"It's a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can't eat for eight hours; he can't drink for eight hours; he can't make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work." - William Faulkner
This tour was the best tour we've had so far in our short but budding career. It had been a year since our last, and though we had wrote and recorded an album, raised the cash and spent it to get to SxSw for one set, made a video, and were the subject of an unprecedented amount of press, the year had felt stagnant and sterile. There was and is still so much to do. Our Mayhem Cruise in the Bahamas was cancelled, probably something to do with Randy Blythe’s legal problems. But you know what Jesus said: when a door closes, break in through a window and take everything. We had rerouted our 6th DIY tour because we were offered one where we finally would have to do nothing more than sit back and play; the tour we're about to go on with The Sword. That tour is going to be real work for us. It'll be the first in which we won’t be playing purely for the love of playing because it's our first chance to really prove our merits and conviction for the music in a daily setting of warriors, handlers, and small seas of listeners who in all likelihood are staring at their watches waiting for the headliner. It will be our most hardened and serious effort yet. And because of that, we spent this last tour living as hard and fast as we could, with those who had been with us from the beginning. It was a chance to iron the wrinkles of the last year doing what we do best.
The road began on September 7 straight out of the greater Los Angeles area. We had the four of us, Ron, Eric, Ian, and myself, as well as our new merch girl Bonnie, and for the first few days at least, Jordan from Metal Blade, to document as much as he could and see if we keep our money where our mouths are. The ride up to Oakland for us included weed, booze, and sex. At the venue we drank and smoked. The first day of tour is like any other day of work. You maintain as best you can in the surreal environment, but reality is never more in your embrace than in the work space. It was Bonnie's birthday and the shots were flowing. Jordan bought a bottle of Jameson and we went back to Micah's place. We told jokes, we ran out of cigarettes, and no one was allowed to leave until the bottle was done. We disturbed a sleeping roommate and were ejected from the house. That's why we have a van.
I woke up to the sounds of Ron Houser on the phone. He must be talking to his girlfriend Lisa, I thought. When I raised up over him to see what exactly was going on he met my eyes with his and I realized he was speaking to no one, present or on a phone or otherwise. Bonnie wanted a Four Loko breakfast so she left and returned with a black bag full of the stuff. The three of us drank in our underwear in the sun on MLK Blvd at 10 in the morning until there was nothing left to drink. We met up with the rest of the band, found a BBQ joint to soak up the alcohol, entered the van and headed to Lake Tahoe.
In Tahoe the party never stopped. Josh Leece treated us like partiers with nothing to lose, and when you live like that, you can't lose. The next morning was Sunday so we needed to go back to the bar to watch football. Saints lost. Packers lost. Defeat can make a man do strange, incomprehensible things he's told himself and anyone else he would never do.
As you may have heard, Reno is where it's at. Before heading down the mountain we shot a house party video in Josh's place and drank more beer and whiskey with the reckless abandon we're used to. By the time we made it to Reno most of us had sobered up. That's only an issue when you're in a place that will charge you again to drink twice as much as before to get over the post-day drunk hump and arrive at where you need to go. I find no shame in divulging we had other things than alcohol to help us over that hump. Serious back room conversations were had, fights broke out. I don't know what bands we played with and that will just have to be how it is. When you're working like we do, and enjoying that what might be the last dance in a night of casual chaos, well, caution is with the wind.
The next day took us to San Francisco for a show at the Elbow Room. This one was a bitch to book and took more networking than a geek you know from high school on Facebook for the first time. But it paid off. In fact, if you're diligent enough, you'll find footage of it on youtube. Whiskey, Four Loko. That night, it's safe to submit to you, is when whiskey and four loko became the two official drinks of choice for the Gypsyhawk crew. Jordan had to leave us to go back home, but we're pretty sure he had a great weekend with us. In fact, if he didn't, he’s a dick. (I know he's reading this right now and laughing.)
