Violent Journey Records has issued as follows:
This writing deals with stuff about low-budget, Metal touring in China. Especially about A 16-gig, 10 000Km 23-day Limbo, I and a bunch of other people attended recently…
People are friendly, and a blonde westerner is a source of amazement. Especially on more rural areas, in Beijing, not so. You get your picture taken with strangers in venues, trains, stations, and street. We were warned about pickpocketers, but non encountered..But usually a pile of bags and instruments was left alone. In the countryside, tattoos are also an eyemagnet. We were informed that a bunch of men together sporting tattoos and drinking beer (as usual with our band) usually ment members of mafia in China, wouldn’t know. English language is not common, and without a translator it would be exceedingly difficult to operate. Luckily, our band was always given a chinese tourmanager, with workable english skills.
The tour was compiled by a chinese promoter, that wanted an advance payment in front, for hotel and train expenses. We also ended up paying a lot of stuff during the tour, and were demanded even more expences on the end of the tour. Fucking infuriating! After pointing out, that some of these expences were not mentioned beforehand, and that emails are legally binding documents and bunch of other things, a satisfying outcome was reached. But be aware, that EVERYTHING must be planned, and counted ahead. In Writing. Somewhere where you can pull it out mid-trip.
Apart from that, you’ll need money to eat etc.. But China is cheap to live in, 1000yuan will get you through a week, no sweat.
In BEHALF of the chinese promoter, this must be said: The behemoth-like frame of the tour was Strongly affected by ambitions of a third party (never to be mentioned again) in the early stages of planning. And even if EVERYTHING was changed on the way, the colossal frame kept everyone running around like headless chickens around the outskirts of china, even though a more concentrated plan of 3-4 gigs would have immensely helped everything. And the ending negotiations with the promoter were done in good spirit. Not to mention he must’ve suffered for us. As did some Very Benevolent Persons in the trip, thanks for that.
More in detail:
In China, horrible. You got scooters, cars and weird chicken-coop mopeds shooting around like ricoche bullets in a cave, traffic lights are seldom and overlooked. You have mothers with kids between lanes waiting for an opening on 6-lane motorways, and endless honking of cars.
…And the trains.. horrid trains.
If there is one thing that will get a tired, old heavymetalist enfuriated.. It’s dragging all the gear/men through endless amount of securitychecks, with metaldetectors and uniforms to a railwaystation filled with 100 000 chinese people, and stepping on toes, necks and faces to get that gear/men in to the train, overbooked to the rim, while those chinese are all just staring you in amazement and moving ridiculously slow! Aargh! Ladies have occupied the overhead shelves with small paperbags of fashionable stores or some minuscule handbags. On the plus-side, you can drink beer and have a cigarette in them trains.
So, Trainstation->train->car/taxi->hotel->venue->hotel->car/taxi->trainstation.. and so on..
We were informed, that this is how bands tour in China. We spent about 40% of our time in China in trains or stations.
please invent the:
T O U R B U S
You will save money on traintickets/hotels and cars between those two… Only bus expences. Plus maybe a place to shower once a week. And you will save a Big amount of work scheduling and booking aforementioned things.
Everyone will save an ENDLESS amount of nerves, time, strength and shoesoles by not having to haul gear/drunks for MILES around on corridors and stairs filled with 100 000 people, securitychecks with x-ray and metaldetectors.. Wondering at what stage of checks the guitar was left behind.. And where did I put that fucking ticket!?. And who has my passport!?
Having a tourbus with airconditioning and a western, functional and hygienic toilet, you can arrive and leave at your own schedule, with secured gear and personnel. You will have musicians smelling like shit, drinking, farting and cursing OUT OF THE WAY of general population. Always able to rest before show and sleep at night, you will have immensely more benevolent people to do business with.
In a more robust bus, rather than a black taxi, chicken-coop moped or a crammed mini-van, your personnel will be much more safe from the ricoche traffic. Please consider that piece of western, corrosive conformity.
