1995-September

The Better Than Ezra Tour

  • September 1 -- First Update in like, forever
  • September 4 -- Driving to NYC, CMJ
  • September 6 -- Show Report #1 w/ Better Than Ezra
  • September 7 -- A Rough Day
  • September 8 -- Boston AGAIN! + le Hotel Chevy

September 1, 1995

What did we do on our break?

After a short couple of weeks break (we played a couple of shows here and there), in which Howie went camping, but saw no bears, and Jim went to Lawrence KS to play and record with some friends, Rick stayed here to record a band called "Bale" and did a lot of research on old silent films and has read a lot of books on them. He even started making some of his own silent movies with the Connectix Quicktime camera! I spent my vacation programming an interactive press kit for the new FRIENDS soundtrack coming out on Reprise (we're not on this), in exchange for an AWESOME QUICKTAKE Camera! Thanks Howie! Now we'll have real pictures on the web page!! Yay!!

Now the whole band is down here in Champaign (and incidentally, the town has been taken over by students, drinking everything in sight) to practice for our show tomorrow and a week of Better Than Ezra dates, which start on Wednesday.

Yesterday marks Day #1 of the next phase of Poster Children writing!

We have been "picked up" for another option by our record label, Reprise Records, yeah! They didn't have to put out another record for us, but they chose to keep us. We are planning on making our next record a CD+; it will have music + multimedia. (I'm not sure if our record company knows this yet.) We are going to program it ourselves. We are getting very excited about this new phase of music writing; this is how we usually start a new record; we'll finish touring on an old record and not write anything for like, a whole year, and then suddenly we'll start writing again for a new record. We like to keep the two phases separate, just because it seems to be good to take a break and sort of store up ideas while you're touring, until you're about ready to explode, and then just start writing. Like starving yourself before you go to Kentucky Fried Chicken, so you are hungry enough to eat a lot at the buffet.

So we just started writing again yesterday, for the new record. We even have a title, probably "Music Of America" and we are developing ideas for the movies that will go into the interactive part. Developing songs along with their pictures and interactivity is really neat; it's something we've definitely never done before! Between yesterday and today, 2 practices, we have 4 almost-completed songs. When we write songs, I always hear influences of bands I've listened to once upon a time. Of our new songs, one bass part I wrote reminds me of Nine-Inch-Nails mixed with Can and maybe some PIL, but the guys think I'm crazy and Howie and Rick both say "The Clash" but Howie also thinks he hears U2 in it. It's called "BulletProof" so far. Another song is a straightforward punk/rock type song that's really fun to play - this came straight from a Rick riff, and the song is called "Music Of America." A brand new one that we started today reminds me of an Ed Hall/Volcano Suns but sounds nothing like either, and Rick is afraid it sounds like a Jesus Lizard song but there is nothing in this world that will make me believe we will be mistaken for J. Lizard; it just rocks really, really hard, and Rick and I both scream/chant on it. The last is slower, and really strong. One thing all the newer songs have in common - they are all really strong-sounding. Also, oddly enough, I like all the new songs! Usually I dislike one or two new riffs. The new songs go off in the direction of "Revolution Year Zero" and "Wide Awake" from our last record. They all sound different from one another though.

Future Plans

Our plan is to go on tour for a couple of weeks now, with Better Than Ezra, and then come home for a couple of weeks and write more songs. Then we go out with Sponge in the midwest for 2 weeks - and hope to be playing some new stuff already during those shows. Then we're back home again for a couple of weeks. Then we are very, very excited to find this out - we are going on tour with Archers Of Loaf - up the west coast! Once a long time ago, we played with them - they opened for us, back in North Carolina - they were so nice to us - they even wore a "Flower PLower" shirt on one of their videos! Now they are famouser than us, and they're taking us out with them! They are so nice - I am really looking forward to this tour. And by the time we go out with them, we hope to be playing MANY new songs! Touring on new songs makes them SO much stronger than just recording them without playing them live.

More Future Plans

After we finish writing new songs (and new software!), we will go in the studio. Hopefully this will be in winter sometime. It would be nice if we could put out our new record in the summer of 1996.

