by the WOLFMAN
A brand new day.
It must have been more than 24 hours that we have spent in airports,
waiting halls, busses or airplanes (did we really stay in Mexico City
for a short time?)
Now: no more flight noise and nobody who offers you peanuts and orange
juice (or gin and tonic); you only feel the rhythmic movements of the
MS Columbus and hear the sound of the breaking waves. I am alone, for
the very first time during the last three weeks. A feeling, which is
still strengthened by the noise from the cabin next door. A young couple
(youngsters on the Columbus!) obviously seems to be inspired by the
rhythmic movements of the ship and the sound of the waves.
(Later, I found out that the cabin next door is empty and that the noise
must have come from the hidden crew-area, which is well known for it's
I believe this tour diary must be written in English from now on. The
reason: a) Joey wants to understand it as well. b) I resolved to write
more songs ( and lyrics in English) within the next five weeks of our
cruise; the next Pay-TV recordings are coming soon
So far, so good
Everybody has been really good to us since we've returned to the MS
Columbus. It's funny: it felt a bit like coming home - though we've
only ever spent 2 weeks on this boat and that was a year ago. The crew
were especially nice. The first night after we left Acapulco, they threw
a little México-party. We were also invited. They had been stocking
up: There were tacos, sombreros, tequilas, coronas and more coronas.
Upon entering, three people simultaneously bought me a beer and started
chatting with me as if we were just continuing a conversation from 5
minutes before. Having just awoken from a comatose, jet-lag induced
sleep this felt like the strangest breakfast ever - and made me a happy
Seven days at sea
I'm sitting here in my cabin (no.301) and taking it easy. I've definitely
had my dose of sunlight for today (maybe slightly too much) and I also
have a bit of a cold (the bloody air-con). Otherwise things couldn't
This journey started with seven sea days in a row and tomorrow we are
going to reach the Marquesas Islands, where Paul Gauguin (the French
painter) and Jacques Brel (the Belgian composer) used to live in their
later years. In a couple of days we are also going to reach Bora Bora,
where Elvis Presley (the American Rock'n'Roll artist and connoisseur
of le Big Mac) still lives to this very day - at least this is what
Joey told the audience in our first show.
That was on January 8th - the King's birthday! We had quite a good night.
Our batteries all charged up by good food, sun and workouts and the
three of us all relaxed but eager to play (alright - we WERE jumping
around like monkeys again by the end of the show!).
Slip sliding away
Playing on a boat (maybe one should say 'ship' really!) is a bit different.
Everything is swaying from side to side always, even without the alcohol.
If you're trying to play the drums, this means the various cymbals and
tom toms keep moving around. Combine that with a wooden dance floor
and a slippery drum carpet and you can picture me: moving around the
room with my drum set as if it had wheels! At one point I and the kit
were slowly turning clockwise, eventually in a 90 degree angle to the
rest of the band. Another time I was suddenly sitting in front of Jamie,
right next to Joe.
Also classic: You find yourself asking "Why are the drums getting
smaller?" and suddenly realize that - yes- the carpet is moving
away from you, but you and the stool and the microphone stay nailed
right to the spot. I guess, you just keep playing until your arms don't
reach anymore. Maybe if I had really long drumsticks
There is land in sight!
Finally, after a week of deep blue water in every direction you looked;
no ships, no islands, just the occasional flying fish (Jamie spotted
a dolphin once or twice). Here we go! The "Marquesas Islands"
await us. We are going to land in Atuona/Hiva Oa at one o'clock.
Man, what a fun, fun day this has been! It takes a while to leave ship.
It is a bit cloudy, the air is humid and there are big waves around
the island. When we get off the little shuttle boats, we decide not
to take the bus and start our land trip (it's good to be on land again
for a change) with a good half hour walk into town. Hiva Oa is a beautiful
volcanic island, with hills and mountains. People here speak French;
it is part of French Polynesia.
I find being in a place like this inspiring, it doesn't really matter
what you are doing. I walk past the post office/internet place (closed),
the graveyard (people still dead) and we meet up again at a rocky beach.
