I don’t remember much of the night drive out of Albuquerque, probably because I was asleep for most of it. I’m actually getting a surprising amount of sleep this time around, followed by spurts of 2-3 days of 3 hours or less. Not bad, but a writer shouldn’t have “sleep” in his vocabulary.
At some point in the early morning we hit a gas station, which brought me wide awake and ready to take on the navigator role. We drove throughout the day, taking our time and enjoying the Texan scenery and local life at each gas and food stop.
One of the things I loved about Texas the last time around is everything is exactly how you’d expect it to be. A gas station isn’t just a convenience store but a full on Cowboy blow-out complete with Texan flags, cowboy hats, belts, steer horns and even stuffed armadillos. It’s a smorgasbord for any collector of useless oddities that would rather have people turn a questioning eye of strange fear than impress them.
And then, out of nowhere, the Golden Check and crossed palm trees of In-N-Out. Yes, that’s right, Texas now has In-N-Out and it was ass-spankin’ new. Of course, being true-blood Cali-for-ny-ayans, we had to stop. It was almost like being back home, and for a moment we were standing inside any other In-N-Out, until the stares and several of the other patrons began talking loudly about their particular Christian denominations.
After several more stops along the way, we finally pulled over in a Home Depot parking lot and set up camp. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were made, lawn chairs were opened, beer was consumed and we all blew off some steam. Thankfully, the digital age had our backs and we were able to play some tunes and pull up our favorite YouTube videos to share with the rest of the guys.
Day turned into night and band members began crashing out one at a time until it was just Jesse, Hulg and myself, eating Nutella with Wheat Thins (surprisingly good). We only moved once when the lawn sprinklers started and nailed us somewhere around 2am.
Hulg and I got on a rant about old times in high school with old friends and continued on it until we realized Jesse had disappeared. We found him fully clothed, face-down on the sofa– probably passed out for quite some time–and decided it was time to pack it up and retire for the night.
We hit the road early in order to make it to Houston with enough time for stops along the way. The most important was Guitar Center, as a couple of the guys needed to restock on supplies. So we found one, and as they were shopping, the rest of us were in the parking lot, tailgating it up once more. Texas is vast & sunny, the perfect place to work on that tailgate tan and bask I did.
The Warehouse Live in Houston is a happenin’ spot. Located outside of downtown in the industrial area, it’s surrounded by freeways, bars and possibly project housing. Normally a pretty sketchy area, but perfect for a venue, giving everyone a little more freedom to loosen up.
We parked near the rest of the bands and got out to stretch, explore and scavenge for the day’s coffee and donuts. The Warehouse Live had the coffee, but not the food. C’est la vie.
However, they weren’t lying about the venue. It’s a giant warehouse with a separate, side stage, and two bars along the perimeter. And that’s it. No lobby. No ticket booth. No real anything. Where else in America are you going to find THAT kind of honest advertising?
Once I was set up and had some time to kill, I walked next door to Lucky’s pub where a. . .uh, buxom. .. .blonde with a beautiful peacock sleeve tattoo served me a Jameson & Coke and we talked about local artists. Everyone needs 5 minutes of “me” time, and I took 10.
Holy Hell. Houston, you are something else. There was already a good sized crowd to see A Band of Orcs, and people kept piling in even up until Gwar played. Just a bunch of drunk Texans, hanging out in a Warehouse on a warm Autumn night with nothing to do but fuck shit up. God Bless America.
And drunk they were. Texans know how to party and the place was filled with every type of personality you could imagine, there was even a late 30, early 40 something year old in a business suit, hanging out in the back near my booth.
Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the rowdy, take-no-shit attitude of Texas, or maybe it was just the booze combined with all of it, but HOT DAMN Texans are some cheeky people. I witnessed all sorts of sexual passes, making out, people getting hit on, and I was even groped several times while just trying to do my job.
Iron Reagan had several friends at the show (Brian, the Mammoth Grinder drummer was one of them) and they decided to film some scripted footage to use later on in a music video. They asked me to stop people from walking past the merch table, so they could get a shot of them flipping it over.
Not in Texas.
As soon as I stopped the first person, she thought I was trying to flirt with her and began rubbing up on me. Her friend then began pinching my ass and I felt like a goddamned diner waitress named Martha, working some late-night shift in 1950.
“Goddamn it! Stop, just stand still for two minutes, we’re trying to do a shoot here!” I screamed.
“Look boy,” said the first girl, shoving her cleavage in my face. “Either you want it or you don’t.”
“I’ll pass, just don’t walk in front of the camera. This isn’t Girls Gone Wild.” I responded with piss & vinegar in my voice.
Now, some of you—who know me all too well—probably read that and thought, “Bullshit. Mat telling drunk girls to stop sexualizing him.” I know, it sounds crazy. After all, 2013, right? But I’m not in the business of selling Wolf tickets, just the honest truth, no matter how wretched or weird. Besides, I have a too-damn-cute woman (hopefully) waiting for me back home, near my beloved Pacific Ocean.
Even though it was only 4 days ago, so much has happened since that nothing else about Houston stands out in my mind, except for Wookie.
“So,” Jesse said, turning to me at the end of the night. “ The guy who taught Lexi [his girlfriend, a total sweetheart and amazing artist]I how to tattoo is here tonight. Want to meet him? His name is Wookie.”
Instantly my ears were on fire. Anyone who is involved in the tattoo world knows the name Wookie. He has some of the most detailed work in the business and was a helluva nice guy. His girlfriend, Sabrina, was also incredibly pleasant and seemed just as creative with her wild attire, piercings, and colored dreadlocks to match his long, dark ones.
The four of us sat for a few minutes, talking about tattoos, the show, the road, and everything in-between. After I was able to get a picture with them, I said my good-byes and finished packing the merch so we could hit the curving black snake of a highway once more.
I left the venue that night with a sense of elation mixed with horrible physical exhaustion. Ready to take on the rest of the tour, but wondering if my body would be able to.