j mascis and the fog
j mascis - guitar, singing
george berz - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel
ron asheton - guest in austin, tx
(left to right)
eric fischer - tour boss
ray rupprecht - soundman
david scheid - helper man
steve kaul - the man outside the van
wednesday, march 14, 2001 - austin, tx
pop at four bells - in the morning. have to start this tour early. came back only ten days ago and then had a hawaii gig w/perk and nels on the tenth. that was sure a fun gig. we stayed on the north shore of oahu at some big pad a construction guy built w/spare parts from his other jobs and it was righteous. his name was dave and he was a real nice cat, so was the promoter, scott. we drove around the island a couple times and then me, perk and nels climbed diamond head - the most incredible view of honolulu and of the crater you climb up from. did it in a flannel too! got some sun, soaked in some sweat - it was great. funny to see perk climbing up in that mohawk! the gig was all stooges stuff and it was something else to do that w/nels, something else! we're gonna get a trio going w/kevin fitzgerald (from the geraldine fibbers) and do that too. how many stooges bands am I in? like five now! they're all different though even if it's jamming to the same tunes.
anyway, back to the point - another tour is starting. I have to write a heavy email and it weighs on me emotionally. I'm upset a little bit, anxieties - beginnings of tours always bring out the biggest insecurities in me and magnifies what might just be a little issue. my only cure for something like this: add up the things I should be grateful for and look from that perspective. speak from the heart and try to make things plain. a little bit of sad is an honest feeling and has to be felt. the big situation at hand is to play as I can for j, be a good fog - this is something I can act on and do something about. this is in my hands and needs my focus. richard bonney, my pedro plumber friend comes and gets me at six. bye pad, hold tight 'til I get back. bye town, can't wait to see you again.
I must've already smoked six backwoods, damn. I'm so nervous and these fucking things are probably making it worse. richard bonney is a dear friend, to go and shlep watt to the airport at the crack of dawn - I'm a lucky man. get to the plane pad and I'm worried to death I left a lit cigar on my desk by the 'puter so I call nanny and ask her to go to my pad and check for an idiot move. nerves still rattled, I call my upstairs neighbor dirk and ask him to go check too. what a doof I am. finally, the plane takes off, first to el paso and then on to austin. my stomach is a tangle of snakes w/crazy thoughts. finishing this book I got in australia concerning england's first elizabeth queen and that fucking nut scene she was in helps me from going totally insane. when you stop learning, you start churning. better being busy being curious. history is such a goofy thing, I'm so glad d. boon got me into it so all those years ago.
when you're flying from cali to texas, it's all desert out the window 'til just around austin when it all starts turning green. eric, the tour boss, picks me up when the plane lands and there's rain. damn. well spring is starting soon, I shouldn't be surprised. funny how the 'puter bag feels so light - that's cuz there's no 'puter in it! the ibook had to get sent to apple to replace its screen that got cracked last tour on the flight from chicago to tokyo. it's getting back to the shop today so I'll have them send it to where I'm staying the next three days, essential bro spot. well, it ain't totally empty - I got some packs of backwoods in there. eric takes me to the ho where my fog brethern are staying and spotsky comes to take me where his pad is, south of downtown austin, off of ben white boulevard. first we some trough at a latin chow pad called aranda's #5 and I get a pierde torta (pork leg sandwich). damn if it don't taste righteous! all right, econo too. then on to spot's pad. he's making a record w/his band _delorean mechanics_ and he plays me the tape of the basics. it's great - spot can really play his ass off. he's playing guitar, bouzouki and tenor banjo. the band is a trio and spot quotes a lot of rock riffs in the tunes - he says this record has the least "original" material he's ever made. I dig it. I listen to it twice. we talk and talk to catch up. he shows me some "lawn trophys" - engine blockws w/holes in them from thrown rods. there's a '73 ford econoline 100 he's got for sale, write him at email@example.com if you want to check it out.
he has to bail for work and I wait for my friend and columbia publicity man for ten years, howard. we're gonna go get some chow. I love talking w/howard, the topics we get going on. lots of old egypt, trippy bible theories, crowley - even this weird panel he's on friday, "how to publicize a mike watt in a britiny spears world." oh yeah, I should write here that our tour is starting at this convention thing called 'south by southwest' (or sxsw). the first gig of the tour is tomorrow at _emo's_ for the _kill rock stars_ night (a label I truly love). about midnight, me and howard both run out of gas and he takes me back to spot's and I konk quick and fast on the deck using a sleeping bag of spot's for a blankie and my clothes sack as a pillow. wow, the day came and went so fast, getting lost in spiel w/good pals. what a tonic for insane nerves. day one of tour done.
thursday, march 15, 2001 - austin, tx
pounding on the hatch at seven bells, whoa - is this a dream or what? I got the mask on and don't see the sun. the pounding again. up w/the mask and pop the hatch - it's the ups man w/my 'puter - fantastic! lucky watt. she fires right up and I can now use the whole screen instead of just the upper right hand corner, this is happening. I send some flow to my list, a story on a cat getting ninetynine years for killing a man who didn't know a song he wanted play and then another disturbing article on a form of payola used to get your "favorite" song on the radio, the (f)art of 'independent promotion.' trippy irony here, I think. then a big walk, time to hoof and move the blood through me. this ben white boulevard is actually more of a freeway, a freeway w/a fucking sidewalk! I'm walking on a the side of a freeway, way nuts.
