Man, I am getting emotional. The last FXA show ever is coming up in just four short days and I am becoming a basket case. I've been walking around for days with a huge rock and roll pit in my stomach, a pit that has only been eased with massive amounts of diet coke and box after box of hot tamales. So far it isn't helping that much.
There are just so many silly things that I keep realizing I'm doing for the last time. For instance, I'll think to myself "this is the last time I'm going to pack up my guitar cords" or "this is the last time we'll play Tex" or "I may never kiss Jordan with quite this much intensity again." Stuff like that.
In all seriousness, don't join a band. It'll break your heart.
This weekend Fooled By April will embark on our very last roadtrip. Pete is packing the scrabble, Jordan has his lead foot handy, Gordon probably has 90 metric tons of carrots and I will most likely be gassy. It's very bittersweet.
The end of the band has been sort of like watching an aunt you love die of cancer. You know the she is in pain and that her death will in many ways be a blessing, but you also can't bear to lose her. Yes, I know this metaphor is very lame, but I can't really think of another way to describe it. Alternately I want to just be done with the whole thing or I want to quit my job and take another push at rock stardom.
And so I will be sad when I get dropped off at my house in the wee hours of Saturday morning but I'll probably also be pissed that Pete beat me in nine straight games of scrabble. Fucker.
So, the other night I found myself in the enviable position of being invited to catch the U2 show from a luxury suite at the Fleet Center. It was pretty god damn great.
In a luxury suite you get your own private lounge, which is pretty much the same as a small hotel room. You get a sink, fridge, room service, tv and best of all, private bathroom. This was the real amenity to me. If there's anything I hate it's having to pee (or god forbid, make a biscuit) in a nasty public bathroom with a bunch of screaming drunk idiots. Private bathrooms rock. Anyway, you also get a pretty damn sweet view of the stage, but that really was secondary to me.
So, the suite rocked. The show? Not so much.
U2 is probably the biggest band in the world right now and I'll admit that they deserve to be there. They consistently deliver hit albums chock full of hit singles and have a frontman who is very much larger than life. Despite all this, they've never really been my particular brand of poison. I've always considered them to be a little self-important and preachy. Despite my potential bias, I came to the show prepared to be awed.
Alas, the show was hit or miss in my opinion. It had some moments of genuine world class rock spectacle, during which I was swept away and completely enjoyed myself. But it also had some serious draggy parts, and I felt that although the band played everything more than competently, more than a few of the old hits felt perfunctory and stale.
Add to all this Bono's ridiculous stage antics and god awful lecturing about my worldly responsibilities and I was left feeling underwhelmed by the whole experience, except for the suite. The suite was awesome.
The rest of my time in Ithaca was gravy. Eric, his lovely lady Lara and I bowled, ate some good grub and laughed. Oh how we laughed.
However, by late afternoon Sunday I was beat. Unfortunately, Eric had folks over, so the only available place for me to take a nap was his and Lady Lara's bed. This would have been fine except that they have a big shedding dog that sleeps with them, and if there's anything in the world that your humble narrator is allergic to it's a big shedding dog.
But, being industrious by nature, Eric and I came upon a plan which resulted in quite possibly the BEST NAP EVER. We took an Aerobed, inflated it and put it on top of his mattress, placing me about 35 feet in the air but also making me very comfy. Before I knew it, two hours had passed. I may start sleeping this way at home.
After the nap we hit the poker table with some of Eric's law school buddies. It seemed like it was my night, as I had a run of sweet cards and took some serious money out of their soon-to-be extraordinarily wealthy hands. I was like a modern day Robin Hood who only looks out for himself.
The next morning I turned the bike around and headed for home. I'd like to say that this ride was equally as enjoyable as the ride up, but that would be a big frigging lie. It was cold and rained on me for about 150 of the 360 miles. Damn.
There was, however, one huge bright spot. In extreme western Massachusetts the road was empty and I was trying to pick up some time and so I was flying - literally between 85 and 95 mph. Of course, this is the time I blaze right by a speed trap.
Right after I passed the cop I started cursing myself. I knew I was going to get a ticket and sure enough, as I glanced into my rearview mirror I saw the blue lights go on. I knew I deserved it, so I pulled into the right lane and awaited my fate while calculating the cost of the citation - prolly between $250 and $350. FUCK.
I pulled the bike back down to 55 and waited. And waited. And waited. I have no idea why, but the hammer never fell. I couldn't believe it and I have no idea what happened. Whatever it was, I'll take it.
