The beginning of the official US Junior Citizen Tour!

Junior Citizen was released in Feb, 1995.

  • Apr 6: En route to Portland
  • Apr 7: Seattle and no Peter Buck
  • Apr 8: 60 miles before the Canadian Border
  • Apr 9: Oregon-Cal Travel, Day Off

 

We returned from Europe with 1 day to rest and then headed up to Milwaukee Wisconsin to start our 6-week(?) (open-ended, we don't know when it will stop!) tour, playing at Marquette University, in the cafeteria, where we've played a bunch of times with Soul Asylum. We were complete basketcases; I know we played with two great bands that night, but all I remember was Rob from the band dis- letting me into his office to check my email. I don't even remember where we slept - we left for the west the next day. We're all pretty disoriented, but happy.

En route to Portland, (1pm Mountain Time, Thursday April 6th.)

 

Buffalo Are Not Yet Extinct

I am sitting in the passenger seat of the van, typing this as Howie, our drummer, attempts to manuever the van through the green, tree-covered mountains en route to Portland, Oregon. Howie already doesn't really like to drive the van, and he's pretty nervous on these twists and turns. We are all from Illinois, which is completely flat. There are no twists, turns or mountains where we live. As I marvel loudly at how beautiful the landscape is, I wonder if I'm trying to calm Howie or irritate him more.

Portland, OR, is the most punk-rock city that I know of. We are playing tonight with Clawhammer, Tsunami, and Zumpano, at a club called La Luna. I was worried about the high ($6) ticket price of this show because I know that Portland shows are generally inexpensive, but I think that the lineup on this show will bring people out.

Since we are almost on the west coast now, every truck stop has espresso machines. It's an odd sight for a midwesterner to see; a guy in a "Protected by Smith&Wesson" fishing hat walking around with a double capuccino. Not as odd a sight as the herd of 9 buffalo we saw earlier, shuffling down the side of the road around the Continental Divide between Montana and Idaho. I screeched the van to a halt, woke everyone up and we ran out towards the friendly buffalo with our cameras, just as a huge police truck came barreling the other direction down the interstate, sirens blaring and lights flashing, a techno-cattle-herder. He drove straight into the herd of buffalo, blaring his sirens, and had to slow down because the animals just sort of turned around and looked at him like, "What. the. hell?" He was trying to get them off the interstate, to protect both them and motorists, I'm sure. I was waiting to hear a gunshot, but I heard none.

Portland ROX

Portland, Oregon, is an incredible town. For one thing, they have a huge bookstore called Powells, which we will spend about 3 hours in tomorrow. They have The Spinanes, Pond, Hazel, and some other great bands. Once after a show in Portland, at about 4am, we went to a restaurant in a tiny house, that served the greatest macaroni-and-cheese gourmet meal I'd ever tasted. The waiters wore formal attire, the place was dark and candle-lit, and the stereo blasted AC/DC. There are many wonderful used-clothing and furniture stores in Portland. And one of my favorite sights is punk rockers hanging around a bookstore, reading. You see that a lot here. I love Portland. I could live here.

Bozeman ROX MORE

The most amazing show we had in the last couple of days was in Bozeman, MT. Those people really know how to drink on a Tuesday night. This was the 2nd crowd this week with people hanging off the lighting fixtures on the ceiling as we played. There is such a difference, night-to-night, in our crowds. Sometimes there are the snooty indie-rockers (the group we belong to) who don't dance, and then sometimes there are the frat guys in backwards baseball caps, only here to mosh. We appreciate anyone who walks in the door, but as absurd as it sounds, it's a lot easier to convince yourself that people are enjoying the show when they move around. All shows are fun, and all must be played with the exact same intensity (200%); no matter who is watching you, dancing people, bored people, or no one. Poster Children Rule #1.

