By Scott Heller
From Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)
This is my story of what it was like to be on the road for 4 days (3 concerts) with Gas Giant. I hope you enjoy it. This was the first tour ever for Gas Giant and I was coming a long. Peter, Jespers friend, was the driver and Ralph came to do sound and help out with the organization. Everyone was very psyched up for this trip. I exchanged some money at 10:00 and got down to the rehearsal room by 10:30 with my sleeping bag, synthesizer and clothes bag. We were out of there with the gear by 11:00 and stopped at Peter's in Nørrebro and then out to the Black Tornado studios to pick up Stefan's gear as he was recording in the studio the night before. One more stop for food, beer and hash in Chrisitania and we were on our way! There were rows of seats in the Fiat-Decato van. Peter and Tommy were in the front. Jesper, Thomas and Ralph in the middle, and Stefan and I in the back (The only non-smokers). It was only 30 minutes before the first beers were being drunk and Thomas was rolling a joint! We started off listening to Steamhammer - Reflections. What a great record! Spoke to Stefan about his early musical experiences. He started playing guitar at age 6! When he was around 14 or so he was playing with a lot of older guys in the mid to late 20s and doing Santana and Mahavishna Orchestra, etc. Was turned on to Hendrix at 16 and disappeared for two years, getting deeply into Jimi...
We listened to the 8 new Gas Giant songs with the guitars on them. Really great stuff. We listened to a bit from the rehearsal room, Black Magus, and then we reach the ferry. Just perfect time to get right on. Eat some lunch. Buy 30 more beers (Christmas Beer 60kr) and everyone but Stefan and I got more cigs. One hour goes by. Back in the bus, more beers and another joint and we are listening to the Who live at Leeds - only two tracks. Then we listen to the CD, Free-Free. What a great record... 3 more hours to go. Stefan and Thomas crash out for a bit. We hear some of Spine Of God, Killing Floor, Tres Hombres and Mountain. We roll into Hannover and can't find the club. An older lady drives us there and we follow her. We were pretty close.
Reach the club and meet the Good Witch guys. Really cool guys. 10 years younger than us or more! The Good Witch guys help us bring the gear into the club and we do a soundcheck. Play most of Too Stoned. I have a good monitor sound and can hear it coming out of the PA as well. I have to play next to Thomas on the far left. Usually I am next to Stefan on the far right but there is more room on this big stage on the left. Ralph has a lot of trouble with Stefan's guitar sound. He is only playing out of the Rivera cabinet and not the Fender as well. He usually plays out of two cabinets and has a different sound in each. Wilhem is a great host and fixes a nice cauliflower Indian style curry for dinner and there is a cucumber salad and bread.
Everyone chills out and waits for the people. We listen to Dinosauric Futurobic by WE and Thomas rolls a joint. Lots of beers are being consumed. Everyone is in a great mood.
Good Witch Of The South start around 10:45. We had no idea what these guys would really be like. I was totally surprised as they are a real mixture of 80's hardcore, stoner and some straight rock and roll. The are totally into their art and the singer is really far out on stage. Cool set of music. They play about an hour.
After a quick set change we hit the stage and open with a spaced out free form jam that lasts about 5 minutes before Stefan eases us into Too Stoned, and this was a very Stoned version. Wilhem comes running to the front when he realizes what song we are playing. This is a crowd pleaser and the chorus grabs the audience. We get a great response from the crowd of around 100 people. It has never been like this in Denmark. Next up was Firetripper, an awesome number. I could hear what I was playing really well so this went very well. I think I was probably too loud for the rest of the band as they could not adjust my sound only in my monitor so I had to be loud in all the monitors. Great version. New Day Rising was next and I left the stage to hear what it was sounding like and check the recording and see the crowd. It sounded massive but much better in the front of the room than in the back (boomy). I think the crowd was a little slow to get into the Gas Giant sound as it was different and they could not really predict how the song would go even if they were really following. We improvise on all the songs, some more than others. Wilhem called us the Grateful Dead of Stoner rock. What an awesome compliment! Back On The Headless was next and I started some cool intro sounds and Jespers introduced us and was chatting with the audience a bit. Great vibe on the stage. It was a cool version of this song with a very heavy ending. Notaman follows and rocks the house. A new song that will be on the new LP-CD. Stefan breaks a string and has to switch from the Les Paul to the Dean Anderson guitar and this requires some sound adjustment on the amplifiers as well. Jesper talks to the audience. Another new song follows, Orange Fender, and Stefan burns up the strings. What an awesome solo! This was the first time to ever play these last two songs. They are much more straight songs for Gas Giant and fast and heavy.
