Another Day Off & Houston: Party in the Parking Lots. Days 13-14

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.

Easy, right?

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.

Days 11-12: The Sanctuary of Home to Heisenberg’s Albuquerque.

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.

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“This is why I pay so much for rent.” – Oog Skullbasher

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.

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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.

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It’s still good, right?

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.

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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.

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Breakfast of Champions at Brokedown Palace

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I will say this, AZ has some righteous retail.

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.

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Made it!

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.

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And look! Immortal Technique signed my table! Keepin’ it real!

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.

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A Band of Orcs, straight from Herntoadia

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.

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The Eye of Gzoroth

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.

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Blurry Reagan

Riding Like the Santa Ana Wind

I attempted to stay awake with Hulg as he drove the straight shot to Southern California. We are both from the same hometown (big shout out to all the peeps in SCV!! 661 what?!?) and have slayed the demon 5 freeway many-a-time. We stayed up listening to metal and swapping war stories of high school friends and debachery.

After a couple of hours I finally passed out around 3 and awoke 5 hours later in Santa Ana at the Observatory.

Once called The Galaxy, the Observatory is the largest venue in Santa Ana and has hosted all of the major, non-stadium bands you can think of. The last time I was there Metal Blade was throwing a 25th anniversary show with Lizzy Borden, As I Lay Dying, Job For a Cowboy and several other bands on their label from now and then.

After a stretch and a few minutes to clear my head and find my mind, Jesse and I went off in search of a cigarette store, discussing the latest Pahlaniuk novel. We arrived at a dead store but next door was a Ralph’s so we loaded up on food, juice and road essentials before walking back to the RV.

When we arrived everyone was awake and we swapped stories from the night before. With the SoCal sun high in the sky, it was the perfect opportunity for the Orcs to dry out their armor from the previous evening. Gronk had packed some weights and workout equipment, and the two of us worked through a couple routines before eating breakfast.

Down time is a precious commodity on tour. Every night we play a different city, pack up and hit the road to the next spot just in time for a couple hours of sleep, a plate of food and a cup of coffee to do it all over again. There’s never time to rest for hours, let alone have 10 minutes to yourself. So when it happens, you take full advantage of it and we’re starving enough to waste nothing.

The day was spent eating groceries, scarfing In-n-Out, drinking the free beers we’re raided from the clubs, smoking California’s finest and I updated the media for all of you fine readers. It was a golden moment of serenity and we recharged to full capacity.

Load-in was 530 but by then the other bands’ merch tables were already up and there was no more room for the Orcs. With some quick manuevering and slick talking I managed to have the stage manager post me up in the front of the building, right inbetween the ticket booth and smoking patio for maximum foot traffic. After the poor attendance in Chico, we needed all the money we could get.

The fans began stumbling in and immediately I remembered I was in Southern California. Large hair, crazed make-up and fake boobs filled the room and it made me realize just how little of that I’ve seen everywhere else. Growing up in Southern California, you never realize just how fucked your view of the world is until you leave. It’s amazing how destructive SoCal culture is and it’s the primary one being pumped into the world’s brains through our media. No wonder why our country is so far behind.

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Since I was stuck in the merch booth sheltered away from everyone else, I had the time & audience to throw out the Carny Barker routine at the metal heads.

“We got stickas, t-shirts, postas, cds nuts! You sir! You look like you could use a genuine, bonafide Orc shirt. You can’t slay any heads without your Orc shirt!”

One after another, metalheads began gathering around and soon I was talking with local photographers and fans, swapping cards & war stories. Santa Ana was a good night for merch, yes indeed.

When everything was said and done, the Orcs had already packed their gear and before I loaded up, I stepped on the patio for a quick smoke & video of the aftermath. There were a couple of girls sitting outside, smiling at me and giggling. The guy they were with signled for me to come over, saying they wanted to meet me. I introduced myself and told them to buy some merch so I could make it home to see a certain person on my mind, then walked away. Yeah, it’s like that.

After packing up, we tailgated at the RV smoking spliffs and drinking the free beer the bands’ friends brought. Jimmy, J.J., Jink & co. Took the week off and drove from Montana to see A Band of Orcs with GWAR. Damn good people.

It was a drunken, blood soaked, meth head trying to bum a cigarette and calling anyone who didn’t cough it up a “faggot” that eventually dispersed our party.

Luckily Gabe Crisp, the bassist for Whitechapel, had wrangled an afterparty with a few blood drenched fans and we stayed awake smoking more spliffs, watching youtube videos by our buddy, Max, and bullshitting into the black of night.

I eventually made my way back to the RV in a stoned daze, sewed a new patch onto my vest and passed out.

