Transmission 6.6.2010 Isis, Tombs, Jakob West Coast Tour Journal

5.29.2010            07:31     Baltimore / Washington International Airport

We’re waiting at the terminal to board our first of two flights that will get us to Portland. Gordon and Betsey let us crash with them at their hotel room after MDF.

The set went well, we played a little short, but I was anticipating more set up time with the backline gear.  I have to admit, the whole thing went off really well despite the sheer number of bands that played.  This was my first experience with Maryland Death Fest, so I didn’t know what to expect.

We got here at 06:00, checked in and made our way to the gate.  I secured some half-way-decent chow and coffee at one of those terminal restaurants.  There’s a group of Marines on our flight.  It makes me think of the kids that came to our shows in Europe.  They look uncomfortable and out of place in their brand new civilian clothes.  I can’t even begin to understand what’s going on in their heads.

The Communion opened the show, which carried kind of a heavy tone for me because Lee wasn’t on stage with them.  They sounded great even as a four piece.  I’m not sure what their status is, whether or not that was their last show or if they’re going to go on as a band.  I hope that they continue on in some form, even if they change the name.  It sounds trite expressing it this way, but I think Lee would want them to continue on.  They worked hard, overcame some lineup setbacks and forged themselves into a solid band, so I hope they continue.  Defeatist were awesome, it was good hanging with Josh and those guys for a while.  I miss the time we spent playing in a band, but I know that is in the past.  Sometimes, my memories are clouded and I remember things being a lot better than they really were.  Sometimes, I wish we could have kept the band together but I know that’s just my mind fucking with me.

Dave Witte was there to play the first and only Birds of Prey show.  As usual, it was a pleasure hanging with Dave.

We ship out soon.

5.30.2010            Portland, OR     09:57

I just woke up, yesterday was a long day.  We landed at PDX yesterday at about 12:30, a full 40 minutes ahead of schedule.  The flight was uneventful; I unsuccessfully attempted to fall asleep several times during the fight, so I started reading “Matterhorn” this novel about Vietnam War but that wasn’t quite engaging me.

We picked up our gear at the baggage claim and met up with Jimme, the guy who’s going to be driving us for the tour.  He seems cool; aside from driving, he’s a backline technician and has toured with Destruction, Dethklock and a bunch of other big bands, so he’s got a lot of experience and knows the drill with respect to being on the road.

We drove out to pick up the gear at this dude named Erik’s house.  Will Lindsay and Aaron from Wolves in the Throne Room were kind enough to let us use their gear for the tour.  Also, Isis made their cabinets available for everyone to use.  Without this kind of cooperation we wouldn’t have been able to do the tour.  I began to unclench, it seemed like everything was going smoothly.  I fell out during the drive out to Eugene.  It was more like a blackout where your body just shuts down for a while.  I woke up in the front seat and we were about 10 miles outside of Eugene.

Isis and Jakob were at the venue loading in when we got there.  I was awesome seeing those guys again, the Jakob people seem like cool guys as well.  Our load-in was pretty easy, we only have merchandise, guitars, three amps and some miscellaneous other gear to bring in.  The venue, Wow Hall, was a community center with this DIY vibe to it, but I saw on their schedule that a lot of fairly big performers played there.  The stage sound was kind of weird, but it sounded good out in the room.  It took a while to get our gear dialed in; that’s always the case when you’re not using your own equipment.

It felt like the day was going on and on, but suddenly it was set time, suddenly, the night was here.  Time seemed be stretched due to the flights and time zone changes.  The set was good despite a couple of technical issues.  Tonight will be better, I’ve had more sleep and the unknowns will be minimized.

I’m listening to the Honeywell discography on my iPod.  I think it’s time to wrangle up some coffee and get into the day.

5.31.2010            Olympia, WA     09:11

We played at the Capitol Theater last night in Olympia. A lifetime ago when I played in a band called Otis, we played here but the show was in the backstage area.  It was our first tour and we were stoked to be on the road and playing on the West Coast.  I think about 8 or 9 people were at the show.  Hopefully tonight will be better. I was talking to the Isis guys and they also played in the backstage area on the Cave-In tour back in the late 90’s.

