PANIC PANIC PANIC.  We are unpacked, unprepared and Coco the Cat knows something is not right.  We haven’t been able to play with her all morning.  Sarah and David arrive in the van, it seems for once we have rented something better than the standard rust-bucket…

Listening to John Foxx, I set the tone for the tour, sounds like he’s singing “Touching Cloth”.  Hit traffic on the M23, Verity is sewing feathers on my stage outfit.

The stage is tiny – about the size of a small double bed.  We jam ourselves into place, pink feathers and all.  I get a telling off for my bum-notes in Campari & Sex – I swear one of them wasn’t me.  We get a tenner for our efforts and conclude that London promoters are generally useless fuckwits.  Later, at Laura’s house, Sarah earns the title 'Electro-Womble' as she stops to pick up a piece of metal off the road.

Call of the Wighat (Live at the Betsey Trotwood, London. 30.05.07)

Endoscopy Blues - Live at the Betsey Trotwood, London. 30.05.07 (recorded off a portable TV)

Laura feeds us a hearty breakfast and we are on our way.  In Margate we are sent on a hunt to find a key for the only public toilet.  You’d think that such a prized facility would at least be kept clean, but no…  We visit the Shell Grotto.  David is highly sceptical and believes it was built in the 20’s.  The Pain’s favourite design is the Cocktail glass.  Check out the lido and then walk down to the beach, Sarah slips on some green slime and slides down on her arse for 2 metres.  We collect shells to make David his own personal shell grotto.

Sarah admires the Shell Grotto cocktail glass

During soundcheck, a microphone falls and cracks me on the head - a cold, hard pain rushes through me, feeling sick and dizzy, with a pack of ice on the bump.  The place is full of 18-year-old girls and boys, they are mighty confused by two girls and synthesizers.  Buy they jump up and down like maniacs, and add whooping and hollering backing vocals, and clapping, wherever they can. As soon as they pick up the words they shout along in the choruses.  The boys try to put Verity and Sarah off by making obscene gestures [we weren’t scared of some 18-year-old boys though! – Sarah & Verity].  The lighting is terrible; we can’t see a thing we’re playing.  WE R PUNK ROCK.

Kiss Cuddle Torture (Live at The Qubar, Margate. 31.05.07)

Wake at 5am to get the ferry URRGHHH.  They don’t seem phased by the amount of shit we have in the van.  Maybe they just want an easy life.  We are separated from the truckers and people are confused as Sarah tries to sleep under the table – “Is it a child?  What’s it doing?”  She looks like the child/thing from Don’t Look Now in her red cardigan and knee socks…

Drive across Belgium and the Netherlands.  Approx 16h15 we cross the border into Germany.  Verity points out a town called Wankum.  This amuses our addled brains.

AZ-Mülheim is a huge communal squat building.  We are welcomed like old friends, they feed us heaps of vegan food and free drinks, give us beds and a hot shower. We are overwhelmed by their generosity.  Sarah wanders into gender make-over corner, a guy puts strong glue on her upper lip and starts giving her a ‘tache – “It’s a bit wonky… later I will introduce you to the person whose hair it is”.  We play to a warehouse full of Gender Terrorists.  We love it.  And they love it.  We come dressed in white and gold with flying feathers.  Sarah takes out a Gender Terrorist’s eye with her theremin during the encore.  Someone tells us we should enter for Eurovision next year, he will vote for us.  We have been awake for 24 hours now.  We are drunk, tired, and happy.  Miss Pain hearts Mülheim.  Einfach Klasse!  Wir Sind Der Hammer !!!!

Sell it 2 the Kids (Live at AZ-Mülheim, Mülheim an der Ruhr. 01.06.07)

What we learned today:
Einfach Klasse!! – First class!! (in a kinda 80's way).
Du bist der hammer – You are the hammer (in a kinda rock way we think).

We are fed a huge vegan breakfast, the sun is shining, do we really have to leave? 

Fun fun fun on the Autobahn… We seem to have lost track of the days.  It is Saturday, I think.  Still feels like we are on holiday.  Sarah’s moustache vanished in her sleep, mine is still here.

