I feel like the kid on Almost Famous, who gets to go on the road with a band and when he gets home from the tour, he flops down on his bed, realizes theres no place like home and his bed is too good to be true. I got home yesterday from being on the road with one of my all time fave bands, Pagans Mind, and I dont think I was ever so happy to get a bath in my life. My bed felt like heaven, and even though I had the time of my life it, was good to be home.
My journey started with me receiving an e-mail from Frode, their manager and good friend, asking me if I would like to help sell merch at Prog-Power X in Atlanta, Georgia. I told him I would love to help where I could, and then another e- mail came asking if I would like to go on tour for a few gigs on the East Coast part of the tour to help sell merch on the Headlining shows. I thought about it for two seconds and said, hell yes!! I love this band with their cosmic form of progressive power metal that speaks to my heart and resonates with my soul. They come from Norway, a beautiful country of Viking lore and legend, where most of my fave bands of the past few years are from (including Circus Maximus and JORN). So, I went to Prog-Power X and spent 4 days of mayhem and craziness hanging with all of my awesome friends that I have made in the last 3 years of attending this fest. This is the premier festival for Progressive Power metal bands that Glenn Harveston has produced for the last ten years.
There was a pre-show on Wednesday, a show-case on Thursday, then Friday and Saturday were the actual festival. Pagans Mind played third, after Circus Maximus (also from Norway) and Orphaned Land on Saturday. They, as always, put on a spectacular show. Being in the photo pit is always a challenge when I love the band, because I am so into these guy that I shake like a leaf and weep tears of joy! They played an amazing set with songs like “Gods Equation”, “Osiris Eyes, Atomic Firelight”, “Hallo Space-boy”, “United Alliance”, “Evolution Exceed” and “Alien Kamikaze!” The crowd was energetic and so was the band. These guys always put on a flawless show! After Pagans Mind on Saturday, I was only able to watch Brainstorm, whom I totally love, but either I was just exhausted after seeing my fave band and partying for 3 days, or they were just not that energetic and not spot on, so I was a little bummed. I headed in for an early night because I had a 10 am bus call with Pagans Mind the next morning.
1st day on the road:
I get up and have some free breakfast at the infamous Artmore (The best place to get a room for PP every year) and wander out to the front of the hotel to meet up with the band and see our chariot arrive for the East Coast tour. We meet up with our Stage Hand/Manager for the tour, Wayne (who is the stage-manager for PP every year), and then Pontus, who is the Sound-Man for the tour, who incidentally plays guitar for Hammerfall and used to be in the Poodles from Sweden. We get to check out the bus that has all amenities as our new home for the tour. Our bus driver, Phil, is a cool guy and will eventually laugh his ass off at Steinars antics on more than one occasion. I get aquainted with the band again, get my stuff on the bus, pick a bunk and off we go after being seen off by Glenn and the Circus Maximus guys. We stop at a Guitar Center and the guys have to wait for it to open and then we go in and its like a bunch of kids in a candy store. They start messing with the instruments and we took some fun photos. After that, we are officially on the road to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the first headlining gig. It takes some long hours of driving, until we get there and set up. I get to sell merch tonight and there are some really awful opening bands that sing like cookie monsters, which I hate and I have to sit through it.
I decided on having some beers to be able to deal with it. Pagans Mind has to play after some mediocre local opening bands and that isnt fun for me, personally. But after all that, I get to hand over the merch to Frode and rock out with Evil/Greg, who stopped on the way home to see the band again. Some guy comes right up front and starts to flip off Nils, one of the most gifted singers of our time, and I go right up to him and flip him back off. Security proceeds to boot his ass out (thankfully)! So we just stayed in the pit and enjoyed the rest of the show. The band was flawless, even for this small but enthusiastic crowd. They ended the set with an encore, “2 Minutes 2 Midnight” by Maiden! The crowd went wild!
There were about ten totally rabid fans there, and three drove four hours from Tennessee to see their fave band! They had a black car with band stickers on it, which included Pagans Mind. The band visited with the kids for a few hours and Jorn Viggo even signed a guitar to a fan who was only too happy to hand it over for this amazing player to sign it. He is one of the most amazingly talented guitarists out there today and he also has played with Jorn Lande and Beautiful Sin. Two bands I am a huge fan of. We almost have to peel Steinar away from the Tennessee guys, where at one point, he took off his shirt (as he always does) and he looked like he fit right in with them! They had such a great time with him and we thought they might kidnap him. Lol! We then hit the road and laughed and partied into the night. I get to watch the new Gods Equation live DVD, that isnt out yet, but will be in two weeks. There was a glitch in the making of the DVDs or they would have been available at PPX.
