A couple of years ago Chuck and I were interviewed on camera before a jaunt down to South by Southwest or some such. And by on camera I mean I have no idea if it ever broadcast or was just added into snuff films to maintain the aura of uneasiness. When the guy was asking us about leaving for a tour Chuck and I realized we share the conviction that this (or any of them really) is going to be the tour where we die. No real reason or specificity, just garden variety foreboding. The longer the trip the greater the foreboding. (foreskin and forelocks are the only other “fore” words I can think of right now. I just spent the last five miles changing the letters for amusement, i.e. War-skin Warlock, or More-skin Morelock. The first one being a hyper aggressive Dungeons and Dragons gang who roam the suburbs after dark casting spells, wearing cloaks, tipping over children’s wagons, and trading in the casual misogyny of the chronically virginal. The second being a cigar-chomping, former Vaudeville manager who now makes soft porn movies under the guise of Scared Straight style morality plays.)
I’ve spent the last several months becoming progressively more excited about the prospects of leaving on this tour. Everyone I talk to admits to some level of pre-trip anxiety no matter how relaxing the promised vacation might be. As we got down to the last two weeks my anxiety became obvious to all and caused me to take a lot of naps. Everyone in the band, except possibly the more stoic among us for whom their inner life remains but a tantalizing non-entity, were similarly freaking out. It’s not just fear of catastrophic disaster but the camping trip aspect of it. We need to have everything we might need, excepting supplies gleaned from gas stations, in the van. All of our equipment of course, including enough back-ups that hopefully we can avoid having a show come to a grinding halt because of some non-human failure. We need to get all the merch ordered, put together, organized into bins, and hopefully find the right balance between what we can fit in the van and afford to pay for, get posters sent, press releases e-mailed etc. Then, like everyone who has ever travelled ever, there’s the quest to predict all possible future needs and meet them with the essential travel-sized solution. Will my corns chafe? Will I suffer the ignomy of monkey butt? Will I be cold, hot, clammy, sweaty, windswept, or stifled? And what, oh what about the heartbreak of psorisis? Or in other words, how can I ameliorate the chance of any discomfort whatsoever while maintaining the visage of the seasoned traveler with naught but a windbreaker, a washcloth, and a toothbrush. We can fit one medium suitcase per person that will get tossed in back with the gear and then whatever you can fit around your assigned spot without encroaching on someone else’s spot.
Add in the leaving of one’s life for almost a month, making sure all bills are paid (and don’t even think how they’re going to get paid next month), kids have rides arranged to day camps or work, shifts are covered etc. and the anxiety is getting going good. The final piece is of course the impending dread of leaving and missing loved ones. It might be nice to have a break from your every day life, but it’s hard nonetheless. I don’t want to speak for the rest of the band but there’s guilt too. Our families have to pick up the slack of all the responsibilities we are walking away from. I feel like an asshole leaving my kids with the pat platitude that I am teaching them how important it is to follow your dreams. Or perchance that their dad is a selfish man-child who splits all the time to hang out in bars.
To sum up then: we were a mess making our aforementioned loved ones so crazy they were probably relieved when we finally left. We had one mantra, “Everything will be ok when we get in the van.” Because once you get in the van it’s done. You roll with what you’ve got and once again realize that you are not Peter Matthiessen heading into the Himalayas and can stop at a store to get whatever you’ve forgotten. It was weird. For the first few hours after we left for Chicago I just sat there not knowing what to do because my heart was racing and my body still felt like it was moving, but there was nothing to do but sit. (and yes I am aware I was in travelling van on a rotating earth in an elliptical orbit around the sun of a spinning galaxy in an ever expanding universe.) The entire day, and to a certain extent the next was all about dispassionately observing my heart and breathing slow down and acclimating to its new routine.
And if all this sounds like a big batch of negativity about something so desirable as playing in a rock band, then just roll with the idea that opposites do not necessarily negate each other. I can’t believe I get the chance to play music almost every night. I can’t wait to see this huge country again and meet all the sweet people who have taken our music into their lives. I love the adventure of it all. I love that I’m going to see the mountains and put my feet into the Pacific for the second time. Drinking wine in the same zip code where it was made, eating cherries in Washington and Mexican food pretty much all down the west coast. It's awesome, it really is. Anyway, we’re on our way to Chicago regardless!