Trash Across America
Seattle's favorite shitrock quartet hits the road for a month of mayhem. Frozen bobcats, herniated nutsacs, and flatulence ensue-And some music.
This tour—the Trashies' fourth—was a real pain in the ass to get together. It was mostly taking us to new places in the South and on the East Coast, so it took a shitload of planning. Not to mention that we didn't have a van until two days before we hit the road. Between Wolfman, Ricky the Robot, Jesse Cody, and myself, we spray-painted all of our 7-inches, stuffed all the new LPs, tie-dyed and screened our tour shirts, and managed to pull it off by the hair of our balls.
First stop: Portland, where we were greeted by our former roadie, who adorned us with many joints of skunkweed, which, at the time, seemed radikiller but would later come to bite us straight in the asshole. Our parents and family showed up at the club from Longview, Washington, which was weird. They watched us get wasted and make fart sounds with our instruments. I elected to not ask my mom what she thought of the show, while she drunkenly blabbed about how much better we'd gotten.
One thing that consistently sucks about Portland, though, is the day after—that fuckin' 10-hour drive to the Bay Area that begins in the netherhours of the morning is always a crusher. Fortunately for us, our guitarist, Wolfman, is a robot driver and can be programmed to stay awake with trucker speed and sugar coffee.
We hit the town of Davis, California, where Out of Order Records (which put out a 7-inch of ours) is located. Before the show, the bass amp refused to work, despite our prodding, and our van would not move from the driveway where we parked it to unload. Before we could let this crap get us in a stink, we borrowed some bass shit and played the most ripping house show we've ever played. It was in the living room of local radio station KDVS's legendary dude DJ Rick. Davis really knows how to fucking party, man.
At this point, we had the first bummer of the tour—our van's ignition switch was fucked up, and it was Saturday night, meaning we couldn't get it fixed until Monday and we'd have to miss two shows and pay $150 instead of getting to play and hang out in L.A. and Tucson. We just chilled in Davis, had our roadie cook us some seriously killer burritos, broke into some hotel swimming pools, took some pills, and drew all day. It was like we were fucked-up 10-year-olds—best place to break down ever!
The thing in our van took 10 minutes to fix, which was super annoying, but we just wanted to get back to playing. We mounted the mind-numbing, 13-hour drive to Phoenix and stayed with our ultra-stoner friend there who had a swimming pool that we abused. The next morning, we hauled our freak show straight to the always-awesome Las Cruces, New Mexico. Fucking great time playing outside to 10 people in some weird public park where they just bring a power strip and a PA, hijack the outlet, and set up shows—totally amazing dudes, desert wind, and ridiculously good Mexican food.
• • •
In the dark of night, we left Las Cruces and headed for a hotel somewhere in West Texas so as to ease the brutal drive through that Horrordome of a state. All was well until around 1:00 a.m., when we approached a middle-of-the-road border-patrol station and were told our van was going to be "randomly" searched for drugs by dogs. Obviously, we were profiled as dopers—a van full of tie-dye-clad zoneheads from Washington with music equipment in the back is constantly suspect. And their suspicions were right, because we were holding a few marijuana cigarettes. We didn't have time to eat it, as any smart touring band should do, because we were all asleep except for Wolfman, who was driving (never carry more than you can eat, or you're fucked).
The border-patrol dudes asked us if we had drugs, and so we figured it'd be easiest to just give 'em the stuff. It wasn't much, and we thought they might just kick us in the ass and let us go. Instead, we got fucked.
There were four Adderall in the weed bag, and we ended up having to sit in a cell, waiting for the sheriff, who didn't show till three in the morning. They took Wolfman to jail for the pills, after writing weed tickets to some of the rest of us. What a fucking nightmare. We got a $30 hotel room, with a door that didn't close, the next town over and slept until 8:30 a.m. We went back to the jail in hopes of this whole thing blowing over, getting Wolfman out of jail, and heading straight to Austin (the only beacon of sanity in Texas). Little did we know we'd be in for trouble.