I get back a ring eric's and george's walkie-talkies to see what's up. damn, I was supposed to be doing press spiel w/the fog, aaaarrrrgggghhhh - am I blowing it! ron asheton, the stooges' original guitarist is in town to play w/us and he's doing spiel also. spot gets me to this radio thing at a chow pad fast, though I don't realize it's a 'live' radio thing 'til it's done. those cats smelled the backwoods before they even seen me and was so awkward in my spiel. aahh, what a shaming. we all have a good laugh though. great to see j and george again - ron too. can't wait to play tonight. luisa and gimili came too. great!
whoops, almost donate my digicamera when we bail for the next spiel at the convention center. I run back and retrieve it. I find a safety pin on the sidewalk - great, a genuine austin piece of jewelry for my levi jacket. then big hassles inside the building cuz of a lit backwoods and not having correct credentials. I don't get upset w/all the disrespect I get cuz I know it's par for motherfucking asshole wannabe soldierboys (even though this goof must be in his fifties) and just let it ride. w/that done, the spiel gets underway. it's w/a cat I've done it before w/in denver, mike from a pbs show there. he has us interview each other and it's pretty funny. the first thing I ask j and george is "what's wrong w/connecticut?" these guys really got a bone to pick w/connecticut, I hear it all the time in the ride. fuck, kira was born in connecticut. it remings me of first going to holland and hearing all these jokes about belgium. I'd never heard any belgium jokes in my life before and here I was getting tons and I figured it was because it was right next door. same w/connecticut - j and george live in western mass and what's right next door? connecticut. ron has some really good shit to say as does j. george does too, I'm the only one asking stupid stuff like the connecticut thing. this is a cool, non-cliche rap - I dig it. then we go to the venue and check that out. I meet the new helper man, david, he's from cincinatti. he's never tuned a guitar before, this is going to be interesting. he's got the spirit though so I think it's gonna work out. I go to the little room of emo's and watch this band _the hard times_ play. I dig them. happening bass player and when I tell him so after they're done, what does the cat say? "I'm really a guitar player." ha! can you believe it?! life is funny, huh?
back to the full-sized emo's and I try out what I'm using for the tour: j's ampeg svt-II driving two marshall cabs, a 2x15 on the bottom and a 4x12 slant on top. there's also a marshall plexi driving an marshall guitar 8x10 cab next to that stack. george is using his blue vistalite ludwigs but is playing a snare of j's, a keplinger from ayotte. for j, it's the two marshall full-stacks behind and a fender tone-master he uses as a monitor. looks like ron is gonna use backup marshall stuff of j's to make a half-stack.
ok, enough of the hardware rundown. we gotta do a press dinner thing across the street at a asia-yuppie pad. gimili and luisa sure like this shirt I got that has gold threads running through it. they keep telling me, over and over - especially gimili. damn, makes me feels self-conscious. tiffany, who sang "heartbeat" on my wrestling record joins us. I ask her to sing the part she did for j on "get me" tonight, that would be great. I get some soup or what they call it, "bisque." good, some asparagus in it. then some salad w/strigy fried potatoes in it, I ain't eating this. too nervous anyway. thanh-thanh, the ultimatum (j's label) press lady, has set this up. michael azerrad's here. he did a book about punk through the eighties in the u.s. and talked to both me and j for it among others. just came out and he's here to pitch for it. we finish up and go back to the venue and then I split off to hoof, I'm really nervous. the first gigs of a tour are always killer on me, even after all this time. I walk up and down sixth street. all drink and drown oriented type places everywhere. lots of bands you can hear from the door or an open window but I just keep walking. police shaking down two who were just fighting, pass that by quick. loop around on a quiter street just to get some fucking peace. finally, the clock gets near ten and I head back to emo's - soon is show time. set up quick, that time goes against your set so we gotta move. up real soon and we start w/"get me." tiff is great. we do four more fog songs, our cover of black flag's "I've had it" and then bring ron on. "real cool time" kicks out really wild - intense. there's this fucking pole right where I'm standing. it's cramping me in big time. good thing it's carpeted cuz I start using it like a cat would use a scratching post for its back. "I wanna be your dog" is next and the shit gets wild. ron's amp blows up. damn. j takes off his guitar and gets things together. my marshall amp goes over to ron, leaving me w/just the ampeg but that's cool - we're ready to get back. "not right" is next. standing in between these two dueling lead guitars is something else - what a mind-mangler, I'm really digging it. hands are holding up ok, I dropped the pick after the flag tune for this stooges stuff. last saturday in hawaii w/nels and perk really had my muscles spazzing big time, ruining the whole end of the set. I'm praying this don't happen tonight. we do "loose" and ron does away w/that intro we know from the record and just blazes w/the riff. whoa - we're off! huge dueler in this one when it comes to the solo - no one's playing rhythm guitar here. it's a meltdown being moni in the middle here. meanwhile, I continue to backbend on the rug-wrapped pillar. what contents we got going in the blender here! finish the tune off w/a good long "loooooooooooose" - ron droning along the whole way, I've noticed that about his technique - he digs strings droning along to his strumming and picking. the mother of all droners is next, "tv eye." wow, does this hit the plunger. quick, we're down the pipe and pumping hard. I've been trying to let folks see my eyes but it's too scary. I want to shake so hard. I could swear it seems I see a friend shaking their head hard too, wow. am I seeing things? I want to sing the song that way, towards the hair flying back and forth. is it just my mind? good thing I got this down pat cuz I would severely be lost if there were any chord changes - the beauty of this tune. I feel my hiar whipping about a little too, I'm totally soaked and it's kind of long now too - I ain't gonna cut 'til tour's done. funny w/all the kids wearing 'fro-like dos - like when I was a teen ager (early 70s). the jean jacket thing too, I had one in high school that frayed to shit before my early twenties and just cuz I got inspired, I got me one from those times at this place called the "style center" (an old converted gas station run by an old hippy who moved back home) on I-35 just north of waco. it's funny. anyway, back to the gig: it feels like I'm having a fucking heart attack - man, this song always does this to me. I want every word to mean as much as it can, whatever that is. ron told me 'tv' stands for 'twat vibe' - his sister used to watch the stooges practice and he said that's what iggy was getting from her. that's a trip. well, I shake myself silly, I've sweated the whole outfit. I put down the bass and do the last bit just holding the mic in the stand, I think it's a funny contrast for folks to be tripping on like that. like, "why the fuck is he doing that?" or "where the fuck does he think he's coming from?" or "what kind of shit is he on?" it's good to get folks to laugh cuz they don't expect something, I think. I run off when done, beat. george comes gets me for "no fun." this is wild, we get it faster and faster at the end - george double, triple even five timing it. the freight train slams home and for the end I rub the neck of my bass on j's guitar neck in classic _blue oyster cult_ style. whew, gig done. boy, was that fun. on the mic, I thank _mr._ j mascis, _the_ ron asheton and _brother_ george berz. I get down the stairs backstage and man, am I soaked. I go out the door into the crowd. wow, is this place packed and tons of folks outside too. and right there, it's elizabeth! I'm so wet, just touch fingers. wow, now I'm really lit. so many nice folks coming up to me and digging what we did, it's hard for me to talk w/her. that's ok though cuz the feeling from these people feels genuine, they dug the gig and I'm glad they did. outside the hatch on the sidewalk is mike king, the cat who did the cover of the first _wipers_ record - us minutemen stayed at his pad in portland back in '84 during the _campaign trail_ tour. you meet some cats from the old days here, huh? and who's this? it's chris "delaware" and who's w/him? jello biafra. good to see him again. he tells me steve mckay (played the sax on the stooges "fun house") lives in s.f. and he can get him to come play w/us when we're there later in the tour. he can come sing that and "no fun" too. up around the corner to see ray wascham's new band _marz_ but for some reason, they canacel. damn, wanted to see that. see mr. david sims. good to see him. well, this is my night out at the big deal. glad to play, glad to see good people. glad I could help j out. meet elizabeth's buddies, they're great. amy is righteous and so is cowboy kim. for a social retard like myself, it's a little overwhelming but it's happening to bask in her glow. I love listening to her and talking w/her too. some other place and then some kind of party thing - it's late, time for watt to konk. a ride to spot's it must be five, whoa. I'm tired. out.
