Tour started in Medford, Oregon at Johnny B's. The show was set up by our good friends Stacy and Kimbo Schrag and would be the first of many with Green Milk From the Planet Orange from Tokyo. Green Milk is a three piece that plays psychedelic jam rock, seated on stage in metal folding chairs, and is one of those bands that is so proficient they kind of make me feel like our band is a joke that gets by on volume. They have the nicknames "K" (guitar/vocals), "T" (bass) and "Ace" (drums) which they stick to outside of band life and only makes them more intriguing and awesome. Technically it was our second show with them if you count our kick off show in Seattle at the Comet Tavern, but I don't count Seattle shows as being on tour. I went home and slept in a bed, a kitty asleep on my belly and my special lady next to me. Not tour. No, tour started the next night in Medford playing to a small, enthusiastic crowd. There was a group of underage kids outside who battled the elements and watched the show through a window. They would yell and scream as if they were one of the other paying patrons, which from the inside didn't look weird at all, and was especially cool while playing to look up and see the crowd extend out of the building onto the sidewalk. These kids were jumping, screaming, high fiving and making the kind of scene you imagine only takes place while filming teen comedies on isolated movie sets. The best part was watching the kids from outside the building while Green Milk was playing. With the exception of the sound bleeding through the walls of the club, the street in Medford was bathed in silence. A silence that was periodically pierced with the shrill cries of adolescent ecstasy at a particularly tight drum fill or a seated leg thrust. After the show one of the kids came up to me, his eyes alive with the passion of being fully kicked in the face by a crazy band and asked, "Oh man!!! How can you play after that?!?!"
"We didn't" I replied. He just continued looking at me like I hadn't said anything. A short pause. Then he walked away. After the show we went back to the Schrag's and gorged on free pizza and the first batch of many many cheap, canned beers.
Next night was at the Alibi in Arcata, CA. We'd played Arcata/Eureka a few times before and never really had a great turn out, but Green Milk assured us that it was a good town for them. They were visibly giddy at the prospect of scoring good weed, almost more so than playing the show. At times it seems like they just go on tour to get high, and playing shows is a thing they do just to pass the time between rolling doobs. The show was great, easily Akimbo's best time in the Red Woods. They fed us and provided a good amount of beer. I met a guy who had played in a band at our first show in Eureka years ago, and after a short but potent bro down he bought Aaron and I shots, gently guiding us out of 'buzzed' and into 'drunk'. We retreated to a house down the road with Green Milk after the show where they started smoking weed like three angry little tornados. Akimbo did not partake, but ended up getting wicked stoned just from sitting in the room. All I remember from that point is having an intelligent conversation with one of the tenants on the couch. About what? I have no idea, but we were being serious and I felt smart. Right before I passed out T came running over to me with a small dish of hard little hash nuggets collected in a bowl and said "Cat food."
Davis wasn't the best show. The people who set it up were great and the bar staff was friendly, but it was one of those venues where bands are treated like a bonus for the patrons already there, instead of the reason for patrons to come. They didn't clear any of the tables or chairs in the show room, which is basically unleashing Napoleon on any chances of getting a fun vibe going at a show. Nevertheless, Akimbo has been dealt much sterner blows and we trudged through. I had a weird moment talking to a burnt out war veteran gone hippy and a drunk enlisted marine on leave at the same time. T, K, and Ace tried to sneak in an underage Green Milk fan that had driven about 4 hours to come see them, a sentiment I completely sympathize with but would have executed in a much less obvious and flawed manner. They instructed him to hide in the bathroom and wait for them to come get him. While he was in there, they were nervously walking around and constantly keeping hawk eyes on the ogre of a door guy checking IDs who had originally told the kid he couldn't come in. The plan was to wait until he wasn't looking and then tell the kid to come out and sit behind their merch table. It might have worked if they were a bit more casual about it, but they practically broadcasted to the whole room with their fidgeting and fleeting glances to the huge black guy at the front door that they were uneasy and something was about to go down. I just took a seat at a nearby table and enjoyed a beer, waiting for the show to start. Not five minutes pass and suddenly I see all three members of Green Milk hurriedly walking out of the men's room in a big clump with their underage hopeful crammed in the middle of their glob in an attempt to obscure him, like a weird skinny solar system casually cruising through a marginally full room of seated bar patrons. I don't know how anyone could have not seen the only three Japanese guys in the building quickly walking in a tight pack, a young white kid with "Municipal Waste" in neon green letters across his chest thrust into their pod, trying their damnedest to appear casual. As if that didn't scream for enough attention, once they got across the room and to the merch table they didn't allow him to casually meander around and assume the typical posture of a bored merch dude. No, they maintained formation in their conspicuous huddle and had the kid crawl under the table, at which point they instructed him to crouch behind a cardboard box barely big enough to come up to his shoulders. As if with perfect comic timing to the drama being played out before me, the door guy came strolling up to the merch table right as the kid nestled into the corner next to the cardboard box. Totally busted. He was ejected and watched the show from the sidewalk, which actually proved to be a much more entertaining vantage point when a drunk party dude took a swing at the same large door guy responsible for the kid's rejection and ended up getting body slammed into the pavement. After the show we found ourselves hanging out with Green Milk at a house where I had my first ever experience of playing Nintendo DS while high. One could say it was 'tight', and I believe my performance that evening could have landed me in one of many "stoned roommate" roles in any number of sit-coms or teen dramas.