We all awoke to Scott “Dad” (one of Gwar’s roadies, slaves and a funny motherfucker) banging on our door, saying Gwar’s bus broke down and we”d need to give some people a lift to Sunset. We gladly agreed and waked & baked with Scott, tour manager John and Ed the lighting guy on our way into LA.

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The infamous House of Blues

As I type this I’m with Cretos and Gogog, walking the strip and ducking into Halloween stores. Tonight will be a show not to miss with plenty of hometown homies coming out and Iliza Shlesinger doing a stand-up routine across the street at the Comedy Store. If you haven’t seen her “War Paint” special on Netflix, your life is in serious need of an hour alone to laugh, cringe and re-evaluate your dating life. Until next time kiddies, keep it clean.

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You Know You’re Back In California Because of the Higher Quality Kooks. Day 6

I awoke with a ferocious jolt out of a deep sleep, flying somewhere through the Andromeda galaxy from the night’s previous cupcake.

“Need a Weed break?” laughed Jesse. “Welcome to the rest stop.”

We had stopped in Weed, Ca. to change drivers, stretch our legs, and take the mandatory, juvenile, stoner pictures with the Weed sign. The sun was just creeping up Mount Shasta over the horizon and everything was baked in a golden hue warm enough to thaw your marrow. Our home state’s own welcome just for us. We’ve missed you too, baby.

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After a quick smoke and stretch we hit the road again, this time I road shotgun to keep Gronk (the bassist) awake while the rest slept. We twisted through the mountains listening to Bad Religion and Metallica in honor of California, discussing our favorite albums and catching glimpses of whatever lakes we were passing. We were on our way to Chico, and the quicker we arrived the more hours to ourselves we would have.

We pulled into town around 10:30 hungry for food and adventure. While Gogog, Hulg, Gronk and Jesse slept in the RV, Oog, Cretos and I went to explore Chico in search of some trouble.

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More inland than most routes on the streetkid transit, Chico is still a frequent transient stop up and down the state because of it’s small, college-town vibe and large, flat spaces for people to crash in the open air. Large groups of squatters littered the streets and I couldn’t help but feel almost at home.

The main area of downtown Chico is somewhat larger than Santa Cruz, but smaller than Santa Barbara and easy to get around, and we quickly found a great sandwich deli that built the bastards to the sky. For under ten bucks I had enough food to last me  until dinner and enough change to afford a pipe for the road and a present for a certain someone.

After a fruitless search in the local record shop, we walked back to the RV, where we spent the next several hours bullshitting around, smoking, drinking and enjoying an actual moment of downtime on a breezy California day.

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The Senator Theater is an old movie house that has long since had it’s screen removed. The entrance is a grand hall, garnished with ornate murals, mirrors and once-gold-but-yellowed-with-time trim around the molding. One could imagine all of the timeless films opening there throughout cinema history, as the building slowly aged and the town around it began to expand until finally the movies were out and blood-spewing metal was in. C’est la vie.

Chico is also the home to our good friend, Tessara, who Oog and I know through the Stellar Corpses, who she does merch for and also dates the singer, Dusty. She showed up a couple hours before the show, just as we were loading-in, so we were able to catch up for a bit and get her in to watch the sound check. She filled me in on the happenings around Chico, the closing of the good dive bar, the 411 on the fans, who was who in the local scene, and all of the other important things to know about the city you’re in.

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About 30 minutes before the doors opened, we received our daily payment and immediately Jesse and I set out for dinner while the Orcs finished their soundcheck. There was a Woodstock’s pizza a few blocks up but we were sidetracked the first time because of faulty directions, and a second time because of the local kooks. Within minutes of turning around, a bowl-cut dready with a few weeks of baked on dirt and a pen-n-poke Juggalo Hatchetman tattoo on his arm, came riding on up his bike.

“Hey! You guys look like you’re lost. What can I help you with?”

“Uh, Yeah,” I said, all the while thinking, ‘Shit, here we go.’

“Where’s Woodstocks?” I replied.

“Oh, man, just go up too blocks and make a left,” he said with a toothless grin. “No, wait, just go down the block to the end, and make a left, THEN go two blocks up.”

By the time he was finished I had already taken my GPS out and discovered the REAL route, quickly turning to walk away. If you’ve ever had dealings with a kook, you know not to look ‘em in the eye and walk away as soon as possible before you’re dragged into a full-on tweaker rant about how his baby’s momma is a stripper but she won’t be stripping no more now that she’s pregnant with his kid and can he have $5 for food when the baby comes and definitely NOT crack because he’s done with all that now (*side note: that was a real conversation with a crack head as we were leaving Portland. The more you know. . .*)

“Well, wait!” the dready yelled, riding up to his.

“Ye gods, what did we do to deserve this?” I prayed.

