Tag Archives: music

It Sucks When Your Favorite Songwriter is Your Ex.

I never thought that I would write about Tommy, but here we are.  I’m not going to talk about our relationship.  Too much happened and didn’t happen to tell that tale coherently.  Maybe one day, if I’m feeling particularly masochistic, I’ll open a bottle of whiskey and that Pandora’s box, but this is not that day.  Today, what I will talk about is that Tommy Simms was the best singer/songwriter that I have ever known.

Tommy turns his Alvarez into his bitch.  I am a junkie for a heartfelt melody, and he was my supplier.  That may have been one of the reasons why I stuck in that relationship for longer than I should have.  For a time, I think I may have been his muse, so that’s probably one of the reasons why he stuck with me for longer than he should have.  I am addicted to stripped down songwriting and  I’ve never seen someone do what he can do with an acoustic guitar.  He can make it sound like there are two guitars playing, while simultaneously setting your soul aflame with his vulnerable voice and charismatic ways that seems to pull at everyones heart strings.

I always knew how special his music was, and the fact that I still thought so, even after being heartbroken, confirms that I wasn’t just a fan because he was my boyfriend.  I was his number one fan because I saw him at his best.  Tommy alone with an acoustic guitar is where the magic happens.  I’m one of the lucky ones who got to witness the behind the scenes footage of him sitting on a dilapidated couch with heavy eyes that always had some secret behind them, strumming through minor chords and humming new melodies under the pale moonlight.  And those songs would fill the room and find their way into your bloodstream.

I don’t think he ever liked his songs as much as I did.  He always seemed pretty nonchalant about his talent, and never used it as much as I felt that he should have.  Years later, and I think only now do I kind of understand that it wasn’t so much that he was apathetic, but maybe he was just tired.  I knew him after he had already put everything he had into music.  I’m not sure, but I think that he had got his ass kicked by trying to “make it” and that tends to deteriorate your soul.  It happened to me.  It’s like a cancer.  It spreads.  In less than a year, I went from 100% identifying as being an artist, to 0% thinking like an artist.  I once saw artistic inspiration in everything, and in a matter of months, I lost it all.  When your dreams keep getting shut down by the rat race, it’s very discouraging, and I think that may have been where Tommy was at while I knew him.  However, even without his whole heart in it, Tommy had more talent in an EP, than I probably do in my complete portfolio.

One of the reasons I say that is because he can write a song for every style.  If you ask Tommy to write you a pop song, a rap beat, a doo-wap, a country tune… he will do it in a few minutes.  That was always one of the more impressive things about him.  So it’s a real shame that he never quite figured out how to wholly utilize his natural abilities.  Society is just not conducive to artists.

Tommy’s recordings are fine, but they absolutely do not do him justice.  He is best live because half of the experience is him.  He’s got this allure on stage and it’s like a sudden spell that cloaks the room.  No one knows exactly why they’re suddenly entranced, but they are.  However, he only has half of the qualities required to be known.  He has the talent and the charisma, which is the recipe for greatness.  Unfortunately though, he’s lacking in work ethic and has a tendency to burn bridges.  That may be the main reason why he’s not in a recording studio with Steve Albini at this very moment.

What inspired this random musing, is a video I just watched of him.  I have been cleaning out and organizing my digital closet over the last few days, and I came across this old video that I had forgotten about.  I recorded this years ago when he was playing a small show in Savannah, Georgia.  We were living together at the time and I remember that he hadn’t done a show in a while.  Please read the written guide I have provided below as you watch.  It’s all worth seeing and hearing.

The first song is called New Accents and it was always one of his most popular.  I believe that he wrote this one with Josh Greenburg and I’m pretty sure he wrote quite a few of his songs with Josh, so I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due.  Josh is probably the best musician I know and I suspect that he has perfect pitch, but I’ve never asked.

He was surrounded by close friends, so in the beginning, you can tell that he is kind of nervous.  But at minute marker 1:15, you can hear those nerves dissipate and he becomes more comfortable.  This is why I believe that live music is the most powerful form of art.  It’s a direct interpretation of someone’s soul in real time.

