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Things I Learned From Working With a Black Metal Band

I have toured twice now with a certain black metal band, and they are my favorite band to work for.  I think I’ll start with my favorite thing I learned while with them:

1.  Nothing can both create and destroy as much as hope.

We had a day off in Oregon back in January, and spent it going on a hike which almost killed me because my Floridian body cannot take altitude.  After being worried for a few hours that some of the guys did actually die (they ventured off trail), we made a celebratory bonfire upon their return.  Well, if I’m being honest, it was just a fire outside to keep us warm and give us something to do.  But in my mind, I was celebrating the fact that no one died. Everyone was quiet, exhausted, watching the flames consume, and I had a sudden thought which I shared out loud, “Fire is the only thing that can both create and destroy so much.”

“No, hope.”  One of the guys immediately countered with.  As dismal as that sounds, he was right.  Hope is the ultimate creator and destroyer.  It has made me begin actively trying to let go of all my hopes.  Having zero expectations of anyone or anything sounds blissfully peaceful.

2.  “Peer pressure is where all of the good stuff happens.”

Something the lead singer said.  He tends to be the wise one.  We always associate peer pressure with negative influences, but it can be equally as positive.  Peer pressure can occur when you’re getting your heartbroken and the people surrounding you convince you that it’s a better idea to climb a mountain with them rather than sit alone moping and drinking beer.  That happened to me on this last tour.  Sure, sometimes peer pressure does not lead you on a good path, but I think part of the point he was making is, even if it’s not the “right” path, maybe something interesting will happen.  Maybe you’ve learned something about yourself or someone else, and maybe you’re better for it.  As I write, I’m realizing that peer pressure is another concept that can also create and/or destroy.  Whether it’s a negative influence or a positive one, I find how powerful it is to be very fascinating.  The lesson is, don’t hang out with assholes, and then you will almost always have a positive peer pressure experience.  Real friends won’t hurt you.

3.  “Things” create an invisible barrier between us all.

I’ve understood this for a while, but I see it with even more clarity now.  These guys don’t need much and they are unconcerned with luxuries.  I think part of the reason why it is so easy to begin to feel like part of the family with them, is because there is no superficial concerns in the way.  We don’t much care how we look or smell around each other, or what we do or say around each other either because everyone is so non-judgmental.  It’s a kind of bond that you can only find with people who don’t give a fuck.  And these guys truly don’t give a fuck.

Especially as a girl, I am often way too in my head and concerned with my appearance.  When I’m out on the road, and especially with this band, some of those voices go away.  I wake up and don’t usually even wash my eye crust away until the afternoon, once load-in is complete.  I don’t normally put on make-up, I wear the same shirt three days in a row and I look in the mirror once a day.  And that’s how they know me, with no falsities filtering us.  It’s fucking beautiful when your mind is clear of all that everyday nonsense.  Your brain has more capacity to notice and experience things and each other when it’s not distracted by hair products, cell phones and how your Levi’s fit.

It also makes me think about a lesson that the boy with the white hair once told me.  He was explaining to me why he tends to wear black on black everyday.  He has enough to think about, so what he is going to wear, is one less decision he needs to make, hopefully making room for decisions that do matter.  So I guess what the black metal band and the boy with the white hair taught me is that the road to peace of mind can only be found when it has paved away superficial mental clutter.

4.  Being a vegetarian is a luxury.

If you’re really hungry, fuck vegetarianism.  I was a vegetarian for several years, then a pseudo vegetarian, and now all I can claim is that I try to avoid meat.  I don’t dispute the probable health benefits of not eating meat, and I don’t support the inhumane treatment of animals that are no better or worse than us.  As I’m sure you’ve already come to understand, these guys are very low-maintenance.  They don’t ask for much on the tour rider, so we often have minimal food available.  I like that about them, but it also means that I know what it is like to be really hungry when there are no food options other than a package of sliced ham that was left-over from one of last weeks venues.  When you’ve been on the road for a while, working your ass off, and there is no food around and you haven’t gotten a good meal in for a few days… trust me, you will welcome that processed pig.

I think of being a vegetarian as a kind of luxury because before mass production and before GMO’s, the only way one could be a vegetarian is if one happened to live in one of the few places on Earth that happen to have plentiful and varying vegetation.  You think that there are many vegetarians in Russia?  Doubtful.  But I don’t live in Russia, so I can easily avoid meat when I’m home, if I want to.  So now I proclaim myself a “non-asshole-vegetarian.”  Meaning, I try to stay away from it, but I’m not high maintenance about it.  If someone makes something for me that has meat in it, I’m not going to be an asshole and tell them that I can’t eat it.  Or if I’m in Eastern Europe (which I was recently) I’m going to enjoy and adjust to their culture, which I am here to tell you… is a lot of meat, cheese and bread.

5.  Moderation can be overrated.

I have always said that everything in moderation is healthy.  Embracing your vices in moderation is healthy.  These mother fuckers though, take their vices head on, like a bull.  And just like a raging bull, they have battle wounds and sometimes they look rough, but fuck, they make decay look beautiful.  They know themselves better than most and I think that a lot of that is because they have taken their minds and bodies to the limits.  I think we all learn a lot about ourselves when we let substances kick our ass sometimes.  They haven’t crossed the line completely, they just dance with the devil on the line between moderation and insanity.  Sure, we have lost some brain cells, but I think we gain so much more.  We gain camaraderie, travels, experiences, wisdom and hard work.  I understand that you can gain all of those qualities while practicing moderation, but the point is, it seems like you can get there by practicing extremism sometimes as well.

6.  Black metal bands have the most competent fans.

As we all know because of my Merch Girl Rants, the people who I typically deal with at metal shows are abhorrently stupid.  It’s honestly incredible.  However, with the black metal band, I only get a couple of dumb questions a night.  Usually, I only get a couple of NOT dumb questions a night.  So it’s safe to conclude that there is something about the Satanist crowd that makes them more intellectually competent.  Those five hours I spend selling t-shirts and patches is a lot less painful when I’m selling for the black metal band because I actually feel like I’m dealing with other humans, rather than a subordinate alien race.

7.  Calling someone a mongoloid is a very fun insult.

Try it soon!  “You fucking mongoloid!”  It’s wonderfully satisfying when someone is acting like an ape.

8.  All pain does is hurt.

I like this lesson because it can apply to physical and emotional pain.  Some of the guys are slightly sadistic, and I’m slightly masochistic, so we end up doing shit like shooting each other with BB guns, burning ourselves due to a bet and whipping each other when someone fucks up a guitar riff.  I used to hate anticipating pain, but I’ve seen their scars and I’ve seen them take it, and now I try to shrug it off and I think to myself, don’t be scared of pain, all it does is hurt.

I got my heartbroken on this last tour, and I applied the same lesson.  All of the pain I was/am feeling, I just breathed it out and tried to remember that this is all it does.  It just hurts, that’s it.  So there’s my final gift to you babe, you can blame it all on me because I’m not scared and I’ll take the pain.

