#2: No Tour Manager = No Food?

Sept 22, 1999 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Our car came at 7:45 this morning to take us to the airport where we caught our plane to Amsterdam. I remember wondering if I was actually witnessing a sunrise outside the cab or if the sun was just coming out of the clouds as we left London. It's been a long time since I've woken up for the sunrise.

We spent all day in the De Konkurrant office, the Amsterdam press and distribution for City Slang (our label) for Salaryman. We did a couple of interviews - and they are very, very thoughtful and intense interviews in Europe. They want to know what the cover of the album means, are we saying that we care only about money? What do we mean by wearing our shirts and ties? Where do the titles of the songs come from? Could the "happy accident" theme you have in using tv broadcasts in the making of your music also turn into total paranoia? I'm not sure we understood the last question, but we answered it anyway.

These are all questions that are hard enough to answer in our own language, to people with our own suburban chicago backgrounds, and I can hardly imagine what the interviewer is getting from us talking. In fact we will never know what the interviewer has gotten out of it because even if we get a copy of the interview, we won't be able to understand it; it'll be in Dutch. I keep noticing though, how we all are using pretty complicated words to describe what we mean. I feel like we could probably use less complex language in order to make ourselves understood better. Like instead of "utilize," the word should be "use."

But now I'm writing from the studio of VPRO in Amsterdam, where tonight we'll play a radio show. Oddly enough in the cab ride, the song we heard on the radio was a BLESSID UNION OF SOULS (the band Poster Children played with last week) song. Rick recognized the lyrics that I sang to him, imitating their t-shirt guy trying to explain to me what they sound like. Neither of us had ever heard the band.

There is currently another band soundchecking right now; we'll be sharing some of their equipment. They are really, really nice, but I can't remember what their name is, because I couldn't understand what they said. They are from London.

The funny thing is there is this lady in the room with us who has been talking for over an hour now, music business stuff, with a really irritating British accent, and she's their manager. She has been going on and on about music biz stuff, dropping names of people I've never heard of, and saying things like, "Epic wants us, really really badly, and they're quite a good label," etc.

The constant blabbering is driving me crazy, because I know exactly what this band is headed for, if they are headed for signing to a major label. And there's nothing I can do about it to help them; they'll have to find out about the Great Lie themselves. A guy in charge here, who must be getting tired of the talking also, has come by to explain to us that this band is up-and-coming - but in London, he says. They will find out next Friday if they'll get the cover of NME or not, he explained. But that doesn't mean anything here in Amsterdam. He says that we are at the same status level here.

The audience tonight is bemused and most likely, stoned. They clap lethargically and smile for us as we attempt to play through some bad technical difficulties. This isn't a very good show. Maybe because we can only play for 15 minutes tonight. I think it takes us a little longer to get into "The Groove."

Still in VPRO studio. It's really comfortable and nice in here; it's like a private restaurant. Howie is banging on a piano next to me; I'm sitting on a tiny stage, and Rick is asleep on the stage. And the woman is still talking. I feel like we are just biding our time until we get to beautiful France. Everything will be perfect when we get there.

Bicycles in Amsterdam

are locked now. in the past, there were communal bicycles that were left around for anyone to use, but people kept stealing the good ones.

Sept 23, 1999 - Lost in Brussels, Belgium

no one met us at the train

There are two stations and they are both called either "centrum" or "midi," and.. so, you can guess what happened.

This was the first time I ever remember being terrified that we have no tour manager here in Europe. And when was it? Was it when no one was there to meet us when we got off the train? No, it was when we were sitting at our dinner table at the festival and no one was serving us food. I was terrified that we weren't going to get our dinner!!

We were really lost during the festival. There was no one to contact to find out what we were supposed to be doing, and we were walking around trying to talk to people but not very many people spoke English. We ended up sitting in a little alcove for a while, staring back at people as they walked back and forth into the cafe, and then I decided to go exploring and look what I found: a row of dressing rooms, with a big SALARYMAN sign on one of them. People had been looking for us for hours - they thought we didn't show up because we never went in our dressing room. We didn't even know about it!

our dressing room!

Brussels Audience - small but loud.

This show went a lot better; we got an encore this time. There were a lot more people here for the band before us, who again, I'd never heard of, so I can't remember the name, Sorry. Crazily enough, there was another American band playing here, their dressing room was down the hall from us. They were called the Walkabouts - we have mutual friends so I went over to meet them. They came into our dressing room later after the show and we gabbed for a long time. That was fun. Except they kept calling us "Celeryman." Which really isn't funny. In the band who is supporting them on this tour, the bass player is the bass player from Six Finger Satellite - what a small world.