6.8.2011 Allston, MA 18:45
We left NY this morning at 11:30 and as the city receded in my rearview mirror I felt myself slowly unclench. I always get uptight during the days leading up to a tour, the night before is especially bad. I always feel like I’m leaving something behind. Preparation: I run down all of my checklists and things rigorously but that doesn’t seem to help.
We arrived in Allston before 15:00 and went directly to Le’s, one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants to get some chow and kill some time. I used to hit this place regularly when I lived in Boston, back then it was called Pho Pasteur. It’s pretty much identical except for the name; the interior, the menu, the quality of the food is all the same. There’s even a lot of the same lifer waitstaff working there. It was somehow comforting, so many things change at such and accelerating rate that the familiar things sort of smooth out the rough edges.
We’re all loaded in now and I’m sitting at a Starbucks two blocks from Great Scott, the venue we’re playing at tonight. The AC is cranked and I’m sitting alone at a table. The heat is brutal outside, the air is thick to the point where you can almost taste it. A few college aged kids are hanging around in small groups, working on their laptops. Some completely middle-of-the-road music is being played over the sound system, I can’t quite make out what song it is, but it sound so familiar…
Starbucks is a funny place. It’s one of the few places, along with Denny’s and Ruby Tuesday, that I seek out on the road. Familiarity is the constant. The days pass so quickly when you’re out here that places like this are calming.
Tonight should be cool. Blacktail is playing as well and I’m looking forward to seeing them. They don’t play very often so this is a real event for me. I’ve known most of the members of the band for nearly two decades of my life. Mike and Thos were part of the first full Anodyne lineup. There are two other bands playing that I don’t know anything about.
“Path of Totality”, our new record came out yesterday. I’m stoked that people can actually pick up a copy but for me the record seems like history. We recorded it back in December, mastered it in January and it’s been on ice until yesterday.
I have the lid off of my cup of coffee so it will cool down to a reasonable temperature. A thin, oily film has developed on the surface; you can see a subtle rainbow pattern against the blackness. It’s making me think about the Rainbow song “Man on the Silver Mountain.”
6.9.2011 New York, NY 20:40
I’ve been doing a lot of press. Interviews and conversations with people all blur together. The heat is unbearable today; summer is like a hammer. Outside, it feels like I can’t get enough oxygen into my body. The heat is inescapable. Maybe I should have trained harder before this tour. I have a cold; what kind of an asshole gets a cold in the summer? It’s fucking with my voice. I can take the discomfort, but I’m bummed out that it might compromise my ability to play as hard as I want.
A Storm of Light is playing. I’m sitting in the little room next to the stage waiting to play. Last night in Boston was cool; the best part of the night aside from playing was seeing Blacktail kick it. What a great band. It’s always great watching Thos play drums; I thought about how we used to play together back in the late 90’s writing material that would become the songs on the Anodyne record “Silent Wars.” I was working at the Newbury Comics warehouse, had just been dumped by my girlfriend and wanted to spend long hours away from the apartment I shared with 5 other guys. Time flies on broken wings; we remember things, even times that might not have been such great times, and the amber filters come on line and the past becomes subjective, an interpretation.
I’m glad last night’s set is behind us. We played well, but we haven’t clicked into tour mode. It won’t be until the third of fourth show that the set becomes ingrained into our subconscious. That’s the greatest feeling ever, when you get on stage, plug in and execute, the playing is part of an extinct. We rehearse a lot, so we’re always in shape, but there’s that certain, intangible thing that happens from driving ling hours all day and launching into the set.
I want to play and hit the road. We’re leaving after load out tonight to eat up some of the miles on the trek up to Montreal.
6.10.2011 Montreal, QC 21:30
We made it into the country without any problems. The whole border crossing thing only took about 15 minutes, it was a no stress situation which hasn’t always been the case. Back when Anodyne used to cross into Canada, before all of the terrorism paranoia we would do what most other bands did: we’d show up armed with a fake letter saying that we were going to record at some studio in Montreal. Looking back, I don’t know how it worked, but somehow it did. These days, all of your paperwork has to be in order and you need a passport. It’s a lot harder to get into the country, I’ve heard of a lot of people being denied due to old misdemeanors and other technicalities.
