Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tour update #7, Portland (OR)/ Redding (CA)

Portland, oh Portland. One of my best friends lives in Portland so I got dropped off at her house for the night and the dudes continued on to Friendly Dave's house (he plays bass in Death A.D.- who played the show that night and fucking ruled.) So I can only tell you about what I did, which mirrors what the dudes did more or less precisely.

But first let me tell you what a lovely thing it is on tour to stay apart from everyone else. There is one couch in the living room, and it is yours. No floor sleep. No chorus of snores. There is no one waiting for the shower, so you can take all the time you want AND have hot water, with your choice of showering in the morning or at night. Add to my morning coffee waiting for me and toast with earth balance and nutritional yeast (breakfast of champions). Now don't get me wrong, I love that tour is like a traveling summer camp, and I like the bunk-mates aplenty, but a break from time to time is a very welcome thing.

Liz and I had hours to hang out before the show. Obviously, our main priority of the day was to consume food and beverage. (If you've read this blog at all you'll know that food and beverage is generally always the priority.) We started at the vegan strip mall (yes, this is a real thing). Coffee and mini-cupcakes at Sweet Pea Vegan Bakery , then some window shopping at Herbivore , then on to Food Fight Vegan Grocery to look at vegan cheeses and soy jerky.

After that, I had a meal that ranks in my top 10 best meals EVER. It happened at Los Gorditos 2. Here's the story of Los Gorditos:

A family moved from Mexico to Portland and opened one of the city's many Mexican food trucks. One day, the daughter of the family decided to become a vegan. After a time, the family started offering a few vegan options at the truck and the people of Portland, Oregon (a massively vegan-friendly city) went ape shit over it. The menu expanded, and eventually a separate vegan menu was offered. One by one, the family became vegan. Dad, uncle, aunt. Such was their success, the family opened a second truck- this one all vegan, called Los Gorditos 2. It's just a few blocks from the aforementioned vegan stripmall. Burritos run $4, Tacos 2 for $1.75. Who says veganism has to be expensive?!

I got a soyrizo burrito with extra avocado, soft spanish rice, cilantro, and fresh chopped onion, all wrapped up and almost as big as my forearm. Unreal.

From there I met up with the dudes and we went to the show. There was a pink box on the floor next to me that read, "Good things come in pink boxes", which made me giggle. My smile fell quickly to slack-jawed awe when I saw what was inside- a plethora of vegan donuts. Maple filled. Jelly filled. Coconut. Rainbow sprinkles. (available at Voo Doo Donuts) Help.

The show ruled, as Portland always does. Back at Liz's house we drank homemade ginger ale and she showed me photos of urban decay in downtown Detroit (there's an abandoned school you should look up on flickr!)

In the morning me and the dudes swung by Los Gorditos 2 one final time before we left town, and started our 6 or 7 hour drive to Redding, Caifornia.

(liz at LG2)

Up until this day we had spent more or less every day of tour cold. The heat was always on, hoodies zipped, my single pair of pants filthy from being the only thing I had to wear. (I had been cursing myself daily for bringing 3 pairs of seemingly useless shorts.) But on this glorious drive, the tides changed. Sleeveless shirts and shorts were unearthed from our bags and we ran wildly around a lush and green flower-speckled rest area, sunning our embarrassingly pale skin and making elderly rest-stoppers uncomfortable.

As we drove through mountain forests we came upon a weird gas station that also functioned as the town's grocery store, hardware store, cafe, AND restaurant. Pierce was accused of stealing ramen noodles that he brought in from the van by a man who was the all-in-one clerk/cashier/manager of this odd log-cabin style everything-mart perched atop a wooded Californian mountain. That same man later snapped at me, when I had tried to ease the obvious tension between he, Dave, and I by saying, "Boy... I'm sure glad this place is here. Our GPS said there wasn't gas for miles!",

"Well your 'GPC' was WROOOONG."

Then he continued to look around with shifty eyes and ring us up silently. Okkkk.....

Across the street was a thrift store that contained nothing of interest other than a most interesting litter of kittens that I ooohed and ahhhed at for a solid 5 minutes. But, kittens aside, as I poked around the store I realized more I hate about the West Coast, the world, and myself.

The man running the store stopped his conversation with another browser to make small talk with me.

