Viva Polska!

Tuesday July 27th, Czestechowa, Poland

We woke up, cleaned up and rolled out of Prague and towards Poland.

We’ve heard mixed reviews of the country regarding everything from roads and shows to police and locals. Robert tells us that the country has a faction of rednecks, but also that the hardcore scene is very tight and has historically been pretty consistent. Our third driver, a small German named Vincent has never been to the country without being attacked by someone. He assumes that it’s largely because of his German citizenship, but it may be debateable.

We arrived to the venue in what may be considered downtown, but Czestechowa is largely a pilgrimage city and things are pretty decentralized unless you’re around the churches. Pavel from Regres provided us with a thick pile of vegan food and we loaded in as the rain poured down.

The show filled up slowly but steadily, and we were amazed at how many kids came up to us with a few words of English: “Thanks for coming up here” and “We’re excited to see your band” were common, if not perfectly stated sentiments. We played a longer set, since Poland is Robert Matusiak’s (AKA Robert Refuse) home country, and the demo 7” record was released there and well distributed. We came out to some tracks off the demo and immediately the place went bonkers. We were amazed at the reaction, and passed the Mic to Robert to sing Glue so hess’ knees could get a break.

It seems like the Polish faction must be bigger and stronger than any other group of HC kids we’ve seen on tour, and maybe in the whole world, because they threw Hess and Robert around like rag dolls as they fought for the mic and their turn to dive. We closed with Our World and a couple covers, wiping down guitars and cymbals with ear-to-ear grins and a crew of new friends testing our Polish language skills and asking for sticks, picks, and setlists. I have to say that it might have been the best set of my life, both in terms of our energy and the energy of the crowd. Their sincerity and enthusiasm made me wish that we had a whole ‘nother record to play for them in addition to the 35 minutes we played (maybe our longest set ever!).

We did a quick interview where the lines of questioning were around Hess’ last name and One Life Crew. A gun may have been on the table during the interview. Apparently Hess has the same last name as an infamous Nazi leader, even though there is absolutely no relation. Similarly, after many questions on tour, we’d like to clarify that “Right Idea” does not allude to any right-wing politics or nationalist leaning. We’re a straight edge hardcore band comprised of five friends who lead our lives as we each believe to be the right idea. This doesn’t entail any tolerance for discrimination or intolerance within the scene or the world around us. As Hess says on stage, “We’re a unity band.” Following the delightful interview, we crammed into the soggy van and drove off into the night.

We went back to Pavel’s where we spread out to sleep and caught up on emails with loved ones. We awoke to a split pea-corn spread on toast with tea and coffee, ate ourselves full and quickly began our drive to Vienna. Big ups to Pavel and his partner Agata for helping us out with the show and home cooking. Regardless of previous heresy, we were impressed with the strength of the scene and were delighted to get to play in Poland.

Better photos than we can provide are available at http://keepthismoment.com/photos/right-idea/. Please check them out.

There is also a full video of the set here


Ask and ye shall receive...

So after yesterday's photo request, we got some shots from Poland and Prague CZ. Special thanks to both Pavels for the shows. To keep things brief, we had the best show of our lives in Czestochowa, Poland yesterday, played another great one in Vienna tonight, and can barely forget the great post-Fluff matinee from Monday. It may sound cliche, but fuck it, these are the best shows and people we've ever encountered. Please check out the wonderful pictures at http://keepthismoment.com to see what we mean.

Shots out to Luis and the Hungarian crew for taking us out to see the Vienna sights at midnight on a Wednesday!

Robert Refuse sings a Right Idea song in the Motherland!
Crew pic following the After Fluff Matinee
A mob in Czestechowa
Hess stretches his back after a long day's drive.

More voluminous updates will follow tomorrow. It's 3am and time to sleep off tomorrow's 8-hour drive...


Tour videos and pictures!

Hey, if you're tired of crew pics, push-ups and staged van photos, then send us links to your camerawork! We know the flash bulbs have been popping lately, but we haven't proof that the film turned out. Get at us!

