Composed by Jude McIlwaine, this diary predates his time in Hellbastard (the tour diaries you can read here and here and documents what it's like trying to tour at the very bottom of the ladder with the (then) recent additions of Eddie Cross and Luke Tolcher, both of whom have since left.
Over to you Jude.
This was a festival set up by Crossover skate band Daniel Wax Off. These McRad worshiping nutters were an absolute pleasure.
Having left Belfast at 6am we had the most awful and life draining wait in the Cairn Ryan docks due to having to sit our asses down for about 7 hours straight waiting on our bus to arrive. Deciding to do a United Kingdom tour via public transport we left ourselves in the worlds most boring limbo. That being said there is a lot of benefits to travelling in this fashion – Scotland has some beautiful landscapes and I must admit I really enjoyed staring out the window of the National Express Coach at the mountains which were covered snow and yet the sun is out, it really was a spectacular sight.
By the time we arrived in North Berwick it was 11 P.M. The lads in Daniel Wax Off greeted us with a case of beer, pizza and free entry to the skate park at The Space.
The Space is a fantastic spot and a great place to host a thrash festival, being a skate park it also has a child’s soft play area (I must admit we were drunk enough to find “our inner child” and jump around on the kids play area).
Dead Space Fest kicked off around 1 P.M and we (having been told we were not on stage until 8.15 P.M) started drinking. Some bands were better than others needless to say the ones that really stood out for me were …
Endless Swarm: A Power Violence band who played a blisteringly fast set of snap, snap, snap aggression. Their vocalist seems to enjoy head butting the floor A Lot.
Daniel Wax Off: Our awesome hosts really kick serious ass check out their release “Puttin Oot Da Thrash” - they’re like a Scottish Municipal Waste. Interestingly enough their singer L.D greeted me saying “Isn’t it awesome how the international language of Crossover thrash is beer, weed and pizza?”
This is in my opinion one of the most refreshing sentences I have heard from any musician. It sure was refreshing to hear someone not say “Stupid generic neo-thrash and their pizza and beer clichés” - good on Daniel Wax Off. They know why they love Crossover Thrash and they embrace it for all its “flaws” and love it unconditionally.
Music is fun, right?
The Shining: These Dutch guys are really incredible, we kitted ourselves out (buying all the T-shirts and vinyl we could carry) these lads are very humble. Having toured Japan and the States and most of Europe they offered some insights and tips on touring in a D.I.Y format. Thanks guys you are world class.
When we got onstage the crowd was well oiled and extremely giddy. This made our performance extremely exciting. At some stage this guy lifted me over his head during my guitar solo in Zombie Sabbath. That felt great.
Scotland seems to have mad audiences with less of that “Impress me” posture. We met a wee skater guy called Anthony who told us he enjoyed our set so much that he was gonna start a “Hyper-Thrash” band when he gets back home. Check them out “Canny Get Any Acid” they even cover our song No Place to Skate … Success!
As some of you may know, Acid Age shares two members with Wardomized. Drummer Luke Tolcher and Vocalist Eddie Cross. The fact that Wardomized were opening made me a tad nervous because I was wondering if Luke and Eddie could handle the double duty.
They sincerely handled it like absolute pros though, playing a slow but fat as fuck set with Wardomized for 30 minutes before myself and Jake (Acid Age bassist) jumped onstage and burst into our set. We decided since it was a Valentines Day Thrash gig in our home town we would just play all our fast songs.
This perhaps was a slight misjudgement as the crowd (Great as they were) got exhausted headbanging and moshing after about our 4th song. Full credit to the audience in the Warzone though, they really did keep their energy levels up.
We all really enjoyed our set. But after us Saint Slaughter took to the stage, they played well and much better than their Dublin performance I saw about a month earlier.
Their drummer Tom is exceptional, bassist Gordo is an animal onstage as is guitarist Jeff. Vocalist Eoin was clearly drunk but kept the humour levels of the audience up.
Scimitar came on after and as the crowd was now visibly tired the Belfast foursome delivered the right amount of energy from front and centre to perk up the attendees. They just keep getting better!
All in all I think this was a mighty gig and another success. Possibly the best Acid Age show in Belfast yet.
Having never been to Liverpool before I really was looking forward to this gig, just one problem… It had been cancelled by the promoter due to “Bad promotion” within Liverpool.
