started with a video shoot for the song Clock
Street. Once again Bill Ward was asked to direct, a day was spent
shooting in a real studio and various Situationist inspired slogans were
superimposed over the final product. It unintentionally wound up looking
a lot like Van
Halen's video for "Right Now."
As the snow melted, the Tool of the Man tour began. A weeklong trip out to the East Coast was made with Champaign brethren Hum opening. The shows were wonderful but what had started in the van as a small case of the sniffles had exploded into full-fledged influenza outbreak by the last show in the Bronx at Fordham University. Not much of a problem except that the qband was scheduled to start a tour with the Screaming Trees in Missoula, Montana three days later.
Arriving in Missoula with a couple hours to spare, a motel room was rented, naps and cold medicines were taken and the show went on. The next morning the college paper featured the headline: "Poster Children Outscream Trees." While it was quite a compliment, it was not the best way to start out a six week tour as an opening act. However the Trees had nothing to fear, as they were riding high on a hit song, were playing to a thousand fans a night and rocked in the classic sense with hair flying and Mark Lanegan taking very seriously his role as heir apparent to Jim Morrison.
Things started out a bit rough with the Denver show being cancelled due to "illness" (rumored to be drug-related or to be more precise, not-having-drugs-related) but members of the Fluid organization saved the day by setting up a last minute show for Poster Children so they were able to avoid the dreaded day off (bands break up on days off).
Mr. Lanegan slapped the promoter of the Florida shows in the face after Barrett, the Trees drummer, had his jacket stolen from the dressing room. Upon being slapped, the promoter cancelled the remaining two shows he had booked and for a few hours the band was faced with the prospect of three dreaded days off (in Florida no less!) until cooler heads prevailed and the circus continued.
A performance at a prep school in Chattanooga, Tennessee was truly amazing, the kids (all under the age of 18) had never seen a concert before and went ballistic, singing along with If You See Kay with abandon. The highlight of the night was "Gramps" Lanegan's lecture to the leaders of tomorrow: "You kids, you still have a chance. Me, I've got the Devil's left horn shoved so far up my ass, there's no hope."
ML the manager called after hearing rumors of
violence and trouble on the tour, worried for the band's safety, fortunately
everyone had avoided getting sucked too far into the rock n' roll vortex,
that is until Montreal...
Johnny had been wearing a fashionable chain on his wallet for the whole tour. In Montreal he decided it was too fashionable and removed the chain. While watching the Screaming Trees play, his wallet, now free, decided to leave the safety of its pocket. As Johnny was searching for his wallet, he accidentally bumped a local, the local shoved Johnny, and Johnny shoved back, not knowing that in a rough port town such as Montreal this was very risky. Johnny was immediately dropped to the floor by a bottle to the head which sliced open his face, causing blood to stream down the front of his shirt. A riot ensued with Trees battling French Canadians and Poster Children hiding in dressing rooms. A friendly local gave Johnny his insurance card and told him to pretend to be Canadian so as to get free medical assistance. At the hospital Johnny tried to impersonate a Canadian and answer questions for an hour but eventually gave up, admitting his nationality and finally getting stitched up. The bill: $30. From that day on, Poster Children were proponents of Universal Health Care.
After circling the US with the Screaming Trees and Pond, a pit stop was made in Chicago to film the video for Dynamite Chair. Once again, Bill Ward was the director and footage was shot at a building that had recently been burned down during the making of Backdraft (a Ron Howard Film). Bill shot additional footage of a man blowing himself up in dynamite chair which caused some problems with the MTV, who was a bit sensitive to any fire themed videos due to a Beavis and Butthead related arson incident. After some editing, the video was deemed suitable for family audiences and was shown on 120 Minutes.
Poster Children then hooked up with The Fluid for a tour of the west. The Fluid hailed from Denver and because they were accustomed to higher altitudes and thinner air, they would have the strength of 10 men when they came down from the mountain and played the flatlands. The shows were explosive but had a dark, major label cloud hanging over them. Hollywood Records, the Fluid's label, had promised them tour support but as the tour progressed, the money stopped flowing and the band and crew were left without means to support themselves on the road. Poster Children saw first hand that what The Man giveth he can taketh away and vowed to continue to travel light, in a van with little or no crew and never be dependent on anyone else for their tourability. It was a reunion of sorts when Seam with Bob (drummer #4) played a few shows on the tour.
After three straight months on the road with only a few days off and most nights spent on floors rather than in motels, everyone looked forward to a summer at home. Johnny had decided he had lost enough blood and hearing in the past year and a half and elected to spend his time on a band called Tortoise he had started with his pal Doug from Eleventh Dream Day. It was time to find Drummer #6.
For the first time, there was no immediately obvious victim, er musician, to fill the drum throne. Fifteen candidates for the position were tried out. One potential drummer, Matt Friscia, was a senior in high school and was willing to drop out and go on tour, maybe get his GED later. The band decided they couldn't be responsible for anyone not completing their high school education and told the young lad that he should check back in a couple of years, the drum position turned over frequently and there would most likely be another opportunity in the future. Little did anyone know how long it would be before the spot would open up again and how patient young Matt could be...
Howie Kantoff was chosen to be the next contestant in Poster Children Drummer Roulette and was given a baptism by fire. Within two weeks of joining the band, he played a show in Detroit with Motor City legends Goober and the Peas in front of a thousand people at the State Theater and then two shows with Fugazi in Missouri.
Fugazi shows are always more than just music, something always seems to happen to make the night memorable, but the show in Kansas City was even crazier than most. Right away there was tension because a service fee had been charged for tickets, so the official Fugazi price of $5 had been violated without the band's permission. During the show, when some kids got out of hand, Ian had all the lights turned on in the hall so he could keep an eye on the crowd. Some of the audience collected signatures on a piece of cardboard to have the lights turned off again. Upon seeing the petition, the band responded by turning off all the lights, even those on the stage, and began to play "Blueprint" in total darkness. When the song kicked in to its full volume, the stage lights came up and it was truly one of the great moments in rock. During the show, the bouncers, unfamiliar with the punk rock, became unnecessarily rough with some of the crowd and a friend of Fugazi's who was videotaping the violence was attacked himself and had his camera smashed. Fugazi confronted the promoter after the show with complaints about security and the ticket price, and in response the promoter pulled a gun on the band. Everyone assured Howie, who was not familiar with the world of indie/punk rock, that this was not typical of most shows.
Fall had arrived and there was only one thing to do, tour some more. An East Coast tour featured more shows with Six Finger Satellite, who were quickly evolving away from their classic SubPop sound into something much more synthetic. A CMJ appearance at Irving Plaza with Jawbox, Brainiac, and Girls vs. Boys left everyone wondering if they would ever get to play another show so great. Two shows with Superchunk in Minneapolis launched a tour out to the West Coast with the Spinanes. And then before you knew it, another year was gone and it was time to go back to the lab and concoct another album.