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  CHRIS DALE'S METAL MELTDOWN
SCREAM FOR ME SARAJEVO PART 2
A Mission To Play Heavy Metal In The Bosnian War, December 1994
2nd July 2012


chris dale

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Re-Cap: In Part 1 of this feature I was telling the rambling tale of the time I went to Bosnia with the Bruce Dickinson band during the Siege of Sarajevo. In Part 2 we pick up at dawn just outside the besieged city...

Click here for Part 1...

sarajevo
Major Morris and our Serious Road Trip Truck on the outskirts of Sarajevo

Daylight revealed that many of the buildings we'd passed had been riddled with shell and bullet holes. We were now among a small grouping of partially demolished houses at a Bosnian Army checkpoint. Soldiers and civilians shuffled around in the mud looking exhausted. There had been fighting here last night.

This is where we were being met by the UN.

While we waited, Bruce signed a photo for some Bosnian soldiers and him, Roland and Bob shared the last of the vodka from the truck with them and some locals in an old cabin.

The Bosnian soldiers were mostly scruffily dressed in khaki green, wrapped up against the cold as a mild snow had settled here overnight. One of them, a teenager with a Kalashnikov, sniffed at our half emptied case of beer.

"Piva!" he shouted and his eyes lit up. I shook my head at him (trying to follow the earlier advice of not to speak) and looked the other way. Luckily he shrugged and sauntered off. I wasn't going to argue with an armed child for half a case of beer. It was his if he'd insisted.

sarajevo
Loading the Armoured Personnel Carrier at the second Bosnian Army Checkpoint

Meanwhile we'd been met by Major Martin Morris (who'd organised this whole event) and a pair of UN armoured personnel carriers. An armoured personnel carrier, or APC, is a bit like a tank but without a turret and with a bit of seating room inside.

An NBC television crew turned up to record our arrival but caused instant offence to the Bosnian army by filming at the checkpoint.

We were told that taking photographs in a war zone was not a good idea, especially if any of the subjects could be identifiable military targets. As you can see from this feature, we didn't take that advice particularly seriously at the time.

Andy and Bob got our guitars, drums and amps in one APC and we mostly squeezed in the back of the other for the journey into Sarajevo itself. This was quite exciting. Bruce was right. We were going in a tank after all!

Sponder had borrowed a Kevlar helmet and was looking out of the open top of the APC. I had a peak too but a soldier inside called me to sit down.

sarajevo
A view out the top of our APC with a Danish armoured car escorting us

"I wouldn't poke my head out there without a helmet if I were you" he said earnestly. "They (the Serbs) sometimes snipe around here. They're watching us all the time. Never forget that."

I instantly lost all interest in looking outside, not least because the view of rows of burnt vehicles and shelled out houses with civilians huddled over open fires in them did nothing to cheer me up. I chatted to the British soldier instead.

"I read in the papers," I started curiously, "that the British army has killed 16 Croatian soldiers and 32 Serbs out here".

*****************

balls to picasso   'BALLS TO PICASSO'
"It's not before time. There's so much stuff on it that people will be unaware of..."
Bruce Dickinson
balls to picasso
CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON 'BALLS TO PICASSO'balls to picasso

*****************

He laughed "Yeah, and the rest. Those will probably be the reported ones. The thing is when we get fired on we have to identify a target before firing back according to the rulebook. Then when we've disabled the target we have to go up into the hills to confirm it before reporting the incident."

"Personally, after emptying a magazine into a hillside the last thing I want to do is check up there to see how the guy on the receiving end is getting on, let alone his mates."

That wasn't quite what the Telegraph had reported. I asked him generally how it was going keeping three sides apart.

"Three? No, there's four warring parties here with us trying to calm it down in the middle. The Serbs, Bosnians, Croats and the French."

He's got muddled up, I thought, "But aren't the French part of the UN peacekeeping force?"

"You tell them that," was his answer. "Everyone else is held back by all this UN red tape but the French are on the offensive. They're not messing about here. They took the airport by storm."

It was through the airport area that we travelled, one small link between Bosnian and UN (or in this case French) territory that the Serbs did not command.

I know the French got a lot of international criticism for not taking part in the more recent Iraq war but there's little doubting when they do go into action they play to win.

Another soldier I later met told me that at one point in the Yugoslav Wars, the Serbs had kidnapped a few French troops to hold for ransom or to use as human shields.

Rather than negotiate, the French immediately armed and scrambled a helicopter squadron from France without waiting for UN approval. They were already en route when the Serbs wisely released their prisoners. That wasn't in the papers either.

