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
Jul042013

Day 11

Day 11

We wake up on the floor of an apartment that overlooks a swimming pool that is in a state of disrepair.  We pack our things quickly and get an early start on the long drive to Atlanta.
DRIVER X insists on driving the whole way.
We drive through Alabama and stop for gas. We are accosted by an old man with a heavy Alabama accent at a gas station. He rants about being in the war and then being a musician. He seems happy. I notice how weird the Alabama accent sounds to me.
I run across a busy highway and get a vanilla milkshake at a strange looking fast food restaurant.
Alabama is ridden with bugs that DRIVER X refers to as "lovebugs." They fly around oblivious, locked in coitus and get hit by passing cars. There is an obscene orgy of death all over the front of the van. I sip my milkshake and watch as others scrape the deceased couplings from the windshield of their cars at the gas station while the old man rambles on and on about his happy memories.

We resume driving and I am amazed at how dense the vegetation is in the forests are in Alabama. Trees are packed tightly together. Invasive leafy vines devour the trees and telephone poles and grow across wires and hillsides, enveloping the landscape.

We eventually stop at a rest area and I realize we have crossed a time zone and are going to be over an hour late to the show in Atlanta. Once back on the freeway I also notice that the GPS displays the MPH of which you are traveling. DRIVER X seems to be traveling at a steady 45 MPH in a 70 MPH zone which explains why our google maps estimated time for the drives has been inaccurate this entire trip. At this point riding up front becomes excruciating for me because I can see how long the trip was supposed to be and how long it will be (traveling at 45 MPH) and I am stressing out because I can see exactly how late we are going to be and how much time we could have saved by traveling the actual speed limit. Baton Rouge to Atlanta is a long trip and it wasn't getting any shorter.

After roughly 10 hours (of a 7 hour drive) we arrive late at the East Atlanta Icehouse. A brand new club that has a laundry machine, shower and restaurant with free food. I am in a bad mood and watch the opening band AMul9 perform (which I like). 1 person has shown up for us so we play for a crowd of the staff, Amul9 and 1 uglyhead fan in a room that could easily house about 500 people. The stage is amazing. We are provided an amazing dinner of chicken fettuccine.
We are taken out for drinks at a bar by the club manager (of whom DRIVER X gives one of his shitty cards for his defunct CD-r record label). Apparently bars are open until 4 in Atlanta. We stay until about 2:30 am. The staff of the Ice House are incredibly nice considering that show  completely bombed.  Arriving when it is dark out and then leaving before the sun comes up makes me feel like I haven’t ever been there.

In my experience, booking a tour is strange because when a show bombs it usually costs someone money.  It takes money to for a club to staff a venue, it takes gas money for bands to get there. It always is confusing when a club doesn’t promote a night that they have booked. When touring the Southeast for the first time, we don’t have the knowledge of the area that a local promoter has so what we try to do is provide all materials necessary for a local promoter to promote the show. We also play with local bands who bring friends or have their own audience. I am under no delusion that Uglyhead is going to draw a crowd in a place we haven’t played before so when I book I am really relying on the locals to  make the show a success.  It's absolutely insane when we show up and neither the local bands or the venue has done any promoting. It is a selfish thing to travel the country and expect people to provide you with an audience but bands have been doing it for a long time and I always return the favor when bands tour to my neck of the woods.  An unpromoted show is a waste of time and money for everyone.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to play the venues we have but I am constantly amazed how little club promoters do because ultimately they are the ones with a business to run and they are the ones who stand to reap the most benefits from a well promoted show.
I don’t even mind paying for all the advertising for the entire show if the promoter just knows where to advertise.  The long drive, bad shows and cramped living spaces are putting me in a bad mood but I try to remain positive.

We are all tired so I spring for another hotel room at a days inn on the outskirts of the city. More drinking is done by all except me. I check my email and go to sleep on the floor. I feel like shit and prefer it there. Like a piece of shit. On the floor.

To be continued...

Thursday
Jul042013

Day 12

Day 12

Once again I wake up before everyone else which is strange because back in the real world I sleep in longer than anyone else I know. I think touring is good for me. At this point I am not really enjoying myself but I notice my that fingernails and facial hair are growing faster and I am losing weight. I like being alive when I am engaged enough to become healthy without having to make a conscious effort at it. I feel like I am oddly stimulated by the chaos and thriving from it somehow. Things aren't going super well at this point but I wouldn't rather be anywhere else.

I make an attempt at waking everyone up but it is once again futile. Brian and Patrick are sound asleep in a bed and DRIVER X once again has a bed to himself. I have some sort of anxiety about finding out what sort of mood everyone will be in when they wake up as the last hotel just made everyone cranky. I decide I would be better off waking up everyone with gifts so I head out to the lobby to get everyone coffee. I meet a strange woman from Tennessee who looks like Laura Dern who is also in search of coffee. There is no coffee in the lobby so I head next door to a strange fried chicken restaurant and get a drink carrier and 4 cups of coffee. I bring it back to the room and pull back the curtains which seems to do the trick this time. It seems like everyone slept well and is in a good mood! Everyone eventually loads out and we are on the road again pointed towards North Carolina.

A mammoth drive is ahead of us and once again DRIVER X is insisting on driving the entire way. No one wants to take the front passenger seat so once again I am stuck up there for the entire trip staring at the MPH on the GPS. I don't really remember most of this drive.
I remember it being long. I remember day turning to night and lots of cheap cigarettes and expensive gas in the carolinas.
I remember turning off the the main freeway and taking some strange back road to Murfreesboro.
I remember telling DRIVER X that we were going to be late and that we should try to at least go the speed limit. I remember DRIVER X replying that he is not a local and doesn't want to get pulled over and going 15 MPH under the speed limit on abandoned back roads.
I remember wondering if we had taken a wrong turn.
I remember cotton farms.
I remember DRIVER X constantly complaining about the drive and refusing to switch drivers.

After an exhausting 11 hour drive we pull in front of Zakk's Coffeehouse in Murfreesboro, NC. This place is literally out in the middle of nowhere. The town is so small I can't even think of a place to compare it to. There are Uglyhead tour posters EVERYWHERE. On the wall outside the club, in the bathrooms, on the windows, taped to the bar, on the walls and on the podium at the front where the door guy is supposed to sit. The sound system is huge but haphazard, like it was assembled from many other sound systems. There is a slightly raised stage and a mess of cables and microphones sitting on the stage. Tonight we are playing with the band "Otto's Daughter" from Los Angeles and it appears the 2 local bands that were scheduled to play have canceled. So there is no one there. We opt to go on first and otto's daughter is as confused as we are but friendly so we all make friends with them and do some drinking.
Beer is only $1 a bottle.:)

Here is an example of a club that advertised extensively and still barely anyone came to the show.  My theories about the responsibilities of  advertising are thrown out the window.  Touring is chaos.  There is no predictability or forsight or planning.  Every time I figure something out about anything music related, something immediately disproves it.

I wander down the street to a strange cafe and get a burger. The waitress has a strange accent and the place makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. The show is actually kind of fun to play but DRIVER X seems to be in a bad mood and keeping his distance from everybody. Otto's daughter does a good set and the sound guy programs a completely awesome light show for them. The staff is really friendly. I really like this place but wish there was more people there. There are stickers all over the backstage area and I recognize a bunch of bands that have played there. The place is so strange and out of the way I am surprised some bands have made the stop.

There is a really shitty motel nearby so I walk down the street and get us a room with two beds. I unlock the door and lay eyes upon a hotel room where I imagine many adulterous affairs have occurred and maybe a few murders. Wood paneling and a poster of the "Familiar birds of North America" line the walls.

It is too late to buy more beer so the club sells us a twelve pack and we say our goodbyes to the club and otto's daughter (who urge us to get on a show with them in Rochester, NY and exchange contact info with me).