 

 

 

 

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Merch Girl Rant #2

I thought I was going to start this entry by bitching about the absolutely mind boggling stupidity of the merch customers that I deal with every night.  However, I had the unpleasant experience of being back at Warehouse Live in Houston, Texas this week.  I hate that fucking venue.  I have unfortunately been there before, which is not uncommon in the touring world.  You end up frequenting a lot of the same venues across the country.  I swear that I must go to the Agora Theatre in Cleveland every time I’m on tour.  At least it’s a good venue.  The only good thing about Cleveland, by the way.

Many of the venues that I go to are pretty divey and rough to say the least.  They do their best with what they’ve got though, and for the most part, try to make you as comfortable as possible.  And I love dives!  I live in shitty dive bars and venues and I feel right at home.  Needless to say, I am not high maintenance at all when it comes to venues.  I usually spend my time sitting on the floor counting shirts anyway.  I don’t get irritated when there is not a shower, I don’t get mad when there are stairs for a load-in and I couldn’t care less about catering or the rider.  I only care about common courtesy.  When a band is coming to play at your establishment, at least have the respect to remove old moldy hair from the shower drain, and spend the $10 to purchase a new shower curtain once it becomes ridden with enough mold to give me a fungus infection.  Today’s venue had that, plus the most disgusting couches I think I have ever seen in the greenroom.  The carpet had those black gum stains that have been there for at least twenty years, and the smell… it smelled like the holocaust inside.  What are we supposed to do with that?

The merch area had to-go containers of left-over food in it and other random pieces of garbage.  The local crew was a joke.  It was the slowest load-out we’ve ever had on this tour, and the man settling merch with me had a massive attitude, to which I of course, put into check.  Usually, the venue takes a cut of the merch sales.  It’s ridiculous, but it happens.  20% of the cloth sales (meaning they don’t take on media/CD sales) is typical.  I think that’s bullshit.  I can understand 10%, just because they’re providing you with a place to sell, but that’s all they provide.  Usually they don’t help with merch at all, and the person who is settling with you shows up at the very end saying, “you’ll be settling with me and the cut is 80/20.”  Oh, hello.  Where have you been all night?  It would have been nice to know of your existance when I needed change or when I had to pee and there was no one around to keep an eye on the table.

I told one of the house managers at the venue how I felt.  I was so irritated by the end of the night and basically told him that they need to take a little pride in their establishment and have some respect for the people who are coming to put on an event that day.  I said that it’s just plain rude to make us work in an environment like this.  I don’t think he gave a shit, because I’m just the merch girl, but at least I felt a little bit better for getting it off my chest.

Now, onto the fun part of the rant.  The customers.  How is it that you’re a grown man and you do not know your shirt size?  A regular fucking t-shirt, when I ask what size, how is it possible that you look at me dumbfounded?  Like that question has never entered your mind at any point in your life.  Then!  I tell them their size, because I can tell by looking, and they proceed to say, “No… let me see an extra large.”  I get them the XL and then they hold it up, say it’s too big, and THEN agree with my assessment that they are a large.  Thank you for wasting my time, now go away.  Always trust your merch girl.  The boy with the white hair said that I should make stickers with that slogan.

On this run, I have a lot of different shirt designs, so they are all labeled with little signs I have made.  For example, one shirt is labeled “Mosh $25” another says “Green $25.”  I swear to God that I only get maybe two customers a night who actually read the fucking signs and call the shirt by the appropriate name.  Everyone else says, “can I have that shirt?”  And they barely point, it’s mostly an ambiguous hand motion.

“Which one?”  I ask.  Then they point a little bit better, but they are still quite a distance from the display, and there are ten shirts all lined up side by side, so it’s hard to tell which one they are pointing at, which is why I take the god damn time to label them!  “The one that says mosh on it?” I ask.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“What size?”  Blank stare.  Jesus Christ.

Right before doors open, the merch boy who works for the other band on the tour looks at me, takes a deep breath and says, “ready for four hours of stupid questions?”  He is so right.  It is truly unbelievable the stuff we hear.  If I could set up a camera in the merch booth, that shit would go viral.  We sometimes  get the fanboys who treat the shirts like they are the actual band members.

“Oh man!  Look at that one!  That is so sick dude!”  And they high five each other and then notice the hats  I have on the table, “Oh shit!  Look at the hats!  You got to get one man, that is so cool.”  Then they fucking high five again.  Once I am able to snap them out of being star struck over t-shirts, and am able to actually get them to make some decisions so I can get through this line that has been steadily increasing during the ten minutes that they have diddle daddled around like little girls at a prom dress shop, then they continue to stare at the shirts, even though they have already made their purchase and even though they have already spent ten minutes staring at ten of the same shirts.  You would think that the shirts have LED screens in them with a sports game playing.  It’s unbelievable.  Then I tell them to get the fuck out of the way so I can do my job.  I don’t say that, but I wish I could.  I’m only pretend nice for the sake of the bands I work for and I try to be professional.  So the assholes move over five feet, and then AGAIN hold up their shirts that they just bought, and giggle.  They look at the tour dates on the back, find the date for that particular night, point at it and say to one another, “there it is, man!”  Then they high five again, and if I’m lucky, then they’re out of my life forever.  Usually not though, usually these types find their way up to the merch booth a couple of more times a night.  It’s absurd.

Then I get the guys who continually ask me the same fucking question multiple times a night.  “Can I get that shirt in a large?”

“Sorry, we are out of that one in large.  I have medium or XL, or I’ve got large in the other designs.”

“You don’t have that shirt in large?” they say again.

“No, sorry, man.”

“Are you sure?”  They’ll ask as they look over the table, where all of the shirts are stocked.  Why the fuck would I lie to you about that?  It is not in my best interest in any way to not give you a shirt you damn moron.  “You got any in the back?”  Um… this isn’t Macy’s.

“No, there’s none in the trailer.”  Then they come back ten minutes later asking if I got any more shirts.  Yeah man, I got a fucking UPS delivery between now and when you asked me ten minutes ago.  Then, they will come back at the end of the night, thinking that I won’t remember them, and casually say, “Can I get that shirt in large?”  They think I’m purposely witholding from them or something.  What I want to say is, “I still don’t have that mother fucking t-shirt in a god damn large you annoying asshole!  Trust me, if I did, I would have happily given it to you with haste, so that I never have to talk to you ever again.”

Another absolutely amazing question I get all of the time is, “Which shirt has the tour dates on them?”  I never really know how to respond to that question because my display displays all of the backs of the shirts, and I currently have about six shirts with tour dates on the back.  So over half of my display is a sea of tour dates.  First, I honestly look into their eyes to make sure that they’re not blind and that I’m not about to be semi condescending to a disabled person.  When I deduce that they are not in fact blind, which they never are, I just kind of wave my arm across the entire display and say, “all of the ones that you see with tour dates on them, have the tour dates on them.”  I mean honestly, how in the hell else am I suppose to answer that question?!

Now let’s move on to the girl shirts.  The girly shirt is labeled “Girly” and it is clearly tapered in a girly form fitting way and it’s purple.  When a man is asking for a girly shirt, I want to believe that he is being nice and buying one for his girlfriend or daughter or something, but I know better than to assume that these people are not being stupid, so I always like to clarify.  Nine times out of ten, they didn’t fucking realize that the small purple shirt labeled “girly” is in fact for girls.

