October 10, 1995 - Iowa City IA
Again I'm writing way after the fact. The show was great, very fun, and we got to stay at the Union in Iowa City. It was really nice not having to play at Gabe's Oasis, for the first time in 5 or 6 years of playing Iowa City. We even got to do an interview at the University of Iowa radio station, which was really, really cool. We got to choose our top 5 songs - I picked song #1 on Laika's "Silver Apples Of The Moon CD", Rick picked "Silent 'E'" by Tom Lehrer (you can hear it on The Electric Company!) and a song from the Moonshake CD. Howie picked a Replacements song from "Pleased To Meet Me." Jim picked "9th and Hennepin" by Tom Waits.
After the show I sort of had a nervous breakdown, just went upstairs
and accused everyone of laughing at me in the KCOU (Columbia radio station)
interview, and just generally freaked out, and cried for about 3 hours.
Then I sulked around the campus for another hour. Jim and Howie went out
with the Big Block guys. I am glad they are hanging out together. Rick
stayed in the motel room and waited for me to stop being dumb. When I
cry for more than an hour, my eyes get really messed up. I am writing
this two days later (again) and my eyes are still looking weird. They
look old and tired. I don't know if the other guys know what kind of a
basketcase I am, and I don't know what's wrong with me and why I keep
freaking out like this. The tour is so easy; I just have to remember to
keep on the ball. I think I am starting to brainwash myself into thinking
we need a tour manager, and I don't want to do that.
October 11, 1995 - Driving WEST FINALLY!
Hours and Hours and Hours of Driving
The drive is on I-80, west from Iowa City, IA to Fort Collins, Colorado, an hour north of Denver. The whole drive is through Nebraska, a long state. This is a crazy drive because you are not aware that you are going up; you are driving on a flat slope up, with minimal hills, but you go from Iowa which is probably a couple of hundred feet above sea-level to Fort Collins which is over 5000 ft. And you never see a mountain. The drive is flat and straight. The grasses along the side of the road are yellow now, and pretty long. There is corn in Iowa, some fields are plowed. The whole landscape of both Iowa and Nebraska is plain grass broken up by superhighway exits every half hour, all with Super8 motels, Perkins Restaurants, Burger Kings, Blockbuster Video Stores, Amoco's, and Wal-Marts. There are very, very little "country stores." I seem to remember a lot more "indie" stores on the west cross-country drives through North and South Dakota and Montana, but that may just be because there are very few stops in t ose states. Maybe it's a thrill to see a blinding Amoco station lit up like a candle on I-90 in Montana just because there is so little else; just mountains and grasslands and prairie.
Somewhere about 10 hours into the drive, we stop at an Amoco station (after eating at a Perkins) to get a Snack Salad (that's a bunch of junk food) and I look next to me and a the lead singer from Big Block is standing next to me. "Whoa", I say. He didn't seem suprised - we hadn't seen each other since Iowa. They had been having terrible van trouble all day, poor things; their thermostat on their van was screwing up, and it kept overheating. We had the same problem when we had a Dodge Van. The Big Block guys looked shaken. They had their van fixed at that station that we accidentally stopped at, and were going to eat and start driving again later.
Western Nebraska - No Motel Rooms Again
How many times do you think I'm going to assume that we'll be able to find a motel room the same night we want one? Never again, I swear. We drove through about 120 more miles of very western Nebraska than we wanted to last night, stopping every 30 minutes to call every MOTEL IN THE AREA, AND THERE WERE PLENTY, (super8s, Sleep Inns, Comforts, etc.) AND THEY WERE ALL BOOKED. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN EXTREME WESTERN NEBRASKA?? A RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL????
We finally found one, a "1st Inn", with a beautiful mural on the wall of a mountain. It was a nice relief from the generic Motel 6 room, even if the phone was hard-wired to the wall. From now on, I will try to book all motel rooms in advance. (I hope =)
October 12, 1995 - Fort Collins, Colorado
Hm. Good Show. Slippery Stage; so slippery that we could hardly move around for fear of falling on our butts. Howie had a good show. Some guy yelled "SPONGE!" while we played. People danced. The Lory Student Center at the college was really beautiful, and I wish I had time and energy to go looking around at all the neato art. The campus is beautiful, too. People who live in the mountains are spoiled.
The monitors were screwed up tonight, so I couldn't hear what note I was singing, so I probably sang out of tune. Our timing was all off, tonight, too - there was a huge lull where I just started talking, like a dork. Plus, these college shows are in gymnasiums, so they sound like big echo chambers. I am terrified that the guy mixing our sound is pumping up the drums and vocals of our band, something that will not make us sound very good. Well, drums, maybe, but definitely not vocals. We are not strong in the vocals area. We don't try to be.
After the show we packed up and split - we drive 2 hours south to Colorado Springs, to rest in a Motel 6 before driving the rest of the drive to Albuquerque tomorrow. Friday 13th. Wanna have some fun? Read about the last time we were in Albuquerque.