"Looking for anything?"


"Let me know if I can Help!"

Will do, thanks

"....sooo, where are you from?"


"...sooooooo, what are you doing here?"


Friendly-ass motherfuckers. This is what I hate: People on the West Coast are genuinely interested in you. They want to thank you for existing and shoot the shit with your uninterested self about cameras and their great uncle so-and-so and whatever else pops into their dogishly happy minds. They do not pick up on how little you care, even if your hints are not subtle. And you cannot escape their seemingly endless barrages of hugs, and you'll never be able to wiggle out of under the arms they put around you. They will not notice your discomfort. They think the world is a place where everyone should touch and talk to each other all the time, and I fucking hate them for it. I'm from the east coast where the most common interaction I have with a stranger is mildly abrasive at best. Silence reigns, and personal space isn't so much respected as that each person is regarded with such disinterest or disdain that the idea of invading their personal space with a hug or good-willed arm around the shoulder is as likely as everyone breaking into song and dance in the middle of the street. Shit ain't gonna happen. But the thing is, minus the invasion of personal space which I could just never accept or tolerate, I think the things I hate west coasters for I SHOULD like. It's a nice way to be. The world SHOULD be like that. I would like to be like that. I would like to talk to every stranger I see. I would like to wish them all lovely days and sincerely mean it. But I can't, I just can't... no more than I can listen to Dave Matthews or call someone "brother".

The show started late. A one-man black metal band called Mania opened (you can see him in our first video tour update on youtube), as well as Run With The Hunted- a vegan straight edge band from Phoenix, AZ, and a band from Redding called The Separation (who did a Hatebreed cover!)

The show was eerily quiet between songs and despite the fact that a mowhawked middle aged toothless drunk man had me sign his arm and claimed he was getting it tattooed the next day (oh, the fame!), this was our worst merch night of all tour. We sold A cd. Our gas tank cringed.

That night both us and Run With The Hunted stayed with Ben from The Separation and a friend of his made 2 HUGE batches of delectable vegan mac n cheese, and we gorged ourselves while watching "Honey I Shrunk The Kids". I was starting to get sick that day and barely talked to anyone, spending the majority of that cr00sh hang out night like an antisocial asshole in pink gingerbread man pjs, curled in a sniffly ball, alone. I woke up hacking up green gak and saw a cat catch a tiny lizard and parade around with the mini reptile in its' mouth which was a comedy/tragedy that I (guiltily) chuckled at. Then it was back in the van on on to Reno...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tour update #6, Spokane / Tacoma, WA

Spokane ruled. The promoter, Alex, let us jump on a pre-existing show which we *thought* was going to be an ambient metal show, but turned out to be his band (Whale Limb) opening (3 person power violence), then Head Hunter (ex members of Furious Styles and current members of The Warriors), and a bunch of west coast crustmetal bands that were all really good but whose names escape me.

It was a cold night. The whole midwest had been cold, but this night was like New England winter. Motherfuck. After a bit, it started snowing. At first, the sky just spat snow here and there, so we got to planning...

See, we had been counting down the days until we could get ourselves to Seattle to eat at the world-famous (the vegan world, anyway) all-you-can-eat all vegan thai buffet, Araya's. The problem with Araya's buffet though ("Um, how can a buffet have a problem?", you're probably thinking) was that it closed at 3 pm, and Spokane was 5 hours from Seattle, and our show the next day was not in Seattle, but Tacoma. Fucking geography. Fucking time. We decided collectively that there was nothing on or above this earth (!) that could stop us from northwestern gluttony. So Dave (the only driver) crashed in the freezing van after our set and I called my old roommate Tyler who lives in Seattle and made plans to sleep on his carpet sometime very late that night.

All was going great. We had a fun show, met lots of really rad people, saw sweet bands, had our merch table flipped during our set, and our stomach boners were growing as each minute passed.