Sierra Blanca is a jail town, and they take their time with everything, no matter what... always... forever. When we got to the jail (which had inmates in those hokey black-and-white movie-joke jumpsuits sweeping the grounds), we were told that the whole bail process could take up to 72 hours—crushing news, as we'd already missed a couple shows and there were $800 worth of wristbands waiting for us at SXSW in Austin. We kind of started to lose our minds. We scrambled to the courthouse, coaxed the judge into seeing Wolfman at 1:00 p.m., called the SXSW people and found out that we could pick up the wristbands until midnight, and found a local bail bondsman to help us get our shit together.
Then it got really interesting.
Andy's Bail Bonds in Sierra Blanca is one of the craziest places I've ever been. We show up, and the dude, Johnny, offers us beers and within seconds pulls out a giant rifle and aims it out the front door at a stray dog (he called this gun his "nigger shooter" and didn't blink when pointing it right in front of our faces). He starts talking to his lady roommate about how she gets loose when she's liquored up, which is constantly. She's drinking straight vodka right now, in fact—it's 11:00 a.m.
It took some time to really get our bearings at this place—tank shells mounted on the wall, all kinds of dead animals hung around the room, stories about shooting handguns naked (Johnny told us he owns 57 guns that the government knows about), and, best of all, a freezer full of dead bobcats, cougars, birds, and bowls full of animal guts for the dog to eat.
Every second that ticked by slowly crushed our dreams of a killer tour. But the lords of scum ruled in our favor that day: This guy Brian—a total Burning Man freak, fire-artist glass blower, who'd been caught with four pounds hidden in his door panels at the same border-patrol stop—offered to give Wolfman a ride to Austin when he got out. We decided to leave all of our money with our roadie Dan and power-drive like bastards to Austin.
It was 3:29 p.m. We knew we had to be in Austin by midnight to get our wristbands, which were worth $800 and the only thing that could keep us going since we'd put all of our money toward Wolfman's bail bond. I did the math to figure out that at an average of 70 miles per hour, we could go 560 miles in eight hours. We sped, not knowing how far Austin actually was. Eighty-mile-per-hour power-driving for eight straight hours was pretty tense—one three-minute stop for corn dogs and gas, then just lots of road and lots of Minutemen records.
We made it to the parking garage of the convention center in Austin at 11:52 p.m. We literally sprinted to the wristband-pickup zone, had a friend meet us there to pose as Wolfman, and got the badges with only seconds to spare. It was totally fucking glorious—a big wet cherry on top of a sizable pile of dog shit. We drank a bunch of beer, met with all of our friends at the Chamber of Chill house, and went out to see Fucked Up play a generator-powered show on a pedestrian bridge at 3:00 a.m. We were free and it felt fucking great.
The next morning, Wolfman showed up and told us all kinds of horror stories about that nightmare prison and the seven-hour drive listening to nothing but Phish with Brian the burnout dude. (But seriously, Brian was an okay dude.) We missed our official SXSW showcase because of the jail situation, but to be honest, we didn't really give a fuck, because at least we could continue touring. It was a pretty small price to pay. We scalped the wristbands to some 40-year-old brothers for 800 bones, a pretty beautiful sight.
After a couple days in Austin, and a kick-ass show at a co-op art space in Fort Worth, we left Texas to travel into unknown turf, popping state cherries left and right. Louisiana—New Orleans, in particular—was a mindfuck, though. It's been almost two years since Katrina, but it's still depressed—boarded-up buildings, huge trash piles, half-knocked-down houses, and other random insanity that makes it feel like you're in a different country.
Quintron's Spellcaster Lodge was a beacon of hope in the middle of all of the depression in the Ninth Ward. We arrived to catfish sandwiches, red beans and rice, and beer, true Southern hospitality from a total peer of our zoned-out culture.
It's hard to describe how amazing the Spellcaster was. For the first time ever, we were asked to do an encore at a show, which was a little weird, but we had to oblige those poor fools. And after we were done, a gigantic box filled with hundreds of cooked crawfish showed up for us to eat. How New Orleans is that?
