Monday, July 1, 2013

... Exclusive BLACK PYRAMID "2013 Adversarial TOUR-Diary" by Darryl Shepard !!!!

Black Pyramid recently toured Europe in support of our new album “Adversarial” (Hydro-Phonic Records). I was asked to write up a tour diary for it. Here is it. I tried to cover as much as I could as concisely as possible. I hope you dig it.

June 12 – We arrived in Frankfurt around 7 am and discovered none of our phones worked, so we couldn’t call or text our driver Sylvain to let him know we were there. I decided to walk outside the terminal and within about 20 seconds he spotted me and came over to introduce himself. We got in the van, promptly backed into someone’s car, exchanged words with the driver and then left the airport for Freiburg, Germany, the first show of the tour.

We got to the venue,  Slow Club, around noon, which was really early, but we were exhausted and were able to take a nap in the upstairs apartment above the club, which was outfitted with bunkbeds, a shower and a kitchen area. After resting for a bit we headed downstairs for soundcheck. There was a large box awaiting us which contained out shirts for the tour, which were printed over in Europe. We hadn’t seen them yet, even though we were supposed to have received an email with a photo beforehand. We opened up the box and had a genuine Spinal Tap moment. You know when they receive their copies of “Smell the Glove” and the cover’s all black? Well, we pulled out the shirts to discover that the band name had been left off of them. Excellent! A tour shirt with just the album cover and no band name. Oh well. At least we had the vinyl and CDs to sell.

The show was excellent, we were the only band on the bill, it was sold out (around 100 people), so it was a great start to the tour. The venue was cool, there was a curtain around the stage so we stood behind it while someone introduced us and a smoke machine did its thing. We finished the set and when I tried to get off stage was literally pushed back on, so we did an encore of “Metropolis” by Motorhead, The crowd was great, very responsive and into it. After the show a DJ spun some great records, and then Gein and I went to a bar called Keet’s with some of the locals until around three in the morning (I even shot some pool and won a game), and then we headed back to the band apartment and crashed out. A great first night on tour, for sure. Couldn’t have gone better.

June 13 – The second show was in Geneva, Switzerland with Black Cobra, Bison BC and Arabrot, who were all on tour together. It was at L’Usine, which is a pretty big club, much bigger than Slow Club. Right outside was a river with the greenest water I’ve ever seen, and it was a perfect day out. There was also a giant Great Dane in the club who belonged to the soundguy. He was about the size of a small horse. During soundcheck he decided to take a piss and left a trail across the entire floor of the club. He was promptly ejected.

I met up with a friend of mine from Boston who lives over in Switzerland now, and it was good to hang with him for a little bit. The show went well, the bands were all great. Arabrot in particular blew me away. We closed out the show. Afterwards we went to find the hostel where we were staying. We finally arrived at some place that was straight out of a Stanley Kubrick movie, all weird lighting and minimal furnishing. But alas, there was a mix-up and we weren’t booked there, so back to the venue we headed, which also had band apartments, so we crashed there and tried to fall asleep while deafening techno music from the upstairs club blasted until around six in the morning. With four bands all staying in a couple of rooms it was a little crowded, but everyone got along and was cool with each other so it wasn’t a problem at all.

stage set up in Winterthur
June 14 – Winterthur, Switzerland. Cool venue called Gaswerk. They have strict volume laws in Switzerland so we were told that we couldn’t play very loud, and they kept an eye on us. Another smoke machine here as well, so we were three for three on that front. Another band apartment as well in the club where we would be staying, and another amazing meal cooked for us in the kitchen. A band called Trecker opened, they were cool, kind of on the Clutch side of things. Our show went very well, even with the volume restrictions in place. Nobody in the audience seemed to notice but it was definitely difficult for us to play at a lower volume, seeing as how the actual sound of the band depends a lot on volume itself. After the show a lot of people just hung out in the backstage/kitchen area and smoked cigarettes all night, so we couldn’t hang out very long as it was a giant cloud of smoke. But it was a good time, and there was an endless supply of beer, so no complaints here at all.

June 15 – This is where things got really interesting. The van had been acting up a bit the previous couple of days and Sylvain was worried about it. We drove to an auto dealer in Germany on the way to Dresden to get it checked out. Turns out the van was running on only three cylinders and could not go on. So, Sylvain headed out to get another vehicle while we waited for him at the dealership in Germany in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing around to do, at all, so I went for a little walk and then fell asleep in the van. We waited for about four hours or so and then Sylvain returned….with a car. Somehow we stuffed all of the drums, guitars and most of the merch (as well as ourselves) into the car, leaving behind all of the amps, and headed to Dresden, a good five hour drive. Luckily we were going on late at the show.