Earlier on, I observed a supreme example of cunty-ness. This kid rolled up to the merch table wanting to haggle over the price of an LP and a shirt. He offered Carson $35.00 for something that cost $40.00. For the record, we aren’t opposed to cutting deals if someone says something like,”I only have $35.00 on me can you work with me.” Once he agreed to sell him the shirt and the record for the reduced price, the kid gave him $40.00 and asked for change. That’s cunty. It’s insulting. I wanted to tell the kid if he wanted his change he’d have to take it off of me. There’s always someone out there who wants to somehow get one over on you.
It’s only 5 bucks. I should grow up and get over it.
There’s a lot happening on in the city tonight; there’s a big Formula 1 event going on, some of the streets around the venue are closed down and there are droves of drunk people wandering around. We’re close to the famed red light area of town. Some of the more dedicated sex workers were out. I walked by a woman wearing next to nothing standing at the entrance of a dark stairway leading upstairs. She had these hard, vacant eyes. There was a sinister vibe. She was an expert on the male savage, the relentless need to shoot loads and avoid responsibility.
Earlier on, we met up with our long-time friend Mark Holmes. He’s been living up here for a few months and knew where to get decent chow. We hit up this vegetarian spot and kicked back for a while. It was a long journey getting here so it was great to unwind with some good food.
Montreal is the closest thing to a European city that you can get in North America, except for maybe Quebec. People are speaking French all around us and unlike most parts of Canada, you truly feel like a stranger here.
6.11.2011 Toronto, ON 19:20
The show last night in Montreal was killer. We played well and everyone was really cool. The stage had a strange layout, it seemed like it was an afterthought. Later on I learned that the venue was formerly a Goth Dance Club; much of the décor remained. It’s the third show of the tour and we feel locked in. It was the first time that I had a chance to watch A Storm of Light play. It’s good being out on the road with Domenic, he’s got a monstrous bass sound. In general they sounded pretty massive last night.
The venue is above a Mexican restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever had Mexican Food in Canada. I’m about to find out if it’s any good because we just got our meal buy-outs and will be heading down to eat dinner in a while.
6.12.2011 Hamtramck, MI 21:35
McCash called me while we were en route from Toronto to tell me that a good friend of ours is basically on his death bed. He didn’t have all of the details, but the whole thing was grave and there wasn’t much hope. About 2 weeks ago he was taken into the ICU and has been slowly deteriorating. I was told that his kidneys were in the process of failing. McCash is on tour with Gates of Slumber and they’re heading back to Indiana to see him. My understanding of the situation is that he isn’t expected to live.
He had been on a downward spiral for quite a while. Months would pass and I’d only see him when he was rolling through town on tour or when I would be in Indianapolis with the band. Each time, he seemed to be slipping away. At the time, I suppose I was blind or in denial. I didn’t want to believe that something was wrong.
I feel a little sick thinking about this. What a waste. What’s truly pathetic is the whole romantic bullshit trip that people build around drug use. There’s nothing cool or romantic about wasting your life with drugs, you don’t go out like some dark, misunderstood anti-hero, you just die and break the hearts of everyone that loves you.
I’m sitting in the van. It’s cool outside, it’s like summer decided to skip this part of the country. It makes me wish for Autumn, the greatest season. It won’t last: in a few days we’ll be in Texas where it’s averaging 100̊ F and then we’ll feel the pain. I want to challenge of delivering the set under those conditions.
After the show in Toronto, we drove out of the city looking for a motel. We must have hit up at least 4 places before we found a vacancy. We were exhausted, I just wanted to shut my eyes and slip away; the room one of the more Spartan places that we’d stayed in. There were two beds, a sink and a microwave oven. The room smelled like cigarettes. Ironically, the bathroom was in great condition.
When I woke up this morning, I checked my blackberry and saw that Seth Putnam had died of a heart attack. I can’t say that I was surprised to hear of him dying at such a young age, he was someone who made no qualms about his drug use over the years. Nonetheless, he was a human being and I’m sure he had family and friends that are heart-broken over his death. I’m sure the internet is alive with shit-talking today, but I don’t have the stomach to check any of it out.