You’re probably thinking that these types of occurrences only happen a few times a night.  No.  I promise you, that only a few times a night, does it NOT happen.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that maybe two to four people  a night do not ask me something stupid.  I love these people.  And if he’s cute, I’ll go as far as giving him a $5 discount, just so that I can award good behavior.  They usually end up giving it back to me as a tip, so it works out.  The stupidity levels vary from scene to scene.  The metal heads seem to be the dumbest.  Surprisingly, the black metal scene has the most competent fan base.  This is one of the reasons why working for the black metal band that I tour with is my favorite band to work for.  They’re great people, and also the people who come to their shows I can relate to on a human level, instead of being onslaught by stupidity all night long.  Black metal fans are usually Satanist, so maybe that has something to do with it.  You have to be at least mildly competent to be a Satanist because it usually requires some analyzing and research.

If you are reading this and go to shows often, please be one of the people who walks up and simply says, “The mosh shirt in medium, please.”  And have your money ready.  Us merch people love people like you.  And use cash.  Yes, we do normally accept credit cards, but they’re a pain in the ass and slows everything down and credit cards are just not very rock and roll.  You’re going to a metal show, have some damn cash on you for christ’s sake.

Rant complete.  For now.

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Post Tour Blues – Report 1 of 2

I have been home for a while now, and I feel that I am FINALLY getting over my Post Tour Blues.  I am starting to make more friends, enjoy my little routines and flirting with the idea of trying to start a garden.  Don’t get me wrong, I cannot friggen wait to get back on the road, but I am enjoying NOT going stir crazy at the moment.  I leave again soon though, and will be traveling for three months, and I am very stoked about that, but I am already dreading the Post Tour Blues that I will be sure to experience upon my return in late November.

There are many reasons why us roadies get the Post Tour Blues as I call it (or PTB).  A lot of the symptoms are due to the sudden change in lifestyle.  The easiest, most concise way to describe it, is that we go from 60 to zero in only a few minutes.  The amount of time that it takes to walk off of the bus and into the airport terminal that will be delivering you home.

I go from being in a new city every day and being at a live, loud, adrenaline pumping rock show every night,  to sitting on my mom’s couch watching her make carrot juice and hearing about the family of rabbits that are hopping around the neighborhood.  Touring can be a lot of fucking fun, and everything I deal with on a daily basis is so over the top that it can sometimes make normal life feel mundane.  Another factor in the cause of Post Tour Blues.

Also, you go from having a very specific, functional purpose, to no purpose at all.  Each person on the tour is essential and provides a specific job that makes the entire tour function.  You know exactly what is required of you and there is a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.  Then you go home and you have no role and no sense of purpose, and those questions like, “what am I doing with my life?” start haunting you.  I just happened to have the month off during the 2014 World Cup.  I am not kidding when I tell you that I spent the entire month alone in a bar, drinking beer and watching soccer.  I had a great time, but honestly, in that month, there was just no purpose to my existence.

This brings me to my next point, which is often, I tend to isolate myself post tour.  I know that I probably shouldn’t, because it only enhances the blues, but I know that a lot of other touring folk do this as well.  I’ve speculated on some of the reasons why this is.  One I believe, is that it does become harder to relate to people who live a more stable lifestyle.  Your cares, concerns and experiences, the things that you talk about, are radically different.  It’s not that one way of life is superior to the other, it’s just different, and I get self-conscious sometimes about the topics of conversation that I would probably bring up.  I’m sitting there discussing how I can’t remember if I accidentally drunkenly kissed the guitar tech, how a goth with metal spikes coming from his head stalked me all night, trying to get access on to the bus, and how I’m thinking about dreadlocking my hair just so that I don’t have to deal with hair maintenance on the road.  The stable friend is discussing how their kid likes playing with a broken piece of a picture frame rather than their toys, how the contractor put in the wrong tile in their kitchen and how they may get an office promotion.  Neither is right or wrong, just different and I know that I am the more abnormal one; the minority, so it sometimes makes me self-conscious and I just avoid that type of interaction.  There are of course certain close friends that you don’t have to worry about this type of thing with, thank goodness for them.

Being alone often after tour is mostly self-induced, but not always.  Your friends and family have their own lives without you because they have become accustom to you not being around.  So when they don’t call you to invite you out for their traditional Saturday afternoon Bloody Mary’s at the nearby beach bar, it’s not because they don’t want you there, it’s just that they have grown into the habit of not calling because you’re often not in town.  I sometimes feel very alone after a tour, which leads to PTB.

Romantic relationships are fucked.  To the point where I don’t even have the emotional stamina to get into that right now.  I think it’s obvious how touring puts a major strain on any type of relationship, but especially romantic ones, so hopefully you can use your imagination and forgive me for skipping over the dirty details right now.  Maybe down the road… probably when I am suffering through another episode of PTB, I may be in the mood to drink a bottle of whiskey and dredge through painful memories.

When you’re on the road, it’s easy to distract yourself from the thoughts of your personal life back home being annihilate because there is constant new stimulus.  Once you are back home though, you’re forced to confront all of the things that you have been putting off during your tour and it hits you in the stomach, knocking the wind out of you.

Finally being able to have some damn privacy once you get home is very nice and so you feel the compulsion to take advantage of that and get as much privacy as you can soak up.  This ultimately leads to the loneliness as well.   I will get to bus privacy in the 2nd report.

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The Rules of Touring

1. Use common sense.

2. Be considerate.

3. Don’t complain.

That’s it. Those are the only true rules of touring. I started writing a book, and though I have never thought about listing tour rules, it began to organically happen while drafting one of the chapters. I had fun with it, and made a whole list of specific rules such as, keep the damn doors shut to bunk alley until everyone is awake, you inconsiderate bastard! But after going over my list, and after something Monterey said, I realized that it was redundant and everything came down to use common sense, be considerate and don’t complain. Simple as that.

A person who sucks at being a busmate will always suck at being a busmate no matter how many tours they go on because these “rules” aren’t learned, they’re just called, not being an asshole. I’m sorry, I know there are a lot of sweet people out there who are lacking in common sense, but you’re still an asshole, even if you have the best intentions. I absolutely have my daft moments, the English hooligan can attest to that after sitting with me in a freezing room for two hours trying to fix a string of paperwork the time when I forgot that 175 is not the same as 150. But! I have enough common sense to know that if I’m living on a bus with ten other people and one mini fridge, than I shouldn’t buy a gallon of milk.

Complaining is toxic. Just don’t do it. Next time you want to bitch about the venue’s catering or how there are no cups on the bus, remind yourself that you get to travel around the world for a living, so shut the fuck up and do your job.

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My Sister Says that I’m Mean to Strangers: A Merch Girl Rant

My sister informed me that she thinks I’m mean to strangers. She’s probably right. I wasn’t always this way. I think the change occurred when I was managing a bar in Hollywood. Everyone in Hollywood is an asshole and it’s contagious. On top of that, this bar was located in the sketchiest part of Hollywood. So it was assholes mixed with the seediest crowd I’ve ever consistently seen in one place. By far. Every patron that was in their during the day, you couldn’t tell if they were homeless, or a successful millionaire director who has gone off his rocker and now wears ARMY surplus clothes, spends his time doodling pornographic storyboards on cocktail napkins while drinking pints of Smithwicks. Everyone in there at night was either looking to get laid or using the establishment as a mafia meeting point. And everyone, no matter what time of day, got wasted. You did not go to this bar without the intentions of getting hammered. Half of the staff was drunk most of the time. Needless to say, it was a goddamn mess everyday.

