Shackles (AUS) EU-Tourdiary

Shackles from Australia have been on Tour in Europe in July this year. Singer Mark from Shackles wrote his experiences down and likes to share them with you!

Arriving

The whole band met up before the tour in London on the 5th of July.. Matt (bass/sometimes guitar player) had already been in London a few days to catch up with friends and have some quality time revisiting his country of birth. The rest of us all landed on the 5th on two different flights. Josh (Drums) on one and Eddie, I and a ton of gear and merch, that we were able to smuggle into England thanks to our British passports, on the other.

Josh arrived in the morning and thankfully had a few hours to recover from the hell that British customs had put him through before me and Eddie arrived around midday. That night we stayed at our mate Dylan’s house in the Hackney area. After briefly checking out the the bar where Dylan worked and meeting a few mates of mates, I surrendered to my jet lag and dozed off early. The next day we left London to meet our hosts and tour mates, Famine, in Leeds. After a four hour bus trip we first set foot in our destination and were met by famine’s guitarist, Jorge, the legend who had booked all the shows we were about to play and the person who’d been our main contact prior to arriving in the UK.

There was some type of big cultural event going on in Leeds that day which was completely exhausting the local taxi services, because of this we had to haul all our gear half way  across the city to catch a bus, This sucked but made finally arriving at Jorge’s feel like we’d achieved a massive pilgrimage or some shit. Once there we were greeted by Jorge’s partner Laura and our friend Enni, who’d come all the way from Finland to hang out with us.

The Birds Nest
The Birds Nest

The UK

The next day was the first day was the first show of the tour in Newcastle, which was a three hour drive north from Leeds. Thankfully before the drive we had enough time to have a quick practice at Chunk, the local DIY jam and show space in Leeds, to get the band sounding solid after over a week apart and the 24 hours plus transit we’d all been through. Because we hadn’t picked up what was to be our tour van yet , Alex (Famine‘s drummer) and Warren (Famine‘s singer) drove both bands and a couple of friends all the way to Newcastle.

The show that night was, in retrospect, to become one of the best of the tour in my mind, with probably one of the best venues, line ups and turnouts I experienced. Even the flyer was one of the best I saw – an oddball hand drawn cartoon piece by one of the Prolefeed guys. It was also the first time we got to see Famine and Lugubrious Children, who were easily two of the best bands we played with. After show we all piled back into the two cars and arrived back in Leeds in the wee hours of the morning to have our last night of sleep at Jorges house before with properly hit the road.

The morning of the 8th Warren picked up our nine seater tour van, a dark blue semi beaten Mercedes sprinter, and we loaded all out shit in. Because the bands and Laura only took up eight seats and we hadn’t met our driver yet (we were to meet him in London the next day), Enni was able to come along for the next two shows. The show that night was in Nottingham at a soon-to-be-non-existent venue called “The Running Horse”. The support bands were Brainshit and Filth Collins but sadly Brainshit had to pull out, meaning it was very lean three band bill which was over before many people had got to come out.

After the show we stayed at KEZ from Filth Collins apartment, sleeping in VERY close proximity of one another. The next day we drove to London to play a little pub called the “The Birds Nest”, this show was the last Enni would be on the road with us for as this was the night we were to meet Charlie, the maniac who would be our driver for the tour. The Birds Nest was a real good venue and show had a real good line up to match.. Laura and Alex’s band Hex played along with Lugubrious Children and our fellow countrymen in Disparo!. There were a few other Australian expats at the gig to, which was a nice surprise. Accommodation that night came in the form of a plush apartment a few floors above the venue, how this was arranged I still have no idea, but it was awesome…

Aside from the fact that due to sleep deprivation and the ability of my depression to ruin any situation, I did look out the window at one point and consider the pros of jumping out.. Good thing I’m not in high buildings often. The next morning Enni had to go back to Finland, which was a shame,  but it was also our first full day getting to know Charlie, which took the sting out of saying goodbye to Enni and leaving London without her. The show that day was in Canterbury and was our last UK show before we went to the mainland. We arrived pretty early before load in and all got lots of time to check out what seemed to me to be a really old British village that had been maintained and upgraded for tourists.

There were lots of maintained traditional looking buildings next to modern clothing and shoe stores all on a cobble stone street, and I’m pretty sure the centre of the town was a theatre. To my surprise the show that night was on that main cobblestone street in a kind of ‘rock and rock bar’ type of thing that had had the dining space cleared out for us to play. The line up was Shackles opening, Famine, Disparo! and Razoreater. We played pretty early and had a ton of technical difficulties resulting in probably one of our worst sets of the tour, luckily we opened as all the other bands played exceptionally well.. The sound guy Kenny seemed to like us enough to have us stay at his house though, which was awesome.