This wasn’t bad, having a chinese, english-speaking person with you. Spicy. Low on calories.
Small street-level places got decent dishes of vegetables mixed with a choice of meats. Usually meat is chopped small and little in the dish. Best seems to discard the rice and noodles alltogether, just take a number of dishes and everyone eats with chopsticks according to taste, hunger and chopstick-skills. You can get the hang of the sticks in notime. Very cheap too. Also different meat-pies were tasty. Excellent pastry too, if you like.
Bread, and sausages are oddly sweet, not savory. Coffee-shops are there, at worst, McDonald’s.
Hotpot-places were awesome. You get to make an own spice-mix, and they deliver a kettle with spicy, boiling soup. Then you order a selection of goods that you boil in the soup, then dip into your spice-paste and eat.
Different meats, quail-eggs, mushrooms and tofu were much in favorites. All the time you’re pampered and served by a number of peppy chinese girls. Almost always, you’re treated with a cup of tea, before the food arrives.
At night, the chinese muslims keep these skewer-places, small pieces of spicy meat or veggies skewered on hot fire, with some beer, delicious. Slight smell of petrol.
We usually, if not always, chose beer to drink with food. Bottled water for thirst only. Beers are plenty different, also in alcohol percentage, everything from 1,2 to 5,6..
In trains, where we spent half of our time, there are water-heaters. And people usually took a cup of fast-noodles to eat. Those were coming out of our ears after the first week.
Also, after one week, McDonalds and KFC started being a serious alternative… Tasty, but a tad poor in calories that chinese stuff. A 100kg caucasian does not haul himself and gear around on foot with noodles for very long.
The chinese rice-vodka is horrible!.. Altough the better “white-spirits” are excellent with some ice-tea! (50/50) A number of long train-rides were helped along with this. ..Usually with tragically comic results…
If a chinese man offers you alcohol, he is trying to drink you under the table.. ..Usually with tragically comic results..
We also developed a taste for some herb-spiced booze that was drank down a small bottle at a time between us. ..Usually with tragically comic results..
The chinese considered that stuff as an invigorating medicine, usually refusing to take a drink. Lol.
The chinese nightclubs are, what I call “techno-hell”.. Really loud music. People dancing on tables, chaotic. Gay, or gay-ish men. Drunken women. Very expensive, and you can’t buy a shot, you’ll have to buy a bottle …Usually with tragically comic results..
Most cities we visited, had a serious shroud of grey pollution in the air. Serious. Countryside, from the train window, was better. The cities are also quite dusty and littered.. Cheap hotels often mouldy and moist. The chinese don’t seem to have hot-water circulation, so hot water is expected after some minutes in the shower. Hotels usually had shampoo and soap available.
The chinese toilets are devastating. It’s a hole-in-the-ground type, where you have to grouch upon, usually no paper so you have to carry your own. The plumming can’t handle paper, so after use it’s placed in a basket beside you. These are in bars, cafes, stations and trains… Only hotelrooms had western toilets. Possibly one somewhere for handicapped people, and the modern bullet-train.
I’m heavy, with kneeproblems. I can’t grouch. Stomach-freezing medicines like Imodium were in constant use due to over 10-hour trainrides. Also learned, that when very drunk, you only have to piss a lot.
We did strike back though. Because hauling heavy and big cases in scorching, humid conditions through stations full of people, we usually smelled bad enough to deter most chinese people.
The bigger “Livehouses” were usually quite good, backline ok (Backline was from the venue on the tour), usually a nice backroom, good staff and beer. Decent amps, monitors and drums.
Especially the Mao Livehouse in Beijing stood out. The gear, and soundguy was so good, that after the first “all together”-play, nothing had to be requested. Perfect stagesound out of the box. Pro.
Though, concerts before that, without monitoring etc. had honed our stagesound, and listening somewhat.
The smaller clubs in the outskirts of China were different.
Backline was suited for a dance-band, no backrooms. Apart from encounters with shitty Hartke-gear, bass was pretty easy. Guitarists, other one with a Pod, usually found somekind of high-gain sounds.
