For a week before tour, Madison came and stayed with me. She was freaked out that my cat (Smudgie) would give her dreads fleas. Didn't happen. We had some really good heart-to-hearts, and we made Nightmare Casters out of scrap steel in my parents' barn. I will post pictures when I get a chance. Think a dream catcher in the shape of a pentagram, made out of steel, with ugly steel shapes hanging by chains off from it. Sweet. I did the steel fabrication, Maddy did the layout and put the chains together and all that. METAL.
On the day before tour, I had work all day and then a big picnic/potluck at my daughter's school where all of the parents attend and meet the teachers. I was delightfully surprised to find a few vegan dishes along with yummy fruits and veggies, then felt bad as I didn't have time to bring one of my own for the potluck! It's crazy that my child is in 2nd grade already. After that, Lydia and I went home, other Lydia (side note: my child and my partner both share the same name, Lydia) came over for a sleepover party, we all played video games. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, in fact.
Day One - VOID HAUS in Hammond, Indiana w/ HAKA, VOICE OF REASON, DERAILER:
Got up. Made breakfast and got little-Lydia ready to go. Dropped her off with her daycare provider, picked up Adrian, we rolled four-deep on this outing (partner-Lydia being the fourth). We stopped at Kevin Kitchels house in Lansing to grab the booklets for the new 3-Way Split LPs (which are now available), grabbed some good organic vegan sammies from the local health food deli, then stopped in Jackson to grab our new shirts and patches from our friend DJ Radke (Thanks!). We arrived at the VOID HAUS in Hammond a little early, and walked in to find our gracious hosts cooking seitan burritos and offering us beers. Thanks Randy and... fuck, I forgot your name. Sorry! Folks from DECAY AFTER DEATH anyways. The house ruled, a bunch of kids came out, shit was packed. It was two of the bands first shows, HAKA (who ruled, sort of Los Crudos-ish, only a bit more chaotic with some blasts thrown in) from Chicago, and VOICE OF REASON from Chicago (dudes from COLD SHOULDER doing similar stuff, it was cool). DERAILER also played, and were good, but it just wasn't really my thing. Kind of pop-punky, (but not polished bullshit), Hot Water Music-y only more upbeat. I broke a string for the first time in Cloud Rat history, but everyone seemed to enjoy our set a lot, which is always nice. Thank you very much to Tyler Bonam (POISON PLANET/RAZORXFADE/BOILING OVER) for doing this show, it was a blast and went very well. That night we stayed at Tyler and Nick's (POISON PLANET) and had a really awesome chickpea chili that Tyler made. Nick's pitbulls (Harlow and Ian) were adorable and so friendly. Also, Nick's Warhammer collection is insane.
Day Two - The Irish Knot in Milwaukee, WI w/ PROTESTANT, SLOB DONOVAN:
We got up early at Tyler and Nick's, said our goodbyes and set out to hang in Chicago for a while before we left for Milwaukee. Every time I'm in Chi-town, I can't resist getting food at the good joints. Usually I hit up Soul Veg and Veggie Bite, but sadly Veggie Bite closed down and Soul Veg was too far out of our way at the moment. So we ended up going to Chicago Diner, as Madison and Lydia had both never been there. After that we walked to Whole Foods to get some medicine for Madison who was feeling ill, then to a thrift store where they had 3-for-$1-VHS Tapes! Then to this head shop that had multiple bongs that cost over $10,000. INSANE. I don't smoke the weed so I wasn't as geeked as a couple other members of our crew, though the pieces were all very cool as far as art is concerned. Then we went to Chicago Comics and Adrian and I went crazy getting some geek shit. I got some good ones, as well as one for daughter-Lydia called Korgi that's pretty neat. We were supposed to meet our friend James Walton for lunch at this new vegan joint called Quesadilla, but we took too long doing everything else that we had to bail. Sorry James, miss you :(. Drove to Milwaukee through construction, and got to our dear friend Jason Ellis' (HALF GORILLA) house. God I love Jason. And his beautiful wiggly dog Jasmine. Jason made us really great gnocchi with faux sausage, peppers, and a tomato sauce. After that, I changed my strings and we went to the venue. We don't typically play bars, but apparently all of the house venues and other punk venues have all but closed in Milwaukee, so this would do. The Irish Knot is a small little hole-in-the-wall place, really cool though. And we got free beer. Yes! SLOB DONOVAN played first, groovy sludge/down-tempo ALA Harvey Milk meets EyeHateGod/etc. It was heavy. Then we played a rockin' set I thought, super fun. Sometimes I feel weird when we are talking about serious stuff (vegan, punk, feminist topics, etc) at a bar when everyone is drinking and trying to have a good time, but we try to keep it quick and not preachy. Works out well I think. Then up next was the mighty PROTESTANT. Fuck they were awesome. Sounded huge and heavy and tight. Really good. That night I stayed up and talked with Jason and Chris (PROTESTANT) about a lot of things, one of them being the nazi and other racist problems in Milwaukee. Very sad, and so complicated. On a better note, this is the night that I slept the best on tour for some reason. I usually hardly ever sleep on tour (and DRIVE 100% OF THE TIME! ARRRGH!), but Jason had very comfortable accommodations. Thanks for the show and food and everything Jason!
