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A European Tour, #3: Mistress Natasha

Posted by Greg / June 8, 2009

08062009-RhythmSection.jpgNathan Howard plays guitar for Montreal's Bonjour Brumaire. We've recruited him to send us stories from their first European tour, underway through mid-June.

We are driving through Burgundy and we have just passed Dijon - pun not intended. Compared to Canada, the French countryside is perfectly manicured; millennia of farming and a far denser population will do that. We've passed scores of castles alternately decrepit and decadent.

We are driving from Geneva to Orleans: five and a half hours and a relatively long drive for Europe. This 'long drive' allows me the time to write a much needed post on 'bands and vans.' Like 'Peaches and cream,' and 'Hesperus and Phosphorus," bands and vans are inseparable pairs, virtually synonymous. However, it is only from the tour that I have learned how much of a raw deal North American bands have vis a vis our European cousins. Everyone in our band has toured some or all of the States, and the drives in Canada are no better. Touring North America involves a lot of driving. You're stuck in a van an average of six hours a day, give or take, usually with the same people.

In my experience, bands on tour generally let their personal hygiene slip after the first week. I'm hoping the fact that we have a woman around might keep the rest of us men in line. We're not there yet, but I fear that while our high-strung Parisian and comparatively mellow Genevan will continue to smell respectable, the super-Queb rhythm section might not. I am concerned.

The drives in Europe are (unsurprisingly) a fraction of North American drives. One half hour drive separated our Thursday show from our Friday show. This means our cousins on the Old Continent can spend more time engaged in 'picotage' with delicious French wine and less time listening to someone else's music on the van stereo. Van stereo control is a very touchy subject and usually resolves itself through unobjectionable, if unadventurous, albums: either past classics like Abbey Road, shared childhood favorites like Dookie, or "old favorites" that will be, like Apologies to the Queen Mary. I spent Friday night celebrating my bassist's birthday and fending off Swiss cougars. No, not the animal, this kind.

A newly acquired touring fixture is Natasha. We picked her up after one too many 'Google maps' fuckups. The last one involved us in the middle of a skidoo trail in rural Quebec, during winter, at the edge of a frozen lake, and being flanked within inches on both sides by impenetrable forest unable to turn around. We spent half an hour in reverse with two people spotting the back and one spotting the front to make sure we didn't crash the van.Natasha is one of those GPSs that speak (above, left). The voice Youri chose for her (whether by accident or not, I don't know) sounds rather... commanding. In fact we are certain that the GPS company hired a dominatrix for the voiceover and this entailed, in order to put a face to a voice, our soft-core, scented, Fresh Prince of Bel Air-era, air freshener (above, right). The name was the most appropriate one we could muster - apologies to the Natashas of the world; I'm sure you're very respectable women. Other suggestions, and correlatively other apologies, included Candy, Tania, and Samantha. Natasha is incredibly reliable, and never complains. We love her.

We have Sunday and Monday off; we're going visit a castle and Paris (in the springtime). I've eaten more cheese this week than in my entire life, and yes, Swiss cheese in Switzerland rules.



Greg / June 8, 2009 at 07:02 pm
I think that photo of Karine could go into the dictionary under the word "mellow."

Also, thanks for letting us know about the Swiss cheese situation. Now please try Camembert from Camembert and Gouda from Gouda and report back.
Tara / June 9, 2009 at 11:00 am
Nathan! Bring me back financiers. You can buy them at a grocery store. Ask Youri.

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