Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
"Squeeze in, guys: We have company."
Raleigh-by-way-of-Venus rock ’n’ roll warriors Valient Thorr
are having border issues.
They’ve been touring Europe for a week, but Wednesday's show at London's 100 Club marks the first appearance of guitarist Eidan Thorr. Passport problems kept him from joining his comrades for the first five shows of their current European tour. (Word to the wise from frontman Valient Himself: Check the dates on your passport carefully!)
But that was nothing compared to Wednesday morning's shocker. The band arrived at a French border crossing at Calais; officials asked them to open up their trailer. No big deal, as they only expected to find the group's gear. It was
there, but so were seven refugees hiding in the group's trailer.
We got the details via Skype from singer Valient Himself and drummer Lucian Thorr before tonight's soundcheck. The band hasn't really adjusted to the time zone change, so they've been sleeping most of the day and spending the night watching movies—you know, rock star stuff. After watching George Romero’s Land of the Dead,
about 4 a.m., "we decided to pass out," Valient says.
Thorr picks up the story.
Right after everyone went to sleep, "I heard a clink kind of sound and felt the bus sort of shake," he says. "We all went outside to check to make sure no one was trying to get into our trailer to steal shit. Everything seemed fine." They get to the ferry a short time later. While examining the group's passports, officials asked to look inside the trailer.
"I went to open it for the agents," Thorr says, "and when I picked up the lock, it kind of fell apart in my hand and I thought, 'Oh no, I heard that sound. They took all our stuff!' So I opened it up, and when the door opened, there were just dudes sitting on top of our gear, hiding in there, sweating their asses off! They looked like young, teenage-to-early 20s East Indian guys.”
Valient chimes back in.
"I was already in the customs area with the other dudes," he says. "Lucian comes in and I start telling him about an issue with our visas and he’s all, 'No, no, there’s some illegal dudes in our van!' His eyeballs were huge. My first question was, 'Is my guitar there? Did they steal anything?' I went outside and saw them all coming out, and it was this group of really tall dudes that looked like a basketball team piling out of the trailer like a clown car."
“The trailer’s about 8 feet long and 5 feet high, and packed with gear, full stacks, drums, everything, and they’re just crammed into the top," Valient continues. "It was so humid in there that there was water condensed on the ceiling. The customs agent told us that the guys were so dehydrated they were about to die. It would’ve been three-and-a-half hours before we got to land and another two-and-a-half hours [after that], so they probably would’ve busted out at some point."
It's not entirely uncommon, though it is a sad tale.
"It’s a pretty heavy situation," Valient says. "The cops said that it happens all the time. There’s a big refugee population, and when they get caught, they usually get sent back to where they came from, which I’ve been told is usually Italy or Greece. They get put in these refugee camps, and regardless of how we like to think about the governments of the world, there are still these fascist dudes out there who run these internment camps, and some of these refugees either get back out and try again or end up on the streets. We decided that since they didn’t steal any of our stuff or knock us over the head while we were pissing at night, they were just trying to get over to the UK, because maybe they saw a better way of life over here. It’s hard for us
to get over here, much less if you just stow away in the back of someone’s trailer.”
After England, Valient Thorr’s tour eventually makes its way through Germany and The Netherlands before the band returns home in about two weeks. That should be sufficient time to find a new trailer lock.