The next day was off to San Francisco, and after a short stop at Alternative Tentacles HQ to record a quick pod cast with Mr. George Chen (Batcast #38, downloadable from the AT front page) and to fuel up on free swag and chocolate chip banana bread (thanks Maiko), we headed over to 12 Galaxies in the Mission, which happened to be 4 and a half blocks away from my favorite burrito shop in the world. Literally. The show was awesome and I got just drunk enough to figure another giant burrito the size of my forearm was a good idea after the show as well. I went to bed bloated and farting.
No time to waste any days in the deplorable shit fest known as 'Central Cali' so we went right down to LA for our next show at the Smell, which also began our huge 4 band tour out to Austin along side Green Milk From the Planet Orange, Yip Yip, and The Mall. We also had the pleasure of traveling with our booking agent Michelle Cable who was hitching a ride to Austin with all the bands. We got to know her very well and I'm glad that we're now good friends as well as "business associates". We'd never done a tour with three other bands all at once, and while we were preparing for marginal financial travesty, the money business ended up being ok and we had a hell of a lot of fun hanging out with everyone through Texas. The first night was no exception. We also played with Health and Old Time Relijun, who were both surprisingly great. When I say "surprisingly" I don't mean that I had assumed they were going to suck. It comes more from the fact that after touring for 7 years and seeing a kabillion bands in that span I have become a jaded asshole that rarely gives a band a chance without someone I deem 'credible' recommending them on some trivial quality, and otherwise I assume that I just won't like it which then allows me to go the way of the passive aggressive put down... "They were good and all... For what they do... Wasn't really my thing though." Yeah, I suck. But you're just like me. High five. Regardless, the show was great and the crowd seemed to like all the bands which is usually rare at 7 band shows. After the show we went back to the drummer of Health's place (names... always forgetting names...) and had a hushed hang out with all 14 or whatever there were of us, which turned into one of the funniest nights of the tour for me. The first treat was meeting Brian and Josh of Yip Yip and observing them interact with each other for the first time. Their personalities are similar to their music, which sounds like a Nintendo in a blender, and they argue like an elderly couple that has come to terms with the fact that the only reason they love each other is because they really really hate each other. After the first semi awkward round of introductions, they quickly settled into their routine of making witty jabs at each other as conversation to the group. They pull it off in a charismatic yet biting way that didn't necessarily anger the 'jabbed', but merely incited a rebuttal of equally venomous humor. At first it was hard to tell exactly how light hearted it all was, but when they started fussing over who got the 3' wide couch cushion pad thing to sleep on, one arguing that it was big enough to share, the other refusing simply because they didn't want to share, it became apparent that this banter was just how they had learned to co-exist as a two man band touring in a station wagon. The culmination seemed to come a few days later as they were doing their thing in a restaurant and one of them (I forget which one) triumphantly said "Remember the time you hit me in the head?" which cause the other to go silent. It was his ace up the sleeve, and he went on to tell us about the time he got the other so riled up he unleashed and attacked. It didn't sound like anything too violent, a quick slap to the head like young brothers fighting over the rights to a trivial toy, but it was a victory, sheer and pure. He had been pushed to the point of action, and while the results were not permanently damaging in a physical sense, his counterpart forever had a trump card that could be produced at any moment if things got too hairy, forever ending arguments with the reminder of the time he lost it and resorted to a non verbal counterattack. (Picture: Yip Yip doing shakey face.)