Day 2 on the road, a day off:
We get a day off in Virgina and the guys decide that we should take a train to Washington, DC, to do some sightseeing. The band gets a room for the bus driver and most get showers and we get together to find the train station in Springfield, which is hard to find because where we were, was a huge circle. Nils assumed tour guide status and proceeded to wander off ahead of me and Ronny, the quiet but silly keyboardist, and Steinar, the insane, but jolly ol bass player. We were sweating and cursing the heat and finally found Nils. Jorn Viggo and Stian, the sick ass drummer at a diner which sold amazing icy shakes. Pontus and Wayne were also among the merry tourists and we asked how to get to the train station and headed on our way. Another 20 minutes and 2 miles it seemed, and we found it! So we rode the Amtrack to DC, got off the train and almost lost Steinar in the bathroom.
We made our way to the White House at dusk and get some great shots of the band there and at the Washington Monument. It was really beautiful and I was grateful to finally see the seat of our government. We found a nice pub/cigar bar and had some great food and sat next to a huge round table with a bunch of congressmen. I tried to listen in to the conversation and all I heard was that Obama lied to them….was he speaking of we the people that he lied to? Not sure, but it was surreal being there. We had some more drinks and then we all squeezed into a van/cab and headed back to the bus. I got a quick photo of the Capital Building out the moon roof and was happy to be with my new friends enjoying the moment. I think I actually got some sleep on my comfy bunk that night, after a hot shower.
Day 3 Headlining JAXX!
We leave the motel and drive a few miles to JAXX, my good friend Dianes old haunt from back in the day where she saw Saxon and Kix. The place is behind a kabob place and I end up sampling some of their food later. We get everything set up and I get the merch all ready for sales. I see a few of Pagans Mind fans from Prog-Power there; like Jennifer, Bobbie and Leah who were stoked to see the band play live again. At least this time, there was a good opening band called Division. I sold quite a few shirts and hoodies for the band and then proceeded to video a bunch of songs for Frode. The set was amazing, as usual, and after 3 shows, I am still totally blown away by this band’s performance. They even do Maiden again as the encore. There were a few more people at this show than in Charlotte, and these people were just as excited and full of energy as the last crowd. Its not every day you get to see a massively talented band like this play in some tiny town.
They kicked everyones ass and we all went out to the bus to party down. Jen, Bobbi, Leah, and their guy friends all came onto the bus and we sat and watched the killer DVD again and laughed our asses off at Steinar again and his antics. At one point, Nils decided to draw on Steinars tummy, some pornographic thing that Steinar showed everyone he came in contact with for two days! I found Frode and a few others out in front of the club drinking crown and having fun, so I hung with the manager of the club for a while. After the cops came to see what was going on, we bailed back to the bus. It was another late night of partying with the guys. Everyone said their good-byes and off we went to NYC!
Day 4: NYC Nokia Theater opening for Stratovarius!
We pull into NYC and the bus was getting so bumpy that it woke me up. So I went up to the front with Phil and watched the city go by and wondered how people could live here. We all watched in wonder and became excited as this was Pagans Minds first show in NYC. Even though they head-lined the first two shows ever in the USA with the last two gigs, this was an opening show for Stratovarious at the Nokia Theater. Phil found us a place to park by the port on the Hudson because load- in wasnt for about 4 more hours. We had to stay there and just relax and wait.
The one tried and true rule on the road on a bus is; there is no pooping on the bus. You just can’t do it. So one of the guys was really hurting to go and took some bags to the bathroom and proceeded to take a crap in them and come out saying something about three bags and one wipe and how that was good, and I about fell down laughing and threw my freakin back out in the process. I felt bad for him, but at the same time, it was hysterical! As he went out looking for somewhere to dump it, I had to lie on the floor for about 30 minutes trying to stretch out my back so I could function at the show that night. Two hours later and after much icing and Motrin, I was able to get up and go to load- in.
The green room (or should I say pink room?) was super nice and stocked with all kinds of goodies.
