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HARD UP ’05: Some Kinda Tour
A tale of booze, broads, bikers, and broken thumbs
Alright, not so much about broads, but it sounded good. We finally got our shit together and packed it all into the Funmover for a ten day jaunt down the I-5 corridor. What’s that? The Funmover , you ask? The Funmover was a 30 foot long rented RV with a rollup door, huge cargo area, and hydraulic lift on the back. It made loading gear incredibly fast and easy, was amazingly luxurious, and would have been entirely beyond our means except Zak worked for the RV rental place and we got it super cheap. It seemed very wrong for us to be traveling in such style on our first tour, and we’ll never tour in such luxury again. “Get in the Funmover!” was probably the most common utterance on tour right after “This sucks!”
Thursday April 21st, The Samurai Duck, Eugene, Oregon: We made it in one piece after Zak pretty much scared the shit out of all of us with his zigzag driving. Showed up at the club and talked to the booker: no contract, no guarantee, no food, no bottled water, no beer (I suspect this is the beginning of a pattern). The other band cancelled, it’s just us. Stephanie, the booking agent, felt bad and was cool enough get us some drink tickets and plied us all with a shot of some really strong sake right before our set. I thought there was just a picture of a snake on the bottle and drank it without blinking. Only after we were back from tour did I find out there was an actual pit viper in the bottle! Can’t say I remember the first three songs of the set. The crowd peaked out at around 20 people, most of who went outside to the smoking patio during our set. We finished our set and were surprised to have everyone who left the room telling us how much they liked us. Go figure. We got back on stage and played three more songs, this time clearing the room entirely. Nate, the local who was celebrating his birthday (and was the highlight of our night) explained it to us like this: “EUGENE FUCKING SUCKS MAN!”
Best out of state food: Carl’s Jr.
Friday April 22nd, Sammy’s house, Oakland, CA: We drove for ninety minutes after the gig last night and crashed at a rest stop. Woke up this morning and turned right back around to Eugene to get Steve’s forgotten video cameras. Eugene is crawling with hippies, ugh. Drove all day to get to Oakland. We finally pull up to Sammy from the Resistoleros house around 11 pm. Inside, it’s like an episode of the Young Ones: classic punk rock dive house. Turns out the party we’re playing got moved at the last minute, and there are about five people all talking on cell phones calling the 400 guests to tell them. We hang out and party with Sammy’s friends and his roommate Toby. Steve and I bail around 1:30 am. Zak bails around 4 am. Joe…
Saturday April 23rd, East Bay Rats Motorcycle Club, Oakland, CA:
…is not in the Funmover when we wake up. We find him crashed out on a futon in the living room. It looks as if he’s been wailed upon. He’s got a royal shiner and a nasty cut above his right eye, with a children’s cartoon bandage on it. After sleeping it off we find out he and this crazy chick Emoy hit the tavern at 6 am for hot toddys. Neither one can tell us exactly what happened, only that it wasn’t a fight and Joe fell at some point. Ah, the mysteries of alcohol. Besides being bruised and bummed out, he seems alright.
Our ‘gig’ is a private party for Sammy and his roommate Toby at the East Bay Rats motorcycle club. While we’re stoked to be playing for bikers, we’re even more stoked that they are hosting their own fight club that night. While us and the other bands played, they constructed a ring outside complete with ropes, lights, and even a roof.
We turned in a decent and well received set. At one point Joe turns to Steve to show him his left hand, which is so swollen it looks like it belongs to Mickey Mouse. Apparently he did more damage than meets the eye last night.
Before and after we play, this guy named Jesse James from NY did two sets. He played acoustic guitar and sang with cookie monster vocals some of the most hilarious, misogynist, songs I’ve ever heard. Hard to describe the appeal, it just worked, and of course the bikers dug it. Our favorite song of his was “This Dick Ain’t Gonna Suck Itself.” We got treated to some excellent BBQ, and then some awesome fighting. Three minute rounds, with gloves and a packed house. My favorite part was the guy who chugged beer between rounds. Afterwards we piled back into the Funmover and Steve and I drove till dawn, halfway to LA, eating RED VINES, digging the music, the full moon, and the journey.
Top Five Funmover CDs:
1 .Allman Brothers – Eat A Peach
2. Ramones – All The Stuff, Volumes 1 & 2
3. Guided By Voices – Alien Lanes
4. Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
5. Jeff Dahl – Cursed, Poisoned, Condemned
O.K. so it’s really six, piss off.
