RTFM TOUR 1997 Part 1

The RTFM Tour

April 15 - The week before the album is released

Right now, we are waiting with our hearts in our throats for our record to come out. The last weeks before yr record comes out are excruitiating; all you can do is sit and wait for it to be unveiled and hope that you've made a good record. It's aggravatin g; like waiting for your final test scores to come back, after you've taken your last test. We will feel much better once we get to leave for tour.

April 22nd, 1997

RTFM is finally out! Our mailbox has been stuffed all day with people writing fan letters and compliments; thank you all so much! I'm glad everyone likes it, and I'm happy that everyone seems to be able to get it to work! And every email except one has st arted with "I've spent X hours playing with your CD-ROM instead of working...."

We're about to leave for tour. Rick is finishing up a video for 21st Century (the song) which had us running around town dressed somewhere between a SWAT team and Heaven's Gate cult members, being chased by police. The police weren't in the video; they were real, and they didn't like us marching around outside a cement-factory here in Champaign.

We have been doing loads of interviews, it seems like more this time than we had for Junior Citizen. Many people are telling us they like this record better. (Not just my dad.) I think that's a good thing. Your local radio station has RTFM and you may try to call them and ask them to play "0 For 1" or "21st Century." See if you can get them to play it.

There's a lot more I could say, but I don't want to piss anyone off.

April 24 - Day 0, Champaign IL

I don't have a lot to say about this show. People in Champaign never look happy when we play there. It's not like Madison, or Seattle, or Chicago, or San Francisco. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I expect more from them, I don't know. Maybe we should come back and play after a tour, when we know our songs better. I know some of them must sound pretty rough right now. And heck, it was a Thursday. Some guys had driven all the way from Indianapolis- they enjoyed the show. I think I may have had my mind on other t hings; I haven't slept a lot lately and I'm worried about packing and stuff. We have to leave tomorrow.

April 25 - Day 1, RTFM Tour! Iowa City, with Run-DMC

My goodness, it's so great to be on tour again. Rick has stayed up all night for two nights in a row, working on our video for 21st Century. He only took a break last night to play the Mabel's show and then went straight back to work. Around 2pm today he finished and started a compile on it. We had to be ON STAGE in Iowa City at 7pm, and it takes about 4 hours to get there from Champaign. And the compile for the video was going to take about an hour. So we left the computer on, compiling and we're going to try to get our best friend to go over to our house and rescue it for us. We'll be gone 6 weeks!

We get to Iowa City and jump on the stage and we have about 15 minutes of soundcheck time before it's time for us to start playing. It was an outside show, and we were the first band, and basically, that's about the worst position to be in. The audience i sn't warmed up yet. The whole show I just jumped around as best I could. It's really hard to play the new songs. Rick was making really, really strange faces the whole show, and I had no idea what to make of them. Somewhere along the show I noticed some h appy looking people watching us, so I calmed down a bit. There was a guy standing right in front of the stage, looking really cool, and that really made me feel good. Then at the end of the show I was trying to get Howie to play some more, to play our lit tle tag-ending song, but he was yelling something at me. I had no idea what was going on. Then he kept yelling and screaming something about how he didn't know what we wanted him to play at the end of the show. It's really hard to communicated sometimes w hen we're on stage; Rick and I always seem to be on the same wavelength (for obvious reasons, I guess) but the other guys can't be expected to read our minds, and I think we don't realize that sometimes.

Anyway, Howie was yelling because Rick at that moment had thrown his guitar out into the audience. And the guy in front I guess had caught it. I missed all this cuz I was facing with my back toward the audience while Howie yelled! Howie t hought Rick had thrown his guitar cuz he was mad at Howie, but Rick threw his guitar because he hasn't had enough sleep. I guess Rick ran out into the crowd and grabbed the guitar back from the guy; the guy caught it right on the fly and didn't even let i t drop. None of us had brought backup guitars with us this tour. Pretty stupid. Really stupid. If that guy ever reads these tour reports, I would like to thank him personally for not running away with Rick's guitar. (like the guy in Detroit did.) You save d the tour!


I was betting Rick that even though Run-DMC had fallen to such a low level that they were playing a show with us in Iowa at the University - and I think our contract says we were "co-headling!" - I bet they'd still have a tour bus or two. Rick says all they have are "two turntables and a microphone" (ok, maybe 2 mics) so they'll be travelling in a minivan. We bet on it. Anyway, it turns out they're doing neither; they're flying to these shows. On top of it, these are their only two shows; and both are with us! (By the way, I don't think they saw us play. Too early. They were at the hotel still.)

