Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Soul Control hitting the Road 5/19 -6/23

We embark on another journey across the good ol' U.S of A. We get to share the pavement with some wonderful bands along the way, feel free to come out and hang with us. Also I'm speaking for myself, if you can direct me to any local vegan friendly eatery or any cool spots to hang and adventure in please let me know. tour gets boring unless we do some fun shit, and it's up to us to work together to have a great time. So help us/me out.

5/19 Rochester, NY @ Flying Squirrel Collective
w/like wolves

5/20 Buffalo, NY @ The Argyle
w/like wolves

5/21 Ann Arbor, MI @ The Metal Frat (Late Show)
w/like wolves

5/22 Chicago, IL @ The Beat Kitchen
w/like wolves, weekend nachos

5/23 Waterloo, IA @ Amvets
w/like wolves

5/24 Rapid City, SD @ Trea Bingo Hall
w/like wolves

5/25 Denver, CO @ Blast-o-Mat
w/like wolves, caulfield

5/26 Ogden, UT @ The Basement
w/like wolves, caulfield

5/27 Boise, ID @ Brawl Studio
w/like wolves, caulfield

5/28-5/30 Tacoma, WA @ Rainfest (we play on Friday night)

5/31 Bellingham, WA @ TBA
w/another breath

6/1 Vancouver, BC @ La Casa Del Artista
w/another breath

6/2 Portland, OR @ Satyricon
w/another breath, bane

6/4 Redding, CA @ Sue's Java Cafe
w/another breath

6/5 Reno, NV @ Studio On Fourth
w/another breath

6/6 Berkeley, CA @ Gilman
w/another breath

6/7 Fresno, CA @ CYC
w/another breath

6/8 Canoga Park, CA @ Cobalt Cafe
w/another breath

6/9 Riverside, CA @ Common Grounds
w/another breath

6/10 Los Angeles, CA @ McWerld
w/another breath, dangers

6/11 Tijuana, MX @ Bar 1979
w/another breath, dangers

6/12 San Diego, CA @ Che Cafe
w/another breath, dangers, thou, ghostlimb, abandon

6/13 Mesa, AZ @ The Underground
w/the menzingers

6/14 Portales, NM @ Echo Chamber
w/the menzingers

6/15 Oklahoma City, OK @ Gamma Alpha Upsilon
w/the menzingers

6/16 San Antonio, TX @ The Ten Eleven
w/the menzingers

6/17 Houston, TX @ The Mink (18+)
w/the menzingers

6/18 Panama City, FL @ The Rabbit Hole
w/the menzingers

6/19 Tallahassee, FL @ The Farside
w/o the menzingers

6/20 Orlando, FL @ Backbooth
w/the menzingers

6/21 Columbia, SC @ House Of Hardcore
w/the menzingers

6/22 Richmond, VA @ The Camel
w/the menzingers

6/23 Philadelphia, PA @ Ava House
w/the menzingers


Thanks for the support and love.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Aaron David Scott, Attica! Attica!, Marathon, De La Hoya

One of the smartest and genuine people that I have ever come across through punk rock is Aaron David Scott. From one of the first time's that I saw De La Hoya play and he talked about STD's and how he got tested before he left for the current tour he was on, just made me think and open myself up to a lot more than i was at that point in my life. Someone being able to share something like that is amazing to me. I am lucky enough to call Aaron a very dear friend and I was also lucky enough to be able to see many of his great musical endeavors play shows across the country. Do you have one of those friends that you want to stay up all night and talk to until your throat is dry and the sun comes up? Well this is one of those guys for me. In fact I was locked out of my house one evening because Aaron and I were on my porch talking about his next musical project (marathon), when he was out roadying for Nakatomi Plaza. The GF wasn't to happy that we were outside for awhile talking so she locked us out. Oh well. Current Attica! Attica!, ex member of Marathon and De La Hoya.

1- At what point on a tour have you felt like it was all an illusion or a dream? You wake up and you just feel like you're out of touch with everyone that isn't a part of your group of traveling hobos, can you explain that relationship/feeling at all?

