17 Hours In A Sweaty Tin Can On Wheels

There’s a romance to tour vans for the punk rock fan. A sweaty, uncomfortable, seemingly endless journey is in itself a part of the fun.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Recently, travelling home from Nuremberg to Manchester, I opted to join Fair Do’s in their van for the 20 hour drive, rather than making use of the flight that I’d booked. They thought this was completely insane. It kinda was.

In fairness, I was travelling home from an overwhelmingly good weekend at KNRD Fest, my flight was absurdly early (and would probably have caused anxious, hungover Sarah to have a morning panic attack about missing the plane) and I love hanging out with Fair Do’s. There’s no doubt that 20 hours in a cramped tour van is no piece of cake, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to everyone and it meant that I could party hard on Saturday night, now that the worry of impossibly teleporting to an airport wasn’t weighing on my mind.

That said, there’s a romance to tour vans for the punk rock fan. A sweaty, uncomfortable, seemingly endless journey is in itself a part of the fun.

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As I write, I’m now locked in a hot tin can on wheels, driving with some of the Lockjaw Crew from Brakrock Ecofest in Belgium to Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia. It’s 17 hours in total, taking in a pick-up in Cologne and an obscure mission to collect a PRH ticket from a friend in Salzburg. We’re flying through the alps at 120kph in blazing sunshine with fuck all air conditioning, no stereo and so much merch (buying 500 Lockjaw compilation frisbees seemed like a great idea at the time…), vinyl and camping gear that there’s zero space for your feet in the footwell. Continue reading “17 Hours In A Sweaty Tin Can On Wheels”

Guest Article: How To Prepare Your Merch for Festival Season

Guest Article: Random Hand’s Joe Tilston gives valuable advice on how to prepare your band’s merch set up, to make the most of summer’s festival season.

Guest Article by Joe Tilston, originally published at Merch Stall.

The weather is getting better, this can mean only one thing: festival season is upon us once more. Are you ready?

Is this your band’s first year playing a festival, or are you on your 10th run through the circuit? No matter how well versed you are, you need to give your merchandise preparation some serious thought. Too often I’ve found myself two weeks before the first big festival date of the year, and we haven’t got any new designs drawn (never mind ordered!), once again making an already stressful situation far more complicated than it needs to be.

So learn from the mistakes of those that have made them before you: prepare!

Keep it simple. It’s easy to get carried away on a merch stall at your own show or a support gig when there are only three bands, but at festivals all the pins, badges and lighters, bumper bonza deals and mega collections should disappear. You want to get through the queue as fast as you can, so show some restraint. If someone wants to haggle or make a deal, let them, but keep the options for people to look at. Simple: t-shirt price, CD price, vinyl price. Done.

Do you have a merch person available to join you? Have you made sure there is space for you to sell your merch; do you need to book it? Make sure whoever is selling your merch is able to spend most of the day there. People will be looking to buy merch all day, not just right after your set. That said, some festivals will only give you a small window to sell, so be prepared for that and communicate it on stage!
Continue reading “Guest Article: How To Prepare Your Merch for Festival Season”

Remembering P-Rock TV: Where Are They Now?

We honour a TV channel that lasted a year but and shaped music tastes for decades to come, featuring King Prawn, [Spunge], Jesse James, Whitmore, Farse and Violent Delight!

Article by Alan Corcoran.

Hi, my name is Alan and I’ve been listening to some variety of punk rock for 20 years. My first punk(ish) song, and the hilarious lengths I had to go to in order to hear it, will have to wait for another day. Today I want to talk about the short lived P-Rock TV.

For some this will be like fondly remembering an old friend that you used to be real close to but now only see when you’re blackout drunk in your local pub back home. For others, this will be like meeting someone in your late 20’s and asking, “Where have YOU been all my life?!”

For me, it is a continuation of my life’s work; to honour a TV channel that lasted a year (2002-2003) and shaped my music taste for decades to come. I didn’t even have access to the channel in my house; my friends lucky enough to have P-Rock would hit record in the evening and the next day I’d have 3 hours of (only slightly repetitive) punk rock goodness. That’s right, I’m talking VHS mixtapes here. Continue reading “Remembering P-Rock TV: Where Are They Now?”

Video: Practicing Meditation for Wellbeing On Tour With Waterweed

Jo of Bad Juju Yoga created this insightful short film whilst on tour with Japanese skate-punks Waterweed, recording the benefits and challenges of keeping up a daily meditation practice.

Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

When you think about life on tour, meditation isn’t the first word to spring to mind. However, when you consider the long, hard hours spent on the road, sardined into a van with a stack of equipment, the boredom of travel, drinking to excess and charging through sweaty half-hour live shows… taking 15 minutes for yourself to recentre begins to make sense.

Jo Smith, of Bad Juju Yoga, created this insightful short film whilst driving Waterweed on a seven day tour around Europe. She relays the challenges and benefits daily meditation practice in this entertaining tour diary.

