Like so many other things, it came, and was gone in the blink of an eye. I’ve toured extensively in the past as a member of various bands, but this tour was unique for me in a number of ways. For one, it was the longest, clocking in at about a month and a half straight up. It would have been close to 3 months but the West coast dates had to be postponed, due to an insufficient amount of time to set up a sufficient amount of quality shows— after all we’re only one guy. Additionally, I was travelling with no band of sweaty dudes, just my girlfriend and my dog, in a van tall enough for me to stand up, equipped for a comfortable lifestyle, so if it weren’t for all the driving it was a lot like home life, albeit ever-so-slightly more cramped and condensed. And due to the large scale of the tour, I couldn’t bother texting, messaging, or timeline-ing every single person I knew in every area to come out to the stupid music show. I advertised what and where I could, and figured anybody who was interested in coming would find a way to be there, and without me being overly obnoxious trying to pull people away from their busy, important lifestyles.
I also enjoyed unplugging myself from the internet, for the most part. Everyone says your fans need to be fed constantly with whatever crap you can come up with, but that has less to do with music than I care to deal with at times. Not to mention I’ve been staring at a screen 16 hours a day for the last six months sending emails and researching venues, getting ignored and flat-out shut down, making phone calls, getting the van ready, the list goes on. I wanted to kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labour, and not be bothered by all my idiot friends’ dumb fæcebook posts. And so I did.
I would say 100% of the shows on this tour were successful, and/or lucrative, and/or awesome. There were one or two that didn’t have the expected turnout, but that didn’t matter, because the people that were there are what matters.
These are my stories, part one.
Roniit, Navi, and myself set sail on Wednesday 18 January, leaving behind our home in Colorado, and also apparantly the cheapest gasoline prices in the country ($2.87/gal in Evergreen). We took our time leaving town since we don’t like to wake up early. The Primordial Booze Cruise had officially begun. We had nowhere to be until Thursday night, so we drove for about 8 hours when we arrived at Walmart in Hays, Kansas before calling it a day. And what a day. This was the first night we slept in the van, and we sure picked a good one, since it was a tepid 12 degrees outside. We would blast the heat in the van for a few minutes to warm it up, but when it’s that cold out, the van only stays warm (tolerable) for about half an hour or less. So after about 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep, we awoke to our frozen pupsicle whining from under her blankets. So we brought her in bed with us for another 4 hours of shitty, uncomfortable sleep. By this point it was 10am, the sun was up, and although it stays pretty dark and cave-like with the Rape Drape blocking out light from the front of the van, and no other windows to speak of, we gave up on sleeping any longer and continued on our way to Oklahoma City.
We arrived in OKC before the Thursday sun was completely gone, where our friend Marty Kraham (a.k.a. TV Death Squad) provided us with a hookup beyond our wildest dreams. Checking us into room 420 at the Cambria Suites, a classy joint where Mr. Kraham works the front desk, we were beyond thrilled to indulge in hot showers, a huge bed with way too many pillows, and a hot meal, at the staggering pricetag of $0.00. A welcome change from our previous night of frozen unrest. The show that evening was Roniit, RDE, and TV Death Squad at the Paseo Underground. Unfortunately it was booked about 3 days before we got there, not nearly enough time for any kind of promotion, but these things happen. We were glad to play for about 10 people and go back to sleep in a hotel bed, it beats not doing that, particularly on a day where we had nothing else going on. Checkout was whenever the hell we wanted to, so like 1:00 PM, and we continued onward to Texas.
Friday night was at Tomcat’s West in Ft. Worth, and I played 2nd on a bill full of 5 other metal bands. My dear friends in the Dallas-based (now-defunct) band My Son My Executioner were all in the crowd, with some friends and girlfriends, plus a handful of random attendees who were there for the “real” metal bands, plus one or two of the other bands, plus a few people who were there for RDE specifically, it was a good night. And a good haul at the merch table, I only sold things to a few people but they bought just about everything I had. Radical. We drove 30 minutes to spend the night at Vegan Mike and Not Vegan Jenna’s house in Dallas. A late night but we didn’t have far to go the next day, all’s well that ends well.
