Yeah, so my band the Metal Shakespeare Company auditioned for America's Got Talent and it landed us on the local news, again. Can you believe we got Drew Carney to wear our shirt and a costume? Well, actually, that's not that hard to believe.
Wish us luck!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Behold! The Metal Shakespeare Company made a video for Hamlet III.i. It's the first music video I've ever been in in 10 years of playing in bands. It was raining the day we shot it up at the place our band was formed, Lewis & Clark College, which made it kind of miserable, but more metal. The editing was done by Matt Miadich who edits all the videos for English, baby! and the camera work is by Ian Rasmussen.
Friday, June 6, 2008
I forgotten that Randy's dad was a long haul trucker. He drove from 4:30 - 11:30 am.
Aside from the fact that I only had to drive for 2 and a half hours, driving all night was the best idea ever. We got into Albuquerque just after noon, which gave us time to take naps, check email and eat at Padilla's my favorite restaurant in the world. The green chile blew Matt's mind.
Our show that night at Stove was Mark and my first show in our hometown in five years. Both our bands played: the 54 Pages of What opened for the Metal Shakespeare Company. It was a bit rough. Even though we had just recorded, the songs are so hard that Mark and I were a little loose. My guitar amp freaked out near the end so we did the last song a cappella. It went over well, but we were frustrated.
We changed into costume and about 30 people came inside when we went outside to yell about "a production of the playes of William Shakespeare, the likes of which you have ne'er seen!" It took about three songs for Mark and I to recover, but when we did, we played well. I slow danced with someone during our power ballad, drawing laughter.
Then we went to a small party at a friend of Mark's. There was beer pong and I remarked that beer pong was the official mode of drinking in New Mexico, I was corrected by a young man in a cowboy shirt who loves Dio (my long lost brother?) that the official drinking game of New Mexico is drinking. People gave me shit for wanting to leave at 4 am.
The next day I went to get my amp fixed while Randy and Matt explored. One of Matt's friends made him a hilarious hand-drawn map of Albuquerque including places to drink 40s in alleys so he did some things on the map. I went to Hurricane's for dinner where all my friends used to work. I don't know anyone there now.
As we set up at the Atomic Cantina, a crowd began to amass. Usually we begin the set with the drunken Porter scene from Macbeth, giving people time to filter in. That night we took the stage to applause after our costume change and jumped right in with our scene from Coriolanus.
We played one of the best and most fun sets we've ever done together. We were dead on musically and very relaxed. I didn't pick anyone's nose because the crowd was already into it. I had to ask the audience to pack in tighter to make room for more people twice.
Then we climbed the Albuquerque Convention Center roof with some friends and drank a bottle of port that Matt had brought for a special occasion. By the time we got back to the club, they were closed and pissed at us for being late. The bartender said, "You made $75, but you made we wait," he dropped one 20, "you left your gear," he dropped another, "and that guy freaks me out for wearing all white," referring to Randy, "so you get $15." He had me going, but paid us all of it. If it seems like small pay for such a packed show, keep in mind the show was free.
There was another small after party, this one with fireworks. Once again people gave me shit for leaving at 4 am. When Matt, Randy and I got in the van, Matt said, "We forgot our bottle of Jager in the freezer. Should we get that?" Randy answered, "We could drink it and walk home." So they did. They didn't sleep at all.
Above: Randy selling merch in all white. Below: NM is my homeland. They made a sign for me.
Friday, May 30, 2008
"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?"
"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.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
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:
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.
Monday, April 14, 2008
On Saturday morning, I woke up because there was a water fight outside my window. It wasn’t the neighborhood kids. It was two bands from Seattle, who’d passed out late the night before on everything from couches to skateboards.
But by 8 am, they were drinking again and filling up water balloons. They are true rock stars.
Of course, I would have said the same based on their performances alone, but I would have meant it in a different way. Both the Valkyries and the Neon Nights cut their already small crowd of about 15 people in half with their volume. Those who forgot earplugs watched from my porch through the window as the Neon Nights’ rhythm section beat the shit out of “Purple Haze” and their guitarist, Lou, played a better solo with his teeth than most guitarists can with their fingers. The Valkyries new vocalist, Stevie, slammed vodka out of the bottle and gave a performance worthy of an arena, while the band played tight enough for a recording.
So all that was impressive. But the water fight was downright awe-inspiring because it really represented who these bands are. There are a lot of alcohol fueled bands out there, and a lot of negativity follows most of them. But this pack of Washingtonians is pure fun.
The Valkyries won the water fight with a bag and a bucket, reaffirming their motto and next album title, “The Valkyries always win.” Neon Nights set up their gear again and practiced for no other reason than that listening to Megadeth made them feel like practicing. They truly love this music.
The next night at Kelly’s Olympian was the same story—small crowd*, epic performance. During my metal Shakespeare company’s set, Lou suited up in renaissance garb for a guitar duel which he graciously threw (although apparently he was told by the bar staff that he couldn’t sleep there moments before it began). Stevie joined us for “Holy Diver” and I broke my voice trying to sing like her.
And of course, they slipped out before I even woke up.
* It was almost as if these shows were cursed. There were enough people for it to be fun (25 paid the second night), but I was sweating it. The local papers tend to write up shows I book because, honestly, I only book cool shows. But they’ve written up way less cool shows than this one. I hyped these bands to everyone in sight for weeks and they all said they were coming. Guess they got sunburned and lazy in the nice weather. This dude Bobcat, who dates the Valkyries guitarist, Alison, said, “I have 5000 MySpace friends in Portland and none of them are here!” That’s pretty much how I felt too. And the other bands I booked (not mentioned above but no less awesome: Cull, Hey Lover and the Vivian) must have been in the same boat too. God bless the hardcore Metal Shakespeare Co. supporters and the other bands and their friends, and White Lightning for giving what I think are two of the best bands in the Northwest a chance. But in a way, I’m kinda glad the shows were small because it can only get better next time those bands come down.
Above: Robin, Stevie and Ginnie of the Valkyries take aim. Below: Jeff and Lou of Neon Nights with Ginnie outside Kelly's.