What's next? Day off. Do you wanna hear about us replacing a tire? You do?? Well, too bad. It was boring. We had time to kill, a whole day really, so we went south, about a half hour, to Alex's from At Our Heels. Eric played Magic, Ron smoked cigarettes, Ian drank, and Bonnie and I watched the Lemmy movie on my computer. Most of that happened in the van on a very suburban street. When a cop pulled up outside the liquor store we were at I thought i was going to get arrested. My fear of cops was on high alert, but when you're a seal in the Cape of Good Hope you better be fucking scared because the sharks are hungry and looking for trouble. Sex, drugs, rock n roll. Another day in the van. And then what? We all got free passes to the Korpiklani show back in SF at the DNA Lounge. They took us on their bus, and I have a bad feeling we drank all their booze. At least one of us did, and I'll let you guess who. Hint: he plays guitar and he’s not me. One of us was carried back to the van, another couldn't tell his left from his right while at the steering wheel, and so we drove only half a block away, an unnecessarily enormous yet modest task, and we slept. Well, I sorta slept. No one else has the kind of anxiety that I do. It's extraordinary how you can feel the same way having a lot to lose as you did when you had nothing.
So the next morning we had to go to Santa Cruz. I went to school there. It was an awesome place for learning. Have you ever climbed a 60 foot red wood to scout for psychedelic mushrooms growing in a cow pasture? I had those cool binoculars with the red lenses on the front that marines use for picking the brownest target. Anyway, we went to the Boardwalk where they filmed that vampire movie Lost Boys. That was ok, but there was a bowling alley across the street that had a bar. I invented a new drink that had hazelnut liqueur, blueberry vodka, and Malibu Rum, on ice. I think i'll call it the Blue Balls. We saw a cop chase a mad man on foot and then we went to the Blue Lagoon to play a show. No offense to friends, but can you please use more than one riff in your 30 minute song? I know that's what the kids like, but kids are fucking stupid. That's why they can't buy booze or stamps.
In a couple days' time from there we were in Pomona, at the Glasshouse, playing the Metal Blade/Scion AV showcase with Pilgrim, Battlecross, Cattle Decapitation, and Six Feet Under. I'll tell you right now this was the most fun day and most fun night of the whole tour. Free booze, giant stages, vaporizers, whiskey, bloody broken sinks, sex, fights, beer, cannonball competitions, buffalo wings, four loko, lies, and mayhem. It was pandemonium all day, all night. Then we had to leave. We were originally going to go to San Diego, but we played there the night before instead. JOY is a good band. Check them out. So is Old Man Wizard.
"How big of an eater are you?" "I'm a Houser."
Soon we were in Vegas. 2 free rooms at the Golden Nugget. Did you know they have a water slide that goes through a fucking shark tank? $160 on black because Wesley Snipes said, Always Bet On Black, and he was right. Drugs. Booze. Raging hard. Demon Lung is sick and you should listen to it. We were awake until about 4:30. Except for Ron. He was up all night on the Wizard of Oz machine. I was the only one who won nothing. You win some, lose some, it's all the same to me.
SLC. When the indians were forced from the South towards Oklahoma they called it the Trail of Tears. I don't know what they called the march of Mormons from wherever idiots come from to Utah, but there were many tears that night because Bonnie had just decided to quit her thrash band there, where she had been living before touring with us. The rest of the night was spent nerding out with our good bros VISIGOTH at the Wizard Tower and watching Battle Royale, but it was fun. By this night our band had become rock solid. It takes a few days of touring to work into a groove and we were there finally. Warming up? Forget about it. But, then again maybe we weren’t that good because we didn’t get paid anything. Might have been retaliation for cancelling a fest they were having in June. Whoops.
So we had to go to Denver next. Too much inappropriate shit to talk about here, but the show was great. I'll just leave it at that my penis showed up in not the right places. This is also where I feel it necessary to tell those of you who tease sex that what you are doing is lame. Sex is cool. Anyone who judges you for liking to fuck is boring. That's ok for them, but since everyone is different don't feel ashamed for liking it. When a girl tells you to your face that she’s taking you home, where I come from that means D.T.F. That’s enough said.
We had a 10 hour drive the next day for Merriam, KS, which is a suburb of Kansas City. The show was great. They had a massive cooler full of beer next to a stack of hot pizzas waiting for us, but someone gave the civilians the key while we were on stage so when we got off, which is the best time to house pizza and beer, it was all gone. Don’t give civilians keys. Fucking food eaters. We sold a lot of merch, for us. Turns out that despite the fact that we’re primarily playing songs off the new album and make that very clear to the audience most of them want to buy our old one, Patience and Perseverance. When asked why, the answer is always the same: ‘”there’s a drawing of titties on this one.” It’s always the titties, ain’t it? So, let that be a lesson to you youngsters, if you want to sell lots of shit cover it in titties. After the show we went to our new buds’ house and watched Rainbow live DVDs, pounded Jim Beam and Heineken, and eventually crashed out. It was a pretty solid night of activities.