 

I never asked him about song lyrics.  As long as I live, I will never ask a songwriter the meaning behind the lyrics they write.  I think it’s far too personal.  Yes, he was my boyfriend, but there are still privacy lines that shouldn’t be treaded through.  I can guess what some of the lyrics are about, but I never confirmed any of these speculations.  I know that mingled within these songs that he wrote while I was around, are words that other girls would know the meaning to, and that’s where being in a relationship with a musician gets ugly.  I was similar though, so I’m sure it wasn’t easy being with someone like me either.

 

10:49- Tin Lizzy is possibly the best song he has ever written.  No idea what it’s about and never asked.

14:30- Timmer!  The boy who is in that shot, I have very fond memories of.  One of my favorite times with Tommy was the winter of 2009.  I think it was 2009 anyway.  He was living with me in Savannah, Georgia and most of our friends went home for the holidays but me, Tommy and Tim stuck around.  It’s one of those slices of life where everyone involved probably remembers it differently.  Tommy and Tim’s memories of that time are most likely different from how I remember it.  When I think about it, I feel this odd little temporary family built between three early twenty-something year-olds.  Tim never left his house, so Tommy and I would walk down the road to his place and we would all drink NOS energy drinks together in the morning, then switch over to beer at night, and talk and laugh and dream up ideas that we knew deep down we would never create.  In hindsight, it felt like our own little secret world.  None of us really keep in touch anymore, but we had December of 2009 together and it was something to be cherished.

20:34- He starts with that build up and you can feel it.  From here until the end, this is the epitome of Tommy in his element.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe Tommy and I just aligned in some fucked up telepathic, artistic way.  I always said that if Tommy and I used the same medium, we would create the same art.  My true art was dance.  Dance and choreography was the only thing that I was ever really good at.  If he was a dancer, I think he would choreograph like me.  I choreographed movement and he choreographed notes.  And if I was a songwriter, I think that I would write like him.

The climax of his studio recordings was “Homeboys.”  He nailed it with the recording of that song and I was very proud of him.  I have it, but I am not sure that he ever formally released it, so I don’t want to throw it online.  Here is a fucking beautiful live performance of it however that I just found:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TI8at4JgS0I

Tommy, I always thought that How It Feels would be great solo live if you can figure out how to make it work.

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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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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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Extinguishing a Wildfire

“Rory” came into my life like a wildfire. It was at a time when I was really craving someone who didn’t have walls, and that boy dropped in and not only was unbound, but even tore down some of my walls. Rory is a boy from home who I have had a crush on since I saw him break out into serious dance moves while snapping his fingers and singing a Jay Z song in the middle of a public restaurant. Tonight wasn’t like that though. Tonight he held my hand, looked me in the eye and bashfully shook his head, “yes.”

I knew what this meant. He prefaced it with, “I need to talk to you about something,” and with just that, there was enough clues to guess what he was about to tell me due to process of elimination.

I haven’t seen this boy in a few months because I have been on the road with work. We got pretty close pretty fast last time I was home, but it was one of those situations which I often discuss, where we had to take a deep breath, pretend to be okay, and accept the fact that this was only going to be temporary because I was leaving soon. I have gotten really good at doing that, but I’m not going to lie… it really sucked having to do that with Rory. He had somehow found his way into my bloodstream.

I am fascinated with the notion of finding a word for everyone. A single word that best sums up a person. When and if you can figure out someone’s word, everything about them kind of falls into place and makes more sense. The thing that I most admire about Rory, and what I think that his word may be, is that he is unafraid. I’m sure that he has his fears, but he is truly comfortable with himself, and I think that is very rare. In a generation that is utterly controlled by the fear of ourselves and or inability to come out from behind the curtain and fucking live, Rory is not one of those people. He is not scared of the world. Rory laughs and dances when he wants and makes a fool out of himself and admits when he farts and admits when he’s sad and admits when he doesn’t know the capital of Texas and fucking looks at you when he wants you and runs and sweats and bleeds and tries. He is one of the few people who I wish the whole world could know.

