Day 1: Howell, Michigan: Howell, Michigan: Hey all. For those who are new and reading this for the first time, my name is Ben and I play guitar for Today I Caught the Plague. Ill be taking over the blogging duties for David while we’re on our very appropriately named “Adventure Metal Across America Tour” with Scale the Summit. For those who read David’s previous American tour blog welcome back! Unfortunately you’re stuck with me this time.
I gotta say the last month we spent in our hometown Ottawa, Ontario really flew by. In some aspects it was almost too quick. Our last tour with Protest the Hero, Periphery, Jeff Loomis and The Safety Fire was a solid month of fast food value menus, twelve hour drives and sleepless nights. It really makes you appreciate the little things like clean socks, a salad and sleeping in until noon. But, I’m not here to complain about the road just yet. Its only day one and as of breakfast I am on a MacDonald’s strike. So, life is good.
We kicked off the tour at Howell, Michigan’s annual Bled Fest. We arrived at 9:30am, loaded in, and had sound check within the hour. Now, I should mention that we crossed the border at 3:30am and crashed at at our good friend Justin Camerena’s house at around 4:00am. Then woke up at 7:30 to make the rest of the drive to the festival. I promised I wouldn’t complain though. So, we are VERY well rested…
The first show of any tour is a little rocky (no pun intended) it takes a show or two to shake off the rust and get back into rock and roll auto pilot mode. Our set time was 12:15pm so the rust was real thick. However, our set was very well received and we got to spend the rest of the day watching some great bands like Scale The Summit, Comeback Kid, and As Cities Burn.
So get this, as some of you may already know our keyboardist Matt is a huge gamer. ‘Call Of Duty’ being his drug-I mean game of choice. On our last tour Matt got the opportunity to meet one of his fellow clan members Nick, in Detroit. As it turns out Nick is a metal head and a pretty cool dude as well. What a co-ink-a-dink! He was also kind enough to offer us a place to crash tonight, which is conveniently located between Howell and our next stop Joliet, Illinois. What a co-ink-a-dink! I should also mention Nick has an awesome 3 legged dog named Tucker and a party bus. CO-INK-A-DINK! So we got some quality hang out time on the party bus while listening to some of the latest and “greatest” top 40 radio has to offer. Its a good thing beer is cheap in America. God bless America!
All and all, great first day! I got the 3 cushion couch which for me and my menacing 5 foot 6′ stature means Im going to sleep like a baby! Which I will be doing right…now.
Day 2: Joliet, Illinois: I’m making a point while I write these journal entries to avoid boring you with our day to day routines. Contrary to what the 70’s and 80’s bands used to do, touring in 2012 is far less glamorous then what many people think. Ill take the time in this entry to explain how a typical day is spent on the road so I don’t have to repeat myself through out the next three weeks. Here is a typical day on the road with TICTP.
I’ll usually wake up in one of three places:
1.) A hotel room: This can go one of two ways. What we do is we always use hot-wire and find the best deal we can. If we can swing two rooms we all get to sleep in a bed with one other person. This ensures a good rest for everyone. This is as good as it gets and doesn’t happen often. Normally, we get a single room where there is 2 beds which means 4 sleeping spots. and the rest of us choose between a floor or van sleep. A hotel also ensures a shower, which doesn’t happen everyday but we make a point to shower every couple of days, for obvious reasons…
2.) Crash at a friend or strangers house: This is usually a pretty fun time. When you do the amount of traveling we do you get to meet so many new people. Some of the best friends we have were once strangers who decided to let us crash at there place after a show. We usually stay up for a bit, unwind, and crash on couches, futons, air mattresses, floors or whatever else we can rig up.
3.) Last, and definitely the least favorite, is the infamous overnight van sleep. it stinks, its hot (or freezing depending on the season), its cramped, and you never wake up well rested. We avoid doing these as much as possible but lately its been a regular thing. Sleeping in the van is an art that takes years of practice, but Ill get into that some other time.
Every day typically starts with a drive. Anything under 5 hours is actually considered a short drive believe it or not. Coffee and breakfast are key! Once we do that and give the van some gas its go time!
