The final entry in the tour dairy from the Melvins frontman
On a tour of this nature, meaning one where all you bring is yourself and an acoustic guitar it becomes very apparent that drums and bass have a tremendous responsibility. I'm out here all alone with no drums and bass to hide behind, it's all just up to me.
That's OK though, I'm up for the challenge.
We arrived in Portland at around five in the afternoon for our show that night. I did a sound check and then Dave and I walked down to the water front and ate salad and crab cakes on a restaurant boat...
We ended up sitting outside in the sweltering heat because the wait for an air-conditioned table inside was an hour and a half.
Maine is a weird place. Very remote and semi backwards but a great place to play with enthusiastic fans who have always treated us with respect.
I like Maine.
Since we were eating on a boat, for some reason my mind ran wild with thoughts of an enormous Atlantic born tribal god rising up out of the water and killing us all.
I envisioned each and every child in the entire city gutted alive by this beast while their parents watched helplessly and begged for mercy on their pitiful children's lives, but mercy was impossible to this Atlantic monster and he slaughtered them all anyway one by one.
Then he slow roasts all of the parents over a 1000 yard pit of burning hell fire, a fire hot enough to eventually kill but by no means quickly, lord no, not before their eyes explode and not before each stinking piece of their skin sloughs off in fiery dripping sheets. This of course is a massively painful way to die which pleases the beast and once all of the cities inhabitants are dead, the tireless beast climbs to the highest point of the Portland downtown and sets all of the city and countryside alight burning it clean for miles in every landward direction.
He sits at the center of this inferno content for the moment and silently breathing in the acrid stench of burning buildings, trees and baked human flesh, satisfied in total with his purifying slaughter.
I could almost see it all happening right before my eyes when the waitress interrupted my convalescence by asking me if I wanted a refill on my unsweetened ice tea.
I walked back alone to the venue and eventually played a show which went really well. I like playing in Portland and I felt I played great.
It was pouring rain afterward and we drove in uninterrupted silence with nothing but the windshield wipers and wet road noise as our bleak soundtrack.
The next day was off.
We started off the day at a weird diner that we ended up eating at three mornings in a row. I had the exact same veggie omelette with "surprise" toast all three times. I love surprise toast. Surprise toast is when you let the waitress decide what kind of toast you'll have.
One of the mornings it was an English muffin.
We loaded into the Brick House club in Dover, did a sound check, ate dinner in the venue and watched baseball until the doors opened.
The show was crazy. Lots of screaming red neck looking fans right up front.
I walked onstage feeling like a weird version of David Bowie's leper messiah. The fans were loud and it never let up one minute for the entire show.
I played a club I'd never been to the next night in Boston and had the exact opposite experience I'd had in Dover. The Boston crowd were very respectful and listened instead of screaming like dead in the head, garbage infected idiots. Thank you Boston!
In the backwater shit holes seriousness and realism seem to have totally died out and barbaric monsters are allowed to run wild as if it's normal, however the typical social conscience city dweller have their own agenda which might be worse and it generally boils down to them repeating endlessly the insane babbling of the always outraged.
This manifests itself in the typical social conscience city dweller now living in a period of general irrationality. Opportunists recognize this sort of stupidity and play right into all of it and as a result have a MUCH easier time saying things that are simply untrue in order to further their own careers.
This fact is lost on the typical social conscience city dweller and they are fleeced of their hard earned cash all the quicker.
They feel good about this shake down because they feel like they're making a difference, meanwhile the always outraged bank those millions and spend their time in gated communities as far away from the great unwashed as is possible because after all, all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
In Pawtucket I played my one and only show as an opening act on this whole tour when I played with Dinosaur Jr and it really showed me how much I don't want to do much of that at all in the future.
Don't get me wrong, I like Dinosaur Jr a great deal and I like each individual member OF Dinosaur Jr a great deal, I just don't like playing acoustic guitar in front of someone else's audience. The crowd by and large couldn't have cared less and were loud the entire show.