Everyday I had stories ranging from needing to call 911 because a strange man looked at me blankly and threatened to come back with a gun and kill all of us basically because the bartender didn’t suck his dick, to little mob men making me go into the safe to give them cash that I was instructed to write off as “credit card reimbursement.” The point is, I dealt with a lot of bullshit at this job and it turned me mean because everyone just pissed me off. The only person who had any sense at all was Nick. He was one of the other manager’s and him and I were our own little two man team because everyone else seemed to be fucking stupid. Nick is a delight and a whole other story that I will tell one day.

Now, I’m a merch girl. My 2014 New Year’s resolution, almost a year ago now, was to learn how to build a fire with my bare hands, and to be nicer to strangers. I really do think that I’m making progress on the latter, but this is why it’s so damn hard…

A woman asks to see a medium shirt.
I hold it up for her as she examines.
Woman: “Is the large going to be bigger than the medium?”

It’s times like these that make my resolution very difficult. What I really want to tell her is that that is the most embarrassing question I have ever heard. However, I refrain. Not so much because I’m trying to be nice, or because of my resolution, but because I am working, and I try to be a professional, so I hold my tongue. I know that if I open my mouth bitter sarcasm will involuntarily come vomitting out, so I usually don’t say anything at all when I hear a question that is so profoundly stupid. I just look at the person in silence for a moment, and generally they will catch their mistake. In this woman’s case, after suffering through my blank stare for a few excrutiating moments, she said, “Yeah, I guess it would be.”

Here’s a very common one…
Person: “How much is that shirt?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”
Person: “What about that one?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”
Person: “And that one at the end?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”

I hate to be sexist against my own gender, but women at the merch table are a catastrophe. First of all, they toss their purse onto the table, and due to most female bags being the size of a small panther, it covers half of my display. They then proceed to study every single size t-shirt, holding them up to one another for comparison, checking the tag then asking me what it’s made out of even though they just looked at the tag. Then they ask their boyfriend what he thinks. Then they tell me that they like my hair. Then they tell me about their hair. Then they tell me about their friend’s hair. Once we’ve finally come to the part where a currency exchange is about to take place, they start shoveling through their obnoxiously large purse and pull out everything from glittery lip gloss that has gross strands of shed hair wound up in the goop, to fucking thongs before finally finding their cash. Here’s what happens when most men appraoch the merch table.
Man: “Do you have that shirt in a medium?”
Me: “Yes.”
Man: “I’ll take it.
He hands me the cash. Done.

I have worked on tour for a ballet company two years in a row. We sell a DVD of the performance, and we also record the performance every night because there are different local children in it at every city, so the parents like to have a copy of that specific performance. With that in mind, I cannot believe how often I get this…
It will be BEFORE a performance. Doors have just opened and someone will point to my DVD that is on the table and ask, “Is this of tonight’s performance?” Holy fuck. Again, I just don’t say a word, and let them come to the realization that they just sounded like a friggen idiot. Almost always, after a moment they say, “Oh duh, I guess that’s not possible,” to which I’m thinking, Jesus Christ, thank everything that I never have to deal with you in my life ever again. But I smile instead. My sister would be proud. Actually, my sister would probably not be able to hold her tongue, and she would just unapologetically laugh in their face.

This one always makes me chuckle and I swear that short pale boys are the biggest culprits.
Boy: “Can I get that Chevelle shirt?”
Me: “Dude, they’re all Chevelle shirts.”
Boy: (Obviously semi-embarrassed) “Oh yeah, the black one.”
Me: “Dude, they’re all black.”

And here’s my all time favorite and I swear to God that I have got this more than once…
“Is this stuff for sale?”
I have never felt superior to others, except for the three times someone has asked me that question. I will say with little regret, that I felt superior to them as a functioning human in that moment.

I think because my annoyance cannot be present while I’m working, it infiltrates my non-working life. So my sister may be right… I’m kind of a bitch to strangers, but only because they made me this way! Not that it’s relevant, but it’s always fun to blame the accuser… my sister, who is 19, is mean to people she actually knows. Friends. I think it’s badass and it cracks me up.

For example, a male friend of hers was over the house and I guess he was kind of drunk and Raven was not at all. The next day he texted her asking, “On a scale from 1-10, how annoying was I being last night?” Raven’s response was, “Definitely 10.”
I would have sugar coated it and been like, oh you weren’t too bad…. blah blah blah. Not Raven. She also told her very good friend that he should be gay because he never gets girls.

She is the opposite of how I was at her age. Back then, I was so concerned with making everyone happy that I would spout out lies. Raven doesn’t give a fuck. It’s beautiful. She has said to me on more than one occasion, “Cait, you are not lookin’ good today.” So funny.

We all have our flaws, and I for sure have a lot of them. One thing that gives me slight solace in my sea of shortcomings, is that I can own up to mine. So I’m sorry to the Target cashier whom I was short with, and the mechanic who tried to make small talk with me but I sort of rolled my eyes, but the stupid people at the merch table made me this way!

Raven at work, not giving a fuck.

Raven at work, not giving a fuck.

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The Adventures of Touring: A Temporary Home

When one makes a living by traveling, most things in your life feel temporary. I use the word temporary with neither positive nor negative implications. I feel that it is an objective way to describe the lifestyle. The pros and cons of this temporary lifestyle is where the matter of opinions lie. One man’s pro is another man’s con.

When I wake up in the morning, I wake up in a bed/bunk that is temporarily my own, in a town that I will mostly likely be at for less than 24 hours. I then eat breakfast, using plastic silverware and paper plates. We then load-in to a venue that will be my temporary refuge. Everyone is different with how they utilize the venues. I tend to mostly stay off of the bus once we have loaded in, but I would say that I am the minority. Most of the crew I’ve worked with tends to hang out on the bus during down time, and the artists’ almost always do. That’s how it has worked out in my experience, however this could just be a coincidence. I generally leave the green-room for the others, (unless we’re playing at a Knitting Factory, because they tend to have sweet green-rooms) and I will find some corner on the dank, moldy floor to read or pay my bills or call back home or do whatever I need to do during my down time.

I then set up a temporary store (I sell merch, for those of you who don’t know) and then I eat one of my single serving meals. The narrator from Fight Club had it exactly right. When you travel, you lead a single-serving life. It’s close to impossible to cook on the bus, so all of my meals come from single serving packages. Whether it’s a bag of beef jerky, or a packet of instant oatmeal, it’s almost always a pre-portioned meal, which for some reason, feels temporary. In movies, when a scene is trying to convey that a character is in a temporary living situation, they always put them in an apartment with a TV (pre-portioned) dinner.

We meet the “locals,” which is what we call the venue staff/stage-hands, and you make a temporary, working relationship with them. Often enough you meet someone who is really cool, someone who you know you would be tight with if proximity were not an issue, but at the end of the day, after load-out, all you can do is give this person a fist pound and hope that AT BEST, you may see him/her again if you find yourself back at that same venue with a different tour.

