April 4: Dortmund, Germany
Paul: After tonight’s gig at Visions Party, the placeturned into a club night. Someone gave us drink cards with 30little circles, each corresponding to a euro. I ordered threeJägermeisters, a beer, and a gin and tonic. Despite my bestattempts, I never got to 30. I went back to the hotel for a whilebut returned around 3:30 a.m. to see if anyone was still there. Iwent around the back and startled a couple having sex on a car.They were frantically pulling their pants up before I couldapologize. I felt bad about it. I hope that the intrusiondidn’t irreparably kill the mood.
April 4: Dortmund, Germany
Paul: After tonight’s gig at Visions Party, the place turned into a club night. Someone gave us drink cards with 30 little circles, each corresponding to a euro. I ordered three Jägermeisters, a beer, and a gin and tonic. Despite my best attempts, I never got to 30. I went back to the hotel for a while but returned around 3:30 a.m. to see if anyone was still there. I went around the back and startled a couple having sex on a car. They were frantically pulling their pants up before I could apologize. I felt bad about it. I hope that the intrusion didn’t irreparably kill the mood.
Carlos: Dortmund’s audience left something to be desired in terms of enthusiasm. But they were attentive and patient, as most German audiences tend to be. It was at the after-party where the night proved itself. Some guy started buying me drinks and found some Ecstasy. You can’t really do that drug after you’ve had vodka and beer all night, because it really doesn’t do the job. Actually, I shouldn’t say that, because my favorite Placebo song came on as I peaked, and I must have made an ass out of myself on the dance floor. I don’t care, though, because few things in life feel better than peaking on E just as a really good song comes on when you’re on a semi-crowded dance floor.
April 5: Münster, Germany
Paul: Tonight’s show was in a cool little venue, but it was so mobbed that Daniel had to climb in the dressing-room window because he couldn’t get from the entrance to the stage.
Carlos: Münster was crazy! We played to 200 people, and there was virtually no stage, so everyone was eye-level and right smack in front of you. I had to make sure I didn’t smack anyone in the head with the headstock of my bass. There was an after-party, which looked like a lot of fun, but alas, as usual, the bus was ready to leave. People love to paint a picture of touring in a rock band as a nonstop bacchanal of unfettered partying, but they’re not around when it’s midnight, the bus is leaving, a pretty girl winks at you, and [Pulp’s] “Common People” comes on. All you have to look forward to is a thrilling game of PlayStation 2. Can we talk about a buzz kill?
April 6: Würzburg, Germany
Carlos: One thing I saw only in Germany were these gambling hall/Internet cafés-places where you can buy crap coffee for 50 cents, blow 20 euros on second-rate computerized slot machines, hang out with grimy octogenarians, and-oh wait, yeah-check your email! All to the odoriferous splendor of stagnant air and stationary clouds of smoke. These places scare the shit out of me, not because the clerk sits behind glass, nor because the dude in the corner has one eye, but because alcohol cannot be purchased and you know everyone wants to drink real bad.
April 8: Brussels
Paul: Tonight’s show was at the Ancienne Belgique. I love the city and this venue. When I walked into the backstage area, there were clean showers and a large sun-drenched common area with sofas and a kitchen. There was fresh coffee, a chef preparing breakfast for us, some copies of the International Herald Tribune, and a TV in the corner showing CNN. On the road, and especially in foreign countries, things like this really make a difference. The war was roughly at the point when the coalition was claiming to have secured Saddam International Airport, and Al-Jazeera was showing footage of Saddam walking the streets of Baghdad swarmed by loving citizens.