Occasionally, one of my extended family will come to a show. Invariably, those are the shows where it seems least evident why I do this, why I build my life around traveling and playing music. I remember playing in Minneapolis in an artspace to a very, very small number of people. My aunt and two cousins had come to see us play. I was 27 at the time, compromising everything in my life for touring, and having a great time. But it was a mediocre show in the midst of a mediocre week on tour. I couldn't find the words to explain what the hell I was doing there, and why it was worth it. Doubt creeps in whenever tour gets a little sour financially or a little weak on shows. So I get somewhat self-conscious and feel like I have to justify it. This is compounded by the fact that most of my relatives think that all musicians are trying to become Coldplay, and they have suggestions for how we should go about making connections in the industry. I've found it nearly impossible to explain to anyone why playing a show in a disgusting basement with lousy sound and sweaty people is the most invigorating thing I've found in life; they just have to witness it. Unfortunately, I've never been in a band that played great DIY shows every day in every town...it's hit or miss, and the relatives seem to usually show up on the misses. That night in Minneapolis, a dude from the show let us crash at his house. We hung out for hours, talking and eating and sharing tour stories and chatting about living in Minnesota. How is it possible that I felt completely alienated from my relatives, who I really like and I've known for all my life, and in the same day feel automatically connected to and familiar with a complete stranger? I don't think it's something that can be articulated...you just have to live it. You have to eat the food that a stranger has cooked for you, wake up in a room you don't recognize, and then do the same thing the next night. As a result, I have a deep kinship with those who have lived it even before I've met them. I've given up trying to get everyone else to understand that I don't have a destination in mind. Traveling and playing music IS the destination. Every time you see me, I'm already where I'm going.

On an unrelated note, Rory, a certain ex-roommate of yours peed in his nalgene bottle that night in Minneapolis because he was too lazy to get out of the van to pee. In the morning, he groggily awoke, predictably thirsty, and...well, the inevitable happened. It's just one more thing about tour that my relatives can't quite understand, I guess.

2- How did it feel to accomplish a bike tour? You rode your bike from Boston, MA to Southern FL. if I'm not mistaken, that must have been truly a test of mind, body, and soul.

There's a Thomas Edison quote that has stuck with me for years and seems particularly relevant to bike tour: "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." A year ago, I did not believe it was possible for me to bike 2,400 miles, nor did I believe it possible to use a bicycle to get from show to show. It never even occurred to me to bike from Boston to New York City, let alone Boston to Key West. With the help of my old upstate NY friends, Blake and Job, we did exactly that. And it was truly astonishing. The first time I realized that we were doing something significant was at our show in Brooklyn, a week into the tour. The promoter handed me a big stack of money at the end of the show, and I double-checked to make sure the other touring bands were taken care of. He replied, "Dude, you rode your
bikes here." From that point on, every time we rode past a picturesque peanut farm or walked on the beach at night, I marveled at the fact that the human body is capable of so much. We talked to tons of strangers along the way, most of whom said, "Oh, I could never do that." I think what they meant was, "I don't want to do that." We spend so much effort creating reasons why we can't do certain things that it obscures the reality that we just don't want to find out how great we can be because the process is scary, challenging, or tedious. And I'm normally a humble dude, but the experience was so profound that I'm not afraid to say we did a great thing.

I really liked the elements that we combined with cycling, music, and fundraising. It was a benefit tour for World Bicycle Relief and we raised enough money for 19 new bikes to send to students and medical caregivers in Zambia. It also gave us a forum to promote bikes as a more advanced form of transportation in a developing nation, while simultaneously promoting it as a more environmentally sound (not to mention healthier) transportation alternative in the U.S. We were at one campsite where I witnessed someone drive 50 yards from their site to the bathroom. That's the kind of culture we encounter at
campgrounds, let alone on highways. Most people scoff at the idea that bicycles can be useful for anything other than a weekend ride. I like to think that we were ambassadors for the idea that much more is possible. Even some punk kids who bike everywhere in their cities were a bit surprised that we managed to haul a couple acoustic guitars along with all of camping gear.

