Tuesday, January 22, 2008


10:22 AM

Gloomy outside and I can barely keep my eyes open. I slept OK; maybe I’m getting sick. I certainly have not eaten well. We’re on our way to Boise, ID, so I expect the food selection to worsen. Last night’s show was alright, despite ordinary DIY touring snafus. The show went down at UC Davis. It took us an hour to find the actual place where the show location on campus thanks to terrible directions. When we finally located the space, we saw that it was in some kind of student activities center, specifically in a glass-enclosed cafeteria. Turned out, the show was free and three touring bands would split the $250 check, a check that would me mailed to us. I ate a sandwich at a crunchy hippy café. It had mayo smeared all over it, the un-vegan kind, though the menu said it was vegan. So much for that.

We reunited with our friends’ band and met Chris. Chris is a real character. He was gracious enough to let us all crash at his apartment (eight dudes). We piled into the living room and watched bad TV. We sat mesmerized by some bizarre public access low-fi horror flick. Chris kept issuing proclamations as if they were Buddhist koans: “I love Mastodon. If you don’t love Mastodon get outta my house.” “I love basketball. If you don’t love basketball, get outta my house.” Later on, he said, “You guys have a lot of energy. I like that. You feel that vibe when you play. I like your energy.” At some point, Eric went for a smoke. He dislodged something essential to the closing of the door, at which point Chris burst out: “You broke my door. Anyone who breaks my door, get outta my house.” I fell asleep pressed against the wall and halfway under an end table, a stereo centimeters from my face.

(It should here be noted, for the sake of Chris’ character development, that years later he would relay to the owner of a Philadelphia-based music distribution center: “I’m drunk. I’m high. I’m looking at porn on the internet. I’m eating cheese doodles. My dick is orange.”)

10:36 AM

Snow envelopes us. We’re driving up some mountain north of Sacramento on 80 towards Reno. The fog obscures whatever lay beyond these trees lining the highway like nature’s fence. I drove yesterday through ungodly mountain passes. I’m sure Rollins would handle all of this with aplomb. Billy brought Get In the Van, so we’ve made many comments and jokes in reference to Rollins’ travails (his self-proclaimed ‘alonity’). I need to eat more than Clif bars. I crave nutritious foodstuffs.

2:07 PM
Leaving Pucker Brush, NV, population 28. I can’t believe I look forward to Subway. That was a weird rest stop. We entered the joint with it sunny and warm. We left with wind, rain and face-smacking blowing sand. This environment is insane: desert, snow-capped mountains, painted cliffs, a weird emerald ravine and droves of roaming cows. Nevada. Subway seems to have rocked my stomach, as it feels like Assuck is playing a show in it. This is likely due to me not eating anything substantial in days.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


9:25 AM

Early, yeah. It doesn’t matter if it’s 7:00 AM or 1:00 PM, I can never seem to pull myself out of sleep. I’m probably not drinking enough water. Or eating enough. So it goes. The rain hammers hard against the van as we drive through Oregon.

Last time we rolled through here, someone thought it a wise idea to book a show in Seattle the day after a show at Gilman. That’s over 800 miles, a trek that mapquest tells us should take between 12 and 13 hours. To guarantee on-time arrival, we drove through the night. Now I don’t know about other bands, maybe they’re made of more durable, rugged fibers. But all of us were train wrecks by the time we reached Seattle.

We took shifts driving. Josh and I did the midnight to 6 AM portion. I sat with nerves frayed as we narrowly averted disaster at every turn up the black winding highways of northern California into southern Oregon. It was mountainous, treacherous terrain, with hulking logging trucks racing by us as if we were an old woman with a walker. How we survived I do not know. Perhaps it was listening to hometown boy Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska on repeat, preceded by multiple listenings of Three Mile Pilot’s mesmerizing Another Desert, Another Sea. Because of that experience we vowed to never again drive overnight.

This time we make that path back south in broad (albeit rain soaked) daylight. The show in Seattle last night was a welcome respite from the glut of lackluster ones. We spent the day in that wet, gloomy city. As soon as we entered its border, it began to rain. I walked around for a long time alone, which was refreshing. You need room to breathe, to think sometimes. I noticed hordes of panhandlers. I bought a magazine and ate falafel-, which the girl did not charge me for. Did she forget? Am I that cute? Who knows, I saved $5.