And besides, the French were going to prove very useful to us later in the story. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself here...

sarajevo
A typical house on the outskirts of Sarajevo

We went in our APC to a UN base in the city centre for a welcome breakfast of... bread and butter with some black coffee. Nothing else. Everything was in short supply and even the UN were on strict rations here.

But we didn't care about the lack of variety, we were hungry, it was lovely and we stuffed ourselves. Then we were straight off to the venue to unload the gear for the gig, while Bruce and Roland went off to do press with Reuters, NBC and a local radio station (Wall Radio, I think they were called).

I've seen a lot of load-ins in my time but this was the only one I'd seen from an armoured personnel carrier, so me and Alex Dickson stood around in the street to watch in interest as the tracked beast reversed up to the loading doors.

There was a British soldier fully armed and in kevlar armour watching with us. He was a friendly type and pointed out some local sights of curiosity.

"See that horizontal brown line up on the hillside over there?" he gestured up into the distance, "with that white, blue and red flag flying?"

"Oh yeah," we'd spotted it.

"That's the Serbian frontline trenches. They're always watching. They're watching us now. They sometimes snipe down into this street. If I were you..." We didn't hear the end of his sentence. We were already inside.

The whole city lived under this state of siege, with the ill-equipped Bosnian army inside defending its half demolished capital and the stronger Serbian army surrounding, sometimes letting vehicles and supplies in, sometimes not. Sometimes they sniped at Bosnian civilians queuing for food or water, sometimes they fired an artillery shell or two into town. Some days were better than others, and some days were worse.

This had gone on for years. The siege officially lasted from April 1992-Feburary 1996. We played there in December 1994. It was the longest siege in modern military history, three times longer than Stalingrad.

In 2003 the prosecution at the trial of the Serbian Major-General Stanislav Galic described the Siege of Sarajevo as "an episode of such notoriety... that one must go back to World War II to find a parallel in European history."

"Not since then had a professional army conducted a campaign of unrelenting violence against the inhabitants of a European city so as to reduce them to a state of medieval deprivation in which they were in constant fear of death... There was nowhere safe for a Sarajevan, not at home, at school (nor) in a hospital from deliberate attack."

But inside the venue and seemingly away from the war outside, the gig was a normal mid-size theatre venue. The Bosnian Culture Centre it was called.

There was a sound system (of sorts), a good size stage and some lights. Three lights. More might be coming later they said. Not all of it was in working order but nothing worse than you see on an average peacetime day in Spain.

"Nema problema", the locals said. They worryingly said that everytime a situation looked unwise or dangerous.

Our crew of Jed, Andy and Bob worked hard to make it functional. Some stuff needed fixing. Some could have done with replacing but with a siege on recently the locals had had other things on their minds and besides they hadn't been able to get new parts for a while.

During the afternoon a few of the owners of some parts of the PA system tried to re-negotiate for more money than they'd previously agreed. This was all being done in good old reliable German Marks, the only currency worth anything out there. At one point it looked like the show might be off. But Major Morris, Bruce and Roland argued with the owners, promises were made and the show was back on.

We were later told that this was standard practice here and was how business on all levels was done, from haggling over food in the marketplace to negotiating a truce between the warring parties. First you make an agreement, then you change your mind and demand more.

It turned out that the PA, lights and other production costs were to be made at the bar that night and nobody was getting paid until a bar profit was made.

The problem being that there was no beer. Everything now relied on a promise of a last minute delivery by Danish UN troops trying to get through Serb lines.

In the meantime (and blissfully unaware that anything was wrong) we went ahead and soundchecked. It was loud and heavy. The system wasn't brilliant but this was going to be a great gig after all!

If the Danes got through...

After soundcheck I went backstage to relax, have a nibble and change my bass strings. Yum, there were chicken nuggets! I tucked in. One of the guys from one of the local support bands looked over.

"Can I have one?" he pointed at the nuggets.

"Yeah, sure" I said. He ate slowly, looking at it and savouring the flavour. Then he told me he hadn't seen chicken for two years.

They had eaten almost all the poultry in the city soon after the siege had started. This must be frozen UN supplies brought to the venue especially for us. He eyed up the spam pizza...

"Help yourself." I offered him my old bass strings, I'd only done a couple of gigs on them, they were still quite fresh if he wanted them. He was keen to have them.

Then, I realised if they hadn't had much chicken for two years they probably hadn't had any bass strings at all in town. One of the ironies of the music industry is that if your band is doing well and making money you get given free strings, but if your band is skint you have to pay for them.

