By: Matthew Collins
Ahhhhh Matthew Collins, a hero of a human being. Teacher. Musician. Dashing. Hilarious. Quite possibly a cyborg, because he's also incredible at every sport. I know him mostly as my friend and the guitarist in SWALLOWS NEST, the Dunedin, New Zealand-based band that was formed when I arrived to "live" there in August of 2017. Although I peaced out by the end of that year, the band is still going strong with a recent two-week European tour with American friends Crowning (that I was lucky enough to tag along for) and an upcoming tour through some parts of New Zealand.
The upcoming two-week tour hits 7 cities but the band is looking for any help with extra shows if you are interested. Here is the tour poster with beautiful art by Ro of Sewage and Raining. The facebook event page is here, but I've embedded a few links for you: January 9th / January 10th / January 11th / January 15th / January 16th / January 17th / January 18th
Below are the extended entries for the European tour that were used as the framework for the 30-minute tour documentary by the U.S. half of Zegema Beach Records, the illustrious Dave Cullen. Near the bottom you will find the new entry titled "Rough As Guts Mate" that pertains to everything post-Euro tour. Here is a post with live videos from every single band we played with in Europe plus a bunch of Crowning and Swallows Nest. I did a podcast with Matt back when I was in Dunedin which you can listen to/download here, and this is a link to the Crowning/Swallows Nest split. What? Music video? Oh yes, we have one for "Apathy as an Infinite Manifestation" right here.
Oh, here is said tour documentary video:
CROWNING / SWALLOWS NEST
This is a series of journal entries covering the Swallows Nest, Crowning 2019 Europe tour. Crowning are an Emoviolence/screamo band from Chicago, Illinois and Swallows Nest are a screamo band from New Zealand. Last year we had the pleasure of doing a split 7” release together and we were both offered to play Cry Me A River Fest this year in Versmold, Germany. Crowning said they would do it, but only if it was with us so we decided to book a tour around it and a year later, here we are. This will be both bands first time in Europe and our first international tour.
I get really passionate about sharing my experiences after doing something really exciting musically but my storytelling gets progressively worse the more times I tell it so I guess that’s why I'm doing this journal. I am not sure who is going to read this so I am going to try to be as general as possible. My aim is for this to be accessible to those like myself who I would consider recently indoctrinated to DIY punk culture, and anyone else who wants to hear the story without any frills or unnecessary embellishment. Simply put, this is where we went, what we did, and this is how I felt. My name is Matt and I play guitar in Swallows Nest. I am going to attempt to describe my experiences on the road, playing DIY shows with my friends that I play music with.
28/6/2019Drove to Versmold yesterday, a small town in the Northwest of Germany where we met Lars and Sabine (the people running CMAR Fest) and their family. They are amazing hosts, taking care of us over the next couple of days. Lars forgot we were coming today. He told us to Fuck off. I think he was kidding. Orbit Cinta Benjamin are also here from Malaysia. They are awesome. If we ever tour Malaysia there’s a strong chance it was because of them.
We were picked up from Frankfurt Airport by Tommy, our tour driver. Super lovely guy who drove from his home in Croatia the night before with all the backline we are using for the tour. This is what he does. “It is very fun but very exhausting” in his own words. The flight here was a punishing 28 hours and I felt ready to explode if I spend anymore time at an airport. We waited for David to get through security and gave him a massive group hug. We haven’t seen him for a year and a half. We spent a few hours on the Autobahn, saw a shit load of wind farms and solar panels and many many ‘gingerbread houses’. We had dinner with the family and got settled. By now I have been up since Wednesday morning and now it’s Thursday on the other side of the world. I’m seriously jet lagged. My head hit the pillow and I fell into a deep uninterrupted sleep.
Woke up today feeling like a million bucks. Had breakfast and started helping set the backyard that will become a venue by the end of the day. I am really enjoying the people we have been spending time with so far. There’s something really satisfying about meeting people across the world passionate about the exact same thing you are doing, especially when it feels like your one of the only ones doing it back home. Time to jump in the lake. It is summer over here and it is bloody hot!
30/6/2019First days of Europe. I am so buzzed to be over here that I don’t care that I have been slowly melting for the last two days. Have you ever heard a screamo band soundcheck. It goes something like this. “Check!! Check!! Check!!” So good. We played our set at 4:45pm in the hottest part of the day. Those of you who don’t think musicians work hard should try playing a high energy set in 39 degree heat. Gabe said he was inches away from heat stroke and another song would have been the end of him. I believed it. After the set he ran into the garage just so he could lie down on the cold concrete floor, leaving a big sweat angel on the ground afterwards. Justin from Crowning threw up after his set and was out of action for the rest of the day. Apparently a couple of locals saw him and were very supportive, which made the experience that much more humiliating. None of us had a drop of alcohol beforehand. Absolutely brutal. Favourite acts of the day were either Cady or Crowning. Don’t get me wrong, I think our band has a lot to offer but wow you can really tell who has been putting in the work on the ground and nothing makes a band tighter than regular touring together.