“So,” he said slowly and deliberately, trying to remember his whole pitch. “I’m not asking for money, but I’m starting this new thing called the Positive Manifestation Station and you’re my first clients. I’m just giving out cigarettes to everyone but I don’t want any money. Just a donation of change so I can keep this up.”

“Got it,” Jesse repeated, “Money bad, but donations good.”

We didn’t give him any change and we didn’t take any of his smokes, but that’s a damn fine sales pitch if you ask me. Hell, the churches have been doing it for years.

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Besides the usual brand of GWAR fanatics all in new, white shirts or red stained tees from previous tours, there was one other fan who stood out and that was Shitty Titties.

Carle was the first to notice her. A veteran to the touring circuit, Carle has toured with a grip of bands, and before working merch for Iron Reagan on this tour, she just finished the Warped Tour with Whitechapel’s merch guy, Wyatt.

“Dude,” she said pointing to a 5’4, curvy blonde girl with a black shirt and blue jeans. “That girl’s shirt says, ‘Poop.’” Sure enough, in giant white block letters across her chest, glared the fecal word in all of its glory. The girl overheard and quickly turned around.

“Yeah, like shit, get it? Just call me Shitty Titties! Wooo! Rock on!”

Carle, Brent Purgason (Cannabis Corpse, GWAR) and I all looked at each other for a minute and just lost it with laughter.

Unfortunately, since the Senator wasn’t initially meant for music, the merch booths were set up along the concession counter, and we were cut off from the bands. Tessara hung out with me during Iron Reagan and Whitechapel, and we talked with the house’s concession girl, Maria, about Chico, the theater and favorite shows she’s seen there.

Chico is no Santa Cruz, and a show on Wednesday night means a relatively small attendance. Their energy was high, and they were friendly as hell—a group of juggalos gave the Orcs a bottle of Jager and a free quarter of weed. FAM-I-LY!—but their numbers just weren’t there.

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During the encore set, GWAR has always done horrible covers that they “turn into metallic gold” according to Oderus and on this tour, that montage has been a mix of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into my Car” mixed with The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” chorus. The encore is also the infamous moment in every GWAR show when they have their slaves grab some women from the audience and throw them into the giant Meat Grinder on stage with blood spraying the frothing fans.

With such low attendance, nobody had picked out the victims so I suggested Tessara and Maria, which they gladly accepted. The video is posted below. For those of you who know her, Tessara is the first victim.

The load-out was painless and took less than 20 minutes. With our good-byes said, we jumped into the RV, Hulg at the wheel and our GPS set to the Observatory in Santa Anna, Ca.; home of the heatwave, famous for its winds, and only a quick 8.5 hour drive south. Hail GZOROTH!

Spokan, the Beginning of America, and Portland. Orctober 13-14.

Severe lack of sleep for days straight have brought me behind on the updates. After all, what good use is a writer who abides by his own deadlines? If that were to happen, all hell would break loose and the gods would rain hellfire and damnation upon us poor minions, and then where would we be?

So instead I’m starting from where we’re at and rolling with the road. Bringing you right into the middle of this goddamned thing straight from my cell phone. Welcome to the 21st century, where we do the important things with our thumbs. Tough shit non-primates, get with the evolution.

I’m writing this from the front seat of the rv, a band of orcs– looking as haggard as they sound and smelling twice as putrid–relax in the back after a long night of pillaging the Canadian countryside.

We’re parked somewhere outside of downtown Portland, Or., underneath an intersection of freeway overpasses, with the kooks and drunks, the wretched and the addicted, gather for a peace of mind and a sip of the hard stuff. Whether their taste is for the bourbon or the black.

Portland is an amazingly depraved city selling itself as a progressive paradise. Strip clubs stretch up and down the city streets and scattered in-between are nothing but bars, arcades, coffee shops, and record stores. It’s a fetishist’s heaven and has already stolen a nice chunk of money for my precious vinyl. Not that I’m complaining.

Two nights ago we were in Spokane, Wa. where the Orcs opened for a crowd of roughly 1100 drunk, crazed rednecks and mud worshippers. We had arrived early and spent the day idling around the venue, swapping the night’s road stories with the other crew and band members, breaking to go eat the Knitting Factory’s catering of the continental breakfast and taco bar.

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However, by the time the doors opened and the first wave of pre-game hammered fans walked in, we knew it was going to be one helluva night.

The merch tables were set off to the side in a separate room, so I missed the stage show but caught the real action instead.

From the moment Gogog stepped onto the stage and started yelling at the crowd, blackout drunk individuals were kicked out of the crowd in a constant stream every 10 to 20 minutes. Between the booze and the pit the night exploded in a sacrifice of concert goers to the metal gods. Blood, real and fake, drenched the faces and clothes of the horde as they cheered for more. Watching a spectacle such as an alien demon walking around with a massive alien dick, chopping off celebrity and other alien heads so that an actual fountain of blood can baptize the fans makes one realize just how perfect GWAR really is for the Super Bowl. The NFL commission clearly has no fucking clue why people watch their sport.