All in all it was totally pointless but that is by no means the band's fault, as a matter of fact, I thought they played great!
I think I'd prefer playing in front of Jay or Lou's acoustic audience a whole lot more.
After the show I had a consoling Dinosaur Jr fan tell me I should consider throwing in a few Doors' covers in place of some of my original songs because I had a "golden set of Jim Morrison pipes."
As far as I know I've never been to Hamden, Connecticut but none the less there I was about to play a show there.
I would be more than happy to find myself there again at some point in the future.
New York, NY
I blew into Manhattan with an overwhelming desire for velvet and violence but all of that was set aside quickly by mile after mile of bumper to bumper traffic as we made our way to the hotel in Jersey.
We NEVER stay in Manhattan and it doesn't take a genius to figure out why. Rooms in that city are the most expensive in the country and they all charge up the ass for parking to the tune of about $60 per vehicle per night which brings your total to the better part of $400 per room for a shit hole. Fuck that.
We got extremely lucky that night at Santos Party House by actually getting a spot to park right in front of the club! I felt like walking to a liquor store and buying a god damn lotto ticket.
Manhattan these days is little more than a rich man's playground. Other than securing a rent controlled apartment actually finding a place to park is right at the top of the A list in premium New York prizes.
It amazes me that it never occurs to these dummies in New York that the reason rents are so high there is BECAUSE of pyramid scheme rent control. Other than luxury condos there's absolutely no reason to invest in housing at all under those restrictions. There's no incentive because you can't make any fucking money doing it so guess what? They don't.
Historically, shortages of anything are preceded by price controls.
My show at Santos was really fun with a very receptive audience of listeners. I love that.
Regardless of the rest of it, my playing experience in this city has almost always been top notch. I say almost because I fucking hated playing a CBGB's. I don't care what anyone says, that place was a fucking shit hole. Easily one of the worst clubs ever.
I know, I know that's blasphemy but I don't care. They treated us like dog shit, the place was dirtier than a Tijuana whore house and the PA over heated and shut off every 10 minutes all throughout our entire sold out in advance show. Plus they had attitude from the second we loaded in like we were getting ready to play Madison Square Garden instead of a horrible Bowery dump. That was the last time I actually set foot in the joint.
If there are people who want to pretend that's all cool because of CB's history then let em. I've had a better time at every show on this tour then I ever did at fucking CBGB's.
In all honesty I would have loved to run a bulldozer through the middle of that place the second it closed or even better, BEFORE it closed! Ha!
The next night I played a club in Brooklyn called The Wick and the Well which had a cool bombed out building vibe to it as a result of it being truly bombed out.
The first thing I noticed was it looked as if the entire place had been wired with hanging extension cords and the whole interior on closer inspection, seemed to be coated in a fine layer of asbestos dust.
I'm guessing they're part way through a renovation or at least I hope they are.
There wasn't a lick of insulation in the entire place and not a hint of AC.
REALLY hot show.
At least I had a fan on stage and as a result I got to watch the asbestos swirl all around me for my entire set.
If they plan on installing insulation, AC or for that matter heat they can expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars and I can't see that happening any time soon so future paying customers can probably expect blazing temperatures all summer and bone chilling cold all winter.
Just like camping.
A nice bunch of folks though and the show was a blast.
Just before doors I noticed them pounding a nail in the wall behind the bar in order to hang their newly framed liquor license.
The next night I had a confrontation with a fan at my show in Philly.
I was telling my long winded Patton story and he kept screaming at me to "shut up and play music!"
Good point actually but rude none the less.
This just made the wait for music that much longer because then I went on and on and on...
Will people never learn?
The home of John Waters and if course, the Ottobar and we've played there for so long and always had a great time that I see no reason to even try another venue in Baltimore.
Baltimore's a weird place. Most of it looks as if it's about to explode into flames, collapse or erupt into a horrific race riot.
