Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pizza King in Grand Junction (Epic Version)

Pizza King in Grand Junction, CO

Another video I completely forgot was on my Flip. I gave my camera to very nice gentleman from another band and asked to film Pizza King, because we had ambitions for this performance. Stupid ambitions but ambitions nonetheless. The night and stage lent itself to indulgence so we decided to try and stretch four songs into a half hour set. Our goal was go  to all Yo La Tengo on P.K. but on reflection it's closer to a drunken Sonic Youth. Regardless, we got offstage feeling like we'd played at least a 20 minute version. When we checked the tape it was around eight minutes. We'd managed to add about two minutes on to our usual performance. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Maglite in Seattle

Maglite in Seattle

Just remembered I had this video on my Flip from the Seattle show. Watch John go get a beer. Very exciting.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Denouement (In Which We Come To An Enchanted Place and We Leave Them There)


This is the last post for awhile. I’ve got one more in mind, which was supposed to be part of this one, but it’s just not going to happen for a while. I’d like to compile how many miles we traveled, how much spent on gas etc. General statistics that I’m curious about myself. We already know that we’re going to lose money on the tour, but no one minds much. Obviously, the Wussy model is not built around profits. We can’t go out and lose money forever, but from the bottom of my cranky heart, it was a life-changing event to head out and see all those people who have supported us from afar for so long. I, and in this case I think I can speak for the rest of the band, wouldn’t change a damn thing. Out of all those shows we only played two to single digit crowds. I’ve tried to not be overly sentimental, and often failed, but I swear the thing I remember most is the faces of all these people who seemed genuinely moved that we finally came to their town. It’s kind of overwhelming because we’re just a bunch of broke-ass, socially inept, fuck-ups. (ask anyone in Cincinnati, it’s not a big secret) Every band I know tries really, really hard to make good records. So to find out that what we do means something to people scattered over this enormous land is the fulfillment of a dream.

The other dream that was fulfilled was getting to see the country from the ground up. When I was in high school I read “The Grapes of Wrath” and it changed everything. It was my first grown-up book, (I read tons of grown-up spy novels. In particular I loved the Alistair MacClean books. So good, but this was different.) I read everything he wrote, coming across, “Travels With Charley” eventually. From that point on I dreamed (for about a quarter of a century) of travelling across the country. Wussy has given me so much, put checkmarks next to so many of my musical dreams, but it’s also not the easiest band to be in. We’ve broken up innumerable times for instance, so in the end I never make any assumptions about our future. I said in an interview once that we’ve made every album as if it might be our last and it’s true. So to get to go on a real tour and see the country, well that’s a big damn deal in my world. When we go east in a few weeks I’ll have gotten to dip my toes in both oceans in one summer. Oh, and this country is breathtaking. I was never bored even after all those hours in the van. People kept telling us that the next stretch was going to be boring but it never was. (Except west Texas. If it wasn’t for Austin I’d say we give the whole damn state back to Mexico. I can already imagine the Austin Airlift. “Forget the food and razors – just send more bikes, pot, and ironic t-shirts. We’re dying here.)

I’d like to thank the band for letting me write the blog. Once they saw what I was trying to do they pretty much let me write and gave me a pass on a lot of the driving. Also, I feel I need to make clear that the opinions in this blog were entirely mine. Not everyone felt the way I did about specific gigs or some of the events I wrote about. No one censored me or tried to butt in in any way (Said Mel Tillis). I really appreciate the chance to do this because it was a blast. And hopefully it will help us remember the damn the tour because Twangfest already seems like a lifetime ago.

I’m proud of how the band handled things. At at (“Empire” really is the best one) least one point pretty much everyone in the band lost their shit (except John) and screamed at someone else in the band (or inanimate objects/strangers). But in actuality we got along really well, had ridiculous amounts of fun, and played a bunch of shows that felt like maybe they were among our best. I set some musical goals for myself, and it was neat to get to play night after night and get to really work on them. It was equally cool to just feel the band rise and fall but ultimately get tighter (in the musical, not alcoholic sense) throughout the tour.

Every single day someone showed us an act of kindness. From bands giving us their door money because we’re on tour, to people helping us out with hotel rooms, to just little interactions with strangers that helped us find food, or a bathroom, or the lost tablets of Hammurabi. Proving once again the axiom, “America! Collectively we suck but individually on good days we’re OK! “ Yay!

