Friday, October 16, 2009

Greetings from Antidote Tour! We're going to party at The Cathouse tonight. If you're in the greater Glasgow area, stop on by!

Our friend Sarah came out tonight who hung with us for a while on warped, and then various other tours around the world. She made vegan cookies, which made me happy! Hi Sarah!

Looks like the previous luck we had with busses has been passed on to Alexisonfire on this tour. For the second time, they found themselves stranded on the side of the highway last night, stalled out. They finally showed up around 4pm today in a tourist bus after what looked like a very long night. Our bus works fine though (knock on wood), and our bus driver, Richard, is awesome.

Yesterday was exciting! We went to the BBC studios in London to record a few songs for a radio show being broadcast on Friday. Check out the Punk Show with Mike Davis on Radio 1 some time on Friday for a few hot tracks and some commentary from the band! I even got to play drums on one of the tracks! I was stoked just to be there, though, at such a legendary studio where Billy Bragg, Joy Division, and The Beatles have all been recorded, among many others. I thought to myself, while sitting in the BBC WC, "How many legends have crapped on this john before me? Paul effing Mccartney may have squeezed one out here long ago."

Anyway, bad joking aside, it was truly an amazing experience. I took real pictures while I was there as well as Blackberry ones, perhaps I'll put them up one day.

Besides that, this tour has been a whirlwind of working, driving, tuning, and nutella. In short, it's been a blast! Here's a quick recap of our adventure so far-

Oct 5-
Flew to Pittsburgh to prep gear. Slept on Neil's couch, and actually slept a full night for the first and last time in a long time.

Oct 6-
Flew to London. Airplanes don't do much for me.

Oct 7-
Cambridge, UK. Met 4 Years Strong and the new Alexis crew for the first time. All amazing dudes, was instantly stoked to be on this tour! Hell yeah! Show went really well. I sat in awe of Alexisonfire's set for the first and by no means the last time on this tour.

Oct 8-
Norwich, UK. UEA was a good time. I remember running through the entire backstage multiple times just to get from stage left to stage right. I also saw Steele naked this night, and I hadn't even talked to him yet.

Oct 9-
Oxford, UK. I think this is the first English town I've been to, looked around, and instantly gone "Damn, this is beautiful". It was a great city, BUT- funny story;

I woke up and went around to the trailer to unload, and wouldn't you know it a big white van had parked right behind us, preventing me from loading in. Richard went in to a few stores around, and after having no luck finding out who it belonged to, was finally told it was owned by some guy who had gone in to London for the day, and wouldn't be back for hours. Oh no!

He came to me and said "Well, we could try to push it out of the way..."

I laughed, and responded "There is no way we could push this huge van out of the way by ourselves..."

As I said that, I placed my hand on the hood and gave it a playful shove, to display just how heavy it was. I pushed down on it, and the thing rolled back. I laid into it a little bit, and pushed it back a couple feet on my own.

Marc and Neil came out to meet me and we opened up the trailer, me being pretty satisfied with myself for having just resolved to situation. I noticed we needed just a couple more inches behind us, so I gave the van one last shove to clear the ramp. Seconds later, a huge cell phone salesman came bounding towards me saying "What are you doing touching my property?!". He got in my face, chest puffed out, getting on me for moving his car out of my way. I told him we were told it belonged to someone in London, and I asked him to move it. He said he didn't have his keys. He said "I wouldn't touch your property!" I said if it's in your way, you probably should move it. He said our bus was blocking his store. "Push it outta the way then..." I thought meekly. Either way, this guy's story wasn't really adding up.

At this point, I just gave up and started loading in, ignoring him. I don't have anything to prove, and I wasn't about to take a beating from this guy over such a stupid argument. Anyway, he was trying to start a fight, he's probably just pissed about owning a store next to a club and having busses block his store front all the time. It's not my fault though, there's no need to be a meat head about it.

