The reason This is Spinal Tap is such a timeless film is because anyone who has ever played in a band has had at least one “Spinal Tap moment”. I’ve had a few.
I was touring Germany with my band Batlord just before GPS became ubiquitous. Our singer booked the tour and, despite my urging, didn’t print out Mapquest directions before we left. He said it was because he had a slow internet connection. The truth is, he was easily distracted. For most of the tour, I got really good at reading maps in German and was able to get us to most places. But things came to a head in Berlin.
By the end of our night, everyone was drunk except me and the driver. Our hostel was about 15 minutes from the club. But with no map, and an unfamiliar street address, it took us an hour and a half to get there. We stopped by countless gas stations to ask for assistance and no one but one final person was able to guide us to the place. We were saved by a fan who offered to ride along for the rest of the tour so she could learn about tour management. If she wasn’t able to translate for us, I might still be in Berlin today. Within 24 hours of meeting us, she almost watched the band break up.
By the time we got out of the van, tensions were high. Our drummer decided he needed to take a walk to blow off some steam. I told him that I understood, but plead with him to not go far. The rest of us went back to our room to crash.
The next morning, we saw no drummer. Not even a suggestion that he had shown up and left. He hadn’t brought his cell phone because he didn’t have an international plan. This was the only day in our schedule with enough time to do some sight-seeing. But instead, we drank coffee after coffee in front of the hostel, waiting for him to come back.
What happened? He walked around for awhile the night before, got lost, and hailed a cab. He gave the cab driver the name of the (newly built) hostel. The driver had never heard of it. Our drummer had no address. All he knew was that our next show was in Munich. So he asked the driver to go to the train station, bought a ticket, and went there.
Once in Munich, he found an internet cafe and searched deep in his email archives, finding one email where the singer’s girlfriend had been copied. He contacted her, she contacted us, and we had about 30 minutes left in Berlin before we had to get on the road. So we did some “mad dash tourism” around the city. Checkpoint Charlie! Take a picture! Brandenburg Gate! Take a picture! Then we hightailed it out to Munich for the next show.
So that’s how I lost a drummer and found him 600 km away. He might as well have spontaneously combusted. For what it’s worth, we went back to Germany 4 months later when GPS was readily available and it was a dream tour by comparison. But I still invite all of you to give the guy crap for making me miss out on Berlin.