Gas Giant Tour
March 2004

by Scott Heller

Uploaded to Aural Innovations: June 2004

GAS GIANT, Havana Heat Club, Stonedudes - Rosiís, Berlin 3/25/04

Kai (the driver-merchandise Man-all around handyman-roadie) and I met at the main station to catch the train to MalmŲ, Sweden to rent the van. We pick up the van and within 15 minutes the oil light is on and a message saying HI is flashing. It is too late for us to turn back as we are half way across the bridge. Well, we drive around for 45 minutes and stop in a Mercedes Benz dealer and call around and find out, eventually, that they put too much oil in and that is not a major problem to worry about. We get to the rehearsal room later than planned and everyone is there except Stefan, who arrives in 15 minutes. We ended up having to take out the last row of seats to make room for the gear and Jesperís congaís could have fit but he choose not to take them, only the djembe. We make a stop at the drum show for some new sticks and Tommy and Kaiís house to get his bag and the sandwiches that his wife, Susan, had made us for the trip to Berlin. It is now just about 11 as we head to make the 1:00 ferry at Gedser. Everyone is in good spirits and Thomas and Stefan are drinking beers and all are laughing a lot! Itís gonna be a party!

We start the trip listening to Horse, Steamhammer - Mountains, Free-Heartbreaker, Sgt. Sunshine and Canned Heat. We stop quite a few times on the way but we make the 1:00 ferry. We sit outside on the deck in the sun for most of the trip and eat the sandwiches and drink some beers. The band really enjoy so much to go out on tour and leave family and work life behind and do the thing they love the most - play music! It is relaxing and a change from normal life. We buy 2 cases of beer and a case of coke. The ferry is 2 hours and soon we are back in the van.

I try to sleep for a bit but it is useless. We are now listening to Fu Manchu - King of the Road and then Pilotis -Powers of Evil CD. We really dig this CD quite a lot, especially Green CrŤme. Brilliant number. I am really hoping that Jesper's voice will hold up for this tour as he has really had some problems. The party is going on and the band are really happy as more beers are downed! We are nearing Berlin now and listening to Monolithic Babies by Monster Magnet. I think most people think it is a great CD. After a while, we found the place and it looks like an old Mexican canteen. Damn it is freezing cold in the club. Kai and I find a place to set up the merchandise. The soundcheck is very loud and a sort of harsh sound. Dave (Sula) shows up with his guitar and effects board. It is not easy to find a place for him to set up but we manage. The band play Mama Cool and Brown Sugar (ZZ TOP) during the soundcheck.

There is 4 cases of beer, wine, stuff to make sandwiches in the freezing cold backstage room. We just hang out. Two of the guys from Rotor, who we played with last year, show up. Some of the guys from Liquid Visions as well. The guys go out for coffee after the soundcheck and I hang out and talk with Hans and his wife from Nasoni Records. It is great to finally meet them, as they did a great job releasing the Mana LP. He gives me some more music and the entire band some t-shirts. The doors open at 9 and a few people come in but I am told most come around 10 or later to this place. The music starts at 9:30 with The Stonedudes in another small room in this building. About 15 people are watching them. They had some pretty cool songs. I go back up to the backstage room. Hans has some Mana Lps he wants us all to sign for his friends. Suddenly, MŁhle and Gerard show up! What a fantastic surprise to see them come up for the gig from Herzberg.

I am sitting here at our merchandise table hanging out and seeing all the different sorts of people that come to this club. We have a group around 50 and young kids with piercings, etc. The Havana Heat Club have all kinds of cool merchandise, like lighters, ladies underwear with the logo on it, many styles of shirts. They are soon on the stage and now about 45 people are here and watching. They really play hard driving music and the drummer is an amazing rock and roll animal, pounding the hell out of Tommyís drum kit. I wonder if he is going to damage the heads (he has his own foot pedal, snare and cymbals). They are heavily influenced by Motorhead. Maybe 60 people here by the end of their set. I am a bit worried no more people will show and this is a door deal so we wonít get much money.