Then we drove to Lincoln, NE, home of the Foightin’ Huskas, to play a basement show. We drank Four Loko and Jack Daniels the whole way, except for the driver, of course. Well, maybe he/she had a little. After an hour of windshield repairs and hassling a hippie shop about not having any Slayer hackey sacks we went and had dinner with Ian’s parents. I discussed WWII and living in Japan as a kid after the war with Ian’s dad Orville. That was cool. It must have been strange for a kid to comprehend being part of an occupying force in a country devastated by war that previously was one of the most militaristic nations in history. It’s probably why to this day no one fucks with Orville Brown. Anyway, after dinner we went to the house party. We in the band have this ongoing inside joke where we always ask people, “Do you know Kevin? He’s from Nebraska.” Well, Bonnie didn’t realize it was a joke yet so she asked some random guy at the party if he was Kevin. The guy was kind of a goon and wanted to know who the real Kevin was (the “real” Kevins are in Long Beach and Pasadena). Anyway, this goon started asking everyone at the party, eagerly and honestly, if they were Kevin, even us in the band, and every time one of us were asked, we cracked up. This started pissing off the goon because he thought he was the butt of some joke we had invented at his expense. We certainly didn’t do such a thing, but as it turns out, we indirectly did. Good fun. And he deserved it because when Bonnie took out the control pour thing at the top of big bottles of liquor he put it t back! What a goon. Eventually we played our set to a rocking basement full of drunk people smoking cigarettes and spilling beer all over each other, the exact vision I had in my head when Eric and I decided to started this band. I’m proud to say after all this time we’re still doing it and we always will. Maybe one day we’ll do a tour that’s exclusively basements. If you have one, hit us up.
Next day was Colorado Springs at the Triple Nickel. I think the club is owned by one of the guys from The Nobodys, which is a punk band I used to listen to in 7th grade so that’s kinda cool. I broke a string during our first song and I had just changed them two days prior. That’s never happened and I wasn’t expecting it so I didn’t have my spare guitar on stage. I had to run backstage to get it which is really not cool. I didn’t have time to check the tuning so I botched the next song. I think that’s because I was so quick the other guys didn’t even notice I wasn’t on stage for a minute, so take from that what you will. When you hear those sticks click it’s time to roll. After the show we went to our friend’s parents’ house and got really housed, with her parents. They had one of those Mr. Margarita machines and a fridge full of beer. Plus, they kept cooking us this amazing Mexican food with endless tortillas. I’m not sure if I passed out from the booze or the food. Bonnie chased some poor guy around the house all night screaming, “Buffalo!” and “Pussy!” because he wouldn’t chug his beer even though he was holding it in his right hand. I guess Buffalo is some game people play where once you’re “buffalo” you’re buffalo for life. Some how she found out this guy was indeed a buffalo and Bonnie didn’t take too kindly to him not playing by his sworn words. Apparently there’s another game where you get to destroy someone’s sandwich and it’s “funny”. I don’t know what’s funny about that. I think I can speak for the whole band when I say destroying our sandwich is grounds for a punch in the face.
So the next day we went to SLC to stay at Aunt Marta’s house and recharge since we didn’t have a show. She greeted us with a bountiful feast and booze. ‘’I know you like beer, do you like stuff like liquor?” “Yes.” “Do you like whiskey?” “Yes.” “What about the other guys, they like whiskey, too?” “Obviously you don’t read the blog.” “Well, what about Bonnie?” “She couldn’t survive here if she didn’t.” We had a great night.
Then we went to Boise. I had a bad feeling about this show at… THE SHREDDER when I found out there was another touring band on the bill. That means less money for us. At least half of what we were guaranteed was going to be given to that band. I’ve always considered myself pretty good at math (I used to take my trigonometry tests stoned because it was fun to see how cool numbers are), but I’m not sure I knew until this night in Boise that half of nothing is nothing. I guess it’s our fault for not packing in the place on our own merits, but I’d like to just blame it on Boise itself. We’ll see how it goes next month when we’re there with the Sword. SIDE NOTE: this is the infamous night when the Seattle Seahawks allowed the refs to steal the game for them against the Green Bay Packers. Seattle, if you fucked the Packers’ chances into the playoffs I’m going to stand on top of that stupid needle of yours and piss on every single last one of you muther fuckers.