When I got home I saw that my kids had taped together about 30 sheets of paper to make me a welcome home banner, and then my neighbors threw me a cookout. After the excitement of the first day home I woke up and could not get out of bed. An exhaustion like I’ve never known filled my limbs with lead. I didn’t feel this tired while we were out there, but man, even after four days I felt like I’d been worked over with a sock-full of nickels. Turns out it’s a tiring business.

Once again, I super enjoyed sharing this experience with you. I haven’t decided if I’ll write for the east coast dates. I’m leaning against it though because we’ve hit most of those towns many times, and although there will be adventures, there’s a reason Foreigner didn’t write, “Feels like the 5th time.”

Hope to see you out there. We’re eternally grateful that you give a shit.


Unseen Kennedy Ass. Footage

Unseen Kennedy ass.footage

41 seconds (Amadou Diallo - coincidence?) of footage unseen before this very moment (because it was on my iPhone) covering the short distance from the book depository to the grassy knoll, across the street to Dealey Plaza, and ending up at the building where the homeless man said Ruby shot whatshisname. Not sure about that part. Anyway draw your own conclusions....

F*#k Da Po

Don't you just hate it when you're so angry that you just have to express yourself to the world and you run out of paint? And then some mis-spelling bourgeoisie douche bag with plenty of beautiful clear flowing paint has to come along and be all ironically snarky? Some days it's hardly worth it I tell ya. From outside the club in Seattle.

D. Martin

Piece of art hanging on the wall of Stickyz RocknRoll Chicken Shack. One of the owners is a pretty great artist and has filled the walls with their pieces.

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants

A quick video I took while Wussy was communing with the Redwoods. A deep, very cool place to be. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mechanical Squid and Death House

Mechanical Squid and Death House

Doing this blog has taught me so many things that everyone else can do. For instance this is the first video I've ever posted to YouTube. I know, I'm proud too. This is from that wicked cool store in Burbank called Hyaena. The Mechanical Squid is pretty self-explanatory, the Death House was created by the props guy from 6 Feet Under who also works on Robot Chicken.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No One Cares How Louisville is pronounced


Quotes: For this last round of quotes I’m putting down the things that were said in the van every day and more likely every hour. They’re not funny by themselves and probably only became funny to us by dint of their ridiculousness. Still, when things were getting tense one of these would be bound to make someone laugh,

“My eye”

“Bark” (It’s a thing, or rather a substance)

“Just the tip”

“I lead a normal life”

“Daddy’s gonna shut you down” (Just add any pejorative before this and sing it to the melody of whatever surf song that is)

Fauna: Remember when I saw stuff? Good times. Even if I didn’t see the damn roadrunner.

I’ve gotten a few days behind on the blog because wrapping up this leg of the tour has been kind of chaotic. For instance, we rented our van from a company in Nashville, and rather than get home, clean it out, and then drive it back to Nashville it was decided we would drop it off now, rent a car, load most of our gear into the Sundresses van and divide up the band between the two vehicles. The contract with the van people gave us 6,000 miles at no additional charge but we had exceeded that somewhere in Arizona. It turned out to actually be cheaper to rent a one-way car than keep adding up miles on the van. Oh sweet Enrique,* you have been so good to us, we will miss you with the ardor of  a Spaniard for the Virgin Mary. So a renting, cleaning, and transferring we went. But wait! There’s more! Chuck and Lisa also needed to be in Louisville at 3:00 for a radio thing. Because we’re idiots we assumed the GPS/Maps machine would take into account the time change and ended up leaving later than we should have. Two accidents and some road construction later and we were grinding our teeth stressed, wondering if we were going to make it. Being late for radio sucks because those places tend to keep to a pretty tight schedule, and often they’re announcing over the air that you’re going to be playing at a certain time. As we were driving we kept calling different numbers at the station but couldn’t get hold of anyone. When we finally rolled up to the station (right near the beautiful Palace Theater where I saw Tom Waits) we knocked on the door and no one was there. I’m sure someone was in there somewhere but the place looked pretty damn dark. Still don’t know if they gave up and left or our performance slipped through their scheduling cracks. I guess things work out the way they’re supposed to.

