Pleasure Death anniversary/recording/Harlow Square

Hello folks, ta for all the love for Pleasure Death today. Realising it was a quarter of a century old coincided with hearing this morning of the closure of the legendary Harlow Square venue. Such a shame. There is a story linking both venue and album.

Late ’91 we were touring the U.K. and had planned to record some songs at Southern Studios, London for release on the Wiiija/Southern label. The night before we had a gig booked supporting Spiritualized at Harlow Square. We were staying with Gary Walker, boss of Wiiija Records in North London so we headed down to Harlow with Gary and got ready to check out this venue we’d read so much about. Spiritualized’s soundcheck took forever and we weren’t allowed into our dressing room until they finished. When they eventually stopped doors were opening, an event that also coincided with our dinner being served by the venue. We went to take our baked potato and beans ( I remember what we had to eat. Is that sad?) into our dressing room and were told by Spuratualized’s crew that they were using all of the backstage area and we weren’t allowed in it. The three of us sat on the stage, dinner on laps and chatted to those punters who had made their way in early to check us out. This was very strange indeed. Within ten minutes our plates would be empty, we’d strap on guitars, pick up sticks and play to those who had just watched us scoff our food. When we went to leave our empty plates backstage a crew member told us we couldn’t come back. Naive as we were then we we’re still aware that this was a load of bollocks. Fyfe tried to push past the Scottish tech who proceeded to do what all Scots and Irish do in that situation and exaggerated his accent to sound as if he’d just come out of doing a ten stretch. Seeing the guy was giving Fyfe grief myself and Michael piled in, knives, forks, dishes flying everywhere, lots of pushing and shoving. In the background a terrified Jason Pierce looked as if he had just shat his pants while his crew huffed and puffed and tried to keep us out. Eventually, people from the club and Gary Wiiija got involved and the melee was stilled. We grabbed our instruments and played a blinder. The audience that had come for blissful space rock were startled while the noise heads down the front lurched back and forward In revelry.

After Spiritualized finished their set they got out as quickly as they could. We hung around and got amongst the vibes in the club. For some reason I decided that some speed was what was needed and got a punter at The Square to hook me up with a dealer who arrived in a navy blue Ford Granada and looked like Barry Grant from soap opera Brookside. I spent the night tearing the ears off Gary Walker and Harvey Birrell and ranting about soap operas I liked. I was still flying on the way back to Gary’s house in London, still awake chatting to Gary’s flat mates and still awake when we arrived in Southern Studios the next day.


I remember recording Potato Junkie and thinking my Fender Telecaster sounded the best it had ever sounded. We hit the pub later that night and the next day we’re back in again. After we finished recording we headed out to do a John Peel session and drank more beers but this time Tennents Super which is, as some ‘specialists’ are aware the most awesome of beers ( if you’re wired that way). On the trip back from the Peel session I was hanging out the back of the van while being shouted at by the late, much missed,John Loder, head honcho of Southern who was in a vehicle behind and trying to get me into safety. From there we headed to London ULU to watch Silverfish. After their fantastic set us and Silverfish headed over to a party at RAK studios where I drank more and took microdot acid. This episode would later be memorialised in ‘Knives’ as I wandered around, kitchen knives in hand silently freaking out. I stayed up all night in a spare room with shades of ‘the fear’ and when I went into another room later everybody had left. The next morning staff at the studio came in to inform me that my bandmates had left a message that they would be at Southern Studios with Harvey to mix our album. They also, in no uncertain terms, requested I get off their property as they didn’t like the look of the saucer-eyed Wurzel Gummidge with the Ulster accent.

There I was, still tripping, on the street with no mobile phone (this was 1991) and hardly any money. I’ve a vague recollection of standing at a bus stop in Picadilly scared out of my wits and also a vague episode on Oxford Street. In the end I managed to make it to the studio where I was so fucked I spent the entire mixing session under the mixing desk shouting “turn up the feedback” or “sounds amazing” to anyone that would listen. That night the thought of getting on a bus back to another destination filled me with dread so, as we were due in the studio again the next day, I asked if I could sleep in the studio. John Loder didn’t mind, fair play to him, and so with the aid of a sleeping bag I bedded down under he desk. That night I had fitful night terrors and couldn’t settle, wishing the last of the acid, booze and speed would leave my system and let me feel normal again.The next morning I was woken by a staff member from Southern saying “Andy? Can you get up please? Cathi Unsworth from Melody Maker is here to interview you”.