We head to the hotel, more drinking is done. Brian had been keeping a photo journal of the tour and does a daily photograph. I get to take todays photo:

I fall asleep on the filthy floor and give DRIVER X the bed again as he seems in a foul mood. Tomorrow we get to play at the Balitmore Music Conference. Getting accepted to play at the BMC is one of the main reasons I wanted to come out to the east coast and I am very excited to get there!

to be continued...

Thursday
Jul112013

Day 13

Day 13

I step out of the motel room into a beautiful day. I am feeling positive and grab some coffee from a nearby gas station before we take off.  With DRIVER X at the wheel we slowly make our way past various cotton farms and on the freeway towards Baltimore. The drive is thankfully short and I have talked Brian into taking the front passenger seat to help with my sanity.

Before the tour I had scheduled oil changes at specific destinations every 3,000 miles for DRIVER X. The first oil change was scheduled early in the trip in Austin. DRIVER X refused to get an oil change so I suggest it again because it would be a convenient day to do so with our short drive. DRIVER X complies and we pull off the freeway and get an oil change at an auto parts store that has a garage attached to it. At this point I don't even want to hear DRIVER X's voice so I put my headphones on and sit on a curb in the parking lot while Brian and Patrick go eat lunch at a fast food restaurant located inside a nearby gas station. DRIVER X wanders aimlessly through the store and I enjoy the hot sun and bask in the heat reflecting off the pavement.

Once the oil change is done I pay for it and we make our way over to the gas station. I eat a lunch consisting of some sort of sketchy “cajun fried” catfish. I resume sitting in the back of the van and space out with music blasting in my ears. Kinda a vacation from the tour...

We drive through Virginia and I am slightly tempted to get DRIVER X to pull off so we can do some site-seeing in Washington DC but I don't want to interact with him so I don't say anything.

We eventually arrive in Baltimore and I somehow find myself in the front passenger seat navigating again. I grind my teeth as DRIVER X randomly slams on the breaks for what seems like no apparent reason over and over again. The GPS is babbling off some strange directions and after much strife and tension we find ourselves at the venue/studio Hour Haus. There is no parking in front of the venue so we go up two blocks and park around the corner.

Everyone rushes out to use the bathroom and I walk towards the Hour Haus which stands on the corner on the second floor of a two-floor building. Access to the Hour Haus is through a locked glass door with a buzzer. I buzz and no one answers.
Below the Hour Haus is an Italian restaurant with a patio containing chairs and tables. The restaurant appears busy and the smells emanating from within are mouthwatering.

Eventually we are let into the Hour Haus and I am supposed to walk down to the Van with DRIVER X to move it so we can load in. DRIVER X walks behind me and is snapping pictures of everything. He claims that he has never been this far East before. I eventually lose him and have to back track to find him. Eventually we get to the van and we move and load things in the venue. There is a grueling amount of stairs to carry the equipment up. Once DRIVER X parks the van he wanders off again taking pictures of the venue and then outdoors.

The sound guy is not present. Hour Haus appears to be a rehearsal studio with an attached recording studio. There is a cool common area in the center of hour haus that has a fairly large stage. There is also a large warehouse style window overlooking a busy freeway. The sound system seems small for the room. I am instructed to move all of our stuff behind the stage in a small storage area so we do. We chill out and wait for someone to show up that knows what is going on. The hour haus doesn't seem like a convenient venue for people to get in because the front door locks automatically and they need to ring the buzzer to be let in so that they may climb the long stairway to get to the area that they need to pay to get in to the show (if that makes any sense at all).

Eventually DRIVER X shows up and Patrick offers to buy us all dinner at the Italian Restaurant so we head down there and take a table on the patio. Brian scouts for a place to crash and hits on the waitress (trying to score a place to sleep). It seems to be going well until she takes our orders and DRIVER X asks if there is wi-fi there. There is no wi-fi and DRIVER X refuses to order any food (almost as if he was disgusted by the place’s lack of wi-fi) while making strange and indistinguishable comments/mumblings. I quickly glance at Patrick who offered the free meal to DRIVER X and he looks offended and confused.
DRIVER X crazily pouts, sighs and sips his water and says something about stinking and wanting to take a shower.

The food comes and is delicious! DRIVER X vacates the table and stands outside of the patio area smoking clove cigarettes and eats a power bar staring at us with contempt. There is tension in the air but the smell of the food overpowers it and for a moment things are enjoyable while I eat an amazing eggplant parmesan sandwich.

We make our way back up to the venue and the sound guy has arrived. He has no idea what is going on so we sit and wait some more. There is no audience or line for the show, there is no Baltimore Music Conference rep there to check us in and give us our conference passes. I panic but keep and exterior calm. Eventually a band shows up but it is a Christian Acoustic trio who appear to be 50+ in age. They perform (to only us and the sound guy). I cringe as they explain the stories behind every song and tell myself that if we watch their set they will have to stick around and watch us. DRIVER X is oddly emphatic towards their set...

Someone from the BMC arrives and gives us our passes and informs us that we need to play. The christian trio (assholes) leaves and we have no audience to play to. Brian and Patrick make a last ditch effort to pull people in from the street but the BMC person insists on charging a $15 cover. We are doomed but at least other bands are starting to show up. I am angry because this show was supposed to put us in front of a decent audience and I was planning to make some money back on merch sales. It becomes very apparent that we aren't selling any merch or making any money from this show.
We set up and play a good set to an audience of two other bands. One of the musicians is tripping on LSD and really likes the weird ambient parts in between songs and the light show that I made especially made for this tour set (its nice to be appreciated). People just want to trade us CD's so we make no money and we have no place to stay. I gave the BMC people quite a bit of shit about not making any money so during our set I see them load in cases of compensation beer for the bands which DRIVER X immediately attacks.

After the set I take a seat on the couch and am watching the next band's set when I am approached by DRIVER X who wildly screams the phrase "Patrick is a fucking asshole, I am not fucking putting up with his shit anymore!!!"
This seems to disrupt everyone in the audience trying to watch the band playing so I grab DRIVER X and take him behind the stage to the storage area.

DRIVER X appears to be drunk and starts furiously yelling about how he is not putting up with Patrick anymore and I need to do something about Patrick or he is going to "kick his ass out on the freeway." I calmly listen to DRIVER X screaming about how Patrick doing the following things:
1. Talked to the bartender in Los Angeles and got him cutoff from alcohol.
2. Destroys his transmission when he drives.
3. Is constantly an asshole to him (even though he just tried to buy DRIVER X dinner)
4. Told the underage girl in NM bad things about him.
5. Argued with him when he tried to say that it was cool that his family showed up to the San Antonio show (???)
6. Told the bartenders to cut him off in Dallas.
7. Told everyone in Baton Rouge that he took crappy pictures and that he should have just given us the key to van and stayed in Washington which encouraged the girl of whom he can't describe to come out and tell him that.
8. Told the bartender (amy) in Baton Rouge to cut him off from receiving alcohol
9. Told the club in Atlanta not to serve him.
10. Told the bartender/owner in murfreesboro to charge him extra for beer.

This conversation/ranting goes on through the entire set of the band (about 40 minutes). DRIVER X keeps repeating himself and I space out. I remember while moving the van I saw a sign showing that there was an amtrak station 2 blocks away. I phase in on the conversation and determine that DRIVER X has completely lost it and that there is no reasoning with him at all and realize that if the tour has to end, Baltimore is a good place to call it quits. I would be able to send everyone home on the train if I am forced to tell DRIVER X that he is absolutely insane and a meltdown occurs resulting in him ditching us. I tell DRIVER X that we have two options:
1. we can end the tour right now and I can send everyone home
or
2. he can make an honest attempt to resolve his delusional issues with Patrick.

