Salaryman Winter Europe Tour
We are flying KLM Dutch Airlines out of Chicago O-Hare, Terminal 5, the busiest airport in the world on the busiest travel day of the year. 250,000 people are expected to pass through the gates of O'Hare, the radio proudly states. In our Terminal 5, the International terminal, it's all hardcore international airlines, none of this United flights or American Airlines. We've got KLM and a bunch of other European airlines, and everyone is nice in this terminal. When I announce that I have a computer with me, the guards at the x-ray station smile, "Oh, ees no problem" and walk me over to the side and ask me to turn it on, and are impressed with the fact that it boots up so quickly. (It's asleep.) Usually, when they find out I have a computer, I am taken away by security as if I am going to be shot.
This plane, a 747, is smaller than any plane I've ever been on. Everyone is nice, but I'm very impressed that I can even fit in the little space of the seats. There are screaming children everywhere; the one 3 seats to the right and forward of me screamed at the top of his lungs for about 5 hours straight, while we all tried to sleep. I've never heard a child scream that loudly in my life! I'm so glad I had earplugs!
We fly into Amsterdam and connect to London. And on the way out, we fly out of Barcelona, connect through Amsterdam again, and on to Chicago. Those are going to be some fun customs to go through. *gulp*
So much happened today. Our tour bus came, and it's a DOUBLE-DECKER bus!! It's really posh, but much dirtier than the first tour bus we were ever on, back on the Steel Pole Bath Tub tour. The bunks are much bigger though; and the bus is HUGE, like a building. There are two TVs and VCRs, and a bar and a microwave and refrigerator. The bathroom smells like a toilet and is very small. There is a lounge downstairs and another upstairs by the beds. There is a smelly stick-up air freshener in everyone's bunk.
The Tortoise guys are all nice. We already know Doug, from Eleventh Dream Day, and Casey who helped record some stuff of ours with Brad Wood a long time ago. And well, then there's Johnny!! I don't think I'm supposed to tell anyone that he was in Poster Children! I was kind of nervous to see him again, worried that he hated us. He quit, after all. But he is just as nice, funny, and cute as ever. It is nice to be travelling with him again.
Today we got no soundcheck, and that was very, very bad, because we didn't know anything about our rented equipment. When we got on the stage in front of a very, very full room, sold out, at least 400 people, rushed, completely out of our minds, trying to figure out how to get these new amps to sound like we need them to sound - we couldn't even find our keyboard stands - we were totally panicked, but calm in a weird way. It's like, even if we suck, what's going to happen to us? I feel like I'm a different person, like I'm playing some sort of role-playing game. The show seemed to go well, anyway.
I keep hearing rumors (sorry, rumours!) that Mouse On Mars is upset that their name is not bigger on the fliers. The font for their name is the same size as the font for Long Fin Killie and us, and it probably should be bigger; they are a well-known band over here. I also have heard of Long Fin Killie and know they are a great band and wonder why we are playing after them some nights. That to me seems just weird.
A friend of ours, Steve Albini, is recording Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, two guys from Led Zeppelin right now, at a place called Abbey Road studios, so I called him to see if he'd like to come to the show. I asked him if he'd tell us some good stories about recording those guys, but he said that the stories he's heard imply better stories that he doesn't get to hear.
I got to watch Tortoise more today; and they were like nothing I'd ever seen before. I really liked them. The one thing that really holds them apart from any other band is that they can really, REALLY play their insruments. They are technically professional musicians, whereas the rest of us are proud that we are hacks. (Actually we are pretty good musicians too, but we haven't found a way to use our talents and not sound like RUSH.)
My little sister Sara, the biggest Poster Children fan of all, lives in London and got to see us play Salaryman tonight for the first time. She has some kind of strange illness where she faints a lot, and I was worried all night that she was going to drop. It's a terrible thing to have a sick family member.
So we're packing all the equipment into a trailer and then we are told that we cannot put any of our equipment into the trailer because it is only for Mouse On Mars' equipment. But it's the only trailer, and there is a ton of equipment. I'm just going to pretend there are no attitudes; I don't understand attitudes. So I say "Oh, there has to be some kind of misunderstanding! We'll just ask Mouse On Mars if it's ok that we put stuff in the trailer, and I'm sure they'll say yes." One of them was standing right behind me, so I asked, and he said something about how the trailer may break if too much stuff is in it. I asked him if it was Mouse's trailer, but he said no, it wasn't. It was a really freaky scene. Dan from Tortoise and I just started plopping things into the trailer after that, without asking anyone else. The Mouse On Mars merch guy didn't seem very happy. What the hell is going on? I wanted to go home. Some sort of weird fighting that I don't understand? But Salaryman is just so honored that we get to play with these bands; it's such a great bill! Each night has been a sold out show. Tonight you couldn't move in a room that held 1200 people, sold out way in advance!!
we all got showers today!
I slept through the ferry. I think everyone did. I woke up and there was a new, strange motion to the tour bus which could only mean we were on water. I kind of wish I could clean up the toilet in the tour bus, which smells like people have missed their target for about 20 years, but I feel like it would set some bad precedent; I am the only girl on the tour bus. In fact, I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but there are two tour busses on this tour and GUESS WHAT? the OTHER tour bus is THE SAME TOUR BUS WE HAD ON THE STEEL POLE BATH TUB TOUR!!! It is FREAKY to see it sitting outside the venue. It has changed in the last couple of years, and there is a different driver, but he knows Mario, our old bus driver. Mario quit touring, I guess.
Bill is our bus driver, and he was a riot last night. He and the other driver were talking about different things, joking around with each other and then I dumbly brought up the question of Tour Chicks. "Why aren't there any tour chicks here?" I chided, and then a too-long discussion ensued between the two bus drivers about buying girls AND sharing them. The Tortoise guys seemed embarrassed. Today I told the bus driver that he had to drop me off at Disneyland in Paris and he told me that the only place he would drop me off was through the window on the side of the room. What a grumpus.
