In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the reggae band, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, talk about some of their crazy moments from touring. You can check out the feature, after the break.
We are pretty serious dudes. We don’t stand idle to threats but we try to stay level headed.
We have always looked up to John Brown’s Body (JBB). They came before us and gave us a lot of inspiration early on in our lives.
So it was a dream come true when we started hitting the road with them and playing gigs. Our old keyboard player Matt Goodwin (who also recorded Make It Better and is on the road doing front-of-house for us currently) had joined JBB and that really solidified the connection of the two east coast upstate Rochester/Ithaca, NY reggae bands.
Goodwin is a prankster of the worst kind. Not only does he scrap regularly with band mates, he will always pull the first punch. His brother was on tour as well and was taking a break from being a coach of the junior Olympic women’s ski team. He had recently guided them on a Utah white water rafting “leave no trace” nature retreat and he met up with us in Colorado.
So it was the last night of the tour in Denver. We hugged JBB goodbye and thanked them for bringing us out. We left Colorado the next day for the 30-hour drive back to Rochester feeling on cloud 9.
The van smelled awful. We were 8 people cramped in there for weeks on tour, but this was really nasty. Someone had given us a box of freshly picked apples so we thought maybe they had turned rotten. We threw them out and continued to search and clean the van.
But the smell lingered. We got moving. About three hours down the road I got a phone call from Goodwin’s brother. They had left the night before and drove through the night. He said they were in Ohio and just wanted to call and check on how we were doing.
I thought that was really sweet, and I thanked him and reflected on what a great tour it had been and how it was awesome seeing him.
He was giddy. He sounded very excited and then he asked me to pass the phone to Aaron Lipp, who played keys at the time. Aaron started saying, “yeah, yeah, ok, yeah I’m looking” as he rummaged through the van.
“Oh my God. Ok. Yeah, I found it. PULL OVER!” He screamed.
In his hand was a manilla envelope that was stuffed.
It was the smell. We pulled over and got out of the van with the mysterious package. I was sure it was a dead animal.
Aaron cracked the top open and….
SHIT. It was shit. Human shit. A manilla envelope stuffed with human feces.
It was unruly. Right then, I got an email with an attachment. It was an MP3 titled “Shit Sprinter” they had recorded on their ride home. Matt’s brother had taken all of the US women’s ski team feces from the “leave no trace” trip and had put it in our van.
We were livid. It was so gross.
JBB really got a kick out of it. They took credit. They went around the country boasting of the story about how they schooled Panda and stuck SHIT in our van.
In fact, it was the keyboard player’s brother who had planned and executed the prank. Never would anyone on the actual JBB band be able to carry out such merciless pranking.
So when they started texting us talking shit about how bad they got us, we took note. It was a few years later and we were back in CO doing the same tour with JBB. There were many shit sprinter jokes. They kept threatening us that they had more prank plans and to really watch out cause they were gonna fuck us twice.
So I made one phone call. “Hey Peter, it’s James, I’m looking for a pig’s head.”
Peter: “Oh yeah I would call Brian.”
So I called my friend Brian (DJ Gourmet) and he arranged for a grass fed organic pig’s head in about 20 minutes.
So, Chris and sound guy, Joel drove out to a ranch before the last show and picked up a pig’s head. We told the butcher it was for a prank on a reggae band and he gave it to us free of charge.
After the show, we all said our goodbyes. It was the same venue we had departed from before. The two bands went on their way.
I did a little research and found out they were staying at the Hyatt. But which Hyatt?
We went to the downtown Denver Hyatt and there was no JBB van. Here we were driving around with a raw pig’s head and nowhere to put it.
So I walked into the hotel and said: “Hey I play in a band and we are staying at a Hyatt and I don’t see the van outside and I think I’m at the wrong one.”
The receptionist was helpful and called the other Hyatt location to confirm JBB was in fact checked in and parked there.
I smiled warmly and thanked her. Months earlier I had met up with Alex Toth, formerly of JBB and now of Rubblebucket. He had also been pranked and bullied by JBB during his experience with the band, and he was interested in participating in the payback. He gave me a key to the van that he had been holding on to.
So as we pulled up to the Hyatt, we saw the van. We easily let ourselves in, and placed the severed pig’s head underneath the seat of the drummer (an animal lover) and placed a clean white t-shirt over it.
And we waited…..and waited. We started to wonder if we had crossed the line because a few days had gone by and we hadn’t heard anything.
Pigs and reggae have a bad history. After a Rasta screwed Lee Perry’s girlfriend he placed a pig’s head in his car and drove it around to scare the Rasta’s around the Black Ark Studio.
So we started to feel bad. Maybe they were so angry they wouldn’t talk to us.
They weren’t real pranksters. They only associated with pranksters and took credit for pranks pulled by real pranksters. It’s like the kid with tough friends who talks a big game but then cries when you dish it back to them.
A few days after we got home the texts started coming in.
The drummer had been sitting alone in the van in Salt Lake City, after driving all the way through the CO mountains. He is a neat freak, so when he saw the sweaty wet dirty t-shirt at his feet, he wondered which slob in the band had thrown their dirty gig shirt under his seat.
Apparently, he screamed something awful and ran out of the bus. The entire band was traumatized. The terror that they live with haunts them to this day. We have since then NEVER played a show with JBB. They say it’s a coincidence. We think they are scared.
Moral of the story. Walk right talk right, or die trying.
(Photo credit: Stephen Reardon)