As a karmic equalizer, it poured on me the rest of the way home, but I didn't even care.
Again, I think I came out more windshield than bug.
I am back from a somewhat grueling motorcycle adventure to the adventure capital of the world - Ithaca, New York.
Why Ithaca? Well, good friend/old drinking buddy/star law student/ex-FXA-er Eric Franklin has just polished off his tenure the Cornell School of Law and he needed to do some celebrating. Add to that that it was a chance to ride the bike 750 miles in 3 days and it was a win-win situation.
My riding day Saturday started out at 6:30 AM and was FREEZING. I mean, cold. After ten miles I really didn't know if I was going to make it the 400 remaining miles to Ithaca. But I pulled over, got some coffee, allowed my popsicle-ized genitals to warm up a bit and steeled my resolve. I was rewarded about an hour later when I burst into the most glorious sunny day in Connecticut history. God damn it was beautiful.
It just got better as I entered New York and made my way through the Catskills. The sun was shining as I rode past river after river of full of fly fisherman and families out for the day. I rode over some gorgeous mountains and through incredible forests. NY17 I salute you.
After a long ride through the Catskill National Park I stopped for gas and ice cream. Along my way I had picked up about a hundred dead bugs on my windshield and so cleaning it was my top priority. I grabbed that squeegee thing they have at gas stations and washed all the nasty guts off the shield. Unfortunately, Podunk Catskill Gas does not perform very much squeegee maintenance and I realized after a minute of scrubbing that I was scratching the holy hell out of my windshield. Arg.
I was pissed but still in a relatively happy mood so I went into the station and got my ass an ice cream. I went outside and peeled off my protective gear so I could bask in the sun and the glory of the Nestle Crunch Ice Cream Bar. I took a bite, savored the deliciousness and turned my face up to the sun, at which point a torrential downpour started. God. Damn. It.
I spent the rest of my day racing the stormclouds and staring through a scratched ass windshield. Finally I made it to Cornell, a little battered but proud of getting there safely despite all the rain.
Day 1 Verdict - I gotta say that with all the scenery and sunshine, I was definitely more the windshield than the bug today.
I am living in a world of frustration right now. I don't know what else can go wrong with the production of this record. We finished recording late, we finished mixing late, we finished the art late and now we are very much standing on the precipice of being massively fucked in terms of delivering this monster anywhere near on time.
Wait, that's how I felt last night....
This morning I feel like that with the added contribution of the mastering engineer (who should have finished the job two weeks ago) calling to tell me he lost the address of the pressing plant (where he was supposed to overnight the master two weeks ago).
Fooled By April has been rehearsing its ass off recently in order to make the final show something to remember. We've been hunkering down in my basement night after night, painstakingly combing through the songs to make them as good as they can be. And strangely, it has been really fun.
I say strangely because being in a band is actually very rarely fun. Rehearsal for me has always been stressful. I would find myself trying to not take the criticism of others personally, all the while trying to figure out how to constructively criticize others. Then we would fight, or people wouldn't show up, or we'd argue about what to play. It was frequently a big fucking drag.
But this time around it's really simple. We have one more show to play and everything is in place. The record is done, the songs are arranged and we can actually get back to the basic reason we got together in the first place - we like making music we care about together. We're no longer trying to get a record deal, no longer trying to make a career of it - we're just four dudes having a laugh.
As sad as it is to have to end this chapter of our lives, this month or so of preparation will probably be some of the nicest time we've had as a group.
When I become the director of the FCC (which in many people's minds is a definite when, not if) I will relax many of the ridiculous rules currently limiting cursing and boobs on tv. Cursing and boobs are, quite frankly, awesome.
However, I also vow with all my heart to rein in one of tv's grossest exercises in disregarding the well-being of the public. I am, of course, speaking of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Every time this show comes on I swear to myself that I won't watch it. And then, when I'm watching it, I promise that I won't get involved in the story. And then, when I'm involved in the story, I promise I won't break down like a five year old schoolgirl. And then, when i'm a sobbing wreck I promise that I won't ever watch it again.
Last night featured the story of a single dad with three RIDICULOUSLY adorable toddler boys whose mother died of cancer. Holy Christ. As if that isn't bad enough, each kid has a speech impediment. At the big reveal, one of the boys described his new room as "fffere's Tigger and Piglet and winnie pooh and a big boy bed." Good lord...
I was at a party with two one year old boys. They both were walking in that "oh boy, this is weird" kind of baby way and neither had begun to talk.