friday, march 16, 2001 - austin, tx
pop at like ten and then gotta hoof - I hose off later. me and spot talk a bunch. all kinds of stuff: old days, these days, next days. then he takes me up to the _dog and duck pub_, where a celtic festival is going on - he's stage managing it. the sun is out so bright and the sky so blue, thank you forces of nature for providing so. I'm just soaking the sun up, sitting on the porch there, doing diary. spot's getting his thing on. how relaxing, hard to believe a tour's just started for me. usually the first week is so traumatic for me, always is. all my insecurities, fears - all that shit - boil up and froth over the first week I'm rolling. here I am now, sunning in the warmness of austin, soft irish instrumentals rolling off a tented outdoor stage and I'm loving it.
one thirty comes and that's when that crazy panel w/my name in the panel but I'm too scared to make an appearance and I don't want to deal w/the prison screw 'tude w/the sentries anyway. I got a filmed spiel at a ho nearby and I walk there. I wait and wait but it's not all lame. I get to talk w/alejandero escovedo, who I've always dug for years and he tells me how he dug the opera ("...engine room") and how's he's making a piece for his pop too. much respect to you. then I get told the spiel's been moved to after the instore the fog is doing at the tower. time to hoof. luckily, this ho, spot's pup gig and the instore are all walking distance - lucky watt! I hoof up there and it looks like j wants to use all our gear but the p.a. they got set up is total toy - like for an acoustic gig or something. this is gonna be funny. I talk w/some folks outside from australia who saw us do that all-stooges show at the cherry bar in melbourne. j says it'd be better to have the singing come out of the bass amp. ok, I'll use the plexi and just mime it. ron will use one guitar stack and j the other. we'll set the bass amp up right up front and center. it'll be funny. we'll set george up back on the side a little. good thinking from j, it's work fine and be pretty funny in a pad like this. five comes - ok, let's play. start "I've had it" and then all stooges. besides the songs we did last night, we also include "down on the streets" and "1969." what a trip, I can adjust the amp right where I'm singing - just gotta reach up and twist the knobs myself. I never take the levi jacket off the whole gig - man, do I sweat that motherfucker up. something is up w/j's amp, I think one of the cabinets isn't working cuz I can't hear one note from him - it's total mime from the j-man. ron, on the other hand, is blaster louder than a thunderfuck, damn! I'm right in front of the drums and can't hear one hit from george - he's miming too. whoa! it's the ron show for sure. he's playing great, really tough. my bass is also in spirit only - can't hear a note. what a trippy gig. we get done and my hands cramp up bad. so bad, I can't hold the cds that folks are giving me to sighn, let alone the pen to write. what the fuck is going on w/this? the shit's starting to worry me. jello comes by again. that's happening. daniel johnson, the man who wrote "walking the cow," a song I've done my own version of for years comes by also to say thanks for letting him open for me at cbgb's. well, he wasn't scheduled to open, he just came up on stage while we were setting up and did a couple songs and they were recorded. he told me they came out on a record. it was good to see daniel again, it's been many years. I remember meeting him in this town in '86 during the first fIREHOSE tour (opening for sonic youth) and sitting on a curb, him telling me how he dug the _beatles_ and me telling him how I dug the _who_ much better when I was a younger kid (60s). keep punchin', daniel.
ok, now over to the press spiel at the ho I was at earlier. we sit lined up under some lights and start answering the questions, for something called getmusic.com. the guy joe is nice and doesn't ask retarded questions. ron is having a ball w/big, long and involved answers. stuff like "what do I do? I'm a kitty valet, I take care of seven kitties" and stuff like that. he's so glad to be playing again and doing these gigs w/us. j and george give good answers too. joe asks me about some idiot moves I've made in my life and it's way too involved to get into all that so I just give him some examples. like when we were kids, me and d. boon didn't figure that the tension on the strings of your guitar had anything to do w/pitch. we thought it was more of like a personal thing like, "I like my strings tight" or "I like mine loose." just never figured that your 'a' note had to be the same as the guy's 'a' you were playing with. must've sounded godawful as all hell but what did we know?
we're done and I'm done. I did that whole instore gig wearing the levi jacket and I am drenched. it's dark now and I'm getting cold. I need to get back to spot's and get dry or I'll get sick. george gives me a lift in the rental van we're using for tour. damn, it's a fucking chevy. I can dig a chevy car but not their piece 'o fucking vans. oh well, I'm just an econoline man - I've had great luck w/them. the way our tour caravan is gonna work is this: j, george, eric and me in the van while ray and david ride w/the gear in a rented truck (van frontend w/a cargo box rear). I get into the spotsky domain and peel off the outfit. whoa, soaked skivies and everything plus sitting for hours. damn. so good to soak in spot's tub even though I can kind of tell he don't take many baths cuz there's a film I'm sitting on in there. oh well. at least my limbs can float and the joints relax. damn, I almost konk in here but a head-bob into the drink wakes me up quick. I want hoof now and maybe chow. I walk the other way than last time, down what I call the 'french road' - the ones that parallel the freeways, the frontage road (if you pronounce it "fron-tahj"). just fast food, damn. maybe some beans at one of these corny-assed painted-up pink and stupid "taco cabana" slops trough. I go get some and then on the way back, there's these two teens on the corner of an intersection, out from under ben white, a guy and a girl, just looking at me. when I cross to get to their side, the young man holds out a folded up twenty in his hand. I can see he's got more in the other hand. I'm wondering what's going on, is this a fucking move on me? he holds out the money and says "here." I go "what." he says "here, take it, we're giving it to you." and then the girl says something about it being ok, something about church and I tell them that if I really needed it, I would take it but maybe there's some who really needs it more than me and to save it for them. I thank them for the thought anyway. what a trip, those being that nice to just help anyone out. I do get mistaken for a homeless cat a lot, espcially when I don't shave and have a beard like I do on tour. still, I dig the good will.