The other treasure of the evening again came when Green Milk got stoned (which is a bi, sometimes tri, nightly event). A shelf in the room we were hanging out in had a copy of E.T. amidst a few other movies. T was looking at the movie cover, depicting Elliot riding his bike in mid air, sillohuetted against the moon, his hairless alien buddy shrouded in white, nestled into the basket at the fore of the vehicle. T started telling us about how as a child seeing the grand moment shown on the cover at the crescendo of the film he was enraptured with it, loving every second, but now as an adult balks at the absurdity of the notion that a ten year old kid on a bike can fly simply by putting an alien in it's basket. (Thick Japanese accent) "When you are small, and you see this moment, you think it's very cool. So cool," he said. "But now, as adult, you see this... IT IS A VERY FUNNY SITUATION!" It's hard to convey how actually and truly funny this was with words, so I won't try.
After LA we went to Phoenix to play at Modified. We found out immediately upon arrival via a flyer on a pole outside that Big Business was playing across town that very night. Major bummer, but possibly a chance to meet up afterwards for some drinks. The show was ill attended and the only highlight was that I didn't see any scorpions. I'm always on high scorpion alert when traveling through the desert. Nature's ninjas. We ended up getting in touch with the corporate moguls in Big Business and headed off to a bar after the show to meet up and exchange stock tips while the rest of our group split up to stay at various locations. Coady had a good head start on us and stemmed his rampage to say a few quick hellos before returning to the slaughter of innocent pints, and we three took up residence at the bar next to Jared for some hob-nobbing. When the bar closed we rolled out with our other buddies in Totimoshi who also happened to be there (on their way to SxSW) and stayed with their friend at his awesome house.
Las Cruces was next. The events are best described in Michelle's post, but it was a small house off the beaten path surrounded by all kinds of broken machines and vehicles in a dusty yard. The show was just foreplay to an orgy of a party afterwards, a great evening with the whole group. Everyone took shaky face pictures at my urging, T sang Love Me Tender while drinking bourbon from an Elvis flask, we raged on the local foosball table, and in a fit of weed induced munchies K and Ace went to Carl's Jr. on a burger run and bought Akimbo a giant, beautiful bag of 15 hamburgers, which we nursed like babes at the teat for the next 2 days. At the slightest pang of hunger one could just reach down to the floor of the van, find a tightly wrapped Carl's Jr. burger with minimal effort and casually enjoy, as if taking a solitary corn chip from a Tostito's Big Bag. I slept in the van that night, deathly afraid of the scorpion/roach army that was surely waiting in silence for us to fall asleep before scuttling out from their recesses and laying eggs in our ears and butt holes.
The next day was day off day, and what better thing to do on a day off than watch scantily clad, perfectly sculpted, bare chested men prance around and fight off the forces of Prince and his army of racially stereotyped worldly soldiers while drinking jumbo sodas doused with so much rum it stings? Nothing! We drove to El Paso, found hotels, and immediately tracked down the local cinema playing 300. After the film we spent 30 minutes in the parking lot yelling "SPAAAARTAAAA!!!!" and then headed to El Paso Bowl for a few lanes before they closed. One of the best days off we've had on a tour yet. We closed it back at the hotel, falling asleep to John Ritter's dearly missed but very dead face in the always entertaining Remote Control.
We had to get up early for a big drive to San Antonio, TX. We were a little worried about going to the show that night, being that it was at a venue called The Sanctuary. A few tours back we played there with The Sword and got severely dicked over when the promoter decided it was a good idea to combine our show with a Total Chaos package tour without asking us before hand. In all his brilliance and wisdom, he had the four bands on the Total Chaos tour play before our show, which of course resulted in everyone promptly departing after they played, leaving us and The Sword playing to a nearly empty room around 3 am (this was before The Sword had put out their record and starting touring). This severely botched judgement, combined with a promise of ordering pizza and then not following through, garnished with $75 to split between both bands culminated in a heated argument in which Nat called him a "bad promoter" in so many words and threw a lit ciggarrette into his face. So naturally, we were a little skeptical about coming back, assuming that he had simply forgotten our band name but would remember our faces upon arrival. But, we were booked with a guarantee so fuck it. As we showed up we found out that we were the last band playing on a 21 band show. That is not a typo. Dude booked 21 bands in one day, indicating he had learned absolutely nothing from Nat's stern telling off and was still somehow convinced that he could go on jerking bands around by booking shows like he's trying to figure out some kind of critical thinking math problem at a Microsoft interview. For the touring bands out there that may be looking at playing the Sanctuary and wish to avoid such a debacle, the man's name is Angel, and I cannot fathom a mother that would bestow such a lofty title on such a beast of a human, as he fails to live up to it in both deed and appearance. Unless his mom is George Carlin, in which case I can see that working out in some kind of weird, sarcastic, "I'm playing the ultimate joke on life" kind of way, like advertising used motor oil on a dinner menu as "garlic bread".