If you're under siege you can't even pay for them. I gave him all the strings I had in my case, telling him to give them to other bands too. Both Alex's did the same with their drum sticks and guitar strings.

He asked if I had any drugs. Cocaine or heroin maybe?

"No" I said "Drugs are bad, m'kay?" (except South Park hadn't been invented then, so I probably said something equally patronising).

He told me heroin wouldn't shorten his life expectancy. He was conscripted into the Bosnian army defending the city. Both the support bands were.

"I do three days at the frontline, then two days rehearsing with the band, then three days at the front again. When I first joined the army all my friends got killed, so I got promoted."

"Now I watch and shoot while the younger soldiers push forward and then they get killed. I shot an old woman once. I just saw something move in the hedge and shot it. I saw her fall. Then I had a nervous breakdown and spent a while in the hospital."

"But I'm back at the front now. I will get killed one day. Do you think heroin would harm me?"

He was in real life, very real life. Live every day like its your last, people say. This guy was doing that because, quite literally, he might die later this week. I was a tourist eating processed chicken here, flying home soon. He wasn't leaving.

He fought and he played guitar. Nothing else. I arsed around a lot and played guitar a little bit. It suddenly seemed quite trivial what I did.

Meanwhile the Danes had made it through with the beer delivery. Gud bevare Danmark! The bar was stocked and the doors could open.

Support bands, Sikter and Allmanah did their shows. They were both good and they rocked like their lives depended on it. The audience loved them and they bathed in the spotlight.

sarajevo
Poster for the show

Then we did our gig. Unlike many 'for the troops' gigs in war zones, we were playing 'for the people'. This is what Major Morris had planned - the people of Sarajevo got a night out at a Heavy Metal gig in the middle of their personal hell.

There were also some UN soldiers there and some Bosnian army soldiers too. They deserved a night off as much as anyone.

We were the only foreign rock band to play in Sarajevo during the siege. Joan Baez was the only other foreign artist to perform there in the four years.

We played pretty much the set you hear on the Bruce Dickinson 'Alive In Studio A' album. The audience didn't know the songs (if they couldn't get chicken or bass strings, they probably couldn't get the latest Heavy Metal releases either). But we could have done anything up there and we would have got the same reaction.

sarajevo
Scream for me Sarajevo!

"Scream for me Sarajevo!" called Bruce, and they screamed for him. They screamed in a hysterical Beatles style all the way through. It was a release for them. It didn't matter what we did, they just screamed.

Major Morris played air guitar off to the side of stage. I didn't realise army majors did that kind of thing but apparently they do.

sarajevo
Alex Dickson shredding for the kids

The show finished quite early. There was a very strict 10.00pm curfew all over town enforced by the Bosnian military police.

After the show we had a quick few drinks with the locals and some UN soldiers. I got chatting with another British squaddie. He had a lot of respect for us.

"We never thought you lot would come out here in the first place then after this afternoon, we thought you'd be straight out!" he was laughing to himself, over what seemed to be a very private joke.

"Why, what happened this afternoon?" I asked, my innocence getting me further into trouble each time I opened my mouth.

"You know, when they shelled this place earlier?" he said, amused.

"No?" I said. He told me that the Serbs had fired two mortar rounds at the front of the venue this afternoon. They didn't want to kill us as that wouldn't look good on them (not just the bad international press but they probably had a fair few Maiden fans in their own army too). They just wanted to scare us off. They simply didn't want the people of Sarajevo to have a night of rock.

We'd honestly missed the shellfire. Our soundcheck was very loud after all. We have our soundman, Jed to thank for that.

Later we went back to the relative safety of the UN base in town. We'd been given a couple of dormitories in what may have been a former school or large office building. The windows were sandbagged halfway up, the rest was covered in black plastic.

"It stops snipers watching you" we were reassuringly told. Even so there was a dated bullet hole next to my bunk.

sarajevo
The bullet hole in the wall next to my bed

Our next problem was a logistical one. We had a couple of bottles of reasonable red wine from the gig but we had no glasses or cups at all. We're stuck in a school dormitory, on a UN base, after quite a full-on day, with the vino just looking at us. Who would have a bottle opener and wine glasses here?

I knew... the French!

As sure as they'd brought armour piercing rounds, they'd have brought wine glasses. Me and Sponder were off on a mission to find the French Officers' Mess.

Along the way we found more reassurance in the form of posters like this one about spotting different types of landmines.

sarajevo
Posters in the UN Base at Sarajevo

After getting lost a couple of times we eventually knocked on the French Officer's Mess door.

"Entrez", I heard from inside.