I get back to spot's and sit for a moment to take in these beans. they're shit - motherfuckers screwed up fucking beans? damn, the shit is shortstay and I gotta purge it in moments after ingestion. after the splatterfest, I got rest the yang. I lay down on spot's deck. just a moment though. _cobra verde_ is playing at ten and then the _urinals_ are on at midnight and I love both those bands. what happens is that when I do open my eyes, I find I've konked for fucking hours, aaaarrrrrrrrggggghhhhh. well, damn. might as well stay here now and just sueneo for the night. my body must be wore anyway. it was just probably excitement from last night that kept me from feeling it anyway - the body debt had still been incurred and must be paid. fuck it, close back the eyes and pull back into sleepytown.
saturday, march 17, 2001 - baytown, tx
pop to find a dude konked across from me on the deck. whoa. there's another one in the back room spot uses for prac. whoa again. I didn't anyone last night. well shit, I didn't hear anything - I was out cold, konked. turns out they're in _grandpa's ghost_, a band on joe carducci's label. spot did say something about them staying over some time, guess it was last night. they're nice cats and we talk all morning. eric's bringing a rental car to drive to houston to play w/the fog tonight after I do a gig w/perk and _banyan_ at the 'high times magazine' party around five. the guy on bass, bill, offers to let me use his bass for that gig. that's great cuz my little one got left on the truck that's already left for houston. it's a copy of a rickenbacker 4001 made by someone called 'electra' - maybe a japanese company? built pretty close and even w/the regular scale, I think it'll work good for the gig. thanks bill. I go and hoof to get some supplements and try to combat this cramping thing. I remember being a boy and my pop telling me how they navy had him taking potassium pills cuz he sweat so hard in the engine room. j's girlfriend, luisa, told me thursday about her ma getting prescribed magnesium-calcium pills for muscle cramps she'd get while she slept. I pick up on this and get both potassium pills and magesium-calcium ones. I swallow some w/water and eat some bananas.
spot has to bail early to do part two of that celtic thing, today is st. patrick's day (I wear a flannel I got that has some green worked into the plaid). my team arrives and gimili volunteers to drive me when I'm done w/banyan. she takes me into town. we're lucky and find a place close to park. the gig's at what seems is a frat bar, a psuedo-french quarter place called _fat tuesday's_ and the stage is in an outside part of the pad. whoa, what's this? I'm on the cover of the _austin chronicle_ w/ron asheton - it's of us playing the instore yesterday. damn, that was quick! there's issues of the party's namesake's mag around the pad and I look through one. damn, some intense mota shots! guess there was a competition in holland called the 'canibus cup' and they got bud pics you wouldn't believe. yo. gotta hoof around so I go to the street. lots of cops around on the sides and in the alleys, all dressed l.a.p.d. style in the stormtrooper mode. I do not like that look. move on and quick. back to the pad and elizabeth is here! happy watt. perk comes too - still wearing that mohawk. seems he got sunburned last week in hawaii and now the skull sides of the mo are peeling. poor perk. I tell him about the time me and d. boon cut our heads bald and then went down to camp out on rosarita beach in baja and swam in the ocean the whole first day we got there. boy, did our heads get blistered and burned from that! I can empathize w/him.
we go on at quarter after five. they got an ampeg svt driving two 4x10 cabs for me (one of them eden - great! love their shit) so that's happening. usually nels is w/us but we have a protege of his, woody (who plays in his _destroy all nels cline_ band) on guitar. norton's here also to interpet the music w/painting and of course willie is on trumpet. he's hurting w/a cracked rib from falling down some stairs while moving shit. damn, that must hurt - especially to blow that horn. I'm kind of scared for the gig (kind of?). elizabeth's gang of pals comes and it's a blast being w/them. eileen's here too, she's great. me and elizabeth go down the street to this place called "tears of joy" that has chili sauces and I get one of my favorites, "gil's crying tongue" - not that hot but a great smoked habanero and garlic flavor. I really dig it - so good. I get some "endorphin rush" too. this stuff is hot. the reason I want it because of a grudge I got w/it. see, a few years ago, elizabeth took me to chow at this pad in her town called "mexican radio." I had some salad made w/octopus. this was before my tolerance for chilies was built up to what is now and also, I was so wrapped up in talking w/her, I didn't realize that I was dumping tons of this on the salad. I started chowing it and cuz the sauce being mainly an oil, they take time to take effect and by that time I had chowed the whole plate. well, I kind of had some congestion going and all that dumped out of my nose quick. then the eyes flooded. my lips swelled way up and my tongue was fat like a sleeping bag. my hair was drenched w/sweat - I was swimming in it and steaming. elizabeth was very nice and didn't freak out at all but it was obvious I was going through incredible changes and she just had to let out a little snicker - inside she was probably roaring w/laughter. I had to go to the head to use paper towels to sop all the fluids that sprung forth. well, I'm gonna turn the tables on this sauce and show it who's boss now. I got the tolerance and I surely have the will. I'm gonna get revenge. elizabeth gets a neat one made w/mangos and habaneros - I try a spoonful when we get back - good flavor.