 

 

Driving To NYC for CMJ (College Music Journal Seminar)

#1 Cup

We're on our way to New York to start our "Better Than Ezra" tour dates. The drive on I-80 from Chicago to the middle of Pennsylvania has been pretty near empty. Lunch was at a Hardee's in the middle of nowhere, where I saw 4 guys sitting in a booth who looked like they had a neon sign hanging over them screaming "BAND HERE! BAND HERE!" I had to go up and ask them who they were, and it was a band called "Number 1 Cup" or "#1 Cup" - from Chicago. It's always exciting to meet another band on the road! They of course are on their way to CMJ, to play at Brownie's tomorrow night.

Media Check

I think I listened to the new Six Finger Satellite record about 5 times while I drove through Ohio. I am quite familiar with it now. I love it, probably almost as much as their first EP. I am trudging through "Being Digital" by Nicholas Negroponte which seems to be a primer for adults about 'what this computer stuff is all about, anyway.' I don't think I'm its target audience. And I have two Wireds to catch up on.

Rick is listening to "After The Heat" by Cluster/Eno, and writing music in his head and tapping out odd rhythms on his knees occasionally. People who enjoy the rhythm section of our band should know that Rick is probably the one responsible for it!

Jim is listening to a tape he has from the Smithsonian Institution which is of "Speech After The Removal Of The Larynx." "It's kind of disturbing." It's got a bunch of different demonstrations of people speaking without larynxes. He is reading "The Wrestler's Cruel Study" by Stephen Dobyns. He is enjoying it.

Howie's enjoying the newest Aphex Twin CD, and reading "The World According To Garp," by John Irving.

 

New Favorite Movie - Lawrence Of Arabia

During our last couple of days at home, Rick bought a new TV - the one we had was the size of a postage stamp and 15 years old.

This new one, well, is big enough to watch Lawrence Of Arabia. Which is the first thing we did. I think Rick bought the TV, actually, so he could watch this movie. Letterboxed, beautiful, vast deserts. I have a new favorite movie; I think LOA is even better than Apocalypse Now. This is the story of a man's struggle to be extraordinary, and his downfall, in the end. I have been thinking that Lawrence really was the "extraordinary man" that he wished to be, and that his downfall was that he could only be as extraordinary as the men surrounding him. One of his greatest moments in the film is when he rescues a man from the desert, and days later, probably one of the most terrible things that happens to him is that the man kills another man and Lawrence has to execute the man he saved. The rest of the men surrounding L just didn't even have the capacity to understand or enjoy L's (man's) greatness that could be achieved. Whatever.

I'm no English major*. I liked the movie.

*In fact, I almost failed the last English class I took, in highschool. I think I got a "D" on my term-paper.

 

September 6, 1995 - Show Report #1 with Better Than Ezra

NYC - College Music Journal Showcase (CMJ!)

New York City is always a tough place to play, because usually it's impossible to park, you have to worry about people ripping off all your stuff, and the people at the club are sometimes really mean.

Yesterday we had no problem parking, but the promoter was the biggest a**hole in the world. He wouldn't let anyone --

even people who we gave backstage passes to!! -- backstage. The president of our label came back to talk to us, and almost got beaten up by one of the bouncers. When Howie tried to bring his friends backstage, they wouldn't let anyone back there.

When our friend Andy came backstage, the guy wouldn't give me a pass for him, and I finally screamed, "IF YOU DON'T GIVE ME A PASS FOR HIM, I WILL NOT GO ON THE STAGE." and for some reason, the guy finally turned around and got me a pass. (I can't believe that worked!) The woman in charge of the Dambuilders was having an even worse time then me.

 

And, in order to get to our dressing room, we had to climb about 5 flights of stairs..

