In the final of three diaries by local thrashers HeadCrusher, singer Gustavo “Kike” Valderrama gives an epic accounting of the Austin quintet’s cruise to the Bahamas on metal’s Barge to Hell. If I could, I’d book passage to the 2013 edition right now.
Barge to Hell was definitely an amazing experience, not only as a member of HeadCrusher, but also as a metal head.
Since retelling the entire experience would be even more extensive than what’s here, I’ve decided to only mention – a la Metal Injection – the highlights and weird random stuff of what I remember (sometimes very blurry) from this adventure with some of my best friends.
For clarification I will say that on this occasion HeadCrusher consisted of: Carlos (guitar), David (guitar), Gustavo (bass), Anthony (drums), me – Gustavo, aka Kike – (vocals), Gustavo3 (tour manager), and Alejandro C. (sound engineer).
We got to the port of Miami where our tour manager Gustavo3 (Sargento Machete) was already waiting for us. The guy has worked on more than 100 cruises so he knew how to deal with all that crap. Once we were ready to board we realized we were in line with Soilwork, Behemoth, and Moonspell.
Once on the boat, we went to eat and witnessed the hugs and handshakes among members of Sepultura, Exodus, and Napalm Death. Pretty cool if you ask me.
When we went to our rooms we found our sound guy Alejandro (Sin Salida, Dia de los Muertos, Nausea) in a very good party mood hanging out with Adrian, drummer of At the Gates, Paradise Lost, and Brujeria. Our neighbors were Bonded by Blood from L.A. and Rotting Christ from Greece. We were a few doors down from At the Gates and Paradise Lost.
The night started with performances by Exodus, Soilwork, Enslaved, Sodom, Lock Up, Behemoth, Bonded by Blood, and then I kind of remember seeing Krisiun simply destroying that pool deck. Those guys can easily be one of the heaviest bands on Earth. I know Carlos, our guitar player, had a chance to have a few laughs with their vocalist.
I never went to sleep, and don’t remember much. I know I went to see our buddies Dark Sermon at 4:30am, and then, around 6am, I ended up hanging out with Alejandro, Cuerno from Brujeria, and a dude from Germany who didn’t have any clue what Telematch was.
Around 7am, I decided to get breakfast and ran into Mr. Jeff Walker (Carcass, Brujeria). We exchanged a few words about coffee, our mutual friend Alfonso Pinzon, and of course our sound guy Alejandro, who’s close friends with him. My drunk ass was pretty happy at that point so I got high on sugar with lots of pastry.
I woke up around 11 or 12, went for a second breakfast, and then headed to the gym. To my surprise, I saw Nergal from Behemoth doing some yoga poses. We talked about Medellin, Pablo Escobar, and Crossfit. We worked out together. He’s a really nice and polite guy. He even said he was going to go to my show that night.
After a quick shower, I went to see Seita, Abiotic, and then Brujeria at the pool deck. All the Latinos were in the front and El Brujo was really cool, exchanging jokes with the crowd and just having fun.
After Napalm Death, we all went to have a fancy dinner at the a la carte restaurant and Gustavo1, our bass player, looked like a friggin’ zombie. I think he was really hungover and getting seasick. I was pulverized and had a show at 2:45am, but it was almost time for At the Gates. We hung out in the room for a while, got a few drinks, and headed to the pool deck to see At the Gates.
The show was unbelievable.
For some reason that I don’t remember, I missed Moonspell and Municipal Waste, but Sepultura was about to happen. I’d heard lots of good comments about their new drummer Eloy. Holy shit, this kid is insane. He really gives the band new vigor and makes Sepultura sound huge. By that point, I was already dead, so I decided to go take a nap before our show.
I woke up at 2am to the shout of our sound guy telling me, “Get the fuck up! You gotta go and bark.” A little confused and kind of hungover and drunk, I woke up, washed my face, and did my warm-up while the rest of guys were already in the Spectrum Lounge where our show was going to happen. It was 2:30am, Grave was playing at the pool deck, and I was expecting nobody in the room.
The first person I ran into was Nergal from Behemoth, who seemed to have a good buzz going on. He approached me and told me he needed to go to bed, but was waiting to tell me personally. I just couldn’t believe it. I have to say that felt pretty good. We shook hands and agreed on working out the next day.
We did our sound check. There were about 10 to 15 people, most of them members of Abiotic, Bonded by Blood, and Dark Sermon. We started our set as if it were the last show of our lives.
By the second song, the room started to get crowded and all of a sudden we had a good crowd that included Andy Piller, the creator of 70,000 Tons of Metal and Barge to Hell, members of Behemoth, Municipal Waste, and Krisiun. It was a great show. The crowd was amazing. They even started a rolling chair moshpit that everyone said was really fun.