It wold be easier if I could call the night a date, but it wasn’t a date because that’s not really our style. So I guess the simplest way to put it is that Rory came over to hang out one night several months ago and it turned into one of the greatest “hang out’s” I’ve had as an adult. One that all others will forever be compared to.

We started playing music really loud. We were taking turns listening to each others selection, and I’m use to most people just taking over in those situations, and you end up only listening to their choices. Not with Rory. He was equally as enthusiastic about the music I was sharing as he was about his. By the way, he’s a musician. Of fucking course.

We went onto the porch and he opened up about his home life and his hopes and his shady past and it turned into the type of conversation I had been craving for a long time.  It was completely unguarded. The boys in my life at that point seemed to all be the type that purposely don’t talk about anything real. They had walls.  For example, one guy I had been seeing sort of off and on for a year and a half, I would say that we were just as close after a year and a half as we were in the first month of meeting. We never progressed. I’m all for discussing existentialism and politics and watching documentaries and going to comedy shows, but sometimes you have to throw in some true grit for a relationship of any type to progress. In a way, I felt closer to Rory in one week than I did the guy I had been seeing for over a year because Rory’s not scared, and told me things that were real.

We then made up a secret handshake, played a card game and threw jellybeans into each others mouth. After that, it was really late, but I wanted to show him something, so I said, “Are you tired or….?” and he looked at me and said, “I’m down to do anything with you.”

We were having such a perfect time so neither of us wanted it to end. I was barefoot, and we walked to the pier, collecting rocks along the way. We were like two little kids, trying to find the best rock. It was the time of year when you can see the bioluminescence in the water if you create a wake and I wanted to show him. I figured he would appreciate it but that’s an understatement, you should have seen his face when we threw the first rock in. He got so excited, that raw enthusiasm that you only see in children. There’s that line from Knocked Up, when Paul Rudd is looking at his kids playing with the bubbles and he says, “I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.” Well, I wish that I got as excited about anything the way that Rory got excited about those damn bioluminescence. It was so refreshing to see.

Of course, just to add the perfection, it was a big, orange, low hanging moon that night. So Rory and I threw rocks into the sparkling water under the glow of the moonlight until there were no more rocks to throw. On the walk back, I was a few paces in front of him, and he grabbed my hand and pulled me into him. At first I thought he was going to kiss me, but that’s too predictable for Rory. Instead, he started dancing with me in the middle of the road.

Now back at the house and blasting my test song. I call it my test song because it’s the song that I use to test speakers with. I know exactly what “Comfortable Liar” by Chevelle should sound like, and it has fairly dynamic tones and this kind of hidden thunderous quality  making it good for sound checking. It also makes it perfect for laying on the floor in the middle of the music room with a beautiful boy next to you and pounding your fists onto the hard wood floor to the beat of the song. Rory and I just wailed our fists onto the ground for the entire song.  It may not sound like much, but if you try to imagine laying on your stomach, next to a person you have a crush on, and allowing the music to fully take you over while you bang on the floor with all of your might to the beat… you really do need to be unafraid to be able to do that.  Rory brings out the spark in everyone.

We had another really great night a few days after that, which included dive bar pool, Budweiser, Eminem on the jukebox and a big black woman named Sweet Melissa.  Then I left town. It has been about five months since then, and I have done three tours in that time, putting me on the road for almost all of those five months. And so it goes. Now I’m sitting at the corner of a bar as Rory tells me that he needs to talk to me about something. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew that he was about to tell me that he got a girl pregnant. He grabbed my hand, and I could see that he was having a hard time saying it, so I just smiled and told him that I was pretty sure that I knew what he was going to say, to which he just looked me in the eye, smiled back and bashfully shook his head yes.  And now I guess it’s time to put out this wildfire.

So here we are, and here’s to change, and here is a playlist for the boy who is unafraid.

http://8tracks.com/goldenlullaby/for-the-boy-who-is-not-afraid

 

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Holden: Some Songs and a Story

Holden. A fake name for a very real boy. The first time I remember seeing him was at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, California. I must have seen him the day before, because Sacramento was the second date of the tour, but my earliest recollection of Holden is watching him watch, in the dark corner of the black and red venue.