Set List: Money Back, 22nd Floor, Starve, Burniní Stone, Days in Denial, Trip, I Want, No Charity, Die cast Criminal, Down, Thunder, Blinded, Jesus Blood, Killer Karma

Well, the Gas Giant come out flying and open with Never Leave This Way. Stefan is really hungry to play and ripping it up on the guitar. It is so cool to have Thomas experimenting with the wah pedal again. This I the first show in 2Ĺ years with a wah pedal. The crowd are really into Gas Giant and Hans is video taping at least some of the show and taking a lot of pictures. Thereís One is next and really rocking. Stefanís new guitar sound is so huge and amazing. The first jam of the night is on Back On The Headless Track. Sit Down is super heavy, it has never sounded so heavy before. Jesper is hardly playing the Djembe compared to if he had the Conga drums. Dragons Cave is next. They had written Alien Frequency next on the set list but Stefan starts Green Valley. Phew... what a version. It is an amazing song that brings out the best in the band. I hope they continue to play this one live and not be afraid of it anymore. Alien Frequency, a song not played since Dec 2001, sounds great. This is the oldest song in the band set, next to Too Stoned, both dating back to 1996-7. The band end the set with Too Stoned but have no plan to leave and invite Dave (Sulu) up to jam on Storm Of My Enemies. Dave had recently visited us in Copenhagen and had a cool jam in the rehearsal room. Wow. This was an extremely far out jam that last 20 minutes. The band had never played anything quite like that. Phew... Amazing night... about 90 minutes.

Set List: Never Leave this Way, There's One, Back on the Headless Track>Jam, Sit Down, Dragons Cave, Green Valley>Jam, Alien Frequency, Too Stoned, Storm of my Enemies>Jam (w/Sulu on 2nd guitar)

It was 3 when we finally got to crash. We sold 100Ä in merchandise and only got 130Ä pay so it was a pretty poor night, money wise. Very cool people in Berlin. I lost my voice and it never recovered the rest of the tour. Damn talking and cigarette smoke, it really kills me.

Day 2: GAS GIANT, Cabron - Sojo, Leuven, Belgium 3/26/04

I am up with Kai at 7:30 as we have a long drive to Leuven in Belgium. I slept at most 2 hrs, as Timo, our host was an incredible snorer. By the time we get out of Berlin it is nearly 10 now. I am surprised people are so fresh considering at most we got 2-3 hrs sleep. We are listening to Jethro Tull, Steamhammer, Damien Youth, Aquarium Rescue Unit. On the way, I talk with all the guys about the different bands that they have played in the past. Some really strange and funny bands like Jesper in the Mugwumps! He has some recordings of them as well. I get the lowdown on the history and gear, etc that will appear on the memberís web page. Jesper used to drum in a band called the Gits and he has these amazing stories. Tommy was a singer in a band called Persons Unknown. Total punk rock. He tells the story of how after one of the gigs they had a recording and when they listened to the recording he was so bad that they fired him!!!!!!!!!! Now we are listening to Electric Ladyland followed by some live rehearsal room stuff. I am amazed that Thomas and Stefan after 20-25 beers yesterday, are having beers already. They donít get drunk on beer it seems.

We finally arrive at Sara and Benniís old house and it turns out they donít live there anymore, so we head over to the club. The people here are so cool. We load in the gear and there is food and beer. The band set up and soundcheck with Mama Cool and Sit Down. The sound is very good and loud. Kai and I are all set up for merchandise and recording. We have a very nice dinner of Lasagne and bread and salad and beers! It is an early show tonight and Cabron will start at 8:30 or so. The DJ friend of Sara and Benni is playing the most awesome music. A great mix of 70ís obscure heavy stuff and modern stoner rock stuff. I can hardly talk so I am a bit out of it. I sit at the merchandise table at the back and watch Cabron. Benni is there also selling CDs and smoking lots of joints. One every 10 minutes it seems! Kai is getting blasted tonight as I will drive the van after the show. Cabron opened with a cool spacey number. The drums are way too loud in my opinion. I will work with the soundman to get the Gas Giant sound right. Nearly the rest of the set was pretty hard driviní stuff but not really very distinct or interesting. The place is half full now, which is great and the place smells like weed! A good sign indeed! You know when the people taking money at the door are smoking joints it is a cool place.