Dave and I ate at a pretty nice place just down the street with a surly waitress who mumbled that we were early so some of the specials weren't available yet.
As she turned to stomp off she dropped her order book and when she bent over to pick it up I noticed her pants were split the entire length of her ass crack...
And she wasn't wearing underwear...
It was like staring into the sun.
We had an interesting drive on winding two lane highways surrounded by beautiful deciduous trees and deep ditches on either side of the road that were filled with garbage.
The venue itself was sort of subterranean and had a weird homey vibe to it that worked well.
One of Dave's friends even rode his motorcycle to the show all the way from Richmond.
Since he planned on getting drunk later he had booked a room at the same hotel as we were staying and followed us there after the show through a violent and blinding rain storm. It was a 30 mile ride and by the time we arrived he was completely drenched.
I watched in the rear view mirror horrified as he got blasted by the water that rooster tailed from the back of our van.
I played a venue that looked like an old movie theatre crossed with a Bennigans. I'm sure it was an old movie theatre in one of its past lives but the Bennigans vibe had clearly been trucked in.
I've been doing shows at the Cats Cradle for over 20 years so I'm always excited to go back. They do a great job running that club and they make our visits to North Carolina enjoyable and hassle free.
This time I was playing their brand new smaller club and it was really fun. They've done an amazing job renovating what was probably a filthy empty warehouse and turning it into a super nice place to play or see a show.
I blazed through my set and talked about Jesus during one of the breaks. I believe it was a De Sade quote about if God was willing to let that happen to his own kid then what do you think he's going to do to us?
We had a long day off drive to Atlanta and arrived in the late afternoon early evening.
Brian and I had a nice leisurely dinner where we talked about all manner of worldly things.
I think Brian's an unbelievably talented artist with a flare for humor that's not common at all among today's poster artists.
It's a sense of humor I keyed into right away when I first saw his artwork over 30 years ago. It's based primarily in 1970's Mad Magazine and I understand it in total.
I think this fact is missed on a lot of people including the host of dummy's he's had as band mates over the years.
This is a mistake.
The show in Atlanta was in an underground bunker complex with a decent sized crowd who were by and large far too noisy for my liking but don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be playing to anyone.
Even with that slight annoyance it was certainly leagues better than the first show we ever played in Atlanta 28 years ago when we opened for RKL and DOA. Two of the RKL guys are now dead from drug behavior so that tells you what kind of RIP life style they were living and the DOA boys were nothing more than total fucking dicks.
I always hated those fuckers.
I'd had plenty of run ins with DOA prior to that show and not a one was ever good, plus even then I couldn't stand their pseudo political jive which amounted to little more than confused communist bullshit that centered itself around teenage anti war drivel and songs about dividing up everyone else's money except their own.
This would prove itself out radiantly by the end of the night.
Back then they were always trying to drum up support for whack jobs they were somehow associated with like the "Vancouver Five" who were at that time jailed for fire bombing among other things, porno shops.
Anyway, we played the show and at the end of the night of course DOA were in charge of the bread and they ended up handing over a grand total of $25 for us to split with RKL.
God, I'm still pissed.
We were 3000 miles from home, broke and driving in a hammered 1972 Dodge van that constantly leaked every fluid you could possibly put into it.
I just wanted to set those fuck head Canucks on fire.
I played the Bottle Tree which I've been to on numerous occasions. They've successfully filled the entire club with highly ironic art, classic advertising memorabilia and hilarious posters which is far more amusing then the normal black interior of almost all clubs.
The red necks were screaming their heads off throughout the entire show.
On our way into New Orleans the next day we talked about how strange it's been that it's the middle of the summer and it wasn't until we got to god damn Louisiana that we experienced real middle of the summer southern weather.
You'll never hear one of us bitch about that, oh lord no, this is fucking amazing!
I was prepared to hit the road this summer and sweat my balls off for seven straight weeks but so far that hasn't happened and we've been extremely comfortable.
