Sunday night I rode with Brian back to Santa Cruz and was overcome with a sense of elation when I saw my front door, and then my bed. I passed out somewhere around 3am, fully clothed, on top of my blanket, with the lights on. It was good to be home.
I knew the guys had to be out early on Monday and I didn’t’ want to be the flat tire of the group, so I woke up early to run some errands and grab some last minute items. I picked up a sack of California’s finest from my homie and met up with Brian for breakfast. The rest of my day was spent relaxing in Santa Cruz, writing, organizing and listening to Brian’s latest record scores.
As the hour grew later, I was frantically hitting the band up, hoping everything was alright. Apparently, my relaxing Monday was not shared with everyone.
For starters, Jesse was stranded in Oakland for several hours until my buddy, Greg, could give him a ride (thanks dude!). Then, Hulg was delayed in Santa Cruz and when everyone finally arrived at the RV rental shop, it took several more hours to sign everyone on, switch our stuff from one camper to another, and then drive back to Santa Cruz from Newark. By the time I got the call to meet up it was already 5pm and we still had to go to the band’s shop to dump unused gear.
“Oh, by the way,” Oog said as we were unloading a case, “I found a screw in the trailer tire, but I’m not too worried about it. The tire seems to be holding and I’ve done tours with 2 nails in those things. We just need to keep an eye on it.”
Aye Aye, Captain.
We finally hit the road around 6pm, with an 18 hour drive to Albuquerque ahead of us. It was a long, dull, drive straight through the heart of Arizona; a state that has always hated me so I must, therefore, hate it. Every time I’m in its soul-sucking desert, something bad happens; whether it be a breakdown, or it’s too damn hot, or the Christian owned family restaurants tell me & my friends (all tattooed and wearing all black) that they’re closed for the day & refuse to serve us when the sign clearly says we have another hour.
And this time was no exception.
We stopped for gas outside of Flagstaff and I went into the station for some coffee and whatever morning processed junk I could stomach. After my purchase I remembered Oog’s warning about the tire and decided I should check on it.
“Holy shit. Uh. . .guys, You’re gonna want to look at this,” was all I could muster.
The trailer tire had blown and was completely stripped from the rim. It had been so extensive that some of the trailer paneling by the tire had started to peel away. Who knows how long we had been driving like that.
Luckily, there was a tire garage only a few miles away, so we stopped there, only to be delayed another 90 minutes. Arizona is a terrible state, and it’s not just my bad luck. Iron Reagan also had a tire blowout and Gwar’s bus broke down for the second time.
When the tire was ready I looked at the clock. It was 11am and we had 6 more hours to go, just in time to make sound check if we were lucky.
And we were.
We pulled up to the Sunshine Theater in Albuquerque at 4:45 and did a quick dump of the gear. After setting up the merchandise, we even had time to shoot the shit with the venue’s crew and they pointed me and Jesse in the direction of some good food.
A common thread tying this whole tour together has been the savage response of the excited audience. Aside from the fact they’re seeing one of their favorite bands that demands such a reaction, by talking with the locals I keep hearing the same reasons for their excitement.
No matter what the state, the music scene is dying across the country.
Everywhere we go, kids and adults tell me how happy they are to have a real, rock show in their town. Hell, I even heard the crew say that at the House of Blues in Boise. They tell me that most of the touring acts are either hip-hop or electronic, and if it is a rock band, 9 times out of 10 it’s a screamo/metalcore/hardcore act. Adding lemon juice to the wound, one after another venues keep shutting down. Even if they kids have a garage band, there’s not much hope of ever playing anything bigger.
Albuquerque was no exception, full of crazed fans hungry for blood and biting at the bit. The crowd was as drunk and rowdy as the rest of the country with nothing to do.
GWAR’s set followed in the chaos. Earlier that evening the guys in Iron Reagan and Dave Brockie went out in a successful mission to find Walter White’s, a.k.a. Heisenberg’s, home from the series, “Breaking Bad.” As a result, Brockie was on his own high that night, shouting “Heeeeiiiissseeennnbbeeerrrggg!!!!” at the most random moments he could think of. And the fun didn’t stop there.
When Oderus opened GWAR’s set, he dedicated it to “the people of the sun.” Knowing him to be a Rage Against the Machine fan and that his alter ego is actually a progressively thinking individual, this didn’t really stand out to me at first.
“Sure,” I thought. “When in Navajo land, dedicate the music to the natives.” Makes perfect sense, right?
As they got deeper into their set, it be came apparent Oderus had taken something before the set (at least to all of us) and clearly it was working. He continued his “Heisenberg” shout-outs, followed by laughter, rabid dancing and tirades about revolution and Breaking Bad.
“Clearly I’ve gone off script and my band is completely lost,” he chuckled after one particular rant about needing Heisenberg, “But that’s ok because so am I.”
I wasn’t able to capture much video, but what I did will be posted shortly.
The next day, Wednesday, was another day off, so by the end of the night in Albuquerque, the general consensus was to hit the road as soon as possible. There was another 881 miles ahead of us to Houston, but we weren’t anxious to get there, we were just done with Tuesday.