Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 13

It’s times like these that vitalize my “yes” policy.  I just worked on a short tour for a band whose lead singer, B, I knew from doing Warped Tour back in 2010 with her.  She asked me to do this run with her new(ish) band.  I almost said no, because they weren’t paying my normal rate, and you don’t want word to get out in the industry that you will work for less.  B’s my girl though, and I have a personal policy, which is that I say yes to every new opportunity, even when it seems scary.  Especially when it seems scary.  I am so glad I said yes because in only two weeks I fell in love with everyone and the world seems a little bit more colorful right now.

At first, I was having some anxiety (for reasons that I won’t bore you with), but in only a few hours, all became well; as it always does.  The first circumstance that calmed me was, “could you take my picture?  ‘Cuz I won’t remember.”  You know the song.  It was a hit in the 90‘s.  I was doing my merch girl thing, selling during the set, when Filter, who was the headlining band, started playing “Take a Picture,” a great guilty pleasure song and I took a deep breath, let the song penetrate and everything felt in balance again.  Music has magical powers.

The venue that first night had a bar area upstairs that was designated only for band and crew members.  Even though I was exhausted from traveling that day, I figured it would be a good way to break the ice with everyone and get to know the people I was about to live with for two weeks.  B and I caught up over a couple of drinks, and I remembered all of the reasons why I love her.  She is just an interesting person and talking to her doesn’t feel like talking to a girl.  We absolutely have girl talk, but we also talk about music and pooping and fucking and politics… conversations that you don’t always get with another chick.  The next thing I know, B and I are on Filter’s bus partying while simultaneously trying to be diplomatic and not get sexually harassed.

When getting to know the other bands on the tour package, you have to realize that you represent your band.  Even though I’m not a band member, when I meet the crew or musician’s of the other bands on the tour, I understand that I am, in a way, an ambassador to the band that I am working for.  It only takes one shitty exchange or incident to put a bad taste in one’s mouth, so that’s where the diplomacy comes to play.  To the not getting sexually harassed part… I’ll start by saying that there is an art to being a girl on a tour, and out of a four band tour package, B and I were the only girls amongst 24 guys.  Being a female crew member is tricky.  You need to be likeable, but professional.  You want these guys to remember you because this is how you get new gigs.  It’s all word of mouth.  I have a strict, no tour romance policy.  No romances with anyone on your bus, or with anyone from any of the bands that you are also touring with.  This can be difficult, because you meet a lot of cool boys.  However, that would get complicated VERY quickly, and it adds to reasons why being a girl on tour is an art. If you start hooking up with one of them, (there is absolutely no way of keeping that a secret) you go from being a crew member, to the girl.  That is not a good place to be.  You need to be one of the guys, but flirt enough so that the guys want you around… but not enough to where they don’t take you or your position on the tour seriously.  I suppose it’s like that in any male dominated profession.  It’s a balancing act to be well-respected and get people to take you seriously.  The whole reason I began this rant, is to say that B and I ended up on Filter’s tour bus, and we played the game, and played it well.  She is in a different position than I because she is a musician, not crew, but I’d imagine that she has the same obstacles, just slightly different circumstances.  She needs to flirt a little bit, but also be taken seriously.  An art.

The rest of the tour went something like this…

Wake-up.  Truck stop poop.  Coffee.  Read.  Walk.  Work.  Drink.  Party.  Drink.  Sleep.

It was beautiful.

One of the days they played early at a music festival, so we had the majority of the day off and went to a mini theme park in some irrelevant town outside of Houston.  We got our ass kicked by a wooden rollercoaster, drank margaritas and watched a swarm of catfish slaughtering each other.  It was one of the most primal things that I’ve ever seen.  I should have taken a video.  Later that night, I developed a crush on our guitar tech, played cornhole (until Christian gave our TM’s girlfriend a black eye with a bean bag) and got to wash my hair (a rare opportunity).

Little Rock, Arkansas.  Downtown Little Rock is always a good time.  Who knew?  I didn’t think anything relevant happened in Arkansas except for Bill Clinton.  However, each time I pass through Little Rock, I have a good experience.  They have a great book store, exactly three cool bars, fucking weird 3D art along some sidewalks, a river and a bunch of bridges.  I am a big fan of heights, so I find myself walking on bridges a lot.  Christian, the guitar tech, and I discovered that these bridges serve as a make-out point after 9:00pm, for kids under the age of 21.  No, we didn’t make-out (no tour romances, remember) but we did find a rainbow bridge!

 

I always take pictures when the person is not looking.

Rainbow Bridge.  I always take pictures when the person is not looking.

Finding bridges became a tradition with Christian and I.  We named them all.  There is Suicide Bridge, Rainbow Bridge and Horror Bridge.