Set List: Parascending, Burden, Your Lessons Learned, Backlash, Accident, Couldnít Quit Smoking, Cabron, Effective Beast, Iím on the Radio

Ok... it is Gas Giant time. The band play more or less the same set but with two extra numbers at the end. Anyway, it is Never Leave This way, to slowly take people out into space. Stefan is playing a lot more rhythm guitar lines and not the same type of smoking lead guitar he did in Berlin the night before. His sound is just fantastic. I get the soundman to turn up the guitars and the drums down for Gas Giant. This show is being video taped with a single fixed camera at the back of the room. I have the tape but have not seen it yet. Anyway, it is very loud tonight and the crowd are really into Gas Giant here in Leuven. Mama Cool was played and it sounded great. Since Jesper did not have the congas to play the mid section they were coming up with a new mid section and Stefan played this really cool phased out sounds that was great. He never did it again on the rest of the tour. The highlight of this show was the Storm Of My Enemies Jam, which was 16 minutes but Stefan played some cool slide stuff and Thomas had this monster bass line that they jammed on that was so cool. Jesper disrupted the jam though by making some very very loud sounds with his effects unit that drowned out everything and sort of blew the jam apart. Jesper was an amazing front man this night, so emotional and into it. He is already having trouble with his voice though. I wonder what he will sound like by Sunday! The show ends with a heavy version of Moonshake.

Set List: Never Leave this Way, There's One, Back on the Headless Track, Sit Down, Dragons Cave, Alien Frequency, Green Valley>Jam, Too Stoned, Mama Cool, Storm of my Enemies>Jam, Moonshake

I am wiped out with only 2 hrs sleep the night before and no sleep in the van for the 9 hours drive from Berlin to Belgium. I drive the van back to Sara and Benniís new house. It is about 3. I say good night and go to crash. Stefan and Kai soon follow but the others stay up and get very stoned and listen to Monkey 3 and some other music until 4-5 in the morning.

Day 3: GAS GIANT, Terraplane - White Pig, Bad Frankenhausen 3/27/04

Kai wakes everyone up at 8:30. Tommy and Thomas are dead to the world and don't get up until 9. I shower, eat some breakfast and have some tea (which helps my voice a bit). We stop at the grocery store for some Belgian beer and snacks and are on the road again by 10:15 towards Bad Frankenhausen, half way across Germany again! It is damn cold out today but the sun is shinning. It will be 6-7 hours to get there. Everyone is in good spirits again and start with some beers. As we drive out of Belgium back to Germany we listen to Symbiosis by Hidria Spacefolk. Everyone really digs the CD. After a Gas stop, we hear all of X In Search Of Space by Hawkwind. Amazing CD. Thomas gives out doses of liquid Echinacea and Jesper gives people a piece of liquorice root. Stefan is in a good mood and we are sitting in the front with Kai. We talk a lot (the best that I can). Stefan and I are the only non-cigarette smokers and so we are complaining a bit. Kai says, "The best way to get some fresh air is through a cigarette". All are laughing. We are making good time flying down the highway listening to some blues and Capt. Beefheart (Mirror Man). We have a 30 minute pit stop to piss and eat some lunch. Back in the van again and we hear the best of CCR. People are singing along. Fun stuff. Now I make the guys listen and we hear the complete new WE CD. I donít hear much from the band. I think they are a bit in shock and not sure what to think. I think it is an amazing CD. Desert Sessions 9-10 is played next and we cruise through some really beautiful countryside. This new A38 highway is very nice. We make another pit stop for some fun and pissing and the beer drinking is going strong now. Tommy is getting drunk, the others just happy. We hear Quicksilver Messenger Service now. This compilation has some really brilliant stuff and really mediocre stuff as well. Only 18 km to go!

