Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wussy Experiments with House

  Tonight was going to be our first house show. A house show is exactly what it sounds like although the family who set this one up has it down to a science. They’ve had a bunch of cool people like Califone, Centro-matic, Mark Eitzel, etc. play there, and they sell tickets like a regular show so it’s not just a group of buddies hanging out throwing peanuts at the trained monkeys. There are about a hundred cool things about our experience, but near the top is the fact that all the tickets sold out in one day. There’s no way that’s a bad feeling.

            We’d known Scott, our host, for a while and met his dream of a wife in a beautiful house somewhere in the Baltimore area. I don’t know where, I wasn’t driving. There were brownies in the oven (real brownies – I wasn’t being euphemistic) and they did a cookout for us that was just wonderful. Don’t underestimate the power of a home cooked meal on the road, even if Lisa did waste an entire burger because she bit into a vegetarian one thinking it was meat. The whole host* family (It is a little like hosting a foreign exchange student….. or perhaps an au pair? Maybe even a naughty au pair. I’m thinking sternly Teutonic with a taste for Ratzeputz, and a habit of weeping softly to Beethoven’s Late Quartets) decamped to the master bedroom so everyone in the band could have their own bed. I stayed in one of the kid’s rooms, surrounded by Adventure Time posters and Legos. Very comforting, although if this hadn’t been our last show it probably would have felt like putting a snail dragging a lemon with a razor blade shoved through it up my arm by making me miss my kids even more.

            The only times we’ve played Baltimore were at a very small bar called Mum’s. Any place that was willing to risk it by letting us play their venue on that first tour holds a place in our hearts. Mum’s compounded that by introducing us to a homemade spiced liquor called EVL that is apparently composed primarily of grain alcohol. Its unofficial title is Christmas in a Bottle, which should give you an idea of its taste. Really, any more than one drink and your life goes into a swirling shitter of blackouts and pain. It’s wonderful and they bought us our very own bottle to take home. The second time we played at Mum’s was several years later and a sizable contingent showed up in the Wussy shirts they had bought that first time. To see them again at this house show, God knows how many years later is amazing.

            At 7:00 the doorbell rang and I just wasn’t ready to socialize yet. I had some pre-show jitters I guess so I went up to my borrowed room and sat on the bed in the dark and just shut down for a while. I felt kind of guilty though so at 7:45 I went upstairs to see if any one else was around; and found that every single member of the band had, without discussion, done exactly the same thing. Hid in their rooms in the dark.

The show was in their living room. We were to be the litmus test for having a full band play as opposed to the more typical acoustic variety. Scott had rented a nice sound system and to our joy it was a great sounding room. We’d thought we were going to have to play a very sedate set but somehow between all the factors (including Kevin the sound guy who did a great job) (his name really was Kevin) (some people are named Kevin – get over it) we were able to play our regular set without making people’s ears bleed. Once we started it felt like a regular show. It was a dream crowd really, full of people who love the band you’re in and feel like they’re sharing something unique and kind of special with you. Oh, and it was also a pot luck so there was food everywhere, and huge (tracts of land) tubs filled with all the fancy beer that Joe and I love.

            The show broke the record for most merch we’d ever sold, and was the longest set we played on this tour at around an hour and forty-five minutes.

            So thank you Baltimore and especially our gracious and kind hosts.

*Wussy are parasites

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wussy Visits NYC

I think I’ve written it before but if you can’t get excited for a show in New York then you’re probably dead inside (like Ghengis Khan). We were playing the Webster Hall Studio for the second time and load-in was 4:30, which for the slow moving barge that is Wussy in motion, meant we had to hot foot it. The Webster is an interesting place in that it’s three different performance spaces. The same night as us was a sold out show by Space Ghost or some band with the word ghost in their name. The other space had a burlesque show going on. There’s an unusually high  number of black jacketed security people with Secret Service ear pieces walking around and clogging up the lines to the urinals, and door people who yell at you for going in the door you loaded in to but now that’s not the door you go in.

