By CHRIS HUDSON
BEER, biker bars, pushbike races and getting locked out of their own van on a tour in a foreign country – those things might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect trip. Having said that, not everyone can boast of being a part of an internationally successful punk band.
Through the years Bacchus have developed from a four piece with various line-ups to a three-piece band who have established themselves as one of the most respected and experienced bands on the Shetland music scene. They have just finished their second major tour.
The band have in the past labelled themselves as the “only Shetland punk band”. There may be those who contest the title, but after six years Bacchus have done more than enough to earn, at the very least, the right to be known as Shetland’s longest running punk band. Least of all with magazine Metal Hammer reviewing their debut EP as being “true dirty punk rock at its best – utter filth . . . brilliant!”
Bacchus members Aaron Leask, Phil Arthur and Rory Dalziel.
A year ago Bacchus had embarked upon their debut UK tour. Now, having completed their first EuroÂ pean tour, they get a chance to reflect on their achievement and how well it went.
“Great. Lots o’ beer, sun and babes. Went down a treat in Germany and Holland,” reflects Rory Dalziel, drummer and one of the two remaining founding members.
Looking back at the tour, bassist Aaron Leask says he was pleased with the way the tour had gone.
“Surprisingly well. I was expecting flat tyres, wrong directions, lost passports, scraping money together for bail, that kind of thing. Luckily there were no problems at all, just minor hiccups occasionally. Every gig went smoothly, no one died, can’t really complain about that.”
When it comes down to the best gig of the tour though, it’s an easy question to answer for both of them.
“Me personally was T’Uken in Kampen, Holland. Great crowd, good banter between us and the crowd. Good feedback after the show and during the after party,” says Rory.
“I would probably agree with Rory,” says Aaron. “All our gigs were great but what gave T’Uken that extra edge was the close community. It was staffed by volunteers, for people who like hanging out listening to live music and drinking beer.
“But you can’t forget the Moorings in Aberdeen. It was a great gig because it’s the Moorings and its always gonna be a great venue.”
“For me the most memorable moment came when we were drunk after the T’Uken gig,” Rory recalls. “Me and Eric Manson aka Deric Mason, the tour bus driver and minder, got a borrow of a couple of push bikes and had a race. Eric started gaining on me, then at a corner he nailed the curb and came flying off his bike.
“I could hardly get across the finish line for laughing! Oh and setting the record for the most amount of beer drunk during the RTW FM radio show we did.”
Pushbikes aside, lead singer, guitarist and founding member Phil Arthur has a different memory that sticks in his mind.
“For me it was getting to the biker bar with Jerry [a biker from Kampen, Netherlands]. We had a few drinks with the local biker gang then Jerry got a phone call asking if we could play in an old boat shed that had been turned into a club – we got free beers all night and a few of our fans from the previous gig heard about it and turned up.”
With the tour going through Scotland, England, Germany, the Netherlands and then back again, getting around was always going to be an intriguing problem that had to be resolved.
“We had Dave Kok’s van,” explains Aaron. “It had been kitted out with two bunk beds in the back. It looked hellish for sleeping in but after the first night it wasn’t that bad at all. Apart from when the back doors would open and the fresh air hit you – you soon realised how bad the van and us smelled.
“Not washing for four to five days, drinking loads of beer and eating kebabs the whole time isn’t going to smell that nice, regardless if you are crammed in the back of a van.”
Given this and the famed difficulties for bands touring and getting in each other’s faces, there were always going to be moments of tension throughout the tour.
“Well I think everybody was annoying everybody,” says Rory diplomatically. “Me and Aaron annoyed everybody every night – drunk, arguing, telling crap jokes and trying to be quiet when clearly it’s impossible when trying to climb into a bunk in the back of the tour bus full of band equipment.
“Jono [photographer and merchandise selling man] power-slammed a full case of Millers into the ground after we just got it given to us for playing a gig. Phil shouted ‘get to the chopper’ [a famous line from the film Predator] every five minutes. And Eric locked the keys in the tour bus. Then every time we get out he stills locks the van from the inside instead of using the keys from the outside so we know we won’t lock them in again.”
The tour provided the band with several future gigs, according to Rory.
“We got invited back in for a huge bikers’ festival in late September. So we seem to be getting a name for ourselves in Holland.”
Not only have they established their name in Europe, but Phil feels like the experience has let the band grow as a cohesive unit.
“I feel the band really benefited, especially from sleeping in the van, it was a good way for us to bond together, similar to a big happy family sharing a single bedroom. We would have to work together to get the van stacked correctly.
“Eric took over leadership of this duty so we could all get to our beds at night. I personally believe that Bacchus is now interlocked in the shape of an equilateral triangle holding our music inside it.”
Looking at what lies ahead for the band, Bacchus are aiming to record their first full album with a collaboration already under way for the not too distant future.
“Hopefully we can get a full album recorded and put out soon. We have done a split live EP with Jonny Skyscraper [Aberdeen punk band] so shouldn’t be too long before folks can get hold of that,” says Rory.
“I’m sure Dave Kok will take care of that,” adds Aaron. “He has organised all of this tour for us so we can’t thank him enough and I’m sure he will keep up the great work. Cheers Dave.”
With regards to the tour itself, Rory said he would like to give ” a big thanks to Eric Manson for his quality and driving, and Jono for ruining everything and taking pictures”.