I’m glad that Jordan turned out to be an incredibly cool dude, and that he didn’t turn the album into top 40 crap, and that he and I spent a lot of late nights talking about music and history and stuff. That wasn’t the only eventful thing in the spring besides my birthday of course. We also got flown to Arizona to film the “Why The Sky” video and got good and sunburned in the process. And all that time, Carynne was working on putting us on a warmup tour on a shoestring budget. Digger had negotiated a nice deal with BNC, but we’d agreed to handle a lot of the financial responsibility ourselves. BNC and WTA were working on an extensive tour for later in the year, but I just couldn’t wait that long.
Oh yeah, and Christian and I bought the Allston house with some of the advance BNC’d paid us.
And Ziggy and I ignored each other.
I could not wait to get back on the road.
Carynne had pulled in a bunch of promoter-to-promoter favors, using Mike Fink’s name, and had raided Waldo’s Rolodex, and the result was what looked to be an intense four weeks: Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, DC, Chapel Hill, Athens, New Orleans, Austin, San Antonio, Boulder, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle. Getting a decent date in LA or New York was impossible, apparently, without bigger favors or longer lead time. I put a map of the USA on my wall and traced our route in red. Man but the West is fucking big, I was thinking. It was a thought that would occur to me again while we were trying to drive across it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Carynne built our entourage this way. Herself as road manager. A friend of hers and Colin’s, Kevin Altman, as stage and equipment manager–essentially an uber-roadie. And we hired Colin himself as roadie because what the fuck, he needed the money and I’d rather have someone we knew than not. Digger would be along for the first few dates, then get off at Philly to go back to his office, and then join back up with us in San Francisco. And of course there would be the four of us.
We rented an equipment truck and a big van, the kind with three benches of seats. BNC released “Why The Sky” as a single and the video was thrust into heavy rotation at MTV, which we hoped would help fill seats. Remo said he’d try to fly up to San Fran to see us when he got back from London. And on April 2nd (Carynne insisted we could not leave on April Fool’s Day) we were rolling in a two-vehicle convoy westward on the Mass Pike.
The first leg I rode in the truck with Kevin because we didn’t know each other that well and for some reason right then I felt like it might be good to get away from the other guys for a few hours. Kevin worked sometimes for the same temp agency Colin did, so had respectably short hair, which I didn’t hold against him.
He drove first, which suited me fine, having never actually driven a truck yet, even a smallish one like the rental. We were just pulling through the toll booth onto the Mass Pike when he said, “Dig out a tape, will you?”
He pointed to what looked to me like a black zippered shaving kit. I opened it to find it packed with cassettes. “I brought some too,” I mentioned.
“You can pick when it’s your turn to drive,” he said. “We should make it a rule. That way everyone will want a turn behind the wheel.”
“Okay so, driver picks the music. Makes sense.”
“Exactly. And no backseat drivers, either. Okay, now remind me what the hell I put in there.”
I read off the handwritten labels. “Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, the Beatles, Supertramp, Joan Jett…”
He decided to start with “I Love Rock and Roll” and I decided I liked Kevin a lot.
A while later we swapped places. I’d brought all kinds of stuff myself, mixed tapes, Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, U2, Violent Femmes, Tones on Tail, Warren Zevon, and Jackson Brown. I got to feeling superstitious about “Running on Empty” though, something too weird about an on-the-road theme album as road music, and in the end I decided not to play it for the entire trip.
By now I had some idea of what to expect out of touring, though this low budget excursion meant some changes, like, we always stayed in a motel instead of driving all night. Carynne had done me a cost analysis on getting sleeping buses and trying to skip hotels some nights but it just wasn’t worth it, especially when we couldn’t always schedule shows that close together anyway. I was very glad I’d never tried to set something like this up myself. Just a glance at Carynne’s day book was enough for me, as I thought in my head, for every detail she had ironed out in there, that was what, six phone calls? ten phone calls? I couldn’t imagine myself now making hundreds of phone calls to total strangers. Booking a band in town is not like putting a band on the road.
