listen without prejudice


THIS story begins in May 1994, in Poland.

We're on tour with two of Amphetamine Reptile's finest. Hammerhead and Janitor Joe. Reaffirming beliefs. Being bamboozled by endless sightings of luridly painted dwarves at the side of the road, coupled with numerous bunches of asparagus. Surviving on adrenalin, cheap Polish firewater and goodwill. Chugging down motorways that wouldn't pass muster as rural by-ways in England. Cramped into underground basements and 10-to-a-room "hotel" accommodation. Stoned out of our heads on the ferocious pummelling of guitars, the heady clatter of drums. Chatting deep into the night about pain, tour jokes and friendship. It was a month after Kurt (Cobain) died.

I'd joined the tour, mainly because ex-Janitor Joe and Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff had temporarily rejoined her old band for a few European dates. Kristen being one of only two people I could relate to on the weekend of Kurt's death. The reason I was there, in Poland, was because I needed distracting, I needed some reasons to believe. Kristen too, almost certainly.

Concerts featuring the two groups were chaotic, heady and draining. Indigenous populations would look on in disgust, then despair, then begin headbanging like it was 1975 again, anyway. Afterwards, the venue would hire a team of cleaners to sweep away the shattered remains of radioactive dwarves. Post-concert nights would be spent trying to avoid local curfew. Post-concert early mornings would be spent bleary-eyed, trying to find decent coffee somewhere - anywhere - to fuel us through the next 12 hour drive.

The tour gave me back my belief in music, my reason to exist. Fine people, fine music and fine, fine alcohol.

"The rhythm that you hear is the pounding of our hearts," as one poet put it.

A month later, Kristen died.