Thursday July 22

We headed to central Oslo to check out the local flavor and exchange some currency before hitting the road for Gothenburg. The city was really nice, so we did some push-ups and snagged a few postcards before heading back to Sweden. Grzeg drove hard and made good time so we could arrive in the city on time for food and to help get things get set up. The evolve guys took a bus four hours from Oslo to Gothenburg just to play this show, leaving at 9am and arriving in the afternoon. In the states, that would never happen, likely due to infrastructure problems, but also the car culture we’ve created. Over here, it seems that the backline is static and the kids go back and forth however they can with their drum breakables and guitars. It’s totally awesome that kids are willing and able to attend shows without the need for huge vans. It’s all based on community and sharing of cabs, drums and sometimes amps.

Speaking of sharing, Staffan who did our show, set us up with an entire backline and drums, sparing us the time and effort of setting up. When we arrived at the venue, a community center in Gothenburg, there was a three-course meal of salad, pasta and vegan goulash, bread and brownies. It was entirely vegan and we, once again, got too full for our own good before playing. We got a chance to hang out with Evolve, and had a great time chilling around town before the show. The show started with a couple good local bands, both of whom covered SSD. Evolve played next and were once again, super tight. The energy when they play is through the roof, and they were for the second night in a row, a tough act to follow. We played a quick set, both in speed and duration, and then proceeded to watch the world’s most efficient load-out occur. Stefan and his crew, including John from Malmo, seriously had the backline out and loaded in 15 minutes. While Grzeg took the backline to the storage spot, we chilled with Evolve and the gentlemen who helped with food and most of the night’s duties (sorry we forgot your name!). He loaded us up with leftover food and upon the van’s arrival and packing, we bid our farewells.

We stayed with Staffan, and he took great care of us. A purebred hardcore kid, we were once again treated like kings. The man even shared his own bed with us—that’s generosity.


Wednesday July 21: Malmo Sweden to Oslo Norway

We headed further into Viking country today for a show in Oslo Norway. We had to do another currency conversion since the Swedes and the Norwegians use different Krona(Krones?). This was our fourth currency conversion this week, leading us to believe that European drug dealers must have to carry conversion charts since a dime bag may be an 8.75 Kr. Bag in some other country or a 9.5 Euro bag when in the rest of the EU. The reason for the switch is that Norway is pretty rich in oil, so it’s the economic powerhouse of the region and doesn’t want its regional affluence devalued. Unlike the US where we privatize the profits and make the risks of extraction public, their oil wealth is entirely state-controlled and the money flows in the form of public infrastructure and social programs. Sweden has a similar idea about currency, but largely exports music (Millencollin, Beyond Pink, Victims, Wolfbrigade, HIM, etc) and cars (Volvo, Saab) instead of oil.

Andreas, the promoter set us up with a show at a large squat in central Oslo. It was really nice and resembled an above average apartment building/community center from the States. We were blessed with great bands to play with, Common Cause, Evolve, and Bitter Taste. Common Cause needs no introduction; they are ex-members of Damage Control (Livewire Records) and have been a part of the Oslo scene for a very long time. They have a new record coming out on React! In September, so be sure to check it out. Evolve are four guys from Oslo who are between 16 and 21 years old, playing fast straight edge hardcore. They sound like a mix of Four Walls Falling and American west coast hardcore. They’re easily one of the best bands we’ve seen on tour, regardless of age and country of origin. Bitter Taste was playing their first show and played with a high-energy style.

It seemed like the whole vegan and straight edge scene came out and showed love to all of the bands. We even met Trish, a Portlander (Oregon, USA) studying at the U. of Oslo who was repping hard for the local vegan groups. Delicious baked goods were had by all courtesy of the Ink not Mink faction. We had some technical difficulties, including a big-ass cut on my hand that sprayed blood all over the place, but managed to get through the set with help from athletic tape and our Norwegian friends who helped sing SSD’s Glue and Agnostic Front’s Last Warning and some of our older songs. Torgeir (spelling?!) and the guys from Evolve gave us some love in the pit, even after playing their own sets, and Andreas got the local kids moving as well. It was a fun night and really solidified the Oslo scene in our minds. Scandinavia should be proud of what they’ve cultivated in straight edge and hardcore culture.