Then off to the club, which was called Zazoo’s I think, eat some dinner and watch most of the band have heartfelt, nauseating reunions with their loved ones. Bastards. We all went to our corners and reconvened onstage. There really was a different feeling to this show. Celebratory yes, but the thought that kept going through my head as we played was that it felt like high school graduation. You know where everyone is in a good mood and you’re giving hugs to everyone (the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal) saying you’ll keep in touch? There was that feeling of a journey collectively experienced and survived and that somehow this show was earned. (did you see LeBron wearing that “Earned Not Given” shirt after the Heat won the championship? God, he’s such an asshat) It was a great show, nice crowd full of strangers and familiar faces. Lots of silly milling around the parking lot afterwards, trying to make sure all the gear and suitcases made it into the right vehicle. Got home at five in the morning, more tired than Jesus after pushing that big damn rock out of the way.


Tomorrow is something else

*Enrique is the name of any and all Wussy vans.

Monday, July 2, 2012

There Isn't Nothing Wrong With Nashville


“Paw Paw eaters are dumbasses.” - Chuck

“It’s like playing in someone’s bladder.” Chuck (see below)

After playing Little Rock we decided to drive to Memphis to get a jump on the drive to Nashville. We were scheduled to play Grimey’s record store in the afternoon and it made sense to drive off the post-show hyperness. Then we could maybe sleep in a little the next day too. The downside is not getting to bed until after four a.m. That’s another one of those differences you have to deal with in a band. Staying up until four screws me up for a day or two. Getting up early does the same for some of the others. Either way, we pulled into the back lot of Grimey’s only kind of late, got out of the van into the hottest day in Nashville history(109 degrees), stared up at the two flights of metal stairs we were going to have to carry all our gear, and respectively sighed (“sigh”), grumbled (“Jesus Christ”), swore (“motherfuck”), wept just a little (“mommy”), and experienced a harsh hypnopompic state (“kittens?”). We climbed the gallows with at best a piss poor attitude and were once again proven wrong. Grimey’s it turns out is one of the best independent record stores left. Tons of vinyl, great vibe, good beer for the band, (PBR for the customers. Suckers!) and as I’m pissing (in the bathroom – I’m not a savage) I started looking at all the posters on the wall and began to realize that pretty much every cool band has played either the record store or the stage downstairs (called The Basement). For the love of God Metallica recorded a live record there a few years ago. So when Rene’ said we were lucky to get to play there she wasn’t just full of shit. Who knew? So we loaded all our crap up the stairs, felt rivulets of sweat gently tickle places untouched since kitchen sink sponge baths and set up. There was a nice crowd waiting for us and I said in a way that was not intended to be a legally binding jinx, “There will probably be more people here than at the show tonight.” It was really cramped so I was right up against Lisa’s amp, firmly taking another huge leap towards lip reading and ASL. Had fun, checked into a hotel with signed pictures of Lorrie Morgan (Don, Thanks for everything you do!!) on the wall and went off to find the club.

We came around the corner of a rather shack-like rambling affair into a lunar parking lot. (an inch of dust sprinkled liberally with rocks -  like shit sprinkles on a piss cream cone) We found ourselves gazing at a patio encased with chain link fence and three battle-scarred tables, a few bikes and random shit lying around. There were three men at one of them. The only intelligible words from these men were firmly entrenched in the lexicon of lechery. I’m still deciding whether to print the worst, but most were mercifully slurred.* We were told we could load our gear onto the patio and that, “no one would fuck with it there.” Jeremy from the Sundresses said he’d do that after the men on the patio were done doing blow but I’m going to go to my grave assuming he was kidding. (It’s for the best really) We decided to leave our gear locked in the van and go get dinner at an Indian place, where I ate yellow Malai Kofta with deep-fried vegetable balls. When we got back I was forcefully reminded how much I hate clubs that allow smoking. The amazing thing is that this was our first and last one on the entire tour. Wasn’t that long ago I associated rock shows with stinking clothes and scratchy throats.

You may have noticed I haven’t printed the name of the club and I wont. Because this was a place where not only hope went to die, but if it wandered in, blissful in its naivete, someone would break a bottle and jam the broken end with a twisting motion into its throat. The room we played in was almost pitch dark and you could still see the dirt. Three fans showed up, two sitting erect at the bar trying to look inconspicuous and one who stood in front and danced. They had two mics and no monitors and wouldn’t allow us to sell merch. It was the only night of the whole tour where we made 0 dollars. (breaking Spokane’s record of $25) That said we played a pretty good show, feeling once again like a band that can handle the occasional dive bar. Hell, we didn’t play Rawhide once.