As the night wore on, the flakes became larger and more frequent, and soon the ground was blanketed in snow. We had been offered a place to stay in Spokane, but Dave, sleepy, hungry, and hellbent on thai, was not hearing my suggestion to stay. Despite warnings that the mountain pass to Seattle may be closed due to the snow, and that we may be required to get snow tires to cross it, we left the show.... at a whopping 20 miles an hour. As the snow thickened and cars became less and less frequent (and more and more terrifying as they veered into and out of the darkness over the white highway where lanes were being guessed at), and we dropped to 10 MPH, and became very sleepy (remember the 11 hour drive the day before, followed by a 9 hour drive to Spokane), we finally gave in- not to geography or time- but to nature, and to our own droopy eyes. A few restless hours of van sleep were had and we started driving again at 4 am after the snow had stopped. Dave was determined that we were eating all we could eat, telling me over and over his plan to drive, arrive at such-and-such time, sleep until exactly noon, and then get to Araya's before the food was old and dry.

I slept until we got to Tyler's house, and then while the dudes crashed I took a shower then went with him to The Wayward Cafe (an all-vegan cafe) and met up with Metal Mike (of This Time Tomorrow fame) and got what could easily be my final meal on earth, if I needed to pick one. Tofu scramble (that was actually delicious), toast, hashbrowns, and a bottomless cup of coffee. Lordy.

Immediately after digesting that, Tyler and I met up with the dudes, opened a bank account (Kingdom just got real official), and busted ass to Araya's... arriving past Dave's ideal noon, at a still-fresh 1:30 pm. Then we ate, and ate, and ate.

I don't do well on no sleep. I require 8-10-13-15-24 hours a night, and without that I do not fare well by the end of the day. I was on several shitty hours of van sleep when we got to the venue. We arrived at Coffee Strong as they were in the midst of a Veterans Against the War meeting. We tip toed in and I started fading. That night is a blur to me. I know that an amazing band called Outlook (from WA) opening and sounded a lot like older Reagan Youth and was (obviously) amazing. I'd be on the lookout for them. Then we played, and I remembered something about the west coast. It's fucking weird. It was so silent between our songs I thought something was wrong. Everyone stood still, watching intently, listened closely to everything I said, then clapped politely after. I instantly assumed they hated us (why was the merch table still in place?) I was proven wrong after we stopped playing and everyone talked to us, bought our records and t shirts, and did sweet things like give us their band's demos, or extra money for coming out. (woah!) Shortly after we played I was so tired the room was spinning so I found my way to the van and fell fast asleep. I woke up as we were arriving in Portland, Oregon (we drove the 3 hours that night), and this was such a crucial time with so many photos, I'll just go ahead and save it for next time....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

US tour update #5 - record release

Twin Falls, Idaho. RECORD RELEASE!

When Ben and I (Ben is our original drummer, does all our design, AND drew the cover of our new record. He is now is a band called BRAVE YOUNG) had first talked about starting this band, we had daydreamed aloud to each other about what labels we would love to be on in some imaginary future and Eulogy was one of them. So when, 2 years later, Eulogy contacted us about signing with them we were SO stoked! Then after doing 7 or 8 tours (including European tours) on about 5 original songs and a slew of dumb covers, we finally got off the road long enough to sit down and write a full length. Ben, though no longer in the band, came up to Philly to help us write, and he, Dave, and I sat around in my living room and- with their two guitars plugged into a practice amp, wrote "The Rage That Guides" over the course of a month. Then Dave, Pierce, and I headed down to Greensboro, NC to record, crashing at Ben's house, practicing at Brave Young's space, and taking up all of Ben's time (btw, he also wrote/recorded the drums on the record... what a guy.) Barf was also there, providing both support and inspiration.

You're inspired now too, aren't you?

Anyway, recording went quickly,-we tracked all 10 songs in 7 days. (here are some pics from recording:)

For me, hardcore isn't just music. These aren't "just songs". These are reflections of us, of who we are, what we stand for, what we want. So when we wrote this record, I put everything I had into it. I stopped everything else I was doing. I didn't even work. I stayed up all night, writing till 6 or 7 am, sleeping a few hours here and there, waking up in the night to scribble down more ideas. During recording my throat went hoarse and after the final day I lost my voice completely for 3 days. It was really fun, and really draining, and a long time coming.

Having this record come out on a label I respect so much is rad. Eulogy has been awesome to work with as well, never making us do anything we don't want to do, and helping us with anything we do want to do, aaaaand we're in company of both friends and bands we love- Kids Like Us, Furious Styles, Shattered Realm, and Thick As Blood to name a few.