THE MAIN LAND

The morning 11th we caught the ferry to the mainland which was pretty exciting because firstly, I’d never been on a sea going ferry the size of the one that goes from the UK to France, and secondly because I’d never been to mainland Europe and couldn’t wait to check it out. After a pretty short drive (by my Australian standards) we had driven through France and into Belgium and arrived nearby the venue we’d play that night, the legendary establishment known as “The Pits”.

We checked out a mall and a few stores in Kortrijik to kill some time and then headed back to the venue to experience European DIY hospitality for the first time.. The pits was possibly one of the coolest venues I’ve ever been to, everything from the band room itself and the food space upstairs to the urinal in the centre of the merch area were all class act parts of an A-grade punk venue. The show that night was the first time we’d play a show as just the tour package, without supports, which was a weird thing for a band coming from Australia to experience.

Our shows at home have around to two or three supports most of the time, so to not be witnessing any local bands was a weird experience. The next day we played in Mannheim, Germany at a venue that reminded me of the Byron youth centre (the venue that introduced me to live heavy music) if it served booze. We played with two awesome bands: Human Cull from the UK and Livet Som Insats from Sweden, who were also doing a tour together and playing a couple of the same destinations as us.

After the show we resisted the comforts of the massive sleeping area the venue offered downstairs and drove through the night to get to Prague. We arrived at our destination sometime about mid morning and found a pretty good little position to park somewhere pretty central in The city. After eating and doing some sight seeing we made it to the venue before some pretty substantial rain hit. The show that night has the same line up as the Mannheim gig the night before plus a ton of other bands that were in the Czech Republic for Obscene Extreme, the finest of which were the Dutch mob KRUSH. The show was a mini fest in itself and the venue was pretty packed with a ton of early Obscene Extreme attendees. That night our accommodation was an empty apartment that we shared with the Human Cull/Livet Som Insats crew. Due to the lack of room for everyone to fit I opted to sleep in the van with Charlie but stupidly forgot to wear socks, resulting in me freezing through the night and feeling like garbage for the drive to Obscene Extreme the next day.

Shackles Live
Shackles Live

OBSCENE EXTREME

We arrived at Obscene Extreme early afternoon while rain poured down turning all the surroundings to mud… Because I was fluey and under slept I stayed in the van while the others braved the rain and had a snoop around the fest (I believe Charlie’s mates Maticrust were the first band everyone saw). After a lot of failed attempts navigating our way around Trutnov, we finally found our hostel that we’d be staying at for the fest. It was a really nice building that was  normally for student accommodation. Seeing that I now had my own bed, space to put my stuff and a washing machine I could use, I was quickly shaken out of my verging on sick state of despair.

After putting all my stuff safely in our room and eating as much garlic and chilli as my gut could handle I headed down to the festival in a raincoat with plastic bags over my shoes to keep the ankle deep mud at bay. The rain had slowed down and cleared quite a bit which was awesome. That night I saw Dead Infection (who played an incomplete set), Venomous Concept, Incantation, Lock Up, Toxic Holocaust and the beginning of Brujeria‘s set.

The next day was the day we were to play and 15:05 was our time slot. I slept in more than I should have which resulted in me missing Famines as I had to move our merch, thankfully I still had the time to get my shit in order before we went on stage. After having the prior day off, we were all super hungry to play which was good because it helped offset the nerves of playing a stage the size of OEF. One the best things about the festival is how the musicians aren’t  exalted above the people attending as fans, there’s a real feeling that everyone is equal and that the stage is for everyone as a tool for expression, not just for the band. The fact that this is the case makes it easy for a band like us, who’s used to playing small intimate venues to small crowds, to feel very comfortable. After we played and had dealt with the  merch side of things I was finally able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day, which for my money was probably the strongest of the whole festival  with bands like Death Side and Insect Warfare both having reunions.

The next day, due to Bodyfarm dropping out, Matt and Eddie’s grind band SHITGRINDER were given a wild card slot on the bill. Both the boys were up earlier than me acoustically jamming in the communal area of the hostel and in doing so managed to piss off some guys from Holland who were probably trying to sleep off the previous night of partying. Shitgrinder ended up playing a similar slot to Shackles the day before and absolutely killed it, especially considering they hadn’t had a proper jam in weeks. The rest of the day was spent eating as much food as possible (the catering a Obscene Extreme was incredible), watching as many bands as possible and just getting as much as we could out of the final festival night of Obscene Extreme.

