Tag Archives: roadie

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 2 of 2

…continued from Report 1.

Finally being able to have some privacy keeps you isolated as well.  Even if you live with someone else, compared to road life, the amount of privacy you are suddenly allowed is a shock.  We tend to try to take advantage of this, which also keeps us isolated and susceptible to PTB.

One of the things that you really need to adapt to on the road is the lack of privacy, which I have discussed in the past.  Everyone knows when you poop, everyone knows what you look like in the morning, everyone knows how many times in a row you’ve worn the same shirt without washing it.  Everyone knows when you’re upset, everyone knows what your underwear looks like because you often consolidate, and do each other’s laundry.  Basically, everyone knows everything.  It’s like having 11 live-in boyfriends/girlfriends.  Yes, this can sometimes be a nightmare, but it can also sometimes be the most at home you’ll ever feel.  You and your bus-mates become a little fucked up family.  To add to this, it is a constant friggen peanut gallery.

On the road, I cannot do something as mundane as eat a saltine cracker without someone making a comment about it.  I cannot stand how everyone feels the need to ask what you’re eating every fucking time you put something in your mouth.  This isn’t a tour thing, but it’s just enhanced on tour because someone is always around.  I can be eating out of a chip bag that is the size of my torso and at least one person will say, “what you got there?”

I usually don’t respond.  I will just sit there, six inches from someone, and blatantly not respond to their inane question.  People must think I’m either nuts or just an extreme bitch, both of which I will not dispute.  If I opened my mouth I would end up saying, “Unless you went blind between now and the last time I saw you five minutes ago, I think it’s obvious that I am eating some chili lime flavored Lay’s.  Is there something so fascinating about this that propels you to ask such an annoying rhetorical question?”  Instead of saying all that, I just ignore the person.

I know that I have referred to Wal-mart run’s before, but I’m not sure that I have ever fully explained what they entail.  I think it’s obvious that it means that the bus stops at Wal-mart, but this almost always happens at 2:00 in the morning, after a show and approximately every 5-7 days.  Mostly we get groceries, but it is also your one opportunity to get everything that you need.  So, if I need to buy tampons or underwear (in the case that I haven’t been able to do laundry in years) this is my time to do all of that, so sometimes you just need some damn privacy while running this errand.

Often though, 0069 ends up sharing a cart with me and we end up rolling down the aisles on the grocery carts like they are sports equipment, and then playing bumper carts with at least one of the other crew/band members instead of being productive during this errand.  I think Jackhammer and I played a brief game of hockey using a can of pigs feet as a puck in the canned meats aisle.

2:00am Wal-mart run!  This is us NOT being productive.

2:00am Wal-mart run! This is us NOT being productive.

We really did need groceries and thermal shirts, but somehow this is what we left with.

We really did need groceries and thermal shirts, but somehow this is what we left with.

During one particular Wal-mart run, I explored the $5 CD bin.  I collect CD’s so of course I’m going to check out the selection just in case I come across a gem.  And I did!  A Chevelle album I didn’t have.  Score.  So I was walking through Wal-mart, and the only thing in my hand was a CD, while everyone else from the bus had shopping carts full of cereal and canned pineapple.  Every single one of them that I happened to walk past, made a comment about the CD and how it was strange that I was buying one.  Neat.  Thanks for your input, the last five guys said the same exact thing.

Then I go to order a Diet Coke at the McDonalds that is inside of the Walmart, because I love supporting our capitalistic society run by big corporations and corn byproducts.  If I am not already annoyed because of this, and the pure fact of being inside of a Walmart which goes against my entire lifestyle of trying to live low impact, I hear “oh god.  What did you do to yourself?”

Me: What?

Bus-mate: You got McDonald’s?!

What I’d really like to do here is simply ignore this question and not say anything at all.  Like I said, I do this often, so they are all relatively used to it.  Well, as used to being blatantly ignored as you can get, but in this case, there was nothing else around to distract him, so I had to answer or else be further antagonized.

