Monday, December 21, 2009

Tit Patrol Tour Journal December '09

Another super-successful Tit Tour, complete with blood and guts and Ullyssean attempts at homecoming. The whole tour was shaded by the excellent shadow of our new tour van, a 1998 Ford Club Wagon, tentatively named Hot Tub Van #1, which housed us and showed us much love. We left from New Castle, DE, as we do, on Friday and headed towards Waynesboro, PA, on the Pennsylvania/Maryland border about halfway between Philly and Pittsburgh to play Rocket Guitar. Our departure time was a little late, as we are a working group, so we got there with the show already in progress. We loaded in fast as a hardcore band was doing their thing to much headbanging, with a crowd of around fifty people. We took the stage and most everybody was up front to check the Tit, who did a good set. We prefer not to mike our stage amps and just crank 'em, but the room was big and the sound dude was cool and did a good mix. After the set we found that alot of folks came out to get a glimpse of the Tit and we sold more than half of our tour merch on the first night! Cory and Mike from Bob's Hemophiliac and Boofman from the Cock Blocks also came out to supprt. The owner Terry was a really cool guy who kinda resembled Randy America from Jake and the Stiffs, and he loved us! He took great care of us and we are gonna book there again at the end of January. We also met the Vankills, ska and pop-punk out of Martinsburg, WV, who were awesome dudes that we would be playing with on Sunday as well.

After the show we were escorted by our buddy Matt Burns, who books in the area and has been an awesome friend and alot of help to us, through multiple states in short time down to Winchester, VA. We hit the local supermarket and bought mad twelves of the local store-brand soda pop, including Spin Cola (liken to Pepsi), Rally Cola (Coke), Ramp (Mountain Dew), and Dr. Bob (Dr. Pepper), and PB & J. Then we went to the house we'd be staying at for the next two days. Kelly and Will are absoultely awesome people who take in punk bands that come through the area. When we got there, Kelly had prepared an amazing, huge venison roast with carrots and potatoes that Tit Patrol and Matt grubbed hard on, then we partied in the basement with air hockey and beers! They have a sheet that all the bands sign when they come through that had the 20 Belows, the Sheckies, Flamingo Nosebleed, and a bunch of our other buddies on it, and the Tit contributed. The next day we got the oil changed in the van and other such trivialities and spent the night watching punk rock movies like "Sid and Nancy" and "Another State of Mind." It was a great time and we can't thank Kelly and Will enough for their hospitality! Kelly even took Toddy way up into the mountains to score some tree off some teenagers!

The next day was a show at the Sheperdstown, WV train station with the Vankills, So Damn Thirsty, and the Koffin Kats out of Detroit. Matt Burns set this one up too and it went really, really well. The Tit opened (minus the Rad One who had a final exam to ace, but don't worry, we get him back later!) and was vicious, tight, and confident. There were alot of people there, sixty or so, as the Koffin Kats are well established and really good. The Vankills went on second and were really good Ba-Durr! or Bob's Hemophiliac style ska-punk, great dudes and Tit Patrol kindreds. So Damn Thirsty are a very tight mix of Misfits-style horror punk and hard rock and the singer Timmy Pain and his family were very cool to us. The Koffin Kats closed out the show with a lengthy but entertaining set of punk-a-billy, and most notably their bassist used a steel-reinforced stand-up that was as much of a prop as a musical intstrument. He climbed all over it and hoisted it up and it was very cool. Nice dudes too and very pro with one of the most extensive merch selections I have seen!

We were picking up Mikey at the Durham airport the next day, so we rolled into Raliegh and spent the night there. We woke up and camped out at the Jammin' Java coffee joint for the whole morning where I shaved and bathed with wet naps in the bathroom and we used their wi-fi. We booked over the the airport, grabbed the Rad One and split for the night's gig in Johnson City, Tennessee at the Hide-Away. The drive was wild, a half hour left turn up a mountain and back down the other side. It was a low turnout Monday night show with two touring bands and no locals, but it was actually awesome. The crew there were terrific to us and showed us a great time. The other touring band was called Heroes for Tonight out of Scottsboro, Alabama. They were nice kids with a Blink/MxPx sound who toured with their girlfriends! We were glad of it, as it resulted in more of an audience. It was a fun night and we're going back on a weekend coming up.

