Fanzines, bloody hell ! It´s almost nine months ago now that I´ve tried multiple times at and at various resources to find a warm and cozy paper issue place for this CRAZY SQUEEZE tour report by Sir Frankie Delmane to creep in and be taken care of just to splendidly run aground.
Either I got offered the page space of a shopping list (if you don´t buy more than a piece of cheese and just a little salami) or I´ve been informed about guest writers not being asked for, sometimes I even got no answer at all or things just didn´t get sorted out the right way.
Nevertheless I still think that this tour report should be seen and read as it is perfectly echoing the passion and enthusiasm of the CRAZY SQUEEZE on stage. That “Glorious Pub Junk Glam’n’Roll providing you a rare and special kind of bliss only comparable to being laid to rest in the cuddly womb of a wet five dollar whore.” is really dripping out of every single letter noted down here.
As the CRAZY SQUEEZE have just released their “To The Lonely Ones / Red Rosie” 7inch on Pure Punk and will be coming back to Europe this autumn, I thought that this report may be a fine taster for all the undecided to be discipulized into unrestrained outta control CRAZY SQUEEZE junkies with, even despite such dumb and childish things like actuality.
Last but not least a million thanks to Frankie for his work writing this !
The Crazy Squeeze- the proverbially postmodern pub rock masterpiece, took our show on the road this past November, bringing our brand of direct hit hooks- a sonic hybrid of our musical heroes from The Boys UK, Little Bob Story, Heartbreakers, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Stooges, Chuck Berry and Little Richard- merged with subtle hints of R&B, Soul, hillbilly music, and some shots of noise for anarchistic fullness- to towns across Europe, in an effort to entertain and galvanize those interested in having a momentary fling with catharsis, transcendence, and the overall need to get drunk, stupid, and sloppy. Three and a half weeks of nightly debauchery, debasement, and self-destruction seemed to lead the way, as we crawled and scrapped through language barriers, dietary challenges, traffic transgressions, and the general quest for some sort of avoidance of our everyday lives back home in Angry America. We were well-oiled, ready, packed and pleased to be going places few of us have been, some of us have seen many times, yet all would count as new adventures for a lifetime.
We settled into our 10 hour flight across the ocean with drink and starry eyed wonder as to how this would all wash out. Our first indicator was when we arrived at Heathrow Airport in England, with a one hour layover; my fellow bands mates- superstar guitar smasher and vocalist Johnny Witmer, groove time bass banger Dat Ngo, tour drummer and vegetarian vigilante Ian Harrower- gulped down English Ale as if they’d never had it, celebrating our new foreign life in drinking style. Then to Dusseldorf within an hour, connecting with the Black Mercedes-Benz tour van that would be our home these following weeks. Headed out to a place called Mausberg, in the region of Baden-Württemberg, in which we arrived at the home of our hosts, Ditzl and Anette; Ditzl had been guitarist for Nazi Dogs, a band we would perform with twice on this tour. He was to provide us with our touring drum kit and help with the backline and feed us, supply us with endless bottles of Krombacher, smoke us to filth with California quality goodness, and generally be one of the finest fellows in all of Deutschland. That first evening another great German, Nazi Dogs singer Karsten Scholl, arrived in leather pants and perfectly spiked blonde quaff, bringing good cheer and more to smoke. The adventure had begun.
Our first show In Hamburg turned out to be anti-climactic, at the Monkey Music Club. Sparsely attended, they treated us well with good grub and cheap beer, we had fun turning up and sweating profusely. The staff was nothing but helpful and gracious, and the other two bands performing that night, friendly and cool (my first introduction to “folk punk”). Since we were in Hamburg, after the show we made our way to the notorious Reeperbahn- that famous street in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district, that housed all sorts of strip clubs, sex shops, brothels, bars, and general nastiness best left to trotting tourists of a certain repressed- or highly adventurous- nature. We were not of this ilk, and readily laughed and marveled at all the vomit, trash, rip offs, thugs, thieves, scumbags, drug addicts and derelicts littering this most sinful mile. Johnny’s tolerance for such Las Vegas styled misery came to a halt when we entered a heavy metal bar blasting cheesy 80s hair metal- he turned heel and left for better atmospheres, as Ian, Ditzl, and I continued to drink and giggle at the insanity.
