The following tour journal is taken from Uglyhead myspace blogs from 2008.  I will post a new day of this ill-fated adventure every Thursday until the story is complete.

Thursday
May022013

Preface and Day 1

Preface

Since I am currently homeless and have no musical equipment not much will be going on in the world of Uglyhead for at least a couple of months and I won't have much to blog about. 
So instead i am going to start posting some chunks of my 2008 US tour journal in chronological order.
I posted it all on my personal page (which no longer exists) and a lot of people found it interesting so I am going to start posting it here.
Before i start posting it I just want to apologize if anyone is offended by this. I will be changing the names of some people/places involved in this story and leaving some names in, as well as removing anything that pertains to illegal activity that could be used against anyone mentioned in the story (unless I hate that person, in which case I will post about what you did because I think you are a piece of shit).
Everything that is said in the journal is my own personal opinion pertaining to the events that transpired during the tour and no one should take any of my opinions as facts or truths or anything...
However I am entitled to voice my opinion about the events so if you were somehow involved and don't like what I am posting than maybe you should post your own story or stop caring so much about what I think (you obviously don't like me).

I also want to prep you for this tale with a couple of facts that you need to know:
-The musicians I was originally going to go on this tour with unexpectedly dropped out (we would be gone for too long) and I put out some ads and found a drummer (Patrick) and a guitarist (Brian). We literally had less than 4 weeks to rehearse for the tour and get the songs down. 4 weeks before the tour Patrick, Brian and I were complete strangers.

-I am a poor and unsuccessful musician and my budget for this tour was very limited.
Most of the advertisement for the tour was completely done online for free. I did invest in some really awesome full color 11x17 tour posters that looked like this:

Each poster had show info at the bottom and before we left we rolled them up and shipped them off to every club we had a show at. (as far as I am concerned they were the most important advertising device the tour had going for it).

-Again, I am poor so I looked for cheap ways to get around the country and found a person (whom will from here on out be known as "DRIVER X") who had a van and was willing to travel. It seemed ideal to be able to save $$$ and have an extra person around to help out instead of renting an expensive vehicle for an extended period of time.

-The tour took about 6 months to plan and I had the help of Julie (long time uglyhead friend). It was the most ground I have ever covered in my life. I tried to book a show every night for the tour and booking was extremely difficult for this sort of music (especially when many of the places we were going were places we haven't been before AND I had no idea how many people would show up to a show).

-this tour was very low budget and its purpose wasn't to make any substantial money.

- a lot more things happened on this tour than what I can share. What you will read is just an overview of the day to day goings on of an independently funded US tour. I cut some corners to keep it interesting.

I think that is all of the background info you need to know so...

Here we go...

DAY 1

The night before we are supposed to leave on tour I am scrambling about doing some last minute packing and organizing. Realizing any attempt I make to organize my life under the huge amount of anxiety I am feeling is completely futile, I decide to go to sleep.
I wake up with about 4 hours of sleep under my belt, gather some equipment, some merchandise, my luggage, a Rubbermaid tub full of road snacks and put them all by the front door of my house. I make my way to the bus stop filled with nervousness and take the bus to Capitol Hill (Seattle) where I am supposed to meet DRIVER X at 1 PM.

DRIVER X is the driver whom I met off of craigslist. Upon first meeting DRIVER X I noticed the guy was a bit off but after subsequent times of hanging out with the guy I realized we have similar musical tastes and that he is a nice guy. He sort of resembles a hippy who did too much acid at one point but claims to not currently do any drugs and hates hippy music. His musical tastes include Nurse with Wound, Whitehouse and Throbbing Gristle so I make the assumption that we share a common ground on some plane of weirdness.

I arrive at the rehearsal studio slightly ahead of schedule and wait for DRIVER X, who ends up being about 45 minutes late. DRIVER X and I return to my house and pick up my equipment, luggage and snacks, return to the rehearsal studio and meet up with Patrick (the drummer who recently moved to Seattle from San Antonio) and Brian (the guitar player who recently moved to Seattle from Albuquerque). We have some trouble working the service elevator at the studios but magically manage to pack the entire van to the brim with all of our stuff.

Before leaving I am filled with a huge urge to make a speech to all of the participants about working as a team and how we are all part of a common goal (to discourage inevitable arguments) but I am exhausted and tired and we are all adults so we just get in the van and start making our way towards the freeway.

Immediately I notice that DRIVER X is an exceptionally shitty driver. The guy seems to be scared of every car and sporadically slams on his breaks. He tends to be looking away or lighting a cigarette every time there is a red light and comes inches from hitting the cars in front of us. I am sitting in the front passenger seat doing some navigating and almost die of a heart attack about 30 times before we get to Portland.

Eventually we arrive at the Red Room in Portland. I am pleased to see that they have Uglyhead tour posters posted all around the club. I am not pleased to see that we are playing with completely incompatible bands, that the Red Room does not mic up any instruments, the Red Room PA is set up to only run vocals and that no one is there for us.

I find out that we are playing last. Julie shows up. I am attacked by a large bug in the back of the club. People drink and we play a crappy show that sounds terrible.

Conversations are held about how crappy the show is and we reluctantly pack 
all of our shit back in the van and head out again. At this point I realize that I am the only sober person so I volunteer to drive and get us out of town.
DRIVER X protests but eventually gives up his keys and I drive south towards San Francisco for roughly 3 hours while everyone naps.

I stop for gas and determine that DRIVER X is sober. He seems to be really offended that I took the keys from him in Portland and is very adamant about explaining to me how good of a driver he is (which makes me wonder how some of the exterior damage to his van was obtained). I let DRIVER X drive for a while and he gets us through to the morning...

TO BE CONTINUED... 

Thursday
May092013

Day 2

At sunrise we stop in Grants Pass, OR and a seemingly normal gas station attendant excitedly greets us and fills up the van. I get out to stretch my legs and watch the sun come up over what looks like an extremely beautiful city. I think that I am tempted to move there just so I could wake up and watch the sun rise over this place on a regular basis.

The sunrise proves to be a fitting gateway for a sunny and beautiful morning. I engage the gas station attendant in a conversation which turns weird when he starts  enthusiastically telling a story about running around with a gun and shooting bears. No detail is spared and the mental image of bears being shot contrasts with my feelings about the pleasant morning. The story extends far past the time it takes him to fill the van.  His eyes widen to an uncomfortable diameter as he relives the tale. I am overwhelmed with the urge to flee Grants Pass and never return.

I am very tired but notice DRIVER X also seems very fatigued. In an effort to prevent DRIVER X from falling asleep, crashing and killing everyone in the van I decide I will refrain from napping and engage him in conversation to ensure his consciousness. I start day 2 with absolutely no sleep.

We drive for an eternity and eventually get gas again at a strange gas station in the hills of Northern California where there are cute cats milling about the entrance. We take a break from driving and pet the cats while consuming Pringles. I believe at this point we switch drivers and Patrick takes the wheel.

I found Patrick from a craigslist ad about 5 weeks before the tour began. Patrick is
originally from San Antonio Texas and seems to be a pretty calm and even-tempered kind of guy. He has a pretty positive attitude and seems like a good person to spend some time with on the road. He was conveniently renting out a rehearsal studio in Seattle which we used to rehearse for the tour.

Patrick drives the van through some steep terrain which apparently causes great stress for DRIVER X. Upon DRIVER X's request we stop again and drivers are exchanged.  DRIVER X takes us all the way to San Francisco refusing to split up any driving time with myself or the others.

Eventually we are making our way across the Bay Bridge. During this particular stretch I start noticing that DRIVER X seems agitated/unhappy and is complaining about anything he can. The range of his complaints are vast but he keeps coming back to complaining about the traffic we are experiencing while getting in to San Francisco. As we approach the toll booths he seems frightened and keeps swerving from lane to lane, not sure which one he should be in. Driver X nervously merges from lane to lane to lane and promptly slams the brakes before hitting another car each time. We eventually reach one of the many correct toll booths and I shakily hand him some cash while my heart heavily beats from the adrenaline rush caused by nearly crashing into at least a dozen cars.

After an unnecessarily tumultuous entrance we eventually get into the city and I contact Nick Katich (Nick appears on many Uglyhead songs/albums and has toured with Uglyhead before as a bass player) and we park near Nick's place in Lower Haight. I am pretty tired and moody so I suggest that we split up for a bit. Patrick, Brian and DRIVER X head towards Amoeba records and I walk to a cafe where Nick works on Divisadero. Nick supplies me with a complimentary caffeinated beverage and ice water and we discuss various things. Nick informs me that he will be off work in a about an hour and he will meet up with me later to let us in to his place (Nick is awesome and agreed to let us stay the night there). I walk to Duboce Park and chill out for a while. Eventually Brian, Patrick and DRIVER X meet me at the park and we wait to hear from Nick.

