a word's-eye view from mike watt of the stooges in greece, switzerland, italy and portugal
wednesday, july 12, 2006 - athens, greece
time for four more stooges gigs in europe... actually, I thought I was to bail a week and a half ago and spend three days w/just iggy and me at his pad in miami to get the bass parts down to how he wants them for the new album (we're set to record october seventh in chicago w/steve albini) but like an idiot, I confused june 29th w/july 29th - baka watt. anyway, my sister melinda follows me to paul and helen roessler's pad in walteria (about six miles away, just north of palos verdes - we're east) so I can put the boat (my ford e-350 econoline van) in their driveway while I'm gone. it'll get towed if I leave it on the street where I live. from there I get in w/my sister and she drives me to lax (los angeles international airport) and I get there at one pm for a flight to paris two and half hours later. aahh, luck watt - I got an open seat between me and the next guy in a three seat section (aisle seat too, alright!) in the back for the ten hour haul. I'm reading another murakami book but this guy's first name is ryu instead of haruki and "coin locker babies" is the title. I'm new to reading japanese writers, like I'm new to these old samurai movies I've started watching. I'm a slow learner. my good buddy jimbo got me the first six creedence clearwater revival albums on cd from a nice friend of his at fantasy records and I listen to that and the new wire box set (their first three albums on cd along w/two live ones) a good cat named kentaro (over from the watt bbs) in moscow, idaho help me buy on the ipod w/the "ultimate ears" ear bud things that 'pert-near totally seal up your ear holes. this has been the best thing ever for me and travelling in the long metal flying tube that doubles as a pool for one to swim constantly in farts. at de gaulle airport near paris, I take my time making the hoof from terminal f to d cuz it's total rilakkuma for me - originally the plan was a tiny layover for the flight to athens but experience has taught me that no way was the bass gonna make it so I asked tourboss henry to put me on a later flight, the same one our saxman steve mackay is on. the people booking these flights have to be enlightened to the physical reality of actually doing these flights - being on a phone in a manhattan skyscraper and imagining how things will be just won't get it. turns out ron, scotty and chris had too small of a window and just luckily got flights after find they arrived too late. my hero is rilakkuma, especially w/airport shit - very much w/that. what's wrong w/waiting verses doing the chicken-w/the-head-cut-off routine anyway? I got books and ipod full of coltrane...
yes, another empty seat in between like the flight before but this time saxy steve is next to that one. I love steve, he's a sweetheart and very interesting. the three hour flight goes by like that. tuesday at 10:30 am, the plane gets into venizelos airport (just east of athens). it's the second time for me here, the first was two summers ago for a stooges gig, just before the summer olympics and right after greece won the eurocup in soccer. this nice cat stylianos from the promoter meets us at the 'port and the first thing I ask him is how to say thank you in greek. they use a different alphabet than we do (the greek one) so I don't know how to spell it but it sounds sort of like ef-horror-shtow or something like that. very important to know that word wherever I go cuz I am very conscious I am a guest. waiting for our bags, I hear ron's name being called and that's a sure sign his guitars didn't make it (it's happened to my bass five times). yep, sure enough - hopefully it'll get in tonight at midnight. the driverman is named george and he's from crete but came here to athens to get a masters degree in classical guitar. he takes into the southwest part of athens w/the ocean nearby - you can see the harbor clearly from upstairs in 'tel which is called the metropolitan. looking the opposite direction, you can see the acropolis. last time we were much more in the center of town. for dinner, me and scotty go to a taverna close by that tourboss henry, roadboss eric, knobman rik and helpermen chris and jos are already at. I chow some moussaka (casserole of eggplant and ground lamb w/onion and tomatoes bound w/white sauce and beaten eggs) and cucumber salad which is great. there's one man playing bouzouki and another man on guitar while we chow. good stuff. I go buy some bottled water across the road and hoof back alone. the streets of athens are total maze world and I get lost for a bit but then find my way by retracing my steps and trying again. baka watt. I leave one bottle of water by scotty's hatch and konk on my deck quick. I am tuckered.
it's gig day and I pop early to shovel free trough - love it when we get 'tel sitches like this. there's great fruit, yogurt, eggs, etc. and I throw much down. the harbor looked like it at an old navy boat and hoofing down there, I find it's a battle cruiser called averof that was built in italy in 1910 and donated to the greek navy just in time for some conflict w/turkey a couple years later. only one euro (about $1.30 u.s.) and they let me all over the boat. there's an active crew, it's not just a floating hulk and everything's in great shape. she was a coal-burner and seeing how she's set up in very interesting for me - checking out all her parts I can. I like the fact she's an old boat, I'm not that interested in the weapon stuff though I realize that's why she was built. I like all the brasswork, the engine room, forge, galley, the bunks they konked in, the trippy uniforms (they wore wide brim straw hats!), even a little orthodox shrine w/icons and big incense burners. the anchor chains are massing and the little motors to do things that run off of steam. I spend a bunch of time here and take snaps 'til the batteries run out (I brought extra ones but forgot to charge them like an idiot). everything's written in greek but I can understand much about what's what. trippy about seeing the greek alphabet - I don't even know how to mispronounce the words! the ocean water nearby is really clear, very pretty around here. there's lots of construction going on too, huge forms for casting cement kind building block things.
soundcheck is at three pm and george takes us through the maze of tiny streets to vyron (or "byron" in english - named after lord byron!) in the east part of town. I tell scotty I found out syd barrett passed away at sixty, it was in the harold tribune (a u.s. paper printed in europe for mainly businessmen abroad). he was the guy who started pink floyd but bailed soon after their first album ("piper at the gates of dawn"). pretty sad, he didn't do any music the last thirty or so years of his life, kind of had head problems but I heard he was happier since the 90s. some folks are like that w/an art, they burn bright, burn short. oh well... back to the moment w/us in athens: where we're playing is an outside venue called theatro vrahon (several different spellings for this, remember it's another alphabet) and is right up against this couple of hundred feet high cliffs. whoa, it's beautiful. last time it was a just a rock quary but this is more natural looking. the dressing room is an old rail car. that's neat. we do "...dog" and "no fun" w/chris singing (I know I've said it before but ig never does soundchecks w/us so he can stay in the routine he does for getting ready for a gig, getting focused). I've got two marshall 400 bass amps - like the ones we borrowed from mani (primal scream bassman) for gigs last summer. there's two 8x10 cabs, like usual. ron likes the checks quick so as those two songs are done, he's hollering for us to get going (or like scotty says, "make like diarrhea and run")... first I talk some w/this greek bassist name akis who spent a bunch years in the u.s. but came home to do music here now. he's happening... he does seem to think I played in mudhoney though but I don't have the heart to tell him that was probably matt lukin. you can't blame him though, he found me through myspace! it's funny about the internet but it is a way people can find connections. obviously it ain't the whole story though, you gotta be a little skeptical about stuff on the internet... don't you? driverman george gets us back to the 'tel and I read more murakami (the ryu one).