We stepped in I and introduced myself in my best schoolboy French, "Bonsoir, nous sommes les musiciens qui avez jouons dans la..." I knew it was all sounding wrong in my head.

"Yes, we know 'oo you are" said the nearest officer in heavily accented English while lounging back in his chair with a cigarette.

There were about half a dozen of them all in combats, eyeing us with suspicion.

"We were wondering if we could borrow eight wine glasses, si'l vous plâit? And a bottle opener?" He almost grinned for a second but thought better of it and merely raised an eyebrow instead and got up to fetch them from a cupboard opposite him.

"We'll bring them back," I said.

"No, we will get 'zem from you," he said helpfully but quite firmly. He looked a bit like Clouseau too.

"We're in the next block, if you go up the stairs by the..." I offered.

"We know whe' you are," he said closing the door behind us in the same helpful but firm manner.

Where would we have been without the French? Vive la France! We drank and were merry, then settled down to sleep. Job done!

sarajevo
Sponder asleep next to the sandbagged window

Tomorrow was a relaxing day off in Sarajevo, then hometime the day after. This wasn't so bad after all, was it?

I laid back in my bunk still dressed (it was freezing cold), pulled the blanket over me and closed my eyes. As I drifted in and out of sleep, punctuated by distant gunfire, I wondered what there was to do on a day off here. As with everything else in a war zone, I found it was done very differently from anywhere else I'd been before...

Thanks to Roland Hyams, Alex Dickson, Alex Sponder Elena, Kasper Bjørn Jensen and Mirza Coric for filling in some gaps in my knowledge on this gig. The photo of the concert poster is courtesy of Mirza too.

Click here for Part 1...
Click here for Part 3...





MORE CHRIS DALE'S METAL MELTDOWN COLUMNS HERE...

April 2015: Undiscovered Kisstory: The Kiss Drummer Auditions Of 1980
March 2015: Matthew Trippe RIP - The strange case of the man who would be Nikki Sixx
November 2014: Kiss: 'Love Gun' Deluxe Edition
October 2014: Mr. Big – Live Review at Koko, London
September 2014: Mr. Big: 'The Stories We Could Tell' album review
September 2013: Intensive Bass Course with Billy Sheehan
August 2013: Booking Agents vs Promoters
July 2013: Rock and Metal Pub Quiz
June 2013: Communication Tips For European Festivals, Or How To Learn A Language In An Evening
May 2013: Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013) RIP
April 2013: Daily Mail Columnist Richard Littlejohn Sinks To New Low With Anti-Heavy Metal Article
April 2013: The Future Of Classic Bands
March 2013: Smashing Pumpkins Video Shoot
Febuary 2013: Ten Years On Total Rock
January 2013: Kiss Follow Up To Monster 2013
December 2012: Kiss Reformation Magick
November 2012: Exclusive Interview With Geoff Tate
November 2012: Morally Worrying Session
October 2012: Kiss 'Monster' Review
October 2012: The Best Invention Of All Time
September 2012: A Conversation With Rudy Sarzo
August 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 3
July 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 2
June 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 1
May 2012: Managers v Producers
April 2012: Kiss 'Monster' Album Preview
March 2012: London Venue's Nazi Past?
February 2012: How Not to Join the Ozzy Osbourne Band
January 2012: Metal Evilution
December 2011: Take Your Pick Competition
November 2011: The Pandora's Box Of Pop
October 2011: Tank Tour Diary 2011
September 2011: Festival Stage Collapses
August 2011: Bruce Air, The Early Days
July 2011: European Festival Round-Up
June 2011: Bernie Torme Proud To Be Part Of MT Ozzy Article
June 2011: Who's Your Favourite Ozzy Guitarist?
May 2011: Japanese Tsunami Disaster
April 2011: 10,000 Tank Albums!
March 2011: Death Metal Session!
6th February 2011: Gary Moore (4th April 1952 - 6th February 2011)
February 2011: Recording Bass at Steve Harris'
January 2011: A Column About Columns



Jasenko Pasic at Radio Sarajevo very kindly translated the article into Bosnian and here it is...

Click here for the Bosnian translation...

Chris Dale je heavy metalac, basist grupe Tank, koji su nedavno izdali svoj novi album War Machine. Do sada je svirao u mnogim bendovima, frontmen je i pop grupe Sack Trick, radi i na TotalRock radiju, a ostatak vremena radi kao vozač na turnejama "svima onima koji putuju u toplije krajeve".