The SF show was originally booked at a club in a good location but ended up being double booked and I had to find a replacement club (Retox Lounge) which ended up being in the rarely travelled Dogpatch area of San Francisco.

We eventually get into Nick's place, drop off our luggage and sleeping bags and then head out to go to the Retox Lounge. We get completely lost and then magically end up right in front of the place. The Retox has an Uglyhead tour poster in window. When I walk in I notice that there is no stage. I introduce myself to the bartender and find out that the venue is behind a door on the other side of the bar. I open the door to see a long set of stairs leading down that are dimly lit by a red light. I hesitantly move down the stairs in to a pitch black room where I use my lighter to navigate. I eventually find a power strip with some lights plugged into it and turn it on which reveals a really really bizarre venue that looks like it was modeled to give the attendees the feeling that they are on an airplane.

There are airplane seats and airplane walls with airplane windows. There is a chained strobe outside of the airplane windows which flash one after the other to make it look like the plane is in motion. The stage is small and weird but the sound system looks decent and the sound guy booth has ample equipment. Eventually the other band "VTG" shows up and they are pretty friendly. We joke about
the weirdness of the club.

The sound man and the third band Filthmilk are nowhere to be found. It starts getting late and we are worried that a sound guy is not showing up at all. I engage some locals in a conversation and learn that the bartender is the sound guy's girlfriend and they have witnessed him beat her at the bar before and also learn about a strange history of the Retox's violent past involving various shootings.
The sound guy shows up but Filthmilk does not. VTG plays a decent set but the sound guy fucks up their sound so bad it makes me filled with sadness and frustration. We play and the sound guy fucks up my vocals really bad and doesn't pay attention to the ridiculous mic feedback that is blaring out of the sound system.  This makes me angry and distracted. People stuck around to listen but I saw some people literally plugging their ears because there was so much feedback on my vocals. I get in a bad mood but begin to even out by engaging in conversation with Nick after the set. We load the gear up the stairs and out to the van. The night has turned bone-chillingly cold and I am literally shivering as the bite of the bay wind is amplified by the sweat on my clothes.

While driving back to Nick's place we realize DRIVER X is behind the wheel intoxicated when he starts asking everyone in the van for breath mints. He asks in a way that suggests that he is proud of the fact that he is driving drunk.  I am filled with terror as he ignores directions and we end up in places I have never seen before. I remain optimistic that this is a once only experience and he will not have to be confronted about driving drunk again.

We have an extremely stressful drive through the hilly terrain of San Francisco and finally arrive at Nick's and park on the street a few blocks away. "Someone" (me) will have to get up and move the van at 8:00 AM due to some sort of parking restriction.

We watch Poltergeist 2 solely to witness the tequila worm scene.  Nick's roommates bustle about the apartment and I see one of them run down the hallway wearing only a towel. I wonder if our presence is an inconvenience. I fall asleep by myself on the floor of a strange back room riddled with dead plants and vines growing in through the windows some time after 3:30 am while wondering what the fuck happened to Filthmilk.

Day 3
to be continued...

Thursday
May162013

Day 3

...I wake up 3 hours later and find the keys to the van. I dazily mope down the stairs of Nick's flat and out in to the cold and foggy morning air of San Francisco. I find the van down the street with no tickets and breath a sigh of relief. I move the van to a restricted parking zone in front of Nick's flat and put change in the meter for the maximum amount of time the vehicle is allowed to be parked there (30 minutes). The security gate locked behind me when I exited and I can't get back in without ringing the doorbell and waking up the entire house.  I send a group text message to everyone telling them that they need to load their gear before we get ticketed or towed and hope that at least one of them didn't switch their cell phone to silent mode.

While waiting and feeding the meter I witness a homeless man punch a crackhead woman in the face. Their loud and violent altercation provides me with entertainment as I wait.  45 minutes later DRIVER X, Brian and Patrick appear from the door of Nick's flat. Eventually everyone has their shit loaded in to the van and I remember that I am supposed to give Nick the CD for an album I mastered for him. I do and we re-park the van and go to a place with a clever name (which escapes me) for breakfast. Nick, Patrick, Brian and I eat an amazing breakfast. DRIVER X eats a power bar, drinks two cups of coffee and smokes 2 clove cigarettes for breakfast outside the café on the sidewalk.

DRIVER X seems to have an endless supply of clove cigarettes and had been smoking them liberally throughout the trip so far. This leads to Brian and Patrick to concoct a game during breakfast for day 3. The game consists of Brian, Patrick and myself guessing how many clove cigarettes DRIVER X smokes before he enters the Good Hurt in Los Angeles. The person closest to the actual amount gets to get blasted at the show. The person farthest away that night must remain sober for the night. Brian guesses 10, I guess 12, Patrick guesses 15.

We say our goodbyes to Nick and pile into the claustrophobically packed van.
We begin the "6" hour drive to LA which mysteriously turns in to a 7 hour drive. I don't think too much about it because we have plenty of time.

It is a mostly uneventful drive but at some point I believe Brian gets to take the wheel and drive a little bit. We discuss the ever growing size of the city of Los Angeles while eagerly watching DRIVER X's clove cigarette intake rise above the count of 10. Eventually I hear from Nick notifying me I fucked up on the mastering of his album and I have to do it again.

We eventually pull up to the Good Hurt in Venice Beach. I get out and check the front door. Not open. I check the back door. Not open. I go back to the front and look at the posters for shows. There is no Uglyhead tour poster there.
We wait for someone to show up. The clove count on DRIVER X at this point is 12. I have a shot at winning.

Eventually a disheveled looking man carrying an upright bass on his back shows up
and introduces himself as the manager for the night. He informs us that we can't
enter the venue yet because he has to wait for his staff to show up. We ask if 
he can suggest a good place to eat within walking distance. He rambles off a few
places and a South American food restaurant catches my fancy.

We split up in different directions towards the food of our choice. I am unsuccessful
in finding the South American food restaurant so I start looking for other options.
I take note of a strange Mexican food restaurant called "Taqueria De Chihuahua"
that shares the same building with a really sketchy looking pet store. I keep walking and
find some sort of Mexican grill place and get a burrito.

We meet back up at the club and realize we have let DRIVER X out of our sight and there is no telling how many clove cigarettes he could have smoked and we abandon the game.

We enter the Good Hurt and it is a really nice venue. It is clean (except for the flooded men's bathroom), it has a nice stage and lighting, it is dark and moody. The club has a strange hospital theme to it and the bartender is an attractive blonde wearing a nurse outfit. We find out that the manager is playing that night as part of two piece blues outfit called the "Reverend and the Doctor" (the manager is the doctor).

The first band plays and is completely not who we should have been playing with.
It was a female fronted R&B/Pop group featuring a singer with huge hair and huge
hoop earrings. Confused I step outside and end up meeting the "Reverend."
He is a nice guy who regularly performs blues around the country and has lots of contacts.
After talking he finds out that we have a day off in Texas that weekend and offers
to get us a show in Galveston on Saturday. He makes some calls and we find
out that there is a hurricane coming and they are evacuating Galveston.

Being that I don't even know where Galveston is I don't get too intimidated but
kinda get some bad vibes. Patrick is from Texas so I question the location
of Galveston and find out it is near Houston where we do have a show.

The second act plays and it is a fat nerdy looking kid with a really nice guitar who does
Beatles covers and fucks them up. After each fuck up he starts the song over until he gives up.

At this point we have no real way of figuring out the condition of the hurricane and
it sounds so far away it doesn't seem like much of a threat.

A 3rd act plays which is some sort of male/female acoustic duo and I am trying to
figure out how this bill got put together. I am standing alone outside when I am
approached by DRIVER X who informs me that he doesn't think Patrick knows how to drive his
van up hills. I tell DRIVER X that none of us would have anything to gain by hurting his
van and that we would all love to learn how to drive it and make him feel comfortable
with us driving it. I inform him that all he needs to do is open up a line of 
communication with Patrick and let him know what he is doing wrong.

DRIVER X does not talk to Patrick.  I sense things starting to go sour. The littlest of problems become big problems while touring and I see this coming from a mile away.
We play our set to like 6 people and it seems to go over well with most of them but
especially well with the nurse/bartender. We take note because we need a floor to crash on. After our set I chat up the bartender and realize she is stoned out of her mind. We make decent conversation but I don't really get anywhere. Brian makes a really valiant effort at talking to her and getting us a place to stay but no dice...

