Paul Slack - bass - click image to enlarge. Photograph courtesy of Jez Keefe. No copying of Jez's work without permission.

JULY 2011


Welcome to Paul's 2011 tour blog, in which Paul will be detailing what daily life is like whilst touring with Monica and The Explosion.

In his blog, you will find descriptions of venues, support bands, and of the various people that Paul meets along the way.

Paul will also share various photos from his travels

The first entry for this month is at the foot of the page, with the latest entry at the top!




4th July 2011 - Öland and the Magical Misty Tour

Öland is the second largest Swedish island and the smallest of the traditional provinces of Sweden. Öland has an area of 1,342 km² and is located in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Småland. The island has 25,000 inhabitants, but during Swedish midsummer it is visited by up to 500,000 people, all hell-bent on drinking themselves into paralysis. Öland is separated from the mainland by the Kalmar Strait and connected to it by the 6 km Öland Bridge, which opened in 1972.
We could barely see the island as we drove over the bridge from Kalmar as it was blanketed in a low-lying dense white cloud that at times cut visibility down to less than 100 metres. This was frustrating as Monica had been assuring me about how lovely the island and its beaches were. We were heading for Hälludden where we were going to spend the night. The first place we stopped at on the way was Borgholm Castle.

  • Below: Borgholm Castle. Click images to enlarge

Today the castle is only a ruin of the fortress that was first built here in the second half of the 12th century and many times rebuilt in later centuries. The castle was destroyed in a fire on 14th October 1806. During the reign of John III of Sweden, patron of the mysterious Paar brothers (four engineers and architects from Milan), the castle acquired a Gothic character and became exemplary of the Italianate bastion style.

The music video for Roxette's 1989 "Listen to Your Heart" Roxette - Listen To Your Heart and "Dangerous" hit singles were shot at Borgholm Castle. Per Gessle, the male half of Roxette and one of Sweden’s most successful musicians, was also a member of the boy band Gyllene Tider who had a huge hit with “Sommartider” (Summertime) in 1982, a song that still receives massive airplay in Sweden during the spring and summer months. This of course may go some way to explaining why Sweden’s suicide rate is roughly double that of the UK.

Everywhere along the route people were selling “jordgubbar” (strawberries to you and me), the literal translation of which is “Earthmen”. Midsummer’s Eve is when consumption of earthmen reaches its peak along with herring, new potatoes, crisp bread, “snaps” and just about every other type of alcohol you’d care to name.
I’m grateful to Monica for her following quote on the midsummer celebrations…
In towns and villages up and down the country Swedes also like to put flowers in their hair and dance around specially constructed “Midsommarstång” whilst singing the very famous “små grodorna” song about small frogs*, as well as a few other songs with such catchy titles as “Prästens lilla kråka” (The Priest’s Little Crow). Everybody gets completely pissed and the night usually ends with fights, couples splitting up, unconscious teenagers, rapes, and car crashes. According to the police, when it comes to crime, midsummer’s night is statistically one of the worst days of the year. The weather is usually crap too…

You have no idea how disappointed I was to have missed all this.
We made three further stops, the first at Löttorp for lunch, the second at Skäftekärr, to look at an iron-age village and the third at Byerum to look at the “raukar”. By the time we reached Hälludden the weather had really closed in and visibility had been further reduced. We walked down to the beach but couldn’t see the sea; neither could we see “Långe Erik” (Long Erik) one of the island’s two lighthouses. All this was hugely frustrating as we were only spending one night in Hälludden before heading back to Kalmar.

  • Below: Iron age village and Raukar. Click images to enlarge

  • Below: Midsommarstång & the Öland windmill. Click images to enlarge

*This is the literal translation of the "frog" song:
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
No ears, no ears no tails do they possess.
No ears, no ears no tails do they possess.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
The little pigs, the little pigs are funny to observe.
The little pigs, the little pigs are funny to observe.
Both ears, both ears and tails do they possess.
Both ears, both ears and tails do they possess.
Oh oink oink oink, oh oink oink oink, oh oink oink oink oink oink.
Oh oink oink oink, oh oink oink oink, oh oink oink oink oink oink.

2nd July 2011 – Sverige - and nearly a day off.Not quite THE Shadows. Click to enlarge

In the end no murders, stabbings, fights or arguments, not even voices raised in anger spoilt the evening and gig at Broder Tuck. We survived and have been invited back. Amongst the friends that showed up were Katarina, Monica’s cousin, who plays bass for the Stockholm based band Disciplin, and another Katarina (Rosén) who once performed in a theatrical group with Monica called “Teater Apa”, the literal translation of which is Theatre Monkey but a “Teater Apa” is somebody who likes to play the fool.
Katarina had recently returned to Sweden after living in Copenhagen and London whilst training to be a circus acrobat check out her website.
Whilst we’re on the subject of old friends I forgot to mention I bumped into an old schoolmate while we were waiting for our baggage at Arlanda airport. Graham Watts or Dave as he’s now known (for reasons never explained), told me that I was one of only four alumni from the 70s mentioned on our school website. Obviously I was slightly chuffed by this and checked it out as soon as I could as I was also intrigued as to who were the other alumni. The school in question was Emanuel in Wandsworth, which found brief fame when boys from the school made tea for the survivors of the Clapham rail disaster. The new romantic line up ;o) - click to enlarge
Garratt Roberts Gibbs Harper. Click to enlargeSure enough when I accessed the site I found myself listed as a “punk pioneer with second-wave British punk band UK Subs”. Fair enough but then I looked at the accompanying photograph and discovered it showed the Harper/Garratt/Gibbs/Roberts slightly less pioneering, make-up wearing, new-romantic line-up ;-)

Obviously a “Dear Sirs” email was promptly despatched and the error has now been corrected. I have never worn make-up…
The other alumni from my decade were…Tim Berners-Lee. Click to enlarge
Tim Berners-Lee - Inventor of the World Wide Web & HTML

OE 1968-73.