When everything changes on a day-to-day basis, the constants are very important. I like to have a mug, that is mine and only mine, on the bus. It’s the only kitchen utensil that I have that is not a throw-away. I’ve noticed that everyone seems to have their one item. For some people it’s a glass bowl, others a knife… for me, it’s a mug. Right now, I’m using a “Union Square Montgomery, Alabama” mug, and it’s my constant. I need that mug.

Me and my mug.

Me and my mug.

Places can act as a constant.  Every time I go to the El Corazon in Seattle, I know that it’s going to get hot as hell in there, I know exactly where they keep their hand-truck, I know the security guy with the braided pig-tails will be there to tell me not to go walking around by myself at night, I know the bearded dude will be there to flirt with and to try to help me carry stuff even though I repeatedly tell him that I’m good… and I know that the coffee shop nearby will have plenty of scattered magazines and other reading material about if I forget to bring my book.

The most important constant on tour is the people who you temporarily grow to depend on.  When I’m on the road with the English hooligan, he acts as one of my constants. I know that I can sit near him, and not have to fucking talk.  I get in funks on occasion (more frequently than I care to admit), and during these times, I instinctively want to be alone.  However, if I am able to talk myself into being near another human, it does usually help.  I seem to be able to keep hold of my mind a little bit better if there is someone else in the room.  The thing is, I don’t want to talk or feel any type of conversational pressure during these momentary crazy spells.  The hooligan is great because he doesn’t ask questions. I can literally crawl underneath his desk (the spot that acts as his temporary working space for the day) and simply say, “I just need to lay here for a minute,” and he’ll let me be.  Well, he’ll shake his head at my eccentricity, and say, “Riiiight,” but he won’t ask me what’s wrong, and he won’t treat me differently and I feel 100% comfortable in silence with him.  That’s an important constant. When my day-to-day can be such an unpredictable mess, it’s good to know that I can sit by my English hooligan and not have to say anything while I silently work on emotional suppression.  I’d like to think that I can provide the same type of sanctuary for him.  There have been a couple of times while out on the road with the hooligan, when I knew that something was upsetting him, but I didn’t ask questions.  I figured if he wanted to say something he would.  I just tried to not be as big of a pain in the ass on those days, and even went as far as to offer to tape up the day sheets for him backstage.  I think I may have even brought ice onto the bus one of those days so that he didn’t have to… damn I’m sweet.

The huge amount of people who you meet on tour is without dispute, a major pro to the lifestyle. However, it is not without its’ con counterpart. I am constantly meeting the best people, and you become very close, very quickly to these people. So after a couple of months (however long the tour is), of cultivating amazing relationships, when it is all said and done, it’s just temporary. You inevitably have to hug the people goodbye and hope that paths will cross again.

Home starts to feel temporary too, but more in the way that a recycled bag feels temporary.  It’s a perpetual state of repetition, rather than single-serving.  You probably see the same friends and hang out with the same people you did before you left, but it’s not like picking up where you left off because that insinuates forward motion; progression in the relationships.  No, you begin where you began the last time.  Maybe during your time at home, you become closer with someone whether it’s romantically or platonically, but then inevitably, you leave.  Things continue in this forward motion for the other person, but “home time” stops for you when you’re away.  You come back and things and people have changed; your environment has changed, but you haven’t changed with it.  Home feels like a temporary hideout that recycles the same month of your life over and over again.

You visit the coffee shop you go to every morning when you’re home, and the barista recognizes you, and he asks how your “trip” was (a question that I hate because I wasn’t on a trip I was fucking working you twat… but that’s just me being a touchy snob), and you have the same conversation you had the last time you came back.  You tell him it was great, and you tell him some little anecdote about some night in some place and he tells you about how grad school is going.  You may see him a few times a week for the next few weeks that you’re home, and every visit, you feel a tiny bit closer to that barista who has the freckled arms and easily blushes, but then you leave again.  When you come back, you start again at one; that same superficial conversation about how your trip was and how school is for him.

Romantic relationships, fucking forget it.  They work in the same way as your relationship with the barista.  Maybe you start something really good, and you become close, make progress… but then you leave and when you come back the cycle starts over again at one.  Your “room,” at home, if you’re lucky enough to have a room back home to call your bedroom, begins to look and feel like a temporary living space.  My stuff is always half packed because if I’m only home for a short amount of time, so unpacking seems pointless.

I get home, and I see my hundreds of CD’s that I just leave packed up in boxes, and I think, I should buy a really nice stereo system, but a stereo is permanent.  So instead, I just put my temporary headphones on (I don’t get really nice headphones because they either break or get lost on the road) and I listen to some music that will temporarily enhance my mood, often times recommended to me by some boy who temporarily made me happy and I temporarily think about how I’m going to utilize my recycled day.

I’d like to conclude this by stating that temporarily, I enjoy my temporary life.  I do not mean to imply that this is a negative way to exist. The boy with the white hair recently pointed out that If I stopped touring, I would go stir-crazy after a couple of months.  He’s right.  I’m so fortunate to be doing what I do, but like everything in life, there are things that I love about it and things that really get to me, and sometimes, underneath the adventures and the stacked boxes of t-shirts in the trailer, this temporary life gets lonely.

 

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 15

I am currently home, just got done with another tour, and got a call from my good friend who was on this last run with me.  He immediately skipped the small talk (something I deeply appreciate in people. When a conversation begins with, “Hey! How are you? I am immediately uninterested) and began with, “so…. I have this girl over who is saying that she is possessed by a demon that she acquired in my house so she can’t leave, what should I do?”  First of all, WHAT?  Second of all, if she was possessed by a demon in your home, wouldn’t she want to leave?  That’s too rational however for the types of girls that he fraternizes with.

Now, let me give you some insight on my friend, who we will call 0069. No, I did not just make that pseudonym up. Him and I are so mature that we gave each other code names when we decided that playing spy at our age would be fun. If you’d like to donate some spy equipment, rearview glasses and walkie talkies would be greatly appreciated. I’ll forward you my address. Anyway, 0069 is one of my road family members along with the rest of the band and crew that I love working for the most. To describe 0069 as an “instigator” would be a severe understatement. I believe that he makes it his goal in life to be the number one most offensive and vulgar person in the world. With that being said, I have nothing but love for him.

It takes a lot to offend me.  I am offended by any form of prejudice, the word faggot, Bill O’Reilly and crocs.  That’s about it. Oh, and by couple’s who sit on the same side of the booth together at a restaurant when it’s only the two of them.  Point is, I can get down with the boys and be grossly inappropriate and degrading.  I regularly participate in rating girls on a scale from 1-10 with the guys, making jokes about cerebral palsy, laughing at dick and poop jokes and encouraging one-night-stands for the single dudes on the tour even when there most certainly will be an STD and/or a fat girl involved.  It gets dirty on tour and 0069 thrives on the filth. There have been only two times in my touring life, in which I was offended.  Offended might not be the right word, but there have been two occasions when the behavior taking place in front of me was so foul, that I had to walk away because I felt a.) slightly sick to my stomach and b.) too uncomfortable being associated with that level of abasement.  Of course, both times was when 0069 was in full effect.