nine and a half bells come night time and it's down to lobby to have driverman george take us to the gig. using the same route we did for soundcheck, it's much shorter now w/the traffic lighter though it's still tons of left and rights through tiny alley-like streets to the viron theatre. it's cooled off some but still kind of warm. we get into the dressing room train car while the bass from opening band puressence (they're from england) has some notes that really REALLY rumble the fuck out of the whole place... it must be some resonance from playing up against these rock cliffs. it is a surreal place to have a gig though, pretty righteous. I've got a brown t-shirt on that says "econo" in white on it and the guys get a pretty good laugh out of it. "we jam econo" producerman keith sent me it a couple of weeks ago. ron doesn't his regular shirt he wears but he does still have the jacket denis tek gave him that he's worn I think at every gig except the first one at coachella. scotty's got some gloves made by zildjan he's gonna try out, his hands get so wrecked w/blisters and skin tearing off of them. the old train car is pretty neat but it's only about thirty or so yards from the stage and w/the bass having those certain notes that totally blast, ron's going a little crazy. it starts to make me think about how my bass goes over - "am I that big of a bogart?" I'm thinking. shit, I hope knobman rik hart's got it together for me. well, from the beginning w/the stooges (tonight's our fiftyninth show in the thirtynine and half months since the re-ignition) I've trusted him - hell, I've got to cuz there's no way you can mix from the stage. I've said many times the knobperson is the transmission and us up on stage are only the motor - he actually gets it to the folks. you ask him about it though and he's quite humble, he'll just say "I just turn it up louder" or something like that. roadboss eric shows us the setlist that has some changes in it near the end and we might be scissoring the "double dog" - maybe, it'll be audible and ig will decide what's right. the opener finishes and ron's feeling much better about that. he was saying his teeth were getting rattled out of his head! iggy's in this pad near us that got tiles on the inside, sort of like a locker room and the plan is to meet him over there and then take a van to the stage. what?! pretty funny cuz like I said, it's only about thirty yards to the stage. whatever works ... I like having my bass w/me though helperman chris brings it on over so I can warm up on it before having to hand it back. the pacing begins: ron and scotty, going back and forth through the old rail car and making many many laps - I put in a bunch too. what seems like forever finally passes and henry brings us over to iggy's room, ig saying he likes ours better. he digs my "econo" t-shirt too, says it's cool. thank you, ig. last stretches of the legs and arms before it's time and then it's off to the van for the thirty yard dash. for some reason, I'm buried in the back seat w/steve and his sax (and his sax stand!) between me and the hatch. iggy like us going on stage port so it makes sense for me to be first cuz I've got the furthest to go (my bass place is stage starboard) but the way we're situated in the van has fucked that all up. it takes about fifteen seconds to make the trip. ig's riding shotgun so he's out frist and easy and is soon hollering "are the four of us here? where's watt? where's watt?" but steve is tangled up in the seatbelt for the seat in front of us (it's not unlatched and totally getting hung up on him, his sax and his sax stand) and there's no way for me to get around him. what a three stooges moment, for sure. finally he gets free and I get around him and to the ramp of the stage... ig hollers "let's go!" and roadboss eric hands me my bass... he always has a bottle of water ready for iggy and somehow that gets totally spilled on my bass, all down the front of it. aaaaarrrrgggghhhh, I mutter "my bass is all fucking wet!" but no time for a hissy fit now, this gig is underway! I run over to my amps and plug in. I turn around to see the packed, all the bleachers behind and the ground between totally filled w/hollering greeks, whoa. scotty hihats in "loose" and here we go... immediately iggy's hit w/all kinds of water as soon as jumps out to the front of the stage. better than rocks though. lots of lougies are flying too, is spitting coming back or what? pretty funny but I gotta focus now, my eyes narrowed on ig big time. it's been four and half weeks since I worked a stage w/him and you gotta know nothing prepares me for a stooges gig like a stooges gig - nothing... not paddling, not pedaling - not even a gig doing stooges songs w/someone else (like perk and peter w/hellride which I did just last week) so it's good to be doing the cherry one for this string of four. I just gotta settle down and not get too whupped up w/the excitement. damn, does this music take me away but I gotta be here enough to help deliver, I'm not here just to be swimming in it. I look up at the huge stone cliffs tower above behind us for a rilakkuma moment - I know that sounds crazy w/all the frenzy of the onslaught but to try and get consistent w/the plucks and get the shit grooving, I gotta get some kind of center to the cloudsplitter thunderstorm that's coming on my insides. the stage is springy and not that high up, maybe only four or five feet. playing outside like this too has a trippy feel - I've backed down the bottom to scissor some boom and these marshalls are springier than the ampegs I usually have. we close out the tune and scotty's gotta make some adjustment or something and the delay gets iggy a little crazy - he wants "down on the street" NOW and makes that pretty clear. scotty hats us in, a big relief cuz ig's 'pert-near about to explode. lots of stuff is flying up on stage - mainly water but there's some empty beer cans (maybe unopened ones too), lighters, sun glasses and lots of lougies. iggy soon as them hanging off his chest and back. crimony. people are way into it, iggy telling them that we're very glad to be here and we are. magic number song "1969" is next and the deck's pretty wet so I watch it to protect my weak fucking knees, don't need any pop-outs now (or ever!). my bass is good in-tune, I stretched the strings much at soundcheck cuz I've noticed when helperman chris changes the strings (roadboss eric is always having me bring a couple of sets of d'addarios in my clothes sack every trip I make), they ain't all the way set and wound tight around the posts - I yank them almost like you would a bow string to shoot an arrow to get them coiled good. no delay for scotty when iggy yells for "...an animal song - I wanna be your dog!" and ron worked out a plan w/us earlier where four hihats from scotty will bring in the first bars of the riff from him (after the intro) - this to avoid the trainwreck we had at our last gig (in tampere, finland). we get to the second chorus and ig does his first big stage dive even before he sings "c'mon" - I see the bottoms of his boots as he launches himself. hey, he's got some new jeans and I notice he's got his belt on too. I get in front of the riser and next to him as he preps to holler us into "tv eye" and then shake myself supercrazy, eyes closed and upfront on the stage - if these folks wanna nail me w/shit then I'm fair game but I don't care cuz this tune is fucking taking me away beyond and yonder. I retreat only to get a facefull of ron's solo w/my head right in his amps and me on my knees... I'm almost out of my and thank god for scotty's left hand on that snare and I'd be totally lost in the swirl - fuck, am I caught up in it. I 'pert-near fucking wigged. ig brings the "ram it!" parts in really early this time, like only a couple of bars into the chug but I'm right on it and give each asheton brother a look-see so we're all on board and we nail it. I get way starboard and perpendicular for the part where only the three original stooges are playing and shake it way up w/my body as cliff walls loom behind them. the lights are bright enough to see the red of the rock, it's totally stunning (have I ever used that adjective before? I'm so fucking impressionable!). whoa, too much of a flood of emotion in me - glad some relative calm w/"dirt" next. it's a pretty seething version though, iggy singing so great and also some intense deck pounds w/the body, using no hands to catch himself. I put way more back pickup on than front w/the little bass for more definition. "real cool time" now and my shirt's all the way sweated out even though we're outside and it's after eleven... at least it's dry heat, I can dig that cuz it's humidity that really saps your energy. I feel some soreness in my calfs though, fuck it - I'll just keep on pushing them. ig waits some to beckon folks to dance w/us on stage and they're kind of slow to get up w/us ("let them up here, asshole!" iggy hollers at one security goon) but soon it's a melee of bodies flailing about for the final bars and it really breaks loose for "no fun" - I get some mankisses (let's here it for the stubble on stubble sensation) but what's not cool is one guy ripping my coltrane button off my shirt - I mean, literally yanking it and leaving a whole where it was pinned, damn. worse though is during the second verse, some idiot (maybe the same one) putting a headlock on scotty, pulling him off his drums and taking his hat. scotty is pissed and goes after him. iggy keeps singing and ron keeps strumming so I keep bassing 'til scotty gets back on his drums and rejoins us - I feel much relieved to have the man w/a beat in his hand back w/us... of all the gigs we've done, this has never happened - this is not reflective of the athens folks cuz they're righteous - it's just one asshole, I guess everywhere has some... damn. we close the tune up and I get some big hugs, much respect (iggy on the mic: "thank you grecian dancers") to everyone who helped make a good time on here w/us onstage. band introductions before "1970" - ig says "on bass and jamming econo, the minuteman mike watt" and that's very nice of him. scotty gives the peace sign when he's introduced and ron salutes during his (I did a deep deep bow). we're blasting away on the tune and steve mackay makes his intro on the tail end and a full can of coke flies up on stage and comes down on ron's wahwah, turning it on. I'm pretty oblivious to that, hollering "I feel alright!" in between the ones iggy does even though I have no mic - I'm just too into it. I check the tuning during "mindroom" - pretty good, the little bass has been holding on well and maybe it's the aridness that's helping. I notice scotty's pulled the right glove off and only has the left one on... hmm. ig calls "fun house" and it is way wild now, I have to dance how I can in my spastic way - just have to... I'm looking up at cliffs and the beat is running through me all crazy - who's looking down from way up? shit, I loose the one for a sec but get on over to ron and get it back quick. gotta maintain, watt. I do get it together but then lose it again for "l.a. blues" - my bass is the bologna while the amp and my body are the pieces of bread slapping it up silly, can't help it. I bite on the strings many times, down on the knees - shit, I pull the 'g' string out of the saddle and work hard to get back in (and back in tune) before scotty hats us into "skull ring" - iggy running back on stage from after pouring water all over his head. this works good for flushing off the lougies but soon there's another one hanging off the back of his head, on his hair. kind of gross. the song is a full-on charge and when it's done, ig says "let's fucking get back to africa" and scotty flams me in for "little doll" - another chance for people hurling shit to take me out cuz I'm lost in the riff way up front and the ojos (eyes) shut. come to think of it, I think scotty's wearing safety glasses cuz I ain't getting a lot of ojos from him even though I've been trying hard. it's cuz I'm insecure I guess but I really dig seeing him seeing me. drums do take a lot of concentration though, especially how he works it. ron helps me that way every time I check in w/him. "little electric chair" comes after and overtones are making me thinking the octave-up 'd' is out of tune (on the 'g' string) so I use the twelfth fret on the 'd' but it's the same - the tuner checks out ok to. well, we're in that part only at the beginning. I get a bass solo here and getting going good but ig wants it sixteen bars and I paced it kind of retarded near the end, baka watt. not a total clam but kind of a choke. for some reason I take my bass off right when we're done - or did I do that before "...chair" maybe? hmm... whatever, I get it back on quick after sharing a total idiot moment w/myself and iggy calls an audible for us to do the "double dog" reprise of "...dog" and we're done. at the side of the stage, I run over to hear ig ask "do they like it? did they see me drive up in that stupid van?" man, iggy sang and danced his heart out, I thought he was incredible and I think the athenians did likewise, they're just a little drained maybe but soon holler four us to come back so we do "dead rock star" which has them rocking w/us good and then we have "not right" as the closer, me playing the whole tune on the 'e' string. I pay way close attention cuz of what happened last in finland - I don't wanna let scotty down... I never wanna let any of the stooges down cuz I so much owe these cats the best notes I can muster - I need to play better than I ever have for them, I just gotta. these last few tunes we're pretty tough cuz my pluckin' hand totally crampedd and the index finger was useless, I just had the middle to work w/cuz the ring one was all bent up too (end part of "...star" was kind of stumblebum a little). the gig's done... hell, if I'm riding that van back and walk the tiny way back w/scotty to the old rail car. whew, that was intense.
