Bulgarian Rhapsody



(Being on tour in Germany all this week reminded me of the following travel story from a couple years ago. Enjoy…)

It was the spring of 2007. I’d been in Germany playing guitar for Attack Theatre, a really cool, modern dance troupe from Pittsburgh, Pa. After our performance in Dortmund, everyone caught a train back to Dusseldorf, where we’d flown in. From there, they were flying back home to the United States, while I was staying overnight in Dortmund. The reason for this was that Testament had a show in Bulgaria the following day. They were already there, having flown in a day before me. I was going to catch three flights and be in Varna, Bulgaria in time to meet them for a 5pm soundcheck.

I woke up at 5am and took a cab to Dortmund airport. Once there, I boarded the first flight, from Dortmund to Munich. From Munich I caught a plane to Sofia, Bulgaria. That flight was delayed a couple hours, and it caused me to miss the third flight to Varna. The next flight in wasn’t for a couple more hours. I finally landed in Varna a little after 6pm.

“So much for soundcheck” I thought to myself.

There was hardly anyone there at the tiny Airport. I picked up my bags and walked outside. It was still light out. I looked for some sign of someone to pick me up but there was no one around. I walked back in the terminal.

That’s when I noticed this giant Bulgarian guy walking around, built like a body builder. He had a crewcut, was dressed in all black and had on thick black sunglasses. He looked like Arnold schwarzenegger in “The Terminator.”

“This can’t be the guy” I thought to myself.

As he walked towards me I realized I was wrong. The first words out of his mouth were:

“We must hurry, we are late” which sounded like “Ve most harry, ve are leet!” I followed him back outside.

Out of nowhere, a black BMW came speeding up to the curb. It halted with a screech. The trunk popped open and we threw my bags in. I got in the back seat, he got into the front. The driver was dressed almost exactly like the other guy. I was being driven from the airport by two Terminators.

The car lunged forward, throwing my back into the cushion of the seat. Outside, the setting sun shined a bright light on the lush green trees and rolling fields, which reminded me a bit of Napa and Sonoma, the wine country region of Northern California. But it was going by so fast, I could barely take it in. Within minutes, we were approaching the Bulgarian version of Germany’s autobahn, the motorway with no speed limit. As we ascended onto a curved on-ramp, my body jerked from one side to the other, barely held in place by the seatbelt.

Once we were safely on the autobahn, the driver hit the gas hard. It was like that scene in Star Wars when Han Solo hits the ‘light speed’ button on his space ship. The BMW jettisoned forward as the guy in the front seat turned on the stereo, creating a pulsating, hypnotic, pounding sonic sensation. It was the music of the German, techno metal band, Rammstein.

We must have been driving at least a hundred miles an hour. Rammstein’s hyperkinetic chugging pulse seemed to propel us even faster. The two guys up front didn’t say a word or turn around. I could see their sunglass clad faces in the mirror. They merely nodded when I asked if we were getting close. Twenty minutes later, we were pulling up to the festival, with Rammstein still blaring on the stereo.

With the help of the Bulgarian Terminators and the music of Rammstein, I had arrived at the gig as close to on time as possible. And it didn’t really matter anyway because, as is often the case, things were behind schedule. The PA system had only recently shown up and soundcheck hadn’t even begun.

We had made a forty minute drive in just over twenty minutes. I was worn out from little sleep, the early wake up call and the flights, not to mention a bit rattled from the drive. But I was there and ready to play.

Epilogue:

I’ve done my best with telling this story. However, to fully comprehend the magnitude of this experience, I recommend that you please take a moment and follow these simple instructions:

A. Take a good set of headphones or speakers and plug them into your computer.

B. Play the following clip and crank up the volume:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfcsV_GyM4M

C. Close your eyes and imagine being knocked around in the back seat of a BMW going 100mph, being driven by two Terminators.