Angel was there but we didn't talk to him (on purpose) and he made no move to approach us, which was fine by me. We dealt with another guy (again with the names) who was totally awesome and got us everything we needed. Except an audience. We played to less than ten people around 2 am, and they were all on tour with us. One thing that was indeed provided was an empty house next door to the venue for bands to hang out and sleep in, complete with a closet quite literally filled with liquor. Normally this would be the coolest shit in the world, but as the last band to play a 21 band show, it was like inheriting a dumpster packed with homeless winos. Not that bad actually. We again buddied up with K, T, and Ace (the rest of our group went on to Austin where they had a hotel room waiting for their stay during SxSW) and picked out an empty room to commandeer for the night. The house was already populated with all kinds of douche bags from a handful of the other bands that were sleeping there and had been drinking hard alcohol probably all day long, but we scored our little sleeping spot and set our bags down like we were stabbing flags into enemy soil. We rummaged through the liquor closet which had been totally picked over and was full of nothing but incessantly sweet liquors meant for mixed cock tails, stuff that you could never possibly drink straight, but managed to score a bottle of cheap yet surprisingly smooth tequila. We passed it around and Green Milk began the weed ritual. Not long into our post-show pre-sleep wind down, a particularly obnoxious and hammered dude from one of the other rooms came bursting into our locale dressed only in boxer shorts and shrouded in a blanket, and in that hurried drunken stumble we all do when we can't walk too well but we know we need to reach our destination before we fall over and/or vomit, he made his way right to the corner I had claimed not twenty minutes before. "Is anyone sleeping here?" he asked, in reference to my sleeping bag and pillow on the ground. Even though he was totally hammered, I ascertained that the stupidity of this question was rooted a little deeper than how many mouthfuls of triple sec he'd choked down that day. He struck me as one of those guys who kind of blunders through life by favoring bull-headedness for intelligence and rational thought, taking whatever he wants when the desire strikes and starting a fight if anyone complains. Clearly, the only thing a sleeping bag and pillow are used for is so that someone may sleep in the location they have been placed. It is the inherent function that both items were invented for. If a sleeping bag and pillow have been proportionally assembled in a location that has been established as a place of rest, such as the floor of this room, amidst other equally proportionally assembled sleeping bags and pillows housing sleeping people, then it should be obvious enough that one does need to ask if at some point in the future someone plans on occupying said sleeping bag and pillow.
"Yes." I said. "I'm sleeping there."
"Ok..." he said. At this point I figured we were done.
"I'm just gonna move this." To my surprise, and despite my voluminous protests, he drunkenly pushed my belongings aside, laid down his blanket, and immediately fell asleep. Literally. The second his body went still he was unconscious and snoring like a bull after a graze in a mushroom patch. The beast was hibernating. I was speechless. I thought about trying to get my spot back, it was a prime location in the corner away from foot traffic to the bathroom, but I had already protested and was ignored. Worst case scenarios started playing through my head, like getting punched by a drunk idiot, or worse, peed on in my sleep by a vengeful idiot. I decided to let sleeping assholes lie and move my stuff to the other room. The one full of snoring dudes that smelled like a weird combination of ash trays and slurpees, relying on the tried and true "drink so much you don't notice how gross the floor is" tactic before I turned in.
