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Untitled Document

1996

Feb - Apr
Poster Children in Europe
with Steel Pole Bath Tub
1- England
2- Germany
3- Germany, Denmark, Switz
4- Italy-Switz
5- Italy
6- Austria
7- France
8- The Netherlands

April
Norse Raider Tour

Jun
East Coast
w/ Cows!
Cows 1
Cows 2
Cows 3

Sept
Ohio

(we worked on RTFM for the rest of the year)

 

 

 

Steel Pole Bath Tub European Tour (march 96)
4-Italy-Switz


Fri Mar 8, Milano, Italy


Pizza In Italy

I woke up this morning with my face pressed against the bus window which is about 6 inches away from a brightly-graffitti-ed wall. Each morning actually the surroundings are different but the one constant is that we are always near a wall full of graffitti. To find the club, you go towards the highest concentration of paint. Today I ducked under a stone gateway and found a beautiful courtyard with palm trees and both bands in a great mood, eating Pizza. Real Italian Pizza. It was about 40 degrees outside, but sunny. We have finally made it to Italy! (Right: Darren, SPBT's very lovable drummer, is Happy.)
Squats

I think we have been playing in "squats" which are buildings taken over by kids who live in them and pay little or no rent. They are usually covered with graffitti and very dirty and everyone inside is on drugs. The kitchens are always clean and gorgeous though... or maybe I'm always hungry. This evening was unbelievable however; every person had their own hash pipe. People were driving around in cars and inside you could see them playing with a little ball of drugs and their lighters.

To the left you see the kind of toilets you get to use when you're in Italy. It is a very strangely liberating experience. The one thing that really threw me off last year (I couldn't figure out how to use the one that I encountered last year, somewhere en route between shows at a rest area) was that they are so tall. They needn't be so tall; that confused me. The important part is the bottom. You can get the idea. The other thing was there is very little toilet paper around anywhere here. You have to go hunting for stuff to carry with you to use when you find a toilet. There aren't even any toilet-paper holders in some of the bathrooms. I just don't get it. Very strange.

By the time I got on stage tonight I was determined that we were going to have a good show and that I was going to have fun on stage, and I didn't care how the audience felt about it. We got on stage and played every song about twice as fast as they should have been played, which didn't even seem to phase the stoned Italian masses standing glassy-eyed in front of the stage. I grinned and smiled and thrashed around the stage for the show and then jumped off the stage, ran out of the club, smashed my head against the stone gateway leading outside the club and spent the rest of the evening inside the bus hiding in terror from people chasing me around with hash pipes- it's an insult to them if you don't smoke with them, and the people here are so nice I don't want to insult them. So I hide from them.


Sat Mar 9, Zurich, Switzerland

The COWS

Tonight we played with The Cows, from Minneapolis, and I must say that this whole day has been sort of a religious experience. The last time I saw the Cows I felt the same way. The lead singer, Shannon, is so full of charisma that it's a band I would consider following around like a Grateful Dead fan. But we're lucky enough that we get to follow Steel Pole Bath Tub around!

What Do You Care What Other People Think?

The great thing about Shannon that I know from watching them is that he doesn't care what the audience thinks. That is such an important lesson to learn. In fact, I don't think the band cares at all what the audience thinks. Patrick from Surrogat and I had a little talk the other day about whether or not to care about what the audience thinks - he says that Steel Pole says they don't care about the audience reaction. Patrick says that although he thinks that is a valid way to go through a show, he tried it and cannot go through with it; he has to admit to himself that he cares what the audience is thinking. To me, I have been at this for a long enough time that I know that it's better to be able to carry on without the audience. Because one year you'll have someone love your band, and the next year, your band will not touch them quite the same way, and they'll be mad at you and if they're German, they'll go up to you and tell you that you suck. Who is wrong? Has your band started sucking? Or has the person just grown away from that sort of music? To a band member, the answer is obvious - the music comes from us and it's ours. If you don't like it, turn on the radio.

Other Teachings

By the time I got off the stage today I was raging mad. Rick told the audience we were 0 for 2 at Rote Fabrik- we had had two crappy shows there. Then I went up to the mic and said, "Well, If you're gonna suck, make sure you suck HARD." I don't know what the audience thought. I know they were clapping sometimes; it couldn't have been such a terrible show, but by the time I got off the stage I was screaming at everyone. I went backstage and dared bewildered members of the Cows and Steel Pole, "just TRY to go on stage and SUCK as badly as WE did." I had pulled my cable out of my bass amp about 5 times this show, and just basically sang out of tune, and everything seemed too fast again. The stage sound was unbelievably quiet, adding to the feeling of "suckage."

Afterwards I got a lecture and pep talk from Shannon Cow (lead singer) himself. He told me that I had to go on the stage and find that special place where I just have to not give a fuck what anyone thinks. Then he went on to tell me more; he talked on and on about going on the stage each night and cutting out a piece of your heart (he was down to gesturing at this point) and placing it out on a platter for the audience and they could do with it what they want. "Your goal is to leave the stage with your dignity intact." That's what he said. I told Shannon that he was a Teacher and he said, "Fuck That. Fuck You."

