By Steve Ramsey [as not-very-told-to Kevin Stewart-Panko]
By the time you read this, the last show of Satan’s 2014 North American tour will be over and done and the band will be on their way to Japan to play a festival or two. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from digging into some tasty tales from the road, and what better place to go on and on and on about tastiness than Texas? Here, guitarist Steve Ramsey tells you Hellbounders about some of the barbeque and booze afforded them by the Lone Star State, a couple of those shows that got in the way of their collective gut stuffing and the pizza that almost survived the competition.
We were treated to some in-flight entertainment on our way to Houston for our Texas section of the tour. The very funny flight attendant put her own spin on the safety announcements with remarks like, during the oxygen mask procedure, “those of you with more than one child on board today best pick their favourite child now.” Chris from the band Powertrip was going to be our driver in Texas and he picked us up in his van at the airport. We did the usual check-in to the hotel then off to the gig for sound check. The pizza pie that Russ had ordered the day before at Gino’s in Chicago was so big that he had only eaten a sixth of it and had it boxed up to eat later. This had come with us on the flight, in his luggage! The venue was a fair size with a good size stage equipped with an enormous fan which was much appreciated as it was still hotter than any British summer in October. The in-house sound guy was, again, good at his job and the sound on stage was great. Three support bands at this one and, as a guy at the venue told us, “first up is Fiddle Witch, then Funeral Shroud, then Scourge, then y’all’! All nice, friendly guys. Fiddle Witch were an instrumental three-piece featuring a girl on violin, which was a bit of a change from the norm. We had some food brought to us in the dressing room and gave some to a cockroach we became acquainted with. The show was great, although Steve busted a string in the second song. Again, we had a really appreciative audience. Our Dutch friend, Henry, who was a fan way back in the old days, had come over and was staying with a friend of his that he had met in our hometown Newcastle at Brofest this year. He was going to come to all of the Texas shows as a kind of ‘Satan holiday.’
Next stop, San Antonio. On the way, we noticed that everything seemed bigger in Texas than anywhere else we’d been. We stopped at a Buc-ee’s truck stop and it had a hundred fuel pumps and a massive store that sold food, clothing, memorabilia and more. [Drummer] Sean [Taylor] got himself a nice cowboy hat there. This venue had a dressing room downstairs bigger than the next nights show. Firestarter 82 and Aggravator were our support bands tonight. Another great show. The gig was well received then afterwards we skipped the hotel and went back to Rodney (the promoter)’s house that Dutch Henry was staying with, for a spot of partying! Fantasticks house was fantastic and after he showed us his much prized Harley, he took us into his music room where he had the most incredible collection of vinyl we’d ever seen. He’s a real collector and had a whole section of NWOBHM singles, some of them that we hadn’t even heard of and we were in England at the time! We listened to a load of old stuff from the past and drank Crown Royal bourbon.
Today, it’s over to Austin for the final two shows in Texas, but not before stopping by at the Alamo for a look around. We checked in at the hotel and that bloody pizza pie from Chicago is still with us! As we’re doing two shows in Austin (the reason we will tell later) the first venue is quite small. We would play with more friends that we met on the East Coast leg of the tour in April. Tonight, it was Sean [Weingartner] and his band Eternal Champion who were playing too along with Militia; both great bands. The venue was in a really vibrant part of town. Austin has the largest university in Texas, so the nightlife is great. We want for some Mexican food nearby in a street full of bars and restaurants and a lot of live music happening.
Today was a special day. Sean took us to what he classed as “the best rib joint in Texas” for dinner before the show. The site where the place was situated was used in the movie Dazed and Confused. It was really good food. Even the vegetarians in the band enjoyed their corn casserole, which we’d never tried before. Our main support band was Natur, who we had already gigged with on the East Coast shows in April and became good friends. Their bassist Damian who comes from Austin had booked a club for his bachelor party on this night, and when he heard we were touring asked us to play at what we call a “stag do” in England. He was getting married on Saturday. It was a great gig with a big attendance. It was also the hottest gig we’d ever played. Hotter than hell, as Kiss would say, hotter than Satan’s own jockstrap!! Our Texas part of the tour ended with Russ’s pizza finally going in the trash.