We arrive at 17:30 and no one is at the club. No sign of anyone. We take a walk around this sleepy little town. They only have 8000 people here but like 20 rock bands and this really cool club. We stop and have some coffee, tea and beer in a pub and wait for a while. I go out and walk around and back to the club. Still no one. At about 18:45, Terraplane, the support act and the club owner arrive and soon all the employees. We have a big backstage sleeping room for us with a fridge full of beer, sleeping mattresses, and a table and sofa. It is quite ok. I go and get a kebab pita as I am starving and food wonít be ready until like 21. Kai and I have a very large table today so I can put out like 20 of the different live shows we are selling. It looks quite impressive all this stuff. One guy comes up and buys like 100Ä of stuff. He is very cool but we canít communicate very well. I arrange for him to get an autographed poster. He seems quite pleased when I give it to him in the bar. It is great to see Henrik, the guy who set up the Magdeburg show and made our pins. He is working on some t-shirt designs for us as well.

It is very loud in this room for the soundcheck and the soundguy seems to be very incompetent. The bass drum is super loud and the vocal monitors are not working well. Soundchecks are done and Gas Giant play Phantom Tanker and Ride The Red Horse (neither will be played though). Terraplane hit the stage at about 10:30 and about 60 people are here at the club. It is hard to say as there are a lot of rooms and one big room where the bands play. They are a three piece psychedelic rock outfit. Some of their material is quite doomy sounding and they have a loose jamming approach to things. The guitar player plays some pretty cool stuff. The drummer, who made the cool gig posters, plays in a strange style. Seems he is playing off the others in a weird way. Garden of Love was a really great song. Most of Gas Giant were sleeping for 2 hrs after the soundcheck and did not hear any of Terraplane (except Stefan). They played about 65 minutes and I recorded the set.

Set List: Born to Late, Last Train, Liquid Dust, Suicide, Garden of Love, All the Way, Burning Flowers, Out of Touch, Scenario

There are a lot of people here psyched to see Gas Giant. Manzer and Fred from Caligula 666 are here, Henrik and some others that have seen the band before as well. Stefan starts with some cool blues guitar stuff and I thought they were going to open with a jam while they wait for Jesper to come back from pissing. They start with Never Leave This Way and a great version as it takes off into space. After sleeping for few hours the band is really fresh and ready to go after the food and beers. Incredible energy tonight and they play New Day Rising and it totally rocks. Jesper really struggles with the vocals on Alien Frequency. His voice is really going down and out now. The 19 minute jam with Green Valley is incredible. The crowd are yelling like crazy at the end. Too Stoned is like a break after that. Then another 18 minute song, with an amazing jam on Storm Of My Enemies and Stefan plays some really cool slide guitar. I hold the microphone over Jesper's djembe as they keep a primal rhythm going. The band are pretty exhausted but play Mama Cool for the fans as they are screaming for more. This was the best show of the tour so far. Wow.

Set List: Never Leave this Way, There's One, Back on the Headless Track, Sit Down, New Day Rising, Alien Frequency, Green Valley>Jam, Too Stoned, Storm of my Enemies>Jam, Mama Cool

Now we pack up the gear, get the money and sell a few more things and suddenly it is 4 as we move the clocks ahead an hour on this night. Ugh... As the band slept for 2 hours from 8-10 or so, they are still pretty fresh and stay up until 6-7 in the morning. I donít fall asleep until 4:30 or so.

Day 4: MS Stubnitz, Rostock, Germany 3/28/04

Tommy never made it back to crash, found a girl, got laid... came back at 11 right when we were to leave, with a big smile and drinking a beer! The breakfast arrives at about 10, Kai is getting everyone up now.

Some basic tour reflections... I can so easily see how the bands of today and the past could so easily get into alcohol and drug problems. There is so much time and it is such a social thing. I think after a while, you must learn to sleep here and there and anywhere or take speed. I canít just sleep anywhere so I end up living for 3-4 days with only a couple of hours sleep each day. It takes its toll on me when I get home from the tour. Jesper, he is amazing. What an incredible front man we have. We just have to figure out what is going on with his voice. I fear he is damaging it permanently. Thomas was a headbanging animal on this night and totally rocking and it is so great that he has that bass wah again as it adds a new dynamic to the sound of the band. Tommy is a rock drummer! When he finds his groove he is just incredible and really can fly to the outer limits of the universe with these guys. The longer shows on this tour and he never fails to have the energy. He could even play more if the other guys would! Stefan... what can I say? He has found his sound now and is taking off into another universe and is not scared to try to go places he has never been before. The slide guitar stuff last night was incredible. I think this year he will continue to develop his sound and getting all his old gear fixed and a new pedal board so he can have all his old effects as well as the new ones, will take his sound to a new HIGH.

