Things to Do in the Van
posted by Majestic Ape at 11:32 AM
Things to do in the van.
-Clock how long it takes from a gas station stop to feel pressure on urethra to urinate again
-Pluck eyebrows (dangerous for obvious reasons)
-Pluck leg hairs (don’t do this in the summer months if you wear shorts. Resulting red bumps are frightening in intensity and density, last for two days, even though hair is gone for several weeks
-pee in 32oz soda fountain cup, lifted from random gas stations and/or truck stops
-pray that cup full of coffee-reeking urine doesn’t spill as its being secured next to interior van wall via ceramic wolves
-look at visually disturbing ¼ inch length sparse stubble on bass player’s child like (except for stubble) face
-Calculate resting heart rate
-Measure change in resting heart rate after visualizing violent van wreck
-attempt to reduce muscle atrophy from sitting for many hours a day weeks on end by utilizing resistance bands
-edit papers for students that have been abandoned at home to carry out rock star fantasies
-photoshop tour photos to create impression that something is happening when we are on the road
-search for old water bottles or any liquid to consume
-Catch flying boxes of records from the top of mini-loft, following sudden forceful application of brakes
-send text messages
-calculate personal accumulated debt
-Estimate potential retirement income. None. There isn’t any.
-Watch drummer read thousands of downloaded “conan the barbarian comics” and “what ifs”
-Watch drummer calculate and recalculate the following statistics
1. gas expenses
2. Toll expenses
3. Food costs in form of per diems
4. Merch sales
5. Lost merch money from stolen merch
6. Monies owed to various record labels for unpaid merch
7. Sizes and availabilities of last several models of band t-shirts
8. Number of shows played
9. Number of paid attendees
10. Miles driven in van
11. All van expenses, repairs, insurance
-Watch drummer then create stylish pie charts and graphs to represent pie charts and graphs of all said data
-Watch drummer calculate discrepancy in travel time between information given by computerized mapping program and actual travel times.
-Watch for signs along the highway indicating the existence of a loving god vs a judging god, there are many of these signs
-Watch for signs along highway indicating an afterlife transition to hell versus an afterlife transition to heaven
-Estimate number of hearing hair cells that might rejuvenate after years and years of overexposure to extremely loud music
-Estimate chances of getting lung cancer following over exposure to second hand cigarette smoke 6 hours a night
-Wipe up hot coffee spilled on self
-Fantasize about hotels
-Fantasize about vegetables
-Fantasize about tour support
-Fantasize about bringing along a sound man
-Fantasize about having projections, stage props, stage show, and a van large enough to carry all said additions
-Fanatasize about boats and potential moves to uninhabited islands
-Predict weather changes based on cloud patterns and movement
-Relax and enjoy the ride
posted by Majestic Ape at 1:03 AM
Nov 12, the long ride home.
We are on the road by 10:00 am, Sunday morning. According to computer calculations, we should be arriving at our motel in Nashville around 10:30 pm tonight. The drive is relatively smooth. I do a bunch of writing and call my students to set up tutoring visits for the week. I also note that the crack in the windshield has now grown to cover about 60% of the length of the windshield. There are many stops because we have many miles to cover. It’s totally dark by 5 pm, and there is not much you can do in the van after dark. No music, no reading lights, not much conversation. Its just you and the sounds of coughing (we are all now sick) for hours and hours. On the last stop, dinner at Burger King (my bandmates are fans of the BK veggie), Jeff tells us we are 40 minutes off schedule. We have to go another 120 miles to reach Nashville. He is driving. Great.
Jeff is only willing to drive on the final rides home. His driving scares me for three reasons. First, he approaches driving scientifically and is high speed oriented. His braking times scare me and he feels little need to slow down for sharp turns or curves in the road. Second, the van makes him fall asleep, whether he is a passenger or a driver. That day, he actually wrote out 4 road changes for me so he wouldn’t have to talk. He didn’t even tell me he was doing it. I just looked down on the center console, and there, on the back of a blank CD envelope were the next several driving directions. He’s told us many stories of driving the van home from a local show, and suddenly he is home, with no recollection of the drive. He likes to describe his eyelids sealing shut and prophesizes careening over an embankment or into the back of an 18 wheeler. Also, way back in Jeff’s early years as a driver, there were a series of accidents.
We arrive at the Crossland Economy Extended Stay Studio at 11:15. This place is intended for business travelers who need little apartments. The rooms have fully functional kitchens. There is one little bed, not quite big enough for two people. And of course, no more than 2 guests are allowed to stay in any one room. If they discover additional guests, you will be asked to leave the premises immediately, without a refund.
Jeff and I go to check-in. We are told that wireless internet access costs $4.95 but since the receptionist has already sent her audit over, we can’t get online. Next, there are no inputs on the television so Jeff can’t show a movie from his laptop. Finally, the TV screen isn’t working at all. You can hear sounds come from the basic local cable network, but the screen is dark. As they set up their mats on the floor, they are disgusted.
Jeff tells me, “If you get that bed, you better stay in it. You better not creep around in the middle of the night or get up at 7 am and start rustling through bags.” Erick plays solitaire on my computer for a few minutes. Breck does some writing. I think we are asleep by 12:30 am. I actually stay in bed.
We have one more 12 hour drive in the van. Jeff declares that he is not eating today. He wants no meal to reduce his state of alertness. In spite of this fact, we go to Waffle House for breakfast because there are no other options. This time, the boys seem much happier with their food choices. Surprisingly, Jeff eats. We stop for gas and get on the first highway going the wrong way. Then we pass a series of massive car accidents that are pulled over to the side of the road. Just as Jeff is falling asleep 20 minutes later, I feel intense pressure to urinate. It makes no difference that I peed at the Waffle House AND the gas station. I have a large unused pee cup, calling me. I haven’t used it yet on this trip. I consider asking Breck to stop. He won’t chastise me but my own embarrassment at not being able to wait 120 minutes, is preventing me from asking. It’s my own damn fault. I was so hungry when I woke up, that I drank a ton of water, and then had more coffee and water with breakfast. These little mistakes can really impact your day if you are on tour.
I won’t bore you with the details from the rest of the drive. Only thing of note- we watched Jackass 2 on Jeff’s laptop for a while after dark. That is some sick shit.
It’s after midnight now and I’m back in my room in DC. Erick and I are already talking about the next tour, probably in March, for the SxSW in Austin, TX.
There is a local secret show at the new fancy pizza place on Connecticut Avenue, the one that is next to Buck’s Fishing and Camping. It is this Saturday night, Nov 18.
I might write some final thoughts, tomorrow.