We’ve encountered a good amount of anti-American sentiment on this tour. Much more than normal. There was a journalist in Stockholm who had interviewed some of us before the show. Afterward, in the dressing room, he commented that he was surprised that we knew anything being that we were Americans. I don’t recall if it wassimply implied that Americans were stupid or if he outright said it, but the arrogance of it caught me off guard. I contemplated punching him in the face and throwing him out. If there’s anything I detest, it’s jackasses talking shit in our dressing room immediately after a gig. Both Carlos and I told him that he was a jackass. He said that he was just expressing the predominant sentiment in Sweden. I told him to get out. He didn’t think I was serious. I said I was. He got up and tried to shake my hand. I didn’t take it. He said, “But you know I’m writing a piece about you guys tomorrow.” What an asshole. It was just the way he said it, unsolicited, with a little weasel smirk. Anyway, we just found out that he did wind up writing a really bad piece about us. I regret not having smacked him.
April 9: Amsterdam
Paul: I had resolved not to leave Amsterdam this time without going to the red-light district to pay for some ass. No, not really. I was just curious to witness regulated prostitution in the flesh. It was 2 p.m. when I got there-broad daylight and very busy. It really is strange walking down these narrow alleyways and seeing women sitting behind windows in their underwear, reading or doing their nails, waiting for a customer. I didn’t stay long, as I had to get back for sound check, but the experience was worth it. I’m just glad I hadn’t gone in a bad mood, because it could be a depressing thing to witness if not armed with a cheery anthropological remove.
Later that night, postshow:
Carlos: Little did I know when I woke up yesterday that I would have red lace panties hurled onstage at me mid-song. It went in slow-mo because I was like, “No way! Panties!? So this is rock’n’roll after all! I’m a man now.” I almost stopped playing. I don’t mean to over-aggrandize it, but wasn’t this a rite of passage last time I checked? As if that weren’t enough for one evening, some girls burst into our dressing room after the gig. Luckily, they were cool, so we didn’t mind the unexpected company. I had popped a leftover Ecstasy as our dressing room filled up. Thanks to the company of a charming local, I was able to forget about how lame the after-party at the Paradiso was. I’m sorry, but people wearing khakis and grinding to trance music is a hideous sight.
Paul: I got stranded in the middle of Amsterdam without any money because I’d been given the wrong directions to the tour bus. I braced myself for sleeping in the street. I don’t know if it was the mushrooms, but I really panicked. Eventually, a hotel employee let me make a free call from the lobby, and by the grace of God, I had the phone number of a label rep with me. She said she’d send someone, and I was very relieved. I must have looked pretty fucked-up, because the guy told me I couldn’t stay in the lobby, so I went out into the snow and waited.
April 10: Den Bosch, the Netherlands
Carlos: My friend Amy and I met a dude last night who was trying to explain the unconventional way of pronouncing the name of his city, which involved a clicking noise before the “Den” part. I never even knew this city existed, much less its arcane pronunciation. Paul made a joke about how the hell are we even playing here. He was like, “Do you know how to pronounce the name of this town? It’s like pscht-den-bosch! What the fuck? How the hell did we just play to 450 people in pscht-den-bosch?! Who are these people, and how do they know our record?”
April 11: Wiesbaden, Germany
Carlos: After the show tonight, we took a little outing with [opening act] British Sea Power to the local abandoned bell tower next to the club. A bunch of punks and goths had lit a huge bonfire right by our tour bus. Okay! Then we went back to the dressing room and had a nice food fight. It started as a sort of playful tossing of peanuts, but when Amy hurled an apple at our tour manager David’s head, it sparked a torrent of 60 mph bread, cheese, tomato, and, of course, beer.
April 15: Florence, Italy
Carlos: It’s really late, and we’re traveling to Florence after playing quite a good show in Milan, at a venue called Transilvania Live. As soon as we pulled up to the club and I got a look at the gothic lettering and huge bat on the front door, I prepared myself for the onslaught of goth jokes our witty and insightful crew would make, especially when they saw the 1,000-pound candelabra, replete with hanging skulls. Sure enough, David walks in and goes, “Carlos, is your dad home? Let’s party!” Our lighting guy, Lucas, chimed in with “Is that coffin over there your bed or your mom’s?” This continued for close to an hour.
Paul: Transilvania Live was pretty funny. I was standing at the entrance trying to buy bat-condom souvenirs from a machine on the wall when a grown Italian man gave me a hug and a kiss and said he was very excited for the show. As I put in money to buy another one, I looked suggestively at his two lady friends, but I don’t think they read it.