after an intro by high times music editor and friend steve bloom, it's time to get on and we start out good, doing a nels tune, "new old hat." then a riff from that _lost poets_ tune, "oh my people" and we jam on that. stuff gets intense between me and perk, we really lock in and kick the shit up. like yesterday, I'm sweating my jacket hard but even more so cuz I got it all buttoned up, just like elizabeth's. I am truly insane. it's really fun locking in w/perk and trading phrases, can't tell you how it feels to have such a connection w/someone. even w/words I try to find to fit this feeling there is no real way to explain it except to do it. as an observer, I tragically interfere and corrupt it. it is something natural and also a result of the big heart inside of perkins. it shines through and finds me every time. however, after about halfway through our set, I get feeling like I want to bolt, it's like we ran out of gas and are just repeating ourselves. I'm not blaming the banyan cats, I'll take the responsibility on myself but he seems like the only one listening is perk - he's w/me lock-step and it's great but on the other side of the stage it seems like willie's just blowing the same licks over everything and overplaying, not letting the music breathe. I must be not that inspiring for him. woody seems totally rolled and intimidated in a way. I wish my playing was more nurturing, maybe it's from all the power trios I've been in. even norton is hardly painting - when I look back at him, I just see scowls on his face. that's very strange from the guy who's the oldest lifeguard in malibu. man, has this degenerated into regurgitation. I gotta say that perk is indomitable and his spirit floats above any kind of lame shit that might be happening, I love this man. woody and willie too, it's just not happenig. no disrespect to any of these fellas but I have to say I'm one very much relieved motherfucker when we get through. by the end there, I was really pounding the fuck out of that bass and it started to go out and get intermittent - hope it ain't broke. I thank bill and give it back to him.
bye bye to all and then hellride for houston. bye elizabeth. rain is coming down now. aaarrrrggghhhh. ain't no sunshine. it's two and a half drive east to houston and who's needs this? stowe it, watt - onward. I'm real glad gim is driving cuz my nerves are shot from that last gig experience. she does great and we get there w/no probs. on the way, though - I exact my revenge on that "endorphin rush" shit. gim bought some beef jerky so I take a hunk of that and cover it w/the the sauce. then into my hatch. it ain't shit - I take her down w/'nary a tear. a flash of steam through the brain and that's it. ha! get thee behind me, trouble my door no more! the hair of the capsicum dog that bit me and I've beat it, tooth to tooth, mano y mano. ok, back to tour spiel: here we are, smack in downtown houston at the _engine room_ which is owned by mitch, the cat who used to have the pad I played the last few times here, _instant karma_. it's gone now. we arrive right in the middle of the set the openers, _cobra verde_ are playing. they're a band of buds of mine from cleveland. I really dig both them and their sounds. the venue is like a big cinderblock cakebox and doesn't really focus they sound much. I get right up front and snap shots w/the digicamera. then it's our turn.
I'm a little tired but willing. love playing w/mr. mascis. first tune, the marshall plexi I'm using crashes to the deck, a stage guy out of control? someone was running around near it when it happened. what a fucked-up scene. oh well, I patch right into the ampeg and go w/that alone. it's enough to get us through. the sound on the stage is pretty bad so I come in close to george and bear down hard to keep things tight. there's some tuning issues - david is still new to that skill but is coming along great. once it gets rolling, the ball is spinning good! our first real fog gig of the tour and though I'm kind of spinning myself (a little bit of fatigue), I'm into it all the way. what an honor to throw it w/these cats. one thing bugging me though is two televisions above the bar playing movie video stuff. damn, can't they shut that off for the gig? I don't say anything - don't want to put damper in anyones pamper and wreck the flow but boy, is it getting on me. aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhh! I fight that sensation w/more focus on getting on the job at hand - making it tight for my two compadres on stage. when we get to the big jam at the end of "not right," I holler over and over w/the bass inflating me through the back. I want to go fucking off! when j tears that guitar up, it just makes me feel that way. I want to wail the bottom under him like it was waterspout almost - make it crazy but taunt enough to help him ski right over it. make it like a slalom, he's never been down before and has to stay right in the moment and charge hard. well shit, he does that any way but I want to make even more a wild ride. like a big mental backhand.
we get done and I gotta say I'm glad I made it but glad I didn't have to shirk or anything like that either and just go half way. so glad too not to get the massive hand cramps - damn, those supplements worked fast! I mean, I had that cramp shit so bad and now, they're gone. all right! I'm way into this. that shit was starting to debilitate me bad. this is such a godsend. I'm so very much grateful. what's lame though is the hellride to the ho. it's almost like an hour before we get to it in baytown, east of houston. luisa has to bail early tomorrow at like five in the morning and this'll make it easier. sitting in wet clothes (wet from sweat) is not happening though but I bear it. fuck it, all this has made it worth it. I didn't know what was up for me w/this convention stuff and was kind of scared of it but ended up having a good time even w/some minus shit factored in. I'm really glad I came. really am.
a cat named craig has given me a care package. boy, what great stuff is inside it! damn - thank you, brother. there's eight great macanudo cigars, four bottles of reed's ginger brew (red caps, my favorite), a big bottle of pear nectar (I love pears), a big bag of fresh habanero peppers (righteous orange gems) and some mota. there's a great card from him and one from his friend jen too. at the ho, I puff a little of the mota w/a prepared root beer can and then give the rest to george. so many feelings in me, playing this time in texas, it's wild on my brain. thoughts are rushing, rushing, rushing through my mind. I can't konk. it's like four now. david's w/me and he probably thinks I'm insane. I'm looking at the shots that have be taken w/the digicamera, my mind reels. finally, lights off but I just lay there on the deck, waiting for sueneo to overtake me. somehow, someway the light inside submits and the candle that burned so bright is snuffed. sweet relief.
sunday, march 18, 2001 - new orleans, la
pop after only like four hours, brain still roaring w/thinking hard. I gotta hoof. looks like I donated my ron asheton shades, damn - probably left them in that rental car me and gim got to the houston gig in from austin. shit. find some cornball round ones w/orange lense. they flip up to expose clear ones. oh boy. go chow and throw down grits and pork chops. love pork. grits are ok once in a while. I am truly blessed to find this big open field. it's being readied for some construction for industrial unit areas and there's just mowed grass for like a couple miles square. at one far end are cats flying remote controlled gas-powered model airplanes. there far enough away so the noise ain't irritating but I can still see them do their maneuvers. the sun is out bright against the clear blue but I can tell it rained a few days ago cuz of the ground. it's like walking on fresh-baked brownies or a un-iced cake, right out of the oven. these chucks on my feet are wore pretty good and the rubber thin so I can feel the ground give under them, especially when I lift one foot to walk and all my weight goes on the other one. I sink maybe a half inch or maybe more but it's not mud. it's just soft, gentle earth. righteous. like a moon walk, I can sort of imagine. I have strange sensations but I'm digging it. I figure I just gotta go through these kind of feelings - have them pour through the holes in my thinking, turn me around inside-out inside. I let the sun kiss my face, over and over. this brings the tears that hug it next. my arms stretched out, a sail filled w/billows of sun breeze. then more slow, soft-crushed walking. such a gentle give under me.
