Ramming Speed Tour Diary, Part II: Foosball, Fascist Comedians, and Peppermint Schnapps
More long days and weird nights from the hard-partying metal maniacs in Ramming Speed.
All photos courteys of Ramming Speed
Ramming Speed are currently a half of the way through our 2015 summer European tour. While we’ve been to Europe a few times before, this is our first time here since 2010. I was asked to keep a tour diary for Noisey, so here are some excerpts from my physical journal mixed with a handful of drunken text messages I used to piece together some of the long days and weird nights of the first week. - Jonah, drummer
Fluff Fest lived up to all my expectations from last time. An incredibly positive show far outside the mainstream American hardcore experience, with no fights, all vegan, a zine library, an open mic tent for bands that just show up, a queer stage etc. An awesome mix of bands played, representing all aspects of punk and hardcore with a sprinkling of thrash, grind and blackened this or that. The first time we played, it felt like we were a pleasant surprise for the fest goers, but this time It felt different. It seemed like people were ready, and that word had spread from our set five years ago. We started playing and the crowd exploded with energy. Besides some monitor problems I had towards the end, it was easily one of the best shows we’ve ever played. Thousands of kids sweating under the summer sun, constant circle pitting, stage dives, and two stepping. I fucking love playing for hardcore kids.
We spent the rest of the day hanging with German band Deathrite, who we picked up at Fluff to take out for a week of shows. My favorite band of the day was Geranium from France who would probably be described as neo-crust, or fluff-core? Watched 7 Seconds headline the mainstage at sunset. Kevin Seconds sang Minor Threat lyrics over one of their songs—I'm assuming he was making fun of himself; it was well played and everyone loved it. We bought a bunch of German hardcore records (Trainwreck, Tangled Lines, Svffer), watched tons of bands and eventually ended up dancing in the aftershow disco tent, drinking beers and watching kids crowd surf to Billy Idol. We then wandered around alone looking for weirdness and did shots at a makeshift bar in a feminist literature tent. It was our last night with Tommy the driver, but he made it memorable by yelling “the girls, they are waiting!” around 2 or 3AM, which became a running joke the rest of tour. I sttumbled into town walking for 45 minutes looking for our hotel, and watched two guys get into a street fight—one of them had a police baton. Eventually I got to the hotel room, and no one was there.
The day after Fluff, we jammed Deathrite and their gear into our Sprinter van and drove to Leipzig. Zoro has been called the best squat in Europe, and is easily one of our favorite venues to play. It’s the first place we ever played in mainland Europe back in 2009, and It will always feel like our home base here. The show was a little like a homecoming, too, with lots of familiar faces from years past. Swedish band, Axe Rash, opened the show playing fast, spastic hardcore that got us all psyched. Deathrite played second, and they fucking killed it—dirty old school HM2 death metal with lots of energy and punk slop. We played last, and the crowd went fucking nuts, moshing, singing along and crowd surfing Pete. The stage sound was finally awesome. There was endless free beer. Kallen and I played our first foosball game of tour and, incredibly, beat two Germans. They didn’t look amused. We partied until the sun started peeking up over the neighboring buildings and I managed to scribble "the girls, they are waiting - Ramming Speed/Deathrite tour '15" next to all the band tags on the bunk beds before passing out.
Today, we’re playing in Koblenz, Germany. A very enthusiastic girl named Mona booked us in a bar that’s shaped like the inside of a mushroom. I don’t think there are any right angles in the whole room; it's all amorphous shapes and a giant circular mirror hanging above the bar. An awesomely fast grind band called Eastwood covered a Magrudergrind song. Mental note: Make fun of the MG dudes for not being as tight.
Later that night:
We ended up walking to a Christian youth center to sleep. They have a bar in the basement and the bartender explained to me that in Germany, because of lasting socialist ideals, even the Christians want to make sure everyone is taken care of. This group opened a giant building with classrooms upstairs and a club in the basement. They are happy to have metal bands play. We are taken care of with shots. No agenda was pushed whatsoever. Wild.
Tonight we played with Toxic Holocaust in Stuttgart. The turnout was great, tons of headbanging. Juha West is one of the many clubs in Europe that has bunk beds in the venue, and this is shaping up to be my first real night’s sleep of tour. Blake is entertaining Deathrite by skating a sketchy bank outside. I hear them laughing and drinking while I get ready to pass out.