Michael & Harvey Birrell(producer) at Southern Studios recording Pleasure Death 1991

Where the fuck did I get all that energy and capacity for shenanigans?

The album sounds great and, despite the freaking out, it was a marvellous time. Big up to fellow travellers Michael McKeegan, Fyfe Ewing, Harvey Birrell and John Loder. The album would come out in ’92 and go to number one in the independent charts and later that year my beloved Fender Tele would bite the dust on stage at the Mandela Hall in Belfast (it’s on display at the Oh Yeah centre in Belfast, fact fans. There’s probably still some speed lodged behind the scratch plate) so it was such a vibrant and thrilling time to be involved in music and involved with the band. I heard this morning that The Square in Harlow is to close. That’s a shame, a real shame. If you fancy it, get a can of Tennents Super and crank up Pleasure Death and wish the good people of The Square all the best. Go easy on the acid though….shudder….

Andy C

(You heard the man, CRANK IT!)

Band favourites of 2016!


Burial-Young Death/Nightmarket
Nothing-Tired of Tomorrow
Architects-All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
Savages-Adore Life
Danny Brown-Atrocity Exhibition
Moor Mother-Fetish Bones
Elza Soares-A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo

Neon Demon
Green Room
The Missing
True Detective 2
American Horror Story Roanoke
84 Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Arts Theatre
Watching Chelsea beat Manchester United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in a match that became a fitting tribute to the late, much missed, Matthew Harding.

Chris Petit-Butchers of Berlin
Emma Cline-The Girls


Blood Incantation-Starspawn
System Of Hate-Unhallowed Ground
Metallica-KEM/RTL remasters
Ghost BC-Square Hammer
Gost-Non Paradisi
Okkultokrati-Raspberry Dawn
Darkthrone-Arctic Thunder
The Virgin Marys-Divides
BAT-Wings Of Chains
Naïve Sense-Art Failures
MAKE-Pilgrimage Of Loathing
Horseback-Dead Ringers
Bloody Hammers-Lovely Sort Of Death
Dinosaur Jnr-Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not
The Body-Nobody Deserves Happiness
Voivod-Post Society
Oranssi Pazuzzu-Värähtelijä
Entombed AD-Dead Dawn
NASA Space Universe-70 AD
Miasmal-Tides Of Omniscience
Lust For Youth-Compassion
Howls Of Ebb-Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows
G.L.O.S.S.-Trans Day Of Revenge
Castle-Welcome To The Graveyard
Art Of Burning Water-Between Life And Nowhere

House Of Cards
Green Inferno
Bone Tomahawk
American Horror Story
Green Room
True Detective 2
Black Mass
It Follows
Stranglers-Nirwana Festival, NL
Mastodon-Limelight, Belfast
Marduk-Wacken Festival, DE
Mike Monroe-Stone Free Festival, UK


Day Four-Sarah Lotz
A Death In The Family-Karl Ove Knausgaard
Midnight Sun-Jo Nesbo
A Brief History Of Seven Murders-Marlon James
Mr Mercedes-Stephen King
The Fireman-Joe Hill


DJ Shadow-The Mountain Will Fall
Lindstrom-Closing Shot
John Carpenter-Lost Themes
Philly Joe Jones-Philly Joe’s Beat

The Missing
Murder in Successville
The Revenant
I, Daniel Blake
The Lobster
The Big Short
Mudhoney – Rescue Rooms, Notts
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) Silent movie with live musical accompaniment – Cathedral, Derby

Hell’s Angels – Hunter S Thompson
The Axeman’s Jazz – Ray Celestin

“Wood & Wire” acoustic tour (week 3)

Porgy & Bess, Vienna
After a night letting off steam and eating well in Linz, the following morning we head over to Vienna. The venue Porgy and Bess is a renowned jazz venue and we’re very excited to be playing there. The venue’s wonderful and the gig’s brilliant. To top things off, our friends Christian and Hannes join us onstage for Screamager, Nowhere and Die Laughing which is great fun!