The Reverand and the Doctor start to play and I step outside. I have really bad vibes because I realize DRIVER X is not going to talk to Patrick about how to drive his van and that I am somehow expected to tell Patrick that DRIVER X has a problem with him driving.
At some point during the night Patrick sees DRIVER X drinking again and tells DRIVER X that he (Patrick) is going to drive in a gesture to let DRIVER X know that he can continue drinking if he wants to. Somehow DRIVER X takes this gesture as a demand on Patrick's part and thinks that Patrick just gave him directions in matters concerning his van. DRIVER X gets offended but keeps it to himself and tells me he is going to quit drinking so he can drive later that night because he doesn't want Patrick driving.

At the end of the night we have no place to stay and a long drive to Phoenix, AZ. 
My memory is blurry here but DRIVER X gets oddly defensive about driving and after some sort of small argument he winds up behind the driver's wheel with me in the passenger seat staying awake to make sure nothing terrible happens. Against everyone's better judgement I think DRIVER X was behind the wheel again intoxicated.

We navigate out of LA and in to the vast deserts of Arizona as I struggle to stay awake keeping watch over DRIVER X. We stop several times so DRIVER X can get some coffee. We stop at one particularly strange rest area at about 4 AM. I get out of the van while Brian and Patrick sleep in the back seat. I look up and let the warm desert wind run across my face. I notice the immense amount of visible stars and see the constellation of Scorpius brightly standing out from the rest.
I go for a short walk and feel calm and happy. I am finally realizing that I am far 
away from Seattle and an adventure is starting.
I get back in the van and we drive on into the warm windy blackness in silence until I notice
hints of blue along the horizon as the sun begins to rise on a new day...

Day 4

...to be continued...

Thursday
May232013

Day 4

Day 4

...The sun slowly rises over the deserts of Arizona. The roadside vegetation turns from black abstract silhouettes to cacti and tumbleweed. DRIVER X and I are in the front seats of the van. Patrick and Brian are passed out in the back. I am approaching the 72 hour mark of having only 3 hours of sleep. The weather is turning from a pleasant windy warm to an uncomfortable stagnant hot.

2 hours outside of Phoenix we pull in to a rest stop. We all exit the van and take a break from being on the road. I sit on the curb and space out. 
The others scope out the rest area and take pictures. 
Brian reveals that something terrible is happening to his feet. He takes off his shoes and reveals that some of his toe nails have turned green. I can smell them from where I am sitting a few feet away.
The unfamiliar heat is pleasant to me at this point. We talk a little bit and eat some of the road snacks I had packed.

At this point DRIVER X has become concerned with the hurricane and is obsessively talking about needing to find Wi-Fi so we can check the weather situation. DRIVER X says that he is from Houston and has gone through a hurricane before. He relays a story about him sitting on his porch drinking beer when the hurricane hit and waiting for the eye of the storm to pass so he could go to the store and buy more beer. This is a story we are about to hear at least 50 more times over the next few days...

We pile back in the van and start heading towards Phoenix. Brian is from New Mexico and mentions that he has played the venue in phoenix (let’s call it “VENUE: LAME”) before and that it sucks major ass. We pull into Phoenix at about 11:00 am and locate VENUE: LAME.
There is no one there and the venue looks sketchy. There are no Uglyhead tour
posters on the door. All the booking was done through phone and the club has a
myspace site that they haven't logged in to since 2007. I find the phone number of
the club and call it. There is no answer but that is to be expected since it is early in 
the day.

Our situation: We are dying of thirst and are sweaty and tired in an unfamiliar place.
It looks as if VENUE: LAME has done absolutely no advertising for the show. We have no place to go and an entire day of hot, sweltering, sweaty misery ahead of ourselves. We decide to go to a Sonic to debate the situation. For those not familiar with Sonic, it is a drive up fast foot joint where you pull up to a menu in a parking spot, order food through an intercom and they bring it out to your vehicle.
There is also an outdoor eating area. People are not supposed to enter Sonic because they will just walk in to their kitchen.

I find a table and order a burger and a "blue coconut" slushy. The others order while DRIVER X wanders inside the Sonic and gets yelled at to get out. Instead of getting out he hounds the employees about having wi-fi. They have no idea what he is talking about and kick him out.

We stay at the Sonic for about 2 and a half hours sweating and stinking. I am tired, hot and irritated. Morale is low because the drives are mysteriously turning out to be longer than what was listed on the google maps directions and the shows have been lackluster. We know we have a place to stay in Albuquerque as well as a potentially awesome show with Diverje and Vertigo Venus. My phone is dead so I ask Brian to call the club again and leave a message. He leaves a message asking the club to call him so we can find out when we can load in so we can figure out what we are going to do to kill time in this miserable place all day.

I order another blue coconut slushy. DRIVER X wanders out to the road to find a somewhere that might have a wi-fi. Some more discussion is had and we conclude that the show is not worth playing and since we can't confirm it we should head on to Albuquerque. It is too hot and terrible to sit around all day waiting for a show that will suck.
The drive to Albuquerque is a sizeable one and I already know DRIVER X will not be happy about doing more driving as he has been constantly sighing and complaining about the lengthy drive times since hour 1 of this tour.

Once DRIVER X returns I tell him that we need to ditch the AZ show at CLUB:LAME and press on to New Mexico. Out of nowhere DRIVER X demands that we veer off course and go to the Grand Canyon. He breaks out a map and starts plotting a course. Sleepless insanity has taken hold. An hour long argument starts between me and DRIVER X about going to the Grand Canyon. DRIVER X is maniacally ranting about how “every American needs to see the Grand Canyon” and how we need to not only go there but take some crazy back forest road to get there. I make logical arguments on why we shouldn't go the grand canyon (I didn't budget gas for it, we want to get to NM as soon as we can, it will make the trip longer, we will still be worthy Americans if go see the grand canyon on another trip...) but I am not getting through. I just wanted to get the fuck out of Phoenix and I was having a really difficult time staying calm about the situation. My mind is reeling in only the way a sleepless brain could and all I want is for this lengthy argument to be over.
I eventually make a compromise with DRIVER X that we will drive through the petrified forest on the way to Albuquerque. DRIVER X had been obsessing about the Petrified Forest since we had gotten in to AZ. The forest appeared slightly out of the way but has a road that runs through it that connects to a freeway that we eventually need to be on.

Surely any normal human that just drove 20+ hours, has gotten little sleep and has only ingested power bars and clove cigarette smoke would pass out immediately if put in the backseat. So I plot to let DRIVER X pass out in the back and then drive right past the Petrified Forest to save time and gas. When he wakes up I can tell him that we drove through it and it was amazing.

Upon agreeing to go the Petrified Forest, DRIVER X informs us he has noticed the voltage meter on the dashboard shows that the battery is registering slightly low and he wants to work on the battery and get new bolts for the clamps that tighten the cables to the battery.

We stop at a gas station where DRIVER X crazily starts asking everyone around where an auto parts store is. He gets bunk directions from a person who doesn't speak English and then we start the hellish drive of DRIVER X obsessively trying to find this auto parts store. Wrong turn after wrong turn in a hellishly hot van.
Eventually we find one and we all sit in the blistering heat of a parking lot for about an hour while DRIVER X sweatily tinkers with his battery and eventually concludes that we can go. Brian somehow acquires a Mexican flag sticker from the auto-parts store and there is a small debate whether he paid for it or not…

I eventually get to take the wheel so DRIVER X can sleep and drive towards New Mexico.
We approach the Petrified Forest and on queue DRIVER X wakes up. I hope that he doesn't see the signs for the Petrified Forest but they keep coming and coming, sign after sign…
“PETRIFIED FOREST” in huge white letters over and over begging to catch DRIVER X’s eye.
I can feel his annoying excitement and expectation surging from the back seat.
I feel guilty about wanting to pass it and cringe as I pull off and make a 40 minute detour to get to the Petrified Forest. We go through a town that has strange decrepit, cartoonish dinosaur sculptures. The town depresses me and we get tailed by a cop as we pass through.
We drive down a long, flat, broken road through a long, flat, miserable landscape.
We eventually get to the Petrified Forest to see there is a barricade across the entrance that informs us that the forest is closed and that we will have to turn back the way we came.
I park the van to stretch my legs for a second.

DRIVER X is clearly upset and enters the gift shop in front of the gates and demands that we be let in the forest. After it is explained that the gift shop does not own the forest and the state does and we can't get in, DRIVER X begins the long and painful process of asking if there is any wi-fi when there is clearly none. The gift shop owner has no idea what he is talking about and he rudely and condescendingly explains.

We go back the way we came and lose about 2 hours of driving.