The first instance was the first time that I was present for one of 0069’s “night calls.” Whatever you are thinking, that is exactly what it is times ten. A night call is when 0069 calls a girl and pretends to have phone sex with her while all of us are listening. Simply putting his phone on speaker phone would not be over the top enough, so he plugs his phone into the bus stereo system, so that we can hear these classy ladies orgasm in surround sound.  At first it was funny, and we were all sitting in the front lounge trying not to burst out in uncontrollable laughter as the guitar player started making that fast suction cup noise with his hands right up against the phone, making it sound like 0069 was jerking off… or fucking a duck (which is what I thought it sounded like).  I will admit, it was pretty damn entertaining, but once her groans and intense breathing started getting wildly intimate, as a fellow-female, I did start to feel bad for the girl who was currently being humiliated.  I had to walk off of the bus because even though this chick has to be a fucking idiot, I did feel like I shouldn’t be associated with that level of degradation.

The second instance was after I made a bet with Gus, wagering that J. Jackhammer (the guitar tech) could get action one night when we were at some terrible DJ dance party thing.  Obviously, that is not our typical scene, but I won’t get into why we were there because it’s not an interesting story.  Jackhammer got that nickname while we were all at dinner one night, and I was annoyed with the guys and disappointed that I had not yet seen a bear or a moose since being in Canada.

Wolfgang asked me, “Sex is enjoyable.  So why don’t all girls put out?”  To which I said, “Because it’s not always enjoyable.  A lot of the time guys are just jackhammering you.”  J. then said something which I’m sure was asinine, but that’s our language, and whatever it was that he said, Wolfgang called him, “The Jackhammer” and the nickname stuck.  Back to the night of the dance party, and Gus said that there was absolutely no way Jackhammer was going to get laid before bus call which was 2:00am and it was currently 1:30. I had faith. Let’s get real, guys on tour have an advantage because all they need to do is find a girl wearing a skirt and who is at least mildly drunk and say, “do you want to check out the tour bus?” Done. Panty dropper.

The entourage of us, which included some of my crew and the guys in one of the support bands who all look like H&M models, hit the dance floor and after performing my legit dance moves, I got in wing-girl gear to win this bet.  I had no time to waste, and literally pushed Jackhammer into this girl who looked promising and then she giggled. Bingo. I kind of did a fist pump/raise the roof move around them, to encourage dancing, and then Jackhammer took it from there.  I knew he’d have game.  I got distracted for a while by the H&M models and R-dizzle who was being high and hilarious, and twenty minutes later we all realize that Jackhammer is still dancing with the tween.  It looked like I was going to win the bet!  I won’t continue with the tedious details, the only important thing is that 0069 sabotaged my bet. However, I still believe that I won because in my world, fingering a girl on a dirty dance floor still constitutes as getting action.

0069 had to one up Jackhammer (or grotesquely up everyone) by bringing “beauty number’s one, two and three” onto our bus. I am positive that at no point did 0069 know one of their names. Of course, they were called, “beauties” upon their entrance, but of course after their departure, they were referred to by all of us as bitches one, two and three. It was like Dr. Suess gone Charlies Bukowski. Due to a brilliant coincidence, paired with 0069 always taking it to the extreme, Bitch #2 was the same girl who Jackhammer was with minutes before. Jackhammer hid, and the three bitches were in the front lounge with 0069 and playing what I can only call, “let’s make-out!”

0069 made-out with the largest girl of the three, (which of course the boys later described as a whale, though in her defense I would describe her more as a walrus), for no reason other than it was extremely offensive and vulgar, while the other two girls just sat there and watched. So awkward!  Me and R-dizzle, watched from the vent in the door. I was literally on my hands and knees, peeking through the vent, giggling and spying on 0069 and Bitches 1,2 and 3 like I was a character from Gossip Girl. I had a moment of clarity upon realizing that I was the only person who was stone cold sober, so why am I trying to hide? They probably won’t notice or care if I just blatantly watch instead of hiding in my own “house.”  So I just walked out into the front lounge and started filming the whole charade which turned out to be my cinematic masterpiece.  I majored in film in college, and created a lot of works, but I would credit this as my magnum opus. I feel I really encompassed the crudity of the moment. While I was getting good material, I had to leave.  It was foul and again, I didn’t want to be associated with this level of female humiliation even though these girls were gross and not exactly deserving of my moral conscience.

While I have absolutely gotten down on some gnarly behavior, it doesn’t even come close to what 0069 does when he is in full effect. Just feed him some whiskey “down his neck” (as the English-men would put it) and you’ll almost always have a story to tell the next morning. Due to this blog, people who don’t really know me, think that I am always a party. No. Most of the time on the road I am reading or counting t-shirts or trying not to bother everyone with the loud noises caused by me chomping on carrots and hummus. 0069 is the party, I’m just the collateral damage.

While he pisses me off sometimes, and while we haven’t known each other very long at all, I’d say that we are close. We just have an unspoken understanding and we like each others flaws. So, 0069 calls and asks my advice on what to do about this possessed girl, which I respond with, “put arsenic in her drink.”

He said, “unfortunately the corner store is all out of arsenic, wooden spoons, thick rope and stove foot spa combos.”

Me: “Hmmm, if you lived here in Florida you could just shoot her and get away with it due to the stand your ground law.”
He then went on to send me a picture of her to which I said, “she looks like she has TB.”

OF COURSE, (because it’s 0069), he said back, “Tight Box? Yes.”

Brilliant.

 

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Next Time, I’ll Just Sleep with Him

I don’t know if the city of Los Angeles is a disaster, or if I am the disaster and that town just brings out the worst in me.  There I was though, back in the city of demons, having yet another head on collision with Hollywood after only being back there for twelve hours. Let me begin this tale by letting you all know that the whole reason that I was going back to the city that murdered my soul, was to spend two days with a guy that I had only known for two days because clearly, that sounded like an excellent decision.

It was at the end of the last tour that I was on and it was just me and the Tour Manager left on the bus, as the rest of the crew and band had already left.  We started the trek westward from Indianapolis, which for some stupid reason is on Eastern time and for some stupid reason it bothers me when states that are not in fact located on the East coast, are on Eastern Standard Time.  Also, in my educated opinion, I think that we should just get rid of Mountain time because there is only like nineteen people in that time zone anyway, and that’s where all of the irrelevant states are except for New Mexico which I exclude from the list of my “irrelevant” states because it has exceptional beef jerky.

We drove non-stop for 36 hours, from Indiana to Los Angeles and it was excruciating because we were heading West, so the days were getting longer.  We had two drivers, Gary and Lady Gary.  Lady Gary was our driver’s girlfriend who came onto the tour later, as an “assistant driver” (which is very unusual but I won’t bore you with the reasons why that happened), so we never learned her name and instead, took to calling her “Lady Gary” to her face because we’re assholes.  Because we had two driver’s who alternated, we literally only stopped for gas and so that I could buy $35 worth of beef jerky.  At one point during this agonizing ride, which I am surprised that we all survived considering that we had no drugs and no alcohol, (I don’t even do drugs, but if someone would have handed me a mystery pill that had a smiley face on it, or even a skull and cross-bones on it, I would have gladly accepted it and chased it with an overdose of Robitussin  just to cure the boredom), I began running up and down the length of the bus, attempting to sing rap music (which is always a bad idea in my case because the only rap that I’ve ever been exposed to is one Eminem song that came out in 1997), and stopping every few laps to breakdown into something that resembled jazzercise.  Rhett just stared at me with his mouth open because he was now used to my ridiculous behavior that he had been dealing with for the past couple of weeks, which I chronicle in Adventures of Touring Part 13. The moral of this part of the story is NEVER take highway 40 across the country because none of the truck stops sell alcohol.  They seem to think that Native American snow-globes are an adequate substitution.