As for the show, I was apprehensive to return given news Billy imparted upon me prior to my arrival back at First Avenue Pizza. Allegedly, a girl took the bus from Spokane to Seattle, just to meet yours truly. Apparently she was a fan of my zines. I concede that it is flattering to hear that someone found some worth in my creative pursuits. And I conveyed as loudly as many other zinesters during the 90s that the whole intention was to communicate, to engage in dialogue, to construct a personal dialectic that could perhaps make us better people and potentially change the world. Or something. Those were heady, idealistic times. I feel sad for the kids of today who completely missed that phenomenon, since the internet is a piss-poor proxy.

The problem with this scenario is that I am not a social butterfly. When it comes to interacting with someone who only knows me via a zine or a band, I feel like I have to live up to a persona that doesn’t exist, or I am not comfortable to let exist to a complete stranger. Needless to say, I took my sweet time in the drenching rain making my way back to the show.

Upon returning, I was told that the opening band did not bring most of their equipment. They evidently live just outside Seattle in the burbs. C’mon, common sense- bring your gear! Don’t rely on bands who’ve driven across the entire country to supply it. Our gear has already taken a serious beating on the way to your town, and it has to last us the whole cross-country drive of shows home.

I saw Josh. He told me a prostitute accosted him in the parking lot. He relayed the brief encounter, “She said, ‘I’ll suck yo’ dick fo’ six dollas and twenty fi’ cent.’” He shrewdly declined the offer.

I entered First Avenue Pizza. As soon as Greg saw me, he approached, grinning: “Dude, have you met her yet?” He loved having something to goad me with, since I always keep quiet and don’t let much out in the open. During the show, he would commence yelling my name, “Here he is!” I had to chuckle, though I was in no mood for laughs.

We played and had fun. A lot of kids showed up wearing costumes for some reason. They danced and sang along and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, for a change. As soon we finished, the girl introduced herself. She said that she loved my zine. Turns out, the zine she referred to was from seven years ago. As if anything I scribbled when I was 21 has any bearing on me at 28. Well…who am I kidding, I am not much different. She seemed like a nice enough person, and after a few scant minutes of discussion, we were off to our next location.

We drove a half hour outside the city and stayed at another hotel (since lodging is much cheaper beyond metropolitan city limits). I slept on a bed this time. I am quite content with the floor. Give me a six by three feet swath of good, carpeted floor and I will sleep soundly.

10:30 AM

Just finished reading interviews with Ian MacKaye and Q and Not U. Inspiring. Inspiring to me in my quest to operate bands in non-traditional and uncompromising ways. But I understand why bands choose to use the tools of the rock biz. I see those reasons everyday on this tour. Bands existing at our level get just as fucked as any major label band, if not more so. Some show promoters feel the need to do as frighteningly little as possible: no flyers, a crappy or no PA, putting every one of their friends bands on the bill so someone like us finally play after six hours of unendurable music for a total of 10 minutes since the place needs to shut down due to the late hour. These circumstances reoccur with dependable frequency on this entire tour. It should come as no surprise that bands see that hope of a better way, of solidly booked tours by music professionals, of guarantees and food, of maybe, just maybe, receiving some paltry financial reward for the time and the effort.

I love playing non-rock club spaces. But I also love being able to sing through a functioning microphone. The only times we have been fed on this tour have been by promoters at more traditional rock venues, with the exception of Daniel in L.A. Still, I want to find that middle ground. Though rare and fleeting, I’ve experienced tiny moments when this is something special, particularly in Oakland and last night. Small spaces of time when every element clicks. Again, they are uncommon moments. They are ideal types and they are hardly detectable. But when they occur- when they decide to grace us with their presence- all of this just might seem worth it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


10:31 AM

It’s been rough. The past two shows have been sub-par. We played on this arena-sized stage in Portland. I hated it. I just stood there. As soon as we finished, I packed up my equipment and fled the scene. I walked around the bizarre factory area, desolate and lonely. Fittingly it began to gently rain.

I settled in front of a café a block away from the venue, the only other sign of life in the area. A bluegrass band plugged away inside. The musicians looked in their 40s or 50s. They wore wide smiles. The two dozen people inside clapped after every song. The scene laughed at me, stuck up its middle finger at me, aired its hairy naked ass at me. It was the perfect polar opposite to everything I felt. I wanted to quit, to go away, to crawl into the back of a trailer like Rollins and not see anyone the entire 3,000 miles to New Jersey.

