RTFM TOUR part 9
Last Failure Show
Greg came into the dressing room and talked with us for about a half-hour. It was the most animated I'd ever seen him. It was wonderful. He is 25 years old. He was talking about authors - he must read a lot. HE FINISHED GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. Rick has finishe d it too; Greg was impressed and said that Rick is the only other person he'd ever met who has finished it. For those of you who don't know, Gravity's Rainbow is a big fat book written by Thomas Pynchon, and it's about math and people getting stiffys befo re a bomb drops, in WWII. And an adenoid, and a guy going through a toilet (I'm sure that Trainspotting scene is a reference to a couple of pages in G.R.) and gaussian distributions. Basically, I have no idea what the book means. Each time I get farther, but I've never really gotten past page 200. I have the beginning memorized, because each time I start at the beginning. Rick read it when he was working in Indonesia. Greg read it on vacation with his family in Hawaii. I think you have to be trapped somew here in order to finish it.
Ok. We played our show at the Whisky. Howie wouldn't shut up about how great it is that he's getting to play the Whisky, where Jim Morrisson from the Doors was Discovered. It's a nice club; the stage is really high so people can see you mostly from wherev er they are. It was PACKED tonight, a Monday night! Amazing!
The last time I was at the Whisky we opened for Swervedriver, about 5 years ago. And Keanu Reeves was at the show. That's what I kept telling Howie, in order to irritate him every time he mentioned the Doors. But tonight, tonight, after the show, I was wa lking away from the stage and a woman grabbed me sort of shyly and said "I really loved your show" or something like that. I looked down at the floor and shyly said "thank you" and blushed like I usually do but then I looked up into her face and I SWEAR I was staring into the face of someone who looked EXACTLY like Patricia Arquette. She was EXQUISITE. I walked away half-stunned and then watched her for about 15 minutes from the t-shirt booth. Then I told Rick - RIck, go over there and tell me if that's P atricia Arquette. I explained to him that she had touched me and had complimented me on our show. Could it have been Patricia Arquette? He asked me if her teeth were pointy. "She has those two pointy teeth in front, you know." I pushed him down the aisle. When he came back, he said, "Well, it kinda looks like her," but he wasn't sure.
So I just stared at her a little longer. My cousin and a guy who I knew from highschool were there too, sitting with us at the t-shirt booth. I kind of wanted to watch Failure but the place was so jam-packed and there was that possible-Patricia Arquette s tanding right on the side of my field of vision so I watched her some more. She had beautiful long whitish-yellow hair, which she sort of flopped over when she got tired. No one was standing very close to her; she sort of had a little field around her.
So then I got the bright idea of since I couldn't go back and politely ask her to show me her teeth, I realized I'd seen her breasts a lot; in that David Lynch movie. So I decided to go walk back and see if they were the right size and shape. So I walked back down the aisle and nonchalantly gazed at her breasts. They kinda looked smallish, where I thought she had big ones. But she was wearing a halter, I think, so maybe she had to go braless. I noticed a lot of women having to go braless in LA. And maybe in the movie, they could have been stunt-breasts. I walked back up to the guys at the table and asked Rick, does she have small breasts or big ones? Rick thought big ones. So I guess maybe it wasn't Patricia Arquette, but byu god, this woman was gorgeous. I should really have just walked back up to her and said "Is that YOU?"
I'm still thinking about Patricia Arquette. I finally asked ML, our ex-manager (who we're staying with) what he thought and he said that Patricia Arquette comes into his record store that he manages ALL THE TIME. She lives here! IT could have been her! Th e other guys seem to think it was possible, too. Halter tops can make your breasts look much smaller than they really are, you know. If this woman wasn't her, she should have been, anyway. I could KICK myself for not just coming up and asking her. When I did look into her eyes, (and they were gorgeous), I sort of looked questioningly and alarmingly at her like, OH MY GOD ARE YOU...??? and she sort of just looked back, like maybe she was saying, Yes, it's ok if you recognize me. I mean, would you hide in a club if you were Patricia Arquette? Would you have to? I give up. I just don't know anymore.
God. The woman was Richard Feynman's wife! In the movie. OK, maybe Matthew Broderick's, but STILL.
