Friday, June 13, 2008

Wow, A Love Hangover Is Way Easier.

I interrupt the (already-haphazardly) scheduled Tour Diary in progress to deliver the following:

My previous entry was the first thing I've written totally sober in at least six months, I'm guessing.

This includes blog entries, message board comments, my handwritten fiction writing notes, anything outside of Monday-Friday, 9 to 5 work product and the occasional daytime comment on Kissing Suzy Kolber or the like.

I don't know why I seemed to involve drinking in the writing process lately. I don't know why I'm posting this now. I really don't know if this post means I'm making a conscious effort to stop combining drinking and creating, or if I was ever making the former a kind of prerequisite for the latter.

I do know that the degree of difficulty in putting something out there was no greater sober than buzzed or addled. I do know that my anxiety after what I'd posted was just as monstrous yesterday as it was in any of the previous hungover days.

I do know that I've just written this because I had to get it out there, and didn't--couldn't wait until later tonight so I could crack open a Yeungling and a Red Bull and get started.

Hmmm. As I write this, I think I'm starting to see what those liquids were really doing...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I Wanna Be Abhorred: Tim On Tour, Part Five

Day One Continued: The New World Brewery

After more than eight hours of driving, the last forty minutes spent circling the same half-mile stretch in Ybor City looking for the place we've all actually been to before, we finally arrive at rock show central, The New World Brewery. Zac got directions from Nessie leader Scott, so I do what rookie band-guy does: follow the frontman. (Though I actually printed Mapquest directions for the two clubs. I also own a TomTom but didn't bring it, which led to this from Zac the next day, AFTER AGAIN DRIVING AROUND BEHIND HIM LOST: "Hey man, why didn't you bring that TomTom?" Priceless.)

Apparently no harm done, as we're the only ones aggravated by our tardiness. We don't even need to unload our gear yet, as local legend Joe Popp (and his band The Hornrims) is setting up for his reunion show and playing first.

In fact, we are welcomed by our gracious hosts as the Nessie gents bring greetings. They are quite excited to see us (fellow bassist Joey refers to DFKF as Nessie's "brother band", and that's hard to dispute if you've heard them or us), and are pleasantly surprised that I made the trip and am actually playing with the band.

New World offers godhead pizza (which we've all been dreaming of since before we left), and an even greater beer selection (very potent brews in lovely bottles, a zillion drafts I've never heard of before... just stunning). Coincidentally, eating and drinking are all I can think of to combat my blossoming anxiety attack and to keep me occupied enough to not lock myself in the car until our show is cancelled. Between swallows, I try and mentally "play" the songs in my head; I really suck in my head. (By the way, seldom mentioned tourmate Shawn has made the trip from New Orleans with Zac just to record tonight's proceedings... I want to drink a gallon of beer right now just remembering that.)

In conversation with Jason as we unknowingly kept passing the bar, I brought up my nerves as we approached Zero Hour. He, apparently, has no idea how or why I could be uptight before the show, because he's never ever been nervous in this situation. And he's been playing in bands for probably 20 years. (Not helping, that one.) He manages to put me at ease a little, "Everything we do revolves around 4 notes: A, G, D, C. If you get stuck, just aim for one of those." Good and well-intentioned advice, but it was really sinking in that they've played these songs about 200 times more than I have. I had another beer and managed to at least remind myself that they accepted my offer to play not out of desperation, but because they felt I could pull it off.

The place is filling up (oh great, it's a pre-wedding party!) and Joe Popp and the Hornrims blow through their loose, playful set in what seems like record time. There's no real stage, just a flat wooden deck on top of the cobblestone brick patio for the bands, so audience contact is pretty easy and unpredictable. The same friendly lady who plopped down at our table earlier with her husband/boyfriend put on a nice little dance in and among the Hornrims as if at their direction. I began hoping she wouldn't pull a hamstring or tweak an ankle, so she could give an encore later and provide a little cover for whatever horrors I was about to unleash on poor Andrew, Jason and Zac.

A quick (thank god) mic and level check, and it's time to put up, then shut up. No setlist, which at first gave me bug-eyed pause, but probably the last thing I needed to be doing while playing song A was to be worrying about the changes in Song B. Hyperdrive first, just like practice. There's no way to confirm it because no video evidence exists, but I'm pretty sure that while playing the song fine, I looked like I'd just caught malaria. I began trying to approach the show like a job interview, make some eye contact and don't fidget but don't be stiff, either.

