Archive for Relapse Records

Transmission 7.13.2012 Killing Technology

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 13, 2012 by everythingwentblack

We overcame some technical obstacles this past weekend in our mission to record our new track for the Decibel Flexi and the Bowie cover; props to Tim for hanging in there and getting it done. Over the course of the week, I’ve been adding some details and did some mixing. For the Bowie track, the missing component is Ralph Schmidt’s vocals for the second half of “Heroes”. I was listening back to it last night and felt proud of the work we did.

The Podcast with the special guest is being postponed. Since he’s on the west coast, we had to do it over the phone and my audio setup didn’t work out too well. I have enough material for a text-only Q and A, which will be posted on Metal Insider in the next few weeks. We’ll be rescheduling once I tighten up my recording approach.

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Transmission 2.14.2012 SCION LA Weekend

Posted in The Trip with tags , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by everythingwentblack

2.10.2012 Ventura, CA 21:50I’m exhausted; we have a couple of hours left until we play the set. We landed at 15:00, secured a taxi and fought our way down the 405 to get to West Hollywood. I talked to this really cool guy on line waiting for the taxi; he gave us a rundown of the area around the hotel as far as places to eat go. He let us go ahead of him. I can’t remember the names of any of the places he suggested.

We checked into the Grafton on Sunset Blvd. All of the bands and Relapse staff are staying there. The interview that was originally scheduled for 17:00 was postponed due to an issue with power. The Scion guys told us to standby so we fell back to a Mexican restaurant down the street. As soon as we sat down and opened the menu my phone rang and we were told to come back for the interview. Me, Andrew and Dan did the interview, Paul and Ron hung back and picked something up for us.

My man, Jay Bennet interviewed us. They let us go first because we had a show later that night. The whole time we were talking, my mind was fixating on eating food. I hope I did a good job; I don’t like being distracted when I do these things. If someone is interested in asking me questions, the least I can do is provide good answers. I hadn’t had anything to eat since before we got on the plane. Everything is a la carte on Virgin. They give you coffee and water but you get charged for the food. I scanned the menu but couldn’t justify paying for the low quality fare they had to offer.

After the interview we ate and shipped out. Scion gave us a car to drive around. Not bad; they make it really easy. Ten years ago, I would probably have a different opinion about all of this Scion business. I went through a long period of not feeling comfortable with accepting money, straight up cash, to tour and do shows. The shows are free to the public so all of the funding is at a complete loss; nothing is recouped by ticket sales, it’s all a marketing project.

I was uncomfortable until I thought about the entitlement that people feel to get everything for free. Hey, I’m cool with you downloading or record for free if you want, but understand that the money has to come from somewhere, especially for bands like us that operate on an extremely slim margin. I’ve always been more about the live show and touring but in the old days, there was at least the hope that someone would buy your record.

I can barely keep my eyes open. There’s a pretty sparse crowd up here tonight. The Fucking Wrath, one of the bands that we’re playing with, helped us out and offered their gear to us tonight. They were key in making this whole thing happen. They have good equipment, but it’s always an adjustment when using gear that belongs to someone else. The familiarity is missing. This is a good warm up for Paul; I’d the to be in his shoes without having a chance to work out the kinks in the live thing.

I watched the “Rum Diaries” on the flight over. I really enjoy Johnny Depp working with Hunter S. Thompson’s material. I know that he admires Thompson and his performance reflects a deep level of commitment. I’d like to watch it again in a less anxious setting. I read the book ages ago and the film captures that sort of wild vibe of Puerto Rico back in those days. I’ve never been to Puerto Rico so I guess I don’t know if that statement is true or not, however, even thought there are some details that differ from the novel, the vibe and feel is pretty much spot on.

2.11.2012 Los Angeles, CA 09:30I didn’t get much sleep last night. We got back to the hotel at 03:00 which is more like 06:00 with the jet-lag. When I climbed into bed it felt like the most comfortable bed that I had ever slept in, I felt like a king. I slept hard but woke up early, tired but not able to get back to sleep. I secured a cup of complementary coffee and sat by the pool. According to my phone, New York City is going to get snow today and here I am, sitting next to a pool, wearing a short sleeve t shirt.

We got through the set. Paul id d a great job; it was a little awkward at first, but I think we settled in and were able to lock into the set. At some point, towards the end, I looked back at Andrew and this girl was on stage talking to him. Afterward, I asked him what she was saying to him. He told me she said, “I have to go now,” and bailed.

After the set, I was running on pure will. I was thankful that we only had our guitars, effects and a snare drum to load out. I kept drifting off during the ride back to L.A. I would open my eyes and see the miasma of logos passing by: Denny’s, Fatburger, In and Out Burger and miscellaneous fuel stations. Suddenly, we were back in L.A. It’s so different than New York with the miles of urban waste and suburbs that you drive to before you get into the city.

We’re expected at the venue at around 10:00. Aaron Harris is going to mix sound for us.