Just playing around in the waves for two hours is the greatest thing
ever! Later Joey, Jamie and I meet some of the local youth and get to
join in a little football match. Their rules are different; you are
only allowed to score with a header. We play barefoot with a plastic
ball. Everyone is relaxed and we don't even totally disgrace ourselves.
Soon it is time to hurry back and get on the last bus (we don't want
to miss the boat). At the bus station we round off the day with a cold
beer (Tahiti brand) in the evening sun (just one, we don't want to miss
the boat). Just three minutes before the bus is leaving, I realize I
have left my T-shirt at the football pitch. I decide to run back, but
now REALLY have to hurry (because I don't want to miss the boat
The Burrito Brothers
Back onboard. The last few days went by in a rush. Sometimes people
here actually make us do work and stuff. We were asked to play two songs
(!) during the intermission of the MS Columbus fashion show.
Christ, I forgot to tell you: There has been another Equator Baptism
Party and we had to dress up again as pirates (Jamie) and devils (Joey
and me). But you probably still remember the photos from last year.
Anyway, here we were scheduled to play at the fashion show, when we
had also promised to play down in the crew mess for a big Rock'n'Roll
Party. Sound checking difficulties (we only have one set of equipment
on board) and unmanageable time schedules (only a 15 minute gap between
the shows) put us in a tight spot. We had to come up with something.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me proudly proclaim the birth of our new spin-off,
side-project. We now have three bands consisting of the exact same three
people: Pay-TV, the Rockhouse Brothers and
the Burrito Brothers.
Three simple Mariachis wearing ponchos and sombreros, playing acoustic
guitar, trumpet and maracas, easy to sound check and always for hire.
It was interesting - and hilarious (at least for us, I'm not really
sure people got the joke).
Is www.burritobrothers.de still available?!
I just awoke from a little afternoon nap. It's not like I don't get
enough sleep here, but this morning it was off to an early start. We
arrived at Rarotonga/Cook Islands at 7:00 o'clock this morning. Funnily
enough, "RAROTONGA!!!" is also the sound that the big anchor
chain outside my cabin makes, when the deck crew lower the anchor. I
stood up straight in bed.
Anyway, we've had a fun morning on the island and it was good to get
up early because we only stayed here from 7:00 to 12:00 clock. Jamie
got up even earlier because he had arranged to go scuba diving with
one of the crew and they wanted to take the first shuttle boat off the
ship. Unfortunately the sea was a bit rough and shuttling took ages
(it somehow does always). In the boats it is also usually first the
passengers (who have booked excursions for the day or something) and
only after that crew or rock'n'roll musicians. So, when I came down
to the boats after 8 o'clock poor Jamie was still waiting and the crew
person had had to give up all together because he had to work.
I think we all got a bit stressed over the short staying time. Jamie
did go diving after all and was back on the ship first. I went snorkelling
with Sonja (one of the "star-dancers" aboard) and her brother.
After changing money, buying a new snorkel and finding the right bus
to the "Fruits of Rarotonga" Snorkelling Resort (12 km), we
only had about an hour left. It was great and we saw many big, bright-coloured
fish - but then had to hurry back to the shore full speed (funny, being
almost late seems to become a recurring theme in this diary). Joey got
off last and took a taxi to the beach where we had originally planned
to meet. Upon arrival he realized he didn't have any money for the ride
back. So he relaxed, chilled at the beach for a good five minutes, took
a deep breath and then started on the 12 km jog home - just in time
for the last shuttle boat!
Fun on the International Date Line
Today isn't happening, they had to cancel it. It was only yesterday
night - we were sitting together over a beer - when Joey got up and
said: "I'm tired; I'm going to bed now. There's always tomorrow
Then it hit us. There was no tomorrow. Tomorrow was going to be the
day after tomorrow. Or tomorrow, today was not going to become yesterday,
but the day before yesterday. Can you follow me? In other words, the
MS Columbus was crossing the date line. I mean - man! - what about the
passengers? They have booked this 21-day-cruise and now it is only going
to be 20 days long! What about people's birthdays? I don't have access
to the internet here, but January 19th must be someone famous' birthday?!
What about gigs, what about appointments? What about us?
Ok, I have had enough. I'm going up for breakfast.
