Rammstein is Ron’s and my favourite band. We’ve been fortunate enough to have our faces singed by their pyro at a live show five times.
Two of those were in Montreal, almost exactly a year apart. We road-tripped from Nova Scotia both times, and stayed at the same hotel a couple of blocks from the venue.
The first year, as we headed out for a stroll around the neighbourhood, we saw a stretch hummer parked at the hotel entrance. A couple of minutes later, it drove past us and went into the Bell Centre, the show venue. We entertained ourselves with speculation that maybe we were staying at the same hotel as the band but, although we kept our eyes open, we never saw any of them there.
Year two, we hit the road in the middle of the night, and arrived in Montreal around lunchtime. Fortunately our room was ready, so we checked our tired and smelly selves in right away. As we got settled, Ron said, “I really want a shower. I also really want a beer.” Since I’d forgotten to ask something when we’d checked in, I told him to get cleaned up and I’d run out and grab some beer, stopping by the desk on the way out. He was happy to take me up on the offer.
There was a lineup at the desk when I got to the lobby, so I went for the beer first.
I wasn’t gone long, as the beer store was only a block away. As I walked along the glass-front of the hotel on my return, I could see there was still a line. I figured I’d head back to the room and stop by the desk later. The question I had wasn’t urgent enough to stand in line for – certainly not enough to delay cracking open the beer.
But as I stepped through the first set of entrance doors, I thought the man standing in line looked awfully familiar. I was sure I knew him, but couldn’t place who he was. After a very early start and ten hours in the car, my mind was sluggish. It took a second glance as I stepped through the next set of doors for me to realize the man was Rammstein guitarist Paul Landers.
It’s not that I wanted to talk to him, or anything. I’m not big on talking to people I don’t know, and I figure I have nothing to say that someone of his level of fame hasn’t heard a million times before anyway. But I really wanted to check out his outfit and tattoos. So I stepped into place behind him, careful not to stand too close or to stare as I surreptitiously took in his look. (As an aside, Paul was an expert at not making eye contact. It was fascinating to watch his eyes slide right by mine as he looked around.) Anyway, as I let my eyes wander about, I got my second surprise. One of the customers at the desk was lead singer Till Lindemann.
All I could think was, “Ron’s going to be fucking pissed he didn’t come with me.”
I don’t know what Till and the staff member were discussing – perhaps the hotel’s policy on flamethrower usage? – but it involved a lot of pointing and waving about of arms. Whatever it was, the staff member had to leave the desk and go into the office. Till waited for all of five seconds before huffing impatiently and walking towards Paul. Which was also towards me. (As another aside, Till doesn’t ‘walk’ so much as he ‘bears down upon.’) They then wandered off across the lobby together, me checking out Till’s absolutely gorgeous boots as they went.
A couple of minutes later, the staff member came back from the office. Her look of confusion at Till’s disappearance was comical. And I thought, “Here’s my chance! I can go get them! I can honestly say I don’t want to scoop their place in line.”
It was a great plan. Would have worked better if the two of them hadn’t disappeared from the lobby. The staff member and I shrugged at each other, and I stepped up to the desk. Our conversation didn’t take a minute and, as I turned to leave, Till and Paul had appeared again. “Perfect!” I thought, coming up with another great plan on the spot. “I can apologize for scooping their place in line.”
This great plan was also foiled. Just as I opened my mouth to speak, a voice suddenly sounded right in my ear. “Oh, it’s you! Welcome back!” I spun towards the voice to see Tomas, who had checked us into the hotel the previous year, standing behind the desk, smiling at me.
Now, as if his memory wasn’t impressive enough, he’s also one of those people who appears to have mastered teleportation and appears out of nowhere, which startled me so much I nearly lost my footing. I managed not to fall on my ass and blurted out, “You remember me?” He said of course and began to chat.
And Till and Paul walked right past me while he did. Dammit.
Finishing up my chat with Tomas, I made my way back to the room and regaled Ron with the story of my near misses. He laughed so hard his towel almost fell off, which I think is the reason he spared me the ‘Oh arsehole!’ I would normally have gotten for not just walking up to the guys and saying ‘Hi.’
But the best part happened the next morning, on our way back from breakfast. Tomas was at the desk, on the phone, as we crossed the lobby. We exchanged a nod, and Ron and I continued on our way to the elevator. We were chatting idly while waiting when Tomas pulled his teleportation trick again, suddenly appearing behind me. (Ron was looking in that direction and can confirm Tomas’ trick. He never saw him coming.)
I didn’t so much turn to Tomas as jump straight up at the sound of his voice behind me, spin 180° in midair, and land facing in his general direction. This didn’t appear to phase him, as he held up a manilla envelope with the name Paul Landers written on it and said, “Someone dropped this off at the desk, and we’re pretty sure it was a fan. What should we do with it?”
Always quick with a clever reply, I said, “He’s in the band.”
“Yes, I know. Someone dropped this off at the desk, and we think it was fan. Should we give it to him when they get back from rehearsal? What’s your procedure?”
The look I traded with Ron was one of confused astonishment on my part, and bemusement on his. His grin told me he wasn’t getting involved.
“Um,” I said, “We’re … not with them?”
Tomas might have liked to teleport right back out of there if he could, but I don’t think the magic works if anyone’s looking. He stuttered a bit, stammered a bit more, apologized, and explained, “I assumed you were because you always arrive when they do.”
So I guess we can confirm three things. One: the band had, indeed, been staying at the same hotel as us the previous year. Two: It’s pretty easy to get mistaken for entourage. And three: It’s fucking entertaining (and confusing) when that happens.