ready to go, eric comes in w/my yellow asheton shades - guess I left them in the rental and he got them when he returned it after dropping luisa off at the airport. thanks, eric. east on I-10 for new orleans. at the first gas stop I get some pickled quail eggs (last time I had these was going toward the same town but from dallas last november) at a store where there's like a ton of tobacco supplies. I mean a ton, literally. real cheap too. what the fuck, I get some sacks of backwoods. three bucks each - almost half of what they are in cali. man, have I been puffing these. idiot watt. onward and over the border into louisiana. over the mississippi river and through baton rouge, we'll be coming back this way and playing here at the end of the tour. george is driving and it's driving me kind of crazy. see, most of the road we've been on in this state is elevated over swamp and bayou so there's a bunch of bumps. well, george is getting this crate up to almost ninety and the shit is bouncing my teeth to fucking hell and back. aaarrrggggghhhh, georgie - c'mon, please! let's slow it down a little - my head's hitting the fucking roof. poor j's sitting in the second to the rear bench - the one right over the axel - and his shit is getting bounced all over the place. somebody get the man a kidney belt! another thing is that this I-10 is a major conduit going east w/the trucks and boy, is there both plugs and dicks driving like assholes all over. aaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!
I am so relieved when we pull into new orleans, even if it is the stupid frat bar french quarter part where we're playing, at the _house of blues_ here. the cat managing this pad however is rodney, a man who's worked w/me for years in boston when I used to play the _paradise_. that's so great to see him again, I love seeing cats from the old days still carrying on. makes me feel not so alone that way.
lee perry and the mad professor are in the main room while we are in what's called the _parrish room_ of this pad - on the second floor. the monitors look totally toy, like for an acoustic gig. oh well, work the room. my friend, kirsha, who lives half the year here comes and joins all of us to chow at this places eating part. now that is weird for me. they got all these images of blues legends, like buka white, bessy smith, muddy waters, billie holiday, etc. up on the ceiling (sort of like they were in pews) but above the bar, at the highest point near the top, is a poster of a rolling stone magazine cover w/actors dan akroyd and john belushi as the "blues brothers" w/blue make up on their skin. some bizarre altar. kind of goofy. george and gimili went to a chili sauce store down the street and give me a bottle of "dave's ultimate insanity sauce" and they themselves have a couple of bottles of different sauces they got. the gumbo I order is pretty weak, good to have the dave's to spark something up in it. it's great how george and gim have embraced the spice. eric and david try some too. j stays clear. different pokes for different folks, I can dig it. I don't usually eat w/the whole group so this is kind of different. kirsha asks j about his month in india and he tells about how intense it was and how you're there to have amma (the lady who has the ashram where he worked there) do whatever it takes to get bring the shit out. kirsha's been around guru culture before, she was w/this people in hawaii who followed rashneesh (sp?). it's all kind of unkown for me. j took an amma gig once in woodland hills and she hugged me three times. that was nice. she gave a rap before that and I thought that was good too.
the verdes are w/us 'til nashville and they open the gig uup strong. I really dig this band. john says he might play guitar again to instead of being only the singer, that would be cool cuz he's really good at it. frank's great though too. but I dig the chicken stomps and wing flaps he's got going now anyway. mark has got to be the biggest pounder I've ever heard on the drums - really tight too. chas and the keys takes thing to soarsville and the lasers he's got flashing on his face give him such happening imagery too. dave on the bass drives it w/a pointy angle. they all have "stage clothes" too which is a trip but that don't mean it's lame. you have to see/hear them.
our turn and wail up a good set. there's some very drunk folks up in front of j that almost cause chingasos w/other members of the crowd cuz of not really thinking about the consequences of some careless actions. the magic of alcohol on some, huh? no fucking monitors at all, 'cept for feedback screech. eventually, we just gotta have them turned off. the plexi marshall I'm using stops working. number two now. this svt-II is reliable as all hell though - this is good. we play tight and after we're finish I go back into the kitchen - I don't want ride the elevator down to the dressing room, what kind of shit is that? fuck it. kirsha comes back there and me, full of adrenaline, start telling her all these thoughts I got regarding feelings of where I am right now w/my life, the effects people have on my life. she is young and wise beyond her years but I can tell I'm stuffing her w/a brainful. I'm wearing a shirt she gave me - strange, no pockets. it's soaked to my skin w/drench. such a sight for her: a sweaty middle-aged punkrocker talking crazy, trying to explain the confusion of emotion falling out of him. this is what music can do to me, or the act of making it - especially w/so much boiling under my lid. j and george come up from the elevator and get me to do the encore. some focus for me, bass is foundation and requires no explaining if you take responsibility. for a bozo like me, this is good. we get done, pack up and say bye. on the way out, my friend stanislav wants me to walk w/him and verde singer john to a bar but nope - I'll see him in his town, baton rouge at tour's end. rob, the thurston of new orleans, is here too and tells me how he's fighting to get an improv scene thriving here in nola. how scarcity is building self-reliance in him. great. that's how the old days of punk worked for me and d. boon too.
the fog team pulls into the ho and the guy at the desk is a dick, he won't even turn the phones on. whatever, as soon as I get the hatch open it's deck time for me. I am beat. in the brain too. thank you sweet savior sueneo.
monday, march 19, 2001 - birmingham, al
pop, tub soak, emerge outside into sunlight and give thanks. dig the yellow ball suspended in bright blue. we have to leave early. hellride to birmingham w/early doors. northeast on I-59 and soon into mississippi the rain starts coming down, causing the sun to duck. bye bye. through hattiesburg and I think of my dear friend and soundman, mr. steve reed - this is where his ma is from. I remember us once passing through this town w/maybe the nels version of the _black gang_ and pulling over on the road. pieces of cotton from a field was blowing over the road and I stopped the boat to pick some up balls up and put it on the dash. you could feel the seeds inside the soft fibers. his ma is such a sweet woman and I dearly love steve.