Oct 10-
Nottingham, UK. I got up early for the first time here! I walked downtown to the visitors center, went to some farmers market, got panphlets on Robin Hood, and saw some old shit. Churches, theaters, etc. Didn't make it to the castle though, maybe next time! We got the whole downstairs of this club to relax in, and they made us delicious food in their kitchen. Partied briefly afterward with Sean (AF's Euro booking agent) at an Irish pub his family owns. I was swarmed by middle aged women, bought beers in rapid succession, and laughed at for my accent. I'm glad I don't have the Texas accent so many who move there seem to pick up, these Brits would rip me to shreds!

Oct 11-
Bristol, UK. Went for a jog that morning and got very lost. I kept jogging around looking for the university we were playing at, and by some stroke of luck made it there before load in. I was getting worried, I kept asking people I saw if there was a club around, and everyone just said "There's no club in this town, maybe the next town over..." I then just had to load in in my short shorts and catch shit from everyone for it. Yeah, I jog, so what?

Oct 12-
Brighton, UK. Day off, sorta. Met a guy named Pedro who put a new bridge on 2's bass. A Badass Bass 2 bridge, if you're curious, which I know you are. I got to buy cables here too, and experience the youth culture clubbing on a Monday night. Can someone explain that to me? I coulda sworn I saw 16 year olds going out to the clubs along the beach at like 1am. Isn't it a school night? Either way, isn't it a Monday night? What's the deal with Brighton, and why is it so awesome?

Oct 13-
Show in Brighton. After Alexis' set a huge security guy stormed up to the dressing room and got in George's face. Apparently the guy was letting kids fall over the barricade, not catching them as they surfed over, just watching as they fell and hurt themselves. George gave him a little shove with his foot, not a kick mind you, a shove and said "hey, what the fuck man?". They dude was pissed so he tried to start a fight with George after the set. Neltie got in front of the guy, and with a lot of shouting and arguing going on, Neltie was trying to push him towards the door as I was screaming "Get the fuck out of the room right now!" also pushing my way in front of him. It got quiet for a second, and he raised his finger right to my nose and said "don't you fucking yell at me". I shat my pants a little bit. The guy was enormous. I said "Then get the fuck out" as somebody came and grabbed him and dragged him out. It all got resolved, but I certainly hope that guy is no longer employed for that security company. Tense moments.

Oct 14-
London, UK. Good show. Big club. Lotta kids.

Oct 15-
BBC Day! Later on we did a gig at an Easpak store, the guys played an all clash cover set. It was a great time!

Oct 16-
This brings us to Glasgow. Here we are! I'm gonna go enjoy the after party before it gets too late. I will keep you all up to date soon with more exciting stories from Eastpak! I'm sooo busy though! Check out the other project I've been working on that's been sucking up every free moment! Fun Fun Fun Fest.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hey There! It's been a while!

I would like to apologize for my severe lack of posting during our recent trip to Europe. I have a couple legitimate excuses, for instance I only had access to the internet about 10% of the time, if that. The rare moments I had online were largely spent talking to family back home, since I couldn't use my phone. On top of that, my job was a bit different, so I was getting used to some changes. Mainly, though, I was feeling a little burned out from the consistent three or so months of touring, so any free time I had besides working/calling home were mainly used to sleep or walk around wherever we happened to be.

Excuses excuses! I'm back, well rested, and ready for a few more months on the road! I wanted to thank everyone I've met on the last tour that said they've read this blog (especially the one kid who there's a picture of below, you're awesome!), and that encouraged me to keep going, I'll try not to let you down this time. I've realized, too, that when I blog about things that happen on the road, I tend to remember more details, and therefore gain a little more from the experience. It's different from writing in a Journal, cause I get to discuss what happened and gain perspective from others. You're not about to start hearing about my feelings and personal crises, though, so don't worry.

On October 5th, I'm heading to Pittsburgh to meet up with the band, and then we'll be heading back to Europe for the Antidote Tour. We got to do a few shows with Ghost Of A Thousand on our last run, and we had a great time. Their guitar tech really hooked me up a few times, which was really nice, and the band was a lot of fun. Of course we have a history with Alexisonfire, but I still have not met anyone from Four Year Strong, so I hope they're nice guys!