23.30I’m shot. The day is over and in a few hours we leave for LAX. The whole trip seemed to pass by at the speed of light. I’m thinking about how killer the new Van Halen record sounds. There’s a huge photograph of some woman’s cleavage hanging over my bed; there’s a similar photograph hanging over Paul’s bed but it’s of a model’s legs disappearing up a short, black skirt. It’s the most L.A. hotel room in the universe. I’m tempted to try the Neuro Sleep drink and take a hit off the oxygen tank but that would probably cost us a fortune. When we first got into the room, we decimated the snack tray. I wonder how much all of this is going to cost? It’s a good thing I have my credit card on file.

I feel like we played well. The moments leading up to the set were stressful; the stage management indicated that we had 7 minutes to get ready. I told the guy that I’d rather cut a song than kick into the set half-assed. Nonetheless, we didn’t get much of a line check, but Aaron is enough of a pro to react to the situation and get the soundboard happening. It was cool to look over and see Paul rocking out. He really stepped up and delivered.

Afterward, the back stage room was filled with people that weren’t in bands eating our food and drinking the beer. The club had security guys that were supposed to be watching who came and went; it always strikes me as odd that it’s so easy to get back to a “secure” room. Usually bands keep their personal stuff there and anyone can just through your stuff and take things. Luckily everyone was cool enough to just stick to eating our food and drinking the beer and water that was left for us. One guy was complaining that the beer was warm. I told him that he shouldn’t complain because he got in for free and he’s eating and drinking from a stash that wasn’t meant for him. He regarded me with this strange look, like I was out of line somehow. I later discovered that the guy complaining about the warm beer had kicked Dan’s guitar chord our during our set while he was in the process of shooting a picture. I imagine that he will talk shit about us because we had an issue with him, a stranger, lurking around our personal stuff and complaining that the beer wasn’t cold.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m too old for this. Sometimes, I wonder if I could be happy staying home, working a job, training martial arts and leaving these people to their own devices; would that be enough for me?

The big highlight of the evening was hanging out with Thompson and Bennet. I wish I could hang with those dudes every day. We got food at this burger place on Sunset then went back to the hotel room to record a podcast. I couldn’t get anything usable; the new Van Halen record was cranking, people kept walking in and out of the room and we were talking too much shit and incriminating ourselves in too many questionable activities that we decided that it would be best to abort the mission; maybe next time.

Thompson went back home to feed his dog and we hit the Relapse after party for a while. It was pretty mellow, but with the 05:00 wake up time in the back of my head, decided to call it an early night. The coolest thing was meeting Scott from Repulsion and having him say that he dug the record.

I need to get some sleep.

Transmission 12.27.2012 Tombs Live on WFMU 2.12.2009

Posted in The Trip, Tombs with tags , , on December 27, 2011 by everythingwentblack

I found this session on my hard drive while I was looking for some of the early Tombs demo’s I recorded from back in late 2007. Unfortunately, I think those sessions are lost forever.

Anyway, this is a lot cooler. WFMU is an institution here in the NY/NJ area. For years they have been playing awesome jams and doing these live sessions so nonetheless, it was a real honor to play a set at their studio. We had just finished up the tour with Dysrhythmia, and “Winter Hours” was about to be released, we were gearing up for Spring tours with Pelican, Wolves in the Throne Room, Isis and morale was high. This recording is a solid document of what we were all about during this period.

Check it out while I’ll keep looking for those old demos.
http://www.mediafire.com/?c46z8lyfxaprl

Transmission 8.30.2011 Blues Jam

Posted in The Trip, Tombs with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2011 by everythingwentblack

“When the night lasts forever and time stands still” Playlist

http://soundcloud.com/mike-hill/sets/night-time

Transmission 4.25.2011

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 25, 2011 by everythingwentblack

Life has been very interesting lately; I’m getting into a lot of really cool stuff in the next couple of weeks: film work, new music projects, the release of the new Tombs record.

On Wednesday, I ship out with the Wheelhouse Creative to work with Morgan Spurlock. He has a new film about to be released called “The Greatest Movie ever Sold”. We’re working on material for an EPK. I feel fortunate to be able to contribute to this project.

http://bestmoviesevernews.com/morgan-spurlock-greatest-movie-sold/

I drove Andrew’s new death metal band, PAINTED RUST, to a show in New Brunswick over the weekend. If you dig the “NJ Metal” Vibe, definitely check them out

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOvl9dKPfas

I’ve also been hard at work on two project: VASILEK and KRATTIA; both projects are different, at least to me they are. VASILEK will be strictly a one-man operation, but KRATTIA will involve other people (most of which don’t know that they’re involved with it yet).

If you’re interested, you can stream / download material at the Mike Hill Soundcloud

http://soundcloud.com/mike-hill/krattia-iatf

There’s also another concept in the works: “DRACONIAN AGE” a portal where you can download stuff for free or on a donation basis.

Transmission 8.26.2010 Tombs / PlanksTour Journal

Posted in The Trip, Tombs with tags , , , , on August 26, 2010 by everythingwentblack

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.

Transmission 6.6.2010 Isis, Tombs, Jakob West Coast Tour Journal

Posted in Tombs with tags , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by everythingwentblack

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.