Monthly Archives: July 2013

Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Last night in Charleston SC, Ryan told the story of how members of Guster joined members of BNL on a boat that day, singing along to a mix of yacht rock favorites and enjoying the view of the city from the bay.  Luke refused to let another guy lube up his back with sunblock, leaving a “homophobic patch” of sunburnt pink skin in the middle of his back, where he couldn’t reach, despite bending his elbows and stretching his fingers in an attempt to cover his entire back on his own.  Or as Ryan said to the Bible Belt Area Crowd — “in an attempt to cover his entire back without the touch of another man“…

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Thanks Luke, for being a good sport and showing us your homophobic patch of sunburn, even though you say Ryan has the story totally wrong — but we’re actually not interested in your version of the story.  Enjoy this inter-coastal yacht rock video of their day on the seas:

You can’t see Luke’s backside to know that he’s slowly growing a pink homophobic patch as they Ride Like The Wind, but it’s happening.

Conspicuously absent from this voyage was yours truly, the 40-something Thundergod, who has been all SARS’d up since his birthday.  They did post a pic of my backside on the BNL twitter though.

And since I began this road journal earlier in the day, we played “Either Way” in Raleigh with Ryan and Ed Robertson from BNL holding hands while singing it.  Full circle.  If anyone has a picture of that, send it to me and I will post it here.

UPDATE:  Thanks for the pic, Maia!

RJgayphoto

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Toronto

I went home for a couple days while the bus rolled on to Canada for two days off this week.  Look at this picture of the flooding that occurred in Toronto right before the band arrived:

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It made getting to the Molson Canadian Amphitheater a bit of an adventure for all involved.  Our terrific and usually interpersonally-savvy bus driver, Kevin, had a not-so-bright moment entering the country while the rest of the band and crew were asleep in their bunks.  The Canadian border patrol folks started in with the usual questions — what’s the band name?  where are you performing?  do you have your work papers?  are you selling any merchandise?

The interview was going smoothly when Kevin was asked if there were any firearms on the bus:

Not that I know of” said Kevin.

Everyone wake up.  Put on some shorts.  Off the bus, into the holding tank at the Canadian Customs Agency.  Bring on the genital-sniffing dogs.  Thanks Kevin.  We’re lucky they didn’t search Guster’s cavities.

Meanwhile after two lovely but sleepless (twin babies) days at home, I nearly missed the Toronto show — a four hour delay at JFK airport followed by a $53 cab to “somewhere in the vicinity of The Molson Canadian Theater”… flooding and some strange Canadian NASCAR race had rendered the area around the theater confusing and “unapproachable” — at least according to my cab driver, who told me that I merely needed to walk for a few minutes across a pedestrian foot bridge to reach my destination, while in the car it’d take forever to work through the traffic and detours.

I eagerly accepted this explanation and showed my earnest NYC love for pedestrianism by hopping out of the car and paying him fifty three bucks and wishing him well as he drove off.  I think I was blowing him kisses.  Then I walked right into a 7 foot tall chain link fence with no openings in it.  This fence stretched on for miles.  I was in a strange parking lot.  There was a middle aged woman in this parking lot, talking on her phone.  Now I am in Alice in Wonderland.  

The woman is trying to explain to her son where she is, and waving her arms randomly to no one in particular.  I wonder how many years she’s been in this parking lot.  On the other side of the fence is a dead highway.  I can hear race cars zipping by across another fence.  The woman on the phone is my only hope.  

She asks where I’m going and then laughs when I say I am trying to get to the Molson Amphitheater on foot.  She tells me my only option is to hop the fence and cross the highway to get to the bridge.  Then she turned into a hobbit.  No.  Then she went back to her phone call and left me to my own judgment.

The fence was taller than I was.  I had a backpack with my toiletries, some clean clothes, and a laptop computer in it.  I also had a cardboard box with three snare heads in it.  The top of the fence was not a smooth horizontal pipe, but pointy jagged sawed-off chain links.  I walked up and down looking for an entry point.  I found a tree.  

Now I am in a tree and I never have been good at climbing trees.  I am going on whatever sleep I got in a chair at Terminal 2 during my delay at JFK.   I am trying to plop my luggage over a fence, onto a highway, so I can get to my show before it starts.  I manage to hurl the cardboard box with the drum heads in it over the fence.  Vertigo.  I decide the tree is a bad idea and I climb down.

I am now officially committed to this fence plan.  I’ve thrown about 60 dollars worth of drum heads over the fence, onto an abandoned highway.  I doubt I can climb the fence at all, but I certainly can’t climb it with this backpack.  So I reach up and dangle it over the fence, dropping it so it lands on the cardboard box, and hopefully not smashing my computer to bits.  This is so dumb.  I am so dumb.  Why does this always?  I am doubly committed now.  In addition to my drum heads, my electronic toothbrush, passport, and laptop are sitting on the pavement on the other side of this fence.  

Using the tree to sort of shimmy myself up, I awkwardly get a leg up on top of the 7 foot fence.  I am definitely bleeding in one, maybe two places.  I cannot rest my torso on top of the spiky fence and flop over, so I have to pretty much perch myself on top and just jump.  Standing semi-upright on the fence, my legs are shaking and I start wobble.  I make sure to fall on the highway side, but the rubber on my shoe gets snagged on the loose top fencing and my legs give out when I land.  It is not pretty.  I look up for the hobbit-woman, and she didn’t see it.  She is too busy waving her arms at an imaginary person.  I brush myself off and walk to my concert.  I passed a 17 year old kid on the way, talking on his phone and looking around frantically, and pointed him towards his insane mother.