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.
posted by Majestic Ape at 12:16 AM
Nov 10 Baton Rouge
The drive feels like it takes forever. We arrive at the Spanish Moon shortly after 8pm. The Slits are parked outside and most of them are sitting in the mini-van. We load in and store the equipment on the side of the stage. There is a band from Los Angeles opening the show tonight. I’m psyched. LA bands are so cool. There is a female vocalist who is playing a brightly-colored keytar. She is wearing tall, black lace-up moccasin boots. She has war paint under her eyes. The other three guys look like alt-country dudes. To me, it is an odd visual combination. I mean no disrespect.
We order food from the same Italian place that we ordered from on the Liars tour. We are all starving and I remember this place took quite a long time to deliver. We aren’t scheduled to play till 11:30 pm, so it’s not that big a deal. There should be enough time to digest.
There is a rather large lounge room for bands on the second floor of the club. Someone had previously told me that during the last major flood in Baton Rouge, all of the dead bodies were stored in this room as it’s the highest point in town. Eventually Slits and Apes make their way up to the dressing room. Lots of meaningful and fascinating discussions begin. One of the Slits is very concerned about being in Texas on Veterans’ Day. I assure her that Austin is an oasis in the desert and she will be very safe there. We watch a show on the Discovery Channel about a trapped rock climber. Several insights are offered to the trapped climber on how he should escape. He doesn’t listen.
When the food arrives, there is a touch of chaos. There is lots of confusion surrounding whose meal is where and who ordered what. After dinner, Tessa, the original Slits bass player, offers to perform reflexology on my feet. She works on alcoholics in the UK and she thinks reflexology might help some of my sleep problems. She doesn’t have a proper table or oils but we set up a little chair system. I have lots of little lotion samples from a hippy grocery store in South Carolina.
After her fancy footwork, I feel so relaxed and sleepy that I have no idea how I am going to play. My legs are rubbery and then I start to feel nausea. It passes.
We set up, change clothes, and play. The levels are pretty good but the keys on my little Korg are sticking and making some really horrible sounds. Oh well. Afterward we talk to Karlee, the girl who hosted us on the Liars tour. She offers to let us stay with her again. Somehow the Slits don’t get on stage till 1:00 am and we don’t leave the club till 2:30. On my last visit to the bathroom, I find a girl slumped on the floor with her head in her hands. I don’t even try to talk to her. I just tell the guy at the door. He says, “Jesus Christ. Why do they always do this?” She is the last patron in the club.
It’s raining quite a bit. Karlee lives on the same street that she used to but she tells us her new apartment is a little smaller. It’s essentially an efficiency. Erick puts his mat down in the kitchen. Breck lays on the floor next to the closet. Jeff showers and goes out to the van. I just get in Karlee’s bed with her. If I sleep on the floor, I will be blocking the bathroom door and she has to be at work at 8 am. I wish Erick were going to the van. The poor little guy has been coughing and clearing his throat for days now. It’s hell to be sick on tour and I think he might have been feverish today.
In the morning, we go to the diner where Karlee works. We have to return her keys and we had planned on eating at the diner. However, there is an LSU game today and the place is packed with Tigers wearing purple and yellow. We hit the road. After about an hour, we stop at a Waffle House for breakfast. As we walk in, one of the waitresses is producing a loud, screechy, bizarre cackle. She repeats this cackle about every 40 seconds for the entire 30 minutes that we are in there. Wow. I want to photograph her for the tour diary but I’m afraid if I start a conversation with her, we will never get out ofhere.
While we drive to Austin, Jeff makes a list of our options for routes and stopping points for the 1500 mile drive home that begins tomorrow morning. We decide to drive 12 hours and 47 minutes tomorrow and stop in Nashville, TN. The following day we will drive 11 more hours. I consider calling my friend in Austin and asking him to bring me something that will enable us to drive straight for 25 hours but decide against this. It seems that would probably make the tour recovery time even longer.
My bandmates have big party plans for tonight. Stay tuned for the last exciting entry where I can guarantee--- nothing happens!
nov 9 the best and the worm
posted by Majestic Ape at 9:49 PM
Nov 9 The Best and The Worm
On the way out of Atlanta, we get an oil change for the van, and make a stop at a Walmart. The drive to Birmingham, AL is only 2 ½ hours and we gain an hour because of the time change. I am driving and the boys fall quickly asleep. The weather is absolutely glorious and there is no other place I would rather be at this moment. Its warm, the sun is just starting to set and the landscape takes on an awesome golden glow that only accentuate the already powerful colors.
When we stop at a Wendy’s to pee, I observe two teenage girls inside the restaurant. They are wearing clothes that reveal as much skin as allowable in public. Seeing these girls for some reason, reinforces my current feeling that everything in my life that it happening at this present moment, is exactly as it’s supposed to be.
The good mood continues as I drive into Birmingham and arrive at the club. There are two people sitting on the porch outside the BottleTree, a new venue in Birmingham. I had already heard that this club was excellent and our first encounter with its staff members, affirms this. Brad approaches the van and tells me where to park, where to load in. The van will be safely parked out back. We will have an easy load in and easy access to the van all night. Check one and Check two.
I back into the parking space in the alley and come very close to the gate when parking.
Erick says in his ugliest voice, “Nice one.” The good mood is gone. I’m totally sad, hurt, and now on the defensive. That piece of shit never drives, never says thank you, and only tells me what I have done wrong. I decide I will ignore him completely for the rest of the night.
We exchange a few “fuck you’s” and load in.
We are greeted by several people who introduce themselves, shake our hands, smile, and explain their role in our lives for the next several hours. They are full of sincerity and warmth.
The club is clean, stylish, and has a great sound system. There is an airstream camper attached to the lounging area for bands. The airstream has beds, a refrigerator, a DVD player, lots of DVD’S, books, magazines. The lounging area is full of magazines of the type that band people love to peruse. This club is clearly run by someone who was or is in a band. Then we meet Brian. Brian has been in bands since the early 90’s. We bond with him quickly and learn that this is his club. We sit around and trade stories until its time to order food. We are given options of buy-outs of carry out food. They will go pick it up for us and we don’t even has to pick food from the same restaurant. The club has wireless internet, tea, coffee, and toilet paper. I will be moving in.
We sound check and the stage sounds are pretty fantastic. Every tone is clear and not deafening. The music is just loud enough to get your excited. Since Apes and Slits are the only two bands tonight, we are allowed to leave our equipment set up. A screen is lowered in front of the stage and a movie begins to play.
The food comes and Brian continues to talk to us while we eat. It amazes me, in our community of musicians, how you can meet someone and in five minutes, you totally have a complete understanding of everything they have worked for or not worked for, for a major part of their lives. There is no competition. There is no definition of success. You aren’t sizing each other up for strengths and weaknesses. You are simply sharing and enjoying the company of a stranger and have an understanding of each other that is far greater than any blood relative could ever have, unless they too, have lived your life.
At some point, the wicker screen that separates the bound lounging area from the outside bar and we hear, “Hey! Hey!”. Its Mike B. He has arrived.