I don't get into bands who are famous for playing other people's songs too much. I guess I am too young. The rest of my band seemed very pleased with Run-DMC's set. The audience loved it. Maybe I don't get too much into hip-hop, either. Run-DMC in the mid dle of their set bragged about having a person named Jam Master Jay (sp?) on the turntables; no DATs or samplers for them. It was all records. Rick was hooting and clapping, "ALL RIGHT!!" but I don't see why it's impressive that they have records and not tapes. Whatever. Rick tried to explain it to me, why the turntables are hard, and I know I'm going to have to understand it in order to be kewl, but it's going to take me a while.

Run-DMC, Aerobics, Indian Food and Jesus.

A runner took us to get take-away Indian food down the street at an awesome little cafe and then we made it back in time to see the 2nd half of Run-DMC's set, sitting on the lawn behind the stage, eating vegetable Jalfrazzie, watching Run-DMC and their au dience. Run-DMC asked people to put their hands in the air a lot, and asked them to shout some things like "Yo, Jam Master Jay" and stuff like that. They said Jam Master Jay wouldn't continue to play if they (the audience) didn't shout that. There was one point where they got the whole audience to wiggle their hands in the air. Rick loved that part. I thought it looked like a giant aerobics class. At the end of the whole show they played the Aerosmith song, "Walk This Way" which they are famous for, and t hen afterwards talked about Jesus Christ. I found that disturbing, and I think some of the audience did too.

After the night had ended, the band who was playing at Gabe's that night invited us to play with them because one of the bands had cancelled - I would've KILLED to play that show. It would have been SO excellent! But Rick was already falling asleep on his feet, and we are driving overnight tomorrow, so forget it. Next time. The only bad part of the night was having to sell t-shirts for $15 each because University of Iowa was taking 25% of our merchandise + more for tax. *sigh*. At least our shirts are wor th it.

We got a great hotel room in the University of Iowa, cots for everyone. Down the hall from us was an opening RAP band, or some of Run-DMC's crew; not sure. The hallway smelled like fish and cigars. Once every half-hour, someone from down the hall would le t out a triumphant holler about something.

April 26 - Day 2, RTFM Tour! Columbia MO Derby Fest with RUN-DMC

early, early early!!

As we wake up groaning, we have a long drive ahead of us to get to Columbia, through backroads, it has come to our attention that we have 48 hours to get from Columbia, MO to Seattle Washington. And the drive is 2000 miles. We have to drive overnight and leave RIGHT after this show!


SHIT!! Pavement is playing the later show here, after our day-time show ends!! DAMMIT! We won't be able to see them cuz we have to LEAVE!!! SHIT!!!!



WE PULLED UP TO THE BLUE NOTE AND FOUND OUT THE SHOW WAS RESCHEDULED. we had pulled up a half hour before our set was supposed to happen, and basically we found out that all the set times were moved ahead. Run-DMC was setting up their gear on the stage. T here was still an hour to play, but they had already taken down the mics. I remembered yesterday that someone had been setting up equipment while we were playing; people were walking around on stage while we were doing our show! I didn't mind. Anyway. I a sked the soundguy if we should just move in right now and jump on and off the stage really fast, or could we just go on after them. Everyone was non-commital, but the Run-DMC soundguys seemed really busy pointing mics into the monitors and we were told we couldn't set up in front because we may bother them. So we just said we'll go on after them.

Then some guy comes up to me and says "Wow, so you must feel pretty great now since Run-DMC is opening for you." whaaaa? I had some weird feeling that there was going to be ego problems involved in all this.

Basically, Run-DMC didn't go on for another hour and then they said they had a 90-minute set. Yesterday's set was 60 minutes. We were really screwed by this time.

We were all told we had to be out of there by 5:30 because Pavement was coming and they HAD to be able to load in and have 2 hours to soundcheck and whatever, or they wouldn't play. On top of it, their tour manager had called up a bunch of times and threa tened to cancel the show if everything wasn't set up for them by 5:30. So basically, Richard, the guy who ran the club, was scared to death they were going to cancel for ANY reason.

Do you remember me talking about Pavement? Do you remember how much I love Pavement.

THat's why this is all so hard for me to understand. This is the Pavement that has the song dissing the Smashing Pumpkins for being rockstars??