It is now 11:40 and we are on the road to Rostock. We are listening to a nice old Blues compilation with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, etc. Now the Amsterdam concert by Gas Giant. Tommy mentions he would like me to play with them again. No comment from the others. I am amazed at how fresh the guys are and drinking beer again after just 3-4 hours sleep. It takes a long time to get out of this area to the main highways toward Rostock. Everyone is in a really good mood and singing and laughing. Jesper and Tommy are drinking a lot now and getting pretty happy. There is so much laughing today. We are like a small silly little family. We LOVE, WE LIVe, WE Dance. WE play music. This is what Jesper writes in the tour diary! Now only 2 hours to Rostock, hear some Led Zeppelin 2, Deep Purple compilation, Kingston Wall, Pothead, ZZ Top - Rio Grande Mud, Baby Woodrose and Atomic Bitchwax. People are pretty happy and high from some joints and lots of beers when we get out of the van at Rostock. What will happen tonight with Jesper and Tommy in this state? We will see...

The other band, Low Frequency in Stereo, whom we will play with are waiting at the ship as well when we get there at 5. At 5:30, some people from the ship turn up and we are loading all the gear into the ship. The other band, from Norway, are very cool people. After we load in and the other band are soundchecking, Thomas, Stefan and I take a walk around the walking streets of Rostock and get some food. Tommy has passed out in the van and no one seems to know where Jesper is. We are going to play first and about 50 minutes or so. The band have a short soundcheck when we get back and a really cool jam that I recorded is played. Sound is great. It is Scandinavian film night on the ship and they show about 45 minutes of short films after the soundcheck. They are Norwegian ones this night. I watch most of the films. As soon as they finish we start.

When I get downstairs to start the recording the whole band is there waiting for Tommy. Jesper is sitting on the drum kit with a grin. Stefan starts a slow blues number and when Tommy comes walking out with his beer mug he is happy and Jesper is not moving so he goes to the microphone. We had joked around in the van that Jesper would play drums and Tommy would sing Too Stoned but no one was very serious. Well, Tommyís Slow Stoned Blues opens the show and it is perfect. After the films, this slow intro song brings all the people from the ship down to hear the music and what the hell is going on. Green Valley is played next and Stefan is playing the most incredible heartfelt guitar. Jasper is totally far out. His voice has really had it so his range is limited and he only sings when necessary but is a madman crawling all over the stage and off the stage on onto the floor, down under the stage area, up on the railings... Totally mad. He is an in control out of control person. The whole show is being video taped on 3 cameras with soundboard audio. Wow. Never Leave this way is amazing but no jam. Back On The Headless track was crazy as Jasper was really wild and put massive delays on the vocal at the end. Jesper has the audience laughing as he says really far out stuff between the songs. Sit Down is the best version on the tour. Wow. Tommy wants to play Phantom Tanker and starts the drums cutting off Jespers weird speech about us being boxes of flesh with a soul. This was the only show the song was played on. The show ends with a rocking version of Mama Cool. The crowd totally love us and Dirk, who set up the gig for us, was also quite happy. Jesper ends the show with a speech about how all women should have babies and that is just so beautiful. He then realizes that the whole band has left the stage and he is alone out there. Quite funny.

Setlist: Tommy's Slow Stoned Blues, Green Valley, Never leave this Way, Back on the Headless Track, Sit Down, Phantom Tanker, Mama Cool

Within 20 minutes we are are loaded out and into the van to catch the midnight ferry back home. The band are very high on themselves after this amazing gig. Amazing tour. I had hoped for some more variability in the sets but the jams and playing was probably the best the band had ever done! The End.

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