I say jokingly, “Hey! How’d you get past security?” and everyone exchanges greetings.
Erick and/or Jeff go to the front bar to talk to him. I stay in the back and talk to Brian. I stick my food in the frig for later.
Just before ten, we change clothes in the airstream. Brian comes to talk to me about how I want the screen lifted and says we can wait till 10:15 to start playing as the Slits haven’t yet arrived from their motel.
Tonight no one in the audience calls me a bitch. People laugh at my jokes and I feel the love immediately. We have other friends in the audience. Busch Gardens Emily from Florida is here with her boyfriend. We also later meet a new friend, a guy named Chris, who dances passionately right up front, the whole time.
The show feels great. After the set, people are just showering us with gratitude and compliments but I think its only because of them, that we played well. Mike B. says he loved the new songs. This guy knows his music so I suspect this is a good thing.
The Slits are sitting in the lounge area when we get back there. We greet them and they start to get ready to play. They seem pretty content with the club as well. I hope their stage sounds are good for them since they will only do a line-check and their line up isn’t the easiest to EQ.
When they start playing, they do have some trouble with bass hum but the crowd seems to love them as well. I feel like they are also rising to the occasion with their performance. I’m excited to see Adele smiling and singing. We both drank vodka before their set.
When they are about halfway through their set, I go to the lounge to eat my dinner. I had ordered grilled mahi mahi over a green salad. I ate about 1/3 of it while talking to Mike B. He had come back to the lounge. At some point, while I am eating, I take a bite and experience a bizarre crunching and this horrible bitter taste that I couldn’t associate with any food like substance I have ever encountered. I spit into a napkin and there are about ½ of a strange looking bright green segmented worm.
I’m disturbed. I have been reading more books on foraging for wild edibles and have just learned that eating bugs in the wild IS NOT a good idea. They are FULL of thousands of dangerous bacteria and should never be consumed raw.
The bottle of vodka is sitting in front of me. I take a giant swig, start swishing it in my mouth and that burns like shit. I spit that one out, and take one more swig for swallowing.
This is the first time I have had any alcohol on this tour. What I do for worms.
After the show is over, people are in the back, talking to us, talking to Slits. We are doing autographs, taking photos. Adele and I escape to my van. She is teaching me a new skill and we practice. 2 minutes later, Erick knocks on the window.
“Get out. Emily wants to do pictures.”
I say, “Later.” He comes back two minutes later. I give up and do the photos. Its not a big deal. Adele and I will talk more before we start heading for home on Sunday.
Brian is hosting us in his home for the night. The guy runs the club and then he takes the bands home. How amazing is that? He drives with us in the van back to his house. He directs me into the alley behind his house and there is a very awkward steep turn that I have to make to get into his yard. I get in the space without incident. There are mild concerns about how I will get out of it. He tells me that many bands have been stuck because they can’t reverse with enough momentum to get back up the hill. I will deal with it in the morning.
His house is awesome, too. His girlfriend and business partner, Merilee, had gone back earlier to clean up for us. His whole upstairs is designed for hosting bands. There is a comfortable mattress, a full sized futon, and plenty of floor space. After everyone goes to bed, Brian shows me the computer that has internet access and we end up talking till 5 am.
In the morning, Brian decides to accompany us to find food. I remember the odd driveway but I’m sure it will fine. It is not. I don’t clear the fence and sort of hit the concrete wall. I do some weird maneuver and slide into it again. On the third try, I’m free, and there is a small dent in the front of the van. No major damage to the fence. I just feel really stupid and Erick and Jeff help me feel worse.
Then when we get to town, for some reason, I can’t back up straight to park, and scrape the curb, 3 times. The boys are shrieking. I feel like a total ass.
We go to the health food store/restaurant that we ate at when we were here last year with Modey Lemon. I know this place will have plenty of vegetables, and un-fried options.
We sit with Brian for over an hour, still talking, still trading stories. We finally head out to Baton Rouge around 2. I will say that the BottleTree is the best club I have played in the United States. All BANDS! Go to Birmingham! Play the BottleTree! Say thank you and be grateful!
Nov 8, part 2, and some violence
posted by Majestic Ape at 2:07 PM
Nov 8 continued.
The show started pretty late. The opening band, SIDS, was excellent. Our close friend, Josh, from Deerhunter, was playing bass. They had set up on the floor so our equipment was ready to go. All we had to do was change into our costumes are play. Like always, I go on stage first, wearing my ski mask, sunglasses, little red outfit, with the vocal effect box rolling. I am in my favorite pre-op transsexual voice mode. I start talking to the audience. Within seconds, a man in the front row shouts, “Bitch!” at me.
I ignore him and keep talking to people.
He shouts again, “Bitch!”
My first reaction is to kick him in the teeth. He is older, with grey hair, and I know I can take him.
I change the topic of my speech.
“You don’t have to be a mean angry little man. You can feel safe here! We won’t hurt you!”
He gives me the finger.
“Fuck your schtick! Bitch!”
I totally ignore him and I wonder why he isn’t getting kicked out.
My friend, Bradford, from Deerhunter (I love Bradford dearly), yells at the guy, “Shut up, dude! Knock it off!”
Breck’s mom is in the audience. This is pretty horrible. I know this isn’t going to end well.
I finish talking quickly. My bandmates come out and we start to play. I am totally disturbed. I can’t really concentrate on playing. The guy is now calling Breck a nigger. He begins swatting at Breck with a cowboy hat. Breck raises his arm like he is gonna punch him and signals to the sound man. The management drags the man out, kicking and screaming. We finish playing and it ends up being a solid performance.
As soon as the show is over, a man walks up to me and says, “Have you seen a black cowboy hat?” I wonder if he is referring to the hat that was hitting Breck a few minutes ago. I don’t see the hat but I assure him, if I find one, I’ll give it to him. The hat is sitting in the little dressing area. I go find the guy. He sings my praises! And then he starts apologizing in a heavy southern drawl.
“I’m so sorry about my friend. He’s a good guy but whenever he gets drunk and stops taking his medication, he gets real weird. He’s not a bad guy, he’s a teacher,” he informs me.
His buddy walks over and starts talking.
“I can tell you are in bad mood,” he tells his friend. “Its because you voted republican!”
Man with black hat, “I have to vote republican! I’m a contractor. The republicans are defendin’ my intruss!” The Republicans aren’t defending his interests.
They start arguing. I slip away, change clothes, and put up my hood. I find Bradford. We sit and talk for a long time. He tells me stories of his tour with Liars in Europe and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s in the states.
The night has a weird feel. People here are just kind of aggressive. It was like this the last time we played Atlanta. During the middle of the Slits’ set, the original heckler sneaks back in by the door in the rear. I see him walk right by me. I hear later that the guy was dragged out and beaten to a pulp in the parking lot.
Later, I sit alone in the van. Its 2 am and I’m sleepy. I watch a man with a green hat wash cars. He is trying to get people to pay him to wash their cars.