For the record, I love Nashville. 

Tomorrow is the last show. Louisville bound.

*I didn’t actually hear the quote so I called John who had, and because he said it had been burned into his brain. As he was recounting it I was groaning with the horror and John said, “Oh yeah, I was just standing there thinking my God, I’m next to a grubworm.” Anyway, without further ado.

“My lower abdomen is too soft for a girl to sit on. So I like to come at her from behind like a hummingbird. Like a rectal hummingbird if you know what I mean.”
Man opposite
“Rectal Hummingbirds? That’d be a good name for a band. (No it wouldn’t. Besides, I think Wilco already owns it)

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Thong #2

Observed on the floor of the women's bathroom at Stickyz. (I know, awesome right?) Rene' took the picture and said it was bloody, but I choose to think it was an optical illusion. This one was removed by an obviously dismayed employee via a paper towel.

Thong #1

Found in the pull out couch of the Hyatt in Palm Springs. It became the "Tour Thong."

A Light Night Sculpture

I'm a Little Country - He's a Little Rock


“Rene must have decided to drop the kids off at the pool.” - Chuck after Rene had been gone awhile at a pit stop

“When you sleep on a bus you have to make sure your feet are facing forward or you could snap your neck if the bus brakes hard.” The Connells to Chuck back in the day.

“I love the smell of my hat” Me, when I was covering my face in mortification.
“Smells like a Halloween mask” Chuck (both sung Broadway style)

“Is he driving the bus when you get one?” - Maestro mocking Joe when we ran into a little confusion parking the van at the club

“Snap Snappy!” - Turtle (one of the Gator Boys on a very late night reality show featuring idiots who run an animal removal company I guess) He was explaining why he prefers to use his hands when capturing skunks as opposed to the more conventional humane traps. (they’re undependable and they break) They also took a bath in bleach water and got a cow out of a hole using a backhoe.

Fauna: Not a damn thing

Our next show was to be in Little Rock. Lisa played a selection of Texas songs as we drove north from Dallas. Joe sang a lovely version of Texarkana by REM, (20,000 miles to an oasis) which upon reflection seems to have been a non-fiction account, as we drove on through to the Arkansas border. And just like that our time in Texas was done.

This show had a little extra weight attached to it. Little Rock was the site of the only time Wussy ever left the stage in anger and protest. After a whopping two songs last March. Not a good night, so we were hoping to make up for that and get right with Little Rock.  We were playing Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack and as we pulled in to the back parking lot an energetic middle-aged man was waiting there for us. He immediately began giving Joe directions as to where he should park. For the next five minutes a comedy of miscommunication and errors resulted in the man now known as Maestro declaiming, “You gonna let him drive the bus when you get one? “ (Joe’s an excellent driver btw.)

Almost all of our memories of this evening are tied up with Maestro. I feel inadequate to express the force of nature that was his energy and personality. I’m just going to start by bringing up the cliché of how anyone doing pretty much any work really really well is indistinguishable from art. Now I used to do live sound for my job when I was younger. I started out in bars and after I realized it sucked I moved to corporate type gigs. For instance I used to do a lot of management seminars by the Seven Habits guy and that other one, you know the One Minute to Manage To Move Your Cheese guy. Anyway, in the corporate sounds gigs it was always quite obvious that the person on stage was our client. In rock clubs most of the time if there is any perceived client at all it is usually the club, not the band. Rock sound people have a reputation for being churlish and I understand why. When I was doing sound I would try to be pleasant and I realized that a lot of bands looked at that with suspicion. As if being chipper somehow meant you were weak or trying to cover up inadequacies in your sound skills. Plus, bands are a pain in the ass, this one included. Deal with three or four bands a night and after awhile you just want them to turn their damn amps down, (they wont) get on and off stage with some alacrity, (maybe) and stop expecting miracles from the monitors. Add in the fact that most bands suck, think they don’t and use their gig nights to regress back to 9th grade then I get the surliness. Now Maestro (that’s what he goes by) is a veteran of several decades in the trenches, came from Cleveland and broke into the business up there. Stickyz is a great club with pro sound and good lighting. They get national acts and have their shit together. Everyone was nice without being overly friendly. (except the bartender who wouldn’t serve me – damn douche lick) Like I said about the previous night, it’s easy to be good when everything is going well. So we had no excuse and we played a really good show I think. But Maestro was among the best I’ve ever seen. Yeah he was good with mixing; he’s supposed to be and he was. We had absolutely anything we wanted in the monitors. But he also told hilarious stories with lots of swearing, drank Jagermeister while swearing he wasn’t a drunk, and in general acted like a character. At all times he made it clear that we were his main priority and without being obsequious made sure we were in the best place and position to play a good show. And this was after he had worked for nine nights straight. (“eh, it’s what I do.”) How did he do this? Little things like saying, “ You just sit there and we’ll sound check after you eat. I don’t want us to get started and have your food come and then you got to eat cold food.” Or just observing Lisa’s body language and two songs in saying over the monitors, “Are you sure you have enough vocals in the monitors?” Running up to the stage to make sure I was good after I asked for more bass but forgot to give the OK sign. We were in a good mood, comfortable and confident it was going to be a good show. That’s what this overlong paragraph comes down to. It was a pleasure to watch a master at work.

