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we have a date with the underground, chapter 22
by Turtle Jones
Ok. So I know lately that I have been talking about a lot of the bad parts of touring and recording and probably giving you guys a feeling that I was just a drug influenced kid looking for an excuse to get high. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't. One day I'll try and figure out a timeline on my life, but for right now let's have some fun.
Egos and intellects are really respected on the road. If you can get us out of a jam, you are the man. We look to you to do this kind of stuff. Unwritten law. There are certain people you go to when there is a situation that needs to be taken of. You always have an "idea man" in there. An "I can fix this man" somewhere around. And you also have a "PR man".
Welcome to the underground.
There are certain things that a lot of people don't get. Things that you look at on paper and just can't put together. Well, this is one of those situations. Something that I get to tell you about. Certain bands get clout when they tour. I really could care a fuck less about it unless they were on tour with us. I could give a fuck less if you want more drink tickets cause we have a guarantee, so we get cash at the end of the night. Do what you want to do cause I stopped caring about a week ago.
But, there is one thing that always bugged me. Guarantee or not, the slow nights, the top slot band would take the second slot. See this is when it gets tricky. Just trust me on this one.
You want the second slot.
It’s kind of hard to believe, but even if you are headlining, you want the second slot. That's when the most people are there, sober, and still have cash to buy your shit. That's what you want. The headliner. Meh. The crowd is drunk and broke by that time. So you can kinda see why being in that second slot works to your advantage.
Unfortunately, there is another side of this. Bands who tour as the headliner then flip you at the last moment making you the headliner. God, that's confusing. Let's try that again. Bigger bands would take you on tour, then flip you at show time to take the second slot thereby killing the crowd by the time you got onstage. Hm. That's even kinda confusing. Try to stick with me.
Back in the day, an incident happened at Monterey Pop Festival. Jimi Hendrix was set on a bad slot because of a bad bet by Pete Townsend. Jimi walked off the stage looking at Pete saying "Follow that." If he was gonna be buried, he was going to make you remember him. And we did. Does anyone remember The Who playing at that show?
Well, this was kind of in reverse, but it was still the same thing. We would get to a show and get our slots then be told it was something different. Go kill four more hours before you play. You aren't on til 12. Crap. Remember though, this was early. When we were all fighting to get up there fast and lean and mean. I just got tired of it. As Michele knows, I have a very "sick of this shit" look. And you know what? I was the PR man in the band. My best friend was the idea man. You put us two together and you will lose. Fuck the other band. You are causing us issues. We will take you out. It's been fun and all, but we are tired of being stepped on.
That is over.
We sat hearing the news of the next show at about five in the afternoon. OK. They did it to us again. We need to do something about this. We played the show that night, but we weren't very happy. "They did it again" was going over and over in my mind. This is the last time that band was going to pull this shit on us. I want a "fuck you" moment in the next town. I needed it. I don't like this happening ever night. I wanted to throw down my bass and walk off thinking that no matter how bad they were trying to derail us, we beat them. My heart was filled with anger. I would sit at night talking.
Something needed to be done.
It's a feeling of helplessness, hope and anger. There is something you can do, but what? What can you do? Two ideas were formed and a plan was in place. A forward from the label and things were bought. But this wasn't all we needed. We took this shit for three weeks.Three weeks of being told things that were lies. We need to blow them out. We need to blow them out now. Everyone in the band needs to know this. We have tomorrow to blow them fucking out. Too far from home to have anything of our own. The idea man told us what to do.
He had the plan to do this.
We wait until the dead of night.
Then we nail everything in sight.
His idea was simple, but it worked perfectly.
My hands clawed a side rail of a cover ladder. The ones at fast food joints or cheap apartments. You guys know them. The "you can't get up here ladders" that scale to the roof. Razor blade in my teeth as I climbed to the top. All I knew was that I trusted this idea man with my life, so he must know what he was talking about. Fuck if I knew. We stole all the "99 cent" type of flags from around town. Any fucking plastic sign, we stole.The razor blade cut the rope. The sign was ours. But, what to do next? There has to be something else we can do.
That inflatable guy on the roof. We needed him. A razor in my mouth again as I climbed the ladder. I cut him right below the right eye so we could, well I could, remember where to put the tape to fill him back up. He fell down and was deflated on the ground. Thrown in the van.
That was it.
The idea man was done. He had done his job.
Now it was my turn.
The label fronted us cash to get a lighting system. When I say lighting system, I mean a few cop lights.You know the spinner fuckers that you can buy for forty bucks. I unloaded all of the gear and let the others take care of it. Setting up was not my goal tonight. Fucking up was. I was on a mission to destroy. We all were. We were tired of it.
I took the plastic signs and put them up on stage. Covering the stage. But, I flipped them in half so you couldn't see them. Held by a nail. The other band knew we were doing something but still told us we were headlining. I couldn't get their thinking. They saw we were doing something different, but really didn't care. They really didn't know.
We were stealing the show.
I told the band that we need to help these guys break down and get up within ten minutes. Right when they get done, get their shit off stage. Let's take this over. Be ready, cause this shit is over tonight.
They played. Meh.
They ended. Meh.
The house lights were killed. We moved them off and on us like a fucking butterfly moves. So slick. I put my foot on the pedal and the sirens came on. The red lights covered the heads of the audience. This wasn't under the control of the lighting guys. This was me with my foot on the octopi getting something going. We had people unflagging the plastic signs, dropping down to show the world our love of "Del Taco" and other fast food and liquor. The crowd was confused. The singer walked up to me, still totally dark except for red lights and gave me that look. You know that "Let's fucking do this" look? That's what was in his eyes.
I just stared back at him. Same dead look.
Let's fucking do this.
I hit the first note in the intro and the guitarist started. He touched his forehead to mine and looked out on the crowd. The next thing I heard was the drummer kick in and a scream as the singer was hanging from a bar above the crowd. Just screaming as we played the intro. Crowd going crazy as the inflatable dolls started to rise. Still no lights. Someone screaming above them.
Just screaming. Shadows. Intro music going. I couldn't see the strings as I felt poeple getting up on stage. Screaming. Pushing.
Just try to hold the intro.
Then it happened.
The lights hit. The singer was in the crowd and we were fucking going. All the signs were hanging down now and the dolls were inflated. This thing was fucking going. People on stage. Scene going nuts. The dolls were torn up and passed around by the crowd and the signs were ripped down, but it had worked. We had made this show complete chaos. That's what we wanted and that is what we fucking got. Crowd screaming, no singer to be seen. Somewhere singing in the crowd. This is what we wanted.
I looked over at the idea man and he was smiling. This had worked. We weren't the forgotten band that night. We were the ones they remembered.
I walked off at the end of the night with a bass on the ground. I just dropped it. Stepped over it and kept walking. The crowd screamed and the house lights came on.
I walked out of the show half drunk and full of cash.
I walked past the singer of the other band and just looked at him.
A smile escaped my lips as I said those magical words while looking directly at him in the eyes.
"Follow that." - T