The last tour went well, overall, I guess...

We had my new friend Thomas out with us running sound. He's from Graz, Austria, and was able to play translator/interpreter if we needed it. He's a great sound engineer and tech as well, and as a person very positive and fun. I hope we get to see more of him on the next tour.

We have a new tour manager, Neltie, who was really great and had to deal with a few pretty heavy crises, but got us all through them. She'll be with us on the next run, so if you see a tattooed, official looking black cloud walking around, say hi and try to cheer her up! Apparently she just helped pull a man from a burning car that flipped over along the highway in Florida, saving his life. I'm not making that up. Ask her about it.

First off, our bus was cursed. We had to let our first driver go for a number of reasons (including him screaming at a hotel clerk about a situation that Neltie had already resolved, essentially being a dick), which was done more or less professionally but made for a tense couple of days. While he was our primary driver, we were somehow routed through a boarder crossing into Croatia when we were supposed to go around the country, and promptly turned away adding hours to our trip and stress into Neltie's life. After he was gone, our bus power got fucked up in Czech, caught fire, and fried most of the electronics plugged in on board, including the lights and AC unit. If all of that wasn't bad enough, about 20 minutes from the airport on the last night of tour, around 4am, our trailer blew a tire. It was completely shredded. Marc and I had a time trying to put on the spare, exhausted, with a few rusty tools. There's a picture capturing our excitement below somewhere.

I enjoyed riding on that bus though (I enjoy riding on any tour bus, it's much more luxurious than a van or SUV, which are my usual modes of transportation, even without power or AC or light) because, like most euro buses, it had windows in the bunks. You'd think this would be the norm, right? But in US buses, the bunks are just little cubbyholes closed off on one side by a curtain. I loved being able to enjoy my insomnia by staring out the window at the moon dancing over alien landscapes, and eventually seeing the sun rise and the little villages we would drive through come to life. There's something very magical about Europe for me, especially Bavaria and the area surrounding, that makes me feel inspired and lucky just to be passing through there.

The festivals we played were an eclectic mix of organization, chaos, huge bands, and 80 year old men singing traditional Czech folk songs. I think Pukkelpop was my favorite. I got to see Dinosaur Jr and 50 Cent on the same day with about 30,000 other people. Some of these festivals were bigger than anything I've ever been to! Of course Redding and Leeds were massive and everything they were rumored to be. Czech was weird, fun, but weird. I think I'm allowed to say that, cause those are my people. I slept through my day off in Budapest, not seeing much (I'm bad with jet lag), and spent way too much of my (and Chris Head's) money on a day off in London. I owe him like 70 pounds, which, with the current conversion rate, equals out to about $40,000 I think.

But you know what was not expensive in the UK? Getting sick.

I had to go to the hospital while we were in the UK (stoke-on-trent). I had an infection that had been festering for a few days and was pretty painful, I won't go into specifics, but it's something that I have actually dealt with in the US before with my insurance and our health care system. Can you see where this is going? We took a cab to the emergency clinic and walked in to a nearly empty waiting room. I filled out half a page of information, and was asked to wait. Within 15 minutes I was SITTING IN FRONT of a doctor. No nurses, no pain scale, no insurance, no nothing. A doctor, asking me what the problem was, was sitting in front of me. We discussed, he handed me a prescription, I walked across the street and filled it. After half and hour and about $20, my questions were answered and problems solved. For a similar outcome here, I've payed hundreds of dollars (I still have collectors calling me) and waited multiple hours, and that is WITH insurance.

The UK has the NHS (National Health Service), a single-payer health care system that began in 1948 with the mission on making health care FREE to the average man regardless or employment, wealth, or anything else. In fact, it's 3 core principals, available on the NHS website, are-
* That it meet the needs of everyone
* That it be free at the point of delivery
* That it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay
The NHS is also one of the leading employers in the UK, employing about 1 in 20 people. What a concept! I guess there's a reason that the UK is listed as 18 on the WHO list of leading health care systems in the world.

