In the few days that have passed since my little solo gig more than a few people have asked me what prompted me to play a show by myself at all.
This is what I tell them the reason is: "As an artist, there are certain emotions and forms of expression that I can't bring across in the idiom of the band. To feel fulfilled in my art I need to find a venue for these other creations." That is what I call the "wanker" answer.
This is the real answer. Writing songs for myself that will only be performed by myself goes something like this:
Me: So, I think this bridge part should go like this.
Me: Oh, I totally agree.
Me: Yeah, it's brilliant.
Me: Wow, thanks.
Me: Now that that's settled, do you wanna knock off early, order a pizza and nerd out to the Discovery Channel.
Me: You bet I do!
So, one of the benefits of being in a band, or any creative endeavor for that matter, is having people appreciate what you do. Having people come to shows, buy our records, tell me they like the songs or that they read this journal is deeply gratifying.
But beyond the casual fan there are the few people who really like the band, the superfans. Sometimes these folks give you things in addition to their support, and hell, who doesn't like presents?
Anywho, the point is that superfan Melissa, who works at a zoo, is raising a camel. Melissa (henceforth known as Camelissa) let us know that she feeds the camel a steady diet of FXA and even wore an FXA t-shirt while being interviewed for Animal Planet. Kwayzee. Anywho, after we told her how cool we thought that was she invited us to the zoo to play with camels, monkeys and rhinos. Dag.
So pretty soon we'll all put on our best Steve Irwin gear and go frolic with wildlife. Hopefully we can get some video of the whole thing and can learn once and for all whether our hunch that Gordon would "do a monkey" is correct.
We'll keep you updated...
And everyone else who claims to be our number one fan but hasn't given us anything or invited us to a zoo? You're dead to us. (Kidding, of course. Maybe)
So last night I unleased the fury that is the Joe Welsh solo show. Despite my grave reservations and vast amount of underpreparation the show actually came off pretty well. In fact, my only problems came when I actually took a second to think about what I was doing. Once I did that my hands would forget what their purpose was and my voice would take a a quick shortcut into "out of tune squeakland". Anywho, thank you to my friends who braved the cold to watch me make an ass of myself. And, of course, thanks to Brendo Frendo for copiously booing me.
On another note, W is now pushing to add an amendment to the Constitution banning gay marriage? Is there anyone, I mean anyone, who doesn't think this man is out of control? I feel like there are probably even members of Aryan Nation who in mid-cross burning stop for a moment to scratch their heads and say "You know, I never thought I'd say it but I think maybe he just might be going too far".
My feeling is that if you're the president and you have American troops dying in an ill-defined war being fought on two separate fronts then you should be locked in a room with a couple advisors and not be allowed out until the situation is resolved. Your aides would say "Don't worry about gay marriage or announcing the start of NASCAR races or giving the rich tax breaks, Mr President, we're on it. You just get back in there and try to get less people killed".
As people we like to think we're better than the lemmings, but for the most part it just isn't true. Specifically I'm talking about the human response to possible tragedy.
For instance; today Ladyfriend Sarah and I got to the Davis T station and as we descended the escalator (yes, we're lazy) we started to smell smoke. As we got closer to the platform we realized there was some sort of fire and that the station was actually full of mildly acrid smoke. However, no one seemed to be freaking out and the trains were still running, so we paid our money and went to wait for the train.
That was stupid. How many times have you heard the news story that begins "18 people died today in a subway fire that started when...." Somewhere along the line as people we've lost our survival instinct. I guarantee if you took a dog into the station he'd be like "dude, woof woof, let's get the hell outta here woof."
But as much as we've blinded ourselves to danger in the name of not rocking the boat, we've also become a nation of ridiculous revisionist lemmings. All you ever hear after a big tragedy is, for example, "I never woulda died in 9/11, man. Once the first plane hit I woulda been outta there so fast..." No, no you wouldn't have. 99% of us would have done as we were told, which was to stay at our desks and wait for emergency instructions.
So I propose you join my movement, MNIJWAIEYTJAYOSCITIOSPS, or the "My Name is Joe Welsh and I Encourage You To Jump at Your Own Shadow Club in the Interest of Self Preservation Society". As a group we will run like little scared kittens from every possible danger including, but not limited to, speeding cars, smoky rooms and Brendo Frendo.
Business first: thanks you to everyone who came to the show at the Middle East on Friday. It was a HUGE success and Fooled By April raised over $200 for the Station Family Fund, which I know will be greatly appreciated.