After the show, we stayed with Marius, a handsome lad (sorry Chuck) whose father was on the Norwegian Olympic team for cross-country skiing. He’s a solid drummer and really great guy. Our conversation turned from cross-country skiing to snowboarding, and I was reminded that Norway produces not only crude oil and great hardcore, but also some of the world’s best professional snowboarders, like Terje Haakonsen, Daniel Franck, and many, many others. After a walk to the local store for late-night snacks, a pair of inebriated women accosted us. They demanded we tell them our astrological signs and the only thing that could break them away from us was the trolley that almost ran us all over. She had a thing for Ingo, our roadie, saying that it was her birthday. Ingo chilled out and we made a clean break back to Marius’ place.


Crime City Redux...

Tuesday 20 July 2010

We awoke to a great spread of eggs, tofu, fruit, oatmeal, crackers, jam, fruit and coffee that Clara and Tijana had prepared. Robert got his Soppo, a local Odwalla-like fruit drink that is rare elsewhere in Europe, and I got my caffeine. All was right with the world at that point, and it was about to get more right.

We had decided to go swimming on Monday, so we packed our trunks and walked across town to the beach.

After a few dives off the breakwall, we settled into the grass at the dog beach with Clara and Doris, Clara’s cocker spaniel.

We did push-ups, got sunburned, and found out that tops are optional on the beaches of Scandinavia. This has both good and bad points; you can use your imagination to figure out what we mean. Several hours, layers of skin and dives later, we grabbed the bus back to the practice spot and reloaded the van for the trip to the venue.

We loaded into the venue, a sick downstairs by a parking garage that comfortably fit 50 (it fit 100tonight though) and then headed around the block to Clara’s where we ate another amazing meal full of vegan crepes, strawberries and vegan crème. Too full to play, we went back to the venue and set-up merch just in time to catch Self Abuse’s first show. Self-Abuse is a band comprised of Alex (Clara’s boyfriend) and Kalle (Balance) and two guys from a Swedish band on Feral Ward. Since my Swedish is terrible, I can’t remember their names, but they left a lasting impression on me as a band. They were totally tight, discordant punk rock in the vein of 1982. I think they pull some pages from Dead Stop’s playbook, and their hometown crowd was certainly pulling for them.

Self Abuse was a tough act to follow, but we did our best to end the night playing our fastest and hitting our hardest to match Self Abuse and please the totally rad crowd. We had some technical difficulties including a bass drum spike breaking, so people took turns sitting in front of the bass drum. Andy, Robert Refuse, Andreas from San Diego (USA!), Patricia (Beyond Pink/retired ballerina/push-up champion), and a guy who sent five text messages during one song all kept the kick in place tonight. We ended with an encore of Our World, and I proceeded to load the van in my underwear since we’d soaked through our clothes and all of mine were back at Clara’s place. The locals were both surprised and delighted by this turn of events, and in the end, we have some pictures fit for the cover of our next record.

We grabbed another cheap and delicious falafel and parted ways with Gzeg guarding the van and the rest of us sleeping at Clara and Tijana’s spots. Thanks for the great show, great company on the stage and great hospitality Molmo! The scene here is great so be sure to stop by if you’re ever in this region of the world. And like I said, check out Beyond Pink, Self Abuse and Balance.

Robert Refuse: The man, the myth, the Polska

This tour wouldn’t have happened without the help of numerous people. We’re profiling these many individuals during the course of the tour.

Tour Profile: Robert Refuse and Refuse Records

Name: Robert Matousiak aka Robert Refuse

Hometown: Warszawa, Poland

Age: 35 years

Height: “Fuck, I don’t know”

Weight “Since I moved to Berlin, more…”

How long have you been doing Refuse Records?

