Fall Tour 3

Sun Sep 14 - Minneapolis, MN

from rose
Taco Bell Rock Star Church
Matt from Hum!

On our 9 hour drive back up to Minneapolis today, we found Matt from Hum outside a Taco Bell! Imagine running into him! He seems a lot happier now that the new Hum record is finished and waiting for January to be released. I am happy for them and would like to see them get even huger than they are now. It will be nice to see someone from Champaign get massively famous - and we helped! (well, a little, right?!)

I have had a terrible headache for 2 days now, and I never, ever get headaches. It's blazing behind my eyes; I even have taken aspirin, something I rarely do, and it doesn't help.

So tonight there was some band trouble after the show. I don't know if anyone noticed it, but we had a fight about the encore. We are all exhausted; that's all I can think of that caused it. We got off the stage and I actually kind of collapsed I guess; Rick says I was unconscious. I guess I was lying on the floor at his feet backstage. The next thing I remember, I was going back on the stage, and everyone was asking me what songs we were playing again, and Rick sprayed water on Howie and Howie got mad. I realized Rick was mad at Howie. Rick was angry because he thinks we should all walk back onto the stage together and Howie had gone up there before the rest of us and was just kicking around on his drums. I guess Rick was worried about if I didn't get up, what it might look like for half of us to be on the stage and then have to get off. No one was worried enough about me to help me sell t-shirts after the show though. I made a point of telling them that.

Later we fought in the van on the way to Devin's house, the winner of the House a Band for a Night contest for tonight. Rick and Howie are really angry at each other. Rick wants to be able to tell Howie what to do without Howie feeling like Rick's belittling him. To me, that seems like an impossibility. It sure wouldn't work with me. None of us can be told what to do; we are all really stubborn.

We are also completely exhausted from the 9 hour drive. Also, we drove HOME the day of the Bloomington show; an hour out of our way, east, and "slept at home." Which involved Rick and I staying up all night trying to take care of business; Rick doing cover art for the Salaryman remix all night and I don't even remember what I did. I have a headache.

Devin and roomate near their geek station
Devin and his roomate are really, really nice and they have an impressive computer set-up and a great collection of videos - we watched "Hackers" by my choice; I had to see that guy who was in Trainspotting speak with an America accent and Jon Voight's daughter. That movie is like the 90s equivalent of "Real Genius"! Guilty pleasure. Devin also has the most comfortable rug I've ever slept on in my life. My head is still pounding.

Mon Sep 15 - Fargo, ND

dressing room

So today I call our answering machine to find out that my dad is in the hospital. Yesterday he had brain surgery. He had a blood clot in his brain, and they had to drill a hole in his head to drain it. He fell off a ladder with a chainsaw, 3 months ago. Dad is a good dentist and a good jazz trumpet player but he is bad at physics. He forgot that the torque in a tree branch that you are leaning against changes when you saw half of it off with a chainsaw. I am told he is ok now, in stable condition. My mom is in the hospital room, pissing him off. He is gargling phlegm. My dad is basically who I play to when I'm on the stage. I spend time thinking about what life will be like without him and it makes me sick.

The people of Fargo really talk that way. They really do. It's uncanny.

There were 63 people who came to see us in Fargo, ND, on a Monday night. And some from very far out-of town! Do you know what an honor it is for us to play to people who have perhaps driven even farther than we have to see us? I think that's really great.

Tue Sep 16 - Drive back and forth in Montana

Today I left the Important Notebook and my Pen at Taco John's in Glendive, Montana, and we had to drive 3 hours out of our way to get back to it. I can't stop worrying about my dad. I am terribly tired. I worry about everything; I worry about offending the people who we're staying with. I worry about Rick fighting with Howie. I logged onto prairienet last night to check email and there were 70 new messages for me to answer. We usually only get about 10 messages per day. I feel overloaded.

The sky looks like a marble today as we drive through North Dakota, bright blue with high white cirrus clouds. It's still summer out, hot: the sky looks hard, like it will never change, like the season won't shift and nothing will die. That is my wish, that's what I'm pretending now.

In Montana, there is no speed limit during the day. When you enter the state there is a sign that says something like "Daytime Speed Limit: A Reasonable and Prudent Speed." I got the van to go 99mph - I think there's an asymptote at 100mph on our speedometer.

