This won't make any sense
A couple of nights ago I sort of had this nightmare about an equation that was supposed to explain some part of reality, but some of the components went into an infinite recurring loop, so the equation never got anywhere. A black box appeared around the part that went to infinity (actually it just recursed and oscillated) and I woke up terrified, wanting to scream. I've had my first "falling dream!" Anyway, for the last couple of days I've been mentally torturing myself either because of a) bad taste in my mouth leftover from the dream, or b) I'm bored. Or most likely, c) - I'm stupid.
The End Of The World
So while I was still in my bunk on the bus with my eyes shut, I promised myself that I would walk around beautiful Verona and see a gorgeous Shakespearean city that I'd read about in highschool and I would be repaired, and I would stop tormenting myself. I opened my eyes to look out my little window and saw an unbelievable dirt wasteland stretched as far as I could see, surrounded by walls. In the distance outside the walls I can only see cranes, and a couple of apartment complexes, maybe. We are in an abandoned warehouse district, weeds are waste-high amidst piles of coke bottles, cigarette packages, children's toys, and a couple of TV sets. A quick poke outside tells me the temperature is around 15 degrees. It's really cold out. Rick says, "did you see it outside there? I'm not going outside at all today. It looks like the end of the world out there."
The City Of The Future
So Howie and part of the Steel Pole Bath Tube (ha) ensemble went to explore the "real" part of Verona, taken sight-seeing by one of the guys in charge of the show I guess (they went to the arena and a mall, from what I heard), but Rick and Jim and I stayed in the wasteland and walked around for hours taking pictures. I told the other guys they were going to see the City Of The Past, whereas we were walking around in the City Of The Future. It was very Blade Runner. We are playing in what used to be a huge meat refrigerator, and there are gigantic buildings (abandoned) all over the whole lot with numbers all over them and train tracks leading to each one. Broken glass, wires and weeds are everywhere, but the buildings seem completely cleared out except for sporadic piles of garbage. The architecture was 1930s, I was told. I walked around for hours trying to figure out why I thought the place was so beautiful and then gave up trying to make sense out of anything and half fell asleep perched on the first floor of building 23.
Later on I was in no mood to talk to anyone, but when I found the back part of the meat locker (the kitchen) it was filled with more friendly Italians and an incredible garlic smell of food they were cooking. The people we meet in this country are so nice and warm that it's hard to cope with it when you sort of want to be alone. I wish I felt better emotionally - I guess basically, I lead a perfect worry-free life, and I feel guilty about it, so I'm creating something for myself to do. Howie, master of the obvious, remarked that he wished he had the energy to be as friendly and outgoing as the Steel Pole Bath Tub guys - they are really something to watch after a show - they play their guts out and then after the show, they'll just sit and talk to anyone, for hours.
Two Guys From Italy
I'll never be able to explain how funny these two guys who came to this show from Milano were, but reading this in the future, I'll remember. They could barely speak English and had loud, intense, happy and clear voices, and they loved the show. "What does eet mean, Steel Pole Bath Tub? I theenk that these guys, the bass player and guitarist, are like to Fucking in the bathroom?" By the end of the night, they were out at the bus, yelling to wake up Mario, our sleeping, crochety bus driver. Hearing huge, drunk Italian guys yelling "MARIO!! MARIO!! WAKE UP MARIO!! is going to be a special moment that I remember on tour. MARIO!! EEF YOU ARE GOING TO BE DRIVING EEN THEES BEEG BUS.... WITH THEES... COMPANY OF ...STRANGE PEEPULS, ... THEN I THINK, MARIO, THAT YOU SHOULD COME OUT HERE....AND HAVE SOME OF THEES... WHICH WE ARE SMOKING, WITH US.
We're due for a good show
We knew this was a free show and we had played Muffathalle before, almost exactly this time last year. It is a huge place, probably has a capacity of around 3000 people, big and wooden (the place and the people.) We played here last year with the GodBullies, to a completely unresponsive 1500 people (both to us and to the GBs.) Have you ever seen a unresponsive crowd of 1500? It's a very weird thing.
Backstage Crazy House of Naked Germans
Tonight I think I have cheese-poisoning. Something about my body just wasn't working right, and I couldn't figure out what it was. Rick had eaten about 30 candy bars because the room was filled with food, so he sat next to me with his head in his hands. For some reason I started laughing, and then couldn't stop - what started me off might have been Patrick from Surrogat walking around nude, only half-covering himself with a towel. There's something about watching a 6 1/2 foot tall skinny (cute), naked German guy who looks like he's about 17 years old trying to make his way around a dressing room the size of a closet and filled with people that sends me into hysterics. There were two other German people who I didn't know, one staring at himself in our mirror; the room was filled with people who weren't in any of our bands - I had to keep reminding myself that some other poor band (HI FI MAMA) was added to the bill - and they were going on after Steel Pole, poor things - I assume these extra people were in the other band. They were videotaping themselves getting dressed later on, into silver costumes.
Pound! Pound! Pound!
