Bread & Butter 2017 West Coast Tour
This is a great time to load up the Nice Astro and take a trip. In Seattle, ashes are falling out of a barf-orange sky. North Korean H-bombs might not be far behind. Definitely time to go make new pals via the international language of dumb, fun party rock.
First stop: Tinnabulation Music Fest in Spokane! Shane is clearly stoked.
We haven’t played our first show yet and someone has already barfed. (Not in the van thank god.) Off to a great start!
Update: Show was great! Five to seven people got their faces melted.
Dig that classic Bread & Butter festival crowd!
Hello! Mason here, again. I write this journal as part of my Band Mom duties.
We boogied out of Spokane this morning to do an interview at KZUU on the WSU campus. The DJ (Hi Kari!) sat us down before we went on and told us we could not use any “swear words” on the air. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem except I had just been texting with my dad and he told me to “try and slip in some profanity” in the interview. I told him I’d do my best. I managed to say the word “butts” but didn’t want to disappoint our new pals in Pullman. I did my best, dad!
Thank you KZUU!
This is as close as Shane is gonna get to a college degree.
Let’s talk about the intersection between style and logistics. It’s too hot for a jacket, but we still need to tote around the kind of stuff a touring musician would stuff in their jacket pockets. As a weather-friendly work-around, we are basically carrying purses. I gotta say, I like the purse vibe. As much time as I’m spending in sweaty jeans and undies, the purse makes me feel composed, ladylike.
Tonight’s show is at Humble Burger. Having seen the gleaming tile decor and restored brick walls, “Prideful Burger” might be a more apt name.
Tomorrow’s a day off, so I’ll do a detailed analysis of everyone’s burgeoning B.O. while I kick back. It’s early, but there are definitely some trends in dude funk.
Loving it out here! Keeping it tight while gettin’ loose in the Palouse!
Two days in a row with no pukers. Got a nice little streak going!
Skinny the Kid, the Moscow band who opened last night’s show were rad. Each song was packed with an EP’s worth of ideas. Jonathan Richman vibe, four musicians hanging together through tight turns. Check ‘em out!
Speaking of tight turns, Shave drove us through the night, around the hills and over the Snake River to Pomeroy, WA where his folks live. His mom made us enchiladas at 1am!
Today is one of our rare days off, so here’s a high school picture of Shane that I ganked
from his folks' house!
As Band Mom, one of my jobs is to find wholesome activities during the day. So I took the crew on a little hike through Portland’s gigantic Forest Park. I managed to get us lost in under an hour, but we followed the sound of traffic and - like the answer to a dream - found ourselves at the Skyline Tavern. It’s important to stop and have a beer while you’re lost. In fact, that’s the origin of the term “get your beerings.” I'm pretty sure...
It’s also crucial to stop and have a beer in the middle of the day to get ready to drink mass beers all night. Success: it’s about preparation.
Seriously, we loved our little stop at the Skyline. Rad music on the jukebox, very hip and welcoming bartender. “Hip” in the positive meaning of the word. Verdict: a solid place to get your beerings.
Playing the The Fixin' To tonight! Full report tomozz.
We are on day three of no barfing. Tomorrow, we hit California. I predict that the no-barf streak will be coming to an end soon.
Portland was great! The Fixin’ To is a really nice venue. Not exactly centrally located, but welcoming as heck and in a cool neighborhood.
Last night was also a treat because we got to spend time with close friends and fam. Let me tell you, the restorative presence of our loved ones is NOTHING compared to a relaxing 8 hour high speed dash through the mountains to Chico, California.
Recovered memory! The last time I drove into Chico was on a tour with a long-gone band that Lars and I were both in. We followed a truck into town that was full of dead horses.
I personally put in about seven hours behind the wheel today and I’m a little blasted from all the driving. So here’s a low-energy listicle.
Contents of my purse:
Stickers that I keep forgetting to hand out/stick in club bathrooms.
My crappy phone whose navigation function fails every time I need directions. Every. Time.
Toothpick/floss thingies. I’m carrying these for Shane, although he prefers to use bar straws to disgustingly pick his teeth.
