"puttin' the opera to bed" tour diary - week 8

monday, november 9, 1998 - twin falls, id

from bob lee:

   terrible news received today, simeon from the silver apples was in a terrible car wreck and is now paralyzed from the neck down. this happened while he and original apples drummer dan taylor were going through old tapes for possible release. (would anyone know how I can send him a message? please write me at bobzilla77@hotmail.com if so.) I met him earlier this year & was really impressed with him both personally and musically. the new version of the apples was sounding fantastic, he's one of our great innovators, really a tragedy. with this in mind we begin a 600 mile journey into the frozen mountains, get 350 miles into it and have to turn back when the first mountain pass of four that we come to is frozen solid, just inches of pure ice covering the road. it's too bad, as we were going to play the college, our last gig in missoula was great, and bob and monique are supposed to meet us there. well sorry everyone but we do want to be alive to play another day. please accept our condolences. hit motel 6 in twin cities, idaho, order surprisingly good thai food delivery and watch more bad tv.

from steve reed:

   tried to get to missoula but bad weather meant a dead end street. turned around and stayed in twin falls, idaho.

tuesday, november 10, 1998 - troutdale, or

from bob lee:

   wow, two days in a row with no gigs, an unprecedented event in wattdom. bad tv tonight is actually pretty good: simpsons, 2 episodes of king of the hill, and "l.a. confidential."

from steve reed:

   nels gave me a ray gun!! very cool! thank you, nels. now on through portland for a wednesday show in eugene with frank black at wow hall. sleeping in a troutdale motel 6.

wednesday, november 11, 1998 - eugene, or

from bob lee:

   so far a productive day: found a cyber cafe and spent two hours going through my email, and scouted the following used vinyl at green noise records: bad brains "i against i"; "adolescents"; vertigo - "nail hole" (great, obscure minneapolis band that toured w/claw hammer in 92); pay the man - "way out world" (I have known dan from this band for 8 years & keep running into him & his band under mysterious circumstances- his bass player ronna used to live in my room at the house I moved into in van nuys 1989, next bass player joe ended up playing with me in crawlspace, etc.... now I spot his lp, difficult to find in l.a., in eugene for $1); jack brewer band - "rockin' ethereal" (saccharine trust singer, I saw this band many times in 1989-91, most unfortunately when he dedicated "why did god create assholes" to claw hammer after a time slot dispute); and "neighborhood rhythms", a 2-lp comp put together by harvey kubernik featuring short solo music or spoken pieces by watt, d. boon, rollins, wanda coleman, jack brewer, exene, john doe, falling james and about 80 other l.a. natives. never even knew this existed! our gig, opening for frank black & the catholics, is a real good one, distinguished by a small baby, maybe two year old, climbing onstage repeatedly during the most dramatic moments. maybe wanting to perform an interpretive dance of the opera, foiled by mom and dad. nice to know we're getting over. frank black's new band is very good, a big improvement since the show I saw in 95. more "normal" sounding but somehow this material is working better for him. the paring is an especially good one for this band, I wish we were playing more shows with them. although, it is nice having two hours or more to play with for our own shows, rather than rush thru the opera & get off. when we started, two hours seemed mercilessly long, but many of these shows lately have run longer than that, depending on the circumstances. if people stick around and we're not subject to curfew we might just play everything we know.

from steve reed:

   walked around town today thinking about problems back home. I got more good advice from house soundman jason about things and now I know what my decision should be. it will be a hard one to make but it's for the better. I just want to take time out and thank everyone throughout the tour for you sound advice and your support. it helped me quite a bit to get through this tour. again, than you very much. tonight we're opening for frank black. they're nice people and I've never met charlie before so the vibe is very good. house sound tech jason was mixing sound for frank black. he was very nervous about doing a good job because the pixies were one of his favorite bands. I told jason relax, they're just everyday people and turn up the lead guitar. jason did a great job and rick did monitors. black gang's set was good with quiet audience during soft parts of the opera, that was great! opera went over good for the last time in eugene. also I've been listening a lot to "electric ladyland." I think it's the greatest rock album ever recorded next to "sargent pepper." it's really inspiring me to start recording my album (timeout) as soon as possible.