We arrived in Dresden to a city throwing itself one hell of a party. We were playing BRN, a huge outdoor festival, and most of the city was shut down. We also met up with Beth from the booking agency, who had a new van and gear for us, but we couldn’t get the gear to the stage at this point in the day, as the crowd was just too massive. We could barely walk through the crowd with our guitars. So we borrowed gear from the other bands who played and closed out the show. It was pretty crazy. Wall to wall people, everyone just partying and having a great time. Our set went really well, and even though we were told we couldn’t play any longer we were allowed to do an encore. After the show we headed to the hostel we were staying at around four in the morning and crashed out, exhausted from a very long day. The next morning we were awakened at 10 am by the loudest techno music ever being played right outside our window by a DJ. No chance of sleeping through that.

June 16 – We head to Berlin for a show at the Comet Club. We have a little free time so we’re able to go get something to eat, that something being a Doner Kabob, which I had been looking forward to since arriving in Germany. We got pointed in the right direction for the best one in the area so we head out. Back at the club, a local band called Android Empire is opening for us. They’re really good, instrumental metal, with a great bassist. During our set, there’s a girl standing directly in front of me who not only looks like she doesn’t want to be there but looks downright depressed. She’s there with her boyfriend, and neither one is having a good time, at all. During one guitar solo, I get right in her face, staring at her the entire time, just messing with her. No response at all. So I move the mic stand away from that side of the stage towards the middle and ignore them for the rest of the night. They stayed for the whole show, although I have no idea why. She obviously was having an incredibly shitty time. The rest of the crowd was great though, and we enjoyed another excellent show. We also signed a lot of autographs on this tour, which was weird, but people would buy the vinyl of the new album and have us sign it, which we would gladly do.

After the show back at the hostel, there was karaoke (“Hungry Like the Wolf”, butchered by yours truly), drinking, and then we hung out with some Australians who were part of a larger group touring the concentration camps. Fun vacation! We grabbed some beers and food with them and hung out on the streets drinking and talking metal until around four in the morning, debating which tour bus across the street was the best one to take a piss behind.

June 17 – Bremen, Germany. A big city but we were playing in a section of it which was like a small town by itself at a club called Romer. This was the second show where we were the only band playing, no opener. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have to borrow the soundguy’s amp, a Marshall JCM 900. Again, there are volume laws apparently that need to be adhered to, and during soundcheck it becomes apparent that this isn’t going to work out. At all.  I can’t hear anything at all onstage, even though the amp is right next to my head. After a couple of attempts to rectify the situation I basically lose my cool, tell the soundguy it’s the worst sound I’ve ever heard in my life, tell him it’s fine though, and walk outside. He asks what we can do to improve it, so we move all the monitors right in front of me so I can kind of (but just barely) hear the awful guitar sound I got out of the amp, and then proceed to play a great show in front of a very appreciative audience. Seriously, it sounded like ass onstage but the crowd seemed to think otherwise. Okay then!

Afterwards, Clay and Gein head back to the hotel for some rest but I hit a bar down the street with some locals, including a lunatic they called the Metal Turk (much to his chagrin) along with his trusty sidekick, some dude who was like six foot five, had an incredibly deep voice and probably could’ve squashed me with one swoop of his hand. Great people though. Sylvain came back to the bar to get me, as I had no idea at all where the hotel was, and we had a blast drinking with our new friends in Bremen. On the way back to the hotel we stop to get something to eat and run into the soundguy. All is well, we made up earlier, and we shake hands. It’s all good.

013 in Tilburg
June 18 – Tilburg in the Netherlands. 013. Home of Roadburn. We’ve been looking forward to playing here. Turns out Whitesnake is in the main room, so this should be an interesting night. We also meet Walter, the mastermind behind Roadburn, and chat for a bit. The 013 is a big complex, and it’s a great place to play, but it’s like a heavily secured bunker. You can’t go anywhere without somebody who works there having to open a door for you. Even just getting into the venue is somewhat tricky. Also, there is no AC so it’s pretty damn hot inside. Dinner is fantastic (salmon, veggies), cooked up in the kitchen downstairs. Toner Low are opening this show, and they blast the audience with tons of low end as the sounds of Whitesnake reverberate throughout the building. Before we even take the stage I’m dripping sweat, and once we finish it’s as if I just got out of a swimming pool. One of the hottest shows I’ve ever played anywhere. But again, the crowd is great, they’re all drenched in sweat as well, and they won’t let us leave the stage. Once again, “Metropolis” by Motorhead is busted out as our encore, and then everyone heads outside for some much needed air. Afterwards we head to our hotel where we have three rooms, so I get my own room (snoring has its upsides!) and have a good night’s sleep.