So it should come as no surprise that, while the Guster set went off without a hitch, I brain farted my guest appearance with Barenaked Ladies on Brian Wilson.  I was sitting content in a leather chair in our dressing room, actually checking out Andy Creegan’s conga parts on the original Brian Wilson recording from the album Gordon, when Ryan Miller busted into the dressing room, and said “you have no idea what just happened, do you?”

What happened was that my song came and went, and Ed Robertson was stuck on stage introducing a Thundergod that never came.  Lucky for me, BNL is the one band incapable of having an awkward moment on stage — they actually changed the lyric of the song from “lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did” to “lying in bed, just like Brian Rosenworcel is”… that is some serious flow.  

And I think lucky for me, an inebriated Ryan Miller stumbled out on stage and played conga during Brian Wilson in my stead.  Thanks for bailing me out Ryan!  Now everyone knows that banging on hand drums is easy as pie.  A bunch of people saw Ryan on their way out of the concert and said “there’s the bongo player dude!”

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Baby, I’m a Firework

We will let @KariPizza, a Milwaukee native and a bartender at Summerfest, narrate this road journal:

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Not every show, @KariPizza, just the important ones.  And it’s no secret we are huge fans of Summerfest, a two week festival on Lake Michigan (under a highway) in Milwaukee.  Milwaukee seems to understand something that other cities don’t – music should be accessible to everyone.  For like $15 on July 4th you could see over 100 bands, sometimes involving some tough choices, like when we went head to head with touring partners Barenaked Ladies last night, and when “Rush” was playing opposite “Skillet” earlier in the evening.

Anyway, back to our story.  I worked all day to learn the lyrics and melodies for “Firework” — a song I wasn’t familiar with but one that was very holiday-appropriate.

Also, for a little Katy Perry vs Guster history, check out this exchange from last summer:

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See — she started it!  She started this whole thing!  Mercifully, Ryan promised that this would be the first and last time we ever played it, before I went out in front of a festival crowd and sang Firework as best I could.  Let’s call in @KariPizza again for the commentary:

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Talk about hurt feelings, don’t you know that vocalists are sensitive people, who search for themselves on twitter after their performances to ensure that their message is reaching the people?  At least I can spell “and” …

Thankfully, @DailyJoce had my back:

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But let’s not do this.  Let’s not create twitter wars.  Let’s not fill the British tabloids with Katy Perry vs Guster drama that will only create strife and ill will.  Let’s let you all judge for yourselves.

By the way that was Ryan taking this panoramic of the crowd with the house lights on before we started the song.

The rest of the evening was just typical Milwaukee… I borrowed Ryan’s bike lock and snapped the key off trying to unlock my bike at a bar, so I had to recruit people to help me lift my bike over the street pole it was locked around, and then I couldn’t ride it back to the bus (people in NYC are trained to put the lock through the front wheel)… some bouncer wrestled a patron to the sidewalk right in front of us and put a boxcutter to his throat… meanwhile Ryan was in a stretch hummer (sorry Adam!) with 6 members of the NY Mets and why don’t I come meet them?  Including a certain All Star rookie pitching phenom who I would have foregone mac & cheese pizza to meet?  Terrible timing.  I have to stay with my bike which has a lock through the spokes of the wheel, sorry Matt Harvey.

I ended up with a purple shiner from bashing my own bicycle into my eye trying to stuff it in the storage bay of the bus when the bus finally bailed me out and picked me up at the bar.  At least I got my mac and cheese pizza.

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Montana

O port o potty
What lies beneath — discover!
Your sunken treasures

(that is a haiku because the syllables go 5 then 7 then 5) (let me explain)

This is my 11th road journal about port o potties.  I am counting.

Missoula, Montana.  Stage in a field.  Catering tent.  Gravel parking lot.  You do the math….  I will definitely be doing my business in a port o potty today.  But it’s already 11am when I stumble off the bus ready to start my umm, daily routine  — I am late to the game and there appear to be only two port o potties here, baking in the sun.  This is awful.  It’s 95 degrees in Montana today.

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From inside the one on the right I can hear Adam on the phone.  There are no words to describe Adam’s dedication to his work with Reverb.  That he can hold a tele-conference in one of these shit coffins is true testament to his focus.  And his insanity.  The one on the left is unspeakably gross.  What now?

I prefer not to follow Adam directly.  Strange, I know — apparently I would prefer to follow a truck driver or a grimy local stagehand, perspiration dripping down into The Hole as they do their business — but I just don’t want to know whose poop mine is landing on top of.  Let it be a mystery.  I need to eat a piece of ginger and reboot.  I need a real indoor toilet.  This sucks.

And there it is, like an oasis… a row of twenty port o potties in the distance — the ones for the concert goers!  Of course.  Duh.  Civilian port o potties, before the civilians arrive for the concert.

The first one I pick, and I just use my ouija board intuition on this (like putting chips down on a roulette board)… the first one is pristine.  A virgin port o potty.  I think they were all virgin potties, like some enchanting island full of beautiful port o potty sirens, but I didn’t bother to check.  I was too busy photographing my own reflection in the water (before I crapped in it).

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Crystal clear, all the way to the bottom, just the like Clark Fork River of Missoula, which we would float in a tube in (and pee in) later that day.  

Thanks Montana, for welcoming us so pleasantly to our first show in your state in 22 years as a band.

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