September Northwest tour
"I slept in a tent with Emil Beaulieau"
Ok well I'm not saying that was the highlight of the tour, it was more like a question of necessity. Of course, I'm not saying it wasn't the highlight of the tour. . .
Ron had asked me to go on tour with him and Matt Anderson (Crank Sturgeon), it was going to be three weeks, across to the west coast and back. I liked the idea but for various reasons it wasn't going to be possible for me to do the trip. So Dominic (Prurient) went with them instead, it was probably better that way because he has a van, a huge stack of amps, and also he's been touring like crazy and has devoted fans from all over the country now.
One of the reasons I couldn't do the tour was my cousin's wedding, in Seattle. But as it turned out, the boys were getting to Washington state the day my family and I were supposed to fly back home, so I just changed my ticket and arranged it to play four shows on the North-west coast.
On the four shows I played, the line-up was expanded to include Emil, Prurient, Crank, Pedestrian Desposit, and PCRV! Plus me is six, plus the opening acts. . .well you get the idea, these were some marathon shows!
I met up with everyone in Spokane on a Sunday afternoon. We played at an all ages club that was also a gay speakeasy, but you could only drink while standing behind a metal fence. There were about a dozen metal kids there to see the first band, an ambient electronics project by our host, Kai. As soon as he was done they all got ready to leave. "I really think you should stay for Prurient," I said to one of them. "I can't, I have band practice." "Well he's from far away, his show's like the end of the world, you shouldn't miss it." "Yeah well I have practice." Ok idiot, I thought, your loss.
After Dominic's set I asked the owner/bartender what he thought of it. "Well I can get used to most things, but not that last band," he said. "But I did appreciate it that he wasn't wearing a shirt!" In response to a gay youth's quizzical look, he said "They travelled from the east coast, they're on tour." "Well they're obviously not from here," the youth said, "because no one from here would ever do that!"
This was the first time I ever saw Jon Borges (Pedestrian Deposit) play, and it definitely lived up to the hype! His manner was so totally off-hand, he kept feinting like he was falling over or away from his equipment, lots of sharp cuts but a strangely icy anti-emotionality. Awesome!
I hadn't played my new synth for anyone yet, and I was a little nervous. I'd been practicing at the hotel and on the bus ride (it has a headphone jack) and I'd made a plan of five things to do in order, though I only did the first two. I started with a wavering drone of shifting timbre, then moved to interrupted breaths and thumping. Everyone really liked it, Dominic said it was smart and sexy. So the new instrument passed the test!
Kai invited us to stay at his house, only there were six of us, and he didn't mention that his house was actually a half house, split right down the middle. It was looking grim until we determined he had a tent, so Ron and I set it up and slept in the dandelion patch Kai referred to as his front yard. I hadn't slept in a tent since 1996, it was fun! And no, we didn't make out.
We drove to Seattle the next night, to play at an art space called S.S. Marie Antoinette. There were nine bands, and I ended up going last. It was a lot of good noise, but it was also a lot of noise period! Pedestrian Deposit got Dominic's amp so hot it stank up the whole room. (I have to say, it was a nice contrast to all the Providence shows where it's the crusty kids stinking up the room!) By the time it was my turn to play, I couldn't stand any more noise, so I decided to do all a capella. I sang a really old song first, about druggy girls, then Dominic goaded me into doing Crazy Cat. I only played that song in public once that I remember, I was nervous. It was hard, I had to cry a few tears first. Then I started screaming and throwing myself around. I was kind of in a trance. I broke my toenail and hurt both my heels. Somehow after that I recovered and sang a very sweet and quiet version of Wishing Well. After that I couldn't speak in a complete sentence for the rest of the night.
I went to stay with an old friend of mine and his wife, in their new loft they'd just moved into. It was a beautiful place and I got my own room! But all the boys stayed at Drew AD72's house, well the basement he lives in, along with 16 Bitch Pile Up, Sword Heaven, and I think some other people too! Ron cleared a space in front of the washing machine to sleep in, but spiders were crawling on him, so he got up at 4 am and they all went and got a motel. I felt too guilty to ever tell them about where I'd been!
