Road Diary Fleet Foxes Tour Diary Part 1: Beautiful Drives, Recording for Daytrotter, and Paying Respects to Haight Ashbury
posted by February 29 at 19:18 PMon
This is the first installment of the Fleet Foxes tour diary, which will be appearing here on Line Out a few times a week while the new Sub Pop signees take their first jaunt across the country. All words belong to the band (Even the ed notes), and sadly there are not photos this time around, but hopefully there will be some in the future. Be sure to check back for more of their adventures.
Hello friends, my name’s Robin Pecknold and I am writing this tour missive from inside our giant white touring van, somewhere on the road between San Francisco and Los Angeles, it’s hot as Hades, and I’m gonna fill you in on all we’ve been up to for the past few days on this inaugural tour of ours. Huzzah!
We’ve been gone since Tuesday afternoon, but we’ve only played one show so far - at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco last night. We got a late start on the drive - we were going to leave on Monday, but that was the day that our EP came back from the manufacturers and the shirts came back from Luckyhorse, in addition to the million other things you apparently have to do to get ready to be homeless for two months - and yet I still forgot a toothbrush. Oh well. So we bade our loved ones farewell on Tuesday, crammed all of our stuff into the van in a game of ur-Tetris, and started the long hard slog to San Francisco.
I can’t describe how beautiful the drives have been. It’s such a freeing feeling being out in the open country, there’s even still some feeling of discovery when happening upon [There is a big yellow plane cropdusting out the left window right now - ed.] weird hills or fields full of cows or reaching the top of a pass, California feels so monumentally huge and we’re only even seeing the thin sliver surrounding the Interstates!!!! So much out there to see and it’s all so beautiful. At sunset on the first day of driving, I was laying on the back bench, looking out the opposite window, listening to this great band I found at Wall of Sound called Habibiyya, and the substance of the scenery (some mountain range far in the distance behind a wide grass plain) congealed with the music and it felt like we were in Morocco or the Serengeti, a completely transportive effect that’s one of the things that’s so great about music. I love that it can take you places like a good book can.
Anyway, so we stopped in Redding and met up with the fellows from Grand Archives who have this favorite lodge they dig staying in, that has this crazy anomalous bar - it’s just your typical travel motel type place but the bar is like the old Cha Cha or something, “Ventura Highway” by America was playing on the stereo. I always feel like I’m being used when I sing along to the “alligator lizards in the air” line. That line is egregious and as soon as I’m done singing along I just feel dirty, like they’ve manipulated me into acts I’m not comfortable with. We’ll be playing with GrarChives tonight in LA and tomorrow night in San Diego, I’m really looking forward to it as they are all the sweetest, and the more hometown feelings around the better.
Once we came into San Francisco (after more blockbuster high budget scenery along the way and then seeing the incredible city itself) we went into do this thing called Daytrotter, where they record you playing songs all live together and then put it on their very nice and well art directed and curated website. I’ve listened to a few of these in my day and they always sound awesome, but our entire band experience at the moment to be almost cinematic in it’s strangeness that it was tough for me to “get into the moment” while we were playing the songs, it didn’t help that it was the first time we’d played music on the tour and we were definitely rusty from a lack of practice before leaving…. still, the Daytrotter dudes were the sweetest most awesome guys ever and seemed to feel ok about how we did. They gave us a nice gift bag and we headed to our hotel (again saying hello to our Grand Archives companions) to ruminate on the strangeness of being asked to participate in things that have always felt like objects from another world. San Francisco bros came down and hung out for a while and we checked our pages [less nerdy terminology for “surfing the internet” - ed.]. The bathroom at the hotel was the size of my girlfriends’ apartment.
Yesterday we woke up and headed to Haight Ashbury to pay our respects to the lost dreams of the past and to browse the vaguely hippie related souvenir shops. We were in the neighborhood to film this thing for a site called La Blogotheque where they film a band in a strange spot playing songs - bros Throw Me the Statue and Tiny Vipers have imbibed in the past. When we were scouting for a location, I was wandering around the neighborhood and found this crazy old fairly dilapidated gymnasium. The doors were unlocked and inside, all the lights were out, it seemed half abandoned, and the main light source was a couple broken windows that were sending shafts of light onto the middle of this gigantic basketball court. It was crazy serendipity, the echo in the building was incredible, I can’t guarantee we performed ok but it will at least look and sound cool. That was another surreal Alice in Wonderland moment, through the fuckin rabbit hole into this weird world of internet music insider-land that we never in a million years thought we’d be a part of. Weird weird times, friends.
After this Casey, Christian, Skye & I bummed around Chinatown for a while and found this awesome park full of elderly Chinese folks playing Go or some other Go-type board game [Robin is an ignorant white male - ed.]. Everyone was happy and I wondered if that could be possible in Seattle, a downtown park where people go to play board games together and not just buy and sell drugs. It was kinda weird. Maybe I would be happier if I was an old Chinese man.
From here we headed to the Bottom of the Hill and finally met the Blitzen Trapper dudes, who are all wonderful. The sickest cats in the alley [Robin is also out of idioms - ed.]. I can’t think of a cooler band to be playing these shows with. Sound check was smooth and it sounded really great in that room, the sound man Barrett was really kind and gracious and shares his name with a character from Final Fantasy VII so that was a bonus [Robin is a sixth grader - ed.]. Some of our Pup Sob label friends were in town for Noise Pop and it was good to see them and talk to them, they are just the sweetest. The show sold out and we played O.K., a little rusty and Casey’s mandolin broke halfway through the set but all around not a bad start. Music is a journey and nobody’s ever fully there but people seemed responsive. A couple people clapped in recognition when we started one of the songs and I couldn’t believe that we were playing a show in a different state and that people recognized the song. That blows my brains out. This whole goddamn experience is insane to me. One girl was even singing along which was even more of a mind-fuck but it turned out she was from Seattle. Actually that doesn’t really change the mind-fucked-ness of it now that I think about it.
So, the show was fun and it was great getting to meet all kinds of new folks after a couple days in relative isolation, it’s so awesome meeting new kids and bands and seeing what’s going on all around the country. Skyethen drove us a couple hours out of San Francisco (theft city, yo) and we’re all antsy to get to LA. My girl has flown down from Seattle for the show tonight and I miss her so terribly I can’t wait! Two more hours!!! Stoked!!!!!
Oh, and it’d be deceitful if I didn’t mention that we saw that Pitchfork reviewed our EP and were really nice. An 8.7 and a “Best New Music” tag. This is the ultimate Alice in Wonderland weirdo mindfuck through the rabbit hole brain blower. It’s all very surreal to me and I have no concrete opinions on it - I don’t know if I should be excited or scared or confused or what. We’re a smalltime family band in my mind, we’ll play music the rest of our lives no matter what other people decide to think about us or how much success other people decide we deserve, and it’s strange to feel like we are being put out in the public eye in some small way without ever really desiring that… what a weird world. Onto Hell itself, Los Angeles, but we’re feeling good if a little tired. More soon and I promise none will be this long, I’m really just trying to pass the time on this long drive. See you soon friends we sure miss you all.
Robin, Skye, Casey, Christian, & Nick