We arrive to the venue usually early or mid afternoon and load in all of our gear. The headlining band always back lines and sound checks then we usually back line and if we’re lucky, get a sound check. Then we play the waiting game…. This is a very long game some days…and some days we get to play the waiting game multiple times. Show time is anywhere between 7:30 and 10:30. We do anywhere from a 20 min set to a 40 min set depending on the tour, the promoters schedule, venue curfews etc.
After we play we try and mingle as much as possible. We don’t want to be the kind of band that doesn’t interact with their fans. I have a lot of fun every day talking to the crowd and try my best to go our of my way to make my self available to them; after all, they’re why I’m here, so it’s the very least I can do.
After the headliner finishes between 11:30pm to 1:00am. we need to load out, pack our trailer, get food and figure out if we’re sleeping at option 1, 2 or the dreaded 3. So to describe our experience in Joliet in a nutshell. I woke up at a number 2, had a short drive, played the waiting game, loaded in, played the waiting game, back lined, played the waiting game, loaded out and and it looks like we’re doing a number 3 sleep. Yay…Tomorrow I will discuss the art of the van sleep. Goodnight.
Day 3: Columbus, Ohio: I decided that the best time to fill you in on the pleasures of van sleeps would be when I first woke up. While I’m still hot, sticky, and thirsty. So why is sleeping in a van an art form? How do we sleep 7 or sometimes 8 dudes in our tour van?
The way our van is laid out is with the obvious driver and passenger seat at the front, followed by two rows of benches, which in the day time seat 3 people each. My fellow axe man Steve is a real handy man. A few years ago he removed the last 2 rows of benches and built a wooden riser that we keep a futon mattress on. He built it just high enough that we can sleep on the top and keep our luggage underneath to conserve space in our trailer. Steve’s a real smart guy.
The bed on top can sleep two people very comfortably and 3 people as long as its not too hot outside. It can get really hot back there. Usually, I’m dealt the middle spot, so I don’t sleep back there much. Unless its winter…The two benches have become the most popular place to sleep. There not wide and there slightly angled but its your own space and you can stretch out. As of now we have four or five people sleeping. that still leaves three or four of us…This is where we get creative.
Between the benches: There are two spots between the benches on the floor. Its a tight squeeze and its kind of stinky. Sometimes really stinky. I personally take this spot over the middle bed spot 9 times out of 10. As long as the van is not in motion I can get a good sleep there. When the van is in motion its way too bumpy to sleep there. Also, in the event of an accident I wouldn’t want to be down there.
If its not too hot outside we’re set with these arrangements. We’ve got three in the bed, two on the benches and two between the benches. But last night was really hot…and I was the 7th one to go to bed. We have a few terrible options.
The coffin: Remember that riser that Steve built? The riser is raised a foot off the van floor. and is split by a divider in the middle. Leaving two 1 foot by 1.5 foot slots just big enough for you to lie on your back and stretch out straight on the floor. you cant sleep on your side and if you want to move to your stomach you better be really flexible. We call this the coffin because once the van door closes its pitch black and cramped down there. If you’re claustrophobic this option will not work. The first time Eric slept down there he woke up to a panic attack because he forgot he was down there. I’ve only slept down there once, and it wasn’t where I slept last night.
Passenger seat: Don’t need to explain this one. You recline the seat, sit back and wake up multiple times because a new body part has lost blood circulation. Tip: Take you belt of when sleeping here.
Last night I created a new spot, and I gotta say Its not too bad. First you set both the driver and passenger seat to an equally reclined level, then you pile everyone’s bags, coats, extra blankets and pillows etc. between the two seats creating another front bench. Theres a little dip in the middle so my back kind of hurts, but luckily I only slept for about 3 hours. So once I work out the kinks I think this could be a pretty cool option! After van sleeps we always get sit down breakfast. So, I’m off to waffle house. Ill fill you in on the show later tonight…
So because today is a holiday Monday (Memorial day) the venue we were suppose to play at decided they didn’t want to open. As such, it was switched to this tiny little bar called Kobos. After every band loaded in there was so much gear that there was literally no room in the merch area. We decided to share some gear and clear some space out but even still it was cramped. However, the show turned out really good! Theres just something about playing a tiny little bar that is so much fun. Its hot, cramped, loud and just so intimate that you always end up meeting a bunch of new friends! We got free beer the whole night so needless to say I spent the entire night parked at the bar and enjoyed every band’s set! Double needless to say, David will need to edit all my poor grammar and spelling on this one, that’s for sure…
I’m gonna take a second to talk about how much I love Scale the Summits music. I love Scale the Summit’s music!…See it only took a second. Seriously though, if you haven’t checked them out yet, go to Itunes and buy the album with the shiniest cover because all there songs are so well written and composed I cant decide which one I like more! Its like listening to Beethoven and Rush’s mute love child. the reason I say mute is because the band is purely instrumental. So cool!