We at least got to listen to Art Bell tonight because of my forgetfullness, but it was a rerun of a 5-hour interview with some guy who was struck by lightning, died, and came back to life twice. There was also a Chinese Radio station that came through really clearly somewhere in the middle of Montana.

Wed Sep 17 - Missoula, MT

From Howie

let's see, since i last wrote: we played that show in bloomington, il., at illinois wesleyan university; it was an outdoor show--it rained, but that didn't stop us! our next show was in minneapolis, at the 7th street entry. when we got there, we found out that aphex twin was playing right next door at first avenue in just a few minutes. talk about pleasant surprises! aphex twin is actually this one guy, richard james, who just sort of dj's to make his music. it's not much to watch, so to spice up the visual part of his show, he had these two ten foot tall dancing bears onstage. but more importantly, the music was great.

i'm leaving a little bit out, but today we drove from billings, montana to missoula, montana where we had a show tonight. i was behind the wheel for the whole trip--what a beautiful drive! that's probably my favorite place to be in the van--behind the wheel--it has this way of making all of my worries go away for awhile. especially when the driving's in montana. and the show tonight was great, the people who came seemed really enthused. and now we're staying at these kids' house in the middle of a bunch of mountains; they made us food and we watched kung-fu movies with the sound off while listening to the best of monty python on cd. you had to be here. a great day today, and a great night, too.

From Rose

Dad is doing better now.

Montana is beautiful. Big Sky Country is aptly named; the sky is huge, spread out and you can see rainstorms in the distance. The ground is brown and bright green in some places. I watched grey thunder clouds move all around us during the drive. We drove directly underneath a cloud once and didn't encounter the rain from the cloud until after we were out in the sun again, and the sun was blasting white straight in our eyes along with the leftover rain in the sky violently pounding clear at us on the windshield. The sun made it almost impossible to see through the rain. I've never really encountered anything like that before.

light shining through rain

Today there were 80 new mail messages, but many were pkids-list stuff. I am enjoying the physics discussions; I hope everyone else is too.

Jay's Upstairs Bar

This is a strange but nifty bar here in Missoula. For dinner today we had our choice of Microwave food; there were microwave burritos and microwave hamburgers. The promoter told us that if any of us were vegetarians, the vegetarian option was a bag of nuts and a bag of potato chips. The opening band was a death metal band called "Contortion" who scared the hell out of some of the kids who came to see us.

Not necessarily in the correct order - Sky (Jaret's brother), Gabe (Matt's brother), Nicole (Jaret's significant other), Jaret (the cook and flophouse manager), Matt (friend), and Pat (Father of the brothers).

But the best part of the night was meeting these great people and sleeping on their floor - I am really, really enjoying staying at people's houses this tour; it's been a while since we've done that. There was an incredible feast made, stir-fry and french toast! And as Howie said, we watched a Kung-Fu movie and listened to Monty Python at the same time. And in the morning we woke up and noticed the mountains all around and a little stream running right behind the house. This is like paradise. How do people study here? Thanks, guys, for the wonderful night!

Thu (and Fri) Sep 18, 19 - Seattle, WA

(From Rick:) I didn't really want to spend my Friday afternoon wandering around a graveyard, but since Rose and Jimmy are members of the Martial Arts Cult, we had to visit (or should I say make a pilgrimage to) Lakeview Cemetery, home of Bruce/Brandon Lee. This was the first time I had ever been in a graveyard without knowing a permanent resident and I felt like we were trespassing more than we were paying homage. The two men are on top of a hill near former mayors, businessmen, and the Denny family (big cheeses I'm assuming from the size of the monuments and the major thoroughfare in town, Denny Way); it would be interesting to see what these pillars of old Seattle would think of being buried next to a pair of action stars- especially since the only other graves featuring Asian surnames are all together, tucked far away in a corner near the entrance. Visitors had left notes on the pair of gravestones all saying basically the same thing: "Bruce/Brandon, you will always be with me." I thought this was a little strange at first; I don't know of anyone who would write to a deceased relative, but I guess its appropriate for a star because in life you can talk to your friends and family but stars are unreachable, therefore in death the same rules must apply. A fan letter works its way through the heavenly bureaucracy the same as it would through the earthly studio/management system.