Carlos: After our set, the DJ announced something in Italian, and we were like, “What the hell is he saying?” because we heard “Interpol.” Apparently he was announcing the fact that we would be bartending an open bar for the next 15 minutes. Um?okay.
Paul: The owner of the club dragged everyone from the band behind the bar to give free drinks to the audience. I hit up the Jägermeister pretty severely. Sam and Daniel couldn’t figure out how to pull the beers and were just serving foam. There was foam everywhere. On this tour, I have had virtually no luck getting a dirty martini, and I thought that being behind a bar myself, I could make it happen. They had the vermouth, but no olives, so I was out of luck again. Why would they have olives, anyway? It’s just Italy!
April 16: Bologna, Italy
Sam: Before tonight’s show, I was just starting to recover from the worst fluid-depleting case of the flu ever. But the venue [the Estragon] was packed with crazed Italians, so I blocked it out and went full-on from note one only to come to a complete and abrupt stop. My right arm went stiff and numb; my fingers couldn’t grip the drumstick. I didn’t panic yet, but I left the stage and rushed into our dressing room thinking I was going to vomit my head off. I caught my breath and swallowed the panic and for a brief moment wondered if I was done-for good. I could hear Paul starting the next song. He didn’t have a clue I wasn’t behind the kit. We go into the next song, and again, the arm stiffens up. One more try. Again, stiff. I give up and walk off, tail between legs. I was taken to the hospital, which only yielded inconclusive results. The doctor thought it was a pinched nerve, but my doc in NYC thinks it was caused by a lack of potassium.
April 27: Paris
Paul: Today, we flew to L.A. so we could play the Coachella festival THE SAME NIGHT! David woke up with the vicious Butt Flu that had systematically ravaged 70 percent of our touring party. He fell asleep on the floor at the boarding gate in Paris, and Lucas placed a number of empty beer bottles around him for comedic effect. The humor was lost on David. He spent the last four hours of the flight lying on the floor at the back of the plane.
April 28: Indio, California
Carlos: Back in the States at last! I expected Coachella to be this redeeming vindication of our troubles overseas, but, alas, it was not. Instead, we were thrown onto a poorly prepared stage with eager fans, only to bore them with the unprofessional sounds of two attempted songs and tuning guitars. I wanted to behead the guitar tech responsible for this! How embarrassing! The funny thing is that everyone afterward was like, “Great show!” which utterly perplexed me, since all I wanted to do was cry. I think I overmedicated my sorrow when we went back to our hotel in Palm Springs and participated in a friend’s blistering after-party, which left me-12 hours later-cracked out by the swimming pool, ordering Heinekens beside vacationing parents and their children swimming around in plastic lifesavers. I looked like a dark angel emerging from the fallen ashes of some soul-stealing post-midnight bonfire ritual.
April 30: Los Angeles
Carlos: Got here and, not having slept at all, passed out in my swank hotel. When I woke up the following morning, I booked another night because, looking around my room, it would have been a mortal sin not to spend more time here at the Hyatt West Hollywood, a.k.a. the “Riot House.” I was possessed by the souls of previously fallen band members who succumbed to the party urge between those hallowed walls. I mean, I had a fish tank in my wall for crying out loud! I had to stay!
May 9: New York City
Paul: I have had one fine martini since my return. I am also happy to say that my pool game is intact. Tonight, I was schooling fools with such aplomb that I had to start charging tuition.
Carlos: Home, sweet home! I just got back to New York after a beautiful week in my second-favorite U.S. city, San Francisco, where I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and soaked up good vibes on Haight Street. I feel like a new man. But what I’ve come home to is a new smoking ban and a $2 subway ride. I cursed L.A. and S.F. all week for their Draconian smoking laws, and I come back to find my beloved cultural oasis demolished by similarly Hitler-ian circumstances. Damn you, Mayor Bloomberg!!!!