Storm Of My Enemies was the highlight of this show. I make some very heavy storm sounds and Stefan lays in the opening guitar notes and you just feel the power and passion in his playing... melts you away. The jam on this was so cool. I am still bummed we did not get this recorded... ugh... I experimented a lot on this song. I am not sure the audience understands the dynamics of what is happening to us as we mutate into the music and become one with the sound and the stage... and the audience disappears into space... That is what it was like... Intense shit. We close the main set with Phantom Tanker. Audience really digs this song and calls us back for an encore. We play Never Leave This Way and a totally improvised version, not much like the LP at all. A killer jam at the end of this song. We got the encore recorded. I worked the merchandise stand this night and talked with the fans and Schilling and Wilhem. A good night! At 2:30 Wilhem comes and we perform a little Swamp Room ritual with some German bitters.
1. Everyone takes a bottle.
2. Remove the top
3. Hold the bottle with the little label toward the center.
4. Try to throw the cap into Wilhems mouth (no one comes close)
5. Place the bottle in your mouth and drink it, no hands
6. Place the empty bottles on the table in a circle with the labels facing in!
We leave the venue about 3:30, most people except for me are pretty drunk. I would guess the Gas Giant guys (except Tommy) drank 20-25 beers each this day. Great day and one of the best Gas Giant concerts ever.
I only slept 2 hours and feel pretty dead but can't sleep. Eat some food and take a shower. Jesper, Stefan and I go in search of some guitar strings. Check out a Nørrebro like neighborhood of Hannover. The big mall like place has nothing. We eventually find a place.
We follow the GOWTS guys van to Leipzeig. Not as many beers and joints are smoked on the way. Stefan and I talk a lot. Some very cool buildings and architecture but not that much of interest in this big industrial town. Seems like we drove all over the place to get to the club.
It is a 3 story high building but the club is in the basement. Above is a movie theatre. We arrive just about 5, unload, eat a few sandwiches, soundcheck before the movie starts at 7. Try out There's One. GOWTS wants me to play synth with them on one song. I agree. We go to a local place for some food. I get Gnocchi but have to eat fast and get back to soundcheck with the bands. All goes well. Turns out we won't start playing until like 1:30. Still only slept 2 hours and feeling really tired. Place gets pretty full around 12:00. GOWTS start around 12:15. I would guess 120 people. GOWTS play a rocking set and the crowd are now warmed up. I play synth on Havoc, the 4th song in the set. Goes great. Band and crowd loves it. I get introduced as the diabetes researcher. They played the same set as in Hannover and are also having a great time. Fun to watch. The band are totally into it and all over the place. Action packed.
We finally hit the stage around 1:30. I am dead tired but get some renewed energy and drink a few beers. I start with some space sounds and the band comes out. No intro jam tonight. We open with a totally different version of Too Stoned and Stefan plays the coolest wah wah guitar. The crowd are into it right away. A lot of energy from the audience in the small club. Firetripper follows and I am just grabbed by the energy of the band and have a better control of my sound with a cool amp monitor and the PA right above my head. Awesome version. New Day Rising is next and wow... the energy is amazing. Blows your head right off. I don't play on this one. Just drink beer, headbang and take some pictures. We decide to play Ride The Red Horse instead of Back On The Headless Track. This was totally out of this world! 15 minute jam. Tommy just took us out into that great unknown place with his drumming. I experiment but not too much. Killer jam. Audience are totally into what we are doing and we get amazing feedback. Notaman and Orange Fender are next and Stefan totally rips it up. Notaman seemed very fast. Storm Of My Enemies was next and what a mood is created in this song. Stefan lays down some of the most amazing guitar I have ever heard. The feel in the room was incredible. Wilhem calls us the Grateful Dead of stoner rock - a cool level of improvisation every step of the way. We play the way we feel it, can't be any other way for us. A great jam... seems to go on for a long time. I just watch the band as they fly. Phantom Tanker is next. I just play a little bit on this one. It is hard for me to find the sound I want to back up Stefans guitar on this one. Crowd loves it and are singing the chorus. I had written There's one on the set list but we did not play it. It was around an hour now. I go and change the minidisc and Thomas introduces the band. We play a 20 minute version of Never Leave This Way. Totally amazing. The mindisc was stuck on pause so we did not get it recorded but we did get the rest of the gig. Ralph and Wilhem are totally blown away by the band this night. For sure the best gig we ever played.
