Transmission 8.26.2010 Tombs / PlanksTour Journal

8.13.2010 10:00 Bethlehem, PA
We’re hanging out at Getz’s parents’ house. The show last night was decent; I felt we played well which is the most important thing. Going into it, I had no idea what to expect from Bethlehem but the show ended up being pretty cool.
Yesterday was a little stressful; Carson and I drove out to some remote location outside of Newark to pick up the sprinter. The google maps directions had us driving through the post industrial wastelands of North Jersey, past tank farms and streets without signs, I thought we were lost, but somehow, it all worked out and we made it to the rental lot. Tombs and Planks are both travelling in the same vehicle and sharing gear. We’re equipped with a dvd player, xbox, wireless headphones, wifi and an ipod dock, however Nick is the only one of us who can figure out how to operate it the stereo. Whenever we power up the sprinter, the stereo goes back to the first track in alphabetical order so we ended up listening to “Evil Genius” but Abruptum several time before the operation of the system was figured out.
16:20 Wilkes-Barre, PA
It’s Café Metropolis again tonight. I only have bad memories of this town and this venue. It’s never been good here. Originally, we were going to play Philly, but had to cancel due to the Enslaved radius clause; the painful part is that tour was canceled so we rebooked a bunch of these dates for nothing. Eric Davis was good enough to give us a show so I really shouldn’t complain because we could have had a day off.
I must say, Wilkes-Barre has come a long way since I started coming here for shows. The first time I played here, it was really sketchy and depressing. The streets were filled with lurkers and a lot of the buildings were derelict. Over the years, the area has slowly been gentrified, there’s a Barnes and Nobles / Starbuck’s combo down the street and a brand new Imax movie theater across the street from Café Metropolis. Back in the day, the coolest place to go was a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Maybe tonight will be a surprise and actually not be bad. Doubtful.
To kill some time, we drove out of our way to the Relapse office to score some records. I mainly wanted to touch base with the headquarters about the recording plan and pick up the new Horseback record. They’re still working summer hours so there weren’t a lot of people around when we rolled in.
8.14.2010 13:00 Richmond, VA
We bailed after the show last night and drove through the night to get to Dave’s house. I made it to southern Pennsylvania and Carson took over. I had a decent ipod mix of Cocteau Twins, Fields of the Nephilim, Sisters of Mercy and The Cure happening, all good night time drive music. I tried to sleep in the back of the van but only managed to get a couple of hours of rack time.
The show in Wilkes-Barre was pretty much as I expected. I think I counted about 4 people standing in front of me while we played. When the set was over, I think three people were left. Hey, it beats sitting home alone counting the seconds of your life ticking away. As bad as it gets, I’d rather be out here than at home living the slow death everyday-trip.
8.15.2010 18:38 Greensboro, NC
We loaded in about a half hour ago. The show is at a place called Legitimate Business run by the Brave Young guys. Kyle told me the building was an old welding shop that their landlord was using as a storage facility. In lieu of a security deposit, they cleaned the place up. Apparently, the place was stacked from floor to ceiling with king-size beds and miscellaneous gear and it took three solid days of hard labor to clear the place out.
The show last night in Richmond had a depressing vibe. Originally, it was scheduled to be at Strange Matter, the old Nancy Raygun spot but someone rented the place out and our show got bumped to The Triple, essentially a pool hall. Seven bands played. People began to trickle out as the night went on. The highlight was watching Triac play. They blew my mind as usual. I’d like to do more shows with those guys. Their drummer hits like a freight train; I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone blast as hard as him.
Richmond is a cool place, but it felt like a downer yesterday. Maybe it’s just me. I’m playing shows and things seem to be okay for the time being but I can’t shake these feelings that something terrible is going to happen. A lot of heavy shit has been going on and I’m not sure how it all fits together and I think I’m having a hard time keeping everything in perspective.
I felt like our set was decent. We dropped a couple of songs because of the number of bands on the bill and I didn’t want to impact Bastard Sapling set time.