Warner Brothers/ REprise
Last night, most of Warner/Reprise was at the show! Even the head radio guy who is sort of in charge of who is the priority for radio was there! Everyone is really friendly. It was nice to see them all there; I have to hope they liked the show. I think th e show went ok, except I was sort of in excrutiating pain the whole night cuz I hurt my back somehow, but I think I pulled off an ok stage show. It was a great stage to play on; so I couldn't help grinning the whole time. We all had a great time last night. The show did not transcend at all; it wasn't one of those that we are known for; just a regular Monday night Poster Children show. I'm not sure why that was. Sometimes you have shows that transcend and other times you just don't, I guess.
Yesterday we spent about 2 hours at Kristen The Manager's office, talking to Ellen The Booking Agent on the phone. We routed an entire US Fall Tour. We are going on tour BY OURSELVES in the fall, hitting all our usual places, except WE WILL BE HEADLINING. Some shows may be Salaryman opening for Poster Children. The ticket prices will all be around $5. That is our number 1 priority. Also high on the list is we want to play ALL AGES Shows, if we can. It's hard to do that in some towns because the club owners don't make enough money on beer if they can't sell it. You have to be pretty famous in order to play all-ages shows.
My idea for this tour is that we need the shows to be booked WELL enough in advance so that NOBODY misses the shows. We are also going to have "0 for 1" single out at the end of August, so it's possible that the radio can play our song in some areas and get people to come see us. Most fun though will be the fact that they are OUR shows. It's very exciting.
And yesterday I mentioned to Howie Reprise Prez that we would be going on tour in fall and he asked us to take another Reprise band with us. I don't know how that would help any smaller band to tour with us. We're still fighting to get people to come to o ur shows. We'll have to talk to the label about it. If we do bring another band with us, maybe we can get better promotion from the label.
San Diego Show At The Casbah
I don't know why I love San Diego so much. Maybe because it's not LA. I love LA too, but in a different way. San Diego has a lot of nifty stores and cool areas. Just walking into the Casbah today I remembered being really happy there. I also remembered th at no one ever comes to see us in San Diego, and that it didn't really matter to me.
So I look on the fliers and see some band called "Marcy Playground" opening for us and then I see drones putting up Marcy Playground album flats and posters and stickers all over the club. Another new "front-loaded" major label band probably getting a shi tload of airplay. And they are. Man, would I love to see someone doing that with Poster Children stuff just once. (someone who isn't Howie Klein.) A guy walks up on the stage after we're finished sound-checking with a mobile phone hanging off his belt and I want to scream and escape. He's Marcy Playground's manager. He turns out to be really, really nice; he says he's followed our career because we began the same time as another band he manages, Toad The Wet Sprocket. I guess we must look like complete fa ilures to him though. But at least we're happy failures! failure!! we miss you! *sob* The manager tells us that he has been told that we have a good band website. The Toad The Wet Sprocket lead singer is doing tour-reports from the road now, once a week, too. Marcy Playground's t-shirt guy asks if we are going to make them sell t-shirts at the same price as us and I can't emphasize to him enough how much we are against that. I want to tell him that I think any band who forces their supporting bands to sell at the same price is a loser, pussy band, but I know it's not really the bands' faults but their merchandising company. But HELL! If they sell more shirts than us it's because more people want their shirts! Too bad for us!
The Music Of America
A 91X jagged-yellow-lightning-bold clad minivan (do you ever notice how all commercial alternative stations have the same stupid yellow lightning bolt on their minivans?) pulls up, radio station of the minute playing the Music Of America, and asks if they can hang their banner outside the club. I casually ask if they're playing Poster Children; this guy doesn't mess around. "No. But we're playing "Marcy's Playground" he says. I just smile. I can see in radio in 4 dimensions now, the beginning, middle, and end of all radio play for all bands, and the beginning, middle and ending of this guy's career at 91X. If they ever do play our song, this guy probably won't even be working there, and the month after they play it, they won't play it anymore. Who cares.
Thanks to Marcy Playground
But thanks to Marcy Playground and 91X promoting the hell out of the show for them, there was a shitload of people standing around at the Casbah on a Tuesday evening. Most of them left as we played, but curiously, didn't get too close to the stage when Marcy played. Marcy's hit song is about the Chronicles Of Narnia.