scotty tells us what happened w/the headlock shit. he still had a good time though there's was some drum adjusts giving him a little trouble... the first gig out is always a shakedown cruise anyway, same w/me. ron said he had a lot of fun, he always says that when he likes the gig... it's a great thing to hear. ig joins us pretty quick and is in great spirits, laughing much. alright. the mayor of viron comes in and is wearing a "fun house" t-shirt - he's very nice and shakes our hands. there's a young man (maybe named jannes?) who made his own stooges shirt - on the back is a list of the tour dates and like thirty of them are for athens, then a day off, then san pedro (!), ann arbor and ipsilanti (his spelling)... pretty cool. he's coming to the napoli gig w/his brother. we load up in the van and driverman george takes back through the tiny streets back to the metropolitan. upstairs at the bar, I have a little jim beam (seriously, tiny) - man, do I love bourbon but don't get into it much any more cuz I start yammering pretty wild on it which would be ok occasionally but the toll on the health is really not happening. I'm better off just doing it now and then. the puressence guys are up here and too and very kind w/nice words. I meet a piano/organ man from england and a young bavarian here on business and talk at them for a bit but letting saxman steve take over in both cases is a wise move... I get into the lunatic monologues that are insane. finally, I end up at tourboss henry and knobman rik's table and some of their friends. they're all nice cats and I've calmed down some. the adrenaline from the gig is finally running out - whoa, it lasted way longer than usual and maybe cuz that's it's the first in a while, I don't know. sure miss scotty - I called down to his room but it just rang and rang. maybe he's konked - soon I am.
friday, july 14, 2006 - montreux, switzerland
thursday (the day after the athens gig), I pop early and hose off, the gratis shovel at the 'tel chow pad - big buffet trough and I make sure I get a lot of fruit cuz the euro bread has a lot of gluten and I don't have my psyllium husks and don't need to be plugged up. george drives us back to whence we came, the venizelos airport - the ride looks a lot like cali on the way to arizona. it's that hot and dry too, mojave style. I ask george to send me some of his music so I can play it on my radio show and then thank him for all his done. tour's like this: cats you depend on so much for just a limited time and then maybe never to see them again... life is trippy, maji yabai. three hours of flying to the geneva airport in switzerland but it takes longer cuz the plane is late to leave, about two hours worth (we really only lost one cuz crossing a time zone minuses one). no prob cuz I got the ipod and all the creedence I loaded up before leaving pedro. whoa, on my way out the plane's hatch, original soulsinger solomon burke is waiting for everyone to bail before he does and I shake his hand and tell him "much respect" - he says he'll see me a little later... man, how I wish! what a nice cat though. it's 'pert-near an hour to drive east along lac le man (also called lake geneva - the biggest of the alpine lakes) to montreux and I listen to ccr's "up around the bend" about thirty times, constantly hitting the back button once it finishes - I really love that tune. funny, when we got into the minibus, everyone was suffocating cuz there was no air but the driver only turned the blower up a notch. being closest up front, I just stood up and cranked it all the way - not trying to be uppity but we needed air. I hope the driver wasn't upset. it sure is pretty along the lake and montreux is gorgeous. we're at le palace montreux (writer victor nabakov spent his last seventeen years here - there's a statue across the road of him) and the vista from the window is gorgeous. the windows open too - nothing fucking worse than those "seal-a-meal" pads where you can't get air in through a porthole... fuck that. scotty hates them too. I call him around nine (we arrived at eight pm) and he tells me to meet him just out the front hatch and starboard a bit at a place called "harry's." there he gets me a hamburger w/bacon on it (they call bacon "lard" on the menu) and it's really good. thank you, scotty. there's a band playing right next table soon enough, a house one called "black diamonds" and they got two lady singers that sing really good, each taking turns on different tunes. they got a sax man who likes playing one-handed and piano/synth guy who also runs a drum machine and midibass. I liked the singers. after a bit, we go to the 'tel and see ron at the bar. he's made friends w/a bulgarian lady who plays the piano and sings there. I hope me and scotty ain't shaming him but will admit it wouldn't be the worst if that happened. I always try to be on my best behavior but maybe it's inevitable when we're talking about watt. I try to be restrained. ron loosens up after a bit and we spiel. konk time follows and they got a good rung on the deck to help feel safe about sueno.
gig day and there's free trough to shovel at this pad so I go down and do that. I go hoof around to push my circulation around - tight muscles in my fucking legs, nothing like a stooge gig to get ready for a stooge gig but still there's some toll to tender. I then chimp diary 'til soundcheck time a 2:30 - whoops, I thought it was four, sorry henry. man, I hate making anything difficult for him but I'm downstairs right away after getting his call. ron rides in the van by himself but I just hoof the how-many yards it takes to get there and find two svt-II amps w/corresponding 8x10 cabs for me. we do a quick soundcheck w/helperman chris singing and like that, we're done. this is a really done-up room, finished hardwood along the walls and everything... pretty fancy. what a mindblow I'm playing the montreux jazz festival - I remember hearing that "live at montreux" record by les mcann when I was a teenager... "try to make it real compared to what? god damn it!" that was a wild song and the only jazz I ever heard before punk (and raymond pettibon) got me into coltrane, mingus, coleman and all that hard bop. I hoof back to the 'tel to read the murakami cuz I don't wanna chow and get to feel slow for the gig.
nine and a third bells: time to get over to the venue. we're at the stravinsky hall part of the montreal congress and exhibition center which is across the street and maybe a hundred feet west - of course, we need a van ride to get there... pretty funny. whatever, I'm w/the team. roadboss eric told me he timed the hoof needed to do it and that measured ninetyone seconds - it takes us longer than that to make the trip on wheels. an even more tappian (as in "spinal tap") moment is using a freight lift to get up to the fifth floor instead of the stairs and it won't work - the liftman repeatedly asks us to get out and get in to somehow fool the sensor that are fouled up and on the third try it works. we're all laughing, you have to. we get to our dressing room and I unveil the shirt to the guys that I'm wearing tonight: a blue one I got in hollywood last week after doing steve jones' radio show ("jonesy's jukebox" - he was a great cat and did great spiel w/out any trace of stupid dj rock jock shit, just natural spiel that made me wanna be w/him forever - he even had an acoustic guitar and had me come w/my bass... he had us jam "tv eye" by the stooges, the end part of "all right now" by free and "born on the bayou" by ccr w/each lasting five or six minutes each - it was a total blast!) w/white writing that says "I'll be wack" under a drawn character of what I guess is supposed to be arnold schwarzenegger - ron extols arnold's california governor move recently to the middle and that's kind of a trip cuz usually he doesn't wanna hear politics much though I know he thinks lots about it. I brought two extra john coltrane button's for a "bravo" (plan b) just in case something happened to my main one... both of these are kind of blurry and rusted to do wearing them at gigs and sweating much. these are the only ones I got left - gonna have to ask craig ibarra to make me some more, he's the cat who's done them for me after I supply him w/the little pictures of trane cuz he's got one of those button-making machine. steve's gotta change reeds after some honks and toots and so there's twice or three times as much of the riffing he does to get boned up for playing but that's ok. somehow we get to talking about the old days and pcp - maybe it was me cuz in pedro, the slang for it was wac and w/my shirt saying what it does... we all have some laughs about how idiotic it was to even try that shit even though we really didn't know what it was - at first we (me, d. boon and pool man tony) were told it pure thc, the psychoactive ingredient in mota. again, there's some pretty good hot sauce, habanero though it did have seeds, it still had heat. I chow some w/chips. then we start to pace, we're on at 10:30. ig comes in to say hi and he's wearing nina's camouflage pants (she joined us yesterday) - he said he had them to go over his jeans but ron says he digs them so iggy says he'll wear them tonight on stage - alright, a new look. seems the gig is gonna be filmed so there's gonna be a bunch of tv cameras around and probably bright (and hot) stage lights. oh boy. it's already kind of sweaty in this dressing room. henry comes to get us, down beat is coming but first we take some pictures... it was only gonna be ig, ron and scotty but henry has talked the photographer into having us all. we take the snaps quick and then are led down a flight of stairs to the stage. we have to come on stage starboard cuz of the way things are layed out and ig is hating that. what's kind of different too is we're having an introduction by the cat who started this festival (it's the fortieth year this time), claude nobs but it's a tiny one and not a windbag - ig hollers "let's go!" and we're on, me last for a change. we come out of the pipe w/"loose" and it's strong, despite the volume on stage being pretty low (it's switzerland and the usual decibel limits). the crowd is intense. the stage is a hardwood deck so I'm careful not to slip or worse (way worse!), twist me knee. that doesn't mean I'm still or doing that statue though - I shake shake shake. I forget to stomp on the last night note of "...stick it" near the end but it ain't too bad of a clam. I am feeling stronger and looser after getting a stooge gig under my belt. scotty's right on top of getting us into "down on the street" - ron was talking about the last gig upstairs where he said ig had to say the song title several times and finally said "down on the street, god damn it!" thoug scotty says he didn't hear any of that. well, he's on top of tonight. he's got the left hand gloved, saying the right one doesn't need it (I think about henry rollins at the big day out a few months ago saying scotty was all about the left hand). when ig comes to jump on my amps, I'm confused to which way he's gonna come around me and we do a little bit of a mandance - whoops, sorry. "1969" up next, ig's singing really good - I mean, I always love his singing but I can tell he's got something more going tonight... it is quite and honor to be playing this festival - all of us have talked about it, sure was righteous of them to invite us. the song churns hard, very happening. I've already sweated my shirt big time - there seems to be no air or the air that there seems to have its molecules suspended in air w/no intention of coming into the lungs, fuck. whatever, this is a stooge gig I'm lit - no whining from watt! "I wanna be your dog" comes up as quick as the others and it's a pile drive - ig makes his first stage dive of the night. my eyes have been glued on him ninety percent of tonight w/the other ten divided between ron and scotty. I get hit in the leg w/someone's sunglasses but take no damage. I gotta tune up when we finish - the humidity is already weirding out my little bass' wood and then I'm right next to iggy - we're in front of the drum riser (inches from it) and gets ready for the "tv eye" lllllllllooooooorrrrddddddddd!, psyching up but as he launches into it, the wet deck (he's already poured water on himself) is way slippery and his feet go right out from under him and right down he goes. that was intense. we still lift off as ron brings us in and I move up front some to shake my fucking brains out - I go the entire tune, even the end part when I'm not playing... the tune fucking possesses me and I can't help it. I gotta have my head in ron's speakers for the solo. tonight ig stretches out some before the "ram it!" parts, probably cuz a tv camera is right on him. his "now ram it" cue, the one he says soft to hip us to the four loud ones coming is a little blurry but I got it and pass the cue on to the asheton brothers and were tight like mites on a dust ball, big time. man, was that song a ride for me! the shirt's totally soaked now. iggy sings a great "dirt" after introducing it as "lyrics that try to transcend the condition of what people try to tell you what you are" (my paraphrasing). when ig visited us before the gig, he said he was going to maybe not have the dancers cuz of that one asshole who put scotty in the headlock last show but we all say we dig having them aboard - he does too. well, here comes "real cool time" - like an idiot, I'm in the sight line between ron and scotty - not on purpose but to hear the beginning chords so I come in right (I do it on "...dog" too) but I gotta be aware more of the sight lines cuz ron and scotty use the ojos to get in synce. a wave from ron's head let's me know I'm fucking baka watt and get the hell out of the way. singing done, iggy brings the dancers on stage - hey, I get kisses from some ladies when usually I get men which way ok (I do give a big hug later to one cat when the dancing is done cuz I'm happy they're happy). there is no air at all on stage now - none, I think it got used up. only a second to recover a little before ig yells "no fun" and scotty being right on top of like he has all night, get's us in w/his intro and the dancing gets really wild but there's no problems from anyone except roadboss eric has to deal w/an idiot camera man (the tv crew) and his cables plus almost getting yanked by an idiot security guard who's got no clue in the world to what's up. we finish the song up a little blurry cuz scotty reads the four "no fun" lines in the wrong place - he kills the beat and washes on the cymbals 'til we get to where he already is (the end!) but still it's good times had by all, ig thanks all our dancers. then he yells for air - "there's no air in here!" a tiny plastic table fan appears on the drum riser but it's pointed down! I don't notice it 'til where well into "1970" and then I also notice it's set for the lowest speed - what's up w/that?!!! holy smoke. my levis are soaked coming on to the ankles, it's total shvitz up here. ron and iggy's duet, "mindroom" gives me some respite but I gotta get the tuning way together cuz that's suffering from the heat/humidity too. don't mean to sound like I'm whining cuz actually it's a great time w/the gig, just some challenges I'm trying to relate. hey, I got no cramps in my fingers and legs - in ways I feel totally alright and holler just that ("I feel all right") on the other side of where iggy's doing it. the tune ends let's say "creatively" - scotty beforehand asked ig if he could get some head's up for the oncoming finish w/two "I feel alright!" lines but he gives the signal and then sings no more! we improvise, no prob. I notice jos and chris have to stand way far to the side in the wings cuz there's no curtains and this is why it's hard for them to read what ig needs, like the mic stand (at one point jos just brings one up when ig hollers for it when it's right behind him) - it gets crazy on a stooge gig stage, what can I tell you? it's a wild time though and I love it... no sleepwalking or connecting the dots here! I try my hardest to dance up a storm for "fun house" - scotty's galloping his fills really intense, I can just imagine the heat on him but he's doing so fucking great. I go off on the little bass maybe a little to insane on "l.a. blues" - trying to express the kiln effect that's firing up my glaze (!) and miss the beginning of "skull ring" a bit, just a cunt hair though - not much. I try to move my shoulders w/the groove and not just shake asynchronously, it's something I'm trying to learn (w/out copying) from others who are so good at it that I admire. iggy then does the strangest intro for "little doll" - some weird chanting/gurgling spiel that's pretty trippy - scotty brings me in w/a flam. what a rain forest we got going, just as steamy as a real one if not more, crimony. scotty does have a good groove on it though, a slow churn that makes me wanna swivel some on my ankles. amazing I have no cramps, either in the hands or the legs. yep, it takes a stooge gig to get watt ready for stooge gigs! I notice ig going way to stage port for the bridge - I think he's getting serious overtones that are bringing him to sing in very far away key, one light years from the one we're in... he's been transported and channeling in another world! ig sings cues the ending w/repeating the "little doll I can't forget" line and then follows it w/the one by himself (funny, ron riffed on this line in the dressing room while we we're waiting for gigtime, coming up w/"puffing on your minaret") and then calls out for the double dog and we reprise "...dog" to end up the set. it's a wild frenzy charge, no air and all heat but I give it all I got. somehow I make it and we come off stage quick where went on - there's no moisture (liquids for drinking) and ig needs some bad. henry runs up some stairs quick while what seems a long time passes - it's just our state, soaked and beat. iggy calls for us to do "little electric chair" and we kick right into it, trading fours after a verse and a chorus. it's way thumping. ig signals we're done, that's the last tune and it's right up the stairs. scotty's in bad shape, he's saying he thinks he might've gotten heat stroke. I'm really but not so tore so I just use the deck to prop up a spent body - no cramps though, only sweat-soaked and panting... that sure was a burner-upper, reminds me of that minutemen tour we did in the summer of 1984, 'pert-near every gig was like that. I was a twentyfive year old then though. I'm laughing though cuz I love music that much, it's ok.
ig and nina come in to talk w/us a while and the debriefing is full of laughs - except for scotty but he's slowly coming around, thank god. that kind of scared me. I think we need some real fans blowing on stage, truly. talk turns to the upcoming album, ig bouncing off ideas about maybe a farfisa for one tune and maybe a soul singer to do some harmonies - someone like mary wells. whoa. I'm on the deck at this point and just listening. soon ig's on the deck too but not prone like me, more sitting. after a bit, we do some interviews w/journalists - one of them is an old friend named tivo, great to see him again. I do one spiel along w/ron and he's so good at it, I listen up big time and only chime tiny things so I don't wreck his flow. when we're done, we're done and I hoof back to the 'tel - hey, ron's ahead of me, hoofing himself. alright. I get back to my chamber and out of the thoroughly sweated outfit and into a dry one, then go up a rap w/scotty in his chamber some. I sprawl on his deck and we talk lots about music, stooge music. he's got a great mind for music, great ideas. he can work it good too but I dig hearing him air his thoughts on it. I'm inspired and go konk on my deck that way.
saturday, july 15, 2006 - naples, italy
I pop at seven bells and head downstairs for the free trough. a young photographer named jay raps w/me as I shovel - he's from l.a. and likes to skateboard so maybe he'll take up my invite to paddle kayaks in the harbor. he's heard about the skatepark we got there and wants to try it out. he's very cool people. an older (by that I mean maybe a few years older than me) photographer comes by my table and thanks me for the "blast from the past" at last night's gig. alright, thank you much. I go hoof up and down the rue de lac to get some circulation going 'til it's time to bail for the airport at 9:30. we go by van whence we came, lots of wine grapes and sunflowers growing on farms alongside the road. we're taking a private jet to italy, the same one we used last year to get to luzern but this time there's no captain nicholas for the pilot, instead it's former three-stripe (co-pilot) frank who now has four stripes. alright! he remembers my name and shakes my hand as I board and take my same seat across from scotty. it's the same bombardier jet even. it's about an hour and a half flight and read my ryu murakami book after chowing some curry chicken that's served to me. I also get some incredible pictures of the alps w/the little digicamera. we land at the naples aeroporto di capodichino (smoothest touchdown ever!) and have to wait some while pilot frank negotiates w/the people on the ground, something about them needing a flight plan or something. it's pretty hot out, sort of like athens but more humid though not like montreux. the sun is really bright, brilliant. we get taken by a bus to where private jet people come in, much more streamlined to get that going and the bags are soon on trolleys and we're out on the street for a few minutes for the ride to the 'tel. it's called the grand hotel parker's and I'm just there a tiny bit cuz the crew is leaving for the venue to get things going for the gig. I bring my 'puter w/me cuz I'm gonna stay w/them and not come back 'til the show's over. we're playing outside in a big park that has lots of palm trees and an amphitheatre though our set is going down on an put-together stage on asphalt. this is the second of three days of the neapolis festival and the amphitheatre is for robert plant (led zeppelin singer) and carlos santana, who are each doing their sets there. it's right near where the dressing rooms are. I go out to our stage and put a new battery in the bass (yeah, it uses one for the onboard preamp). I check out my amp setup too since there's no soundcheck for us this. I got an svt classic w/a 8x10 cab and a svt-II pro w/a 4x10 + 1x15 cab. helperman chris is unfamiliar w/these kind and only has the 4x10 plugged in. I hip him to the full rage option, using all the speakers and explain even though the impedance of the total is now eight ohms instead of four, it's ok that it's fed from the four ohm output of the amp and though not all the power will get transferred (about sixty percent), the other way (an eight ohm amp working a four ohm load) could lead to some serious blowup. I can compensate w/more clockwise w/the volume knob. I go back to the dressing room and rearrange the couch (it's a huge room that's pretty much bare) so it's by the only wall outlet cuz that's where the fan is and konk (the deck is bare - watt needs a rug to be at home w/that). I pop later in the afternoon and henry says I was snoring it up big time, though almost in response to someone who came in to talk w/him. shit, I'm sorry - I didn't realize but I know, I'm a fucking lunatic. there's a great spread on a table outside the room and I chow a salami, sundried tomato, eggplant and mozzarella (grilled) sandwich. I then chimp diary. the stooge guys come a little after nine and I put on my t-shirt for tinight, a black one w/white writing for this pedro band called f.y.p. they're now called toys that kill and I dig their mainman todd much, he also runs recess records - maybe i've chimped this before. I go out to see robert plant do a song, an old zep one I can't remember the name of. the band is pretty low energy but he still can sing the high stuff. I see carlos santana come in the hallway and am too afraid to say hi, I get shy. a big reason I came early was to watch the band before us, one from nyc I like a lot called the liars but they had to cancel - we're told there was a death in the family. that's very sad, my heart goes out to them.