On the Sunday morning we all took it really easy as the festival was all but done aside from the afterparty we were playing  in the beer tent that afternoon with Semen, Sectesy, Sarcotrofia, Palm and Warmaster from Texas. It was extra easy to have a sleepy Sunday as the stupid fucking rain had returned in a pretty severe way. The rain continued to punish us well into load in time that afternoon. By this point all that was left of the festival was some banners, the beer tent and a few vendors.. It was kind of depressing…

Especially seeing the area where the main stage was completely empty. When I rocked up to merch area I noticed both Beau and Tom from Insect Warfare were both with the Warmaster crew, seeing as the other half of IW were in WM, this meant all the IW members were attending the show. It wasn’t long after this I was informed that Insect Warfare would, in fact, be secretly headlining the night.. this was great news. Later on, after the rain had stopped trying to infiltrate the tent, the night started to get real fun.

We got to catch up with the Palm guys, whom we’d played with awhile back in our hometown and also got to see heaps of the new friends we’d made over the previous days of the festival. Our set was probably one of our better ones of the whole tour and left us all feeling really satisfied. Additionally after we played I got to meet the Insect Warfare guys, which was a massive trip out, as they’d been quite a big influence on the majority of the guys in Shackles.. It was a kinda full circle moment.. To close the night both War Master and Insect Warfare completely crushed the beer tent, putting the final nails in the coffin of Obscene Extreme 2016.

Austria, Hungary and Slovakia

Monday the 19th of August we left the comfort of the hostel to play Vienna. Once wed arrived at our destination we went straight to the venue to drop off all the gear and most of the crew. I decided to go with Charlie and try find a park for the van.. The park we found was anything but snug as it left half the van poking out obstructing half the road.. I didn’t think anything of this until later in the night while I was sitting at the merch table. Stookes, looking a little flustered, came up to inform me we had to delay our set so that Famine could play after us because “they were going to get the van”. My reply was “the van isn’t that far away” to which Stookes said “it was towed!”.. after causing everyone a small mental breakdown, our mate Niklas from The Arson Project came to the and drove the boys out to the outskirts of Vienna to retrieve the van. Thankfully they ended up getting the van back and Famine still got to play.. and thankfully it wasn’t as costly as it all could have been…

The next day we went to go swimming at a lake in Austria but after seeing it cost money to enter the water, we decided to just go get food and continue driving as we were playing Budapest that evening. We arrived early at the venue which was apparently an old morgue or something. We killed time that afternoon walking round a massive park and experiencing Hungary’s exceptional drinking culture first hand… I for one had never seen so many people getting drunk on a weekday afternoon that wasn’t a holiday.

The show that night was with some brutal goregrind bands and afterwards we slept in a massive empty room above the venue, where one of the dudes we played with lived. The following morning we went and had a spa. I felt super sick in the gut and nearly threw up a few times which sadly ruined my spa enjoyment quite considerably. After we were cleaned and dry Charlie scooped us up in the van and we hit the road for Slovakia, the home country of Charlie. The show that evening was in the city of Zilina . Finding a park was tough but we were extra careful this time after the Vienna horror show. This show was organised partially by Ondra of Dead Heroes and was hosted by the boys in the band Unattended Funeral. The UF singer Jacob was the first to meet us when we arrived at the venue.. He had a very sharp understanding of English and it wasn’t long before he was taking this piss and being a funny guy with us .. Which we loved.

We also loved the venue, which was like a hobbit hole with a bar in it of some sort… it even had people riding skateboards through the crowd when the bands played. We stayed at Jacobs house that night and got some pretty decent coffee at a nearby store the next morning. After coffee we hit the road for Lovcica-Trubin. This drive was one of my favourite of the whole trip as Slovakia is beautiful and super lush, we even got to stop at a super blue, beautiful lake for swim.. When we arrived at Lovcica-Trubin we couldn’t believe that it was the town where the show was gonna be as it was a tiny town with only one shop and a pub.. And the pub was the venue. After going to the shop we met Richard who was organising the show and went back to his beautiful home which only he and his lovely partner inhabited. It was a brand new place with wooden floors and a super clean layout.. The only giveaway that a punk lived there was all the records and Live Photos of Richards noise grind band on the walls.. It was one of the nicest places we stayed all tour. At the show that night we were joined yet again by Unattended Funeral who had made the drive a little later than us. It was great getting to see those guys two nights in a row, it was just a shame they had to leave immediately after the gig cause I could of spent way more time with them.

FLUFF FEST

The next day we were to play Fluff fest. All I really remember about everything before arriving at the fest was that the drive was long and that I was super tired. We’d left Richards house later than planned and when we arrived at the fest it was nearly time for Famine to play. Thankfully all ran smoothly and they were on stage in time to absolutely kill it and play one of their best sets all tour. That night we also got to see Lugubrious Children again as well as Jorges other band Ona Snop… Oh and Hex also played. Fluff was super fun, it was just a shame we didn’t get to spend the whole weekend there.

