Yes, our tour ended a week ago. And yes, it has taken me a whole week to write this post. But hey, it’s not like I was sitting around eating bon bons! I was actually eating chocolate croissants and French cheese on another assignment, thank you very much. (So get ready for a double feature this week.) This was my favorite tour to date, and now, more than ever, I really feel like a citizen of the world. Shout out to All Time Low for not only putting on an awesome show, but also for being one of the nicest, most welcoming, and hilarious band we’ve ever toured with. On top of that, we made new friendships with the homies of Waterparks. Was it tiring? Yes. Was it exhilarating? Hell yes. Did we see certain body parts of Jack Barakat that we now cannot unsee? Oh yes. But it was worth it.
The last leg of the tour took place in mainland Europe. It’s amazing how so many different cultures and languages can exist in such a small geographic span, and to witness the impressive level of pride each city has at every single show. I have a sixth sense telling me that we could be big here some day. Here are some of my favorite moments:
Let’s be real, a lot of people think Amsterdam is the Disneyland of smoking weed and behaving badly. But I’ll be the first to tell you Amsterdam is WAY cooler than its famous red light district and legalized drugs. The day of the show, I woke up a little earlier than usual and walked along the sunny canals to a highly recommended cafe called Latei. To me, it doesn’t get much better here than savoring a cup of fresh mint tea with a slice of Dutch apple pie. It’s been a personal tradition ever since I first came to Amsterdam for the first time with my friend Henry when we were 19, and on our last day we drank tea and had our farewell slice of pie in the sun overlooking a bridge. (I invite you to steal this idea.) Sentimental value aside, this specific pie from Latei was one of the best things I put in my mouth all tour.
Sweet tooth satisfied, I decided to take a ride down memory lane and listen to the Kooks’ Inside In / Inside Out in its entirety (possibly because of the line in “Jackie Big Tits” when he’s talking about being in Amsterdam). I have a very specific list of life moments that will forever be tattooed in my brain. This was one of them. Playing here that night was amazing, even though a lot of our fans weren’t able to watch our set that night due to understaffed security. It caused an excessively long wait to get in. So sorry, guys. All the more reason to come back to the Netherlands later this year. Pie’s on me.
This was actually a headline gig, and it was probably one of the most exciting shows of our tour. Although we were here years ago as Emily’s Army (practically a different band) opening for Rise Against and Pennywise, SWMRS has never played a show in Germany. So, our German fans have been waiting a very long time for us to play a headline show. It was at a small club on the outskirts of the hip Kreuzberg district, called Musik en Frieden. The surrounding area was chalk-full of cool vintage clothing stores and kebab shops. I ended up buying a new Fuji film instax Polaroid camera (which made the rest of my travels even better). Earlier that day, we ate lunch at a place called General Store, in Kreuzberg. I had the pork belly udon plate. I loved how the udon noodles were purple, and it tasted as interestingly delicious as it looks.
The minute we got on stage that night at Musik & Frieden it was absolute madness, and hearing the passionate crowd singing our lyrics with a German accent was a sound I will never forget. I’ve always had this dream in my head of playing a small club in Berlin while wearing my leather jacket. I guess it reminds me of some of my favorite bands, such as The Cute Lepers, Jesse Malin, the Libertines, and The Exploding Hearts who all wore leather jackets (Queue “Berlin Girls” by the Cute Lepers, or “All the Way from Moscow” by Jesse Malin and the St. Marks Social). HOT TIP: if you’re in this neighborhood and longing for a greasy bite that is too glutenous to eat in the honest light of day, head over to Burgermeister’s. It’s a small shack in the middle of the road one block away from the venue (also close to the Ramones Museum). Their burger with th killer special sauce and perfectly crisp french fries hit the spot for the whole band after the show. But be prepared to wait in line. This place is extremely popular among the young Berliners. My hands succumbed to the godly beef drippings and grease and I wasn’t able to get a good photo, but next time I come here I promise I’ll document.
I wasn’t going to write about multiple German cities, but I can’t not write about the truly remarkable serendipitous situation that took place in Hamburg. (Side note, if you’re from Cologne and went to the show, please know that I love your city and will write about it next time we come through.) Stick with me. Here we go…
While searching for a laundromat, we wound up at a place that was next to “a cool guitar shop” as our taxi driver referred to it. Little did we know that we were about to step foot in one of the most historic guitar shops in the world….The walls were filled with new and vintage hollow body guitars by Gretsch, Gibson, Epiphone, Guild, Fender, and Hagstrom (a Swedish company I had never heard of). Totally geeking out, I picked up a few and fiddled around while Joey, Seb, and Hans checked out the rest of the shop. And then, there it was, a beautiful, bodacious Hagstrom Viking – a new model of a classic guitar that the company had recently revamped. The owner of the shop, a small, sweater-clad German man, introduced himself as Klaus and started talking to me about the guitar. He let me plug it in, and from the moment I hit my first notes, I knew I was holding cultural gold.