The following night was Berlin. Performing at the 3rd annual Poor & Weird Festival, several punk bands gathered to entertain over 500 people in two rooms, packed with high energy and colorful hearts. The vibrations were beautiful. We co headlined with Leeds based English band Cyanide Pills- whose brand of Cocksparer/999/Ruts punk goodness excited this audience no end, every song a catchy anthem to rally the troops, no stone unturned, no note missed. The place was ignited by a universal love for this music, and everyone walked away with new friends and wringing ears. A highlight was not only seeing what an emotional sight remained of the Berlin Wall- for certain- but also visiting our old friend Texas (once known as Texas Terri- now just “Texas”)- who has been working in a local bar for the last 8 years in Berlin. Her familiar Texas drawl untouched by German influence, she told us stories we’d yet heard, warned us of her imminent return to Los Angeles, and was generally glad we got a chance to speak before we went off onto the rest of our tour. We also visited the Ramones Museum earlier that day, where we met up with our friends from Issacc Rother & The Phantoms from Los Angeles- they came to the festival that evening and we partied til’ dawn- first at the fabulous Wild At Heart bar, and then all night partying with John Tyree, ending up at a Kebob stand.
Onto Kassel, at Goldgrube. I was able to finally meet our German booking agent Ben Bazooka- animated, direct -an honest man with a wild laugh. After the show we headed off to the Mutter Bar, in which we drank and drank and drank, until about 4 am, upon which a rather randy German couple attempted to take Ian home with them; he refused, politely, and then ended up with a naked Ben Bazooka, who may have been too drunk to remember to put pants on before bed time, not to mention being assaulted by some random hanger on for drinking bottled water and not “caring about the environment.” Oh the self-righteous sure know how to kill a vibe.
The next night we relaxed, as we had a night free. Repairing from the previous evening’s insanity was the plan. We drove to Wanda Records label boss Monster Kludas place in Naumberg, where he put us up for the night. We listened to records, drank, and ate and had a fantastic time. Monster had pressed up special copies of our LP for us to sell on the tour, as well as t-shirts. We then went down to a tiny cellar bar in possibly the most graffiti laden city I have ever seen- Leipzig. Like a NYC subway car in the 1970s. The show itself turned out to be a blast- a small, but enthusiastic crowd cheered us onward as we tore it up in our best, loudest fashion. They plied us with drinks and generosity, our accommodations large and relaxing. We did laundry the next day, which proved a challenge as I do not read the German language very well, so ended up not only in the laundry for 3 hours- but washed my clothes on such a hot, long cycle it turned my whites baby blues- I instantly had new outfits!!! All was not lost, as Johnny was able to continue his nonstop barrage of drinking and cheese consumption, Ian conversed with a man about his vast love of motor bikes (he owns 7 of them), and Dat- as per usual “went with the flow”.
We then went to Dresden, a city we thankfully did not see much of, for the Americans bombed it so heavily during World War 2 I was afraid to engage. The show itself was another anti-climactic event- we played well, the venue Chemiefabrik were great to us, but it passed by with not much else to mention (except for yet another ‘folk punk’ band). Ditto goes for our next night in Munich- somewhat uneventful if not for a couple of great, and not so great things: On the good side we met The Rock Twins- two sisters, visually impaired, accompanied by their mother, who traveled quite a distance to see us and tell us more about our songs than even we knew! We were beyond flattered. And the band we played with, Void Heroes- a nasty, gnarly, highly entertaining rock band of grizzled veterans. The bad was that it was freezing cold, I was sick, and everybody wanted to party rather than repair. I happily slept in the van as they went out and did whatever needed to be done, only to lose my bag the following day- which contained my eye glasses, Ipod, phone charger, and a bit of weed to take the edge off.
However, on our way to Frankfurt we were stopped by the Bavarian Police- who wanted to search us for any smoke, or “sniff sniff.” As fate would have it, since I lost my bag- they found nothing, and we went on our way. The Frankfurt gig made up for everything. Our host Dennis was an absolutely amazing guy- he even allowed me to sleep in his son’s “castle”- a bed inside of a faux castle, with a psychedelic turtle as night light that changed colors from purple, green, and red. The show was truly fantastic, another basement bar- I possibly did some of my best singing as I was able to warm up backstage beforehand. The DJs (one of which looked as if Klaus Kinski and Gary Numan had a baby) were off the hook, playing truly great rock n roll cuts, new and old.