Starbucks gift card - generously provided by Shane’s mom and dad.
Crushed tangerine La Croix can. Because La Croix is inescapable and tangerine is the best flavor.
Needle and thread, which I used to fix up some tears in my pursie.
Leatherman, pretty much the only macho thing in my bag. I use it to cut thread when I’m sewing.
Chico was off the chain-o! Lots of noise, little bit of violence, gentle bouncers, some police activity, good sized crowd, and people that were legit dancing during our set. Dancing! Like in a movie. Way more action than a Tuesday night usually delivers. The opening band, Mr. Malibu were terrific: a pleasantly strange combination of raw, loud, and a little surfy, with tight harmonies. Gonna be tough to top Chico.
Let’s talk about gear security. Every musician knows someone (or is someone) who has had crucial equipment stolen from their vehicle. Lars is our security specialist. If I’m the Band Mom, he’s the Gear Dad. Every stop we make, he’s making sure that the van is either within sight or the gear has been stashed in a safe place. Some days, we completely unpack and repack the van four times to keep all the guitars, amps, and drums safe. He’s a stern taskmaster, but his “Aw HELL no!” attitude towards lax gear security is keeping this tour on the rails. Pretty interesting considering he’s not exactly a fan of cops.
Lars operates as if we were constantly being tailed by a crew of bandits wearing black stocking caps and gloves. It's a pretty useful attitude, but it must be exhausting.
Gonna sign off with some love for the folks at Duffy's Tavern! If it wasn’t 650 miles from home, I’d be a regular. Killer jukebox, rad staff, and surprisingly non-hideous bathrooms. If you’re within 100 miles of Chico, make the detour to Duffy’s.
Howdy! It's Mason, on the way to LA.
We had a great day hanging out in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood with Bobby from the band Circuits. Bobby is an encyclopedia of West Coast underground music knowledge and a welcoming guy. Yesterday was his birthday and we were stoked to share the bill with Circuits and Sob Stories - both superb bands. Oakland has good guitar players! Last night was Bobby’s birthday party. More on that in a sec.
Let's talk about me! About a week into every trip I've been on, the new faces I see begin to remind me of a friend from home. Does anyone else get that sensation when traveling? Last night we were at the Octopus in Oakland, and when people would walk in the door I’d think, “That’s Chelsea. That dude is Kieran. That guy over there is basically JD.” But then they'd say something and their voice would be unfamiliar. And the spell would be broken. It’s not homesickness. It’s not even unpleasant. It’s just a feeling I get when I’ve been away from home for a while.
I was congratulating myself for being so deep and thoughtful when Birthday Boy Bobby challenged me to drink a BuzzBall.
BuzzBallz (with three Zs!) are where the grim worlds of alcoholism and diabetes collide. It’s a single serving can/bottle thingy that combines the highest fructose corn syrup, sub-Jolly Rancher fruit flavoring, and a blast of alcohol that has been amplified using technology from the petrochemical industry. BuzzBallz is an apt name, but HangoverzGuaranteed would be equally accurate.
I honored Bobby’s hospitality by chugging a tastefully named Strawberry Rum Job. Just thinking of the amount of human creativity and natural resources expended in devising, producing, and marketing this beverage... I’m basically OK with Mother Nature wiping our species off the face of the earth. We have wasted our gift.
Happy thoughts on a Thursday!
Really racking up the miles in the Nice Astro!
Fun Thursday night at The Redwood Bar in Downtown LA. Lots of former Seattle-ite homies in the house!
By the time we hit the hay last night, we’d driven almost 350 miles and it was about as chill and easy as could be. This made me think of something a Belgian tour manager once told me: he liked American and Canadian bands because they never complained about long drives. European groups, he said, would squirm and gripe whenever the drive lasted over an hour. Europeans make some of the best music on the planet, no doubt. Yet their highway butt-endurance cannot compare to the mighty butts belonging to North American musicians. Not a lot to be proud of in the USA right now, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the powerful American road ass.
We're visiting a friend out in the country today. Not enough cell service for a full post. So I'll just leave you with this. It’s the original video of our first single, Desperation. It was rejected by our label.