Me: I just got a Diet Coke.

And even if I had ordered some french fries or whatever, I don’t need to hear your opinion on the subject.  It seems to be a surprise to you, but I have managed to get through my entire life so far, without your incessant commentary.

Then, I get back on the bus and have to hear from the English Hooligan about how bad Diet Coke is bad for me.  I already have grown to accept the fact that I am going to get Lupus due to aspartame poisoning, so let me just grow disease ridden in peace!  He feels the need to comment on my Diet Coke intake every single time I have one, even though he has a milkshake or two every single day, and chicken wings and a cheeseburger every other day, but somehow, “that’s different.”  He’s rolling his eyes and shaking his head right now.

Girls get it worse I think.  The attention that I get as a female on the road is one of the best and one of the worst parts about being a chick roadie.  The down side is that like I’ve already said, everything I do is commented on, but with an added cascade of sexist undertones.  “So, you’re hanging out with {insert name of musician or crew member of another band here}.”

Uh, yeah… and you were just smoking a joint and shooting the shit with him two hours ago, so please spare me of your passive sexist remarks.

Every time I use a hand-truck, which is everyday, SOMEONE makes a comment about it.  It’s usually one of the locals and it’s usually something like, “Don’t they have one of the guys to help you with that?”

Do I help the sound engineer with patching?  Do I hang lights for the LD?  No.  So why would any of them help me cart around t-shirts?  It’s what I’m paid for.  This may come as a surprise to people, but I do get paid for my work.  I cannot tell you how often I have been asked if I get paid and every time it is hugely insulting.  Many people assume that I’m essentially a glorified groupie.  So let’s set the record straight, this is how i make most of my living, yes I get paid fairly well, no I am not someone’s girlfriend and yes I travel on the bus; they don’t strap me onto the roof like cargo.

At the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, the first thing that the PM said to me was, “Whose girlfriend are you?”  I looked him in the eye, and just turned and walked away.  He went on to get what he deserved, which was a lot of ridicule from a drunken, Norwegian guitar player who laughed in his face and asked him upon meeting him, “Why do you keep grabbing at your crotch?” among other hilarious observations about this guy’s existence.  Beware of the drunken musicians my darling venue staff, because they don’t give a fuck.

Now I am home, and as nice as the privacy and lack of a constant peanut gallery is, I do miss my roadie families.  Every time I’m home, it takes a while to adjust and I don’t know what to do with all of the privacy.  When I walk into an empty house, I think that I should do something “forbidden” just to take advantage of being alone.  Like eat a bowl of ice cream for breakfast while naked with Ace of Base on full volume and dance on the couches and tabletops.  Or at least call a hot boy to make-out with.  Then I remember that I’m crazy, so I just make a salad instead and read the newspaper and yell at it when Dick Cheney is quoted or when Rick Scott tries to pretend like he is not a subhuman who has profited billions off of sick people.

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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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The Adventures of Touring – Special Edition: Noisey Made Me Sound like a Groupie, but I Feel Cool Anyway

This is how much I love VICE… I have the app. I barely understand what phone applications are, so if I have an app, it’s because I really use it. Along with VICE, I have BBC News, the dictionary, USPS, google translate, atVenu and fucking Solitaire. Dorky apps. On the bus during long drives while a lot of the guys are on some game application that gives me a headache just by looking at it over their shoulder, I am the annoying one announcing things like, “the word of the day is solipsistic,” or “VICE found a guy who claims that he only has 100 boners left.”

For those of you who need some VICE in your life, Noisey is basically the music section of the magazine, and I got mentioned in one of the articles. Well…. kind of. Indirectly. Very indirectly. I was misquoted, and made to sound like someone’s one night stand, but you know what, I’ll take it. He was nice enough to keep me nameless, but I am here to take full credit because like we all know, I am perfectly comfortable with exploiting myself.

