Socks? Check. Winter coat? Check. Bathing suit? Check. Bottle of Doctor Bronner's tea tree soap which will definitely explode within a matter of days inside my bag? Check. Giant sharpie marker? OBVIOUSSSSSLY CHECK.
It's that time again. The 4 of us, our 4 backpacks (ok, ok... I'll get yelled at if I don't mention that Dave and Pierce are the only two that actually have single bags, I have a backpack, a suitcase, and a bag of books and treats... also, Ryan [a dude from Albany who is playing drums for us right now] has all his shit in a giant tupperware container), and a lot of gear and shirts and records all packed into a rented white Penske cargo van, driving across the country to play 10 or so songs to kids we do and don't know every night for the next 6 weeks.
We are 6 days in and so far we have:
-Found out that skittles are now vegan all across America. Some stores still have the old batches (which contain gelatin) but most are carrying the new, improved version which says "GELATIN FREE" on the back... and yes, this is original, sour, and tropical.
-Found out that Runts (the most amazing candy of all time) has introduced 2 new flavors- green apple and grape. 3/4 of us agree that grape is the superior new addition, but Dave is 100% on green apple's side. (opinions are like assholes...)
-Found out that Wonka candy (maker of our beloved Runts) does NOT give factory tours, even to traveling bands. Thus are abandoned dreams of dipping my hands in liquid candy and letting them turn into jawbreakers.
We have also played some amazing (and/or hilarious) shows.
Our first day was at the Mr Roboto project outside of Pittsburgh. We couldn't have asked for a better tour kickoff. Roboto has been around for 15 or so years which in the timeline of hardcore/punk is like practically the dawn of time, so it was really rad to be able to play there. The show was off the hook- you knoooow, moshing, singalongs, all that. Then after we stayed with with a dude named Jason and hung with him and about 293838475638 of his friends. Ramen feasts and Converge DVDs by night, and chocolate chip pancakes by morning. Can't really ask for more out of 24 hours.
Day 2 was a last minute show at another epic venue called The Legion Of Doom. The Legion is a basement in Columbus, Ohio which has been doing shows for so long that Black Flag played there (...no big deal.) The opening performance was 2 dudes rapping- one a normal looking punk type kid, one bearded lunatic dressed head to toe in yellow, sporting a pair of banana-colored cyclops sunglasses (in the dark.) Over pre-recorded beats they spat and flowed and screamed and yelped and gyrated and had my complete and undivided attention for their entire, bizarre set.
After that, a band called Universe played (their 3rd show ever. Pair an extremely heartfelt singer (who is also an extremely talented and accomplished comic artist- I picked up 2 of his zines, "Please Release" and "Cakewalk/Bets Are Off", both of which I enjoyed tremendously. His name is Nate Powell, check him out!), with mid 90's style screamo, AND a violin player, and that's Universe. We loved them. They passed out lyrics sheets before they played and I was torn their whole set between reading along (and re-reading, since the lyrics were fucking outstanding) and watching. One song was so beautifully written, and so beautifully explained, that I was actually moved to tears and had to blink them away so I could squint to read along in the dusky basement light. I have since been carrying the lyric sheet in my journal, and now that I'm sitting here on this long drive from Illinois to Cinncinati (in a couple hours we play with Have Heart and Trapped Under Ice at a wrestling ring), I'm going to share them with you.
The song is called "Memory Foam", and it's about the singer losing someone close to him to cancer, and the first time he went to this friend's place after he had died:
"come back to me,
dullness after catastrophe,
pale return to normalcy,
unfettered night's sleep.
i searched every corner of your house.
mountains of refuse, mountains to remove.
buried in cancer's commotion.
last door left open-
blood, crown my face,
carefully keep adrenaline at bay.
like scripted horror of present day,
surprised to find your room cold,
washed in winter light.
no trace of you.
no accident to undo.
no gasp of broken sleep.
everyone, sometime, cease to be.
still, come back to me."
After that we stayed with friends, made kabobs on the grill, and threw a can of beans on the fire to watch it explode.
Day 3 was hilarious. We played a club called Frankies in Toledo, Ohio (Pierce's hometown!) with The Red Chord and Walls Of Jericho. We got into town and practiced for a bit (Ryan only got to practice with us twice before we hit the road) and I cooked dinner while hungry, which is always a bad (or great?) idea. One entire box of pasta with TVP "meatsauce", and another entire pot of thai peanut noodles. We got to the show stuffed and I burped and near-vomitted my way through our whole set.
I shouted out the 3 male-fronted bands playing, because I know it really makes my guys feel comfortable to see other men involved in music. That's what punk rock is about, breaking the molds society puts on us, ya know? This joke was lost on the 40 year old metalheads and 15 year old nu metal girls, the former of which yelled "FUCK YEAH" and threw the horns, the latter of which turned to each other and asked whatthefuck we meant. It was later suggested to me that the ability to sense and understand sarcasm doesn't kick in until 16.
The show was fun as fuck, packed with a a very diverse crowd and a lot of Pierce's friends. We were given 60 packs of ramen and all plan to go into MSG shock within a week.
Day 4 and 5 were in Michigan. We played in Grand Rapids at a place called the Mixtape Cafe with our friends/labelmates Years Spent Cold. A girl at this show told me she wrote a college paper about us (for our old grease bus and being a vegan band), which was both rad and strange. We get asked about this a lot, so I'll tell all y'all too- our grease bus is dead. We had it for 6 tours, but on the first day of our tour with Furious Styles last March, it died. We left it on the side of the road and toured in a car. If you are interested in vegetable oil powered vehicles, there is an unreal amount of info on the subject online (which is how we learned about it and converted our bus). Google it!
After the show we drove to our friend Justin (Blackbirds) house. He just bought his place and he, his lady friend Julia, and Dave's friend Vanessa all live there with about 800 cats and 300 dogs. We hung till the wee hours of the morning telling stories and awoke to our new merch being delivered from our dudes at Seventh Dagger Printing. New designs and long sleeves, and in a week or so we'll have tank tops. Psyched!
At the show the next day in Rochester we were brought cookies from Erika (who always bakes us the most delicious treats) and fudge by an acquaintence of Dave and Pierce's. The show was decent, but the real story of the night was the fudge exchange. It went like this:
(The girl who made the fudge walked over the table and looked at Dave for an uncomfortably long amount of time. I was standing next to him. Pre her arrival, we had been having a conversation. We stopped talking mid-sentence when she, with an imposing yet silent presence paired with an owl-like stare, interrupted us.)
Dave: Hi... (?)
Her, speaking in quick blurbs: Hi. I have fudge for you.
Dave, hungry: Oooh?? Where is it?
Her, blurbing: In the car.
(seconds passing like hours as she blinked at Dave, and Dave blinked back...)
Dave, finally, filling the silence with his shitty wit: ...well, that's not my mouth!
(seconds passing like days...)
me: every muscle in my body tense from withholding my laughter...
(Her staring at Dave, Dave staring back....)
(seconds passing like years...)
me: grimacing to keep my face from exploding...
Her to Dave, spitefully: You're awkward.
...then she brought us fudge.
After that was an all night Boggle tournament which Justin won (let it be known that I got second... BEATING Dave. Let is also be known that DRI, TUI , Isis, and DTN were all found in the game and moshed for). Dave and I took on a craft project involving sexually transmitted diseases and sparkle pens. The Clap never looked this good:
And on that note... we're approaching Cincinnati, so I'm off for now. Next time: Springfield, Ill (Jesus-fueled Metalcore! A million vegan straight edge kids! Cookies! A Toilet that smelled so vile we could smell it WHILE we played!)