The first attempt goes like this. Drunken white man emerges from the club and doesn’t want his car washed. “FUCK YOU! GET THE FUCK OUT MY FACE!”
I just close my eyes.
I wonder what the delay is for load out. Apparently, the club tried to short The Slits some money. They tried to withhold $1000.00.
Eventually we get to drive back to Breck’s mom’s house. They boys stop at Kripsy Kreme. Jeff wants two glazed. Breck orders a dozen.
This is another night with a bed.
In the morning, Breck’s mom gives me an amazing massage. The sun is shining and we have a 2 hour drive to Birmingham, AL. I have received word that super-fan, Mike B, will be at the show tonight.
See you there.
posted by Majestic Ape at 8:43 PM
I need to add something to my lame entry for yesterday. I have to thank all the DC crew who came to the show. I can’t express how good it feels to look out into the crowd and see your friends. These people are there, with us, even though this over-priced show is on a Sunday night.
Big ups to Jayme M., Jamie C., Ginger, Iona, Casey, Chippy, Jeff, Matt, Paulie, Shamus, Jim, Mike, Reika, Jacob, Bob, Sonya, Ken, Nilay, Zack, and everyone I’m forgetting.
Sorry about all the whiney spiritual shit from yesterday.
Please forgive me for my inappropriate tense shifts. I have been writing this in chunks for the last few days.
On the way to Jeff’s, Erick lays into me. He points out all of my many inconsiderate behaviors from the last few weeks and tells me to knock that shit off. He’s right. I don’t argue because there is nothing to argue. He also tells me that I am stagnating. I think he means this musically, artistically, and personally. This is interesting. In many ways, he is right. I will think more about this one when I get home.
We leave for Charlottesville quite late and are in heavy traffic for most of the ride down there. Highway 29 South is mostly a 4 lane highway that runs through towns. There are lots of traffic lights to I try to keep the van under 75 mph. Jen, the tour manager for the slits, calls when we are about 50 miles away. She tells us we have to be there by 9pm if we want dinner. I step on it. My dudes need to eat.
Moments later, a deer runs across the highway right in front of us. I barely miss it.
The Satellite Ballroom, of Charlottesville, is located in an alley. We didn’t know this when we were looking for the club. I did a 3 point turn in an inappropriate location and then went into reverse in oncoming traffic. My band mates were cringing. But we arrived by 8:50 and they had their curries by 9.
Everyone at the club was very helpful and friendly. We had a dressing room of sorts. I set up the merch so Jeff could eat. The Slits arrive while the Rah Bras are playing. I visit with them a little bit. Ari happens to be wearing orange and brown and she is thrilled that these are the colors of University of VA.
We have a great time during our set. The people in the crowd are expressing some awesome energy and we feel it. We also are amongst friends. Our good friend Russell is here. Jeff and I lived with this very talented artist in college and he lives here. Also, other friends from home, James and Elise are here. They are musicians on tour right now, and they have 4 shows in VA. They were kind enough to come to ours.
After the show, we pack up and go to a sandwich shop on the college strip. In front of us in line are several rowdy frat guys buying giant sub sandwiches. They are rude to the lady making the food. They are also rude to the cashier. We walk out at the same time. The rudest of the fellows starts to get into a van and drops his sandwich. It explodes on the street.
We drive to Russell’s house and get a decent night’s sleep.
It’s raining. It’s the first rainy day on tour so far. We leave Russell’s by noon as we have a 7 hour drive to Columbia, SC and we still have to get food. Erick is insisting we go to Whole Foods even though it’s somewhat out of the way and not in the direction we are driving.
I drive first. We are on the same little highway for 180 miles. The boys sleep and I rock the I-pod. The drive is really beautiful, even though it’s raining. The leaves are changing and the colors are glorious. Also, the whole ride is very much in the country and all the charms of country life are visibly obvious. There are many signs lining the road that express this sentiment—“God’s marriage—1 man, 1 woman.” It’s voting day.
We get into Columbia, SC around 7:30 pm. This is the first time Apes are playing South Carolina. We drive for a while in town and then end up in an odd little residential area. The venue is the Art/Punk Warehouse. It’s a funny little warehouse space that has sleeping quarters for bands. I’m so psyched. We don’t have to break the equipment down after the Slits play, no late load out, no search for a place to stay, no sleeping on wood floors.
Also, Jason, the promoter, has arranged for food to be brought from a veggie organic Mexican restaurant, owned by his friend Suzie.
I meet the guy who is opening for us. His name is Wendall, the Dubber, and he is from Washington, DC! I’m psyched! I love meeting DC people when we are far from home. Wendell used to play with H.R. He is cool as shit. We trade histories and then I set up.
We eat dinner with the Slits in our suite. I am really enjoying them more and more as we get to know each other.
I go out to the stage room to see what’s going on and I see a girl hoola-hooping. I join her. We chat as we swirl our hips. Her name is Brook and its kind of funny to talk to her while hoola hoping. A crowd gathers to watch. And Erick says I’m stagnating. Hah.
The Dubber plays around 10. He plays solo acoustic guitar and sings. The guy is awesome and I regret that I have no photos of him. Our set is pretty fun as well. I talk to a bunch of people before retiring to our ‘suite’. Erick brings in a gift package that a fan has prepared. It contains CD’s, artwork, and a GIANT gold watch. Breck sports the watch.
The Slits go on after midnight. I don’t really watch them tonight. I have decided to overdose on a combination of herbal and traditional sleep aids. I take two herbal concoctions and drink it down with “nighty-night” tea. I feel a little dizzy and a little nauseous. I eat dinner and wait for the blissful rest to arrive. Nothing. In fact, the longer I stay up, the more alert I become. By 2:00 am, I take 2 more herbal pills and one traditional. I put on the eye mask and insert the ear plugs. It’s like every other night of sleep. I’m up constantly and awake for good by 8.
The Slits return to the venue from their motel around 11:30 am. They are touring in a mini-van and have asked us to put their merch in our van. We try to accommodate them as they truly are squashed in their van like sardines. Around noon, Jason, the promoter comes and takes us to Suzie’s restaurant. She has prepared the most magnificent feast for us. The menu consists of white bean veggie soup, southern sweet tea, fresh fruit salad, grits, spinach quesadillas, and a whole lot of love. For me, she made a special chicken and bean salad. It’s awesome. She’s awesome. I tell her and Jason, over and over again, in 7 years of touring the states, this is the best treatment we have ever had. They will be remembered lovingly and I can guarantee that we will return many more times. While we are eating, Ari comments several times that Suzi didn’t know that Ari liked the sweet grits. She made salty grits. Ari has to add sugar.
We stand around in the parking lot and take lots of photos of each other.