14 Responses to Bulgarian Rhapsody

  1. i cheated Professor, i knew what to expect from Rammstein. i did NOT play that at “11”, i’m not crazy! LOL i’m sorry dude, that’s painful…

  2. hahaha!

    oh hell, I have friends that drive like that… Rammstein and all… except for the Terminator look.
    i.e On the way to Gigantour, running late a friend and I took the wrong expressway and went from Flint, MI to Toledo, OH in under a half hour.

    But next time I ever ride with them, I think I’m going to suggest that they dress like that before we leave.

    And.. I cheated too.. I didn’t turn any music on.. or close my eyes. But I was laughing!

    I thought it was a great story.

  3. Haha, sounds like an experience to say the least! Cool tune, I’ve always liked Rammstein but I’ve never invested the time to check them out.. I think their cover of Depeche Mode’s amazing song Stripped put me off sadly. ^^ They were tainted after it, I guess you could say.

  4. Funny story….I think I just made my dog nervous with the Rammstein beat! Great song but as always with Rammstein they could be saying kill Jennifer and I’m dancing along in my chair. I know very little German!

  5. Hahahahahahahahaha … It is a perfect behind the scenes with glamor! MIB is a good name for this post also: Are you sure that they are not insects?

    The problem is not you, is that the car was very fast! hahahahahaha …

  6. HAHAHAHAHA
    I played the song, closed my eyes and was trying to picture YOU getting tossed around the back of that car like a ragdoll LOL
    Did the words “I am going to die” come into mind?? LOL
    This is absolutely the funniest story yet.
    Great song to power walk to!!

  7. hhahaha that made me laugh like hell! I will sure follow the instructions alter on to try to feel a little bit more the experience. Nice to find this blog of you, Alex. I fortunately had the pleasure of watching you play with Alex Skolnick Trio at JAxx, in Sprngfield, VA back in 2006 and on the next 17th of March it will be my first time watching TEstament live. I really look forward to seeing you from the first row. Take care and thanks for sharing these stories!

  8. One of my friends in college tuned me into Rammstein a couple years ago. I love it. Rammstein’s music actually fits really well going extremely fast on a road with no limit. This song especially with its beat. I can picture getting tossed around in the back seat with this music and then having the song come back to mind every time you had to get in a car again.

    Great story.

  9. ahahahahah
    I am in my place of work and when I came to the terminator,I laugh so hard ahahahah.
    I just could imagine you, sitting in the car, at high speed with the knees to shake and think ….. I am being kidnapped by the mafia bulgaria …. ahahahah.
    After they put the music high, you at the speed of the car, trying to get to the front seat to talk and they even look at you and you are thinking … did I get in the right car? oh my god ….somebody help me ahahaha
    Your ability to make films with the more normal things,you just like me ….there are humans very creative and you are without doubt one of them.

    17th March I will also be in Lisbon show, I would love to take one photo with you….

    THEYKAL….are you Portuguese?

    N.Guerreiro
    Portugal

  10. FUNNY AS SHIT, Alex! Ah, if every taxi ride here in the city were so cool. GREAT MUSIC! Love that driving beat. It sounds like theme music, for a superhero or something. It must have been a great head trip! And you didn’t have to inhale. LOL This is one of those songs that was made for blasting. Reminds me a bit of Metallica.

    Remember here in the 80s the box hair cut was the look (i.e. Dolf Lundgren, Brian Bosworth, etc)?

    That was a cool experience! THANKS for sharing! I’m gonna go blast some music while I have my morning coffee.

    Peace Alex

    Undercover Mother

  11. Though I’d heard of Rammstein, I confess to not really knowing their music. This experience, and their brilliant live DVD which came out a couple years ago, have totally sucked me in. I’m a real fan now.
    Warrior, that’s exactly what I was thinking: “Am I in the right car?!”

  12. Great story! Even better with the sound effects!

    He definitely was not “the guy”, at the airport, as usual. I’m with MJ. This is one of your funniest stories to date.

    Just curious; when you were being tossed around the back of the BMW, were you thinking to yourself – I have nothing to F.E.A.R., nothing to F.E.A.R. …???

    Thanks for sharing the laughs!
    N

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