As you may have guessed, our next night this tour was in Seattle, home of the Cheating Muther Fuckers. We went to our buddy Adam Noble’s house and buffalo’d some beers, then went to some place called Bills and drank more. Then I bought a bottle of whiskey and drank a lot of that. I had to sleep it off in the van, which meant Ian had to stand in for me to do an interview with …. SHREDDER.NET. Luckily, Eric was there to pick up the slack, because Ian’s talents lie elsewhere. This was a pretty cool night because all the bands we played with were good, especially Elk Rider, an all girl 4 piece that’s pretty damn heavy with actual catchy riffs. Turns out my nap did me well because we played a killer set.
We went to Aunt Lora’s in Portland, OR the next day and she took us out for drinks and food. Ron kept choosing beers he didn’t like and the waiter just kept bringing him new ones, which meant I got to drink the ones he didn’t like. This is a pretty good trick, I guess, even though Ron really was just being a picky wuss. We played that night at The Know. Did some interviews and drank. Tons of awesome old friends I haven’t seen in years. Drank whiskey and smoked dope with them in our van. I eventually fell asleep in it, then woke up in the morning, cracked open a bottle of champagne and found a corner mart with orange juice. Mimosas and watched the Simpsons. We had breakfast at this place called Pine Wood Derby in yuppie hippy ville that made you a biscuit with sausage, gravy, egg, cheese, and syrup called a Deluxe Reggie. Fucking brilliant. You have to buss your own table, and the bloody marries are garbage, but, hey, it’s local.
Then we went to Sassy’s, a killer strip club, and wasted a ton of money on really hot girls and whiskey. I use “wasted” loosely, and down right incorrectly.
Next day was Eugene, OR, our first time ever there, at the Black Forest. On the way is when I got hit in the head by a drum and bled all over the place. You see, a cat pissed in Ian’s floor tom case while we were in Seattle and he didn’t want to get the drum covered in cat piss. Makes sense. But, he decided to keep the damn drum in the van on the third bench. We have our second bench removed for more room and I sleep on the space there with Bonnie. While passed out on the way to Eugene the driver, one of the Erix, slammed on the damn brakes and the drum went flying into my face. There was a lot of blood and I have a pretty sweet scar next to my left eye. I should have got stitches, is what people tell me, but I don’t know why you would get stitches unless your wound won’t stop bleeding. And the show was cool too because event though we didn’t get any drink tickets the bartender covered my tab. I wish he would have told me that before hand because then I would have drank more. We slept at a nearby WalMart and watched The Simpsons. That show is fucking garbage now and I can’t understand for the life of me why it’s still on. The movie sucked as well: Spider Pig was fucking retarded. But, seasons 3-8 are by far the funniest shit ever conceived. There’s just no argument against that fact, which I have just opinionated.
Onward to Medford, OR, another first for the Hawk. Great times! Johnny B is a rad dude who, turns out, grew up near me, except 20 years or so earlier. We wanted to buy liquor, but it was far and we had a killer parking space (remember, van and trailer) so we had Bonnie and Ian stand in our spots to make sure no one would take them while the rest of us raced to Safeway. Right after we got to Safeway, and I had remembered that Oregon is a caveman state that has all sorts of bullshit liquor laws such as not being able to sell it at grocery marts, Ian texted me saying to hurry back because Bonnie had just knocked some guy out. You don’t have to be a professional gambler to bet on that scenario actually happening. The odds are about 1:1. Turns out Ian fancies himself a Louis C.K. He’s actually about as funny as fucking a fat chick and finding genital warts on yourself the next day. Well here’s something that is funny: “Ian threw up and Ron did too, and they both got fucked by the train hopping crew.” You probably had to be there.