Saturday night’s show was in Austin, TX at MonkeyWrench Books. We got into town a few hours early so I could say some dumb things on FM radio (KOOP), play some songs and mention the evening’s entertainment. Yatagarasu / Rainbowdragoneyes / Peter Swimm / I, Cactus and breakout chiptune sensation Yoshi Eat Da Mawio. Fantastic lineup, at a cool spot that had to cram about 50 people or less inside. YEDM opened up the night, playing hits that sounded oddly similar to other popular chiptune artists, but were clearly different because of the hyperblast snare drum. He was using a bunch of cool equipment like 2 Sega Dreamcasts, an NES, and a Game Gear. Awesome myspace cybergrind experience. Next up was I, Cactus who did an interesting ambient set under a sheet while a VHS tape showing rodeo accidents accompanied the soundtrack. At times the dichotomy seemed to sync up. Only Connor would come up with some ridiculous shit like that. After him was Mr. Swimm, playing guitar and doing robotic vocals over some gameboy electro-punk (I guess? Right?) Whatever it’s called it was next-level Transformers shit and rocked pretty hard. Nobody brought a mic stand so he was singing into a mic weaved into the deadly prongs of a rake, taped to a chair. It was pretty silly looking but it got the job done and strangely enough seemed to fit right in with his set. I was up next, and it was one of the better shows of the tour I think, plunged in darkness with the party light dancing around the ceiling, it was cool. Yatagarasu closed it down after me, and killed it as he tends to do. If you’ve never seen him, he uses a lot of gear apart from his NES and therefore a lot of ways it could potentially go wrong, but he keeps it together and fills the room with intensity. His DCPM drums were routed to their own amp, which was an interesting choice and a really cool mix. Great show, great friends. Admission was free but people were generous with their donations which put some always-much-needed gas money in my pocket.
Sunday night was also in Austin, it was Roniit’s gig over at Beauty Bar. The 3-band lineup went really well, especially since her parents and a bunch of other family members were in town, so she ended up pulling way more people than the locals even did. Made some new fans, a little bit of cash, and got drunk for free— success!
We routed the tour to avoid Monday shows, since those usually suck, and we could count on a day off if it was needed or extra time allotted for driving. We also routed all of our shows to be pretty close to each other in terms of distance to minimize the time spent driving and maximize the time spent rocking. We had only a couple hours to drive to Houston, where I met Roniit’s grandmother for the first time (who introduces me to others as Roniit’s “friend”… lol), and had a place to stay in her Aunt’s rather sizeable house. Thanks to whatever gene in her family that causes them all to be entrepeneurs, practically all of her family members own their own companies that allow them to live well, and permit us to sleep well when we come visit in our choice of guest bedroom. Really roughing it out there.
Tuesday was Roniit’s show in Houston, which was actually Katy (bout 30 minutes away). Not much to talk about here. It was at a stupid coffee shop that was not condusive to a live music environment, lots of background noise. Roniit played an acoustic set for her mom, grandmother, 2 cousins, and 2 friends. I was the only one standing up, playing conga to accompany Roniit’s piano, so that was awkward. I thought about going over to the counter and ordering the noisiest possible beverage, like a latte or something. I didn’t. After the longest 35 minutes of my life we got FREE COFFEE, so I made sure to ask for the most expensive coffee item. It was mediocre at best. Had I paid $4.50 for that piece of crap I would have been pissed, and very likely started a mechanical fire in the kitchen.
Wednesday we were going to leave early-ish to drive 6 hours to Jackson, MS. It started raining pretty bad and there were flood warnings, so we ended up farting around for an extra 4 or so hours waiting for it to let up. Had we left earlier in the day, as previously intended, and not slept in, as previously unintended, we would have been fine. But alas our sloth did not allow us to roll out of bed at 9am, instead we went back to sleep for a couple hours and woke up to thundering sheets of rain. Crap. It let up enough for us to drive most of the day in rain. We got to Jackson in the evening time, to stay at Way Barrier’s house, one of my best pals of all time. Way plays guitar in a band I used to play drums for called Destroy Destroy Destroy, and we haven’t seen each other in over a year and a half. We kicked back a few BREWS then retired, poor Way only getting like 3 hours of sleep before he had to go into work for a little bit. But the next day he took us to the Dog Wash, got Navi all cleaned up pretty-like and hooked us up with a bunch of treats and goodies. We ate Cajun food and set some buildings on fire before hauling ass to Memphis, a mere few hours away.