A few days ago I got done with a tour where I met a lot of wonderful people. People who I really didn’t want to say goodbye to, people who made me feel at home on the road and people who truly excited me. There is a lot to be said about last month, but this is not the time for that. While on the roof of some apartment in Los Angeles, I was discussing with one of the guy’s that I have become really good at letting people go, to which he responded, “that’s kind of fucked up.”

Maybe he’s right, but like I discuss in A Temporary Home, it comes with the lifestyle, and it’s necessary otherwise you’ll break your own heart. I’ve learned to recognize when someone is special, and just enjoy the little time that I do have with the person and when that time is up, you let them go. Sometimes though, I meet someone who makes that pretty fucking difficult. I did meet someone like that on this past tour, but like I said, it is not the time to tell that story. However, it did get me thinking about other people I have said goodbye to along the way, so in honor of retrospect, I am going to tell you about Holden, a boy I met on tour in the spring of 2014, and I haven’t seen or spoken to him since.

I’m not sure what my very first thought was when I saw him, but I had a few.

One, he’s drinking alone, which I liked. Well, kind of alone. As alone as you can be when you’re inside of the venue that you’re playing at that night. He would entertain some passing females for a few minutes here and there, and I could tell that he was smooth. I watched him do that thing where you casually place your hand on someone’s arm or side as you lean in to put your ear closer to them in an attempt at conversation in a loud venue. That can be repulsive if a guy does it wrong, but I could tell he had that shit down. Even with his good moves though, he stayed leaning at this bar counter, and continue watching the show by himself and let the girls walk away.

Two, he looked like a douche.

Three, but an incredibly good looking douche. Now that I know him, I think that Holden is one of the most beautiful boys that I’ve ever met, but at first glance, I was sure that I was NOT going to like this guy despite his James Dean appearance. He had a piercing on his face, and just this look that kind of screamed, I’m trying. I was very wrong.

Four, there’s something else though. Something else must have ran through my mind because I still decided to say something to him. Maybe I figured that I was going to be on the road with this dude for four months, so I might as well get the first introductory conversation out of the way. He was not in the band that I was working for, so we were not on the same bus, but his band was the direct support, so we were still going to be traveling together (it was a four band tour package) for many months.

I had been watching this… couple(?) all night. I hesitate to say couple because I’m 90% sure that they were on a second date, or something close to that. I don’t know how to describe what this chick was doing, but it was one of the most embarrassing things that I have ever seen. Basically, she was trying to dance on this guy and be sexy, but just failing at it so hard. It looked like she was attempting to give a lap dance despite the fact that the guy was standing up. She kept trying to jump on him, and then dry hump him I guess…? It was such a catastrophe. I was literally laughing out loud at this brilliant sight, but there was no one else who seemed to be witnessing it.

Like I’ve said many times, I hate small talk, so I figured I’d use this moment to speak to Holden so we could skip the formalities and dive straight into making fun of people together. Holden was about 15 feet away from my merch table, so I motioned to him to come over. The very first thing I said to him was something like, “Have you seen this couple over here?”

Holden: “The dancing chick?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Holden: “Oh I’ve been watching them all night,” he said with a lot of enthusiasm.

I fucking liked him immediately. I was so unprepared for him to have the same sense of humor as me, and to be on the exact same page as I was in that moment that I was kind of taken aback. As much as I hate talking, I am generally pretty good at conversation IF I decide to make an effort, but in those first moments with Holden, I did stumble a bit.

During the course of the tour, we went on to become fairly close. I don’t know that I have ever been so attracted to someone who I didn’t need to kiss. It was weird, I felt like I had a crush on him, but it was a very platonic type of crush. If that can even be a thing. I didn’t want to be with him and didn’t think about holding his hand or kissing him or fucking him or any of those things that you think about when you are into someone. But, he did kind of make me nervous, and I loved being around him. So I don’t know what the fuck to call how I felt about Holden. A “platonic crush” is the only thing I can come up with.

