Here’s the second part of History Of The Hawk‘s European tour diary. Singer, Nathan Coyle promised and delivered photos of cool buildings and food, so it’s just like Instagram. (You can follow ThrashHits on Instagram, by the way.) In Part 1 we saw some cool bread in Budapest. This time there are Romanian window cleaners, flat tyres and gypsy curses. Life on the road, eh??
Day 4: Cluj Napoca
We wake up in Szeged at silly o’clock still pissed, desperately in need of a shower, I reek! Our only option is the mall over the road… It was a smooth operation: in, Head & Shoulders on, head under the sink out! The shit you do on tour!
Time to set off and we are immediately lost trying to find this road. It doesn’t happen so we seek out a Tesco to buy a SatNav. This doesn’t work out so we just ask some guy in the Tesco who looks at me like I’m a total idiot and points me five miles down the road. We lose two hours!
We finally make it to passport control at the Romanian border, which ran pretty smooth bar the Romani gypsies who instantly swarm over us as soon as we get there. Things start to get really hairy! Two of them come over and clean our windscreen. Protesting means nothing!
Before this kicked off we were looking for a highway pass you seem to need over here. Nobody would help us and it was obvious we were not welcome. Back to the gypsies…
After the windscreen shit they ask us what we are looking for so we tell them about the highway pass. One of them pulls out his wallet. Out comes this pass and he sticks it on the window. We just give them €20 as we want to go but one of the females just won’t piss off. They all start circling the van and she’s pretty much in the van – we are all shitting ourselves. It ends up with Pete smashing the main guy’s hand in the van door! We thought he was going to smash the window in. We get the fuck out of there!
Wired off what has just happened, we head into Romania. This place is a different world compared to back home: horse and carts, tiny villages, people dressed like 90s rejects and all the houses are falling apart! I think Pete and I have cabin fever – we’ve been sitting in the van for the past six hours and we’re cracking up! We learn how to say big cock in Hungarian (“nagy fasz”) and repeating the words big cock in Italian and American accents. My dad would be proud.
Bar that, Romania is a stunning country: mountains, hills and valleys. We arrive in Cluj Napoca to find our show has been cancelled due to the other bands on the bill not being able to get over the border. Gutted, but shit happens. Raul, Tudor and the rest of the Gambina Pub guys really look after us. The people are beyond friendly in this city, to the point where it’s probably one of the friendliest places I’ve ever visited. Cluj is a beautiful city and I’d fully recommend it to people. Just don’t try and drive over – they have mo regards for safety at all.
Fully pissed we head back to Raul’s flat where we all meet his room mate Andrea who feeds us moonshine Palinker, which just says “1996″ on the bottle. That shit is seriously strong. Time to crash. Even though it was a long shitty day I’m glad we were able to visit a city like this. We will definitely be back and we may even play!
Day 5: Slovakia
We wake up to a flat tyre. We are all getting really pissed off now!! We piss around for a while then make the decision to get all the gear out the back of the vand try to figure out how to get the tyre off the bottom of the van! We are all super tired and hungover so we head back up to Raul’s flat to see if we can find a mechanic. Raul knows somebody! Tudor, the venue owner turns up with the mechanic, who takes the punctured tyre away to get fixed and we all set about getting it changed! After a while the mechanic heads back with the fixed tyre – which Tudor kindly pays for – and we are ready to go!
A few hours after heading back into Hungary, already behind schedule for our show in Slovakia, we hear a funny noise coming from a different tyre while we are on the motorway, we put it down stones hitting the under of the wheel but we all agreed we would check it the next available turn off. Basically… the tyre is absolutely fucked. The whole of the inside is shredded to hell and bits of metal are poking out. Each and every one of us is highly pissed off now, to the point if the van owner was around he wouldn’t be in a very happy state after it!
We change the tyre and set out to look for a replacement for the replacement… Of course, mechanic garages are either always closed in Hungary or there simply isn’t one. We give up, safe in the knowledge we are up shit creek without a paddle, still in north Hungary and having to drive to west Slovakia, we all know there is not much chance the gig will still happen, already being 6pm. This blows massive shit!
We get lost crossing the border and lose more time. We’re all starting to squabble in the van and there isn’t a happy atmosphere. We’re just over the border in Slovakia and it’s really poor. A lot of the houses do not even appear to have electricity. If we break down here, without even a spare tyre, we are totally screwed. We’re all mindful of this and nobody is saying a word to each other.