So in true Acid Age fashion we made a point of just enjoying being a band and exploring the city and occasionally being the kind of wanker tourists that impersonate the local accents while buying coffee or a bite to eat. It seems like a nice city, I was impressed by the amount of multi-cultural art that decorates the city.
Liverpool really has cashed in on this whole Beatles thing though and being called Jude I always fucking hated the band with a passion. Imagine naming a cafe “Abbey Road" or an airport “John Lennon Airport”. I mean fuck me, they really are the most overrated band on the planet!
It would sicken you how much worship the Beatles get there, needless to say no mention of Carcass or SSS (Short Sharp Shock) anywhere. Get your shit together Liverpool, how could you forget poor old Cilla Black?
A bit disappointed at the cancelation, this must be what its like being in The Dangerfields (as you can guess, The Dangerfields are our inspiration), but we set off on the train for Sheffield anyway. Maybe we’ll do Liverpool next time.
19th of Feb: South Sea Live, Sheffield
Believe it or not I am a big fan of Def Leppard (particularly their first 2 albums) so playing their hometown sparked a little bit of excitement in me. I have heard Joe Elliot bitch about how much it really sucked to play in a rock band in Sheffield in the late 70s however that never crossed my mind.
We had a little more exploring to do (not by choice) dragging our gear through Sheffield on a one of those annoying “Now it’s Sunny then it’s rainy” days. Sheffield is an awful place to get lost in on foot hauling drums and guitars, the whole fucking city seems to be one big hill followed by another hill and then up a mountain disguised as a city.
The locals are very nice though and one even offered to give us a hand getting to the venue. Upon arriving at the venue the doors were locked.
I went around the back and rang the bell and someone opened the door…
Me: “Hey thanks man, we are Acid Age and we’re playing tonight.”
Other guy: “You can’t come in now it’s not clean.”
Me: “Ok, can we leave our gear in?”
Other Guy: “Sure, but then you have to leave.”
This was not exactly the warmest of welcomes and seemed to put Luke in a foul mood so we went to the nearest Aldi and bought a few bottles of wine and downed them on the porch of the venue just to make the wait interesting and raise our moods. About two hours later the doors opened and we went in.
I was nervous because there was no posters or promotion for the show. The venue looked nice inside in fairness despite the odd dodgy looking powder substance that stained the carpet in the odd corner.
By 7 O'clock the lads in Cryptic Shift arrived, they're a powerful example of "Death Thrash" if that makes sense. Their bassist was A Hell Of A Laugh and as a band they seem really locked in. The other band on the bill I enjoyed was Risen Prophecy, a Newcastle based power metal band who were kind of like a cross between Obituary and Iced Earth.
There were some other bands on the bill as well but in all honesty only the two I mentioned seem to have sunk in. We hit the stage at about 10.45 P.M.
This being our only headline show this tour had us in better spirits although Luke was a bit uneasy with having to use the house kit which was bloody awful. He did a great job though, 10 minutes into our set the sound man shouts down the mic "One more song lads" we closed the set with Zombie Sabbath and got off stage and despite being the headlining band we were feeling very fucked off and this was not what we needed after the Liverpool cancelation.
The other bands expressed to us that they felt bad for us too.
About an hour after the show the promoter/sound engineer walked in with his girlfriend slabbering about how they spent all the money from the show on Chinese food and weed in front of all the bands. I don't know if they did this to avoid telling us we were not getting paid or if they were just being twats but it really got on our tits.
We were exhausted, hungry, broke and moody. Honestly anyone who plays in any kind of extreme band of any genre knows that gigging for free is just a thing that happens and I honestly don't mind doing it but after the past two days I really think it would have been decent for the promoter to say "look lads, we can't pay you well but here is £20 for your trouble and journey." I can say this because I have paid bands out of my own pocket when I put on shows.
(After some research on the venues Facebook page we discovered we were not the only band to have this issue with that particular venue given the write-up on their one star reviews).
When the three junkies that run the spot had fucked off upstairs to bed we made the effort to lift a few bottles of booze from behind the bar, we were not leaving empty handed.
Rather than stay at that venue we decided to grab our shit and leave, it's about 3 A.M and we walked through the streets of Sheffield again hauling our equipment and cases past loads of drunk as fuck students who made the journey an entertaining voyage to say in the least.
