Monthly Archives: September 2004

09.13.04 – I have the best drum tech in the world

I have the best drum tech in the world. The shit hit the fan in Salt Lake City last week and Sean came through like MacGyver, building a flotation device while lost at sea with only a chiclet and a handkerchief (did you guys see that episode?).

We have back-ups of most of my drum gear with us on the road… cymbal hardware, kick pedals, a spare electronic trigger unit, conga heads, another hand snare for when my palm goes through the main one. But my djembe stand has been the anchor of the kit for the last 8 years since I built it with the guy who owns the “Dynamic Percussion” music store in Manchester Connecticut.

djembe stand

You put three sandbags on it and it doesn’t move — Sean and I never felt the need to back it up because it was such a rock. Would you keep an extra Volvo in your garage just in case the first one breaks down? Does Dick Clark need an understudy? This was our logic. The Titanic was unsinkable.

Well, one or two blows into “What You Wish For” and Old Trusty went down for the count like an Apple product the day after its warranty expires. One of the legs just plain snapped, leaving the djembe resting lamely at a forty-five degree angle against those orange bongo things I rarely hit (we call them “bongettes”). I flashed The Look over to the side of the stage. Sean knows The Look — it happens maybe once a week when there’s a drum emergency. It’s sort of a wide-eyed glare accompanied by a beckoning neck reflex that says “(help)”.

Sean ran out on stage and assessed the situation. Kneeling beside me, staring blankly at our fallen soldier, I think Sean and I shared a moment. A brief glance that on the outside said “we’re kind of fucked” but on the inside, in our heart of hearts, said “that was one great djembe stand… perhaps the greatest djembe stand there ever was.” A split second later Sean was gone, and my head was back inside What You Wish For, trying to decide whether to thump the conga on the one and three or whether to reach around and hit the djembe even though it was more horizontal than vertical. The other people in my band were looking at me as if to say “why does this song sound so bad on the drum end right now.”

The next song was “Amsterdam” which fortunately occurs on the other (stick) drum set. Sean was nowhere to be found. The djembe stand was gone too. If Sean had been out back behind the venue with a shovel digging a grave for it, my reaction would probably have been a teary-eyed “Yeah, Sean… you give that stan’ a nice place ‘a rest!”

During Amsterdam I devised a plan for the remainder of the set. There were three djembe-dependent songs coming up. “Demons” and “California Dreamin'” could be performed on the traditional drum set if absolutely necessary. “Fa Fa” was going to be a nightmare.

And then as the last note of Amsterdam passed, Sean marched on stage with my djembe stand, placed it down firmly in its place, hung three sandbags from it’s bottom rung as usual, put the djembe inside, strapped it in tight with the bungee chord, and returned to his position by the monitor desk. I was the only one in the room with my jaw wide open. No one else even knew that Drum Crisis Mode had reached Defcon 4 behind the percussion kit. Ryan looked over and asked if it was cool to start “Demons.” One lone Indian tear running down my cheek, I said “Yes, you can start Demons now.”

Check out these pics. Sean took the arm from the boom of a spare cymbal stand and clamped it tightly onto the broken leg of the djembe stand so the flat metal end hit the ground at the right height. Not only did he devise this and implement it on the spot… it was ready to go within a song. And here I am in Austin Texas five days later, last show of the tour, still pummeling the djembe while it rests securely in a djembe stand with a prosthetic limb. Sean and I both agree that it feels more solid than ever this way. I have the best drum tech in the world.

This is Sean putting the djembe stand back into the percussion kit after I made him remove it for a road journal photo shoot. An expert photoshopper, Sean will be applying his MacGyver instincts to the world of graphic design and business card creation during the touring offseason.

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09.07.04 – Pueblo, CO

Sept 7th… day off in Pueblo Colorado.

This is Adam’s bunk and yes there’s Shasta in it. Not because Adam wakes up in the middle of the night with a deep down body thirst that only warm carbonated water will quench, but because he’s the one that somehow got “club soda” on the rider despite the fact that no one in our entire entourage drinks it.

Unfortunately, the picture is just a sad recreation of the event that actually took place. The venue in Salt Lake City was nice enough to give us six one-liter bottles of Shasta seltzer water, and since Adam likes it so much Ryan put all six bottles in his bunk. In clever places, mind you… velcroed to the ceiling, inside his pillowcase, etc.

Those Gusters are crazy! Guess where they put club soda? In each other’s bunks! Where they sleep!!

For a less lame rock ‘n roll experience, please visit another band’s road journal.

I discovered the great flaw of the Shit Colander today. It’s when someone hocks a loogie into the toilet and it doesn’t make it through the sieve — the snot seems to bond chemically with the wire screen, creating a Super Loogie that gains strength with every piss-flogging it takes. That’s the problem with the Shit Colander. I’ve tried to pee that loogie through the strainer five times today. It won’t go. Someone is going to have to touch the Shit Colander.

In equally-upsetting news, look what I read on the Trippin’ Balls website today: … some bands just aren’t very grateful. Those guys played way over their set time both nights we had them on the bill.

Trippin’ Balls

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09.06.04 – Chris

Ever notice how the Gusters seem to have a new bus driver every tour?

Except for Michael Stook, who remained in our good graces for two full years during the Lost & Gone Forever era, most of our drivers have been One Tour Wonders. Donnie probably would have had a nice run with us last year if he hadn’t “mysteriously disappeared” in the middle of the tour. Everyone else pretty much sealed their fate when they thought it was cool to leave the cruise control on at 75 mph around sharp turns while we tried to sleep (sometimes in our bunks, sometimes in the hallway we’d get tossed into).


Enter our latest driver, Chris. Chris is a quiet man who walked on the bus and proceeded to shake our universe by its roots. He took a sheet of wire screening, cut a small piece out with scissors, and placed it in the toilet. We call it The Shit Colander. You’re still not allowed to take a crap on the bus. But our guests think twice before making a solid contribution to the bathroom. The rules (NO POOP, NO PAPER) are now implicit and you need not post them or even state them. A certain member-of-Guster-who-will-go-unnamed-but-who-had-a-hard-time-singing-Ramona-the-next-night even paused for a moment of consideration before puking in the toilet, thanks to the simple new device.

The best part about the Shit Colander is that it eliminates the splashback problem for those of us who pee standing up. Funny how you can get used to certain things, like grabbing The Piss Towel from the rack next to the toilet and wiping the urine beads off your legs every time you finish peeing. Like, that’s not a normal thing to have to do, right? We’ve been doing that for 5 years. Thank you Chris. You’re our driver.

The Shit Colander

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