However, the Slovakia scenery is stunning. There are mountains everywhere but none of us are capable of taking that in right now. While we are trying to talk to the promoter to explain what is going on, Ray is doing his best to get us there. Time is ticking on and it’s almost 9pm. We’re all getting pretty nervous as Ray is obviously really tired and stressed but he is a determined guy so he is putting his foot down as we are still at pretty much the other side of the country.
We arrive in Banská Bystrica around 10.15pm but could have been later. All we want to do is crash but we eventually find the venue thanks to some help by two local guys who jump in the van with us. Without their help we would have been screwed as it a maze-like city. Ivan the promoter and his friend come down to meet us but we are all super disheartened by what has happened so we must not of been the best sight! We load in to the venue. I’m assuming it’s to keep the gear safe overnight but Beckley is telling me the gig is still on. I look at Ivan to ask if it’s true and he confirms. I could kiss the guy but instead settle on jumping on him and giving him a big hug!
The venue is this really cool cellar and the show is pretty busy. The support band comes off and it’s time for us to let off some frustration! We play pretty well after the day we’ve had but we were all the walking dead after today so we set off to crash. Myself, Pete and Beckley head off with Ivan’s friend and the rest go with Ivan. It doesn’t take us long to fall into a deep sleep.
As we drop off we’re all thinking maybe the gypsy whose hand Pete slammed in the door has put some sort of curse on us. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier.
Day 6: Prague
We wake up shower and wait for Ivan to come and pick us up to take us back to his pad to meet up with the rest and eat breakfast. Ivan was absolutely great to us even after putting up with the shit of having to wait around for us. We were so happy we got to play and were so thankful they were prepared to hold the show until we got there. Banská has a huge city square which we saw in passing last night, it would have been amazing to have a look around the city as it looked beautiful but we did not have time – that’s some of the bullshit that happens when you are a touring band. It’s pretty rare you get the opportunity to be a tourist.
We set off to try and find a new spare tyre, again not having much luck in a nearby Slovak town. We all agree to head to Brno in the Czech Republic and just risk it, otherwise we will be late again! We get to Brno and immediately find a tyre shop, which turns out pretty cheap!
We get to Prague and drive to the venue. It’s a good way out of the city centre and deep in the suburbs! The venue is in the middle of a big park – flats all around it. No tourists ever make it around these parts! The venue, Cafe Na Pul Cesty is actually a social enterprise aimed at rehabilitating people with mental health issues, with vocational therapy. I was really interested in this as I used to work in something similar! It’s really awesome how it is run: weed cafe in the day and hardcore venue at night. Only in Europe…
The promoter turns up and asks if we can go on first due to the two Italian bands, The Mirror and My Distance are running late. We are all cool with that so load all our shit in!
The place fills up for when we go on so we just go for it. European crowds are way different to crowds in the UK, in regards to winning people over. At home you grab the mic and go into the crowd and it doesn’t bother people. You can tell if people are enjoying it and UK crowds do get involved but there’s always a sense they are holding something back, even when it does go off…
But in Europe, when you grab your mic and throw yourself at them they don’t seem to know what to do at first – it’s like they’re not used to it. Then you feel this tension that starts to build in the crowd and it always goes off at the same point, when we play ‘Arab Spring’ the crowd just goes apeshit. Fuck cool points! They go for it and I love this part of the world for that.
After we come off stage we meet the promoter. It’s this hard-as-fuck looking guy with a massive throat tattoo. It turns out he’s the softest guy in Prague! They feed us this vegan pasty looking thing that looks like a big cake slice. I was too drunk to ask what it was but it was amazing! Like a cake slice of spring roll!
We hung out with the two Italian bands, My Distance and The Mirror for the rest of the night. It turns out the dudes in The Mirror are good friends with Minus Tree (we did a split with them) so it’s a small world and they turn out to be just as good onstage as they are people!
One of the guys in My Distance is this uber-Italian guy – you know, the kiss on the cheek thing. I embrace it, being well cultured and all but it catches Beckley off guard. Being the young typical English man, he takes it pretty well but gives the guy a awkward smacker on the cheek – not the peck the air thing. Fool! Off to bed to sleep in the venue’s office over the road. We have time to look around Prague city centre tomorrow. Real luxury!