Colosaal, Aschaffenburg
Apart from the freeeezing cold dressing room, the Colos-saal was great. Lovely people and great food! The show goes down really well and we have a smashing time.

Stone Im Ratinger, Dusseldorf
(Before leaving Aschaffenburg)
Ok, so, me and Herb (our lovely merch guy) dropped everyone’s washing in at a launderette the previous day to be washed overnight and picked up before leaving for Dusseldorf. The morning’s plan was to quickly pick up the clean clothes and then head off… erm, not quite!!
Let’s just say something was lost in translation and the launderette thought we were picking up the clothes a day later than we wanted!! After much pleading from us both we were asked to return in 2 hrs and everyone’s washing would be done. This allowed us to have an unexpected walk around Aschaffenburg which was absolutely lovely I must say. The Christmas market was in full swing and Christmas was definitely in the air. What began as a disaster actually turned out very well (thankfully for me and Herb!!!)


We eventually arrived in Dusseldorf, sound checked and made sure everything was nice and comfortable on stage. The gig turns out to be more like a ‘rock gig’ than most of the shows we’ve done on this acoustic tour (yes, there was even stage diving!!) Everyone was very rowdy and in fine voice. Thanks Dusseldorf, what a great night.

After the show we begin the trek back to Blighty. We make a start by driving to Holland to stay over before driving on to London the next day for an evening off. We all chill out and have a lovely meal together in preparation for London.

We arrive at the Union Chapel around lunchtime. All I can say is wow – what a venue! The place is stunning.
We spend time getting the sounds right on stage – tonight we have our friends playing alongside us, Stevie and also Jenny Nendick on cello, so we make sure they’re happy and sounding great.
For us, the gig was amazing. I loved every minute. Thank you, London and thank you to everyone who travelled to the show. What a fantastic end to the tour!



An acoustic tour was always going to be an odd one for us (from our end and yours)
It was the first time we’ve attempted acoustic shows and I can honestly say I’ve not had so much fun in a long time.
Approaching the songs and the tour in the way we did was a real challenge but it was incredibly rewarding and to be honest I’ve come off the back of the tour feeling invigorated and full of new ideas for the future. I loved it! Thank you for your part in making each and every show so special.


A massive thank you to everyone who came out to the shows in each city and all who travelled from around the world to join in the fun. Also, thanks to all our friends who got up onstage and played alongside us. We really must do it again some time!


(oh, I’m on Instagram if you fancy it… ncooper.insta)

“Wood & Wire” acoustic tour (Week 2)

Maastricht Musiekgieterij 22/11/16

After a day off we’re ready for tonight. Never been to Maastricht before, our hotel is opposite the MVV Maastricht football ground.Town is gorgeous and makes me regret not going out the previous evening with Neil, Richard and Herb.Gig is a wonderful old market complete with steel girders and cobbled stones and it works really well for an acoustic show. The audience are friendly and warm create a fantastic atmosphere in the venue. The lights are great and afterwards we chat and have photos taken with a few people. Thanks to all at the venue for the good food, helpful tips and hands with the equipment. We’d like to return to Maastricht with the full electric band experience.

Brussels Botanique 23/11/16

We didn’t know how this gig would go as it wasn’t seated and we were worried that it might lead the audience to believe it would be a full on show. No need to worry the Brussels crowd sang their hearts out from start to finish and made for a full blooded show with shouting, drunken chants and lovely smiles.
Thank you very much for your kindness. That was a wee bit special.

Roeselare De Spil 24/11/16

Another first. A fantastic venue. Stunning inside like an opera house. At first I found the setting strange but soon got into it. The crowd was really sweet keeping us going throughout and when we started asking them to boo Donald Trump they happily obliged. Thanks to everyone including the venue for making this a special night. We’d like to go back.

Rotterdam Arminius 25/11/16

One of my favourite cities in Europe and I don’t get a chance to visit it very often. We start the day at famous Barbershop Shroem where we play in the back while people get their hair cut. A first for us! Thanks to the guys for the food and drinks. Next time I might get myself a haircut.