And the funniest part of the evening was a bunch of Cargo (the record label) guys getting a lecture from an EMI (Marcy's record label) about what a DPRO is and how to get bands on the radio. The guy told them that the Marcy Playground album was the next W hite Album. I wish I had been there. They were laughing. I'm glad I'm not in the middle of any of that stuff. I laughed with them for a while, but then remembered that Cargo owes us a LOT of money for Hum royalties. The situation is so serious that a lawy er is getting involved.
What does your A&R person do?
Our A&R person takes us to Magic Mountain; Six Flags over Los Angeles!!! WOOOHOOO!!!! We just got back - this is the kind of day off we LIKE!! There are a ton of rollercoasters (I love rollercoasters) at Magic Mountain and a new Superman ride which purpor tedly accelerates you 4 gs, which I think must be incorrect. You accelerate from 0 to 100mph in 7 seconds. I am too lazy to figure out what the g forces are then. The Superman ride was great; huge acceleration and then straight up for a couple of secs and then backwards. An hour and a half wait for this, but worth it for the feeling in your stomach during the acceleration part. Jim says they should just make a ride that just goes straight towards the mountains off in the distance, and just goes real fast.
The park seemed near empty; the older rollercoasters had virtually no wait, and the newer ones like Batman had possibly a 15-20 minute wait. It was weird to be at an amusement park and look off at the horizon and see mountains!! So weird!! I'm so used to Six Flags in Gurnee, Illinois. Flat. And my favorite rollercoaster, The Eagle. This park seemed to have no character; Howie said "They should have more Daffy Ducks 'n shit." The different "lands" seemed last minute too; there was like, "Ninja Land" and so mething else land I can't remember. The lands didn't seem to have a lot to do with the rides; it seemed like Disneyland must have copyrighted all the "good" names. This park was like the cereal boxes and bags you see at the ends of the grocery store aisle s; the sort of generic ones with the crazed-looking polar bears and drugged-out looking penguins - no familiar Tonys The Tiger.
It was totally great though; getting into an amusement park for free is one of the top 10 great experiences you can have. You just have a fun day all day!
I have this new thing now where I'm trying to keep my mind empty instead of thinking and worrying all the time. I repeat this line in a Failure song to myself sometimes: "I like the blank way you fill up my mind..." I'm sure the song is probably about dru gs, but for me it can be about not thinking too much. It's probably about that too. I'll bet those guys think too much.
Kristen The Manager on the phone attempting to manage us and Lollapalooza and Hum and Tool and Psychotica and a bunch of other bands, and talk on the phone at the same time
Today we spent all day doing Rock Business stuff, and I'm going to write about it here. First we sat in Kristen The Manager's office and talked a bit about Salaryman, whether we want to do a 50/50 deal with City Slang (the label in Germany that's putting out the record overseas) or a standard teeny-percentage mini-major deal. Christof, the g uy who is doing the deal, wants to do it as the mini-major deal. We would get much less money. He says he is not set up to do it the other way. It's too bad, because it'd be a lot nicer for us to just split the earnings 50/50 after he recoups from what he spends on us, but it would be too complicated with royalties and stuff. Besides, he is going to be spending a lot of money promoting us and flying us to Europe, and that's all going to have to be taken out of our royalties. I guess we will probably have to do it the way he wants it after all. But at least we'll be getting promotion and tour support - for airplane tickets!!
Next we went to Reprise/Warner Brothers, and had a nice talk with the radio guys there. Basically, we talked about how we're going on tour in the Fall, and we have an AD date, which means on August 19th, someone from Reprise will (possibly) start mentioni ng our name when they call radio stations - they'll try to get our song added to those lightening-bolt stations. The radio guys are less than enthusiastic about our song; they don't think it's a radio hit, and they tell us that. "It's a hard thing to hear " they say, and they're right. At some point, I just sort of wanted to think, well, what the hell are we doing here, why don't we just give up and make another record. This one isn't any good.
The meeting went on. I wanted to get them to try to at least get radio stations to MENTION our shows in the fall; even if they won't play our song. It's weird to know in advance that very little confidence from the radio dept is in our song. They say that if a DJ at a station loves it enough to bring it to their program director and get it added, then they will feel a little different. They need to see someone else having faith in us, basically, before they will. Unfortunately, Rick tries to tell them, it 's very hard to get someone else to have faith in us if our record label radio dept doesn't believe in the song. Radio only wants to play the biggest hits.