DRIVER X agrees and clearly misses the point because he continues to rant about how much of an asshole Patrick is and repeating the stories for a 5th time.
I cut DRIVER X off and tell him that I need to talk to Patrick for a second to inform him of the accusations and try to set up some sort conflict resolution meeting.

I am so done dealing with DRIVER X's shit at this point but he seems so committed to his stories that I have to ask Patrick if he is guilty of any of these accusations.
I pull Patrick out of the club and talk to him on the sidewalk on the corner. I ask Patrick if there is any validity to these accusations and get interrupted by a band who enjoyed our set. We tell them that we will watch their set and continue on with our conversation.

Patrick tells me what I already know (the accusations are false). And I explain to Patrick that the tour is on the verge of ending and if there is going to be any conflict resolution and he wants the tour to continue he may have to bite his lip a little when i bring DRIVER X down. Patrick is incredibly (understandably) heated but tells me he is ready to talk to DRIVER X so I go up and point at DRIVER X and signal him to come down. Brian follows, unaware of the extent of the argument.

A fairly large argument ensues on the street corner and Patrick explains that he did not do any of the things he is being accused of which is hard to do without outright calling DRIVER X "insane." DRIVER X is obviously not aiming for conflict resolution here and keeps accusing Patrick who I can see physically biting his lip, trying not to argue. This conversation is going nowhere when the next band takes the stage upstairs and Patrick says "Lets put a bookmark in this. We told this band that we would watch their set and I don't want to be an asshole."

This somehow magically seems to end the argument and we head back upstairs and watch the final bands set, which is actually really good. At this point I am slightly dreading the end of the show because that means round 2 of this ridiculous argument will commence.
More drinking is done and the sound guy (Mike) offers to let us stay the night at Hour Haus.

Mike informs me that we will have to wake up early because the space we are parked at is the only safe place to park but we have to feed the meter at 8 am. He informs me that someone else will have to let the meter-feeder back in because the door automatically locks behind you. Mike goes home and leaves us by ourselves at the venue. I am confused if I should encourage round 2 of the argument because I don't want the argument to pick up again in a place where we are unable to get home. At this point in the tour I still have enough money to buy train tickets in case we need them. I am exhausted at this point and don't want to hear any more of it.

I lay out my sleeping bag on the wooden floor of the stage and let the others have the couches. A case of beer is found and drank.  Patrick, Brian and DRIVER X stay up and talk rather happily about various things while I lay in my sleeping bag with my coat over my head listening until about 5 am...

nothing has been resolved.

to be continued...

Thursday
Jul182013

Day 14

Day 14

Something unexplainable jolts me awake. I look at my cell phone which I have plugged in to charge on an outlet on the stage of the Hour Haus. It is 7:58 AM. In a panic I slip on my boots and run outside into the frigid morning. I put change in the parking meter where the van is parked and breathe a weary sigh of relief. I walk back to the Hour Haus and realize I am locked out. I call everyone a few times on their cell phones and try the buzzer. Nothing.

I forgot to grab my jacket and the contrast of the transition to the cold morning from my warm sleeping bag causes me to shiver. I lace up and tie my boots and start wandering around to find somewhere to get warm. I feel wrecked. I have only gotten a couple hours of sleep and am kinda hung over. I stumble through the streets of Baltimore and find a large and ornate, gated cemetery and wander around in it for a while. I wander around some strange area where it looks like all the housing has been abandoned. The sun is coming up and it is getting warmer so i continue to wander. I see strange architecture and statues. I eventually wind up on a cobblestone street that sorta reminds me of something you would see in a movie about Jack the Ripper. I eventually wander back to Hour Haus and feed the meter.
I make another attempt at calling everyone and trying to get back inside but no luck.
I wander more and notice that a lot of people in Baltimore have brown eyes as I pass them by. I am eventually able to get in again around 11:30 am.

While wandering I found a laundromat so I grab my clothes and go and wash them while the others slowly wake up. We eventually meet up and go to the Hilton downtown to attend the Martin Atkins lecture and to eat as much of the BMC free food that we can. We are surprisingly greeted by Martin Atkins when we enter the BMC common area on the second floor for the Hilton. We make some conversation and scout out and devour free sandwich wraps, salad, cookies, brownies and iced tea. We have a little while before Martin's lecture so I go around and meet some other weirdos that are attending the conference and make friends with a weird/nice lady from Oasis CD duplication and hold a long and strange conversation with her. I also pal around with a strange canadian band manager lady who is also a masseuse and eventually watch Martin Atkins' Tour Smart Lecture in which he refers to Uglyhead as idiots for living in Seattle and making huge ass drives when they could be living on the East coast and saving tons of money and being more productive...

After the lecture Martin Atkins informs me that he has to cancel an appearance in Philadelphia and suggests that we call the venue because they might be looking for bands to fill the empty slot. I follow up with the venue it and it doesn't pan out due to them not having the appropriate sound stystem. Weirdness which I can't even really explain happens while I am talking to the Philly club's booker and we eventually head out towards New Jersey. While driving to New Jersey I get a phone call from the head organizer of the BMC and she apologizes about our set being unattended and offers us a spot at another event that night. I weigh the options for a moment in my mind and decide to keep our date in New Jersey (even though I have a bad feeling about it) and we press on.

I would like to depart from this story for a second to explain something. To make good time on long drives it helps to coordinate bathroom breaks. Through the tour I tried to enforce a "No Taco Bell" rule because of the generally erratic bathroom behavior it tends to cause. It turns out Brian and Patrick are fans of Taco Bell...

So it gets dark and we get to Secaucus, NJ (which will now always be referred to as SUCK-COCK-ASS) and we pass a Taco Bell. Some sort of excitement spreads through the van but I am quick to kill it. We arrive at the Blue Room...

The Blue Room is one part strip club, one part music venue and 5 parts the worst place in America. I enter the venue and walk down a long hallway that is dimly lit blue in a narrow room with a black and white checker floor, a small bar, a DJ booth opposite a small stage for acoustic acts and another stage further back in the room concealed by a curtain. Some of the worst music I have ever heard is blaring through the PA. I wish I could describe it better than it being very Springsteenish...
The DJ keeps skipping songs halfway through as if he knows they all are terrible and the clacking of his ipod is ear piercing.

We find out that we are on first so we set up on the stage. For some reason the terrible music is louder on the stage than anywhere else and hurts my ears as I am trying to organize my cables. Patrick is forced to play on a horribly tuned house drum kit (which is colored sparkly blue and still has its retail promotional stickers on it). Suddenly the music stops.

Apparently the manager of the club likes to do an acoustic set before and between all the bands. Terrible covers of the most terrible songs are sung. The reverb on his voice is so heavy and shrill it feels like someone is grating my eardrums with a cheese grater. It is even louder than the DJ's music. The crowd seems to like it so I conclude that there is no way they are going to like us. The sound guy leaves to grab a few cables he needs and when the manager is done with part 1 of his 3 part set he comes over to the stage and screams at us in a thick New Jersey accent (and sounds kind of like joe pesci in goodfellas) "What the fuck yous waitin' for?!? You guys are only cutting in to your own set time!!!" I inform him that the sound guy hasn't gotten set up yet and he gets mad and wanders off. The DJ plays "Smells like teen spirit" because we are from Seattle...

Eventually we get going and play to an incredibly confused audience. We cut the set short and the manager takes the small stage. We are tortured with part 2 of his set blaring into our ears from the monitors on the stage as we load out. We socialize a little with a band called Mixed Frequencies (I think that is what they are called) who saw our posters in NYC and we watch their set. The place is so narrow that I can't sit behind our merch booth, a bottle of bud light is $7, shots are more and come in small disposable pill cups and I decide we should flee ASAP. Packing up takes place. Somehow my luggage with all my newly washed clothes, toothbrush, razors and deodorant, and a bag full of all my back up cables (probably like $350 worth of cables) goes missing which is strange because neither went in to the club. I don't realize this yet but this is the only conceivable time these bags could have gone missing.

