Burnt By The Sun Tour Journal

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Originally published in ‘zine issue #34, 2005

Hailing from Keansburg, New Jersey, Burnt By The Sun went on tour in Iceland in February of this year. While there were no Björk sightings reported, excerpts from the tour journal filed by bass player Ted Patterson follow.

Wednesday, 08:00 New Jersey time

I have to get up because something happened with yesterday’s van pick up. I got to bed around 04:30 and I am dead. Ralph picked me up and we go to Red Bank to the car rental place on time and we get the van. Then I have to run around for the rest of the morning finishing up all the home things that need to be done. Shower, dress, 45 minutes behind schedule, “T4” [Teddy’s child] is screaming; he does not want me to leave. I feel like a dick for leaving. Kiss the wife and kid and run out the door to pick up Ralph, Johnny [Adubato, guitar], and Aaron [Wolff, from The End, tour vocals].

I finally get everyone and get to Brandon [Thomas, drums]’s and get to slam a few beers while packing up the merch and the van. Slam a RedBull to get the speedball going. Johnny and Brandon share some morning “salad” and we are off to BWI airport. I decided to let Ralph drive because we are about an hour behind schedule and 80-plus MPH is okay with me right now. Next stop BWI and then the bar.

Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare thanks to Ralph’s driving. Check in, customs, full cavity searches, and we are in! Get over to the terminal bar and start paying way too much for drinks! Brandon and Aaron found a way to get free drinks, besides all the other people just buying us drink for some reason. They just waited for the bar guy to leave his station, which he did often, and they helped themselves to whatever was in the cooler. Get on the flight, fall asleep immediately after take off, got woken up for food and pass back out after eating. When we wake back up we are landing. Easy flight!

Thursday, 07:00 Icelandic time

A day later. Got the rental cars and went and dropped off our stuff, then we make our way to the radio show. Brandon found beer. The radio guys were cool, asked us some question on American foreign policy, 9/11, things like that, and it was done. After the radio show, we grabbed some food and crashed. Funny thing, they actually let me drive in this country.

Burnt By The Sun bandmembers

It’s cold, wet, and snowy. It’s still dark but everything looks amazing. It is a really beautiful country. Driving from the airport to the city, it looked like some ancient land, open areas with volcanic rocks, covered with green moss. There is an amazing lack of trees. Giant mountains and glaciers. You almost feel like you have stepped back in time.

First Show: Youth Center, Reykjavik

Sound check. Everything was bouncing all around the room. Everyone is asking Brandon, “Where’s Dave?” The pizza is better than most of the shit we get in the States. No alcohol, all ages. After this I think it’s time to try the national beer, Viking, in the big gold can! One bottle of Jameson’s killed already. Open bands were cool. This is the time we actually got to meet everyone involved in bringing us over.

We made our way into Reykjavik after dropping off the equipment and we hit Bar 11. We all drank the local Icelandic pilsner; it was 500 ISK, almost $10 a beer! We all hung and drank for three or four hours. Shit stays open late here. The bar is pretty cool; a small, odd-shaped building, it was two stories. This part of the city has an old European feel to it, yet modern in some aspect. I am really digging it.

Burnt By The Sun performing

Funny thing is that all the hot water the residences use comes from the earth. For cooking, showering, heating the house, there are no hot water heaters. It smells a little like sulfur, but you can take a hot shower forever and you get used to the smell.

So, I just walked up to the back of the house we are staying at and wow! The view is insane. You see the city sitting below the mountains with the ice caps. It looks like a postcard.

Going into Reykjavik to look around; awesome city. We ate some fish and chips that were incredibly delicious. Bought some souvenirs for the family back home. Reykjavik is a cool place. It has an old European feel, small streets and little shops everywhere.

