My ‘Gig From Hell’ – Sammy Urwin (Employed To Serve) Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Sunday, 07 January 2018 04:20

The past 12 months have been good to Woking hardcore mob Employed To Serve… almost constant touring the length and breadth of the Über Kingdom of Rock ‘n’ Roll, supporting the likes of Black Peaks and Milk Teeth has earned them a growing fanbase, while their incendiary lives shows no doubt ensure that they soon will be demanding, and obtaining, headline status in their own right.  Throw into the mix that the fact that their full-lengther, ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’, was named Album Of The Year by a certain weekly magazine, and the future definitely is looking bright…


But, of course, all of this takes hard work and dedication, and every band and artist has to endure their share of “gigs from hell”… which sounds like a cue for resurrecting a feature which was once a staple of Über Rock’s diet, as we catch up with ETS guitarist Sammy Urwin, who delved deep into his memory banks to recall a particularly close shave with a group of Italian bikers.  We’ll leave it to him to take up the story:


Employed To Serve Sammy 2


So, the band I used to be in, which was called Oblivionized, got booked for a one-off show in the south of Italy. It was in a place none of us had heard of before and we had no idea what to expect, but we thought what the heck, let’s do it!


So, we flew into Brindisi, where we were collected by some really nice dudes. We then drove for about an hour or so into the middle of nowhere. It was literally a desert with nothing for miles except the odd ominous looking building and whole bunch of stray dogs that you didn’t want to get too close to. We finally arrived at the ‘venue’, which on the outside looked like a big old war bunker. Once we entered the ‘venue’ it became apparent very quickly that the place was run by a really sketchy biker gang. The cast of ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ were literally running this place. It was as if we had turned up at the ‘Titty Twister’ in ‘From Dusk ‘Till Dawn’, sans the strippers.


Now, in all fairness, the bikers were really hospitable. We had no end of free food and drink, but there was the overwhelming sense of “we’re in the middle of nowhere, they could easily off us and bury us out here”.


This was our first time playing in Italy, so we were unaware that shows start really fucking late over there. We’d arrived at the venue around 12-1 in the afternoon to be told the show didn’t start till around one in the morning. So, there we were with a whole day to kill at this illegal biker fortress.


The day eventually passed and it was time for the show, and, to be fair, it was a great show! People miraculously showed up at this venue that seemed to have no life forms near it for 100 miles in any direction.


Employed To Serve Sammy


The show comes and goes and we’re all having a great time hanging out, having a few drinks when things take a slight turn for the worse. Our drummer at the time, who could be a bit of a handful after a few drinks, started snooping about in the biker’s alcohol cupboard. Bearing in mind we had all the free drinks we could want, our drummer still saw it necessary to try and steal a bottle of whiskey. Anyway, he was caught in the act by one of the main biker dudes and he wasn’t best impressed. The biker didn’t resort to violence but basically said something along the lines of “you’re my guest, you are welcome to our food and drink but if you steal from me, I will kill you”. A pretty scary threat, but it seemed like the biker was happy to let it slide providing our drummer didn’t try stealing anything again. However, our drummer was pretty drunk and took the threat really seriously and began to get all worried. This then lead to him running aimlessly out of the venue and into the night.


Quite a lot of time passed and we began to wonder if he was coming back. Now, these kinds of incidents weren’t that unusual, so we weren’t overly-panicked and didn’t feel too obliged to stay up all night looking for him. Most of us went to bed, but our bass player decided to go looking for him and got himself lost in the process. He was gone for a while but made it back before the morning with tales of stray dogs almost attacking him.


The morning came and our drummer was still missing and we needed to leave really soon to catch our flight home. It got to the point where if he didn’t show up we were going to leave without him. But then, just in the nick of time, he shows up. Still drunk somehow.


So, we rush to airport, catch our flight, on which our drummer proceeds to order bottle after bottle of wine. We arrive back in London only to be stuck at the airport as our drummer’s is the only one who could drive a car in the band. Quite the experience.


PHOTO CREDIT: Photos © Allan Maxwell/ Über Rock.


Employ To Serve’s ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ is out now. You can buy your copy HERE.


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