Day 3 - THE MOCKBEE in Cincinnati, OH w/ WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, THOU, BENEATH OBLIVION
Woke up, talked about loving Queensryche with Jason, a fellow Queensryche lover. I love Fear Factory too, though, and got banned from his house forever. Anyways, we went to the local co-op and got some yummy stuff. After that, we said goodbye to Jason and left for our long drive to Cincinnati. Madison was still feeling sick, so that sucked. we drove through a lot of fields, and a large windmill generator area. Got to Cincy, got lost in Cincy, Madison needed to use the bathroom really bad and we were lost in a rougher part of town. We stopped at a gas station and she was harassed of course. I don't quite understand why there are so many fucking assholes everywhere. We finally got to the Mockbee (coolest venue EVER) during Wolves' soundcheck, loaded our gear up the treacherous stairs. My back was already fucked, now its worse. Robert Realicide put this show on, and it was easily one of the best shows I've ever been to in my life. 200+ kids, tons of vegan food, tons of anarchist/feminist/art/literature and distros. All ages but they also serve alcohol to 21+, really great show for everyone. All of the people in WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM and their crew are so great, it was awesome getting to know them. BENEATH OBLIVION played first, in the downstairs tunnel. They are loud, heavy doom, and sounded good. Then came time for our set upstairs, in front of the stage. We were just informed that THOU had popped three tires on their way from Baton Rouge, and were running very late, so we needed to stall a bit and then play a longer set. Parker from the WOLVES crew ran sound for us and it sounded huge. Thanks! We ended up playing for FORTY FIVE MINUTES!!! Holy shit! Robert and all of the people there wanted us to keep going, it was insane. Everyone was going nuts, and the pit got rowdy (it has been established that Lydia is our pit mascot. Just watch the Inerds/Cloud Rat split set video and you will see her destroying everyone). One member of the crowd (Robert's roomate, actually) personally gave us $40 just for playing that long. I felt bad but he was super cool and said that we deserved it. At the end of the set, all three of us were dead. After us, WOLVES went on and were really really good. They sounded incredible, and thunder and lightning and rain was flashing outside. So cool. By that time it was after 1 AM, and I didn't think THOU was gonna make it. But at the last second before everyone left, they showed up, borrowed Wolves' gear, and played one of the best sets I have ever seen in my life. So ridiculously heavy and intense. Bryan looked evil as hell, eyes burning bright. I'm sure that they were glad to be there and out of their broken van, and it showed. By the time THOU was done, I had acquired a pretty good buzz, and was having a hard time not making an ass of myself. All of us, Thou, and Wolves all went back to Robert's place, a warehouse space with a lot of room for everyone. I got in Wolves' RV and said a bunch of silly drunken stuff, it was fun. Then Lydia and I went and slept in the van. A very long, exhausting, awesome day.