Redding, CA. We wanted a hotel. We’d just been on tour for four weeks, we deserved it, damn it. So we bought a bunch of Mike’s Harder Lemonade (the blueberry kind tastes like Sprite and is 8%) and found a room on Hotwire.com for cheap. Well, since we went for 2 ½ stars instead of 1 we got a place that didn’t have just doors for the rooms around the exterior; there was a single door entrance for the entire hotel with no exits. And we told them there were only 2 of us so we could save some bucks. We had to figure out a Great Escape, but to get in. So Bonnie and I checked in, posing as happy newlyweds on a road trip honeymoon. We told the concierge lady with glasses that we were expecting local friends over because we’d be celebrating in our room before going out for the night. After expertly coordinating the rest of the dudes’ entrances, calibrated for minimal notice of sleeping bags, blankets and pillows, we realized the best way for them to come in unnoticed was just to walk in casually through the front door. Sorry, that really wasn’t much of a story, but, thanks for sticking around. So, we played two shows that night. One at a yuppie bar playing Whitney Houston on the Hi-fi, the other at a tattoo shop. If Whitney Houston and Tattoos had an arm wrestling match that night, Tattoos would have won. Beers. Bitches. I will say both shows paid us handsomely and neither knew of the other. SUCKERS! Whiskey. Drugs? Can’t remember. But I do remember that Ron, decided to invite himself into the already cramped hotel room bed maximum occupancied by me, Bonnie, and Eric. That left Baby Ian asleep at the foot of the bed, like a little dog in some Disney cartoon as the four listless heroes slumbered on with pointy caps on their heads and all their toes sticking out from the end of the blanket. Oh, we also conned Papa John’s out of a free pizza and a 3 liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Don’t fuck with Bonnie, The Negotiator.
So after a few days of doing nothing except pissing off my parents and hanging out with Ghost, my dog, we went to Tempe, AZ. Greatest parking lot ever. Not only was the club, Red Owl there, but they also had a good sandwich place, a liquor store, a music store, a karate shop, and a Waffle House. Why isn’t every club like that? One stop shopping. And our awesome bros from Austin, Scorpion Child, showed up to share the stage with us. We got another hotwire hotel and that was pretty cool. I think we watched Colbert and South Park. And at the show we met this dude named Paul Newman and we started talking about relationships. He had some thoughtful advice that I’d like to share with all of you. “Relationships are like farts: If you have to force it, it’s shit.” I’ve always thought this was true. It sucks enough having to work for money. Why have to work for sex? Your girl’s not that hot, trust me.
I forgot to mention the night after Redding. Sacramento. We rushed there to catch the Packers vs. Saints game, mine and Bonnie’s respective teams. Ron and Ian are both NFL fans from the mid-North so they are down with the Packers, and Eric is from Louisiana so he has a natural affection for the Saints. This was a good game, as some of you may know. At first the Packers were kicking butt, which was awesome cuz Bonnie was crying and I was pointing at her and laughing. At half time we were forced to leave the bar so we went to our hotel, with a quick stop for a lot of Four Loko. When we got to our rooms and turned the game back on it was clear the Saints would not go gently into that good night. However, Rodgers is the greatest quarter back ever and Drue Brees is an overrated hack with glasses, and the Saints blew it at the end. So we trashed both our rooms and drank way too much. Towards the end of the night, Bonnie and I were in one room with Ian, while Ron and Eric were in the other. While laying in the dark watching Boardwalk Empire, Ron comes in and forces Ian out of his bed. “Ron?!?!? What are you doing?!” “Shut up.” Ian had to go to the other room with Eric. The next day we all asked Ron, “Hey, what was your problem last night? Why’d you kick Ian out of his bed?” His response, innocently enough, was “What? I thought we were all partying?” Ha HA!
Last night of tour: Hollywood, CA. The Viper Room. I love Hollywood. It’s cheap, sleazy, shitty, full of delusional transplants, neurotic tourists, and insatiable whores. No one gives a fuck about you, and at the same time they want to know exactly who you are. It smells of a fiery dung heap covered in orchids and young, fresh pussy. Money is the name of the game, and substance has no place here. It’s one of the greatest places on earth and I love that it keeps a lot of the self-righteous hippies from New York, Portland, and San Francisco out of LA all together. Hollywood is the realest place in the world just because of how vapid and indifferent it is. The only thing that could make it more real is Nigerian cannibalism or pissed off muslim children with machine guns. But, give it time. All things come to pass.
See you on tour with The Sword, Eagle Claw, and American Sharks starting today.
And don’t be a fuckwit: comment on this fucking blog!