Karlsruhe: We are taken to a restaurant and fed good food and more drinks.  Then we play in a vast derelict car show-room that has been converted to a temporary venue/gallery space.  It will be destroyed in 2 weeks.  We don black with yellow arrows and give them a good dose of the Pain, and they still want more.  The Police arrive and close the impromptu disco in the office.  Our new friends try and drag us on to a club in a slaughterhouse, but it is 4am and we convince Sarah that we must sleep.  Back to our Art Nouveau hotel, super-size beds and chandeliers in our rooms.

E.B.F.H. (Live at Autohaus Zschernitz, Karlsruhe. 02.06.07)

What we learned today:
Super geil... Alter – Roughly translated as super sexy and then some (best said in rather deep voice).
Lüster klemme – Electric fuck or old fashioned electricians' term (we are not totally sure which)...
Will you be my luster klemme? (needs to be said with a 'Doctor Face').
Danke schön - Thank you.  But you must say schön with a a long 'ooooo' sound, not an 'er' sound (as we were told all English people do). We were told we would look much cooler if we said it properly. Though in Berlin, they told us they just say Danke (no schön)!

5 hours later, I awake to the sound of church bells.  We can’t resist a photo opportunity outside the bathroom…

Our host, Oliver has been up all night, but meets us for breakfast, and we eat like kings and queens.  They ask us to sign the illustrious hotel guest book, we check out the other entries from Angie Reed, Bobby Conn, and Quintron & Miss Pussycat.  Oliver then takes us to see his studio where he crafts incredible gold jewellery, he shows us a unicorn pendant he has carved from mammoth ivory, standing atop a tiny blue-enamelled gold strawberry (a gift for Bobby Conn’s wife).  Beautiful.

We say our goodbyes and set off on the 7+ hour drive to Berlin.  We fill up the van just before we hit empty, and discover the wonders of the UriMat - you piss on it and Albert Einstein lights up PING!  Later, in the absence of hot water, Sarah tries tea made with sparkling water.  The grimace each time she drinks suggests she may not try it again.  We drive and drive, passing beautiful settlements and toy towns, mile after mile of forest and vast open farmland.  We are wowed by soaring buzzards, and hovering kites, and majestic wind-farms, and every Autobahn mile is fast and smooth.  Stopping for coffee and sandwiches: among other things the vending machine in the toilets dispenses something called the ‘Travel Pussy’ – presumably to keep the lonely truckers satisfied on those long lonely journeys.

20h10: The exhaust has reached the volume of a V8 engine, and the floor beneath my feet is getting toasty.  Could this be the end of the Pain van?  The exhaust has sheered off under the drivers seat and has been dragging along the tarmac.  Luckily, like good Pains we have breakdown cover, we phone for assistance and wait.  Verity films the dusk and the lights on a nearby wind-farm. 

Sarah and David pass their ‘car breakdown in German’ module.  The van ist nicht tot.  We are back on the road.

23h30: Arrive in Berlin, we phone Brezel, and he drives out to find us, we follow so we can drop the Miss Pain arsenal off chez Stereo Total.  They take us for falafel and a beer, then back to sleep in their amazing flat.

What we learned today:
Auspuff – exhaust pipe

They tell us they have no beans for breakfast, and are amused that we drink Earl Grey (“I thought it was an English stereotype”).  Brezel is appalled at how long Sarah brews the tea for.  Before we woke, he phoned a mechanic and arranged to drop the van off. 

The mechanic tells Brezel the van is a heap of shit!!  We are dropped at Alexanderplatz and go up the Fernsehturm, to get a glimpse of the city.  Next we wander over to find the venue and visit some remaining sections of the wall. 

When we return to collect the van, the guy tells us the exhaust is mostly rust and is like a sieve.  As we wait for an invoice, Brezel tells us about the dream he had that morning.  He dreamt about our performance – Sarah was dressed as a bourgeois lady in her boudoir.  She was trying to catch Verity, who was dressed as a spider on the ceiling…

Later we play at a Cowboy Club.  Verity smashes a bottle of glitter in her bag, so we all cover ourselves in it.  In Berlin, we are told, Monday is like Sunday.  Our audience is a small crowd of Berlin faces (Stereo Total, Mignon, Cabine, Miss Le Bomb, Noisy Pig, EchoKrank, Lady Gaby, and a handful of scenesters).  Feels like an audition, hard to gauge a reaction, but we play our little socks off anyway.  Verity uses Brezel’s leopard-print brothel creepers as a barometer of success – she says they tapped and danced all the way through.  At the end we all lay on the stage, as we pack away our equipment, everyone comes and tells us how amazing the show was, and apologizes for the small crowd.  A girl tells me she likes my ‘tache: “It is very Freddie”.  I make a mental note to trim it to be more Sparks before the next show.