And for the only two funny things I can recall Maestro saying. (they came so fast and furious I couldn’t keep up) He walked by us as we were eating and says dumping a bag of Skittles in his mouth, “This is what they give a black man to eat in Arkansas.” (He sat down to a full meal a few minutes later) He told a five minute story about the bass player from the Stray Cats. It went something like this: “ Well now you remember that dude had that big bass with the cat on it? The one he would stand on? Well it’s got gold all around at the edge on the top too, and you know what? That bass flies to every show. Hell yes, we had to go to the airport and pick it up. It got here before he did. Well I put it up onstage and placed bouncers around it because everyone wanted to open the case and look at it. No way was I gonna let that bass get fucked up. Anyway, when the guy finally gets here I figure I’ll play a little Brian Seltzer (that's how he said it) Orchestra to be nice and some guy comes running up telling me to turn that shit off because the bass guy was turning green he was so pissed. Turns out he’s not really happy with getting left behind for the orchestra shit. Anyway, I was like Maestro you fucked up now. I knew I was gonna have to be on point mixing that night. So when he got onstage I was all like see how good it is? And after awhile he was all right. ‘Course then we had to take that damn bass back to the airport the next day.” There are more stories and if they occur to me in coherent form I’ll post them.

Anyway, it was hot as fuck, as apparently was the rest of the country, but I went on my walkabout as per usual. I’m very aware that I’ve been judging towns on merely a tiny slice, but who cares, it’s just a blog. So the slice of Little Rock I saw was great. Nice, neat little town. I came across a miniature White House that was the original some fucking important thing that I can’t remember because it’s been a long tour and I drink, but regardless it was cool.  I walked back to the club along a wonderful river walk trail that now makes every city but Cincinnati one that realizes what a resource a major river is and dedicates it to the citizens, as opposed to the pathetic local major sports franchises. Along the river behind the convention center was an amazing sculpture garden. In the way that one does not get enough fresh fruit and vegetables on tour there is a similar lack of edifying art. I’m not going to get into it, let’s just say I felt a lightening of my spirit to walk at twilight in view of the Arkansas River, by myself looking at some wicked cool sculpture. (I’ll include a picture so you don’t think I’ve gone soft) After that I came across the Little Rock equivalent of the Purple People Bridge. (a bridge converted for pedestrian use over a major river) Even though I was sweating bullets in my wicked cool skinny jeans ironic moustache rock star duds I went out to the middle of the river, and found out where Little Rock puts its homeless people. They were all there, but it was a wonderful, slightly homesick view as the Arkansas bares more than a passing resemblance to the Ohio. (According to Joe this because they’re both RIVERS – to which I replied with the weight and gravity of Churchill addressing the British population after a particularly brutal blitz, “Oh fuck off.”)

I guess that’s it. The opening band, other than the egregious foul of wearing flip-flops onstage, was the first band of the tour that I sat and listened to the whole set. They were called Swampbird and played Drive By Truckers style alt. country in a way that few do well any more. Good guys too.

It’s funny how life works. In the small unimportant world of a small unimportant Midwestern rock band, this night was exactly what we needed to revive ourselves  after our collapse in Dallas.

Tomorrow is Nashville.