|There is something extraordinary about visiting places that sums up a very special history. Growing up in the eighties in western societies, we witnessed this great bear out in the east showing muscles on television through parades and displays of power, while we played with our toys, we were carefree and unaware of cold war disputes and international politics. Then almost eighteen years after, we find ourselves boarding a plane headed for this place in the east, Moscow more precisely, a center of power and admiration that have been desired from Napoleon to Adolf Hitler, hold in an iron grip under the reign of Stalin, accentuated by Khrushchev during the sixties, to the Glasnost reforms under Gorbachev, to the fall of the so-called "Empire of Evil" in the early nineties as Ronald Reagan had named the USSR in the eighties. Seen in a historic perspective it is quite obvious that the connotations of evil reminisced the movie Star Wars and implied the West to be the "Empire of Good".|
Friday, 2nd of March, 2007:
It was cold and snowy when we landed in Moscow, filled with expectations and high hopes of what to come. We made it through customs with no problems and met with the two promoters, Achmed and Ivan, who greeted us warmly in the airport. We drove in a Mercedes bus to the hotel. Moscow Traffic was pure hell, cars (from the mighty Trabant and Lada to the Porches and Ferraris – yes, Moscow is truly a city of contrast) literally everywhere, and it took us almost one hour to get to the hotel. No worries. Everything was killer and our designated driver, whom I can't remember the name off, got us through traffic safely. Moscow is a big city, 111.85 miles in circumference with approximately 15 million inhabitants.
We arrived at the hotel, checked in and found that our rooms were situated on the top floor, meaning the view from the window was absolutely stunning. After a rest and a shower it was time for the first run of the scheduled sight-seeing. We drove around for what seemed like forever to find this authentic Russian restaurant, where Achmed had reserved a table for us. The Russian food culture was really delicate and some of the food actually reminded us of regular home cooked Danish food.
After dinner it was time to see the classics. First of all we wanted to see the Red Square and the Kremlin, so we went there first. On our way we passed by one of Stalin's seven skyscrapers, named The seven Sisters that was built by German war prisoners in the late 40's and early 50's. The architecture is called "Gothic-Stalinism" and is inspired by the early western skyscraper architecture, recalled in for instance The Empire State Building in New York. They were built to honor the state and to display the power of communism as the very heart of the empire. Today the buildings host the University of Moscow, some Government affairs and a hotel among other things.
Well, we got out the bus right in front of the mighty Red Square. Looking at this mythological place in world history, we all felt a bit humble and out of the ordinary. In front of us the beautiful Vasilij Blazennyj Cathedral welcomed us. The cathedral is a trademark for Moscow and it is very beautiful, but not as big as you might think. Its story is a cruel one. After it was built the architect got his eyes pierced out by Ivan IV, also called Ivan the Terrible, as a power statement, so the architect couldn't build another similar Cathedral or something even more beautiful. Ivan the Terrible was a Tsar (the Slavic equivalent of the Latin term ceasar), who brutally destroyed the inherited aristocracy and imposed on landowners to be servants of the Tsar. Just like Lars Christensen, hahaha…
Then we walked across the famous Red square, walked by Lenin's mausoleum, took some pictures. We were all stoked about being in Moscow, and then continued to walk through a very western like part of Moscow. Morten, Jesper, Jeppe and Jesper bought some Russian military hats to keep warm, and to make sure that the local salesmen could bring home some extra that night. We all had a laugh about them looking like real tourists. One thing that caught my attention was the fact that there were western advertising everywhere, sushi bars and Dolce & Gabbana shops. I have absolutely nothing against it, but perceiving it through historic perspectives you really get a feel of the major contrast between capitalism and communism. Capitalism lives above ground in Moscow, in the city centre, communism underground or in the suburbs where foreigners usually don't go. Looking back, I can't get the big red star overlooking the Red Square out of my head, mainly because the Russian Flag of the Federation fluttered in the wind right next to it like an evident symbol of a history in contrast.