Once we finally got to LA, it was 1:30am and we then moved all of the gear from the bus trailer to another trailer.  Don’t ask.  This ended up being a fairly painless, fast and efficient process because Mexicans were involved.  We then drove all of this gear through the Hollywood Hills as one of the Mexican’s was speeding us down Mulholland Drive like he had a death wish, but at this point, I didn’t care.  We arrive at M’s house which is the size of my hometown, unload all of the gear again, and into his garage.  It’s now like 4:00am, but Rhett and I decide to do about 15 shots with M’s roommate, anyway because we felt so deprived from our road trip and because it was the irresponsible choice to make.

The next morning is when I am supposed to meet up with Dan, the boy who I was staying with for the next two days, and the whole reason I suffered through the last 40 hours.  Being in Beverly Hills, staying at M’s house with a zip code that is literally 90210, you would think that some of these motherfuckers would petition for cell phone towers… or at least buy their own.  I’m sure that the owner of Verizon actually lives in that neighborhood.  Regardless, I couldn’t get any service, and all I knew was that my destination is somewhere in Silverlake, which is on the clear other end of town.  Remember that line from Clueless, “I expect you home in twenty minutes!  Everywhere in LA takes twenty minutes!”  This could not be further from the truth.  It takes twenty minutes just to back out of your driveway in Los Angeles.  I estimated that it would take 50 minutes to get to Dan’s house.  If he was someone who I had known for longer than two days, I probably would have made him pick me up, but since I was determined to come across as self-sufficient, and because I hadn’t yet decided if I was going to sleep with him, I thought it best to rely on my independence that boys so much loathe.

A straight cab ride would have been too expensive, and I don’t like Uber because I am like a drug dealer and only deal with cash.  My plan was to take a cab ride to the nearest metro station, then take the metro to the stop closest to Dan, which was then, just another quick cab ride to his house.  Of course, this is not what transpired. M’s roommate had even offered to drive me part of the way, but because I am a masochist, I thought it would be a better alternative to purposely inflict a painful day upon myself. More importantly, I just didn’t want to put anybody out.

Like I said, I had zero cell service where I was, but I welcome these first world complications, I see them as a challenge and a way to practice my anti-technology problem solving skills so that I’ll be the one everyone is following when the Apocalypse occurs.  Rhett was going to the airport, so he used his Uber app to get picked up.  I figured that I’d hitch a ride out of the neighborhood, into downtown West Hollywood where I would at least get cell service and a coffee, and be able to asses my current situation with more mental clarity.  I asked the Uber driver who came to get us, to please just drop me off at a coffee shop or something that was on the way to the airport so as to not inconvenience Rhett.

Apparently the Uber guy’s sweat that was dribbling down his bald head had drowned his brain because he was fucking retarded.  He immediately gave me anxiety when he pulled the car over after we had only gone a half of a mile down the road, and started screeching, “Do you see me?!  Do you see me?!” over and over again while Rhett frantically fingered his Uber app.  This guy was on more cocaine than Andy Dick at a drag queen show.  I choose to ignore the world of technology, mostly because of situations like this. I barely understand what apps are, so I was able to just play dumb in the backseat.  The driver was having a meltdown because something in the app wasn’t working (due to the lack of reception) so he thought it would be best to stay parked in one spot and repeat the same obnoxious outcry 508 times while I stared out of the window wondering if this guy was going to a.) have an aneurysm, or b.) kidnap us and sell our organs in exchange for the $1.50 he MIGHT miss out on due to Uber malfunctions in the 90210 area.  I told him that Rhett would give him a hand-job on the way to the airport if he would just continue driving the damn car.  I suppose it was cruel of me to volunteer Rhett, but I was in the backseat, so it just didn’t make sense for me to be the one to perform the sexual favors for the driver.

Ten minutes and a few miles later, and it’s not fucking funny anymore, this dude is seriously freaking me out.  I have no idea where we are, but I ask him to pull the car over and let me out.  Both guys looked at me perplexed, but I didn’t have the mental power to explain myself, I just needed to get out of that car.  So they dump me off on the sidewalk with my two suitcases and a giant backpack.  I put my over-sized sunglasses on (because in LA, even if you look like a sweaty homeless girl who is carrying everything she owns down Sunset Boulevard, if you add over-sized sunglasses, it makes it chic) and began walking through the glamorous part of West Hollywood where you would find the type of celebrities whom have purse dogs and are getting brunch and sporting their over-sized sunglasses.  Basically, I looked like a fucking idiot.  At least now I had cell phone reception.

I called Dan and decided not to tell him about my current predicament, and instead, tell him that all was just swell and that I’d be there in an hour.  I then heave my 200 pounds of luggage up the steps of “Urth Cafe,” a place that I already hated because misspelling words for the sake of marketing annoys me.  Thank you Dunkin’ Donuts, now the entire world thinks that you spell doughnuts, d-o-n-u-t-s.  This bougie cafe had at least 150 people in it, all wearing over-sized sunglasses, but all lacking 200 pounds of luggage.  At this point I am literally laughing out loud at myself as I am trying to find a place to park my suitcase so that I can order a damn green tea before these people think that I am a bum looking for air conditioning.  Actually, that is exactly what I was at the moment, but I was frantically trying to solve that problem.  So I grab a business card with the address to fucking “Urth” cafe, and call a cab.

The cab driver shows up in a timely manner, and he is a chubby, friendly, little Armenian man with a lot of arm hair who I was so grateful for because anyone was better than the coke-head, organ stealing Uber driver I just experienced.  The chubby Armenian informs me that I can smoke in the cab, but I explain to him that I don’t smoke.  For some reason this blew his mind.  Really dude?  Of all of the things that I am sure you have seen as a cab driver in Hollywood, me not smoking is really the most surprising?!  No one in LA smokes by the way.  They all even do that pretentious thing where if you’re smoking outside, even during a goddamn wind storm, they’ll still fake cough and wave their hand in front of their nose and give you and your cigarette a dirty look as they walk by.  That type of behavior actually makes me want to take up smoking.

Chubby then asked me if I’ve ever smoked an Armenian cigarette.  When I said no, he seemed even more shocked at this notion, because clearly, it’s alarming that someone who doesn’t smoke in the first fucking place, has never smoked an Armenian cigarette.  After turning down multiple offers to try one, I finally accepted the cigarette just to shut him the fuck up.