There’s something about towns like Olympia, those stoney college towns in the Northwest.  Maybe it’s the rain and the free-and-easy lifestyle, but it seems like everyone’s synapses are firing at a much slower rate; rain and lethargy. It seems negative around here, like there’s a lot of depressing drug use going on.  I’ve been approached by several people asking for money. After load-in I went out to eat with Harris, Jeff Caxide, Greg Moss and Jeff, the  guitarist from Jakob.  I don’t laugh like I laugh with Aaron Harris and Jeff Caxide, I miss having those guys in my day-to-day life. It makes me forget how brutally routine and depressing my life back in New York is, I feel like I never laugh when I’m there.  I’m thinking about how this is it and how even though we’re close friends, this perspective will change; we won’t be traveling together in a tour setting anymore.  I want to remember these moments.

The Jakob guys are cool.  They’re a good band and really outstanding guys.  I had a long discussion with Jeff  last night after we played about his reflections on the US and how totally obsessed with money the majority of Americans are.  He was blown away by the sheer number of homeless people that he encounters in the US.  Apparently, the New Zealand government takes care of it’s people, nobody is homeless.  I told him that’s not the case over here: the US government is a beast that grinds it’s citizens into meat to sustain it’s mission of greed.  You can feel it when you go to Europe as well that most of our countries problems stem from greed and the importance that is placed on money.  Maybe it’s because the US is comprised mainly of immigrants that were searching for a better life.  It’s hard to say I suppose.

I had more technical problems.  It was one of those nights.  It felt like I standing in front of a void last night.  There was a sea of blank, emotionless faces and darkness behind them.  It made me wonder why people even bothered to leave their homes.

Oscar, the old bassist from Wolves in the Throne Room let us crash at his place.  His band Christian Mistress opened the show.

5.31.2010            Vancouver, BC   20:13

I’m sitting backstage listening to the demo of “To Cross the Land”.  I’ve had some trouble with the intro and my delay setting so I want to make sure I have the tempo dialed into my head before we play tonight.

The drive up was pretty uneventful; we crossed the border at around 14:00 without any problems.  We had all of the paperwork in order so the whole thing took about 30 minutes.  I haven’t been to Vancouver in many years.  When we entered the city, it was clean and orderly with café’s and nice restaurants lining the streets.  Slowly the neighborhood changed and the buildings became more rundown.  Apparently the venue is in the “Heroin District” where all of the methadone clinics and needle exchange spots are located.  Brad Bison BC met up with us and we went out for sushi in a different area.  He works in this neighborhood so he gave us the lowdown.  Junkies can come here and pickup their works no questions asked.  It looked like a rough area, even in the daytime.  People roamed the streets like zombies; you can see the desperate misery in their eyes, no life, just an obsession to subsist.  I would choose death.

When we left the venue we walked past an old man smoking crack and this other dude getting his dick sucked by a woman behind a dumpster.  The woman sucking the dude’s cock had another woman working as lookout.  She informed us that we could have our cocks sucked for $5.00 each.

6.1.2010                              Seattle, WA         20:34

I’m hanging out in the band room at the venue.  I started the interviews with Aaron Turner earlier; we knocked out a good portion of it before he had to sound check.  We got some good conversation in.  I want this to be a solid effort out of respect for our friendship.  I owe it to him and the rest of the guys in Isis to try and capture these final moments of the band.  Over the years, these guys have helped me out immensely on a person level as well as with the various bands that I’ve played in.

Last night was a good night; aside from some technical problems, I felt like we played well.  It took a while to get the gear figured out but now I feel fairly set with everything.  I’m finally used to hearing my guitar coming through Will’s gear.  The crowd in Vancouver was really cool to us.  I understand that we’re playing to Isis fans and that what we do may not resonate with them so whenever I feel positive energy from the crowd, it means a lot to me.  I’ll take where I can get it I suppose.

We hung with the Bison guys last night; it was great seeing them again.  We crashed at the house were Brad and James live.  Dan and his lady hung out at the show, but due to work responsibilities in the morning, he couldn’t hang out late.  I spent a long time talking to James.  They’re another solid bunch of guys that work hard.

23:12

Isis is playing right now, they sounds great as usual.  Every night they’re consistently solid.  It’s starting to sink in that this is going to be the end of the road for them.  After this run of dates down the West Coast, there’s a short east Coast run with the Melvins and their final show, forever, is going to be in Montreal.  It’s been almost 13 years, a good run.  I remember when they formed back in 1997; they’ve always been this presence. Now it’s coming to an end.  On different occasions, I told Jeff and Harris that it means a lot to me that they thought to include us on this last journey.