I then spend an hour looking in record stores for local band release Sweet Release of Death but I can’t find it.
The gig was on another level altogether. Stunning venue, incredible crowd and I thought we played very well. What a night. Seeing all the smiling faces was an immense feeling, real goosebumps. A big thank you to all of you who came, all at Rotown and Ronald, our Dutch friend, who turned up with a vinyl copy of the album I’d been looking for!
Can’t wait to return to see you all again and the spectacular night took our minds off the fact that we had a twelve hour drive to Linz the following day.

Day Off, Linz 26/11/16

Arrive at 16.30, have beers in bar, find Bar showing Chelsea v Tottenham game.Drink more beer while cheering on the mighty Blues.Chelsea win 2-1 with a stunning goal from Pedro and a second, well worked one, set up by Costa and scored by Victor Moses. Come On You Blues KTBFFH

Go to curry house and, for the first time ever, let the guy talking us through the menu choose my meal for me. It’s delicious. Back to hotel, watch crap TV and hit bed. Big day, big gig ahead in Vienna. Go to sleep still buzzing about the Chelsea win.

Andy Cairns

“Wood & Wire” acoustic tour (Week 1)

Oosterpoort, Groningen

After an overnight boat from the UK its an early start off the boat but once we get our bearings we are straight on over to Groningen. We’ve played here a couple of times before and its exciting to see how it goes down in the acoustic format! Take a bit of time working through the sounds at soundcheck…Neil is using a very stripped down kit and both Andy and I have acoustic guitars/bass.


He’s got Wood & Wire eyes

Soundcheck is sounding good so we have a quick look at the new merchandise and then have a lovely dinner in the venue restaurant. There’s no support tonight so we were doing two sets with a small interval, again, another first for us.

The show goes great and the Groningen crowd seem well up for it, singing in all the right places and clapping in the others. A lovely atmosphere all round, nice one folks, we had a blast.

Melkweg, Amsterdam

Great venue, nice staff and good soundcheck. Our friend Robert is joining us tonight for a couple of songs so we play them through at the soundcheck with him. Stagetime is fast approcahing so we get a quick bit of dinner down in the restaurant, chat with Eric the owner about the Die Kreuzen days and head back up to the dressing room.


The Melkweg

Gig is pretty lively as acoustic shows go, everyone seems well into it and again lots of really great fun onstage. Robert joins us later in the set and its fun to have the additional guitar and voice onstage. After we get towelled down and packed up, head over to a pub for a quick beer and hang out with Robert, Ronald and a few others. Many thanks Amsterdam, it was a pleasure to be back in your city again!

Day Off

Sleeping, eating and showering. Perfect!

013 Tilburg

Another lovely venue and very cool staff and set-up. We’ve played here a few times over the years and its a great example of a custom built venue that looks and sounds great. Very helpful crew and nice backstage facilities which is always a bonus. Its should be a busy night, both our show and the one next door (Opeth & Sahg) are sold out.

Soundcheck for a bit and once it sounding good and there is a nice balance onstage we head down to the catering area for a lovely meal. Its a real luxury to get one decent proper hot meal a day as opposed to eating junk food at service stops. After that pop next door to watch a bit of Sahg at soundcheck and they sound ace, very chunky, very dark with some ace doomy riffs.

Andy has very kindly chased me up a copy of the new Metallica album so its good to get a bit of that pumping in the dressing room before showtime! Again its the two set format and we play a slightly re-jigged version of the previous nights set. Seems to work well and from the off people and rocking out (or as much rocking out you can do at a seated gig ;))

Pack up the gear, sign a few things for people and then we’re trekking back across town for a well-deserved rest before nipping across the border to Belgium.

Warande Turnhout

The drive over is very smooth and the town seems lovely. This is the first show with a support act so we have a slightly shorter set and play it all through with no interludes. The crowd are quiet to start with, possibly getting their heads around the format 😉 Soon enough they begin to start singing and generally having some fun with us. Some nice heckling as well!

