Tour Diary - Day 2 (John Vagenas / Naxatras, Ni Moya)
You've definitely heard of Naxatras. You probably have seen them at a festival around Europe, or maybe you've been at one of their intense psychedelic shows.
These guys recorded their first album in 2015, live in the studio, without overdubs, in a single day. OLDSCHOOL. They are not that old tho. We don't judge, just sayin'! Shortly after their first release they started touring, and they actually only stopped to record their 4th album (not yet released).
John, bass player and vocalist of the band, took some time to tell us a story back from 2016. Sit back and enjoy!
Here we are.
In the middle of the highway, desperately trying to pull our dead van over the side of the road without getting killed. It’s raining hail.
But how did we get here?
Thursday, 30th of June, 2016
We wake up in Ghent, Belgium. After a killer gig we played on Wednesday at the awesome Kinky Star, we slept at the house of a black metal creepy weirdo, who made us sleep in tiny sofas and deflated mattresses on the floor, because he didn’t want us in the sleeping room next to him. He didn’t talk much.
Our driver, Adri, sleeping on the floor.
After a terrible night’s sleep, with our driver on the verge of sickness, we have to leave for a gig in Bielefeleld, Germany. But our old “customised” van, rented to us by a greek guy called Judas(!), has broken down and it’s awaiting service at a Ford car center. The amazing owner of Kinky Star, God bless him, sends a taxi to pick us our from the dude’s house and take us first to Kinky Star to pick up our equipment and then to the Ford Center. The radio taxi is playing “The Final Countdown”.
We leave the van there and go back to the city to find a hostel to sleep like normal human beings. Then, after a much needed shower (and a unavoidable cancellation of the Bielefeld gig), we go around the city, which is probably the most beautiful city we’ve ever been to, full of canals and medieval castles, so it’s actually fortunate that we had an extra night there. We drink some fine ales at an outdoors pub and go back to sleep at the hostel with a fresh air of optimism.
Merch boy Danny and me at a pub in Ghent, Belgium.
Friday, 1st of July, 2016
Early in the morning, we wake up and have breakfast and coffee. Tonight we have a gig at Hengelo, Netherlands. Our first stop for the day is the Ford center. There the seemingly trustworthy engineer tells us that there have been some rather crude modifications by the owner to the van’s engine so it can take both gas and diesel. Therefore, it probably won’t be able to take us all the way to the end of the tour and back to Greece, but it could last for around a week or so if we’re lucky. “It’s 800 euros”. “Oh ok… Well, let’s hope it does last a week!”.
Two hours later, on the highway from Belgium to the Netherlands, our van suddenly decides to give up entirely and release its spirit back to the plane of its god and creator Ford… It’s raining hail and panicked we try to stir the van to the side of the road without getting hit by the super fast travelling cars behind us. Luckily, we manage to make it out alive. “Shit. What now?”. “Let’s call roadside assistance”. After around half an hour I think, they arrive.
Meanwhile, we’ve called Judas, we’ve called Jesus (the guy who recorded our albums, who happens to be a pretty good car mechanic and has a vast experience of tour and van trouble), we’ve called Stef (inside whose website you are now reading this), we’ve called our then booking agent Andre, we’ve called our greek booking agent Christos, and god knows who else.
Roadside assistance takes us to their headquarters and there they tell us that we won’t find any open car rental agency because it’s Friday and everything closes down. But to our good luck, the manager is a super cool dude, who will call the Paladin. The Paladin tries his best to find a way to help us, since we’ve told him our sad story. He comes up with a plan. He knows an old dude, in the outskirts of the town, called Frank. Frank has a dozen of Volkswagen vans for renting and he is a freelancer, so he could be open. He calls him and confirms it. Then he calls a cab to take us there. The surrealism continues. A perfectly white cab arrives to take us to our destination. The driver is a middle-aged dude, with a funky attitude, speaking words of wisdom and spreading some seriously cool vibes.
Our driver Adri, ready to sign the "papers".
Off we go. Frank’s shop/warehouse is a very blank space, with glass instead of walls around and very few minimal decorations. Frank doesn’t speak English. He can barely say a few universally spoken words like “yes”, “no”, “ok”, “car”, “papers”, “sign”. He presents us with a shitload of papers that our driver has to sign in order for us to rent a van. I think they were in French or German or something, either way the driver signs with a look on his face that says “fuck me”, because he has no idea what he’s signing (see photo).
We take the new, badass black Volkswagen van and get the hell out of there. We call the guys from the “Innocent” at Hengelo and tell that we’re gonna make it for the gig, but we’re gonna be a liiiittle bit late. So now it’s around 8 o’clock in the evening and we still have at least two more hours ahead. Naturally, we get lost for a short while, but the promoter is a very mellow type and he’s like “it’s ok dudes, don’t worry, don’t rush on the road now, take care and chill, we’ll be waiting”. Did I mention that we also got a fine for driving too fast?..
So, a quarter after 11pm we reach the venue. We load in as fast as we can and get ready for a small soundcheck. But the promoter tells us that there can’t be no soundcheck, ‘cause there’s a curfew at 12! So we’re like “Are you serious? Should we just play for 25 minutes?”. “I’m sorry guys, but yeah”. We plug in, we play something like 3 songs (I think it was “Sun is Burning”, “Waves” and “I am the Beyonder”) and get off stage feeling deeply unsatisfied by the gig, yet happy that it’s finally over. We talk to the people telling them we’re sorry that we couldn’t play more, but those Dutch potheads (I think the crowd was 20-30 people) were like “nooo dudes, what are you talking about, this was so coool”! Relieved, we get to enjoy some cold beers at last while listening to obscure Dutch hardcore punk music. Hell yeah.
That was it. It’s cool to finally share that story, since it’s one of the funniest and most intense experiences as a band. God, we miss gigs!
Live at Hengelo, Netherlands, in 2016.
We want to thank John for taking the time writing down this story. Make sure to check Naxatras on facebook, instagram, bandcamp and so on. If you're into electronic music, make sure you check John's electronic project, Ni Moya and find his latest record here and in physical format here. Support the bands you love through these times, and we'll soon meet on the road, that's for sure.
While you're at it, feel free to check out the rest of the Out of Medium website and make sure you upgrade your cool by getting a t-shirt or 10. Thanks for stopping by! Till next time!