Salaryman's Tour De France Part 1, Spring 1998
we had a slight problem with the laptop right before we left, but it seems to work ok now.
March 1st, 1998Everyone in Champaign seems to be more excited for us than we are!
I'm a little sad about leaving Champaign right before all the tulips and daffodils bloom; these are the only things that work correctly in our yard. We're going to miss spring, again. Last year we toured pretty constantly, and missed every season at home except winter. Yuck.
For some reason, none of us are freaking out too much about this tour. Everyone outside of the band seems more excited for us than we are! We're happy, and we're looking forward to it, but the only real preparations I made were to fix the laptop, and try to tie up computer jobs I was working on at home. We're excited to see Les Thugs, the band we're opening for. I guess I'm sort of wondering when our luck is going to run out; everything just seems so simple.
We may also be worried because we're going to be tour managing ourselves during this tour, and none of us speak any languages other than Spanish, and we're not going to Spain. We've never managed ourselves in Europe! It's a bit scary.
March 2nd, 1998
Ok, now I'm excited!O'hare Airport - United New Age Corridor Again!
March 3th, 1998 -- Offenburg, Germany
We got to our hotel, and Keith from City Slang who was there to prepare us and send us off informed us that it looked like the only thing near our hotel tonight was a INDOOR GO-KART place! It was right across the street!! Poor Keith had to pick us up at 5:45am in Frankfort, Germany (he had to drive from Berlin to Frankfort, 5 hours!) and then go back and pick up Curt, our New Soundguy, again around 8. Curt came in without his luggage, because there was some sort of Delta airlines luggage strike; he said which would last until 11am. He kept wondering about what the threat of the strike was, if there was a scheduled ending time. People were trickling out of the gate, one every 5 or 10 minutes; Curt said a bag or two would get unloaded every once in a while and the lucky winner would be allowed to receive his or her bag.
We finally got back to the motel around midday and then Rick and I slept until 6pm. I don't understand why people feel they have to force themselves to stay up the entire day that they arrive in Europe just to beat the jet-lag. Why not force yourself to sleep the entire day? That's how I'm going to do it. It's easier for me!
Curt had scouted the entire area for food and came up with an unbelievable Italian food place maybe a half-mile away. There was no one in there when we got there, and the waitress didn't speak English, but Italian food is the same name everywhere, so it was very easy to order.
Jim zooming around the track
Curt already looks like a pro
It's a gorgeous night outside, around 50 degrees, and the air smells like a swimming pool in early summer. We walked cautiously around the Go-Karting place and finally got up the guts to go in, and it looked like some pros were racing around the track, but then some pretty normal-looking people were walking in and the girl behind the bar spoke English, so Curt and Jim ended up Go-Kart racing!! What great entertainment for the rest of us!
This is definitely a guy-thing; I am just not interested in it, but I was interested in watching them. IT seems like a man-against-himself sort of struggle; if you don't know your own strength or have too much pride, I think you can probably decapitate yourself. Rick and Howie and I stayed safely outside the ring, breathing the exhaust fumes. The stereo was pumping this techno music, and right before they pulled the little lawnmower strings on the Karts, the music just started pumping really loudly. It was great! Jim and Curt zoomed around the ring with the other guys. There were two older guys in their heat, too, pros who owned their own helmets.
March 4 1998, to Lausanne, Switzerland, first SHOW!
Rick and I poured over maps last night for an hour and a half. We want to make sure we don't make any mistakes. The one thing we noticed about the roads in Germany - and maybe all throughout Europe, is that each exit has a list of a couple of names of towns on it, but never says the direction, North, South, East or West. You have to know which towns you want to go towards. We know we want to go south to Switzerland right now, but it never says South on any of the signs; it just says Basel, and some other names, so we have to be aware of all the names of the towns around us at all times. That's what makes it hard.
We're on the road now, though, towards Basel, and we've already taken 3 exits, and I believe we're getting the hang of it!! Now to cross the Swiss border!later
The Swiss border patrol said a bunch of things to us in French, took our passports away for about a minute, asked us for 200 French Francs, and then let us go. Didn't even ask what kind of music we played.
It is after the show. We had no trouble finding this club; the guys remembered where it was because we (I mean Poster Children) played here like, 5 years ago. Not even with Steel Pole Bath Tub; it was even before that! I remembered almost everything about this club. We even ate at the same Moroccan Restaurant as we ate at 5 years ago. We even stayed at the SAME HOTEL!! I am trying to figure out how to describe the feeling, to be so far away, in Lausanne, Switzerland, so far from Champaign, Illinois, and to be visiting the exact same places that we were at so long ago. Is 'safe' the right word? Lucky? It's a very small world.
This hotel is very memorable. It's called "Hotel City" and it's like straight out of a sci-fi movie. When you enter the foyer, there is a thin passage containing an escalator which senses where its next passenger is standing and moves in the correct direction acccordingly. The beds again have those feather comforters that are like sleeping in heaven. We had the promoter tell us stories about his trips to America and he mentioned sleeping in a hotel in San Francisco where he was afraid to sleep on the sheets - they were GREY, he said - and he slept in his coat the whole night. It must be very hard for Europeans to come to America; everything is so much nicer here.
People seemed to like us tonight. Les Thugs were AWESOME; they are a very thick, beautiful-sounding rock band. It's great that we, an electronic band, can play with them. Everyone is really nice to us, too, and tells us they will take care of us. They spent hours attending to us; fixing our TV set, fixing our cables, helping us get situated.