It's amazing that 60 years later, when implementing health care reform, our government refuses to even bring this concept to the table. We still can't imagine a world without the hands of the wealthy and the insurance company CEOs in our gaping sores and abscesses along side our doctors. What most people don't see in a single payer system is that it won't replace these hands with those of the government. It's within our power to make it OUR system, but right now it looks like that power has been taken away. Obama dropped the ball on this one. I don't see any positive outcome with the options on the table at the moment, and after experiencing what we COULD have, I'm that much more upset. Even if it was never to be, beginning the discussion about health care without the idea of a single payer system is a concession to the right.

I won't get too deep into it, I'm no good at political rants, but check out Democracy Now's coverage, what I've heard has been good.

Also check out this new blog we're following! The band forgetters is a new trio out of Brooklyn featuring Blake from Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil, Kevin from Against Me!, and Caroline from Bitchin'. They haven't recorded anything yet, but Blake has been using the interest in his new project to blog about some social and political issues and be read. I found it interesting, I hope you do too.

Alright now I'm just rambling! I look forward to keeping you all up to date over the following few months. Here are some pictures from various adventures and bored moments in the old world;

See you soon,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Break Down

I woke up this morning to sounds of banging and power tools underneath my head. At first I assumed it was one of the bunks around me, seeing as a few members of our crew's girlfriends are out with us at the moment. I ignored it and fell back asleep, but woke up an hour later to the same sounds. It's a day off, and yes I was so tired from the last week I confused the sound of an air drill with people fucking.

Anyway, I walked up to the front of the bus to find out at some point last night the BRAKES just stopped working. I was told this very casually, and I asked Radar how he handled it. "Oh I just coasted on in to that gas station over there. I coulda used the air brakes, but you all woulda wound up crumpled up at the foot of your bunks."

It's a little scary to think about. The brakes just stopped working last night. I could have woken up broken, paralyzed, or dead, but I just slept right through it. Not to be too dramatic, but the last thing I could have done in life was eat pizza and ride my bike across a parking lot. Now we're all sitting in the front lounge, talking about other bands on the tour and watching TV, waiting for the bus to get fixed. How often does this happen? How often are we this close to careening off the side of the highway and not waking up? Thank goodness Radar is our driver. Above quite a few people, I would trust him with my life.

Sorry I haven't blogged in a little while. My girlfriend, Julie, was out on tour with us for a week, so I was distracted. It's great having someone from my real life come hang out in my touring world, I found out. She really enjoyed experiencing what this is like, and I appreciated being offered a different perspective on these things that maybe I have started to take for granted. I had a conversation about this the other day when someone asked me what it's like touring so much. I don't pretend that my job is very hard, and I am constantly grateful that I found a place in this world that allows me to support myself through two things I love, music and traveling. Though, like any other job, doing this day in and day out can give it a certain level of monotony. After a couple weeks of this tour in particular, I begin to wake up and look outside and say, "oh look at that, another parking lot." Having a positive, open minded, amazing person like Julie come out for a while is like a slap in the face. It reminded me how many opportunities I have every day, and how awesome what I'm doing is. I only wish she could have stayed out longer!

That said, this last week has been like the previous ones. Our day off in Pittsburgh one week ago was pretty awesome, thanks in large part to Justin. I got myself and Julie a hotel room, and as I was struggling through multiple travel web sites, staring at $200+ per night rates, Justin sat down and starting looking shit up. He went on Price Line, and long story short found me a room at the fucking Hilton, right on the corner of downtown Pittsburgh, for next to nothing. We also ate at an amazing Indian restaurant on Justin's recommendation, but besides that just ran errands and chilled the rest of the day.

Highlights from this week-

-Watching the new Harry Potter after the show in Scranton. It was good, though I started falling asleep half way through. It was out of pure exhaustion though, the movie was great.