THE ROAD BACK TO THE UK

After Charlie, Matt, Eddie and I hauled ourselves out of the hostel that we had chosen to take advantage of, over the other option of partying all night and camping at Fluff, we went back to the festival grounds to pick up the rest of the crew.. This was also where we had to say goodbye to Laura as she would be staying at Fluff and doing some travel of her own while we did the final week of shows. After finally scooping everyone up into the van we hit the road for Dresden. That night the show was in a tiny venue called DIY Eckladen, it was another tour package only show and ran really smoothly. After the gig we walked across town to our mate Gruni’s place who was putting us up for the night.

It was one of the coolest share houses I think I’ve ever seen.. The next day we got to hang out in Dresden for a while which was great because the part of town we were staying had heaps of great food. I ended up going for a wander and meeting some American guys who roped me into having pizza with them. After eating and having a great talk with my new mates I realised no one in the band would be able to contact me and I’d been gone awhile, so I shot back to Gruni’s to pack my shit in time to leave for Potsdam.

The Potsdam show that night was at a really cool little bar and was just down the road from where we were staying with a great guy called Fabian who organised the show (he also does a band called JxHxK). Before the show started we were met by a bunch of Aussie  mates who were living in Berlin and had made their way out to Potsdam to hangout and come to the show. I hadn’t seen some of these guys in years and having them watch us made the show feel like we were back in Byron. After kebabs and cold showers we dozed off in Fabian’s living room.

The following day was meant to be a day off, which I was personally keen to take advantage of as the Hamburg gig had fallen through. However, we ended up getting invited to play with Fabian’s other band at a skate park his friend was building. All the other guys were really keen on going skating so I tagged along not knowing how remote our destination was. When we arrived at what appeared to be a construction site I immediately regretted not staying in Potsdam or going to Berlin for the day.

After eating my lunch and hanging out for a bit I ended up retiring back to the van to hide from the weed smoke and the sun and sleep until Eddie woke me up so we could play. It was probably my most hated day of the whole tour but everyone else had a ton of fun which was good.. That night we stayed at Potsdam again and hit the road for Bielefeld the next day. Upon arrival we were met by Julien from Sick Mark and his partner Laura from Weak Ties (we’d seen Weak Ties at Fluff and they were amazing). They showed  us round the venue/bar they ran and made us feel super at home.

The venue was next to one of the biggest skate parks in Europe which was where Alex shot off to as soon as he could. Our set that night was a little messy and Famine absolutely killed us but all in all it was a fun show. Leaving Bielefeld the next day we hit car problems which meant sitting on our butts for a few hours while the vans break disc was replaced. We arrived late in Antwerp that night which was a shame for me as I had arranged to meet my friend Elodie, who had driven all the way from Liege to see us. Thankfully when we did arrive we hadn’t missed much and Elodie found us all really fast. The show was downstairs in the attic of a cool venue called Den Englantier. Awesomely there were two supports: Diss Guy and Tango Mi Amor ( a band fronted by a father and son).. There was a real nice vibe amongst the people who’d shown up to the gig, some of which had seen both the touring bands at one of the fests already and had come out again to show support. All in all it was a pretty solid final show on the mainland.

Shackles Live
Shackles Live

BACK IN THE UK

The next morning we woke really early to get the ferry back to the UK. Because Stookes couldn’t appear to be in a touring band, as he didn’t have a UK passport or working visa, he caught a separate ferry and was once again put through hell by UK customs, which sucked. After we all met up we drove from Dover to a guy named Jons house. Jon cooked us dinner and we then went to a cool art space/bar thing where the show was to be in Colchester. I took a stroll around the town and got some Stirfry while the show got set up and came back to see Teptile Master opening. The crowd at the show was a really different to the majority of the other gigs.. Lots of really clean cut normal looking people and possible art students. They were fun to play to though. After we played we all drive back to Jons to sleep for the night.

The next day we had the final drive of the tour to the final show of tour in Famine‘s hometown; LEEDS! Jon ended up joining us for the journey. We arrived back at Jorges late afternoon, unpacked our stuff and all said our goodbyes to the van before we made our way down to Chunk where the show was that night. The show had quite a few locals bands playing, including Gets Worse, who were awesome. It was hard to believe after three weeks of constantly playing shows that the tour was coming to an end.. it was a pretty strange thing seeing Famine play one last set before we’d part ways  and to play our 21st show in Europe and know we’d be back home in three days time.. After the show we all celebrated and partied before making our way back to Jorges.

The next day Shackles said our heartfelt goodbyes and thankyous to Warren, Alex, Charlie, Jorge and Laura and boarded a bus back to London with Jon.. It was hard saying goodbye to people who has basically become family, this was made harder by the fact we were all super sleep deprived (in my case) or hungover  (in nearly everyone else’s case). The bus trip back to London was a long and emotional one but at least we’d made it back in one piece and with only a few disasters. Can’t wait for next time.

Mark Shackles

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