it's pretty far from the stage to our room here so the van ride seems justified. 10:25 comes and it's our turn. we ride out to the back of the stage and ig only says "let's go" instead of hollering it, that's different. we roll out "loose" and man, is the sound tiny up here. iggy keeps yelling "louder" and yeah, we need it but the mix doesn't get much boost. whatever, I gotta give it my best. trippy, I was telling the guys beforehand about a gig I just did in orange county w/a bunch of hardcore bands where my amp went out right before the first song and I had to do the whole set not hearing one bass note - neiether did my original secondmen guys (they were the ones w/me, pete and jer) but they did great. I had to push on and not have a fit or go less than all the way. I keep my eyes drilled on ig. it seems like a lot of folks are new to us except lots of young people up front but fuck, the asshole security people right away on beating on them. we jam "down on the street" and even the squarejohns are up for that - maybe cuz of the humping ig does to the tops of my bass amps but then in "1969" they seem perplexed again. it appears everyone knows "I wanna be your dog" however and I make sure to keep out of ron and scotty's sight lines while still getting a good bead on hearing the guitar intro so I don't fuck things up... ig wants us louder, chris turns ron's amps up. some security screw is smoking in the pit and iggy tells him to put his cigarette out cuz he's trying to breathe and this guy gets pissed. not much stuff flying up on the stage - if there's any problems, it's these bozos. I look out into the crowd and see it's listing way more starboard - there's a big gape even portside, back behind the frontal throng. "tv eye" time, the band's really cooking though lots of the crowd are only gawking - a weird equation but that's something not alien to me though c'mon people, it's the fucking stooges! it seems even more apparent w/"dirt" but I'm thinking some crowd participation w/the next two might jumpstart things. I don't wanna make it sound like the folks up front aren't fully into it cuz they way are... for "real cool time" - iggy tells the security to lay off or he'll split, calls them fuckers... and they fucking are - like three-on-one beatdowns, slamming people in the gate as they heave them out and shit - like I've seen w/jock jerks in the u.s. sometimes. I have to lay out the whole time during ron's four chords of intro cuz I can't hear the rhythm correct and don't wanna throw us off... I wait for scotty and follow him in. ig tells some belig goons "don't beat that guy!" referring to some kid getting pummled - imagine hearing that and not being able to help out, it's a big downer on me. ig asks for dancers on stage to join us and the brave first ones take heavy blows, 'pert-near none of this first wave make but then roadboss eric works hard enough to get these thugs to relent some - soon there's lots of young folks dancing their hearts out up w/us though the security dorks on stage are not w/it... like six of them form a line in front of scotty's drum riser, just standing there like an idiot line-up while others in the pit again attack more kids wanting to get on stage - iggy calls these black t-shirted "securro" fuckheads "fascisti" and I see one of the capo's eyes dart nervously right at that instant which is kind of funny in a weird way cuz this guy has a reo speedwagon singer perm haircut, I don't know - it's a weird combo of images for me but whatever humor there is out-weighed by their retard behavior. I jump on the drum riser, fist in the air and holler "napoli! napoli! napoli!" - I feel some of my italian blood boil (my ma is from scilian and dolimiti people) and want those enthusiastic w/stooge music that I'm w/them and not the fucking asshole goons. I get many many hugs from the dancers - happy watt though it takes a pretty long while to have the them vacant the stage. it's like they struggled much to get up here and now it's hard to let go. band intros next - once again iggy says I'm jamming econo, much respect to him. it's funny for ron's - ig goes "what can I say? how about that pizza pie?" - that's not out of the blue but maybe a reference to something I told iggy while we were in the dressing room after seeing some of robert plant... I saw mister plant working the crowd w/some "hey luigi... hey luigi... what do you want, luigi? hey gino..." and that kind of thing in the middle of one of his tunes... I don't know, maybe cuz my ma's people were italian, I kind of tripped on that. anyway, "1970" next and it's a semi-truck slamming down the grapevine, whoa. we end it good like scotty wanted it pretty much too. it's not too hot up here and plus I got a big fan on scotty's riser setting up a wind corridor I can step into to get air at any time, it's ok that way. I see scotty's got a huge floor fan on him so he doesn't have the hell he did last gig, alright. as ig and ron go into "mindroom," iggy makes sure steve get's his shout out. I find a little bit of my own dance energy for "fun house" cuz I have zero cramps or tightness any in my body - I'm stretched out good now w/a couple gigs under my belt and especially that shvitz one last night. my crazy shit at the end of "l.a. blues" is maybe a tiny bit less crazy than last night - I just wanna make sure to start "skull ring" w/scotty, which I do. ig follows that up w/a shorter reprise of that trippy chant he used last night for "little doll" and as if him worrying he was singing in an interstellar key then, he's not now - he's right on the money. ig calls for the double dog to wind things up and we're off. we go back to do "little electric chair" for an encore and I don't hear one note of my bass solo, hope it wasn't full of clams! I don't think it was cuz my fingers looked like they were in the right place though I had to do some braille phrasing. after that I put my butt right up on the front head of scotty's kick drum to feel him beat it vigorously. ok, the show's over but instead of joining the others for the van ride back, I decide to hoof it. I get kind of lost though trying to find my way to the dressing room area and all kinds of italian guys give me congrats, take pictures w/me and get autographs. that's so nice of them. a few are closer to my age but most are really young. I finally find out where we're at and eric says I'm lucky the cigarette security thug didn't find me cuz he was banging on the van, guess he wanted words w/iggy, fucking strunzo. carlos santana is on the amphitheatre stage nearby and I see him lead his band through some crazy out-there free stuff kind of tune and then re-join my stooge people. I chow the ocotopus salad I put aside in the cooler and soon the greek cat who showed us his custom-made t-shirt in athens, jannes, arrives w/his brother and cousin - all three very cool cats who made a real hellride by boat and car to get here for the gig. I found a huge plastic garbage sack and fill that w/waters and chow containers of salad and egg plant. we rap a bit w/the greek brothers and then bid them farewell, getting a van ride to the 'tel before the traffic gets plugged after santana's set. I'm tuckered and konk quick as we get there.
saturday, july 22, 2006 - caminha, portugal
six days off following the napoli gig w/three of them there, a travel day and then two days in portugal before we do the last gig for this euro run. pretty trippy and very different from the typical watt tour but the world is not made up of just watt tours so I'm here to learn. like tourboss henry always writes in the tour booklets he gives us: "you're lucky enough to be doing what you're doing" - hear hear (or is here here? hear here? here hear?). anyway, please insert scottish accent for more realism, henry doesn't mince words. he's a good man and I've dug him since the second I met him.
sunday after the napoli gig found me a trippy place - big time konked. I must've incurred a shit-load of sleep debt cuz I can't remember when I was out like that, something like seventeen hours all together (I popped for an hour w/the sun to shovel free trough topside). it was weird but obviously my body needed it... maybe my head too but there was all kinds of bizarre confusion dreams getting laid on me somehow, so confusing I can't remember them right except it was total disorientation and mental stumbling, grasping for a foothold constantly... maybe it was just my body cuz I don't think the head did get much konk. I know I've got some anxiety - I went to the roof to get air and found knobman rik and roadboss eric, rik giving me a "campri" - some cherry liqueur terrible-tasting whatever and then drummerman scotty came up and flowed jack daniel whiskey my way - not my preference and also not all that much but enough to not be reasonable w/hitting the spigot to off about venting anxiety (though it didn't seem it probably cuz I didn't actually voice it so others could know where the fuck I was coming from) plaguing me over any conflict that might happen come december when the stooges do some england gigs while I'm on the continent opening up for the chili peppers w/my new trio. it wasn't the actual town or venue or whatever - it was just clearing out the date so I could be where I should be to make it all work. of course things got confused and people not knowing where I was coming from - me starting to point and get loud, not being mad at them but then how could they tell? my idea of the issue and theirs were lightyears apart... I am not good at hiding anxiety but stumble along unconsciously pretty good at confusing w/drama from wherever tangling things up at times. I had no "mission" at being right but rather frustrated w/the situation of having to work the balancing act thing - ahh... this happens w/no liquor in me too - I'm just not a good hider w/frettin', period.