The roads are broken and the speed limit is high and I drive us all the way to
Albuquerque only able to stay awake by the intense anger I am feeling towards DRIVER X.
DRIVER X eventually falls back asleep after smoking about a half pack of clove cigarettes, letting out random sighs and intently complaining about anything that passes through his mind...

90 miles outside of Albuquerque (it is now about 10 pm) I pull off the freeway to go
to a Carl's Jr. at Brian’s request. When DRIVER X wakes up he is angry that we have gone to Carl’s Jr. and vocally protests us stopping for food. I shrug off his rude comments and order some food. DRIVER X orders some fries then eats a power bar and smokes clove cigarettes outside as the rest of us dine inside.

We continue the drive and DRIVER X informs us that he has a sister who stole $375,000 from him that lives in Albuquerque and he hasn't talked to her in 10 years. He informs us that he would like to pay her a visit tomorrow. I am excited because this means a little bit of time without DRIVER X.

We eventually get in to Albuquerque and locate where we will be staying (Brian's friends’ house). We unload and the option is presented that we can either go to sleep or go party with some of Brian's friend. I see the opportunity to wrangle up some people to go to the show so I opt to party even though I am still running off the 3 hours of sleep I got in SF.

Once we arrive at the place of the party I can barely stand. I go and sit by myself on the patio and have a beverage. I am eventually joined by Patrick who seems to be in surprisingly good spirits. I talk to Patrick a little bit about DRIVER X’s problem with him going up hills in the van and we are shortly joined by DRIVER X who is now drunk.

DRIVER X starts telling Patrick that he is a bad driver and starts referring to the incident in Los Angeles where Patrick told DRIVER X to give him the keys to the van because he was drunk.
Patrick calmly explains that he was just trying to inform DRIVER X that he could continue drinking because Patrick would stay sober to drive. DRIVER X does not understand this even though Patrick explains it to him several times and DRIVER X starts crazily yelling things like "You are not going to tell me what to do with my van!!!" and other slurry drunken offensive statements to Patrick while sucking down more clove cigarettes.

Things have just started to get bad.

Patrick expresses frustration towards DRIVER X but remains calm. We eventually leave the party and DRIVER X is still going on about how bad Patrick is at driving the van, his sister, the hurricane and the importance of finding wi-fi.

I finally get to shower and sleep for about 7 hours. Things are tense and
weird. I sleep on the floor and let everyone else have couches in hopes they all
get a good night’s sleep and will wake up the morning feeling more reasonable and
sane. CLUB: LAME never returned our call so I deem that we made the right decision about skipping out on Phoenix. I plant my stinky carcass in my sleeping bag and use my suitcase as a pillow.

Day 5

to be continued...

Thursday
May302013

Day 5

Day 5

...I wake up not feeling very well rested. I get to take a much needed shower and we
head out for breakfast. Brian had talked up a mexican restaurant (of who's name I
can't remember) and we go there and I am not disappointed in the slightest. Even
DRIVER X opts to eat a hearty mexican breakfast instead of his usual outdoor clove cigarette/power
bar breakfast combo. Pretty good start to the day.

Honestly I can't remember much of the day or what sequence of events transpired...

...the owner of the house that we were staying at got creeped out by us and locked
himself in his room...

...we watched "the pick of destiny"...

...DRIVER X left to pay a visit to his sister...

...guitar playing...

...DRIVER X returned and notified us that his sister called all of his living relatives and alerted
them of the DRIVER X sighting...

We eventually make our way downtown to a venue called "The Agency" which has an
awesome location but does not have a sign anywhere indicating that it is a venue
called "the agency." It is locked up but we look through the window and see that
the place has a strange and tall stage and looks like an art gallery. There is an
uglyhead tour flyer in a plexiglass frame standing on a pillar on the other side of the
window as well as an uglyhead tour flyer taped to another window on the far end
of the venue. looks good...

A random and strange girl makes her way down the sidewalk and stops in front of the
the agency and looks as if she is planning on attending the show and got there early.
We make some random conversation and find that she is indeed there for the show. We
also find out that she is 16 and wants us to give her cigarettes. DRIVER X obliges and 
eventually buys her a pack of cigarettes and now we have a teenage girl that won't
leave us alone.

DRIVER X seems to like her but we eventually lose her and make our way to a pizza place
that Brian used to work at. We score some free (good) pizza and as we are finishing
the pizza the girl passes by the pizza restaurant, sees us and sits down at our table.
We hold a friendly conversation but decide that we should head back to the venue to see if anyone has shown up yet to let us in. The sound guy is there and lets us in.

I am personally excited to play this show. For some reason it is hard to find label
people who actually return emails but this show had been set up by Tommy T
from DSBP records who has been really friendly and has been playing Uglyhead
songs on his radio show for a couple of years in New Mexico. I have never met
the guy but he has a really good reputation in the industrial scene and has been
at it for a long time doing what he can to support underground music genres.
He also has a band called "Diverje" which we are playing with.
Since we arrived in New Mexico I had been asking Brian's friends if they knew
of Diverje and DSBP records and the cyberage radio show on KUNM and no one
knew anything about them. I was pretty surprised at that response being that
I am from Seattle and I have heard about DSBP and Diverje pretty consistently
for the last 10 years. More about this later...

We load in and hang out for a bit. I set up a merch table. A strange guy lays on his back in front
of the front door on the sidewalk and starts making an "OG OG OG OG OG OG" noise for a while. The sound guy eventually tells me that the guy is deaf and does that some times for no explainable reason.
Eventually he gets up and musicians from Diverje and the other band Vertigo Venus
arrive and set up a massive DSBP merch booth next to mine and they are kind enough to put some cool lights on my merch booth so our stuff is more visible.
Everyone seems really nice and I am stoked for the show.

Tommy T eventually arrives and invites me to go have a drink with him at the Atomic Cantina across the street and Patrick and I head over there with him and a musician
from Vertigo Venus who is wearing some crazy white get-up. I get to talk to Tommy T about his label and where he thinks the underground music business is going. He is a very opinionated guy but has a very realistic business sense and perspective on what he is doing. I am incredibly stoked to meet him and see Diverje play.

We eventually make our way back to the Agency where a DJ is playing a set and the Diverje musicians are setting up to play first (which kind of surprises me, I thought vertigo venus was going to go first). Diverje plays and it was kind of strange but in a good way.
Tommy T did some pretty enthusiastic stomping about but he rarely got on stage. He was on the dance floor almost the entire time. The set sounded decent considering the size of the sound system and the band was using electronic drums.

The show is poorly attended and I realize that a good chunk of the Albuquerque industrial scene is probably in the Agency at that moment. I am even more impressed by Tommy T's perseverance because there is literally very little down there encouraging this guy to work so hard on a label and music in ABQ. The guy has a done fairly well with extremely limited local support. I am used to being from Seattle where there is a scene for that sort of music but it is small. I didn't know what small was.
I really have to give that guy A LOT of credit. The guy has faced pretty dire
circumstances for years down there and has managed to have a huge catalog
for an independent label from not only bands in the US but from South America
and Europe and managed to have a band and run a radio show as well as distribute
for a number of other small labels. WOW. I am impressed but kind of disheartened
seeing the crowd that one of the most well known New Mexico bands is playing to.

I set up our lighting rig and it looks particularly good in this venue because of the 
white walls. The weird LED patterns fill the room and sync up with the music from
our set quite nicely. I am pretty happy with the show and the quality of the
performance. Not necessarily a financially successful show but it is a show
I feel good about.

We load off all of our gear and make conversation with the attendees. Vertigo Venus sets up their stuff on stage and I sit at the merch table while they start to play.
They have kind of a weird-eclectic-heavy-new-wave sort of sound and about three
songs in it they start in to what I think is a cyndi lauper cover. The singer of the band hits his leg awkwardly on a key board stand which throws his entire lower leg out of socket and he falls over screaming "I Broke my leg." At first I think this is part of the show but than I look at his leg and I can see the entire bone shifted out of the socket. The band continues to play for a bit but then stops and the singer continues to scream in pain. They turn on all the lights and I feel like I should
do something to help but all I can do is stand up and blankly stare at the situation.

The VV singer tells people to not call an ambulance and to call his friend who is an
EMT. The show is over. People are escorted out of the venue. The EMT shows up
and splints the guys leg. We load out and find DRIVER X sitting on the ground talking to the 16 year old from earlier and informs us that we are giving her a ride home.
This is debated for a bit but she did come to the show and she did buy merch
so I give in. Some last minute partying is done with Tommy T in an alley and we
begin the unexpectedly long drive towards the girls house. Suprisingly, nothing
weird happens (other than DRIVER X saying things to the effect that he wished the girl was a bit older).

