Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nov 11

posted by Majestic Ape at 12:35 AM

We arrive in Austin just after 6pm. This is exactly when we were hoping to arrive. We wanted plenty of time to relax, sound check, and have a leisurely dinner. We are playing on the outdoor stage at Emo’s. We have played at Emo’s many times in the past and the shows have been consistently good. The staff at Emo’s is friendly, fun, and professional. Their sound systems are great and their sound engineers know what they are doing. They are generous with their drink tickets and make liquor heavy drinks. This isn’t a huge seller for me but it makes my bandmates happy. The people of Austin tend to know how to have a good time at shows. They know how to interact with bands. They dance. They talk back and forth with you. They have fun. The only negative I can think of at Emo’s in the band lounge. Their green room is only available to bands that play the outdoor stage and it leaves a lot to be desired, but hey, not every night can be the BottleTree.

Anyway, Austin is always a good time and we are psyched to be here. The only thing I’m not pleased about is the outdoor stage. Its cold already and I am certain it will get much colder as the evening progresses.

We unload our equipment and bring it up on the stage. A very pleasant and funny guy, named Brian, assists us, and starts setting up the stage for the show.

Someone tells us that the Slits aren’t arriving till 9:00 pm.

We hang around waiting for the soundman to arrive. He shows up at about quarter to 8. We get a decent sound check. The monitors on this stage are suspended from the side walls. It always startles me at first to not sound coming at me from directly in front or directly behind.

After sound check, we walk over to a new little Korean restaurant that caters to veggie/hippy needs. Breck has already been over there and has been passionately raving about it since his visit. We order and sit down. We decide that tomorrow we will drive to Nashville. Its about 12 hours from Austin and 12 more hours to home. Jeff pulls out his computer and since there is wifi in the restaurant, he is able to book us a motel with Priceline. He gets us some 2 star deal near the airport for around $60 with tax. I always get so excited when I know we are going to stay in a motel. Its stupid in a way, but I know we have someplace relatively safe to sleep and we won’t be in closets or on kitchen floors. I have seen some terrifying domestic disputes gone bad when Apes have stayed at motels in the past. The Slits have been in motels every night on this tour. They have had lots of problems including fecel matter on the floor (their motel in DC), bed bugs (South Carolina), and mostly getting very lost going to and from the motels to the clubs.

Anyway…we head back to Emo’s. The first person I see is my close friend from home, Adam K. He is with his girlfriend, Ann. Its great to see him. We played in a jam band together back in the late 90’s and I always tried to get those guys to write solid songs. I always knew we had to write real songs before we could get shows and man, did I want to go on tour. I used to look at the tour dates of the bands on Southern Records and I was so envious. Someday, I knew that I was going to do this, too. I used to look at all those cities and the longer the list was, the cooler the tour seemed. This was a few years before the Apes came into existence. I had no idea what it was actually like to tour though. I had read “Get in the Van” by Henry Rollins and that was the closest I’d come to knowing what it would be like.

(tense shift, sorry)

I talked to Adam and Ann for a while and then went up to the green room to change clothes as the local opening band was already playing.

The Slits came in just after I started changing. One of the bouncers came in the room and tried to kick me out. The Slits protected me from the big mean man and ordered him away. Then another guy came in to make arrangements for some press people to come interview Ari Up. This guy was making a documentary about Kurt Cobain’s favorite 50 records and one of them was by the original Slits.

The first band finished so I went down to the stage. The room was quite full when we went on and I did a rather lengthy introductory talk. After speaking for a while, I started asking people for hugs and most folks were thrilled to do it. One man, however, was not so thrilled. He looked at me like he was going to kill me and said nothing. I then extended my hand and lifted his arm, turned, and walked away. His body language projected disgust. When this happens, I turn it into a joke and as long as I’m not threatened, I am totally comfortable with odd reactions. I always expect that at least a few folks react badly.

Well, I felt that our performance musically was as solid as they get. It felt it was equal parts entertaining and well-played. I had mild concerns about the sound in the house as people kept shouting to turn up the keyboards.

