In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, Bryan Shortell of the alternative rock band, Northern Faces, talks about some of their crazy moments from touring. You can check out the feature, after the break.
Being on tour is awesome. Except for when it’s not. One of those times that it’s not so awesome is when you spend your birthday stranded on the side of the road in the desert, in the 105-degree sun with not nearly enough water.
Matt always tends to end up spending his birthday on the road since it falls during primetime as far as the touring season goes (May 31). Usually, it’s another great excuse to party and celebrate being out on the road doing what we love, but this tour felt a little different leading up to it though. It was our first run of bad luck that we’ve ever had as far breakdowns and issues with our van. It was bad. Really bad. Two transmissions, radiator, brakes, etc, etc. It was just one thing after another. After missed shows and a few thousand bucks, we finally thought we’d replaced everything and anything that could go possibly cause a problem. It didn’t take long to realize we were wrong.
We’re in the middle of nowhere Arizona, cruising along at around 70mph, and the van starts to shudder. “Not again. it’s not possible. No. Fuuuuck” I think that pretty much sums up everyone internal monologue at that point. We were able to get it off of an exit, and we quickly realized that the alternator was shot. The one thing left that we hadn’t had to fix yet. We call AAA, but with our van and trailer set up, we’re told that they can come and pick up the van and two people, but everyone else would have to stay with the trailer unless we wanted to pay another tow truck out of pocket to bring us all to the garage where it was getting repaired – not gonna happen.
Mark and I ended up being the two that were elected to go with the van to get it repaired, while Marco, Matt, and our FOH engineer Tony had to stay back and watch the trailer and gear. Almost 10 hours later we got back to the trailer to pick them up and head back to the hotel. Mark and I had bought a couple bottles of liquor to try and surprise Matt and salvage what was left of his birthday, but I think we may have overestimated their spirits at that moment. There has never been a van ride as quiet at this particular van ride. I wanted so badly to tell them just HOW delicious my iced coffee at Starbucks had been. Or how it as just a little bit too cold in the mechanics wait room, or how the plugs were sort of inconvenient to plug in my laptop. But I bit my tongue. I could tell the van was no longer a safe zone. Things had changed. My friends/bandmates had become just a hollow shell of their former selves. They had seen things.
We got back to the hotel and went to bed almost immediately. The next day we talked about how someday this would all be a great story. We knew it would look better in the rearview mirror, but at that moment it just seemed shitty. Matt’s said several times since that it might end up being the most memorable birthday of his life. It’s looking back on stories like this that can really put it all in perspective. No matter how rough it gets out there on the road, it’s a life we wouldn’t trade for anything. Every day is an adventure, and you gotta take the good with the bad.
6/2 – Newport, KY @ Southgate House
6/3 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Sache at Intersection
6/4 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Ballroom
6/5 – Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlie’s
6/6 – Indianapolis, IN @ The HiFi
6/7 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
6/9 – Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
6/10 – Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
6/11 – Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion***
6/13 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Catalyst Atrium
6/14 – Los Angeles, CA @ Goldfield Trading Post
6/16 – Portland, OR @ Dante’s
6/17 – Bellingham, WA @ Wild Buffalo
6/18 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
6/19 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux
6/21 – Omaha, NE @ Reverb Lounge
6/22 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
6/23 – Dublin, MN @ The Red Herring Lounge
6/24 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
***Northern Faces Only. Radio 104.5’s 10th Birthday Show (sold out)
(Photo credit: Shervin Lainez)