more and more rain, aarrrrgggghhh. we stop for gas and I get some pickled pigs' feet. my pop dug this stuff. I eat it every once in a while. of course, the northeasteners in the van (everyone but me) are disgusted. I drink the rest of that pear nectar, mmmm. love it. wish I could send a thank you to craig in houston for the care packagae but the paper he put his email address on was in my levi pocket last night and the sweat soaked it and washed his writing off. damn. we get to our targeted town and pull up to the venue, the _five points music hall_, a new place for me. I'm usually at _the nick_ and feel very at home there. this pad looks way too big for the scene here, why has the man outside the van, mr. steve kaul put us in the wrong room? I gotta call him and talk some sense his way.
we've been going through guitar cables like crazy - seven dead last night so those guys hit up a music place while I go do laundry. turns out we're in the same area where I've done laundry the last few times I've been in town. I go to put my 'puter in the socket for electricity and this lady there says: "that's not right - you can't use another man's juice, baby." whatever, no argument from me, I'll just use the battery. as you go on in life, you learn to pick your fights and some shit is just too retarded to spend any amount of energy on. I'm just glad to be able to do wash cuz man, did I soak that levi jacket, having it all buttoned up like that the other day at the banyan gig. that's the only coat I brought on this tour too - what was I thinking?! maybe it's a reaction to lugging that pea coat all around at the end of last tour in hot australia. the rain is really coming down now and I gotta run fast in order not to get sopped on the way back to the venue.
tonight is one fucking cave. wrong building for our gig, wrong. like a big supermarket w/the isles removed. lame. the folks working here are nice though. max, who comes sees me at the nick says hi, as does john strohm from the _blake babies_. he greets me and george but cold-shoulders j - what's up w/that? I don't watch the verde's set and instead do diary. must stay positive. gig time comes and now I'm using the marsahll plexi j put in a white major box. it sounds good. hopefully it can last. the "super hard-on" pedal is out of the race and it sounds like the "wooly mammoth" is going too. so much for gizmos - that's why I've learned to never rely on them - hell, I don't even try to use them but for j, he asked me to when I got a solo going. oh well, ray will just have to bring it up w/the time comes.
our set starts strong. j blisters some great solo's in "mike's house" (I don't know the real name of this tune but that's what they call it. the wrote it at mike johnson's house) and then flat sticks "raisins." whew! "back before you go is next and that's a fun romp - this is the one where I got my biggest solo plus another little one at the end. j uses the blue spakle tele and mainly chords it, even w/the high chimer parts. the end has a blast of a drum flail over a "can't explain" riff. fun tune. "blowin' it" is next and I blow it quick. snapped fucking 'd' string and things crash halt. david gives me a string from a set that's too light a gauge. not his fault, he's new to this. for the little bass, cuz of the short scale, I use a heavier gauge to keep the strings from being flabby. the usual is 45-65-80-105 (starting w/the 'g') but w/this I use 50-70-85-105. the strings are always too long so I use the leatherman-like tool my pedro buddy tony gave me for xmas to cut the string down to a workable length. I cut it a little short and get only one wrap around the peg (I like three) so of course the string is slipping like a motherfuck. this really blows for "blowin' it," I'm flat like all hell. alternate fretting and for some stupid reason I get lost. george has got his god damn head turned and spaces on not looking at me. I need help to find where I am - what part is it and where's the one. finally he looks around and I get it better together. have to scramble for the end part - damn am I relieved when it finally finishes. I love this song so much and to blow it out of the water like that really shits up my drawers. fucking idiot watt. "alone" is next and that's real minimal bass so I got it kind of easy here. since we're not using my rack, I'm using one of these little boss tuner pedals and they ain't very happening. damn, wish I could use my fucking korg. that thing is fast and the display is like a whole rack space (nineteen inches) wide. the 'd' slips and I'm way flat again. I just stay away from it. j really belts out the solos here, shakes the building w/all kinds of sounds and it goes on for like ten minutes. stellar blasting. "same day and "all the girls," two tunes from the new album that let me sing w/j are next. one kind of sad and one happy - both w/lots of eighth notes but I've improvised on the recorded originals and put some runs ramping in and out on the chords. j is very cool about this. he just wants roots on the ones so it's easier to sing. he's a very generous man musically, I can't say enough good things about that. "I'm not fine" w/it's massive chunk-chunk-chunk-chunk, this is one of my favorite tunes from the record and I get to sing along w/j here too. here I go again, another string broke. this time it's the big one, the 'e' - usually when one goes, they're all ready to go. damn. I get this one on really quick when the tune finishes. luckily, it broke near the end where I don't use that string again and this time I focus hard enough to lose my fucking place and stay tight w/the team. here comes a stooges' song that j has us play almost every night, "loose." I get to do the lead spiel on this one. my favorite lines are "I'm loose - all the way!" and "I feel fine like a shaking leaf." well shit, I like them all, I mean what I can understand, never did really know exactly what was being sang by the iggster himself. I try real hard to get that davy alexander rubber band feel on the lick, all greasy and slipping around. "the wagon" is next, a crowd favorite and I'm falling out of tune again. damn. the monitors have been howling all night w/feedback and now it seems the drivers are blown out so there's no low end at all. aaarrrggggghhh. danny, the monitor man is trying his hardest but there's not much to do. oh well. things calm down w/"wastin'" and "amma ring," both beautiful. we finish the set w/a medley of black flag's "I've had it" and one of the first dinosaur record, "replusion." there, we're done. the kids have us back for an encore and I get on the mic and say "we were gonna have john strohm come up and do 'severed lips' cuz he knows the solo j recorded note for note but instead here's the yugoslavian version of it and we call it 'freak scene'." I get behind george like I do most the time and we rip the song out hard. then it's a full-on plunge into "tv eye" and I have the best imagery running through my head, like what went down at emo's when we did the same song there.
