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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

Duckpin Bowling

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

Fest ended yesterday— a blast as always. Somewhere in Alabama right now; seems like a good time to update the olde tour blog. Or is that ye olde tour blog?

Last Tuesday we played Richmond at a Duckpin Bowling Alley, where all the balls and pins are tiny. The place appeared to have last been updated in the 1950s and had been designed with a vaguely ‘futuristic’ theme in mind. This was somewhat jarring: a building from the 50s, designed as what the owners pictured the 80s being like, experienced in the 2000s, while music from the early 90s (Salt n Pepa! C&C Music Factory!) played in the background. This was a little like walking into a cafe and seeing a bunch of beatniks dancing to disco music while wearing civil war uniforms.

Luckily the show was ok. We wanted to try the bowling but it was $16 an hour. No thanks!

-Nate

Boston, Not the Band. And Albany

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

When booking this tour I remember thinking that the short drives would be nice. After all, west coast = long drives, east coast = short drives. I mean, that’s a simplification and it depends on the specifics, but generally I’ve thought it to be true.

Not anymore! All the east coast drives took way longer than expected and Philly to Boston was no exception. By the time we got into town we only had time to eat and then headed to the show. Oh well. Right now I’m in a van heading towards Tampa and the next four days will feature a total of two hours of driving. So that should be cool.

ANYway, I sound like a whiny grandmother talking about this, so I’ll stop now. Boston ended up being a great show. The sound was great and the Cobra Skulls and TBR ruled as always.

The following morning we headed back into Manhattan for a tour of Howard Stern’s studio that we had set up. It was short but pretty interesting. From there it was up to Albany to play at a punk bar called Valentines. Fun show with the exception of this guy who adhered to the “slam your body violently into people and knock things over!!” school of show etiquette. After nearly knocking over the mixing board he was lead outside, where he yelled, “People don’t know how to fucking DANCE anymore!!”

Oh yeah, also: Albany has this weird ‘Block of the Year’ thing. We saw two totally non-descript blocks that were the 1997 and 1998 Blocks of the Year. Just thought i’d share that factoid with you.

-Nate

All About the Benjamins

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

Ok, back to catching up. Where were we? Oh yeah, Philadelphia. Last Saturday. Let’s see….

It was rainy when we rolled into town so we limited the touristy stuff we had planned. Pretty much just saw the Liberty Bell, which I already saw when I was on tour with Rivethead years ago so I’m not sure why I went back. It’s still a bell.

Some fairly interesting history though. Did you know that the big crack is the result of an attempt at fixing a tiny crack? Can you imagine how that poor bell repairman must have felt? “Hey guys? Can you come in here for a second? I, uh….”

Also, some dude rang the bell during a tour a few years back. He went to jail for one year. If I had to pick one trial to be a jury member of, that might be the one.

On the way back to the van we also walked by Ben Franklin’s grave (as well as Benny’s, a restaurant named after Ben Franklin). People throw pennies at his grave; there were tons of them when we showed up. I found this somewhat hilarious because his famous saying was “a penny saved is a penny earned”, meaning that all these people are mocking him by chucking coins on his grave.

As for the show, it ended up being a lot of fun. Probably 50 times better than our last Philly show. It was at some house called the TerrorDome—- decent turnout, friendly people, good opening bands. All around, a good time.

Finding beer sucked though. It took us 45 minutes in a torrential downpour to find a case of beer. Some bar offered to sell us a six pack for $16. Absurd! Maybe Ben Franklin has cursed the city due to their penny-mocking

-Nate

A Cautionary Cheetos Tale

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

9:55 AM

Nate: You’re eating Jalepeno Cheddar Cheetos for breakfast?

Danny: Yeah. There wasn’t much else in the store

10:22 AM

Danny: It feels like there’s little metal shavings poking my stomach

-Nate

Where to Get Pizza in Brooklyn

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

So in Endicott two different people assured me parking in Manhattan is simple. This turned out to be… Not Even Remotely Accurate. Maybe they were thinking about the Grand Theft Auto version of Manhattan. We gave it a shot but it was ridiculous so the other dudes dropped me off and went to Brooklyn.

I met up with Vanessa, Ray from Teenage Bottlerocket, and Joey Cape to do a radio thingie for Marky Ramone’s show on Sirius/XM. It wasn’t quite what I expected but it was neat and pretty fun. I think it airs a week from tomorrow so check it out if you have satellite radio.

After that we headed back to Brooklyn for the show. The sound was pretty weird but I think we played ok. Cobra Skulls were fun; never seen them before. And TBR were awesome despite being sick.

After the show we walked up to Lulus where Pretty Boy Thorson was playing with the Sandworms (who ruled) and Nato Cole. The bar was great and you got a free pizza for every beer you bought. That’s not a typo! An entire pizza! And the beers don’t cost, you know, $16 or whatever. You would expect such a pizza to either be tomato sauce smeared on a piece of soiled cardboard or nasty greasy slop along the lines of CiCis….. but this was actually pretty good pizza! So check out Lulus next time you’re in Brooklyn. Get the fake pepperoni on your pizza, too.

I think that’s about all we did in Brooklyn from what I remember!

-Nate

Endicott Times (terrible End Times pun)

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

As expected, I’ve totally slacked on doing this. Dammit! I’ll do my best to remember what we’ve been up to since Thursday. I’m drinking and selling merch in a loud Albany bar so this will be brief, and possibly vaguely incoherent.

Thursday: With the 18 hour drive from Minneapolis behind us we wheeled into Endicott NY and played the basement of an abandoned used CD store. The only thing left in the store was a single, sad magazine rack with half a dozen aged offerings. I cracked up imagining this was the only thing the store sold: Time magazines from 2006 and Popular Mechanics from nine years ago. “Why aren’t we turning a profit?!” Apparently though the place was recently vacated and will soon be a recording studio. Cool.

Anyway, the show was pretty good. We were a little rusty but that was to be expected I guess. Nancy were great. They played a Slayer cover where half of the band kept trying to give up and the other half wouldn’t let them.

The bass player remained immobile the entire time, staring straight ahead. I figured that was his schtick — “I’m the stoic one” or whatever — but after the show when I complimented him he said, “Thanks. I have the swine flu. I’m seeing tunnel vision.”

Oh noes! It has begun. The Quest to Not Get The Swine Flu Tour 2009. Actually that’s a horrible tour name. Let’s call it…. The Dudes With ‘Tudes Tour. Way tougher.

So, let’s hope we don’t get sick like we did in May. Anyway, Endicott was fun but we had to get to New York early so we took off after the show and got some driving in.

Ok, in case my phone dies I’m going to post this now and do the other dates separately!

-Nate