As a distro since 1993 and as a record label since 1996. I’ve been booking shows around Europe since 1994.

Years straight edge: 19 years

Favorite European HC Records: Nations on Fire or Manliftingbanner

Boxers or Briefs: “Yes” (after clarification “the second.”)

Top Five US Punk and HC Records:

Minor Threat

Dead Kennedys: In God We Trust

Youth of Today: We’re Not in This Alone

Trial: Our These our Lives


Favorite Cleveland Band: “Committed” if you know what we mean, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers.

How did you get into Punk Rock?

“My sister brought some punk rockers with some tapes over, and I was into it immediately. I checked into everything related to punk and hardcore…”

First show: 1989 ten or twelve local Polish bands including Post Regiment who was big in Poland. Tragedia, whom Portland’s Tragedy derived their name.

Last show: Right Idea in Gothenburg Sweden July 22, 2010

Favorite food: Vegan Ice Cream (Homeboy has dropped like ~50 Euros on ice cream in Sweden alone)

Family Vacation vs. Tour

While the rest of Right Idea is chilling on the beaches of Scandinavia with bikini models and rocking out on stage playing your favorite hits, yours truly -- left home to the responsibilities known heretofore as "job," "family," "pregnant wife," and "other shit" -- will be hitting the road myself. but mine is slightly less glamourous.

24 hours of driving + an 18-month old + a very pregnant wife x a shared house with my family for 2.5 days = ?????

I'm not that good at math.


Going, going, back, back to Sweden, Sweden.

Monday 19 July 2010

Today we had an off-day to grab some gear from Kiel before catching the ferry to Denmark and then driving onward to Malmo, Sweden in the south of the country. We departed Hamburg after a stay at the local hostel. Alex from Hoods up and the venue really put together a nice show and great accommodations for us. Two shows in and we’ve been treated better than we could ever deserve. I guess Let Down fibbed about how Europe really is. We finally stopped for lunch when we arrived in Kiel and proceeded to piss off the non-English speaking Turkish entrepreneurs with our indecisive ordering and Deutsch that is nicht sehr gut. Either way, it was a good lunch that followed our playground pushup and pull-up workout. We grabbed funny tasting sodas and bubbly water before hitting the road to Denmark.

The push-up count between Hamburg and Denmark ~700 for the band, mostly Chuck, Hess and I, butt Geoff did at least 10.

We drove through some scenic German countryside, and the neo-historian in me could nary help but wonder what it must have been like to fight an infantry war through the landscape as our grandfathers did. The fields and farmhouses take on an ominous property as I think about the potential for snipers and landmines across hedge rows and forest edges. Geoff snapped about 1000 pictures, and Hess drank at least five German mystery drinks before we hit the ferry terminal full of holiday-goers from across the continent.

We noticed that everybody was bringing cases of German soda and beer in across the border. I’m not a customs guard, but I might check on the spendthrift Costco lifestyles that the Danes and Swedes live while down in Germany. I’d leave sketchy Americans with instruments alone though.

The ferry was reminiscent of those in Washington State and British Columbia, but minus the internet access. We kept our wallets in our pockets for the impending currency switch, and proceeded to take in views of the ship-goers and funny signs. Gzeg caught a nap while Robert kept the edge strong on the portside deck.

Upon arriving, we pulled off to a gas station for the first push-ups of Denmark, where we weirded out the locals. For my workout, I was rewarded with free ice cream that was oddly sitting in the parking lot. We drove onward, from push-ups and ice creams to the border, where we doled out our toll money and entered Sweden. The landscape was flat, and had obvious glacial outwash soils with very thin and young layer supporting agriculture and lots of managed forests. This did not interest the rest of my band, but then again, I’ve nary seens soils like that unless getting close to the arctic.

