Friday, February 29, 2008

Allow me to poeticize

Driving South on I-5 through Northern California, you will see a sign - a monumental erection among the miles of farmland surrounding it - that reads "This blood was poured out for your sins." The blood dripping down off a hand to form a cross, the biblical allusion is obvious. In Clovis, New Mexico, on the side of East 84, there is a billboard displaying the Ten Commandments. In northern Texas, driving toward Oklahoma City, you will pass the world's largest cross. About 80 feet tall. Signs and monuments like these are scattered along our national highway system.

At the present, I am reminded of the past. We've been labeled 'Satanists.' And yes, as we pass countless roadside vestiges to religion, we're humming we've come to do the devil's work. And too, "why would you waste another word on God?" Put another way, we are the dark of the under-ground that the light of the above-ground mainstream fears. Everyone is dressed in white, we are shrouded in black. Black clothes, black hair, black makeup and black lyrics. Of course, we're not the first musicians to be 'demonized' for how we sound or or how we look. The marginalization can be traced back at least to when jazzers of the forties and fifties, who forged an avant-garde style of bebop in the smokey clubs of NYC, were playing the ignominious "devil's music." After that, hard rockers of the sixties and seventies were accused of mixing Satanic messages with occult imagery and Eastern mysticism. Impossibly, it's not music the populace fears, it is simply change, disobedience, iconoclasm, confusion and radicalism. The rock show is where we feel at home, where the darkness that the mainstream demonizes is what prevails.


After playing six shows in Texas, we are ascending deeper toward the South. The kids so far have been highly receptive and energetic.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I've been Illuminated!



I found a true Southern cultural artifact in Florida today: an authentic Freemason trucker hat. With this hat, I can see what countries are going to war next and what the price of oil will be tomorrow. It is worth every penny of the $6 I spent. In case you were wondering the meaning of the "G" is open to academic interpretation, possibly meaning Geometry, Gnosis (meaning "knowledge of spiritual mysteries) or simply God. But I don't think you were wondering.

Friday, February 22, 2008

9:02

Yesterday we visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial site, which is a very epic, beautiful and well-designed public space. Two giant walls frame the memorial site - one with the inscription "9:01", the other with "9:03." The bombing happened at 9:02. The first wall represents the moment of peace, the second represents the moment of recovery.

On tour, we try to see as much as our national history as possible. We've been to the Alamo, Mt. Rushmore (highly disappointing), the 9/11 site, and even the Hershey Chocolate Factory, to name a few. It seems these adventures are the best way to kill time on road. Tour is like being on the crappiest vacation you've ever had, and that's our proof.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The highlight reel



We have been on tour for close to two weeks now and a lot has happened that didn't make the blog. Here's a recap of the highlights.

Best food: While "In 'N Out" and "Dellas" in Eugene, OR ranked high on the list (see Ryann's Monte Cristo), the surprising winner is the Santa Fe Cattle Co. in Oklahoma City. The sirloin steak and the cinnamon butter rolls are unbeatable.

Best coffee: French press at "Peet's Coffee and Tea."

Quote of the week: "Don't taze me!"

Worst venue bathroom: The Launchpad, New Mexico. See Steve illustrate.

Best roadside attraction: Donner Pass. Yes, that Donner Pass.

Best rollercoaster: We only went on one, but Wild Bill's rollercoaster in Primm, NV is furious.

Best show: All of them. D'uh.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Exodus 21:23...


...If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth...

Tour is about playing pranks on other bands - sabotaging their equipment, stinking up their van, trashing their hotel room. You get the picture, right? Well for Jonah, it's not about the prank, it's about the retribution.

When My American Heart, another band on the Aiden tour, passed us on the highway today, they thought it was a good idea to chuck cupcakes at our van. The first throw was a success, splattering vanilla icing across our windshield. But then it was Jonah's turn. With catlike reflexes, Jonah reached for his freshly poured cup of Starbucks coffee, rolled down his window and hurled the coffee at My American Heart - all while driving 75 mph!. Bam! The coffee went through the open passenger window and hit their guitarist (who was doing the cupcake hurling, by the way) right in the face. I bet he still smells like Sumatra drip.
see left: Jonah "southpaw" Bergman.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Entering the Magic Door


When you're stuck in a van all day, tour can be mind-numbing. That's why you try to kill the time by burying your nose in a few cyberpunk novels. Enter Dwain and JoAnn (left). They own the "Magic Door IV" used book store across from the venue in Pomona, Ca, and they are possibly the raddest old people I have ever met. They traded me a copy of Abominations for a handfull of books! They rocked our cd right there in the bookstore! Dwain is a High on Fire fan.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Allow me to poeticize

Driving South on I-5 through Northern California, you will see a sign - a monumental erection among the miles of farmland surrounding it - that reads "This blood was poured out for your sins." The blood dripping down off a hand to form a cross, the biblical allusion is obvious. In Clovis, New Mexico, on the side of East 84, there is a billboard displaying the Ten Commandments. In northern Texas, driving toward Oklahoma City, you will pass the world's largest cross. About 80 feet tall. Signs and monuments like these are scattered along our national highway system.