Campari & Sex (Live at Bassy Club, Berlin. 04.06.07)
Shelf-Location ROM (Live at Bassy Club, Berlin. 04.06.07)

EchoKrank - Live! soundtrack to Nosferatu

EchoKrank - Live! @ Bassy Club, Berlin

the post-gig glow, Berlin

What we learned today:
Wir würden sagt 'das war spitze' - phase used by ladies in the 40's: we would say 'that was the spitze (point/sharp)'.

Everyone into the van.  Hit the Autobahn, and David requests his Yes double live album.  We pretend we can’t find it for a while, but relent as he is driving.  We spend about 4 hours spotting our pretend favourite bits.  Nobody enjoys the drum solo.  We offer to find David some feathers to wear so he can feel more Prog in the driving seat.  We ponder what Miss Pain would be like on Yes’s budget.  It frightens us.  Even scarier – by the last song we’re actually enjoying Yes.  We realise that David has just been nurturing the seed that was planted at the end of Endoscopy Blues.

Sarah and Dom, listening to Yes

At the service station they pipe Sting into the toilets – for a more tantric experience.  And you can buy an ice-cream called ‘Bum Bum’.  Back in the van, we race towards Frankfurt, and make it just in time for a speedy interview on RadioX, then on to the venue.  There is a busted piano in the backroom.  David scares us with renditions of Pain and Queen songs – like a demonic Les Dawson, with a maniacal grin.  The turnout is small – there is a biiiiig show across town.  But we play our best-est, and we pass the audition.  By the last song we have a big enough crowd to make noise for an encore.  We dedicate Buslanecrash to David.  As we hit the first chorus it occurs to me that this may be a slightly ill-conceived portent for our journey home…

Werkout (Live at Club Keller, Frankfurt am Main. 05.06.07)

Day Seven - Sarah's lost it / David's had enough

We meet Frankfurt’s resident electro aficionado, he has seen 3 bands tonight – Coco Rosie, Miss Pain, and another.  He says we beat the other 2 hands down.  Another small victory for the Pains.  We load the van, and drive to a small town outside the city.  We cram ourselves into a tiny room with 2 of the biggest cats we have ever seen.

What we learned today:
Schnurrhaare - whiskers (literal translation: 'purr-hairs')

Again, we have only had about 4 hours sleep.  Our voices have all dropped about an octave – David is hitting Barry White low notes, Sarah is sounding more like Nico, and I have hit a pleasing Lee Hazlewood register.  Verity is mysteriously unaffected.  Hit the road, another gloriously sunny day.  We have 7 hours to make Ostende.  I finally get to listen to Love Is All.  I am tired and happy.

13h40: We leave Germany.  We vow to return as soon as we can.  We have a near death experience trying to get onto the Brussels ring road.  By some chilling coincidence Suicide’s ‘Ghost Rider’ comes on as we sit in traffic, trying to calm our shot nerves.  Nobody mentions Buslanecrash.

Sitting in the ferry lounge, loading up on nasty cheap coffee, we hear something even more alarming – a car-crash record mixing up Sting and Snow Patrol – we hope we never have to hear it again.  First on the ferry, so we commandeer the TV and watch ‘Walk The Line’ and ‘Amadeus’ (David hopes it'll have Falco's 'Rock Me Amadeus' in it - it doesn't. Furthermore, it is shit!), drink more coffee, and try to stay awake.

At passport control, as they check the contents of the van, we try to explain what kind of band we are.  They seem convinced and let us back in.  The roundabouts are a minor challenge, so we decide to stop for food and have to spend £10 on 2 sandwiches and 2 cups of tea.  David puts on the Bonzo’s to keep him awake – “Look out there’s a monster coming…”  We arrive back at Miss Pain HQ around 1am and unload.  Coco the cat is waiting for us, and makes us play with her for 2 hours before we can empty our heads to sleep.  Tomorrow we return to normality.

Miss Pain enjoy a post-tour ice cream

words: Dom / translations: Sarah / video: Verity & Laura Guy / photos: Verity, Sarah & Laura Guy / audio: Feline1