Faroe Islands: PART ONE: BEFORE THE SHOW.... 
Thursday, August 14, 2014, 08:45 PM
Posted by Administrator
There is so much to share with you, my babies, that I'm going to break this into two blog entries. The first entry will be all travel and pre-show, to give you a flavor of a day in the life of a rock band. The second part will be the show itself.

That said, I now bring the next installment of the only rock n' roll tour blog where you not only get all the glorious details of the Twisted Sister show, but fascinating factoids about salmon and anecdotes about sheep. (oh, get your mind out of the gutter. I haven't been single THAT long.) Yes, my babies, it's time now to bring you the literary long-windedness known as the Armadillo Road Report--the Official Twisted Sister tour blog and concert review: Faroe Islands Edition.

What's that, you say? You've never heard of the Faroe Islands? Well, to be fair, neither had any of us. One of our crew, the notorious Duane, had apparently been telling folks that we were going to the FALLON islands, and was quite disappointed when he learned that Jimmy Fallon did NOT, in fact, own any islands, but he seemed very excited to find out that "Faroe" refers to sheep and goat-type livestock. (and yes, we made many off-color remarks about less-than-Christian activities that we speculated one could do with sheep, given they outnumber the people on the island by almost 2 to 1. So there you have it--we were playing the island of sheep.

I had no idea how to pack for an island of sheep, and the travel brochures all indicated that the primary activities were hiking, fishing and such, so I packed my 44L backpack along with plenty of outdoor closed and apparently resembled a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Or in this case, a Middle-Aged Nerdy Windbag Armadillo. But nevertheless, the point is that I was expecting four days of absolute boredom and hiking, with little else to do but serenade sheep. So wrong.

Twisted Sister had just annihilated the stage in Austria--I mean it, these guys don't just play a nice chill set and leave. They take the stage and the audience by the balls, and tear the shit out of the place, and then leave everyone feeling wrecked, but in a good kinda way. Any band that plays after Twisted Sister regrets it because so far, most crowds thin out after our boys in black and pink destroy the place.

We left the stage in Graz, Austria very late after the slogging dance of packing the gear and loading the vans. We had just enough time to go up to our rooms, grab a shower and change of clothes, toss our bags together and head back to the airport I opted for a quick one hour power nap. Getting to the Faroe Islands is no easy task, my babies. They are located in the middle of the Atlantic waters, just off the coast of Greenland and Norway. You have two options to get there--an insanely ridiculous ferry trip that takes about 19 hours, or you can opt to fly one of the very few flights each day--and I ain't even telling you what it costs--let's just say that I've been practicing saying, "Do you want fries with that?" because I'm gonna need an extra job or two to pay for this lapse of sanity.

Because of there are only three planes that fly to the Faroe Islands on our carrier, and one was disabled by birds, (yes, birds. Dangerous little bastards) we had to move some of the crew and Dee around to other flights, but 4/5 of the band and 6/8 of the crew flew from Vienna to Copenhagen {hell, I think it was Copenhagen) to retrieve gear to re-check to the Faroe Island flight. We were particularly nervous about this, because these small planes (and really small carriers) cannot always accommodate a lot of weight. But as we settled into our seats, the guitars made their way to the tarmac and the flight attendant stopped us to ask--"the pilot and I are from the Faroe Islands. He saw the guitars being loaded and wants to know what band is on the plane."

Well, knowing NOW what I know about life on the Faroe Islands, the pilot must have radioed his brother who works on the ground crew at the airport, who notified his niece who works at a newspaper who has a neighbor who is a photographer. The FRONT page of the faroe newspaper the next day, read (in Faroese, the local language) "Twisted Sister arrives in the Faroe Islands" with a photo of Twisted Sister coming down the steps of the plane and across the tarmac a la Beatles style. What made this highly amusing to us, is that A.J. and Eddie were off to the side and Mark in the background of the photo, and the center of photo featured Tour Manager Danny Stanton and several crew. Because many on the Faroe Islands had never seen Twisted Sister before, they then naturally assumed that those pictured were the band members, which meant that the road crew had a following of paparazzi and autograph seekers everywhere we went.

It was a one-hour bus ride from the airport to the hotel--photos can't possibly do it justice, and words fail me to describe the pure, untouched and breath-taking beauty of the Faroe Islands. We took windy, hair-pin turns along spectacular cliff sides, with lush green valleys and rolling hills surrounding us. Beautiful water falls cascaded from the tops of the mountains that emptied into dark blue rivers. The deep cold waters of the Atlantic were in view almost anywhere we were, and this pristine landscape was occasionally dotted with quaint wooden homes, many hundreds of years old, and the ever present livestock. Sheep of every size, color and variety roamed, grazed and slept on every lovely hillside....and in a few cases, wandered in the road, requiring gentle coaxing by the driver to mosey along. $500 fine if you hit one, by the way. One in particular seemed to have a personal interest in one of our crew, Matt. And somewhere, one of our crew has actual footage of said sheep chasing our van, as it bleated, "Maaa-aaaattt! Maaaaa-aaaaattt!"
What is hard to find on the island: trees. While everything is covered with a soft green moss, trees are rare since they are not a native species. It resembled a prehistoric moss-covered Grand Canyon.