Anyway, with Patrick walking around nude, I ran to hide in the 2nd backstage room, the "computer room," where we have the laptops set up, where Mike, oblivious to all this, was typing, and Howie was drumming, slowly, raising each hand high over his head with each beat, on a mattress. I laid down on the mattress to get the full effect of drum-practice irritation. pound! pound! pound! Then I heard Patrick in the other room, saying, "Is There Someone In The Shower?" (The shower is in the middle of both the tiny backstage rooms.) "YES!" yells Darren. Pause. Laughter from me, probably because the room is so small that everyone has to know where everyone else is. "Are There Two Showers in there?" yells Patrick, still nude. "NO!!!" yells Darren. At this point I am rolling on the floor laughing, because I know there ARE two showers. Darren later mentioned something about how he's finished with highschool now so he doesn't ever have to shower with another man ever again. I'm still laughing because I know that Patrick is still walking around the teeny dressing room naked, and then I hear Jean-Luis come in and say, "Surrogat is on the stage in 10 minutes." "NO, I have to SHOWER FIRST!" says Patrick. "You shower after you play," Jean-Luis says. I want to tell Jean-Luis to remind Patrick to put on his clothes, too, before he goes on the stage. Mario had said a week ago that Americans are too ashamed of their bodies and that Europeans get naked more often, in front of people. I believe it.
When we got on stage tonight I noticed that the room was full! We had a nice show, and people clapped afterwards and wanted more. I got back into the dressing room after the show to find an ecstatic Surrogat - I didn't watch their set, but I heard it and it sounded amazing. Patrick was happier than I've ever seen him - I love to see people so happy! He said this was the biggest concert he'd ever been to in his whole life, let alone played!
Steel Pole Bath Tub were incredible (gee, surprise) and there was a mosh pit for them which I joined. The only problem with tonight's show was that Darren had decided he was going to get me back for teasing him all day. I think I decided that I was going to just say mean things to them all day today because it was easier than saying nice things - you compliment then and they just compliment you back, and I'm getting sick of it. So earlier I told them, "You guys are pretty nice for a dumb band." Later on, during sound check, Darren yells from the stage, "Wait. I'm going to tune these drums" and I mumbled back sarcastically (I didn't think he could hear me) "Yeah, that'll help." "Consider Your Ass Kicked," says Darren. After our show, when they got on stage, Darren went up to the mic about 10 times and said, "Hello, We're Poster Children From Champaign, Illinois." The entire audience (probably around 2000 people) was completely confused. He repeated it over and over again (I said, "they'd better be good tonight") until by the end of the show when he went up to the mic, Rick and I ran out and tackled him and pulled him off the stage. Really funny joke. I didn't really think it was that funny, especially since I thought we played well that night, and each time I went back to the t-shirt booth, Amy told me, "Boy, you sure are selling a LOT of stuff tonight" (thanks, guys) but then the Last Laugh happened. Steel Pole Bath Tub had time for one encore, ran out and played "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath to an ecstatic crowd and never once mentioned that they were Steel Pole Bath Tub. Then, HI FI MAMA went on the stage last, dressed in silver costumes, and well... sounding like a bad heavy-metal/funk German version of Urge Overkill. Ugh. Posters up everywhere said Steel Pole Bath Tub was headlining this show. What do you think the audience thought?
We're playing here in Graz tonight in a small conference room upstairs in a sort of theatre building; the main room holds a band that is playing "ALPIN ROCK" - some genre of very popular Austrian music that I can only figure sounds like heavy metal crossed with yodelling. Mario, bus driver, is Austrian and tells us that there is a band called "Shuzejagger" or something like that who plays to crowds of 100,000 people in Austria. They are bigger than U2, Mario says. They are on tour of America right now. ("Gee, I wonder how well that's going," says Mike.)
No, I WORK
Today I walk around Graz for hours, nearly get myself lost, and try not to talk to people in stores. Howie goes out each day for hours; I don't know how he does it. I lose some sanity points each time someone tries to talk to me, nobody in this town speaks English. There is a huge protest of students marching up and down the streets in town and I follow them trying to figure out what they're protesting. It seems like they want free education ("Then they've really got something to learn," says Dale, SPBT's bass player). When they all stopped at an intersection and people got up and talked, I tried to ask people holding signs what they were protesting, and none of them could or would tell me. The mood seemed kind of light on the outskirts of the crowd. Police were joking around behind the students. After about a half hour of attempting to crack the code (I even went up to the police and said, "Do you speak English" "Yes." "Can you tell me what they are protesting?" "Garble, Garble, Garble, Garble..." (the police don't speak English), I gave up, angry and frustrated - how weird is it to be around a huge crowd of protesters and not understand a word they are saying? Later on I asked the promoter if he had joined the protest and he said, "No, I WORK."
Speaking of the Promoter
We really screwed up tonight. The Promoter, of all people, requested "Junior Citizen." We played it during sound check, and not during the show. What the hell were we thinking? Maybe he'll travel to Indianapolis to see the next show and maybe we'll play his favorite song there? We're in the middle of Austria, and the promoter wanted to hear a song by us. It's not like we'll be back next month. *sigh*. He was really intense about making sure we knew how much he wanted to hear the song, too - after the show. He followed us around, whistling the song. We apologized, and reminded him we'd played it during soundcheck. "Yes, that's ok, because I nearly started crying during it then," he said. I felt terrible. Jim was even upset; that's how bad it was - it takes a real lot to upset Jim.