Here’s what Jo had to say about it: “In April, I spent 7 days on a European tour, co-driving/ managing/ merch-wenching with Japanese skatepunkers Waterweed. I documented this journey for a bit of fun, and to also see if I could commit to my daily mediation practice on the road. I regularly felt tempted just to drink beer, chill out and not do my meditation but I by the end of the week, I had some self-realisation of what the meditation really did for me. So here is my doco/ tour vid of my experience.”

 

Bad Juju Yoga began in 2015 after founder, Jo Smith, discovered the Punk Rock Yoga manifesto. The manifesto empowered Jo to do what felt most authentic when teaching, which is why most of her classes use a variety of music genres.

Bad Juju is more than just physical exercise. It is a lifestyle, promoting a philosophy of community spirit. Bringing together like-minded people into a space where they can develop their own practice and knowledge of yoga and wellbeing. A space where they feel welcome and where they can be themselves.

You can find Bad Juju Yoga on online, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Jo also teaches punk rock yoga classes at various UK and European festivals, teaching in a creative way using a style that is all-inclusive, sharing yoga through the love of music, mantra, sound and vibration.​ We highly recommend that you check out her online classes in the near future.

Explore our #MentallySound series for more articles about mental health in music.

 

How Punk Rock Solved My Problem With Mortality

Life feels shorter than ever; so I’m going to fill it with the noises I love.

Article by Sarah Williams. Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

N.B.: I’d intended for this to be a happy article about how and why I enjoy live music so much, but it’s turned out a bit on the dark side. Oops. Trigger warning: Depression, suicide, bereavement.

Waterweed

I’ve been going to a lot of gigs lately. In the last month alone, I figured out I’ve travelled over 3,500 miles just to see bands. As I’ve started booking in festivals later in the year, more people are asking me why I’m doing it.

Typically it is a question I get from the ‘normal’ people I work with or my long-suffering family, however lately it’s a question I’ve received from people in the scene, usually accompanied by an incredulous look because I’ve just turned up in yet another city.

I’ve got an answer for you, but it might not be the one you’re expecting.

Why do I go to so many gigs? I go because I know I’m going to die. I’ve become hyper aware of my own mortality.

I can feel the time slipping through my fingers, and enjoying the music I love is my way of remedying and recognising that. Every show I go to, whether that’s a sweaty Propagandhi pit, a crusty post-hardcore melee or a gentle acoustic folk gig, I will have a massive grin plastered to my face. I’m enjoying the noise, the adventure and spending time in the punk community, because I feel like it could end at any second.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been berated with the following: “You’re going to burn out;” “You should drink less;” “You need to concentrate more on work;” “You shouldn’t waste your money on that;” “You need to calm down.”

They’re all right, of course, I probably ‘should’ do all of those things. I’m fucking tired. I’ve got tinnitus. I get stressed trying to keep track of all the gig-dates on my mental calendar. I struggle to motivate myself to do my day job because it’s so different to my ‘other life’. I’ve given myself alcohol poisoning more times than I can count. I’m running solely on caffeine and enthusiasm. Getting out of bed to be at the airport at 5am when I’ve still got the flu from last weekend’s festival is a hellish struggle.

It is worth it, because I am happy. Right now, I am happier than I have ever been. And I have been for a long time now. I haven’t felt the tug of depression and the cold sweat of anxiety has washed straight off me. I’ll say it again: I am really fucking happy. Continue reading “How Punk Rock Solved My Problem With Mortality”

The Road to Pouzza Fest

Read Joelle’s insightful journal about her trip to Montreal’s Pouzza Fest – a both heartwarming and heartbreaking account of travelling thousands of miles for the love of punk rock.

Article by Joelle Laes. Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

Monday – May 14th

5AM

I wake up as if I’ve just been given the biggest fright of the century. Turns out it’s only my alarm.

I feel confused. Anxious. Almost in a state of panic. I need to rush and get to the airport.

After spending the weekend at El Topo Goes Loco and being home for two hours to pack before heading off to another gig to catch The Affect Heuristic again on Sunday, I had a slight panic when my Airbnb host failed to reply in a timely manner (according to my standards). I had a bit of a meltdown once back home and turned to the only people I know to keep me sane no matter what: the Punk Rock Women’s group. Lots of love and reassurance later, I finally managed to fall asleep. This morning: still no reply. No time to call him, as I run for the train.

7.30 AM

“You could be stuck an office with a guy wearing a tie telling you what to do. You are living the fucking dream,” Richie Cooper (Eat Dirt.) comments on my obligatory Facebook airport-check in.

Am I? Living the dream? I can’t tell as I’m stood queueing at Brussels Airport, stressed out to fuck. I haven’t had a proper sleep in weeks (too many festivals and work); I still feel a bit fragile after the boozy blinding madness that was El Topo Goes Loco.

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Shout Louder vs. The Affect Heuristic antics at El Topo Goes Loco

I could use a cuddle to be fair. Or a straight jacket. That might feel like I’m being hugged too? I don’t know. I feel like I might cry.

