Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Von den toten auferstehen


When we first sat down to discuss plans for the third album (never thought id get to say those words), something which came up straight away was the idea of playing the record live in front of people, before we went in and 'committed it to tape' as they say in the industry. The notion being that more often than not, songs put down too early in their existence go on to change -usually for the better- once they are taken on the road. Somehow the magic of live performance shapes and molds them into something quite different to what they were at birth.
The argument against the idea however, is that ticket-buying crowds expecting to see a mystery jets show might feel wildly disappointed to walk away from a gig full of semi-formed songs they have never heard before. And most understandably too. Enter the Crystal wolf Hunters.

Both an amalgamation and a parody of the huge, scene-friendly, plaid shirt-clad flux of hipster bands of the past couple of years, the Crystal wolf Hunters alias was to become our perfect guise. One part gemstone with mythical healing powers, one part fierce carnal predator, and one part er....Hunter. Unfortunately the similarities in the initial 'Crystal Wolf Fighters' name to that of the related -and pretty awesome- 'Crystal fighters' weren't rectified till after the Flyers were printed...sorry our bad, lads.

Next came the idea of Berlin. I dont know what it is about the place, but ever since i a spotty teenager, i have wanted to go there. It might have been discovering Heroes (the bowie record, not the hit sci-fi sitcom), or watching swarms of heroin sniffing adolescents flock to see him play in Christiane F. Either way, the place has always been top of my, and indeed the Jet's list of places to decamp to for a long old time.
The other reason Berlin seemed the perfect fit, shameful as I feel to admit it, was because in all our years of bussing and touring all over the shop, we had only stopped off to play there just once before. And that was way back in 2006 anyway (when we opened for the Arctics around Europe), so our relative anonymity there seemed most conveniently probable.

And so it was. With no bottomless budget to speak of, our old ex-church of england R-registration Transit rammed with amps and synths, and a small crew of two (our manager's masterful assistant Chris behind the wheel, and Henry on filming and hype man duties), we rolled into town, and set up shop at the newly opened Michelberger hotel on Warshauer strasse. Opened early especially for our visit, the Michelberger became the ultimate party crash pad for our stay, and with only six guests in the whole place (us), I have to say we could have got away with murder. In fact we kind of did.

PHOTOS courtesy of our friends Johannes, Dimitri and Stephan at Playberlin.
loads more up at NOW!

Mostly, we played wherever people would have us, but none of it would have been possible without our friend (and original !wowow! kid) johannes, who made all of the arrangements for the tour. I say 'tour', although in my experience a tour usually comprises of lots of waking up hung-over on sleeper busses in strange towns. I dont know if a word has been invented for playing 5 shows in 4 days in the same city. Anyone?

Spread across a mish mash of gay club nights (hot), art show openings (sweaty) and a vice barbecue (way hip), the shows were all completely different from one another, but in a variety of ways all amazing and way more fun than i think any of us could have imagined. The feeling of having to win over a crowd of strangers isn't at all a foreign one, but one which was massively enhanced by the fact that we barely knew what we were doing let alone if the audience could tell.
The new songs (of which there were 7 by the final show at the White trash fast food cafe) grew and morphed and mutated across the week, and by the end really felt like they had began to glue together in a beautiful way.
At this stage i dont think i could say exactly how the album will sound with any kind of certainty, but what is noticeable is how the songs have benefited from being played in sequence. And i wouldn't be at all surprised if the sequence we played them in at the shows might even end up how we shape the album when we wrap it up(we are are starting our second session tomorrow...can't wait.).



To end with, i thought i'd big up a few hot spots we repeatedly enjoyed in the duration of our stay -

Once upon-a-time rough part of town, close to the river (and the still-visible remnants of the wall). Long since gentrified and occupied by trendies and Yummy Mummies, Kreuzberg is still where the best parties in town happen. Johannes' 'TAM TAM' party was held here in a huge semi-derrelict warehouse building next to the river. The afterparty was held in the bar below, situated next door to an amazing public pool which actually floats on the river and is invaded most nights by drunks who rarely come out without large gashes across their foreheads.
Kreuzberg is also home to some of the gnarliest street meat joints out there. Of particular note is a makeshift chickenshack on the corner of Gorlitzer park (i think i got that right), where a huge glass window displays rack upon rack of slow roasting chicken carcasses. We turned up here for a late breakfast one afternoon but quickly found that spicy wings weren't on the menu. Instead, 3 euros and 50 cents bought you half a fucking bird and more chips than you could shake a stick at. Admittedly half of mine ended up in the trash can, but a wonderful idea all the same.

Panorama bar
Famous for its' resemblance to Nosferatu's eerie Castle as much as for it's opening hours (friday evening till midday on the following monday), Panorama bar is for some people the only real reason to visit Berlin. While for others, it is the only reason to never leave. The spiritual home of Minimal Techno, It is often said that what goes on in Panorama bar stays in Panorama bar. So much could be said for my friend barney (fake name for obvious reasons) who got lost on the way to the lavatory and found himself in a cold dark room, alone but for the sound of humans performing blasphemous acts upon one another and the feeling that something ghastly would happen to him if he didn't leave immediately. Suffice to say he had trouble finding the way back out.
Enough said.

Bar 25.
Arguably the crowning jewel of Berlin's 'alternative' clubscene, Bar 25 is a place designed specifically for the fearless. Sprawled out across the banks of the Spree in a series of wooden beach shacks, this party hot spot makes Trash City at Glastonbury look like the Early Learning Centre. Though it was operating a one in-one out policy when we got there (at silly o' clock), we eventually got in and promptly found ourselves surrounded by some of the most terrifying and blood curdling characters i have ever laid eyes on.
Grown, tattooed men weeping into one anothers arms under willow trees. Fervent mulleted lovers, fumbling semi nude behind the curtains of photobooths. And zombie-like Barmen who returned three, four, five times with the wrong drinks and the wrong change (i think i actually left with more than i came in with!).
Mondays mornings have never looked so good.

X Blaine