Tagged: Rock in den Ruinen

My year in rock – 2013 retrospect

We’re a few days into 2014 already and I never really had time to do the usual look in the rearview mirror to summarize what 2013 was like for me.

Compared to the past 5 years, it was less eventful than usual, and a lot of it has to do with my father’s passing. I cancelled some gigs I had planned to go to and well, just wasn’t in the mood for anything really, but there were still a few highlights in 2013.

January started with Gothenburg Sound Festival where I met up with FIREWIND-drummer JO NUNEZ who was playing with NIGHTRAGE.

Shortly thereafter, I went to the US to see a few FIREWIND-shows and meet up with the new singer KELLY SUNDOWN CARPENTER for an interview at the Gramercy in NYC. Went to Atlanta and the Masquerade as well, pretty cool venue.

Got stuck in a blizzard the day I was supposed to fly home from JFK via Toronto, and made it home in the very last minute. Drama!

Swedish bands CRAZY LIXX & H.E.A.T played at KB, show got interrupted by the fire alarm and the club was evacuated.

Went to beautiful ICELAND with my friend Henny, that was a trip I won’t forget anytime soon – Iceland is a fairy tale country and I hope they never let the ways of the “outside world” change what they’ve accomplished. It’s amazing.

[This isn’t even Photoshopped – it actually looks like that!]

Gigs, there were a few. IRON MAIDEN played at Malmo Stadion, I spent all day in line to get a front row spot. Well worth it!

MEGADETH played at Vega in Copenhagen, they had just released Super Collider and played the title track from that album live for the first time. Dave Mustaine also brought a kid up on stage, not a usual sight at Megadeth shows. :)

STEVE HARRIS and his British Lion played at KB in Malmo, and although the attendance was low, to say the least, it was insanely cool to see a musician of his caliber that up close! I got dust from his sneakers in my face when he stomped on his monitor, he was THAT close. It wasn’t as bad as people say, the band had a good time and that’s what I remember the most.

Another memorable gig was PAUL GILBERT in Gothenburg, at Sticky Fingers. Been a fan since forever, Paul is amazing. There are some fantastic shredders in the world, but Paul is unique. I love his goofy style, his dry sense of humor, his playing, his way of interacting with the crowd… It was a great show.

After Apollo Papathanasio’s departure from Firewind, I decided to keep track of his other projects, so I went to Hamburg, Germany to visit my friend Su and see Apollo with SPIRITUAL BEGGARS. A few months later made a last minute decision to see the band in Thessaloniki, Greece as well.

Apollo also visited me in my home in Malmo for a video interview and a nice lunch. Awesome dude.


Of course, there were a bunch of FIREWIND shows this year as well. Rock in den Ruinen in Germany, SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL, and of course, the tour of AUSTRALIA. I opted out of all other shows because I needed the $$ for Australia.

SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL was a weird festival this year, it was only days after my father’s passing, but I had to go to fulfill my duties to Sweden Rock Magazine and also to my friend Su who was visiting from Germany, SRF was her bachelorette party.

Memorable interviews: DAVID COVERDALE (WHITESNAKE), love the man, he rocks!

[A short clip from that interview]

And finally meeting LITA FORD for the first time ever. She was great, I’m glad she didn’t turn out to be a bitch.

Also saw her shows in Gothenburg ad Sticky Fingers and Malmo, KB.
Went to the UK twice in May to see WHITESNAKE, Thunder and Journey. I could see Whitesnake a million times and it still never gets old. :)

GUS G came to Malmo for the SWEDISH METAL CONVENTION, had a great time with him and Andy R, thanks to Pontus for bringing him to the convention. Also met Tallee Savage and her sister Amanda, Jorn, Anders Johansson (YNGWIE, HAMMERFALL) and a bunch of other people.

(Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, Yngwie), Pekka and Gus in the VIP-room)

Gus G and Paul DiAnno:

Straight after that…business class with Emirates to Sydney via Dubai, went on a safari, met koalas, saw the first Firewind show of the Australian tour, continued to Brisbane, met up with Clint, flew to Adelaide and then finally Melbourne. Stayed there for a week after the band had left. Met a few more koalas and then some really nice people at his BBQ party.

The free BAR in business class at my Emirates-flight to Sydney. :) It didn’t suck. ;)

Came home, got another tattoo and saw BLACK SABBATH in Copenhagen.

An old friend, singer of the Swedish sleaze-band NASTY IDOLS, Andy Pierce, passed away at the age of 45, something that I still can’t quite grasp…


Finished my year in the US visiting friends and checking out two gigs that I wrote about in my previous blog, both Savatage-related.