Once packed we decide that we should go and try to collect some money. I know we aren't getting paid but it is worth a shot. Before we go in we make friends with a strange cat in the parking lot. We walk down the narrow hallway and try to find the manager who seems to have disappeared. We split up and eventually Brian finds him. Much arguing happens and the manager says in a high pitched jersey accent "I am losing money by putting you on stage." Brian gets pretty pissed and punches the wall and we leave.

We make an attempt to buy beer but they don't sell beer at gas stations in New Jersey. We collectively decide that we should go to Taco Bell as a morale booster so we approach the drive-thru. A female jersey accent beckons us through the drive-thru intercom. We can't respond because we are staring at the menu and are in shock that the cheapest combo meal is $8.99. Sensing that the person on the other side of the intercom was getting impatient I order a combo meal. We are informed that they are out of beef. I realize that we have entered in to a strange realm where Taco Bell can run out of beef and start to reel in pain as I realize I will have to order chicken or steak which adds another $2 to the already insanely expensive combo meal prices. I choose chicken. Brian takes a shot at ordering and does ok except he requests DR Pepper. The Jersey accent calmly informs Brian that they are out of Dr Pepper. Brian closes his window and screams "DAMN YOU NEW JERSEY!!!!!" which is still heard by the taco bell employees because DRIVER X's window is open. After paying over $60 for taco bell for 4 people we leave with our small dinners and try to find a hotel.

There’s an insane amount of seedy hourly motels in the area that feature two person tubs and mirrored ceilings. We try a few and they are all booked. I let everyone enjoy their taco bell and take a walk around to find some nicer hotels and none of them have any rooms. I get back to the van and finally enjoy my cold taco bell meal.

We decide that we desperately need to get the fuck out of Suckcockass. We determine that Pennsylvania is only 60 minutes away so we decide to get out of New Jersey altogether before we hunt for another hotel. I type in the address of the next venue in to the GPS and we follow the directions to the freeway. We sit in terrible, terrible traffic for about 40 minutes and get to the entrance ramp. It is barricaded off with cones and a large truck parked across it. There is a detour so we follow it.

The detour leads us to another barricaded freeway entrance and no other detour is offered. We use the GPS to navigate to the next on-ramp. Barricaded. On ramp after onramp is barricaded and I get worried that they are putting NJ under Quarantine. We can not escape. The GPS leads us to some extremely hellish places. We eventually find ourselves in Newark. We decide that we don't stand a chance escaping New Jersey on the amount of sleep we have. We left the Blue room at about 11pm. It was now about 2 in the morning and we have been trapped on the streets of new jersey for 3 confusing, hellish,agonizing hours.

I tell the GPS to look for the nearest hotel. It displays a place called "Hotel of Portugal." Sounds weird but we are desperate. We find it but it is called "Taste of Portugal." I run in and no one speaks English. I gather (by the bar setting) that it is not a hotel. I return to the van and instruct the GPS to find the next closest hotel. I am instructed to a place called the "Parkhurst Hotel." We make our way through Newark in the dark and pull up to an large old house with white paint peeling off of it.
On the house is a broken sign unevenly hanging off the front displaying the name "Parkhurst Hotel" which is barely readable under grime and mold. An elderly black man in some sort of leather bikini is sitting on the steps in front of the house. A light turns on in the main door and the silhouette of a woman appears. The woman leans in the doorway and pulls up her skirt in a sickly enticing way. DRIVER X seems like he likes this place but it looks like we may get robbed here or die of some sort of bacterial infection or sexually transmitted disease or at the very least pick up some bed bugs so I instruct the GPS to find the next hotel.

The GPS turns up "Hotel Carlton" on Park Place. Sounds expensive but we are desperate. We pull up on what looks like a fairly main street and DRIVER X parks the van across the street. I get out of the van and the rest stay in. The building looks nice and has large glass doors and windows in the front, a marble floor and an awning that has "Hotel Carlton" written in a cursive style font.

Next to the front door is a security desk with a security guard passed out, head down and turned toward the window. The door is locked so I knock on the glass. No response. I notice an intercom button with a sign that says "Press button to page security" so I press it. This causes the phone at the desk to ring. Not even the slightest movement from the security guard. Brian sees I am having trouble waking him up so he gets out of the van and tries pounding on the window. No response. Brian takes a few pictures of me posing with the guard, giving thumbs up. The camera flash catches the attention of a tall thin black guy that was apparently standing further back in the lobby. Brian gets back in the van and the guy comes over and cracks open one of the glass doors. Something is a little off about the guy and he rambles off something completely unintelligible. I ask him how much a room is and he doesn't understand me. He points in strange directions and I ask him again how much a room is. He finally says he will go check and he closes the door. He walks to the back of the lobby and turns his back to me and stares at a wall for a while.

I wait for him to come back but it looks like he is hiding from me. He occasionally looks at me over his shoulder and continues to stand there. I wait for approximately ten minutes and I start looking around the lobby through the glass door. I see notes pasted on the walls randomly. I see the innards of a rascal scooter spread across the floor. I look at the security guard. He wears a white shirt with an emblem sewn in to it but his fingernails are painted with sparkly red nail polish and is wearing glittery lip gloss. I go back to the van and tell everyone that this place looks really sketchy but everyone is exhausted and wants a room so they encourage me to get the room.

As I approach the building I look up and notice some of the windows are broken out and boarded up. I approach the door again and the same tall black guy cracks the door and I ask how much a room is. He waves his finger around and says "75" over and over again jumbled with slurs. I conclude that the guy is tripping balls. I say "Great! where can we park the van?" he says around the corner and DRIVER X pulls the van around the corner in to a parking lot. I look down and notice that the man I am talking to is wearing pink women's open-toed jelly-shoes. I tell him I will be back and go around the corner where DRIVER X has parked. I notice that the side of the building is lined with water bottles full of urine and the parking lot is full of garbage and broken glass. I determine that we need to get out of there as fast as possible. The guy from the Carlton starts following me out to the parking lot and we pull away in the van hastily.

The next hotel on the list is the Newark Hilton. The Hilton is SUPER Nice and the people are friendly but the bellhop tries to cut us a shadey deal on parking our van for us in a mystery spot outside of the hotel parking lot (the van is full of expensive equipment). We don't have to check out til noon so Patrick splits the insane cost of the room with me. We get helped with our baggage (which is when I realize mine is missing) and we get to our luxurious room. The beds look really comfortable. They have cool pillows. The beds get claimed and I am on the floor again. I lay down my sleeping bag and wonder how much better the night would have been if stayed in Baltimore and played the show the Conference people offered. The thickly carpeted floor is sooo comfortable I fall asleep in about 10 minutes while I to listen to DRIVER X complain about the room while he lay in on his extremely luxurious bed that he didn’t have to pay for.

to be continued...

Thursday
Aug012013

Day 15

Day 15

I wake up well rested on the luxurious and thick carpeting on the floor of the Newark Hilton. I take a shower in the nicely lit and calming bathroom. We check out and sit in the comfortable couches in the lobby while DRIVER X aimlessly wanders. We discuss the situation we are in and find no solution for it.

We drive to Allentown, PA. Along the way we stop at a rest area that has a Burger King where the whopper combo is over $9. We arrive at the Sterling Hotel where we are supposed to play and there are Uglyhead tour posters in the window.

It is approximately 3:00 pm and I decide to find a cafe that could potentially have wi-fi so I could check my email and shut DRIVER X's complaining yap up for a second. I do a quick search by texting google and I find a cafe called the "Crocodile Rock Cafe" which is about 6 blocks up the street from us.

