The great American punk band Mission of Burma has spent the last decade not only relishing its reunification, but reinvigorated by it. The band's last year has been especially fecund with fresh, vibrant material with the release of Unsound, the group's fifth studio album, and a retrospective collection, Learn How.
Mission of Burma — singer/guitarist Roger Miller, bassist Clint Conley, drummer Peter Prescott and multi-instrumentalist/engineer Bob Weston — has also announced a handful of Stateside tour dates this winter thus far, including a trip to New York to play Bowery Ballroom on January 18 and Cambridge's The Sinclair in Harvard Square on January 19.
TAS asked MIller if he'd keep a tour diary of Mission of Burma's December jaunt through Europe for us and he wrote of the band's travels, from Wiltshire, England's Stonehenge, where it's difficult to avoid joking about "Spinal Tap," to the snowy Swiss Alps, where Mission of Burma's members showed off their fine, Boston-bred ice skaing skills:
Mission of Burma European Tour Blog, December 2012:
Stonehedge on a sunny day
UK (December 6):
We had to hit Stonehenge between shows in the UK. A Druidic priestess at the gate stated: "I feel something from you men. Something is not well. You make sounds larger than stones falling from on high. You insight others to mayhem." Needless to say, after buying a plastic model of the place (which we dutifully pieced together in Glasgow after acquiring the correct glue), we bade a hasty retreat before her curses set in.
Mission of Burma in the Alps
Zurich, Switzerland (December 8)
Strange - we were pretty unknown here. As Clint noted, the crowd appreciated "Comes Undone" as much as "Revolver," with no special response to either when they began. But they were totally enthusiastic. A girl came up to the merch. table at the end of the night saying: "I never heard of you guys before tonight -— where have you been all my life?" Quite a change after the UK, where we are quite known.
After the Zurich gig we spent the night at a relative of Bob's (his wife has Swiss blood) in an amazing church-like building on the hillside over Lake Obertz. The next day we had off, so we all went skating on the frozen lake down the slope. Most of us hadn't been skating for years but it came back quickly. Pete especially had the strong ankles and was way ahead of the pack most of the time. I generally prefer being barefoot if it's warm enough, so I have an odd love/hate relationship to skating.
At any rate, I was generally the last one in the reindeer games on this occasion. Skating is one of our things, so we all brought our skates from the States. Because they have blades on them, we had to put them into guitar cases and the big box/tub we use for guitar cables and stomp boxes — those babies would never pass TSA in any country.
After skating we returned, ankles sore, to the church on the mountain slope where our hosts had prepared an excellent fondue-style feast, replete with a log fire. Plenty of grappa to go around, so that pretty much put any more "action" out of the way for the rest of the day. But it was a fun time, as we had just played nine nights in a row and needed to relax. We were all seriously entertained by the goats in the courtyard, which inexplicably bleated all throughout dinner.
Great times. We live for the times off where we actually get to see stuff other than the inside of clubs.
Zagreb soundcheck, a bit chilly
Zagreb, Croatia (December 10-11):
Zagreb was quite great. Their appreciation for our behavior ran deep. The local beer, Velebitsko, was quite excellent. Our host just barely escaped being drafted into the Bosnian War, avoiding going house to house killing people. He was grateful for that fact, and we for him. A true gent.
The Holocaust Memorial, Berlin
Berlin (December 12-13):
The Holocaust Memorial had a rather profound feel to it. Never forget. Wait — where's the memorial in the U.S. for the Indians we did the same to, systematically putting them into reservations/concentration camps and annihilating them with no remorse? Ah well, this is the U.S. Responsibility is for others.
The Ramones museum had all sorts of artifacts of Ramonian Nature. We thought it might be too goofy to visit, but it was really kind of a trip rummaging through the museum. Berlin really has it all.
Pete got sucked into the vortex in Den Haag
Den Haag, Netherlands (December 14-15):
The show in Den Haag, Netherlands, was the only show that didn't really connect. It could be that Pete got sucked into the vortex during "Learn How." A few moments later he reappeared in the audience, clambered back onstage, and led us into a rousing version of "Class War." But by then, half the audience had left. "What good is a rock band without a drummer?" Yeah, well ....
Next day caught the M.C. Escher Museum. Hallucinatory Mathematics was Mr. Escher's rule of thumb. Works for me.
Overall the tour definitely did its job. Rock was dispensed; rock was ingested. Jimi Hendrix played guitar as we crossed the low mountain pass into the Czech Republic. Lemmy vocalized (sic) over the plains of northern Italy. Such it is as it is.
— Roger Miller, Mission of Burma, December 2012