Having read in the Yellow Pages that Lakeview was the oldest cemetery in Seattle (founded 1875), I of course went looking for the oldest grave. A short distance from the Lees stood an obelisk with the legend: "Capt. J. D. Howell, Perished at sea on steam ship Pacific, Nov 4 1875, Aged 34 years." Was this guy the Bruce/Brandon Lee of his time? Did strangers come visit his grave and leave notes after reading overblown newspaper accounts of a young man cut down in his prime trying to save his ship and crew? The Masonic symbol carved into the stone added an element of conspiracy; in fact at least half of the graves in the park had Masonic icons. Is Lakeview some kind of secret society resting place, and how does all this tie into the mysterious deaths of Bruce/Brandon? A conspiracy theorist would have a field day trying to link all the people in this place together.

As we were leaving the grounds I couldn't help thinking about my recent near-death experience in the dental chair. When I'm under nitrous oxide I always worry that I'll start laughing and accidentally bite the dentist's finger off, so I try to regulate the flow of gas by breathing fresh air in through my mouth. The doctor must have noticed I wasn't feeling the full effect of the anesthesia and he boosted the levels up. As I drifted off I felt like my mind was moving along at its regular pace but my body was getting slower and farther away; the time between each tug and scrape at a tooth got longer and longer until I was going through a minute's worth of thought between each physical sensation. I felt like I had gone beyond the point of no return and thought to myself: "this is a ridiculous way to die, flat on my back, getting my teeth cleaned- people will be giggling at the funeral." There was no panic or fear, I was just grinding to a halt and that was that. After what seemed like ages, I heard my name being called from a distance and with a violent shake I snapped back to earth coughing and choking. The dental assistant smiled and said "we lost you for a minute."

I know this story might not qualify as the typical near-death experience- no angels, no heavenly light at the end of a tunnel, and can be passed off as the hallucinations of an oxygen deprived mind- but I feel more comfortable with the delusion that I know what's going to happen when my time comes rather than the alternative which is an all encompassing fear of the unknown. If a hot young actor dies because someone incorrectly loaded a prop weapon, or a princess dies because she didn't wear her seatbelt and her driver was drunk, we refuse to believe it was that simple, there must have been foul play; how could anyone so special get snuffed out in such an unglamorous way? Even in death we can't allow our stars to be human. I'll have to think twice about visiting Jimi Hendrix's grave the next time we're in Seattle.

from rose

As we drive into Seattle, we start our semi-annual heroin jokes, poking fun at anyone we see hanging out on a street corner. It's terrible. We were besides ourselves when we came up with the metaphor for the Space Needle. I was yelling, "Come ON! All these people have to look at all day long is this huge needle pointing up into the sky, the Space Needle - when they get home of course all they can think of is they have to stick one in their arm." I'm so sorry. I know I have a strange sense of humor.

Bruce Lee's Grave

We visited Bruce and Brandon Lee's grave, which is located in Seattle. Rick was afraid to go but I think I convinced him it was ok because Walt Mink had sent out Christmas Cards with them standing around Bruce Lee's grave so it had to be open to the public. Just to make sure, I called the cemetary and asked, and they said "Oh YES, it's open to the public." It's weird to visit someone who isn't related to you in a cemetary. I've never done it before.

So there we sat on the bench facing Bruce and Brandon Lee's grave. I don't know a lot about Bruce Lee at all. It's hard for me to know what to read and what to believe; especially about Brandon too; I just can't believe Brandon was killed under accidental circumstances but I don't know which conspiracy theory to believe. Anyway, I sat there and thought about Bruce and Brandon practicing Martial Arts and I thought about how practicing Martial Arts makes me feel, it's probably the most enriching thing I've ever done in my life, and I have done a lot of things. Practicing Martial Arts is kind of like playing silent music with your whole body. Then I thought about how I wished Bruce and Brandon were still alive.

But when we went back to the car, Jimmy Soundguy (who also practices) said something I'd never thought of. He said that being at his grave was sort of like spending a bit of time with Bruce Lee. It was the only way we could meet him or be near him. I thought that was really, really neat; we were alone there for about 15 minutes near Bruce and Brandon in a way.