Sunday April 24th, The Knitting Factory, LA: We arrive in Hollywood early afternoon and park the Funmover in the Hollywood Bowl parking lot, in front of Cecil B. DeMille’s first studio. We hook up with Steve’s friend Mike. He’s staying at the Best Western across the street and let’s us all use his shower and watch some TV. Get to the club early evening: no posters in sight, no guarantee, no food, etc. We each get one precious drink ticket - precious because it’s $4 for a freakin’ PBR! The guy running the show asks Steve how many tickets we sold (!?!), before waiving the $75 fee (!!!) to set up our video cameras. I missed the opening band, The Business Machines, but was told they were good. The other two bands, Last Vegas and Bible of the Devil were pretty righteous, though I was the only one who really liked the latter. Our set was fraught with technical difficulties: broken strings, contorting fuzzboxes, bad monitors, flying drum parts, missed breaks, and my voice was blown from the night before at the biker party.
After the gig we went back to the Hollywood Bowl parking lot and partied in the Funmover with Mike for a few hours, before crashing for the night.
Best rest stop vending machine: ‘The Pronto Café’
Monday April 25th, KOA Campground/Fairplex RV park, Pomona, CA:
I woke up early and boogied down to the Chinese Theatre to act like a tourist taking pictures of movie star footprints. Scored an awesome hot breakfast just off the Blvd. Dirt cheap. Meanwhile Joe and Zak went looking for a clinic to have a look at Joe’s Mickey Mouse hand, but it was closed. We all hit Mike’s shower again and stole all the ice we could carry from the hotel machine. Then we began the dumbest day of the tour so far.
Due to some pending gigs that fell through late in the planning process, we were faced with four days off, and had to figure out what to do with ourselves and the Funmover in LA. After two stupid hours of looking at poor maps and guides, debating over where to stay, we began a five hour journey of driving around LA in a star shaped pattern, making various logical and illogical stops during which time the following occurred:
*Joe got his hand X-rayed and his thumb is definitely broken.
*Zak is forbidden from further urban driving.
*Took Joe to a hospital where they had no orthopedic surgeon.
*Went grocery shopping.
*Found a cool RV park right on the ocean that was closed.
*Found a not so cool RV park right next to a fairground.
Apparently there are only two RV parks in the whole of LA. After five hours of misadventure we ended up about thirty minutes from where we started at the KOA/Fairplex RV park in POMONA. We got a space, hooked up the electricity, and proceeded to get really wasted. One good thing about Cali: liquor in the supermarkets and 7-11’s. I drank half a fifth of vodka. We played cards for change and Steve pretty much kicked everyone’s ass. Joe made everyone grilled cheese sandwiches. All was fun in the Funmover for a while…
Independent unsolicited survey: drivers best to worst
Tuesday April 26th, KOA Campground/Fairplex RV Park, Pomona, CA:
Joe found another hospital and got a splint put on his thumb. Again: no surgeon. The rest of us kicked around the campground, read, slept, ate. I made everyone a classic camping dinner of franks and beans. Zak, desperate to win back his $2.50 in change, tries to rally another poker game but no one’s in the mood. We all read until we fall asleep from boredom.
Wednesday April 27th, KOA Campground/Fairplex RV Park, Pomona, CA:
Joe: “I don’t know Zak, how fucking long does it take to melt cheese?”
Things are getting a little tense in the Funmover.
Thursday April 28th, KOA Campground/Fairplex RV Park, Pomona, CA:
I can’t remember ever experiencing so much ennui in my life. We’re all bored shitless and cranky because of it. Spirits are low. Yesterday Steve, Zak, and I took a long walk to nowhere and back. Our boredom was briefly suspended at a little thrift store run by a cool old black guy who chatted us up. I bought a backgammon board and taught Steve how to play acey-deucey later. The other big highlight was discovering the 81” screen TV in the lounge, where we watched three hours of The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and South Park. At least there were two highlights yesterday. Today it’s just TV. It’s been too cool and overcast to use the pool. We’re running out of weed…
Friday April 28th, Anarchy Library, Downey CA: We were more than glad to leave Pomona today. Got to the club early afternoon and hung out in the Funmover. Joe and Zak went exploring and stumbled upon a funplex that had go-kart racing. Word is some ten year old kicked both their asses.
The club’s staff are all pretty nice and the club itself is pretty cool, though small. Five minutes before we’re supposed to play Steve announces that his wallet is lost and we proceed to start tearing the Funmover apart frantically. There’s no time to find it and in our rush I proceed to lock the keys inside the Funmover. We’re the first of five scheduled bands and go on super early to a half empty house. We played like four guys who were sitting around in a trailer park for four days. Joe muscled through on his broken thumb and we all dealt with another crappy PA. Luckily the half full part of the house seemed to dig us, even if they hadn’t had enough to drink yet to be enthusiastic about it.