I drink coffee like it’s my job, so I consider myself immune to coffee caffeine, but for some reason, a single caffeinated tea feels like I just injected cocaine straight into my bloodstream.  So, I was already shaking from the tea I just had at the cafe that doesn’t know how to spell Earth, and jittery from the series of events which had just transpired, and now I’m adding this damn cigarette to the mix which is only heightening my anxiety.  The way Chubby was selling this thing, I was expecting it to have magical powers, or at least be laced with some hardcore narcotics that made me see Unicorns.  Nope.

So Chubby drops me off at the Metro Station, and I get onto the train with relative ease.  There is a nice looking black man a few seats from me who smiles sweetly and I consider for a moment asking him if he’d like to stop whatever productive task that he is in the middle of, and get a drink with me because I definitely need one.  I refrain however when I realize that a.) it is only 11:30am and b.) I am currently on my way to seeing another boy whom I have already forgotten about because of this disaster of a day.  I closed my eyes and pictured Dan’s cute smile and told myself that everything would be okay once I got to his house.  I then opened my eyes, only to witness a schizophrenic playing with fire.  One of the crazy’s on the train took out a crack lighter and was just keeping it continuously lit for absolutely no apparent reason.  At first, I thought he would just flick it on and off the way that people do when they’re fidgeting.  When that didn’t happen, I decided that he was going to light a bomb, so I came up with a ninja-like exit strategy in my mind, which included me and the hot black guy next to me busting out some tae-kwon-do and escaping just in the nick of time.  When the bomb had still not detonated after the schizophrenic kept the hand lighter lit for a straight five minutes, I thought it best to not test my luck, and got off at the next stop even though my stop wasn’t for another few miles.

I was about to call a cab to take me to Dan’s once and for all, but decided that it was not a good idea to let him see me in my current state.  After this fucking catastrophe I was definitely suffering from PTSD and determined that I needed to get a margarita, or six, to calm down and get my life together before seeing the boy whom I currently had a crush on.  I knew of a nearby Mexican joint, and impressed with my memory of the LA streets, found myself walking with 200 pounds of luggage down the sidewalks of Los Angeles yet again, but this time content because I had margaritas in my near future.

I sat down and ordered a 20 ounce margarita which I drank in 17 seconds, then called a cab.  The new cab picked me up and safely brought me to Dan’s house, and that is the last time that I will ever think it’s a good idea to act like an independent woman.  Next time, I’ll just sleep with him so that I don’t feel bad when I need to ask for a ride.

 

 

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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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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 4

With this post, I am going to continue with the unspoken romances I had with the world, while being miserable on Van’s Warped Tour in 2010.

Being a merch girl, I had to be the first one up every morning, because in order to get a half way decent spot, you needed to be out there with your tent and gear, ready to go by 8:00am.  This meant I needed to be up by 7:00am every morning in order to get ready and get all of the merch bullshit from the trailer and onto the dolly, only to inevitably cart it through mud and hills for a half a mile.  Needless to say, this got very old very fucking fast.

Every morning, on every stage, a sound check of sorts was routine.  Typically, as I’m sure you know, a sound check involves the actual band, but this obviously cannot happen every morning on Warped, so the sound engineers use a very specific, specially picked song to check the PA systems (thanks Crowe).  The Main Stage obviously has the loudest and best sound.  Every morning, they would play “Same Ol’ Road,” by Dredg.  I’m assuming they used that song because of its dynamic, going from almost no guitar to hugely epic, arms spread open under a waterfall, type progressions.  And every morning, when I would hear that song, I would smile.  Everything got a little bit better.  Everything made a little bit more sense and for a split second, it felt like I could breathe again.

After Warped was over, I found the song on iTunes.  It is the worst piece of shit I have ever heard.  So embarrassing to the point that I considered not mentioning the name of it here.  It made me recognize how hugely important listening to music the proper way is.  Our generation listens to music off of our computers, and have no respect for sound quality.  It’s like watching a movie on your fucking iPhone, it’s almost an insult to the industry.  That song was obviously meant to be listened to with real speakers and was the difference between falling in love and throwing up in my mouth, which is why I included “own a great stereo system” to my Caitlin’s  List of Rules.

Despite the song’s cheesiness and Wal-Mart type rock, hearing it at approximately 9:00 every morning while preparing for another day of hell, did hit an emotional chord with all of us “workers” I think.  I remember when the chorus would begin, I’d sometimes look out at all of the chaos of starting the day, and everyone got quiet and just listened.  Somehow that song united all of us in an unspoken way.  I think because with days filled of such uncertainty and variables and unexpected circumstances, that song was our constant, and it echoed out, louder than the rest.

Another unspoken romance I had, was with Jake Kolatis from The Casualties.  I have never spoken of this until now.  He has the most beautiful, piercing eyes of anyone that I have ever met.  I know you’re about to google image this guy, but you’re not going to see what I saw.  I know this because I just google imaged him as well to see what you all would be seeing.  Trust me when I say, it does not do him justice.  While I will admit that I do have a thing for mohawks, and he has by far, the best mohawk I have ever seen, it was his eyes that made me fall in love with him that summer.

One of the first nights of the tour, we were all out by the buses drinking and hanging out.  My TM (tour manager) Kyle, who I have spoken about in Part 2, was kind of a badass.  He TMed for Less Than Jake, NOFX and a lot of other fairly huge bands within that scene.  Anyway, NOFX had a portable bar, and somehow, Kyle acquired it during the tour, even though NOFX was not on the tour that year, and we kept this portable bar in our trailer.  He, and the TM for Alkaline Trio would bring it out every night and serve drinks to everyone on the tour.  They were smart… they bought cheap alcohol in bulk, then, instead of charging, it was a tip only bar.  So if you tipped five dollars, you got a serious drink.  If you tipped two dollars, you got a vagina amount of alcohol.  I’m digressing.  The point of all of this is, that during one of the first nights that Kyle opened up the bar, Jake and I looked at each other and it was fucking sexy.  I’m not going to lie… I even pulled a, bite my bottom lip move, during one of the eye contacts.

Caitlin Rule:  If done properly, biting your bottom lip = lets fall in love tonight.

I had no idea who he was, and it wasn’t until weeks later that I found out he was a member of The Casualties.  We only actually spoke a few times, and the first time was at a Pub in Denver, where we made the soul crushing eye-contact again, and he walked right up to me and said, “Do a shot with me.”

Fuck yes I’ll do a shot with you.  I love when new guys just tell you what is going down.  My favorite way that I’ve ever been asked out on a date was this kid I ran into on the street, we had a couple of classes together at the time and he said, “Get dinner with me tonight at seven.”  Ummm okay.  It doesn’t seem like I have an option and somehow that was kind of hot.  So Jake telling me I was doing a shot with him, and those being the first words spoken between us, just further confirmed my love for him and we took a shot of whiskey.  We only spoke for a couple of minutes because my crew was leaving, one of them being my boyfriend at the time, so me staying behind to do shots and chat it up with Jake Kolatis would not have blown over so well.  God I’m retarded.  I should have just told my boyfriend that he sucked balls and then bunked up with Jake for the remainder of the tour.  I don’t regret much, but I do regret letting my ex-boyfriend ruin that summer for me.

After that, whenever I would see Jake, he would smile and wink at me, and I would stick my tongue out at him.  Every time.  It was our little secret, unspoken romance.  I liked it that way.  We understood each other and the way things were, without words.  I’ll never forget him.

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