In a way, I think everyone kind of had a crush on him. I even heard the English Hooligan describe him as a “sweetheart” once, which I have never heard him call anyone else before or since. My fondness for him was no secret. I would regularly announce, “I’m in love with Holden,” to everyone (including him a couple of times I think) when I would see him by himself playing an arcade game, or sitting on the ground smoking a cigarette with a strand of hair falling into his face River Phoenix style, and those times when he said, “one second,” and then would walk a few feet away from us, vomit, and then turn right back around and join the circle again laughing, and take another shot of whiskey. Holden turned liquor into his bitch. It was outstanding. With that being said, that boy had some demons.

When you yourself are haunted, I think it’s pretty easy to spot another soul who is drowning in their own poison. On an afternoon in Philly, we ducked into a bar for a couple of beers, and he told me some of his tale which I won’t repeat here because it felt private, but I could feel that part of his past was eating him alive. But my God, he was such a beautiful disaster.

Holden is the type that somehow makes self-destruction look glamorous. I know that is terrible to say, but unfortunately, often times most interesting characters are the ones that are at constant war with themselves. I don’t want to make it sound like he was some depressive basket-case. He was always in a good mood and was always a good time, but I have a sixth sense about these things, and I could just tell that there was a lot going on underneath the surface. I used to love watching Holden on stage. Him and one of the guitar players would always smile at each other, and I’d often see them laughing about something, and it just looked like they were having so much fun. He belongs on stage.

I have this random memory of him, and it’s so seemingly insignificant that I don’t know why it stuck with me. We had a day off, so a few of us took a boat and jet ski out. We were out in the middle of the water and someone would take the jet ski for a few minutes, come back to the boat, and switch riders. EVERY TIME the new rider would drive away, they would unintentionally splash those of us on the boat with the fountain of water that jet skis create out the back. Even though everyone knew that this happened, and despite that they all tried to get far enough away so that the splash wouldn’t hit anyone, it did every time. Except when Holden got on. He was the only one who got the jet ski far enough away so that he didn’t splash anyone before taking off. That might seem minor, but for some reason it stuck with me.

Holden had good taste in music too. One of the very first conversations we had, one of the things that got brought up was the local music scene in the town where he is from. I asked him to make me a recommendation of a local, and he almost immediately said, “John Moreland.” I liked that he answered me so quickly. Often when you ask someone to give you a music recommendation on the spot, they shy away from the question.

So, I listened to John Moreland that night, and I fell in love with him, which made me fall in love with Holden. “Break My Heart Sweetly” is possibly the saddest song I have ever heard, and it seems oddly appropriate that I heard it due to Holden. It’s always sexy when the very first thing that someone tells you to listen to really hits home. It feels like you’ve found a kindred spirit. He went on to consistently give me good music recommendations, which brings me to the conclusion of this vignette. My retrospection of Holden inspired me to make a playlist. So this one is for Holden, the boy who broke my heart sweetly during the spring of 2014, and I’m so fucking glad that he did.

http://8tracks.com/goldenlullaby/raise-your-glass-to-retrospection

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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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My Self-Righteous Solution

I just figured out what the problem is with my generation.  We are obsessed with television the way that the previous generation was obsessed with music.  We have HD televisions, inDemand, DVR, Netflix and all this bullshit that I can’t even, nor do I want to, keep up with.  This craze is how our parents were about music.  Well, the cool ones anyway.  They had PROPER speakers, nice record players, and followed bands obsessively the way that my peers follow Game of Thrones or the lives of the fucking Kardashian’s or the Hogan’s or whatever rich family is the flavor of the week.  It’s gross.  The former generation waited hours in lines to go to a concert and drove across state lines.  Now people do not go to live music events because they’re lazy and would rather spend the night watching The Walking Dead and then hashtaging about it on twitter.

One of my favorite past times is listening to music with my Dad.  I have OFTEN blew off my friends to hang out with my Dad at his house, drink rum and listen to The Beatles and Tears for Fears on his sweet stereo system.  You are simply not listening to music properly if you’re listening to it off of your fucking laptop or iPod or whatever mini device you have that will be out of date in four months.  When I was growing up, my Dad had floor speakers that stood a good two and a half feet tall, and I believe they were the same speakers he had had since ’75.  And my God, do they sound beautiful.

