This is part 4 of an interview series with Galway Street Club. If you came straight to this page, maybe go back and meet the band in part 1 first.
Camila: Not long ago you returned from a three-month Europe tour. How was the experience? What’s the craziest/most interesting thing that happened?
Paul: For me, the best story came after a crazy good gig in Austria. We had just got done playing an Irish pub in Salzburg; our bassist and I were getting significantly sloshed on white Russians. This is especially funny as just a few days prior I was having a conversation with the lads about how I never get blackout drunk (which, admittedly, before this point was true).
That night I ended up meeting up with an outrageously good looking woman who was at the gig and the both of us started talking about traveling – the places we’d gone, the places we intended to go, etc. While we were chatting, she issued forth the prospect of “Hey, here’s a great idea. Let’s go to the airport and hit up the first flight out to wherever that we can.” Naturally, in my drunken state, I thought this was a great idea. So we did. I woke up in Berlin, 745 km away in a totally different country.
I came to as the plane landed and started to freak out about where I was and how I got there. As I did, this gorgeous woman beside me placed a hand on my shoulder and said “Hey. It’s okay.” Looking back at her, I thought to myself “It’s totally okay.” Proceeded to have a wonderful impromptu time in Berlin and caught a bus back that night. The rest of the lads give me endless shit for the experience but I think I managed to net the best story of the tour from it.
Adnaan: The European Tour was grand. I was only there for a fraction of it, but that fraction was lived intensely. The craziest part for me personally was the last night in Lyon.
I had just arrived at the second bar of the night on Dom’s shoulders, having refused to walk because I had pretended to take a high dose of muscle relaxants and was committed to staying in character. My glorious manager decided to feed me several shots of Jäger (and tequila?) in order to propel me from Falling-Down Drunk to the next level. What is the next level? Who cares, full speed ahead!
I remember consoling an Aussie girl who was in the middle of an existential crisis, was having troubles with her lover, and had decided that becoming a stripper was the ideal solution. I told her it was a great idea. Her erstwhile lover was hanging out at the bar, and apparently took exception to my chatting with his ladylove. He pulled her away for a chat outside and she ran off in tears.
The whole group (minus the aspiring dancer) moved on to the next bar, and I discovered what comes after Falling-Down Drunk – it is, apparently, Piss-in-the-Corner Drunk. And thus was Adnaan thrown out of the 3rd bar (the one we were supposed to play for Halloween, the next Monday), straight into a group of three Frenchmen who were strolling down the street. One of them said something. I’m sure it was a slight to my honor, I have no idea what it was. So I spoke a slurred rejoinder and punched him in the face.
None of us were in a good state to fight, and after a few clumsy clashes I ended up doubled over with my head in someone’s crotch while he hugged my waist from above. The other two members of the fight squad were punching me ineffectually in the kidneys and thighs. The situation suddenly seemed so ridiculous that I burst out laughing. The guy imprisoning me let me up, and we all hugged it out.
Enter Lancelot, the jealous lover. Jealous of what? No one knows. He tried to break up the hug. I told him to fuck off. Not so nice, but I was disinclined to like the fellow after my new friend the exotic entertainer had so disparaged him. He must have been fast approaching Falling-Down Drunk, because he began to insult me from a safe distance. Eventually I got tired of the abuse, walked over, grabbed him by the collar and punched him in the face several times. He fell down. Dom and Paul pulled me off and Dom and I walked a block away and sat down around the corner.
I broke down crying. I always cry after a fight, win or lose. I can’t help it. But here comes the victim again, yelling at me to come fight like a man. I waited to see if he would persist, but when he finally got close I walked out, kicked him in the abdomen, and threw an uppercut that left him stiff and motionless on the cobbles. I was a bit concerned about him as I was ushered away for the second time, but the feeling was rapidly superseded by concern for myself in the event that the lawmen should come looking for me. I hid out in a park that night and fled Lyon the following day.
Ultan: The experience was great, it went a lot smoother than I had imagined it would. Turns out respect, consideration and communication make for an easier time on the road than I thought possible. Also, Spanish sunshine in November is enough to put anyone who lives in Ireland in a great mood.
There are a lot of crazy stories from this trip, but I’m going to relate something slightly different. This story takes place in the late afternoon outside the central station in Mannheim Germany. It was already dark and we were playing frantically without stop to keep ourselves warm. We began playing the chords to “House of the Rising Sun”, then, an old man with long grey hair came up to me (I was on the outside of the group) from where he was listening to us beside the newly decorated Christmas tree outside the station.
I continued playing as he communicated that he was an old student of Heidelberg (A college town close to Mannheim). His English wasn’t perfect, and I didn’t fully understand why he was telling me this, but looking back, I like to think he was reaching out to us as a group to say that he saw some of himself in us at that moment, hearing that song made him want to share that.
I smiled and nodded my head and said something vague like ‘Cool’ as I wasn’t sure what to make of it. He returned to standing beside the Christmas tree. After the first verse had finished I looked around and noticed he was staring at us all with tears in his eyes. From what I understand of German culture, I don’t think that’s too common an occurrence in a public setting, but I could be wrong.
In that moment the music we were playing, and us by extension, connected with this person. I don’t know whether his memories that the song evoked were good, bad or bittersweet, maybe all of this and more. I do know that by us being there and playing that song, we evoked a wealth of feeling from a complete stranger, and that to me, is a positive reminder of the power of music.
Spud: So I was refused entry to Ireland over the summer, it was horrible, and because of that I was unable to spend the whole time mainland with the band. I went for about two weeks (most of the traveling bit) and it was just nonstop debauchery and fun.
Among breaking mannequins, drinking in a small red light district at 2 in the morning on our way to Germany, and SOMEBODY getting stopped at the border and then getting a plane to catch up to the rest of the band it is hard to determine what the craziest thing that happened is. But the thing that stands out most about our travels would have to be the generosity of our host Beth in Spain.
She met us on her holiday here in Galway and then invited us all to stay with her and helped us set up the shows and busking licensees in Barcelona. She just took the role as mom to the whole band, well it might be weird to say that for a few but she definitely took care of all of us. I think I can speak for us all in saying that she is wholly loved by the Galway Street Club.
Johnny: The tour was the first time I left Ireland as an adult on my own and I loved every moment of it. For me, I think things reached the peak of madness when we visited Salzburg in Austria, birthplace of Mozart and shooting location for the Sound of Music. We had travelled for 2 days by bus from the west of Germany and landed right in the middle of the Krampus Festival, an old pagan tradition where people dress as monsters to scare the gods of winter away in November.
Moshing with 200 people dressed as Santa Claus’s evil twin equipped with whips and an attitude where they are not afraid to go through you was great craic! Also possibly one of the craziest nights of drinking when we played in the hostel. We drank all the spirits in the hostel bar. Like everything.
Laura: One of my favorite memories is when there was a thunderstorm in Lyon and Scally Dom and I decided to go up to the Basilica at the very top of the city. With a lot of convincing, and a good few hundred stone steps later, we made it to the top. We were standing there soaked, having a smoke and watched the blue blanket lightning light up the sky with a view over the whole city below. That was pretty cool.