We have to make a massive drive from Albuquerque, NM to Dallas, TX that night so we start the drive. This drive really blurs for me but I feel like I drove a
considerable amount of it. I honestly can't remember anything about this drive.
Maybe I slept in the back of the van for a while...

...I honestly can't remember. I do remember pulling in to an extremely nice and large and vacant rest area in Texas the next morning...

...to be continued...

Thursday
Jun062013

Day 6

Day 6

The weather is strange in Texas and the road we are traveling on is even stranger.
A cracked and tarred two lane highway that that takes us through small forgotten towns with a constantly varying speed limit. Speed up. Slow down. Speed up again…
Portions of the drive are rainy and flooded, other portions are hot and humid. I keep wondering if we are on the right highway or even headed in the right direction. I have always pictured Texas being like a dry, hot desert so I am surprised to see the color of green grass sprawling out below the contrast of the dreary grey sky.

Everyone is asleep in the van and I see a sign for a rest area so I pull off and park the van. The rest area consists of two large, newer looking buildings with aluminum siding, a playground, a picnic area with picnic tables and a field for dog walking. It is exceptionally nice and clean. It also seems fairly vacant.

I walk around and explore the place and see that one of the buildings is a weather information center where one could go inside and access computers that are linked to different weather resources. All of the computers are offline.

I use the bathroom which is incredibly spacious and lonely, and walk back outside to see others have awoken. At some point Patrick had called a friend in Houston to inquire about the hurricane situation and the friend informed Patrick that the city was encouraging people to evacuate. DRIVER X is looking for Wi-fi and makes some comment about needing to find "accurate" information about the hurricane in an attempt to either insult Patrick or to make himself look like he is in denial.

DRIVER X discovers the weather center and angrily informs me that the computers are offline. I patiently take the information I already know as DRIVER X rants and raves and throw it right into my mind's trash can. DRIVER X goes on to tell his hurricane/drinking beer story and spouting off over and over about how ridiculous of a statement "evacuating Houston" is. Things are tense. There is obviously a huge hurricane on its way towards Texas but DRIVER X won't believe it until he sees it on the internet or on the news. We are totally cut off from the outside world and have no way to get any information that will appease DRIVER X
and make him stop ranting.

I would like to interrupt this story to talk about a theory I have about touring. People go crazy on tour. People are homeless and stuck in close quarters on tour for long periods of time with no access to any alone time. I am only saying this because it is a truth: men masturbate and are used to having this basic stress relieving activity available to them at their leisure. Healthy people who don't have any sort of sexual release or repress natural sexual urges go insane (male or female).
Do you disagree?
Tours (or at least uglyhead tours) are not glamorous and do not involve hotel orgies or even back alley sexual favors from fans...
I won't go any further with this but I want you to be on the same page as I am when analyzing the tension of the situation. It is day 6 with a bunch of
males stuck in a van together who have had minimal sleep, are in high stress situations and have had absolutely no time to themselves at all...)

It is clear that there is some tension building and DRIVER X's ranting is not helping. I listen to DRIVER X spouting off for a while as I snack on some handi-snacks that I had packed. The crackers crunch and the cheese coats my tongue and gives me some relief. I space out and try to enjoy the dreamlike situation of starting my day off in a grey skied Texas. Eventually we get back in the van and head towards Dallas.

The weather starts to get hotter and hotter and by the time we arrive at the venue we are sweaty and stinky and ready to be out of the van. The venue is closed and does not have any uglyhead tour posters up (a bad sign). The only windows give view to a small reception area but it looks like the club has potential to be a quality venue.

Wanting to take a walk I separate from the group and tell them I am going to look for a back entrance. We are in a very old part of Dallas called "Deep Ellum" which appears
to be in a strange state between disrepair and remodeled hipsterville.
I sweatily wander around the block and do not find an entrance. Instead I find a 7-11 across the street so I stop in, grab a drink carrier and buy everyone slurpees.
I walk back to the group and in an effort to separate DRIVER X from the rest of us I tell him that I think I saw a cafe with wi-fi a few blocks down. DRIVER X grabs his computer and we don't see him for a long time.

Patrick, Brian and I sit in the sun on the curb outside the venue and talk about how we are going to solve the problem with DRIVER X being such an asshole. Eventually Johnny Macho from Aspersion pulls up in a pick-up truck and sits there with his window rolled down, wearing a cowboy hat and dark sunglasses and silently listens to us talk our way through our problem.

Eventually Johnny macho steps out of the pick up to reveal that he wearing black tights.
The venue employees show up and let us in and we are pleasantly surprised to see that the Prophet Bar is a really nice venue and has a really good sound system and green room.

We meet the rest of Aspersion there and they are nice people. I accidentally trip over the drummer's kick drum about 5 times in the green room and feel like a jerk. Aspersion is a 4 piece group with a female drummer and vocalist and a male synth/programmer guy and a guitar player. It kind of reminds me of down-tempo trip hop with goth style guitars. They seem friendly but don't really talk to us.

We meet the band Red Pyramid who is a 5 piece rock band with an attractive female synth player. Once again they seem friendly but don't really talk to us at all. I feel kinda alienated but I set up merch in a good area and watch Aspersion play and like their set. We play and do what I would consider, a really good set and two women are thrown out for doing weird sex things on the dance floor while we are playing.

Red Pyramid sound checks and I think I hear the keyboard player play a line from the uglyhead song "River full of parasites" (a song I play keys on) for her soundcheck (although I am probably hallucinating). I have a special place in my heart for women who know anything about synths and the flattering gesture makes me develop a crush on her. Eventually someone tells me that she is under 18 so I don’t even try.*

Red Pyramid plays a pretty good set :). DRIVER X returns and starts drinking and informs
us that he looked on the internet and there was nothing about evacuating Houston and makes snide comments about us being stupid to think that they would try to evacuate over something like a pussy little hurricane. This makes everyone mad but we bite our lips to keep the peace.

We start looking for a place to stay and find out that the programmer/synth guy and the singer from Aspersion are a couple, own a house and would be happy to let us sleep at their house.

We enter their address in the GPS and load out. While loading out the guitar player from Red Pyramid asks if he can have picture with me and the keyboard player manages to get in to the picture. I am too shy to talk to her. We eventually drive down some insane toll freeway in Dallas to get to where we are sleeping. We arrive and it is in a really nice neighborhood and the house is really nice and everything there is really clean. The singer gets towels for us to shower and offers food and the synth programmer guys orders a sandwich after we all decline. Places like this are rare to encounter during tour and I am thankful and amazed but the contrast of cleanliness with my extreme filthiness make me feel awkward. They end up being really friendly. I take a shower, finally get to attend to some "business" (sorry Aspersion), dry off, unroll my sleeping bag and give the others access to the couches by sleeping on the floor. I analyze the day and have strange feelings of a forbodeing doom when I realize that the situation with DRIVER X is only going to get worse and we are about to get closer to where the hurricane is going to hit. It all feels like a dream and eventually I fall asleep trying to think of solutions to the group problems we are going through, how much I like Dallas accents and how hot the keyboard player for Red Pyramid was...

to be continued...

Uglyhead at The Prophet Bar Dallas TX 2008

*she ended up being over 18

Thursday
Jun132013

Day 7

Day 7

Waking up early in unfamiliar places is a bit disorientating. I slowly register my surroundings and realize that yes, I am waking up in a strange house in Dallas, Texas. Yes, I am on tour and yes, we need to get moving to get into San Antonio on time.

I slowly exit my sleeping bag and look around to see that everyone is still asleep. I start to pack up my things and hope the noise I am making will wake everyone else so that I don't have to verbally wake them. I am a huge fan of sleeping and it seems so cruel to have to wake up other people. It is much easier to "accidentally" wake people up.

Luckily the others begin to rise and we quietly gather our things and let ourselves out.
The 5 hour drive to San Antonio begins.

I sit in the front seat with DRIVER X as the others sleep in the back seat. Somehow the drive is taking longer than planned and we eventually pull in to a "Whataburger" (a fairly popular fast food chain in Texas that serves really greasy food). I walk in and get bad looks from the elderly and obese patrons. We all order a meal and DRIVER X orders fries.
DRIVER X harasses the Whataburger staff about wi-fi and they have no idea what he is talking about. DRIVER X exits and eats a power bar and smokes some cloves outside.
When I am done I exit and see a starbucks in an adjacent parking lot and tell DRIVER X that they might have wi-fi. DRIVER X walks over there and returns and starts some argument with Patrick and Brian about cell phone service and wi-fi that I don't pay attention to.