We drive to the cafe and it is a huge music venue of the likes of which I have never seen before. There is a large bar, a large italian restaurant a 1,300 capacity music hall and another 400 capacity music hall downstairs. We sit in the bar and I buy everyone a beer. We chill out and check email. While chilling we find out that Mindless Self Indulgence is playing that night. Somehow before I know it we are being given a tour of the entire venue and Brian is talking to the manager of the club trying to score us a spot on the bill for that night. A huge line is starting to form outside of the building and stretching around the entire perimeter.

The manager sits down with me and explains that there is an open slot on the stage in the downstairs venue. The manager is a strange fellow who is wearing a light blue, loose fitting tank top and drinking something called "Muscle Milk." He asks if I am capable of running sound and I say "Yes." He brings us downstairs to check if I am familiar with the front of house board and I am. For some reason he makes Brian hold his container of "Muscle Milk" during the tour of the place and it grosses us both out.

At this point this seems like a great opportunity so I call Julie and have her call the sterling Hotel and tell them we can't get there until 11. At this point we all decide to play two sets in one night. We desperately need to make back the money we spent on Taco bell and the emergency Hilton stay. We plan on playing this venue because there is a sold out show happening with a huge audience in the building and then packing up everything and running down to the Sterling Hotel and playing another set.

We set up and I realize that I am used to the sound guy having all the extra XLR's and that I don't have and extra XLR cables because they are all in one of the bags that got stolen in New Jersey. Brian and Patrick make some make-shift flyers from uglyhead postcards and flyer the line in order to get people downstairs for our set while I start running around Allentown trying to find a shop where I can purchase some XLR cables. Everywhere is closed and I come back to the club empty handed. I weed through a milk crate under the FOH console and I find some XLR's.

I do a sound check and get everything dialed in. More flyering of the line is done and finally the doors open. We learn that everyone has to pay an extra cover if they want to go downstairs and watch our set (which means the show is doomed) and we play to a room full of about 5 people. We sell nothing.

We gather our shit and load out. Patrick and Brian decide to walk down to the Sterling Hotel while I drive the 6 blocks with DRIVER X. As DRIVER X pulls out of the alley I see the manager and tell DRIVER X to stop so I can go and harass him for money. I jump out of the van and DRIVER X does as well. Before I reach the Manager DRIVER X jumps in front of me and starts telling the manager some insane story about being in the venue's parking lot and something happening with the police. I am dumbfounded and 15 minutes later I am able to talk to the manager who informs me that we aren't getting paid. He also says a few things that confirm every fear I have ever had about the music business (which I might discuss later).

DRIVER X and I get back in the van where DRIVER X drives extremely slowly to the next venue. While sitting in the front passenger seat I look over at DRIVER X to see why he is going 5 MPH and DRIVER X is hunched over his steering wheel with a crazed look on his face, continually shrugging his shoulders and lifting his hands off the wheel as if to say "I don't know" over and over again. He looks my direction and the look on his face makes me instinctually back up against the door. Every muscle in my body tenses as I realize DRIVER X has gone completely insane. He continues to shake his head and shrug his shoulders while driving slowly as the street lights pass over his ghastly twisted and crazed face.

From what I can gather is that DRIVER X is running through a conversation in his head over and over and the conclusion of that conversation is DRIVER X saying "I don't know” and shrugging his shoulders. He passes the sterling hotel and I grab the door handle ready to jump out. DRIVER X seems caught in a mental loop but manages to pull a u-turn a couple of blocks past the club and finally parks in front of the venue.

I jump out of the van and am in need of a stiff drink. I meet the manager and security who inform me that no one is here to see us because Mindless Self Indulgence is playing down the street and we don't have to play if we don't want to. One of the employees "Dena" is there and says that she really wanted to see us play so I hit her up for a place to stay and she complies. Before we leave I have a few drinks to calm my tense nerves from the horrifying 6 block drive with DRIVER X and we follow Dena to her apartment.

Dena is extremely awesome and has a ferret which everyone likes. The Ferret seems to calm DRIVER X down a bit. I lay in my sleeping bag in the cramped and oddly decorated apartment and analyze the situation. Since Baltimore DRIVER X has seemed a bit off-kilter (even more off-kilter than usual). Until now I had been thinking his current surge of weirdness might be him making an effort to enjoy himself. But now I think in Baltimore he was forced to confront something. He was given the opportunity to decide for himself that either he was being a bit crazy or that Patrick, Brian and myself were the crazy ones. I analyze his behavior for a while as I stare at painting that looks like a vagina with fangs. I put my boots upside down so the ferret can't crawl inside them and I fall asleep watching Reefer Madness in my only set of filthy unwashed clothes.

To be continued...

Thursday
Aug082013

Day 16

Day 16

We wake up and DRIVER X's shoes are shredded by Dena's ferret. Particles of DRIVER X's bizarre red,pink and purple sneakers are everywhere.  I smell bad and decide that I need to get some clothes and we go to a thrift store. Dena drives in front of us and when we arrive she says her goodbyes and gives us a handful of fast food restaurant coupons.

I find nothing acceptable at the thrift store and we decide to go to a near-by wal-mart. I mindlessly wander the aisles and find a couple of shirts, a pair of shorts, deodorant, razors and a cheap Hannah Montana suitcase to store everything in. I am good to go for the trip to Brooklyn.

Brian has a friend in the city named Addie who just happens to have an empty room in her brownstone style apartment. Brian schmoozes a place to stay for a couple of days and we make our way there. DRIVER X makes a comment about how last time he was in New York he stayed on this block. I remember that just a couple of days ago Driver X said that he had never been this far east before but decide not to bring up the inconsistency.

We have two days off and I am scared of the idle time. Once we get there things seem ok and we get some chicken from a fast food place that I will eternally miss called "Crown Chicken and Pizza." Patrick and DRIVER X stay behind.

When we return Patrick seems upset and says something to the effect of "I told you not leave me alone with DRIVER X!!" I am not sure what is going on at this point but I go in the backyard and eat some food. Stray cats eat some of the chicken bones and DRIVER X starts freaking out and going on and on about how the cats are going to die because we gave them chicken bones and he goes and grabs a tube of pringles and starts throwing handfulls of pringles everywhere in the back yard of our generous hosts (which the cats will never eat). I am fed up with listening to DRIVER X and decide to take a shower and go to sleep. Once I am done with my shower I go and grab my new toothbrush and start brushing.

Patrick comes in from the back yard and says "You have to do something about that guy!" Something weird had happened while I was showering. Brian and Addie seem upset. Addie's brother and other roommate seem alarmed. DRIVER X had completely lost it.

I am actually kinda confounded on how to tell the rest of the story. It is all a really huge blur for me. Here is what I remember:
1. DRIVER X screaming and calling Patrick an asshole and accusing him of conspiring against him again. (basically a relapse of the Baltimore discussion/freakout)
2. Talking to Brian and trying to figure out what the fuck happened while I was in the shower.
3. Convincing Patrick not to beat the fuck out of DRIVER X and getting him upstairs so Brian and I could talk to DRIVER X without a huge argument/scene erupting.
4. Doing some sort of damage control with our host's who have just let this craziness erupt in their backyard not even an hour after we arrive. (I didn’t want to get kicked out).
5. I remember talking to Brian out in front of the house trying to figure out what the hell we were going to do. I tell Brian that we need to get our equipment out of the van because I know that I am going to have to tell DRIVER X that he is insane and think that might cause him to leave.

Brian and I go in to the back yard where DRIVER X is screaming (literally screaming) that Patrick is an asshole and that we should fuck ourselves and that he is going home. Brian surprisingly takes the lead on this one and tries to calm DRIVER X down. A strange speech ensues where Brian tells DRIVER X that we are very disappointed in him. I remember having a slightly different agenda than Brian. My agenda: I am so sick of DRIVER X at this point and DRIVER X has become so much of a problem that I want our shit out of the van and I want to tell DRIVER X that he is completely fucking insane and see what happens. (I had been drinking a little). My guess is that he will just leave. At this point it is no longer even remotely safe for anyone being in the van with this guy (because he is constantly drunk and/or acting in an insane manner) so I know that we are going to have to find an alternate way home and that the tour I worked on for about 7 months is over.