San Antonio was two for two on horrible shows, and we gladly left the next morning for day one of our stay in Austin, TX for South By Southwest. That night we were playing Michelle's Panache Booking showcase at the Flamingo Cantina along with all the bands we had been on tour with, as well as Health who we had played with in LA, The Apes, our good buddies Genghis Tron, and Monotonix from Israel who were one of the 21 bands we played with at The Sanctuary. Monotonix were a treat to meet and watch. They are all very friendly guys and speak excellent English, and as a band are fucking fantastic. They're a vocal/guitar/drum three piece, playing feel good rock n' roll akin to Creedence Clear Water Revival only much more dirty and distorted. The drummer plays standing up and hits good and hard, and the guitar playing is super sweet, but the singer is truly the magic to the live show. He's a stout, burly Israeli with long hair and a bristling moustache, and his antics included opening 12 packs of beer one by one and pouring them into his mouth, on the drums, on the drummer, and anywhere else liquid fits, jumping into trash cans and hopping around like it's a solo sack race, covering his face in shaving cream (pictured below), climbing on a hand railing and getting stuck in the splits, slow dancing with young girls, and sitting cross legged on the bar like a sexy lounge singer while people are trying to order drinks. They were one of the best live bands I'd seen in a while, and of course we were scheduled to play after them.
Despite being out-everythinged by Monotonix our set went well, the bar was pretty packed when we went on and I saw a lot of friendly faces in the crowd. One of my favorite parts of SxSW is that a large amount of our friends in bands around the country we never get to see are usually there, and it's like a big punk rock high reunion. Jello Biafra also came out to the show, which I was especially flattered by as he was going to be seeing us the next night anyways but made time in his busy schedule to see the set and say hi. As if I need assurance after his label has now financed two of our albums and one reissue, but it's nice to know when you're appreciated. The rest of the show went well, topped by great sets by Genghis Tron and Green Milk From the Planet Orange. Afterwards we headed over to a bridge that goes over the river where a bunch of bands were taking turns playing to a small, stoked audience via a backline plugged into a public outlet in the wall of the bridge. It was pretty cool, but I was quickly sidetracked by the Taco Cabana next to our van. We didn't stay long and opted to head back to Michelle's hotel room where nine people slept in a space designed for four.
Day two of South by Southwest was a tornado of fun and alcohol. We had three shows to play in eight hours, and although I was expecting a certain degree of misery to come of such a busy schedule, it ended up going smooth and being a blast. The first show was for a popular music website who wanted to record us live and stream it from their site. I'm omitting their name on purpose because all said and done, once the live footage went up they previewed our video with an army recruitment commercial and there is little else they could have done to completely offend me and piss me off. I rarely ascend to the soap box to holler my political views at our small, huddled audience, but there are infinite products or organizations that while lame and not necessarily what I stand for could have been adjoined to our music without causing me the slightest dismay. Trucks, batteries, tampons, Burger King, whatever. That's all stupid and while I'm sure the people that run those companies are just as crooked as all the other mongers, it doesn't quite represent the pure evil of the Bush administration and their endless war on adjectives. The United States Army is just a little too extreme, and I never want to be associated with them in any way whatsoever, especially when it comes to my music. If you do happen to find the footage, know that we had zero prior knowledge that our tunes would used to lasso gullible youngsters into hauling weapons across the desert and ending up as barbequed grunts in the streets of Baghdad, and in no way do we endorse Republicans, the Army, or music websites that sell out to them. Disclaimer aside, the actual show was a good time. A little weird, as they had us load into an empty room and perform in front of a few cameras and the camera crew (I thought it was going to a be a live stage with an audience), but they fed us some home made mediterranean food and all the free (good) beer we could stomach at 1pm, which for Akimbo is a good amount. I just wonder if the soft spoken hippy woman who prepared the food and spreads by hand knew that she was feeding bands that would ultimately be paraded right next to army commercials.
The next show was down the street at Snake Eyes Vinyl, a small record shop in Austin just across the freeway from all the crazy "official" SxSW mayhem. They had bands playing all day, alternating between the record shop and a flatbed trailer parked on the street outside. As we pulled up we got in a few quick hellos to our buddies in Genghis Tron and Kylesa before they bailed for their show that night, and also had some joyous reunions with Dave Adelson (manager of Alternative Tentacles and all around crucial dude), Jared Warren (Big Business, Melvins), Courtney Skinner (long time friend from the Bay Area), Brian 'Last Name' (The Plot, The Prayers) and happiest of all for me my old roommate Zack Carlson (Doomsday 1999, Thin the Herd Records) who I hadn't seen in many years after his move to Austin. Amidst all the high fiving and cartwheels, we squeezed in a drunkenly raging set on the flatbed which was a total blast, and I even managed to make a few faces at some of the gawking locals driving by in their Four Runners on the street behind us.