Now on to the stuff you came for....
Saturday night we packed up the rockmobile and headed to New Bedford to make some noise at the New Wave Café. After we sounchecked we made a trip to a restarsaunt we had never been to before....oh, what was it called?.....McDonald's? Something like that. Maybe someone from around there can correct me if I'm wrong.
Anyway, as we were eating we got a very nasty lesson in a urinary tract infection that poor Pete's peter has been suffering from lately. Now, urinary tract infections are kind of like urges to have sex with your friend's sisters - everyone gets them, but they're probably best left untalked about.
So after a few minutes on the topic, we had to stop Pete because it was grossing us out. Make no mistake, we brought it on ourselves by asking, but we shouldn't have.
After we decided to move on, and while everyone was collecting themselves, Pete bit into his cherry pie and something crunched. Crunched isn't even the right word, it was mor like a clap of nasty thunder erupted from him mouth. He spit the crunchy bite out and, I kid you not, it was a bone. How disgusting is that? In Fooled By April lore, the bone is now mentioned as being hairy and having fingers, which I don't think it did, but it still was a fucking bone in a cherry pie. I though I was going to pass out.
Anyway, if you're listening McDonald's, we all want a year of free (and bone-free) food for our trauma. Dag.
P.S. Since I'm not content with being completely mediocre in FXA, I will be playing a free solo gig tomorrow night at the Lizard Lounge at 7:30 or so. I'm nervous as hell, so bring Valium.
Last night Fooled By April took over the airwaves of WBRS (Brandeis Radio) for an hour of toilet humor and bad puns.
-While explaining the band's history I admitted that I wanted to call the group 'Poopoo toilet paper.org.gov'. As you know, I lost.
- Pete got completely nude in the studio and performed a dance native to the ancient Inca. It was weird.
- Gordon and I played a couple tunes acoustically. It was fun and everyone jumped in on harmony vocals. When we listened to the playback it literally sounded like there were two people playing guitar with a chorus of thirteen werewolves.
- DJ Luke assured Pete that it would be OK for him to come out. I agreed and said we'd buy him a rainbow guitar.
- Everyone Jordan knows in the world called to talk to him.
- Some chooch called in to ask whether we would be like Bobby and Whitney when we got famous. We said yes.
- We got a huge ticket on the way home for speeding
This weekend I was walking down the street near the Prudential Center. It was about 11 PM and fah-reeee-zing cold.
It was so cold that when I passed Dunkin' Donuts I just had to go in. Never mind that the caffeine would keep me up all night, my innards were screaming for some hot love. Anyway, as I was walking in I saw this homeless guy (who was undoubtable more freezing than me) standing in a nearby doorway panhandling. I felt pretty bad about this, so in a rare act of Welsh generosity I made an offer:
Me: Hey man, you want a cup of coffee or a donut of something?
Guy: No thanks, I'm cool.
Yesterday on my way home I had the epiphany that I am, irrevocably, an adult now.
As I was walking down Mass Ave I saw two kids in a doorway shooting spitballs at passerby. I was having a pretty bad day and I was not in the mood for these shenanigans, so when one of the kids inevitably aimed his spitball straw at me I gave him the "I am an adult, I will not put up with this, so do not fuck with me" look. And it worked. He put the straw away until I passed and then shot a nasty wad of paper at somebody else.
This is only significant because the "I am an adult, I will not put up with this, so do not fuck with me" look has never worked for me in the past. In fact, every time I've tried to bully someone with my adult status they usually just laugh. But now I think I finally carry that "I am an adult" authority.
Of course this all leaves me in a strange place. I like that as I get older I get to avoid more and more of the annoyance of youth, but it sucks that I really have to accept that my own youth is gone. Not only gone, but long gone. I guess that all there is to look forward to now is the sweet sweet embrace of the crypt.
Ah, the three day weekend. Is there anything finer? I didn't think so until this particular three day weekend, which was the three day weekend where Joe buys a drill!
That's right, on Sunday Brendo Frendo and I piled into the old Saturn and headed out to Target to take advantage of the post valentine's day candy markdown. Mmmmmmm, Jelly Hearts.
Anywho, while making designs on a number of bags of mini-peanut butter cups I saw in my peripheral vision that there was a sale on drills. And so I bought one, not knowing if I would have enough uses for it to justify its cost. And folks, I couldn't have been more wrong.
