After we made it out of New Mexico I had to get some rest. Colin, Josh, and Henrik ended up driving through the night. I was actually quite impressed with how they managed to do it. I woke up at one point when we stopped for gas. Then went back to sleep. They stopped around 7:30 in the morning. I woke up around 8:30 and took a quick shower.
Speaking of showers, although the bus is equipped with a shower, it essentially has two settings right now; one is called freezing cold, the other is scalding hot. So you do the infamous shower dance as you attempt to rinse off.
After the shower I made a quick breakfast of some bacon and eggs and fired up the bus. Oh wait, I have to back up a little. Back in New Mexico, the bus stopped charging the in-house electrical system. So we were out of juice for things like computers, coffee makers, dishwasher, bathroom lights. The bus is still operational but without all the cool things that make a digital life easier. Must get this figured out – keeping the fingers crossed that it is just the regulator and not the alternator. I´ll suss it out on Monday when we get back.
The three of them got us well into Texas by driving through the night, which was a good thing. Texas is fucking HUGE. We probably wouldn´t have made the show on time if they hadn´t done that. The only downside to how this worked out driving wise is that they switch off every couple of hours whereas when I´m left alone, I´m driving for much longer shifts over 4 hours. But it seems to be working out pretty good otherwise.
We rolled into a suburb of Huston for the show that Colin booked us last minute. It ended up being a coffee house with a back room that houses lots of bands, local and touring. When we pulled the bus around the back and the sound guy came out to help us, his eyes almost popped out of his head. I think it was the first tour bus they had seen. We found an electrical outlet to plug in the house system for a while so we could charge our electrical gadgets, and use the bathroom with a little more light.
We ended up being the 4th band of the night. So we had to wait to unload. While waiting we met another band called the Delegates who were from Canada. A pretty cool bunch of guys doing the van tour thing on a shoe string budget. Sound Familiar? The only difference is that I´ve gone with a bus instead of a van and trailer. Upon hearing the first band I knew we were the odd balls out. The Dark Room is a room meant for Punk and Ska type stuff, not the polished rock that I´m doing. We watched the Delegates who are like a cross of punk, ska, and maybe a little reggae. I really liked their setup, and they have a ton of energy for what they do.
Our turn came next so we loaded in as fast as possible and got setup. The crowd was sparse and the room was a concrete rectangle – not a great condition for sound. The bright spots about the show was that several people from Myspace showed up, and the sound guy was able to give me a mix to my in-ear monitors. The downside, none of us could really hear each other (I could hear my vocals that´s it). Henrik wasn´t feeling well and our playing wasn´t all that it could be. I attempted to end the show a song early to get an encore, but the sound guy didn´t realize it, so I accidentally cut us off a little short.
I was excited that I finally met some people from Myspace in person. It was a first for me and showed me that there really are other humans on the other side of the digital images. We ended up hanging out with the Delegates for a while after the show. An employee came out to tell us we couldn´t stay and that the cops would come to bust us up. Go figure. We packed up and took the bus to a little TexMex restaurant down the street and had a late dinner with some of the people from Myspace. We parted ways after we took some pictures. I then drove the bus over to another section of Houston for the APCA convention.
The hotel didn´t know where to have us park the bus. The finally relegated us to a parking lot about a block and a half away. I got the bus situated and we all got some sleep. I ended up waking up late for the registration at APCA. I was immediately shuffled to another meeting. Once the meeting was done I had to race back to the bus and get everyone up. We were already late for sound-check. I got a guy from the hotel to tell us where to park with the bus for load in and sound check. Unfortunately the Hotel staff was being extremely unreasonable about the bus. We had gotten every thing needed off the buss. I was about to start sound-checking when I was notified that the bus would have to be move immediately. Our sound check was already short, but this was stupid.
I was pulled aside by APCA´s president and told to relax and just have a great showcase. He mentioned he´d take care of the bus situation for future conventions otherwise they´d take their show somewhere else. That made me feel a whole lot better.