Portland Epilogue; Tsunami For President

It is after the Portland show, and we are getting ready to fall asleep on Rebecca from The Spinanes' floor and amazing 10ft long couch. The show was a load of fun, and I especially enjoyed seeing Tsunami for the first time; I had met them before and we have mutual friends, Gods Of The World: Mercy Rule. The Tsunami girls can sing, and the music is not wimpy at all. It is a wonder to me every time I see a band that has actual people who can sing like professionals, coming from my indie-rock background. La Luna was sparsely populated tonight, probably because Ice Cube played there last night. (Yeah, right.) Anyway, we had a blast, and this was the first show where audience members knew what POGs were (our record label has made little Poster Children pogs for us to pass out to people, but no one in the midwest has ever seen a POG. Variations in pop culture across the country are astounding sometimes.) I look forward to playing in Seattle tomorrow, especially since it's only a 3-hour drive.

Seattle, waiting for soundcheck, Peter Buck patrol

8pm, Friday Apr 7th, Crocodile Cafe, Seattle

Who's playing tonight?

Well, I'm sitting here on the floor of the Crocodile Cafe. People were walking by the club, trying to figure out what band was playing tonight - there is no indication on the windows that there is even a show tonight; no posters or anything. Let me clarify that; there are pictures and poster up for every other show except ours. That really worries me; I really want people to come to this show! I mean, it's SEATTLE! So I finally took it upon myself to put one of our posters that we stole from another club up on the window, so at least people'd know what was going on tonight. Now people stop me and ask me what kind of music we play, which startles me. The hip-guy area around the Crocodile Club looks so familiar to me that I figured I'd look familiar to it (and its inhabitants), but nobody on the street has heard of us yet. It's strange the places we get recognized. In the middle of Missoula MT, people will come up to us and go, "Hey, aren't you Poster Children?!! WOW! Are you playing here?" But Seattle, forget it.

We tell questioning Seattle-ites that we play "post-wave" music, a phrase we just coined to describe ourselves for this record, but they are too hip to fall for it - they just look at me and say, "What's that?" instead of going, "Oh yeah, I've heard of that."

Peter Buck Patrol

I heard a rumor that Peter Buck (from REM)'s girlfriend owns this club, so I am sitting around, waiting to catch a glimpse of him. He has come to our shows before, and I have met him before. Actually, now that I think about it, he's going to have to be a pretty special guy to show up here tonight since I think REM is playing shows in Australia right now. Oh well. Maybe some of the SubPop people will show up. Anyone could show up tonight; there are so many rockstars in Seattle. The only show we're playing against is Siouxie and the Banshees, as far as I know. Oh- and Tsunami is playing across town, without us. Damn.

Kill 'em and Eat 'em

Gas station woman who accused us of not paying for gas has been dealt with. Seems she'll be confined to an unknown dimension for a finite number of years to be determined later. No one has ever accused us of stealing gas. She asked us to come back into the station and we pulled out our receipt and waved it in her face. She was sorry. She will be sorrier. HAHAHAHA...

Canadian Border: Joe's gonna get NABBED

3:42, Saturday Apr 8th, Travelling North on I-5 near Mount Vernon, WA

Crossing the Canadian Border

We're playing in Vancouver tonight, and now we're getting ready to cross the border. Crossing the border is a scary experience for a band. First of all, it costs money; you have to pay around $250 to play in Canada, and second, you have to make it past the border patrol. You can't have any drugs with you, and if you have a lot of t-shirts to sell, they will tax you. Even if you don't expect to sell the shirts, you still get taxed.

This time, we've been warned that they are REALLY cracking down on t-shirts, which means they'll probably search our van. Our 8 boxes of t-shirts have been left in Seattle at Howie's friend's house. As for drugs, there's an old joke between bands that "It's ok if you just have a *little* amount of pot with you; but not too much, when crossing the border." It's a joke we tell English bands. Of course, this is a joke because if you have any kind of drug with you, I think they probably SHOOT you. We once were on tour with a band that rented an entirely new van for the day when they crossed the border, just because they were sure they'd not be able to get rid of all the little pot crumbs laying all over their van.