thursday, november 12, 1998 - seattle, wa

from nels:

   It's been ages since my last entries. It's nice to be back in Seattle. Only 5 months ago Carla B. and I were here recording the Scarnella alb at John & Stu's place w/ the fabulous Kevin Suggs - a thoroughly great week. Theodore, the androgynous waiter who's been here fora long time is here and has just handed me a beer, so here goes:

   I've been wanting to address a few non-gig items. But first it's worth mentioning that the music has maintained its quality, the 4 of us are still enjoying our brief trek through the U.S. - though I'm READY for home, sweetheart, and the Scarnella tour of the west that starts 6 days later (!). We're digging Caustic Resin (I think I've found a real pal in Brett, the leader and troubled guitarist - this man could use a little less drama in his life!). Their slow blues/psych drone-outs have won us over. Bad (as in really bad) weather is behind us. Truly we have had weather from all seasons on this tour. And I'm STILL not really over this bug all the way!

   Anyway, my theme is: RECURRING TOUR THEMES.

   1 - Dave's Insanity Sauce. One of Watt's fixations is hot sauces so hot that they cause what he calls a "brain slide". Mid-tour, he RAN OUT. One of the great things about New York wasn't just seeing the resurrected Jim Dunbar (recovering from a devastating fall) in the pink, but also that he had procured 2 Dave's sauces for Mike - one reg and one ltd. ed.! "Davin' it up!" Jimbo is a godsend on many levels, but Watt's gotta Dave it up on his Subway sands DAILY. Plus, the stuff has caused pandemonium at many homes where Watt encourages others to partake. More on that later.

   2 - Marvin Gaye. Caught the VH-1 bio on TV one night. Hear him all the time. His voice follows us, his spirit haunts us.

   3 - My sweetheart gave me Ricola lozenges for the tour (favored flavor: honey lemon echinacea). With my bug and Watt's thrashed throat, they became prized mornibg items. I sang the little song: "Ri - co - la!" . Watt sang back,"Ri - co - la!" Then every morning after that, Watt: "Ri - co - la!". Me: "Ri - co - la!" , and I dispense the little treat. Thankfully, sweetheart brought more to NYC, because we've been blowing through them.

   4 - Slow, barely working toilets. 4 of them, but it feels like a running theme, OK? First, in NYC at sweetheart's sublet, things were so barely flowing that it was recommended that we NOT POOP. so we would be sure to go out to eat so, you know... At Marcy's (Scrawl) in Columbus, we were warned, but there were no incidents. At Jeffrey's in Minneapolis, 2 glasses of water were required to assist the flushing process (much more on Minneapolis when I catch up). But in Nashville was the mini-nightmare - OK, I'm sort of kidding. But when I went into the john at The End all the signs were there: the very visible plunger with the very FRESH puddle of water around it...but as I've stated in a previous entry, we're travelling and.... So I went for it, only to discover to my horror that IT WOULDN'T GO DOWN. 10 minutes later, I was still in there plunging away, the stubborn turd always eventually floating back up, taunting me. All that time in the bathroom - I already figure that folks suspecy me of being a junkie, not just because I'm skinny, but also because I can be seen pre-show in a club (with no dressing room) snoozing at a table while a band is playing (the already explained sleepiness waiting to play), but adding 10 minute bathroom stays to this is just too much! So, what do you do with a situation like this? "Hello, I'm Mike Watt's guitarist, and this is my turd. any thoughts?" I think not! Anyway, I bailed when it seemed that the culprit was at least temporarily staved off. Mentioning this much later to Bob Lee, he said, "Oh yeah, I had the same thing happen there!"....

   NO MORE DEPT. : Please, no more huge sideburns, guys. Especially you guys with really short hair. You are not Amish. You are not Quaker. You are not that sickening looking bass player on Saturday Night Live a few years ago (is he still there? Is it still on??).

   When this tour is over, there will be far fewer drunk guys in flannel and baseball caps. This is a good thing.