the next morning eric was good enough to let me explain this on the phone and rik gave me some a ear-time in person. I was very grateful to both. I explained the fret plaguing me - henry was there w/rik and I pleaded guilty to him for impersonating a minister of mis-information as well. everyone wants to help me work this scheduling stuff out - I just feel the weight of putting any kind of burden on the stooge crew/band/legacy - all of it cuz I feel the don't need any of it. shit, what's that about? I'm here to hurt and not impinge in the slightest, not even a cunthair so I am determined to get it more together that way. if you're worrying out loud about worrying things then that's a fucking problem in itself, right? man, am I retard about so much shit... no wonder I keep to myself so much in my pedro town - my people skills ain't worth fuck all at times, I swear (what people skills?!). eric's cool enough though to let me accompany him and saxy steve on a trip to pompeii to see the roman ruins there. again, I'm grateful. the taxis are on strike so we make a plan at the breakfast shovel to take the train. first though there's semantics w/jos over the big bang theory - man, I hope they realize I got no intent in making anyone feel bad... I am just the clumsiest asshole ever w/language and it's delivery. if I didn't really want to do something about it, I wouldn't be writing about here - chimping it here to finesse some kind of image cuz it's more like puking up something, maybe better to get back out the in door. what kind of fucking shame can you glean from this shit anyway? probably a buttload figuring on what kind of case you wanna make out of it. hopefully nobody's keeping score, that's what I've told ron and scotty. I just wanna get better at being a person. ok, the trip: our 'tel's on a big hill (just west of vomero) overlooking the north part of the bay and so it's a hoof down to where the train station is. we pass the german consulate and there's two carabinieri guarding out front, their microvan is parked where we pass (it's empty, they're by the gate) and it can fit four guys, tops but there's ports for guns to stick out of - that's trippy... maybe there's some kind of kevlar lining cuz the body's metal seems about beercan thick, one of the most econo armored cars ever... and tiniest. look like it's rolled over a few times too! I'm not trying to make fun, just tripping on it. it's starting to get warm but the the tunnel to the platform has quite a venturi launching much breeze down it. the train tunnels themselves are like twice as big at least as new york city ones and the cars are bigger too. different also are the widows are slid down open. pretty good ride, we take four stops to the garibaldi stop to switch to a train that'll take us to the ruins. it's about twenty stops on this ride and the train's above ground and we roll through much proj, right along the water and south around the volcano cuz where we want is on the other side. we get off at the pompeii scavi stop and the entrance is only about a hundred feet away. man, what a mindblow this place is, wow. I mean, yeah, lots of folks were killed in 79 a.d. when the top of vesuvius blew and rained all kinds of hell down but that's what really grabs me most (though I did take some shots of plastercasts made from ashes left by burned-up folks, I know that was kind of weird) is all that stuff coming down buried this town and preserved like maybe no other way. it was discovered in the early 1700s and has been in processes of excavation ever since but to walk through a roman town 'pert-near in ways those actual romans did awesome on me, stunning (I'm gonna use that word more and more in my life, I can dig it). these roman cats had some amazing technique, whoa. every little thing has me tripping on it, thinking and wondering - being fucking amazed. we spend hours and hours in the blazing heat but it seems to go by just like that for me... we weren't aware on how to get a map so just followed as many blocks (and there's blocks and blocks!) as we could get down and finally we end up missing only the theatre and the boneyard, not to bad for kind of flying blind. most of the buildings were pads people lived in and it wasn't just monuments and stuff like that - I had an intense way of identifying itself kind of me, I've never been drawn on old stuff in that way before, it made me think of when I give someone a tour of my pedro town though there's a mystery and wondering part very much unlike anything for me back home. it was heavy on me, a wonderworld. I'm so glad eric and steve let me go w/them. I probably would've went on my own but I'm glad I got to come w/them. we got back after eight (we left at eleven that morning) and I told ron and scotty about our trip while they were chowing. they were really nice and gave me parts of their chow, like heaps of salad, french fries and steak hunks. that was nice of them. it was easy to konk from all that hoofing though my mind was kind of wired from having it blown by seeing that pompeii town.
tuesday I popped early, eager to take a boat ride. capri looks half as far as catalina does from pedro and yesterday, eric said he'd be into going. he's restoring an old tugboat himself from scratch. well, he's got too much work to do so has to pass but told me about some schedules when boats come and out for capri. the marina down from us is called mergellina and when eric checked things out on the internet, he was looking at times and trips for both there and beverello, which is on the other side of the castello d'oro and the more southern bay part. I found this out by hoofing down and around the mergellina marina (on the way, I passed the u.s. consulate and the carabinieri there had two huge armored cars - half the size of tour busses w/a machine gunner guarding through a pop-top on each one) and learning the morning cruises had already gone out - not another 'til like five bells, oh fuck. I was determined to get on a boat though - I was so angry at myself for being baka cuz it wasn't eric's fault at all, he's got a lot going on w/band stuff and this is watt stuff, personal... I then realize there's more than capri - hey, that's fancyshit anyway - how about ischia! fucking idiot watt, of course! most of the italians in pedro come from ichia. there's a bunch of coming and going for there and I get a round trip on a jet boat for twentyseven euros (about $35 u.s.). there's still about an hour before it bails and I'm so excited about going, especially after kicking myself so earlier from thinking I had blown it that I wanna share the joy w/scotty cuz during the "big day out" tour in australia, he went w/me on a boat cruise of sydney harbor so I race back up to the 'tel to see if he wants to go but no answer on either the phone or at his hatch so I get back down to the marina quick so I don't blow it. whoa, that's a lof of hoofing but I'm pumped to see ischia. boarding time, the chairs are inside and like airplane ones - there's deck outside to stand on. I get one by a window though they're tinted and kind of splashed up. I can see some as we pull out of the harbor and soon we're up to speed and really hauling. the motors' rumble soon has me konked and I'm out 'til we get into the harbor at ischia, passing a little lighthouse on the breakwater. the island is beautiful, little houses on the hill w/roads leading up and around from the docks. you can rent scooters but I just hoof around, tiny streets winding around a little downtown here by the waterfront. some of the boats tied up are some major yachts, much spendy - there's probably plans to make this place like a capri somewhere down the line but for now it's ok. if I had more time I'd go explore the towns inland but first off I wanna chow so I won't be rushed when it's time to bail. I find a chowpad called umberto's and have what they call a "mix grill" - a salad w/a big broad piece of swordfish, a huge shrimp and a squid w/out its tentacles - like what you see calamari sliced up when they're like onion rings but this is one whole piece w/out the head or innards, like a sock. it all tastes really good. the weather is like the best days in so cal and I got a total rilakkumma moment... much calmness for watt and I'm digging it. after chow I hoof around and check out as much as the waterfront as I can 'til it's time for the boat to leave. it's actually another kind of vessel and though similar, you're allowed to stand on a little rear deck in the open air. I'm way into that. the jet motors fire up and there's a huge churn aft as the sea foams up behind us. where I'm at on this ride I can see everything and we pass a rock peninsula w/an old castle built on it, castello di aragonese. the sun's coming down and lighting everything up just beautiful. we pass another island and make for mergellina, passing ferries, sail boats and fishing boats - even a can boat... I saw four hammerhead cranes on the docks on the other side of the bay coming in from the airport saturday so they got some of that going on (by comparison, us and long beach have 240 of them). I get back to the 'tel and get up to the roof to find ron and scotty so I tell them of today's adventure. I also tell them about something that was pretty freaky for me on way back when I tried to find scotty earlier... I was going up this narrow alley when I see this guy come out an apartment hatch who suddenly turns around and that's when I hear the most crazyass screaming ever, supplemented w/shit crashing against walls - it's a drag out husband-and-wife by the sound of the two voices hollering and it ain't just words - there's enough emotion to pack the power vesuvius lit off when it blew and deep in my bones I immediately recognize this rage - it's the same kind of hollering my ma would go into when we were kids and she had so much to raise me and my sisters alone (my pop always gone w/the navy). I tell ron about her grandpa blowing a blood vessel and keeling over dead while yelling at her uncle - there's a anger streak a mile wide in our family and I explain to him it doesn't take drinking to get it going, there's some kind of behavior imprinted - I'm not saying all italian people are like this, like it's in their genes or anything like that, it just so happened I was reminded of something in my own family history here. I think what the life I lived so far has taught me is though is I can try and fight that insanity if I realize the potential is there. I can go fucking off and I know I used to a lot more when I was younger and 'pert-near oblivious to such behavior. life is about change or can be - I look to rilakkuma for inspiration. I want a fire in my heart and soul - not in my head w/rage. I don't think ron wants to hear it but he is a good listener even if he sooshes me up pretty quick. iggy comes down w/nina and I bail cuz I figure all four are gonna chow... I don't wanna be a fift wheel and I've got a head full of thinking to do... so glad I got to ride on a boat in italy though, righteous.
