert, and got some good words from the people who came. But were we satisfied with our job? We know we have done several much better gigs, but also some that has been worse than this. The conclusion seems to be that we have broken the spell, and the Berlin-balance is restored once again.
During the driving to Berlin we got some interesting information from David, our bussdriver; he lived in the eastern part of Germany, only ten minutes from the Berlin-wall, when it came down in 1989. He said that it was quite an absurd happening when, without much "warning", they suddenly started to tear it down. We remember watching when the wall came down, on television in Norway, and it was interesting to hear about it from someone who actually experienced it. Another interesting story from David, was that he played in a band, that was actually signed to the record label EMI. But the rock-and-roll fairytale ended when the singer fell out from a window on the third floor, during the releaseparty for the first (and last) album of the band (for the record: he did survive).
Berlin is a quite fancy city. We used much of our day off here to shop and extend our wardrobes to a more cosmopolitan and high standard. All in all we got different kinds of Berlin-effects, some cool shoes, and some other stuff.
Polar Zoo, our booking agency, has their headquarters in Berlin. We had the pleasure to meet Alex and David from the agency, and they were really nice guys. They took us to a club, in a place where there used to be a carpet-shop. It was an open room, with a mix of furniture from the seventies, big windows, and gloomy weird light. It was what we like to think of as a typical Berlin club.
We left Berlin in the night, but didn't get any further than to a gas station about 15 minutes outside Berlin. Then the bus wouldn't start again after stopping for a few minutes. All we could do was to go to bed in the dark of the night, with fingers crossed, that we could fix the problem the next morning...
Nooo, just kidding. Everything is actually just fine. The true story is that we spent the night on the gas station. But early the next morning we had a new start-engine and everyone was in a good mood on our way to Halle. It is true that the bus has been running over 750 000 km, but the engine is quite new, so only the chassis has experienced this enormous distance.
In Halle Æ and B did a quite long interview with an American, who wrote for a magazine called Stonefree Magazine. This took place on a boat which was anchored by the rivershore, and seemed to be characteristic for the idyllic town we were in.
The club we were going to play in Halle is called Objekt 5, and is situated in a building that used to be a barn. Before the wall came down, it was told to be a "bring your guitar and a couple of cases of beer and lets rock"-place. The way it looked nowadays, the place was perfect for us to play, and the atmosphere in the venue, and the place itself was good. We had a very enthusiastic audience this night, and we did two rounds of encores. The promoter on the place was also very enthusiastic, and already talked about that the next time we come, it would be sold out. Lets hope that he's right; both that we'll be coming back, and a sold out gig would be a good bonus as well.
Kulturbunker, where we were going to play this evening, is situated in a bunker from the second world war (there seems to be a lot of bunkers used for cultural purposes down here). The scene was quite ok, and the local promoter was nice and helpful. The problem seemed to be the place where the venue was situated. It was in an area called Mülheim, which seemed to be populated with people who were placed fairly low on the "social ladder". There was a lot of talking about drugs, crime and prostitution. We had to remember to lock the bus, and all the doors on the venue locked automatically. Not many people came to the show (four!), so we thought about inviting the guys who sat outside and drank beer and took other substances, in for a cultural experience. But the promoter (probably wisely) refused us to do so, because it could mean stealing and possibilities for rough behaviour.
The fact that it was only four persons paying to see us, meant that it was four persons who deserved an exclusive experience. We gave them all we got, and went down to shake their hands right after the gig. It was a very pleasant experience. Some of them knew about us before they came, and one of them asked if we could play "Somewheregone", because it was her summer-song last year. We did that, and also played "Suncotic Drive" so she could have a summer-song this year too. It was a very nice crowd, and 75% of them bought merch. We presume that the last 25% (also called "the guy in the white T-shirt") got our albums at home.
This day we also met Mike, from one of our two booking agencies (Encore Booking). He's the totally opposite of Mike from Polar Zoo booking (who we met in Berlin). Alex is outgoing and social with a lot of things going on. Mike seems to more introvert and very focused on the business-part. He is good in what he does in his own way, but we have agreed to work only with Polar Zoo from now on. Mike wished us the best and we wish him the same.
Our guy in Germany, Jörg Timp (who we met in Düsseldorf), had also taken the trip to the Kulturbuker. We had some time for taking business and what to do next. He also told us that the "IDIOTsong"-video had been played on some local TV-stations in Germany. And it had also been number three in an internet-community/TV-station-vote - before Coldplay and after The Foo Fighters and another German artist. And there were actually a couple of hundred thousands who visited the page! Nice. Vielen dank to you who voted.
The last time we played in this city we had a very good experience. As then, we also played Prager Frühling now. It is a strange kind of club, with many different kinds of wallpaper from the seventies. Unfortunately they had the same equipment as the last time; an 8-channel mixer, one monitor-course and not too many microphones; that is too little to make us sound as we want to sound. It was a challenge for our sound-engineer Tor, but from experience we know that nothing stops this brilliant man. The technical boss of the venue didn't seem to care about the crappy equipment. He was a nice guy though, and looked like a mix of several Norwegian celebrities (the band Cumshot's leadsinger Kristopher Schau, and some other guys).
