Monday, November 8, 2010

ah, the old days...

Hey! It’s Monday. This week I’m headed out east to see the world, one pimply teenager at a time, accompanied by some of my best pals and a bunch of dudes I’ve never met before. It’s gonna be fun, right? Sure it is. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m in a band, and this week said band will be playing some shows out on the east coast. The shows are gonna be great, that’s for sure. What ever else is gonna happen, well, that’s kind of up in the air, eh? It’s a crazy world, folks.

When I first started touring, the entire experience was vastly different than it is now. The technological advances of the last ten years have made the process kind of idiot proof. Now any dildo can get a demo together on garage band, go on myspace, find out where clubs are, send emails to promoters and use a cel phone and GPS and show up at all the shows. When I first started touring however, it was way more chaotic. It sucked, frankly. It was more exciting, but less fun. Shall we examine? Okay, let’s begin:

Firstly, for all intents and purposes, there were no cel phones and there was no email. Both things technically existed, but using both of them only connected you to status hungry maniacs and epic nerds. SO, in trying to book a tour, you’d have a phone number. Usually, you’d start any tour booking process with ONE SINGLE phone number. It would be for, let’s say a guy named Will who books shows in Phoenix. You got Will’s phone number from a buddy who promises that Will’s a nice guy and does cool shows. So, you call Will and you say “hey dude, I play in a punk band and I want to go on tour. I got your number from big gay Chet. Any chance you’d be into doing a show for us?”

You bullshit for a long time. He finally relents and gives you a date. At that point you ask him if he knows anyone in any nearby towns that do shows and if you can get their numbers. Then you repeat this process with those numbers, but it’s harder, because now the person vouching for you isn’t your friend Big Gay Chet; it’s Will, who you actually don’t know beyond the one phone call, and now, because of your show in Phoenix, you’re looking for increasingly specific dates in increasingly specific towns.

But who cares, right? You’re off to a good start. Call those motherfuckers! The thing is, though, lots of times no one is home. Lots of times you can’t get any shows in the town you need because the club is booked or shut down or whatever. Lots of times you end up leaving six thousand messages on the answering machine of some guy in Bismarck because that’s simply the ONLY place that you can play between Minneapolis (where you’re playing in a living room) and Montana (where you’re playing in a shed six days later), even though it’s at a death metal club.

You wind up calling people who are nice (dumb) enough to put their numbers in the back of Maximum Rock N Roll or in Book Your Own Life as punk rock contacts (show bookers, places to stay, cool record stores) and then finally, once you’ve managed to cobble this insanely sketchy tour out of spit and paperclips, you pile into your massively shitty vehicle (that really shouldn’t be on the highway at all) and you set off.

So you arrive in your first town. Where do you go? There’s absolutely no way to know. There’s no internet, remember? You can’t just look up where some club or house or abandoned gas station that they’ve forgotten to turn the power off in is. There’s literally NO PLACE TO LOOK THAT KIND OF THING UP. The information doesn’t exist in any sort of organized form. SO, you pull off the highway about thirty minutes outside of town and you hunt down a payphone. Then you call the number you have and pray that there’s someone there to answer it (because remember, this is a land line you’re calling. Good chance no one’s there). Best case scenario, your contact picks up and you write down simple directions and get there. Next best case, some other weirdo picks up and gives you vague directions or an address, which someone in a gas station should probably be able to help you locate. But most often, no one is there, so you sit by the payphone and try back every half hour until you’re out of quarters or the show is about to start.

It was extremely common in these times to completely miss shows for reasons like this. Also, drives could be insanely miscalculated, so you could set out on what you think is a three hour drive only to find out once you’ve been going for a while that it’s actually a nine hour drive. The amount of completely unquantifiable variables made every minute very exciting, but, again, not very much fun.

Lots of shows were missed, and lots of times the shows you actually showed up to were kind of weird. Maybe the promoter had a really different idea about what “Punk” means than you did, and you’re playing with a bunch of metal bands or ska bands or a marching band (Petaluma, Ca 1996). Maybe there’s no PA system. Maybe the place is shut down, or burnt down. Maybe there’s no stage. Maybe you show up and the guy decides that he’s gonna make you PAY to play. Most likely you don’t get paid. Most likely you don’t get food, or beer or any place to stay. Most likely someone there is really creepy and won’t stop talking to you. Well, that still happens.

