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Texas!

Originally Posted November 2009 on Tumblr

After Prairieville we had three shows in Texas with Dead to Me, all of which were great. Those dudes are all super nice and fun to hang out with, and put on a great show. It was kind of a bummer we only got to play a total of five shows with them.

A brief rundown:

San Antonio: This was the semi-weird one out of the Texas shows. Located in a strip mall, the venue had recently opened and was clearly catering to the metal scene. Called Zombies, a blood-and-guts theme dominated the painting in the various rooms, every single ‘upcoming show’ on the calendar was a metal show (I’m assuming; maybe Cannibal Slaughter is a folk band, who knows) and the majority of the songs on the jukebox featured the use of double kick drum pedals.

Not a huge deal; the staff was friendly and the handful of kids hanging out seem stoked for the show. But there was one problem: the place was huge! Like, absurdly huge! It reminded me not of any venues I’ve played at before, but of a used video game warehouse I used to work at in high school. Just insanely big.

It would certainly have a weird vibe to play for 20 people in a room that could plausibly fit 1500, especially from a large stage that was about five feet off the ground. But then Chicken had a genius idea: have the entire crowd come on stage with us! This instantly made it feel like we were playing in a packed, tiny basement that had been plopped down in the middle of an empty meatpacking warehouse. And basement-inside-of-an-empty-meatpacking-warehouse shows are some of the best.

Austin: Only an hour drive to Austin! Up to that point the tour had had surprisingly long drives, so this was a welcome change. We got stuff done with all this extra time: burritos for breakfast, car wash, laundry, and the installation of a new CD player with a line-in for iPods! This was far superior to the 1991-era tape deck we had been using up to that point. One of my favorite things to do in a van on tour is listen to the comp CDs people give you at shows, grade each song as you go, and then chuck it out the window when you’re done if it’s bad (which, usually, it is!) Previously Banner Pilot has been unable to do this, but now we’ve catapulted our way into modern times with this acquisition of CD player technology!

The show was at this cool club called Red 7 where the stage is located back in an outdoor patio area. Super fun show. Dead to Me were great and had a couple of the guys from Riverboat Gamblers join them for the last two songs.

Dallas: I have to admit, I didn’t think Dallas would be a very good show (at least three people in Austin, when I asked them what Dallas was like, responded with some variation of “It sucks!” The guy who installed our CD player thought for a second and said, “Well, there’s a lot of murders there.” Ringing endorsements!). But, it ended up actually being pretty awesome— more people than I would have guessed, enthusiastic crowd (that sounds cheezy but i don’t know how else to put it), pretty good openers. Sweet.

All in all, I had a blast in Texas.

-Nate

So Long, Tape Deck

Originally Posted November 2009 on Tumblr

We will miss your DNR feature. And the Auto Reverse was awesome. Sniff…

-Nate

We Sound Kind of Like Nirvana

Originally Posted November 2009 on Tumblr

We had a day off after Fest (extremely smart idea on our part!) which we spent in New Orleans (another smart idea!) After that we met up with Dead to Me in a small town called Prairieville, outside of Baton Rouge.

We arrived early at the bar, the Fat Cat Saloon. The waitress asked what kind of music we played. This task — describing your music to someone who doesn’t listen to punk music — can be difficult. If I say something like “Tiltwheel crossed with Dillinger Four and a dash of Screeching Weasel”, their reaction will probably be “Guh?” And with good reason— it’d be like if I asked a hippie what his band sounds like, and he says “Well, we take a bit from Seesaw Orb, a little bit from The Mustard Bottle Project, and then also the improvisational freedom of Harvest Skiddle”…. I would look at him like he’s a lunatic who should be chained up somewhere. It would be much better if he just said “Phish. We sound sort of like Phish.” Then I could say, “Oh. That’s cool, man.”

When we get asked this question, I usually opt for Green Day. Just about everyone knows what Green Day sounds like, and we’re at least ballpark-similar to them. Usually a safe, good, go-to answer.

