This is from a tour back in 2002. It was the first day of quite a few months travelling around the world touring. This piece was one of a few written for a book of death metal road-stories that never materialised. I’ve done a tiny little wee bit of censoring, nothing that detectives out there can’t undo 🙂
Everyone remembers their worst ever hangover. Normally you get to enjoy it in the comfort of your home, where you have your room, your bin, and your nice comfy bed to make it endurable. The less fortunate may have theirs at a friend’s place, or in a hotel room.
I had mine in New York on the first day of five months’ of touring with Berzerker and I had to work through the resulting hangover on an RV. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, and by far the most drunk I have ever been. This story stands as testament for how not to go about beginning a tour, or any travels for that matter, and is not your average “I got drunk and threw up” hangover tale. If only it was that straightforward.
We went to New York to start our second US tour, supporting Immolation and Vader. New York is the home of the record label’s US office and they’d got us a cheap hotel down the road from them smack-bang in the middle of town. We dropped all our gear off, visited the office where all the staff were wrapping up for the day, and they announced they were going to take us out drinking.
Now I knew they were planning to get us drunk. They were infamous for taking their bands out when in town and getting them shit-faced so I had been preparing. For the three months beforehand I had been going out in my hometown of Melbourne with my most degenerate friends and making a point of pushing my drinking and partying to its limits. I wanted to make sure my liver was bulletproof. The label manager is an Aussie; I didn’t want to let the country down. I wanted to represent.
When they were telling stories about how they took Decapitated out drinking, and one of them went missing and was found passed out in a snowdrift I should have known what we were in for. I mean, the Polish can fucking drink. If they ended up passed out then it didn’t bode well for us, especially me. I was no big drinker despite my so-called ‘training’. I was younger and out to crush the world with my band and didn’t analyse the situation correctly. The following is how it went down:
We started at an Irish bar for beers and burgers. After a few beers we tried a drink called the “Irish Carbomb”. It’s a pint of Guinness with a shot of Bailey’s liqueur dropped in, and you slug it down in one foul go. The bitter Guinness gives way to the creamy sweet Bailey’s and it’s an intriguing taste experience, albeit a humongously alcoholic one. We had a few of these and went to the next bar.
I think we were about two or three bars in and had just done a couple of rounds of Sambucca shots when I went to the toilet. I remember swaying in front of the mirror, trying to make sense of the connection between myself and my reflection. My last remaining sensible memory was the realisation I was very, very drunk – far more drunk than I had been on any of my training runs back home. I wandered vaguely if I should purge, or wee, or drink water. Then I had a series of blackout memory gaps where the night became very disjointed, and this is the best of it I can remember.
I remember running down the middle of the road in New York. It was raining and I had no idea where anyone else was, or where I was. I was laughing hysterically.
I came to standing outside a club. I knew a few things, and in a very Jason Bourne-like way I had no idea how I came across the knowledge. I knew that there was VIP party in the club for an R&B band who had just released a CD. I knew that the rest of the band and the record label was in there and I had to get inside too. There was a woman at the entrance with a clipboard asking me something and I was too spasticated to understand a word she was saying.
I was inside the club. I was standing at a bar. I knew, mysteriously, that it was an open bar. A girl behind the bar was asking me what I wanted to drink. I asked for three beers, feeling like I was being a bit cheeky. I looked down the end of the bar and happened to see our drummer trying to pick up what looked to be at least ten beers. He was as fucked as I was. He gave up trying to grab them and ended up trying to wrap his arms around them in a big hug, like he could hug them off the bar and transport them somewhere where he could murder them in private.
I was backstage somewhere in the VIP club with the guys from the R&B band. Someone was smoking a hash pipe. It took me at least two minutes to realise that it was me. The drummer was there. The band was nice.
I was sitting at a table in what appeared to a bar of dubious legality. The label manager was suggesting more drinks, strip clubs, misbehaviour. I suddenly realised with horrifying clarity that I had only a few minutes to go before the worst hangover of my life was to begin. I’m a spewer. If I get a hangover, it’s not a matter of getting some panadol. My stomach was starting to roll and I had a mouth full of saliva. The bouncers in this place carried Uzi’s. The drummer was trying to pick a fight with one of them. For my own selfish drunken survival, I explained to the label manager that we had a long day ahead of us tomorrow – we’d have to pick up our RV, drive to Virginia, first show, blah blah blah, we really should be getting to bed. He looked mildly disappointed but agreed with the logic. I told him to gather the troops and I’d be outside “looking for a taxi”. I walked outside as casually as I could, and once I was out the door started searching frantically for dark corner I could spew in. Unfortunately the label manager is an efficient bugger because he had the rest of the guys out before I could find one. We all bundled into a taxi and because the rest of my band are sadistic bastards, I was put in the middle of the back seat.