-Seeing my friends Alex and J in Buffalo. I love Buffalo, NY. I spend a good amount of off time there. Alex, J, and my other friend there Sheena have an amazing band (honestly one of my favorite bands out there) called Lemuria. Check them out!!!

-Biking from Camden, NJ, to Philadelphia for vegetarian cheese steaks. Then, later, throwing merch into bins, while holding the tent so it wouldn't fly away, trying not to get anything wet in the sudden storm. The Gallows tent went flying and broke in half upon landing. Marc has the hardest job on this tour, that's for sure.


-Everything I did with Julie. She's awesome.

I think we still have 5 hours of fixing and traveling before we get to Boston. I'm antsy, I like Boston a lot, was really hoping to check out some record stores and eat delicious food. Right now my options are Dunkin' Donuts and Cracker Barrel. Well, see you in Mansfield (I hope).


Monday, July 13, 2009

Mon. July 13 2009. 4:21 p.m.

So, even though I live the stories. Isn't Max an amazing blogger? I am in awe of his blogging abilities. The links, the wit, the sass, all untouchable.

I just want to personally thank Max. I am a reader. I am a believer.

Other than that!
How are ya?
Any of you all been to a warped show? Where? Was it righteous?

Being on warped with Alexis has me excited for our UK/European takeover! And we are also in the planning stages for a U.S and Canadian return.

Stay awesome.
Much love.
Much respect.
Chris 2

Friday, July 10, 2009

Here's a little flashback to a couple weeks ago, all the way back in Phoenix, AZ-

We took part in a bowling competition to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, a foundation that has raised millions of dollars for leukemia, AIDS, and cancer research. All the participating bands met at the bowling alley, and were teamed up with a person that had bid to play with them, hence the fund raising aspect. Our 6th team member was Lori, a long time friend of Anti-Flag, and apparently a semi-pro bowler. We took it as a good sign when she showed up with her own bowling shoes. We bowled next to friends Underoath the first round, and later on in the lane next to Bad Religion. Now I've never met Greg Graffin before, and I did not meet him that night, but I wish I could share with you to comedy of his mannerisms as he scored strikes and spares in the lane next to ours. Every time, without fail, he turned around, with his hand on his chin and a contemplative expression on his face, as if to say "Did I just score that? I didn't see, what just happened here?".Nerd.

It was great bowling that night. We were cheering each other on and getting really into the game. 2 got real competitive and animated, Pat jumped in and rolled a few for me while I rested my arm, and of course the legend Neil Linn was rolling turkeys and carrying us through our rough spots.

It showed in our scores, we made it to the final round! Now there's no telling how we made it that far, none of us were very exceptional bowlers to be honest. I, personally, was happy to roll over 100. I think the key, though, was that none of us were exceptionally bad bowlers either. We were strong and constant. In the end, we came in 4th place, but seeing as first place was the local radio station, and third place was Vans shoes, we decided (ourselves) that we actually came in second place, just behind Less Than Jake. Congratulations to us!

Toronto was fun today. Neil and I had to take all the equipment from the main stage and wheel it to one of the smaller stages, and then tomorrow after the show we have to roll it back again. The band helped out warped by moving to a smaller stage to make room for Alexisonfire on the main stage, just for the Canadian dates. If you think you may have heard Alexisonfire before, but aren't sure, then you're probably not from Canada. They're a band from Toronto, and they're they're huge north of the border. They have 4 gold records here, they're sort of a big deal. If you aren't aware (I was not until recently), Canada has a very rich, unique musical culture, thanks in part to some laws concerning the rights of Canadian based bands and radio play. I think it's kind of a cool law that supports their artists federally.