            The last time we played there we fell in love with David, the man running sound, and requested him again. He’s the greatest and says things like, “It’s nice to get to mix a real rock band.” And his wife came to the show and said he’d been talking about our band the whole year since last we played there. That’s about as high praise as you can get. It was also exciting because we’d pre-sold more tickets than we ever had. We were done sound checking around 5:30, which begs the question, how was this different from the previous night in Phili? Well, part of it is that we had a plan. A friend of the band was treating us to an amazing dinner (Best gnocchi I’d ever had by a mile, gorgonzola cream sauce with walnuts and caramelized onions, served by dark haired young men who conversed only in Italian – meow.) and the other reason was Rene’ swung her brass balls and got the little room to the side of the stage just for us. The last time all four bands were in there, some of our gear went missing, and it was chaos. See? Little by little we’re becoming assholes. It was so nice to have a place to go though. Of course the Strand bookstore is about a block away. Go there. It’s a holy place. I got an out of print copy of a collection of Roger Tory Peterson’s art and photos that had been signed. By him. Not Kevin.

            And then there was the show. We had 227 (“There’s No Place Like Home” – Sing it!) people pay to see us (they ask at the door who you’re there to see and then pay the bands according to that number) in a place that only holds 300.  They come right up to the stage, sing along, and make you want to be as good as The Who circa 1971.We roared to the best of our ability, said many silly things from stage, and had the time of our lives. I told my son about it when he called the next morning, and even though he’s only 11 he said, “make sure you remember that one.”

            I ran in the rain while the van idled in front of a fire hydrant to get our traditional post show cheese pizza and called it a night. Yay!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kiss the Statue

The back stairs of Milkboy where we loaded out. The statue had been defaced by succulent lipsticked mouths.


Our hotel was about 40 minutes out of downtown. I was rather looking forward to some time away from the family so I took the train downtown.  I decided I’d go to the Barnes Foundation Museum, which I hadn’t been to since it moved locations. I felt great and then out of the blue, like an intestinal Pearl Harbor….. well, that’s probably a tad hyperbolic; let’s go with an intestinal Grenada since it was more of the shart variety, I was embarrassingly stricken. Kind of threw me off for the afternoon, although it did lead me to playing my first ever show commando. I did my best to enjoy the Picasso’s and Matisse’s though because I’m kind of a hero.

            We played a place we never had before called Milkboy. It was a little fancier than is our norm and served a wonderful beer called Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale. You should drink it now. The struggle was that after our soundcheck we had 3 and a half hours to kill before we played. Can’t drink because I’m trying this new fad called “professionalism,” and was pretty pooped ‘cause I’d walked around all day. We sat in the van for a while with the window down and listened to the men on the corner, who seemed to work for the adjoining garage, expound on life, family (an aunt apparently fell hilariously down the steps – Bam Bam Boom!), and the quality of asses that passed them by. Chuck and I went and got dessert (ice cream sandwich made with brownies) and talked to the 27-year old employee about metal. She loves Judas Priest and early Metallica and bemoaned the fact that no one her age likes metal at all.  Two hours killed. Went to a craft brew pub hoping to write and sip a quality beer (sipping one beer doesn’t count as drinking – but thanks for bringing it up), but it was packed so I people watched until Joe and some old friends showed up.

Why did I bring all that tedium up? And am I complaining? No I’m not. I was in a great city and about to play a great club. It’s just that we’re here to do a job – try and play a great show. The effect of it all was that I’d say it took us four songs to really start coming together. And to be honest we never really caught fire. It was a good show and the crowd was giving good energy. Everyone in the band said after that they were struggling with just feeling kind of physically weary. I guess maybe that idea of a backstage or a green room is not really about staying away from the attendees but more about having a little quiet home in order to get ready for the show. God, I feel like a tool even writing that. You read about Husker Du living for years in their van and playing squats and shitholes, and no where in there do they decry the agony of having nowhere to chill before a show. Oh well, I guess we’re just soft. It’s still my best explanation for why the heart was willing but the body didn’t quite comply.