March 5 1998, Mall show in Geneva, Switzerland
Well, we followed Les Thugs here today. It was much easier. The road and street signs in Switzerland and Germany here do NOT have the names on them or the directions. NONE of them have that; all they say are the next towns. In order to go anywhere, you need to know the names of the towns you'll be passing through; just knowing you have to go south on A9 does nothing for you. Nowhere on the A9 going south will it actually SAY "A9 SOUTH." On the turnoff, it will only say the name of the next town. This is going to be what screws us if we have to drive by ourselves anywhere.
The French people have the most beautiful accents. You should hear someone with a french accent say "Fuck Bill Gates."
Salaryman had a great interview today, except it was mostly questions about Poster Children. I know that is probably supposed to offend me, but it doesn't at all. I mean, there are 11 years of Poster Children to talk about, and only 1.5 years of Salaryman. On top of it, yesterday I had a kid talking to me about how interesting it was that we only had 1 record out and we were already on City Slang (one of the best, if not THE best record labels) and I finally 'invoked the name' as I'm starting to call it; I said, "Well, it's not really our 1st record. We've had 7 others, under a different name." That seemed to calm him down a little.
There are a lot of things happening here that I'm not totally prepared for. People come up and ask for free t-shirts and stuff, and I don't really feel like I can give them to them. I didn't buy the shirts; City Slang did. People come up and talk to me about wanting to be our promoter next time, and I don't know what to say; I need to tell them just to talk to City Slang. Today we realized we'd left a transformer at the club last night, thankfully we are coming back this direction in a day or two - but if Francois (the Thug's tour manager) wasn't so wonderful and helpful, I probably would have gone home right then. It shouldn't be this scary, but it is. I feel like I don't really know all the rules here, but then again, I know the rules at home. How different can they be?
March 6 1998, Friday in Lyon, France
The French guards just looked at us last night as we crossed the border. Today, thank god that Les Thugs let us follow them to this club because there is no way in hell we would have found it by ourselves. There was a turnoff that allowed us either to go towards Paris or some other city that we weren't supposed to end up in, and we just followed them right up to the door.
We're in a squat-like place, pretty dirty, and we are sleeping here tonight. All these points add up to them most likely having a great computer set-up, so I scouted around here until I found the computer room and sure enough, they have a couple of computers, a zip drive, and a bunch of other peripherals set up around a midsized room. I also noticed the walls in the club downstairs are covered with circuit boards. As I plugged into the phone line I noticed a 'beeg' modem with blinking lights - ISDN line. The guy who helped me not get on the internet today informed me that they will be broadcasting our show in realAudio over the internet tonight. They will afterwards burn a CD-ROM of the show and give us a copy.
Braid (from Urbana, our home-town (it's Champaign-Urbana)) played here last week!later
We had a great show tonight and the audience actually seemed to love it. There was a loud roar after we finished playing! Too bad we don't really have any type of encore songs. For an encore, my dream is to grab a bunch of Les Thugs guitars and come out and play "IF You See Kay" (a Poster Children song) and show these people that we know how to Rock, too.
March 7 1998, Neuchatel, Switzerland
I'm writing this from March 8th, actually. We had a shitty show yesterday, in Neuchatel which I can only describe as probably the most beautiful place on earth. Curt was saying that it's funny, some kid is probably sitting, moping in his room right across the street from this waterfall next to the club, saying "i gotta get out of this shit-ass craphole of a town and move to New York City where things HAPPEN."
It's like a movie set here. Rick, Howie and I got to sleep at a hotel after the show because there were not enough rooms at the venue. The hotel was absolutely gorgeous; it had all that new pointy furniture, and the wood was all dark copper-colored. I looked out of the balcony in the morning and gasped; we were high atop a mountain and the view was of these little houses along a lake; it was a straight view right onto a lake. And this was a 3-star hotel. I can't even imagine what a 4-star hotel is like.
March 8 1998 - Brainans, France
I'm standing on stage while Howie beats on his drums, waiting for my turn to soundcheck. I just walked outside the stage door a minute ago; it is about 45 degrees and lightly drizzling outside. We are in a really big, clean but rock-looking club in the middle of nowhere. Outside there is a field of blue grass with sheep grazing about 10 feet away from our dressing-room area which is an old stone house standing over a running stream. I stood outside the door and stared at the sheep for a couple of minutes and they stared back at me. I sat in the dressing room a bit earlier and stared at the French people speaking French for a half-hour too. Everything seems foreign.
I'm writing from the van. Howie is driving and we've had to go up so many mountains that we've lost Les Thugs van and we're going to have to cross the border - actually we are going to have to FIND the border - by ourselves. Their van is totally filled with equipment and 8 people and still they can outmaneuver our little Mercedes-Benz van. We're driving through twisty-turny, foggy mountain roads here in Switzerland. Next to the roads are orange and peach-colored stone houses, dark green meadows, or 500-feet dropoffs. It looks like we are driving through a fairy-tale. Maybe these are the Alps!
(Howie just noted that we just passed a McDonald's bag lying on the side of the road.)
Every single meal here in France (well we're in Switzerland now, but it's the French part) has been fantastic. I feel sorry for Les Thugs when they tour the states; they have even said "Yes, after 2 months of touring in the states I like to come home to good food." They even lamented about playing to 8 people in Phoenix Arizona. Think about that; a French band who would blow Mudhoney off the stage coming all the way to the US and touring and not getting to play to very many people. I find that a bit sad.
I ought to describe Les Thugs actually; fans of Poster Children would surely love them. They have a very, very thick sound, like Tar kind of, but the vocals are milky-smooth, sort of like Love Battery's vocals. They're music is very driving, but poppy in a way. They are on SubPop records in the states, and the new one is coming out in April. I wish we could bring them on tour in the states with us - Poster Children - and show them a good time but I'm not sure how many people would come. Plus, touring Europe is wonderful even if no one comes to the shows. Touring the US is not as wonderful, for Europeans, anyway. You don't get as much food.