Saturday, December 29, 2007
thick with inertia over here. back from tour. a million thoughts and experiences to process and a million more to prepare for as i prepare to resume life as it was.
since i've been back, everybody asks me how this experience was. have lamented to my girlfriend that each time i've been cut off soon after i've begun to answer. no one seems to want to hear more than one anecdote, more than one impression or angle. but really, it was a month's worth of experiences, with all the ups and downs that that would entail.
i can tell you the greatest feeling easily. sometime earlyish in '07, my bandmate Joe and i stood by the stoop of his Greenpoint apartment discussing the idea of getting serious about Stay Fucked, pushing it further, allowing ourselves to own up to what we really wanted it to be. our goals were pretty modest, but not simple by any means. we wanted a record out on a label and we wanted to really head out on the road, to capitalize on all the contacts we'd made, to test out an idea we suspected was true--namely that our band did in fact measure up.
returning from the tour last Saturday, after an absolutely hellish drive from D.C. during which we averaged about 15mph, we were unloading Joe's stuff from the van onto the very same stoop. i felt totally exhausted, residually ill--i was sick with flu-like symptoms for the majority of the tour and still haven't fully recovered--just completely zonked, but i was able to relish the moment for a second. there we were, back in the same place, having simply done what it was we said we were going to do: 26 shows coast-to-coast in 29 days; released an awesome-sounding, awesome-looking CD via a cool label that sold pretty damn well on the road; hell, we even made our own T-shirts. it is weird that it's so hard, but it is, to simply come up with an idea and do it.
i have no idea how to summarize this experience. some observations:
1) Myspace makes booking a fun and even solvent tour really, really easy. I mean sure we had to bother people over and over again and sure some of those people totally flaked on us, but for the most part it was a breeze. all you have to do is find bands you'd like to play with in whatever city and just ask nicely for a show.
2) You can get a lot more for your money in other cities. The awesome John Delzoppo, of the killer Cleveland-based avant-shred duo Clan of the Cave Bear, is proof of this. For less than i pay for my tiny Greenpoint bedroom, he inhabits a palatial loft complete with practice space, recording studio and a totally sweet Guitar Hero rig. We spent two of the funnest days of the tour hanging at--and envying the shit out of--Chez John.
3) Waffle House is quite good! The waffles themselves are kind of average and sub-Eggo, but you can't beat those hashbrown options such as Scattered, Smothered (w/ onions), Covered (w/ cheese), Peppered (w/, uh, peppers), etc. Has anyone noticed that the veteran noise-rock Unsane has an album ("Scattered, Smothered and Covered") that was very likely named after this exact menu quirk?
4) If you ever go on the road for a long time, you should bring a lot of stand-up comedy. All Stay Fucked members have a nearly limitless and omnivorous appetite for tons of different music (i personally tripped hard over late Zeppelin on this trip--big ups to "Presence," like our old bassist Andres said), but after a while, you just long for words and sentences, especially of the absurd variety. a book on tape might be hard to concentrate on, but the bite-sized format of stand-up really did the trick. We got some serious mileage out of Daniel Tosh's "True Stories I Made Up." Imagine the even more super-sarcastic and cutting offspring of Seann William Scott (Steve Stifler of "American Pie" fame) and Ryan Reynolds ("Waiting," anyone?) and you'll get an idea of where this guy is coming from.
5) Every truckstop tape rack contains two or three incredible oddball selections. Always buy them. An '06 Big A little a tour yielded a selection from the illustrious discography of everyone's favorite lovably tame African-American comedian, Sinbad. This time, we had a few outstanding finds, including the ripping King Crimson live record "USA"; Shudder to Think's way-underrated second major label effort, "50,000 BC"; "SST Acoustic," a totally improbable compilation featuring unplugged tracks from SST groups like the Minutemen and Saccharine Trust; an album of Dudley Moore's New Age piano music (!?!?); and last but not least, the true find of the trip: "Disharmonization" by Carbonized, a Swedish avant-death-metal group that sounds like a combination of Voivod, late Black Flag and primitive grindcore. truly out there stuff; am trying to find some tracks to post...
6) Tallahassee, Florida, has an incredibly advanced and fertile music scene. we played an intensely fun show at a cavernous yet awesome-sounding venue called the Beta Bar with four very diverse bands including the powerful, Isis-esque trio the Western Hold and the riotously awesome math-rock&roll outfit Spike Mott and the Blackest Knights of the Darkest Apocalypse. then we hung deep w/ members of the latter band and talked prog and jazz till dawn and marveled at the seething eccentric creativity of these dudes, all of whom were in like six other bands, including the UNREAL tech-metal quartet Spiketrain and the gorgeous post-rock group Dead Legs. go there and play if you are a weird band.
7) two best sandwiches of tour were at Kevino's Hot Dogs and Sandwiches in Atlanta and Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh. the former was a very unassuming looking spot in a strip mall right near Lenny's Bar, where we played. the cuisine was advertised as Chicago-style, which was odd, considering that we were in the south. this place totally came out of left field with a crushing onslaught of flavor. Joe scored a tilapia bite, Tony a bulbous cheesesteak and me a glorious "Chicago style beef" number, dripping with jus and seasoned with an amazing concoction of pickled peppers and carrots. total sumptuousness. Primanti's meanwhile, is more of a known city landmark in Pittsburgh. pretty basic hot deli-ish sandwiches served on thick white bread, but with the added awesomeness of FRENCH FRIES mixed into the sandwich itself. definitely a trip.