We camped in Tennessee for the night and then headed out for Rock Hill, South Carolina to play a party at the P.A.F. house wherein reside the Smokers. We got there at two in the afternoon and instantly hit it off great with the boys. They were watching Gilmore Girls so we smoked some weed with them and dug a few episodes. They were definitely kindred spirits who dig what we do, like "Eddie Murphy's Raw". We chilled with them on the porch and the passed around the brown juice and Everclear fruit salad and the Tit decided to check out downtown Rock Hill. It was very quiet and not much was open, so we did our loitering outside of the local gas station where we purchased RC Cola, Moon Pies, Cracklins, and bourbon. The cracklins were a true Southern treat to us, deep fried chicken skins with the feathers still on 'em! Grant enjoyed his Ancient Age bourbon so greatly that he has begun correspondence with the company! We got back to the house and broached the subject of scoring trees, and Smokers guitar-man Swifty took us across the tracks to get down. We rolled back and people started to flow in. It was an awesome turn out and getting to be a wild time. The Main Man enjoyed eighteen beers, several of which were Ice Brewed! A bunch of dudes were starting fires in the back yard and Austin from the Smokers was blowing Everclear into the flames a la Gene Simmons, so our own singer Grant got in on the act, but in true Tit fashion gulped a larger than average amount of grain and when he spit it, it backdrafted and lit his face on fire like napalm! Totally awesome! Richmond's Bay of Pigs opened with that Richmond sound and local dude Randy Burke did humorous solo electric guitar ditties. Then the Tit took the stage, surly and full of 'tude! We had some slight frustrations between ourselves which I feel translates into amazing performance a la the Ramones. Grant was burnt and peeling and medicated with whiskey, so I did most of the talking into his mike. Right before one hot number, he accidentally busted me in the puss with it and split open my lip. I was heated and stomped around, but was all good by the middle of the tune, and it made it all the better. The week before someone had stomped a hole in the floor and the structural integrity was questionale at best, bowing and creeking the whole time, I was sure we were going down! The crown went ape-shit and it was our fave show of tour. The Smokers closed out the night and they were great, power-pop rock and roll, and the Tit showed our appreciation by rocking out as hard as possible, the Rad One even caught a bass to the head and bled good, so three Tits were injured up in SC!

We were starting recording at Joe Queer's new Monster Zero Studio in Atlanta the next day so we headed out and made our way. It was beautiful and clear on the outskirts where the studio is and you could see mad stars, and constellations like Orion, Pisces, and the Dippers. It was awesome to work with Joe again. We saw the Queers play at the Barbary at the beginning of December with the Leftovers and the Mad Splatter and hung for a minute and got very excited to lay down the new record. Monster Zero is fucking very nice and we slept there for the duration. I had my sleeping bag right up by the mixing board. At night we watched MST3K DVDs and drank Pepsi pounders for ninety-nine cents and perused a collection of Playboys from 1970. Tracking went exceptionally well and Tit Patrol's renowned rhythm section layed down twelve tracks of drums and bass parts in under eight hours. The Main Man used the sparkle blue Queer's drum set with Wimpy's original Queers snare. I'm pretty sure I used a '69 SVT head through Hartke 4x10 speakers, but we tried out a few things so I'm not positive. I definitely used mc Ben's Mexican Squire which is like a velvet glove cast in iron. The next day we were set to do guitars. We had set up Todd's rhythm guitar sound the night before, and it was a doozy: my '79 Les Paul Standard played through the original Ninja Attak Crate Stealth head with the earplitting buzzsaw and Marshall speakers. He breezed through his parts and Mikey set up while we grabbed some BBQ and hit the Subway where the girls asked us if we knew the Neutrons. We got back and Mikey was laying down additional rhythm tracks, playing Joe's gold Fender Strat through a Marshall JCM 800 head and Marshall speakers. For his leads, the Rad One played my Les Paul through the same rig. We tested so many mikes for Grant's vocals that I am not sure which one we ended up going with!

Recording is fun because it highlights what each member of the band brings to the table. Todd's songs are simple and interesting, funny and heartbreaking, intentionally wide-eyed dumb and super-intelligent, and all short, fast, mean, and catchy. The Main Man's drumming is powerful, unique and thoughtful, absolutely crucial to the Tit Patrol sound, and currently the most vital player in the tradition of Rule-Jordan-Bardzik-Cruz-Volk, West Chester/Wilmington punk drumming. Mikey's leads consistently blow my mind. He has talent and skill, but above all he is creative. His embelishments are one of a kind, as he appears to approach composition from a simultaneously learned and unaffected angle. No one can do what Mike Radka does. Grant's voice is strong and natural and has a tendency towards weaving warm harmonies or cool, agressive lambasts, my all-around best at his position Punk Rock Singer. I play the fuck out of the bass.