   I'M REALLY OUT OF TOUCH DEPT. : OK, so I've never heard these reviled bands like Matchbox 20 and Third Eye Blind. OK, when I look at my friend Mike Hogan's catalogue (little brother distributors) I've never heard of 90% of the bands and people in there (I used to know lots, really!). But I had NO INKLING of this swing craze. Half these clubs have swing nights, dance lessons... I hear Brian Setzer has a hit record w/ his Orchestra. Three of the best musicians I've ever known were fird from this band! And here I was thinking that it was just some kind of pathetic desperation move! (I'll never forget seeing him on Letterman - watching to catch my pals on national TV. Tons of shots of Michael Vlatkovitch! John Fumo doing moves w/ his horn! Mike Acosta looking bored and disgusted! And Setzer coming out in shades, removing them mid-tune, and not tossing them away but VERY DAINTILY setting them down on the stage. What rock 'n roll abandon!!) Anyway, count me out. I don't know shit. Techno is king, soundtracks sell like crazy, and big bands - such as they are - finally DID come back. Maybe it IS time to put guitar bands and their ilk to bed for awhile, I don't know - don't care. I'll always do wahat I do. But the alternatives have got to be more viable. When Scarnella goes out we'll be w/ folks like Deerhoof, Miss Murgatroid, Vote Robot, Climax Golden Twins. Chamber music - ish, musique concrete -ish... Maybe that's where it can go. And people will always want to dress up and dance - not just swing, but ska, reggae, love-in, pogo...But I can't work it up for the past too much. Challenge, subvert, pervert, confound. Even exquisite simplicity and beauty can seem revolutionary if they are non=archival, non-generic. WhAtever. I'm just lost in space...

from steve reed:

   down to four more performances of the opera on the road and one more in l.a. on december 11. it's been a really good tour for me because of no stress. no smoking or drinking really helped me to stay focused and temper and attitude was way down. now I'm ready to work out problems back home with katherine in avery mild mannered way. bob teagan came and made a dat recording and video tape of the show. our friend sandy glaze and krist, the gentle giant (as I call him) and mark lanegan all attended our show. we went on a little late which frustrated mike a bit but we still had a good show. I talked to sandy a long time about my problems with katherine and she was extremely helpful. thank you sandy very much for your support and advice.

friday, november 13, 1998 - olympia, wa

from steve reed:

   rain! rain! rain! cold! just three more shows and back to l.a. on monday. went to "guitar maniacs," rick king is the boss. mike and nels threw down a few dollars while I watched. had to take nels to st. peter's hospital, he's a little under the weather but bad enough for a hospital trip. show at capitol theater was good. audience very quiet during the whole show.

saturday, november 14, 1998 - portland, or

from steve reed:

   well, the last day of our tour is finally here after eight weeks. two shows today, one at my college reed and the other at berbatis pan in the city of portland. the reed college show was well attended and very good. house soundman ben's system covered the student union really well. berbatis pan was a sold-out show, a great way to end up a tour. mike and myself had a little conflict in the beginning of the opera but the problems were soon worked out and the gang performed a great, great final performance of the opera. we're doing one more on december 11 for the l.a. dudes and it will finally be put to rest. I really enjoyed working with caustic resin. they didn't have the bucks to pay me so I worked for them anyway. I like mixing loud guitar because I imagined I was doing sound for jimi hendrix. so they were very good for my head because in the old punk days I had a reputation of being a loud sound tech. well, just a final word about our tour, it was a great one and a brilliant crew. I can't give enough praise to bob and nels because they're amazing musicians and the best people to be around with. mike watt is easily one of the greatest men I've ever known. I've worked, fought and travelled with him for over ten years. we have a very heavy vibe between us that will live on for years to come. he is a monster musician, entertainer, person, and works tremendously hard every day from morning to morning. mike, you're the greatest and thank you for keeping me on the crew. to all of you who attended our shows and put us up for the night, thank you very much for your support and kindness. maybe one day we will meet again. god bless you all.

read week 7 of the tour diary

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this page created 11 nov 98