TOUR TALES # 3
If you have ever had your home or vehicle broken into, you will know that it is an incredibly overpowering feeling of invasion on a personal and mental scale. Here are people, usually looking to make a few easy extra dollars, probably pawning whatever they can sink their claws into that belong(ed)s to you. To them, it’s several minutes out of their day and several to a few hundred (or thousand) dollars to gain. But to you, those are treasured memories, heirlooms and things you or your loved ones probably cherish, or are rather important to you on some scale. To say that discovering that you have been robbed is a terribly shitty, sinking kind of feeling and I would not wish it upon anyone.
In my life, I have had almost every single home I’ve lived in and numerous personal vehicles of mine broken into. All in different areas ranging from the suburbs to the countryside in numerous states of repair and disrepair, mind you. I have never lived in any ghetto-type areas and nowhere I would consider to be rough. Unless you count the simple country-dwelling, Old Milwaukee guzzling, owns 8 snowmobile type of people rough. They are rough, mind you. But not in a kill you for looking in their direction way… More of a: I’m a Dodge kind of guy, so all guys who are Chevy kind of guys kind of enjoy the look, taste and shapes of penises in and around their mouths rough kind of people…. I can’t say the conversations here are very enthralling, unless you’ve had a dozen beers or so, and even then maybe don’t mention who your favourite hockey team is until you’ve heard a few dozen sentences list from their maws.
Anyway, I never had much of anything of value taken from me in these situations, thankfully. I also, sort of, always get the last laugh because I am a musician and don’t really have anything worth taking that isn’t on my person at all times any way! Even when I’m not home, my valuables are with me, so don’t break into my home, goddammit. You’ll probably hurt yourself breaking in – first off – as I tend to fortify my home way beyond the recommended level. Secondly, my big-muscled/ big-toothed dog will 100% attack you, and lastly, you won’t even gain anything from it! Move on down the row… please! I’d also rather not clean blood off my carpets again from the last time it happened.
ANYWAYS, moving on…
This tale begins much like many of the tales of glory, lowliness and general neutrality: from within the confines of a tour vehicle…
The time was winter, and the place was Montreal, Canada! To those uninitiated, Montreal is kind of like the Amsterdam/ New Orleans of Canada in a lot of ways. The partying there is a very easy kind to find and get used to. The alcohol is plentiful and cheap (and good!). Poutine. I could easily spout on about everything awesome that Montreal has to offer for this article, but I’d rather keep to the damn story, and hopefully teach all you young’uns a lesson or two. Also, if anyone from the city of Montreal ever wants me to write promotional articles for them, I have a rather splendid English vocabulary to attract all of those non-Quebecois types! The email is in the contact section!
So, here I was in Montreal for the hundred thousandth time, give or take. It was actually the final date on a little tour we were doing with some very dear friends of ours. The tour had been a huge success and all of us were riding high in spirits (and other things) from our successes abroad. Tonight was a night for partying and enjoying each others’ company and party skills for one final night before we scattered to the winds.
The day began like any other: Wake up, warm up, load in, eat, drink, hang out, sound check, eat drink – before the doors of the venue opened. I was outside at this point doing a live radio interview, which the details on are a little fuzzy…
While the interview curved on, I noticed one of the guitar players from the band we were touring with emerge from a throng of passerbys, and he was visibly spewing rage. His knuckles were bright white as he clutched an iPad, his eyes downcast at its screen.
As he passed, I managed a quick “everything okay?” before he rounded a corner up a side street. It wasn’t the first time during that tour I had seen him visibly angry about something, so I decided not to pursue it any further and finished my interview.
Back upstairs I returned to my band with beer on my mind when I noticed the other bands’ members all in various states of frustration and anger. Again, this was not the first time I had seen this from them (bonus tip: always try to keep your cool on the road), but at this point my curiosity had gotten the best of me, so I asked my band about it.