There were plenty of times, though, when I just wanted it to be done. I discovered that I love biking 30 miles a day, but unfortunately, we were biking 50-60 a day. Beyond the first 30, it became work just to keep myself motivated to continue pedaling. Boredom sets in frequently on a van tour, and I found myself in Georgia wondering why we were still doing it. When we planned it, there was a certain level of choosing Key West "because it is there," and I was questioning whether that was the best way to plan my first bike trip.

In the end, however, riding the last day into Key West was immensely satisfying. Blake and I watched the sunset on the docks, knowing we had gone as far as we could. The whole point of the bike tour, for me, was to find a new way to tour, and we had certainly done that. It made me really appreciate our privilege in having easy access to cars and our obligation to try much, much harder to find alternatives to oil consumption as quickly as possible. Bands are rarely reflective about how much gasoline we burn while touring because we feel that there is no other option. The Ditch The Van tour certainly disproved that theory, and anyone who says it can't be done isn't interested in really solving the problem of over-consumption. And in that respect, I think the underlying cause of the tour kept me going through the harder times.

3- What is the most re-affirming event that has taken place for you while on the road? Something that made you just sigh and realize this is why I'm still involved with all of this.

As you probably know, it becomes more and more important to identify why I'm still involved in touring as I get older. As my generation slowly recedes from the scene, it becomes more necessary to figure out why I do this since I don't have those affirmations coming automatically from my peers. Whenever I need that affirmation, I can think back to a show that Marathon played in Vancouver Island, Canada. We took a ferry out to the island, and the promoter led us to her parents' house where they served all eleven of us dinner. Two older guys came out of the woods (we later found out that they lived in a shack on the same property) and they hung out and we talked about Canadian-American politics. Then we went to the show at a small house in a pretty rural area. It was the quintessential awesome house show, with one notable detail: none of the kids had ever heard of us before. All of them still danced with an intensity that made the living room floor bend and bounce. It was at that moment that I understood, with absolute clarity, that touring had brought me to this experience that was so euphoric and so unique that I never would have found it had I not just gotten in the van one day. Sure, I might've seen that energy at a local show, but I would've been in my own town. You can't go to work and then play a show the same day in your hometown and then go to sleep in your own bed and get the same experience. You really have to strand yourself in a place so unfamiliar that your survival would be in question, and then witness the astonishing level of generosity and enthusiasm that the locals provide for you simply because you are a traveler. The network of people who embrace and support touring musicians truly take care of their own in a way the larger culture does not, and I think back to that show whenever I feel tempted to gravitate towards a more conventional lifestyle. There are good people everywhere, but rarely do they come in such high concentration as I've found when touring.

4- What's your biggest worry when being on tour?

I worry heavily about dying on the interstate in a van accident. Last year, I toured briefly with a band who traveled in a gutted cargo van. There was a bench seat against the side wall, perpendicular to the usual direction of a bench seat. The rest of the van, apart from the front bucket seats, was just pillows, blankets, and backpacks. I tend to make a play for the safer seats, so I made my way to the bench seat and started to buckle in. One of the van owners said, "you could buckle in, but the bench seat isn't attached to anything." You know it's sketchy when you're considering whether wearing a seat belt is actually the less safe choice.

Dying in the van is sometimes my biggest worry, but it comes and goes, depending on how safe a given vehicle seems. My most consistent worry, regardless of tour, is about my throat health. When playing in a band, my voice is the only instrumentation I provide. And when I play solo, my guitar playing isn't interesting enough to carry a show. If I can't sing well, performing is much less enjoyable to me. No matter how strong my voice seems at the beginning of tour, I usually come close to losing it after a week of shows. Then I get a throat cold, which hurts for a few days, then suddenly I can sing well for the rest of the tour. On one tour with Marathon, the throat cold didn't go away and it hurt to talk, cough, breathe, etc. We went to a Christian clinic in Memphis where I had to fill out a questionnaire that asked questions like "How old were you when you first had sex?" and "Do you know you're going to heaven?" Then the doctor talked to me about Madonna for no apparent reason and left me with this thought: "Well, sorry you're stuck in Memphis. It happened to Elvis, though, so you're in good company."

5- Besides your severe allergy to cats what else would make you want to sleep in the van instead of a someone's homestead? And how do you decline an offer?