After the set we needed to get over to 6th street for our next show, but we ended up hanging out in the parking lot a little extra to extend our goodbyes and drink a few donated beers. With Dave in the van, we headed out for our last show which was the Alternative Tentacles showcase taking place in a huge, weird gumbo restaurant. I was pretty excited about this show as Jello was going to be doing some spoken word and I hadn't seen him do his thing since I was 15, and we were also being joined by long time Seattle friends Blood Hag and San Francisco's amazing Ludicra. Blood Hag's set was the familiar science fiction lesson via volume and impact, and right as they finished up my friend and boss from Neumos in Seattle (Mr. Mike Meckling) showed up to say hi and bought us a round of courage before we hit the stage. Our set went pretty well and we had a good time. Afterwards I saw a tall, skinny guy with a baseball hat at the front of the stage doing the "please come talk to me" stance, eagerly looking at us. I went over and said hello, he was all "You guys kick ass!" and I was all "Thanks!". He was wearing a shirt that said "Sex, Drugs, and Dungeons & Dragons" and I immediately complimented him on it, showing him my d20 tattoo. He was stoked and got a friend to take a picture of us together, his shirt and my tattoo. When this happened a bunch of other "press type" people started taking pictures as well, which I immediately wrote off as bored photographers on assignment taking an ironic snap-shot of D&D nerds bonding at a rock show, destined for their fridge as opposed to the organizations they represented. He left and then a friend approached me and said "That was Tom Morrello from Rage Against the Machine." I imploded. I walked over to Nat who was packing up his drums, star struck worse than the time Tad Doyle barged into our practice space to tell us "Keep on cookin' what's cookin'." and said to Nat "Tom Morrello from Rage Against the Machine just told me our band kicks ass..." We kind of just walked around all stupid for a bit. It was an awesome and totally unexpected compliment. After us was Ludicra, and it was a great show even though they didn't play Aging Ghost despite my incessant banter from the crowd. I hadn't seen them since our last show together in 2002 (I think) and they are still pummeling and brutal. Post show we started a long and fruitless quest for a party. We walked all the way down 4th to the Kemado party and were rejected at the gate, so instead of leaving we loitered and managed to say hi to Tony and Chris from Lords. It was about 4am at this point so we gave up and went back to Michelle's hotel and did the sardine thing again.
After a few quick errands we were off to Shreveport, Louisiana for a house show with The Prayers, featuring long time friends Brandon and Brian formerly of The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower. The Prayers were a great throwback to 50's and 60's pop rock, think early Beatles and The Kinks. While they were great, I don't think they'll have much luck winning over The Plot's old fan base as they are entirely devoid of anything "sass", and that crowd laps up the sass like it's free slurpee day at 7-11. The turn out was weak but we made the best of it and went to bed swimming in High Life.
Next show was at The Cellblock in Mobile, AL. We arrived to find four other bands loading into our club, prompting a chorus of 'what the fuck's as we parked the van. After some sleuthing around the bar staff it became apparent that someone had double booked the night, our show (us, The Prayers, The Mint Chicks, and a local opener) along with four other ska/punk bands also skirting the outer fringes of SxSW. This happens every year just before and after SxSW. All the outlying states become overwhelmed with bands on their way to and from Austin, and you end up playing a club on it's 12th consecutive night of hosting shows, or you find out that due to lack of communication or balls another package has been added to your show and you're looking at playing last on a 9 band show on tuesday night, and either way no one is at the show because there's a million shows in town every night and not enough audience to supply them all. It's lame enough to almost make SxSW not worth the drive. Almost. We made sure our bands got to play first, which we did, and then left the show to hang out with The Prayers and a bunch of local kids who were bent on partying really hard. They kind of invited us over to this girl's house to stay. She had already gone home because she was too drunk, but they insisted that it would be cool. They also told us she was "easy" and had apparently gotten knocked up in a porta potty at a 3-11 concert when she was 18. I'm not sure if they were doing the ultimate sleeze and trying to subversively pimp out their friend to the traveling musicians, or if they were merely trying to assure us that her inhibitions were at 'green alert' and therefore wouldn't mind if a party and ten dudes expecting sleeping space appeared in her house at 1:30 am. Despite our skepticism at the self invitation we