Thee Oh Sees are currently on a U.S. tour and this this is my tour journal:
As I always say at the beginning of tour diaries, if I sound like a crank, it's only because this journal will lean toward showcasing the LOWS of the trip, as I don't find much entertainment value in the "we made it there in record time/wow gas is cheap here/they gave us FOUR drink tickets/the place was packed/I found a dollar on the ground/turns out crabs actually 'FEEL GOOD' good luck stories, I wanna hear about the horrors. Unless you get to do blow back at Grace Jones's hotel room or urinate into some evil band's merch tub (both true stories), positive highlights are just kinda boring, okay? Misery is comedy or at the very least SAD. All right, let's DUE this:
Me 'n' Dwyer hit the highway
THE CAST:John Dwyer: singer/guitarist, Brigid Dawson: singer/keys, Petey Dammit: guitar that is really the bass (cue sound guy total confusion) Mike Shoun: 1st drummer and Lars Finberg: 2nd drummer/guitarist.
OAKLAND On a recent tour in Canada as our flight leaves S.F., my mostly dormant wisdom tooth (all 4 have needed to go for years) bursts through my gum line and swells the inside my mouth. My only relief (per Dwyer's suggestion) is to put aspirin on the tooth and gum 'raw dog' style. It helps a little. When we get home, we have 4 days off until our U.S. tour starts, so I fly into L.A. and drive up to my folks' house in Bakersfield and have 3 of my 4 wisdom teeth pulled (the 4th is fully grown in sideways, still under the jawbone and is "wrapped in nerves like tree roots" so we leave it). I spend 4 days with my little sister feeding me El Pollo Loco mashed potatoes looking like a swollen hound dog in an pleasant Oxycondrone / HBO On Demand haze. I fly into Oakland to pick up our van we've left at the mechanics to get its California smog check that for some reason hasn't gone through even though they've done the totally normal sounding "we think it needs to be driven to reset the engine for the computers to recalibrate so we put it on our treadmill for 70 miles but that didn't work so can you come drive it around a while?"
At soundcheck we get a real twitchy, testy sound guy (we suspect cocaine). When checking my drums he says, "Seriously, bro? you need to tune that shit" so rudely that neither I nor Dwyer can even come up with a sarcastic response. It sounds real muddy and when we remark, "It sounds kinda crazy up here but I'm sure it'll smooth out with some bodies in the room," he gets upset and and yell "YOU'RE THE FIRST PERSON TO EVER SAY THAT BRO, EVERYONE ALWAYS SAYS HOW GOOD THIS ROOM SOUNDS!" Dwyer tries to explain "I'm not complaining, it just sounds..." and the sound guy stomps out the back door and doesn't come back. On the plus side, they give us food from the great Southern restaurant Hibiscus next door, though the logistics of getting it are a bit strained.
Sound guy - "Just tell us when you want to eat."
me - "Is now cool?"
SG - [points to dirty, dark night club] "OK, I'll set some tables up in here."
me - "That's all right. Can we just eat at those tables on the patio between the restaurant and the club?"
SG - "Well, how about I take it up to your (dank, moldy, windowless) dressing room."
me - "Can't we eat outside?"
SG - "Why do you want to eat outside?"
me - "Because we don't want to eat in a dark depressing dressing room."
SG - "IT'S NOT THAT DARK!"
Dinner is great, though, and some of the best fried chicken I've ever had. We have asked the band Total Control from Australia to do this tour with us as we are huge fans and they are fantastic tonight. They play the first five songs from their great new album, Henge Beat, and I get the chills during each song. After we play, sound guy is trying to be nice and says, "Hey man, I wasn't trying to be a dick earlier. It's just that, for reals, bro, you have got to tune those things."
me - "Look, man, the other drum kit is tuned and tight and and mine's just kinda raunchy and ringy."
SG - "Bro, seriously, RESPECT YOUR INSTRUMENT!"
I take two of my floor tom legs and gouge his shitty eyes out of their sockets and eat them, but I can still hear him moaning under his breath to tune my crummy drums.
LONG BEACH Tonight we play Alex's Bar, which is also the bar FANGTASIA from True Blood. My older brother comes down from Bakersfield and we get a cool hang. The show is good and later when getting paid, Dwyer is making small talk with the owner...
Dwyer - "So they film True Blood here, huh? That's cool."
Owner - "Yeah, it was, until they just decided to just build my bar on a soundstage. But anyway, y'all were great. Please come back."
Dwyer - "Oh we would except we got an offer to play in your bar on the soundstage..."
L.A. Night 1
Where I hang my head, oops I mean hat.
We have a night off and get to hang at my new house and cook dinner with friends and hang in the sauna and hot tub and I get to sleep in my own bed for 3 nights. LIFE IS GRAND.
L.A. Night 2
We play at the very pretty Ukrainian Arts Center tonight. Across the street is a great clothing store, MVT, where Mike buys an awesome new tour shirt that is so colorful it might cure cancer.
I gotta wear earplugs around this shirt
Openers Tijuana Panthers are great, as is the Soft Pack whose drummer looks amazing dressed up as Rob Halford. DJ Keith Morris plays great stuff, including the theme song to Psycho. Total Control kill it, as usual, and our set is real fun. I look over at one point and Batman is standing onstage, arms folded like a security guard, protecting justice. The bouncers even also allow an amazing humongous dude dressed as a baby to repeatedly stage dive, because it looks so ridiculous that it makes them laugh each time and the crowd goes crazier. There is also a fair down the street with a curious funhouse type ride called "Beach Party," and I think of my best buddy Wheels Capponi.
SAN DIEGO Some people say San Diego is kind of a shit hole. And some people is ME. My good friend Brad from Wounded Lion sends me a picture of the costume his amazing girlfriend Gwendolyn made their dog and my heart explodes.
The little arrows make me melt.
We play at John Reis's (Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, Drive like Jehu, etc.) club; he is dressed as Batman. Oh shit, did I just reveal his secret identity? He is DJ'ing fantastic stuff like King Coleman and this great Charles Sheffield song:
It is Halloween and Dwyer and I are dressing as Hall & Oates.
Hall N' Oates (Gross Version)
We were on the fence about this costume choice until I found 2 matching white Members Only jackets. I wander the drugstores looking for a fake mustache to no avail, so we decide on a Sharpie. People ask where I got the clothes, but besides the jacket, the stripped Le Sport tank top, white bellbottoms, and boat shoes are FROM MY CLOSET.