After we chill out, pack up and get back to the hotel for a nice easy night. Big thanks to everyone at the venue for helping us out and also to Jan De Bruyn for opening up…a very talented artist and very funny and entertaining company at dinner!

Orpheus, Apeldoorn

Very cool venue, super nice dressing rooms and a very cosy dining area meant that we were excited to be back in this area (for some reason I think we played a festival nearby in Tiel with Madness and The Virgin Marys?).


Unfortunately the excellent run of gigs was slightly derailed tonight by a succession of onstage technical problems that seemed to conspire against us. First up there was a ‘bad’ cable between my bass DI and the PA which resulted in a horrible rattle throughout the first 5 songs (for some reason it took the in-house sound guy that long to work out the problem was with his cabling not ours!)…then Andy broke a string on his main acoustic (too much riffing!) so had to swap to his 2nd guitar, which was in a different tuning and that had to be retuned up and down until Richard managed to get onstage and get the guitar restrung.

The author typing his diary in Appeldoorn

The author typing his diary 😉

Thankfully we had an attentive and warm audience who had a lot of patience for the situation. It was frustrating for us as we always aspire to put on the best possible show for the crowd and tonight it was a tough one. SOooooooooooo thank you Apeldoorn, we appreciate you bearing with us through the technical hi-jinks. Its another day off tomorrow so we get our laundry (amazing how it builds up on tour) ready for ‘washday’ and chase up a few things before calling it a night and heading off to the hotel.

Thanks to everyone who’s come out so far…it’s been a brilliant experience so far…roll on the rest of the dates!

“Wood & Wire” Acoustic cd recording session

When we heard we were heading out on the “Wood & Wire” acoustic tour we thought it might be a good idea to ‘document’ the tour/idea with a companion cd which people could get at the shows, sort’ve a momento of the night with the reworked older songs on there. Anyway, to get the cd pressed/produced in time we found ourselves back in Blast Studios right at the start of October, acoustic guitars in hand. First day is always a bit of a set-up, get sounds up and fine tune stuff and as my flight gets in quite late, the lads have already got their gear up and are ready to roll. After a quick hello to everyone and a cup of tea later we are up and running. Once we fall into a routine it begins to go quick, normally we’ll re-arrange the song a bit, tweak the tempo, Andy will do a guide vocal/guitar and then myself and Neil would take a couple of passes at the song and nail the rhythm parts. Come 10:30pm we’re all feeling a bit frazzled so we decide to pick it up fresh again in the morning. We’ve still to drive over and check into the hotel so off we go to get settled in case of any late night ‘no room at the inn’ hi-jinks.


Andy on axe

Walk over the bridge from Gateshead to the studio the next glorious morning is quite a feeling. Sun is shining and the streets are quiet, always nice to be up and at ‘em before the rest of the world is awake.


Glorious views in Newcastle

We finish off the remaining 3 songs by noon and then after a short break Andy is straight in doing the guitars. Neil and I take the opportunity to nip out and collect some lunch for everyone and the rest of the afternoon is spent hanging out in the studio whilst Andy finishes up the guitars and moves onto the vocals. Our friend Jenny comes down after dinner time to add some cello to our new version of “Gone” and that sounds amazing. A very cool addition to the recording, hope you will agree!


Jenny on cello!

Get finished up around 8pm or so and Andy heads back to the hotel whilst Neil and myself take the scenic route walking back over the bridge and enjoying watching the ebullient Newcastle nightlife begin to build-up.


We’re now at the final day of recording and we have a busy day ahead.
At this point in the session things have come together nicely for the tracks we’ll be putting on the acoustic tour ‘memento’ CD.


Neil getting jazzy

After a long day, yesterday, Andy heads to the studio early this morning to record the vocals and guitar parts on the remaining songs. Once the recorded parts have been finished we all get a chance to listen through each song and make any last-minute comments and suggestions about the recordings. By mid afternoon we’re able to leave studio engineer, Thom, to begin the mixing process.


Rythmn section hard at it

As mixing gets underway, rather than sitting around waiting and twiddling our thumbs, we’re able to meet up with our old friend Tom Hoad to take some photos and capture our time in the studio. He has a couple of locations in mind which we head out to and we also invite him in to the studio to snap away whilst we play through some tunes.


