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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fleet Foxes Tour Diary #2: From Phoenix to Denton, and BIG FUCKING SAND DUNES!

posted by on March 5 at 2:06 PM

Well, back in the saddle again folks, this time we're hightailing it from Phoenix, Arizona (home of the University of Phoenix, the most reputable and worthwhile internet college there is) to Denton, Texas, which is somewhere right outside of Dallas, home of the "Cowboys" basketball squad that won the World Cup a few years ago. I love their goalie.

Since last we spoke a lot has happened so I guess I'll start at the new beginning: I hate LA with the force of 1,000 suns, the whole immensity of the known universe. You could fill the 96% of all space that's made of yet-unknown substances with this hate. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if, when that giant matter collider discovers the Higgs-Boson, the Higgs-Boson will have "LA SUX" written on it in subatomic particles. I don't really know what it is that rubs me the wrong way about the place but I have never felt comfortable there and it just seems like 10,000 Bellevues combined with a 24/7 American Idol audition. But that's the problem with seeing places while on tour--unless you have an extra day or two there, you only see the immediate area around the venue and then the smoggy highways surrounding; not the most accurate sample. I know there are rad areas of LA, I've heard "Silverlake" and "Echo Park" are where it's at, but I've never been to those places or the Smell--just the disgusting downtown Perez Hilton feeling places.

Still, it was a veritable people party at the Troubadour, a bro-fest including my dear girl and her grandfather, the wonderful Joan Hiller, Skye's brother Carter, and my goddamn PARENTS who came down to both the LA show and the San Diego one. Include among that list the awesome dudes from Blitzen Trapper and Grand Archives and it gets crazy thinking just how lucky we are to have so many supportive and loving people around us. Indescribable. The show went well but for some hang-ups in the mandolin department which forced a truncated setlist--we were the first band on the bill anyway so it didn't make that big of a difference. That night I split ways with the boys (who all stayed with Carter) and me and my girl visited her grandfather's house which was awesome--he is a screenwriter in Hollywood and a really sweet guy.

The drive to San Diego found LA never really ending until San Diego began, and the show ended up being my personal favorite yet, the sound was good and the people were really sweet and we got to kick it with all the Grarchives homies one last time before splitting off on our ways. In the hotel room that night I watched the new episode of Lost (sorry Olivia) and had my mind blown forward in time.

Once we got out of San Diego, the drives grew There Will Be Blood-ian in there epicness, my god, the southwest is INSANE. There were mountains made of small boulders, rock formations, gulches and bright red rock spires. Vast plains and valleys and SAND DUNES!!!! DUNES!!!! I had never been to a dune before. As soon as we hit the pure Lawrence of Arabia desert section we stopped, ran across the highway, jumped a fence, and climbed to the top of these insane dunes. If you positioned your head in the right way at the top of the dune you could see for miles, miles and miles of sand like huge white waves, and I could imagine for a minute that I was stranded in the desert on the verge of death and it was strangely comforting. I like doing stuff like that, being in locations where there's no way to tell your place in time. It could have been 1008 A.D. on the top of those dunes for all we knew. It ended up that we were across the border into Mexico. I guess you don't need too comprehensive a fence when the other side is certain doom. Hold on, we just saw a sign for a meteor crater monument, we are taking the exit. Be right back.


OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!!! THAT WAS INSANE!!!! It was a meteor crater like a half mile across in the middle of nowhere, monumentally gorgeous and insane, the gates were closed but we put a carpet over the barbed wire fence and hopped over and climbed to the top. Holy shit man. What a goddamn mind bender. A gigantic rock flew from the cosmos and landed right there and we were just on top of the crater. Good god!!!! A car came so we hopped back over the fence but it was just some guy with the same idea. So amazing. It's like the feeling you get when you watch an eclipse that for some reason seeing the shadow of our own planet darkening the moon makes our place in the universe somehow more palpable.... wow, so cool.

Ok, so yeah, back on track, the place we placed in Phoenix was awesome, this all ages art space called Modified, it reminded me of Art Works or HTFC or something, my personal favorite venue so far. The sound was weird but it was a lot of fun and everyone was really attentive. I am really feeling the wear and tear on my voice from singing night after night - I've been smoking a lot of cigarettes to deal with stress and it's kind of tearing my throat apart. Today I started chewing the Nicorette gum my mom covertly slipped into my bag on our way out of town and it's been good, gotta quit. I did have a couple drags of Christian's cigarette at the top of that crater though, it felt like a fitting place to have my last one. Back to the gum for the sake of my voice, I sure will miss smoking...

Ok, I've rambled again, thanks for reading, see you in a few days!

Luff springs eternal,
Robin & Skye & Casey & Christian & Nick

Friday, February 29, 2008

Fleet Foxes Tour Diary Part 1: Beautiful Drives, Recording for Daytrotter, and Paying Respects to Haight Ashbury

posted by on February 29 at 7:18 PM

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.

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