Friday, May 30, 2008

208: Small Town Copped

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Drivergetoudadakar.

"What did she say?"

"I don't know."

DRIVER GET OUT OF THE CAR.

The stop light had trash bags over it. Was Matt supposed to stop? He figured better safe than sorry with a cop behind him. That's what got him pulled over.

When the overly serious cop brought back our IDs, she copped an attitude and quizzed us about what were hiding.

"When I asked you to get out of the car, it took you a little while. You were being...furtive. The only thing I can think of is you were hiding something. What were you hiding?"

"Nothing."

"You don't have any drugs or paraphernalia?"

"No." A lie. But we weren't hiding them. We just couldn't hear what she said.

Eventually she let us go. We rolled into the most hospitable place to stay in the West: Chris Brady's house, mother of my friend Fiona.

There was a poodle and food upon arrival. The day was spent building a shield to sell merch while I telecommuted.

47 people came to the show, but it didn't feel like that many since the Neurolux is so big. mr. Gnome played before us and blew Matt and Mark's minds. It was just coincidence we were booked with them though they've played Randy's house and I recently wrote them up in Spin. They are from Cleveland and head to Portland tonight, while we go to SLC.

We played "Holy Diver" second to last and a dozen or two people came up front for that and our last song. A girl I met at a record store and invited actually came (which never happens)...with her boyfriend (which always happens).

The Neurolux gave us our $150 guarantee even though they didn't make that at the door. Ryan, the manager explained the owner, Allen, pays well to make sure the good bands keep coming back.

I was painfully sober so made everyone leave before last call. I forgot how drunk people ramble if you're not drunk. Now we are on our way to meet Randy Harward who was my editor at HARP at a Mexican place he loves in Salt Lake City. I've never met him or been there before.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Didn't Drown in a Lake (But I Have Been Busy)

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The evening news is a crumby way to learn that one of your friends has died. And though none of my friends had that experience this weekend, many of them thought they did.

See, that's the thing about television news. You can't tell how names are spelled. A 27-year-old Northeast Portland man named Jason Sims drown last Saturday in a Hagg Lake. Meanwhile, a 24-year-old Southeast Portland man named Jason Simms was hosting a party at his house when he started getting texts, "Are you OK?"

The next morning I woke to messages and emails from a lot of people. It was an interesting group, mostly people who don't know me well enough to be certain of my age. From music industry acquaintances to a couple of sources for this story, who wrote to say they were greatly saddened by the news of my death, more than they knew they would be. Not being an early riser on a Sunday after a party, they hadn't heard back from me and eventually checked in with law enforcement agencies and discovered that Sims was black. Turns out he was also a father according to a comment on this news story.

So, if I ever drown, call me a fool. I've been warned.

Instead of drowning, I have been busy. Here is a summary of recent events.

Mark flew up from LA on Thursday to do a 54 Pages of What recording and fill in on keys for the Metal Shakespeare Company on tour. We rehearsed nonstop after he arrived, pausing to play a very polite and cleanly birthday party for my friend Audrey at my house on the day my death was announced.

Then we made a grownup recording at the Ship with Mike Stanioch. It was grown up because I played bass and at least 2 guitars on each track and Mark played drums and piano on it. The out of tune piano adds a lot to our cowboy hardcore sound.

That night, we went Soobies, a strip club on 122nd and Stark. We were literally driven out by aggressive strippers biting our necks and demanding outrageously frequent tips. A strange experience after recording for 10 hours.

Now we are driving to Boise for the first show of our tour.

Image: Hagg Lake.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Pains of Booking a Tour

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As a person who works in a variety of creative industries, publishing, language eduction, social networking, I can attest that by far and without a doubt, the music industry, especially on the low level I experience it, is the worst goddamn lousy excuse for a business there is. It's also the only industry I work in that has any fun. It is both my favorite and least favorite.

The last tour longer than a week that I booked was when I was 18 and it was quite a project. I didn't think it would be that hard this time. Just 12 shows. Plus my band is gimmicky so it should be easy to book, right?

Well, about 3 months after starting the tour continues to own my life. My freelance output has slowed almost to standstill, my friends are asking where I am, and honestly, I don't have an answer for them. That's the thing about booking a tour. It sucks all your time but in no particularly tangible activity. I guess I spent the last couple of months writing hundreds of emails.

But I write hundreds of emails all the time for everything I do. I don't know what it is about the live music business, maybe the fact that it's funded by alcohol, but finding reasonable human beings within it is difficult. They're out there, sure, but they're out numbered, and the rest waste your time.

For instance, my buddy Sequoia, who recently put out our record on his label, is a good guy. There's even a reality show about how stressed he gets when he puts on shows. But last Friday, a mere 19 days before a show in San Diego that I had had booked through him months ago, I get this message:

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That was incredibly frustrating. But how mad can I be? I mean it's not his fault. It happens to me all the time. I'm sure the venue and his friend are retarded. I mean, they're in live music.

