"Most bands on tour are like drive, play a show, eat, stay in a hotel, and then do the same thing again the next day," says Brendhan Bowers, the baby-faced drummer for the raucous dance-punk band the Pharmacy.
"Bands like that seem to have fun," singer/guitarist Scottie Yoder continues, "but tour's not really stimulating for us unless it's a fucked-up adventure where everything goes wrong."
They both start to laugh while nodding in agreement, and then Bowers tells me what happened while on tour in Telluride, Colorado: "We saw somebody die."
Since the Pharmacy—which also includes soon-to-be-departing keyboardist Joey Seward—started touring in 2003, the band's trips have been plagued with bad luck and horrific situations. They've seen knife fights (one led to the fatality mentioned above; the other involved a bleeding clown, a bowler hat, and a unicycle). They've had their van and equipment stolen, only to have to buy most of it back from someone who bought it from a crackhead in a San Francisco park. They've been arrested, they've been injured, and not surprisingly they've met characters more interesting than those found in most fiction.
"Something awful always happens," Bowers says, laughing off their curse, "but in the same way, something amazing happens."
Like when they broke down in Georgia and ended up meeting a strange, but really nice family.
"We broke down on a Friday and the mechanic told us they weren't going to work on the car until Monday," says Yoder. "We didn't know anybody in Georgia, so we hitchhiked to the beach thinking we'll just be beach bums. When we got there, we ended up meeting these... car jock Fast and Furious types. [They] ended up taking us in. Their mom really liked us."
"Their stepdad was a little weird," adds Bowers. "He kept saying that if we stole any of his shit he would break our legs and call the cops."
"And he had this weird thing with his son who died," continues Yoder. "Every night he'd get really drunk and show us pictures of his dead son. It was pretty fun, though. [They] gave us so much food. It was pretty amazing."
There was another time when Yoder sliced his big toe down to the bone while swimming in the Columbia River. A woman who turned out to be a veterinarian stitched up his injury.
"She didn't tell me she was a vet," he says with a laugh. "She told me she was a doctor. She was a little drunk, and she looked at my toe and pulled it open. I didn't see it, but you could see my bone, apparently."
"It was really gross," confirms Bowers.
As the two tell their stories, their words ricochet between them like Ping-Pong balls. Before one story is over, another starts; they have enough material to last for hours.
After 45 minutes, the boys make it to their most recent escapade: getting arrested in Arizona.
Because of a bike accident, Seward didn't tour with them this summer (he's okay now, thankfully), so Yoder and Bowers went out on their own. While traveling from Tucson, they got pulled over for a cracked windshield.
"The cop was suspicious of us the whole time," says Yoder, "and he gets us to let him search the van. He eventually finds this pop can that someone was using to smoke pot with."
"So he found the pop can" Bowers cuts in, "and he came up to us and was like, 'I found something.' I was like, 'Awesome, this is going to be totally sweet.'"
Long story short, the two of them were arrested, their van was impounded, and they spent four hours in an Arizona jail. Since they'd spent all of their cash to get to Tucson, they had to borrow money from friends to get back on the road. The Friday, October 1, show is a benefit to reimburse those generous friends.
Despite the list of mishaps, the band's still excited for the future. They even joke about what's in store.
"It's gonna get so much worse," Yoder says with a laugh. "Right now our spring plans are to do a U.S. tour, a European tour, and then a Mexican tour in the summer."
They'll be lucky to make it out email@example.com