“Wait… You PAID to get on this tour?!”
We wake up in time for check out, and it’s around this time I’m regaled with details of the groups adventure on the Reeperbahn the night before. It’s then I find out that there was an inordinate amount of money spent on one of Hamburgs finest prostitutes. According to Aussie 2, he initially went in with a low cost offer, and as the festivities went along he was asked for increasing sums of money for additional services. I guess prostitution is a lot like used car sales in that respect.
We have a fairly leisurely morning in Hamburg, the guys decide to eat at a local cafe and as is my M.O I try and find a way to eat as well as I can for as cheaply as humanly possible. I think I hit the Penny store on the Reeperbahn and grab some sub-euro pastries and a dirt cheap coffee.
The drive to Dessau for the next gig is fairly uneventful, around 4 hours of efficient German scenery. Dessau itself isn’t really what you’d call an ‘A’ town. Or a ‘B’ town really. It’s eastern Germany at its post war best, blocky and clinical. The venue itself is kind of cool. The stage basically looks like a front room: wallpapered back wall, and some standing lamps on stage in lieu of any sort of lighting rig. It’s a cool place, and as per usual the promoters and venue staff are very accommodating.
Not that anyone on the tour appreciates it, mind. After the grimy metropolis that is Hamburg, Dessau is apparently far beneath them. Sulky faces match the whiney complaints and it’s clear we’re back to square one as far as morale is concerned. I chat with Aussie 2 outside, who is characteristically fine with the whole thing.
“As long as I can sell some merch, I couldn’t really give a fuck where we play.”
Which, hey, isn’t the worst attitude in the world. Aussie 2 isn’t getting paid for any of the shows, I find out. Aussie 1 is giving him a daily amount for food etc, but aside from that he’s just making money from Tshirt sales. It’s not really an uncommon thing to happen as far as supports, especially if they’re sharing transportation. Hell, I’ve done it.
It’s my conversation with some of the guys from the band that sheds light on something I really hadn’t anticipated, however. I find out that the reason they’re especially down on how this tour has played out is that they paid £2000 just to play the shows. On top of that, they were solely responsible for the costs involved with hiring me and all fuel, parking, toll, ferry etc expenses.
I’m left pretty speechless by this, to be honest. I’m sure it’s just my naivety coming from a DIY punk background, but I’d really never come across paying for tour support before. Especially not at this level, playing these kind of venues. They had essentially dropped thousands of pounds to be able to play to 10-30 people every night. Whoever made the decision to agree to that probably needs to rethink a lot of their life choices. Apparently the £2000 was specifically requested to be able to cover the Aussies flights to and from Europe, which is kind of crazy.
The way I see it, a well booked and promoted tour should recoup any and all costs associated with actually doing the tour. Again, from what I gather (I wasn’t tour managing this run, so I wasn’t privy to settlement amounts etc) the guarantees were really not great, if they existed at all.
The show itself was fine, though complaints were still loud and frequent. There were around the same amount of people there as there were last night, albeit in a much smaller room. I spend most of the night outside in the van, as it’s a smoking venue and I’d rather not feel and smell any worse than I do already.
We’re put up in a travelodge room next to a McDonald’s, which is the absolute dream, right? I get to sleep in a bed, good times.