The set went well; I felt like we played good.  The sound on stage was solid and I was able to really dig into the music and get deep.  I’m not sure if the sedate, Seattle crowd dug us or not.  It’s always hard to tell in this town because people are so reserved.  There was a small group of young men going off hard; I kept my eye on them because it seemed suspicious to me, like it was some kind of joke to them.  I don’t know.  It’s not a joke to me.  This is pretty much all I have in this life.

6.2.2010                              Seattle, WA         09:23

We stayed with Andrew’s friend Spider last night, in his loft out in this industrial area of Seattle.  He and his girlfriend have been living here for about a year and have spent the entire 12 month period building it out and renovating.  It’s an amazing place and the most interesting part is that almost all of the materials were found items in dumpsters.  They had very little building experience and learned how to do it all on their own.  I could tell he was proud of it by the way he emphasized that they weren’t carpenters.  Aside from the accomplishment of building the place out on their own, it’s a really comfortable.  Spider and his girlfriend are both artists so there is tons of artwork hanging up in a small gallery by the entrance.  He told us that the gallery is open to the public once a month for art walks.

It’s typical Northwest weather right now, dark and rainy.  People are starting to wake up.  I’d like to hit Portland earlier today so I can check out Powell Books, a place that has been on my radar for several years but I haven’t been able to go to.  The Portland runs have usually been very tight schedule-wise.  Also, I’d like to get deeper into the interviews with Aaron.

I don’t really know what to make of Seattle.  I used to enjoy coming here, but now it’s just another town on the schedule.  I ran into Dave and Ben Verellen last night.  Ben used to be in Harkonen and Dave was the singer in Botch.  I never really knew Dave that well back in the day, but he came up and introduced himself to me last night.  He seems like a good guy; his new band Narrows is pretty kickass.  Sean Albert, someone I’ve known for a good many years was also at the show.  He and Aaron Harris used to be in a band called Loga back at the dawn of time when I lived in Boston.  I met both of those guys when Otis played a show in Old Town, ME and we’ve been friends ever since.  Sean has been living in Seattle for the past several years, it’s actually been quite a while since I’ve seen him.

There’s only a few dates left on the tour.

Portland, OR     20:14

I’m hanging out in the green room.  The place we’re playing at is tripped out.  It looks like the inside of the Great Northern from Twin Peaks, there’s a lot of wood and red lights.  They run a tight ship here: when we loaded in, the stage manager was immediately on top of everything.  It felt like a European venue.  The venue is part of the Jupiter Hotel, which has this kind of “Rock ‘n’ Roll” vibe, offering a discount on the rooms if you’re in a band.  How cool is that?

After load-in, I took a shower, shaved and crashed out for a while in the room.  We have some time before we play.

The ride down was uneventful. It rained the whole way.  I feel heavy today, like I’m carrying a weight.  I’m working through a lot of personal issues.  Maybe it’s because my birthday is coming up in a few days, but I’m getting introspective and the concept that I’ve somehow been living my life the wrong way is creeping into my brain.

I’m listening to the Triptykon record.

6.4.2010                              San Francisco, CA           17:57

Aaron and I finished the interview earlier on.  I think it turned out well; my one goal was to avoid the clichéd things that most interviews fall into.  Along the way, Aaron said some really nice things about me that won’t make it to the final transcription edit.  It would seem kind of self-congratulatory and crass to include that kind of thing in an interview with him.  Nonetheless, it was something that I took to heart.

Last night we were on our own in Chico.  Isis and Jakob had the night off, so Gordon reached out to these dudes in a band called The Makai and they organized a show at a place called Monstro’s Pizza.  It was a total D.I.Y., no-frills kind of thing, everyone was really cool and I think we played really well.  The Makai were killer, the kids were real nice and the pizza wasn’t half-bad for Cali.

I vaguely remember playing the set in Portland.  The place was packed, but I never know if we’re reaching the Isis fans.  I imagine that it’s similar to opening for Slayer, where kids just want to rock out to the headliner and aren’t interested in seeing anyone else.  I think we played well so that’s what I’m going with.  Matt Jacobsen and some of the other Relapse guys were there.  I haven’t spent a lot of time around him, but I was relieved that he liked our set.

