I’ve been fortunate enough to get to travel with my husband’s band ASTRA to take their tour photos, party, and fulfill my wanderlust. You can see The trip to UK and Holland we did in April here, or the trip to Spain last year here. I also shot their promo photos for their last album The Weirding, some more here, and some good press here (there’s more press but I forgot to scan them in) and a session of them in the recording studio here.
This trip was back in July but I have been so swamped this year that I only now finally got done editing.
It was seriously the most fun trip I have ever been on. Which is ironic because so much bad stuff happened, but yet it was amazing… more details below.
We arrived in Italy right into the lap of a mega heat wave. Intense.
One of the first things I learned about this country is that everyone just makes out on the streets, everywhere, all the time. It’s pretty amazing. I even wondered if there was anything else Italians do besides make out and eat… my kinda place.
Best Pizza any of us had ever had ever. Actually pretty much the pizza, wine and cappuccino in Italy were all the best I ever had.
We stopped in at some nightclub.
Then we were introduced to Grappa aka “firewater”. Which got us drunk real quick. And it seemed everyone else on the streets was drunk on the same stuff.
I might title this one below: Stuart in Florence with Grappa
Once we realized we actually had too many extra shots on the table and didn’t want to get too drunk, we offered a guy who was walking around a shot of tequila. He obliged.
First show they played was in the town of Pistoia for the Pistoia Blues Festival.
Below. Me trying to deal with the heat.
Italians are so beautiful…
Well what happened about 2 minutes after this photo was taken, was that Brian got punched in the face by the tour manager of “another” band. He fell back and busted his head on the street and was knocked out cold. Luckily, Dave is a trauma nurse and he was right there to try and get Brian conscious again. He got the paramedics and he and I went with Brian to the emergency room for the night. It was nuts, we thought he was dead for the 2 minutes he was out. Everyone was so freaked out. But anyway, they tested Brian’s head at the hospital and he was good to go, so thankfully he was alright. So that’s how the tour started.
Then, the HEATWAVE was insane, it must have been 110-115 and fully humid. The back of the van where we all sat had no opening windows, and the van had no Air Conditioning. So as you can imagine, it was pretty nuts and we all started going crazy. Then we just started pouring water all over ourselves, then we just ended up drinking wine and beer in order to deal with it. It was miserable but totally fun.
Nathan the driver, and Chris the Tour Manager where up front. And this was where we all pretty much lived for the next week or so. In the van with no air or AC, in a heatwave, driving through Europe. We named it The Heavy Metal van because there was nothing but metal blasting the entire time and the speakers where in the back with us.
Also Nathan & Chris are the raddest, funniest people! And Chris swore up and down that the band was cursed because bad things just kept happening this whole trip.
That’s Conor’s lovely foot above.
Below: Sweet dreams my <3
As a solution we would just pour water on ourselves and open the van door every once in a while- just to get that hot oven air.
Below: Brian, Nathan and Chris.
Incidentally, this was the stop where Stuart and Dave both got “attacked” in the bathroom by some guy who was playing with himself. That’s enough about that.
Chris & Nathan.
This was maybe around 9pm or so when we got into Switzerland, the sun didn’t set til late. I was all “wow check out the view!” And Richard was like “yea check out this view”… (video still- Starship Troopers)
I have never seen anything more beautiful than The Alps! One of the most memorable and precious experiences from this trip was when it was finally dark and we had been dealing with that horrid heatwave all day, Nathan surprised us by stopping at the most perfect crystal clear lake at the foot of some giant Alps, he opened the van door and was like Go For It. We jumped in, I threw off every stitch of stinky sweaty gross clothing I had on and cooled down in that pristine water. The first form of any relief we had from the heat. Beautiful dark sky, cool clean water, and it all looked like it was right out of a fairytale… In fact I was so mesmerized I forgot to take a photo of that moment. I try to skinny dip in some body of water everywhere I go… when we went to Spain, we walked right out of a club at 5am and right into the waters of the Mediterranean… Skinny dipping all over the world.
We spent the night in Switzerland at a hotel (which also did not have AC because they had never had to deal with that kind of heat before) so we didn’t get much sleep that night either. In fact I would say I averaged maybe 1 to 2 hours of sleep per night.
Oh and the Swiss Chocolate was SO good.
We headed off to Holland via Germany the next morning.
Stopped at a strip mall to pick up supplies and Conor & Stuart decided to try and find something to wear to deal with the heat. So they picked these 2 things up in the woman’s section of the 2 dollar store. Badass.
Oh yea, when we were on the Autobahn, fastest road in the world, we get stopped in traffic completely, for 3 hours (some accident). The irony.
The German countryside is absolutely beautiful.
We got lost trying to find both the hotel as well as the next Festival they were playing that night…
Burg Herzberg Festival…
You can see in this pic below of Brian, how swollen the side of his face was from being punched out the few nights before in Italy. Poor guy : (
There were maybe 7000 people or so, filled up the entire space. ASTRA played after Hawkwind. It was THE best show they ever played. I know I have said that before, but this really was the one.
Autograph frenzy & boob-signing.
On a couple hours of sleep, we had to head out again. Back on the freeway, a few hours later, the tire explodes. Apparently the brake line was also busted so we couldn’t drive it on the spare. Very long story short, we waited on the side of the freeway for 8 HOURS to be picked up by the insurance company (like AAA) and they finally came and got us because the cops got a hold of them and told them to get us out of there- we were kind of a danger. We got towed to the Mercedes dealership Mechanic but because we had gotten there so late, the mechanic was gone for the weekend and we wouldn’t be able to get the van back for a couple days. We sat there til 4am and finally got a hotel room somewhere. The nice guys from the Holland Festival came down and picked us up so the guys could still make it to their show.
Brian thought this would be an appropriate shirt to wear in Germany ; )
ASTRA at De Affaire Festival in Nijmegen.
After their show we walked around the festival and went to some clubs and bars.
Official band photo.
Here’s a few video clips from that night, this was when we accidentally slipped and fell into this bar, the dudes flip out (video by me).
Back at the hotel, we hung out until the sun rose and Brian Ellis serenaded us with a song he had just made up: Vanishing Act.
Then we went to Amsterdam for our last two days of the trip- and I didn’t really get any photos of that because it was mine and Stuart’s time to hang out together and walk around, do fun stuff, and eat shrooms… but there are photos from our other trip to Amsterdam in April on my blog here.
THIS WHOLE TRIP WAS THE MOST FUN I EVER HAD.