Second Show: The Dillon, Reykjavik

We load into Dillon, a small little bar, rigged up sound system, playing on the floor. This is going to be a fun show. Momentum just did a sound check and holy shit, this band is good. Death metal à la Relapse style. The bastards back at the home office need to hear this band. Drinking Viking, 500 ISK––worth it! This is where the journal gets a little hazy: there is some random scribbling; I have no idea what I wrote. But I do remember. After the show, which went extremely well––there were easily 100-plus people here; I don’t know how they all fit––the party started. The owner of the Dillon grabbed Brandon and Johnny and pulled them into some back room. Offering them a bottle of something, he says, “Drink.” They slug off the bottle and he says, “No, no, drink!” Brandon obliges and slams down half the liter and passes it to Johnny who proceeds to kill it, while the owner is telling them how happy he was we came to play and how everything went extremely well.

Made our way all around Reykjavik, drinking. We make our way back to Bar 11 after the Dillon closes. Somehow we find out our tour guide is intoxicated; we find her in 11. Some giant drunken Danish prick grabs me and tries to throw me on the floor. I follow him upstairs, back down stairs and out into the street. Confrontation. I am screaming in this giant’s face, almost poking him in the eye; he is yelling Danish at me. The next thing I know there are five of these fuckers around me. Brandon and Ralph intervene. Some Icelandic mafia guy steps in, makes all the Danish apologize to us, in English, and then apologizes for them again. He says, “If you have any more trouble, tell them you know me,” but I can’t remember his name at this point.

We go down to the square, Ralph, Brandon, and myself. For some reason Brandon is destroyed. I get him a pita and when I hand it to him the look of utter repulsion comes across his face: “This is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life. You want me to eat this?” I almost pissed right there. I run back, order a meat only! The guy thinks I’m nuts. Apparently while I was gone, Johnny made it to the square, Brandon fell down the huge stairs there, and possibly chipped a tooth, and I missed it! I feed Brandon Thomas and we make our way back to 11 after trying unsuccessfully to use a public phone, the only one that I have seen in Iceland, I might add.

We round everyone up and somehow Aaron is driving the other car. Ralph is driving also because I am sure I cannot at this time. Aaron speeds off, we follow, and we proceed to fly down narrow one-way streets the wrong way. Everyone screaming “no, no” in our car as he again turns onto a one-way the wrong way. As if he could hear us. Somehow we make it back to where we are staying alive and not arrested. What a night; it was great. We made it back about 6 a.m.

Saturday: Sight Seeing

First we drove out to see Strokkur, the Geyser, Southern Iceland. It seems you must be smart enough to not get killed in Iceland, because there are no guardrails, fences, anything, blocking access to these things. So, of course, I got kind of close. It was really amazing watching how these things work. The sound of the boiling water shooting out was enough to make you jump if you were not ready for it.

Burnt By The Sun bandmembers

We are now on our way to Gullfoss, and I thought  the geyser was dangerous. The whole path leading to the edge of the falls was completely covered in ice. Almost everyone fell at least once and Ralph almost went down the mountain and into the ravine filled with freezing, running water. This kind of stuff really makes tour worth it. It is a great opportunity to get out and be able to see this stuff. Almost always in the U.S., you’re in and out of a place so quick, you see nothing. Making time for excursions like this really makes it all worth it.

Third Show: U.S. Military Base

We travel out to the base, or “Little America” as the locals call it. After signing in, we are off to the club. This place is like its own little city. It’s huge. The club is a top-of-the-line nightclub. Wendy’s tasted the best it ever has and I got a BMT from Subway to go! As we are checking the merch and equipment, Johnny realizes his pedal board is missing. After a few phone calls it is located at Dillon. It seems no one in Iceland really steals anything because the country is so small that eventually you would be caught. After I spend some time mocking Johnny for a while, I realize my bass is missing! We figure it’s at the club too and he is off with J.C. to retrieve the forgotten equipment.