As we are driving out of town, we are discussing something stupid and Jeff reminds us of the time that he was accosted by an aggressive panhandler outside of the old 9:30 Club. When Jeff explained that he had no money, the man said, “Well you betta shit it out yo asshole.”
We are off to Atlanta.
As soon as we arrive at the club, we split up. I go off alone and start walking. I call my friend Josh, of such legendary bands, as Angel Hair, The VSS, The Slaves, Pleasure Forever, and currently of Rabbits. Josh is a tour warrior and my West Coast super brother. We catch up while I wander around Barnes and Noble. I go find some food alone at Whole Foods. While I am in there, a man near the hot pizza bar starts bellowing in an operatic voice at the top of his lungs. It’s deafening. I’m not sure if he is crazy or if he is being paid to provide atmosphere during the dinner hours at Whole Foods.
As I walk back to the club, I pass a bus stop. There is an elderly white-haired pudgy man in a trench coat sitting on the bench, looking like he is waiting for the bus. I look at him for some reason. His eyes get this bright wet look and he says excitedly, “What’s UP!”
I keep walking.
Right now, I’m sitting on top of a table in the venue, The Drunken Unicorn. We just finished sound checking. Its 8:15. Doors open at 9:00. There is one plastic green chair. Breck is sitting in it. He is drawing covers for our demo CD’s. And here we wait.
posted by Majestic Ape at 2:30 PM
Erick, Breck, and I left NYC around 10 pm Saturday night. We got back to Jeff’s just before 2 am and were in DC by 3 am. Of course, Erick had to stop by his mother’s house in the middle of the night to get some money. Lily, the wonder mom, also gave us her special life-saving brew of 2nd chance Tea.
When I got home, my roommate Matt and his friend Paulie, were awake and hanging out. I was thrilled to see them for 2 reasons. I get totally bummed when I go home in the middle of the night and no one is around. Additionally, I really like these guys. We sat up for a while, talking turkey. I go to sleep around 4:30 am.
I got up late. It was really nice outside and I walked up to Mt. Pleasant Street for coffee. I sat in the little square there, drinking coffee and reading the City Paper. I watched people for a while and pondered what the hell I was going to do for the day. I called my friend, Kelly. I was hoping I could visit her and her children but the most amazing thing happened. The kids were napping and her husband was home. She was coming over! We were going for a walk!
Now this may seem an over reaction, but Kelly and I have been friends forever. Back in the day, before she was a ‘super mom’ (she really is a super mom), we used to go for epic walks together all over DC-- in the woods, on the streets, by the river. I have memories of us laughing so hard, and almost shitting our pants, over and over again. I wish I could remember what was so damn funny. But that’s not the point. The point is the present, and my friend and I were going for a walk. I think we wandered around the neighborhood, in the woods, and in the park for a good two hours and then came back to my house, and had tea on the back porch. After being in NYC for five days, it was fantastic to be in the woods and amongst green, yellow, orange, red, and earthy brown things.
The afternoon disappeared and Erick was calling to arrange a meeting time to depart for the Black Cat. Tonight was our DC show with the Slits. We got there about 6:30 and Jeff had just arrived with the van. We loaded- in and got a decent sound check. The staff was being extremely helpful and friendly. There was plenty of time for dinner and relaxing before our set. Our friends, Eyes of the Killer Robot, were opening the show tonight. They had to play pretty early but I was totally impressed by their set. These guys are pretty damn good. One of the members, Brenden, has been a close Ape friend for a long time. In fact, he is one of the few people who have done extended tours with us. He would sit on the floor of the van for days and always got hit in the head by flying merch boxes that would fall from the top of the box, every time our old vocalist, Paul, would slam on the breaks of the van. This happened frequently. Brendan took it very well and appears to be just as intelligent now, despite the repeated blows to the head.
We took our time setting up and changing into costumes. I was really hoping for a packed house but the room was more than half empty. I also had a secret fantasy that maybe one of my family members would be there. I have a mom, a dad, two adult brothers, and a sister-in-law, alive and well, in the DC Metro area. Not one of them was present. I had spoken to my youngest brother the day before and he mostly tried to advise me to import sleeping pills from India.
When I went on stage to speak to the audience, the microphone was silent. I hadn’t a clue that Breck’s effect pedal was simply on low volume. I stood there for a few minutes mouthing things. As soon as Breck realized what was happening, he came up and turned the gain up on the pedal. I’m an idiot.
After we played, I have to admit that I felt great about our set. I felt like we were getting more and more solid performances and the new songs are starting to feel like real songs.
This morning I got up early to move my car and just found myself driving out of my neighborhood. I went to Cleveland Park to get coffee and be amongst people. I should have gone to the gym and instead, I went to a coffee shop and sat outside for a long time. At some point, I realized I looked like total shit. My jeans have a huge tear in the knee and it’s not a cool rip. The tear is four gaping flaps, letting in the wind. My coat is filthy. My hair is a mess. I think I am still wearing my pajama shirt.
Instead of dwelling on the pathetic state of my outside self, I start thinking about how music is my higher power. I know this is cheesy but every time we make a record, I connect the record with some spirituality that I usually ignore. These are not original thoughts but I think how many people take comfort in some sort of god, and what gives me the most comfort is music. When I’m sad, I listen to ACDC. When I’m lonely, I listen to Rush. When I’m angry, I listen to Bad Brains, Black Flag, the CroMags. Music gives me strength. It puts me to sleep. It stays with me on long drives. It goes with me on long walks. When the band becomes a real source of pain and frustration, I sometimes stop listening to music. As soon as I get my head together, I realize how much I miss it.
When we made Baba’s Mountain, I was on the freaking mountain. I was with the animals and the zookeepers. I was on the bus and I was climbing the trees. Now with the new record, I am amongst the spirits.
I can assure you, tonight I will be in urine. Its been a few days and I suspect that the cycle of pee socks versus no pee socks is about to begin again.
Today we head South.
Nov 3 and 4
posted by Majestic Ape at 8:01 PM
I started tracking early today and everyone left the studio except Josh and Eric. I worked for a few hours. I was having a blast with Josh and Eric. They make recording very mellow and very fun. Additionally, they seem to really care about your music and have great suggestions for additions to complement and improve what’s already there. I HIGHLY recommend The Brothers Studio for your recording needs. I never thought I would like recording in NYC. How wrong I was.
The crew returned from a long breakfast around 1 and Breck did vocals for most of the afternoon. My friend, Tim, came to visit and he showed the guys a website called Second Life. It’s supposedly some kind of pretend internet world where people create avatars and basically develop a whole second reality for themselves. They make houses, have money systems, and get jobs. I don’t know much more than that as I have not experienced this.
Later that afternoon Erick J. asked this question, “Do you think there are actually girls on this website?”
Josh Ryan answered, “Yes, The internet is no longer just for old fat child molesters.”
