Friday, November 28, 2008

The tour is over! Long live the tour! My word on this tour was "horsehockey," as in "I am not putting up with this - take your horsehockey elsewhere." It never really caught on. What was a success, however, was when I started singing one of Murder by Death's songs that went "Women and gin/women and gin/both go together like the devil and sin" as "Women and kids/women and kids/what are we gonna do with all these women and kids?" (Or, alternately ending it with "get in that boat you women and kids!") It was our personal, interband joke until Billy and Zach got drunk and told them all about. Good thing they liked it too, and for the last week of tour we screamed out "Women and Kids!" between every song. Everytime it got to that line in the song, Adam would start to smile because he said he was trying not to fuck it up after we put it in his head. GAMES PEOPLE PLAY!

Speaking of which - Wizard Staff. Much has made about this, and a couple of our friends already played a round of this before we even got home. I covered the basic rules below, and here's an idea of what it looks like.

Here's a good example of Dagan, Murder by Death's drummer, standing next to his impressive staff. This is probably Level 13 or 14. (He made it to Level 17...and he's 5'8") Building the staff provides an incredible feeling of accomplishment, but the real fun is trying to drink out of it.

This is Level 14 Bilbo. After awhile, unless you're a good taper like Billy, you need someone to help you drink, or you have to stand on something.

Or you get entirely triumphant about it and just swill like a God.

Here's Zach, Zalamia and Billy with their completed staffs near the end of the night. (You can tell by Billy's face.) All three reached Level 14 before the party petered out, and all three claimed they could have gone awhile further. (I don't doubt this.) Rod and I made it to Level 7 and there's some absolutely pathetic footage of me trying to shotgun a beer. Dagan finished as the Grand Wizard and everyone had a serious case of the D.A.D.S. in a Dunkin' Donuts bathroom the next day.

With that said, I leave you with four things:

1) The new Beyonce song, "All the Single Ladies," has literally blown my fucking mind. I am in love with this song - it's the most creative shit I've heard in ages. The production is fantastically weird for a Top 40 track, with a rhythm track built around the clicks of a camera shutter and that really awesome droning keyboard swell on the choruses. (The way the bridge snaps back into the chorus at the end is pretty rad too.) And goddamn can they dance their asses off. And Big Ups Hova for locking that shit down...

2) "Couch Racing Accident." (Don't worry - everyone survived.) You really ought to watch this three times in a row, focusing on a different one of the riders on each viewing. I recommend starting with the guy on the far right and trying to count how many flips he does. Or try and estimate what continent his shoe landed on when it flies off his foot at :43.

3) Best four seconds you'll spend this minute.

4) Instead of doing all this blogging, I really ought to be prepping for the Gettysburg Tour Guide test that I signed up for this Saturday. I took it once before, when I was 17, and missed the first cut by a couple of questions. This is more a personal challenge that any sort of potential employment since I'm probably not going to want to spend most of my summer in Gettysburg; plus, out of 300 people registered to take the test, they're only allowing the top 20 scorers to move on in the process. But also let this put to rest any doubts that I am a gigantic fucking nerd.

(And on a side note, I would love to find time to write about the three years I did Civil War Re-enacting in high school. Some of it is as insane as you might imagine.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Albany, NY - We're in a Rodeway Motel tonight, about to begin a massive "Last Day Off of Tour" bash with Murder by Death that features a drinking competition known as "Wizard Staff," which they've been explaining to us over the last week. In the game, each beer can you finish gets duct taped to the bottom of the beer you're currently drinking, so that after an hour or three, everyone's walking around with tall aluminum pikes of Miller Lite cans...and shit just gets ridiculous. No one can piss before they become a Level 3 wizard, and the first to Level 10 gets to make a rule that everyone has to follow for the rest of the game. (The second player to Level 10 has to fight the first player.) Level 15 brings invisibility and I believe Level 20 makes you immortal. I'm still shaking a cold so I'm probably just on documentation duty tonight, unfortunately.

We've got six shows left, and even just typing that pains me. This has been the most fun month of my life for sure and trying to go back to everyday Baltimore is going to be like the feeling ten seconds after you get hit in the nuts, drawn out for weeks. I'll be curled in the fetal position in the bathtub if anyone needs me...

With that said, this past week has been the oddest leg of the tour. We played Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ on Tuesday, and even though the show sold out over a week beforehand, the crowd was completely lifeless, even for Murder by Death. They were the least pumped 200 people in New Jersey to be at that show. We felt pretty bad after our set until we watched MbD and the crowd didn't even call out for an encore at the end. (Which they didn't play.) No one could figure it out, but we were all a little peeved by it. Nonetheless, we got a banging free meal out of it and stayed that night with one of the founders of Eyeball Records, which put out the first two My Chemical Romance and Thursday albums (along with MbD's first two albums).