The most terrible part of the whole thing was just having to fight for all the little, incidental things that they really should have just given us. Actually, the most terrible thing was just being told "NO," constantly, over and over again, upon asking for what should have been provided for us. We walked the 5 flights (no joking) up to our dressing room and there were two bottles of water in it; nothing else; but down 3 flights of stairs sat a big tub of ice, so we figured someone just didn't want to walk up the whole way with the ice, and Jim brought it upstairs for us. Later on we were chastised by some crew member; "That was MY ICE!" I knew if we hadn't taken this ice, we would never have gotten any; a crew member missing ice would have known where to get herself more. And worse, the bouncers kept throwing people who were there to see us, out from backstage. There was plenty of room back there, it would have caused no problem at all, but they were just exercising their power. When I went up and asked for our meals, the guy just told me, "You Are Not Getting Meals." (I didn't feel like fighting anymore.)

The New York Times building was right across the street from the club!

 

Time Limit?

The other thing I asked for was, I asked if we could play 40 minutes, which was the amount of time allotted us, written on our contract -- I noticed set times written all over the place backstage and we were cut to only playing 30 minutes now. I usually feel terrible when that happens; it's like, ok, we can't play 10 songs anymore; we have to play 7. I was told last night by the Better Than Ezra guy that we are only allowed to play 30 minute sets now.

 

So this whole tour has been cut 25% for us. It was our first show! We hadn't even talked to these guys; we couldn't have pissed them off at all. (Yet!) It really sucks, because, being first out of 3 bands (the Dambuilders are in between us and Better Than Ezra) means hardly anyone will be there, anyway, and then we're only allowed 30 minutes; this is not what we were told, going into this agreement. And we are getting paid half as much as the Screaming Trees paid us, years ago. I suppose we should be thankful that BTE is letting us play with them, and we are, but they could be a little civil about it all, too.

Later

We have decided to call our booking agent about the new time limit imposed upon us. The rest of the stuff, like not getting our meals last night doesn't really matter; we can play without food but we can't play without 'time to play.' Although we are know for being pushovers and we usually do everything we can to avoid confrontations, we have determined that it is important for us to argue the 30 minute set time limit. Tonight (New Haven, CT) the set time for us is 45 minutes; if he cuts it to 30, it really screws us over.

Last night, with the club taking a 40% merchandise rate on our t-shirts, we sold 14 shirts, at around $18 a piece. Down from our Lollapalooza high of 130 shirts at once. Oh well. And we weren't even allowed to sell them ourselves. For some reason, I don't even mind - I heard some kids at the booth saying, "I like their shirts, but I have no idea if they're good or not; I've never heard them. I'm not going to buy one of their shirts and have them go up on stage and SUCK!" I'm glad I didn't have to sit in front of the kid while he said that.

 

 

September 7, 1995 -- A Rough Day at Toad's Place

List of Things That Happened Today, In order. See if you can figure out our big error.

2:00pm Drive to Connecticut

3:00pm Get Howard Johnson's Room with disconnectable phone jack

Today's show is at Yale!

3:30pm Set up Prodigy Software on

computer - we have an ON-LINE interview with Sonicnet tonight right after show

3:31pm Install and Test Prodigy Software on laptop - works fine without a hitch! (yeah!)

4:00pm sleep

6:00pm Leave Prodigy Disks in hotel room, grab computer and go to show

6:10pm Find band's reserved parking place in front of club taken by some idiot in a teeny car who could've parked anywhere.

This is Yale?

6:15pm Park van half sticking out into street to load equipment. Leave blinkers on van since it's sticking out partially into street.

6:20pm Load equipment. Discuss possibility of playing our normally allotted time, 45 minutes with club promoter. NO problem, just make sure you start at exactly 8pm.

6:30pm Our soundcheck is scheduled for NOW, but BTE is still on the stage, soundchecking. We're supposed to start playing at 8pm.

7:00pm Dambuilders go on stage for their soundcheck.

7:29pm Dambuilders finish soundcheck.

7:30pm Doors open for show, audience comes streaming in, runs up to stage

7:45pm We are allowed to soundcheck (in front of audience), but PA has stopped working all of the sudden.

8:00pm Sound toadies plug in cables that actually work, in order to get our instruments to come through PA

8:05pm Audience members request Sex Pistols songs

8:10pm All microphones are now "working"

8:15pm Start our show

8:45pm We realize we should probably stop, even though we've only played 30 minutes. We think the audience might be happier if we stop.