What a night. I went around and talked with the fans and thanked GWOTS for letting me play with them. Met Sebastian and Manser from Caligulia666 and he invited us to come play at a Stoner Rock Festival he is sponsoring in mid-Sept. Calamus, Colour Haze, Demon Cleaner and Spirit Caravan are some of the other bands that will play. He said this was one of the best concerts that he had ever seen! What a nice compliment. I would have to agree. He said that Pleasant Journey was the CD of the year on his web site (www.caligulia666.de). Very cool guy. I head back to the crash pad at 4:00 by myself. Peter, our driver passed out and missed the show. I wake him up to get in. I hear everyone else turn up a hour later. Tommy never shows up... met a girl and got laid! I sleep 4 hours.
Another day begins.. This R&R lifestyle is hard, especially the cigarette smoke, my lungs hurt. I find it very hard to get any good rest. I only get 4 hrs sleep. Ralph and some of the guys snore like hell when they get on their back. I record a minute or two of Ralph snoring like hell. I get up and write this journal. I decide to go sit in the kitchen and eat some bread and cheese and listen to Steamhammer - Mountains. What an incredible record!
Stefan and Peter and I go for a walk around the area where the club is. It is on the outskirts of one side of the city. Not much interesting to see here. Funny to see some of these old east German cars. I have never ever seen these models before. We pick up the gear at the club and we are off to Berlin around 12:00. Band buys two bottles of vodka. Horrible traffic getting out of Leipzeig. Takes 1½ hrs to go like 40km. I get about 1 hr sleep in the van and read some Stem Cell papers. We hear the new Korai Öröm CD and the Copenhagen Space Rock Festival compilation CD, Mountain, Cream - Wheels of Fire, Hendrix... The smoking is killing me. I don't know how I would last on a 2 week tour. I have just read a very interesting interview with the guitar player from Acid Mother's Temple from Japan. The guy has a very special outlook and vision into music. Why do I feel the need to play with Gas Giant? They don't need me at all... We arrive into Berlin about 18:00. Some amazing buildings and statues. Berlin is a damn big place.
Wild at Heart is a pretty cool rock and roll bar! A long deep passageway with a stage at the very back. We load the gear in. I am starving. The stage is quite small. I am on the very corner next to Stefan. The sound in the room is very loud. We get to share a mic and I sing some back up vocals. I chat with the Good Witch guys. Really cool. Gas Giant guys are drinking a lot this day. In a great mood. We go eat at a cool Turkish kebab place. Packed with people. People start to float in around 10:00. We are opening this night. Wilhem is the DJ this night and playing amazing psych and stoner rock. Sebastian and Manser come all the way from Leipzeig to see us again. We are very surprised but happy. The club is getting a lot of people. We start around 11:15 or 11:30. We open with Too Stoned. A very spacey beginning like in Hannover. Firetripper follows, a great jamming song. Stefan plays some really different guitar on this night. Songs are a bit loser. I have no monitor but can hear myself pretty well as my head is right next to the PA speaker. Firetripper gets the crowd really flying. New Day Rising is next and the crowd are in our pocket again. We bring back Back On The Headless Track. I experiment with sounds quite a lot on this one. A great heavy totally freaked out ending. We go quite mad. The crowd seem to dig it. We had Ride The Red Horse in the set but they skip it and go for Notaman. Stefan breaks a string during this song, just like in Hannover. I leave the stage for Notaman and Orange Fender. The sound out front is great. We do a long jamming version of Storm Of My Enemies. A very cool jam. I try to create some good storm sounds and environment and not to freak out too much. We skip Phantom Tanker and decide to play Never Leave This Way. These our last two songs last 27 minutes! Not as amazing as in Leipzeig and a totally strange bluesed out version but we get into a killer groove at the end. 60 minutes long.
GOWTS were up next and they started the show with the bass player playing by himself (he is all painted in white and wears a mask) and then the drummer comes in and then the two guitar players get a groove going and then the singer joins and they play White Boys. The singer is really suffering. He has lost his voice after the last show and could hardly talk this day. He drank his own urine as someone told him this was good for the voice. This made him sick from what I am told but perhaps helped his voice? Anyway, he managed to do ok on the singing. A very cool set. I really like their cover of Boris The Spider by the WHO. They also cover I Got A Right by the Stooges. I think their best original song is 114 though. They invite me to play on Havoc again. It is really great on this night. Thanks guys. I hope I can play with them again. They are sweating like mad as the club is really packed. They play two encores and leave the stage pretty drained. We had a good party after the bands played. I spoke with a lot of the fans at the club and met people from Nurnenburg, Hamburg, Hannover, etc. Dave from Liquid Visions came to the show and said we were spaced out and he really loved it. He had to leave early as his girlfriend was smashed.. A great tour...
You can visit the Gas Giant web site at: http://www.gasgiant.dk.
You can visit the Good Witch Of The South web site at: http://www.goodwitch.de.