November 13, 2006

The New Ambassadors

CRAMMED in a van loaded with guitars, a drum kit and a couple of Fender amplifiers, and driving from one American gig to the next, the four scruffy musicians in the indie-rock band the Figurines tried mightily to enjoy themselves. They snapped pictures of one another, ate junk food and drank Red Bull, which is barred from sale back home in Denmark.

The Finnish band Bloodpit is one of many bands that benefited from government subsidies.

The New Zealand band Die! Die! Die! enjoyed a meal outside of Pedro's Tacos in Brooklyn.

Sometimes they drink it spiked with vodka. But on a recent trip through Idaho, on a desolate road outside Boise, one band member was drinking it straight from the can.

Catching a glimpse through the van's window, a passing trucker saw the shiny can and mistook it, somehow, for a gun.

Within minutes, the police were ordering the band out of the vehicle. "We had to get down on our knees on the highway," Christian Hjelm, the lead singer and guitarist, said, and they then found themselves handcuffed and sitting in the back of a squad car.

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