We get back in the van and drive to Cafe Latino in San Antonio. Patrick is from San Antonio and I had canceled our austin show prior to the tour so that we could reschedule a show in his hometown and have a better chance at drawing people. We drop off Patrick downtown to see his family and friends and DRIVER X, Brian and I go to guitar center to exchange a guitar that Brian broke at The Agency. I sense a chance to escape and go eat at a Taco Cabana (Taco Cabana!!!) in the shopping square parking lot in which guitar center is located. I make a phone call to Julie to tell her things aren't going so well and that DRIVER X appears to be going crazy and is making everyone mad. I also call my mother to see if she knows anything about the hurricane. She informs me that it is supposed to hit soon and they urging people to evacuate Houston. She also tells me that they are telling people who are planning on staying in Houston to write their social security numbers on their arms with permanent marker so search and rescue can identify the bodies.
I start having doubts about our Houston show on Sunday. I am eventually joined by DRIVER X at Taco Cabana (Taco Cabana!!!) and he rants about the hurricane and tells his "Drinking beer on my porch during a hurricane" story again. DRIVER X seems to have this delusion that I fully agree with what he is saying and that I am on his side so I can be told about how ridiculous of a suggestion it was for Patrick to say they are evacuating Houston. I eat my delicious food and wonder if DRIVER X knows how crazy he sounds.

We are joined by Brian who had some trouble exchanging his les paul at guitar center but was otherwise successful. Some sort of strange conversation ensues and I notice a strange small bird standing on a rail just outside of the window behind DRIVER X and I space out and watch it for a while.

We eventually make our way to Cafe Latino which appears to be a Hookah bar that serves ice cream and coffee. There are no uglyhead posters there. There also appears to be no stage or sound system. I order some ice cream and sit in the parking lot watching the sun go down in the immense heat while listening to the ambient sounds of thousands of unidentifiable bugs.

After doing some research I learn that the event is all ages but BYOB so I walk down to the liquor store and pick up some Framboise. When I come back a crowd has already started to gather and the promoter Rosa is there. Rosa is a short young looking girl who unintentionally talks like she is bummed out. She tells me that a sound system is on the way and that we have to help clear a room in the Cafe where we are going to play. She also informs me that she can get us a show in Austin at headhunters on Saturday (the following night) that will pay $50 (Saturday was originally a day off). She makes a few phone calls and confirms the show. More people show and at some point I cut my hand open on my bottle of framboise.

The first band (poor man's sharp knives) play and are really good. I get to meet a bunch of Patrick's family and everyone attending seems to be in good spirits. We play and I get to run sound and am happy with the performance but am suddenly cut short by DRIVER X telling us that we have to stop because the show is running late.
I stop the set and clear away all of our stuff and a third band plays and is quite good.
Apparently a 4th band was added to the bill at the last minute and they now only have 15 to 10 minutes to play.

It is time to leave and some argument is had about DRIVER X driving drunk and we have to kinda argue and angrily get his keys from him. I drive us to Patrick's friends house of which we will be staying. The house has a fenced front yard and is a duplex. We walk inside and there are cool video games and a cool collection of movies as well a heavily graffitied picnic table in the dining room. It is late but no one has any intention of going to sleep so numerous things are consumed and we stay up and talk. I do some accounting, pay out to everyone and finally decide to go to sleep.

I lay out my sleeping bag and pull my coat over my head and before I fall asleep I hear a strange argument between Patrick and DRIVER X starting. I listen in and it seems like Patrick is telling DRIVER X that he has had a bad attitude but that he wants to resolve any sort of misunderstanding between them. DRIVER X is oddly defensive and very drunk and rambles off insane accusatory claims about Patrick and his driving capabilities. DRIVER X eventually starts yelling something off like "I could tell you my entire life story and you wouldn't believe a GOD DAMNED word!!!" and then something to the effect of "You have never had to have to watch your girlfriend get raped and killed by the Chinese mafia!!!" and then storms out of the house not to be seen again for hours.
I roll off the couch so that someone else can have it and get some better sleep. In the background I can hear the newsman on the tv blabbing on about the approaching hurricane and the damage it is doing in Galveston...

to be continued...

Friday
Jun142013

Day 8

Day 8

I wake up around 11:30 AM. Patrick has already left the residence of his friend. I am slightly hung over and scan the room. Empty bottles and cans are randomly dispersed across the graffitied picnic table where Patrick's friend lay passed out underneath. DRIVER X and Brian are asleep in their sleeping bags on the couches.

I shower and step out on to the patio to enjoy the hot Texas sun. I notice a swarm of small butterflies fly past me and admire the architecture of the run down neighboring homes. Everything seems very calm and it is a pleasant morning. I step back in to the house to find the others waking up.

Patrick's friend invites us to breakfast and we walk about 4 blocks to a Mexican restaurant that looks as if it is inhabiting a vacated Pizza Hut. Once inside I look around and admire the strange paintings that line the walls of Mexican folklore. There is a kind of ghetto charm to the place and the staff are smiling and pleasant. We eat a pretty good breakfast and enjoy the air conditioning and eventually walk back to the house in the sweltering heat.

I turn on the news to investigate the hurricane situation. There is no internet at the house for DRIVER X to log on and we sit and watch the tv together. It appears that we are scheduled to be  driving right around the hurricane. The hurricane is just starting to hit Houston and terrible things are happening. We are playing the last minute show addition in Austin that night and heading to Houston the next day when the hurricane is supposedly heading north. The images of the destruction to Houston are a bit intimidating though so I decide to call the club "Notsuoh" (houston backwards) to see if the show is still going to happen.

The phone rings a few times and the voice of an old man who just woke up answers. I tell the man that I am in a band playing tomorrow and would like to confirm the show. The voice gruffly tells me that they still have electricity and the show is still going on "No Matter What."
I hang up and look back to the news where they are stating that the police are going to be enforcing a 7:00 pm curfew in Houston and anyone on the street after 7:00 will be arrested and jailed.
Not having any real solution to the problem I think to myself "I will deal with it when I get there."

Eventually Patrick returns and we pack up our things and head to Austin. Austin has a reputation for being a very Live-Music-Friendly sort of town and has a lot of venues in a small amount of space. I am excited to be able to play there because it looks good on a resume and it is Saturday night in a heavily populated area. The club we are playing at is called "Headhunters" and has a very good location. The drive is short to Austin and we get there a little after sun down. It is an incredibly hot night and there is no parking at the club.

I go inside the venue to see where we are supposed to load and the club has no idea who we are and informs us that we can't load in. I tell them the name of the promoter that booked us and the club employees have no idea what I am talking about. DRIVER X parks the van down the block and we start hounding around and do some investigation on the night.

We eventually find a poster for the night that is advertising a "Mexican Music Night" and I see the promoter’s name who booked us on the poster. Confused, we wait and argue about just taking off. I am more interested in playing if we can because we are already there but the others seem like they just want to flee the scene. I had been hankering for some real texas BBQ and Patrick informs me that one block down there is a famous texas BBQ place called "Stubb's" and he would buy dinner if we didn't have to play the show. We compromise and agree that we can play a short set and then go eat...

Eventually the promoter shows up and informs us that we have to use their crappy drum kit if we want to play. It seems as if the night is a Mexican music night and there is some confusion about what sort of music we play. Since we had a guarantee of  $50 we pile on to the stage anyways. The main monitor is broke and I can't hear anything. I introduce myself and the band in an unintentionally racist sounding fashion, we play to a confused audience, end the set early and ask for the money which we don't get. Some discussion is had about holding Rosa from San Antonio responsible for the money because she sent us out there with a guarantee. I urge the everyone to forget about it and we go and eat at Stubb's.

Austin is strange, compact, hot and claustrophobic and I want to get out. We leave and head back towards San Antonio to sleep at Patrick's friend’s house again. There is some argument from DRIVER X (who seems to still be mad that we didn't stop at the grand canyon) about driving back to San Antonio. DRIVER X is from Houston and would rather head in to Houston earlier. This seems like an incredibly bad idea being that Houston is being ripped to shreds by  Hurricane Ike at the moment and we eventually head back to San Antonio with DRIVER X sighing and complaining for the entire 75 minute drive.

We arrive at Patrick's friend’s house and discover that he is not there and at a near-by bar. Patrick leaves to go get the house keys from him and I get to sit and listen to DRIVER X complain about having to come back to San Antonio. It appears that there is some sort of house party happening near by and DRIVER X keeps urging me to go to it. I probably wouldn't have had any problem crashing the party if I didn't have DRIVER X in tow. People tend to not look their best when they are traveling and at this point DRIVER X looks like the greasiest, oldest, acid-casualty hippy I have ever seen. Before leaving he dyed his long unkept hair purple, and now it has patches of grey and light brown and is frizzed out and disgusting. He is wearing a pink shirt that is too big for him and loudly colored pink, purple and red hiking boots and jeans. His eyes have a strange glazed over look and are widely opened and he has a stubble of grey and black facial hair that makes him look even older than he is. This guy would get identified as a crazy homeless person and we would probably be removed from the party by force.