I was recently at my Dad’s house by myself and decided to put on one of my many CD’s.  While I am probably the youngest person I know who has a real CD collection, I only had a few handy because the hundreds of others were at my place.  I was stoked to discover that I did have a Sunny Day Real Estate album with me, so I put that in, and literally started laughing out loud all by myself when I heard the first note. It sounded so goddamn different from what I am used to that it was comical.  Jesus Christ I have been missing out.  I laid in the middle of the room, and let the vibrations of the bass coming from the floor penetrate my heartbeat, and I let the melody fill the room and devour all sense of time and space.  I think my life changed.  At least a little bit.  I’ve listened to music on these speakers plenty of times, but maybe because I was completely alone and feeling particularly susceptible, this time it was just different.

I left the room for a moment to grab my water which was in the living room where I had left the television on.  With the music in the background, it was now being poisoned by the sounds and images of some drama that was on cable.  In that moment, I was revolted by the TV.  I don’t own a TV, but I don’t have disdain for it either, I just prefer to not have one.  It makes me read more.  Anyway, in this moment, with the beautiful sounds behind me, and in front of me, bright colors and fiction discharging all over my face, I had a revelation.  My generation has it all wrong.  We don’t listen to music properly, and we’re not as die-hard for it as the children of the ’60s and ’70s and it is drowning us.

To further my self-righteous music rant, I truly believe that world peace could be obtained with a happy song.  If everyone in ISIS would just shut the fuck up and listen to “Tiny Dancer” things would get better.  During diplomatic discussions of drone warfare and economic stability, I think there should be a mandatory twenty-minute musical intermission every two hours.  You’re welcome, UN.

I know that I sound like a hipster right now, (which is something that I get made fun of daily by my tour manager who thinks that pumpkin patches are the demise of the society in the same way that big oil companies are), but I’m fine with that.  What did the hipster’s ever do except for bring us craft beer, great coffee, a mini revival of vinyl records, the expansion of Vice magazine and made it acceptable for me to wear fake glasses?

I just like this picture and it's one of my better iPhone photographs.  Wouldn't you rather be there than in front of the television?

I just like this picture and it’s one of my better iPhone photographs. Wouldn’t you rather be there than in front of the television?

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 14

I am sitting in a dirty hotel room, on stained bed sheets, my teeth not brushed, my hair unwashed and on top of my head like a gypsy whore, crumbs stuck underneath my fingernails, a bloody knuckle, smeared eyeshadow and wearing an over-sized, wrinkly band t-shirt.  I have not done anything to change this situation because the last twelve hours were dirty, so I want to stew in the filth of last night so that I can properly account for the events that took place.  If I shower away the grime, I’ll shower away the grimy details.  There’s something about being shower fresh that makes last night’s memories seem cleaner.  No, I want the dirty truth.

Last night was roadie Friday, which just means that it is the night before a day off while on tour.  The day started as normal.  We did a show at The Gramercy Theatre in New York City.  Great venue, sold out show, and I got my New York bagel and cream cheese that I had been eagerly anticipating.  Coffee, found a book store, annoyed my tour manager, set up merch, sold merch.  Normal day except that it was the last show that the two other bands on the tour package would be playing with us.  These days are always a bummer because you almost always become friends with everyone, so the day the tour package breaks up is always characterized with heavy drinking, heavy hugging and hopes that paths will cross again.  One of the drummer’s and I started a cute, flirty tour courtship.  He was the only member of his band who had a beard, so OF COURSE he was the one I ended up getting the closest with.  My curse of the bearded boys.  Him and I would pass notes to each other during the show (because it’s always so loud, it’s difficult to talk), and try to steal a few minutes here and there throughout the day to have a real conversation and maybe take a hit from his pipe.  The point is, that it always feel like you are saying goodbye all too soon in this industry.