Mr Hoad snapping away

Finally, before heading off on flights and long road journeys home, we head back in to the studio and listen through the first song Thom has mixed. Everything’s sounding great and really captures the session nicely.
Hope you enjoy it.


Nirwana Fest & Boerenrock 2016

26th August 2016
Nirwana festival,
Lierop, Holland

Sorry for the delay on this. After returning from the two shows and sitting down to type some kind of diary my laptop decided to grind to a halt, annoying the shit out of me. This developed from screaming at the machine into a period of red mist where I caught myself punching the keyboard repeatedly, smashing in the keys and power button. (“ooooh, you don’t wanna do that” I hear you cry… damn right I don’t!) So, a new laptop and a silly number of hours salvaging all the shit I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s true what they say about regular back-ups, kids.

Now then, the gigs…
The trip began with a pleasant trip over to Holland. Travelling across on the Eurostar and arriving at the hotel in time to have a beer with The Stranglers and crew. All very relaxed and everyone seemed to be looking forward to the following day’s show.The festival had really nice feel to it. Very relaxed and well organised. Who could argue with any festival that decorates the dressing room with this…


Starman in the dressing room.

We were really excited about playing and got to add a couple of songs since our previous show. Having not played ’30 seconds’ in a while it’s a real treat to play.


Setlist Nirwana Fest


Men in black

The gig was great fun.
After our show we had time for a beer and got to check out The Stranglers who played a storming set!

27th August 2016
Boerenrock festival,
Kortenaken, Belgium

We began the day with a leisurely trip across to Belgium. The temperature was extreme. It was a bloody scorcher!!
We found our dressing room and settled in although it was miles away from the stage. This can be a little disconcerting – strangely, the constant thump, thump of a bass drum makes you feel part of the festival. When you’re sat in silence it can a be a little…. well, odd. Having said that, the gig is brilliant. The onstage sound is excellent and we all really enjoy ourselves.


Full frontal


Rear end

Holland and Belgium, thanks.
Until the next time.


Stendhal Festival 2016

Even though I’m a native from the North of Ireland I’ve never been to Limavady in the half century I’ve stalked this globe. The Stendhal Festival was a good chance to acquaint myself with the town, it’s people and their customs. Earlier in the month I’d talked to one of the organisers by telephone as part of an interview and enjoyed our chat and discussions about art, music and gardening.

On the day of the gig it was raining constantly and my fears of a stilted audience and compromised performance began to flutter at the back of my mind.On arriving at the gig I was struck by how many people were just getting on with things and more importantly smiling and laughing.

Ten minutes into our set the skies evacuate all that heaven allows and soon we find ourselves at one with the audience and both drenched to the bone, guitars slippery with rain water and amps steaming in the back of the stage. On looking out at the lively crowd there is no register of this discomfort. Those smiles again, people are beaming and I start to get infected too and realise that this is going to be a very special night indeed. Our sound engineer, Richard, hoofs it onstage to see the state of the water retention and I ask him, mid playing, ” what are my chances of being electrocuted?”, ” minimal” he replies. Although not the answer I wanted to hear it’s enough to spur me on through the set and get carried away with the energy of the crowd.

Some people head for shelter under adjacent tents but still stay with eyes focuses on the stage while the others get fully involved leaving the writhing, gleaming mass in front of the stage resembling a cross between a fun wrestling tournament and Dante’s hell. The passion doesn’t let up and their big “fuck you Donald Trump” before Living In The Shadow of the Terrible Thing is the loudest of the festival season so far. This means so much to me coming from the crowd as Stendhal as the song itself deals with myself and peers attempts at stoic resolve during the dark years of our youth growing up in East Antrim.

This festival experience was one of my most memorable in my twenty six years of doing this and is like to thank firstly the fans who beamed a positive light through all the weather and to the festival organisers for making it such a vibey event all round.Also, my comrades Michael, Neil, Richard, Steve and Mark for being there all the time.

The next morning I bumped into legendary songwriter Damon ( Badly Drawn Boy) and he was an absolute gent. That was my weekend made complete.
Take care folks,
Andy C


Red light fever!



