2015 comes almost to an end and everything slows down between Christmas and New Year. The perfect moment to sort out photos, videos and memories and to look back on an eventful year.
First half of the year was mainly filled with the mix and mastering of “In Deep Waters”. We carefully listened to dozens of versions and continuously developed the perfect sound. From time to time, we escaped the studio routine for some concerts. Main theme of summer was to develop our acoustic set. Finally, in autumn, two great events happened at the same time: The release of “In Deep Waters” and our first big tour! I didn’t manage to write a lot here about it, but on Facebook one could follow our posts from all the different places all over Europe. So it’s the time now to present you a more detailed report of our journey.
Although the official tour start was on September 25th in Pratteln, it started earlier for us. After we were busy for weeks and months to rehearse the new acoustic set, to prepare and setup our new backing system, to order and register new merch, to prepare the simultaneous release of the new album and to count the days backwards in a sense of overwhelming anticipation, we entered the Nightliner on September 23rd in Hannover late at night. It should become our rolling home for the next month. I couldn’t decide which emotion was the strongest at that moment: My anticipation, my fear that I forgot something important or my need to sleep, as the last nights were all really short due to the preparations. But I was much too excited to rest. Finally, a dream turned to reality: Our first big molllust-tour! At first, we had to check out the double-decker bus in detail. In addition, the Stimmgewalt-choir arrived and we got to know each other a bit better when we slowly started to head south. At 5am exhaustion was stronger than my excitement and I finally tried to sleep in my rocking bunk. I needed some nights to get used to it, but then I managed to sleep as deeply as at home.
The next day started at a motorway station. We turned it into our personal bathroom. And it should happen more often on tour that we went out somewhere at a resting place with toothbrush and pyjamas to get ready for the day. We were happy about any shower or sink we could find. While we continued our ride, Frank and I took the time to finish last corrections on our backing tracks and to put our music and artwork on our new USB sticks. They should be available from now on as merchandise. In addition, we chatted with the Stimmgewalt-girls and guys. We arrived in Switzerland in the evening to pick up Orphaned Land at the airport. It was great to meet them again! Half a year passed since we met the last time. We exchanged some news and were surprised how late it was afterwards. Time to sleep!
The first concert was in Pratteln, in the fabulous Z7. We checked out the area and visited a bit or the contemplative town while we were searching for some colourful tape to mark our equipment. The idyllic view over the Alps felt more like a holiday than a tour. In addition, the legendary catering of Z7 definitely had the level of a hotel buffet. But when we started to build up on that huge stage, concert feeling finally awoke. And after a really great release show we headed west: To Lille.
It’s hard to imagine a bigger contrast then between those two places: Everything that was huge in Z7, was tiny in La Peniche and instead of being in the mountains, we were now under water. Well, you read correctly: The location was a boat and we played on a deck below the water surface. First insight of the day: If we didn’t want to risk holes in the ceiling or broken bows, our violins had to play on the stairs in front of the stage. Second insight: To get our instruments up and down the narrow stairs from bus to boat and back was quite challenging. We didn’t want to risk a swimming test for the piano. Third insight: There was only one small backstage room. Therefore the Orphaned Land guys inevitably learned what we girls wear or not wear under our dresses since we had to change our clothes somewhere. And to use the stage for it was definitely no option. For the show, I searched for my knowledge of the French language in areas of my brain that were abandoned for a long time. Occasionally searching for words, I managed to guide us through the evening, while Luisa and Sandrine tried not to stab our audience. As a reward, we got an aftershow party for free: Next to the venue was a fair. So we had beautiful fireworks in the sky and the tunes of carousels in our ears while we tried to get our equipment without a bath to the bus again. Well, such a colourful sky painting would be great every night, it was a worthy final!
Unfortunately, there wasn’t any time left to try out the rollercoaster, we had to leave to get to Nantes in time. We enjoyed some hours in the sun with a marvelous view on the Loire and ate Crêpes until the venue opened its doors for us. In addition, a strange visitor appeared: A giant mechanical elephant splashing water around. One really got respect in front of this creature in steampunk-style! It was really relaxing! And, finally, our show in front of a very enthusiastic audience was a great climax for a nice day.