Back to the last twelve hours.  Things started going downhill when the lead singer of one of the bands hit on me.  Hard.  It wasn’t cute or flattering, it was demeaning, uncomfortable and dirty.  Him and I had got along great, and found ourselves in deep conversation on occasion, despite everyone telling me that he generally keeps to himself and doesn’t talk to anyone.  When we did speak, it’s always during the day, and I never saw him after the shows.  So last night, I made a point to find him to give him a hug and say goodbye before he went on stage because I knew I wouldn’t see him after.  He suggested that we exchange numbers.  Okay.  I’m fine with that.  He’s a cool guy and maybe we can work together again in the future, or at least send each other funny pictures of people we see at Walmart every once in a while.  I am so hopelessly naive because he then got weird.  He started speaking really low and saying things like, “I’m not going to pretend that I’m not attracted to you, and that I wouldn’t tear your shit up.”  I’m nice, and I don’t like embarrassing people or rejecting them, so I just tried to change the intent by making a joke about it and then saying I had to get back to merch.  That didn’t work, because he then grabbed me by the back of my hair and pulled it HARD, (the way you would to someone in bed) and brought my face into his chest so that his mouth was touching my ear and said, “I know you like that.  Don’t act like you don’t want it.” Um actually bro… no, I don’t want it.  He then went on to say that the next time he sees me he is going to “punish that shit,” as if I don’t have a choice in the matter.  The notion that I may not be into him didn’t even seem to be a thought in his mind.  Lead singer syndrome.  So that was shitty and was a bad last impression, and what started the grime of the night.

The second disaster happened a few hours later when the guitar player of the band I work for went Italian mafia on our driver.  It was epic and I was secretly hoping for blood to be spilled.  Very long story short, our driver pulled a little bitch, diva hissy fit and literally, huffed and puffed and slammed one of the inside bus doors, breaking the jam and essentially turning it into a swinging door.  If that wasn’t already bad enough, he continues slamming it over and over again, looking like a fucking idiot.  He failed at failing.  We were all just staring, open-mouthed trying to decide if we should laugh or yell or help or look the other way.

The guitar player stands up and is calm at first and says with his Italian accent, “what’s the problem, man?”  The driver explained, but that made it even worse because he was completely in the wrong.  Apparently, our guitar player had these same exact thoughts times a million because he lost his goddamn mind on our driver.  He was an inch away from his face, and screaming at the top of his lungs.  He then goes on to smash things and break things as well, yelling, “I’m mad now also because you disturbed me and my guest CAN I GO AND BREAK THE FUCKING BUS TOO YOU FUCKING BITCH?!!”  The “guest” was our guitar player’s flavor of the night, and I felt bad that she had to awkwardly sit through this ugly affair.  This went on for a good twenty minutes and spilled out onto the New York streets.  Our guitar player threatened to slit the driver’s throat if he ever disrespected him like that again, and the driver, just crumbled as he was being shoved and yelled at.  I felt like I was watching The Godfather.

The English Hooligan (our Tour Manager) came back to deal with the situation because what a TM really is, is an adult babysitter.  I regularly whine in a little girl voice at him.  Just two days ago he gave me a pair of his own socks because I was bitching that my feet were cold and my socks kept falling off of my ankle.  This took place only hours after I was claiming to be low maintenance.  Bus call was at 2:00am but obviously, we were not going anywhere at 2:00am as it was already 1:50am and there was a chance that our driver was going to be murdered in the next ten minutes. The English Hooligan basically ordered everyone to go to the pub and drink until 4:00am.  He had some problem solving to do, and was trying to make everyone happy again, so he handed me a 100 dollar bill and told me to buy everyone a round.  Word.  Between us crew, the band and their guests, we were an entourage of 14 people and we took over that bar until we managed to stumble back out onto the New York streets at 4:00 in the morning broken and better for it.