This particular tour holds a very special place in my heart, so I didn’t think that I’d be able to write about it for a while. I fell in love with this band and crew, and the band and crew of the entire three band tour package. When that happens, it’s sometimes difficult to take a step back and explain it all in a way that the non-touring world will understand. However, due to being mentioned in a Noisey article… I will tell this single tale for now. I’m sure there will be more later.

On the last day of the tour, a Noisey columnist came onto the bus to interview the lead singer of the band that I was working for. They discovered a note that I had taped to the television so that everyone would see it which read, “Hi boys- I lost my jeans somewhere on this bus. Please let me know if you find them amongst all of your stuff. Thanks! -Caitlin”

I suppose to someone who has never lived on a tour bus, that may sound strange. However, when there are twelve people living on one bus, shit gets misplaced. If you’re a good busmate and understand bus etiquette, you only bring the necessities onto the bus and leave your fucking carry-on in the bay (the storage space underneath the bus). Regardless, with twelve people, that still means at least 36 pairs of socks and underwear, 24 shoes, five million chargers and approximately three trailer keys. When you add the consumption of three bottles of liquor, two cases of beer and copious amounts of drugs every night, shit disappears. T-dog, my favorite bus driver, would regularly find my underwear in the bus vents and I have found men’s pj pants in my bunk who belong to boy’s who had definitely never been in my bunk.

My note was interpreted by Noisey in the article as saying something more like, “I left my jeans on the bus last night. Let me know if you find them.” I appreciate the artistic license he took because that makes it sound a lot more rock n’ roll, like a hot little metal chick with last night’s make-up smeared around her eyes wearing sexy fish-nets and I-just-got-laid-hair put the friendly letter up, instead of the boring merch girl.

Before you start thinking that this is going to be a fun mystery thriller which ends full circle with the jeans providing some profound moral to the story… it’s not. It’s just a story that is characterized with a shit load of bums and the jeans really have nothing to do with what went down. Lost pants is just a hilarious representation of the drunken debauchery that took place.

The night before, one of the guys, who I will call the Trojan, and I stayed up until sunrise drinking gallons of vodka while he educated me on Metallica. We sat there and listened to a whole album from beginning to end, which is something I appreciated because so few people do that anymore, and his enthusiasm was kind of a turn on.

The following day was a day off. When we all woke looking like a crew of utter death, the Trojan turned to me, still in his boxers and said, “Caitlin! Are we drinking?” You can’t say no to a Trojan…

Jack Daniels for breakfast in my Niagra Falls mug. It’s going to be a fucked up day.

The guys went to a bar early afternoon, but I had to break from the pack and do something normal to kind of recenter my life for a moment. After multiple days of staying up all night and drinking, you start to lose your sense of time and space. So, I went to a museum, looked at fossils and learned some shit.

Later, we all went to a steakhouse that had at least 500 taxidermy animals on the wall (not exaggerating) and we ate some of their insides. It was delicious. We were rolling 12 people deep, so we needed two van taxi cabs everywhere we went, which was a pain in the ass. I enjoy minimal responsibility, which is why I will never TM, but somehow I became in charge of calling the cabs, so when they didn’t arrive for a while, for some asinine reason, I got held responsible. To fend off the harassment, I started doing a tap dance on the sidewalk to lighten my mood, and when that didn’t work, I resorted to throwing a can of soda into the street. Rebel.

While waiting outside of the restaurant for my whole life, a happy bum approached us and OF COURSE, the Trojan started chatting him up while most of us attempted to not make eye contact. In the Trojan’s defense, I think he was the only one who was drunk. The exchange between a black metal Trojan and a skinny homeless man who looked like he could have been Sammy Davis Jr. became such a spectacle, that it was like watching a theatrical improv show on crack. At one point, the Trojan and the bum started dancing together on the sidewalk. At another point, the bum said something to me, to which I responded in perfect English, “I don’t speak English.”