Drums took the hardest hits. Broken seats, drumheads, stands and usually just one tom-tom in front! Seems there is a chinese school of drummers using only one tom.
THE AUDIENCE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THIS is why I have no regrets!!.. The chinese audience, even if few in numbers on occasion, is FAR more in to it, and moshing and rocking out, than my domestic, finnish, overly metal-saturated rock-police crowd. After every show, photos and handshakes galore. Everyone glad to been there.. Overwhelming.
One weird habit was, that after the show, and photoshoots etc. the club suddenly emptied within 10 minutes!.. They all go home, and we’re there alone putting our stuff together. Also their odd moshpit.. They start in a ring hand-in-hand like kids, then the roundabout gathers momentum until it breaks, and everyone fly and stumble around, heads, legs, arms galore, hilarious!!
The tour-managers were quite indispensible, helpful whenever possible. Also some other people were quite valuable in their efforts. China left a hospitable impression. Thanks for that. For a slightly smaller, more efficient tour in China, maybe yes.
China seems to have decent healthcare, drugs for some stomach-issues seemed to be available, and potent. And cuts and bruises were treated by the drugstore personnel..not expensive..Not bad. The hectic schedule from city to city left no time to see sights or get to know any people really well, which is a shame. We were always sick and tired before the gig, but absolutely recharged after it. The last show for our band was a highly expected open-air concert, but warming us was a knee-height girlband playing peppy pop, and the audience had everything from 3 to 80 yearolds, so, not exactly a success. Mao-club in Beijing remained the highlight.
There were 3 different bands, which were scattered to tour separately, when our paths crossed, there were many experiences to share. With beer ofcourse.
So, we drank complementary beers on the venues, to pass the time on trains, and when relaxing or seeing other bands. I think 23 days passed without a completely sober day. Weird shit starts to happen, if you’re not, like, used to that…
Oh yeah, and the chinese internet is pretty limited.. If FB, Twitter or such is important, get a VPN ready. Sometimes even Google isn’t reachable. Wi-fi spots are here and there though, in bigger cities. Quite slow connections eitherway though.
The climate can be friggin tropical at times. And if you got western size 45 feet, you won’t find sandals from China. Don’t go there in bikerboots. Make sure your luggage is on wheels and portable through stairs. And fits in the same bed/seat with you. They sell trollies on stations, but those couldn’t handle a case of beer. Remember to carry toiletpaper.
Have to say, our cultural impact wasn’t exactly stellar either.. Alcoholism and dirty words seem to be what little impression we left.
But being polite and good mannered is going to get you lots of smiles.. And advice you can’t frigging understand a word of. All in all, not bad.
Finally THANKS TO
Members of Nauzea and Bob Malmström. Mort Productions, Namely Mr. Chen, all the Tour-managers (esp. “Ox-man” of ours), and the extra helping hands on the way, you made a difference in our perception of China..
For the better, Always. I’m not going to disgrace myself by spelling your names wrong, you know who you are. Hold your flags high, ist Krieg.
And last but not least, Full show from MAO Club Beijing, China 8.6.2013
16 cities, 16 venues and 10.000 miles.
24.5 Beijing / 13Club
25.5 Shijiazhuang / Underground Velvet Club
26.5 Tianjin / 13Club
28.5 Langfang / Rock Bar
31.5 Baotou / Kunzi Bar
1.6 Huhehaote / Ning Livehouse
3.6 Shanghai / Yuyintang
4.6 Nanking / Gubao Bar
5.6 Hangzhou / 9 Ball Bar
7.6 Xian / Monkey Livehouse
8.6 Lanzhou / Kui Livehouse
10.6 Chongqing / Jiangguo Bar
11.6 Chengdu / Xiaojiouguan
13.6 Tianshui / Juji Bar
15.6 Zhengzhou / 7 Livehouse
16.6 Beijing / Marku Livehouse