went along with them, my trepidation at the situation marginally subsided with the purchase of a $2 robot bobble head at the 7-11 down the street. I was pretty wiped out from the antics that had ensued in Austin so I was leaning more towards a couch and chill conversation as opposed to complete raging. The end result was somewhere in the middle. At one point Brandon and I were sitting on a couch conversing when the supposedly passed out host came lumbering out of her bedroom, pants undone and obviously still hammered. She mumbled some unintelligible garbage, perhaps a greeting, and then came over to the couch right where Brandon and I were sitting. As if we weren't even there, she wedged herself right between the two of us, turned on her side and then lay down, her torso behind me and her legs on top of Brandon. We both politely excused ourselves from the couch and surrendered our vantage, at which point she rolled over and again passed out exposing what is commonly referred to as a 'plumber's crack' to the entire party from the top of her carelessly applied panties. She remained this way until a friend (girl, of course) noticed the almost bared booty and draped a blanket over her. I felt sorry for her, and regretted allowing these dudes to turn her house into a party venue with only her drunken consent as she was being escorted home. At the same time, we had a much needed roof over our heads and it was too late to find other accommodations. Aaron was in the van, so Nat and I decided to find a quiet spot and go to sleep. We woke up to her hanging out with her 3 year old daughter, at which point the guilt at barging in and making a mess of the place truly set in, even though it wasn't our idea and we had originally expressed disdain at the notion of going to a place we weren't necessarily invited. I helped her clean up a little, but it was kind of awkward. We didn't talk much. I didn't know if I needed to explain who I was, and she seemed like she was pretty embarrassed or was just keeping quiet because she didn't want to have to ask who I was. We politely thanked her and left.
Next stop was Birmingham, AL, our last show before three weeks of recording with Chris Owens in Louisville and always a fun town for us to play. We played at The Bottletree with Hella, who were no longer a two piece wank/jam band but now had a full lineup and not only vocals, but a vocalist. I liked their new stuff a lot and am eager to hear it recorded. We hung out with good friends Jason Barker and Ryan Russell and everyone at the Bottle Tree was great to us, a template for other venues to aspire to. We went back to Jason's where I killed him at foosball, and I slept well on a soft couch.
We got up and hit up some barbeque with Ryan and Jason, and then Ryan took us to a little dollar store where Aaron searched for a glittery light up polar bear wall clock and Nat bought BB pistols for $6. We drove all day to Kentucky and met Chris at the studio where we would be spending the next three weeks. The goal was to record a ten song album for Alternative Tentacles in addition to a five song concept EP, and with three weeks it should be a low stress, well paced, luxurious session. It ended up being far from that. Chris's hard drive crashed after eight days of drum tracks and we lost everything and started over. The days were long and hard, but we ended up accomplishing what we set out to do and I'm happy with the end result. Big thanks to Chris for pulling the long hours at the end, Evan and Casey for housing us the entire time, everyone at Cahoots, Dave Adelson for the grocery money, and Little Caesars for the $5 large pizzas.
The rest of the shows home were fun, but after the recording was finished I was just eager to get back and rest. We played one last show with Green Milk From the Planet Orange in Chicago, where I think they played their best set of all our shows together. We had an awesome dude date with Scott Flaster where we gorged on tremendous barbeque and then immediately ran across the street to catch a matinee showing of Pathfinder, where we learned that inside every man's heart there are two wolves fighting. Crazy! In Des Moines we were lucky enough to play one of Swing By Seven's last shows, and I will very sincerely miss that band. It's a true shame that they never took off, they were one of the most explosive bands I ever have and probably will see. We raged proper with our old buddy Phillipe that night, played a drinking game to Heavy Metal Parking Lot, listened to all the old punk records in his collection and polished 60 beers between the four of us. After that I got pretty sick and stopped drinking for the rest of the tour. Denver brought us a reunion with our friend Emily at the 3 Kings, but The Stooges were playing that night so the crowd was for the most part spoken for. The last show was Boise with a small enthusiastic crowd watching us in a garage, where one of the tenants yelled Butt Trumpet songs at us. Utterly awesome. The drive home was relaxed and smooth, and now I sit in my breakfast nook typing on a laptop in my pajamas, mission accomplished.