Nashville.  We were homeless for a day in the city.  We had to get off of the bus at 8:00am, so that it could be fixed, and we didn’t get it back until that night.  We got breakfast and were like… now what?  We roamed around some souvenir shops, entertaining ourselves with bedazzled shot glasses, and ridiculous bumper stickers that say, “Kiss me!  I’m from Nashville!”  Then we had to find somewhere to shit, so we ended up at Hard Rock Cafe, because that was the only place open, as it was still before 11:00am.  If you ever go to the Nashville Hard Rock, just know that all of the members of the band shit in that bathroom.  Bloody Mary’s?  Yes please!  Another bar?  Yes please!  I think we were all buzzed before noon, but B and I took the rest of the afternoon to sober up.  I know that I can be quite the drinker, but I never drink before a show.  I’m dealing with a lot of cash, and a lot of mental math and I try to be at least semi professional.  So B and I walked around a Barnes and Noble and goofed around in the “As Seen on TV” section of a nearby Rite-Aid.  I think the rest of them continued to drink because we walked into the venue to discover this:

PASSED OUT!

PASSED OUT backstage.

Somewhere in Kentucky I believe, is where I fell in love with M.  Not in a romantic way, but in a, I officially respect and appreciate who you are and you are forever cool in my book, kind of a way.  He is the guitar player of the band, and he actually started talking about music.  That never happens.  You would think, that traveling with bands, music would constantly be a topic of conversation, but it’s quite the opposite.  This is the first band that I’ve been out with where the band members discuss other bands and their love for music.  We were all (minus B and the bass player who went to see a movie) at a Bar Louie, enjoying the late night happy hour with the band’s manager when I noticed that M was starting a conversation about music.  It took me a second to realize what was going on, but once I did I was ALL in, taking full advantage of the rare occasion.  Him and I were stimulating the conversation the most, so we would name a band/artist, and go around the table, making everyone disclose their opinion about it.

M: Bob Dylan.  Go.
Dave: Big yes.
Christian: I get the appeal but it’s not something I listen to.
Me: Great songwriter, but other people perform his songs better than him.
D: Overrated.
And so on…..

We discussed everyone from Blink182 to Bob Marley, and talked about which album we would bring with us to a deserted island if we could only choose one. We told stories of the best live show we have seen and confessed what bands we would love to play in.  It was so refreshing to hear people in the industry still being passionate about the industry.  I know so many musicians who never listen to music.  It’s strange.  So that conversation is what made me fall in love with them as a band, and especially M since he was the most fervent and I think was the only one who wasn’t simultaneously on his phone.

At the end of the tour, the band left before the crew did, so me and the three other crew members had the bus and no work for three days.  This turned into what was essentially a 72 hour bus party.  Fellow touring folk understand what that means, but I will explain.  A bus party starts with an iPod being hooked up to the bus speakers.  Generally there is one person who is sort of designated as DJ, but we all take turns playing whatever we want.

Side note: Kyle, the drummer for the band Helmet, might take first place as bus party DJ in The Caitlin Awards.

Anyway, for a good bus party, I recommend Katy Perry.  I thought I was a hater, but Christian, Drew and Rhett made me realize the error of my ways, and we danced for hours to Katy Perry.  Best idea we’ve ever had.  The bus was parked in a mall parking lot, so from the outside I’m sure it looked like a war was taking place because of how much the bus must have been shaking.  On the inside, just imagine four adults, jumping up and down, using hand-held lights to create a strobe light effect, playing lots of air guitar, and climbing on seats.  Bus party.  Oh, and of course add extreme amounts of Jameson.  In three days, I’m sure that between the four of us, we must have done close to 100 shots of Jameson with a pickle back.

Bus party.

Bus party.

 

Air guitar.

Air guitar.

In between bus parties we spent hours in a Dave and Buster’s, literally had to walk a half of a mile every time we needed to shit (I know I talk about pooping a lot on these touring adventure stories, but I want everyone to understand what a goddamn ordeal it is.  Don’t ever take for granted the luxury of always having a toilet handy), woke up screaming at each other from our bunks that it smelled like balls in bunk alley, found a laundromat and Iced Drew three times in one night.  He was a trooper about it and took it like a straight up All Star.

Drew getting Iced.

Drew getting Iced.

I will conclude this with saying that I fell in love with Christian when I played “Cry Little Sister” the original, by G. Tom Mac, and he immediately knew it, and we bonded over our love for that song and our love for The Lost Boys.  I am such a sucker.  However, because I remember what Ms. Distler taught me in high school English, one must always conclude an essay by repeating what we just learned, which in this case is, I have my “yes policy” to thank for those two weeks.

