Why were we returning to Chemnitz? One of Freddy’s obsessions is making sure that the bands he takes on tour gig every single night, if possible. As he explained it to me, a day without a show is just a waste of money — you don’t get your room, you don’t get your board, you have to spend money without any money coming in. But as the tour progressed I came to see that at the heart of Freddy’s obsession was a nobler, more spiritual sentiment.

van.JPGFreddy has booked European tours for surf-music legend Dick Dale and for Mexican rockstars Panteon Rococo — and yet he also brings out little known acts like Fosforo. He knows that for a band like ours, tours are like rock n’ roll school: you have to learn how to get along in close quarters, be gracious towards fans and detractors alike, how to party late into the night without wearing yourself out — and most of all, you have to rock hard every single night. I could see Freddy’s pride that he was contributing to our musicianship, by making us play night after night, always trying to outdo ourselves and make it better. And so with nothing else booked on Wednesday we were returning to Chemnitz, where at the very least we would have delicious vegetarian food and a cold room to sleep in.

The second show at Subway was even less well-received than the first. Old-school punks sat right in front of us and hardly acknowledged our presence. We even tried to play an especially noisy, punky, aggressive set, but I guess that without mohawks and power chords, we didn’t have the right punk credentials. There was something ironic about it: I thought about how the original old-school punks had been complete outcasts and rebels. Here we were playing rebel music, feeling like outcasts ourselves, but completely misunderstood and unappreciated by people who had all the external forms of punk — but punk had calcified, become rigid and narrow-minded.

falkorock.JPGOne guy in the audience who was excited to see us was DJ Falko Rock — he said “like the song, you remember Amadeus?” Rock me, Amadeus! Falko Rock spins a lot of old garage rock and eighties rock, and his cheery enthusiasm helped to lift our spirits. He told us more about Chemnitz — about how people had stopped having children after the re-unification, uncertain about what the future would hold. In addition many people had left for other, more prosperous cities. Schools are constantly closing and the economy stagnates. A report had come out claiming that Chemnitz has the lowest birth rate in the world. Despite the lukewarm reception I was glad that we had played these shows in Chemnitz, a little Fosforo flame burning against the chill and gloom that seemed to blanket the city.

After we played the proprietor asked us if we wanted to try the house Schnapps. Why not? We were brought a shot each. Down the hatch and surprise — garlic! Yep, garlic Schnapps — very intense. Ed, who was already fairly sure that Chemnitz was haunted by the dead of WWII and the poltergeists born of years of repression under communist rule, was glad that we had been given this potion to guard us against the spirits of evil. And yet the garlic Schnapps could not prepare us for the living spectres of indifference and malice that roamed the streets of Karl-Marx-Stadt.

bombedout.JPGAs we walked the block down to our punk-rock pit-stop our path was blocked by a very drunk man and his unleashed German Shepherd. The dog snarled and barked at us unceasingly, but the man only laughed and gurgled at us in Russian, nursing what seemed like at least three cans of beer. The dog came dangerously close to biting Ed and Cez-One, we just didn’t know what he might be capable of. We ran towards the building and as I tried to go into the courtyard the Russian blocked my way. I insisted that we were rightful guests and pushed my way through, we ran in but the dog followed us and barked at us all the way to our door. I was so tired that I passed out, but Ed and Cez-One, completely spooked by the experience lay awake all night. In any case, it was hard to sleep once the Italian punk band that was also lodging at the pit-stop showed up in the wee hours. They were very drunk, and despite my best efforts to keep sleeping I would hear them farting and laughing.