When I finally wandered back to the show I stood and watched the last band. They were actually good. What they played certainly wasn’t the most innovative sound, but they were passionate. I watched wearing my sweatshirt pulled tight over my head, hoping no one would notice me. I wanted to be invisible, just another body. But a girl passed by and said, “Great show.” I looked at her, stunned. I responded, hesitantly, “Thank you.” I talked with her for a few more minutes. She looked the part of a bike punk in an indie film. It struck me as odd since most bike punks do not like my band. We tend to appeal more to kids with dyed black hair wearing Every Time I Die T-shirts. “You know, you guys should be playing this basement in Portland.” She went on to sing the praises of said basement, that most kids would prefer to experience us there and not in this venue. Given the sheer girth of the place and the cruel lack of kids, I had to concur. Somehow I started asking about Portland, about how she liked it, about vegetarian restaurants. I enjoyed having an actual conversation. But soon the band packed up and departed.

I should mention the LGS episode. They went on and did their thing, which of course involved Alexander doing his thing. He pulled a kid from the audience up on stage. Said kid donned fishnets and a sleeveless black shirt. He looked thoroughly confused. He tried to jump off the stage, but Alexander wouldn’t let him. The kid asked for earplugs. The band tore into the next song. Later we were told the kid was “slow” and “mentally challenged.”

Next day found us in Bellingham, WA. It seemed quite a bohemian town, very clean and very green. We ate at Bandito Burrito, which featured a heavy anarchist motif. The food was great. The show was ho-hum. We crammed into a musty basement. 30 kids stood and yawned.

The most amusing part of the night was Jamie riling up a member of my band. My band associate made some claims about him being the least high maintenance guy on the tour, to which Jamie burst out: “YOU are the most high maintenance guy here!” “No way, you are wrong.” A game of yes-you-are, no-I’m-not ensued.

Otherwise, I yearned to wander around, but there wasn’t a whole lot to wander around in that residential neighborhood. We hit the road after the show for Seattle. This is tour, soaring highs and crippling lows and a whole lot of the mundane in between. What choice do I have? I’m thousands of miles away from home. I hate my job. I don’t want to go back to school. No answers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


1:48 PM

I’m gazing out upon the mountains of northern California or southern Oregon. Last night was a much needed kick ass show. Santa Cruz was an atomic bomb of a disaster and Goleta was forgettable. My girlfriend made a surprise visit from the east coast. She showed up in Santa Cruz. I had no idea she arranged this, apparently quite meticulously with everyone behind my back. We left that show with Jamie, his wife Heather and a guy named Mike. They left us in Berkeley.

My girlfriend rented a room at a hotel on Durant, just up from Telegraph. The room left much to be desired. It was narrow and claustrophobic. The shower sprayed water in a wide circumference that managed to almost entirely miss the body beneath it. When I opened the curtains, I found a panoramic view of a brick wall with a bear painted on it. The next morning we happened upon a cozy (though more expensive) bed and breakfast down the street.

Wandering the streets of Berkeley brought back past illusions of wanting to go to grad school to study Political Science. Yeah, as if I could have gotten into a school that is routinely ranked in the top five.

Jamie and Heather retrieved us later that day. We hit up a bookstore before the show. I made the mistake of reading one of those household medical books, in particular the entry on Lyme’s disease. Let’s see, soar neck? Yes. Cough? Yes. Irritation at the tick bite? Yes. I am fucked. Less than three weeks left of tour. Last night was Gilman. Always a fun time. Went to sleep at 3 and woke up at 6. My girlfriend flew home and the band got me. That leaves us back on the road en route to Portland. I enjoy the Bay Area, actually California from there south is all cool to me. But the good times are behind us. 340 miles to Portland.

5:56 PM

I just devoured left over seitan like a savage. The spicy juices dribbled in thick, brown gobs down my chin and fingers. I tore at it like a lion just upon an impala. My body craved a quick protein fix. Touring reduces you to the primal basics. Your concerns are eating, sleeping, shitting, showering and of course, rocking. Josh was right: after the first week and a half, everything begins to fall into place. The cavalcade of pain begins to subside, the appetite disintegrates and sleep upon a steel floor suddenly feels like a tempurepedic mattress. I’ve never been gone this long and I am not homesick. Despite sporadic and reliable bouts of despair, I love this. Shit shows and weird moods threaten to subvert it all, but when I evaluate the forest and not just the trees, I see what makes me happy, excited, alive. Sitting at home chained to a routine, a job, a schedule robs me of joy. I rot there.