Day 4 - Mickey Finn's in Toledo, OH w/ SHOPPERS, BREAK:
Woke up with a stiff neck in the van, felt gross and slightly hungover. Went inside to find out that Madison woke up feeling very sick, and that she had spoken with a doctor friend. Lydia, Adrian, and I drove to a nearby drugstore to get Maddy some meds again. We got back, she took her meds while Adrian and I went back over to the Mockbee to load out our gear and help Wolves load out their ENORMOUS amount of gear and PA. Hung with Robert and everyone for a bit, then parted ways and went to MELT restaurant. Lydia, Madison and Adrian got vegan huevos rancheros, I got vegan carolina grits. I should've gotten the huevos rancheros. Lydia brought to my attention pictures of my record store, post tough-guy show the night before, totally destroyed, but that is another story and I don't want to talk about it right now. Drove from Cincy to Toledo, met up with our good friends Will, Jas, JC, Chris and Sarah, watched Disconnected practice then proceeded to do a little jamming with them ourselves. Grabbed some burritos then went to the venue. At first no one was there, but then people started trickling in and pretty soon it was another good turnout. I always love going to Toledo, as there are a lot of amazing people there. William (AsxGoodxAsxDead, Disconnected, Next 2 Nothing) did this show, and it was cool. Another bar allowing all ages shows is alright in my book, and my other band has actually played there a couple of times now. Toledo is another city where the DIY venues have all but closed up, other than the Revolution house and everyone there was out of town this weekend. So, BREAK played 1st. They sounded pretty good, not my cup of tea though. Nice dudes! Then SHOPPERS played and killed it. This was my second time seeing them, and they make a serious wall of noise that is sometimes punctuated by really cool shoegaze-punk riffing, holding unapologetic feminist/social stances. Cool shirts too, with a bunch of skinheads in a gay orgy. Love it. Last was our set, and I thought that we played really well. I was glad to finally have Cloud Rat in Toledo, as most of my friends there had only seen Under Anchor. Afterwards we went to Jas' place of occupation (Ottowa Tavern, I once saw the largest barfight of my life there), then to Jas and Chris' house for a nap.
Day 5 - Olde Jamestowne Hall in Saginaw, MI w/ WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, THOU, BEAST IN THE FIELD, ISENBLAST:
Wow. This day started early as fuck and never ended for me until the next night. We had to get up early to go (I was the promoter for the show this night, and had much to do beforehand), after having only slept for about 2 hours. I asked Madison to drive and she freaked out, because she is an admittedly terrible driver and is dyslexic. But Adrian has no license, Lydia has no obligation to drive, I had literally driven 100% everywhere up until this point, and needed sleep terribly if I was going to pull this day off successfully. So she ended up driving, not without getting lost a bit and generally freaking me out so I couldn't sleep a whole lot. But then she did good and I slept a couple more hours. We got home, Maddy and Lyd left to go make vegan cupcakes and other stuff, Adrian and I went and loaded up a stage onto a trailer, then showered, then went to Mt Pleasant to get everything for the show and a little snack (hummus and bagels). Then to the show, about an hour later than anticipated. Wolves were already at the venue, but had only just gotten there. We all loaded everything in, then set up the stage, PA, and other stuff. A ton of people showed up, and my initial worry of a small turnout turned into a fear of the police coming and shutting down our show with over 250 punks and metal heads causing a ruckus at night in a tiny hall. ISENBLAST played first, really gnarly good black metal from Detroit, and they played well. Then BEAST IN THE FIELD played, the loudest band on the planet. They crushed too hard and blew a breaker. We had to unplug some lights before they could play again. Then we played. I broke 2 strings in one set! Fuck! Time for me to file my saddles down again. So because of that we had to cut a couple songs, but what we did play I thought went over really well. At one point during our set however, there was an altercation between two friends of mine, and it really put a bit of a damper on my mood that evening. I think it's all straightened out now though. THOU and WOLVES then played successively, each playing extremely well and sounding amazing. (Side note: THOU have cool binary gender patches with them right now too, which I was stoked on.) I was very stressed trying to handle everything during this show, but we pulled it off and everyone was mostly happy I believe. After the show, I tried to pick up as good as possible, but people left their fucking garbage EVERYWHERE! I had to get a friend to clean up a couple days later so that the people who owned it wouldn't be pissed (Thanks Dan Ratti!) Wolves and Thou helped me load up the stage and sent Adrian and I on our way. I got another 2 hours of sleep that night, and was absolutely the most tired in my life the next day, setting 400 pound glass panels on the roof of a waterpark with the crane. Fuckin A.
So, all in all, a really amazing little tour. Shows were awesome, food was tasty, people were friendly, and to top it all off, money was even super good. Weird! Thanks so much to Tyler Bonam, Jason Ellis, Robert Realicide, Will Armstrong, Brandt/Parker/Nathan/Janelle/Aaron/Matt/Wolves Crew, Bryan/Mitch/Thou, Josh/Meredith/Kari/Shoppers, Cory/Chris/Protestant, all the bands we played with, all the people who came to the shows, participated, hung out, picked up some merch or records, etc.
Yeah... If you read all this, I hope it wasn't too boring. Thanks!