Poland - A country of contrasts

We've fallen in love with Poland and it's people.

Historically Poland has always got the short end of the stick. Sitting on a completely flat piece of land in between two massive powers, I suppose it was inevitable that the country was so often caught in their tug-of-war. Since the fall of communism 20 years ago however, things have been changing at a meteoric pace. The Polish spirit is one of proud perseverance and there's an unbelievable sense of excitement about what's been happening in the country. It's infectious. I once remarked to a friend in Poznan about the number of new highways and buildings under construction. He replied that "Poland is under construction!". Sure, there are plenty of issues that the people still face. Free university education has led to a large pool of skilled workers but the job market is still playing catch-up. The average standard of living is still behind their neighbours to the west. But with a rapidly expanding middle-class and one of the fastest growing economies in Europe (it was the only EU country to avoid a decline in GDP during the global financial crisis) it won't be long before Poland is one of the power-houses of Europe alongside it's German and French sisters. And considering the number of German and French business investing in the country, they seem to agree.

Still, facts and figures aren't the reason we're back here for the third time. Polish people are one of the most crazy and passionate audiences we've played to in Europe. If they're feeling the music they're not afraid to jump onto a table and show it- that's pretty inspiring for a musician. Poles also manage to pull off contradictions better than most- for example their blend of extreme optimism and extreme pessimism. It's a little hard to explain.. but it's very Polish. The most addictive thing for me is that freedom is only 20-years young, so everyone is still celebrating it. It's how we should all be living life. I guess that's why we now call so many of our Polish fans friends.

-Raj

The price of pursuing dreams

People ask me what it's been like- leaving family and friends behind and moving to the other side of the world. It's a tough question to answer when I've missed a so many birthdays, celebrations...  even a funeral. I usually reply that my time in Europe has been amazing (personally and for the band), so it's been hard but worth it. I'm loving life over here and with the way things are going for us, I can't see myself moving back to Australia any time soon. Still, we don't normally talk about the harder side of what we're doing so here's a little look behind the scenes:

We're living together in one flat in Berlin. It's intense having housemates that you work, play and spend 20-30 hours a week in a cramped van with as well. The guys are more like family than friends but that isn't always a good thing. Being around three brothers 24/7 isn't easy. But we love each other nonetheless.

Our schedule is pretty brutal. Leave Berlin on Wed or Thurs, drive 8 or 9 hours and set up / soundcheck / play / pack down for 3 - 4 days of shows. There's normally a 4 - 5 hour drive between each show too. Then drive back to Berlin on Sun or Mon to work on the management side of things for a couple of days (we're 100% independent and run our own label). Then come Wed or Thurs, do it all again.

On bigger legs things get even more intense- our last tour of France ended in Nice and we did the return drive from Nice to Berlin in one day (through 5 countries). Most nights on tour we're couch surfing to save cash- sleeping on air beds someone's house or staying in hostel dorms. It's an amazing way to meet people but sleep deprivation is pretty standard. Getting to bed around 4am every night doesn't help.

To put things in perspective, we've been touring full time. Every week of the year. Which means this has been our schedule for the last 10 months... crazy times.

There's no denying that life on the road is an awesome adventure, but the flip side is we're normally never in one place long enough to develop meaningful friendships with people. Now that we've been here for a while that's starting to change, but it's a slow process. So yeah things can get a bit lonely sometimes.

That being said, the other question I get is "is it worth it?". Despite the insanity, my answer to that has never changed. Hell yes.

Raj