...audience contact is pretty easy and unpredictable... That part rears its head during the set after about the third song when I actually find myself in conversation with a new fan through the open doorway between our patio stage and the barroom proper. He likes the music, wants to know as much about us as I can tell him before it's time to, y'know, play, and points out that the vibrations from my (borrowed--thanks, Joey)bass head are making the can of beer atop it spin in a circle. I am now thoroughly loose and confident and not making any major mistakes.

Turns out, I was just saving up for the perfect occasion to shit in our collective cornflakes.

A pause in the action gives Jason a chance to introduce me and tell a much shorter and better version of How I Got to This Point. I didn't hear much of what he said, because I was too busy trying to hide behind Zac. He closes his monologue by introducing Turnin' Blue as the "trickiest song we have. Give him a hand and wish him luck." Which the folks do (and there's still an alarming number of them here), and away we go. I only flub a note or two, and continue to ride this wave of confidence. I guess the guys feel it too, prefacing Stuck it Out as "as good as we get. It's all downhill from here." The song actually starts with a staccato riff of F to A to G (see above). I preferred to show 'em how we do it up on Mars, firing off a nice G to B to A, and finding out for the first time that Zac actually does possess heat vision. He turns, glares, and quickly demonstrates the proper starting point. Grreeeeeeaat. The one song they want our best feet forward on, and I start it horribly. I recover reasonably well, and am not shaken too badly. If this is bad as it gets, then I'll surely be spoken well of later.

This wasn't as bad as it gets. See, we did a song called The 11th of Pants in practice. It uses what the kids call "Dropped-D" tuning, and requires the lowest string to be tuned to a non-standard D. I think I hear Jason tuning his E string and assume that Pants is coming (again, we have no setlist), and turn to get my bass up to speed. Turns out he was just fine tuning that E, and our planned Big Finish is actually on the agenda: original song Takin 'Er Easy will fade into a cover of the Stone Roses' I Wanna Be Adored, and the crowd will of course go apeshit and drown us in whiskey and foreplay for the rest of our visit. Only I'm not ready, frantically re-tuning and failing miserably. It just doesn't sound right for the entire goddamn song; it all sounds flat. I try and compensate by moving my positioning up one fret, but it's all tits-up by the time the song is over.

(Did I mention this was all being recorded?)

So, not the spectacle we'd planned when the first half of the big finish ends. Just me re-tuning awkwardly and Jason trying to make it funny and Zac trying not to roll his eyes so hard that they come loose and stifling a groan. On the bright side, with me fully in tune, we ace the cover and exit to wild applause. But I feel horrible at concentrating my screwups on the worst possible times. Not many things feel worse than the idea that you might have really let your friends down, but doing it after riding 8 hours to do it surely does.

I hit the bar like it's my last night on earth. But, I do get plenty of pats on the back, three "it wasn't bad" from Zac, Jason, and Andrew, and one "you guys were awesome" delivered to me personally (by who I suspect was a ladyfriend of Joey's and as such put up to it--there's that guy again, being terrific), and I'm a little surprised how easy I can let go of the small disasters.

The bad-ass soundman (whose name escapes me--is it Mark? Mike? Keith?) demands we go across the street to the liquor bar so he can buy us shots of Bulliet bourbon (incredible--I picked the wrong year to quit drinking brown liquor). Now I feel like I'm in a band, if only for the next 48 hours.

Cue up the afterglow.


I'm the Snowman, You're the Fred. Because I'm Driving, That's Why: Tim On Tour, Part Four

I swear to God, Jason's iPod was made on the planet Oa. It seems to have a battery charge of at least 24 hours, and is shaped by his ridiculous willpower. I haven't winced one time at any song that thing's spit out, nor has Jason skipped anything abruptly (like I would've if my iPod was in use--I've got Nash Kato's solo record on there for chrissakes).

We're on the east side of Tallahassee, our Whataburger feasts resting on our lap. I stop being fussy with the placement of my food after realizing I would have absolutely no problem with that delicious white gravy spilling on any item in that box of greasy delights. Put it on my tombstone: that's good eatin'.

Next stop: Ocala, after a few back-n-forth phone calls to the other DFKF vehicles. It feels comforting in a Smokey & the Bandit way. Gas and lottery tickets (my secret vice for this weekend) from an Ocala belle long on updates regarding her personal life and a little short on the oral hygeine. Nice lady, who's putting her stimulus check and recent lottery windfall to good use. She's paying off the bills, and only allowed herself one splurge: Diane Lane's Untraceable "on the DVD". (Had she told me she bought it on VHS, I would've tried to talk her out from behind the counter to come with us and play bass.)