Next stop was Bilbao – or at least a garage in the area. The air condition of our bus was broken. Therefore we spend our day off somewhere in the middle of nowhere. In the evening we finally drove to a parking lot at the outskirts of Bilbao. At first sight, the place looked absolutely boring. But soon, our Israelian colleagues unveiled the secret magic of it: The Holy Wall of WIFI. You have to know, a musician on tour doesn’t have many needs. Besides something to eat and to drink and a bathroom there’s only one thing, everyone is longing for: a powerful and working internet connection backstage. Unfortunately, this was rare on our tour. Therefore the Wall was so special: It was the back wall of another club where Orphaned Land already played a show some months ago. Directly at the wall, you reached the last glimpse of connection of their backstage WLAN. The phones of our Israeli friends still remembered the password. As a result, most of us were sticking on the wall and the WIFI was totally overloaded.
After a while, hunger was beating the need of internet. Therefore we asked around and found our way via subway to the historic center of the city. We walked a bit around, had a great Spanish dinner and enjoyed Bilbao at night. The picturesque narrow streets and the traditional Spanish street musicians gave us a taste of holiday once more. We went back to the bus with the last subway as we could sleep quite long the next day.
When we reached the venue at noon to prepare ourselves for the show, we realized this would be a special challenge: There was a lot of space backstage, but unfortunately, there was only dark blue light on the toilettes. And these were the only rooms with mirrors to prepare my makeup. How should we deal with it? My solution was simple: I recalled we had some music stand lights with us for our merch. Therefore I took one, clamped it on the hood of my hoodie and illuminated my face this way. As a result, I looked a bit like a frogfish, but at least I could see what I was doing with my makeup. And my surrounding had fun as well!
Finally, we entered stage in a great mood. But it seemed that Frank had too much of the Spanish sun: with a hazardous jump our king of the world left the relatively high stage to flaunt through the audience. But he obviously didn’t think about how to return beforehand. As a result, he stood in front of the stage like a duck in a thunderstorm. Luckily, Jan from Stimmgewalt lifted him up and I pulled him from above to get him out of his misery and back on stage again. The audience was pretty amused.
Afterwards, we were heading to Madrid. At first, we took another band member on board: Simon had already spent a holiday there and joined us now to travel with us for a week to take care of photos and videos. As Carsten unfortunately had to work instead of playing doublebass with us on stage, a seat was free for Simon. We jealously looked at the beautiful pictures he took of Madrid while we didn’t have the time to see much of this beautiful city. But the warm hearted and spirited audience was the perfect compensation!
Thanks to our pedantic labeling of each little cable we took with us, we luckily didn’t forget anything in a venue until now. In this manner, Madrid also became one bad memory: well-hidden between other stands, we oversaw Frank’s microphone stand and it was left in the club. We realized it the next day in Lisbon while setting up the stage. It was the start of an adventurous journey of the stand: It was shipped via express postage to Paris, where the local crew didn’t fetch it from the post office in time, so they had to ship it back home to us. Due to a very creative way of packing it, only half of it arrived at our place in the end.
But let’s go back to Portugal. Already the view from the bus window was awesome. The city was so beautiful! In addition, the venue for this night’s show looked stunning: More like a theater than a concert hall, the floor covered with elegant carpets. For the audience, there were stairs similar to an amphitheater, so everyone had a good view on the stage. But at first, we had dinner in a cozy little restaurant, about 500 meters away from the venue. On this short way, Sandrine and Luisa somehow lost track of the group while chatting with the girls of our Spanish support band Leaves. We managed to find them with calls and waving on the street. Meanwhile, Simon tested the good local red wine.
The evening was a blast: One cannot imagine a better way to play a show than in front of a sold out venue with a cheerful and absolutely enthusiastic crowd! In addition, we probably had the youngest spectator of the tour in the audience: a little girl obviously enjoyed the concert in the first row. Our short visit to Portugal definitely was way too short!
The next day, we played in Sevilla and Simon got a special job: I somehow destroyed the heels of my shoes. Therefore, he was searching for a shoemaker, while I was doing the soundcheck on socks. It was just today, when Oded, the brilliant sound guy of this tour, decided to play some oriental party hits during setup time. While the Israeli musicians rolled their eyes because of the cheesy texts, we made fun of dancing to it. And when doors opened for the audience, Simon appeared just in time with my repaired shoes. In addition, our catering rider was fulfilled in detail. As Lisa likes to eat crisps, we mentioned them in our sweets-section. As a result, there was a giant crisps-bag on the table. It was so big one could eat a month out of it! Lisa had to take a picture with it, of course!