We arrived at our hotel--a rather unusual looking structure that was one part nautical, with traditional Faroe roof made of turf (next time your teenager bitches about moving the lawn, tell him to be glad he doesn't have to go up and mow the roof!) and one part "The Shining." Something about living in isolation and long hallways. We opened the windows of the hotel, and could climb up on to a grassy hill (the hotel was partially underground, built into the mountainside) and before long, there was a road crew and band member hanging out of every window--think of it, like, Faroe Islands meets "Laugh In." (oh just google it, I can't spell out everything for you.) Given the complete lack of sleep, the slow pace of the islands, crisp clean breeze through the rooms, and the absolute quiet soon lured us all into long, refreshing naps. We joined our promoter and incredibly gracious host, Simun and his lovely wife Jastrid for dinner in town at an "American" style dinner.

We learned at dinner that Pamela Lee Anderson (Baywatch) was at our hotel--she was in town with an activist group called "Sea Shepherds," who protest and interfere with the town's practice of killing whales for food. The politics are very intense--and while I can understand someone finding the practice of killing whales distasteful, I can only tell that what we heard and saw from the locals, was that this is part of their way of life for thousands of years. The whales feed entire villages and there is no risk to the existence of the species. Nevertheless, the Sea Shepherds were the talk of the town, and because their logo was a skull and crossbones, we were often mistaken for them. (Hey, skulls are very rock and roll. honest mistake.) So when they weren't approaching us for photos and autographs, they were asking us about our view on whales.

The next morning, I was surprised to see a lobby call listed. And being one who never missed a lobby call, I grabbed my wet weather gear and headed out into a fog so thick we could barely find the cars. But our gracious tour guide Rannva, who incidentally, was also our flight attendant, and her mother (we nicknamed "The Captain") drove us down to the water where Jay Jay French and an assortment of crew boarded a ferry that took us so close to the cliffs, they made us wear hard hats to protect us from falling rocks. And since it was the Faroe Islands, where everyone knows everyone else....and every third person seems to be either a neighbor, a relative or both....we were constantly entertained and charmed by this sense of small town family atmosphere. Crime, by the way, is almost non-existent. (their prison census was 10...mostly for drunk and disorderly....and one guy for a domestic dispute over a fence and a ram. We met one of the island's two police officers, who is also Simon's brother. See how this works?

We thought the day couldn't get more amazing until Simon returned, and brought the remaining crew and band to a place called: Koykstovan One of the world's oldest still-inhabited timber houses. Our gracious hosts were the 17th generation of their family to live there. Let that sink in a minute--17th generation! It was also one of the most paranormally active places I have EVER set foot into--I don't really care if you believe me or not, but BELIEVE ME. I wanted to just smudge myself with sage for an hour afterwards. I have never felt so much activity in one place.

Then...off to sushi in the town. Fish so fresh--I think they caught it that afternoon. No, really. Fish is the primary industry, and they are so plentiful, we watched as a young boy dropped his hook in the water and reeled them in one after another, seconds apart.

And then...it was August 5th. Eddie "Fingers" Ojeda's birthday. You know, most folks celebrate birthday with cake and candles. But this is the Faroe Islands, babies and this is Twisted Sister we're talking about. The day started with another early a.m. lobby call in the deep fog. We began the day at a salmon fishery, watching with amazement as they nurture the fish from smolt to eventually mature salmon, with a total of 1.7 million salmon per harvest--42,000 juveniles in each tank, literally jumped out of the water. We donned special shoes each time we moved through the fishery to prevent outside contamination.

We then decked out in full fishery gear, wearing day-glo orange dry suits and life jackets--think "Twisted Sister meets Deadliest Catch" and had a chance to do something that so few get to do--we took a boat out to the holding nets in the sea, and watched them feed the giant, almost 60,000 mature salmon as we walked along the rim of the "tanks." We then returned for a special feast of...what else? Sushi and salmon! But we weren't done yet. We then took a tour of one of the largest fish processing factories (yes, we think the owner was related to Simun)
It was a fascinating, eye-opening look at how fish goes from the sea to the table and as we left the factory, we commented that Eddie's rockin' birthday couldn't get any better. Wrong again.

A man who we think was Simun's father-in-law or some other relation, arranged for us to load into a helicopter and take a spectacular ride over and around the islands. This was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities, and I filled with emotion as I climbed aboard next to A.J. Pero, gave a thumbs up to the rest of Twisted Sister, and we got a breath-taking view of the sweeping green valleys, majestic hillsides, fiords, and beautiful blue waters. I had to stop myself from tearing up, because, well....crying is NOT metal. The day still not over, we visited a local brewery who treated those in our party who do indulge, in fabulous local brews. If that wasn't enough, we then had an enormous traditional Faroe Island feast at Simun and Jastrid's beautiful home, where we dined on (what else?) sushi, freshly caught lobsters, whale and a saddle of lamb that was spectacular. The whale and blubber? An acquired taste. Last...we had cake, complete with a 60 watt lightbulb plus two candles and sang "Happy Birthday" to Eddie, in both English and Faroese. So...boat trip, factory tour, sushi lunch, helicopter ride, brewery visit, feast and.....cake. Yeah. Not bad to be rock stars. Simun, you are da' man!

Our next day found Jay Jay French, Maaaaaaa-aaaaatt, and myself with Ronnva and her sister on a beautiful drive out to her village, returning to a special dinner arranged by Simun in the hotel restaurant, where the two chefs reportedly have studied under the top chefs in the world. We enjoyed an 18 course meal that included scallops, octopus, fish, lamb...it was one more unique experience that I can say I would not have had anywhere else. We returned to our rooms, well fed, well rested and prepared ourselves for the next day: SHOW DAY.

Stay tuned, babies. Faroe Island CONCERT REVIEW is coming next!

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