So March 31st, 2009 was the culmination of years of planning and a lot of hard work.... so it was like, kiiiiiiiind of a big day.

I spent this big day switching between sleeping (pictured)
and sitting in horror as we drove as fast as we could through endless blizzards. After our brutal 11 hour drive from Colorado to Idaho, we arrived at the venue exhausted, dehydrated, and in desperate need of quality time with the bathroom... 5 minutes before we had to play. "Kingdom, you're here! Great! Load in... you play right now."

We dropped the quickest deuces, downed waters, and plugged in.

After our set, I overheard people quoting bible scripture to each other, and a kid who told me he had driven 4 hours to see us also told me that his dog was in the Guinness Book of World's Records for being the biggest dog on earth, and that his dog had died recently when its' stomach exploded. Hmmmm. Our set was good- funny, fun- lots of moshing... but we left beat as hell, and slept on a cat-pee saturated carpet after filling ourselves with ramen and watching Pierce lift weights to a Terror ringtone. We woke up early for another 10 hour drive, this time to Spokane, Washington.

PS. You can get "The Rage That Guides" at www.eulogyrecordings.com

Sunday, April 12, 2009

US tour update #4- Mission, Kansas/ Denver, CO

Mission, Kansas. This was a very exciting day for us. We did 10 days with a band we were not at all stoked to be out with, and Mission marked our final day with them. We made a celebration dinner after the show- hashbrown triangles, beans and rice with fresh cilantro, red and yellow onions, guacamole, mushrooms and ate ourselves stupid and happy.

(a barely visible ryan and a train in kansas:)

(dave in kansas:)

At the show, I got into a heated discussion about sex and straight edge with an older hc couple (spawned by something I said before the song "Pythoness" during our set.) The woman was in total disagreement with me that sex, in whatever capacity you choose to have it- if done responsibly- is fine, saying things like that if you have sex in your early teenage years it's surely an addiction (?) and that "nothing good" comes from promiscuity, only "unwanted pregnancies and disease" (forget that these things come from monogamous relationships as well.)

"...and I can think of some good things that come from promiscuity..." I smirked and raised my eyebrows suggestively, but she was not amused, the conversation was going nowhere, and it was time to load out.

We stayed with Mickey, the promoter, and his two demon cats that abused and battled our sleeping toes all night. We awoke at the crack of dawn to do the first in our series of mega-drives, this one to Denver, Colorado to play Blast-O-Mat.

Dave is a fucking champ. He is the only driver on this tour (insurance reasons) and while Ryan and Pierce fuck around and hang out in the back, and I snooze and and give "helpful" driving tips (btw, I never learned to drive) in the front, he drives long hours sure and steady- blasting Crowbar with the cruise control set at 72 mph. We got to Blast-O-Mat, a rad record store/venue owned by none other than my old friend Rudy (who I met when I lived in Oregon- he was the only other HC kid for mileeeees), and a friend brought us DELICIOUS vegan pizza. Shit was out of hand. Vegan sausage, pepperoni, cheese, olive, mushrooms, and every other topping imaginable.

We played with a rad band called Thrive (you can hear them for a sec in our video update), and met a kid involved in the PEACEFUL PRAIRIE SANCTUARY- an all-vegan volunteer run animal sanctuary- who showed me a hilarious photo of a rescued llama standing very erectly in a kiddie pool. LOLz were had.


After the show (which ruled) we went to the singer of Thrive, Rocky's house. He made us dinner: grilled veggies and pine nut chili to pour on top on corn tortillas, it was serious gourmet and much appreciated.

We got up at 8 am for the most epic of all drives- 11 hours to Twin Falls, Idaho for our record release show. God damn. We swung by Watercourse (veggie restaurant) for a few vegan blue plate specials (homefries with rosemary gravy, tofu scramble, and toast) and some delicious fucking pastries (cinnamon rolls and blueberry muffins.) We stuffed ourselves stupid, and I fell asleep while Dave's expert hands and feet guided us through snowstorms all the way to Idaho...