I love it.
We’re past halfway of our trip and the usual things are happening - the band is tight as heck, everyone in the van can identify which dude issued which fart (even in complex multi-fart situations), and it becomes a real treat to hang out with our hosts’ animals.
When you’re traveling in 2017, it’s pretty easy to stay in contact with the people in your life. You can have virtual face-to-face communication if you want. But your animals are pretty much gone to you. There’s no app for petting your dog between his stupid little ears. So when I come across someone’s doofy dog or aloof cat, I get unusually excited.
Speaking of animals: it’s time to reset the barf clock.
Hope to see some folks in Long Beach tonight!
Our streak of drama free (but not barf free!) days was bound to come to an end. It happened in Long Beach.
We were the only band on the bill and slated to play for around two hours. Everything started out just fine - like the first ten minutes of any horror movie. A couple of people even got out of their seats and began dancing in front of the stage! (For those keeping score at home, that’s the second time folks have spontaneously started dancing on this trip. I’m gonna google “dancing Californians” after I post this.)
A few songs into the set, early enough in the evening that people were still eating dinner at the bar, Ryan’s amp began making a horrid noise - hard to describe. It had a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard quality, but juiced up to the level of Godzilla fingernails on a Hoover Dam-sized chalkboard. (How’s that for crappy rock journalism metaphor overload?) There was a gurgle-y warble to the sound that made my stomach quiver. I was not alone. I saw a woman sitting at the bar close her eyes as she put down her fork and pushed away her plate. None of us on stage felt too good either. Like, what now, you know?
As the only band on the bill, we couldn’t borrow gear and soldier on. We jiggled all the cables and turned the amp on and off. We slapped it soft and we slapped it hard. We looked at each other like idiots. We did our best to troubleshoot but ultimately had to admit defeat. The staff at the Pike Restaurant and Bar were hella understanding and we got great leads on amp repair in Long Beach.
Fast forward: We spent all day parked in front of a random house on a suburban street where a guy runs a repair shop from his garage. We milled around the van for hours. I watched an older gent in a purple sweatsuit mow his lawn to perfection. The repair job took hours but dude fixed Ryan’s rig! Thank you, Evan!
We’re hunkering down for the night on the road to Tempe. For the next few days in Arizona, we will put the Nice Astro van’s A/C to the ultimate test. Also, the barf clock remains at “zero days without a barfing incident.” Just saying.
Mason here! Tempe is a like a lot of sprawling cities in the western US. Tempe distinguishes itself by adding the suffocating heat, and no-future vibe of the fry station at Arby’s.
We had a short, five-hour drive today so we dicked around in Joshua Tree National Park. Lars took today’s picture. As we all sat around and had dinner, I asked Lars if he had any other pictures and he said, “That’s the best one. Shane was looking at his f*ckin’ phone in all the other shots.”
We're still working on the courtesy vs. honesty balance.
About to go play a deeply dive-y bar. Pray for Ryan’s amp!
Big night tomorrow in Tucson as we celebrate our friend Hannah Levin's birthday. It’s our second birthday party of the tour, so we got this.
Starting to rebuild the no-barf streak! Dudes are being hella responsible.
Happy Wangsday! It’s lucky day 13. We arrived in Tucson this afternoon. This is as far out as we go. Knowing that all of our next drives will bring us closer to Seattle is both a comfort and a bring-down.
It’s been a great run so far. We’ve been on the road long enough that everyone’s gotten a chance to cycle through the many mood swings of being a small (but awesome) band on tour. We’ve all gotten hangry and lost our cool. We’ve all had those nights when we wonder “why on earth are we doing this?” And we’ve all had those moments when you know exactly why we’re doing this. We’ve all done a stint behind the wheel - which means the driver’s seat of the Nice Astro has reaped the bitter harvest of all four dudes’ farts. We’ve all gotten to meet up with friends we haven’t seen in years. And even though we haven’t stopped being critical and judge-y about it, we’ve all caved in and used Shane’s vape thingy.