Back in the parking lot, I was fortunate to discover that the Funmover’s security was slightly less than total, finding an open window and gaining easy access. After more exhaustive searching Steve found his wallet - in the pocket of the pants he was wearing earlier. Between the wallet/lockout drama, loading out gear, and bong hits in the Funmover, I managed to miss both of the next bands. The Resistoleros were delayed because Sammy was MIA for a little while. When he finally showed the wait was worth it. It took a few songs to warm up but when they hit their stride it was pure HIGH OCTANE and they were easily the best band we played with yet.
The fifth band cancelled, which should have meant more money for everyone… but somehow it didn’t really go down like that. At least we sold some merch. The Resistoleros tried to lure us back into LA for a party, but we figured one broken thumb was enough, and we wanted to get half of the drive to Oakland out of the way. The Pronto café was out there, calling me…
Saturday April 30th, Stork Club, Oakland CA: Woke up in some cow town rest stop on the interstate. Started the day with a giant burger from Carl’s Jr. It had bacon on it so I figured it qualified as breakfast. Hit Oakland early. Oakland is depressing. Found the club. Zak and Joe had a long talk with a wino who promises to show up at the gig later. We then proceeded to try and hunt down The Valley. Finally hooked up with them at their swank Motel 6 on the bay, and took over their shower for an hour or so. I’m always glad to see The Valley, but we were especially glad this time as Dan was our ‘friend indeed’ and we’re all getting sick of each other by now.
The Stork Club was really cool and the staff were the friendliest and most professional we’d met yet. The singer in the first band jumped around a lot and broke stuff. Then The Valley cleared yet another room with their sonic majesty, converting a few of the locals and all of the staff. There was a cool pinball/pool lounge in the back of the joint and most of the crowd stayed there, missing a great set. We took the stage and rocked out to the best crowd of the entire tour, turning in our best set. FINALLY, this is what it’s all about! It took nine freakin’ days but now we sound like a band on tour. HOT AND TIGHT! Joe is just one bad ass motherfucker playing on that broken thumb. Hammerlock brought along a pretty big biker following, and they all really dug us so it was a real blast. (Two different biker clubs in one week! My daddy woulda been proud.) Hammerlock then proceeded to tear it up for a good hour or more with some gold old fashioned outlaw rock and roll. Great sleazy slide guitar and when that bass player stepped up to the mike to talk between songs, we couldn’t believe how well she was playing given her slurry drunken banter. The crowd loved every minute and so did we.
After the show we packed up and headed off toward Portland to our last gig. On the way Joe asked us to pull over so he could use a bathroom and have a smoke. As we’re getting off the exit, we notice Joe’s gone into the on board bathroom. Steve and I wince because there’s a strict rule about no ‘solids’ in the Funmover. We found a gas station and Joe hopped out while I changed my shirt. He gets back in and I ask where the bathroom is. “I don’t know, I just had a smoke.” Steve and I wince again and laugh. About ten minutes later as we’re rolling down the highway, we notice a very bad odor. Steve and I are going “Oh man, he went in the Funmover! What the fuck? Did he forget to flush? Oh man!” I turn on the vents to try and alleviate our suffering and the front of the Funmover immediately fills with the overwhelming odor of cow shit. Welcome to COWifornia. We were surrounded. We laughed and gagged and kept on rolling.
Sunday, April 31st, Sabala’s Mt. Tabor Pub, Portland, Oregon: After gassing up this morning, we hit a Jack in the Box so Zak and I could score some grub. Zak got his first and as he was leaving I heard the counter girls say:
1st girl: “HE WAS HOT!”
2nd girl: “He wasn’t that hot…”
1st girl: “No, he was SUPER HOT!”
Well, it was a damn good thing we didn’t start the tour at this place because everything else would have been a let down. Not only did the staff help us load our gear off the truck and into the club, they helped us load it on and off stage as well. We had a guarantee, drink tix, and one of anything we wanted off the menu. I lamented my decision of salad as I watched all the other band members eating fat burgers and nachos in front of a movie sized projection of The Simpsons. The night before the club had their big first anniversary party and apparently it was quite a blowout, sold out full capacity. Tonight would be a little different. We watched The Valley kick out a great set to another empty room. I figured I had nothing to lose and started drinking heavily. We played a set to about a dozen or less people that I thought was great, but seemed to be a bit off the mark to the other guys. Despite the low turnout the staff was professional and appreciative, the sound was great (both onstage and off), and we still got our guarantee. Now that’s a club we’ll keep coming back to. After parting ways with The Valley, we just booked out of town and home to Seattle, wondering what the hell we’d just done.
Joe played one more show on that thumb after we got back and then went in for surgery, requiring three pins to be inserted at the base of his thumb to set it. We're happy to report that he's recovering nicely.
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