I dunno. It was real different then. Not better….in fact, really, I’d have to say it was worse, but it was so fucking DIFFERENT. I mean, I lived that shit and I can’t even imagine touring without cel phones or google maps. Fuck. I can’t even barely take a dump without surfing the internet now. It’s a crazy world, folks.

End transmission.

18 comments:

maggiejoan said...

i am hoping I can make it to the philly show! it'd be the best birthday present ever.

gabeaday said...

Will be at Philly most definite. Maggie J., Sharbs and I will be drunken fools, fair warning!

maggiejoan said...

hahaha just don't let him tape colt 45 to his hands unless you want him to puke on your floor.

fair warning.

gabeaday said...

I can make no promises. You goin to the wedding?

maggiejoan said...

indeed. should be leaning towards epic.

dustyfloors said...

Any Chi shows after the east coast? Other than you and Skiba, that is.

gabeaday said...

Indeed. I told Jill Dave was getting married and her response was, "Is she a hot C?" See you soon!

Jamie said...

Bummer about Jerkys shutting down and eliminating yr Providence show. Oh well I will go to one of the Boston shows, it's a niiice train ride.
I remember riding the greyhound a lot before the internet when I was in high school to meet up with others and go to shows in NY and DC. That was quite a gamble as well.
Also I'm FOR a resurgence of punk rock pen pals.

Showtyme said...

I'm contemplating hitting up the Philly show, but everybody I know bailed on me already (they don't understand how infrequently TLA tour).

So now do I take the risk of trying to find a bar I've only been at once, then trying to find a parking spot near said bar in a city I hate driving in, all by my lonesome?

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

So, you played The Phoenix in Petaluma, CA in '96? I don't remember the show, but it's very possible I was there.

The lack of cell/internet technology made it harder on fans, too. If you didn't see a poster or hear about a show from a friend, you had no way of knowing who was coming to your area. And if you did know about a show, there wasn't really any way to know what to expect from opening bands you hadn't heard of. You just had to get there early to find out. I wonder MySpace, etc. actually kind of makes it harder for some openers. These days I rarely go to a show without checking out at least one song from each band, and I'm sure I've showed up late and missed some bands that are way better live than their recorded material would suggest.

chupacabrando said...

yup philly yup yup

Drunken Acorn said...

I'm pretty excited I'm seeing Dead to Me and Cobra Skulls tonight and Bad Religion, Bouncing Souls, and Off with their heads tomorrow. It's gonna rock. It's been like a year since you guys were in Phoenix last BK. It would be super duper awesome if you came and did a show. Also I think my cousin punished Chris last time you were here.

nouseforamonkey said...

So so stoked for the Philly and NY shows. Haven't seen you guys since the HWM reunion show in Jersey.

Totally driving from the bottom end of Maryland on both days to see you guys both days. If you could somehow manage to play Corpses of our Motivations at one of the three philly/NY shows, it would make my fucking lifetime.

See you there. Woo.

nouseforamonkey said...

I said both days twice in one sentence. I am terrible at words, sometimes.

maggiejoan said...

uhhh so there were 3 tickets when I checked this morning and exactly 0 now, now that I'm home and have time to buy them because my stupid job isn't sucking my soul out.

who's pissed?

that's me.

have fun, dudes :)

brian said...

god man. that shit made me laugh. you totally nailed it. 10 plus years was the last time my shit band went on a shit tour. there wasn't supposed to be any drive more than like 5 hours. yet 10 hours later we were still trying to find this mythical state of south carolina. and we ended up playing some kids birthday party in a basement, and slept on rest stop side walks, and nearly froze to death in some kids garage overnight in i think knoxville because his parents didn't want us in the house. i think my back still hurts. thanks for the trip down memory lane and for your sake i'm glad its not what it used to be. cheers.

mooreclick said...

My husband was in a punk band when I met him, it's actually how I met him.

One time we showed up for a gig we thought was at an actual venue, but it was some dude's garage (which we'd circled for a solid hour before one of the guys declared, "This has to be it. Right? I mean there's nothing else here.". One place had shut down months ago, but... you know, nobody told them. They played a "festival" for about 4 people. We ended up in some damn shady places.

I can't say it was good times, exactly, but it was interesting times.