On The Road With Dischordia: Part II
It’s day 164. We’re lost in the desert with no food, no water, and we ran out of gas three months ago. We lost our drummer and had to eat him last week. I don’t think we’ll make it much longer. We’ve played some shows for desert tribes in exchange for some sand to eat, but their sound guys suck and all they want to hear are bass drops and breakdowns. We haven’t seen another human in 6 days. If anyone is reading this, please tell Lady Stockhausen my final words, which will probably (definitely) be “lolbuttz.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before all that, we had a show in Glendale on the 15th. It was at a super rad venue called The Complex, and if you live anywhere near Glendale, you need to get your crusty butt to this place stat. It’s clean, it has great sound, the bathrooms work, the bar is awesome, the promoter is honest, and judging by the flyers I saw, intensely great shows go through there. We played on a Sunday night to a fairly sparse crowd, but they were really into it and we got a great response. The guy who mixed our full-length lives in the area, and after the show we hung out with him at an awesome (different) bar. Side note: I think the main reason I’m in a band is so I can hang out after playing a show. We’re always worn out, so relaxing with a beer and hanging out with whomever we meet is the best. If I could do something else where I travel around and drink beer while being tired at 1 am, I could probably do without the whole band thing. Then again, I’d be missing out on the massive payout from being in a low-level touring death metal band, plus all the babes. Tough choice.
Henry Rollins spoken word albums
Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come
Day off! We initially tried to fill all ten days with shows, but stuff fell through and we settled on having a day off. And since we’re total rock stars, our distribution label, Rogue Records America, put us up in a hotel room in San Francisco. We drove overnight from Glendale, got to the hotel room, immediately filled it with hookers and cocaine, and threw the TV out the window passed out and slept most of the day. I slept almost the whole drive there, but no matter how much you sleep in the van, it never converts to more than four minutes of actual, regular person sleep. We did eventually get up and go for dinner and drinks with Dean, the guy that runs the label. He’s a great dude, and since the label isn’t a huge operation, it’s really easy to see how much they care about their bands. We had an awesome night and were able to get some real people sleep. Huh. I really thought that I’d have more to write about for our day off, but it turns out we’re really boring. Sorry guys, we’ll develop a lot of really deep personal issues and drug problems before the next tour.
Dischordia – farting and snoring a lot
Since we were close to the venue already, we pretty much had another day off until the show that night. We got out for some walking along the piers where we got to take in some excellent views. We could see Alcatraz island along that whole stretch, and we collectively said “Alcatraz” like Eddie Izzard enough times to power a small country, however that conversion works. There was also an area off Pier 39 specifically designated for sea lions, and these motherflushers would flop up on these docks, all fat and happy, and just sit around sunbathing and bellowing. They have it made, man. Being St. Patrick’s Day, we also saw a lot of really great celebrations of Irish heritage and culture douchebags wearing huge floppy hats and green shirts that said “Team Drink All Day.”
So remember how I said I felt like we’ve had it easy, with getting paid and having good shows and all that? Obviously that streak had to end, and it met its noisy, chaotic demise in Oakland. Before the show (as we were having an excellent time at the nearby Telegraph Beer Garden), someone posted on the Facebook event page asking what he should call his newly formed improv band that was playing that night, since the band that was originally booked for the show had just split up. Red flag. The show got going with a couple of solid bands, and then these improv jabronis took the stage with their gear and a bunch of books. They proceeded to make a lot of noise while random people grabbed microphones and screamed words out of the books, cuz art, I think, lol. Look, I’m usually into that sort of thing, but they went on right before us, didn’t bring anyone, weren’t good, and drove away what was left of the already small crowd. We don’t expect a packed house at a place we haven’t played before, but it would have been nice to play to the people that were, you know, already there. Here’s the lesson: if you’re a local band that breaks up before a show with five bands on the bill, don’t worry about it. A four-band show is perfectly fine. If you picked up an especially awesome beret that day and really need to fulfill your artistic urges, talk to the touring band that set the show up. At the very least, that would have enabled us to work out switching set times so we could play to more people and potentially sell more merch.