Fri Sep 19 - Portland, OR

from rose

Portland is the Daddy of Madison, Wisconsin. It's even more gorgeous and even more of a paradise. I must say, the northwest is like the jewels of all our tours. I love coming out here. I love playing at Satyricon, too, except for the fact that it's not all ages. Portland always seems like the one place where we NEED to play an all-ages show. But the all=ages show tonight was Sleater-Kinney, playing at the huge club in town, the rock star club. I was wondering if anyone would show up at all at this show, but the attendance was fine. I was especially worried when as we were driving down to Portland today, we passed Sleater-Kinney road - and Jimmie yelled, "My God - they have a ROAD named after them!"

Tonight we met what seems like the happiest family in the world. Bart, Kim and Dylan, let us stay at their beautiful home in the suburbs of Portland. This house was so beautiful and we were in such a state of smelliness I was embarrassed, but they were so nice about everything. They gave us an incredible cinnamon roll and scone breakfast! What great people!

Sat Sep 20 - Seattle, WA - Salaryman at Electrolush!

from rose

My god there is NOTHING scarier than a club scene crowd! We played at the biggest techno event that Seattle has each Saturday night, Electrolush at the Showbox club! We played just as people were showing up, in the side room. Salaryman, of course. I have no idea what these people were thinking. To them it would be just as impressive if we were playing records, so it didn't matter to them at all that we were a real band, playing this music. Any mistakes in our performance would have gotten in the way of their groove! "What is that Guy Hitting those weird round cylinders with those sticks for?" A bunch of people came up and looked at our record as we played, but we only sold 3 items. Howie said "To these people we are wallpaper."

There was a woman with blue hair who was a man! Crazy looking people here. Almost half the people here were cross-dressers, the guys said. I can never tell. Of course I was wearing a tie, too. But that's the Salaryman Uniform. And I guess my hair is purple. But there is a BIG difference between purple and BLUE!!

Sun Sep 21 - Portland and Eugene, OR - Salaryman

from rose

Portland- Playing in a Store

Something really weird about this Music Millenium store. When we got there, loading in, they started blaring our record. I asked if they could possibly play a Poster Children record instead so we could be even more embarrassed, but they said, "This is what we always do for instores, we always play the band's record." Right before we went on stage to play the same songs. Also, weirder, there were posters up with a review of us from some big magazine, but the good parts of the review were cut out. The good part was at the end of the review, but they left it out. That was really, really weird. I am paranoid. It was a nice store though.

The TV really cooperated during this show; it had me laughing for most of the show! Right at the beginning of one of the "spacey" songs we played, I turned up the TV all the way just to hear what it had to say and it said, "THE US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY."

Eugene Oregon

The last time we were in Eugene, OR, there was about 3 people at the show and it was a Sunday also. It's a beautiful town, but I never know why we ever played there. Tonight I found out - we opened for a good band called Modest Mouse from Portland, (and Red Stars Theory opened) and a lot of people came to the show. I was worried about what a KillRockStars label band would think of us - would they think we were major label rock stars without us even talking to them? I almost developed an attitude before even getting out of the car - I am very paranoid of people thinking we're some kind of manufactured major-label band. We've got more "indie cred" than most bands that exist today, in my mind. But I'm prepared for a Mike Watt onslaught of indie-self-righteousness. (As it turns out the other bands seem to be very nice. One even requested "Dangerous Life!")

I'm still at the show, typing away here at the t-shirt table. Modest Mouse is playing some heavy grunge music that sounds indie, cool, and pavement-esque maybe crossed with something heavier. Red Stars Theory was good also, sort of like swoony Slint-damaged but way more pretty. People keep walking by and smiling at me and Rick - Rick looks like he's about to fall asleep. I'm a bit worried about him - he's been coughing and we have a 9 hour drive between tonight and tomorrow and then another 6 hours to LA. We have to take care of ourselves.

There are way over 100 people here at this show! I don't know what they thought of us - I am predisposed to think that playing a town like this is not useful for us. I don't know why - it's sort of like playing in Chico, California. It's a college town, but we're from so far away, I just don't know how we could build up a following here without any kind of press or radio airplay. How will people know to like us? It made it pretty easy to have a good time on the stage though; I just jumped around like nothing mattered at all. We all had a good time - we were warmed up from playing in Portland earlier today, as Salaryman. All the shows are starting to really go well! We're all enjoying playing a lot these days!