Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here Come The Warm Jets

I'm on the way to Coachella. Heatstroke be damned. Thanks to the magic of the interweb I can throw all of this together on a moving bus. Who knew? Last night I shunned the bright lights of Vegas for a proper night's sleep. I'm fighting some near-debilitating insomnia lately that keeps me up until about 6am every morning. The only possible upside is that I'm getting lots of work done, as well as plenty of reading and shoddy movie watching. I can say, with utter certainty, that neither Rambo nor Dead Alive have lulled me to pleasant slumber. And the tour rolls on. Eugene, Oregon was a good one, from what I can recall.

We were also in Eureka for a day off this week.

It was oddly comical being in Humboldt County, the marijuana capital of most of this side of the world, on April 20th. Unfortunately there wasn't much to mention other than an impromptu drum circle (which, to be honest, happens every day anyway), an unusually long line at Denny's and more than four people at the movie theatre to see that new Keaneau Reeves movie. Yeah, grass does strange things to people. Often it means terrible movies and the occasional drum circle, but sometimes there is chocolate cake involved.

The most fascinating thing about this little promo tour so far has been the odd re-branding, I guess, of the band. It's a new record and (sort of) a new image. I made a new backdrop. We had to throw away a stack of glossy head shots because Nick now has a beard, and didn't like my idea of implementing a 'beard stamp' to cut costs. The last tour, to every one's dismay, seemed to conjure up artwork and images (by sources other than the band) almost exclusively of hearts and birds. Honestly, and with no logical explanation, the collective consciousness of poster makers and ad-men worldwide could only come up with, when faced with the task of promoting a death cab show, a damn bird flying out of a heart-shaped tree, or a heart with the wings of a bird, or a bird with hearts for legs or something. This time around it has become a parade of cartoons of the band with huge, over sized bobble heads. I've seen it several times so far, and I'm not sure I like the new direction. One of the more shocking designs featured the image of the drummer, who must have been added as an afterthought, and with little or no room to fit in a fourth giant, balloon head. He came away with a half-body rendering resembling more of a potato. Someone asked if it was the Dalai Lama. However funny, the likeness is, unfortunately pretty uncanny, and naturally the picture ended up on an amp, so that it could be shared with a new group of people each and every night.

If you need me I can be found in the desert...

Glass Elevators

So it begins. I flew up to Seattle last week to start rehearsals, and a small tour that will finally dump us out into the baking, 110-degree heat of another disastrous shot at Coachella. Until then, it will be some fairly typical Seattle weather I'm afraid.

We spent a day in the new Showbox in Seattle. I've got some friends working there, and it's a pretty ideal place for rehearsals. It was nice to have some time to get everything together, dust it off, make sure it turns on and such, and paint every damn thing so that there is no confusion as to where it may have come from, or where it may be going.

It was a flurry of excitement for a few hours. Most, if not all of these guys have had the last year and a half off. Some have vacationed, lounged and finally accepted real jobs here and there. I've been pretty busy throughout. It was interesting to watch everyone get reacquainted with what most of us consider 'real' work, which only means lifting something heavier than a sandwich and being upright for more than an hour at a time.

It all came together pretty quickly, and while I hadn't given it as much thought as I would have liked to, the lights looked alright too.

I ran a few errands in town, one of which led me to the band's rehearsal space, the hall of justice. This is the little spot out in Ballard, in the burbs, where the band has recorded the better part of a few records. It is also the spot where Nirvana recorded Bleach. It was neat just to be there.

It's not more than a couple rooms filled to the brim with junk.

And the occasional deep thought, like this here pan flute flow chart. It bears saying that the guys in the band are some of the most hilarious people that I have ever traveled with. They run the spectrum of mischievous to comedic, but always enjoy a laugh. For example: a few years ago, following a show, Nick though it would be a laugh to peel the label off of a bottle of honey and put it in the dressing room shower in place of the soap. Seeing as the next week the venue would play host to a number of shit bands, the reward would be all the richer. Unfortunately (or not, depending on how your sense of humor works) Chopper, their guitar tech, got in the shower and went straight for what he described as some weird natural hippie soap, and was perplexed when he couldn't get it to lather. I think he had honey on his feet for several days afterwards. I digress from the pan flute flow chart.

I woke up the next morning to this outside my door. I take it to be a good omen.

And just like that we were shifting into gear, on the bus, and on the road to the first show in Bremerton.

Bremerton is a weird little navy town north of Seattle full of aircraft carriers, warships and little else. It is the site of one of the few remaining nuclear submarine bases as well. That mattered very little to me. What was of serious consequence was the quality of coffee and pancakes at the local diner. I would have to say, if asked, excellent.

The show was at a little theatre in the center of town. It had a strange, but not uninviting undersea theme.

See what I mean? How can you not love balconyfish?

It was a good one. Ropey at times, rusty at others, but not a bad start.

And then we disappeared into the night on the was to Eugene. It was my first time doing a show there. Jake, our merch guy was talking to his parents the other day, and when he told them that he was excited to go to Eugene because he had never been there, they politely corrected him and told him that he was, in fact, conceived in Eugene. Touche'