Ben James Wood
Artist, maker, tour manager, driver, other.


I write articles, memoir, project profiles and travel journals

TOURING: Vök, Winter 2018

On the day everything broke...

I was stood beneath a railway bridge in East Berlin, guiding traffic whilst Andri, the saxophonist, changed a tyre on our van. Useful as little more than a human bollard.

On the day everything broke I fruitlessly searched for a roadside spot for Einar to charge his computer and take an important call, cursing the burned out power transformer. He worked on, from the road.

On the day everything broke I stood helpless as Margrét comforted Bryndís on the phone, after she missed her connecting flight and was stuck in Oslo. Unable to offer meaningful, calm, support and empathy in another language.

On the day everything broke I repeatedly apologised to the promoter for the broken bottle and backstage argument that I'd been oblivious to and unavailable to help with.

On that day, with the sneaky speeding ticket and last minute in-ear monitoring replacement. After the wrong tech spec (Despite numerous confirmations to the contrary), the missed calls home, shattered suitcase and slow puncture, I suggested we go to Burgermeister at 1am and it was delicious. More importantly, I never felt alone.

A successful band and crew. One that repeatedly tours in a small van for six or more weeks at a time and still exists, or even talks, possesses a delicate and utterly intriguing blend of characters, skills and quirks. Having stuff in common is mostly over-rated. Gimme sweetness and brutal truth, affirmative action and careful consideration. Veganism and meat eating, fashion taste and tasteful nudity, open-minded discussion and complicated in-jokes. Spas, gyms, cakes, ice tea and hot coffee. Intermediate or above ping pong proficiency is appreciated. There are other successful groups, but none remotely similar to this one.

This was my second epic road trip with the Icelandic, electronic pop group, Vök in the space of one year. Everyone took part. I tour managed, drove and took all these photos using my Onki 336 compact camera on 35mm film. That's only important because each pic had just one chance and hasn't been edited. Real life is significantly more wonderful than internet life. Click on the pics to see them without the text. Hope you're into it.

Vök's latest record, Figure, is available everywhere and I happen to know there's another one in the works. Find them on Spotify or talk to the interesting one in your local record store about them. Where possible, buy records and t-shirts direct from bands at shows. See you at the merch table.