Brian's Agenda: Try to get DRIVER X to stop drinking, sleep it off and salvage something in the morning.

At this point it is DRIVER X's agenda to go completely fucking nuts. DRIVER X angrily shouts things about the tour, about us, things we can't understand. Brian tries to take DRIVER X's 40 ounce budweiser from him and DRIVER X slinks away in bizarre fashion that reminds me of Golem holding on to his precious ring in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At this point DRIVER X's eyes are oddly sunken and he is really thin and strange and sickly looking from smoking well over 500 clove cigarettes and not eating. Drool is starting to appear at the corners of his mouth and his eyes are watery and glazed over. DRIVER X cowers away from Brian's attempts at de-beering him and screams wildly.

At some point Brian realizes that nothing can be salvaged and goes upstairs and hides from DRIVER X with Patrick and Addie. I am left downstairs where DRIVER X rambles on about how I am bad driver and how Patrick is a bad driver and Brian is a bad driver. About how this is the worst tour he has ever been on. About how he is planning on putting together a band and being on tour with us is ruining his reputation. About how he sets up his camera in a certain way and when he wakes up in the morning it is no longer set up that way which means we are going through his stuff at night. About Patrick conspiring against him and trying to get him to crack. About how he hopes we can still be friends after this. About how he is leaving the tour. I watch him walk strangely about waving his hands over his head making a horrid face while silently (and crazily) screaming (it's hard to describe this behavior). I eventually tell him that I can't listen to him anymore and go for a walk at 4:30 in the morning in a bad part of Brooklyn.

I am so fucking bummed at this point. Everything I had been working on for months is basically gone. I don't even really care if I get mugged or am stabbed or shot. I just wander aimlessly. I hope I can walk enough so that I am so exhausted that I can't feel anything anymore.

The tour is over and I have pulled innocent participators in to this imploding disaster. Memories are blurred and laced with overwhelming feelings of despair, street lights and confusion.

Eventually exhausting myself I return to addie's at 8 am and fall asleep on the floor next to a loudly snoring DRIVER X while the others hide upstairs. The backyard is still littered with uneaten Pringles.

To be continued...

Thursday
Aug152013

Day 17, 18, 19 and 20

Day 17

I wake up before the others and go and eat breakfast at Crown. I return and everyone is awake. DRIVER X says he is leaving. We get all of our stuff out of the van. We awkwardly say goodbye and he is gone. The departure of DRIVER X is surprisingly undramatic. We are now stranded in Brooklyn. I call Julie and tell her to cancel all of the Midwest shows. Julie posts a blog on the uglyhead page and takes donations. I start taking pictures of all the equipment so we can post it for sale on Craigslist in an attempt to raise money to get everyone home. On the ad I say that they can pick up the equipment at our show at Trash Bar and put down the show details. My allergies act up and everything sucks.

Day 18

We play the show at Trash bar (which is a really cool venue). There are uglyhead tour posters plasterd on the wall in the front and I stand outside and talk to some of the other bands that are playing that night. The openers end up being really bad and they don’t stick around for our set. Some people show up and buy a good portion of our gear so we have a small audience and we are able to raise some money. A recording of the show is made and ends up sounding like crap. My allergies are so bad it sounds like I am sobbing my way through the set.

Day 19

A considerable amount of money is raised via paypal donations (thanks) and equipment sales and we are able to ship back everything we couldn't sell and buy train tickets for everyone. After sadly watching the lighting rig that I purchased especially for the tour get hauled away by some cheese-ball wedding DJ we attempt to have a good time and pack in as much free site-seeing as possible. It’s a feeble attempt to salvage our miserable time in NYC. As bad as the situation is, it is kind of enjoyable because DRIVER X is not there. Its feels like a big creepy, whiney, annoying weight has been lifted off our shoulders. We see the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and some of Central Park.  We would have been totally screwed if we didn’t have the generosity of Addie and her roommates.  One of their roommates just moved out so they have a spare empty room where we can all crash while we try to figure out how to get home. I am tempted to just move in permanently to avoid going all the way back to Seattle.  Oddly enough, this ends up being one of my most memorable and favorite days of the tour so far.

Day 20

We still have some things that we could not afford to ship that are extremely heavy. Since amtrak won't let us check anything over 50 pounds we attempt to bring them on as carry on. We have to literally drag a bunch of heavy equipment and luggage across Manhattan, to Penn Station where we barely make our train. I can’t help wonder what Martin Atkins would think as I drag my Hannah Montana suitcase through the train station with a copy of his Tour:Smart book strapped to the top of it. Once we board the train we march up to the second floor of the train car. Brian and Patrick sit together and I sit alone a couple of rows ahead. I wonder if they are mad at me for this disaster.  At least I am able to get everyone home safely.  I feel bad about having to cancel those Midwest shows but after doing the math there was no way we could afford to get a vehicle and finish that leg of the tour.  A majority of the shows we played were not very financially successful and I only had enough money to take care of the rest of the gas at that point.  While I know that the events that occurred in NYC are disastrous, I feel like I worked too hard on this tour to let it end yet. I put my headphones on and space out as the last of the passengers board and the train begins its journey West.

to be continued...

Thursday
Aug222013

Days 21, 22 and 23

Day 21
After spending a night on the train the we silently sit and contemplate the journey. The train pulls in to Chicago where we are supposed to switch trains. We lug all of the heavy equipment through the train station and set up camp near the gate of our next train. During the layover I step outside of the train station and check out Chicago and wonder how the show would have gone had we not had to cancel it. The train ride through the middle states is long and boring.  I try to step outside and catch some fresh air at every station we stop at. While aboard the train I read Martin Atkin's Tour:Smart until it is time to eat dinner. After dinner I fall asleep as the midwest passes us by.

Day 22
We start to get antsy and do some heavy drinking on the train. We make some friends and have a strange make-shift all night party on the observation car which seems to alienate the rest of the passengers. They leave and give us free run of the place. Occaisionally an Amtrak employee passes through the car and makes sure we are not destroying the place. In the morning the train splits in Spokane and we lose some of our new found friends. Eventually we fall asleep in our seats.

Day 23
We pass through the mountains at sunrise and their beauty makes my stomach sink because I know that I am returning to Seattle. I painfully watch the familiar scenery as we approach our destination. Once we arrive I feel like gravity has doubled. I feel heavy and sad about being back. I try to lift my spirits and tell myself to pretend it is a new city but it isn't. Being away from Seattle had been a great stimulation for me. Even though things went bad I felt alive. Returning fills my head with thoughts of repetition and slowness. The usual day to day...

We part ways. Brian and Patrick split a cab to Capitol hill. I walk a few blocks and stand at the bus stop. I watch as a guy breaks the glass that protects the bus schedule on the bus stop sign post. I look around at the depressed faces waiting for the bus and am filled with fear as I can feel all excitement and any feelings of vitality from the tour drain away. I wonder if I look as depressed as everyone else at the bus stop. Eventually the bus comes and the ride home is slow and miserable.

I open the door and the house is its usual mess. My roommates' cat's vomit and shit stain the carpet. Dishes are piled high in the sink. In my room my birds are still alive and want to be fed. My email box is full of notes from bands that are pissed off because we had to cancel all the midwest dates and some of the shows were canceled. I sink in to a terrible depression and panic at the extreme manic plunge my emotions have taken. For the first time in 23 days I am alone and have no conceivable idea about what to do next. No destination or purpose.