And as a side note – I’ve had several people tell me I’m too harsh in assessing our shows, but you have to understand two things: feeling satisfied is the first step towards complacency. There’s always something you want to try or to do better the next time. Every band I’ve ever been in walks on stage hoping to be better that night than the Rolling Stones, Springsteen, or whomever. It’s not gonna happen, but I don’t really have much interest in any band that’s not shooting for something like that. I mean if your goal is to someday be more scintillating than Jack Johnson - fuck that. Secondly, we had a blast at this show. What a great group of people come to see us there.  We truly love playing Phili and apparently the men of Philadelphia are on the whole very hot. (Apparently the men of New York are like dog meat made out of retired race horses in comparison.)  I’ll post a link to a review of the show that I think gets at what I’m talking about. In the end we may be a bunch of narcissistic misanthropes but we really, really want to put on a good show.

Kids in Phili

Because this is the kind of thing you just happen upon in a great city.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Travel Day

Slept in too goddamned late. Had 40 minutes to check out Burlington and Lake Champlain. It was nice and I have fond memories of the last time I was there (for my F.B.I.L.’s graduation) because I bought my copy of, “The Tin Drum,” which is a top 3 book for me. Other than that there’s a lot of crunchy granola walking around and the town gave birth to Phish. I don’t care if it’s a cliché to hate them. It’s not a cliché to hate Pol Pot and it shouldn’t be to hate them. Still Burlington’s earnestness provided for some lovely organic fresh cave-aged local-sourced food. And Lake Champlain was as always stunning, especially in its frozen state.

Then we drove to Philadelphia.

University of Albany - Parts That Don't Suck

Jimi Hendrix with a Deer and One More Besides

Trenchant Architectural Criticism & Winooski,VT

Shit. I waited too long to write this. It’s only Friday morning and this was Tuesday but it feels like another life. Oh right, we were in the beef smelling hotel. (Chuck says it was a yeasty smell and it’s only because I’m a vegetarian that it smells like meat. The man’s a fucking idiot.) After a little experience it’s pretty easy to look at how much shit Lisa has spread around the hotel room and gauge how long it will be until we leave. I figured I had a good hour at least, so I went for a walk across the street to a bunch of homogeneous 1960’s looking buildings. Turns out it was the University of Albany. The entire campus was designed by Edward Durell Stone and most people hate it. Most people have a point. It’s a big lifeless chunk of ice in the middle of a field. When you get up close however there are a some lovely details, so I’ll post some pictures of those, but in general – blech. While there I went to the University Art Museum where they had an exhibit by Lamar Peterson called Blue Plastic Bubbles, which was awesomely weird. I took a picture of Jimi Hendrix with a deer, which is maybe the most sane one, but still featured Jimi Hendrix with a deer.

We took a state route route up to Vermont because Rene’ wanted to stop at the Saratoga National Park to see the only remaining honorarium to Benedict Arnold in the states, (they were all destroyed by decree after the ah, incident Rene’ said) because he is a direct relative of hers. National Park? Yes, thank you. I got to try on period costumes meant for children, and watch the battle of Saratoga unfold on a big piece of painted wood with little lights signifying the troop movements being described in aching detail by a deeply serious, sonorous voice. The statue of traitor Ben was covered up for winter so Rene’ was pissed, but my day was made. (Not because Rene’ was pissed- that made me sad.)

It turned out we were playing in Winooski, a little ways out of Burlington. It was a funny little town along a river that looked like it was probably an old mill town, but at the same time everything looked brand new. I asked the bartender, and he said that a few years ago the place had been full of empty buildings and beset with serious generational poverty. But they’d converted the great old high-ceilinged buildings into condos and everything else had been torn down and built anew. So now it’s kind of like an upscale strip mall with just a skosh of human suffering.