Apparently it's all as a result of the "polar vortex" or as we've been calling it the "polar Kotex."
Usually in July most of the country is a nightmare of blazing heat and horrible humidity which makes life miserable for everyone involved for months. Fortunately the polar Kotex has been keeping the warm air from pouring out and flowing into the middle of the country.
It's interesting to watch the facts seem to be optional global climate change newspeak morons stumble to explain it all.
Thank god for the Kotex!
We had a day off to drive to New Orleans and arrived in the early evening after getting our van's tire pressure gauge light fixed.
It was hotter than a pig bastard in NOLA when we finally rolled in. I'd driven the entire way. We listened to Tom Waits' Blue Valentine album twice through and a whole lot of Porter Wagoner.
I spent the drive meditating on keeping my speed right above the legal limit because I have a theory that no interstate cop will pull you over for up to 5mph over.
Maybe they do but I doubt it.
Clearly they don't need a fucking REASON to pull you over. They make those up as they go along.
I closed the door to my room, cranked the AC up to 10, unpacked my meager belongings, remade the bed to my liking which I do the minute I check into any hotel, shut the blackout curtains, stripped naked and crashed flat out on my newly made bed and listened to the whirring of the air conditioner fan as it made a strange singing noise that was only perceptible if you lay dead still and listened as hard as you could.
There was a meter and a flow to it that at first I thought was constant but after awhile I realized was simply random noise. No magic and certainly no hint of a rhythm of the universe.
I turned my attention to the TV, which was squatting there like a black backwards mirror.
If I'm in a room by myself like I am tonight then the TV will remain off. I almost never turn them on in hotels unless there's a baseball game but I rarely have the patience required to sift through hundreds of channels looking for a random game that may or may not even be there. I can't stand the idea of even knowing HOW to do that let alone actually doing it.
I have almost no idea what's on TV or even what sort of products are advertised during the commercial breaks. I haven't payed attention to television since before I left my parents home in the early 80's.
My wife and I had cable about 15 years ago and almost never watched it as a result of being busy doing other things and simply never having the time to waste vegging out in front of the tube. If we settle in to watch something on TV it's an event that we nearly have to plan out well in advance so we got rid of cable. I'd rather spend that money on the fastest available internet connection, going to the movies or buying movies on DVD.
I met Brian later and had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant.
While I was sitting in the lobby waiting for him to materialize from upstairs I watched a hippy with a giant over stuffed camping back pack sit cross legged on the lobby floor, eat three jelly filled donuts and drink a brown liquid from a brown bottle in a brown paper bag.
As usual the show in New Orleans at One Eyed Jacks was a blast and we blew out of town heading east on interstate 10 at top speed on our way straight into Texas.
I thought back as I drove through the black Louisiana night about New Orleans and everything I'd ever done since our first show there in 1986. New Orleans is one town that's always accepted us and I thank them for it.
See you on Halloween!
We rolled into Houston and tried to make our way through thick traffic that seemed to go on for miles. It all came clear to us why when we finally rolled up to the venue only to discover the club was located right between the Astros' baseball park and some sort of enormous soccer stadium both of which were about to have games.
Jesus Christ what a fucking zoo...
The entire area was heavily infested with grotesque sports fans of all stripes.
This became even more pronounced when we tried to find food.
We walked to a few of the bar type eating establishments after sound check only to discover throngs of highly inebriated sports enthusiasts crowding every dump no matter how dirty the place was or how bad the food looked like it probably would be.
Food at all was not going to happen and we didn't have time to drive anywhere.
I used to love playing sports but I quit because I really started hating the people who played sports.
Here, surrounded by these folks, it's obvious why I also hate the people who watch sports.
I played the Red Seven which had merciful AC, thank god because it was scorching hot outside. The show was well attended and went smoothly. My guitar shut off at one point and I had to switch, which I HATE doing but I soldiered on.
All in all Austin is always a fun place to work.