Friday, April 10, 2009

US tour update #3- Ohio-Iowa

Cincinnati was rad. We played with Trapped Under Ice and Have Heart. Ryan moshed (I saw it), our merch table was destroyed by stage divers, and the venue was a fucking wrestling ring. Imagine a show wrapping in a semi circle around a big, soft stage and kids jumping from every possible angle and moshing in every open space. It was mayhem. After the show all us always-on-tourers came together and stories were traded till the night was becoming morning. Aint nuthin funnier than hanging out with other people who have had the same insane and flatulent Hungarian drivers as us, and have their own hilarious imitations of them.

After the show we stayed with friends of a friend, these two dudes and their 5 cats who were the most amazing little creatures I've met in a long time. This Darrell. He's twice the size of a normal cat, and has tusks.

We awoke to Andreas and his roommate making hash browns and walnut banana muffins for us (!), marveled at their glow in the dark bubble bath, then headed off to Burlington, Iowa, which, unbeknownst to us and probably most of the rest of the world, is, in fact, a place. A dude with the word "WAR" tattooed on his throat greeted us and led us to the show space, which was a huge echoey room with old Italian men frowning at the kids from the back. The crowd was mostly high-school age. Ryan asked me how it felt to be the oldest person in the room. I couldn't answer that though, because we were playing with a band called THIEVES from Chicago, and some of them are older than me.

During one of the opening bands I saw a kid beat his own chest. It was during a lull in his mosh routine. And not done in like a "I'm feeling this beat" sort of way, or a single pound like us east coasters are prone to doing, but like, straight up ape. I couldn't even LOL, I was so depressed.

Our set echoed like a black metal recording and at the end of show we realized that we did not know a soul in Burlington, Iowa. After some asking around, we were told by a 17 year old dude that his parents were out of town so we could crash there. Sweet. His house was filled with his friends who were all wearing Kingdom shirts they purchased that night, and we dragged miniature mattresses down from his little sisters' rooms and laid our sleeping bags on top on the heart-patterned sheets. Pierce woke up first and was told by the (pacing, worried) kid that he had no clue when his parents were coming home and that they would freak out if they saw us there, so we hopped in the van and headed to Des Moines lest he get grounded and we get arrested.

Des Moines, oh, Des Moines. You never disappoint us. The show was set up by Sir Danthrax at a rad punk house/venue called The Haunted Basement. Drunk punx and broken skate ramps, half eaten bagels and bottles of ketchup on every surface, and freezing cold air pouring in from... everywhere? I shivered my way through this night, but I am lizard and need a heat lamp to stay alive in non-tropical climates, so maybe it wasn't as cold as I remember it. KNUCKLED DOWN (who I loved) played and between them and the next band I shivered in the hang out room, where I witnessed a most triumphant fight.

Dude A was a tall, ironically-mustachioed punk rocker. Dude B was a short thrasher dude with long snarled hair and skate shoes. Story goes that dude B stole dude A's car keys. At different points in the night I heard things like, "dude B is totally bragging about having dude A's car keys", and (from dude A) "Has anyone seen my car keys?" and "Dude, I think dude B took my keys!" When dude A and dude B found themselves in the hang out room at the same time, shit got real.

SMACK SMACK SLAP SLAP SLAP "dude B you stole my fucking keys!!!"" BAM SLAP SMACK

It was a bizarre and unrefined mix of a cat fight and a human fight. Batting/slapping motions were mixed with what appeared to be a few actually punches. At first, I thought I was a joke and started laughing. Then I realized it wasn't a joke, and laughed harder.

Dude A tired quickly of smacking and pulled out the big guns. And by that I mean scissors. He pulled out a pair of scissors and started cutting motherfucking dude B's hair right off. Dude B promptly lost it, grabbed the scissors and held them back threateningly at dude A, screaming, "I'LL CUT YOUUUUU!", but was quickly tackled by other people at the show and the 2 took it outside, where rumor has it, they left in dude A's car together.


Our friend Ace showed up with two (cheeseless) pizzas for us that featured garlic and banana peppers and basil and artichoke hearts . Our set was SO much fun. We left happy, full, and thrilled to skip the punk house floor for some cozy couches in Kansas. As usual, we said our "See ya when I see ya"s and drove off into the night.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

US tour update #2- Springfield, IL

We awoke at Justin's house early (fyi- "early" is something we discuss often and occasionally make plans for, but it doesn't actually exist in our world- and that's mostly because of me. I do not like to be rushed and I do not like to get out of bed. Most people view this as a negative trait, which surely it is, but once I was told it's not and I now cling to that as truth. See, my friend Simon said, it's not that you're careless or slow... it's that you live 'a life of leisure.' Fuck yeah, dignify my laziness by calling it a lifestyle! But anyway, because of my moral and ethical aversion to "early", all of Kingdom is forced to be leisurely with me.)