The concert was against all odds a nice one, and the crowd seemed satisfied. They wanted more and also bought a lot of merch. And of course it's always nice with the people who come and tell us that they have been to concerts with us before. The only sad thing was that someone stole a Schtimm hooded-sweater. So if anybody sees a person with this (who isn't our Norwegian friend Solfrid), ask if the person has got a receipt for it, and mail us if they don't. Now we're half way through the tour and so far everything has mainly been really good, concerning promotors, the audiences, sightseeing, travelling comfort and such things.
Earlier on the day, we had some time to check out the city. It was a really nice and cosy city, which comes high up on our favourite-ranking.
On the two first shows (Hannover and Bochum), we got visited by a nice gentleman called Kai-Uwe (with his companion, Jessica). He is probably our greatest fan and good supporter here in Germany. He also came to the show in Erfurt. That means that he has been driving many miles, because he lives in Göttingen. He is also coming to see the last three gigs as well. On every concert he brings a camera and records both picture and sound, which he is going to edit. It's truly touching with such enthusiasm. We thought he was the only guy who came to see more than one show. But as we have played more gigs, more people has travelled to see more than one show.
Karl Marx Stadt
The worst so far?
After some driving and searching, we finally found the venue Wagenmeister. It was situated a bit of the beaten track, in an area which looked like a closed down industrial area. The people at the venue really put their effort in giving a warm hearted welcome. Our host for the day was Ibrahim; a guy with full control and made of gold. The food we were served was just fantastic, and we all agreed that the dinner was the best meal so far on the tour. Probaly on top of the all times high list as well.
We were to play on a scene rigged up outside the club this evening. The sun really fried us when we were putting up our gear. The instruments were boiling hot, and the cables went limp. We fantasized of jumping in The Rhein, and just float down to the sea. Unfortunally we didn't have the time to do that.
What we have learned about Switzerland, is that it is a country with approximately seven million inhabitants, that they have four different languages. It's not much, but it was more knowledge than we needed to have a very nice evening.
In the morning we had a very good breakfast, and a long cold shower. The trip to Freiburg isn't very long, and we hope they have snow there.
Tomorrow we have a day off. We hope to spend it by a lake nearby Freiburg. We have a relatively long way to Leipzig, and we'll drive tomorrow night: We do what we can to avoid staying in the bus at daytime - it feels like it's more a sauna than a vehicle right now.
Leipzig: Back to Eastern Germany
Yellow lights and sparking sound
There were quite a few people on the gig, though not over-crowded. And in spite of a bit problematic sound and lights, the atmosphere was good. We talked to a couple of people who had been to Schtimm-concerts before, and that is of course always nice.
Last night with David
Hamburg by day
Schilleroper is a dark and nice little club, which has existed for about two years (they are celebrating two years on the 11th of July, if we're not mistaken. Be there, or be square, as they said in the 80's). What seems a bit typical to us, is that they don't care too much of the technical equipment on such places. But good people are helpful, and with a couple of phone calls, they managed to get a hold of some gear, so that we could manage quite alright. We had two previews of the concert in local Hamburg newspapers, and we also did an interview with a local radio station. There was also some talk about getting the IDIOTsong-video on some rotation on a local TV-station. We'll have to check that out closer...
Hamburg by night
Now we sit outside Schilleroper waiting for the van which is going to take us to Rohrichmoor and finally Kiel for the boat trip home. It is still far too hot, and we are not looking forward to spending the next hours in a hot car...
Rohrichmoor: What a drag!
In addition we were late... If you have the right budgets problems like this are easily solvable - one solution is to rent another car, but there were no other rental cars to find this afternoon. We have to admit that we were pretty close to calling a doctor to get a sick note (we could probably have got one for heatstroke, anyway) and told the promotor in Rohrichmoor to call the concert off. But that would of course have been the sissy solution.
The Final Show
After the gig, B even got a rose and a scarf from some of the nice representatives from the audience. Afterwards we hung out with the locals, and drank us some beer. Note: You people who tell jokes about the people in Ostfriesland can just stop it - they are very nice and up to speed.
And then it was just the trip home?
But of course: The times of misfortune hadn't passed completely. When we were going to load our equipment into the container, the rain started to pour down, and before we were done, both we and parts of the cargo were soaking wet. Then we thought we were finally safe - but not yet. The car that was going to pick us up in Oslo had been doublebooked. The rental firm had managed to get hold of a new car - but there was only one catch: It only had two seats. So tomorrow some of us have to drive to Trondheim, and others will try to get a plane.
Tonight there will be cocktails, cigars and total relaxation on the Loveboat between Kiel and Oslo; at least, that's what we hope. We have carried out a wonderful tour, played some quite good gigs (and maybe some bad?), met many exceptionally nice, interesting, strange, weird and different people. We have travelled over 10000 kilometres, eaten far too little yoghurt, been sweating too much, showered too little, and been swimming too little. But it was one hell of a time. It's almost a bit sad that it's over, but as it's written in the song: We'll meet again.
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