I don’t know how long I can hang on to my job. We’re planning a ten-day tour of Canada in July, a six-week tour of Europe in the fall, a two-week tour in November and another with our friends Transistor Transistor in December. That leaves barely three months of wage slavery for the rest of the year. Too bad the band won’t pay the bills. And kids call us sellouts? Hee-haw hee-haw.


12:11 PM

We drive along the Pacific once more and I’m looking at hulking oil tankers off in the ocean misty distance.

Last night Josh, Greg and I hung out for a while at the beach. I couldn’t stop looking up and losing myself in the gorgeous celestial emptiness of the sky and the stars. The college kids of Isla Vista don’t see the beauty of this place. This is college? Try living in the burnt out soul-smashing, university/company town of New Brunswick, NJ, where drunk townies (not the four-year mommy-and-daddy subsidized drifters) collapse on your stoop with nary a warning. That is college, with squalid street winters of gray slush in housing built 100 years ago when heat was a word relegated to a fireplace and wool sweaters.

After the show last night (in the Biko house garage), we retired briefly to Alex’s co-op house. Last time he was gracious enough to let us crash there, though he left. Guy offered us free reign of his belongings and demanded I sleep in his bed. I recall sweetly slipping into unconsciousness sore and almost broken as the sounds of the Pacific crashed a mere two blocks away.

This time Alex brought us to a mad college party. Hundreds of drunk frat and sorority types spilled out of the house and all over the yard. We just stood there and watched with mouths agape. One of Alex’s housemates explained that what we witnessed was a “Pimp and Ho” party, hence the lurid outfits. I saw one beefsteak Charlie looking behemoth wearing a bow tie sans shirt. Stumbling jocks wielding plastic cups of frothy piss-colored beer struggled valiantly to woo drunken make-up queens. Terrible, nerve-wracking scene. We retreated to the beach and then back to Alex’s. Eric made out with a girl from the show. The next morning a female employee of the Starbuck’s across the street from the burrito place asked for his number. Tonight we play Santa Cruz at a college. Maybe we’ll attend another Pimp and Ho party.

4:07 PM

Somehow The Beatles are dragging me out of my bad mood. Too much to think about and dwell upon on these long drives, as if I’m fingering a cavity-ridden tooth or pulling at the scab on an open wound.

For some reason I feel the need to make zines again. It’s not as if I hadn’t had fleeting bursts of desire to do so in the past few years. It’s always been the hurdle of funding and means of photocopying. I skimmed through a zine someone left with us somewhere and it is terrible. It reminds me of my disillusion with the anarcho-punk sect I once tried to ingratiate myself with. Despite some sense of feeling aligned with the cause, it was the tactics and the culture that rubbed me wrong. I realized that the “movement” was dominated by a groupthink mentality. Everyone looked the same, they acted the same, they talked the same. It’s no different with the scene I see at our shows. We’re all sheep marching to slaughter. I don’t fit anywhere. I like it that way. That isn’t to say I am nihilist who doesn’t believe in movements working together towards change or towards something. I want to be myself.

I’m craving a mentally nourishing political tome. Too many of such books are dull as a math class at 7 in the morning (I suffered through one, I know). That’s why I loved some of the books I plowed through before embarking on this tour. Rogue State by William Blum, Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast…damn, only two. I need to do more, I need to be more. That’s enough whining for now. Farms and hills pass by. I don’t know where we are. Road signs announce Salinas, San Francisco and we need to reach Santa Cruz. 21 shows to go.

4:20 PM
Matt bought Bass Player Magazine at the Barnes and Noble in San Luis Obispo. Gracing the cover was Ben, a guy I was friends with ten years ago. His band often played with mine at all ages club shows at the Jersey shore. I envied his immeasurable talent. He had the best of all worlds: expert guitarist finesse, multi-dimensional vocal ability, not to mention enough charisma to win over every girl (or guy) in the joint. I remember one cold December night after a show at the Surf Club in Ortley Beach, a crew of us hunkered down at a sticky table at the OB Diner in Point Pleasant (home of Kirsten Dunst for those keeping score at home). During a discussion on the deluge of straight edge and vegan kids at our shows, he coolly remarked, “Look, I’m wearing a leather belt. I don’t care about that. I smoke cigarettes. I’m eating this cheeseburger. All I care about is my guitar, my bands, music.” What he said made sense for him. There he is, looking not much different than he did in 1994, on the cover of a magazine, doing exactly what he said he would do. I was 18 then. I obsessed over hardcore, DIY, punk. The notion of devoting myself to music was entirely foreign. More precisely, it was anathema to everything I believed in. You were not supposed to live off of music, that was the rule. I was a freshman in college, I planned…shit, time to look at directions, I will continue this rant later…