9:00pm Finish show, Rick runs out to see if van has been towed yet; it's still there, blinkers still ON.

9:05pm Run downstairs, still sweating from show, to use production office phone to do on-line interview with Prodigy

9:06pm Realize production office phone is hard-wired; can't plug into computer

9:10pm Chase around until find someone to let us upstairs into office with more phone lines

9:15pm Chase around to find Rick who has password to Sonicnet signon for Prodigy

9:20pm Plug computer in, find out Prodigy software doesn't work

9:25pm Rick goes down to van to start it to drive back to hotel to get Prodigy disks; van battery is DEAD because we have left the blinkers on all this time.

10:00pm Give up trying to get Prodigy software to work.

10:15pm Sulk

10:30pm Stand outside listening to kids complain that they missed our set

10:45pm Get someone to help push dead van out into street so we can load gear

11:00pm Ina (Dambuilders Road Manager) gives us a jump!

11:15pm Settle with club's T-shirt woman- we sold 9 shirts.

11:20pm Kid asks me to sign a Dambuilder's shirt. I politely tell him I'm not in that band. Kid retorts he didn't have enough money to buy our shirt.

11:21pm Leave club

 

September 8, 1995 -- Boston Again, Revisited!

How many times have we played Boston this year? More than Champaign, I think!! This was a really good show. We got to the Paradise really early and realized we did our "He's My Star" video (clips coming when I get home, I promise) a block away from this club!

I had a talk with the stage manager from Better Than Ezra and he pretty much told us that it comes straight from the band that they don't want us playing more than 30 minutes. I told him it made perfect sense to me; and it does. The audience is there to see BTE, not a loud, obnoxious opening band. (us!) And most people are there early and catch our show, so it's not like we're starting and playing to nobody. The worst part about being limited to 30 minutes is that we can't play all the songs we want to play. Plus, we really entered this agreement being told that we'd get 40 minutes each night, so it sort of seems like someone chopped us a little, but we're not in the mood to argue, because it doesn't seem to be hurting us. And if it's really what the band wants, that's what they should get!

Boston is NICE

We really love to play in Boston. I don't know why it is, but the audience is always very appreciative and intelligent. It's always a great experience and always puts me in a great mood.

We went with Eric, the Dambuilder's bass player, to the Middle East to eat, after the show - a bunch of bands I've never heard of were playing there, but it was packed. We had wonderful food- mine was mjudra; lentils with spices and stuff.

Contact with Better Than Ezra

So one of the guys in BTE finally tried to talk to me today - I wasn't in a talkative mood, but I said "hello." They are really known for being nice guys, and the Dambuilders, who have been on this tour for a long time, say they are really wonderful, so we believe them. (I'm still hurt that we're only allowed to play 30 minutes each show.)

LE MOTEL CHEVY!

Rick: "I'm worried we won't find a motel tonight." My famous last words: "Oh, don't WORRY! Of COURSE we'll find a place! There are a million motels between Boston and Providence!"

About 1am we decided to leave and go find a hotel.. and ...well.. there were NO motels available. We probably drove around for an hour, which is pretty weird, since Boston-to-Providence takes 45 minutes. I had to go to the bathroom so badly, and finally we had to turn around (via I195, another good 20 minutes) and find a northbound rest area on I95, which was CLOSED. Have you EVER stopped at a rest area and found it CLOSED??

 

When you are on the road, nowhere near your home, you find that you have to plan where you go to the bathroom, but it's never this big a problem. By this time, we realized we were going to have to sleep in the van. We had to hunt for rest areas that allowed parking overnight; the biggest one in the state apparently not only didn't allow overnight

parking, but also was CLOSED after dark. At the end, we parked in a "rest area" which consisted of a gravel runway, in the company of about 10 trucks and a bunch of cars, no washrooms at all, but 10 phones. I guess it was like camping. We washed up out in the wilderness - (ok, the side of the highway, amidst a bunch of concrete pipes and gravel) with the auxiliary water bottles we have in the van. We all slept in the van, and I kept waking up, afraid someone was going to come to the van and shoot us all, but of course, it never happened.

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