wednesday was a travel day for us to get from napoli to porto in portugal. we'll leave the 'tel at one pm so that gives me time to shovel free trough upstairs and then walk south on this main road the 'tel's on, corso vittorio emanuel. it wraps around the hill to really see the city - where the 'tel is, the west is mainly what you see w/the ocean and the marina. this is a winding road that is stuffed traffic - half of scooters w/much blue smoke put out by them. when I get around the hill and look down on the inner city, the smog is 'pert-near as bad as the sick soup tokyo is drowned in, maybe worse. it's really sad - this from an idiot who lives in so cal. man, I wish we could heal the air all over. I hoof quick and take in all I can w/my senses way towards castle elmo on the top of the hill but don't quite get there, I've run out of time - dividing what I had total by two, this is as far as I can make it and still get back so I can be ready in the lobby and not make ron having to wait. I 'pert-near got there though, the wall was just right there. I fucking covered a lot of ground and am so glad I made the hoof cuz it was neat, these tours are real opportunities for me to learn about different pads by being there, even if it ain't extended, it's still impressions on me I can't get on tv, there's a physicalness to it that's singular for me. I gotta make do w/what's at hand and not feel I've squandered the chance. it's the school life for me, no thoughts of trying to get away w/some hooky. I get back sweaty - fuck it... more "old spice" under the arm and I'm down to the minibus w/little clothes sack, 'puter wack pack and self. we take the winding road the other way to hit the autostrade to capodichino airport and the sun is out bright. we're the first is line, alright. we fly first to de gaulle near paris and then onto sa carneiro in porto (portugal). we make the two fights easy but when ivan comes to pick us up around ten pm, we find all our bags except the carry-ons didn't. this was one of the few times I check my clothes sack in too cuz usually I bring on board w/me and the 'puter sack. oh well, I have to laugh though I do hope they get found cuz I love that little red bass and also dig the belt bryce at the 686 snowboarding company gave me. I won't let anger get me though, have to let it go. we get to the solverde 'tel just north of espinho after what seems like a little wander. the airport is north of porto so I know we went through there (porto is portugal's second biggest city) on our way. I was listening to creedence on the ipod the whole way so it didn't bother me anyway, I get lost in it! konk came quick after a little spiel w/the guys.
thursday had free trough in the chow part and I'm determined to finish the last third of ryu murakami's "coin locker babies" so I read the whole day 'til it's done. man, that was a trip - right at the very there was an upturn but there was lots of crazy nihilistic madness going down in that tale. I kept thinking of the other murakami book I read last run (haruki's "kafka on the shore") and I know they were written twenty years or more apart but man, it seemed like there were some big time parallels... maybe it's just my crazy head. I give the book to ig to read cuz he finished the joyce "exiles" one I gave him (he asked me if I was old enough to understand what was happening in that play, alright!). for dinner I went across the road to a market and got a hunk of manchego cheese and chorico mouro, a mouthful of each at a time 'til I got full. I went downstairs to visit my compadres and this group of locals in folk dress did old style portuguese village dancing in the lobby, reminding me a little of mariachis back home.
friday had me join saxman steve after the free morning shovel in a hoof along the beach to the train station in espihno to ride up to porto - him to see his music friends he's played w/a few times on his own here and me to hoof around and explore. it was only two and half euros round trip (about $3 u.s.). the river douro runs down the middle of the very hilly town and I was on the north side, checking out the tiny streets and waterfront. the weather was beautiful and not too hot but still lots of sun. I went to the sao franciso church which was intensely baroque, incredibly carved and gilded inside plus they let you visit the catacombs. there was this carving of "the lady of the good trip" which was a big carving of a madonna-looking lady laying in a big boat w/no masts - she was symbolic of a peaceful journey though death. portugal for a time in the old days was a huge power in the world w/her navy everywhere. there were tiled-on-the-outside buildings like in lisbon but not as many. I found a giant shishkabob for five euros that was really good, huge gizzards on it too. it was a great day for me exploring this town, it put lots of ideas and romantic trips in my head. that happens to me w/stuff foreign, I like different cuz it spins my head. I like home too. you roam, you roost: part of this sailor's life, I can dig it!
gig day (saturday) and I pop come eight bells. I see none of my compadres in the chowpad as I shovel once again some runny scrambled eggs (I think I heard ron say he was grossed out but I can still get them down) and bacon (watch out for unchewable gristle - best to spit those parts out) and then fruits like different kinds of melons in slices, pears, peaches and prunes covered w/plain yogurt. this all gets washed down w/coff. it's been pretty much the same drill the last two weeks (all these troughs have be variations of the same type of buffet deal) but for the first time, I feel a little bloated. damn. tonight we play the first time in a week so I'm gonna rest up and recover from the soreness my ankles got from all the hoofing in porto yesterday even though I got a hankering very intense to walk up and down the praia (beach) for many hours... I just gotta fight it. if I listen to my body, it ain't too hard to due cuz sure enough, I've incurred another sleep debt so I give in and am out for many hours on the deck. that hardly happens to me ever but it's twice this tour... must look to rilakkuma for inspiration, this is how I reconcile it. I chimp diary around noon 'til I get a call from henry and what do you know, my little clothes sack has shown up! last night I had a bravo (meaning "plan b") going just in case the vortex had it and my outfits (plus what I really fretted about losing: this great snowboarder's "tool belt" bryce at 686 gave me) forever, washing my only skivvies in the sink w/the hair shampoo (every pad has little bottles of this and sometimes one of "bath foam/wash") plus the blue plaid shirt (the one w/snap front pockets big enough to hold my passport in it's vinyl protector - I get sweaty and wrinkle up those things w/the government does not dig) and had them out on the balcony to dry in the sun (so much better and quicker than inside). what I was gonna do was play the gig free ballin' and then use the underwear for the plane ride, using for a gig shirt one of the ones they were using for merch there. well, now I got a going home outfit all set though I'll use one of the levis I tub-washed in napoli and dried of a balcony there cuz I've been wearing the levis I originally planned to go home in - I was wearing those only long enough for the plane trip but you know what happened to the bags after the plane trip... I guess I'm getting into all this clothes shit cuz the guys were getting all girly on what they had to buy to wear, either here at the 'tel store or in porto or wherever (though rik and jos are talking about this all the time) - I would pay it no mind except for the fact they're always razzing me about my outfits and how I don't... whatever - that's what I mean by girly though I mean no offence to women - more guys are into this than they would have you believe. it's funny.
I get dressed for the gig. I got a black "toys that kill" t-shirt on that theur mainman todd c gave me, it's got a picture of fjk and jackie o in a amc pacer on it. yes, I got my belt on too. on the unused bed is tomorrow's going home outfit - even clean socks, clean everything. I try to think about the people have to sit near me... sometimes. I do some laps in the room barefoot to clear my head - I used to do this a lot as a kid but wold actually run into the corners of the walls, bouncing of them w/my shoulders and w/my eyes closed. worked up a good frezied ecstatic state doing that. now it's more for inducing thinking, getting stuff in order in my own head. I sure ain't gonna chow again, not 'til I'm at the gig and then just a little bit. there's nothing worse for me that a bloated feeling, fucking hate it.
8:15 pm is shove-off time for our last gig this trip. it's in a town called caminha about a hundred klicks north (about sixtytwo miles) and we're part of the "vilar de mouros" festival, us on the middle of three days. it's one of portugal's oldest ones, this is year thrityfive w/thirtyfive bands for thirtyfive euros (about $45 u.s.). tricky's on after us but we gotta bail soon after (have to leave for the airport at 6:45 am) so I gotta miss him, damn. I sure remember getting to jam w/him during the 1996 "big day out" in australia... am wondering what he's up to these days. we get to the venue a little after ten, it's all pretty much freeway though there's a huge plug of traff when we pass through porto, making for some l.a. style crawl. getting to see some pretty sunset though and w/the ipod putting sleater-kinney's "dig me out" and assorted roky erickson after through the ear things, I'm insulated as much as ron, scott and steve are (iggy's riding in another car w/henry) from me. ron hates yammering in the ride. caminha is a tiny town in the woods not too far off the main road and the last parts of the "road" is a twisty path that's pretty intense that gets you to the leveled off festival grounds. hey, there's ivan! there too are some sandwiches made w/different stuff - I stuff three of them w/potato chips for texture and chow one, wrapping the other two up and putting them in my 'puter sack (I brought it w/me cuz I thought maybe a ninety minute or so ride might need some chimping for nerves but the ride was not smooth enough for that on my lap unless I absolutely had to - singing to myself w/the music was good enough). I promise ron I won't chow any more - just these three little sandwiches out of a whole bunch and plus, the folks here said they'd make them hot chow after. there's maybe a two by three foot canvas oustide our dressing room/trailer w/out wheels and some paints in cups on a chair next to it so ron paints what he calls "portuguese sunset" and I like it. he even signs his name on it later. I take a snap of it. ig comes by to tell me to keep chugging on the bass solo in "little electric chair" (which means "no jaco"), keeping it to eighth notes and asks me about what I'd doing during the tune's intro, to confirm the part he wants so we're cool w/that. ron says he's written a bass solo for the tune, I'd love to hear it. I know he wants me to improvise off the main lick he's doing on the guitar. a portuguese band is before us and all the guys think they're pretty good. finally 11:20 comes and it's our turn - I've been given the chave (portuguese for key) to lock up our space which is always good. we're close enough to walk though it's 'pert-near the same distance we use a van ride for in athens and montreux. it's deep backstage and no audience is anywhere near though. eric gives me my bass - whoa, it's been a week since I touched her - I hate that and now only seconds to warm up - hey, it's funny really... I ain't gonna get all precious on the "warm up" thing, especially seeing that ron NEVER does it, just gets up there