I wouldn't call my allergy to cats "severe" as much as I would call it "extremely sucky." On one of my first tours, I slept on the floor of a seemingly clean cat house. I woke up once an hour on the verge of suffocation. I kept taking my inhaler, which is only meant to be taken every four hours or so. After that experience, I made sure to seek out pet-free households if possible, and sleep in the van whenever we could only find hosts with pets. It's my curse on tour. I'm allergic to cats, dogs, birds, dust, flowers, basically everything that kindly people like to keep in their houses. Oftentimes, I couldn't stay with my closest friends in town because they had pets. I eventually enjoyed sleeping in the van in all cases except for the coldest of nights, and I started sleeping in the van regularly even when there were no pets. With bad allergies, even a seemingly sterile environment can set me off if I spend the whole night with my face against the carpet. In fact, I got so used to it that I lived in the band van for 7 months including when we weren't on tour. It was great until it got cold enough to snow, at which point I got an apartment again.

Sometimes I sleep in the van if our hosts are partying loudly and I just want to sleep, and I always make sure at least two people sleep in the van if we're parked in a sketchy neighborhood. I also sleep in the van if we're staying in a parking lot in the event of no house to crash. I'll also admit that I've played the allergy card sometimes when I think my allergies will be fine. Sometimes I've walked into a house that hasn't been cleaned in a year, or that had used needles lying on the coffee table, or just smelled lousy, or my band mates were pissing me off, and I said, "looks like I'll be better off in the van."

The process of declining an offer to sleep in a pet house should be simple, but it's always a pain. Pet owners apologize profusely for my inconvenience, and they hate the idea that their pet is anything other than perfect, so they think that with a fresh pillowcase everything can be remedied. All I want to do in those cases is go to the van without a big fuss, but I invariably end up consoling the host and reassuring them that it's not really a big deal. It's especially frustrating when the host doesn't believe that I like sleeping in the van. Anyone who can't believe it just hasn't tried it yet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Alex DiMattesa of Grave Mistake Records, Government Warning, Wasted Time

I finally got around to asking my friend Alex some questions about road life, I was excited to finally get these answers back from him. Alex has been hard at work building his Grave Mistake empire and shredding in Government Warning and Wasted Time. It seems like the people I really connect with and respect seem to all have a common theme when it comes to hardcore and punk and that is we "get it". If your wondering what that may mean, well keep wondering, maybe it'll come to you one of these days. This is another one of those people in my life that I'm happy to call my friend.

1- I once heard that you had a very detailed idea of how and when a band should start touring based on releases and how they should go about it, would you care to elaborate on that?

Haha I'm sure i've run my mouth about it at some point. First off, I think one of the greatest things about punk, hardcore, and DIY in general is that there is such an incredible network set up where any kid (or adult) can just get together with some friends, write some music, and go out of town for a weekend, week, month, year and travel to all kinds of places and meet new people, make new friends, etc ... I think it's wonderful. You don't need a label backing you, or a manager, or a booking agent, you can do it with virtually nothing except some transportation and some type of communication (internet, phone, whatever).

At the same time, I think that because of this, it's very easy for the resources that we do have to get spread really thin. I'm sure anyone who has been in a band, or does a label, or does shows has about a million bands they've never heard hitting them up for shows in their town. Furthermore, these bands have nothing released, have never really ventured outside their city and are looking to book a month tour. Also, I've been to plenty of shows that are like 3-6 medicore touring bands that nobody has heard of, it gets old after a while.

I think my original plan for touring was that the distance / time spent on the road should equate to what you have out ... a demo means play locally or maybe 2-3 hours away. A 7" you should do some weekends, maybe a week if people like your band. Then another 7" go for another week, once you have an LP and maybe have done the regional / weekends / week tours under your belt you can try for a bit further or longer. I just think too many bands do things prematurely ... releasing records when they should be releasing demos, releasing LPs when they should be releasing 7"s, leaving their state when they shouldn't be leaving their practice spot. I'm all for quality control ... and I'm all about paying dues and working gradually as a band, not trying to just do things like tour because you don't want to get a job and end up and wasting everybody's time, effort, and money. But like I said, if you want to tour for a month on a demo, that's all you. I'm sure for every band that does this there is some idiot in a city that will book your lousy band. But then again ... if I wasn't in a band that tried to tour on a demo, then Rory and I might not even be friends!!!