For the first couple of days here I have been really focused on getting a “German experience”, wanting to go to a bier garten, eat all the sauerkraut etc etc. I can see this attitude slowly changing. We are experiencing Europe in a way that very few get to and that makes us really fortunate. I’d rather spend the time meeting some interesting locals. There is a record breaking heat wave set to hit Europe this Tuesday with highs exceeding 40 degrees. Fuck.
2/7/2019Made it to Berlin, met up with Cassus and Niboowin and played a matinee show in the basement of a punk squat. The venue is a political space run by a bunch of punk anarchists and they did not allow any photos inside because the police look online for certain activists and they did not want the risk of anyone being associated with the space. It was a beautiful old building with antifascist graffiti everywhere. It really was beautiful, you’ll just have to take my word for it. I felt a lot better playing indoors. The set went well and we split up into team sleep and team party.
We met up the next day at the venue where they served us vegan toasties and leftover cake. It was really good. Cassus and Niboowin stayed there as well as Lowell from Crowning and they were just getting up. They looked pretty wrecked. Dani from Niboowin started playing Tom Waits and Sunny from Cassus groaned and said something along the lines of “Are you kidding me? Tom Waits? First song of the day?” Joerg gestures to the rest of the group and says “look around mate!” Hilarious.
Berlin is a great city to get lost in. I figured out the train service and was pretty set after that. Saw the sights, visited a music store with the intention of finding something with stereo outs and walked out with a new shiny reverb pedal so I can use two amps for the rest of the tour. We met up with Crowning and drank in the park by the Berlin Wall. We met up with Lowell’s friend James Rakestraw who used to play drums in Infant Island. His name sounds made up but apparently isn’t. I guess if you’re ancestors rake enough straw that’s what you get. We call him “Rickshaw”. We partied together all night. I’m not sure whose idea it was but someone suggested that he tag along for the remainder of the tour. The group voted. It was unanimous. He is one of us now. Always good having another person around for morale because that’s everything on tour. We met some interesting people at the bars we went too like one guy who moved over two weeks ago to make it as a bedroom pop producer. He seemed offended when Gabe said he didn’t want to hear his music, saying “good luck with the tour” as we left which was clearly not genuine. Clueless.
We got to the venue and the opening band had pulled out so it was just us and Crowning. I got a bit depressed tonight for some reason when I thought about the tour coming to an end. It’s hard to explain. There are so many awesome people that we have met here and it sucks that we will soon be finished when I feel we’re just getting started. I guess a lot of the pain we experience in life comes from our inability to let go. I went for a walk on my own up to Schlosberg and talked to a few tourists and locals on the way. I bounced back pretty quick.
Any energy we had during the Swallows Nest set we owe to Crowning. There’s something extra special about watching a band crush it when you know they’re battling under the same conditions that you are. Justin’s sample pad didn’t work, Vanessa’s guitar cut out a couple of times and Lowell cut his face on something. Fuck it. Great set. Our set was the hottest I had been since CMAR. There wasn’t a huge turnout but they were at the front and getting into it. We dug really deep for this one. After the set I felt like a champion. Fuck. Yes. Give me more.
It turns out that acidic sweat can not only stain your white tee shirts but also degrade your guitar strings. My brand new strings for CMAR feel like they’re about a year old and tonight I broke four of them. Might have to start wiping down all my equipment after shows. Still one of my favourite sets yet, although might take the record for longest due to all the restringing. James “Rickshaw” has been filming most of the shows while he’s here for the ride and he stands at about 6 foot 7 so he can get some fantastic action shots in those really hard to reach places. Crowning played their best set last night in my opinion. There was a great atmosphere and the single white light in the corner of the stage cast some awesome shadows. People were getting so into it at the end that they kept playing the last breakdown for Funeral Designs again and again, slower every time. It was heavy. I’m pretty sure Justin thought it was stupid but hey, give the people what they want right?
