The Jezabels' Nik Kaloper Recalls How He Ended Up Drenched In Blood While On Tour

31 May 2022 | 11:10 am | Nik Kaloper

With The Jezabels' 'Prisoner 10 Year Anniversary Tour' scheduled to kick off this Friday, June 3, drummer Nik Kaloper casts his mind back to a very unsettling event during the band's 2012 US tour.

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A particularly strange event happened back in 2012 when we were on a tour in the States. In Boston, on a show day, I woke up in a hotel room the same way I do every morning - getting dressed as quickly as possible in order to find the nearest cup of coffee. As I was walking out the door I itched my neck gently. Why? Because I had a mild itch, the kind that is so easily rectified you hardly think about it in the moment or ever again. It would have been an entirely forgettable experience except for what happened next. I was half a block down the street, still looking for coffee, when I realised my neck had a lot more blood on it than necks should have.

I returned to the hotel room to examine what was bleeding so relentlessly on my neck. It appeared to be the tiniest speck (hole? puncture? pinprick?) from which the blood is coming, directly below my Adam’s apple. Weirdly, there was absolutely no pain associated with it. I found a band-aid (a touring staple) and applied it, psyched to get back on the hunt for coffee when, no more than thirty seconds later, the band-aid is saturated in blood and hanging limply from my neck. Blood continued to inexplicably leak from this mystery hole. Time to get out the big guns. I got three band-aids on my neck and applied pressure on top of them with a clean sock. I sat on the bed, upright, applying pressure for about 20 minutes, certain that I’ve successfully employed the most basic principles of first aid to fix my problem. I removed the sock and the band-aids, again, are saturated. Blood starts leaking, again, from under them, running down my neck.

After failing to find any decent internet-based advice, partly because I struggled to come up with search terms that aptly defined the problem, I found myself at a pharmacy seeking the advice of a professional. They were stupefied and had surprisingly little to suggest. I tried applying a thick layer of vaseline over the hole to clog it up, but it was breached with relative ease. I found a thicker bandage and taped it to my neck, buying myself another 30 minutes as I, at this point, had been working on the issue for several hours and now needed to get to soundcheck. Upon arrival at the venue, everyone agreed, including me, that it was going to be fairly inconvenient to drum in this state. Further,  we thought it may be a fairly disgusting sight for the audience. The promotor kindly said he knew a medical professional who could help (turned out to be a doctor that used to travel with the Grateful Dead back in the day). I hopped in a cab to hopefully get fixed.

The doctor said he had no idea what it was. He said the hole was not big enough for a stitch, nor was it able to be cauterised. He ended up recommending I try something that I’ve never heard of before: a styptic pencil.  It’s essentially a toiletry that contains blood-clotting chemicals to dab on cuts from shaving. I found another pharmacy, got one, and bingo. It stopped bleeding. Wonderful.

Fast forward to show time. While counting in the first song I realised just how incredibly hot the stage lighting was, sitting directly behind me.   Needless to say, before the end of the first song I worked up one hell of a sweat which counteracted the effectiveness of the styptic pencil. Here we go again. Not prepared to stop the show I looked carefully at my bandmates and the audience as the first song was coming to an end. Luckily, whether it was from the stage lighting or my high-collared shirt, it seemed as if no one could tell what was going. We played a full set and it was a good one.

Getting back to the dressing room, I felt perfectly normal, a bit lightheaded, but ultimately fine. Keen to assess how much my neck leaked during the show, I came to realise that blood soaked the entirety of my teeshirt down to my jeans. Kindly, Sam got me some towels and a drink of water so I could dry off, cleanup and have a lie down. Before doing that, though, I decided to take a few photos to document the mystery of my bloody neck. I eventually reapplied the styptic pencil and it did its job well in the absence of another show within the next 24 hours. I’m happy to say that there has been no more mystery bleeding from my neck to this day.

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