This guitar looked and sounded like pure butter. (Historically, Hagstrom isn’t known for making expensive guitars, but they take great pride in their craft, and I completely understood why once I plugged it in. I even had Klaus hand me a 5,000 Euro Vintage Gibson ES-335 to compare, and all of us, including the other three guys, agreed that the Hagstrom sounded better.) My mind was blown. I had to have this guitar. How cool would it be to say that I bought it while on tour in Germany? Then, Klaus told me that he only accepts cash to which I initially balked. He ALSO said he needed two hours to do his signature customization of the guitar to which I was further put off (who the hell spends this kind of dough on a guitar in all cash AND then leaves it there to get customized?! What does “customize” even mean here?! Is this a scam…?). But, after that visceral feeling this guitar gave me, I knew I had to make her mine. So, under the gun to get back to play a show, I ran to a bank and persuaded Wells Fargo over the phone to let me pull out more cash than my initial limit. After I sprinted back to the shop, Klaus was sitting there, working on the guitar, and he THEN decides to drop the Beatles bomb…He goes, “you know, this is a famous shop…”
Turns out the shop originally belonged to Klaus’s father. He proceeded to explain….“When the Beatles lived in Hamburg, they bought their Epiphone Casinos from him, and he did the same neck customization for them that I am doing for you, my father passed down his trade. They lived in the hotel above this store. When I was just a little boy they would come in looking for guitars.” My jaw dropped like a goddam lead balloon. Yup. It was confirmed. I was holding ten pounds of gold in my hands. He told me he needed more time to sand-down the frets and adjust the intonation a bit more, and assisted on personally delivering the guitar to the venue after I got off stage. I will never forget that experience at Rothoff and will cherish this Viking Hagstrom until the day I die. Once again, another life moment. I named it the “Sun King”, because c’mon, I couldn’t not use a Beatles reference…
That moment was a tough act to follow, but I have to say, Paris was lights out. This was hands down, best show of the tour. We’ve played here a few times now, and each time it gets even more bananas. Considering the high level of pride that the citizens of France take in their language, they LOVED how much French we (mostly Cole) were speaking on stage. My favorite moment of the show was when Cole said, “Fascism may have won in America, but it will not live in France! Vive la France!” I had goosebumps, and the crowd went absolutely mental. Since my next blog post is on the perfect week in Paris I just got back from with Michelle, I’m going to wait to delve into my culinary experiences there until that comes out. Remember when I said at the beginning of this article that I think we are going to be big in Europe some day? It’s going to happen here first. Vous êtes prés? 😉
This was the last official show of the All Time Low tour, and let me tell you, Italians live up to their reputation when it comes to rock n’ roll shows. For so long, I’ve heard fellow musicians talk about how intense, energetic, and loyal the are crowds here, and how Italy is where the Ramones first got big outside of America. Well, I can officially say that I was still not prepared for what was going to happen after the show. When we went outside to talk to fans like usual, I learned what it feels like to be David Beckham going out in public. Cole and I were swarmed with excited Italian kids that were trying to push there way in to see us. People taking photos of people taking photos. Shear mayhem. That was definitely the most intense experience I’ve ever had with fans. Everyone was so welcoming and excited when I told them we were coming back at some point this fall. Something tells me it will be nothing short of madness – and I mean that in the best way possible.
The following morning, Cole, Joey, and I decided to use our day off to take a train to Lake Como before heading to England. We were completely unprepared for the movie script-worthy hectic travel day we ended up having (think John Hughes’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy). But it was all worth it. We ended up renting a little boat and enjoying the lake almost completely by ourselves since it was off-season.
We sailed past stunning villas (including the property where Aniken and Padme get married in Attack of the Clones), and quite possibly one of George Clooney’s homes. After our ride, we enjoyed some delicious pasta by the lake, and basked in the Italian sun for the remaining late afternoon. We were only able to explore Como and its small lakeside towns for 5 hours, but I can tell you I’m definitely coming back one summer. Probably with Michelle…
Ok, I know London isn’t really Europe (especially these days), but I can’t not mention the show we played there on our last night. Not to mention, it was also great to be united with our lads in The Shrives, who have finally released their wonderful record (go buy it now!). This show reminded me of 924 Gilman in Berkeley, CA, our original stopping ground. We played a loud, fast, intense set to a sold-out crowd at the Boston music room. This crowd not only pushed, danced, mashed, and crowd-surfed the entire time, but also screamed our lyrics louder than we could sing on our mics. London, you sent shivers down my spine. What a way to top off our month away from home.
Everyone flew back to America the next day. Except me. I decided to take a little detour in the eastern direction for our week off before we heading back on the road in Texas. Read about it in my next post, coming out in a few days.