Swear to god, we did play two shows, and I have thoughts on them. Patience is a virtue.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Peeing Like An Astronaut: Tim On Tour, Part Three

Thoughts from Day One (Friday): Pensacola to the New World Brewery (Tampa/Ybor City, FL)

From our last installment:

Because nothing better prepares you for a 500-mile drive than whiskey drinks and no sleep.

Actually, you know what would've prepared me better for Day One? Punching myself in the dick and eating a live rat.

I'm tired & just slightly hungover. None of the entourage (which I'm dubbing the Deadly Fists Of Kluster Fuck after the fact) have spoken to each other since last night (a.k.a. 3 hours ago), we haven't made one move in a logistically sound direction, and already I'm worn the hell out from being "on tour". It's about 7 in the morning. First stop: my job.

I pat myself on the back for killing two birds with one stone and dropping my car at the Pep Boys across the street from my office, thus getting the oil changed while taking care of a little business and avoiding about six hundred phone calls later. I rescind my pat on the back when I remember I have to get my oil changed in the first place because we're taking not one, not two, but three different vehicles. None of which is a van or even a particularly large car. DFKF's old van has long since stopped its struggling, Jason's van has proven un-roadworthy for this kind of mileage, and Andy B's got some side-travel for down south. Renting a van or an SUV has now become an obscenely expensive non-option, with gas nearing four ridiculous dollars a gallon on top of the rental fees. Hence, three times the risk that things aren't gonna go as planned.

And with perfect timing, Pep Boys does exactly what I'd forgotten they would do: call me and tell me everything that's wrong with the car. Everything that's wrong with the car that they could uncover in the hour they've had it and from what they observed by pulling a plug from the bottom of the car and draining fluid from it.

Man, the drive belt on your alternator is cracked, you'll need to get that replaced, you need four new tires and struts immediately, and your fuel filter? Y'know that's nuclear powered, right? You won't get very far and that plutonium's gonna spark up and you'll blow up the entire city. We can get it all fixed up by 4 though, and it'll only be about $2,600.

Thank Christ, now I've got something to occupy my mind with for the entire weekend besides trying to remember Deadly Fists of Kung Fu's set. Kiss my ass Manny, Moe and Jack. Take my thirty dollars, give me my keys. I have rocking to do that will be delayed no further by your automotive extortion.

What could delay the rocking? A fucking moving downpour on our caravan for the loading of the equipment and the first half of our travel, that's what. Aaarrrgh. My spirits are only slightly bumped up when stopping at the Tom Thumb near drummer Andy B's place and stumbling upon the Trough of Half Price Snacks. I almost thought it a mirage, because no one in the store seemed too interested in it, the fools. Combos, Cheez-its in the "fiesta" configuration (nacho cheese flavored in a triangular shape!) and in their traditional box,Famous Amos cookies. All dirt cheap and made to be stuffed into my belly (and in Jason's as well, as he's my co-pilot for this leg). I pay about $3 and walk with a bag of junk that weighs as much as a good-sized frozen turkey.

The gear loaded without being soaked, we set off to the sunnier Tampa area. Due to the weather, we're actually going to be cutting it close (supposed to be there about 8:30 local time, plus they're an hour ahead of us), so Zac shoots a call to our friends in Nessie (more on them later)--everything's peachy. Wet, and slow, but peachy.

Jason and I stop at a Whataburger in Tallahassee to unload some urine and pick up lunch (moving lunch--we are indeed in a hurry). Jason hits the bathroom first while I order. When he returns, I head for the facilities. Immediately I realize that somehow the bathroom is located in outer space. I know this because it's pitch black and freezing. (Apparently, Jason didn't feel he needed to warn me that the lights were dead because all of their voltage was directed to running the A/C in the room.) I think about turning back, but once more, "gotta make time". So I fling the door open as far as possible, throwing hallway light into the room. I try and commit to memory as much of the room (and route to the urinal) as possible and manage to commence peeing before the door finally closes. Before I'm finished, I ask myself: How do you know you're even peeing in the urinal and not on the floor or your shoes? How do I get back to the door now? (My memory has failed me horribly. It won't be the first time today.)

That's way more than you needed to hear. Yet again, To Be Continued.

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