We played a small last minute gig in Bavaria—20 people paid, stage sound was terrible and the set was rough. The staff felt bad and rewarded us with an open bar for the rest of the night. We drank delicious Bavarian beer, raddlers topped off with gin, and shots of sour cherry schnapps. All the gear was still set up on stage, so I jammed with Andy from Deathrite, both of us switching instruments. A girl jumped on stage and started calling commands out to us like “Stoner! Ok, now faster! d-beat!” and we sloppily tried to keep up. She grabbed the mic and made up words, screaming along. It was a fucking blast.
Played with DRI (our third show with them this tour) and Death By Stereo in Bratislava the other night. At first, we were told the show was cancelled and not to come. Then last minute we got word that it was back on. It seemed pretty sketchy but we decided to make the drive anyway. When we got there, the promoter was nowhere to be found. A ton of kids showed up and the club was super cool, so all the bands played anyway and it ended up being one of our better sets of the tour. I’d never seen Death By Stereo before, but they were super tight and extremely friendly dudes, definitely from the West Coast. DRI played an hour and a half of the hits to an enthusiastic crowd. While I was doing shots with Death By Stereo, Blake got cornered by a 10-foot tall skinhead that asked to borrow his lighter, then said that he was a MMA fighter and comedian, but his real passions were rock and roll and fascism. He walked off with the lighter to smoke a joint outside and Blake came up to us super confused like, “This place is fucking weird”. A bunch of sketchy bikers were talking to the fascist comedian. We loaded out in the rain and took off.
Yesterday we played Vienna. The Deathrite dudes took us downtown to look at St. Stephen's Cathedral and some other historical buildings. I often think I’d rather hang out with local weirdos at a punk squat then fight my way through hundreds of tourists to see a beautiful church in a giant pile of iPads and elbows, but it was all pretty beautiful. Our old friend Tomas booked the Vienna gig in a small basement club. I haven’t seen him in five years, so it was good catching up on life, relationships, music, whatever. The crowd was sweaty, hungry and enthusiastic. Deathrite sounded extra heavy in such a small room. Our set was hot as shit, but it felt good being crammed together on a small stage.
Afterwards, I headed to another bar with Kallen, Beff and Tony (from Deathrite), our host Alex, and some of his friends. We sat outside drinking, and a tall man in a long white cotton robe walked over asking if we wanted to buy drugs. After hearing our American accents he flew into a rage, giving me and Kallen the finger and yelling “FUCK AMERICA! FUCK OBAMA!”. He violently waved his hands in the air and his eyes bulged out. White spit was crusted around his mouth. I asked where he was from and he stopped waving, smiled huge and said “Senegal!”. He slapped me on the back and started laughing crazily. Kallen looked like he wanted to punch him. The bouncer from the bar came out and shooed the guy away. Kallen looked at me and said "I wanted to punch him". We finished our drinks and wandered around Vienna until 4 or 5 in the morning, picking up beers and little bottles of Jager along the way. I tried to explain to the Germans and Austrians how crazy the upcoming US election could be. Not sure if I was making any sense.
Right now I’m writing in the van and we just drove by Excalibur, a strange adult playground on the Czech side of the Austrian border. Austrians pop over here for cheap drinks, girls, and debauchery. It looks like someone tried to cram a low-rent Las Vegas strip onto an acre of Eastern European countryside. There’s a bar inside a plane, prostitutes, roller coasters, and gambling. Soon after we enter a small town (I think Zime Znojmo?). In the town center stands a statue of a triumphant Communist soldier raising a tommy gun over his head, celebrating a victory that feels confusing contrasted with Excalibur.
Wish we could have stopped to check out the weirdness, but we were headed for the bone church in Czech with just enough time to do a quick look before we head to Killed System Fest.
Killed System last night was a small open-air fest just outside Chemnitz, Germany. It was our last gig with Deathrite so there was lots of dude hugs and photos. I can't say enough good things about these guys, and in a perfect world we'll find time to tour again. Standing next to the van, Tony Deathrite smiled and said "Let me show you a classic German game". He took the cap from a bottle of peppermint schnapps and threw it out into the street. We stood under a street light talking about future plans and killing the bottle. We’d met up with our new driver, Yoschi, who patiently drove us to an out-of-commission movie theater to sleep.