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we have a date with the underground, chapter 6
by Michele Christopher
This is the sixth in a series. It is someone else's story, told to and transcribed by me. Basically, he gave me the details and atmosphere and lot of the words and I put them together in my magic hat and pulled this out. His voice, his story, my translation..
Touring drags on you after awhile. Sometimes you wonder why you started this in the first place. All you can do is look at the dates and anticipate when the tour is ending. Calculating when the last gig will end and the time it will take you to get back in your own bed. It's a bleak feeling when you're near the end of a tour and you look at the gig dates and you come up with a 36 hour drive til you see your house. You damn well know everyone else is feeling the same way so it's gonna be a straight shot home. You'll be in that van for 36 hours and you hate even thinking of it. But it needs to be done. You need to be home. Living in a van sucks.
I was crashed out the floor of another band’s house in Seattle. The guys in that band kept kicking us to wake up, saying we were a bunch of sleeper boys. Fuck, we'd been on the road 16 hours after playing a gig in Portland then another in Seattle. All I could manage to do was stick my middle finger up from under my blanket and say "You know, you need to go fuck yourself."
We had a break that day, so we got up and went thrift store shopping. Dead tired. But something tells you that if you don't do get up and out, you are going to sleep all day and lose your ability to function in the night. See you get used to being on a "no sleep schedule" on tour. Sure you sleep, but really, how well can you sleep in a strange town on a strange floor with strange people when you don't even know what fucking time zone you are in? The local guys were all happy and fully rested and I looked at the guys in the band and saw the black circles underneath all of our eyes, which told me we were just about done. Thank fucking god this was almost over. ‘Cause we were gonna have to bury someone if this went on any longer.
We spent the morning by the wharf. That area of Seattle is full of great dive restaurants, the kind where you can eat an omelette, drink a beer and have a cigarette in your mouth at the same time. At 8am I was eating breakfast and listening to sailors tell me their stories as they drank vodka. I slammed back Budweisers as I wondered who the hell could drink vodka this early.
By noon, the whole band was dying and we had a show to play that night. We needed to sleep bad and it was up to each one of us to take care of that ourselves.
Later that day, we loaded in to the club. The sound check hadn't started yet. I got my hand stamp and drink tickets from the door. I looked at the guest list to see who it had on it then it hit me....I didn't know anyone in that fucking town . I needed to crash, bad. I had been sleeping in clubs for years. Didn't mean I liked it. I just got used to it. But it had to be done.
Right when I was just going down, I heard the thump of the bass drum. I was out of it. Not drunk, but completely exhausted. I had been awake a long time and instinct alone kept me going. I got up, walked out back with a smoke in my mouth and fell asleep outside. Right then some one kicked me up for sound check. Great just fucking great.
The band was half awake and half dead and as they walked on the stage before the check and I wondered if this gig was even gonna happen. I couldn't remember my middle name much less tune a fucking bass. Shoving back drinks, I pushed the button and I was ready. 15 minutes of this shit. Great. Just fucking great. Meanwhile a bench out back was calling me to sleep on.
But when the crowd moved in and the first band hit the stage, I had a feeling that this was gonna go. And the longer the opener played, the more I could sense that feeling coming up, that this was gonna happen tonight no matter how tired I was, these people wanted to see us and we damn well better come on stage and play.