I don't think I've ever loved anything as much as this drill. All day yesterday I sat around watching the American Chopper-thon on the Discovery Channel and inventing jobs to do with my drill. These jobs included a little guitar maintence, opening mail, drilling small holes through my piano bench, massacering an old piece of plywood and opening a bag of M&M's (seriously).
Every single one of you should drop what you're doing right now and go get your ass a drill. I mean it.
I just read a newspaper article about a girl in New York who was killed by a subway train while trying to retrieve her cell phone from the tracks. When she was actually struck there were two men holding her arms, trying vainly to pull her up to the platform.
I mention this not only because it horrifies me, but also because I'm glad I'm not one of those two guys. I mean, I wouldn't want to be the girl either, but at least she doesn't have to replay her failure to save someone's life for the rest of her own life.
My own internal mechanism for tragedy is set to a hair trigger. I live in constant fear that I'll witness a car accident or that someone close to me will die, or that my children will all be born with no heads, or that if they have heads, that those heads will be horribly deformed, or that if they're born with horribly deformed heads that they will inevitably die in a bicyclye accident. And once one of these things happen, I'm convinced that I will dwell on it until I die, never being happy again.
I know I need to chill out, but please don't die, OK?
Yesterday I had one of those days where you just feel bad. but you don't feel bad in a way where any friendship or shoulder to cry on is going to help. You feel bad in the way where you know the only solution is to buy yourself a whole lot of expensive shit you really don't need. And people, I did just that.
I've had a few of these days recently and have spent gobs of money I really don't have on things I really really don't need. But as much as I've mocked it in the past, retail therapy can be very therapeutic. For instance, I know that whenever I look at my Boss Ge-7 graphic equilizer pedal I'll smile because I bought it for myself as an act of self-love. At least, that's what I tell myself, since there's other forms of self-love that are a whole lot cheaper and probably more satisfying.
Anyway, you all should try to catch me when I'm in one of these moods, because I just might buy you something....as long as it's frivolous.
I just got in after spending an hour on the T trying to get to work, a trip that usually takes about 15 minutes. Arg.
My train broke down in Harvard Square at 8:45. This is not a good time for a train to break down in one of the busiest parts of the city. But it did, and I was forced to get off and join the multitudes who were already waiting on the platform. It was at this point that I realized a lot of people in Boston need to take more showers. (Note to the guy in the camel hair coat - you gotta use soap dude)
Anywho, fifteen minutes later they fixed the train I had been on but it was still deemed unfit for service, and so I waited another ten minutes for a train I could actually board.
When I got on this train the conductor came on the intercom and said "Folks, we're going to be moving pretty slowly today, as we're behind a broken down train." No shit.
My bed and a feigned sick day are starting to look pretty good right now...
After the treacherous drive to NYC on Friday night (see yesterday's entry) we finally pulled into the club. Everyone was tired and cranky, but luckily for us both the soundguy and the bouncers were all surly Eastern Europeans who were bent on giving us a hard time about everything. It was honestly like an episode of Seinfeld. Highlights:
- Gordon's dad, who, despite being good looking and in shape, still does look like a man who has obviously seen a few more than 21 birthdays, got carded. Hard. And unfortunately he had lost his wallet earlier in the night and had no proof that he is in fact not eighteen. He was actually almost refused entry until he pulled out the old "don't be a dick. I'm an adult and I'm not going to take this shit from you" tone of voice. Works every time.
- We waited around for three hours in order to get a 22 second soundcheck from Boris the angry Lithuanian. That wasn't actually his name, but it's funnier in my memory that way. It was good that we got this soundcheck because I like to know well in advance that I'm going to have absolutely NO monitors.
- After the show, and while I was talking to Gordon's dad outside the club, a bouncer came over to us and told us/kinda pushed us to "clear the area." Luckily there was a big pile of garbage behind me, so I got to trip into that. Arg.
- The night was redeemed for me when both of my lodging options gave me the old heave ho. There really isn't a better feeling than being abandoned in New York City at 1 in the morning with nowhere to go. Luckily (and this time I mean it) Jordan's good friend Cannon and his lovely ladyfriend Sarah were kind enough to take me in.
All in all, it was a night that made me wish I was still drinking.
So we hit NYC with an unparalleled vengeance this weekend, but it looked for a while as if it might not happen. When we hit the road on Friday afternoon the road had already been hit by three or four inches of slick snow. Now, I don't know how many physics courses you all have taken, but a heavily laden rear-driven minivan and snow are pretty much the fiercest of natural enemies. But aside from some sweet evasive maneuvers by Gordo the wonder driver we emerged unscathed.