The crew.

The crew.

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My Teenage Boyfriends’ Spoiled Me

The boys that I was hooking up with during my formative years were nice.  Maybe it was simply because they were young innocent’s and the world had not yet swallowed them up, churned them around in its’ acidic bile and spit them out a poisoned, corrupted soul.  Graham Greene said in The Quiet American, “Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”  Boom.  Graham Greene is sexy.  Anyway, the dude was on to something.  Maybe I should have guarded myself from innocence because I grew up thinking boys were nice and understanding and patient when it comes to sex.  Was I just lucky?  Did I just happen to get the good ones?  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely had my fair share of shitty bedroom situations when I was a teenager, but the boys I was with when we were younger and learning how our bodies worked, were terrified of hurting me.  They were gentlemen.  And I mean that literally;  gentle men.  They didn’t unbutton my pants on the first date and they didn’t grab my boobs after four seconds of saliva exchange and they didn’t even let it get to the point where I would have to use the word, “no” because they fucking paid attention and just knew when it was and was not okay to progress.  Guys now think that kissing will always lead to sex.  Um no.

There was James.  He was my first, and my first “real” boyfriend.  I was 16 so I don’t remember a lot, but he was nice and definitely never pressured me.  A good first.  High five to myself.

Then there is Cody.  I’ve never written about Cody mostly because I can’t.  There is too much history that it is overwhelming.  There are some things so sacred, in which words seem feeble to attempt to use.  Maybe one day, if I’m ever a better writer, I’ll try to write about Cody.  For now though, I’ll just say that if there was some sort of test for hearts, the way there is an IQ test for your brain, during the ages of 14-25 years old, Cody and I would have scored the exact same.  Cody was caring.  He was like me, because he didn’t need sex.  Not in the way most guys do.  I had some problems, and he was so soft and understanding, (or at least pretended to understand) and said all of the right things when we were rolling around together in his squeaky high school bed that had a sound machine next to it that he was obsessed with.  And boy, could he kiss.  There you go Cody, there is the one thing that I will write about you.

My Love (nickname) was amazing.  He put up with my fucked up ways and never questioned it.  When him and I first started dating, I remember the first time he put his hand up my shirt.  He went so slow, allowing me time to stop him if I wanted to.  I didn’t stop him.  Then, instead of his hand landing on my breasts, where I assumed they were going, he went all the way through my v-neck shirt and landed at my face.  He cupped my face as we kissed and that was the first time his hand was up my shirt.  I’ll always remember that because it seemed so innocent.  He was a hormonal teenager who could have had a grab at a boob, but he passed them and went for my face and it was more intimate than any awkward feel-up could have been.

Tommy and I were a goddamn rollercoaster, and he came later in life, but when we first started seeing each other, he could read my body language as blatantly as he could read a book.  I remember the first time we hooked up, and it got to the point where we were about to have sex, but I just didn’t feel right about it yet.  I don’t think I even had to verbalize anything, he just stopped.  He could tell from my body language because he was paying attention.  Listening with his instincts.  BOYS DON’T DO THIS ANYMORE!

Those are the ones who I learned with.  The ones that I’ve been with the most.  Maybe I have a jaded current view of boys because I haven’t “seriously” been with anyone in a while.  That is mostly because I just don’t like being in relationships, but I’m wondering if it’s also because boys just don’t pay attention now that we are older.  I’ve dated guys since Tommy, and almost become at least semi serious with a few of them, but I’m wondering if part of the hesitation is that I’m silently screaming for someone who only existed at a time when we were dumb leper’s who had lost our bells.

Like I said, I have had PLENTY of crap experiences, but the one that sparked this random musing happened last night.  I was out with this guy who is a friend, but has been pursuing me for a little while.  Just don’t pursue me.  It’s exhausting.  I leave town often for work and I’m like a dude when it comes to relationships.  Just not that into commitment.  Obviously.  Anyway, this guy was trying to take my pants off, but I kept stopping him.  First question, why did I have to do this more than once?  He then went on to remind me of a time that I threw up and passed out in his bathroom once during a party a while back.  It wasn’t my finest hour.  It happens.  Apparently he can’t brush it off so easily, because he surprised me with this:

“I had to clean up your puke, so at least show me some snatch.”

I swear to God.  I don’t even need to waste my linguistic energy on why that statement is so fucked up.  These are the boys nowadays!  I got so used to the Cody’s and Matt’s of the world, that I grew up thinking all boys are nice.  They’re not.  Not all boys will take the time to read your body language like a book.  Maybe they have all just found their bell and learned to guard themselves against innocence.