The Taw-uss (that was "Tortoise" in Britain; I'm going to keep track of the different ways people in different countries pronounce their name) have a range of personalities. Johnny, who I suppose I should now call "John", who was the 5th Poster Children drummer, is still stylish and funny, and medium-quiet. John McIntyre (sp?) seems to be put on a pedestal by Taw-uss fans. People speak in hushed voices around him, and he is quiet, and I am a bit scared of him, worried that he probably thinks I'm just some dumb girl, but he seems nice. He's probably shy. I just try to stay out of his way. Doug the bass player who I know from Eleventh Dream Day has always been really nice and he has a cool hat, and there's a guy I met named Dan who is a wacky, loud-ish type of guy, he seems like a loose cannon. Then there is Casey, the sound engineer, who I have known for a while. I don't really know the other guys yet, but everyone is nice. There are a LOT of people on this tour, and it's hard for me to keep track of everyone and keep them all straight in my head, because I sort of have this problem with people, like I don't remember names or faces. They are all a scary blur to me. Give me a number though, and I can remember that forever.
after the show
How can I describe this tour? It is so great, we get the chance to play in front of at least a thousand people each night! Even tonight, the room was packed when we played and we went on first, at 8:30pm!! We will probably never get the chance to play (as Salaryman) in front of this many people again! And the other bands on the tour are INCREDIBLE. What a great bill. Now it's after the show, I am sitting in my little bunk in the bus and I can hear Johnny, Doug and Jimmie are up on the upper level here, watching the end of Sleepers, and downstairs, Rick and the rest of my band are watching The Killing Fields. All of the movies on this bus are guy-angst movies, and most are guy beating up other guy movies.
Tonight the t-shirt booth was set up at the end of a huge hall, so I got to see all the bands. Mouse On Mars is FANTASTIC. They sound more like a straight techno band than any of the others on this tour, but they have a drummer and everything; they actually PLAY the techno. And they have incredibly catchy songs and great graphics projected while they played. They've got TV sets, too, but they have already-made graphics.
All the bands seem to be getting along a lot better now. I am so glad we got to be on Tortoise's bus - they are very nice. They are completely ego-less. And it's so nice to be reunited with Johnny again for a little while.
This was a fanastic day. There was a festival called the Transmusicales Festival hre in Rennes, with a bunch of bands playing. We had been invited to play this festival; that's why we were here in Europe in the first place! So tonight we had 50 minutes to play, but no soundcheck. The place was tiny, and it was only Mouse On Mars, us, and Long Fin Killie - and it was packed with 400 people, someone said. When we got up on stage, the crowd was packed to the front of the stage and when we played a couple of people started dancing!! But I think the crowd really loved us. A guy with white hair who was standing on the stage while we played ran up and begged for another song after we finished, and the audience gave us an encore! After our show, upstairs, we met the guy; he was the promoter of the festival. He brought us champagne after the show, and then we had 4 interviews! Two TV shows, a press conference, and a radio interview that was translated back and forth between us and the interviewer. The interviewer for the German TV show wore a black and white zig-zag striped zoot suit. I wish I took a picture of him. I wonder how big these TV shows are; it's impossible for us to know who these guys really are.
one of the tv crews with their scary big camera!
French interviews are so awesome. The first question from this one was "Tell me about the mysterious aspects of your band." We didn't even know how to answer that one. Also there was a question, "what are you trying to say by using a TV set in your songs? What does TV mean to you?" or something along those lines, something that allowed us to go on a tirade about the commercialism of TV and where you are actually getting the "news" from; who is actually PAYING for it? etc. etc. I wonder how much of that translated back into French!
Also, I guess our show tonight was the deciding factor of whether or not we "got a TV for our Paris show", our label representative told us. I thought she meant we were going to get a TV set for our Paris show next week, but she meant that we would get to be on a TV program. Anyway, she told us we're going to get to be on a TV show, we get to play 4 1/2 minutes, and it's going to be LIVE!!! YIKES!!! We've never been on a LIVE show before, playing! Maybe it's like the french equivalent of the Conan or something!!
And after our show Christof (in charge of City Slang, our label over here) told us we could come back to France and tour with Les Thugs next March. ALL MARCH. Reaction from both me and Rick: we spit out the drinks we were drinking at that moment, comically.
For those of you Americans who don't know anything about European geography, I will tell you, we drove 14 hours to get from Cologne to Rennes and now it's even longer to get back to Stuttgart. We spend the hours sitting in the bus watching movies (we're watching Forrest Gump now and I can peek over between the seats and grin at Howie each time a really stupid part comes up), sleeping, smoking second-hand cigarettes, and eating, but the bus drivers have to drive the whole way. Mr. Crabby, Bill, our driver is sick now, accordingly, so we try not to bother him too much. This is our last day on the bus with Tortoise; after this they go home and we go to a ferry which takes us to Scandinavia. I feel like we're not really touring right now, not until we get off this bus and go into the City Slang van. It's way too comfortable in here, with beds; playing huge venues with nice dressing rooms. I haven't really even gone outside for very long, except last night, in France, we walked down all cobbled roads with French people screaming up and down them.
I'm finding it really hard to write, because I'm forced to think a certain way from talking to Europeans, especially the interviewers. You really have to figure out how to say things using as few words as possible, and it's not always easy. If you get too complicated, the translator may forget what you said, or misunderstand it. Last night, the french waitress came over to our table speaking very little english, and offered us cherry or pear pie, and the Germans who speak otherwise perfect english (complete with idiomatic expressions and slang), didn't understand "Pear." I drew one on the tablecloth for them.