As we approach the border patrol, one look at our clean-cut, geeky-looking selves and the guard decides that if he's going to search us, he'll be looking for t-shirts. We'll have to bring our paperwork into the border patrol building and pay our $250 for a work permit for the band, a fee that the club will reimburse. The funny part is that Joe, our soundguy, (and the only one of us who is sort of nervous about being searched) has left his ID in Boise, so we are really unsure of how he's going to make it over the border. He is pretty upset because he was looking very much forward to seeing Tsunami play again tonight. I'm a little worried because I don't know what he's going to do if he doesn't make it over the border.

AERO Bars and Canada

Tonight I look forward to AERO bars, chocolate bars you can't find in the US for some reason, and I also look forward to seeing our good friends Bryce (from The Smugglers) and Mary, who we met years ago at one of our first Vancouver shows. Canada always seems so clean and perfect, and the people are so nice, it's sort of like stepping into a PBS special.

Oregon-Cal Travel, Day Off

7:15, Sunday Apr 9th - I-5 South, South of Eugene, Oregon

Eugene, OR is even more beautiful when you don't have to play

there on a Sunday night

This is one of the most beautiful areas of the country - dark green grass covered hills and fir tree covered mountains. We are about 2 hours north of Grants Pass which I remember to be near a hell-ride over a snowy mountain pass, and I don't ever remember driving it during daylight hours. That's ok; I feel like we've really accomplished something when we make it over the pass alive. Each time we've played here, there were about 5 people in the audience. I'm glad to give it up for a while, although we don't mind playing to 5 people, the bartenders don't enjoy serving to 5 people.

My underwear and the Border Patrol Guard

We made it over the border pretty easily. The guards all had a pretty good sense of humor; except for the one who rummaged through our personal belongings while we sat helpless on the bench behind the DOTTED LINE, watching him. I wonder how many of my dirty bras and underpants he saw and touched. How embarrassing. Next time we go over a border, I want to just fill the van with sacks of odd things; imagine how it would confuse a border patrol to find a sack full of gravel, or marbles, or about 1000 small plastic cups or straws or something. Rick doesn't like this idea, so I'll have to try it on my own sometime.

There were a lot of people at the Vancouver show

Just another affirmation of the Poster Children theory of 1) Tour, 2) Tour again, 3) Tour more, 4) Tour even more, and then 5) Tour and get to play in front of people. I think this is at least the 5th time we've ever played in Vancouver, but it's the 1st time there was more than 50 people there. It felt like an incredible achievement, to have worked for an audience and finally found one, something we did in Chicago so long ago. We played one of our best shows- the last couple days have felt pretty weird. Tsunami was fantastic, and we got to talk to them a little bit more - they are great people, and run a great record label, (Simple Machines) and did I mention that they can sing?

MOTEL ROOM NIGHT

This is a really boring tour report because it's our day off. Tonight we're going to get a nice motel room (Motel 6) and do what Poster Children do best on their night off- watch TV and eat snack salads - that's when you buy various bags of pretzels, potato chips, and chocolate and carbonated beverages and eat them. We don't like to have nights off- it's a waste of time and money, but sometimes you just have to have a rest. Anyway, it's hard to get shows in adjacent states each night.

Topics of Van Conversation and Arguments for the day:

--How can you tell if the Canadian cokes have "actual" sugar in them as opposed to the corn syrup that most US Coke bottlers use?

--Where is the ecliptic (line of planets) right now in the night sky?/Is that big blue star Vega?

--Did Rose really hallucinate a 24-hour Taco Bell sign last night on the way back from Vancouver at 4am, and was it really worth driving around for that extra half hour to look for it?

--Why did the band Zumpano have to borrow our equipment in their home town?

--Were those sheep we just passed sheared, or were they goats?

See how exciting it is to be in a rock band?

 

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