8.16.2010 Nashville, TN 19:07
Dawn is playing tonight. Ivan indicated that the upstairs of the venue used to be an alleged methamphetamine production lab. Next door is a huge porno store lit up in neon. It looks beautiful in the deepening blue of the twilight sky. I’m thinking about going in to have a look around but I feel like too much of a chump when I see the guys coming in and out of the place, overweight guys wearing sweatpants clutching a plain brown paper bag with at least one porno dvd inside. I don’t want to be thought of as a guy who doesn’t get laid but…
I’ve been reading “Off the Rails”, Rudy Sarzo”s book about his years playing bass in Ozzy’s band. I didn’t know that he didn’t play on “Blizzard”. It’s an interesting read. It’s somehow comforting to know that Rudy was sleeping on someone’s floor before he got the call from Sharon Osborne to join the band. Those two records, “Diary of a Madman” and “Blizzard of Ozz” are great rock albums. What a killer lineup with Randy Rhodes and Tommy Aldridge. There have been many times over the years when I wondered what Randy Rhodes would have done if he didn’t die. It bums me out when you put it up against all of the hacks that get to put out records and go on tour.
I’ve heard that if you buy a recent pressing of “Diary” and “Blizzard” you get a version that has the rhythm tracks recorded over by his current band members. What a completely weak, showbiz thing to do. I’m sure that Sharon has all of the legal bases covered; I’ve never met the lady but all of the reading I’ve done about her doesn’t paint a very positive picture of her. Actually, even Ozzy is a letdown to me these days. The illusion was shattered when I discovered that Geezer Butler wrote all of the Sabbath lyrics to the songs Ozzy sang.
8.17.2010 Memphis, TN 20:25
We’re at the Hi Tone again tonight. Like Café Metropolis in Wilkes-Barre, it’s never been good at the Hi Tone. We played here last year with Kylesa and it was dismal. At least the soundman is cool. Tonight is that fine line where, it’s cool that someone agreed to do a show and guaranteed us money, but I know the promoter didn’t put any resources into promoting the show. It’s just us and Planks and an empty room tonight.
One of my amps crapped out last night; initially Benny thought it was one of the rectifier tubes but when I looked at it today, neither of them appeared blown which means it might be a capacitor. Earlier this morning when we were still in Nashville, we hit a Guitar Center but I aborted that mission when I couldn’t get any solid intel on repairs. I’ll wait until we get back to Brooklyn where I can leave it to the capable hands of the Main Drag staff. I’ll roll with one head.
On the drive to Memphis, we stopped at this really far out truck stop. Aside from the fueling station it had a huge general store with an attached restaurant. It reminded me on a South Jersey dirt mall with all of the random bootleg dvd’s and miscellaneous ancient t shirts, jackets, statues of Native American warriors. I could tell the Planks guys got off on it, in their subtle, stoic German way. In the rear of a the general store was a group of booth tables for the café. One of the tables had three mannequins seated at the booth, one of which was a skeleton.
I noticed a pair of extremely regular looking girls wandering in; I’m sure they have no idea that there’s a show tonight. I can hear the whir of the ventilation fans and the TV set over the bar playing South Park. Somewhere in this town someone has a copy of our record and hopefully is enjoying it.
On several levels, doing this tour was probably a mistake; a potentially costly mistake. I can’t tell if the Germans are into it at all; I explained to Ralph that touring in the States is nothing like touring in Europe. You’re on your own over here; no one give you a free ride and nobody wants to hear about your 10 hour drive.
Some fat chick is at the door asking the guy what kind of bands are playing tonight because she had a bad online dating experience. It’s going to be a long night.
Tomorrow is a long ride to a town I’ve never played in before.
8.18.2010 09:19 Memphis, TN
Last night was about what I expected. We played to handful of people and I felt better after having playing than before. The few people that showed up got a full evening of heavy rock thrown at them; both bands played really well.