That was it – in a nutshell. Less travel than usual 2013 but I’m already looking forward to the Steel Panther European tour in the spring and Gus G’s solo-debut! Welcome 2014!

Firewind – Rock In Den Ruinen (Dortmund, Germany)

Rock in den Ruinen, was the next stop on my (neverending…) journey across Europe (and the US) to check out Firewind doing their thing. Still enjoying it as much as ever.

Flew into Düsseldorf international airport very early in the morning and rented a car to drive to Dortmund, which is less than an hour away.

The “adventure” started already after 30 minutes when the GPS gave up on me. Suddenly, the battery-symbol started blinking, informing me it was dead– ceased to be. Bye-bye. Oh, wonderful.  I found my destination eventually – with the help of my backup, a printed Google-maps description.

It was 8.30 in the morning when I got there, and the show wasn’t until seven in the evening so I had plenty of time to kill. My iPad picked up a T-mobile network, so I paid for a 1-day pass….only to realize that it wasn’t working. The signal was gone. Sigh– five euro down the drain.

So, moving on to Plan B. McDonald’s is a good place for a traveller. You can sit there for hours and nobody cares, they’ve got their own free Wi-Fi and there are toilets, food and everything else you need. So I went to find the nearest McDonald’s.
Only – in Germany they don’t accept anything but CASH at McDonald’s apparently. I’m just not a cash-person, usually travel with just “toilet and tip”-money, the rest is for the credit cards. So I just got the essentials – their loss.

Was hanging there until I got bored and went back to the festival area to find the parking lot. The plan was to take a nap. I needed all the sleep I could get.

[Hanging at McDonald’s in Dortmund…]

There were signs showing where the festival parking was, and loooots of cars in line to get there.


When I finally drove up to the guy with the handheld credit card machine, who didn’t speak a word of English by the way, I asked how much it was. I was expecting him to charge me whatever it cost and then show me where to park the car.

Instead, he tells me to open my trunk. WTF???

So he goes and opens the trunk, and I figured it must be some sort of security thing. He comes back, says something in German, and looks puzzled (not to mention how puzzled I must have looked right back!).

One of his colleagues comes over and tells him in German that I’m probably looking for the festival. Turns out I was in line for the city DUMP where people drive through to get rid of their junk – and apparently pay depending on what they’re getting rid of! Lol! The festival parking was right next to it. :)

Tried to get a few hours of sleep but I had ended up at the Heavy Metal parking-lot. I don’t know WHAT kind of audio-system people are building into their cars, but it sounded louded than a fucking airport! I had earplugs shoved into my ears so hard they almost switched places half way through my head, but heard the Metallica-anthems anyway!

After a while I gave up the sleeping-idea. Decided to go find the box office, get my pass and go watch a few bands instead.

But – I encountered one of those classics. The “Uhmm… no, I don’t see your name on the guest list….”-classic.

The lady was very kind, it wasn’t her fault, and I could tell she felt bad telling me that my name wasn’t on the list she had in front of her – she even showed it to me.

“I*ve got these names for Firewind – could you be listed under a different name or as somebody’s “plus one”?

No. I’m not a “plus one”. :-)

So I had to sort this out. Drummer-Jo saved the day, he got the “chain” of solutions started – and the problem got solved eventually. If I had known, I could at least have brought enough cash to buy my own ticket, but since I knew I was on the list I didn’t think more of it.

In the meantime, a girl with red hair approached me with a smile, said that she heard there was a problem with my pass. I said that I was on the guest list – but apparently not on the one they had.

She said that in worst case they’d just simply let me in, but if I was supposed to have a backstage pass, they needed approval from the band. I didn’t know if it was “just” a ticket or an actual guest pass, I never ask these things. I’m grateful for whatever. :)

So a guy shows up with a handwritten note, saying that the only had “these” names on the Firewind-list – and was about to make a few calls to get me in – as they all understood that I wasn’t a local, I had travelled from Sweden for this event. Would suck big time to be stuck outside the box office!

Five seconds later HE got a call, and next thing I know, he comes back and hands me my AAA-pass. Everything was cool. What a relief. :)

Unusually friendly and helpful staff, I’m used to the “nope, you’re not on the list, not my problem – NEXT!!” -sort of people. The Rock in den Ruinen people went out of their way to help out – I truly appreciate that!