Good Audience Comments Tonight
audience member: "SPONGE!"
audience member (after show): "My roomate says you guys aren't very
my retort: "Well, he's probably right"Favorite Van
Trying to sing REO Speedwagon songs.
thanks for coming, HP guys!
October 13, 1995 - Albuquerque NM
I was informed upon arrival that there were 11 other "major" acts in town this weekend, besides the Balloon Festival which had booked up all 7 of the Motel 6s in town. I also inquired as to why the college campus (we were playing at University of NM at their Union) looked deserted this night, and I was told, "School isn't in session. People are on their fall break."
What is a "fall break?"
There was a fine sized crowd though for Albuquerque - much bigger than I'd ever seen in Albuquerque! - and nothing bad happened to us, except that Rick lost our clipboard-of-info for about 3 hours, somewhere in the Union. He left it at a pay-phone and came back for it 5 minutes later and it was gone. Some kids turned it in at the end of the night. He was going crazy; he was so upset at the prospect of losing all that info. Plus, he only did this one other time- that was last April, in (you guessed it -) Albuquerque.
We had a great meal at what has got to be the local college hangout - not Fred's, but the Frontier restaurant. Pretty good southwestern food; not spicy, and sort of cafeteria style. The place is open 24 hours a day, and well, it sure is cheap. We stayed in Socorro NM and congratulated ourselves for making it out of Albuquerque intact.
The drive South Of Albuquerque
Driving through New Mexico on I-25, you are constantly accosted by the Voice Of Ricardo Montalban over the radio, telling you about the ancient wagon trails through the mountains, and the Rio Grande River being full of water. That is, if you turn on the radio to 530AM each time there's a sign that says, "Hear New Mexico, 530AM" which of course, I did. I-25 is hundreds of miles of uninterrupted, dry, brown, flat mountains with dark green shrubs dotting the landscape, except for the southern stretch where if you look east, you see a bright green stripe of land down the brown desert, running parallel to the highway. It's the Rio Grande basin, I guess. You can see it from the highway although it's probably at least a couple of miles away. It's really surprising to see. And there are no restaurants or Wal-Marts for hours. A couple of miles past Truth Or Consequences is where I decided to take a short cut a couple of years ago, which you couldn't tell from the map, but it went over the Continental Divide. Howie and I almost had a heart-attack, driving on two-lane highways over the most treacherous mountain pass I'd ever seen, through Silver City. But I'll never, ever forget how beautiful it was, once we got down from the mountains (and it was warm autumn, but there was snow on them), driving through 'fields' of brown dust and dark green, sticky shrubs as the sun set a dark flourescent pink (and we were late), on a teeny, winding 2-lane highway. We stopped at a gas station with a rabid barking dog that I was sure was going to rip out all our throats, and ate candy-bars for dinner. The guys will kill me if I take another short cut.
October 14, 1995 - Tucson AZ
Kids These Days
I wish these 10-year old kids would stop coming up to me after a show and asking me why we don't get played on the radio. It is starting to drive me crazy. I look into an innocent, 10-year old kid's wide-open, unknowing and naive eyes, and I'd rather tell him about 'How Babies Are Made' or 'Why You Shouldn't Do Drugs' than explain to him why we can't get our songs on the radio station he listens to. Either I can say, "well, it's because we're failures" or I can say, "There are some politics involved in getting a song on your radio station."
Kid: "Mommy, what's Politics mean?"
Mommy: "WHERE EVER DID YOU HEAR THAT WORD?"
Kid: "From a rock concert, mommy. The girl from Poster Children taught it to me"
Mommy: "Listen, Junior. From NOW ON, You are NOT ALLOWED to LISTEN TO ANY MUSIC BY THAT DISGUSTING BAND."
I suppose I could just tell him he's listening to the wrong radio station. Why do kids ask questions like these, anyway? Why can't they ask us about drugs or Life As A Rock Star?
Day ONE of Rick Losing his voice
Tonight was a terrible show. Rick has been unable to speak all day because he has terrible laryngitis. It might actually be kind of nice except that he tries to speak. He still talks, but all that comes out is a croak, and it upsets me to hear his voice all screwed up so I get mad at him and start a yelling fight with him. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
He sang fine until we got to about the 6th song which was probably "If You See Kay" which he ended up shrieking out whatever was left of his vocal chords (I don't see why we just didn't skip that song, but he says it makes no difference when he's losing his voice). I was coughing into the microphone and trying to sing parts to make up for Rick's croaking. Thank goodness we have a day off tomorrow for him to heal. He doesn't seem to feel sick; just his voice is gone.
Meanwhile, I got to see a real live lab at the beautiful campus of University
of Arizona, another deserted campus. A person named Mike (thank you Mike!)
showed me an experiment with HBr (I think) and a laser and a real lot
of machines which I was either too tired or too stupid (or a little of
both) to understand the big picture of, and which made me a little sad
that I am driving around the US eating at Taco Bell and standing on a
stage shaking my head back and forth like a goofball, twanging an electric
guitar while people are actually thinking and taking temperatures of chemical
and electrical reactions. Of course, Mike is in a band too.