At the present, I am reminded of the past. We've been labeled 'Satanists.' And yes, as we pass countless roadside vestiges to religion, we're humming we've come to do the devil's work. And too, "why would you waste another word on God?" Put another way, we are the dark of the under-ground that the light of the above-ground mainstream fears. Everyone is dressed in white, we are shrouded in black. Black clothes, black hair, black makeup and black lyrics. Of course, we're not the first musicians to be 'demonized'. The marginalization can be traced back at least to when jazzers of the forties and fifties, who forged an avant-garde style of bebop in the smokey clubs of NYC, were playing the ignominious "devil's music." After that, hard rockers of the sixties and seventies were accused of mixing Satanic messages with occult imagery and Eastern mysticism. Impossibly, it's not music the populace fears, it is simply change, disobedience, iconoclasm, confusion and radicalism. The rock show is where we feel at home, where the darkness that the mainstream demonizes is what prevails.


After playing six shows in Texas, we are ascending deeper toward the South. The kids so far have been highly receptive and energetic.

You thought I was playin' around...

video...about Chazz being a fourth-degree black belt.

Drunk on cocoa

Modesto, CA: The stage was small but the rawk was big. Apparently the stage was so small a security guard (in the maroon t-shirt) felt like chillin' next to wiL during Aiden's entire set. The night would have ended smoother if the club didn't lose power.

We drove all day yesterday to arrive at our destination: The Entertainment Capital of the World aka The City of Megalomaniacal Hedonism aka Las Vegas. Steve is missing and everyone is passed out. But not passed out on drugs and booze - passed out on expensive boutique chocolates. I had bacon-flavored chocolate and a banana-tinged truffle. We rock Las Vegas tonight, then hit Pomona, Ca tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Re-enacting Bloodsport, Part II

That's Chazz, on the right, turning Steve's face into puddy. We brought our friend Chazz on tour with us to sell our t-shirts, but now he will double as Ryann's body guard. Turns out, Chazz is a fourth degree blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do. We didn't know this until he left Steve for the rats in an alley behind the club in Fresno. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Chazz is about 6'4'' and a lean 200 lbs. He also loves movies, one of his favorite actors being Johnny Depp. Kumite!!!

Re-enacting Bloodsport, Part I: Reno

In a move nothing at all like the elegance of Jean Claude Van Damme, Steve knocked a kid out. You see, Steve has these notorious-but-apelike roundhouse kicks that he breaks out for attention every now and then. I think he retired the roundhouse after last night.

While Steve was moshing during Enter Shikari's set, one of his kicks landed upside the face of a 15-year-old boy. They fell to the ground, him on top of Steve, and the poor kid was out for a couple minutes. He got up, his face was dripping with blood. He bit his tooth. Fortunately, Steve settled the lawsuit out of court by giving the kid three free cds and a t-shirt. The kid looked at the event as a learning experience: "If you're gonna mosh...make sure there isn't some apelike guy with an afro doing roundhouse kicks." Look for Re-enacting Bloodsport, Part II later today.

To recap the last couple of days: all shows were awesome. We played Reno last night and tonight we're rocking Modesto, CA. I promise some pictures as soon as I sort out some technological shortcomings.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Escaping disaster in PDX

Being in a band isn't about making every show your best show, it's about making sure every show isn't a complete disaster. The show last night in Portland almost landed in the latter category. Here is why:
  • Jonah chipped a tooth. A crazed fan fell on the microphone stand and the stand fell on Jonah's tooth. That's okay though, because I fastened him a new tooth out of a lime Jolly Rancher and Elmer's glue.
  • We left Steve's entire set of guitar pedals (suggested retail value: $500) in Mount Vernon, WA two nights ago. That's okay though, Jonah rigged him a new distortion pedal out of tinfoil, human hair, and coffee cake.
  • Wil from Aiden broke Ryann's mic stand. That's okay though, because Steve made a new stand out of toothpicks. 
  • I lost $20 betting Wil he couldn't break Ryann's mic stand.
Still, though, last night was awesome. The Sacramento show starts in an hour. 

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Welcome to my blog. Why am I here?

You can thank the obscenities on the wall. We were on a recent tour with the Fall of Troy and I was sitting backstage at some venue on the other side of the country, probably near zip code 48201. I was entranced by the graffiti blanketing the room: various abstract caricatures of the human phallus, essays about what some guy wanted to do to another guy's mother, and numerous half scratched-off stickers of no-name bands that all have really great Myspace pages. Then the epiphany: this backstage is a microcosmic world of being on tour! And the fans need to know! There are backstages to the venues all across the country, of all shapes, sizes, colors, smells and tastes. And fans need to know! They need to understand the world this graffiti represents!

So, while I promise I won't detail the odours of every backstage across America, I do promise occasional updates about what myself and the Schoolyard Heroes are doing on tour: the restaurants we get fat at, the casino's we go broke in, the couches we have nightmares on, the occult incantations we are brainwashed on, and the science-fiction we depend on.

Our month-long tour with Aiden starts today in Portland, Ore! This will be awesome.