Hadn’t heard of any of the bands on the bill except Firewind. The only artist I remember was some psycho dude who was much like an escaped mental patient playing some sort of circus/varietee punk/Rammstein mix of some sort with belly-dancers and flutists on stage. Just weird but in an interesting sort of way. :)

Bob (Katsionis) was outside with some people talking, so I ended up talking to a super nice photographer who had taken the live-photo that Firewind will be using for the live-CD that’s coming out this summer. :)

He wasn’t a full time photographer, but loved going to gigs whenever he could. I can relate to that – it’s the rock’n’roll that keeps us sane (or insane, whichever way you choose to look at it, lol!).

The show was great – REALLY great. I keep saying that every time, don’t I? But the fact of the matter IS that this is a brilliant live-band, it’s as simple as that. But then there are evenings when they spice it up even more and deliver “with a twist”. That’s what they did in Dortmund.

Maybe because it’s the home town of their record label Century Media, but I just think they were in one of those “let’s kick some ass“-sort of moods last night! :)

Kelly did an excellent job, he was really belting it out, and he’s clearly a lot more comfortable as a live-frontman now than he was the first time I saw him a few months ago in Atlanta and NYC. He’s definitely developing into a good frontman.

Cause it’s tough to get thrown into a band like Firewind which is 100% a live band. If you don’t have the same background, you’re in for quite a challenge. But he’s really catching up fast. Great job, I was impressed.

[One of my favorite songs from the latest album…]

“Gus is such a poser”, was a comment I heard from a photographer backstage – in a positive sense. We love posers, they make great photos and videos, give us more posers! :)) It’s almost impossible to take a bad live photo of Gus, and that goes for my video-filming as well. If you’re gonna be a guitar-hero, you gotta be one – all the way. And Gus certainly is.

He’s the born entertainer. We all know that he kicks everyone’s ass on guitar. But he owns his stage, every single time. However, he gets tough competition from Bob Katsionis who keeps up with him like it’s a walk in the park – not only in the guitar duels but also by showing off his multitasking-skills on keyboards/guitar. It’s the perfect showstopper and jawdropper-combo! :)

Music is not a contest, but it’s a good thing when you’ve got someone in your band who challenges you to deliver not just your best but even better than your best- and never get too comfortable.
Petros (bass) was in a great mood spending more time than he usually does at the front part of the stage – and all of this backed up by the Belgian monster-drummer Jo Nunez whose sticks are seconds from being set on fire by the speed…! Man.

Together they are like a speeding train, you just can’t stop them – and I LOVE the energy!

[Take THIS!!]

After the show I was pretty much just hanging with the photographer dude again. He kept saying that since I had the triple-A pass, I could go anywhere, so he did’t undestand why didn’t I just go in there and say hi to the band.

I’ve never been comfortable doing that. I probably never will be. They were in the catering-tent having dinner. I had no business being back there. It’s simply what I would consider “band-time”. It would feel totally wrong to just barge in uninvited. Sure, I’ve got the “right kind of pass” but I’m not going to abuse that privilege.

So eventually, Kelly and Jo came to hang out a little. It was freezing though – like it can be in the spring when it’s humid and the cold really gets really annoying.

[The sun was setting behind the backstage area this chilly spring evening in Dortmund, Germany…]

We decided to go to Firewind’s “dressing room” (=tent) but the security guy took Kelly for somebody else and wouldn’t let him through! What a dork.

Apparently he looked a lot like someone they didn’t want backstage so he had to prove he was in the band! Lol!

Jo was trying to get the photographer in with us, cause normally you can escort a guest with your AAA-pass. But the security dude was being an asshole, so we had to part ways with the photographer. He was cool about it though.

It wasn’t a lot warmer in that tent, that’s for sure. The crew guys were working on getting the gear ready for transport, while the rest of us were just enjoying watching other people work, lol! :)

Nah, they are all great guys. Very relaxed atmosphere, always.

We got kindly thrown out though because the festival was “closing” so the backstage area had to be cleared. The guys were waiting for their shuttle and I had to go get my rental car. The whole afterparty-idea fell throuh – for me at least. I headed back to Düsseldorf airport to spend my second night being sleepless.

I was tired, but I was on that “after-show high” that makes it impossible to unwind to get some sleep. By the time I got off the kick, I was afraid to fall asleep cause I was so dead tired that I would probably pass out completely and miss my flight.

Came home to Malmo looking like I’ve been hit by a truck and run over by a bulldozer – five times. But I still think it was worth it, like it is every single time. This is just a solid band, and I can’t wait for people to discover them at Sweden Rock Festival in June. :) They’re in for a treat, and this is one of few bands that I never have to worry will suck – cause they just never have.

So – over and out from Malmo – I’m off to Dreamland…!