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I Love a Dead Kid Whom I’ve Never Met

I have been going through a quarter life crisis since I turned 20, almost eight years ago.  Unfortunately, my quarter life crisis has not included cool cars, hot 18 year olds with six packs or new hair-cuts.  My crisis has been a whirlwind of self-doubt, an anesthetized heart, and an overall identity crisis.  In other words, middle class white girl problems.  So, what did I do instead of the hot 18-year-old?  I signed up to volunteer and I got a tattoo to commemorate a dead kid I’ve never met.  When I got the tattoo, it was during a time that I was having very high anxiety.  I don’t think that anything we do is truly altruistic.  Even the acts we label as “selfless,” we still do as a way to make ourselves feel good about ourselves.  It’s a bonus that someone or something else is also benefiting.  Volunteering is a perfect example.  My distracted point is however, that I suppose one could say that I’m exploiting the boy whose name is now tattooed on my leg, but I’m perfectly comfortable with that accusation because I don’t feel that I am.

Years after Nick’s first deployment, the boy I speak about in Aristotle and a Story of Love, a book was written about his unit titled, “They Fought for Each Other: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq” written by Kelly Kennedy.  It is an excellent book.  I fancied myself some sort of anti-war advocate back then.  I thought that because I KNEW that this war was wrong, and that I could back up my statement with fancy political terminology and passionate rhetoric on foreign policy, that that meant something.  God was I naive.  This book provides unexpected perspective, and gives a face to what the war truly is to the troops; just a bunch of kids fighting for one another.  Without a cause, these soldiers only have one another to fight for and they can’t abandon that.  That’s their true call of duty.  Each other.  I better stop myself now, before I go on a rant about this imperialist war that was created through ignorance.

I had no idea that Nick’s unit was the hardest hit until he told me about this book and suggested that I read it.  Of course I did, and it was a strange experience because as I was reading these accounts of woeful events, I could remember hearing about them when they actually occurred.  Nick didn’t talk too much about the war, but when he was able to call from Iraq, and when he felt like sharing, there were a few stories that stuck out in my mind.  For example, one I remember him telling me happened when he was out on patrol.  One of the sergeants just got out of the Humvee saying, “fuck this,” walked a few yards away, and shot himself.  It made me sick to my stomach when he told me.  That awful event was recounted in the book, so it was a strange thing reading about these accounts that I actually remembered happening.

One of the guys that was often brought up in the book was Sgt. Ryan Wood.  Obviously, a lot of soldiers were discussed, but whenever the author wrote about Ryan Wood, I couldn’t help but think, I really like this guy.  As I kept reading, this feeling grew.  He wanted to go to art school after he was done with the Army, and they described him as being the one who, “often served as the conscience of the second platoon.”   He kept his morals intact, at a time when I can only imagine it would be far easier to let go of moral principles.  He was quoted as saying, “we can’t be like them,” during times when most other soldiers were revenge thirsty and simply wanted to murder every Iraqi because their best friend was just killed by some stupid fucking IED buried under some trash on the side of the road.  I can’t say that I blame them.  Hating is easy.  It helps to make sense of things that don’t make sense… like war.  But Ryan Wood saw the “enemies” as humans when no one else could.  When you’re fighting for your life everyday, to save your mind from yourself, I’d imagine that you’d have to create an enemy  monster in order to attempt to keep yourself at least mildly sane.  But Ryan Wood was strong.  Throughout the book, I developed a crush on this kid.  He seemed funny and smart and just someone who I would get along with and should be friends with.

As I was in the process of reading the book, I found myself wondering what he was doing now.  Was he at art school?  Did he have PTSD?  Is he married now?  Is he happy?  It was strange that I felt close to a guy that I didn’t know.  At the end of the book, you find out that Ryan Wood died in Iraq.  I literally cried.  Cried for a boy that I will never know.

It’s been years since I completed the book, but I still find myself thinking about Ryan Wood from time to time.  Not a lot, but every couple of months or so, he’ll just pop into my mind.  I never told anyone this because it seemed like a deranged fixation, but I began to embrace the idea.  I love the idea of remembering people you will never knew.  People whom most of the world will never know.  We remember grand heroes and legends, but people who you see in antique photographs, and people whose handwriting you find on vintage postcards, and people who are buried at the pretty cemeteries I visit, all with small gravestones from 1879 who no one in this living world probably remembers anymore…  I like remembering those people.  And I like remembering Sgt. Ryan Wood.  The boy whom I love, but will never know.

I would like to conclude this with a very profound statement: Fuck war.

 

Not a very clear picture, but it's a day of the dead skeleton holding a medic symbol with, "R. Wood" inscribed in it.

Not a very clear picture, but it’s a day of the dead skeleton holding a medic symbol with, “R. Wood” inscribed in it.

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