That would have been enough for one night for any sane person, but me, the Hooligan, 0069 and the Jackhammer are not sane.  We went on to have what we call, “a punk rock party.”  This title came to be LONG before I started working with the band.  I believe it got its’ name because the tour manager is from Liverpool and is a true punk rock hooligan at heart, and this side of him tends to come out when he’s drinking.  When we hear “London Calling” come on the bus stereo, everyone knows to run because a punk rock party is about to occur.  I didn’t run, and neither did 0069 or the Jackhammer, so we basically had a four man mosh pit at 5:00 in the morning while the bus was in route.  Twirling ninja kicks were involved and somehow I feel like I crowd surfed a couple of times with only four people.
This is what it looks like after a roadie Friday…

Hung over.

Hung over in a hotel.

I had fun during this punk rock party, and managed to get through it with only one cut and mild bruising.  However, things took a bad turn when Joe got a hold of my phone.  He knows my password to unlock my phone because I was stupid enough to tell it to him some other night, thinking a.) he won’t remember after this one time, b.) I don’t give a shit if he goes through my phone and c.) we are good friends and although he is out of his mind and known for playing practical jokes, I don’t think he would ever do anything with my phone that crossed the line.  I was wrong.

In the past, he has stolen my phone and done ridiculous things like pretended to be me while texting some boy, and then take a picture of his own ass, and sending it… that kind of thing.  Even though I have to do damage control after, it’s still a little bit funny and I usually don’t care.  This time though, he crossed the line.  The bearded drummer boy, who I mentioned earlier, and I were texting.  I made the mistake of telling 0069 that I kind of like this guy.  This is not something any of them are used to hearing.  They’re accustom to me having mild crushes on boys, but they know I’m an asshole and I usually just do it for my own personal entertainment because it makes the days slightly more amusing.  I typically find some shallow reason not to like someone after a few nights of flirting with a guy will say, “I don’t like him anymore because he pronounces library, libary,” or some reason equally as inane, and the Hooligan will roll his eyes, 0069 will exploit it, R-dizzle will say, “he seems like a nice guy,” (R-dizz is always the voice of reason) and Wolfgang will start singing show tunes.  So when I didn’t do that right away with this boy, I think it took 0069 off guard and he didn’t like it.  Like I’ve said before, I don’t do tour romances and Joe knows this.

He took my phone and started texting bearded drummer boy, pretending to be me, and he wrote some awful script.  After an inappropriate comment about “swallowing,” he then went on to text, “Listen, it was really nice to know you for a moment.  I don’t do tour hookups or after tour hookups.  Have a nice one.”  It went on.  When I saw this the next morning I was really upset, mostly because I was imagining poor drummer boy, who was nothing but nice to me, being humiliating by 0069.  If Joe hadn’t already crossed the line that night, he then crossed so far over that the line was not even in sight anymore…

Post punk rock party, while the four of us were just sitting now, beat up and drunk, Joe decided to bring up a lot of personal stuff that he is very well aware of that I don’t want to talk about because I have told him this on more than one occasion.  It annoys him that there are things he doesn’t know about me, so the interrogation ensued.  After Johnny and Joe made it to their bunks, the emotional onslaught that 0069 had blindsided me with caused me to have a crazy Caitlin spell, with the English Hooligan holding my shoulder telling me that, “everything’s all right, chuck.”  Chuck is a name he sometimes calls me.  Like I mentioned, he’s English, so he’s always using foreign words that I can only guess their meaning.  I assume that chuck is the equivalent to “sweetie” or something like that, but for all I know, chuck could be the equivalent to raging cunt.  Sometimes when I really can’t understand him I yell, “stop speaking British!”  This always pisses him off which always makes me giggle with delight.  One of my favorite things is listening to him and Wolfgang, our LD and also an English chap, go back and forth.  I call this, “British banter.”

I got myself together, patted Gus on the shoulder with a “thank you,” and passed the fuck out.  I woke up four hours later and walked out to the front, being welcomed by the morning light and the pure calamity of the front lounge.  It looked like five Cookie Monster’s on crack had come through during the night.  There was not one thing in the proper place, couch cushions were on the floor, coffee grinds spilled everywhere, and there was at least three bags worth of chips crushed up on the ground and everything was broken.  Tight.  Back to bed.

Now here we are, twelve hours later, and doing absolutely nothing except for dying in a hotel room.  Fucking roadie Friday’s.

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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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