We finally got on stage to play for about 10 people (almost everyone in the opening bands left), and we had a somewhat rough set. It probably wasn’t noticeable to new listeners, but there were some moments of sloppiness that were very unlike us. There’s no real excuse for that; the situation wasn’t ideal, but it’s still up to us to bring our A game no matter what. This show was sort of an EP release event, because it was the official release date of our four-song covers EP. We have our cover of Dillinger Escape Plan’s “Sugar Coated Sour” in our live set right now, and I guess the improv band set a precedent of people being able to grab a mic whenever they want. During the Dillinger cover, some kid in the audience hijacked our guitarist’s mic and butchered all of the lyrics while I tried to actually do them, and then near the end of the song he took my mic and I had to stop playing and grab it back from him. I know there are a lot of different opinions on audience members getting on stage (and feel free to discuss in the comments!), but don’t take BOTH MICROPHONES THAT ARE BEING USED BY THE BAND. If there is a standalone vocalist, he or she can move around and actually hand the mic out if he or she chooses. I do lead vocals while playing bass, so that pretty much cuts off any invitation to take my mic. Would you jump on stage and take my bass or the guitarist’s guitar? No, so don’t take our mics. Every band has a different idea of what a live performance is, and unless you know for sure that there’s an open invitation to join the band onstage, don’t make assumptions. I realize we were covering a song from a band that exists in the realm of audience participation, but we’re not that band. And you’re not in my band. Don’t force your way into my band.
The night wasn’t a total loss (we got 35 bucks from the door! *sob*), Dean came out to the show, along with another guy who’s working on a documentary on Rogue, as well as Jared MacEachern, the current Machine Head bassist. Hanging out with all of them was really cool, and Jared ended up buying a shirt. So if you see Machine Head live and the bassist is wearing a Dischordia shirt, you can forget that you read this, completely ignore the shirt, and enjoy Machine Head.
This American Life podcast
Thaw – Earth Ground
The next day, we checked out of our hotel room and headed down for our show in Ventura, CA. The drive was mostly along the California coast, and we pulled over at a scenic turnout and took in this excellent view for a while. Important lesson: when you’re on tour, take a few moments every now and then to enjoy where you are. Being from a very flat and boring state like Oklahoma makes that really easy for us, but no matter where you’re from, it’s interesting to “be in the moment” while on tour. I’ve had countless musings in random gas stations, Denny’s, on stranger’s couches, scenic turnouts, venue parking lots, or seedy hotel rooms along the lines of “I’m some random dude from some random place, and I’m hundreds/thousands of miles from home, and the only reason I’m here is because of metal and a band that no one has heard of.” That typically spins off into a thousand different deep, philosophical rabbit holes and usually ends up at “Who am I and what is anything?”
Anyway, we eventually got to our venue in Ventura. I’m writing while still on the road, but I’m pre-emptively giving the Best Show Of The Tour award to this one. The venue was this big, old house that was converted to a tavern with wood floors, dim lighting, and a ton of stuffy armchairs. The whole place had a really cool speakeasy vibe, and it was way better than the dive bar we played last time in Ventura. The crowd went absolutely nuts for us, with high-energy moshing and demand for an encore. The dudes in Stronger Than Machines put us up for the night, and made us waffles, sausage, potatoes, and eggs in the morning. Hospitality on the road is the absolvte best.
So to wrap up, there will always be ups and downs on the road. Whether it’s been our longer tours or shorter runs, there are always great shows, terrible shows, great shows where we get ripped off, awesome bands, or horrible bands full of children. When you step back and allow yourself to be in the moment, a lot of the garbage that clutters itself around those ups and downs doesn’t matter much. It’s all a part of the experience, and a “perfect” tour wouldn’t give us the same opportunity for growth. You learn a lot having those crappy experiences. If you find yourself in a band on tour, be in the moment, and let yourself learn.
Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect
Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Things to Remember:
-Enjoy yourself. Stuff will suck, don’t worry about it
-If you’re opening for a touring band that isn’t huge, don’t leave and/or drive away the whole crowd
-Set aside time to get out and enjoy the scenery, do stupid tourist things, whatever. You’re essentially on a weird vacation, so take advantage of it
The last installment is coming soon!