Friday, March 23, 2007

Day 5

posted by Majestic Ape at 11:47 PM

It’s Wednesday. We are bound for Austin and it’s the first official day of the South by Southwest Festival, 2007. We are not playing tonight. Our tentative plan is to register, get dinner, and go to the Birdman Records showcase at Club D’Ville. All day while I am driving, I think back to past festivals. We have never stayed for more than a day or two but this time, we are staying till Sunday. I also keep thinking that it was right after this festival, in 2004, that I developed anorexia. I had been engaging in many maladaptive food and exercise behavior for years leading up to that time, but when I got home after that tour, everything got far worse. That spring season, I believed that I was engaging in a great experiment. I thought that I was practicing the only scientifically proven way of extending cellular lifespan—calorie restriction. But it became an obsession, one that would leave with almost no measurable body fat and seriously ill for 3 years. Anorexia is a bitch. It’s like being possessed. Anorexia claims more lives than any other mental illness. It’s also much more difficult to recover when it starts in adults with a history of being overweight. That was pretty much my case history. I finally got help around Christmas. At the present moment, I am ‘in recovery’. I am aware of the relapse rates. I am also aware that when I was actively anorexic, I was totally mentally and physically incapable of interacting with anyone or creating anything. I could go on and on about life with anorexia and life in recovery, but the whole point of my writing about this is to simply say that I am, for the first time, perhaps going to experience this festival, as a healthier person. I will experience the festival.

When we get to Austin, traffic is a mess. There are bands, vans, music people, industry people, press people everywhere, filling the sidewalks, streets, and bars. We double park by the Hilton. Erick and I head for the convention center. Instantly someone hands us black Miller Highlife hooded sweatshirts. Someone calls our names from above. We look up. Todd Cote, our old booking agent from Leafy Green, is waving at us from the 2nd floor of the Hilton. We excitedly wave back. We are looking forward to seeing tons of friends down here.

“Free shit! That’s what I’m talking about!” says Erick. We are all hoping that the next several days will be filled with ample amounts of free food, alcohol, and designer custom-tailored clothing. The Apes have set their sights quite high.

We learn that we get only one badge per band and each band member must be present to get their own wrist band. With our new hoodies, and a giant tote bag full of SxSW paraphernalia, (music magazines, condoms, and a hangover survival kit), we return to the van.

After Breck and Jeff have gotten their wristlets we park the van, get food, and head to the Birdman Records showcase. I can’t wait to see David KazNelson, Matthew Johnson, Paul Quattrone, Alexei, all of our birdman family.

There are lots of excited hugs. I run into one of David’s business partners that I had met during CMJ. We had hit it off during CMJ but due to the band’s recording and show schedule, we hadn’t had another chance to hang out. It’s an unexpected treat to run into each other again. This very generous person buys drinks for all of my band mates. They couldn’t be happier. We hang out at Club D’ville for a while until the boys want to go see Faceless Wearwolves playing down the street. We walk over together and as soon as they settle it near the front of the stage, I take off alone. I have the itch to wander and stare at people.

I get several text messages while I walk and ignore them all. Just as I start to return to find my group, I run into some of the guys from Club D’ville. They are going back to their room at the Hilton and invite me to join them. My first inclination is to refuse, as if I’m abandoning my band. But that’s ridiculous. I can go somewhere without them. I go.

Being at the Hilton is bizarre. Apes don’t go to 4 star hotels. Apes don’t really go to hotels at all, unless we are in Europe, and the promoters pick up the tab. The Hilton is bustling with the fancier side of the music crowd. We go up to the 18th floor. Room service is ordered. I get a delightful foot massage. Wow. I use the bathroom several times, only because its so cool to not sit in urine. No pee on the floor either. Or writing on the walls. When the toilet flushes, its contents go down.

I am invited to stay at the Hilton. There is an extra bed. My phone rings. Erick Jackson.

“Dude, where are you? Where’d you go? Everyone was looking for you,” he reports.

“I’m at the Hilton.”

“What are you doing there? You better not get any ideas in your head. Are you gettin’ weird? You are coming home with us,” he insists.

He’s right. I am going home with them. I had committed to driving them back to Adam’s house and I have no intention of going back on that word. I also feel weird about staying in someone’s room that I don’t really know. At 1:45 am, I take off and find my band mates on the street. I feel relieved to be back with them, for no particular reason.

I drive home. I should say, I drive to Adam’s.

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