8) coolest venue of tour may have been Detroit's Big Gray Shack. imagine a punk house combined with a ski lodge and you'll start to get an idea of the cozy electricity of this joint. incredibly nice people too. check out the totally brutal avant-grind band Letters in Binary; they slayed and were some of the warmest folks we encountered.
9) it was a huge personal thrill for me to play in front of a few of my musical heroes on this tour, including Will Scharf and Joe McTighe of Craw, Nick Sakes of Dazzling Killmen and Thymme Jones of Cheer-Accident. these dudes are all sine qua nons of the music i play now. though some of them are more modest than others, they're all geniuses and pillars of American underground awesomeness.
10) biggest mindblowing laffs were courtesy of the Crazy Dave Tape II and the "Office Hours" cartoon by Brad Neely. the former was a DVD handed off to us by a disturbed-seeming indie-scene guru in Cleveland. we laughed it off until we popped it in on a lark and were blown away by its hysterical barrage of skillfully segued gore and porn clips interlaced with weirdo cartoons and intensely unlikely celebrity clips from the netherreaches of pop culture. a truly committed artwork that we must've watched ten or more times over various tour stops. "Office Hours" is simply a masterpiece of freeform comedy. it simultaneously makes no sense and some deep form of unprecedented sense. please watch it here (note: my browser doesn't seem to like to play videos from this site, Super Deluxe; let me know if it plays okay when you click it):
i'm going to let all that suffice for now. so much more experienced, so much more to say. thanks to all dear friends for housing, support, company on the road, help with T-shirts including: Laal, Russ, Anna, Tom and Abby, Eli, all my family and friends in KC/Lawrence, Maya and her family in L.A., my aunt Sandy and Uncle Jon, my cousin Casey, the astoundingly nice and hospitable Dave Erb and his band the Yoleus of St. Paul, Tin "Above and beyond" Cagayat of San Diego, Shane Perlowin, Gideon, Sean, Craig/This Is My Condition, Eric in Madison, Sammy and Burgers of Lubbock, the dudes and dudettes of the Yukon, Calabi Yau and The Felon Wind and Muscle Brain and Lemp and Motion Turns It On and I, Octopus and A. Armada and Thrips and Capillary Action and Robots vs. Villages and Barkitecture and Flesh Epic and Thy Mighty Contract and Agape and Pincer and Good for Cows and entourages and all the other incredible bands we played with and Vanessa from War zine for interviewing us and the good folks at KFJC radio in Los Altos Hills and all photographers (pic above is from Chicago by Nick Shamblott) and anyone i'm forgetting. whew!
for the curious, here is where we went and who we played with:
BALTIMORE, MD - Ottobar w/ Yukon + Monarch + Jason Dove and the Magic Whip
PITTSBURGH, PA - Garfield Artworks w/ Puma Barrier + Bacchus
CLEVELAND, OH – Now That’s Class w/ Pincer + Clan of the Cave Bear + Defeatist + Black Ladies
DETROIT, MI – Big Gray Shack w/ Slicer Dicer + Letters in Binary + Dean Machine
MADISON, WI – Cafe Montmartre Eric’s U. Wisconson art studio w/ Capillary Action + Bastard Trio
ST. LOUIS, MO – Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center w/ Muscle Brain + The Sacoth + Waxwork of a Dynasty
CHICAGO, IL – The Mutiny w/ Behold! + Goodbye Satellites
ST. PAUL, MN – Big V’s w/ The Yoleus + Kontrol Panel + Arctic Universe
LAWRENCE, KS – The Replay Lounge w/ This Is My Condition and Dan Kozak + Cave + Monobrau
DENVER, CO – Rhinoceropolis w/ They Will Use Your Bones for Tools + Spellcaster + Kitchclub
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Red Light Books w/ Agape + Cathexes
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Thee Parkside w/ Hammer Horror Classics + Thrips
OAKLAND, CA – 21 Grand w/ The Devin Hoff Platform + Weasel Walter/Kyle Bruckmann/Moe! Staiano Trio
SAN DIEGO, CA – Scolari’s Office w/ Fkenal + Secret Fun Club + Hialeah
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Smell w/ Good for Cows + Grandpire
LONG BEACH, CA – The Que Sera w/ National Sunday Law + Cossack
PHOENIX, AZ – Trunkspace w/ Harlequin Babies + James Fella
LUBBOCK, TX – La Panza’s house Jessica’s house w/ La Panza + The Numerators
HOUSTON, TX – Super Happy Fun Land w/ Stove Blow + Thread Atlas + Motion Turns It On
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Hi-Ho Lounge w/ I, Octopus + Tchoupchoupacabra
ATHENS, GA – Caledonia Lounge w/ Caledonia Social Club + A. Armada
ATLANTA, GA – Lenny’s Bar w/ Thy Mighty Contract + The Lasch + Ski Club
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Beta Bar w/ Spike Mott and the Blackest Knights of the Darkest Apocalypse + Tron + The Western Hold + Thank You Kindly
ASHEVILLE, NC – New French Bar w/ Robots vs. Villages + Doom Ribbons + Flesh Epic
CHARLOTTE, NC – Yauhaus w/ Calabi Yau + The Felon Wind + The St. Peter Pocket Veto
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lighthouse w/ Barkitecture + Double Dutch + Hindges + Stymphalian Birds and White Stags