U Bosni i Hercegovini, naročito u Sarajevu,pamte ga, pored drugih, po koncertu iz 1994. u ratnom Sarajevu, na kojem je nastupao zajedno sa velikim Bruceom Dickinsonom, liderom Iron Maidena. Na stranici Metaltalk.net objavio je svoju priču o putu u Sarajevu i koncertu, čiji drugi dio pročitajte u nastavku:

Dnevno svjetlo je obasjalo zgrade, potpuno izbušene od granata i metaka. Nalazili smo se pored uništenih kuća u dijelu kojeg je kontrolisala bosanska armija. Vidjeli smo blatnjave i iscrpljene vojnike i civile, a moglo se primijetiti kako su se tu, noć prije vodile borbe.

Upravo tu smo se sastali sa vojnicima UN-a.

Dok smo ih čekali, Bruce se potpisao na sliku jednom bosanskom vojniku, a Roland i Bob su ono malo preostale vodke podijelili sa njima.

Bosanski vojnici su uglavnom bili obučeni u maskirne vojne uniforme, umotani da bi se zaštitili od hladnoće, dok je snijeg blago napadao preko noći. Jedan od njih, tinejđer sa kalašnjikovom, primijetio je da smo imali polupraznu gajbu pive.

„Piva!“ uzbuđeno je viknuo. Klimnuo sam mu glavom (prisjećajući se savjeta kojeg su mi dali, da ne ulazim u priču ni s kim) i okrenuo sam se na drugu stranu. Srećom, slegnuo je ramenima i odšetao dalje. Nije mi uopće bilo do rasprave sa naoružanim klincem oko pola gajbe piva. Svakako ih je uzeo.

U međuvremenu smo se sastali sa majorom Martinom Morrisom (koji je organizator cijelog puta). Tu su bili i dvoja oklopnih kola za prijevoz osoblja (APC), koja su ustvari mnogo slični tenku, samo bez cijevi, a unutar su imali malu prostoriju za sjedenje.

Ekipa sa NBC televizije je bila angažovana da zabilježi naš dolazak, ali su stvorili zbrku među bosanskim vojnicima zbog snimanja na tom dijelu teritorija.

Rečeno nam je da fotografisanje u ratnoj zoni nije baš pametno, posebno ako bi se prepoznalo kao vojna meta. Kao što se da primijetiti, upozorenja nismo baš ozbiljno shvatili u tom momentu.

Andy i Bob su stavili naše gitare, bubnjeve i pojačala u jedan APC, a mi smo onako stisnuti u drugom vozilu krenuli za Sarajevo. Bilo je prilično uzbudljivo. Bruce je ipak bio u pravu, stvarno smo se vozili u tenku.

Sponder je posudio kacigu i provukao se kroz otvor na vozilu. Ja sam također provirio, ali me jedan od vojnika upozorio da se vratim unutra.

"Ja ne bih virio kroz otvor bez kacige, da sam na tvom mjestu“ rekao je. „Oni (srbi) često ovuda pucaju snajperom. Imaju nas na nišanu uvijek, ne zaboravi to.“

Momentalno sam izgubio volju da gledam napolje, ako ne zbog toga onda zbog prizora izgorenih vozila i srušenih kuća. Popričao sam sa jednim od britanskih vojnika.

„ Čitao sam u novinama, da su britanski vojnici ovdje ubili 16 hrvatskih i 32 srpska vojnika? Nasmijao se...“a ostatak?“ To je vjerovatno onaj broj koji se navodi u izvještaju. Stvar je u tome, da kada se na nas puca, moramo identificirati metu, prije nego uzvratimo paljbu...takva su pravila. Onda, nakon što smo onesposobili neprijatelja, moramo da se popnemo na brdo da potvrdimo broj žrtava, prije nego napravimo izvještaj.“

„Osobno, nakon što sam ispraznio šaržer pucajući u brdo, posljednja stvar koju želim da uradim je da provjerim kako se drže ljudi u koje smo upravo pucali...“

To baš i nije onako kako Telegraphov izvještaj govori. Pitao sam ga kako je držati tri strane razdvojene?

„Tri? Ne, ovdje su četiri zaraćene strane, sa nama u sredini koji ih pokušavamo održati nezaraćenima. Srbi, Bošnjaci, Hrvati i Francuzi.“

Zbunjeno ga pogledah...“pa zar francuzi nisu dio UN-ovih mirovnih snaga?“

„Probaj to reći njima“ ...to je bio njegov odgovor.

„Svi ostali se drže podalje od ove UN-ove crvene trake, ali su samo Francuzi ti koji to ne poštuju. Nije šala...a i zauzeli su aerodrom.“

Prelazili smo preko aerodroma, koji je ustvari bio jedina veza bosanske armije i UN-a (u ovom slučaju pod kontrolom francuza).