We always bring info on veganism/animal issues on the road with us, but this tour we decided that we should bring sexual education materials (and pro choice literature!) as well. Before leaving Philly I hooked up with an organization called CHOICE to get abortion info, STD hotline cards, and condoms. They gave me two huge bags of 300+ condoms, and some female condoms (which none of us have ever tried, but will soon and report back here about it. If any of you have tried them, comment here and enlighten us!) All of this has been going over really well on the ol' merch table (obviously, who doesn't NOT want to get herpes?) and in Detroit we found ourselves wanting to expand on what we have. Vanessa (Justin's roomate) volunteers at the Planned Parenthood in Detroit, and with a couple of emails and phone calls, arranged for us to pick up a load of info on our way of out town.

I love Planned Parenthood. Touring all the time leaves me broke all the time and Planned Parenthood operates on a sliding scale, so I go there for all my gyno needs. Pap smears, STD tests, whatever. Here's a little fun fact for y'all. Vaginas are delicate and sensitive to extreme climate change. Going from a humid city to a dry one can throw one's vag right out of whack and leave it with a gnarly yeast infection. But, if you're a girl on tour, what can you do? You gotta go from Miami to Denver, and your vagina is coming with you. Thankfulllllly, there is a Planned Parenthood in every city, ready to give your poor, touring ass free medication. Hurray!

On top of providing cheap/free health care to any and everyone, they also do rad things like give folks like us 2 huge bags of info on STIs/ birth control and a sack of flavored lube! Cherry, pina colada, mint... it's out of control. It's merch tables gone wild. (btw, Ryan tried the bubble gum and fruit berry lubes and says they're "delish".)

I got a text from an old friend as we drove to the show saying that he, unbeknownst to me, was FROM Springfield, Ill and just happened to be in town for a few days. He's a full time tour dude (driver/merch) and part time international traveler, so of all places on earth to run into him I really would have put Springfield near the end of the list. However, life is random like that, and hardcore makes it all the more.

The Black Sheep Cafe was s a graffiti-covered room that smelled like a reeking toilet. The venue is owned and run by hardcore kids, and Kevin (one of the owners) was there when we arrived. (Nicest dude.) We set up our merch across from the metalcore band that was playing that night. Their set up consisted of one GIANT banner and a plethora of patches (embroidered, rap-metal style) and pins that said things like, "Satan Sucks", and "I save dead people", and "JESUS!" We were all tempted to repent and be saved, but they just didn't have enough breakdowns to sway our stubborn souls.

Core (my old pal) showed up and we caught up on the last year or so of our lives- mine which was more or less been rad (with lots of embarrassing mishaps and hilarious injuries), and his which was less embarrassing and had way more monkeys in it. He had just gotten back from living in South Africa for 2 months, and dazzled me with tales of Ethiopian cafes where they burn frankinsence and serve fresh popcorn with each cup of coffee and cheetah sanctuaries where the terrifying wild cats are so friendly that you can actually pat them. Lucky for us, and now for you, Core is an amazing photographer and has a flickr account where he keeps photos of all his travels. (As well as a few photos from our show- some featured here) Go check them out: CORE THE WANDERER

Seeing as only one person stayed inside for the metallic prayer sesh, I didn't really expect for any of the 13 or so kids milling around to stay inside for us. Turns out those 13 or so kids were there waiting for us! It was amazing. At one point during our set every single person in the room was moshing. Then every kid bought a shirt, and a cd, and a record. Then we all hung out eating the cookies a kid baked for us and talking about sex and hardcore and, of course, food. Thanks again to everyone who came out to that show and those who have kept in touch since- it's nights like those that keep my faith in hardcore alive.

Springfield, Illinois vegan straight edge:

We awoke to Core making us banana pancakes, tempeh bacon, soysage, and coffee straight from Africa, and gave the usual, "See ya when I see ya!" and hit the road again.