We then went onto Aachen, where we played our first show with our friends Nazi Dogs. The show was at a large underground venue that was a bomb shelter during the war, and you could feel the ghosts. The place itself a punk collective run by a lot of young people. The show well attended, but I fear we may have not been “punk” enough for the attendees- too much rock n roll nonsense, especially following Nazi Dogs, who were punk as fuck, Karsten’s disaffected swagger working better than my feral stomp or Johnny’s brash bellow. However, the staff were superb, lovely people. Suffice to say, the evening ended in absolute horror as we found out about the attacks in Paris once we returned to Karsten’s place. It totally froze all of us. We responded the only way you can- drinking as much booze, smoking as much weed, and snorting as much pep as possible to kill all of this outsized pain we were feeling. We didn’t hesitate to party as if it was the last night ever; I then got out the guitar and Ditzl and myself started writing a song and playing covers. It was a celebration and a blocking of the events at hand. We were unsure as to what would happen next, as we had 4 dates in France to play- it was a distinct possibility that none would take place. Despite these thoughts, we knew most importantly the world had been hit hard, and we could only await to hear what the next move would be.
We then ventured off to Holland, where we played at Crowbar in Gronigen. Owned and operated by the fabulous Esther of famed crust punks Fleas & Lice, this show was a much needed band aid to our beat up souls. We performed that night with our Wanda Records label mates Burger Weekends. The audience was loud and enthusiastic. We ended up staying in a huge old house down the street with the most narrow, flat angled stairs you have ever seen. Four stories high, you felt you were climbing a mountain getting to the top floor-which Johnny refused to go up for how insane these stairs were- one false move and you’d break your back. I invite these types of things, so I stayed on the top floor, happily. Our host Crystal- a cool chick originally from Minnesota, with the accent to prove it- cooked us breakfast the next day, laid out everything from French Toast to Omelets, Fruit, and the best coffee yet- she was a generous host and we were grateful she gave us the spot to stay. We then drove to Amsterdam. It was lovely, but time was not on our side, so no Café for us to sample the world famous weed. We did pop into a pub for a pint, however- and their supermarkets are pretty awesome.
Then we got word that we could go to Paris. We had to prove something- to ourselves, to the world. Terrorism is everyone’s concern, and we wanted to be there to show our support and solidarity, to say we too are with you, we too will put ourselves in your shoes, and we too will risk our lives for the betterment of the world. It was such a small gesture for us to make, why wouldn’t we go? And being the very first American band to play after the attacks was also an important distinction for us. Not merely for our own egos- which I will not lie, was a part of the reasoning- after all, we are guys who prance around on stage and ask people to stare at us for 35 minutes at a time- so yes, ego comes into play- but more to demonstrate to our fellow countrymen in the United States of America, a place notoriously full of slightly brainwashed isolationists- that we do NOT run and hide in fear of foreign intrusions, let alone our own. That we are all here, on this planet, and in order to make it work, we all have to be together in some respect. We don’t have to eat the same food or practice the same religion or like the same songs- but we do have to fight for our right to do those things in our own space, and no one is immune to the suffering of others in getting there. That being done and dusted, our promoter and host Guillaume Sellier- (with his lovely girlfriend Alicia) was a gentleman above and beyond, from the food we ate to the place we stayed, he made us feel welcome as warmly as family. He went out of his way to make certain we were able to enjoy Paris (my favorite city on this tour, next to Berlin) in every way possible. We then played in Saint Etienne, at Thunderbird Lounge. The dinner was superb (ah, finally- chicken!!) and we got to hang again with our friends in Issacc Rother & the Phantoms- they played with us that night as their show in Paris was cancelled. Johnny and I decided it was the worst smelling microphone of the tour, Issacc Rother suggesting he may have done a GG Allin on it beforehand. Ouch.
The following night in Lyon, France turned out to be fantastic. Lots of people, great promoter, great bar.. The streets- like most in France- narrow and confusing- proved especially challenging to Ian and Johnny- who drove as hard as they played- who I readily referred to as the ALL STATE drivers, because I knew I was in good hands. These two guys I have to say are some of the best drivers I have been in a vehicle with, their sense of control and resolution and skill second to none. These two guys, these men amongst men in the driving field, had my absolute and utter confidence, and they did not fail me, ever- I felt wholly secure. The next morning, up earlier than all else, I ventured into Lyon alone, mingling with the French Turks, surrounded by Muslims- feeling and experiencing the France I alone could enjoy. It was a great moment, a peaceful moment- a flash when I realized I may be my best self when left to my own devices. A favorite morning for me.