After this pickup there had to be a letdown, and it came in the form of Jackson, Mississippi. There we got the South we expected. We were told that our friends were PC punk-rock faggots, we got harassed by police a couple of times for being weirdoes, we were told our band is too emo, and we talked a lot about monster trucks. If you're in a band, don't play in Jackson, Mississippi.
We decided to just jam out at the end of our set for as long as possible (to ensure that we would forever be known in Jackson as that band of hippie PC punk faggots from Seattle), and somehow we got all of the rednecks in that bar to pick up drumsticks and bang on shit with us. It was a pretty magical turnaround, considering the crowd.
• • •
Blowing asses away became the theme of week three of the tour. From Chattanooga to New York, we got our asses blown away by a jumble of crazy folks, crazy shows, and crazy parties. Chattanooga, Tennessee, much to our surprise, was filled with sympathetic scum who were out to party on a Tuesday night—apparently getting fucked up during the week is what the South is into.
By the time we went on, we'd already played intense games of Frisbee, drawn marker masks on our faces, and told some local friends that we were going to blow their asses away if they didn't get us drunk later (already a moot point). Somehow after the show we ended up at a Sparks-fueled Southern punk-rock porch party that raged until the wee hours. You know you're in a town you'll remember when a topless, dreadlocked hippie chick with her floppy pancakes hanging out won't stop telling you "I'm a dyke, I eat pussy" and wakes you up by blaring Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak" while trying to figure out if she should kill her dog and eat it.
On our way to Baltimore, we stopped and bullshitted around D.C. for a bit to pay homage to our reptilian leaders—it was a very corn-dog-filled excursion. In Baltimore, an odd thing happened: We landed on the same bill as our friends from our onetime hometown of Longview, Washington, who play a totally different style of less "shitrocky" music. We knew we'd end up taking a dive—and dive we did. There's an ebb and flow to a tour, good shows and bad; we're really tuned in to when the bad shows are going to happen, and it's on those nights that we embrace our connection to the eternal spirit of bullshit. We accept our sucking. It was still a nice, relaxing Friday with some old buds in a loft drinking beers and catching up. There's not much better than getting something familiar in your life when you're on the road in a mystery zone.
The next morning, we stopped in a park and fixed our broken keyboard with duct tape and sticks and met a bunch of rad dudes who were a bizarre mashup of grindcore punks and Dirty South rappers. Apparently the combination of hiphop and punk culture is common in the South, but these dudes totally ruled and blew us away when they asked us if we wanted to "go look at chicks' asses on the strip, buy some bangin' sneakers, and score a gram." Seriously, who the fuck does all of those things casually and with strangers on a Thursday? Being the gluttons we are, we took off to Philly and ate cheesesteaks instead of hangin' and bangin'.
The Philly show was at a fancyish venue with Black Lips and the Ponys on a big-ass stage, so in regular form we took another not-so-shocking-but-oh-so-glorious dive. Wolfman broke four strings on two different guitars within the first few songs, and the set ended on song number five when he smashed his cheapo loaner replacement guitar in a rage. Then we got wasted for free and chilled with some super-cool cats. We couldn't really expect anything better.
New York was all about our friends in Hunchback, Broadway Calls, the Ergs, and Nobunny all hanging out in the Parlor House basement. Best show of the tour! People drinking whiskey and pogoing around like a bunch of pilled-up magic beans. Basement shows are truly the root of all that is great for music like ours—and this one was a doozy. And what more is a tour about than blowing someone's ass away whom you've never met before? It's a great feeling.
• • •
The final week of a tour is always the most bizarre, as everyone has developed a pretty volatile combination of losing their minds, missing their friends, not wanting to go back to work, and needing sex. As we left New York, we felt all of it and it showed.
We traveled from a show in Buffalo to another at the Stink House in Columbus, Ohio, to Grand Rapids, Michigan. No one we know has ever played at the house we were headed to, but it was packed with marginally interested 17-year-olds with spikes and crust patches. Although we're not necessarily Crusty McGrindcore and the Spiky Jackets, we do alright with that type of crowd. After a cat gave birth to 12 kittens in the room where we were getting ready to play, we played to what may have been the smelliest show of the whole tour. The reciprocal give-and-take between houses and bands in these smallish towns that don't see a ton of groups coming through is inspiring; there's a small network of degenerates around this nation that makes shitrock bands feel welcome and worthwhile wherever they go.
