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.

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