Howdy, it's Mason. I just pulled an 8 hour driving shift on the road from Tucson to Ventura.
Feeling a little scooped out today after a great stay in Tucson catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.
About 300 miles into today's drive, I indulged in a little fantasy of quitting my day job and becoming a trucker. I was proud of the thousands of miles I’ve racked up on this trip. Then this beautiful moth got wedged under the wiper blade. Not sure why, but it sunk my vibe for a couple hours. I may have the iron ass of a long haul trucker, but if I’m struggling with the emotional fallout of a dying bug, I gotta step up my emotional toughness.
We played in a funky bar on the outskirts of Ventura, last night. Our set was sandwiched between two local bands. The same drummer played in both groups. Dude was definitely a character. He wore a wireless headset mic in one of the bands purely to talk sh*t on the singer. But the absolute craziest thing about him was that he brought and played two completely different drum kits for each set.
I love to play drums. I’ve done it my whole life. If I’m having a sucky day, sitting down behind the drums and kicking a beat can turn my mood around. But there is a downside to playing drums and it’s not hearing damage. It’s not the fact that people think you are not a “real musician.” And it’s not having to weigh in on whether Ringo was good or not (trick question: he was great).
The dark side of playing drums is hunching gear. You have to haul around big, bulky drums and lots of little easy-to-lose bits of hardware. The drummer is setting up and breaking down the kit while everyone else in the band is chilling at the bar. Hunching gear sucks butt. And this dude in Ventura CHOSE to bring both of his kits. He swerved across three lanes of traffic to double up on the worst part of being a drummer. Neat dude, but possibly insane.
Today’s tale begins with a flashback to Day 11: we had just finished our rotten show in Long Beach - the one with the busted amp. I was sitting in the passenger seat of the van alone, feeling bad. But my fog of frustration was swept aside as a giant white spider crept in the open window, moved rapidly over my bare arm and continued on towards my lap. I bucked in the seat and threw the door open, trying to create some distance between myself and this monster. I had never seen a white spider before or been close to one this large outside of a zoo. I spotted the beast on the floor mat. As I made a move to whack it with my phone (the only weapon handy), it disappeared into the A/C vent.
When the boys came out of the bar, they found me flustered, manic, and telling strange stories. A giant white spider had attacked me and was now hiding somewhere in our van. No one believed me. And why would they? They’d never seen such a creature. Also, I was being a pretty serious assh*le that night (it happens) so I wasn’t the most sympathetic figure.
For the next week, I lived with the dread that this spider would kill us all by crawling up the driver’s pant leg, setting off a fatal panic as we blasted across some desert freeway at 80mph. When I brought up these fears, the boys just scoffed. “Check out Mason talking about his imaginary spider, again…” As the days passed and the spider never emerged from the vent system, I began to wonder if the original episode was just some bad dream.
Fast forward nearly 1,500 miles to last night in San Diego. We were about to leave the Black Cat after a killer show with Crimson Cavalry and the Andrew McKeag Band. As I fired up the Nice Astro, two white hairy legs crested the dashboard followed by six more and That Face. “Guys!” I hissed and pointed to the Great White Spider. Instant chaos. Everyone was shouting (“OHHHH EEEEW AAAGH”), struggling to get out of their seat belts, and bailing out of the van. I grabbed my phone, stabbed at the creature and missed. The grossed-out shouting continued until the spider crawled into a small nook under the stereo - trapped. We took a breath and debated what to do. Capture or kill? Coexist? No. We gravely decided to finish the job. Part of me wanted to burn the van to the ground. Ultimately, I grabbed my trusty phone and drove it into the nook, bringing this gnarly chapter to a grisly end.
RIP to a worthy and resourceful adversary! I hope they give you a warrior’s welcome in spider heaven.
Almost forgot: reset the barf clock!
Last show tonight in San Francisco and then a relaxing 800 mile drive home. Sure has been fun sharing this adventure with everyone!
If you’ve enjoyed the diary, you’ll probably dig Bread & Butter’s music. Check out website and pick up a download, vinyl LP, or CD of the album:
Catch us at the Chop Suey on October 5th with Cold Soda!