The band was excited to have this kind of service! The opening band,Ethereality, came in and hung out too, and later became good buds with the ambassador of silliness, Steinar! During load-in Steinar, Stian, Pontus, and I go across the street to Toys R Us and Steinar was in heaven! He danced around with Jerry the Giraffe and we took photos with the giant Transformer and T-Rex that were there. The guys bought toys for their kids and we bailed back to the venue. The Nokia Theater is really new and a beautiful place. The lighting and sound was spectacular and it can hold about 2000 + people. It’s in the heart of Time Square, so we were able to do some sightseeing after the show. The show, by the way, was incredible! The kids were there for Strato, but they were won over by my fave band Pagans Mind! The guys put on such a great performance and were so enthusiastic and happy to be there. Nils said a few times to the crowd that it did his heart good to see all the people rocking to their music! There was great energy this night! It sounded amazing!!! I was lucky to see Cristina, my fellow massage therapist/photographer friend there, and she was kind enough to work on my back to help me out. We both shot the show with glee and had a blast! After the show, we all partied in the pink room with the opening band and Steinar was so on again, cracking us all up continuously! Many beers later, we head out to Time Square to find food, but had to wait for Frode for a while. We ate some kabobs on the street corner that were fantastic, but we were still hungry. We find this Irish Pub and brought some of the fans with us to eat and have more drinks. There were some drunk guys from Essex England that were singing really loud at times and Steinar just HAD to go over and chat with them. Wayne said this could be good or really bad. He proceeds to get them to chant Kuk, Kuk, Kuk, which is cock in Norwegian, which was absolutely hysterical! After that, it was 2 am and we were still hyper, so we went to some little hole in the wall bar called Jerrys and got even more trashed. Steinar put some old blues on the juke and me and Nils play Patty Cake as he was singing. It was crazy! We get booted at 4am and head back out to Time Square to chat with the cops out there and wait for the bus to come pick our drunk asses up.
The guys mess with the guys in the Good Morning America studio window and we thought it would be awesome to get on the show, but it would be a few more hours and we just couldnt make it that long. We needed sleep or more beer. I got photos of them with the producer of the show in the background, throwing horns, which was a crack up! We also got photos with a cop and he was really nice to them. We say good-bye to our NY friends and get on the bus. Everyone goes to bed but Steinar, Stian, and me and Nils. We were pretty trashed by then, but me and Nils had this awesome conversation about where the lyrics come from and all kinds of other deep stuff and he passes out, so I head to my bunk and pass out myself. That was an amazing night all the way around!
Day 5: Day off and Niagara Falls
We wake up to Phil driving us to upstate NY, to Buffalo, where we decided to see Niagara Falls on this day off. Pontus wanted to go to the Anchor Bar and have the official first real Buffalo Wings. So we get a motel for Phil and rented two cars and got the guys together for a road trip of our own. Thank God for GPS or we would have been screwed with Frode trying to lead the pack of metal heads up to Niagara Falls. We drive for about 30 minutes and see this mist and know we are there. We walk quite a ways and get to see one of the most awesome wonders on the planet. It is truly incredible to see and it was my first time seeing it! There were squirrels everywhere that would have jumped in my hand for goodies if I had them. The place is beautiful. We all loved the majesty of the falls. I lagged behind because my back was killing me. If it wasnt for that, I would have kept up with these crazy Scandinavians the whole time. We got some great photos and drove onto to the Anchor Bar for the most amazing bar food. They ordered so much food, I thought they were crazy. The wings and homemade blue cheese were so good! After gorging on food, we go back to the bus and I pass out from sheer exhaustion and a full tummy. This was my last night with the guys, so I really savored it. I woke up at 7am to a bus all a flutter as they had to get ready for their next show in Toronto, Canada. So I said my goodbyes, got hugs and took off to the airport to fly home for 5 hours with a sore back. That was fun.
I have to say that those were 5 of the most amazing days I have ever had. Just imagine being on the road with one of your favorite bands and being able to experience being in that presence and energy non- stop. They had me laughing so damn much that my face hurt and so hard, I threw my back out. It was ok though, as it was well worth the pain of being able to be there with them and see them live 4 times. They are all sweet and kind men with the utmost respect. They were totally dirty as boys can be but they knew to be respectful of a woman on the bus as much as they could be. I really love them and the music more now and totally respect their talent. There is no one out there that sounds like them and no band that is as funny and talented as they are. I will never forget them and cant wait to see them again on the Triton Power Cruise in April of 2010. I wish to thank Nils, Steinar, Stian, Ronny,and Jorn Viggo for putting up with me being there and Frode for making a dream come true for me. I wish them good luck in all their future gigs and the new CD they are working on. Make sure to get the new live DVD/CD that is coming out in a few weeks.
We would like to thank Pagans Mind for allowing us into their world for a short time. Go to http://www.pagansmind.com/front/ for more info on this amazing band!! Also they are involved in a cruise in April 2010 too. For info on that, you can go to: http://www.tritonpowercruise.com/