The waitress stared back at us blankly.

“It’s punk rock stuff,” I added. I usually avoid this answer because it can invite imagery of everything from Sex Pistols to Good Charlotte, depending on who you’re talking to. Way too vague. But since she didn’t know Green Day, a broader description seemed to be called for.

“So, metal? You guys play super loud?”

Nick shook his head. “It’s not metal. It… it is loud. You might want to wear earplugs. But it’s not like metal really. We sound….” he seemed to be searching for a cultural reference point “… we sound kind of like… Nirvana?”

She shrugged. “Never heard of them. I just listen to country and Creed.”

I opened my mouth and considered saying “We’re kind of like Creed, I guess, in a very broad sense,” but then wisely re-closed my mouth, horrified at the implications of acknowledging something like that.

“I guess you’ll just have to check it out and see what you think.”

She shrugged again. “Oh, I don’t care. My shift is done at 7 so I won’t be here anyway.” she walked away to get a beer for someone.

The only other people in the bar, which was full of semi-cryptic anti-Obama art, were four or five burly men who did not look like they would be familiar with Green Day or Nirvana either, let alone Screeching Weasel. It had all the makings for a ridiculous/hilarious show, but by the time Dead to Me showed up the place had filled up a bit with people who were there for the show.

It ended up being really fun. For some reason I really like playing in small bars. More so than the average ‘club.’ Between bands you can hang out and talk or play foosball or something instead of having to yell over loud between-band music. Plus Coronas were only $2, the cheapest I found all tour.

Dead to Me were great, too. It was only the second show we had played with them (the warehouse show being the first), but I was already recognizing (and liking) some of the new songs.

Still pretty wiped from New Orleans the night before, we went to a motel after the show and got some rest.

-Nate

Fest! Fest! Fest!

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

Egads, there’s a whole 10 days of tour that I was too lazy to write about while we were on the road. Better do it now before I forget about it. After I catch up, I’ll start using this blog to write about the process of writing songs for the next album. This might prove to be rather inane, but we’ll see!

Anyway: the tour. Last update was about Richmond and their tiny-style bowling alleys. After that we had a day off (spent mostly driving and briefly hanging out in the always-fun Savannah), and then we made it to Tampa for the annual pre-Fest show.

We missed this last year but played in 06 and 07, and it was good to be back. Always a blast hanging out in the parking lot with people, and it’s a good way to catch bands that you know you’ll miss over the actual Fest for whatever reason.

While we were hanging around outside some kid tried to jump from the top of one van to the top of another van, didn’t make it and fell hard to the ground. Pretty messed up. Ambulances came and took him away. I never found out what happened to him, but hopefully he was ok and just ended up with minor bruises and what not.

Besides that, it was a good time. The rest of the weekend was spent in Gainesville, of course, for The Fest. Always one of my highlights of the year, and this time was no exception (unless the remaining 6 weeks of 2009 prove to be so awesome that Fest feels so-so in comparison. But I have a feeling that will not happen). This year I caught a lot of great sets: Cheeky, Bad Friends, A Wilhelm Scream, Stoned at Heart, Smalltown, Jonesin’, Too Many Daves, D4, Dear Landlord, Copyrights, The Measure, Good Luck, Panthro UK United 13, Broadway Calls, OWTH, The Arrivals, Tiltwheel, etc etc. Sweet.

As for us, we had a cool mix of shows: 2:30pm Saturday, where people seemed to be into it but were mostly sober or hungover, and then that night at 2:30am in a warehouse, where it appeared that everyone had been tied up to a grain alcohol IV all day, and went nuts. That warehouse show was maybe the best show of the whole tour, actually. We played Skeleton Key live for the first time ever, figuring that if we screwed it up everyone would be too drunk to notice. But it turned out ok! I think!

All in all, a great time

-Nate