I survived a couple of blocks before I leaned over Matt, our guitarist, and started violently spewing out the window of the cab. Luke naturally got the whole thing on film and included it on the Berzerker DVD. When we arrived at our hotel a couple were out the front trying to hail cabs. The guy was well dressed and opened the taxi door. I bumbled drunkenly past him and heard him go “oh fucking CHRIST”. I looked back. My vomit was down the cab door and in his rush to open the door he’d placed his hand square in the middle of it.
The drummer and I struggled up the stairs to our rooms. Again, footage made it onto the DVD. We look wrecked and are obviously struggling with the stairs. I was sharing a room with Matt. I stripped down to my boxers, placed a bin next to the bed to shoot random nocturnal voms into, and prayed for sleep. I had drunk some water and was hoping that my ‘training’ would let me pass out and wake up in the morning only mildly dented. I actually managed to sleep for a few minutes then the worst thing ever happened: I woke up, and spewed so hard that I shit my boxer shorts.
This was an even greater issue than it normally would be because this hotel had communal bathrooms. I staggered to my feet clutching at the bottom of my boxers trying not to drip my own shit everywhere. I got to the bathroom, opened the door, and couldn’t see a bin, so I ripped off my shitty shorts and chucked them in a bin in the hallway. The shower had a bath so I climbed into it, turned the cold shower tap on, and fell asleep in the bathtub.
Luke woke me in the morning, knocking on the door, asking if I was alright. I certainly wasn’t. I felt so wretched, cold, and nauseous that I was severely displeased I hadn’t died in my sleep. When I opened the bathroom door the entire floor stunk of my soiled boxer shorts. We had a list of things to do in town before leaving, like picking up equipment and so on. Luke took one look at me and instructed me to wait on the pavement outside for our lift to the RV company to arrive. He knew there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to walk around and interact with people.
I lay on the pavement, occasionally crawling over to a pile of trash to vomit. Hard-bitten New Yorkers who’d be used to stepping over dead bums on the way to work were looking at me with disgust. A few of the record label staff members came along. They had a bag of doughnuts and offered me some. I couldn’t even look at them, and the slight smell of them had me heaving. I declined. One of the guys had a cut on his cheek. I asked about it. I was pretty dazed and confused at the time but I’m pretty sure the conversation went something like this:
“You mean you don’t remember?” he said.
“Remember what?” I replied. “I don’t remember anything from last night. I can barely think now. I want to die.”
“So you don’t remember chasing me down the street? And you were laughing, and you tackled me? Then you pulled that light-bulb out of the shop front and smashed it on my head?”
He seemed cool about it. I honestly have no idea if I did that, or if he was just winding me up.
The next incident of note was when we got our lift to the RV hire company. It was right outside town in some industrial park or something. The guys went in to do business. It looked like the windows of the place were blacked out and there was a nice bush below them where I bunkered down for some passing out interspersed with retching. Ten minutes later Luke came out, and had this to say:
“Mate we need you in here. They won’t release the RV unless someone provides them with credit card details, and you’re the only one of us who has one. And, uh, you might want to stop spewing in that bush, those windows are one-way glass”.
I’m still amazed they signed the RV over to us.
Anyway, we got it and did the eight hour drive to Virginia to play a club called Jaxx. We were running late so we organised with Immolation to go on after them, do an abbreviated set, and use their gear. The drummer and I shared a bin-bag, vomiting in it all the way. We were actually sick for another two days afterwards. We got to the show, set up our gear, had a preparatory chuck in the toilets, went onstage and were about to hit the first note when our fuckhead tour manager Woody came over and informed us that the club manager would cut the electricity to the venue if we played, and that the tour manager would throw us off the tour if that happened. We asked why. He shrugged, said something about us messing with the integrity of the lineup. All the fans in the front row looked puzzled when we put our instruments away and left the stage.
When we came back the following year on the Nile tour, Jaxx wouldn’t let us play again. We were on-time, hadn’t caused any shit or anything, weren’t even hungover and vomiting, and they arbitrarily told the tour that they’d pull the show if we played. We weren’t even allowed to enter the parking lot where we could have at least sold some merch. Fuck Jaxx, and fuck the people that ran it. Fuck them if they’re still there. If that place burned down today, the party would be at my place tomorrow.