After the show we packed up the gear and split up into groups staying at two different peoples houses. Everyone’s pretty chill with everyone doing their thing and there’s one group that wanted to go out. I have been team party for a couple of days now so tonight I am team sleep. No regrets. We went back to Franta's place, chilled out and drank some tea his wife had made. You know those tours you hear cancelled due to ‘exhaustion’. Haha bullshit. You just partied too hard until you couldn’t manage yourself anymore. We’re so lucky with the support we’re getting over here. We seem to be getting everything we need right when we need it. Tomi said he would show us around the old town if we had time so we got up early and took a tram ride there. Is there anything Tomi can not do? Driver, back line provider, car dj, sound engineer, tour guide and seems to know the people in every location we play. He’s always chill and you always know when it’s actually time to go. We went back to the venue for lunch and I had a vegan bowl with Israeli couscous, fermented cauliflower and sautéed oyster mushrooms. It was incredible. Next up Erlangen.
The next day we went to Nuremberg to see the setting of the Nazi rallies, before meeting the guys from Niboowin for lunch. We accidentally took the legs for their drummer’s floor tom from the Vienna show so we had to return them but it was a good excuse to see them again. We’re really going to miss those guys. Did I mention that? Vanessa was watching Danni and Dylan share some leftovers and thought it was like “watching two orphans looking out for each other”. They seemed to enjoy that. I’m feeling pretty down at this point and I don’t know how to explain it. I have clearly fallen for this lifestyle and it didn’t take long at all. That wasn’t smart. I need to be more careful. It’s easy to create a fantasy about doing this all the time but that thinking is not going to get you anywhere. You have to work for it. It’s worth it. I’m not sure if the others feel the same. Do I need this the most?
We got to Metz after a two hour drive and drove to the country where we had booked an air bnb. There is a small football pitch outside and we start kicking a ball around waiting for the others. I immediately feel better. The family's son and dad come out and we have a good kick around. The dad blasted the son in goal a couple of times. It was pretty funny. I’m sure the kid was better with the ball than I was. Train the young I guess? There’s something beautiful about team sports when they are played right. Such a great unifier, especially when you’re unable to hold a conversation.
Me and Gabe put our collective chef experience together and put out a massive spread on a park bench under a tree away from the house and we had a big family meal. We’re laughing and smiling and stayed there telling stories until the light was gone. Great end to the day.
We get to Paris in the afternoon and we have some time to kill before load in so we check out the waterfront. Everything is really expensive here compared to the rest of Europe and the appeal is kind of lost on me. The venue itself looked like an upmarket cafe with a concrete floor and big glass windows. I never would have thought they would put on DIY shows here but the sound guy sets up and starts blasting some hardcore band I don’t know and no one bats an eyelid (Dave Norman here, it was Amanda Woodward). Ok, I guess this is what they do here. Sweet. We meet the people from Smart and Confused and EUX. They are super lovely. They really liked Crowning. I think Eux wanted to do a split with them a while back and it didn’t work out but they came through and helped book us the Paris show anyway. Thanks a lot.
We’re all feeling pretty shattered before playing and I'm worried that we are looking like a bunch of antisocial assholes. I start thinking “am I going to be able to pull it off tonight?” I remind myself that there are people are here to see us and we’re there to put on a show, so I take five minutes, warm up and get ready to play. I shouldn’t have doubted myself because we played a great set. Fuck yeah. This is why I do this. It gives me strength. EUX played after us and I was really impressed. That’s a band I’m going to keep following because they’re doing some really exciting stuff. At one point the girl next to me in a leopard skin dress snatched the phone off someone who was using it two rows from the front and didn’t give it back for a while. Haha fuck yeah. Put that shit away and show some respect. Crowning play after EUX and they blow the roof off the place. There was crowd surfing and good feels all round. I love watching people's individual experiences at screamo shows. It’s emotional and really powerful. The band were really happy after the show. Tomi hates Paris because it’s too expensive so we gap it after the show to our accommodation. I never got my obligatory Eiffel Tower photo. Sorry mum and dad.
The next day we all get to sleep in and Joerg does a bakery mission to get us croissants and baguettes. David (from Crowning) is using his photography skills to take some beautiful still shots of some pistachio nuts that we had consumed the night before. I ask for an artistic statement and he’s like “yeah, you proud of me now dad?” He has such a dry sense of humour. It is great. Next up Antwerp.
13/7/2019First update in a couple of days. This entry covers the Antwerp show as well as a last minute show in Erpe-Mere (Belgium) and Cologne.
Day off in Amsterdam. [ENTRY LOST]
We left Amsterdam at about 12 the next day. We’re all pretty tired and we don’t have to be in Mere until 6 so we hit a tourist spot and check out an old town with cheese making and windmills. Clearly artificially maintained but it was a good chance to walk off last night and check out the sights. The New Zealand contingent of the group have been teaching Crowning a really dumb driving game called “goat, boat, or float”. The game was almost won today with multiple goat and boat sightings. James (from Crowning) has also started saying “do you want a durry mate?” They are learning well.
