The death pop band, Fearless Vampire Killers, are currently on the “Revel Without A Cause Tour” with William Control and Davey Suicide. While they’re on this tour, they will be writing an exclusive blog for us. You can check out the band’s second entry, after the break.
Back from the bleakness of internet silence we return, bringing news of the trials, triumphs, tribulations, trepidations and Tribble exploitations of life on tour in America…
DAY 6 – “Mesa called FVK, Mesa your humble servant”
Up at the voluptuous crack of nine(ish), we hit the dirt with Bowie blaring from our speakers ready for the long drive to Arizona.
Six hours, and a few Ricky Gervais audiobooks later, we pulled up to the Nile club in Mesa, just outside of Phoenix. We unloaded our heavy gear into the dusty basement below and checked into our hotel which was but spitting distance from the venue. It was so hot that day that said globule of spit would have ruptured into boiling, toiling bubbles upon impact. In the downtime between load in and show mine and Shane’s interest was piqued by a nearby comic and coffee shop aptly named “Gotham City.” Unfortunately we’d arrived too late on a sleepy Sunday and all we could do was squidge our forlorn faces up against the shop window and dribble over the wonders within. There’d be no Magic: The Gathering games for little Shaney this November Eve.
The show was a great success; the crowd Mesa – for every band on the bill – had been the liveliest so far. Jumping, dancing and moshing their way through the night they were a pleasure to play to, someone had even made their very own FVK US tour T-shirt to commemorate the event! Which I must say was rather stupendous, absolutely awesome plus.
If I had to give the evening a score out of five? I don’t know: Probably a nine.
Back of the net.
DAY 7 AND 8 – A Real Human Being, and A Real Hero: Two days of gas Gosling
I rose on the morning of the seventh day – Taco Bell’s bountiful bean burrito bursting from my bulbous belly – ready for the breakfast that would see me through the first part of another busy day… But wait, there’s a gap on today’s tour laminate. In fact there’s a two day gap on my tour laminate. No gigs to cap off each day in a highly visceral, explosive manner. These days did not simply disappear due to some Back to the Future-esque meddling with the space-time continuum, they were booked off for a reason: Drive Days.
We had to get from Mesa, AZ to San Antonio, TX which would take approximately 16 hours’ drive time, which is a lot for us Brits remember. Necessitating a gap in the gig schedule to make sure everyone was well rested enough to perform and not a bunch of tired, grumpy gits.
The open road would be our home for the majority of those two days – and I really do mean open road. The terrain we had to tackle on the wide and bumpy road, particularly when we crossed into the eastern side of Texas, was largely flat and bare and the road itself seemed to bleed eternally into the horizon. Cheap slurpees, polar pops, “ultra-caffeine” coffees and charleston chews were essential – keeping us fuelled, motivated and hyperactive. During this period of the tour I found myself glued to my laptop screen more and more as I became addicted to the second season of Mad Men which I would have completed in just a few days if the final disc hadn’t decided it didn’t like being inserted into my CD slot: Pesky little varmint.
We stopped for the night in El Passo and famished and bored we went in search of food and settled on a beautifully greasy Texas steakhouse. It must have been a tough meal for Laurence – the sole vegetarian in the band – as this is the kind of joint that likes to smother their green beans with bacon bits. Tasty but they definitely subscribed to the philosophy that:
(Meat + Man) x Massive = MEAL
We topped all of that off with a beer and a bit of Star Trek: First Contact: try and assimilate that you borg bastards!
Day off 2: Day Offer was much the same as the first but with two time zones crossed we lost two hours on route and arrived much later in San Antonio where we treated ourselves to a meal at a comparatively modest Hard Rock Café (where I treated my expanding stomach to a salad) and called it a night. By this point we were itching to get back up onstage and shake our tail feathers once again.