Later, the bum said something about Jesus, to which the Trojan said, “I deep throat Jesus everyday, that little bitch.” At least we know how to keep things controversial.

We were in Denver, and if you have never been to Denver, it’s essentially where people go to do nothing. In other words, weed is legal there, so that’s where all of the hardcore stoners migrate. I can only tolerate so much Grateful Dead. Speaking of the Grateful Dead, I saw this on the wall of the bar that we ended up going to, and I couldn’t believe the perfection.

IMG_1543

That is possibly the most god awful published photograph that has ever existed. The guys in the back… holy fuck.

The boys were playing pool, and I was drinking my weight in whiskey while people watching and deciding that the girl who was dancing with the teal fringed mid-drift had escaped from a Mormon family and was currently experimenting in lesbianism. I often play that game where you look at a stranger and make up a full back-story for them. It can be a fun bar game.

After losing numerous pool matches to a guy wearing cargo shorts and a fishing cap, the Trojan was over it and we decided to head back to the bus and just… see what happened. And oh, shit happened.

We crossed paths with a girl at a bus stop. She asked us for money, providing some story about how she needed to get to the next town over because of her dying mother. I could be completely off, but it was something absurd like that. She was good, so if you have never lived in a city, you might have believed her, but because I know that anyone panhandling is fucking lying, I knew better. Still, we spoke with her for a moment, encouraged her and I gave her my knife that I keep in my shoe (because she was whining about not feeling safe) and we went on our way. Regardless of our awareness that this girl was completely full of shit, after denying her and walking five meters, the Trojan and I turned and looked at each other and both said simultaneously, “I like her.” Damnit.

It felt like the idiotic thing to do, so naturally, we went back. We’re so vain; we liked her because she was pretty and articulate and just not your average beggar. At all. She did not look like she was on the streets. Put her in some heels and a skin-tight dress, and she could have gotten by as a high class escort. Come to think of it, I should have suggested that to her. Anyway, we went back and told her that we can’t help her with her child who has been kidnapped (or whatever the story was that kept changing), but we can buy her a drink. So the three of us went into the place that was immediately next to us, which of course ended up being a gay bar. Long story short, she’s out of her god damn mind, and kept trying to hit on flamboyant gay men and complaining that the bar didn’t have olives in the cocktail tray that she was using like a buffet counter. The Trojan and I thrive on this type of awkwardness, so we were eating this girl up. This got us all kicked out however.

At the time, it seemed ridiculous that we were being expelled from the place, because I have seen much much much more obnoxious behavior at a bar, but I got the feeling that she is probably a regular there and she is probably not welcomed at the establishment anymore for past reasons. We said our goodbyes, she cried because she’s mental, and the Trojan and I went on our way.

About 100 paces later, we run into Michael Mud. Another bum panhandling, and despite the Trojan claiming to hate people, he is incredibly friendly. I like people (…in the grand scheme of things… unless you chew with your mouth open), and the Trojan and I were kind of partners in crime during this tour, but had he not been there, none of the events of the night would have taken place. So due to his nature, we of course start chatting it up with the three toothed beggar who we would later learn to be, Michael Mud.

The Trojan and Michael got deep. They were having a serious moment and I know my place, so I kind of stepped back and just observed this take place. They were bonding on a musicians’ level. Michael had an acoustic guitar on his back, so we asked him to play something. He kept declining because the guitar only had three strings, and I think he felt embarrassed playing in front of the Trojan, who is a guitarist. The Trojan almost literally kicked Michael Mud in the ass, demanding him to play and like I said… you can’t say no to a Trojan.

So Michael started playing, and it was really something. I wish I could remember details. Damn alcohol. But I can remember the feeling, and it just had so much heart. I could have sat there at that dirty bench all night listening to him play. He kind of started playing the blues. True blues. When you strum some minor chords and fill in measures with improved, lyricals of misery. We learned a lot about his outlook on life in about thirty seconds because of a song sang on the side of the street at 1:30am with a $30 acoustic guitar that was missing half of its’ strings.