Gemil glows



“Neil, Neil, drum like a ___________!”





Cross the beams!



McKeegan meets the locals


Drying day


(All photos kind courtesy Paul Beattie @PaulTweetie)

Scream(ager) For Me Wacken!

A wise friend once said “When a man is tired of riffs, he is tired of life”. Agreeing with that wholeheartedly I was excited, intrigued and chuffed to be heading to Wacken Open Air 2016, arguably Europe’s biggest and best heavy metal festival. Its one of the very, very few festivals Therapy? have never played and it’s always nice to be experiencing new things even after 26 years of rocking.

Copy of WACKEN_SM_01

Heading to Hamburg!

We hooked up in London the night before staying over near the airport as we’d an early flight into Hamburg and we didn’t want to suffer any unwanted delays or hold-ups. It was a beautiful day to fly and the mood was great as we were all looking forward to getting out to Wacken.

Copy of WACKEN_SM_02

He is the strong arm of the law!

Our hotel in Hamburg was straight across from the airport terminal so after an effortless check-in and dumping our non-essential festival belongings we soon were in the big black Wacken fun bus heading up to the site. Felix our capable driver got us there in good time and we got settled in the dressing room. It was a bit muddy due to heavy rain the day before but our room was warm and dry. Fair play to the Wacken people as the rider was excellent and we had goodie bags full of all sorts of cool and practical branded items to explore (Wacken face wipes anyone?)

Can you spot mr Andy Cairns?

Can you spot mr Andy Cairns?

Dinner is good, I opt for the chicken satay and with plenty of time before our show to digest the food, I even treat myself to a frozen yoghurt…rock and roll! Henry Rollins is just finishing up his spoken word on our stage and behind the scenes (in our huge tent there are two identical stages beside each other with a huge loading/set-up dock behind) is a hive of activity. Very helpful stage crew are whizzing round and getting various amps and cabinets onto risers as crew members get guitars and drums tuned and set-up. Andy goes off to do a quick interview with Arte who are filming/streaming the show tonight and I have a very surreal moment when I meet Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult in the backstage hospitality area. I’m a massive fan so after plucking up the courage to say hello, I had a very enjoyable chat with him and he kindly lets me get a pic with him.

*insert generic 'more cowbell' quip here

*insert generic ‘more cowbell’ quip here

We have a signing scheduled over by the main stage so we wander over there checking out some of the scenes of carnage in the crowd. Everyone is in good form and it’s nice to see a lot of drinking being done but hardly any casualties dropped in the mud 😉



Signing goes well, there are people from all over Germany and even a lady from China of all places, amazing to think that our music is known over there as well. Catch a bit of WHitesnake on the main stage and then Tsjuder over on our stage. Both sound great and beginning to get nicely vibed up for the gig. Mike Monroe band are here as well so hang out with them for a bit pre-show…super nice guys and it’s always great to see Rich Jones, top guy, we’ve got a long and fun history with him. There’s a bit of rain just before we play so after Marduk finish (again, I’m a big fan so it was cool to see them decimate the tent) we do our last minute warm-ups and head over through the downpour to hangout on the back of the stage. Our stage is curtained off whilst the gear gets set-up so it’s a really surreal feeling to be hiding behind the curtain, bass in hand, ready to go.

I must admit id been a bit nervous when I saw we were the only band playing at the same time as Iron Maiden on the main stage…not even a slight clash, our 45min set started an hour into theirs and we finished 20 minutes before they did. Couple the fact the festival had sold-out before we were announced there was always the risk the audience would stayed rooted for the full Maiden set. I was selling ourselves short ‘cos as the curtain opened on our stage, I saw the whole tent was packed…not just packed with curious observers, it was rammed with people ready to sing, clap and mosh along. Too many personal highlights in the short set, it really flew by and we tried to keep everything snappy with segues and quick intros to the songs so we could get maximum riff age crammed in. The sound onstage was great as well and that always makes a big difference at festivals especially when there’s no sound check. There was even an impromptu ‘happy birthday’ singalong for Mr Cooper when we’d finished, heart-warming!Anyway you can watch the stream HERE and make up your own minds!