DAY 9 – All Blank and No Blank Makes Blank A Blank Blank
We found ourselves in an odd predicament when we awoke in sunny-yet-chilly San Antonio – for the first time we had no place to rush off to. Post-breakfast we were all dressed up with no place to go, and there’s only so long you can sit in a dingy hotel room watching daytime TV without getting bored. In search of inspiration (and holiday themed caffeinated-beverages) Laurence, Shane and myself set off in search of a Starbucks. Surely, we thought, this being the US of A there would be a Starbucks on every corner, right? Wrong sonny Jim! Not in San Antonio, which is a charming city – one of the nicest I’ve been able to explore on this tour – but it took us almost an hour to find one of the green goliaths. But back to the city itself; the streets were quiet and under-populated compared to LA for example which, as a huge city anyway, seemed to be busting at the seams. It felt a little bit more like being in a city back home, which seems strange to say about Texas. On two occasions that day we were able to do a bit of sightseeing as we visited The Alamo – a site of great importance in Texas’s fight for freedom from Mexico in the late 19th century. All in all it was great to get out and sink my teeth into a slice of American history, yessir.
The Korova was the name of the club we were playing that night, the décor and name taken from the milk bar in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. With pale white mannequins, his own filmography and a portrait of The Droogs themselves hanging over the bar, Kubrick’s presence was felt wherever you went. Fortunately the show didn’t descend into some sort of psychedelic, 2001-esque nightmare and Laurence didn’t go mad and try to murder us with an axe after scrawling “All work and no play makes Bev a dull boy” thousands of times in the bogs. The night went fairly smoothly despite a brief moment of technical failure – Luke’s sample pad which contains all manner of sub-drops and 80s film quote tapestries decided it didn’t want to play ball that night, the little bugger. Then during the damn show my bass guitar strap decided it didn’t want to be stuck holding my bass anymore and gave up leaving me to flounder around stage, propping the guitar up with any appendage I could extend outwards, whilst singing from a microphone that dangled from its stand and refused to stay put. Despite my onstage mishaps, it couldn’t have gone too badly as when I rolled up to the bar to get a post-gig drink the barman calmly and coolly said “Great show kid, this one’s one me.” The colour in the room faded to black and white and I bummed a smoke from the classy dame in the little red number by my side…
… Ok maybe that didn’t play out exactly like that, but that’s how I like to imagine it went in the part of my mind that Raymond Chandler writes for. A free drink is still a bonus though.
DAY 10 – Assassination Anniversaries and School Discos
Dallas, Texas – the next stop on the list. Up and atom and let’s get motoring folks!
With a late load in time and an early start to the show Laurence and I set off as soon we could to explore Dallas while we still had the chance. We took a night-walk down Elm St. as we weren’t all that far from the JFK memorial and the site of his assassination. We were able to pause for a moment and muse on one of the most significant moments of 20th Century American history, not knowing at the time that it was just a week until the 50th anniversary of the shooting. The Sun slept and as we stomped our way back to the venue the trees erupted with the cawing of crows baying for blood. A drunk man unintelligibly challenges their dominance of the streets, but to no avail – they rule the streets and we knew it…
The venue was grand but the evening started on an odd note. The gig room was long and thin with chairs lining the walls up to the bar and merch area, situated by the door. As the evening kicked off the room was split – the chairs on both sides and the bar area were filled but the dance floor was not. It reminded me of those old primary school discos – the girls on one the side, the boys on the other with no real “interest” in each other at this point of development they allowed this awkward space to act as a barrier. Luckily, it didn’t take much coaxing from the opening band to get folks off of their feet and having a good time. A relief for me as I thought at first we might be met with our first truly stony reception from an American audience. But all was well with the show and every band knocked it out of the park that night.