We loaded in to the Monkey Room or whatever it was called, right before the open mic storytelling was to begin. It was a close call but I managed to learn nothing of anyone’s internal life. I went down to the river, frightened an otter, and discovered they had converted their bucolic river into a hydro-electric plant. John and I climbed over a wall far too low to be meant as a serious impediment, and went out to the edge of some rocks that jutted into where the outflow from the plant re-joined the river from the spillway. It was a very starry, classically Vermont-y, wintery, gorge scene with the gentle water sounds giving John and I a nice chance to share each other’s strength.

The last time we played Vermont was years ago in Montpelier, and we played this  theater space which was attended by a whole community of people who knew each other and supported the place. We had a wonderful time and these two people, Scott and Nora, whom me had never met, gave us their house for the night. They showed us where the food was and then left. Like we could’ve smelled their underwear, (lavender) hung dong willy-nilly, but they left anyway. They’ve become dear friends regardless and we got to play for them again, which was sweet. We played well (two nights in a row!) and people really seemed to enjoy themselves. Awesome person in general and superlative bass player Mike Donofrio got us to play an entirely unrehearsed version of Crooked which was fun if also refreshingly unlistenable.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chuck and Armand & the Wall of Amps

Albany Crowd

House of Guitars and Albany

Rochester was a lovely surprise. There’s a lot of music packed into that town. Four vinyl stores including a really huge one called the Record Archive, (which we did not get to) the Eastman School of Music, and after the rather voluble denouement of several days of interpersonal friction, our tourist destination for the day: the House of Guitars. The store was organized like an Appalachian homestead, rooms seemingly tacked onto others, no real idea what of would lie around each corner. I’m not really in the mood to go into some reverie on all the obscure and rare models of guitars, amps, and ephemera there, but it was fun to see them in a Tantalus-like way. It’s not a store for people who can’t stand clutter though, especially the cavernous room with records and t-shirts. Shit was just everywhere; underfoot and stacked horder style. The truly cool thing was the owner, who became familiar from the hundreds of pictures on the wall featuring him posing with every artist you’ve ever heard of: Ringo Starr, Run D.M.C., John Entwistle, every metal band ever, and just on and on. As I made my way back to the front room I saw one of the rare instances where Chuck got to be all fanboy talking to him. His name is Armand Schaubroeck and he played drums in a band called the Churchmice, who put out a single in the late ‘60’s I believe, that Chuck still owns and loves. Super lo-fi, noisy garage rock. After that the dude was in a proto-punk band called Armand Schaubroeck Steals that was working a similar patch of ground as the Ramones around the same time. He told us a story of how they were sleeping in Grand Central Station and Andy Warhol got them a meeting with John Hammond II at Columbia Records. They looked and smelled so bad he was horrified and ask how they got into his office. After a bit Armand asked if we wanted to see the recording studio – because H.O.G. had had it’s own label for awhile, a la Shake It Records, and they had been recording bands there for 30 years. Neat to meet a guy, who seemed to be sincerely nice, who had experienced that much rock history.
            Still, we had to get our asses to Albany. We checked in to a hotel that served dinner buffet style to all its guests. God, I swear it smelled like beef stew laced with sterno and regret. (recent research claims humans can distinguish 1 trillion different odors – don’t tell me regret isn’t one of them) The main course appeared to be micro-waved grilled cheese but I chose the vegetarian’s delight of iceberg lettuce and potato chips made famous at wedding receptions the world over.

            The club was called the Low Beat and was in what we were told was a bad neighborhood. Seemed all right to me excepting the deeply disappointing eggplant parmesan sub I got across the street. The Low Beat was another cool little club (Rene’ did her homework well) of the dive variety. They were excited to see us, having somehow received the mistaken impression we were a big deal. They went so far as to tell the opening band they had to play on the floor in front of the stage so as to not disturb our gear. It took about an hour for us to convince them that we could easily push our equipment back so they could play on the stage. The opening band were really young and adorable, and when I told them they could use my bass amp the one kid said to the other, “I keep forgetting that non-New York bands are nice.” Lisa told him that’s the way it feels in everyone’s hometown scene.