Some more words were exchanged, and later Michael Mud started giving us his sob story. Something I really like about the Trojan is that he doesn’t give a fuck. He does and says what he wants and he doesn’t have sympathy for people because he can see that we are all the same. When Michael Mud responded to something that he said with, “well that’s easy to say when you’re in a successful band….”

This sparked a fire in the Trojan. To which, I don’t blame him. He has worked fucking hard to get to where he is and he still has to work bullshit jobs that he doesn’t like in order to maintain his status. So what I remember the Trojan saying back was basically, “Fuck that. Life is shit for all of us. The world is a cunt, but you have this guitar, so just keep doing what you want to do with it.” Michael Mud started to tear up a little bit, and that’s when I knew we had made a slight difference. Even if it was just in that night. And he made a slight mark in our path too. I’ll never forget that man, or watching him and the Trojan smash each others hearts with cold iron stakes.

We told him to come to the show the next day and we’d put him on the list. He didn’t have a phone or anything to take down information with, so I wrote the address of the venue in sharpie on his guitar, and also my phone number in case he had any trouble. We both walked away knowing that there was a slim chance that this man on the streets would actually arrive. Despite this, the next day I arranged to have Michael Mud on the list. To my surprise, he called me the following morning. He basically wanted to make sure that we weren’t just being drunk retards last night, and that we still wanted him to come. Of course! I was so happy!

He never showed though. I still wonder what happened.

Somewhere in Denver there is a really special bum named Michael Mud, with the address to Summit Music Hall written in sharpie on his now, six string guitar. The Trojan gave him some of his guitar strings before we parted ways so that he would have a complete instrument. I gave up my sick knife to the first beggar, and the Trojan gave up his guitar strings to the second. In a weird way, that’s everything we had to offer.

The Trojan and I made our way back to the bus, and who the hell knows what happened after that. But somewhere between the walk back and the truck stop the next morning, I lost my jeans. I have no idea how because I was wearing them! That’s it. That’s the story of how I came to be indirectly mentioned in a Noisey article. I never found those damn jeans. I’m sure that they just ended up on the floor of the bus, tossed out of my bunk, and then haphazardly shoved into another bunk but… whatever. I’ll trade a pair of Levi’s for a night like that any time.

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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 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 6

To continue with my unspoken romances I had while being on Vans Warped Tour, another guy who I grew to really appreciate on the tour, but in a totally different way than the others, (see: Part 5, Part 4, Part 1) was Jonny Craig.  Jonny is the lead singer for Emarosa, a band on the tour that summer, though I knew of Jonny from Dance Gavin Dance, one of the few hardcore bands that I really like.  He is pretty well-known in that whole scene, being one of those vocalists’ who is in multiple bands and has his own following.  While I’m not particularly attracted to him, I did fall in love with his talent.

Fucking auto-tune and pre-recorded tracks.  So depressing.  If I had to guess, I’d say that 50% of what you hear at a concert, is pre-recorded tracks.  This is why I enjoy seeing and supporting local music and smaller touring bands because what you’re hearing is real; it’s raw.  When you find yourself thinking, they sound exactly like their CD!  That’s probably because most of what you’re hearing is from their CD.  It makes me want to throw-up and punch someone.  My whole beef with the present-day music industry though will be a rant for a different day.  Jonny was one of the few lead singer’s of the larger bands that didn’t use auto-tune or vocal tracks, and considering the notes that kid hits… that is respectable.  He also didn’t wear in-ears, which scores him cool points in my book.

Caitlin Rule: Use your monitors!  In-ears make you look like a vagina as well as making it appallingly obvious that the sound engineer is doing most of the work.