When we finally hit the stage we exploded. Even though it was a 15 minute set, we tore it up. After the second song I asked the audience if they wanted to hear Josh sing and play I like Big Butts… Josh was refusing but the audience began to cheer louder and louder until he finally relented and played it. I cut it off after the first chorus so that we´d have time to finish our last song.
Immediately after we played Eric, the APCA guy, pulled me aside and told me to run over to the booth for the marketplace. I felt bad having to leave the rest of the band to tear down and deal with getting it back to the bus, but I had to go see if anyone would want to bring us to their campus. At the booth I had posters to sign to give away to the students. When the marketplace opened I had suddenly found that even though I was in a remote corner, I had a line of students coming to tell us how cool we were and how much we rocked the house. I signed a lot of posters and asked for as much help as I could to get these students to bring us to their campus.
Later, after the marketplace, I got stopped by several APCA employees who had to tell me how much they really liked/loved the music, that they were happy the whole bus situation to kill our performance. One person even went so far as to say we were the best thing APCA had. Even Co-Op buyers were commenting to me how much their students wanted us to come. Despite all that, only one school stepped up to the plate to even consent to interest in bringing us in. At the first Co-Op meeting I kinda felt like we get several schools on board there. But alas, none so far as of right now. None have even committed. So now I have to resort to prodding them as much as possible. Keep the fingers crossed.
The afternoon I had to check out of the hotel, pack up the bus and get us on the road. Josh, Henrik and Colin had all had too much to drink the night before and were still asleep. I ended up driving for probably 6 hours straight. By the time we hit San Antonio I was getting pretty burnt out. So I let them take over after we stopped to make some dinner.
We stopped somewhere in New Mexico. I got up around 8:30. Took a quick shower and fired up the bus. I got us rolling and was about to get on the highway when Colin stuck his head out to see if we needed gas. So I pulled over on the shoulder to double check. When I put it in neutral the engine started to rev, so I hit High Idle and everything seemed fine. We got on the road and I proceeded to drive all the way through Tucson AZ. It was here that I should have gotten gas, but I decided to push it. I wanted to get to a truck stop and kept going. Big Mistake. When we finally made it to the truck stop in Eloy AZ, we had just got off the freeway and into the parking lot when the bus stopped going. We were literally 30 feet from the pump.
Now, if you´ve ever owned a diesel you know that running it out of gas is a really, really bad thing to do. If you´ve never owned a diesel, well – lets just say, don´t run out of gas. I had to call roadside assistance to get someone out as we couldn´t get the motor to start. In the process I think we ended up burning out a switch before the starter. Eventually the roadside people came, and after some tinkering and fuel priming we got it started and I rolled it up to the pump. But before I did the engine started to race again. The two mechanics backed up as if the engine would blow. I hit High Idle and it calmed down. The bus stopped again while we were filling it up, so we re-primed it again and they cut a wire to show me how to hot wire it.
We finally got the bus rolling again after several hours. Everyone was getting testy. We made it to the venue in Phoenix and found no one there. It was locked up. I wasn´t very happy about this. Josh had to be back in the very early morning for a flight. I figured if they didn´t show up by a certain time, we´d just cancel. The bartender showed up literally right at the time I was going to pull the plug. Instead we unpacked and set up as fast as we could, so that we could start right at 8. We proceeded to play a ripping set and quickly tore down and packed the bus back up.
Despite bringing the biggest crowd of the evening, on a short notice in a city we´ve never played before, we didn´t get paid. So I don´t think I´ll be going back to the Big (stinky) Fish pub and I don´t recommend that you play or imbibe at that establishment either. To be fair, the bouncer/money taker and the sound guy wanted to pay us. It was the owner who ended up vetoing the idea. So what apparently used to be a cool place is now shooting itself in the foot. I signed a few posters for some of the people that showed up then we took off to get back to LA so Josh could make his flight this morning.
That´s my story and I´m stickin´ to it until further notice.
Pictures and the bus video will be coming soon.