After a while the radio people were excused, and we went to meet with the reason we're still on the label, Howie Klein, the president, who still seems to love us. We try to figure out ways to help ourselves without getting radio airplay. Some bands have d one it; Tool has done it. Fugazi has done it. The Grateful Dead have done it. So how do you get people to know you without you being played on the radio a million times an hour? (If anyone knows, please email me.)
You tour, which is what we're going to do in the Fall. I'm glad we thought this up - this Fall, we'll HEADLINE our own tour and basically see where we stand in the public's eye. No package tour, no nothing; just Poster Children and CHEAP TICKET PRICES and hopefully we will have enough promotion for people to want to come see our shows. That brought us to our next point; we want to hire someone to help promote our shows. We think maybe that will bring more people out to see us. And I decided to start a mailing list, FINALLY, and I'm recording all the people's email addresses who write to us each day. I'm going to have a list, and when we get our new tour dates, I will email them to people. If you want your name on our mailing list, by the way, email me with it now. We've always been against this sort of "push" stuff; where we accost people with info; we like when people come to us, but it's about time to start a little bit of info push. And we definitely wo n't be irritating about it.
It seems that the view of people at the record label is that RTFM isn't good. I also get a lot of people complaining that we forced it to come out at a bad time, but I still think that if we'd delayed it, they still wouldn't like it. I hope I'm not wrong, and they're not just playing with our lives because they're holding a grudge because we were stubborn and forced it to come out in April. On top of it, it's still hard for me to believe that they don't like it. It seems like such a better album than Juni or Citizen. Our email is all over the map though; it seems to me that most people writing like RTFM the best, but there are a small percent who like the others better. And these people don't all like "Junior Citizen" the best, either. Many of them like "T ool Of The Man", and still others say "Flower Plower" is the best. The "Daisy Chain Reaction"-favoring contingent seem to be lost during this album, or to not have email.
The worst part about it all is what I realized as I was tossing and turning on ML's hardwood floor last night, trying to fall asleep. We're talking about a $12 album here, trying to get people to spend $12. The cost of 6 beers. 2 movies. A small percentag e of the cost of a new shirt. And each one we sell counts as part of our career, as part of our lives. What a strange world we live in.
Playing tonight was a huge release, a small room, perfect for my brain. A woman came up after the show and was so completely moved. "I LOVE where you took me tonight, it was absolutely WONDERFUL! Do you have a contract?"
"Do you work for a record label?" was my response.
So Timothy McVeigh has been sentenced to death. Rick, in the van, is sarcastically yelling, "Yay! Yay! I want that guy's blood!!" and then after the radio reports he won't get the injection for at least 2 years, "Damn! I don't want to wait 2 years for an execution!!" I asked him, "Rick what do you think about the verdict?" and he said, "I don't think the government should kill someone." He says "That guy was killing people that he saw as problematic, and now the government is going to kill him because he is problematic." I think Rick thinks Timothy should just rot away in jail. And it's more expensive to kill someone (legally) than it is to just have them live in jail until they die. Rick read that in a book somewhere. I don't know where I stand on the is sue. Every time I think of Timothy McVeigh sitting in a jail cell, waiting to be executed, and hundreds of people protesting, I think about how many homeless, uneducated, inner-city kids are shooting each other in a ghetto somewhere that minute, oblivious to poor Timothy's plight. I can't stop thinking about that enough to figure out how I feel about Timothy McVeigh. I do wonder though, how good God-Fearing Christians can justify feeling good about killing someone. Anyone. Even a criminal. Mostly, I'm jus t a confused airhead. I think I need some focus in my life. I think I should maybe get a tattoo.
The hippie was invented here!
Tonight we played for 80% of the door at a tiny restaurant in Chico, California, a really nice college town. Much nicer than Champaign. About 45 people paid to get in, although they didn't last the whole time we played. We must have been excrutiatingly lo ud. We ended with "Happens Everyday" and didn't bother playing "Revolution Year 0" or "Just Like You" which is what we'd been ending with. The audience gave a short burst of applause and then it was over. I felt like it was good, like we sort of quit whil e we were ahead. I know people liked the show, but somewhere inside, I was very skeptical. Something tells me there were more people at the Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute down the street. Man, there were tons of hippies all over the place. I tried t o figure out why there was so much hippies and then I realized, This is Northern California! The hippy was invented here!