Carynne and I had pre-planned the rooming arrangements, pretty much. I didn’t think about that because I thought I might blush, like I had when she and I were going over the details, on the floor of my room:
“With an entourage of seven, we’re four rooms with me the only female being alone, if you guys double up.”
“And with Digger along, we can either go to five rooms, he and I each alone, or I can bunk with Kevin, and one of you guys can bunk with Digger.”
“Five rooms is fine.”
“You and Ziggy together, or apart?”
“I don’t know.” That’s when I blushed.
“Are you guys getting along okay?”
“That’s what I don’t know.”
She had pursed her lips. “I’ll put you together. If it doesn’t work out, we can switch you around.”
I wanted to forget that there was something to remember. Why couldn’t everything simply… work out? I knew guys, musicians in particular, who never seemed to be too concerned about anything, like they were oblivious to the fact that there were things to do or be taken care of. They floated through life while other people scrambled around them, girlfriends, roommates, bandmates, etc. such that, from the guys’ perspective, everything did seem to work out. But I also thought of these guys as lazy-ass space cases, and none of them were particularly head of the class when it came to musical success either. I didn’t believe in blind luck enough to think that I could let it all go and I’d get what I wanted delivered on a silver platter shaped like a Stratocaster. But, somehow, I thought about the way things had… come together on the last road trip, and I am sure now that that’s what I was hoping again.
The drive from Boston to Cleveland was motherfucking long. Somewhere in upstate New York we rotated again and I took a spot in the van and then fell asleep to the sweet discord of King Crimson, “Discipline,” while Bart drove. Don’t ask me why, I’ve always fallen asleep easily to loud music.
(Since this chapter’s title is not a song, here’s one that is mentioned in the chapter…)
Detroit AND Ann Arbor? That’s unusual, considering they’re less than an hour apart. But hey, being able to stay in one place for more than 24 hours. Yay!
An hour apart… but like two different worlds. Man.
Depends how fast you drive. *g* And believe me, I know. I lived in Ann Arbor for two years, but went to a lot of shows in Detroit. Ann Arbor itself doesn’t seem to get much in the way of bands anymore, or at least not the ones I paid attention to. Maybe it did back in the 80s.
The drive from central Mass to Cleveland = 10 hours (I’ve done it twice, going to Wisconsin). From Boston? Probably took you 2 hours just to clear Boston and travel to central Mass, and add 2 more hours for the roads of the era, for 14 or so. You poor bastards.
Nah, it doesn’t take two hours to get out of Boston, unless you’re a nut and trying to do it at rush hour. The rest, though, yeah, I think it was 12.5 hours or something. Can’t remember if that included the time spent in Denny’s or only the road time now…
I guess I assumed that since it usually took me an hour to escape the clutches of Somerville and hit the Mass Pike, it would take even longer from more obscure parts of Boston. But then, that’s me, hating to drive anywhere on the other side of the river.
Oh see from Allston jumping on the Pike is like 5 minutes, if that. Heck, from our house you can almost see the on ramp.
Carynne sounds pretty amazing. I’m impressed that the advance let you buy the house.
I’m sure you know why I sense impending DOOM, even though I have every confidence in Carynne to arrange a good tour.
oh yeah if everything goes to hell, it’s not likely to be her fault. As for whose fault it is, well. Um. I’m trying to hold up my end.
Oh and uh, yeah, in those days a lot of landlords were dumping their properties, especially run down ‘student ghetto’ type places like ours, if anyone was willing to buy. We’re still talking about six figures, but we didn’t put it all down at once, we got a mortgage.
I know holy crap I have a mortgage and I only just learned to drive. Beats paying rent though.
Can’t resist the impulse to sing ‘on the road again’ 😛
I must say, so far, no disasters have happened and you seem a bit less stressed – or are you just good at hiding it hahaha – but I really can’t wait for your first show. I’m feeling this uneasiness waiting for the first performance; mostly because I am wondering how you and Ziggy will co-exist on the stage, but I am also wondering how will your tour be accepted and what will be your set list 🙂
I just keep telling myself “this was my idea, this was my idea….”