So keep in mind this was a Monday in a town we’d never played, but it was our best night of the tour so far. A good-sized crowd of people were there who seemed really happy to see us. And finally, we played like ourselves again. Hell, we even got called back for our first encore of the tour. After the show I talked to a couple of guys who loved Ohio bands and used to go see the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu. I don’t know, I like our fans.

Tomorrow is Burlington:

Jamie Farr Tells Chuck His Future

Wussy Falls and Rochester

After a soul-crushing trip to the mall across the street to get coffee and food we embarked to the land of halcyon childhood memories - Niagara Falls. Yay! American side. Boo. After about an hour, John, who was driving asked, “So what’s the address to the club?” I look up and see signs for Rochester and we collectively shout, “No, we’re going to Niagara Falls.” John, in an understandably aggrieved tone shouts back, “No one told me.” Because that’s how stupid this band is. We decide to go to Niagara Falls but neglect to tell the person actually driving the fucking van. In order to decide whether we turn around and drive back we held an honest to God Yay Nay (if you say godyaynay fast and with a southern accent it sounds like you're yelling at your grandma for saying something embarrassing about immigrants again) vote. Chuck and Joe voted no, whilst Rene', Lisa, and I voted to go. Thus the motion carried and we turned around. (John abstained because fuck us) It was finally sunny out and the whole place was not as kitschy as I remember, although admittedly I think my memories are of the Canadian side. But the falls were just as awesome. The river was still frozen a couple of a hundred yards past the falls and it looked like an ancient glacier, all craggy and cracked. There was a reverse frozen wave of ice from all the accumulated mist off to the side of the falls that I desperately wanted to stand inside. The pathway along the river preceding the falls was closed for construction so I didn’t get to experience that rush of fear at being so close to death. I remember as a kid being terrified and fascinated as I unbidden kept projecting myself somehow slipping down the slope and being hurtled over the falls. When my family went on the Maid of the Mist all I remember now was looking down at the black water as the captain kept announcing the increasingly deep depths . It was like being suspended above some impersonal black hole where if I once again somehow slipped I would be sucked straight to the bottom and never see my parents again.

We went to the wax museum gift shop and all bought fortunes from the ancient machine containing a dusty and deteriorating mystic that Lisa said looked like Jamie Farr. I told her that was an offensive aspersion and didn’t talk to her for the rest of the day. Chuck bought a bag of differently sized adult plastic Buffalo (the fact they were all adults was an important point to him) that said only the word ZOO on it. He was truly tickled.

            We got to the venue and it was a really small bar with the place where we set up being a little alcove on the floor. It was delightful though. A bunch of lovingly framed paint-by-numbers on the walls and a very cool, intimate listening type room upstairs. It was going to be like playing a house show as far as size was concerned so we turned way down and played a bunch of songs we don’t do very often like, “Little Paper Birds,” “Motor Cycle Song”, “Human-Brained Horse” etc. I had so much fun.

            But here’s the best part. After the show I began talking to a kindly looking couple, and somehow or other the topic of birds came up. (as they do) (speaking of, the hotel we were staying at was decorated exclusively with full-sized Audubon bird prints. What I would give for one of those. Oh, and here’s a tidbit for the tots: The original Audubon Birds of America is one of the few books for which a complete census has been taken for every extant edition. People know the provenance of every single copy. The others I’m aware of are the Gutenberg Bible and some edition of Shakespeare’s plays. I’m no expert though.) They looked at each other and then he said, “Well, I’m an ornithologist,” in that casual way of most superheroes. It turns out his wife was a wetlands biologist as well, so how cool is that? We had what I thought was a fascinating conversation (even if they quickly began checking their watch and moving away from me in what I assume they hoped was an imperceptible manner) about what defines restoration of habitat. Restoring to a previous unsullied past or letting nature take its course? The ornithologist said both approaches were a form of manipulation so one is not morally better than the other and the biologist said it depends.