We were supposed to play a warehouse show in Brooklyn that night with 10 bands. I had no desire whatsoever to play any show with a 10 band bill. All day, I pushed Erick to cancel, as we were starting to be pretty behind on the record and we were running out of time. Todd P., the promoter, announced at the last minute that the venue was being changed and I thought that given the last minute changes, we would probably back out. We decided to keep recording right up until 8 and head over to the warehouse a little bit late. It was truly a warehouse. There were no real lights and I was surprised to see any kind of PA system. The inside of the room was freezing and there were 5 bands playing in the basement, and 5 upstairs. We set up on stage immediately since we were playing second out of 5 on the upstairs stage and the first performer was a performance artist who didn’t require much space. She was really interesting…I can’t remember her name…I’ll find out. I think it was Diggs, I know she’s from San Francisco.
We were playing next and there was a pretty decent crowd. Many of our friends were in attendance that hadn’t made it to the weeknight shows and I was really glad they were there. After our first song, Erick was shouting at Todd (the promoter) from stage because the whole right side of the PA wasn’t working. I told him to stop shouting and I think the PA speakers got fixed quickly. I think Todd was doing his absolute best to put on a good show. The rest of the set was smooth and pretty fun
When we finished playing, I started breaking down. It was quite dark and I couldn’t see my cords. I was pleasantly surprised when someone shined a flashlight on the stage for me. I turned around to thank the helper. It was the cops.
“Alright people, who is in charge here?”
Todd P. and the NYC police officers spoke for a few moments. A woman walked to the stage just as Genghis Tron was about to play.
She announced, “We are being shut down. Everyone needs to leave immediately. This show is being cancelled. You need to leave. NOW.”
No one really rushed toward the door. She repeated the statement several times and eventually people starting trickling out.
Todd then announced, “We are going to try to get the bigger bands to play over at our Ingrahm Street party. Don’t show up till 12:30 am though. You can still see some of these bands at the other party. I’m throwing 3 other parties tonight.”
As people started leaving, the police officers began to have a little fun. One officer got on stage and began playing air guitar and singing. Flash bulbs were going off. He was really hamming it up for the camera. They were really pleasant in general and I must admit, I was totally thrilled to get a chance for some decent sleep.
We loaded out and said goodbye to Genghis Tron. We were heading back to the Brothers studio for one more night of clean, comfortable accommodations.
I stopped on the way home to buy apples for Breck, to replace the ones I ate. Jeff wanted Mini-Oreos. He had to take the van later and go out on his own to find some. When he got back, they connected his laptop to the television and starting watching movies. I was so tired, I couldn’t even write my tour diary.
I fell asleep by 2am and was up at 7.
The pattern of recording every day and then going and playing a show every night, is turning out to be a great idea. Playing your songs live every night, after you have been recording them all day, reinforces so much about the music.
Jeff and Jayme took the train home this morning, and I have to admit, less people in the studio, is much more efficient. Less distractions, less opinions. Having Jayme around was pretty great in many ways. It was nice that someone was willing to take pictures all week and shoot some video footage. Sadly, Jeff broke her camera, but not before she filmed him puking.
I went for a walk early this morning and took some random photographs of the Greenpoint neighborhood. I stopped in a bunch of Polish-owned stores. It was sunny out and it was great to have some exposure to daylight before immersing myself in the timeless brick walls of the studio. There aren’t really windows so you don’t exactly know what time of day it really is.
The first task of the day was finishing up keyboard tracks and then Breck did vocals for 3 more songs. Then I spent some time doing backup vocals. Once the basic tracks were done, I started to relax. We were heading into fun time territory. I got to do some backing vocals and then we started talking about overdubs.
The day ended with the ordering of Chinese food, and Josh preparing the tracks for us to take home and continue writing overdubs. We sat around discussing shoes, I-pods, women, sex, lack of sex, and Crispin Glover movies. The highly desirable soundman from DC, Mr. Paul M., stayed up until the bitter end. We were so grateful that he was willing to assist.
At the moment, I am sitting in the back of the van and Breck is driving. We are heading home. Tomorrow night we will play in DC. I am really proud of us right now. I know the record is far from done and we have plenty of opportunity now to junk it up, but we just did a damn good job of pounding out 12 songs, which I really love, in a very short period of time, whilst playing shows, every night. There were no major fights. No major diseases. No meltdowns. Everyone was open-minded and willing. I get sentimental in moments like these. If I had children, or a cat, or a partner, I might be sentimental about those things, but I don’t. I have this band. We have each other. We make records. We play shows. We make cool things. We tell stories. We make costumes. And I love us for doing this, even if its not easy on our lives.
The Brothers were awesome from start to finish. And this project has only just begun.
The tour isn’t over. I shouldn’t already be in this thoughtful mode. Its almost careless to start thinking like this. We have some deep south to cover. I’m sure this is when shit will get weird. Stay tuned.
posted by Majestic Ape at 3:02 PM
For some reason, I don’t sleep well on Tim’s wood floor. I want to go to a coffee shop by 9, since Tim is only a tea drinker. He is leaving for work so he walks me over to the business district in his neighborhood. I get some coffee and wander for an hour, before going back to shower. We get to The Brother’s studio around 11:30. The Brothers were out late and we got a very slow start. Today was organ day and there were lots of distractions in the studio. I set up right next to Josh and his computers and we work until we leave for Maxwell’s around 5pm. Josh and Eric continue to make a very warm and hospitable environment for recording. Eric makes excellent coffee, too, I must add!
The ride to Hoboken is a nightmare. We are playing another CMJ show with The Slits and Genghis. The Slits had asked us to be there by 5 pm with the equipment so they could sound check but we assure them this isn’t going to happen.
On the way into Manhattan, I have to go through a toll. I don’t notice the EZ Pass has fallen again. I get up to the toll gate. Nothing happens. I wave the pass at the light but I have missed the camera. Honking starts. The boys yell different things at me. I just sit there. Eventually, an officer comes over and takes my pass and waves it at the camera. I thank him. He says, “If you had stuck your pass on the windshield, you wouldn’t a had that problem!” Duh.
We take the mid-town tunnel into Manhattan and cross over to the Lincoln tunnel on 34th Street. This would have been a good idea except it literally took an hour to cross 10 blocks. I can’t believe how many people there are in this city. And why are they all crossing the street at the same time? Why don’t they adhere to the pedestrian signals? Why don’t the drivers of the sanitation trucks respect the left turn lane rules and why don’t they wait to turn until there aren’t little old vans moving legally straight through the intersection? Why do they make angry gestures when the female driver looks disturbed by their dangerous and illegal maneuvering? With patience and love, I eventually arrive at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey.
There are no Slits in sight. We load in. I go look for parking. It takes me 20 minutes of driving around downtown Hoboken till I find something. When I get back to the club, we are sound checking. It hits me how hungry I am and I hear Jeff grumbling about starving as well. With all of his vomiting from yesterday, he has been extra ravenous all day.