I am tired, stressed out and alone. Why do I do this to myself? The pity party continues on and I contemplate sitting in a bathroom stall to have a cry. Could I still be hungover from the weekend? Or is this another case of post-trip-depression?

Whilst I make my way through border control, my phone buzzes. It’s my Airbnb host. He confirms the booking and tells me where to find the keys. The tight feeling in my chest loosens a little bit. At least I won’t be sleeping outside in a fort made of pizza boxes. I can breathe a little again.

Moments later I get a PM off a good friend: “Lovely to see you this weekend, don’t have too much fun in Canada x” I sense a stupid grin appearing on my face. I feel my muscles relax as I think of where I’m headed and why I’m heading there.

I’m about to embark on an adventure some can only dream of, about to spend money I don’t have on things that most adults consider irresponsible. Sometimes I think, should I be spending this much money on punk rock? Is It worth all the stress and anxiety?

Does my Mom worry? Absolutely. After all, if you are somewhere on your own, the only person you can rely on is yourself. But it is worth every ounce of stress it gives me. Like me, my Mom’s come to accept that this is the only way I can make myself happy.

Never have I forged more genuine bonds with people as when I’m singing along to bands, surrounded by people who love them just as much as me. It doesn’t matter if we don’t live around the corner from each other, there is a connection there that some people will never understand. Looking into other people’s eyes, seeing that moment of pure joy when they hear their favourite song. Watching bands pour their heart out on stage; these moments mean everything to me. In these moments I am truly happy. Continue reading “The Road to Pouzza Fest”

Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]

Part 2: Kaz & Big Hands celebrate with two massive gigs and plenty of help from their friends.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

Welcome to Part Two of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender!

Earlier this year, Kaz and Big Hands hosted two of the biggest punk rock marriage celebrations I’ve ever heard of. Not only did they have a four-band line-up on their big day, they also managed to squeeze in an impressive ‘Hag Do’ gig at Gullivers in Manchester.

Chris Hinsley, better known as Big Hands, does data analysis by day but is the drummer in Revenge of the Psychotronic Man by night. Karen Hinsley (née Warburton, better known as Kaz) loves her job as an Animal Nursing Assistant, where (if her Facebook feed is anything to go by) she gets to care for incredibly cute puppies and kittens for a living. Together, Kaz and Big Hands are an integral part of the TNS Records family, spending their spare time packing merch and helping with new releases, as well as going to gigs and generally getting involved. They have also taken on the admirable task of running all the merch for Manchester Punk Festival.

I wanted to find out whether their experience of DIY gigs influenced their marriage choices, how two noisy punk gigs translate to a successful wedding, and whether Kaz managed to crowd-surf in a wedding dress.

Kaz and Big Hands Wedding 1

How did you both meet?

  • Big Hands: We kinda met years ago but didn’t really talk to each other – I was dressed as the Alan Partridge zombie along with Revenge. Bizarrely Andy from Revenge (and best man at the wedding) used to teach Kaz at college.
  • Kaz: I’ve known some of the guys from Faintest Idea for over 10 years now and I used to go down to Norfolk quite a lot for weekend trips. One of those times was for a Halloween gig that Revenge were playing. I was actually just getting into the punk scene at the time so I hadn’t actually heard Revenge before… and I hadn’t watched Partridge so I totally didn’t get their costume choice! I didn’t really say much to Chris at all that weekend but I remember we were at the same house party that night for a few hours.
  • Big Hands: We first properly spoke to each other at Strummer Camp 2011 as we both knew Faintest Idea, so we blame Dani for that one.
  • Kaz: We went out for a drink a week or so after that and I haven’t been able to shake him since!
  • Big Hands: It was six years the day before the wedding. I proposed on our anniversary, and we decided to get married the same weekend two years later, so with my shocking memory I only have to remember one date!

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Before we get onto the wedding in detail, tell me all about the hen / stag do.

  • Big Hands: We both have the same friends (male and female), so we decided to have a joint one: hence our ‘hag do’. It meant that A) we could all party together and B) it was really hard to choose bands to play the wedding, so it gave us a chance to put some others on. We ended up with Pizzatramp, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Casual Nausea, Rising Strike and The Lab Rats. We also managed to convince Sense of Urgency to reform for it, which was amazing. We roped in Col and Laura of MBBP fame to run it for us, so we have them to thank for that one.
  • Kaz: The hag do was also on the day of my 30th so it was a joint celebration. Col and Laura did a great job and it was such a cracking gig!
  • Big Hands: Also, to finish it off, we managed one last night in Retro Bar before that got closed down.
  • Kaz: Yeah, originally we we only going to do the hag do and not your typical hen and stag do’s, but my wonderful maid of honour, Kim, had other ideas. She planned a surprise get away to Ibiza for me and some of my close girl mates. Big Hands also had a weekend in Berlin. She called it a ‘not hen do’ and we didn’t have any of the typical hen party tat. We just went away for a long weekend and had a good time together. Also, my 63 year old mum came and got her first tattoo, in Ibiza… on her bum!

Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]”