So then I was left trying to fill a hole which is really hard to do in southern California when you're a nobody band. I mean, all we really offer a venue is a chance to promote us, which, as I mentioned is easy because of our gimmick. But anyway, I had already spent the previous month filling another hole in the same area, trying both bands and venues.

But then that random stroke of good luck came around, the one that in the past has enabled me to book the Troubador and opening slots on shows with the Dropkick Murphys and Dead Kennedys. Spaceland would have us, one of the most legit shows on the tour.

So now it's just mailing fliers and following up on PR, which has been suffering since it took forever to get this thing booked. Anyway, here are the dates, knock on wood none of them fall through.

5/28 - Boise, Idaho, at the Neurolux with Mr. Gnome. 9 pm 21+ $3.

5/29 - Salt Lake City, Utah, at Burt's Tiki Lounge with The Bueno Avenue String Band, Sound and Shape, and The Butlers of Chateau Greyskull. 9 pm. $7. 21+.

5/30 - Albuquerque, New Mexico, at STOVE with Half Stache, Made in Bangladesh and the 54 Pages of What. 8 pm. $5. All ages.

5/31 - Albuquerque, New Mexico, at Atomic Cantina with Brave New World. 10 pm. Free. 21+.

6/1 - Tucson, Arizona, at Club Congress. 9 pm. 21+. Free.

6/2 - Laguna Beach, California, at the Sandpiper with Ah...Some '80s and Dave Oliviri. 9 pm. $5. 21+.

6/3 - Los Angeles, California, at Spaceland.

6/4 - Long Beach, California, at DiPiazza's. 9 pm. All ages. $8.

6/5 - Long Beach Harbor, California, on a boat. 9 pm. All ages. $10.

6/6 - San Francisco, California, at Kimo's with Thunderhorse, WyldChyld Lady Superior. 9 pm. $tba. 21+.

6/7 - Arcata, California, at the Alibi with thirtythreeandathird. 10 pm. $6. 21+.

6/8 - Eugene, Oregon, at the Samurai Duck with Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Speculative, Harmony Volunteers. 9 pm. $tba. 21+.

Now that I got the bitching out of the way, so much love and thanks to everyone who helped with any of those dates. It's going to be a crazy 3800 miles!

Since, like I said, I ain't been writing much, I'm going to turn this blog into a tour diary while we're out.

As a final thought, how the fuck do people book full national tours? I could imagine booking another week or two on top of that, but how do people do these 90-day marathons? Seriously. Do you just spend every minute not driving or playing on your computer putting out fires on the shows down the road?

Photo: A little pop punk humor from my old band, Question the Answers, on tour in Santa Rosa, California in 2002. Photography and direction by Kevin Dill.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Trespassing the Made in Oregon Sign

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"The only thing better than free is stolen," my cousin told me when we swiped a whole a pumpkin pie from the family Thanksgiving for ourselves.

And the same applies to trespassing. There are lots of good views in Portland: Counsel Crest, Mt. Tabor, North Portland bluffs. But those are free. The top of the Made in Oregon sign is stolen.

It is also now on lockdown since the University of Oregon purchased the building underneath, renovated it and starting having classes there (and security guards at night). So my friend Asa and I decided to steal one more night with it.

Asa is the person who first showed me the way up the sign after a long night of terrorizing Vancouver, Washington (search for my name).

Once you climb five stories up the drain pipe and mount the roof of the building, you think the hard part is over. But the sign itself is deceivingly terrifying to climb. There are electrical cables running through it and the ladder is visibly held together with zip ties. There's an antique no trespassing sign.

But the scariest part was when Asa and another friend of mine, Randy, climbed down into the building, balancing on old wood beams ten or twenty meters from the floor. They wanted me to come in too, but I wouldn't do it. The ratio of risk to thrill wasn't good enough.

Anyway, it was the last Monday in March and we knew that school started on the 31st. If it wasn't too late already, it would be soon. We had to say good bye to the sign.

Like many bad ideas, this plan began at Tube. We tried to rally a small posse to come with us, but the only one who agreed was a girl we both liked and might have fought over, but was trouble anyway because she did coke. She also wound up ditching us, which was probably for the best.

I had to climb in bare feet because I was wearing cowboy boots which simply do not work for the monkey-style climbing necessary to get up the drainpipe. Some homeless people saw us. We hoped they wouldn't tell the police. Homeless people do stuff like that in hopes of a reward of a dollar or a cigarette or some brownie points for next time the police feel like hassling them.

We looked in the skylight. The beams Asa and Randy had climbed were still there, but everything else was new. The ladder was even more rickety than I had remembered. When we reached the top, I touched the white stag's nose. I was surprised that it wasn't hot.

Then I noticed that we were completely alone. I could see all the way to the Crystal Ballroom and there wasn't another car or person on Burnside. It was like looking at a model of the city.

I said goodbye to all the weird hotels that were cut in half to widen Burnside some decades ago. They might all be torn down by the next time I trespass my way to a similar view. They're being bought and demolished left and right. But Asa and I, we stole them for a night.

Part of this piece was a pitch for a magazine article that didn't work out. Hence the delay.