And luckily for us, the snow let up once we hit Connecticut, where it gave way to a hailing storm of ice pellets. However, after just one terrifying hour this gave way to a simply bone chilling rain when we hit the Big Apple.
You just have to love the Northeast.
The show itself was a trip, but I think that's a story for tomorrow as I just got yelled at by my dickhead boss for not leaving him phone messages in the format he likes....
Not too much to talk about today. I am in a stressful race with the clock to get all the work I've neglected this week off my desk before noon, when we leave to go rock New York. Arg. Oh well, one Balance bar and three diet cokes say I can get it done and if I can't trust them then really who can I trust?
I gotta be honest with you, I'm feeling a little down, a little kicked around by life. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but my desire to get out of bed in the morning is just not where I want it to be. I know it has something to do with the winter dragging on and the inevitable lull that the dismal weather inserts into the band's progress, but even though I understand these blues I still can't shake them.
Luckily, we have a show tomorrow. People get their therapy in different ways and for me the best outlet is playing music really loudly in front of people. Don't tell Gordon this, but if I had my choice our guitar amps would be so loud that you could literally feel the air move when we hit a chord.
This is, to me, why rock and roll will be around forever. For myself and a lot of people like me - people who suck at sports, aren't interested in cars and don't like to fight - rock music is one of our only ways to feel real power.
Ok, this is depressing and I don't think I have a point, so until next time....
So, it's day three of being alone at work and honestly it's just not that much fun. I've been finding that the amount of "doing whatever I want" time is far less than I anticipated. I mean, I envisioned a paradise of playing internet poker, reading, taking naps and so on and so forth, but lo and behold, I guess I actually do have a job because now I find myself way behind. Arg.
Anywho, in other news I took in the OKGo show last night at the Middle East and it was the bomb skillet. They're really really good and I'd be lying if I said part of me doesn't burn with ugly envy, and so I'll lie and say that I'm happy for their success and am not jealous at all. Arg.
Anyway, a late night rocking means a short amount of sleep and a tired and irritable Joe, all alone at work, actually doing work and, right now, crankified.
As much as I love living in this country, more and more frequently there are times when I just want to kick the majority of its people square in the ass.
What's on my mind today is the Janet Jackson scandal which is, perhaps, the dumbest thing in the world. Here's why, in two short reasons, it drives me absolutely crazy:
-All the news can talk about is the outrage of America over the showing of one tit during primetime. The FCC is talking about fines, CBS is denying they knew anything about it and everybody, I mean everybody, is apologizing. Has this country really gotten to the point where someone's boob is more offensive than the speeches of a warmongering president who ignores the constitution and the daily scenes of unnecessary carnage in Iraq and Afganistan? I mean, come on.
-But it's all about the children right? Seeing Janet Jackson's boob is going to irrevocably turn their moral compass to sin. Arg. I'm so tired of the far right christian ethic in this country that says that the body is somehow evil and dirty and should be hidden. I mean, if you want to get mad at Janet Jackson, get mad at how lame her whole perfomance was, but not because she has boobs. Everybody has boobs. And it seems to me that the more you try to warp kids into thinking seeing a boob is dirty, yet seeing tons of violence isn't, the more you end up in twenty years with thirty year old guys whose ideas of sex are so fucked up that they can only get turned on by girls covered in pumpkin pie who poke them with toothpicks.
It's a boob, folks, just a boob. Everybody has them. Not everybody has them pierced with weird-ass sun medallions, but everybody has them. Let's grow up, huh?
So, I'm all alone at work this week. Now, you would think that this would be fantastic, and I suppose it would be for a lot of people, but not someone with as nervous a temperament as I have.
For instance, last night I told myself that I would be all cool about getting to work. There's no one here to check on me, so I figured I'd sleep in and take my sweet ass time getting here, right? Wrong. I actually woke up earlier than normal because of my anxiety about someone calling at the crack of nine and catching me in my deception.
Ok, so I got here early. Now you'd figure that once I got here, it would be a smooth sailing day of internet porn and catnaps on the boss's couch, right? Wrong. Now I'm worried about catching up on things that I may have neglected in the past couple weeks and am afraid to shut the office door in case I miss a delivery.
I gotta tell ya, all this free time to enjoy myself is just making me ill.