That night we heded into town to the gas station and met this dude named Mennis who was a rapper. We talked about music and what not, and he hit up the Krispy Kreme delivery dude at our behest, telling him we are out on the road and hit us up with some day-olds. And boy did he! We got a bag of fifty of the tastiest, slimiest Krispy Kremes we ever did eat!

It was gonna be a couple days before Joe could begin the mix, so we decided to head on back to Delaware the next morning. People we talked to back home kept on some jibber-jabber about how it was gonna snow, but we didn't think twice about it. The next morning it was raining cats and dogs all through Georgia and into South Carolina it was snowing pretty damn hard. The roads were getting real bad, so we decided to grab a motel room for the night and try our luck the next day, when it would be inevitably better. That day we did stop at the finest Southern fast food joint we ever been to, Bojangle's Chicken and Biscuits. We had stopped here once before, so we knew of their elborate biscuit menu, excellent gravies, and awesomely greasy chicken, but this time inclimate weather had it slow in there, and the counter dude asked about the band and was into Screeching Weasel, so we hit it off and hooked us up with all kindsa chicken, buscuits, mac and cheese, fries (with ketchup, "Cuz I know you boys up North love yer fuckin' ketchup!), and sweet teas, and we gave him some Tit Patrol records, which made the counter girl blush. After a wild night in a motel with mirrors above the beds, we headed out into the elements, into the van at 9 a.m. It was touch and go up to Northern Virginia, when we came to a complete halt.

8:58 a.m. - On the way on a pretty clear hi way!

11:27 a.m. - Bound no mo! Cruisin' VA with clear roads.

12:11 p.m. - Be home in like 3 hours!

2:11 p.m. - Slowly on 95 by DC.

2:13 p.m. - Like Ullyses himself I'm afraid! Shitty!

2:26 p.m. - Poorly! I hope we just keep at it! But it'll be a bit.

2:30 p.m. - Around DC! It sucks.

3:13 p.m. - We're ok, no traffic by exit 131, just mad snow.

3:20 p.m. - DC is still to come.

5:14 p.m. - Sittin' in traffic for fucking ever.

5:28 p.m. - Mad traffic, 2 hours from home if we can move.

5:31 p.m. - I actually have no idea! Tractor trailers everywhere.

5:33 p.m. - Nothing to worry about just insane traffic and 5mph.

5:36 p.m. - Virtually the same place we were 2 hours ago, I don't know exactly, just south of DC.

6:20 p.m. - Slow and steady and safe, I don't know when but we'll be home tonite!

6:46 p.m. - Same old, safe but slow, worst NB traffic I ever saw plus 3 hours worth, SB has flowed the whole time we've been here, assumed accident.

7:14 p.m. - Holy shit the traffic broke!

7:16 p.m. - Just feels good to move!

9:06 p.m. - We haven't moved in an hour.

9:17 p.m. - This feels like a nightmare.

9:20 p.m. - Still stopped, we hear disabled vehicle 2 exits up.

9:22 p.m. - No one wants to stop.

9:50 p.m. - It was overturned t trailer, we are slowly moving!

9:58 p.m. - Thank goddess! I am on the verge of tears!

10:13 p.m. - You don't wanna know!

10:48 p.m. - Just took a walk up the 95 and found the trailer is not moved, waiting on that shit.

11:43 p.m. - We are on the move!

11:45 p.m. - So almost!

12:03 a.m. - Movin' and groovin' carefully!

2:01 a.m. - Less than an hour I think!

3:14 a.m. - Dropped off Mikey in Newark, on the way!!

In other words we spent nineteen straight hours in the van trapped on I-95. Toddy earns my vote for tour MVP for driving the entire snow adventure. The experince was not unlike doing acid or sensory deprevation, or meditation, in and of that our brains all did things they probably wouldn't normally do to adapt to the scenario. All in all we had it good, the leftover slime donuts, remaining PB & J's, and Pepsi and Mountain Dew, the greatest music known to man, and the Tit sticks together! Sure we got a little punchy from cabin fever, but "We know when it all comes down that we'll keep our feet on the ground. It's better to try than to give up! And when the shit hits the fan, we're crawling back to the van, it's nice to have a little piece of home."

Thanks to Matt Burns, Will and Kelly, the Smokers, the Vankills, Joe Queer, and everybody else who was so cool to us! Back on the road, fuckin' up the Midwest in March!

2 comments:

Brendan said...

What a write-uppe!!! Sounds like a real hell of a time. Congrats.

Dan said...

Thanks bro-heim! 'Twas super fun!