Anyway, inevitably they were both put down on the floor and after a few minutes exploration they came face to face. For maybe a full minute they stood there, both swaying and sucking on pacifiers, staring each other down.
Finally, one baby reached out and pushed the other one down. The pushee immediately started crying while the pusher slowly ambled away .
Let me give all you guys out there a little piece of advice.
If you are in a band and the band is ending and you even feel confident that there is a tacit understanding in the band that this dissolution is fair game for one band member's journal - well....you better think again.
This is important stuff. Actually, I think this advice is so important that it should be added to the Ten Commandments, which should now read: I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
IV. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
V. Honour thy father and thy mother.
VI. Thou shalt not kill.
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
X. Thou shalt not covet any thing that is thy neighbour's.
XI. If you are in a band and the band is ending and you even feel confident that there is a tacit understanding in the band that this dissolution is fair game for one band member's journal - well....you better think again.
I mention this because certain members of this little group of ours weren't quite ready to spill the beans, so now I feel like a huge dick.
Oh well, sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug.
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the FXA.
We have lots to report this time, so lets get down to it...
The new record is done! It is going out to the plant to be pressed this week and will be released on June 4th. We are all really pretty damn proud. The songs are good, the recording is good, the mix is good, the mastering is top notch and the artwork is good. All that sucks is my guitar playing, but we're all used to that by now.
"June 4th, isn't that a Saturday?" you ask. Well yes, yes it is. We are breaking with the industry standard of releasing records on Tuesdays and are bringing you this fine piece of wax on a Saturday. A Saturday night to be more precise. A Saturday night headlining the Paradise, Boston's premiere rock club to be even more precise. Getting this gig is a pretty big achievement for us, and releasing the record at the show is just the icing on the cake.
Actually, releasing the record is more like the cake's sweet creamy filling. The icing is the fact that this show is being recorded for release as a live record, and through the technology of Instant Live Recording you will be able to get it right after the gig. So, in reality, June 4th is our record release show for our TWO new records. Damn.
You knew it was coming - the bad. Well...let's not call it bad, let's call it the bittersweet. That Saturday night at the Paradise will be Fooled By April's last show.
After four years of great friendship, great touring, great stories and hopefully some good music, it is sadly time to hang it up. Our lives are all taking us in different directions and unfortunately it is the band that has to suffer for it.
As disappointing and heartbreaking as it is for us to leave Fooled By April, we're all excited to go out on top, with a new record we're really proud of to be released at a great venue.
So, the new Crüe (that's the last umlaut I'm typing, deal) show is presented like a wild and evil circus. There's a grimy curtain and a midget master of ceremonies. Can someone explain the rock and roll/midget connection to me? I just don't get it.
Anyway, here's how it went down...
The show started with a claymation cartoon about the Crue trying to save the world from a huge asteroid. It was actually kind of funny at first, but it devolved into a huge long set up for a not funny joke about fake boobs. Oh well.
Pete and I were not deterred by the cartoon, though. We were ready to rock. And so when the lights went down and the curtain came up we went absolutely mental like everyone else.
They started it off with Shout at The Devil and in two seconds I was fifteen years old again, making devil horns and screaming the chorus. It was one of those transcendent concert moments where you can't stop the adrenaline pumping through your veins and the overwhelming sensation of "this is me!" It's very validating.
Pete and I were so excited that we kept turning to each other and high fiving, my cardinal concert pet peeve. Ah well. They followed it up with Looks that Kill, Too Fast For Love and Too Young to Fall in Love. It was, in a word, awesome. It was just great to hear these songs I loved as a kid being enjoyed by people my age without irony. It's powerful; to feel 15,000 people all feeling the same thing - yes, I like Motley Crue a lot, fuck you.
This feeling didn't last too long. After a flurry of old hits they proceeded to play approximately 9,054 songs 12-G and I have never heard. Thus began my second sensation of the evening - Motley Crue isn't very good at music. Don't get me wrong, I think Nikki Sixx is a great hard rock songwriter, and Motley's records are great, but they can't play live for shit. So I sat there looking at them and realized that FXA is a better live act than Motley Crue. Whoa. It was a weird feeling, like going to see the Red Sox and realizing that they're just a bunch of normal guys, not 18 foot tall supermen.