me and j go upstairs and these two kids follow us. one's got a nofx sweatshirt on. they ask us where's the tour bus. they can't believe we don't have a tour bus. then this girl comes up and apologizes that she was on the guest list cuz she found out we didn't have a tour bus and felt guilty. she gives j a twenty dollar bill. what's w/these young folks and their fixation on tour buses? I ask them why is that so important to them? they look at me w/blank faces. it's not their fault, it's the mentality of the whole stupid hustle. one kid just can't fathom how someone who meant so much to him when he was younger is not riding in a tour bus. what is this. it's like punk was nothing about ideas, just clothes. same old paradigm crept right back in. it's a pathetic thing. I ask them "if you liked what we played, isn't that good enough? why does it matter how we travel to gigs?" then I realize I'm being too hard on them, it's not their fault. they're caught up in something beyond them. maybe they'll figure it out after some time and learn to trust their own instincts. it's a strange epiphany for me, like they had put on a little drama to teach me something about some kind of sickness. if they had some kind of spell broken for them then, well, maybe that's good. it certainly doesn't mean I'm better than them, just coming from another point of view. it's why I became a punk rocker, to take shit into my own hands and join in w/like-minded folks. j seems tripped out about too. like what are jive-ass image manipulators doing w/our youth?
we walk out to the van and on the way, j gives the twenty dollar bill to the verdes. pretty freaky. this scene haunts me the whole ride to the ho. I even konk think about this. was it all just clothes? I love my flannels, love my levi jacket, my jeans, important people in my life. I love it when I see a band blow my mind. I love to hear someone tell me shit that blows my mind. sometimes it's kind of painful but in the long run, I'm grateful. I feel like I want to always be learning shit. I want to stay a student for life. I want to wonder. I'm probably always gonna fail someone's expectations. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be contrary. I'm confused. I konk somehow w/all this shit on my mind.
tuesday, march 20, 2001 - memphis, tn
pop, look out the window and see snow on the ground. wow. in alabama during march, damn. they got chow in the lobby here. whoa, they got a griddle and some batter where you can make your own waffles. that's a trip. a grapefruit, bagel and banana too. I chow them down. then hoof. the rain is coming on me. no pea coat so it's cold. damn. smoking a backwoods don't help either. after a half hour I'm back inside and doing diary. when the rest of the guys get ready, we shove off to a music store to get what? more cords, of course. next door is a sporting goods store and I go in to get a new clothes bag. these one has served me well many years but all the zippers are broke and it's hard to open the pouches and shit. they got one pretty econo but it's got a big fucking logo on it. only one though, fuck it - I'll cross it all out w/a marker pen. I like it cuz it's blue and it'll be easy to recognize instead of the black the other bag was, so many bags are black. stuff written w/blue letters have brought me great joy too, another good reason. j gets a counter for his mantras so he can click them off rather than do the beads. then we're off for memphis.
we gotta take a u.s. highway northwest through alabama, mississippi and then tennessee but it's a good one (in the rand mcnally it's an orange road to tupelo and then blue the rest of the way). rain the whole way but at least no snow. we get into town and pull up to the pad, another one that's new for me, the _new daisy theatre_ on beale street. a tourist area, lots of mersh stuff on this street but this is just a big old theatre w/like an eighty foot high roof. wrong room for us to play again - steve kaul! the cats here are real nice though and soundcheck goes smooth. early doors at least and we'll be on at 9:15 again, like last night. my pedro bud, brother matt, has a friend who lives here named pam and she says hi to me. that was nice. it makes me think of driving from the airport around the p.v. peninsula back to pedro w/him after the tour we just did.
the verdes open the show and are really strong. I've got all the songs memorized now. I love it when john let's his brian ferry influence fly free. mark is such a slammin' drummer too, man is he tight. great stuff out of dave and frank too. chas is a total trip and a mindblow unto himself. however, all five of these cats get glue together on hell of a band. when they get done, john talks to me about why he digs playing clubs way more than airplane hangers like this. I can't agree w/him more. the focus, the sound, the atmosphere - everything is so much better in a club. whatever, though - you work the room and if you're in a pad like this, you still give your full go. that's an ethic that goes all the wayback to vaudeville and I think it's still very important. any other kind of 'tude is pretentious and full of shit in my book. you gotta play every gig like it might be your last cuz you can never tell if just might...
the fog takes the basketball court-sized stage and we start out w/the stooges' "down on the street." j and george nail this one good. there's some howling w/the monitors, I wish folks who set up sound in pads wouldn't put the p.a. columns spread so far apart. your really dedicated folks, the ones that really dig the band, they're punished the most by not being able to hear the singing cuz they're get so much of the amps off the stage. if you're gonna do that, have a center fill at the front of the stage and put singing in that. we turn our monitors around and face them towards the folks. charlie (frank black) does this too. j can hear himself anyway cuz the earplugs he wears allow him to hear is voice resonate his skull.
our set is real good and just seems to fly by. most gigs w/the fog are that way cuz I'm enjoying myself so much. at the end, I hold up my and say "craig shindler" over the mic. this is a cat who lived in this town and played bass. he was a dear man. he died last year from a bad heart and it was a tragic loss. last time I played memphis, he was in the opening band w/jim duckworth (k-9) and they were so great. after I got done, he gave me his bass - a fender p w/a whammy bar (!) that played like a champ. I come out from backstage to find my friend doug rockett, his sister karen is w/him and she was craig's girlfriend. I feel so sad for her, such a loss. she's compiling stuff he did for a future release. losing folks is such a hard thing to bear in this world. I wrote a eulogy for craig when I got the news what happened and wanted his friends and people know I felt very honored and blessed that I got a chance to share a stage and some spiel w/him. that night he told me the sweetest things about d. boon and how he had such an effect on him. rest easy, craig shindler, bass brother.
it's just eleven so we all decide to go to this pad a little ways away called _the last place on earth_ to see a band called _the glands_. this nice lady michelle takes me over there. the opening band is _the invisible forces_ and it looks like they're all in police cadet outfits. the singers shaking and spraying beer all over. a tv on the bar is playing real old _devo_ stuff and that's a trip. one video has that cat, spaz attack, dancing around. kira was in a band w/him way back then called _arthur j and the gold cups_ w/brendan, the cat who ran the masque. what a trip to see him again. the band we came to see comes on and right away, the forces band guys start hollering up at the stage "I like the edge" and "I hate u2" - damn, things can brutal here in memphis. some folks are not shy about hiding their feelings. nice people at this club though, good friendly spiel w/lots including a cat who does standup bass, john, a friend of doug's.
the ho is right by the mississippi river and man, is the room big. I could use any one of like five nooks to konk on the deck here but I choose the one by the door. if motherfuckers are gonna bust in on us, I'm gonna know about it. the adrenaline from the gig is way gone and I slump over on the next train to sleepytown. out.
read week 2 of the tour diary
loop back to mike watt's hoot page