Just another day in paradise
I haven't told you about Bora Bora, yet. Bora Bora/Society Islands is
also called "Pearl of the South Sea". Beautiful sandy shores,
palm trees, coconuts, volcanic mountains, you name it. We've had a fun
Upon our arrival, Jamie spots a bicycle rental place and we pedal off
to explore the island. Just a few minutes and we are at a fantastic
beach, where we spent an hour sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling.
This short distance fools us into thinking a whole lap around the island
can't actually take long - but it really is 32 kilometres. Jamie has
got a scuba diving appointment (it is on Bora Bora where he gets back
into diving) one and a half hours later, so we suddenly find ourselves
pedalling away in the afternoon sun like madmen! Mine is the only bike
with a gearshift (carefully chosen by myself), which I thought would
give me a bit of an advantage, but somehow only makes it more vulnerable
to breakage. Twice I have to reset the chain. Damn.
I later go out with some people from the boat. We have a bloody Mary
in a bar called "Bloody Mary's". It seems like a fine choice
and I have to say it tastes bloody fantastic! Many celebrities such
as Harrison Ford, Quincy Jones and Cameron Diaz have visited this place
- as a sign posted in front of the entrance reads. Who knows, maybe
one day my paw print will be up there with their signatures
Less than a month left until the recording of our 2nd Pay-TV Album!
Joe keeps writing songs like crazy, so we have to start doing one or
two rehearsals a day.
We usually set up our equipment in the "Columbus Lounge" at
the back of the ship. This is where the ships nightly entertainment
takes place and it is also often occupied during the day with lectures
and cocktail parties. About the only time it is definitely free is after
it closes at night (00:30), so we're going to work nightshifts! But
even then it is more like "open" rehearsals. Members of the
crew will cheerfully pop in for late night drinks - only to leave again
half an hour later and depressed. I guess not many people realize what
boring affairs rehearsals actually are. Well, we will have to keep doing
And we did!
Wow, it is amazing how time passes when you're keeping busy (or having
fun). I'm already in Sydney now. We're staying at Manja's place (a great
friend of Jamie's), in a flat share overlooking East Balmain and the
Ocean in the distance. Sharing a couch with Joey the saint, I woke up
to the sounds of a canary bird rattling its cage. Just in time to witness
another beautiful sunrise.
I apologize to all you readers. Our nightly rehearsals, day-time shore
expeditions, late night photo sessions (and also the table football
and vodka bingo) have really interfered with my writing time. But I
promise to make it up to you and tell you everything I have left out
and maybe even more
Once upon a time
We arrive in New Zealand at lunch time. It's the second to last day
of our first cruise (we're doing two). It's safe to say that all three
of us are completely hung over. The last two days were spent at sea
(quite rough sometimes) and we did our second full-length show (one
hour) for the passengers and played two songs at the cruise farewell
show. We all love "Papa" (must be somewhere in his fifties)
Leonid - the pianist and mastermind behind the Columbus' "Allegro
Band". Their job is to play dance music in the Columbus lounge
in the evening, barbeque parties on deck during the day, the occasional
"Happy Birthday" in the restaurant at dinner time, cocktail
hours, Equator baptisms, "Frühschoppen" and - maybe hardest
of all - accompany the cruise's artists and entertainers. In other words,
these guys really work for their money! Seeing that Leonid usually doesn't
beat around the bush if he thinks the "artists" and "entertainers"
aren't exactly great (after all he is a slightly cynic, highly educated,
chess-playing piano player and arranger from the Ukraine), we were quietly
waiting for the day that he would report us to the captain for being
the charlatans that we are. For some reason this never happened; instead
him and all the Allegro Band seemed to take a liking in us (I still
blame the fact that we never had to play together). Anyway, last night
was spent together, celebrating the end of the South Sea and the beginning
of the New Zealand cruise, drinking vodka until the early morning hours.
And though conversation is limited (we don't speak Russian and the Ukrainians
only little English), we had a lot of fun - or at least this is what
people tell me. I can't remember much. "Hello!!"
Bay of Islands
New Zealand is different; the rocks, the palm trees, the plants, the
climate. We stroll into a relaxed Oceanside town where people speak
English, though with a funny accent. Later that day - when the headaches
have seized a bit - we decide to rent out a catamaran.