From what I witnessed, Jonny embraced almost every form of self-destruction.  In other words, he knows how to party.  Every night, that guy got fucked up, and everyday, he would get up on that stage and just make love to his songs and it was beautiful.  I don’t know how he did it.  He did not take care of himself even a little bit, but his voice never faltered.  He even broke his ribs during one of his performances, and still did not miss one show.  The next day, he was on that Ernie Ball stage and like always, singing his guts out and hitting notes that very few men can.   Somehow, he made those notes sound even better than they do in his recordings, giving you something truly worthwhile by seeing him live.  I’m not even much of a fan of Emarosa, I don’t own any of their albums, but I caught their show that summer as often as I could because of Jonny’s ability to sing unlike anyone else on the tour.

Emarosa (live)  –  Here is a link to a video of them performing, and of course, this shitty youtube video doesn’t do him much justice, but it at least gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.

While I wasn’t attracted to Jonny, I will say that I was oddly fascinated by him that summer.  He has this very “I don’t give a fuck” attitude and demeanor, but underneath it all, I think I saw this little boy vulnerability that again, like a lot of what I experienced that summer, I probably would not have noticed had I not been miserable.  After hours, when we’re all going from bus to bus, mingling, destroying our bodies with substances and watching the dismantling of the stages, (which looking back, was oddly metaphoric) though he was always surrounded by many people, Jonny sometimes looked lonely.  Maybe I’m over romanticizing, maybe there was nothing vulnerable underneath those sharp eyes, but I think that somewhere between those high notes and after hour adventures, he was screaming for some sort of real human connection, something real to hold on to.

I think we all were.

Touring- (verb) a sea of internal uncertainty with home never feeling so close and so far away.

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The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 5

“We get to play music for a living, man.”

And that’s when I fell in love with Chris Gaylor from the All American Rejects.  He knows how fortunate he is, and because of that, I have never heard him complain about anything related to his “job.”  I met Chris on Warped Tour and was lucky enough to get to know him fairly well, and I don’t have one bad thing to say about him.  A very humble and good human being.  Now for the anecdote that goes along with the quote…

It was one of the first times I had hung out with Christopher, and it was me, him, the members from the band I worked for and the band we shared a bus with.  It was one of our days off, and we were all going to get sushi.  On Warped, you very very rarely leave the grounds.  We visit most of the 50 states on that tour, but when someone asks me if I’ve ever been to Arkansas, or wherever, I always say no, because it just doesn’t count when you have only been to one of its’ parking lots.  That’s a huge advantage that club touring has over festival touring, because with club tours, you can experience the city a little bit.  You usually arrive earlier in the day, and can usually find time to go do something before and/or after the show that night.  With Warped Tour though, you arrive in buses to either a big field or a parking lot, and you stay there all day and leave that night and we average one day off a week.  Point is, us going out to dinner was a special occasion.

The walk ended up being much further than we estimated, and one of the guys was bitching about it and just being a total buzz kill.  I kept my mouth shut and tried to maintain a positive attitude for those of us who weren’t being Debbie’s.  His complaining was absurd, and was something along the lines of, he has to work and walk all day (oh please) and so he doesn’t want to have to walk a mile on our day off.  Jesus Christ.  This led into just general bitching about touring.  In the middle of his obnoxious whining, Chris finally spoke up and interrupted with:

“We get to make music for a living, man!”  Which was code for:  Shut the fuck up and realize how many people would kill to have our job, you ungrateful little bitch.

I smiled, and in that moment, grew a deep respect for Christopher Gaylor.  I don’t think anyone else noticed, or thought much of what he said, but for whatever reason, it left a profound impression on me.  He obviously understands how fortunate he is, and it means something to him.  Chris is the drummer for The All American Rejects, a huge band, and way way way more popular and successful than the guy’s band who was complaining.  So having this statement come from the guy with the #1 hits, made him look exceptionally good and humble and made the other guy look exceptionally bad.  I loved it.  I’ve never brought any of this up to Chris, so that’s why it’s filed under another one of my unspoken romances I had while being miserable on Vans Warped Tour.

…And he loves Dinosaur Jr as much as I do, which is sexy.

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