Southpaw in Brooklyn was solid on Thursday with 250 or so paid, and we all got multi-track recordings of our sets, which was especially awesome because we all felt like we played the best set of tour that night. We haven't heard it yet but parts of it might end up on a 10" EP we have coming out in January/February.

We played 10 Pearl Street in Northhampton, MA on Thursday and it was decent, despite a cold, miserable rain that kept all but 70 or 80 folks away. We stayed in an old gabled house with a chick who kicked my ass RBI Baseball.

Burlington, VT on Friday was a fantastic surprise. None of us knew what to expect, though we knew it was going to smell like patchouli. The club - Higher Grounds - spared no expense for us, giving each band it's own dressing room with balconies that overlooked the room we were playing, multiple cases of beer and our hospitality coordinator in case we needed anything else. After load-in, we splurged on some local cheese and wine for the dressing room, then went downtown to check out the scene. I was pretty awed by what we found - it was definitely hippy-ish, but the town reflected the better parts of that stereotype. Everyone we met was really nice and laid-back, and homeless-looking college kids played guitars all over the Christmas-light-bedecked main street (which was closed off to traffic). The whole town sits right on the shores of Lake Champlain and when you're coming toward downtown from the east, it looks like you're going to drive right into as it looms huge and sparkling beyond the city lights. The end result was like Hippy Summercamp that never ends. After soundcheck, the club rolled out an amazing dinner spread, including a Salisbury-steakish veggie loaf and pumpkin cheesecake. We didn't play a particularly inspiring set - perhaps due to a bit much wine and cheese intake before showtime - but I didn't get the feeling much of the crowd was up for being rocked that night. We sold a miserable $31 of merch. Ups and downs.

We got up early yesterday to get to Boston in time to do some sightseeing. After scuttling around aimlessly for an hour, we found Boston Common and hopped out into a slight drizzle and driving wind. Zach and I found The Freedom Trail and followed it as far south as Fanueil Hall before the skies finally cracked wide open and the rains poured down...30 minutes before load-in. We trudged 20-some blocks back to the van and found Billy and Rod equally drenched and equally miserable. The show that night was at Cafe 939 on the campus of the Berklee College of Music, and we found out upon loading in that the show was sold-out and we only had 2 guest lists spots, after we already had 7 people en route to the show with the promise that they'd be allowed in free. (And tickets had gone up to $15 since it was the day of the show. And, as the ultimate kicker, it was a dry show.) Making matters even weirder was the fact that the entire staff was students - being talked down to by a 19-year-old soundman is a harsh lesson in humility. At least the crowd seemed to dig the shit out of it and we sold a bunch of CDs and I got the most fantastic roasted vegetable panini out of it. We drove down to the Rhode Island coast that night to stay with a friend of Rod's and wound up staying in a Hogwarts-looking boarding school where the friend teaches art composition. In the morning, we found surfers riding the waves on the Atlantic shore in 40-degree weather.

Six more shows, beginning with Buffalo tomorrow. We're going to Niagra Falls on Tuesday before heading to Pittsburgh, then Columbus, OH; Chicago; Ann Arbor, MI; and Cleveland before finally making it back home this time next week. Better go enjoy it while it lasts!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I don't have much time for posting, but I have much to say. Some other time, when I'm not typing ontop of our merch display at a club called "Steppin' Out" in Virginia Beach, which houses the guts of a once-operation mechanical bull in the dressing room and serves the worst crab cake on the planet. We've had much fun, seen some pretty awesome shit, played some of the best shows of our lives and learned a ton about being in a functional, semi-professional band. I'm just looking forward to being back in my own bed for three nights this weekend and having a total fucking blow-out at the Ottobar on Saturday - already 150 presale tickets and they're expecting that to double before doors open. Plus, we got bumped up to main support for that show so we're going on at 11pm instead of 10pm. The Omnipotent Being in The Sky Who May or May Not Be Real just did me solid...first one on 6,000 years!

And...William Elliott Whitmore is a force of nature. I dread following him this Saturday after watching him and his banjo blow the two rock bands off the stage for the last two weeks. One of the coolest things I ever saw was him on stage in Orlando, rocked back on his stool, stomping the wooden stage beneath him, eyes closed, pulling his voice from somewhere within him that I swear I can't find an equivalent of in myself. He's the real deal - authentic as fuck. Please come early to check him out if you're coming out...

Bobby Bare, Jr.'s "From the End of Your Leash" and Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man (The Way That I Love You)" have been my tour jams.