Ah yes, the internet and all of the cowards who post bullshit and leave clever comments. Technology has given rise to generation of bored weaklings. I’m not one of Putnam’s friends, I don’t particularly like Anal Cunt, but I just hope that people can have a little discipline and refrain from bashing the guy, even if it’s for the sake of his family. It’weak
We crossed the border back into the states. The border guard was a bored shitheel with a bad attitude. The last time we crossed at that particular entry point, the guard was totally cool. He was trying to find any reason to give us a hard time. In light of the news I got earlier, I wasn’t in the mood. I know he was doing his job, but I find it hard to believe that these guys don’t make it personal sometimes. Maybe his boring, completely unfulfilling existence motivates him to ramp up the cop-vibe.
Tonight is going to be a long night. I can’t stop thinking about the news I got earlier. There are five bands on the bill. I want to play hard and bail, get some sleep in a motel room bed and get an early start tomorrow.
There was a modest turnout last night but everyone that showed up was cool. The whole thing had to be over early because of a retro-DJ night that they had scheduled. It was still light out when we played. The house sound engineer was awesome, took her job seriously and did a great job mixing us.
A highpoint of the night was meeting Chris Gramlich in person and watching his band Vilipend play. We had been acquainted for several years via email and phone conversations but had never actually met. We did an interview during the Anodyne years. I feel fortunate that I’m still out here doing this stuff. It’s hard out here, grinding it out on the road playing small shows and not making a lot of money but it’s the only way to roll for me. I don’t want to live a life where I don’t have any good stories to tell.
The venue is in a rough area. There are a lot of unfriendly faces around.
6.13.2011 Chicago, IL 18:40
The show last night was small but I’ll take it and move on to the next one. It’s a straight line, a relentless forward-moving machine. I can’t let nights like that get me down because even though the show was small, people showed up and wanted to see bands play. Nonetheless, it’s rough but we did our best. Why the Hell else would I be in Hamtramck, MI but to blast out a set. Beast in the Field and Year of the Pig both played. We shared the stage with them on our last show in Detroit that we did on the way back from the Kylesa tour. It was good seeing those guys again, they’re both solid bands.
We hit Kuma’s Corner, the famous Heavy Metal Burger Joint and waiting about 45 minutes for a table. I have to admit that it was worth the wait. We sat outside and kicked back. I got the Neurosis burger vegetarian-style. I’m not a vegetarian, but I didn’t want to be too brutal on my stomach. We’d been talking about going to this place for nearly two years.
This is our first time playing in Chicago. All of our other shows have been canceled due either to entire tours being canceled (Mayhem, Enslaved), white-out blizzards (Pelican) or the absurd radius clauses that some larger tour inflict on the support bands. Chicago is such a great city, with a lot of great bands, it’s a travesty that until now, we haven’t successfully done any shows here.
We’re early, sitting in the van, parked outside of the venue. The place is locked up. I checked out this bookstore / record store called The Bucket of Blood. There was an interesting selection of mainly science fiction, fantasy, serial killer books and a few random records and CDs. I scored “Almuric” by Robert E. Howard and “Abarat” by Clive Barker. Both titles were $3 a piece!!
A Storm of Light are parked around the corner. We’re all dug in, waiting to load in.
6.14.2011 St. Louis, MO 20:15
We’re back at the Fubar tonight. We’re doing the familiar St. Louis, OKC, Denton, Austin run that we seem to do on every tour. We loaded in and I’m kicking back with a cup of coffee, waiting. I can see why band guys do drugs: to deal with the boredom. I guess that’s why there’s a 34 year old guy on his death bed now. Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Andrew and I drove out to a coffee place a few miles away from the venue. We both commented on how we haven’t ever ventured out past the The Fubar. Someone had chipped away sections of the sidewalk and planted mint. The whole area was permeated by this pleasant, fresh mint smell.
Last night in Chicago was great. We played hard and the vibe at the show was cool. I’m relieved that we successfully played out first Chicago date. It was cool to catch up with some friends. I’m glad that wer were able to hang out with the half of Pelican that still lives in Chicago. We ended up crashing with Will. It brought me back to the tour we did a couple of years ago with Pelican and Wolves in the Throne Room. That was a great tour. We were fortunate that year, shortly after that tour wrapped up we were on the road with Isis and Pelican. I always think fondly about that time. It was probably the easiest, no-attitude touring situations that I’ve ever been part of where everyone was cool to each other and we all hung out and helped each other.
