Friday, July 25, 2014

Lexington, KY

Animals: Seriously? Back in the land of the Mourning Dove and Starling.

Quotes: “It’s like a corpse farted in my face.”  - Chuck has this compulsion where he has to stick his face into any bag of salty snacks and give a good sniff when he first opens it. In this case he was describing the new Blue Cheese Combos, which were frankly disappointing after its promising olfactory beginning. Historically, Fritos are considered to have the worst initial smell profile.

SIARPC: Bill Cosplay

Last show for about two and a-half weeks. I’m super proud of us on a couple of levels. Rene’ built in a few more days off than usual and I think it had a lot to do with some of the positive results. I remember being so spent at the Louisville show, which ended our first West coast tour two years ago, that everything had an unreal quality to it. I think we were situationally insane, like coming out of the jungle after a failed expedition to find the Lost City of George Lucas’ talent. All you’ve dreamed of during the hot nights of malarial fever is the comforting embrace of loved ones and the luxury of polite society with their bed sheets and private bathrooms, but when you emerge you find the world has changed and suddenly women are smoking and exposing their calves willy-nilly while youngsters are spouting incomprehensible nonsense like, “That cancelled stamp’s a choice bit of calico. I’d better iron my shoelaces and take a jorum of skee if I’m gonna eat some cake.” We were a mess.

This time though we felt ok. Tired of course but not unduly so. We're getting a little better at managing our stomachs and getting a little more sleep. Anyway, I think now might be a good time to cast maybe a more objective eye towards the tour. Yes, we’ve got another 10 day jaunt coming up so it’s not over, but this was the big push. As I mentioned, I feel like we were genuinely healthier this time around. The last time out west we had at least two screaming fights that I remember; Chuck and Joe in Portland and Lisa and me after Tucson. I do think it’s to our credit that we are invariably embarrassed after these events and the involved parties usually hug it out the next day. (Although in Chuck and Joe’s case it was more of a “I can’t quit you,” kind of thing) Sometimes it’s a necessary clearing of the air, but mostly it’s just the accumulation of exhaustion and frustration. This tour there were none of those. I mean it wasn’t all Brady Brunch repressed homosexual tensions and possibly illegal Oedipal ‘It’s a Sunshiny Day” shit, but then what is? 

The critical love for Wussy has always been akin to the Pravda's view of a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet on Victory Day. It’s deeply gratifying and we’re over the moon about how people have been responding to Attica, but the reality is that it’s expensive to keep 6 people alive on the road and reviews do not seem to have a huge correlation to butts in the seats. Let me throw some very general West coast numbers out and see where we land. I’d say we spent around $2,500 on merch to take with us. Of course we hopefully get that back so it’s a grey area. Gas on average out West is over $4 a gallon so if we fill up once that’s around $90. I’d say we averaged around $120 on gas daily. The way we run it is that everyone is responsible for their own survival during the day but the band pays for dinner. If it’s fast food poison that’s about $60 but if it’s sit down I’d say $100-$120. Let’s just average it out at $100 a day for food. We tend to sleep in one room unless the deals are super good and we can afford two rooms. Rene’ has all this info so I’m kind of guessing here but let's go with an average of about $80 a night. My gut say it might be higher but we had a few free nights as well so I’ll stick with $80. So let’s just say a bare minimum of $300 goes out every day. If we were out on the road 23 days that’s $6,900 with approximately 7 travel days built in. (A travel day being money out and none in.) We spent another 1,200 bucks to get some more cassette t-shirts printed and shipped out to us. After we paid Rene’ and Shake It for the CD’s we took with us we were still in the black at the end. So that’s awesome. We figured that every band member could be paid $200 to go home with. Of course we still need to have the van serviced so we only paid about half the band at this time.

Ok. Everything about this tour grew positively from the last one. We are on a good trajectory. Well, if we were all 25 years old it would be, but the question lingers as to how many more times can we go out and, for the most part, not make anything near as to what it takes to pay for our absence from the home front. This isn’t Cadillac money, this is the electric bill money. No one in this band is complaining, no one owes us anything, and we have some of the most generous fans imaginable. Dude, there are some wonderful, angelic benefactors for whom without their help we couldn’t tour like this at all. I’m just trying to give some sense of the numbers. No one’s talking about quitting and we are ever hopeful that something will develop that will allow us to pay the bills. I can speak only for myself when I say that there is a very strong possibility that the freedom afforded us by Shake It and the lack of pressure that comes with operating in the dark has allowed us to grow in an unfettered way that is pretty rare these days. Seriously, we make the record we want. Shake It pays the recording bills and we pay them back as the CDs sell. It’s a luxury. I mean we’re all lifers here, no one’s going to stop. I guess this whole little bit is just me trying to do what I said I would do, which is give some idea of the life of being in a band on the road.

Anyway, back to Lexington. I have been complaining the last few days about the scenery east of the Rockies, but I need to let it be said that driving the southerly route from St. Louis to Lexington is beautiful. Southern Indiana and most of Kentucky are densely forested with rolling hills and slow rivers and streams breaking up the green with overhung blue pathways to, well probably feces filled run off, natural gas wells, and discarded white sheets, but what looks like portals to a better place.

We were to play the Green Lantern, a club we’ve been playing since back in the Pete Best days. It has for most of its history been a room with a plywood stage, no air conditioning, and maybe two or three microphones. They’ve fixed it up a bit in that they seem to have some air conditioning now. They treat us well and we had a good-sized crowd. There was only one monitor for the whole band and without a mic for all us talkers it felt a little disconnected. Add into all that the closeness of home and I think it was an OK show. A little short, a little perfunctory, but we tried.
My dear fiance’ came down for the show and we stayed in Lexington that night. It was a perfect way to transition back to the real world. I asked her how we played and whether she could hear a difference between the Fountain Square show we played before we left and this one. She said before we had played the songs but now we seemed to be inside them. I'd say in lieu of words like transcendent, life-affirming, pre-moistening, that’s a pretty good review.

Tomorrow I get to see my kids.


  1. The Green Lantern set seemed like something far more powerful to me than "perfunctory," Mark. We've seen the band 12 times or so, and this was one of the best. But I say that every time. The new amps and Lisa's new Les Paul made it, sonically, the best show, to me at least. A professional kind of presence (and that's a compliment). One thing that really stood out for me this time was how integral John and his pedal steel (and his guitar) have become to the band's sound. I have never trusted any band with more that four players (with obvious exceptions), but you have become one of my newest exceptions. You all have such a tremendous back-catalog now that it's impossible to hear all my favorites at your shows, but Attica is so great that I am glad you hit the new stuff so hard. We saw the record release show at Northside and it was interesting to see what you were still playing and not playing at the end of the tour. Wow! I keep waiting for the wheels to come off--I'm a pessimistic dude according to my kids--and the band just keeps getting better. Mayhap at this rate I will at your next show "evaporate into a state of ecstasy" as old Spaulding Gray said.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to post these entires....they have been great. Please consider a Kickstarter campaign next time you make a record or tour. I would be thrilled to sponsor a day on the road and I think there are many others who would be willing to help out in the same way. Give us a chance to help out in a tangible way....please!