Chthonic is getting ready to play. Merch is set and beer is free! There sure is a hell of a lot of people here. Chthonic does their set twice (it’s two songs) because Johnny is not back yet. Nice to handle the good old USD again. Working in fish gets harder as you drink more. The show went really well. It was truly an honor to be able to play on base for our troops and finally be able to give something back to the people that put their lives on the line for all of us back home each and every day.

Concert attendees

After the set, we hang at the bar and drink some more; we decided to go into Keflavik. My car is second and I can see the guard giving Jason a little bit of a hard time. He finally lets them through and I pull up. I go to hand him the base pass and he exclaims, “What is this!” like he doesn’t know what the pass is we are supposed to return upon exiting the base. I think, “I’m in for it now.” So this guard keeps drilling me: “You drink?” Me, “No.” Him, “You drink?” Me, “No.” Him, “You drink?” Me, “No.” Finally he steps back and says, “Shut off the car and step out.” Fuck! He tells me to follow him into the guard shack, the whole time accusing me of drinking; I keep telling no. This bastard then whips out a breathalyzer! He makes me blow in this thing three times without resetting the machine, yelling the whole time, “Blow, blow more,” and guess what, bam! I pass! Suck it, fucker! Don’t know how I passed but after that he let us all through without any issues.

We get into Keflavik and go to Paddy’s, an Irish bar! Cool! We’re there for about an hour and the joint closes. So the U.S. guys take us down the street to another bar, Traffic, a dance club. Brandon is not happy. We finally talk him into going in.

Apparently it is okay to smash beer bottles on the street here, which Johnny took to new limits in his intoxicated state [after 20 or 30 minutes at the bar]. He even got Aaron, who was pretty lit up, to partake in this new past time, except Aaron decided to go for distance with his smash fest, launching his bottle 30 feet down the street.

We decided to call it a night because we all wanted to hit the Blue Lagoon before our flight out tomorrow, and it’s already 6 a.m. again.

Sunday: Our Last Day In Iceland

We get up kind of early, get all our things together, pack the cars, and we are off to the Blue Lagoon. This place is in the middle of nowhere. We arrive, pay, and are in the hot spring. It’s really weird. The water is milky blue and if your hand is more than three inches below the surface, you can’t see it. We make our way outside and this thing is huge! At some parts of the lagoon it is extremely hot; you could cook in these sections, I kid you not.

There is also a waterfall massage that beats the shit out of you pretty good but afterwards you feel wonderful. It sure fixed my neck. We hang for about an hour and 45 minutes and then hit the shower and then the gift shop for some goodies for the misses. We are down to two-and-a-half hours before departure. The U.S. guys suggest a local burger joint for lunch before we head to the airport and we go for it. The place looked like something out of a midwestern town in the U.S.

We arrive at the airport with little over an hour to spare before boarding. We say our goodbyes and thanks and enter customs. We do the currency exchange, which I always feel I am getting screwed on, and get on the plane with no time to spare.

So, I asked John, would he consider bringing his family to Iceland for vacation; he said yes. This is a place for people to come and appreciate nature; the landscape is unique and beautiful. The people we met, the places we were shown, and the shows we played all kicked major ass. I could not have hand-picked a better bunch of people to share this time with, especially my bandmates, Aaron, and my father. Standing on that waterfall, watching the geyser explode, smashing bottles in the street, and drinking beer while in a moving car: unbelievable. I really don’t think anything could have went better.

All the bands that played: Jericho Fever, Brothers Majere, Fighting Shit, Severed Crotch, Chthonic, Myra, Terminal Wreckage, and Momentum.

Since their tour, Burnt By The Sun completed their lineup and then reunited with their old lineup to record another album. Read up on that and check up on Teddy at www.burntbythesun.com or www.myspace.com/burntbythesun.

Photos: Burnt By The Sun (top, Brandon and Johnny; above center, the band performing; below center, Aaron and Teddy; bottom, partiers at one of the shows; courtesy Ted Patterson)


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