Scream for me Wacken!

Scream for me Wacken!

Afterwards catch a quick bit of Mike Monroe, high energy thrills as ever, and then head over to the VIP area to have a quick drink with Jan our German promoter and old friend Sean B once he’s packed the Maiden gear away. Bar is good fun, there’s huge selection of Becks beer on ice, too much choice in fact (did I really type that?), most of the ones I pick up are either waaay too weak (1%) or faaaar too strong (8%??).

"Pick a Becks, any Becks"

“Pick a Becks, any Becks”

Copy of WACKEN_SM_09

Michael meets Mikkey!

Meet up with Mikkey Dee again and hear how he’s been doing and also get introduced to Sam Dunn from Banger Films who’s Metal Evolution series is a must see! Last time I saw him he was hosting a Q&A with Rob Halford when we were in Toronto for NXNE many years ago. Good times.

Eventually the shuttle bus call goes out and we retrace our steps back through the mud and rain. Things don’t seem to be winding down either as we hop in the big black bus and begin the drive back down to Hamburg airport.

Hand on heart, that’s got to be one of the best festival experiences I’ve had as a punter or in the band. Everyone was super nice, helpful and easy to get along with…no egos, no ‘rock star bullshit’…lovely crowd and inspiring atmosphere.

Eat my face!

Eat my face!

As always big, big thanks to Rich, Steve and Mark for all their hard work…Andy and Neil for all their fun and inspiring playing, Jan and the Wacken organisation for looking after us so well and of course ultimate respect to the audience who came out to enjoy our show. Very very much appreciated!


Campus Festival,Hungary

Hungary pic 1_sm1
The weekend began with a nice, easy going flight arriving late in Debrecen with time for a bite to eat and a beer or two.We have a leisurely start to the following day.I wake up with the ringing in my ears of the previous night’s conversation…. the observation that there’s a distinct lack of bidets in hotel rooms now compared to when we all began touring. This lead to a rather disturbing conversation (you know the type… once you’ve heard it you can’t un-hear it type conversation) about everyone’s anal washing habits. The ‘wash’, ‘wipe’ or ‘waft’ debate has been tormenting me ever since. Just when I thought we’d covered all topics possible…..

Anyway, we head over to festival for a lunch time sound check. The people looking after us at the festival are really friendly, professional and incredibly helpful. The onstage sound is amazing and we’re ready to rock.
We have time for some lunch and a relaxing afternoon. It’s such a lovely day I walk over to the festival site getting my bearings and being strangely drawn to this along the way…



Nice to be welcomed in such a manner!

I have a bizarre amount of difficulty getting into the festival however (even though, earlier in the day I’m given a ridiculous amount of ‘backstage pass’ wrist bands which I’m told I must wear! Rules is rules, as they say) Eventually, I get in and we’re ready to go.The three of us are really looking forward to the gig. We have just over an hour for our set which allows us to play a couple of extra tunes. We add ‘Living in the Shadow’ which we haven’t played in a while, ‘Stop It You’re Killing Me’, we keep ‘This Ship is Sinking’ in the set after the Crete show and add ‘Lonely Crying only’ too. The show was great fun, the crowd were brilliant and the onstage sound was excellent which always helps!

Hungary pic 3 set list

Spot the typo!

After the gig we had time to cool down and get cleaned up before relaxing and checking out ‘Tankcsapda’ who put on a great show for everybody. The audience obviously loved every minute!
The festival had an amazing atmosphere. It was nice having a wander through.

To finish our evening we hit the bar situated in the 100 yr old water tower and were invited to a VIP tour of the water tower roof. I’m not usually bothered by heights – but, yikes! On reflection, the bottle of tequila consumed en route (by the whole party, not just me I’ll swiftly add) wasn’t the smartest of ideas. What a breath taking end to a great evening.

Hungary pic 1_sm4

Hungary pic 1_sm3
Well done, Hungary. You smashed it!

Rock storm!

Rock storm!

A big thank you must go out to everyone at the festival who looked after us, especially Attila and Dave Bali.

See you soon.