We drove a few hours, arriving in Malmo just in time to change Euros for Krona and get supper. We smashed some Thai food with Kalle, meeting Andy, a one-time member of the Satanic Surfers, along the way. It was no Seattle or Vancouver BC Thai food, but then again Thailand is pretty far from Molmo, so we can forgive the folks who made it. We ate in the central square and hung out with numerous locals. Gzeg and Robert ate mad vegan ice creams, like kids in a candy store. The explanation we received for them eating five and seven vegan ice creams each was “When in Sweden, you must live this way, because we have no such things in Poland.” It makes sense to me, but it also seems to provide a stomachache.

After dinner we had to unload the van into a practice space because Molmo is “Crime City” and we didn’t want to chance any funny business. Post-load in, we rolled back to our host Clara’s, and split up between her and Tijana’s houses for the night. Both Clara and Tijana are in a rad all-female band called Beyond Pink. The first pressing of the LP sold out for good reason, but if you can, get a copy. I’m sure you’ll hear more about their band in the future. Think the Donnas meet Infest and Swedish punk rock. They all love coffee more than their respective boyfriends and have the tattoos to prove it.


Hamburg 18 July

Sunday 18 July 2010

We went to brunch with Robert, Gzeg, Jenny (Robert's partner), Seb and some of the other members from High Score, Mean Mike and a few others. The place was run by former hardcore kids and had a sliding scale payrate between 6 and 9 Euros. We got coffee and lots of great vegan food, and only slightly annoyed our less American fellow diners. Stomachs full, we had a nice drive from Berlin to Hamburg, passing many other tourists en route to a Jeff Hess van pull-up opportunity, Capri-sonne, and finally the venue, another large squat with 20 years of history.

Note the use of Al from Dangers on our flier. I suppose it could be related to our post earlier on the blog...

This particular squat, Rote Flora, was an old theatre/opera hall that was bombed out in WWII, leaving only the entry. It supports two show spaces and a large kitchen. Alex of Hoods Up did the show and saw to it that we were taken care of really, really well. The food was great vegan pasta with veges, and the dinner conversation was outstanding. I can honestly say that Alex is a student of the European scene and knows everyone. He gave us the history of the venue, his philosophy on US bands touring Europe, talked about his American show-going experiences, and gossiped with us on all things HC. The overall band ranking of the venue and promoter were the highest of honors: Top Dude.

The venue from outside.
Alex in the background at the radio station...

We played third with a punk band and great pop-punk band. We found ourselves getting tighter and had a blast ripping through the set. We saw some cameras rolling, so hopefully the filmers in attendance can send us documentation for those playing along at home.

We wrapped up the night with a radio interview that consisted of us playing our favorite Clevo hardcore classics as well as the Big Tymers. We had more than a little explaining to do and hopefully didn’t give away the extent to which we’re really just goofballs. They had goofy signs in their bathrooms to outdo us anyway. What's stranger? You decide:


We parked the van at a secured lot and proceeded to go to the hostel and get pizza. A few push-ups, Grzeg checking email and some showers later and we were all down for the count.

Berlin: Koma F and beyond

Berlin Saturday July 17th Koma F.

After sleeping until 1pm, we grabbed our backline and driver Gzeg (pronounced "gajedge". More on him later!) today before heading to the show.

We were playing the storied squat/DIY space Koma F just across the river from the Berlin Wall. Apparently this venue has somewhere between 25 and 40 years of history depending on who you ask. It, like many of the pre-WWII buildings was partially bombed out, and never quite found its way back to “normal.” Imagine a well-lit courtyard with big dogs, lots of empty bottles and a series of apartments with two venues and a bar all tucked in. One side had a Planet of the Apesesque statue portion that looked like a replica of the statue of liberty. Either way, it was tight, and after a quick walk around the neighborhood, we set in to use our hosts’ hospitality.

We grabbed a quick practice before the show and were fed some amazing seitan strips with Tzatziki and white cabbage. The food was as they say in our country, fucking delicious. We didn’t clean our plates well enough and received a bit of a reprimand. Now we know...