"Aye, mates! So you dudes are sailors?" the young blonde ship-owner
beams widely, when we tell him we work on the MS Columbus. His good
mood is contagious. I can't help but say: "Sailors? Oh yeah. Dude!
Joe here was practically born on a boat!"
Joey chips right in with a hearty "Aye! Red right return!",
but then carefully adds "Well
actually we have no idea what
we're doing. How much is one hour?"
The look on the guy's face is just heartbreaking.
Twice upon a time
I am writing this in a studio in Stockholm. It is snowing outside and
minus 6 degrees Celsius. Yesterday somebody smashed Jamie's car window
and stole a whole box of our favourite CDs (about 100!) - just outside
of Joe's apartment in Uppsala. New Zealand merely feels like a warm
memory now. Anyhow.
A Kiwi is fat flightless bird that sleeps about 20 hours per day. It
is the mascot of New Zealand. A Kiwi is also an oval shaped, hairy fruit.
It originated from China, has been given a new name and become a no.1
export article for New Zealand. At 3 degrees Celsius you can basically
store and keep it fresh for ever. Last but not least, the people of
New Zealand also like to call themselves Kiwis - which is funny: I neither
found them to be especially fat, hairy or oval shaped. Nor do they like
cold temperatures or sleep an awful lot. At least they are flightless
all right. This is about all the facts I can give you.
stay in Tauranga has been a pleasant one. Actually, for me it was one
perfect, lucky day with a little bit of everything in it!
We arrive early in the morning and the passengers go off on excursions
around 8:30. Since our equipment is still neatly set up in the lounge
from yesterday night, we decide to stay in and do another Pay-TV rehearsal
first. I enjoy playing and feel we are getting some good work done.
At around 12:00 o'clock "Papa" Leonid comes rushing in and
asks us if we want to play some football. Naturally, we think he must
be joking or that there is some kind of misunderstanding. But it turns
out he is a great player and goes playing with some of the crew quite
regularly. When we walk down the gangway, ten people in football gear
are already waiting for us. They have organised a real football pitch
somewhere in town! It's a lot of fun (Joey and I even get some nice
combinations going!) and what we lack in style (mostly Jamie!), we make
up for in running around like madmen. The sun is beating down (everybody
is covered in sweat and sun lotion), but just when we're starting to
feel tired and thirsty, a friendly Kiwi (a person, not a bird or fruit)
drops by with two crates of ice cold lemonade. And the day still keeps
getting better. After winning the game (I leave out the second game
where we all get our asses kicked by a couple of Canadian teenagers)
we go on to the beach. The water is perfect for cooling down and we
spent an hour bodysurfing in the perfect waves. Then it's time to walk
back to the boat. Did I mention that Mexican is my favourite food? Well,
guess what they have for dinner tonight!
And fortune just keeps on smiling: After dinner it's not Jamie (ex-biology
student, who has been on the lookout for weeks now - but left for his
cabin one minute ago), but me (the person that still occasionally gets
lost on his way to the ship's laundry) that spots a large group of dolphins!
If I remember correctly, it went somewhat like this:
Note: This conversation actually never took place)
(pointing) "Look Joseph! Starboard: It's a whole school of Dolphins!"
JOE: (still chewing on a big piece of enchilada) "Fish!! Mmmmph
Fish!" (Pointing with his fork)
WOLFMAN: "Lagenorhynchus obliquidens - to be exact; the White Stripe
Dolphin. And it must be at least half a dozen of them."
Look! Fish jumping!" (Joe's enormous belly
keeps him from getting any closer to the railing)
WOLFMAN: "Exactly Joseph. As we all know: When hunting, a dolphin
is capable of swimming 40 kilometres per hour. Hence the apparently
effortless mastery of movement through more than one element! It seems
like weightlessness, does it not?
and with a population of 1.5 million in all the
eastern pacific, we still ought to count ourselves lucky! On the other
hand Lagenorhynchus obliquidens likes to form remarkably large schools,
of sometimes up to 10000 mammals, occasionally accompanying ships or
fishing vessels that
JOE: "But me still hungry..."
EDITOR'S VOICE: "WOLFMAN!! Are you reading all these facts off
of a piece of paper?!"
Joe and Wolfman both look around in panic.
To be continued