And here are some pictures to keep you entertained until next time;

Neil and I-

The follow up to the party joke-

Sleepy Marc code-

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Early day today. Parked at around 9:30am and made it to the stage shortly after, only to find out the guys were playing at 11:15am. It was like we rolled out of bed and already the stage crew was shouting at us to get going. Sleepy eyed and under-caffeinated, The Flag took the stage and nonetheless had a decent show. The crowd look like this making a huge circle pit around Stu, our sound guy;

Way to go breakfast club. I don't know how these kids have so much energy this early in the day. I mean, I'm an early riser, but punk shows usually won't get me moving until after dark. Thanks for making it worth it Cleveland!

Really that's it. Being done that early didn't leave me much to anticipate for the rest of the day, so I decided to bike around Tremont for a while. Just past the bridge into the venue there was a small side road that shot up a huge hill which I decided to go up for the hell of it, and at the top found a cool little 'historic downtown' area with coffee shops, pubs, churches, schools and a scoop shop. On my way out I saw a little bike shop and pulled over to see if they had a tube patch kit. I looked inside at piles of abandoned bike carcasses, and what looked like a former service desk piled high with invoices and bike parts. I awkwardly stood out front by a couple guys eating Chinese food on the curb till one said "Who are you and what do you want?". They started asking me about the tour, and making fun of me for riding a fixed gear (though it isn't a fixed gear, their mistake). The proprietor of the establishment, Mitch, made up for it by truing my wheels, adjusting my breaks, and giving me tips on how not to get my shit stolen. It just goes to show you; sometimes it pays to take the road less traveled.

Also today I got to watch Fake Problems, who were on warped tour for all of one day, but it was great to see them either way.

More excitement - I got yelled at by some huge shirtless guy for not responding when someone knocked on the door of the porta potty I was in. It wasn't even him! He shook the whole thing while I was zipping up my pants, and held the door closed as I tried to come out. When I slipped out, he said 'hey buddy why don't you answer the fucking door next time when someone knocks, huh?'. I pointed to the door, and dumbly asked, 'oh, isn't there a sign on there when someone is in there?', pointing to the red 'in use' sign that pops up when you lock the door. He asked 'what did you just say?!' like three times as I repeated what I said. I got a blank stare, and then 'well somebody could have crawled in there and dummy locked it.'. Not wanting to take this incredibly stupid argument any further, I didn't mention how it's impossible to crawl in or out of a locked porta potty. He asked what band i was with and what stage I was on, I told him and he said 'they don't have porto potties over there?'. Me not being over there, what would it matter? I told him I was just passing through, and took off before he got violent. So goes the story of how the porta potty nazi gave me a lesson in crapping etiquette.

Anyway, that was my exciting day. Early morning, bikes and tough guys. Tomorrow, we invade Canada. I love Toronto!

See you soon,

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

We got pranked today.

These wound up all around the venue today. They were convincing enough that around 5pm I asked Neil "So what's the deal with the party?". I went over and helped at the merch booth for about an hour, during which time I got asked the same question by 100 different kids.

"Sorry, there is no party."

It got pretty frustrating when kids didn't believe me when I told them it was a joke. Some thought I was withholding the info because I didn't deem them 'cool' enough to join. Yeah right! I'm the biggest nerd out here buddy, I'm in no position to judge!

At dinner I realized that a lot of the other bands on the tour saw the flier, and most didn't realized it was a joke. I'll be the only one here, in the venue, on the bus tonight. I'm prepared for knocks on the door all night wondering where the party is.

Anyway, I came to find out who perpetrated the prank. Now we gotta think of a good way to get them back. Any ideas? Please give me some, we gotta get 'em good.

Besides that, the show was spectacular today. I love seeing bands play home town shows in the middle of tour. It's like just as the shows are starting to blend in to one another, here comes an over the top, high energy show with, while maybe not the most kids watching out of any show, they're at least the most invested kids. The pressure was on today, before they even started they had 50 friends and family watching from the stage. I ran over my checklist 100 times, handed off the guitars, and crossed my fingers.

Everything worked and was more or less in tune. Mission accomplished.

Also today I watched Less Than Jake and thought about the first time I ever saw them. I was standing in the same spot on stage, but in Gainesville, FL at The Fest. Good times.

See you soon,