and wails. he's got somewhat of a challenge tonight though cuz the silver case had the pedals and it never showed up so eric and the helpermen scrambled and go together every device ron uses except the naylor pedal which is too rare to be here or 'pert-near anywhere. chris, jos and eric did great - much respect to them. I've got the two 8x10 cabs, sideways w/one on top of the other like I'm used to but both amps are ampeg svt-III and these don't have much oomph but at least there's a tube in the front end. I ain't complaining cuz it could be a lot worse. I do have to get them turned up all the way when ig hollers "let's go!" and we start off w/"loose" there a second or two of no guitar too but ron feels out that sitch quick - like they say in vaudeville: "work the room," right? the only prob I got is that I take my glasses off and put them by the tuner which is on scotty's drum riser (he's got a taller one tonight - I like them shorter - hell, I like them on the deck and that's how I do it my bands) and I'm not used to the controls on these amps and can't see shit - in fact, getting to where I am was kind of tough cuz there's no lights at all except stage stuff, controlled from somewhere. ron even hollered "I can't see!" when coming up (I was behind him). so, w/all the darkness, I can't run as fast as I usually do but there still in time to plug in a cable w/out a right angle connector (it was the silver case w/the pedals) but it'll work fine if I just make sure I got enough slack - I think eric told me it's five feet shorter but that's still thirty feet. man, I already started chimping about us starting the first tune so let me get to that - what's w/me and tangents? like I said, I had to crank all the way the stuff I'm using to get it up but it's still pretty tiny so I stay close in front of my amps. I so much do wish I could get more eye contact w/scotty - I saw him using the mirror to fit his sunglasses but I'm sure that's functional... I could even read his eyebrows if they ever got on me but I guess he's work to do concentrating w/looks at the drums and doesn't need to be distracted by the idiot bass player. I am needy person, huh? it's a big crowd of portugal cats out in front of us though and they're very enthusiastic. ain't it a trip how I'm more involved w/my guys up here instead all those people? well, basically I'm afaid and want help. it's like that w/my own bands even but there I can be a little more heavy w/"asking" for some eye contact... maybe "heavy" is a lame way to put it. here I go again - back to the gig! "down on the street" next and I don't know if I was a little flat at the start of the gliss that brings us in. I do get the amps up all the way - whatever that full starboard one is!?!! I do hear compressors kicking in so I know I'm probably at the roof w/them. strange tone - I know the eq's flat. iggy is singing and dancing really great, the crowd is firing him good and likewise, I'm bouncing some off of him (really trying to)... down on my knees when he gets up on my amps. the year w/the magic number song comes after, "1969" and he's really fired up now - got his jeans back on after a couple of gigs w/nina's camouflage pants (she had to bail wednesday) and his belt too. although the weather's pretty calm w/the temperature and humidity, it's getting sweaty for me and I spot a fan on the deck to my starboard, where jos usually is. I point and the fan - it's a small being used for a smoke machine and needs an extension cord to get it close enough where I can have a channel of windblow to step into when I need it. I like that, maybe not always having a fan on me but having one available for air gulps. scotty intros us and then clicks in the riff for "I wanna be your dog" - this pretty much makes sure him and ron are in sync and my job is to not let them down. I've been so focused on getting in on the big picture as far as the bass goes and not getting lost in the personal mindblow of just me doing stooges songs or tripping on how wild it is to hear them on stage - to upclose witness firsthand iggy, ron and scotty kicking their tunes out so hard and alive... that's all still w/me but I'm getting a little bit of a handle at some distance so I can work the bass for them too, know exactly where we are in every moment, like letting some invisible conductor mind me somehow. it's just so vital for me not to fuck things up w/these guys, commandment numero uno. now "tv eye" is underway and I find that tube of air shot from that little fan (jos got brought an extension cable and enabled it) and do my shake-shake in that corridor. I leave it to kneel in front of ron's amps for his solo cuz I just love getting lit by that. thank god for scotty's left hand on the snare to rein me in though. the dirt cloud getting stirred up by all the stomp going down w/the folks near the front of the crowd calms some "dirt" though the intensity w/in ig goes internal and reverberates him from the inside. he's got such a storm brewing, this tune is so much understatement, so restrained it's straining w/everything beat to burst... peeps are asked abord to help us w/dance for ron's solo at the end of "real cool time" and then to continue w/us on "no fun" - letting some cats sing some words, them crowding all around him, funny to see cats hugging on him and causing a "moving mini mountain" moving back and forth across the stage. whoa, jos' girl francois is standing guard next to henry in front of the drum riser, alright. some young man gives me what might be his band's cd, someone called green machine and I put it in the back of the waistband of my levis. I get a few manhugs too. these portuguese cats have a lot of heart. whew... band intros - hey, for the first time (I think) I hear iggy introduce himself first, he never does that. he sure is working hard though, singing great and packing in much much moves... he "feels alright!" yeah! steve gets his intro as "mindroom" melds into "fun house" which I'm guessing is the only tune the whole band plays where he doesn't bring us in. it's crazy dance time, whoa... then the freak-out for "l.a. blues" and onto the rolling stomp of "skull ring" - stooges flowing tunes into a big river of go-off, the current wild, me trying hard to push the undertow. ig evokes his trippy intro chant for "little doll" - something new that's been going down this stretch of gigs. there's some overtones on stage making things weird but ig's singing right on the money despite it. the set list paper says we end w/"dead rock star" but that never happened once this trip - what we close w/again is the double dog reprise of "...dog" and we're off. I always sit at ig's foot while he takes on moisture to revive for the encore, I wanna be there to hear what to do cuz he's way into the moment and feels it out much - I gotta listen if I'm gonna learn what I need to do. it calms me too to focus on him like that even though we're not playing on stage, my breathing and concentration all come together and I'm ready for more. ig calls for "dead rock star" and "little electric chair" so we go out and do them. all night it's been a weird sound on stage but me moving out to the front, by the edge, really makes that apparent. whoa. I know rik's got it better for the peeps - stage sound is a tough deal but I always try to remember I get in for free so it's more important it sounds good for the people who paid. I also try to feed on the emotional stuff more than the sound stuff cuz that never disappoints w/iggy - he comes through every time. the trick is to just tap in on that and you'll have enough gas to get to the moon! we come off the stage and ig's doing a "runner" - that's where he runs right off stage to a car cuz he's got a flight coming right up. I ask him about the bass solo in "...chair" and he said it was easier for him to follow so maybe I'm getting more on the right track w/that. I'm gonna work on it more on my own - or do the one ron said he wrote if he shows it to me, whatever the real stooges think is best for the stooges. so I wave to ig as he leaves in the car, I'll see him miami next week to do one-on-one for a couple of days on bass parts for the new songs - again, I am clay to be formed and sculpted - I hope I can do good for them, I'll be trying my hardest to be giving and let go. I go back to the dressing room trailer w/out wheels and we're only gonna be here a short time... scotty said one ear's blasted from a brutal monitor, same w/ron. they both dug the gig though and I think ron really did w/out his own effects well. me and scotty talk about how flappy the kick drum was, that our common ground - the kick drum! steve goes to meet his porto friends (musical collective people he's w/whom he's recorded and toured) and is going to miss the first boat out that has me, ron and scotty. I hook up the ipod to have another set of ear things so me and scotty can both hear roky erickson doing his version of the velvet underground's "heroin" - scotty's digging it but can only hand for that one tune cuz of blownout ears. I keep going w/the roky - originals like "nothing in return," "if you have ghosts," "click your fingers applauding the play" and others, love this cat's music. scotty toured w/sonny vincent and sid sonny dug roky and had his stuff played over the p.a. before going on. we get back at 2:20 am and I ask for a wakeup call but I know I won't need it cuz somehow my body will know I gotta be up in four hours. bye-byes to the asheton brothers, scotty says "see you in a-squared" (ann arbor).
I pop twenty minutes early, six bells and am glad I packed yesterday and laid out my travelling outfit - everything clean to go sit in a metal tube for fourteen whatever hours and being drilled w/farts as I hurdle through the sky back to my pedro town. roadboss eric's riding w/me to the sa carneiro airport - again I pass through porto, my fifth time if I count my actual hoofing through it! the cans in the harbor remind me of home though they're short on hammerheads and have the old style cranes, like the ones you see on reefer boats. I get the hugest search of my clothes sack that I've ever gotten - they finally narrow their suspicion to the winder I have to crank up my bass strings (funny, I don't think I've ever used it!) quicker than fingers after going through everything which is ok w/me cuz I got here w/lots of time - the way I like it, so I can be mister rilakkuma. eric's gate is next to mine so I check up on how his plane is doing... oh oh, it looks like it's dealyed... I see him and let him know so he do the scramble - he's got a connect to make after a the delay is sure to cascade hell for him - oh shit... my heart goes out to him. I get on my plane and though the flight is on time to paris (I know, I'm backtracking but that's the magic of flight routing), we're on the ground for a while to wait for a bus - de gaulle doesn't have enough gates so lots of landings are like this. damn, I run like crazy though and get to my right terminal/gate - I've come to learn this airport pretty well now! unfortunately, my bass doesn't have legs to hoof w/and is at the mercy of baggage handlers and when I make the eleven hour flight back to lax in cali, I find out my bass once again didn't arrive w/my self - lost again! ha, I'm laughing about now cuz this is the seventh time... I have to let go what I can't control. my sister melinda's here though and brings me to my boat at paul and helen's - I get back to my pedro town around five pm which is just in time to hose off and get up to the hollywood bowl to see my friends in the flaming lips play to a sellout crowd. life is a trip.
iggy pop + the stooges
in europe, may - june 2006
iggy pop + the stooges
in europe, august-september 2006
loop back to mike watt's hoot page