We walked to some weird forest park and sat down and enjoyed the beverages we liberated from the bar we had just escaped. We discussed many things as a band and talked about the highs and lows thus far.
We spent some absolutely freezing hours on the floor of Sheffield's railway station until our 6 hour wait for the train.
(Funny enough after we got to our digs we watched the Anvil documentary, and Luke expressed how close to home it was, particularly the scene where Anvil are sleeping on the train station floor!)
Once we got our train we headed for Birmingham and had a nap on the train. When we arrived in Birmingham we met our friend from back home, Luke Turnbull who is studying at Birmingham Met and offered to let us crash at his place until our
Birmingham gig one week later.
Luke introduced us to his house mates who were fantastic and incredibly warm and welcomed us with open arms. We had a few quiet drinks and mellowed our heads for a few days, I am ever grateful to them.
Birmingham seems to get slagged a lot I have noticed. Like most cities it has a dark underbelly and all kinds of gang shit. Seeing gangs in Birmingham is as common as cow shit in Dungannon.
One thing every metal fan knows about Birmingham is it is the home town of the greatest genre of music. Being the home of bands like Judas Priest, Napalm Death and Diamond Head we decided to head to No. 14 Lodge Road, Aston.
Walking for 30 minutes to the childhood home of Ozzy Osbourne in one of the most uncomfortably grim parts of Birmingham would seem stupid to many people but I must admit for me it was a fantastic and somewhat romantic experience.
There in the middle of the street stood this tiny little house about as wide as your arms. Seeing that part of Birmingham really helped me understand where Sabbath's dark and morbid working class sound comes from. It's such a cliché but it's so true, the scrubby vibe of your surroundings really does have an impact on your sound.
I left Lodge Road loving Black Sabbath more than I ever have (this coming from a guy who wrote a sarcastic Sabbath/Zombie mash up song called surprisingly "Zombie Sabbath").
26th of Feb: GBH
During our stay at our mate's gaff, Eddie pointed out that GBH was doing a free gig in Birmingham. Can't miss that, they are one of my favourite bands.
We had a few pre-drinks and left. By the time we arrived at the Old Library in the Custard Factory GBH had already played their first number.
We walked through the audience to the front row and commenced headbanging like maniacs.
After the show I walked up to the marshals and told them we were friends with GBH and on tour to get us backstage, believe it or not that actually worked.
Sometimes being in a band is handy but being able to bullshit while being in a band is essential when you wanna meet your influences and a giant shaved ape stands you and GBH. We walked backstage (having to carry Luke due to his level of intoxication) and met GBH who were absolute gentlemen. The Brummie punk legends were far cooler than I imagined.
This was no ordinary Acid Age gig.
We had the honor of supporting crossover Punx Broken Bones, a band I have always had a certain fanaticism for.
The crowd was scarce but picked up fairly quick. The sound was not fantastic for me, I couldn't really hear my guitar as there was no monitors so I just focused of my stage presence and jumped around like an idiot.
I had a lot of fun actually, I think Eddie really upped himself and has improved vastly as a vocalist.
When Broken Bones took to the stage the whole place went Boom and everyone started jumping around like animals on MDMA. Broken Bones played an absolutely fantastic set and vocalist J.J gave us a shout out and dedicated the second song on their set to us.
It was a great experience.
This gig was cancelled due to a double booking. I feel slightly disappointed because I feel like the UK tour should end in London but hey there is always next time.
So what have we learned? Well I can speak for all of us when I say we had an absolute blast. The good and the bad I wouldn't change a thing. Seriously, I got home and my back was aching from lifting gear and we all caught some weird flu but to be honest the people we met and the laughs we had were just irreplaceable.
And arrogant as I sound (and I know I am) I feel proud that we did this short UK run via public transport and man-power because it really built us spiritually (weird as that sounds) we came home better friends than we left and we felt like we had really paid our dues as a band. It's no secret Acid Age has attracted controversy mainly due to my big mouth but in all honesty I know we have lots more ahead of us and we don't plan in packing in any time soon.
Sometimes ye get paid, sometimes ye don't but it's not about that, we get to play gigs in front of cool people that actually have something in common with us and that's a love of music regardless of genres and styles and all that other crap, then we have a few beers and laugh about the shitty things that went wrong and occasionally someone comes up and says "you guys were great" and buys a CD.
What more could you want?