Znam da su Francuzi mnogo kritikovani zbog toga što nisu htjeli učestvovati u iračkom ratu (1991), ali kad krenu u rat, oni idu na pobjedu. Jedan od vojnika mi je rekao da su Srbi u jednom trenutku kidnapovali nekoliko Francuza i zadržali su ih radi razmjene ili da ih iskoriste kao živi zid.

Kako nisu hjeli pregovarati, Francuzi su se momentalno naoružali, i helikopterom došli u Bosnu bez da su sačekali odobrenje UN-a. Već su bili na putu, kada su srbi mudro pustili zarobljenike. Ni o tome nije pisalo u novinama. Uostalom, Francuzi će se kasnije pokazati nama veoma korisnim.

Doručak u gradu

Krenuli smo na doručak našim oklopnjakom prema UN-ovoj bazi u centru grada (Skenderija) na doručak...hljeb i puter sa malo crne kafe. Ničeg više. Svi su se nalazili u oskudici, čak je i UN bio ograničen u količini namirnica.

Ali to nama nije bilo bitno, jer iako smo ostali gladni bili smo zadovoljni. Krenuli smo istovariti instrumente, dok su Bruce i Roland otišli na koferenciju za novinare sa Reutersom, NBC-om i jednom lokalnom radio stanicom (Radio Zid čini mi se).

Dok smo stajali u ulici, Alex Dickson i ja se nismo mogli načuditi ogromnom oklopnom vozilu na gusjenicama koji se spremalo za utovar. Sa nama je bio jedan naoružani britanski vojnik, u kevlarskom panciru, koji je bio prijateljski raspoložen i pokazao nam je neke lokalne znamenitosti.

„Vidite li onu smeđu horizontalnu liniju na onom brdu i one bijele i crvene zastave?“

„Da, vidimo...“

„To su srpski granični rovovi ili linija. Upravo u nas gledaju. Ponekad pucaju snajperom po ovoj ulici. Da sam na vašem mjestu... „ nismo ni čuli ostatak rečenice, već smo pobjegli unutra.

Cijeli grad je živio pod opsadom, sa loše opremljenom vojskom, braneći polu uništen grad naspram mnogo jače srpske vojske koji su samo ponekad puštali da pomoć uđe u grad. Ponekad su pucali iz snajpera po ljudima, a ponekad gađali granatama. Bilo je loših dana, a bilo je i još gorih.

Rat trajao godinama, od aprila 1992. do februara 1996. a mi smo svirali u decembru 1994. godine. Bila je to najduža opsada jednog grada u modernoj historiji, tri puta duža nego ona Staljingrada.

2003. godine, tužiteljstvo u Hagu je opsadu okarakterisalo tako da se jedino može usporediti sa nekim događajima iz drugog svjetskog rata.

„ Još od tada se nije desilo da profesionalna vojska sprovede kampanju nemilosrdnog nasilja nad stanovnicima jednog evropskog grada, o kojem su oni živjeli u stalnom strahu od smrti. Nigdje nisu bili sigurni, ni u kući, ni školi, a ni u bolnici.“

Ali unutra, činilo se tako daleko u odnosu na rat koji se vodio napolju,, a svirka se trebala desiti u teartu prosječne srednje veličine. Teatar se zvao Bosanski Kulturni Centar.

Opremljeno je kakvim takvim ozvučenjem, bina je pristojne veličine, a postojala su samo tri svjetla. Rekli su nam da će ostatak osvjetljenja doci kasnije. Nije baš sve funkcionisalo, ali nije ni bilo ništa neobično, barem ništa što ne možeš vidjet jednog mirnog popodneva negdje u Španiji.

„Nema problema!“ rekao je jedan od mještana, govoreći kako zna biti mnogo gore.

Još uvijek nema pive

Naša ekipa, Jed, Andy i Bob su se potrudili da sve ide glatko. Jedan dio opreme je trabalo popraviti, ali u stanju opsade ovim mještanima sigurno nije bilo do toga, osim toga nisu mogli nikako doći do rezervnih dijelova.

Tokom popodneva, nekoliko vlasnika tog ozvučenja su pokušali od nas da izmame veću sumu novca za iznajmljivanje. To se sve platilo dobrim starim njemačkim markama, jedinom tamošnjom važećom valutom. U jednom trenutku je izgledalo kao da od nastupa neće biti ništa, ali su se major Morris, Bruce i Roland uspjeli dogovoriti sa vlasnicima i koncert se ipak desio.