I watched the prepare for their show; Kevin drawing a bra on Shannon's chest with a marker (complete with fallen bra strap), a fair amount of word play between them - it always seems like the noisiest bands are the wittiest, and then Shannon dissappearing into the bathroom with a banana and two pieces of duct tape.

By the time they went on the stage, no sound check, I was out in front. Shannon is so full of charisma. 2 songs into the show he strutted around and then finally pulled down his zipper, reached into his pants and pulled out the banana (taking about 5 minutes for this action) and then strutted around some more holding the banana at his waist, and then finally started peeling it, another 3 or 4 minutes. I was almost on my knees. Another bit of strutting, staring straight at the audience the whole time, and then he starts breaking off pieces of the banana and eating them. 4 strokes to peel the banana, and 4 bites, he eats 2 and gives 2 to the audience. He carries out these actions with the sobriety of someone giving a lecture to a college class or to a political rally. Or maybe to a church congregation.

The Accomplishments of Others

The rest of the night I think I spent listening to Mike talk. By the end of the night when he is about ready to drop, he starts explaining to everyone how the universe operates, and annoyingly enough to me, he is always correct. There was a whole discussion in the back of the bus about everything from physics unification theories to a theory that water and milk (and everything else) purification has led to the absence of certain elements (like lithium) that are necessary to balance peoples' brain chemistry. This results in people becoming more and more off-balance emotionally as the decades pass.

By the end of the night everyone had fallen asleep and Howie had woken up - it was just dawn and I discovered Mike half-asleep in the front of the bus listening to a Pogues tape which was blaring. I think he got up to try to turn it off once but couldn't figure out how to do it so he was just listening to it over and over. I was staring out over the water dreaming of when I saw swans last year (same place) and the sky was lavender blue.



Howie:
(appears from nowhere, trying to act really annoyed.) Could you turn that tape down?
Mike: fumbles around in the front, turns the tape down to about 110 decibels
Rose: (still carrying on the conversation from before, something about how proud Steel Pole should be to have such beautiful music.) For some reason I feel it necessary to keep telling them how much I love their songs, and they just keep telling us they love our songs. It doesn't end.

Howie: "It's getting light out."
pause....
Rose: "This reminds me of Madison, Wisconsin."
Howie: "yeah."

pause...while we stare out at the water and boats.
Rose: "except it's Switzerland."
Howie: "yeah."

Mike: "I'll never admit to my own accomplishments. But I'll always celebrate with much joy the accomplishments of others."

Then he passes out.


Sun Mar 10, Bern, Switzerland

Squat

This is about the most amount of graffitti I've seen yet. There are 3 more graffitti artists with about 20 bottles of spray paint working a nearby bridge, and one of them has a BMW. Do they get paid that much to do this?

It never ceases to amaze me.

This squat is full of people with metal in their faces, leather on their bodies, and they don't serve Coke here because it is politically incorrect. I think I blacklisted our band by asking for Coke in fact, and I suppose I must have told a woman who worked here that it was a nice venue, although I really don't remember saying such a thing - the venue was a huge barn and about 20 degrees all night, with about one electrical outlet into which we plugged all our instruments, the PA, a coffee-maker, a small refrigerator, backstage lights, and the TOUR BUS - the powerbook wouldn't recharge when plugged into this outlet, gee I wonder why - and the woman got offended because the place is not only a venue. It is a COOPERATIVE. They have movies and theater too. Nobody told me this. After the show on the bus, someone notified me that the girl had pointed me out, saying, "That girl from that other band called this a venue but it is so much more," and I couldn't stop feeling terrible that I'd offended her. Then I spent about 15 minutes on the bus talking about how terrible I felt and worse, everyone sat and listened to me! It never ceases to amaze me how many people actually listen to me. (Howie would say, "what makes you think we're listening?" so I should rephrase that: It never ceases to amaze me how many people sit quietly while I talk.

A Good Show

We actually played an encore tonight - the audience showed enough enthusiasm after our set to drag Rick back out onto the stage. He really feels stupid coming on for an encore after a show unless the audience really is screaming and howling - which they don't do here. And especially we sort of have a policy to not play encores when we're not the headliner... but tonight seemed ok. Then Steel Pole Bath But got on stage and as they walked up I thought I heard them whining about 'having to go on after that.' Serves them right - they've probably blown away every band they've ever played before. And of course tonight they were phenomenal, and the audience screamed for more and more - they actually played 3 encores and then refused to play anymore. It was incredible.

Darren (drummer) and Dale (bass) from SPBT. I wonder if they'd be mad if they saw these pictures.

Mon Mar 11, Reggio Emilia, Italy

Small Town?

I don't know what kind of town this is. We are in northern Italy, and this is a beautiful venue, but I tried to go walking around town and it was just all old stones everywhere and it was hard to see the signs for cafes and shops because they were hidden by the architecture. This seems like a resort town to me. We played at a club called Maffia which was very clean compared to the squats we've been playing in, and decorated really well, with working toilets and even a sit-down toilet in the girl's washroom. The stage was made of metal grating and the stage sound was so good that I sort of got lost in it. After the Cows show, every show we've played has gone fine - I haven't been angry after any of these shows. I really have calmed down. It seems like at each of these shows there's one or two people who have actually heard of us, too, and are here to see both bands. I have to admit that I have a complete attitude adjustment now because of the Cows.

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