I give up
I give up telling Steel Pole Bath Tub how much I love their music. Each time I tell them about it, they just talk back about how much they love our music. I had a little discussion with Howie about it; it's unbelievable and so flattering to us that they like our music. I wish they were famous, famous, famous, but it doesn't even matter. I hold my head in my hands when they finish tonight and sit perfectly still, wishing that the last cymbal crash was the last thing I could hear tonight; I just wanted to be able to fall asleep in complete bliss right there. This tour is so pure and perfect - watching them onstage each night, I know that everything that comes out of their mouths and instruments is absolute truth. I can't explain it; it is just absolute honesty, and I feel the same about what we do on stage. So basically, what I'm saying, is that it really doesn't matter what happens to any of us. It is obvious that the endpoint, the result of our bands is the music and energy that comes off the stage, not money or fame or anything else. Just the music.
Dale, Destroyer Of Clocks
OK. Dale wants me to write about what a complete hoodlum he is, beneath that calm, cool, intellectual exterior. He definitely has some sort of love-hate relationship with clocks, that I'm sure of. I remember right at the beginning of the tour, he had broken his watch and sounded really distraught about it; I had two so I lent him my new calculator watch. I have another that only has 1 hand, and he was pretty freaked out about the whole idea of a watch with only 1 hand. I didn't really think anything of it until Rick pointed out to me that Dale might have this thing with clocks. He seemed really distressed about not having a watch on his wrist, Rick said. Dale finally did explain that he needs to know what time it is, all the time. If he doesn't know, he'd go crazy. It's weird to me, because I don't really like to have something that measures time on my wrist. It's taken a lot of work for me to be able to actually wear a watch. Keeping track of time for me is equivalent to having responsibility. Also, it makes the amount of time I have left seem finite, instead of infinite.
So, after the show, we went out to eat at this incredible restaurant with a huge menu that none of us could read because it was all in German. The food was great and BIG, and SPBT told us all sorts of stories about their tours to Japan, old tour managers and sound people; wonderful stories. The restaurant was very, very far away from the club and we decided to walk back. So we walked down the beautiful streets of Graz, after midnight, looking in expensive store windows and probably making a little more noise than Europeans make. Rick, Jim and I walked ahead of Dale and Darren who got wilder and wilder as time went on and fell back further and further from us, and finally ended up starting to throw snowballs at things. You'd hear "giggle, giggle, giggle" and then "plop!" or "pink!" and then more giggling, and then "tap... tap... tap...", walking towards us some more. After a while they got more and more chaotic and the snowballs sounded harder and more frequent - and we were passing by policemen on the street, and other people walking by! Then just as we were crossing a bridge and I was worrying those guys had gotten lost, we heard this
crash!Then, "Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap" - them running towards us. Dale had destroyed the glass face of a street clock. This gave us the opportunity to give him shit for at least a week, which was fun. But he has my watch on his arm. STILL.
I think we're on the border of Hungary.
I look outside the bus and see a couple of farm-houses, mud and snow everywhere.
My first impulse is to be bummed because on Fridays I always like to play big
cities, but I settle down and realize how incredibly cool this little community
is. I actually can't figure out what it's doing here.
I finally venture out of the bus to look around. We are staying in little hacienda-style hotel rooms in a different part of the complex, and everything here is beautiful and clean. Now Mario is walking around grinning in a weird way and I find out it's because the bus is stuck in the mud outside the club - I mean, REALLY stuck in the mud. Like, it's sinking. It gets down past half-way through the tires before the tractor comes to pull it out.
I ran out of pictures before the tractor came and couldn't get into the bus because it was trapped in the mud. Howie was trapped inside the bus the whole time and didn't even know he was in great peril.
The Steel Pole Bath Tub guys had said earlier that we were a "good influence" on them - I guess this tour has been a lot less rowdy than what they're used to. Tonight, I did something I've only done about 5 other times in my life. I drank alcohol - Amy had decided that we were going to drink Tequila shots and I was going to have one with her. I've never done that before; I've only had wine before, and I've attempted to drink a beer. One of the other times I had whiskey. I don't know anything about alcohol. I feel stupid writing about this, too. Anyway, the only thing I remember about drinking (I'm writing this later) was that it didn't really affect me enough - and I don't do anything "halfway" so when I drink, I drink towards an endpoint; until it is obviously time for me to stop. I don't know if I bothered anyone; I just got sort of confused, and the guys tell me I talked about math a bit. It was an interesting experience, but I guess I am so used to being happy without it that it really doesn't help me at all. I felt like I was looking at the world literally and figuratively through a rolled-up paper tube, that I wasn't seeing the whole picture. It seemed like such a big deal to me to drink alcohol, and after tonight, I guess it doesn't seem like such a scary, big deal. I guess I understand it better.