We had another day off, so we settled in Bordeaux for the night, and yes, drank lots of Bordeaux wine. It was a romantic event, even if we ended up at a Buffalo Grill doing it. At this juncture, we certainly needed the respite. All I wanted to do was enjoy every moment of it, and I can safely say I did. But all things come with a price- some monetary, others emotionally, some mentally- I feel I paid in each way. There was rage in the cage, disaffected drinking, agitated angst, smug smiles, unsympathetic sallies, flatulent follies, and invasive inquisitions that rubbed me raw the entire time, and right about this point it was gnawing at me.
So we put ourselves to rest, looking forward to what I knew was going to be a great leg of this tour- Spain. A supremely gorgeous country, a wonderful people. In Gijon- Basque Country, we were hosted by Johnny’s friend Luis from Trashville Tattoo, our promoter, patron, and host that first evening- a blur of wasted, wicked debauchery that resulted in Ian getting a bucolic leg tattoo, and half the gigs cancelled, due to some sort of communication breakdown, bullshit betrayals, and inner band disagreements that had a minor effect on my morale. However, Luis took care of us beautifully the following night, and the finest consolation was that we salvaged our gig in Vitoria, which turned out to be the exact experience I knew the Spanish people provided on every level- great food, great venue, great audience, and great promoter. We then spent one of the next nights off in Toulouse, France- which turned out Johnny had us stop in reference to his favorite Stranglers song “Goodbye Toulouse”- a fine enough reason for me.
Once back in France I was elated, grateful for this most unique experience. We arrived in Marseille to a bitter cold that smacked us down. The city seemed poor, very old. This was romantic Europe, I was drinking it all in. It looked a desperate place full of pirates on the last ship to nowhere. The venue, Le Jam, to our shock was a small Jazz club- not a rock or punk club as a band like us typically plays. Our hosts- Agnes and Ahmad, absolutely wonderful people. They fed us with cheeses, wines, bread, coffee, sandwiches- during and after our sound check- then asked us what we would like as our main course. We chose Indian food, stuffed ourselves with Tandoori Chicken, Tikka Masala, Non Bread, Sauces, Salad, and more drinks. They requested two full sets. We had to keep the volumes lower than usual, which for us was slightly alarming for a gaggle of loutish stylists like us. However, the small audience was terribly enthusiastic.
Next we went to Italy- Milan to be exact, and this turned out to be the single most punk rock event of the tour, restoring my faith in the ability rock n roll has to simply entertain. The venue, Ligeria Bar, was a long basement bar, it’s upstairs filled with amazing posters of classic Italian exploitation films. Our promoter was Miguel Basetta, guitarist for first band of the night, Temporal Sluts. The DJs simply the best of the tour- spinning the rarest of 45s- from glitter to punk and everything connected. Earlier in the evening we ate some splendid Italian pasta, plowed through three bottles of wine, in addition to the beer and bottle of Jack Daniels slowly being polished off. Johnny does his usual on stage introduction, blasting out the opening chords to “All Lies”- swings back, falls over backwards, right into Ian’s drum kit, nearly crushing the entire thing to death. Most impressive is that Ian does not miss one fucking beat!!! He has literally two drums left and he is on point, not one beat out of place, not one missed hit. More so, Johnny is lying on his back, bloodied but unbowed, his left hand positioned on the stage for balance, his right hand playing the lead lick perfectly, as he raises his guitar to the sky in defiance. He jumps up without missing a strum, and we finish the damn song beautifully. At this point I’d downed a full glass of whiskey myself. Once we finished “Something on My Mind”- my homage to Slade and Tommy James- Johnny yells “Ladies & gentleman- Frankie Delmane!” Pure silence. “Oh, FUCK YOU” I said to myself. I turned my back on the audience and ignored them for the entire next song. Fuck em’, I felt- they don’t DESERVE me! Then Johnny gets pissed at me, shouting sarcastically- the audience starts screaming for one of MY songs, and they love me all over again. How fucking punk is that? Oh Boy! The next day was Thanksgiving (a controversial American holiday). We ate some absolutely awesome Italian pizza- way better than Turkey and gravy in my estimation. And in Milan Fucking Italy no less. Now that is something to be grateful for.