Back at the hotel it was time to taste the Russian tradition of Vodka. Our friend Ivan emptied a whole bottle of Vodka into eight large size shot glasses, and then bottoms up! After the first round, we got into it. We got really into it. We got another bottle of Vodka from the bar. The same modus operandi. Bottoms up! Then beers… Then another bottle of Vodka… And then the fourth bottle of Vodka arrived at the table… At this time things started to get blurry and I only have a vague memory of what actually happened. Some local gangster decided to statue his influence. He bought a round of vodka shots for us, and then demanded that Jeppe and I should sing in the club, karaoke-style… We said no. He insisted. We said no again. He insisted, and we began to feel a little bit scared. We decided to make the singing a group effort since he was being really persistent about things, and we didn't want things to get out of hand. Then all of a sudden he left the club, and we never saw him again. Strange, but we felt lucky. Then we dissolved in booze. Lars, Jesper and me decided to make savage. We walked around naked in the hotel corridors, knocked on people's doors, trashed parts of our hotel rooms and fell asleep like gay sailors in the end. The next morning we found out that the hotel had surveillance cameras all over. Well, to say the least: we had a serious paranoia during breakfast. Hahaha, so much for rock 'n' roll debauchery. Emo fools.
Saturday, 3rd of March, 2007
At two in the afternoon we arrived at the Tochka Club. Damn, it was a cool club, and it reminded us of some of the venues we had played before during the Danish Dynamite tour. Services were sublime and the vodka was like a floating river after the show. Sound check went as usual. No problems there. Achmed had made sure that all our equipment was there and we sounded fucking killer. During the day we just relaxed and chilled in our five star rock 'n' roll backstage room. Listened to a lot of classics, Testament and Pantera blasted through the speakers. Then we did a couple of TV-interviews, which was awesome. After dinner we started to get ready for the show. Our support bands were already rocking the club, skilled and authentic. We were absolutely stunned about their talent and musicianship. Just about thirty minutes before the show our tour manager Gandalf and Achmed picked us up and we went to the space behind the stage for the final preparations. During the change-over the audience started to chant and yell "Raunchy! Raunchy! Raunchy! Raunchy!" and they continued and continued until our intro came on; then they exploded into a massive response. Fucking goose bumps, baby! The show was absolutely amazing, and I'm pretty sure that we will never forget it. Thank you, our Russians friends – all 800 of you…
After the show we had an awesome after party until the early morning. Vuuuuuuudka, vuuudka debaucheries and one hell of a time!
Sunday, 4th of March, 2007
We woke up in the morning with no hangovers. Seriously, no hangovers. After a visit to the hotel restaurant for some breakfast, it was time to see more of Moscow before flying home to Denmark. We started out with a city walk. It was cool, but nothing special really, beside the Russian version of the Hollywood-like Boulevard with famous Russian actors celebrated with stars, well-hidden under the snow. After eating some delicious food in a very local restaurant or cafeteria, we went to see a music store with loads of merchandise, DVD's, CD's and well, cassettes! It was to cool to see how well especially metal music is on the rise in Russia. It was awesome, to say the least.
Outside the winter was also on the rise. Cold as fuck and snowy, but it could not stop our venture through Moscow. We really wanted to see some of the more war related stuff, so we had Achmed arrange a trip to this World War II memorial park. Nothing is more metal than Tanks and guns. But the historic reality was somewhat different, and we all felt a bit emotional, witnessing these things, and it made a huge impact on us. In front of the war museum, there was a big monument celebrating the victory over the German war machine. During 41-45 over 20 million Russian lives were lost. The monument rose from the ground almost 328,08 feet, and on top two angels sounded the triumph. The monument itself was built like an allegory over St. George, slaying the dragon (in this case a giant eagle). The museum's architecture was again a display of power, symbolizing triumph and victory. We decided to take a look inside the museum. We took the short tour since we had to be in the airport on time. Inside the museum, Russian artists had made huge wall paintings, which all portrayed significant battles like the siege of Stalingrad, the tank battle at Kursk, the taking of Berlin and so forth. In the middle of the Museum, you could take a "walk of sorrow". Hanging from the roof, thousands of long chains symbolized a life lost during the war. When you entered this surreal hall, you almost instantly got this almost celestial feeling, which words really can't describe. The Great War is an important aspect in Russian history, no doubt about it, and this tour gave us a chance to witness the very anatomy of the Russian national identity that thrived on the victorious outcome of the war.
When we got to the airport that night we had some time to relax before take off. Thank god! Hangovers were on the rise and we all felt kinda tired. We all go through important stages during our life, and while sitting in the airport, I got this feeling deep down inside of me that I just had experienced a very important part in my life, and I'm pretty sure the rest of the dudes had the very same feeling.
We would like to thank Achmed for having the courage to bring us to Moscow and Ivan for taking good care of us. You are truly amazing people. We would also like to thank our Russian fans for welcoming us the way you did. We send Godspeed to all of you.
See you next time! From Moscow with HANGOVERS
Kasper T. and RAUNCHY