Reading deeper into the “Off the Rails” gives new perspective on my financial stress regarding this tour. During the first Blizzard of Ozz tour, Sharon’s family bankrolled all of the initial expenses. A lot of the promoters canceled the dates due to poor advance sales. In this case we’re probably talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. As we all know, days off on the road are economic killers, there’s no money from the shows and no money from merchandise sales yet there’s the daily expenses of keeping the band on the road. At one point during one of these stretches, Sharon excuses herself to retire early and swallows an entire bottle of sleeping pills. I guess the pressure got to her. The next morning her stomach was pumped and she was back to work.
Ozzy:if he wasn’t a billionaire rock star, he would be homeless, living in a box somewhere or most likely, dead from liver failure. Because he has the resources, he can get cleaned up only to fall off the wagon again. It’s an interesting ying-yang thing I suppose, because I still get the chills when he drops into the first lines of “Black Sabbath” off of the first Sabbath record.
8.19.2010 09:23 Columbia, MO
I’m in the hotel lobby, drinking really bad coffee. Check out is at noon and we have about 5 hours to drive today. Last night was another sparsely attended show. Everyone that came out was really cool and I felt like we played well. One of Carson’s bass heads crapped out so he used my ampeg svt; I picked it up at the shipping place the day we left; he’s the first person to use it. Our gear is slowly disintegrating as each day goes by; there’s no money, no credit, nothing left. This tour was a bad idea, good intentions, poor intel. No one said this would be easy.
When we loaded in last night I had that feeling that I get when I know that a long night is ahead of me. Everyone was cool at the venue, the sound system was pro but the whole town seemed like a ghost town. Andrew and I walked downtown to get dinner and I think we saw about 5 people, one of which was a homeless guy sleeping on the steps of a church.
I’m at the part of the book where the Diary of a Madman tour is about to kick off. Ozzy is a wreck; depressed, drunk and in poor physical condition. It’s surprising that he’s still alive. Being on the road with him seems like it would be a nightmare, based on Sarzo’s accounts, it was a train wreck but somehow he managed to be one of the most successful rock performers in history. Underneath it all he seems like a deeply unhappy guy. He and Sarzo had one of those late-night driving talks and Ozzy confided in him that he felt trapped in his role as frontman. The whole reason he started singing in a band was to escape the fate of his father, working in a factory, punching a clock and living the slow-death life . To him, being on the road was the same thing. He laments the fact that he doesn’t see his wife and kids and that when he’s home, his kids don’t know him.
I can honestly say that I don’t have anything back home to really go back to. I get transmissions from home and it feels like I’m intercepting someone else’s communication stream.
8.20.2010 10:33 Normal, IL
I’m in the hotel lobby drinking the passable coffee. The History Channel is showing a program about possible natural disaster doomsday scenarios such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and global warming. Along with the theory that a meteor hit the planet, it is also believed that a massive volcanic eruption spewed a cloud of ash into the atmosphere creating an unbreathable environment, killing plant and life and making the dinosaurs extinct.
The show last night was at this place called Firehouse Pizza, a pizza place. We’ve played pizza places before but this one looked like a “family establishment”. When we loaded in, the place was filled with normal folks with their kids, eating pizza; it felt kind of uncomfortable as we wheeled in our cabinets and drum gear. I’ve never been to Normal before; it looks like a typical Midwestern College town with dudes wearing white hats everywhere and the standard college type stuff in town: the Laundromat that sells beer, sports-themed bars etc. There’s this huge Marriot that loams over everything, it’s the tallest building in the city.
At around 20:00 the promoter started cranking Anthrax and Metallica and slowly the citizens started migrating out and kids started filing in for the show. Two local bands played then Planks and then us. Both bands played well, a handful of kids hung out; it was a pretty routine show for this tour, surprisingly good.
Tonight is Indianapolis. It’s a short ride out there so today will be mellow.
8.21.2010 10:52 Indianapolis, IN
I woke up about 20 minutes ago. We crashed at Derek Black’s house last night after the show and watched the awesome Richard Stanley film “Hardware.” I picked the double-dvd version of this at a truck stop for 10 bucks, you can find deals like this out on the road at places like Love’s Truck Stop. After that it was lights out for me.