I am overwhelmed with a strange mixture of fear and anxiety and decide the best course of action is to just go to sleep but I am reluctant because I know when I wake up I will have lost the feeling of momentum that being on the road has given me. The whole experience could have just been a dream. Things will be back to normal and the failure of the tour has just put me back in a worse place than I was before I left. Eventually I feel so shitty that going to sleep is all I can do.

to be continued...

Thursday
Aug292013

Days 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29

Day 24
missing

Day 25
missing

Day 26
missing

Day 27
missing

Day 28

I wake groggy on the floor of the van in my stinky, road worn sleeping bag. The morning is a bit chilly and I step outside curious to see our surroundings as they were obscured by darkness when we fell asleep. We seem to have taken refuge in a valley of some bizarre claustrophobic barren hills. I have had bad experiences in Idaho and am anxious to cross the border so we take off and eventually cross into Utah.

The drive is seems to be going smoothly but I am slightly nervous as the vehicle is not registered to be driven in Utah and bad things could happen if we get pulled over. Eventually we stop for lunch at a Wendy's and I am tripped out because I have stopped at this exact same Wendy's before on a previous tour.

We are making way better time than anticipated and we end up making another pit stop in Provo, UT with the intention of seeing a movie at a gigantic mall we saw from the freeway. Once inside the mall we attempt to steal an ipod adapter from a couple of different stores and fail. We check movie times and nothing worth watching is playing.

We eat dinner at an A&W where the employees are creepily hospitable and find something disgusting and indescribable in my burger. They happily replace it.

We decide to get to Las Vegas as soon as possible and quickly depart Provo.

We drive. We make excellent time and the trip is exponentially more enjoyable then our previous outing. We twist and turn through the hills and canyons at a brisk speed and we pull in to Las Vegas in the night. The strip is lit up and the grid of city lights makes it look gargantuan.

We arrive at the venue and there are multiple uglyhead tour posters outside. The venue is packed which confirms what I have heard about the DIVEBAR on the weekends. We get some carl's Jr in the adjacent parking lot and pour Whiskey in to our large cokes. We hang out in the windy parking lot for a while and I eventually enter and ask the bartender if we can sleep in the van in the parking lot. He says we can and we drunkenly make camp in the expansive parking lot of DIVEBAR (which also somehow shares lots with a Wal-Mart that is being constructed).


Day 29

Brian wakes up with an erection and joyfully runs around the parking lot in his underwear. Slightly traumatized, we discuss our plans for the day. We decide to go to the strip. Brian and Patrick have not been to Las Vegas before and want to do some sightseeing. I brought $20 to do some gambling so we jump in the van and find free parking in the Mandalay Bay parking lot at the far end of the strip.

We wander eventually decide that we all want to go on the roller coaster at the New York, New York hotel. We wander through the New York themed casino and have traumatizing flashbacks of our DRIVER X in Brooklyn. We eventually find the line to roller coaster and find out that it costs $14. At this price it doesn't leave anyone any money to gamble so we decide to make a game out of the day and try to win enough money for everyone to go on the roller coaster.

We wander from casino to casino betting in small amounts. I seem to have the most luck and win $50 at the Venetian but eventually gamble it all away at Circus Circus where we eat entirely way too much food at the cheap/ghetto buffet. Morning somehow quickly turns to night and we have to quickly walk the entire length of the strip back to the van to get to the show on time.

We arrive at the venue a little late and I happily gaze at the marquis which has Uglyhead in a headlining slot. I eventually find out that only one other band has been booked that night and they are an incompatible radio rock band from Los Angeles. There has been no local bands booked. The bar does not fill up and while doing sound check I am informed that the monitors have been blown out. We go on to play probably the worst received uglyhead set I have ever played. I don't know if we played shitty because I couldn't hear anything on the stage. I get depressed because there is no cover and no one is going to buy merchandise. My post-tour welfare is fairly dependent on making money at these shows and DIVEBAR was supposed to be a sure thing. Ultimately I am just taught another lesson in gambling.

After the set the generous bartender gives us what seems like unlimited amounts of jager shots and beer. Patrick and Brian seem to be in good spirits but I just keep getting more and more depressed about the situation. Drinks and shots, drinks and shots…
I eventually feel like I have had too much to drink and go and sleep in the van at about 3:30 am.

At 4 am I am woken up by Patrick and Brian who have had waaaaay too much to drink. Brian lays on his stomach in the van and starts puking out of the side doors rambling on about hating Patrick and alcohol poisoning. Patrick starts puking and the two of them are puking in the parking lot in front of the venue for at least an hour. Circus Circus buffet coats the concrete and van. I move out of the back of the van and try to sleep in the uncomfortable front seat and listen to the endless wretching and comedic argument taking place in the van. I dread the next day because we are going to SLC (a pretty friendly place and an important show) an it is obvious that everyone will be hung over again like they were in Baton Rouge.

I move the van away from the fairly large puddle of piss and piles of Circus Circus vomit to avoid cops waking us up and park elsewhere and all eventually pass out for the night.

To be concluded...

Thursday
Sep052013

Conclusion

Day 30

I wake up in the driver's seat of the van and look out the window. I see a small gathering of birds eating Brian and Patrick's vomit across the parking lot. I gather myself and eat breakfast at Carl's Jr. It takes some time but we eventually get going towards Salt Lake City.

The drive is uneventful. Knowing that this is the last show of the tour fills me with dread. I don't want to go back to Seattle. I don't want to return to reality. I don't want to face the inevitable repetition of normal life. I try to kick the feeling but can't.

We arrive at Club Vegas (in SLC) and start unpacking and encounter a problem when Patrick realizes he left his in-ear monitors, sticks and high hat clutch in Las Vegas. After a little effort Patrick acquires back up parts and we are ready to play. The crowd is small and the first band "Dimension Zero" goes on plays an extremely confusing set. They opted to not use the house sound guy and bring their own. Their set is oddly confusing and everyone seems really nervous.

We go on and play our last set. It is an immense joy to me to play on such a nice stage and through a good sound system. The set goes well and once we are done we meet a guy named Rubin who went to the last SLC show we played and he offers a place to stay. He ends up buying us a lot of alcohol and is super friendly.

The staff closes the club down and we all stay late and watch Iron Man on their projector screen. Eventually we leave and Rubin buys us some Del Taco and we go to his house. Somehow Del Taco has never tasted better. We watch cartoons and fall asleep.

 

Day 31

We wake up the next morning before Rubin and slip out undetected. We make the long drive back to Seattle and say our goodbyes under the Autumn Moon. I bring the van home filled with an overwhelming sense of dread. I reflect on the journey and wonder what would have happened if I chose to go back to the Baltimore Music Conference instead of going to New Jersey. I wonder about the future of Uglyhead. I think of everything I have learned and of everyone I met. I pull up to my house and load out some of my equipment. The cold air depresses me. I space out for a while in my room and eventually fall asleep.

 

Afterwards

The overall impact of Driver X's craziness and the general financial failure of the tour was pretty catastrophic for my life. Once I returned to Seattle I had a few months of unsuccessful job hunting during a pretty unforgiving and harsh winter. I ended up selling off everything I owned to survive. A lot of my instruments have sentimental value and it was painful to see them go. I put the final touches on the songs "Arms of Memories" and "Fell in" and uploaded them just minutes before some craigslister picked up the last of all my music gear. Eventually I couldn't afford rent or food and became homeless. Well I guess I never had to spend a night on the street thanks to the support of some close friends. I housesat for a week for Scott Brovan in exchange for some food and train ticket to San Francisco. Once in San Francisco I slept on the floor of Nick's room for a couple of months and have been helping him record his Palace of Worms album. I recently acquired a job and am still sleeping on the floor but I now have my own room and things are finally starting to get back on track. Instead of buying a bed I am purchasing some instruments and hope to start writing and recording again soon so at this point I am still crashing on the floor. I have no idea when Uglyhead will become a live project again as I can't even imagine having enough money to afford all of the equipment that is necessary for Uglyhead live performance and rehearsal but I am definitely working on it. I would like to get back on the road as soon as I can (possibly in another country) and am planning on it but first i will finish up Nick's album and attempt to put out some new Uglyhead recordings.