And the food god traveled with us: We kept our next stop Granada in mind especially thanks to the incredibly delicious catering. We could taste highlights of the Spanish cuisine. It was stunning!
Finding the time for a shower sometimes was a challenging task, when 32 people had to share one shower. So, from time to time, you have to wait for a quite long time until it is your turn. This also happened in Granada. Half of the show of Orphaned Land, Frank and me were waiting for the shower. We made the best of it: I took the crown and danced on the balcony backstage to the oriental rhythms and Frank took some pictures. Finally, I danced into the shower in a great mood! That was really a special aftershow party.
Speaking about a party… when the clock stroke midnight, Luisa’s birthday started. We couldn’t really celebrate it that evening as we had to load in the bus quickly. But after some hours of sleep, we did so in Barcelona. At first, we took Luisa for an hour to the beach and we enjoyed the sun and the waves. Meanwhile Simon went through the city in a secret mission: He organized a little variety of cakes for her. We hide them on stage until we finished “König der Welt” in that night’s show. Then, it was the time to crown her and to hand the cake over while the Spanish crowd sang spontaneously the Spanish version of “Happy birthday” for her. Completely surprised, Luisa smiled like a cheese shire cat and tried to thank everyone. Unfortunately, the crown was too big for her, so it slipped several times over her face. The hall was filled with the warm and cheerful laughter of more than 300 people. This day will last as a very special one in the memories of all of us!
And it wasn’t even over yet. At the same time, it was the last concert of Leaves on this tour. The sympathetic Spaniards also had a surprise for me. I offered them to use my stage piano for their show so they didn’t have to bring their own one. As a thank you I got a little traditional Spanish instrument. What a nice gesture! I had to try it out directly afterwards in the bus.
We said good bye to the Spanish sun and headed North. Our goal was Lynnes, a contemplative village close to Aix en Provence. A very warmhearted club owner welcomed us and we took the chance to go for a walk through the nature. As our tour bus had many little break-downs (we had just been several days without power, so all our supplies in the refrigerators were spoiled), our sound technician decided to redecorate the bus. He glued with neon green tape the word “NOT” in front of the sign “On Tour Service”. He almost had to pay a high price for his little prank, as the chair broke while he was standing on it for his redesign. But fortunately, he didn’t hurt himself.
Aix en Provence was also the hour of Nathalie: Our merchandise lady had found an ally with Frank for her passion for good cheese. So she disappeared for a short while to organize a gorgeous cheese dinner. We really enjoyed it and didn’t leave a single crumb on the plate.
After a concert with living room atmosphere we continued our way to Lyon. We already adapted to tour life: Frank got already used to shave himself at places built for dwarfs and we, the girls, got our crazy moments. This time, we enjoyed ourselves with funny selfies. Just watch some of the shots here. Therefore we almost didn’t get on stage in time! The audience in Lyon turned out to be great and the local crew totally spoiled us. We got a royal dinner full of treasures of the French cuisine. Self-made Crêpes with a huge variety of toppings, Quiche, cheese plate, grapes, Tarte – we almost couldn’t walk back into the bus afterwards because we definitely ate too much. It was so delicious! Perhaps this was the reason why Simon left us again in Lyon.
The next day, we had a déjà vue: We played on the boat in Lille once again. But this time, we also had a day off there. It was a good opportunity to visit the town and to do a little sightseeing tour. The city looked great indeed. Chen from Orphaned Land found the best words for it: “It seems as if the buildings are all made of ginger bread!” Sandrine felt almost home and showed us some French baking specials – the perfect breakfast! A bit later, we found an incredibly beautiful church. Next time we want to play our acoustic set there!
In addition, in Lille half of our tour was over. Therefore it was time to go to the laundry. We found one, decoded the French manual for the big industrial washing machines and put all our clothes in one of them. As we didn’t have a clothes-basket, we put ourselves in a line and handed over slip by slip and sock by sock to get everything in the dryer. None of us had a dryer at home, so we were not so sure about the right temperature. We started with a quite low one and had to repeat the drying three times until we achieved the planned result. To hang it everywhere in the bus for drying was no option, of course. We amused the rest of the bus anyway, when we were back and started to sort out our clothes again. We involuntary played the quiz: “Guess whose slip is this one?”
After the concert, we quickly departed again as we had to get the ferry to Great Britain. We all prepared for a night with few sleep. But more about it part two of my diary about the European tour.