Welcome back to the behind scenes tale of the Stockholm Syndrome. In our second installment we find points of interest from the shows--moments that are important to our story, and these will be included. But for the most part, the tale I need to tell occurred off the stage. You can read all about the shows anywhere and you can search out CDs with the ole internet, but how many times does the writer get on the bus after the show? How often does the reporter find himself embedded, and not dodging gunfire? What I need to tell you is the stuff I learned about the men behind the Stockholm Syndrome, but isn't that what a band is anyway, the meshing of the men who make the sound? So instead of dissecting the second half of the Stockholm Syndrome's European Tour, which was of course their first tour ever, I will be looking at the music as a whole, and digging into the other 20 hours of the day, the time spent off stage. With that in mind, I certainly wouldn't want to skip the Amsterdam show... who could skip Amsterdam?

When we last spoke the band was laying down the gospel in Frankfurt and we were off to the Netherlands early the next morning, long before the booze had time to wear off. Blazing into Amsterdam, spirits were high--there's definitely something about that city that evokes a certain energy. And it's more than just the ganja and out right legality of everything, Amsterdam has a vibe unlike anywhere in the world, and we were all eager to have a show there.

Joseph, Schools & McFadden
05.11.04 : Melkweg : Amsterdam, NL
After a quick gear load into the Melkweg my partner and I took a detour out to the Bulldog (hash bar) to load up for the evening's festivities. With our pockets full, smoke in our eyes, and confusion setting in the band took the stage. As was the case throughout the entire tour, every night there were moments that exceeded the previous evening. In Amsterdam it was Jerry Joseph and Danny Dziuk's "Oil" that was the first to really hit on all cylinders. Taking on an epic, almost "Cortez The Killer"-style attack, bassist Dave Schools trolled the depths of his four string while guitarist Eric McFadden showed why he's one of the best guitarist the masses don't know. With guitars crunching and Jerry letting his soul sit on the shelf, "Oil" was damn impressive.

After the show there was both a sense of urgency and a sense of relief. On the one hand, we had just reached our first "break" in almost two weeks. The long, exhausting days of rehearsals began the first week of May leading to the first show on May 7 in Berlin. From there it was a string of five shows in a row, a different city, different set of problems and of course a different reason to celebrate. Regardless of how happy or satisfied the band may have been at this point, they had earned the right to relax for a moment. This was the first time that we didn't have a show the next day. In light of this, there was definitely a desire to stay in Amsterdam, but with consideration to the collective weakness we all seem to share; it was back on the bus and back into Germany.

Kayceman & McFadden :: Tour Bus
That night on the bus was insanely entertaining. Still reeling from our pockets-full of fun we rolled through the night full of laughs and even some discussion. But as fun as the bus can be there are times when it's a nightmare. Late at night, when you put your head on the pillow there's a certain exposure that happens. In the moments before sleep I often find myself deep inside my mind... and sometimes it's not the prettiest place. Something I had never considered about life on a tour bus is the actual sleeping part. I'm not much of a sleeper anyway, and when I tried to lie in the coffin of my bunk going 70 mph through the Netherlands I began to crawl inside my skin. No air, no room, the sounds of the road--it all felt so unnatural. I tried to roll over and found my elbow pushed against one wall and my knee sticking to the ceiling (which was McFadden's floor). I began to feel short of breath with a racing heart... so this is claustrophobia. I sprung from the cage and took shelter in the back of the bus, just sitting on the leather couch wondering how the hell Schools is able to sleep under these circumstances. I'm a pretty big guy and that fuckin' bunk was like a vice on my head; Schools is a BIG guy, much bigger than myself, and so is John Byrne the manager... I was baffled how they were able to breathe in those coffins. For the remainder of the tour I was afraid of my bunk.

Stockholm Syndrome
05.13.04 : Fabrik : Hamburg, GER
Fabrik in Hamburg was a dirty ass rock club. Big and spacious, all wood, run by women with tattoos, and damn near perfect for the Stockholm Syndrome. As the guys continued to work out the nuances of actually becoming a band, they had an interesting conversation backstage about "American Fork." Schools (who as I've said is the "musical director") wanted to skip "American Fork" until they had time to tighten it up, but McFadden was dying to play it. In fact, I had been hanging out with Eric long before sound check at the club and he told me how he was really looking forward to getting back into "American Fork." So as Jerry and Dave were putting the setlist together and I heard Schools say "no" to "American Fork," I started to pay a little closer attention. I'm not sure how it all panned out--when I sense I'm not wanted for a "band discussion" I try to make myself scarce before being asked--but I do know they played "American Fork." My guess was that Dave has a grasp on what it takes to give a band wings. You have to compromise, sacrifice, not always get your way. These are the deep-seeded issues of the Stockholm Syndrome. It's all alpha males, all top dogs. This is what drives the most interesting parts of this band dynamic: Can they find common ground? Can Jerry step down and let Eric step up? Can they all live in peace on and off stage? So in giving up some control and playing "American Fork," Dave is realizing the importance of letting everyone have a voice. Sure, it's just one song, but it's really just an example of how to make a band healthy, and again the question burns as to weather this will be the prevailing attitude of the entire band.

Wally Ingram & Reed Shippy :: Tour Bus
On the ride from Hamburg to Dresden, Germany I fell into a fun little conversation with drummer extraordinaire Wally Ingram. We had the good fortune of DAT recordings from the tour at our disposal, and while most of the band didn't seem to care too much, Wally was eager to get a listen. With those big DJ style headphones covering his head, Wally's eyes grew and his expressions changed as he tuned in. As we continued to take part in heavy libations and plenty of mind-lifting enjoyment Wally commented that the band really is a "jam band." I found this to be incredibly funny because I had this discussion with Jerry and Dave on several occasions, and they were certainly dead pressed to make sure they're not called a jam band. In essence, they're both right. It really depends on where you come from. Dave (Widespread Panic) and Jerry are planted in the jam world. Their rent is paid by people who are predominately into jam music (rock jam for sure, but still, improvisational rock/jam). Wally on the other hand lives in a slightly different paradigm. So when Dave hears the word "jam" he hears it a bit differently than Wally. It's not such a "four" letter word to Wally. Jerry is more of a rock n' roll singer/songwriter guy than a jam guy, and Dave is simply writing chapters of bass history. But when Wally is listening to a 12-minute "Counter Clock World" or 15-minutes of improvisational guitar mashing in "Ray of Heaven" it's clear that the band jams. In the end, I think a slightly inebriated McFadden put it best: "Call it whatever you want, I don't give a shit."

Ask me if I'm lying; hell yeah I'm lying
I'm a liar baby, that's what liars do
Back on the preemptive; back on the offensive
You're either with me or against me, better choose
If I could I'd burn the whole world down
And there'll be dancing when I'm done
Watch them kneel before my crown
Look at me; love me baby, I'm Empire One.
--Empire One
Stockholm Syndrome

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