We woke up the next day at the venue where we stayed and Ingo made us breakfast. Thanks so much! I feel like shit and we’ve got one show to go. We go and get some coffee and some of us set up camp and stay there a while. I drank four coffees and read a sociology book titled “How to not let your emotions rule your life”. Haha fuck. Is that where I'm at today? Turns out that my usually resilient attitude has somewhat diminished over the last few weeks. Who’d have thought? I find my will to live about half way through my third coffee and it’s the best I’ve felt in days. I am so lucky to be surrounded by great people that can help me snap out of own bullshit. Touring can be like that sometimes. Long nights, no sleep, too much partying, and spending all day in a van. It can chew you up and spit you out if your not careful, but you can’t let it. There’s too much fun to be had. We have one show to go with our friends from the other side of the world and we’re going to end on a high note. We’re driving to Giessen as I write this, blasting pop punk and having a laugh. It’s great to be here.
Our set was a blast. Probably my favourite of the tour. We almost tore our gear apart (literally) and left nothing in the tank for later. I finished the set with no strings on my guitar, on the floor, screaming feedback at full volume. I had to find my bridge after the show because it went flying when I ripped off the last two strings. The guy who did sound loved it. He said it was probably the best show he’d seen since moving here 8 months ago. We’re all buzzing after the show and I don’t want to go to sleep but we’ve got to leave at 6:30 tomorrow so we get the mattresses out. By the time I'm set up the last two weeks have caught up with me and I pass out. What a great way to end the tour.
I have been dreading saying goodbye to the Crowning folk for some time now and of course it was really bittersweet. I hope we cross paths again in the future. At least we finally got that photo of our matching tattoos! Such is life. Now I'm sitting in the van on the way back to Berlin and I'm supposed to sum up this life changing experience with one or two short statements, and I’m unable to. There are no words to fully describe how I feel. I am finally ready to go back and pick up the life I left at home because it needs some work too. I expect it will be tough but all things that are worthwhile are right? But I won’t be staying long. There’s too much to see and I feel like my eyes are open wider than they have ever been. I am not the same person that left. Travel changes you in this way and if this experience has taught me anything it’s that you shouldn’t expect anything glamorous (at all) traveling the world playing DIY music with your friends, but if you surround yourself with the right people with the right attitude then anything is possible and you never know where you could end up. You have to believe in yourself. Enjoy the journey as that is the ultimate reward. It’s obvious really, but it’s inspiring to experience it for yourself. There are massive highs and lows and we all need to take better care of ourselves, but I couldn’t think think of anyone i’d rather be doing this with. Massive thanks to James, Dave, Vanessa, Lowell, and Justin for being the best tour buddies you could ask for. And as always, eternal gratitude to the Swallows Nest family. David, Lana, Joerg, and Gabe. Time to write the next chapter.
Rough as Guts Mate
Kia Ora everyone. Before I start I'd first like to say thanks for all the kind words we have received regarding our recent tour to Europe and the documentary that was put together afterwards. Dave Cullen and friends did an amazing job, and It was a real honor to lend some words to the narration of the story from my journal that I was making on the road. The feedback was really positive so I’m trying to make a point of doing more writing for the band and telling more stories from my perspective.
Ok so this is what Swallows Nest have been up to lately.
Last time we got together it was through the September break and played a cool little set on my birthday at Dee’s Cafe. Joerg, Lana, Gabe and myself seem to be coping with post tour blues put persevering still. We’re trying to write some new tunes but it’s never easy when you sit down with the intent of writing a good song. It’s a bit of a grind but we’re getting somewhere. Next step is the NZ tour!
We thought that touring New Zealand over January would be a fun idea as it will be extremely hot, and theoretically the most painful time of the year to tour. Can’t beat that 4:30 set at CMAR! I think we get a kick about making things hard for ourselves or at the very least we embrace it. Booking the tour was really easy this time. I’d like to think we’re getting better at it, but something I’ve learnt is that it’s always the help from the locals that makes all the difference. 7 shows in just over two weeks. We don’t really like days off but its really hard to book shows every day in New Zealand, especially if you’re not a band that can play at any pub... If you want to host us while we’re on the road then please let us know!
Last tour was amazing and then some. I look forward to making a few more memorable experiences with Joerg, Lana, and Gabe. All tour details are available below. Stay safe everyone!