Sound check takes forever although the sound man is genuinely helpful and pleasant. I ask if Jayme can put in our food order but the wait staff requires that all members of the bands be present before taking our order. Even after sound check is over, Erick still dicks around on stage with tuning. Jeff and I have wicked low blood sugar and I can’t eat anything substantial within 2 hours of playing. We order food and then it takes another 20 minutes to get the appetizer. I take 4 bites of the veggie chili and the waitress takes it away because everyone else is done. I don’t even see what’s going on and I look down and it’s gone.
The regular food arrives. I had ordered a chicken and bean burrito, no cheese. They bring me this massive plate-sized thing that looks like a whale brain and it’s full of cheese. I want to cry. I take a few bites, put the thing in a box, and dump it in the basement. Just then the Slits walk in. It’s almost 9 pm. It doesn’t bother me in the least that they arrive so late. I’m just glad that we didn’t get to the club at 5:00 pm.
My very good friend, Dave Leto, Rye Coalition drummer, has arrived and we spend some time hanging out before I have to change into my costume. After we get levels, I have a great time doing my introductory audience “get to know you” warm-up. I wish so much I could have gotten it right at Knitting Factory! It ends up being quite entertaining.
We play great. We are mentally locked and I do slightly less thrashing so I can focus on accuracy. It is a hard balance to achieve but tonight I feel like less wiggling is worth it. Afterward, I walked away from that stage feeling pretty fantastic. All four of us are in agreement.
I hang out with Dave for a while longer and after he leaves, I go change into my street clothes. I am delighted when I find that Erick has placed his sweat -soaked costume on my dry street clothes. I push them off and don’t notice that they drop on the floor. I start munching that burrito and experience a moment of terror about body weight. I’m hungry. I eat.
Erick comes down and sees his clothes on the floor. He is not happy. He tells me that I’m not too popular with the band right now. I had eaten 2 of Breck’s apples the night before and forgot to tell him. I apologized during dinner but still, it was not cool. Erick and I speak in raised volumes toward each other and I end up just feeling like a total piece of shit. High highs and low lows. I may as well go for a walk, alone in the cold and dark, to raise my spirits.
I find an open liquor store. I buy some almonds. I wish I was more attracted to drugs and alcohol. Any substance other than food seems easier to deal with. Then there is no balancing act.
Back at the club, The Slits are still playing. I read the Village Voice in the restaurant. After the show, we notice the bassist for Pavement and the drummer for Sonic Youth were in the audience.
On the drive back to Brooklyn, I see the same police officer that yelled at me earlier about the EZ Pass. This time we make eye contact and I sense that he is leering at me sexually. The boys confirm this. Then Jayme sings, “Redemption Song,” in the voice of a child with Cockney English. We laugh like crazy. The exit we need to take is 5 lanes over after the tunnel and there is no earlier sign. We miss it totally. Jeff and I bicker till we get back to Brooklyn. My eyes are heavy. I want to sleep so badly. I need a break from myself. The sleep rehab hospital fantasy begins and I do sleep some.
We are lke other bands. Nov 1.
posted by Majestic Ape at 9:47 AM
**I’m completing the actual writing of this entry while sitting on the floor of the bathroom in the Brother’s Studio on early Friday morning**
I left the studio at some point in the morning and went walking around alone. I visited the usual range of shops. I wanted nothing and needed nothing, except sleep. The rest of my crew went to breakfast at the Acapulco Diner. The goal for the day was Erick’s bass tracks. I asked for headphones to listen to Erick’s track and to also review all the keyboard tracks from Day 1. My rhythm is always consistently ahead of the beat. It’s frustrating and annoying to Erick and Jeff and they have instructed me to rock side to side when I play, like a human metronome. I think its helps some. But nonetheless, all of my tracks were just 1/1600 of a sec ahead of the beat. And Erick loves to say that I do this because I listen to too much Rush. I don’t get the logic. In spite of my band rhythm, Josh assures me over and over that we can fix my crappy timing. I believe in him. I am convinced.
At 5:15 pm, we packed up and rushed off to load-in at the Knitting Factory. We were playing the main stage at 9:30 pm as part of the Panache/Blue Ghost showcase. The show was sold out early. My band had big drinking plans for after the show. I didn’t plan on partaking. Jeff claimed he planned on drinking at least 4 or 5 shots of something rail and a lengthy debate ensued on how much one can drink before vomiting and which types of alcohol can be mixed safely. This topic has been hotly debated in the Apes van, over and over again. There is never a consensus. Jeff ALWAYS disagrees with the crowd based on the sheer ridiculousness of their ideas and lack of scientific based evidence to prove anything different. I often have my own views about such things and will cite scientific journal articles and various studies but my crew has no interest in my citations. Tonight the topic extended to how much alcohol one can drink before passing out and dying.
The load-in at the Knitting Factory was a mess. Leonard Street was basically under massive construction so I parked on the sidewalk and the 13 other band vans tried to find equally important parking spaces. After the equipment was in the club, I moved the van to a street that allowed parking after 7 pm. Since it was only 6:34, I decided to just sit there until 7.
I was suddenly starving. I had cans of tuna and bags of cooked brown rice in the van and stood on the street with my can opener trying to not drip tuna water on my feet. I needed some leverage to open this can so I sat on the steps of a very fancy apartment building to do tuna prep and leaked smelly fish water all over those steps. Jayme showed up just as my meal was prepared in a little plastic container and she sent me into sound check while she sat with the van.
Sound check was the smoothest I remember it at this club. Everyone was going to eat together at an Indian restaurant so I went along to be with the group. I figured I would eat my sad little tuna and rice cup before the show to avoid a nasty digestion and get something decent later. I know that meal may have looked sad to others but I bring spices on the road and that night I was enjoying the Penzey’s Singapore Seasoning blend. Its delightful, dammit.
While we were eating, Jeff kept joking about how his food was going to look and smell in a few hours when it came back up.
We went back to the club. Our beloved owner of Birdman Records arrived. I love David Kaznelson dearly. He is an amazing man. It was awesome to see him and we shared a drink and caught up till I had to change clothes. David joined us in the dressing room. I was also surprised by my ever-loving ex-boyfriend, Andy, who I had not since in many months.
We had to play at about 9:30. After we were all set up, I noticed I couldn’t find my adaptor to my delay pedal. I swore I had set it on top of my keyboard after sound check. Did someone swipe it? I couldn’t believe it. The house was packed. We were totally excited to play and I wanted my effects working. Nothing I could do, so I asked the soundman to put some delay on the Nord in the house. However, I couldn’t control it and I have different delays for different songs. I had to get my shit together and start my pre-show speech. Well, things started out great. I was building some solid audience rapport in my transsexual pre-op voice, and then I kicked the voice pedal and turned it off. I had no idea how to fix it. I was fucked again.