As for the show, we played with Your Fucking Nightmare from the Czech Republic, and they were really good. We’ll play again with them at Fluff Fest in one week, so if you’re reading this from Europe, please check them out.

For our set, we were tighter than we thought we’d be at the first show and were able to pull out a few more songs than we had intended. I think the total set was still 25 minutes with three extra songs…tops. Kids seemed into it and showed some love, especially for our cover of Crucified (Iron Cross). There was a nine-year-old from CZ there, and we traded him a shirt for a punk rock bracelet. Hess swears he’ll wear it at Fluff Fest. He won’t even take it off to shower as it is.

We debuted the tour 7” and shirts with mixed reviews, and met some cool people including Sebastian from High Score, Pavel from YFN, Mario from Dresden (an 18 year veteran of the European scene!), MeanXMike (who was sporting a crucial Vision 1989 tour shirt!), Hannah, from Berkeley USA and Sammy. All-in-all it was a great first show and introduction to the European scene. We decided that we love bubbly water to boot.


Straight Euro Bloggin'

16 July 2010

I’ll precede the next few entries by saying that tour journals are often a lot bit boring: “We played with so and so, they were awesome. The scene here is really cool in town X. Thanks to everyone who came out and all the kids who bought records.” Throughout the next few weeks, I’m going to try not to merely give canned details on the who, what, where and when of things, but give slightly more insight into the backstory and individuals at play. I’ll introduce the town and the things that stand out to me (Nate) and the rest of the band will fill in other pertinent details in posts of their own. Hopefully we’ll be able to tell a story and show what’s it’s like to be friendly, monolingual Midwesterners in a foreign land of vegan food and diy hardcore.

Berlin Saturday July 17th

We had arrived on Thursday and Friday to a cancelled show in Dresden, so we had the day (16 July) off in Berlin. It was a blessing and a curse as we used the time to pack records and sort merch, although we had to weather the day off without playing. The shimmering silver lining was hanging out in the city of Berlin. We’re all thinking of it as the New York City of Europe (or maybe NYC is the Berlin of America?)—big, multicultural and full of things to do at all hours of the night. We had great coffee, vegan pizza, burgers and ice cream as we took the train around and took in the sites, from the Berlin Wall to the numerous riverscapes, to the historic architecture and lack of open container laws. It seemed that everyone had a beer in hand wherever they went, from the subway to the beach, to the parks and bikeways. I guess straight edge isn’t quite mainstream here either.

In our travels, we encountered a subway bass playing cruster and walked through a park of death with Robert. Apparently in Germany, it’s cool to walk through really dark parks without a knife or gun because nobody else has a knife or gun. We had soda that was orange and cola mixed, and lots of mango-peach juice to keep us company as we wandered through the aforementioned woods adjacent to the Tempelhoff Airport and greenspace. Sketchy doesn’t translate well, but that’s exactly what it was.

The weather was hot, about 40C, so we sweated some pounds off as we toured around Berlin and came up with a killer game called “dew it.” Dew it is a game in which he who says “…do it” must then do 50 pushups. We’re quickly stripping the phrase “Lets do it” from our vocabulary and getting great pecs in the process. I think I’ve done 400 pushups in the last three days in addition to drumming duties.


Ghosts of Berlin...

So, we've been in town for a day or two each now, and are getting ready for some great shows in Germany and then up in Northern Europe. We've been to the Berlin Wall, eaten some great food, and got all the last minute details sorted out for the rest of tour. Hess enjoyed the in-flight entertainment, and we actually met some colorful people in our German travels that resembled people from the flight. Who's the German below? You decide.
Tomorrow is show time in Berlin. We're playing with Your Fucking Nightmare (CZ) and hoping not to embarrass our homeland too much with our poor German language skills and bad jokes. The good news for RxI collectors is we'll have lots of vinyl and several new shirt designs and colorways. We'll also be playing numerous songs from the "Right Way/Our Way" records. All-in-all the next two weeks should be great.