But that’s not to badmouth Spokane. The sober people were good folk and the lighting guy sold us some weed for California prices. What really struck me was how incredibly clean it was. A major US city with no dirt or grime on the buildings, no graffiti on the walls, and not even a candy wrapper on the ground. When there’s an island of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean, you can’t help but wonder if something fishy is going down in Spokane.

When GWAR was finished and we were packed, the Orc caravan set off into the night towards Canada, where they were going to play Vancouver and I was going to in a trucker motel in Blaine, Wa. on the border because of my missing passport.

Blaine. . .well, Blaine exists. The city has a banner stretched across one street which reads, “Welcome to Blaine, where America begins!” Yeah, and Canada’s dream dies. It’s amazing the kids aren’t all drug dealers. Shit, maybe they are, I didn’t ask. But I did ask what people do for fun and the girl behind the pizza counter casually replied, “sometimes we go over to the island across the bay.” I left her a $5 tip just because how the hell do you reply to that?

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That’s Blaine in a nutshell. A boarded up city along a dead train route as a ghostly reminder.

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But they do have killer whales in their parks.

Which brings me to Portland.

After Vancouver, the band picked me up around 3 am and we hauled it the 4 hours south in the early morning mist. I’m back on a no sleep schedule, staying awake with whoever is driving. But things have been improving. In the past 48 hours I”ve actually slept for almost 6 hours. Just have to keep this up for 6 more weeks.
Continue reading “Spokan, the Beginning of America, and Portland. Orctober 13-14.”

Madness at the Core of Time Tour – Day 1 Pregame. How did I get here?

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“Those of us who had been up all night were in no mood for coffee and donuts, we wanted strong drink.” – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Easily one of my favorite quotes by the great doctor. The humor is in it’s simple honesty. Some of us need more than the poser pick-me-up of caffeine when the stress-starved teeth of sleep sink into your brain.

Today was one of those days.

While I’m sitting on Southwest Flight 3789 from San Jose to Seattle, the new morning sun is climbing over the hills, on its endless cycle. The sweet, psychedelic sound of Dead Meadow trips through my headphones as I silently type, reflecting on everything that led up to me working the “Madness At the Core of Time” tour, while I wait for my whiskey and coffee.

This is the first breakfast I’ll have before 10am in months.

When Kyle Moore, the drummer for A Band of Orcs, approached me at the beginning of the year about working merch for them while on tour, a couple things crossed my mind: 1) he must be crazier than I thought if he wants to take me on the road again after the Stellar Corpses tour of 2011 and 2) It’s almost a year away, I’ll have plenty of time to think about it and get ready.

HA! Oh be warned ye who tempt the gods of fate.

This year quickly filled itself with work, news, weddings, deaths, and even a couple of music festivals . Soon it was August, and Kyle was creeping around again asking for my decision. It was rash and my answer came quick, “Of course I’ll tour around North America with you guys. Why not? It’ll be a helluva ride.”

In my experience all of life’s best, and worst, decisions are made from the gut and on the fly. But you never know which way the outcome will fall unless you live it. “Everything moves according to the whim of the Great Magnet,” another poignant Thompsonism.

That one decision has rained a whirlwind of welcomed chaos into my life, between my 9-5 day job, my deadlines for various publications and finding an hour or two to sleep each night (which, actually, all sounds about normal to me). Since then I have emailed countless editors, scheduled several flights, hunted down hotels and have contacted numerous friends in various states across the country. I’ve had 2 months covered at my day job; stressed out over social media and getting my website up and running before I leave (still not running, but almost!) and saved every last goddamned, worthless penny I could since I won’t see any new cash for 6 weeks. I’ve filled out government paperwork, missed deadlines and still don’t know if I’ll be allowed into the great white North of Canadia in a few days. Which, needless to say, is slightly nerve wrecking.

Yet come Hell, highwater, or a hurricane, I’m on my way to meet up in Seattle, with coffee & whiskey in hand and 5 hours of sleep in the last 30. I will be working merchandise for A Band Of Orcs, along with documenting the tour via video and written media. We are doing 38 cities in 44 days, 22 states and 2 countries. There’s a total of 4 bands including hardcore act, Iron Reagan, metalcore stars Whitechapel, and GWAR, the homicidal, alien metal musicians complete with their brand of blood, sex and gore.

“Yeah, Jebus, what did I get myself into?” I wonder, finishing my drink and contemplating another shot. Shit, when in doubt, rememer the mantra. “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” Cheers to you, Doc.