The Men Of Venn blog series continues today on the Rock Sound website as Gallows vocalist Wade MacNeil talks touring adventures.
THE MEN OF VENN, chapter three, by Wade MacNeil
The most memorable shows I have ever played have blurred the lines between celebration and prison riot. You want to see how far you can push the chaotic energy of the room before you lose total control. This can be extremely beautiful and incredibly dangerous but, on the best days it is both.
Laurent, Stuart, and myself started Venn Records because we wanted to challenge ourselves creatively. When you become static, so does your music. Time had come for us to change everything. We self released our music and focused on breaking new ground by touring to places Gallows had never played before like Poland, Northern Canada, China, Hungary and Taiwan. Travelling to these countries led to some of the most memorable shows of our career.
During one of the first Venn Records tours, I was in Poznan, Poland and sat in the corner of the bar Pod Minoga, nursing vodka while learning Polish curse words for the upcoming show. I was approached by a kid who asked me a question: “If I buy 15 Gallows ski masks, will you give me a discount?” (We were selling ski masks like the ones on our album cover). “Yeah, sure but why do you need 15 ski masks?” I replied. "They are for my gang. We beat up Nazi’s.”
Deal, good luck with that I concluded.
Leaving Europe behind, Gallows began cutting our way across Canada. In the middle of the prairies we started our set while a very dazed girl walked continuously in a circle in front of the stage. She was 110 pounds soaking wet yet she was terrifying a room full of people. She had taken something and was on another planet.
The crowd anxiously watched her pace around the front of the stage as we played our first few songs. We ended song three with a crash and I addressed the situation. “What are you doing? You are freaking me out!” She stumbled over and took the microphone from me. Her pupils were like pinpricks and she ranted nonsensically for a few minutes. Acid. She’s definitely on acid. I went over and tried to get the mic back. She let it go and grabbed my beard with a death grip. I managed to shake her off and she attacked a monster of a security guard with an even larger beard. The band started playing again, while two enormous security guards try to gently drag her off stage. It took four cops to get her into a squad car.
On one of the final tours we did for our last record we found ourselves in Hong Kong, The show was in a DIY space in the factory district with Toronto’s Fucked Up and Fanzui Xiangfa from Beijing. We were running on zero sleep from our overnight flight from Taiwan and we had no idea what was in store for us. It’s a disassociating feeling when a language barrier prevents you from communicating with people all day on tour. But, what’s even stranger is when those people you couldn’t carry on a conversation with sing your songs with you later that night. Hong Kong was one of my favourite shows the band has ever played. We capped the night off at a restaurant filled with gangsters who were drinking, gambling, and playing mahjong.
It’s hard to pinpoint those moments that define a tour because they happen every few minutes. As we put the finishing touches on our new record, I can’t wait for the craziness to start happening again.
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