DAY 11 – We’re The Weirdoes
Houston: Our last stop of the ‘Three Nights in Texas’ tour. We shared the night with comedian Doug Benson who was performing in the other room that night. In consequence, we were not able to start the show until he had concluded lest we drown out the witty one-liners and acerbic anecdotes with fuzzy feedback and vivid vibrato. So again the whole tour gang had a lot of time to kill, and licence to kill it so we hit the bar next door for a tasty Texan tankard. It really put me at ease to hear someone mutter (hardly) under their breath “here come the weirdoes,” as we approached the bar. It was a little disappointing considering our time in Texas had been incredibly positive and open minded up until that point. But I suppose there’s always some prejudiced, prickly arseholes who wants to ruin “strange folks” fun wherever you go. Anyhoo, I had a right lark sucking back apple ale and pale Blue Moon while watching men beat the shit out of themselves on the televisual ice rink. I don’t like watching much sport but I found I could derive a sadistic pleasure from watching ice hockey, akin to watching an episode of Jackass or shooting innocent civilians while on a GTA rampage.
Once the comedian had tickled his last funny bone the rock show got underway and we played to one of the most gracious, accommodating crowds so far. Then we got a stonking great stinky pizza each from Pizza Hut to celebrate – can’t say fairer than that my friends.
Kiss my face.
DAY 12 – International House of Gaga (IHOG)
After only a few days of gigging we came again to another dynamic duo of days off. We bid good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night to Texas for the final time and hit the dusty trail. Said dusty trail soon coagulated and congealed as it gave way to the swamps and bayous of Louisana. It was a welcome change of scenery and unlike anything I had seen in person as we glided through the mist on seemingly mystical roads suspended above the water and foliage. A hint of panic crept in as we spied, across the water, thick plumes of black smoke rising up from an abandoned, burning van. It was unsettling as it raised too many curious questions: It didn’t look like a crash, it looked like someone had dumped it and set it on fire but where would they go? Into the seemingly infinite bayou? Was the truck vacant or were there more sinister implications? Six travel-bored minds could come up with all kinds of sick, twisted scenarios to explain away this roadside curiosity…
We crossed the great Mississippi and I cannot recall anything else until we reached Mobile, Alabama where we would make camp for the night. And I know you’re all simply dying to know what we chowed down on that night. I apologise but so much of our adventures in America, for good or ill, seem to revolve around food. That night we checked the International House of Pancakes off our list of fast-food-joints-to-visit list and waddled in all our rotund glory back hotel wards, reminiscing about my potent, public gust that will live in infamy as Luke’s “funniest moment of the tour so far.”
Chilling and channel-hopping that evening we found that we were in time to check that old comedy institution of America the much loved (and loathed) Saturday Night Live. I’d always wanted to see it as over the years it has spawned so many great US comedy actors from Bill Murray to Will Ferrell and Kristen Wig. Plus we were interested in seeing how Lady Gaga would fare as guest host that night, so we cracked open a bottle of wine and put our ruddy feet up.
But first of all I must pause and enter rant mode. Not about the show, but about American TV in general. It’s something that’s irritated the wool out of me from day one but was intensely prevalent in the broadcast of SNL: the barrage of advertising. I know that we all have to deal with the quarter-hourly ad break (except when watching anything on BBC) it’s just the way of the world – a source of revenue to keep everything in business. But in America the advert breaks come so thick in fast that you don’t really feel involved in what you’re watching. I kid you not most of the time the commercials were longer than the segments of SNL squeezed in between, which would sometimes only last a matter of minutes. You can argue that a live sketch show utilising different sets with a limited number of actors makes these breaks a necessity, as they would need to prep and make costume changes etc. But it was only slightly worse than the advertising when watching First Contact, Fraisier or even the documentary on the assassination of JFK. How is someone supposed to lose themselves in a story if every few minutes they are pulled away to be sold a pill for depression that may or may not cause bowel cancer? It cheats the audience and is just quickening the inevitable demise of broadcast television as more and more people start subscribing exclusively to streaming services that allow them to cut through the bullshit quickly and simply.
*END RANT TRANSMISSION*
SNL, on the other hand, was pretty good actually – and Gaga herself was pretty amusing and put on some impressive (and controversial) performances. Not too shabby at all y’all.
Needless to say, I had the last laugh.
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