The show was at the new Dojo out in some remote part of town. The original location was shut down after a Terror show that happened there. Apparently, the element that band attracts started fights and a bunch of people got assaulted so the authorities shut the whole operation down. The show as cool, but admittedly was under promoted. I didn’t get a chance to see many of the usual crew because no one knew the show was happening. The Dojo is basically a box without any real ventilation; it was one of the more brutal shows I’ve played in a long time as far as heat and humidity; a kid passed out during our set and was hustled outside for some fresh air.
Money is tight. I did some accounting and we’re a few hundred short. There are three shows and a 15 hour drive left so we’ll see what happens.
I’ve got Rowland S. Howard’s “Pop Crimes” record playing. What a great record; It’s hard to believe that he’s dead but I guess a lot of those guys led rough lives and all those years of abuse is now catching up to them.

Lansing, MI 20:15
I remember playing Mac’s when I was in Anodyne many years ago on the tour we did with Kiss the Cynic. I remember the show being kind of weak. We rolled up to the venue and the parking lot was filled with a bunch of effeminate looking guys and really young girls. There were dudes applying hairspray and checking their “look” in car mirrors. There was an early show featuring these types of bands. I would comment on how lame all of it is, but it’s likely that more people are at this show than will show up for out show later tonight.
We bailed and tried to find something to do in town and ended up kicking back at this coffee place where I read a few more pages out of the “Off the Rails” book. I had God Machine playing in my headphones. I’ve been into their record “Scenes from the Second Story” a record that I picked up back in 1993. I remember getting a copy of Thrasher magazine, back in those days, a sampler cassette often times was included. This time around, the tape featured songs by Wool, Quicksand and The God Machine. Their song “Home” stuck out as being particularly radical so I picked up their full-length at Newbury Comics. A few weeks later they played a headlining show at The Middle East Downstairs. I remember the show being packed and the band totally blew me away. After that, they pretty much disappeared; dropped off the radar completely. A few years later, I was in London on the Foetus tour and met the drummer from the band.
I must have played this record about 8 times this week.
8.22.2010 Brooklyn, NY 17:20
We drove all night after the show in Lansing. I don’t remember much of the set or any of the people I spoke to. I remember Alexander T being there and having a great conversation before the show started. I drove for a few hours and Carson took over. I tried to get some sleep in the back of the van but it proved fruitless. I played the God Machine record one more time and then moved onto “Garlands” by Cocteau Twins.
There was a lot of confusion over tonight’s show. After the tour schedule went up, we received orders from the management company of a band that we were scheduled to tour with in November indicating that their radius clause prohibited us from performing in the same cities that the tour was going to hit. We had to rebook a few dates, the major cities. The Brooklyn date at Death by Audio was one of the dates on the chopping block. Our concept was that Planks could still play so we never canceled the show. Well, the tour in November was canceled so all of the reworking of our schedule was completely pointless. We’ll see how tonight goes.
8.24.2010 Brooklyn, NY 13:05
We played up in Peekskill last night with Goatwhore, at a place called Popeye’s. Peekskill’s close to the town I grew up in. Lou, the promoter, was totally cool. He played in hardcore band Subzero; though we know a lot of the same people, I’ve never met him before. The show went well, Popeye’s is a small place, but Lou manages to get a lot of really cool shows to happen there. I saw on the schedule that Agnostic Front ad D.R.I. are playing there soon.
Goatwhore ruled. They’re one of the tightest live bands I’ve ever seen and Ben is one of the best frontmen, hands down! He told me that they were added to the Watain tour this fall. It’s quite possible that they will blow them off the stage.
We got in this morning at 04:30; I was up at 07:50 to meet Carson so he could return the van to Jersey. I then went into the city for an interview with MTV. The tour lost money. It was rough, but no one was killed, emotionally scarred or broken so we’re be around to do it again. I’m going to hit the sack for a few hours.

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