Basically, I went up to Pavement's tour manager and had to beg him to allow an extra half-hour before they SOUNDCHECKED, if he could do this, I told him, we could play our show and get paid our money and have enough to tour for the rest of the month. We are getting paid shit on most of the Failure dates; this was a REALLY high-paying show that was going to carry us through that tour. After we played, I explained, WE HAD A 40 HOUR DRIVE TO SEATTLE. WE HAVE TO BE ON THE STAGE IN SEATTLE IN ABOUT 50 HOURS. W E ARE GOING GET IN OUR VAN AND BE DRIVING ALL NIGHT FOR 2 DAYS AFTER THIS. CAN YOU JUST LET US PLAY A HALF-HOUR?

Do you know what he said to me? He said, "As far as I'm CONCERNED, PAVEMENT is NOT even going to PLAY tonight because there are supposed to be 7 monitors (speakers for the stage) here now and I ONLY SEE 4."

How can I argue with that? Pavement had to wake up really early in order to fly to and from Los Angeles and back yesterday, and on top of it, the hotel raised the price of their hotel rooms. They had to switch hotels. I don't understand why they don't jus t sleep on their bus. It looked like a really nice tour bus.

Anyway. I just don't know what to say. This is what happens when people are uncompromising. If they could have just compromised, we could have played and everything would have been fine, but they couldn't. Their tour manager was trying to get out of playi ng the show and still get paid for it, and basically, we got fucked because he was trying to do something really slimy. Richard, the club owner, would have let us play, but he was scared to death they'd use that as a reason to pull out of the show. I gues s they just didn't want to play.

At the end of the afternoon, Bob from Pavement came up and asked what was going on. Now Richard (the guy who runs the club) wanted to add us to the bill, and I know they didn't want us on it. I know they don't want loud rock before they play. They told us we could go on after their show if we wanted. But like I said, we have to be in Sea ttle in 50 hours, and we wouldn't have made it. This is one of the very few times that we have to drive straight through the night in order to make it in time for our show, and we just couldn't do it. That would fuck up another show.

I don't know what to say. My head is spinning. I brought my favorite Pavement CDs with to listen to on this tour and I feel like throwing them out, and yet I can't. Anyone who reads this tour diary knows how much I love them. If they just could have compr omised and given up a half-hour of their soundcheck, everything would have been fine. It's so sad.

On top of it all, their tour manager who was voicing all this un-compromising stuff has booked shows for us in the past. I had always heard he was a fan of ours. I just don't get it. It's like, everyone had a bad day and unfortunately, we got screwed.

I was frantically trying to figure out if we had a day off somewhere and we could drive to Columbia and play a make-up show. It looks like we have a day off between Minneapolis and St. Louis, and I am just HOPING that we can pull off a show there. It's on ly an 8 or 10 hour drive I believe.

We just want to play a show.

April 27nd Driving to Seattle

We've been driving for 24 hours straight now; we left right after speaking with Bob from Pavement last night. To be fair; they told us we could play after them, and I'd actually have agreed, except we wouldn't make it to Seattle in time, and on top of it, people would have to pay to see us then. The show we were supposed to play was free. We're just going to try to reschedule it. We just couldn't do it. So we left and we've been driving ever since. Rick and I spent the first 12 hours just torturing oursel ves with last night's fiasco, going over the things we could have done to stop that from happening. We spent hours trying to figure out why Pavement's tour manager acted like that, and why they needed a long sound-check. I knew there was going to be a 2-day drive after this and that it would torture us, and I was right. Another piece of information before I lay this to rest: Pavement's tour manager is getting married today.

Far away from Columbia

My designated state was Wyoming; I got to drive across the bottom of it, this morning from about 7 to 12. Afterwards I slept a little and last night seems far away. Almost 2000 miles away, to be exact.

We just drove through Mountain Home, ID, (pop. 9200) after what seemed like a forever drive through short brown and green brushlands, with the gas tank ON EMPTY. We parked in a gas station in the middle of the tiny town and next door to it I saw a motel named "The Hilander," with 50s architecture. It's the SAME MOTEL we tried to stay at 2 years ago during the Lollapalooza tour, where the woman had locked herself in the office and couldn't get out!!! WOW! We weren't sure, and then Rick half-asleep from the back of the van goes "if we pass under a viaduct then it's the same hotel" and we turned a corner right then and went under a viaduct.

Things are picking up!