Kasnije nam je rečeno da je to način na koji sve ovdje funkcioniše, od najobičnijih stvari pa do pregovaranja o primirju. Najprije se dogovoriš, pa onda promijeniš mišljenje i na kraju zahtijevaš još.

Ispostavilo se da ćemo se oko cijene opreme dogovoriti u lokalnom baru i da niko neće biti plaćen ukoliko to večer u baru ne bude zarade.

Problem je bio u tome što u baru nije bilo pive. Sve je ustvari ovisilo o obećanju danskih trupa o dostavi, koji su pokušavali proći preko srspkih linija.

U međuvremenu, (nesvjesno i ne misleći o tome da li je sve uredu ili ne) otišli smo provjeriti šta je sa zvukom. Bilo je glasno i žestoko. Iako nije baš sve najbolje štimalo, ipak će to biti odlična svirka!

Ako Danci uspiju da dođu do nas...

Razgovor uz piletinu

Nakon toga sam otišao u backstage da nešto gricnem i da promijenim žice na basu. Super, bilo je piletine i sjeo sam da jedem. Jedan od momaka iz drugog benda je vidio isto.

„Mogu li i ja dobiti malo?“ pitao je pokazujući na piletinu.

„Da naravno“ rekao sam. Jeo je polako uživajući u okusu. Onda mi je rekao da piletinu nije jeo dvije godine.

Pojela se sva perad još na početku rata. Ovo što sad jedem su ustvari UN-ove zalihe koje su nama donijeli.

"Posluži se“ rekao sam. Ponudio sam mu svoje bas žice a samo sam nekoliko puta svirao na njima. Rado ih je uzeo.

A onda sam shvatio da ti ljudi nisu jeli piletinu dvije godine, i da su se žice teško mogle nabaviti. Jedna od ironija muzičke industrije je da ako bend dobro zarađuje, žice dobijate besplatno, a ako ne onda ih morate kupiti.

Kad ste pod opsadnom, veoma je teško doći do opreme. Tom momku sam dao sve žice koje sam imao, da ih on podijeli sa drugima, a i Alex je također poklonio svoje žice.

Pitao me da li imam droge. Kokaina ili heroina možda?

„Nemam“ rekoh, droge su loše m'kay?" ( Samo što tada South park nije ni postojao, tako da sam vjerovatno rekao nešto jednako upečatljivo).

Rekao mi je da mu heroin ne bi skratio toliko život koliko je to rat učinio. I on i momci iz drugih bendova su prisilno regrutovani u vojsku.

„Tri dana provodim na liniji, onda dva dana vježbam sa bendom, pa sam ponovo tri dana na liniji. Od kada sam u vojsci, skoro svi moji drugovi su izginuli, a ja sam unaprijeđen.“

"Sada osmatram i pucam, dok sa druge strane još mlađi vojnici gube glavu. Jedanom sam pogodio staricu i vidio je kako je pala. Nako toga sam doživio nervni slom i proveo mnogo vremena u bolnici.“

„Ali sad sam opet ok i ponovo na frontu. Jednog dana ću poginuti. Zar stvarno misliš da bi mi malo heroina škodilo?“

Za njega je sve to bila stvarnost. Ljudi kažu „živi svaki dan kao da ti je posljednji“. Ovi momci su živjeli upravo tako, jer se ginulo svaki dan. Ja sam ovdje bio turistički, poslije toga se vraćam kući, a on ostaje. On se borio i svirao. I to je to. Ja sam se muvao okolo i pomalo svirao gitaru.

U međuvremenu su Danci uspjeli isporučiti pive. „Gud bevare Danmark!“ Opskrbili smo se i sve je bilo spremno.

Koncert 'za ljude'

Predgrupe Sikter i Allmanah su odsvirali svoj dio. Svirali su kao da im život zavisi od toga. Bili su u centru pažnje i publika ih je dobro prihvatila.

I mi smo odsvirali svoje. Za razliku od sviranja „za trupe“ mi smo ovdje svirali za ljude.

Ovo je ono što je major Morris imao u planu. Sarajlije su izašle na heavy metal tu noć , iako su se i sami nalazili u paklu. Bilo je tu i nekih UN-ovih vojnika kao i bosanskih. I oni su zaslužili slobodnu noć.

Mi smo bili jedini strani rock bend koji je svirao u Sarajevu za vrijeme opsade, osim Joan Baez koja je bila jedina strana umjetnica koja je tu nastupila tokom ratnih godina.