6.15.2011 Oklahoma City, OK 19:48
It was a long haul today; about 8 hours on the road. This is the familiar route for us: St. Louis, OKC, Denton and Austin. This is the part of the country where you start seeing the signs about Jesus and all the Christian propaganda.
Last night was small, but I’ll take it over not playing. St. Louis is a hard-won town but I feel like we’re making progress there; you have to keep coming back. The one cool thing is the sound man is always on point; I don’t remember his name, but he’s the singer in Everything Went Black. I just got news that their guitarist died a couple of months ago. They’re such young guys and it’s heavy to deal with death at an age where you should feel indestructible.
I got an update from McCash. It doesn’t look good. Our friend is still alive but no one is expecting him to pull out of it. I wish I could be there with those guys. I keep thinking about the last time I saw him out in Indy; I wish I had a chance to talk to him. It’s likely that I will never see him alive again. It’s such a hard trip. I keep thinking that this will turn around.
Chris, Pelican’s soundman, was at the show last night. We were hanging outside of the venue when this confrontation broke out with some of the guys working at the venue and this lone, drunk dude. I don’t know all of the details but it was basically just a shoving match, no one really wanted to fight. The drunk guy agreed to chill out and everyone dispersed. He spotted us and came over. He was probably about 25 years old, short haired and drunk. He said that he’s living in a homeless shelter until his disability kicks in. He’s a vet. He kept talking about how he wanted to fight and get beat up. At one point he was talking about “letting the blackness in.”
It made me think how lightweight most of our experiences are and how none of us have really dealt with anything as intense as being in combat. This is what the government does for kids who put their bodies on the line. They get discharged into the great nowhere, back to their hometowns. I’d like to think things will turn out okay for him but I know that most likely he’ll continue to drink himself into numbness and probably end up on the street or dead.
Doors are opening shortly. Carson and I hit Size Records next door. That’s the drill when we’re in OKC. Unfortunately, Jim, the owner wasn’t there.. Hopefully he shows up later, I was looking forward to hanging out. He usually works the door at the shows, but he wasn’t there during load-out. For the last year or so, we’ve been seeing that guy every four months or so, so I feel like we’re friends at this point. The last few times, we played here, he re-opened the store when the show cleared out for a late-night record buying session. This time around I picked up an original copy of the first St.Vitus record, Scorpions “Tokyo Tapes” and the AC/DC box set “Bonfire”, all reasonably priced.
6.16.2011 Denton, TX 19:30
It was a quick run down here from OKC. We did a live recording for this site called Violitionist. It went well. We loaded into this dude’s house, set up our gear and went for it. Afterward, we did a short interview. When we loaded in, one of his neighbors rolled up and asked how long we’re be playing because the last time, it was really loud. These kind of “live in the studio” situations always feel a little stale to me, but usually we get a decent recording out of it. We’ve been on tour for a while so I think we’re tight.
The show last night was pretty much what all of our OKC shows are like. A small but cool group of people that have seen us play several times. At this point, we’re getting to know everyone by sight, if not by name. I dig that. Unfortunately, there was no Jim last night. I had been looking forward to kicking it with him, but he was M.I.A.
6.17.2011 Denton, TX 09:21
I just hit the complimentary breakfast downstairs. They had a waffle iron shaped like the state of Texas, the coffee was serviceable.
A Storm of Light drops off after tonight. We continue on our own for a few more days and then we’re home for a while before heading out to Europe with The Secret. It was a short tour, but I’ll take it any day over staying home. There were definitely some good shows on this tour, but there were also some less than great shows. I don’t want to say that they were bad because, even at the worst, kids showed up to see the bands. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to booking a tour that the bands don’t see; maybe it’s because I’ve spent years booking my own bands that I can empathize with the obstacles that booking agents run into when setting up a tour. Some nights are just nights to get from place to place without a day off.
Last night was kind of slow, but Bryan at Rubber Gloves is cool and he digs the band. A few kids showed up and we played for them. Brent and Mike from Violitionist were there. Either way, we were in Denton to play a show and we played the show.
It’ 100̊ F today in Austin.
Austin, TX 20:40
We did an in-store at Waterloo records earlier today. It’s hot, like a blast furnace. The air is dry and intense, I can feel all of the moisture leaving my body. It makes me feel like a lightweight, I wish there was some way I could have prepared for this. The short in-store set went well, a handful of people showed up and we kicked the first four songs of our set. I remembered the tiny stage from the first time we played there at SXSW a few years ago. After our set, we did this quick video thing where we had to decipher these death / black metal logos.