The green room had an N64 and 1080 snowboarding — my favorite game of all time! I almost beat the whole thing in one sitting. Damn that Dragon’s Cove course! Hotel room sleep tonight! Shower in the morning — we really need it! Goodnight.
Day 4: Pittsburgh, PA: I’ll keep this one short, today was a pretty average day. We played at a venue called the Smiling Moose. The show was very poorly promoted so there was a very small crowd. Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality for touring musicians. They cant all be winners. But, you always have to keep a positive outlook and make the best of the show. After all, there are kids there that payed money for a ticket and made the effort to come out, so you need to make sure you give them there moneys worth and play as though your performing a stadium set.
I’ll give the Smiling Moose this though: if you’re ever in the south side of Pittsburgh, they probably have the best sliders (mini hamburgers) I’ve ever had. Seriously!
Tonight were driving 7 hours to Richmond Virginia. So, as per usual I stayed up with Mike and kept him company for the first half of the drive. We stopped driving in Winchester, VA to do a van sleep and we’ll make the rest of the drive in the morning. Now, ironically I’m sleeping in the coffin tonight with Mike. Which I haven’t done since March 2009. It was in Quebec city and it was well below freezing. So this will be nothin’!
Day 5-6: Richmond,VA and Charleston, SA: Its been a pretty crazy couple of days. Its 6 in the morning and I’m in the passenger seat with Mike at the wheel. We’re driving to Nashville today and we just did our 3rd van sleep in a row. So needless to say I haven’t really been keeping up to date with these journal entries so I’ll fill you in on our last two days in one small entry.
Wednesday we we’re in Richmond, VA at a venue called Kingdom. For the most part it was a pretty stock show. We ended up meeting some new friends in the opening band which were quite good. They we’re called Mind’s Eye. We chilled with them for a bit after the show before we made another 8 hour drive to Charleston.
What a day we had in Charleston! What is the best thing to do after an 8 hour drive in the blistering Carolina heat? Beach it! Today was the first time I’ve swam in the ocean since I was a kid. Apparently the Carolina’s are home to some of the best beaches in the world, and I certainly believe it! Later, we played at Jimbo’s Rock Lounge, which after their following show, which happens to be He is Legend (One of our favourite bands) is closing down. Its very unfortunate; it was a great show and a nice little venue. They will probably find a better use for it though, like another tanning salon or such…
Nashville bound today! Talk to ya soon!
Check out the song: “From Bulwark to Bane”
“Adventure Metal Across America” Tour Dates:
05/26 – Howell, MI @ Bledfest
05/27 – Joliet, IL @ Mojoe’s
05/28 – Columbus, OH @ Skullys Music Diner
05/29 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
05/30 – Richmond, VA @ Kingdom
05/31 – Charleston, SC @ Jimbos
06/01 – Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
06/02 – Little Rock, AR @ Dowtown Music
06/03 – Dallas, TX @ Tomcats
06/04 – Albuquerque, NM @ El Rey Theatre
06/05 – Flagstaff, AZ @ Cinnabar
06/06 – Las Vegas, NV @ Cheyenne Saloon
06/07 – Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar
06/08 – Camarillo, CA @ Rock City
06/09 – San Jose, CA @ Refuge
06/10 – South Lake Tahoe, CA @ American Legion
06/11 – Ogden, UT @ Mojo’s
06/12 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
06/13 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
06/14 – St Louis, MO @ Foxhole
06/15 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
06/16 – St Paul, MN @ Station 4