2- Upon getting in the van what are five thing's your are looking forward to while on tour? and what are five thing's that will make you question why you still get in the van?

Um ... 1. not working 2. hanging with your friends 3. playing music every night 4. seeing people and places I don't normally get to see 5. getting away from daily routine (I guess that coincides with #1). Five things that make me question it ... 1. drunken bandmates (or anyone in general) being obnoxious 2. people being loud when I'm trying to sleep 3. having to sleep in gross places 4. people spilling beer on the merch 5. not being able to eat whenever I want (being vegan and hungry at 2 in the morning usually isn't fun) ... but the pros outweigh the cons so it's all good.

3- What are some of your most fond memories of van wars if any? If you haven't partaken why the hell not?

HAHA. I know that there were some crazy things done to vans / cars but I can't remember too many details. I think most of my van war recollections involve bands from rochester, that city breeds troublemakers. One good van wars story (not related to a rochester band) was a trip up to boston I was tagging along with I think it was FVK DC and Worn Thin ... it was me Mike Riley and Rich Miles in Mike's car. We got into it with the other FVK dudes in the band driving a mini van, just throwing junk at each other, nothing big... this story might only be funny if you know rich miles, so for those that do ... enjoy. So Rich gets the bright idea to hit them with a piss bomb (on second thought, maybe it was my idea for rich to do it) ... he's in the backseat by himself and he fills up the bottle. The best part is that he's wearing this like XXL purple desperate measures crew neck sweatshirt so he looks kinda like a hardcore barney. So I don't know how someone can fail at throwing piss out of a window, but I guess if anyone can it's gonna be Rich ... for some reason, instead of just throwing it, he thought maybe he could just "dump" it out in the direction of their minivan while going like 75 mph on the highway ... so basically he just ends up dumping entire bottle of piss on himself as he's hanging out of the window. That ruled.

4- Any run ins with the law while being a vagabond in a van?

haha yeah ... nothing too crazy though. Some bands I've been with are just prone to doing sketchy shit (which sooner or later will draw attention from the law), others are pretty tame. While I'm not too into sketchy stuff, there is no denying that's what makes for the good tour stories. I guess the most recent run in (and this isn't even too crazy) was when GW and Wasted Time were in europe last year, we got pulled over in Germany about 15 minutes outside of Munich because our Van was overweight ... the cop pulled us over and took us to a police station in the middle of this cow town that smelled like shit and weighed the van on a big vehicle scale. We had full backline tons of merch (it was like day 2 of tour so we still had pretty much everything) and 9 people in the most rinky dink sprinter van you have ever seen. Apparently were like 700 kilos overweight from the legal limit... the cop gave us a 120 euro ticket and said we had to get rid of 700 kilos or we couldn't leave the police station ... so frantically we left like 5 people there with the intention to drive somewhere to dump off equipment. After about 5 minutes on the highway, we said fuck it, turned around and scooped up the peeps we left off on the side of the road and hightailed the fuck out of germany it to the swiss border ... just like the von trapp family in sound of music.

The most random run in with the law was when crispus attucks was on tour in europe in 2001. We were in paris and it was night time, the 5 of us were walking down the street from a convenience store minding our own business when a tiny ass compact car speeds next to us and slams on the breaks ... five cops (it might have been six actually) pile out like a clown car and rush at us screaming at us in french. We had no clue what was going on, we showed them our passports and they piled in their car and left. French people are weird.

5- What kind of mental checklist do you have once you get out of the van and arrive at a venue?

First I need to find the nearest clean (well for tour standards) bathroom for dumping. Even if I don't have to go, I need to know where it is, if there's a door, if there's toilet paper, if there's a SEAT on the toilet. That's my first priority. I get really anxious on tour and I have this weird fear of having to use the restroom at a show but not being able to find one. Sometimes I'll wander for like an hour trying to find one. Other than that, just regular stuff like making sure everything is inside, you know ... all the equipment and merch is accounted for. Sometimes I'll try and find a place go get some food, that's about it.