Ron met us at Waterloo and we drove to Red 7 for load-in before hitting Serrano’s, our go-to Mexican restaurant in Austin. Our tire looked a little low, like there might be a slow leak. I’m dug in now, waiting it out until we play. This is a great music city, people down here love music. Every bar has some kind of stage and there are always bands playing. I like it here, but the intensity of the heat is kind of daunting sad to say.
When we were loading out of Waterloo they were playing the new record on the store system. I didn’t recognize it at first. I don’t think I’ve listened to the record since the mastering session back in January. The material feels old to me at this point, we recorded it back in December of last year and now it’s finally available. It’s been a long process, writing, recording, all of the intermittent decisions that have to be made along the way about artwork and production. It’s behind us now and I want to get on to the next thing.
6.18.2011 Dallas, TX 20:36
It’s been a series of mishaps since yesterday. My blackberry crapped out and I have no way of contacting anyone. When I went out the van, I noticed that we had a completely flat tire and a burned out headlight. Morgan helped me out by patching the tire for me and gave me a hand-pump. The concept was that I was going to pump enough air into the tire to drive it to a fuel station, fill the tire and drive over to Pep Boys to get the necessary repairs done. I started pumping; it was hard going. I was about halfway there when Morgan’s neighbor came out and offered to pump the tire up with his air compressor. Props to good Texans!
It took a few hours to get everything sorted out at Pep Boys. We were a few hours into the trip to Dallas when the directional signal popped out. You just can’t win on some days.
Last night was killer. Austin never disappoints. Kill the Client played and totally crushed. This band called Skycrawler opened the show and I was blown away by them. It was a great night.
6.19.2011 Somewhere 23:00
We’re in a Super 8 somewhere in Mississippi. We played at Euclid Records earlier today with Haarp; the whole thing was over with by about 20:00 so we hit the road. It’s a long run to Nashville so the plan was to get a few hours in before we stopped. It’s relatively early, so I’m hoping to get some rest, get an early start so we can get to Nashville. We ordered some pizza and now we’re settled in.
Dallas was cool. I recognized one of the two people from our last show in Dallas. This time around, it was a much better scene. I’m starting to mix up Dallas and New Orleans in my head, I can’t keep it straight. I guess it’s too many miles in too few hours. It’s about to get worse.
I feel myself shutting down for the night.
6.20.2011 Nashville, TN 17:45
I like it here. We’re playing with our friends, Dawn at the Little Hamilton Collective. Jesse and Ivan were instrumental in setting up our first show in Nashville back on the Tombs / ASRA tour. We’ve played pretty much every show in Nashville together since then with the exception of the date on the Kylesa tour a couple of years ago.
We’re going to leave after the set and start the long journey back to New York. This tour was short, I feel like we just started getting into the vibe and now it’s over. We’re only going to be home for a short period of time then it’s back out on the road.
We hit a Starbucks before loading today; I got online to check if there was any news from McCash; nothing so far. My phone is dead so I don’t know if anyone had been trying to get in touch with me.
6.21.2011 Brooklyn, NY 19:20
We drove though the night, 18 hours to get back. We had the bonus of hitting the NY/NJ traffic during the final hours of our journey. Welcome home. Carson and I switched off; we logged in a few hundred hours each and took turns driving. It was brutal.
Coming back, even from a short tour is strange. It’s like fast-forwarding into the future. I wish I was still out there, the apartment doesn’t seem like a friendly place right now. I feel more comfortable with the constant motion of the road and the challenge of playing each night. There’s very little here, it’s like the volume on life has been turned down and I’m just killing the hours before leaving again. Things feel different, but at the same time there is predictability, a repetitiveness that feels like an icy hand around my throat. Maybe I just need to get some sleep.
The show was good last night. Dawn were awesome, every time I see them they sound a little different, they evolve, try out new ideas. This band called Black Majesty played that totally crushed. I was talking to the guys from the band afterward and they said that they’re going to change their name because another band called Black Majesty exists already.
It’s quiet here. It’s the first time in a few weeks that I’m alone and don’t have anything to do.