            What a great night. I loved the club, the owner was very nice, the audience sweet, and we got to play some different songs.

Tomorrow Albany.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Weeping Angel

Broad Side of a Barn

Buffalo and Blizzard Balls

What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times. We dicked around at the hotel, wasted time with pointless errands, and left Columbus at the last moment we could safely call conscientiously prudent. Almost immediately the cold rainy misery switched to soggy flakes, and then big ass are you fucking kidding me flakes. There was no way to avoid it. The storm was a huge slow grind of a thing. The trip typically would take around 6 hours but we (spoiler alert – skip the next paragraph unless you want to know if we survived) arrived at the club closer to the ten-hour mark. It was one of those deals where you begin to see cars off the road before you realize how slick it is. (How slick was it? Slicker than a snail in a blender) (speaking of slick – we had a conversation about who you’d rather have sex with, Bea Arthur or Aunt Bea? No one chose Bea Arthur, although I think her stern vigor could be quite bracing. I mean, after you’d stopped crying) By the end of the day we’d seen well over 20 cars off the road, although that might even be a low figure. It just sucked. John and Joe did a fairly heroic job because it never let up. By the time we got to I-90 Joe had taken over and visibility was at pre-lasik Magoo level. At one point the passenger side windshield wiper disengaged and began flapping impotently at the end of the relentlessly pulsing metal rod. The only semi-safe place to stop was under bridges. (I can’t tell you how much I hate that song. Tuneless, self-important, sung as if suffering the effects of an auto-erotic asphyxiation gone wrong. Really, other than their cover of "Disco Inferno" I don’t much need any Chili Peppers.) We had to stop regularly to clean off the wipers because they would get so gunked up as to be useless, and each time we just prayed that no one would plow into us. Most times that we’ve been late for a show I’d get pretty stressed, but this time I didn’t even care because it was so harrowing. When we finally approached our exit we couldn’t see it until the last minute and then Joe couldn’t stop the van. We just kept going.

We got to the venue, a really cool place called Nietzsches, and the band before us was already playing. Everyone was so hungry, because we’d never had dinner and it was 10:30, that we ran to a corner pizza place, got fancy-pants slices and croquets, and by the time we got back the band was finishing. We loaded straight from the van onto stage, set-up, and played a middle-slot 45 minute set where we got to just pour all that stress right into the show. It was quite redemptive after the previous night. What a great club for a show as well. The sound guy, I think his name was Gary, had worked their for 20 years. It sounded perfect from the first without a sound or even line check. Raised seats on either side and a place to stand on the floor right up the middle. Cool, dusty, somewhat spooky stuff scattered all over; like an honest to God Weeping Angel.

An observations about our brief time in Buffalo. I know it’s right across the border and all but it really had the feel of being an almost Canadian city. Everyone we met was ridiculously polite and unfailingly helpful. When Lisa took a spill on the ice the town drunk (who would later fall asleep on the bar – raising his head only to help croak out the chorus to “Gloria” that the band was unashamedly using to pad their set) helped carry her stuff back to the van.

After the headliners set, and after we’d loaded up the van, squelching and slipping with every load of equipment, Chuck and I decided to see if we could hit a grey box about the size of a womp rat on the side of the club with a snowball. It was pathetic. At a distance of 20 feet max. we failed like Pickett on Groundhog’s Day, over and over again. (pictorial proof to follow) Then without warning or provocation Joe launched an attack at our heads. Thus followed the first, and likely last, ever Wussy snowball fight where we continued to miss each other at point blank range. Chickamauga it wasn’t. Still, a lovely moment of silliness at the end of a long-ass day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Attica Tour - Columbus

Let’s see, it’s been since the summer before last since we last had a record out and did our first touring outside of the east coast and around home. We’ve done some jaunts east and such since, and I tried to keep the blog going but couldn’t. It was different. We were going places we’d been before and as much as I love the east coast it’s not much to look at; the Norma Desmond of coasts as it were. Zero wildlife, the Appalachians are like a card catalog. Beautiful, staid, and from so long ago as to be pointless. 