I advise him to stay put and wait for Patrick to get back. Once Patrick arrives we are let in and some drinking begins. Substances are consumed and news is watched. Suddenly Patrick's friend bursts through the door with another adult male and appears to be angry and fresh from a bad situation. Patrick's friend strips his shirt off and yells at us for consuming his substances. He takes a seat with the unkown male he was accompanied by at the picnic table and they begin to talk about some sort of situation that happened at the bar. I hear the unknown male say something like "Your friends picked a bad night to stay at your house" and I gather that someone is coming to take some sort of revenge on Patrick's friend. I internally theorize that sleeping on the floor would be low enough to avoid bullets from a drunken revenger or unexpected drive-by shooting and take out my sleeping bag and lay in it with my coat over my head and try to go to sleep.

At this point I think Brian may have also got in his sleeping bag but drunken DRIVER X decides that it is a great time to start taking pictures. DRIVER X starts snapping away pictures of our extremely upset host and the unknown male starts yelling at him and asking him "how would you like it if I was taking your fucking picture!!!?!?!?!" and angrily telling DRIVER X that it is not a good time to take pictures. DRIVER X wanders outside of the house and starts taking pictures of the house, stoking the flames of the agitated.  The situation is tense and I want no part of it. I feign sleep, listen for signs of danger and eventually drift off into nightmares about huge swarms of butterflies destroying everything.

to be continued...

Thursday
Jun202013

Day 9

Day 9

I wake up unharmed. Another hot morning in Texas. I flip on the news and see that Hurricane Ike has passed through Houston and many are without power. We hesitantly pack up and load out in the van. A long drive begins as DRIVER X is rambling on and on about stories about Houston and all the people he wants to visit. He tries to fit in little verbal jabs at Patrick when he can, making the day turn slightly sour.

Signs on the freeway warn us not to travel to Houston but we press on and eventually reach the suburbs. There are signs of devastation off the sides of the freeway. Uprooted trees, an occasional collapsed roof, street signs bent over backwards, flooding, downed telephone poles and mounds of debris. One thing is very apparent, there is no electricity anywhere. Some of the freeway is flooded over and DRIVER X navigates us around it.

We reach downtown and some of the streets are closed, covered with glass from broken windows or flooded. We eventually reach the venue on Main St downtown and it appears that the surrounding 4 blocks are the only place in the city that have any electricity at all.

There is no parking in front of the venue so we park about a block away and walk down the vacant downtown streets to the venue. Office building windows have been blown out and their black tinted glass shards cover the sidewalk. It looks like some effort has been made to clean up and there are some piles of glass and garbage swept up about every 20 feet but the attempt is futile. Downtown Houston is trashed.

We reach the venue and it is closed. We look in the window and the place seems to be ok other than a few windows being blown out. There are some tables and chairs in front of the venue so we sit down and wait for someone to show. DRIVER X rambles on with stories about coming to the venue in his past and wanting to say hi to the owner "Jim." I look down the street and it looks like one other bar is open. I am thirsty so I go down to check it out and it is jam-packed with people. This looks like the only open business in the entire city. I am chatted up by an older guy with a very thick accent and mentally note how friendly people are in this town.

I make my way back to Notsuoh and sit with the others. Various people pass by and say hi to us and a discussion is had about how nice people are in Texas versus Seattle and other places we have been. Eventually a trio of Notsuoh employees show up but have forgotten the keys so they leave to go get them and don't return for quite some time. We drink beer on the street and take in the bizarre sight of a city in ruin.

Eventually the trio returns and we talk to them and I ask about the curfew of which they say that the police didn't enforce it the previous night and they would be surprised if they did tonight. As if on queue the police start patrolling the streets in their cruisers announcing that that everyone needs to be off the street or they will be arrested. At this point the staff isn't intimidated and says that the show will go on. We walk in to the club and it appears that the upper floor of the venue had flooded, causing the entire ceiling to collapse on the bar and flood parts of the downstairs as well...

Being scared of inhaling asbestos from the age old insulation that is spread out around the bar the trio lock up the club and tell me to go talk to Jim. Jim is apparently getting drunk outside of another bar on the other side of the block so I walk down and approach the old scruffy man in the orange shirt of whom I have been told is Jim and he looks up at me and I am surprised to hear him gruffly say "Have you cleaned your room mates shit off your dick yet?!?!?" Not knowing how to respond I introduce myself and we talk about the unfortunate state of his club. DRIVER X is back on the other side of the block and doesn't get to say hi because we are quickly urged to get off the streets by the police.
I bid my farewell to the drunken Jim (who I believe is who answered the phone the other day)8) and we all go back to the van and take off towards Baton Rouge.

DRIVER X seems upset that we have to leave Houston so soon (and thinking back on it, this is where the crazy line was crossed). I think a huge motivation for DRIVER X to go on this trip is that DRIVER X would get to visit Houston, but Houston lay in shambles and most everyone he wanted to see has left the city. I think his desire to be in Houston is what was causing his strange denial that it could be destroyed and evacuated. I realize that there is no hope of DRIVER X ever being happy on this trip. I still feel motivated to keep morale up.

We drive as the sun is going down and I see an alarming amount of dead and muddy animals lining the road. Horses, deer, dogs, cats, racoons, snakes, armadillos, coyotes, unidentifiable mounds of lifeless, muddy carrion piles tangled in the dirt and dead grass. The landscape is hellish and depressing. I am glad to see the sun finally set.

Gas stations no longer have any gas and we are running dangerously low. Street lights are not working and the night is pitch black. Tension is getting high as DRIVER X starts to freak out about the gas situation when we see a sign off the freeway shining like a beacon. DRIVER X pulls in but there is a huge line of cars out on to the street that is being regulated by police officers. DRIVER X doesn't realize that the line is for gas and bypasses it and pulls in to the gas station, pissing off a lot of people. We are approached by a police officer who yells at DRIVER X but finally allows us to make the cut and get gas.
Beer, cigarettes and supplies are bought at the gas station as it seems like the only place with power for miles.

We take off and head in to the night and more bitching is done by DRIVER X. Eventually we have to pee so we pull off of the freeway in to a small vacated town that has no power. The town is pitch black and there isn’t a sign of any people occupying it. It is surreal for a place with such modern facilities to be so incredibly dark. We all pee in places we would normally not be able to. I decide to take a piss on the Jack in the Box mascots face on a picture on the drive thru menu. Feeling oddly satisfied we stay there for a little bit and eat some of the road snacks I have packed. We joke about breaking a window in a vacated hotel and sleeping there but eventually get back in the van and head out.

We are pulling twice the amount of driving for today that I had anticipated and DRIVER X appears to be going insane so I inform everyone that I will get a hotel for us if we can find one. We eventually reach hotels with power but they are stocked full of people who evacuated Houston because of Ike. We pull off at a few more exits and it is the same story.
We continue on to Louisiana and decide to take a break at a Waffle House (as I have been obsessing about going to a waffle house all night).

The disgruntled staff of the Waffle House sits outside of the restaurant and informs us that they just got done with a rush and are out of everything. I ask if they are out of waffles and they inform me that they still have waffles so we head inside and take a seat. For those who haven't been to a Waffle House before, it is a chain of diners in the south that are hands down the most ghetto restaurants ever. They have a really awesome charm to them though and their waffles and coffee rule. I am excited to be there because it has been some time since I have been to the South and gotten to eat at one and it is kind of a nostalgic experience.

The food and service are amazing and our food comes to us on styrofoam plates!
I soak in the experience. This will be the only time I get to eat at a waffle house and I think it is the first time I have been really happy since we left Washington (wait I wasn't happy in Washington, is this the first time I have been happy since the last tour?) I take some pictures of the run down southern diner and we leave in search of a hotel.

Some wrong turns are taken but we eventually nail down a good price on a room at a Days Inn at like 2:00 am in the morning. Drinking is done and I sleep on the floor and let DRIVER X have the bed. Patrick and Brian share a bed. We have an important show in Baton Rouge the next day and I hope that the hotel will allow everyone to get good rest so they can all be in good moods the next day. I don't mind sleeping on the floor and I fall asleep with high hopes and a belly full of waffles and hashbrowns!!! Little did I know, my attempts at raising moral were futile and we were about to take a step further down the path of DRIVER X's insanity...

to be continued...