Monday, January 14, 2008


10:22 AM

The sun shines as usual as we leave L.A. This has been our home. We stayed the last two nights at Ray’s house in Huntington Beach. Nice place, nice area. Hanging out with Ray is always a blast. Our show last night was in this dodgy area of L.A. by skid row. There were no indications outside the venue that it was a venue. We parked the vans in the back and watched twitching, growling homeless guys watch us. One of them was paid by the venue to guard the band’s vans (though he asked us for payment directly).

I thought it strange how we sat in the middle of downtown, yet once night fell, the streets transformed into a shanty town of begging, howling, braying vagrants and cardboard box tent tenement cities. I couldn’t comprehend how the LAPD allowed this civilization of the homeless to erect their shoddy edifices, given that the police of the northeast cities would surely batter down such transient domiciles. I don’t imagine the LAPD being more compassionate.

I enjoyed the show. A lot of kids danced and sang along. During LGS’ set, Jamie threw his guitar. Apparently it’s given him constant grief. I watched as the instrument soared far up into the air and sailed in an arc into the blackness at the back of the venue. He strapped on another guitar before the first met its demise on the floor.

I finally washed my clothes at Ray’s, staying up until 4 or so in the AM. We watched Chappelle show DVDs in the morn and then embarked for Santa Barbara, ahhhhhh, utopian Santa Barbara. 19 shows down, 21 to go.

2:42 PM

Sometimes I do this thing where I ask myself: if I could be anywhere in the world right now, where would I be? If I could do anything right now, what would I do? At the moment, I want to be right here doing this: driving up the Pacific Coast to play another show in California. I am content. In a week we will be driving back east, through the dreary, soul-crushing Midwest. The good times never last.

3:51 PM

We’re driving up 101 and I’m thinking how amazing it is here. We all seem to loathe where we’re from. Grass is greener on the other side, in another place. If I grew up outside San Diego or Santa Barbara, I’d probably have plenty to complain about and perhaps yearn to flee for the east coast, New York City maybe. I think I enjoy living in Philadelphia, but maybe not. I don’t go out. I have no urge to live it up and be social. It’s all work, band and girlfriend. That is fine. And I love right now. Traveling and performing. That is a temporary optimism. I have no desire to return to my job. I feel sick and suffocated having to work the routine job. Would I just play music if it’d pay the bills? Sometimes I say yes, other times no. My girlfriend wouldn’t want me spending half the year away. Would I? When we return to the backwards/backwoods towns of middle America, I will be pining for home.


2:53 PM

Back in gorgeous Los Angeles. I never thought I’d develop any sort of affinity for this city, but go to Bakersfield. Any large metropolitan region suddenly becomes nirvana in comparison. Last night was indeed a fiasco. We played inside the boxing ring. Yes, within the ropes and turnbuckles. A bunch of kids hopped inside and went crazy. They crashed into each other, fell into us, did flips and acted out their bored, drunk teenage wrestling/boxing fantasies. It is something, to see children raised on backyard wrestling videos and pay-per view boxing matches attempt to become their icons in reality. We were the soundtrack to their melee. Here we are now, entertain us.

One poor soul made the mistake of leaping from Greg’s bass drum. Greg throws his sticks down mid-song, stands up slowly and surely, and hisses, pointing, “Don’t you ever jump off my fucking drum set!” It was an astounding moment, as if a god came down from on high to scold us mere mortals. Everyone responded by shutting up and SITTING DOWN. They cowered before the mighty Drudy. It wasn’t until I, of all people, said they could do whatever they wanted, as long as they laid off the drums, that the kids resumed their raucous behavior.

Afterwards a fight occurred outside. Racial slurs were thrown about. One kid ran after another with a plastic rooster. As we aimed our vans out of the dusty, pebble-strewn parking lot, the melee hindered our exit. Someone asked the heated boys ready to fight, “Hey, can we get through?” One responded, “Oh yeah, go ahead.” They quieted, let us drive past, and then continued shouting. We fled for the peace and serenity of L.A.