We headed back to France, Besancon to be exact. To get there we drove through the Swiss Alps, truly a beautiful experience, the roads full of snow and ice, and the elevation high- far up into the mountains, driving on the edges, looking down into the abyss. The border to get into Switzerland way at the top. We were stopped, our passports collected, and waited 30 minutes for the officials to check us out before they would let us enter the country. Once we were cleared, we made our decent back into France. Our promoter Laurs was enormously gracious. The show fantastic, we play well, if not out of our comfort zone. I am burned by the end and want nothing more than a bed. I get caught up by some bizarre French military dude who keeps wanting to tell me how he does not believe in “deeeemockrowwwceeeee”- and keeps repeating this as it’s the little English he knows, and I cannot rightfully explain to him the complexities of it all- certainly not in French! So I scurry out of the bar and head upstairs to the flat we are staying, which luckily for us is above the venue. With a nice warm heater. The next day we meet Laurs for breakfast, which I do believe the French do better than anybody in Europe. I am sad to leave France again, as it has become one of my favorite places to be. But we must head back for our last shows in Germany.
Next up is Stuttgart- the venue- Goldmark’s- student concert hall vibe, except with a full bar and people The first band, Motorpussy, one of the more inspired entities we play with, a sort of grotesque hard rock- full of comically negative energy- detached, filthy- my favorite song they did was simply called “I Hate This Town.” The show was cool, easy- we drank a lot of wine. We ambled back to the hostel- an old place that must have been there for eons- they still had rotary phones and sinks in the rooms (minus a toilet and shower, which was out in the hallway). We then bounced off to Essen, where we reconnected with all of our best German friends- Ditzl, Annette, Karsten. Nazi Dogs. The venue a most unique place. Called FREAK SHOW- a striking mixture of sculptures reflecting horror and sex; the men’s bathroom mirror framed in breasts and female genitalia, the women’s bathroom adorned with penises, everyone from Freddie Kruger to Iron Maiden’s Eddie, Frankenstein, zombie limbs, fake pussies and dildos at every turn. Truly a freak show. The event itself incredible, the club packed, and Leighton Koizumi – singer for fabled California garage rockers The Morlocks, showed up, greeting his old friends Johnny and Dat, as they recalled Hollywood tales, friends, and memories. We would depart for our final gig in London, England the next day.
We fly into Heathrow airport, are cleared by customs right quick, get on the world famous Tube to go to Camden Town, where we are playing in a small basement, inside a large pub called The Constitution. We meet with our promoter, a lovely bloke named Liam, who ushers us to the pub. We change, relax, grab a pint, as Liam’s band Scraps gets ready to play. A dead cool punk band, wild and full of energy, not unlike Alternative TV in their earliest days, shouting and screaming dissonant melodies of not caring and not liking and refusing the stupidity of it all. We take the stage and it’s already a magical night. We are lucky to have Honest John Plain from The Boys UK step up and perform his “Terminal Love” with us; I hand him my guitar, he strums it beautifully, as I assume lead vocal duties alongside the man. Nigel from the Members is present as well- another lovely bloke we are privileged to know. Even Marco from No Front Teeth records is present. The night ends early, the curfew dictated by noise complaints, so we fuck off to another pub for a final pint. The place is packed, I get claustrophobic- too many people, too many nitwits and party boys- so I step out to grab a deep, clean breath of air before I return to get involved, as I gobble down a packet of winegum to get a nice sugar high; Ian, on the other hand is shutting down, so Liam becomes the hero and takes us out of this place, we go get some chips and catch a cab back to his place, where Johnny passes out due to LACK of any booze to drink, as Liam proceeds to get me and Dat obliterated with first rate hash rolled in a pure weed joint- the way we do it at home. I then go to bed, not realizing I have stolen Liam’s place! He had to suffer on the air mattress with Dat! And if that isn’t enough- he gets up early, takes us to a wicked breakfast, and then drags around with Ian to make sure he sees some proper sights and gets on the right train for the airport, since the rest of us couldn’t be bothered and went straight off ahead to our destination.
Upon which we get on the plane and fade away to dreams of getting back home, but also returning to do this all over again when the time is right. My distinct take away from this trip was the reality that the United States Of America- my home, my birth place, my first true love- is about 60 years behind the times; We tend to lead in entertainment value, very modern in technology, but socially so far behind it’s frightening, because it tends to express these deficiencies through violence- verbal, physical, intellectual, and legal- rather than common sense, social justice, or the need to find better ways for the citizenry to appreciate and accept each other. Which makes thoughts of returning all the more important and relevant, for the sanity and civility, the fun and the fumes of another rock n roll adventure to be repeated as soon as we can muster the ability to do so. Thank you Europe, one and all- we’ll be back many more times- you now have a piece of our souls we can never relinquish.