Being on the road for weeks has its effects on your body, too. When we arrived in Chicago the next day, Wolfman had a herniated nutsac that had turned bright purple, Jesse Cody had multiple cuts on his feet from broken glass, Ricky's hands had been torn up by broken sticks, and all of us were under the weather with some kind of throat affliction that not even the combination of beer, corn dogs, and Emergen-C could fix.
When we arrived at the club, some old friends from around the area pleasantly greeted us. The night was spent playing on a giant stage (always bad news for us) on a bill with the wonderful MOTO and Canadian Rifle, a band that features Burn Collector mastermind Al Burien, a man who wrote zines that had a profound effect during our formative years. So we were stoked to be playing, and even more stoked when Burien offered to put us up for the night. There's nothing that strokes your fanboy boner harder than when an artist you love appreciates and supports what you do.
Milwaukee the next day was a big deal for us. We know lots of great people there, and this was our last show with our roadie Dan. Last time we were in Millwilly, Jesse Cody lost a tooth while we were playing. We arrived to new socks, the ability to do laundry, home-brewed beer, and food. The end of our Monday-night set was all collateral jammage and pure chaos—three people playing drums, everyone in the basement banging on shit with drumsticks, two people in their underwear punching the trash can into oblivion, blood, sweat, hair, and probably the most exciting show we've ever been a part of. And there was still an afterparty following that!
Even though we had to give up our awesome roadie and scrounge up a keyboard before we split town (our five-dollar Casio was destroyed in the basement wreckfest the night before), we couldn't help feeling like we'd done something right as we left Milwaukee.
Driving the 10-hour stretch from the Midwest through South Dakota is guaranteed to bore any human, as the only things of interest on the entire route are the billboards for carnie museums and assorted knickknack shops. South Dakota is a horrible state. Luckily, though, the crowds in Rapid City are sponges of young, music-loving kids. It had never occurred to us that our music might cause a circle pit, but sure enough, the kids were pitting, moshing, slamming, dancing, and having their minds blown in every way possible.
Confusing feelings set in as we headed through the Rockies on our way to Missoula, Montana. It was day 30 of our tour, we were a mere eight hours from our beds, but as much as we missed home, none of us really wanted the tour to be over. The dude who sets up our shows in Missoula was a really gracious host, though, and distracted our minds with amazing food and storytelling.
Nothing beats the drive through western Montana—it's the only state that even compares to the beauty of Washington. Where else can you watch a mountain goat chasing a deer as you swim in a creek of crystal-clear glacier runoff? After seeing around 30 states on this tour, we all felt a lot of Northwest pride. It's amazing how shitty so many other states are.
The final day of the tour was spent in Spokane, a town that has, to all of us, always been synonymous with awfulness. Not this time. Our friends in the band Hockey greeted us on the porch with big smiles that perfectly complemented the blazing sun beating down on a beautiful April day. The last thing we expected from Spokane was greatness, but our whole day was nothing but awesome. Sleeping on the lawn in the sun, catching up with long-lost freakazoids, playing a crazy packed final show with three bands that sound nothing like us—everything went off without a hitch. And just like that, it was over—31 days, 9,900 miles, and a million memories later.
Before we knew it, it was April 8 and we were arriving back home to the doors of the 24/7 Haus. Never has our dirty shithole looked so good—the beds, the scent, the scenery, it all seemed new again. As much as we didn't want it to end, we all needed time to be away from each other and decompress. After 31 days of compulsive masturbation, not hanging out with fart-blasting dickdudes is pretty exciting. So is sleep.
Then it was Saturday—yesterday at this point. After a long day spent disposing of 15 bags of trash from the bowels of our home, we drank a couple bowls of loudmouth soup, spent 15 minutes jamming in a language older than words (in the unprecedented key of B), and headed down to the Comet for our homecoming shitrockfest.
It's good to be back.