Evidently they had discovered their van – which was currently parked in a brightly lit and busy section of street – had its front passenger window broken. Their van – completely dishevelled – had also been relieved of most of their backpacks containing phones, laptops, GPS units as well as several grand in cash (bonus bonus tip: NEVER LEAVE VALUABLES IN THE VAN).
Needless to say, they were all extremely, violently angry.
It was then I had discovered their guitar player had an app on his iPad that allowed him to track where his devices were in real time, which would have been handy if his devices were also within range of it. By the time they had found their van like that, their belongings were probably long gone. It didn’t take very long before I suggested we check on our own van…
Unfortunately, our van had also had its window smashed. Unfortunately for the would-be thief, all they would find would be dirty clothing and empty pizza boxes. We ALWAYS bring our valuables with us wherever we go.
The night went on with a dramatic air of tension, despite the sizeable crowd and their willingness to buy merchandise from both bands. We got to see lots of familiar faces amongst the crowd of many more new faces. There were even old friends who were in town from our hometown that came out to see the show. One of them was the band’s old manager! There were drinks flowing and everyone was having a great time. If the robbery had not occurred, this would have been an ideal night for any band.
So at this point, I could probably end this story with a witty postscript indulging my endless wisdom of life on the road. I could also continue, as this story is far from over…
The rest of the night at the venue went as expected: old friends, new friends, beers, food, metal. It was awesome. We played well and had fun with our crowd. While we were wiping the sweat from our faces and discussing what to do after the show, our old band manager approached us at our merch table.
We were discussing what to cover the window up with to make the sleep bearable against the late January cold when he offered us a place to stay. He told us this company he was working for had a pop-up facility on the edge of town that had an acclimated triple bay bus port that we could easily fit both vans in. Inside, we would have access to as much food and beer as we wanted.
Of course, we fucking wholeheartedly agreed to take him up on his offer.
The show ended and the other bands’ members began getting physical with each other as their tempers had finally begun to boil out of control. It took a few minutes to break them apart, but unfortunately one of the guitarists took off with his gear. We couldn’t call him to tell him directions for our hang out place, as his phone was stolen… so that is how he ended the tour…
We packed up. We left in relatively good spirits for the party to come.
When we arrived, it was at a MASSIVE building on the outskirts of Montreal. Our buddy got one of the doors to the bus bays opened and we drove into warmth of the building. From there he led us down this massive Bond villain-style hallway which led to another Bond villain-style reception area (do Bond villain have receptionists…?). There in the corner was a massive service elevator, which we were taken up a few floor to what I was assuming was the top of the building. The elevator door opened to a very nondescript looking room, except for the warrior looking metal frame statue on the opposite side.
The details here are a little fuzzy because we thought we were about get fed to lions in a secret illuminati snuff dungeon or something like that – but the wall next to the warrior dude literally opened up. Like… popped outward and slid out of the way. Super badass…
What was revealed was like getting a childhood dream come true…
Actually… it WAS a childhood dream come true.
Inside was a MASSIVE FUCKING SKATEBOARD PARK that looked like it was gleaned straight from a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game, complete with a massive stage, a PA system large enough for a Slayer concert, 70” flat screen TVs with PS3s hooked up (with Call of Duty on cue), free vending machines filled with free snacks and beverages.
And best of all… a separate room behind an equally awesome sliding door with a small mountain of beer cases stacked inside. All free. All for us to consume ‘til sunrise (for some reason… I guess the awesome vampires running this place are out making equally awesome shit somewhere in the city).
So we drank and partied and skateboarded and BMXed and acted like gigantic children until sunrise. I remember falling asleep in the back of the van; the pizza box duct-taped over the broken window; me smiling gleefully. I woke up as we pulled up in front of my house. That tour had ended.
The moral of the story; and I always find myself repeating this one to so many people on tour and in life: Always look on the bright side of every situation. No matter how bad things get – things can turn around in unbelievable, instantaneous ways