The next day we ate barbecue at what was supposed to be "the best barbecue in Austin." I have no idea how many times I've been told that about a wide variety of BBQ places all over Texas and I have to admit...
They all taste the same.
Once you slather whatever kind of meat your eating in BBQ sauce, you may as well be eating cardboard because it makes little or no difference at that point.
THAT IS IT.
All barbecue is the same it's just the sauce that's different and even then it makes no difference.
Arguing that is just insane.
Later in San Antonio we ate at a Greek restaurant just down the street from the venue.
The venue in San Antonio looked like it had NEVER been swept and the stage looked even worse. Coated in filth and other slime from lord knows when or what. The area surrounding the stage was piled high with a massive assortment of broken equipment, paint cans and raw garbage.
I've seen downtown bus stops that were way cleaner and that was with a drunken bum using it as a house.
You know, someone OWNS this place and chooses to leave it this way which I find totally amazing.
There are certainly employees who could be ordered to clean it up but I guess that's never occurred to the owner, or maybe they want it to be this way because they LIKE it left as a filthy, disgusting shit hole with no square inch in the entire place that you would even want to lean up against.
With that in mind imagine how the bathroom looked....
I wisely used the men's room at the Greek restaurant and pissed in the back parking lot just before I went on.
The next day we had a long ass drive across Texas on the glorious interstate 10, which is my favorite interstate for some reason.
We drove all day and ended up in El Paso as a halfway point to Tucson.
After settling in to my room I met the boys for a pretty nice Mexican meal at a place recommended to us by the friendly staff at the hotel.
I ordered the wedge salad for starters which the waiter told us was the first time anyone had ever ordered it to his knowledge.
I wondered aloud why it was still on the menu but by then the waiter was long gone returning with a loaded drink tray which held eight margaritas in double margarita glasses which he then distributed to four Latinos waiting for their dinner.
I was impressed! Two double margaritas each.
It's no wonder he'd never seen the wedge before because it's obvious these people had no time for salad.
The Tucson show was at the world famous Club Congress.
The venue itself had been totally remodeled since I had been there last and is now by far the best venue I've ever seen in Tucson.
I did my sound check and then Dave and I ate in the connecting restaurant which was really great.
Afterwards I wandered back into the hall and gave Brian a piece of lemon meringue pie.
I went out to the van and spent the time before the show listening to the masters of our new album, Hold it In.
An hour and a half later I played the show and packed up my stuff and that was pretty much my night.
Final show of the U.S. tour!
The drive west through the desert was long and seemed even longer than it should have been but I put that down to it being the last date of the trip and I was feeling a bit anxious which was weird because I never have that sort of fear about touring or playing.
I'd been to Pappy and Harriet's once before and had a pretty good time so I was looking forward to this show.
The people who work there are all very nice indeed.
The desert has a strange vibe of course and also of course the club has a framed picture of Gram Parsons on the wall who in these parts seems to be the patron saint of rich boy junkie fuck ups who died too young surrounded by coked up airheads and shifty smack dealers.
Well, at least he left us with a rich library of half baked country flavored musical mediocrity that everyone loves and speaks very highly of but no one ever listens to. Ha!
Is that where this all ends?
You end up overdosing in a horrible hotel with nothing but pie-eyed losers for company?
That's exactly what happened to Gram.
THEN, those same losers stole his sorry corpse from LAX, drove it back out here into the desert and set fire to it after dumping it in a garbage strewn dirt wide spot next to a pot hole filled two lane highway in the middle of nowhere.
How pathetic and how fitting I guess.
I thought about all of that on the drive home to Los Angeles after the show.
It was a beautiful night and I drove as fast as I felt safe away from the desert and whatever other horrific mysteries are left burned and bleaching in the blazing heat of that god forsaken nightmare.
This part of my tour was over and I was looking forward to a week off at home with my wife and dogs.
They don't want me to end up dead in some high desert hell hole.
A glorious week off before my next round of touring.
A solo acoustic tour that will take me by the time I'm done all the way around the world.