The Doug Fir and Jupiter Hotel get the thumbs up from me.  The only stressful situation was the soundman that mixed us was one of those guys that want to make it about him instead of the band that he’s working with.  He took way to long to get us happening and it felt like an eternity, standing on the stage in front of a sold out crowd while he line checked us.  At the end of it, his voice came over our monitors declaring that he was awesome.  Other than that, the night went off rather well.

Tonight we’re at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.  It’s a beautiful theater with really cool people running the show.  I doubt that we would have a chance to play a place like this if it wasn’t for this tour.  It’s unnerving how cool everyone is at this establishment.

Tomorrow is the last day.  I feel like it’s just getting started and now it’s time to say goodbye.  I feel heavy thinking about the concept of no longer being able to see each other in the context of being on tour together.  There’s a lot of history between us all and it means a lot to me that they invited us along on this tour.

I always imagined that Isis would be around forever and turn into this kind of Grateful Dead thing where kids would follow them around and a whole subculture would develop from seeing them live and trading bootlegs of their shows.  They already have that kind of tripped-out, jammy vibe.

There’s a new pot of coffee brewing.  I’m on cup Number 2.

6.5.2010                              Modesto, CA      09:46

I’m sitting in the lobby café of the hotel we stayed at last night.  Apparently the breakfast is not complimentary.  After the show, we drove for about an hour of a half to chip away at today’s drive down to L.A.

I felt like we played well last night.  The American Music Hall is an amazing venue; you can’t go wrong if you play there or at Slim’s, the other venue that they operate. The front of house sound, monitors, management and in-house catering are totally on point.  It’s hard to tell if we’re reaching the Isis crowd; there were a lot of blank faces in the crowd when we played, nonetheless, it’s an honor to be out with these guys on this last run down the west coast.

We have a few hours on the road until we get to L.A. then we fly out tomorrow.

6.6.2010                              Los Angeles, CA                              10:34

I’m kicking back at Thompson’s pad in Silverlake.  I woke up about an hour ago and walked with Nick to Intelligencia Coffee to fuel up on some caffeine.  I dig L.A. but I can see it getting to me after a few days.  Like New York, there’s a “fabulous” element to it that wears me out.

We played at the Troubador last night to a sold out crowd of Isis fans.  I think we played well and the sound was great but for the most part, it was a sea of blank, disinterested faces.  I’ll take that over being home, but there were times when I would have liked to have put my foot through the face of some of them.  For example, the guy that was looking at his watch and talking to his friend; it would have been fun to smash his teeth out.

It was cool hanging out after the show; everyone was in good spirits, I’m going to miss being on the road with these guys.  I haven’t really worked with the concept of Isis, as a band, not existing anymore.  It feels like a door has closed on a really important era.  We’ll all stay in touch, but that chapter of touring together is over.  They are some of the best people I know.

Today is my birthday.

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8 Responses to “Transmission 6.6.2010 Isis, Tombs, Jakob West Coast Tour Journal”

  1. Motoghost Says:

    As someone who really enjoyed your set at the Troubadour, I want to thank you for playing even though the crowd was quite lackluster at times. It sadly seems that people let judgment come before experience, and they just decide ahead of time that their not going to respect someone or something.

    The new material sounds amazing and was powerful live, I wish I could’ve spoken with you guys after. Thanks Mike, and all of the guys in Tombs, for your hard work! I can’t wait to see you guys back in LA, and happy belated birthday Mike.

    Much Respect,

    Ben

    • Thanks Ben. It was an honor to be part of the last Isis tour of the West Coast. They are some of the best people I know and it saddens me to think that we’re closing in on the end of the road for them, however, I’m excited to see what the individual members do in the future. I understand that not everyone can be a Tombs fan, but that makes me appreciate the people that support us even more.
      See you on the road.
      Hill

  2. ViralKon Says:

    Hey Mike,
    happy birthday(although two days late apparently).
    Just got hold of your blog, didn’t know you had one.
    Really like reading tour diaries and stuff.
    Talk soon man,
    take it easy.
    Kon
    Viral Graphics

  3. John in Dallas Says:

    Happy Belated Birthday.

  4. Belated happy birthday. I’ll see you guys with Millions on the 18th of August at the Metal Shaker. I saw you roadying for Defeatist last January at Locked Out. I wanted to say hi but I chickened out.

  5. thanks so much for the kind words. we are keeping it going, though its been a little shaky trying to get everything together. still we feel it’s worth it.

    you guys sounded awesome at MDF.

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