Next stop Olympia. We got there really early, so we went walking around. We saw a seal swimming in the channel. Then we went shopping down town. Ron bought a bootleg of the crowd at a Black Sabbath concert rioting. I was trying to look at records, but these two annoying Olympia girls were too hip to get out of my way, talking to the cashier. Then the next store I went to, the same two girls came and talked to that cashier. I just wanted to say "I don't care about your band, I don't care you ride bikes, I don't care that you're lesbians, you stink like garlic and you're total hipster LOSERS!" On the street there were lots of trust-fund hippies strumming untuned guitars while they absent-mindedly made up lyrics about us giving them money. I felt an enormous sense of relief I didn't move to Olympia back in 1994! (Of course, back then I ate tons of garlic, rode my bike everywhere, and all my best friends were indi-rock lesbians!)
But as fate would have it, it was the best show of the tour. Matt Taggart (PCRV) did his best set, a lot of changes and nuance, hard edges and little sputtering breaks. Dominic was amazing as usual, though it felt weird when a crazy woman came in off the street while he was playing, touched him on the shoulder, and then he pushed her over. Crank had his best night, it was like a caveman discovering a world of noise, very touching and enchanting. When I played, I was lying on the floor in front of all the amps, singing a little, then somehow by the way things were configured, I found that if I blew really hard into the mic, the amp would temporarily shut itself off. Then after a second, this dull thudding would come back in, and I'd do it again. I don't know how long that went on for, but it was long enough that I got really light-headed and my whole body fell asleep. It was hard to stand up again.
We split up that night, Ron, Dominic and Matt A. stayed with my friend Jill from Boston, and Matt T., Jon and I stayed with this really awesome girl named Chawney. She's really pretty, she's an amazing painter, she lives in a beautiful house, she's really smart, and she was extremely nice! The kind of "perfect" person who instead of hating, you're totally inspired by and psyched to have met! So maybe Olympia isn't so bad after all.
Next stop the Embalming Room in Portland. That's not really the name of the place, it doesn't really have a name. It's an industrial building off in the middle of nowhere, next to a highly toxic galvanizing plant, owned by a very heavy drinker with a broken back. The owner used to live in Boston and confirmed for me that an old hangout of mine was a mob front, well it wasn't a surprise but nice to know for sure.
This night there were eleven bands, totally ridiculous. I wanted us to all play duos, me and Ron, Matt and Matt, and Dominic and Jon Borges, but everyone refused except Ron. It took Ron and I a little bit to get there, but when we hit it it was really awesome. There was a cloud of noise and I was singing through it, it was like thousands of little twigs breaking against thousands of bells of all different sizes. As we started to fade it down everyone started applauding like crazy so it kind of cut things short. Except then Ron wanted to play solo, so then I played solo too. Singing Crazy Cat again, through all the amps and really loud. I felt like I was being abusive to myself but I didn't really care. Then I sang Wishing Well again, a sweet complement to round it out.
I stayed with the boys one last night, we were all at Tim's house from Okha. Ron bought a gigantic sub at that grocery store that was two feet long. Dominic and I had chicken soup. I kept worrying Jon Borges wasn't eating enough, but he wouldn't eat anything I offered him except gummy worms. The next day they dropped me off at a trendy club to meet my friend Anna so I could go out for kareoke that night. Singing kareoke made me 100 times more nervous than any noise show! But in the end it went ok. I did Pat Benetar, "Love is a Battlefield." And got drunk, need I mention that?
It was a short tour but it was my favorite so far. I played the best I ever have, I got to see Dominic and Ron play four nights in a row, and I made some really good friendships I don't think I'll ever lose.
Also I couldn't believe how many Boston people I saw in the Northwest! Thanks to everyone who made it fun, Anna, Joe, Bree, Tim & Josh, Kevin, Kelvin, Chawney, Jill and Reid, John Kumpf, Drew, all the Bitches, the Swords-men, and their entourage, also Daniel, Jordan, Kai, Joel, and Bruce.
Oh yeah, the wedding was ok if you don't mind sitting outside and missing the dinner. The best part was spending time with my brothers, their girlfriends, my parents, and our Boyd cousins. Hooray for my real family and hooray for my noise family!