Svirali smo uglavnom one pjesme koje su na albumu Brucea Dickinsona „Alive in studio A“. Publika nije znala pjesme (Naravno, ako nisu mogli jesti piletinu i nabaviti žice za gitaru, nisu ni mogli doći do najnovijeg albuma čije pjesme upravo sviramo). Šta god da smo svirali, mislim da bi dobili istu reakciju od njih.

„Scream for me Sarajevo!“ viknuo je Bruce, a ljudi su vrištali za njim i pomalo su podsjećali na publiku Betlesa. To je za njih bio ispušni ventil i ništa drugo više nije bilo bitno.

Major Morris je glumio da svira gitaru dok je stajao postrani. Nisam znao da majori to rade, ali očigledno je tako.

Koncert je trajao prilično kratko. Svirali smo samo do 22h jer je na snazi bio strogi policijski sat koji je uvela vojna policija. Nakon nastupa smo popili još nekoliko pića sa lokalnim ljudima kao i sa nekim od britanskih vojnika. Pričao sam sa još jednim vojnikom. Mnogo nas je poštovao.

Pronaći čaše i otvarač

„Stvarno nismo vjerovali da ćete se uopće pojaviti ovdje nakon onog danas, a kamoli ostati tu nakon nastupa, a da odmah ne odete nazad kući“ smijao se dok mi je govorio.

„A šta se to desilo danas?“ pitao sam.

„Pa znaš li da su danas granatirali ovo mjesto?“ upitao me začuđeno.

„Ne?“ rekao sam. Rekao mi je da su srbi danas poslijepodne ispalili dvije granate tu ispred. Ali nisu željeli da nas ubiju vjerovatno što bi to izledalo loše po njih ( ne samo zbog toga nego što je vjerovatno i među njima bilo Maidnovih fanova). Samo su željeli da nas prepadnu. Jednostavno nisu željeli da Sarajlije imaju noć rocka.

Iskreno, nismo čuli granatiranje. Ozvučenje je jednostavno bilo prejako. Na tome se moramo zahvaliti našem toncu Jedu.

Kasnije smo otišli u relativno sigurno UN-ovo sklonište, koje je zapravo bila bivša školska zgrada ili poslovni objekat. Na prozorima su bile vreće sa pijeskom i crni najloni.

„To sprječava snajpersitu da te vidi“ tako su nam rekli. Mada se pored mog kreveta nalazila rupa od snajperskog metka.

Naš slijedeći problem je bio logističke prirode. Imali smo nekoliko boca crnog vina koje su nam ostale sa svirke, ali nismo imali čaše.

Nalazili smo se u napuštenoj školi u UN-ovoj bazi, nakon napornog dana i sa bocama vina koje su tu samo stajale. „Ko bi mogao imati otvarač i čaše?“

Znao sam...Francuzi!

Ako su mogli ponijeti protivoklopnu municiju, onda mora da imaju i čaše za vino. Sponder i ja smo krenuli u potragu za francuskim oficirom Messom. Na putu smo nailazili na na plakate na kojima su se vidjele detaljne upute kako prepoznati nagaznu minu.

Nakon što smo se nekoliko puta izgubili, najzad smo našli ured oficira Messa.

„Entrez!“ čulo se iznutra. Na svom „francuskom“ sam se predstavio najbolje što sam mogao, "Bonsoir, nous sommes les musiciens qui avez jouons dans la..." znajući da je pogrešno zvučalo.

„Da, znamo ko ste“ rekao je njegov kolega specifičnim engleskim naglaskom, dok je pušio cigaretu.

Sumnjivo su u nas gledali.

„Zanima nas dali možemo posuditi osam čaša, si'l vous plâit? I otvarač ako može?“ Na trenutak se namrštio i podigao obrvu, međutim ipak se ustao se da nam dohvati otvarač i čaše iz ormara.

„Vratićemo vam ih“ rekao sam.

„Ne, mi ćemo ih uzeti,“ rekao je uvjerljivo. Izgledao je pomalo kao Clouseau.

„Mi smo u drugom dijelu zgrade, kada dođete do stepenica...“

„Znamo gdje ste,“ rekao je zatvarajući vrata za nama.

Gdje bismo bili da nam nema Francuza? Vive la France! Pili smo i bili veseli, a potom otišli spavati.

Sutradan je bio opušten dan u Sarajevu, a idući smo krenuli kući. Ovo i nije ispalo tako loše, zar ne?

Legao sam obučen na svoj ležaj, (bilo je ledeno hladno) pokrio se i zatvorio oči. San mi je bio isprekidan zvucima pucnjeva, zapitao sam se kako da iskoristim slobodan dan. Ali kako to biva u ratu, shvatio sam da je to potpuno dugačije od svega što sam do sad vidio...

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