After our set, I got invited to a few shots. I remember hanging out again with Cuerno and Alejandro until around 5am, singing Megadeth songs on Karaoke with a bunch of people from all over the world. I also remember that our tour manager Gustavo3 was pretty messed up and talking nonsense.
Woke up with a terrible hangover. We ate breakfast and got ready for the Bahamas. Once again we lucked out since our tour manager Gustavo3 has also been several times in Nassau and knew the right places with the right stuff. We chilled all day at a beautiful beach with reggae music and a sweet deal of four beers and four shots for $10. I can’t forget the chicken BBQ. Paradise.
We got fairly drunk and on our way back we found Necrobutcher from Mayhem at a small kiosk. He was shirtless and working on his tan in some Miami Vice shorts. David, our guitar player, talked to him and made fun of him. We tried to keep drinking and to my surprise he was really well-mannered and actually trying to take care of us. He kept telling us to head over to the ship since it was already time to go back. I found that hilarious.
Back on the boat, I went straight to bed and took a good, two-hour nap. I woke up ready for Grave in the Spectrum Lounge. After Grave, I caught a few songs from Sanctuary and another few from Bonded by Blood. Then, I went to see At the Gates once again.
After a lesson in metal with ATG, I went to see Moonspell. I have no words to describe how amazing these guys are. They sound and look amazing onstage. Huge band. I checked out about 25 minutes of the Mayhem show and another 25 of Sacred Reich.
At this point things were getting fuzzy, so I went to the Karaoke room and found our sound guy Alejandro hanging out with Cuerno, Nicholas Barker (Cradle of filth, Dimmu Borgir, Lock Up), Anton Reissengger (Criminal, Lock Up), and Aaron Aedy (Paradise Lost). As much as I wanted to hang out with these masters of metal I was crushed and decided to go to bed.
Thursday started quite early. At 10:45am, I went to see our buddies in Dark Sermon. These guys are heavy. They put on a great show and got me pumped for Hackneyed from Germany. During that hour before Hackneyed, I went to work out while listening in the background to the performance of November’s Doom. Once again, I had a chance to chat with Nergal and we agreed it was a shame that it was the last full day of this adventure.
After the work out, I took a quick shower and went to see Hackneyed. These kids, I think their average age is 16, KILLED IT. They’re incredible.
It was one hour before our show, so I went to the room and warmed up. My voice was pretty much shot from all the partying and drinking, but there was only one thing I could do and that was to put a good show. There was no other choice.
There was a belly flop contest at the same time we were playing, so I was not expecting too many people. Surprisingly, there was a good amount of people there, and this time we had lots of people from Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and of course Mexico.
Halfway through our show I saw Jeff Sheppard (Nevermore, Sanctuary) moshing in the crowd. That was pretty surreal. After our show I just had one mission and it was to get drunk. I got me a couple of drinks and rushed to see Rotting Christ. They kicked ass.
Then I hung out with Alejandro our sound guy as we saw Vital Remains, Possessed, Enslaved, and Lock Up.
We all had a nice dinner at the fancy restaurant where we celebrated the last night of this trip. It was there when I realized that I had spent a lot of time either talking to other people or checking out bands. I hadn’t hung out with my friends that much.
After dinner, I went to see Soilwork. I never had a chance to see Havok since their sets were against At the Gates and Soilwork.
It was time for Sepultura and I was really excited to see them in the theater. It really took me by surprise when I saw Andreas Kisser with a HeadCrusher t-shirt. I celebrated it with some more shots and really enjoyed their set. After their show, we went to our room and ran into their frontman Derrick, who was going to his room. Obviously he couldn’t run away from the Colombians, so we had some whiskey shots and hung out for a little bit with him.
It was after the Sepultura show that Gustavo3, our tour manager, told me that Alejandro, who also works with Brujeria, was going to get us onstage to sing “Matando Gueros.” Well, we celebrated with more shots.
Behemoth killed it again, and then Sodom made me feel embarrassed that I don’t really know their catalog. By the time Exodus was onstage I just remember they were wearing tuxedos. Next thing I recall is that Gustavo3 took me onstage, put a piece of cloth on my face, and told me, “Don’t screw it up, asshole.”
Later, I saw what our buddy Anthony caught on video: “Matando Gueros” by Brujeria, with me right next to Jeff Walker screaming and Shane Embury wearing a HeadCrusher t-shirt.
I woke up confused and upset by the fact that I didn’t remember anything. The guys told me that I was talking to everyone on the boat. Apparently I was, let’s say, very energetic.
I was pretty much drunk the whole day. We got off the boat around 9:30am and headed over to a friend’s place in Miami to get some sleep.
We finally made it to Austin that night, really tired with massive hangovers, big smiles, and our devil horns in the air. Hail Satan.
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