June 19 – Paris, France. We’ve never been to France before, so we’re definitely looking forward to this. The show got moved to a venue called Glazart after the original club got closed down. It’s a pretty big place, and Spindrift and Blaak Heat Shujaa are opening. The soundperson is a lovely young lady named Angie, and we have maybe the best sound of the entire tour at this show, at times during the set I’m sure it’s the best sound I’ve ever heard onstage. I also meet up with a couple more ex-Bostonians who now live in France, and we catch up. The opening bands are great, Spindrift in particular are very entertaining. Another very hot show, but there are some fans onstage at least this time to provide a little relief.

June 20 – Antwerp, Belgium. We’re playing at a venue called Kavka. Another cool club, food and beer are provided, dinner is once again amazing. I’m eating better on this tour than I do at home, seriously. Everyone has been very gracious and kind, and the beer has been plentiful. It makes a huge difference when you’re on the road and you know that you’ll be fed when you arrive at the next destination. After soundcheck we have a little bit of time to wander around the city a bit, although most of the stores are closed. A band called Cat Claw are opening, they’re a duo of guitar and drums. Good stuff, the guitar player (a girl, btw) uses loops with her guitar, so she can play along with herself. The sound here is really, really good, the soundguy definitely knows his stuff. Another excellent sounding show onstage, and the crowd is into it as well. Afterwards some woman asks me to go surfing with her (you know, in the ocean), even though I tell her I live in Boston, and then she introduces me to her husband, who is a fan of the band and has bought the album. She then asks me if I can go to a Queens of the Stone Age show with her, but again I tell her I live very far away and I can’t do it. I try to extricate myself from the situation as politely as possible, and she ends up leaving soon. We hang out for a bit drinking and listening to the metal DJ blast some tunes. Definitely a good time.

June 21 – Hellfest. The last date of the tour. The main reason we’re over in Europe. We have a great slot, going on right before Sleep and Neurosis, and we have an hour to play. We also have no idea how we got that slot, but we’re not complaining. Everything runs efficiently at Hellfest, which is amazing given the sheer size of the thing. Backstage I see Dee Snider, David Vincent and Biff Byford, though no sign of David Coverdale. Hellfest is in Clisson, France, which is actually a small town out in the country surrounded by vineyards, so it’s kind of surreal to see all of these metalheads making their way to the site, cars and tents everywhere. The sheer size of Hellfest is overwhelming, and I don’t even get to take it all in. Sensory overload.

Hellfest (Clisson)
After Pallbearer finish their set we soundcheck, as there is about an hour between bands on all the different stages. Sleep are hanging out, and Al Cisneros compliments my guitar (“nice guitar, three pick-ups, it’s got that ‘Master of Reality’ sound”) and introduces himself. He’s very laidback, a very cool guy. Then we wait for what seems forever for our set to start. But it’s worth it. There’s a couple of thousand people there to see us, and everyone’s having a great time. The sound is massive, the light show is totally pro, and yes, there’s a smoke machine. During the middle of “Swing the Scimitar”, I break a string, but I’m able to finish the song. Clay and Gein jam a little bit while I do the one of the quickest string changes in history, and the crowd cheers when I’m ready to go again. We finish up our set and I feel like I could play for another hour. Afterwards we get to hang out and check out some other bands. Sleep kills it, they sound great. But then it’s time to go, Hellfest is done, and we head to our final hotel on the tour.

June 22We meet up with Sylvain, Matte and Beth from Sound of Liberation in the morning in the dining area of the hotel to figure out the money situation and wrap up any loose ends. It’s been a great tour, and any problems we had were overcome. We didn’t miss any shows and we met a whole lot of awesome people. It’s raining out, but that’s okay, and we get in the van and head to Paris for a few hours to hang out and see the city before driving through the night to Frankfurt to catch our flight back home. Ten shows in ten days. It just flew by. Can’t wait to do it again.

A million THANX to you Darryl for this very very interesting Tour-Report... 
(Special thanx also to Steve Murphy from Kings Destroy for having suggested this nice idea and puted us in relation)

Check out BLACK PYRAMID's killer new album "Adversarial" !!! 


  1. I was in the crowd @Hellfest, and it was an awesome show! Thanks to BP for their great set and hope to see them back in France soon!

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