After the set, I sold merch for a while and talked to several good friends who had made it to the show. There was also bunch of friendly people who approached the merch table to make purchases or chat. One guy that came up alone told me that he’d fallen in love with me when I took my mask off. He said that it wasn’t in a creepy way though. I believed him. We talked for a bit and he asked me to go boating the next day since he worked at a canoe rental company. He was cute and he had access to boats. I love boats and I love water. I hadn’t been in a boat for 4 weeks. I heavily considered leaving the boys to drive 25 hours back to DC without me. I couldn’t abandon Breck though. He and I share the driving. It wouldn’t be fair to him. I have never pulled bullshit like that with my band in connection to guys. Well I have never actually left them. Well, one time. I ditched them for one drive from Seattle to Portland. Man, did Erick holler. What a baby.

I went upstairs to change clothes and Adam and Ann showed up a few minutes later with Breck. He had brought me a little gift. Adam is the best.

After I enjoyed the gift, I went off to wander alone. I walked up 6th street. It’s closed off to traffic so people can wander from bar to bar drunk. The streets were packed. There were lots of police officers on horseback and most of them were smiling and talking to people in the streets.

Back at the club, the Slits played and the crowd was great for them as well. I was started to get sad because we were parting ways tonight. Adelle gave me something of hers that she truly treasured and I was quite honored. I have so few female friends and it was really special to be with this group for the last 3 weeks. I never really imagined that we would bond like we did. For some reason, I had assumed they would be standoffish and that is the exact opposite of how they really were.

We loaded out and took a bunch of pictures and traded a ton of hugs. I forgot about my friend, forgot about my phone as well. Later, when I finally did get back to my phone, I found that he had left a lovely message.

We went back to Adam’s house, where we were staying, and finally went to bed around 4 am. The alarm was set for 8. I was totally wired. I think I slept maybe an hour. When I finally got up and took a shower, I felt like someone had stamped on my head with ski boots and let my liquefied brain leak out.

The end of a tour is a very strange time. I always feel like I have to go home and clean up the mess that is my life. First I want to throw all my stuff (shoes, books, clothes, CD’s) away since it’s pretty useless. I also think about how I really want to have some kind of shelter that is truly my home. I have been living in a group house for 14 years and I am really lucky to live where I live. Nonetheless, I would love to have my own tree house made of toilet paper rolls in Rock Creek Park. As far as money is concerned, I have to quickly line up the next series of scrappy teaching jobs and tutoring clients. There are past due bills to pay since they have been sitting in a pile of mail, unopened. I also think about how I can make some attempt to get my body and brain to a more balanced place. Erick and I both share the feeling that we have to ease back into any kind of social life. It’s easy to go from isolation to over doing it by going out every night. But right now we have a job to do. We have to finish this record.

This next section is not intended in any way to be preachy. I am mostly writing the following thoughts to convince myself of their truths:

After every tour, there is also a period of reflection about the tour itself. Part of you feels satisfied because you have just made it through one more great adventure. You have done something, yet again, that goes against popular expectations of what people in our age range and income status, should be doing. You pulled it off, one more time. You drove the miles. You carried the equipment. You played the shows. You saw some crazy shit. You saw your friends. You made new ones. And hopefully, you have turned some people on to your music. When I go home or back into the other world, I get asked over and over again, “When are you going to stop this?” “Do you think you’ll make it?” “What’s your cut off point?” When am I going to stop this? No idea. I have never looked at this band as having a starting point or stopping point. Erick, Jeff, and I have been jamming since we were kids. It’s just what we do. And at the moment, we have been joined by another person who feels just as much a brother as if he’d been around since those early days. The only difference is that this person is kind, thoughtful, fun, and positive. There is no one that I would rather be making music with. That makes me hopeful. It makes me excited about the record. It makes me excited about the possibilities. Everyday it’s so easy to get scared about having no savings, shit health insurance, a car with almost 200,000 miles on it. But those thoughts are finite and they are not helpful. It’s just as easy to wake up excited because your day is full of possibilities that you can’t even begin to imagine. Or you can think that if you can imagine the possibilities, you can make them happen. There are no rules for how it should be done. There is no timeline for completion. If you say its okay, it is okay.


Anonymous Chico Harris said...

I rarely read blogs but got onto reading this one just before the Birmingham show. I am a fan. I like your voice and vibe. I hope you intend to go on writing, as I intend to go reading. As for the music of the Apes, I saw y'all at the Birmingham show and really dug it...it struck me as a bit of a Talking Heads/Def Leppard thing. I was really excited about the Slits, and expected to be ready to get past y'all (even though I normally dig opening bands), but thoroughly enjoyed the performance. I also really, really liked your opening segment of speech. Please continue writing.
Chico Harris
Oxford, Mississippi

5:45 PM  

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