Later in the evening we got back to the hits, but some of the magic was gone. Tommy Lee did his obligatory ridiculous drum solo, Vince Neil asked the crowd 8 billion times if we were having a fucking good time as motherfuckers and if we would make some fucking noise, Nikki Sixx was, frankly, awesome, prowling the stage like a demented rock zombie and Mick Mars, to his credit, stayed alive during the entire show.
Finally, the curtain came down and I was ready to go, but we couldn't leave before the encore. As the arena was bathed in darkness, a bunch of weird shit was played over the PA - bits of music, dialogue and just wacky crap. There was also a siren like noise followed by the word "evacuate". Now, as any loyal reader knows, I did not handle the Great White fire very well, and so I am now hyper-vigilant about my safety at large events. And so I thought to myself "this is really irresponsible of motley, what if people take this seriously and there's a stampede?" Then I thought "what if this is real? You know, the people at the Station that night thought the fire was part of the show.." And so I started freaking out.
Pete was also freaking out a bit, but we didn't move.
The band came back on and in the third bar of the first encore I heard the siren again. That was it for us. We jumped over our seats and started making for the door. As we were getting there the house lights came up and security started storming in. I freaked the fuck out and went into protective panic mode. I grabbed Pete's hand, he grabbed back and we pushed our way to the door and out into the night.
It turns out Motley's pyro set off the smoke detectors and there was no real danger, but it was still pretty scary. On the way home, not knowing if it was nothing or if 700 people had been trampled to death, we debated the news report. We decided it would go something like this "Tonight, we have a terrible tragedy to report. Everyone at the Motley Crue show in Portland was killed by a terrible fire, except for these two selfish homosexuals we caught on tape pushing their way to the door and holding hands. Truly awful people."
All in all, it was an experience that I'm glad I had, but that I don't need to have again.
(Note: My apologies to anyone who actual was waiting for this. The computers in my office have been down for almost two days and I work at MIT. Go figure)
Mötley Crüe – Part Deux
We arrived in Maine with no problems, save for the fact that we hit Burger king along the way and 12-Gauge indulged in his deadliest habit – onion rings. His stomach somehow turns them from an innocuous fried treat into a form of chemical warfare in about 15 minutes. Damn.
Anyway, we got to Portland and joined the trashiest white trash fest I have ever been a part of. It was like we were at the Jerry Springer sideshow. While we stood in line to enter the arena there were three fistfights, resulting in one broken nose, a lot of blood and a number of arrests. Classy. I have also never heard the word “fucking” used as an adverb so many times in my life.
Finally we got inside and made it to our seats, which a couple methed out guys were already sitting in. Being huge pussies, we decided to get security involved rather than ask the dudes to move ourselves. This was a good call because when the guard asked to see their tickets one of the dudes launched into a textbook “Cops” soliloquy.
“I have tickets. I’m not a criminal. Do I look like a criminal to you? I have tickets.” (shows tickets) “I’m not a criminal.”
It was weird. It also turned out that the tickets he did have (he was not, in fact, a criminal) were way better than our seats, the seats he had decided for some reason to squat in.
(Note: If anyone doesn't like profanity then the next few posts are NOT for them.)
Mötley Crüe: Part I
12-Gauge and I are products of the 80's, more specifically products of the very white side of male 80's culture - hair metal. We each have our own favorite bands, he was more of a Kiss man while I was Def Leppard all the way. Of course, our tastes intersect on a number of groups, most notable Guns 'N' Roses and Mötley Crüe. So, when the Crüe announced they were touring this year, we knew we had to go.
First a comment about tickets. Pearl Jam was dead on about what a bunch of criminals Ticketmaster is. The face value of the tickets was $75.00 (yes, $75 each, get off my back about it) and I bought them over the internet. No human being other than myself was involved in the purchase, yet I still was charged a $12.50 handling charge for each seat. On top of that, I was charged a $2.50 handling charge to have the tickets e-mailed to me. What the fuck? I guess their servers are really working themselves to the bone and need a little extra compensation. This, my friends, is bullshit. It also starts both Pete and I at -$90.00 on this adventure. Damn.
Did I mention that the concert was in Portland, Maine? So, let's amend Pete and my starting point: we began the evening 90 dollars down and two hours away from the Crüe. But it would all be worth it, right?
I am back! It was a week of pooping and expectorating but I think it's finally over now. Damn.
Anyway, my weird moment of the morning...
As I was riding in to work this morning I stopped at a traffic light next to a guy standing on a street corner, looking up into a tree with a pair of binoculars. As I stopped, he put the binoculars down, turned and made eye contact with me and then went right back to looking up into the tree.