I took off the ski mask and spoke to the crowd without the microphone. I explained what I was going to say and I knew this set was going to be awesome anyway. The rest of my crew came out and we tore into it. I had a great time and I feel like we locked in with each other and with a whole lot of people in that crowd.
After the show we all ran upstairs (my adaptor was in my case) and agreed how great we felt at that moment. I changed and went off to find David. He was downstairs in the hallway and introduced me to some of his business associates and then bought me his favorite drink—Bushmills on the rocks. The other Apes emerged shortly after and more drinks were purchased. Jeff just threw down 2 drink tickets and said, “Gimme a double whiskey.” It was gone moments later and than David bought him another drink. Hmmmm… Jeff is a man of his words.
I started chatting with David’s friends. One of the men had just started a company called Spot DJ and we spoke at length about the concept. The Apes are going to do a segment for him when we get home. I’ll explain more once I remember what it actually is. I also spoke at length to another friend of David’s. Later, people told me that this man invented Lotus 1-2-3, the spreadsheet program. Wow. It was incredible to meet someone who had done the complete and total opposite of anything the Apes had done—basically create a product that is wildly functional and desirable by the masses. Still, I believed that an incredible amount of heart went into the process of both types of endeavors.
We continued to hang out in the bar for a long time, talking to people. I forgot about Jeff and the alcohol. Eventually, David and his friends left. I had lost track of my band mates and went back to the dressing room, incredibly sleepy. I sat on the couch, talking to the guys from Genghis Tron. Jeff stumbled in. He looked weird. He sat on the floor behind the couch, next to me.
“How many drinks did you have?” I asked him.
“Six…” he slurred.
“Are you serious?” I had to confirm this, but I knew he was serious. He is the most honest person I know.
“Are you gonna puke?”
“No…” he sort of laughed with his eyes half closed.
A few minutes later, I went to pee. There was someone in the bathroom. I waited in the hall for that person to vacate. As soon as she left, Jeff rushed in. I thought I heard the sounds of diarrhea hitting the toilet water. Nope, it was definitely vomit.
When he emerged, 8 or 9 or 15 minutes later, I asked him if he was okay.
“Yup, I’m fine. That bathroom isn’t.”
Somehow, he told me, even though he never ate lentils for dinner, the bathroom was now covered with them.
Then he told me Erick had gotten in a fight downstairs and was almost kicked out of the club.
“WHAT????!!! Why didn’t you tell me earlier??”””
Even though Erick and I are not always nice to each other, he is my oldest friend and more like a nasty little wise brother. Many years ago, a girl attacked him in Richmond and I jumped in the fight. I know I would have the exact same reaction now.
“Some Dutch guy called Breck a (the N word) and Erick freaked on him and took his notebook out of his pocket and threw it and then the guy grabbed Erick by the neck and started choking him. The club tried to throw them both out but suddenly Erick was able to calmly explain what happened and then the manager became his best friend and threw out the Dutch guy.”
I can’t believe I missed that. I rush off to find Erick. He’s fine. Jayme is fine, too. Well, Jayme is drunk, but she is having a great time.
Suddenly its 2:00 am, the show is over, and I go to get the van. The block that I parked on is quite empty. There is a man, with a stolen white van, decorating it with colorful spray paint in an alley. I sit in our van and watch for a few minutes. He is almost done with one whole side by the time I pull our van over. Wow. These guys are fast!
I drive back to the club and another mess of a load-out ensues. Jeff is sitting on the curb. He doesn’t look good. When I ask him to get directions to Tim’s house, he says, that’s cool. I can’t read the screen but I’ll get you directions.
We make it to Tim’s with only a few minor screen reading issues. He tells me I need Walter street but I only see Walker. Its Walker street. A few more wrong turns and we are there.
Jeff jumps out and squats on the sidewalk by the van door before I finish parking. I don’t realize he is there on the ground and almost break his head open with the van door while I move the van closer to the curb. Erick is pretty impressed by Jeff’s projectile liquid vomit.
We sleep on Tim’s wood floors. Jeff sleeps in the van in case of more puking. Its nights like these that confirm we aren’t completely unlike other bands.
Oct 31, Making the record
posted by Majestic Ape at 9:47 AM
We leave Fran’s apartment in the MIT dorms by 9 am on the morning of Halloween. We are heading to Brooklyn, NYC because today we are going to begin tracking for the next Apes album. We are recording with Joshua Ryan and Eric Emm of The Brothers Studio, located in the neighborhood of Greenpoint. I am driving and everyone falls back asleep as soon as we are on the highway. I stepped on my headphones right before we left town, so I am listening to my I-pod with one ear-bud.
We get to the studio around 2 and load in. I usually do okay with the sleep deprivation but today I feel like crap. It’s not what I would hope for on the day we start recording but it is what it is, and I’m going to do my best no matter what. All we want to do is make a great record. The Brothers set a very positive tone and another friend, Paul Manley (soundman extraordinaire) is here to help as well. We are amongst a solid team.
Set-up doesn’t take that long and I think maybe by 4pm, we have decent drum sounds. We start tracking and just keep going. There are a few brakes for food, urination, and coffee. Jayme brings Kombucha around 6 and I am pretty dizzy for a while.
By 11:20, we have done all 12 songs. I think we are all pretty freaking pleased. Erick and I will probably re-do lots of our tracks and will use a bunch of different amps and things like that, but the drums are done. We will still do all the vocals as well.
The only thing we haven’t really done well today is make proper arrangements for a place to stay. I thought we were going to stay with our friends, Matt and Laurie, but late in the evening, Jayme spoke to Laurie. Apparently she was starting a new job in the morning, and had to go to bed very early. They needed us to arrive by 11 pm if we were going to stay with them. I knew we would be working past 11.
We started needling the brothers. Could we just stay in the studio? Plenty of floor space? We could sleep in the kitchen? In the tracking room? In the bathroom? This is Eric’s apartment as well and it was really not cool of us to ask so late at night. They saved us and let us crash here.
After they packed up for the night and took off, Jeff set connected the laptop to their television and started the movies rolling. Erick Jackson and I started fighting over the bed. I didn’t have the energy and I also recognized it was my turn to give it up. I took my sleeping bag and went in the tracking room. With the door closed and light off, it was so dark that I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face. I thought that would be a good thing. Maybe I would sleep.
Well, its 7 something in the morning, on Nov 1. I barely slept. I’m not going to whine about how I feel physically. I just feel badly that I am not close to 100% for the band. We are still working on the record today and we are playing one of our CMJ showcases tonight at the Knitting Factory. I am still sitting on the floor in the tracking room. I think I should go take a walk since I haven’t been outside since 4 o’clock yesterday and haven’t really seen sunlight since then either. I should crack some jokes for this stupid dairy. The only shit that I can think of that is funny is way too horrible to put in writing. Sorry.