So I looked for our sheet, our info on the show for today, and I don't have it. I don't have the phone number of the club. I don't have the directions to the club, and I don't have the NAME of the club. On top of it, there are CDs being shipped to the club, via Saturday Special FEDEX. So there will probably be a little yellow sticker on the door saying "we'll try to deliver your package again on Monday." When we'll be driving to Boise.
We called our manager and our booking agent over and over again, neither are home, to find out where we're playing tonight. When we finally pulled into town, got our hotel room and began the hunt for the club. I started callling record stores first. Here
was the funniest conversation:
me:"Hello, I am from out of town, and I know there is a band called "Poster Children" playing tonight at some club in town, but I don't know where. Would you happen to know where they would be playing?"
Record store: "Never heard of them."
Me: "I realize that, but maybe you can help me anyway. Where would an Indie Rock band play in this town?"
Record store: (silence)
Me: (deciding to use examples) "Ok. Have you heard of Superchunk? The band Superchunk? Where would that band play if they had a show here?"
Record store: "Super Chunk?"
Me: *sigh*.... "Have you heard of Bis????"
Record Store: "Yeah!!! Of course!!!"
Me: "Great!! Where would Bis play if they were playing a show here?"
Record Store: "..... " (I can hear them asking each other for a couple of minutes) "... nobody here knows. Sorry."
It was like that for about 10 record stores (the Indie store variety - I never even tried the Tower Records), seriously. Nobody had heard of us (of course) and nobody knew any names of any venues where an "indie" rock band would play.. It wasn't surprisin g that only 10 people showed up for the show. (And I think the promoter was embellishing the truth a bit when he said 10 people paid. I only saw 2 people there who weren't in the other bands. (Oh- we found out where we were playing by grabbing a copy of t he News & Review zine in Tower Records.)Show
When we pulled up to the club there was a tour bus there; the middle band "Souls" from Sweden had a tour bus. A huge, gorgeous tour bus. I was terrified we'd get into some sort of weird scuffle with their crew, and maybe we should let them headline, but e veryone seemed really nice, and they were embarrassed to have a tour bus. They were on tour with BUSH!! They had just played Sacramento a week or two before - (geez, that shows how helpful touring with an arena band is, doesn't it.) This band turned out t o be really great; they had a girl lead singer who was described as an Alanis-wannabee who was nothing of the sort. She was more like PJ Harvey, and the band played "angst-ridden" rock. They were on Innerscope, and someone (presumably from the label) had papered the club with their fliers everywhere. I liked watching them. The girl grabbed her breasts one time. They had a song called "Fuck Monkey." "You are a Fuck Monkey!" the girl screamed. They had Hiwatt amps!! I found out later that they had re corded with Steve Albini. Ha.. that explains EVERYTHING!
Why would anyone in Sacramento want to go out and see some bands they'd never heard of before play loud rock in a dark club when it's so nice outside, anyway. A guy who came to the show said the Sea And Cake played there the other night and the club was e mpty. And the promoter said they had a fire the night before, and word around town was that the building had burned down. That's why no one came, he said. Whatever.
THANK GOD FOR SAN FRANCISCO
pictured: members of Bully Pulpit West
We knew it before we even came here. We play Bottom of the Hill club in San Francisco, and people come. Really, really cool people. And great bands open, and the audience loves all the openers and loves us. A band called Engine 88 and another called Actio nslacks played with us, and they were both really great.
At some point I wanted to ask from the stage, how many people here have access to SGI machines? That seems to be a favorite pasttime of our SF fans; they come up, buy a t-shirt, and then brag about how they have access to machines that are more powerful than any of our dreams. I really enjoy it though!
We're starting to sleep a lot. It's getting to be the end of the tour. The last night of tour is Iowa City, and then we'll probably drive the 4 hours back to Champaign and spend the next day asleep. Then we'll wake up around 11pm and start our next day. And we'll have tour-lag for 6 months!