I arrived at The Buccaneer Lounge a couple hours before the gig. To say it was a dimly-lit dive bar is something of an understatement. Tonight’s lineup was me, the band Order Of Tyr, and the band The Yippies. The Yippes were some rock band from Springfield, IL that booked the venue for the same day, but had nobody else to play with. Order Of Tyr were some cool nerds that play some cool video game metal, and got us on the venue calender in the first place. We ended up staying with Dr. Drew Norowski, pHD, who just so happened to: A) buy one each of everything on my merch table, and: 2) own just about every single physical album that has Eric W. Brown’s name on it, including the very first Inferi release “Divinity In War,” of which only 100 copies were made. We ended up selling out, including our own personal copies, so that I’ve literally not seen an actual disc of that album or even know where to find one since 2007. I got a little misty-eyed to tell you the dang truth.
Friday morning we had a 4 hour drive to Nashville. I got us up early as crap, I wanted to arrive at Griffin Technology (my former place of employment) in time to get in line for lunch. We missed it by an hour or so, but still got to eat for free and tour the new 0.5-million square foot facility. Since we had the whole day to ourselves before the show, AND it was really nice out, we hit up the dog park as well as the people park and spent most of the day outdoors like a bauss. That night at Springwater, RDE played with the only two other chiptune artists in Nashville, Smiletron and FakeBrad, as well as my long-standing favorite live band in Nashville, for whom I just so happened to play drums for a period of time, Stuck Lucky. Earlier in the day, Reid (FakeBrad) tells me he’s deadly sick with the flu so he can’t make it to the show. Then later on he shows up wearing a cape, a silly hat, and covered in FakeBlood, telling me he changed his mind and couldn’t miss it. I’m glad he reconsidered because his set was awesome good fun and a great way to kick off the night. Smiletron was up next, he was also feeling under the weather, but also didn’t let that stop him from bumpin’ all his tasty licks. He performs barefoot, which was impressive to say the least, if you’ve ever been to Springwater. (Editor’s note: Springwater is 21+, which in the South usually means you can still smoke indoors. That place has the worst circulation/ventilation of any place I’ve ever been to, so after only a couple hours of shmoozing amongst chain-smoking drunkards you begin to feel as if you are living inside of a cigarette, and the smoke hovers against the ceiling until your eyes and lungs burn. One can imagine with issues like this, the rest of the place must be in similar condition. Let’s just say I won’t be eating off of their floors anytime soon, or ever.) Stuck Lucky tore the roof off after Ol Smiley, and it was awesome getting to sing along from the audience perspective for a change as opposed to being stuck behind the drum kit. Those guys are some of my best friends so I knew if I booked them on the show there was no chance they would miss it. After them it was my turn, my first time being back in Nashville since I left over a year previous, and I was pleased with the turnout. RDE never really had spectacular shows in Nashville, but I knew a bunch of my friends would be there and the rest sort of fell into place.
Saturday night was Roniit’s show at the End with Blue Heart Hour and Nite Nite. NN is a dark dancy post-punk band I played in for a while, and they haven’t played a show in over half a year. With me, over a year. They, as many others, have consistent problems with drummers, so I thought it would be fun if I were to fill in for them this night, and fill in I did, with but a single rehearsal during the day. Basically I played all the songs the exact same way I did a year previous, and the band was really tight. Blue Heart Hour shared my kit since I used it for the first band and the third band, so changeovers were way easy. BHH was alright at best, but their singer had a bit of an ego and something to prove, saying dumb things on the mic which reminded me of all the things I hate about music in Nashville. Roniit closed it down since the 4th band dropped off, and in classic Nashville fashion most of the crowd had left by this point, but there was a good handful of friends, fans and strangers remaining. The End is a decent venue but their payout sucks and the staff are shitbags, so each band made $20. We stayed around town for a couple more days hanging out with friends, grilling meatballs, eating, drinking, catching up on sleep and some side work.
Tuesday afternoon we made the 1.5 hour drive to Chattanooga at JJ’s Bohemia for my show with Unspoken Triumph and Controlling Evolution, two metal bands worth checking out at least once. UT is melodic death metal, CE is progressive metal, very talented individuals. Ian from Unspoken booked this show in less than five minutes from the time I asked him if it was possible to book me a show in Chattanooga, making it one of the easiest of the whole tour to set up. Being a metal show, there were naturally some skeptics in the crowd about some idiot with shitty corpsepaint plugging in his laptop. The layout of the place was kind of sideways, it was like a narrow hallway with the stage facing the wall next to the bar facing the wall, and everyone lined up against the wall, too afraid to move forward. I did my show like I always do, and it pays off when people come up to me afterwards and tell me things like “man I didn’t know what to think at first, but I really dug it man, that shit was awesome.” Progress being made. We drove to Wal-Mart and slept in the parking lot.
Join us next week, or in a couple days, or whenever I post the next iteration.