Brian is still in Seattle working on his band He Whose Ox is Gored. Patrick lingered in Seattle for a bit but had the same problems I did with finding employment there and is heading back to San Antonio. Driver X was never heard from again and could still be crazily roaming around the US rambling/complaining to himself and smoking pack after pack of clove cigarettes. Every time I smell cloves I get scared that he will jump out and stab me for ruining his reputation...

I definitely didn't regret doing it however it could have been planned a bit better. I wish I could have had more time to save up for it because honestly a lot of what went wrong was a direct result of me trying to cut some corners to fit my budget. It was extremely unsuccessful but it was a learning experience. If more money was spent on advertising, there would probably be more people at shows. If there was more money for transportation than "Driver X" would have never been brought into the picture. The only way I would head back out on the road for 30+ days is if I was able to obtain a substantial budget. From now on it seems like it would be smarter to try to budget for 30 days but only go out for 15 days. That way I would know that each show had a budget to be properly advertised for (as club "promoters" don't really do much promoting anymore) and it would be a more pleasant experience/adventure.

Seriously, some of the shows on that tour were dismal...

During the experience with Mindless Self Indulgence in Allentown, PA I became aware of a practice called the "Buy On" which kind of disheartened me about how a lot of bands are able to have a successful tour in the US. I guess I have been aware of this business practice for a while but on the west coast promoters like to call it "Selling Tickets" because it sounds less evil. Since it was my first time touring on the east coast the "Buy On" term kept getting brought up a lot and because the term is more direct than "Selling Tickets" it sort of enlightened me on the business of touring. I am not sure who is interested in this or if I am capable of explaining how much of an impact the "Buy On" has on bands that are planning on hitting the road, but I am going to try.

As far as I know there are 4 types of business arrangements when it comes to shows.
1. the door split: Deductions are made from the cover charge to cover club expenses (sound guy, advertising, etc) and the rest of the money is split between the bands.

2. Selling tickets: A promoter pays a club for a night and covers his advertising and booking costs by charging a band a fee to participate in the show. In return the band is supplied tickets at a wholesale cost which they can sell to friends and fans and keep the profit. The promoter ends up keeping all money made from cover charged at the door and the bands cover their costs by whatever they are able to make from selling tickets.

3. The Buy On: A promoter books a headliner with a substantial draw and charges bands a fee to open for the larger band. The opening band makes no money from tickets sales but has an opportunity to sell their merchandise at a well attended show (due to the draw of the headliner).

4. The Gaurantee: A band is offered a flat rate pay-out by a promoter to play a show.

(of course there are all sort of weird variants to these arrangements but for the explanation's sake I am keeping it simple).

If you are a touring band with a substantial following than you will be in a situation where you can get a Guarantee. Most bands that are backed by a financially stable label that pay for tour and album advertising are in this category. A lot of money has already been invested in this band and this band has been able to move a lot of product so a promoter is confident that a lot of people will come to a show to see them and is willing to offer up the Guarantee money.

If you are an independently financed band and you work shitty jobs or you are on a label owned by people who work shitty jobs to independently finance that label and you want to tour you basically have two options for business arrangements. You can't really effectively Sell Tickets for a tour because you will constantly be on the move. There is no time to connect with people in each city and convince them to give you money so the Selling Tickets option is out the window. You can either work out a door split deal with each club you are playing at or you can Buy On to shows with bigger bands that are already happening or even potentially Buy On to a tour with a band that has a better budget and draw than yours.

The absolute most basic needs of a tour are really expensive. Gas is fucking expensive, Vans are fucking expensive, food can be fucking expensive so unless you are loaded or a spoiled piece of shit with rich parents the Buy On option is out the window as well. The amount of advertising you can afford is nowhere near the amount of advertising that is happening for the Buy On shows that are happening the same night in every city of your tour and when given the option (assuming they even heard about your show) most people will opt to go to the Buy On show because everyone else is going to be there.

A Buy On can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per show. The money a promoter makes from the Buy Ons can supply the Headliner with a Guarantee. So from a business perspective this is a sound plan because the promoter can offer an established band a guaranteed amount of money to play their event and it won't cost the promoter any money because that expense is paid for by the openers. The openers don't have to be good or established or even in the same genre as the headliners. As long as they have the cash they can play in front of a huge audience.

Chances are when you are at a show and you are wondering "Why the fuck did someone choose this opening act?!?!?" that band paid to be on that bill and the headliner is being paid by that opening act to cover their Guarantee pay-out. The promoter is raking in the cash because he has supplied the headliner a flat payout and is making a bunch of money from all of the tickets sales.

While we were in Allentown we somehow were able to play on a second stage in the basement of the Croc Rock cafe while MSI and openers played on the main stage. When I went to check to see if we were getting payed the promoter informed me that all the other bands playing that night (excluding MSI) payed a substantial specific amount to play that show so it wouldn't be fair to the other bands for Uglyhead to get paid. The amount each band payed was almost equal to the entire budget for the Uglyhead US tour.

At that moment the business of touring became a lot clearer to me and it is kind of depressing. Just like any other kind of business, the more you invest, the more earning potential there is. Those that are able to have a lot of money stand a better chance of success because they are able to force their music down your throat while you wait to hear a headlining act.

In fact a lot of clubs in LA don't even have a headliner that draws. They just charge bands to play. I became engaged in conversation with the promoter at the GoodHurt in LA and he was explaining that he always knows which bands have rich parents because they play at certain well known clubs in the area.

I am poor and don't sell a lot of records. Uglyhead is an experimental project and takes some effort from the listener to enjoy. The only business arrangement that can be made by Uglyhead and other independantly financed bands is the door split and honestly, door split shows don't draw a whole lot of people because the promoter doesn't invest any money in advertising for them and the bands playing them are poor musicians that can't invest a lot of money in advertising.

I personally feel like America is getting lazier and lazier and is growing accustomed to have music spoonfed to them and the buy on system is an effective and appropriate method to meet that demand. There is a lot of good music out there that will never get heard or put in front of you simply because it is made by poor people and there are a lot of other bands (with disposable income) that can pay for a slot on a show. Since people are rarely paying for albums anymore the buy on system also supplies an effective method for established and well financed bands to break even or make money off of a tour. I am extremely appreciative of everyone that makes an active effort to seek out independent music and go to independent door split shows. It is the only way bands like uglyhead can tour. Some clubs that are avid supporters of independent music will supply touring bands with small guarantees or some food but really any band that hits the road will lose a substantial amount of money unless a substantial amount of money is invested and even then the only people really getting payed are the promoters...

it is a sad state of affairs and it will only get worse.

All that being said I would like to do 3 weeks in europe just to see what it would be like but it will take some extensive saving to get myself and a band over there. I was fortunate to have lived in Spain while I was writing my first album and I have wanted to go back ever since. It might be easier to try doing a week in Japan or 10 days in Australia. First off I need to record a new album and I am having a really shitty time just trying to raise enough money to buy a guitar so it really feels like touring is a ways off. But the experiences that I have had on the tours I have been on have been some of the best ever and I can't wait to get back out there and have a few more. The best thing about it is that anyone reading this can participate in that experience when we finally get to make it to your town. Any show is potentially a ridiculous tour story.

Also I can say that i have never paid to play a show but I can't say that I never will... I haven't made up my mind on how I feel about the whole Buy on/ Selling tickets business. It feels dirty but it is a common practice that has been going on since the dawn of touring. I can't knock it ‘til I try it I guess...

I really want to give huge "THANKS" to all the bands that we played with and the people who helped us get home from NY as well as the people who made it out to the shows. I hope our paths somehow cross again!

-jake

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