It certainly was one giant blur of metal and madness, but our first trip to Colombia, South America was an experience the band won't soon forget.
We knew it was going to be one hell of a weekend when the first leg of our flight turned into a booze-fueled laugh fest. It started innocently enough when one of the flight attendants asked if we were in a band of some sort. We didn't expect any kind of reaction other than a shoulder shrug of some sort, but we were incredibly surprised when the older of the two flight attendants, (we won't mention names so we can protect them from trouble) laughed and said "man, I know you guys, I knew you looked familiar. I love deathmetal." To say we were shocked is an understatement. The dude looked like he was in his mid-50s. A great discussion about all things metal ensued and this guy had a depth of metal knowledge that was impressive. His co-worker joined the conversation, and although not really a metal head, was incredibly cool and social. Before we knew it, the entire band was in the back of the plane enjoying heaps of free booze and food. Many of the passengers picked up on what was going on and next thing you know we were taking pictures with the passengers, which was kinda of funny since we're sure no one knew who we were!
The second leg of our trip to Bogota was pretty uneventful. Once we landed on Bogota, we were greeted by our tour manager, Tato and his team and we were brought to our hotel. By that time we were exhausted, but we still managed to have some scotch and cigars to celebrate our arrival. Our fest mates, the mighty Devourment showed up a few hours after we arrived and more partying ensued. Finally around 6:00 am, everyone had enough and crashed.
Once the fog and headaches subsided we went out for a walk and looked around the neighborhood our hotel was in. We had some fantastic coffee and pastries at a small shop owned by a guy who happened to have lived in NY for many years. Nice guy. Great food. Chris was especially fond of the Diet Coke in glass bottles and purchased every bottle in the fridge.
After showers and some napping, we met up with the boys in Devourment and had lunch at a great little local place. We sampled a lot of traditional fare including barbequed chigüiro, which we found out later was basically a giant rat. Sounds disgusting, but goddamn was it good. After that we headed back to the hotel, gathered our gear and headed to the venue.
As New Yorkers, we're pretty immune to lunatic drivers, but we were completely shocked by the lunacy of the driving in Bogota. "Jesus, it's like Grand Theft Auto," commented Keith DeVito – we held on for dear life as our driver weaved in and out the non-existent lanes, the completely insane traffic circles and the flood of motorcycles and mopeds driving as if they were racing for their lives.
Once we arrived at club Viva Las Vegas, we settled in to our back room, which doubled as a – get this – a sideline for an indoor soccer arena. We played some soccer, drank beer and hung out with Devourment as we killed time during the countdown to the show. Also connected to the club was a down and (very) dirty whorehouse, which made for some interesting commentary and many laughs.
With sound check finished, the crowd began filtering in. Immediately both our table and Devourment's was crammed with fans and well wishers who purchased merchandise, requested pictures and autographs and offered us plenty of alcohol. The Colombian fans are passionate, sincere and very into their deathmetal. Many of them brought our demos and albums to sign, paid us great compliments and really gave us a welcome that we would not soon forget. It's a very humbling experience when you see people who have trouble speaking English stumble through their words as they tell you what a great influence Internal Bleeding has been on their bands, their lives and their love of deathmetal. We're still reeling from it.
Showtime finally came, and we were so pumped to play that without any bullshit, we immediately dove into things, opening up with "Aftermath," a song from our upcoming album Imperium. The crowd instantly broke into a pit, jumping up and down with abandon and smashing into the barricade. Following that came a mixed bag of classic IB tunes such as "Ruthless Inhumanity" and "God of Subservience" as well as new songs such as "The Visitant". During the classic "Anointed in Servitude", Chris jumped down off the stage and joined in with the crowd, headbanging away and helping Keith whip the crowd into a frenzy. Before we knew it, the show was over and the roar from the well attended show roared their approval.
Devourment came up next and kept the energy and the pit swirling by tearing through a litany of their classics including their slam anthem, Babykiller. They put on a great show and were tight, professional and totally on point with their delivery. Pure insanity.
Finally, the show ended. But the partying and hanging out didn't stop for quite a while. We finally made it back to our hotel at the crack of dawn and hit the rack.
We didn't expect to do much other than relax, recover and head to the airport, but we were treated to a day we'd never forget. We were picked up around 1:00 in the afternoon by our driver and chaperone and headed off to a giant outdoor festival Rock in the Park. Our plan was to hang out, watch some of the bands play and head home. However, our creative and enterprising chaperone and driver had a different idea. Through some really creative lying, finagling and flat out forgery, they managed to get us VIP access to the festival. We just shut up and pretended we didn't speak any Spanish as our two minders informed all the security personnel that we were a "big band from the USA" here to play the show. To our astonishment, we were waved past security and escorted into the VIP area. Sometimes, you just gotta roll with things.
Once we got to the main stage VIP area, we were inundated with requests for photos, radio and tv interviews and souvenirs. It was totally surreal. We know that some of these people didn't know who we were, but they must have thought we were a band of importance. No matter. We met so many great people and had a wonderful time hanging out, taking pictures and "living the dream," so to speak.
It was finally time to leave and we bid goodbye to our new Colombian family. With heavy hearts we unloaded our gear and headed into the airport. One last surprise waited for us though...
We had waited on line to get our seats for the flight at least two hours. As impatient New Yorkers, we began to bitch and complain about the wait. People looked at us as we hurled insults and profanities that I think many of these people never heard before. We finally got our tickets and headed to the gate.
Once at the gate, the ticket agent who handled our processing stopped us and informed us that our seating has changed. We immediately became worried. To our shock and amazement though, he presented us with first-class seating! We'll never know why he did this, but we were eternally thankful. We enjoyed some champagne and fine food and finally drifted off to sleep in our big, roomy seats.
Before we knew it, the flight was over and we were home.
We are incredibly humbled and thankful to have had this experience and we owe it all to our friends and family in Colombia. Saying thank you to them just doesn't seem to be enough, but it will have to do. We did the best that we could by putting our hearts into our performance. We hope that's enough.
Slideshow photos courtesy of Sergio Orzoco, Luis Ville and Jesy Osorio and John Ruiz.