Shit, I’m sorry, that’s no way to start this. Bad joke, worse metaphor. Look, I prefer the east, it’s just that the west is so freaking gorgeous. There was a strong chance we were going to tour Europe in the summer and I was super psyched to write about that, seeing as that’s right at the tip top of the dream catcher pyramid. That didn’t happen because it turns out no one actually gives a shit about us over there. I know. We were shocked as well. The new record is being released on the Damnably label in Europe so maybe we’ll get there yet. Anyway, I just couldn’t find anything to write about other than reciting, “Shit Chucks Says.*” 

Well we’ve got the new record coming out now and Rene’ is booking us an actual tour of the United States. I mean, we did a pretty good job of it last time, but it was haphazard. The whole west coast thing was about to fall through until Rene’ came in and rescued it. Then the Afghan Wigs and Heartless Bastards slots were offered. It all worked out pretty well and I feel lucky to have gotten to go out and do all those things I'd dreamed of for so long. (all except for that bout of Whipworm) Tonight we’re starting a short first leg, or first stump** I guess is more accurate, before the record is even officially out, and we’re heading east on a slightly different route than usual. I don’t know if I’ll hit the same wall of familiarity or not, but I’m excited to be starting all this up again. I can’t explain it but travelling to promote a record feels different. We’re still Wussy though, masters of the dollar short, and our plans to get to Boston, Providence, and some other spots didn’t work out. Even when we plan ahead we’re still too late. That said, we’re heading north and west in June and then south and east in August. That’s a pretty good covering of the old contiguous states I think.

On this run we’re playing three shows in upstate New York, where we have no idea if we have any fans. Could be lonely but it’s cool to go places we’ve never gone. We started out in Columbus at the Ace of Cups. A bank converted into a club by the glorious Marcy Mays. She’s not glorious because Scrawl was and remains a mighty band. (Because they really are a great fucking band.) Still, assholes make great music too so it doesn’t necessarily get you a well-maintained tombstone. No she’s glorious because she’s super kind and cool as hell. She always gives us all big hugs, makes sure we’re fed and don’t lack for liquid. She also has the rare ability to be matter-of-factly honest. For instance, we played like all kinds of shit this night. After the show I shook my head and said to her, in what I assume was an adequately rueful manner, “opening night jitters.” She just said, “well, it’s to be expected – you playing a lot of new stuff?” “Yeah.” “You might want to mix a few more up-tempo numbers in between ‘em.” Yep.

So back to us playing like shit.  Missed chords, painfully long gaps between songs, a set list that seemed to die on the vine. The crowd was so excited at the beginning and about half way though you could just feel them slipping away. It’s practically a physical feeling. First the phones come out, then a few people start drifting off, and by the end, when hopefully people are hooting and hollering for one more song they just kind of sigh, as if they’re not happy it’s over but they’re not exactly displeased either, shrug on their coats, and go pay their tab. 15 minutes later the bar is empty except for the friend of the girl who puked earlier who is sleeping at a table. The puker now being perky and ready to resume partying while the presumably reflux challenged chick has to be guided out. (how someone could just up and puke on a crowded floor is a mystery. Vomit isn’t exactly like an unannounced guest. And how much do you tip the staff when such an event occurs? The bartender was pretty pissed so I’m guessing they tipped like a spinster ordering oatmeal after Sunday church), To a certain extent everything felt awkward and rusty; from packing for the trip, to loading the van etc. Oh well, we’ll get it back.

*He so crazy
**We’re calling this tour Eileen