(I didn't take those photos, I lifted them off the internet but we saw these sites first hand)

Thursday
Jun272013

Day 10

Day 10

The alarm on my cell phone goes off at 10:00 am. We have an 11:00 AM check out time at the Days Inn. I sheepishly tell everyone to wake up. No one responds. I loudly tell everyone to wake up. Brian strains his muscles and starts to make movement like he is rising but just collapses on the bed and lets out a strange snoring noise.

Giving up I take a shower, put on some clean clothes. Brush my teeth. Dry my hair and open the curtain exposing DRIVER X, Patrick and Brian to sunlight. No movement. We now have approximately 15 minutes to check out so I give a louder and firmer command to wake up and everyone painfully writhes around and slowly makes their way out of bed.

At this point I think everyone (except myself) has been drinking heavily every night for 10 days straight and today is the day that signs of hang overs and exhaustion decide to rear their ugly head (*tee hee*) for all three of my companions.

Coincidentally today is the day that we had our New Orleans show canceled and were saved by the absolute most generous and amazing DJ KatieTRON and the band Nadjia from Baton Rouge. Within less than 15 days notice KatieTRON found Nadjia, rented out a venue called the "L Bar," acquired a bad ass sound system, found a sound guy from New Orleans, got Martin Atkins to DJ and did a shit load of radio promotion and flyering for the show thus saving our Monday New Orleans show that got double booked and canceled (by some douche promoter).

Moral has never been lower and moods have never been worse. The group is at their most unsociable and a fairly tense and unenjoyable ride to Baton Rouge eventually begins.

We get to the venue at about 1 PM and it is closed. We were expected @ 6pm. Everyone seems mad at me that we are there early and are expecting me to do something about it. I text message one of my contacts in Baton Rouge and they say that the drummer from Nadjia is going to go pick up an employee from the L bar and make them open their doors so we have a place to hang out for the day. It seems a bit more effort than is necessary to put towards us but everyone seems to be mad at me or in bad moods so I agree to wait for them to open the venue.

The club is less than a block away from the shore of the Mississippi river and a huge bridge hovers about 60 feet above the L bar. The sounds from the bridge give the place a strange aural atmosphere. Eventually the drummer shows up with an L Bar employee "Amy" and they let us in the venue. It appears that the sound system is has already been installed the night before. Amy opens the bar and the drummer informs us that he is contacting the sound man who came up from New Orleans for the show and is getting him out of bed so he can come sound check us. Amy and the drummer order everyone 6 pizzas and get us beverages. They are both very friendly people but no one I am traveling with is very sociable and they unintentionally come off like assholes to these extremely generous people.

The show doesn't start until 10PM so there is a lot of time to kill. Brian and Patrick sleep on couches and I lose track of DRIVER X. I feel doomed, like everything is about to fall apart and decide to go take a walk down to the shores of the Mississippi to clear my head. I sit on a bench on the walking trail next to the river and listen to the cars clunking and klanging on the bridge and the faint sound of the passing murky water. I take a deep breath and decide that I won't let the others get me down and I will have try to have a positive attitude and be sociable no matter what happens.

I return and eat some more food and make conversation with Amy. The others start waking up and start drinking which I think helps cure their hung-overness and they start being a bit more sociable to our generous hosts which is a relief. Conversations are had we watch the movie "Shock Treatment" on the L bar's TV system. Moods start to improve and the sound guy finally arrives so we can sound check. The sound check is awkward as the sound guy is unfamiliar with the digital FOH board they are using but it eventually gets done and we are ready for the show.

Eventually the doors open and there is a decent crowd. The line up is:

DJ set by KatieTRON

Nadjia

DJ Set by Martin Atkins

Uglyhead

KatieTRON spins a fairly darkwave-ish set and eventually Martin Atkins shows up. He gets swamped by some people so I don't make any effort to talk to him. He eventually makes his way over to my merch booth (which is unattended, yikes!). Seeing an opportunity to talk I make my way over there but am completely sideswiped by DRIVER X who is drunk off his ass by this point.

When I first met DRIVER X he gave me a card he had printed himself for his “record label.” Later on the ink on the card melted and stained my pocket and pants. He also tried to print album art for a cd he gave me of one of his old bands . The art work never dried and stained the upholstery of my car. Throughout the tour he has been giving people his cards (for what purpose I have no idea, the label has been defunct since like '91).

DRIVER X is drunkenly chatting up Martin about who-knows-what and I can't figure out how to interject. I cringe when I see him pass Martin Atkins a card. Eventually I cut off the conversation and say hi. Martin Atkins just did a second printing on his book "Tour: Smart" and was giving a lecture at Loyola university that day for some sort of music business class. I ask him about the book and make some small talk about the invisible records comp were on a few years ago. He picks it up from the merch table. The conversation gets sideswiped by some middle aged drunken ass-kissing behemoth-woman. I want to make a better impression so I go grab the king of schmooze (Brian) and get him to talk to Martin. His conversation goes better than mine and eventually Martin Atkins takes us out to his car to show us his book and gives us several copies as well as a bunch of free Invisible Records cds and dvds.

Martin Atkins tells us that we are stupid for trying to live on the west coast and attempting to tour because of the long drive times. He shows us a map in his book of how a band can spend like a 75% less on gas and hit twice as many cities on the east coast thus being able to tour more within a year. He urges me a few times to move away from Seattle and makes many good points why. He also points out that he won't even tour up there any more because it is so far out of the way and it is difficult to break even on shows because of the large amount of expenses.

I had dealt with Martin Atkins a little bit before when we were on the Notes from thee Underground comp and things went a little weird/bad with that and one of my previous drummers released a few albums on invisible records (SMP) and things went weird/bad with that so it was a bit weird hanging out with him but I do have to admit the guy has had a huge influence on my life. I think a pigface album was the first CD I ever bought. When I bought my first drum set I sat and learned a bunch of pigface songs. I have seen pigface live many times and have owned almost every album he has drummed on. It is weird to shake the hand of a person and talk to a person that had a huge impact on the path in life I am taking and I can't help listen to what the guy is saying. Seattle really depresses me and moving away makes a lot of sense. I kind of space out on the suggestion of moving to chicago or baltimore...

The whole situation is surreal. Standing under a weird clanking bridge in Baton Rouge, staring in to Martin Atkins trunk on a Monday night...

Nadjia plays a good set. After talking to them I find out some of them work for Presonus which is weird. I have met a few people online from Baton Rouge that work for presonus and I find out that presonus is based out of there. I take note that I like how the keyboardist's Roland Juno-G sounds (which is a board I didn't expect to like).

Martin Atkins does a really strange mash-up dj set that segues in to our set. The transition is cool but Martin Atkins leaves about 4 songs in to our set. I’m almost mad at the guy but what can I really expect from a person who graciously lent his name to the show and gave us a bunch of free shit. Besides we were going to see the guy again in Baltimore in a couple of days when we play the Baltimore music conference...

The set goes well and it seems like people like it. I go outside for some air feeling a bit happy and am followed out by DRIVER X. He is drunk and asks if Patrick has had him cut off from the bar. He explains to me that the bartender (amy) says that the drummer told her to not serve him because he is not in the band. DRIVER X has had it out for Patrick and we each had a $15 bar tab so I figure that DRIVER X just reached his $15 and got cut off because he was unwilling to pay. This isn't the first drunken delusion that DRIVER X has had. DRIVER X then explains to me that while we were playing, a girl (of whom he can't describe or identify) came up to him and said: "What else do you do for the band besides take shitty pictures!?!?! You should have just stayed at home and given them the keys."

DRIVER X is convinced that Patrick has told the girl this. DRIVER X is furious and in a drunken rambling rage. DRIVER X's eyes are wide and sparkly in the moonlight, as he loosely forms sentences about how he doesn't want Patrick to drive and criticizes Brian's and my own driving capabilities. I calm him down and am informed that Nadjia doesn't want us staying at their house for the night (i suspect DRIVER X freaked them out) but has found us another place to stay. I become aware that we might be making bad impressions on people because of DRIVER X's outbursts of belligerent weirdness.

I am introduced to a friend of Nadjia, a very awkward guy who has agreed to let us crash on his apartment floor. I drive us there and we fall asleep fairly quickly. I am surprised by how much fun I am not having. Drama is high and DRIVER X is scaring me. He is making me a middle man for his insanity and expecting me to communicate his crazy talk to Brian and Patrick so he doesn’t haven’t to confront them. We are only 10 days in and things are going really bad. It feels like Brian and Patrick are mad about the attendance of shows and DRIVER X’s weirdness and are expecting me to do something about it, DRIVER X seems like he wants me to do something about Patrick and Brian. Likelihood of mutiny seems high. Morale seems low.

to be continued...