Michel Roux Jr

Michel Roux. Click to enlargeMichel is a two star Michelin Guide French Chef at the London Restaurant Le Gavroche. He is also one of the expert judges on the professional version of BBCs Masterchef. He attended Emanuel School in the 1970s.

Andrew French - Actor

The 2004 prequel to The Exorcist, directed by Paul Schrader featured Old Emanuel Andrew French in the role of "Chuma"

And from other decades

Alan Caddy - Lead guitarist of The Tornadoes

The Tornados 1963 classic line-up: Roger LaVern, Clem Cattini, George Bellamy, Heinz Burt and Alan Caddy. Whilst at school he was a soprano in the choir and leader of the orchestra, as well as a classically trained violinist. Their biggest hit "Telstar" remains the most successful instrumental hit of all-time, with over 7 million sales. It was also the first British single to reach number one in the USA. The Tornados have often been cited as being of influence on the development of Pink Floyd and The Who.

Mick Rock - PhotographerMick Rock Queen pic

"The man who photographed the 70s"

When Mick Rock was studying at Cambridge University in the mid-1960s he met Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett. The sequence of photos he took of Barrett was the beginning of a life-long career as one of the world's top music photographers. He is responsible for many of the iconic 1970s photos which grace posters and album covers from that decade. These include David Bowie, Queen (see right), Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Ramones and the Sex Pistols. He has lived in New York for the last 20 years and continues to photograph the contemporary music stars of today. The Daily Telegraph named him "The man who photographed the 70s" when a book of his work was recently published.

Plus many more……Anyone for tennis - Click to enlarge
There was a tennis court in the village attached to a private house, but by greasing the palm of the owner with a few kronor you could use it, which of course, is exactly what we did. The weather and location were perfect. Tennis is a new-found pastime and a great way to maintain a reasonable level of fitness to help cope with the lifestyle we lead.

Hannah - click to enlargeLater in the afternoon we took ourselves off to Gräddö (Cream Island) and Räfsnäs, two of the small ports dotted along the coastline here before heading off to Östernäs for a barbeque (or Grillfest as the Swedes called it) at Carina and Hasse Flodin's house, friends of Anna-Clara’s. Carina makes glass jewellery and her daughter Hanna (left) volunteers to jump into ice-cold seas to rescue those in peril. Hanna cheerfully told me that with the modern wetsuits they can survive for up to an hour in the water, although hands and feet get a “little cold” ( Unbelievable courage...

Monica - click to enlargeMonica and Paul. Click to enlargePaul - click to enlargeThese days no day is ever complete without music, so the Östernäs Free Music Festival was hastily arranged (see pictures left), thus completing what had been a perfect day…



Below: THE GRILLFEST (and audience) - click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

1st July 2011 – Sverige. Tick-free but a new danger looms...

This from the Stockholm news…

News in short | 10th March 2011  
Man stabbed to death outside pub
A man was stabbed to death outside the pub Broder Tuck on street Götgatan in Stockholm late on Wednesday night. Several witnesses have been heard and the police are searching for two unknown perpetrators who disappeared from the scene, according to the Stockholm police command centre. In 1998 a highly publicized murder occurred at the same pub, described as a settlement in the criminal underworld.

News of two murders, in a relatively short space of time, outside the same venue we were due to play makes you wonder what you might be letting yourself in for.
The night before, we’d promised ourselves that if the local weather forecast was to be believed, then we would spend the whole day outside in the sun. So the next morning when Monica set off on her run in light drizzle, that soon turned to torrential rain, I did a bit of research and came up with the murder story. Until recently Sweden had long been held up as an ideal society where wealth and socialism could live hand-in-hand, a paragon of virtue. Somehow it was comforting to discover they had their own generous share of tick-infested cold-blooded killers.

Luckily the weather improved sufficiently to allow us to have a wander around the village. Perhaps ‘village’ is too grand a title for Åkerö’s modest collection of pleasant houses and barns. It is, however, an extremely beautiful part of the world. I quickly saw why Anna-Clara and Bengtzon had decided to buy a house here, a place where one could, for a while at least, clear out the cluttered loft-space of the mind. The barns were enormous, which was surprising given that there was very little sign of any ongoing agriculture. They are perhaps leftover monuments to bygone times... see the pictures I took below (click images to enlarge)

We spent the rest of the afternoon going over the songs we were playing later. By the time we got to Stockholm the streets were bathed in warm early evening sunlight. Before the sound check, there was time for Monica to show me around some of her old haunts, the bars and cafés where she’d played or just hung out in. We dined in a slightly disappointing Thai restaurant around the corner from the venue. Why is it that European and Scandinavian countries are so hopeless at dealing with spicy food?
Despite the alarming murders that had taken place on its doorstep, Broder Tuck proved to be a smart, sophisticated pub restaurant with a cheerfully relaxed atmosphere. The venue itself was downstairs and was well attended. We played between two local acts “Far from Sane” and “Besserbitch”, an all-girl punk band. Both bands were well worth watching. I’m not sure how long “Far from Sane” have been going, but judging by how many mums and dads, brothers, sisters and family friends were there for them I would guess not long.


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