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we have a date with the underground, chapter 23
by Turtle Jones
Some days everyone loves you and some days everyone hates you. I know that. I've played empty halls a lot and I know the feeling of the bartender spitting in your drink as you give him your last drink ticket. No money at the door. No alcohol sales. Who can blame him for bring pissed.
I also know the taste of blood in my mouth when a place is so packed you can't even move on the stage. I know that feeling and I also want it. For the rest of my life, I want that feeling.
Well, to get there you have to start here. It's not that big of a deal. You get used to empty places but really it was starting to suck. When you play a small town, there were things I noticed. Little things. When I talked to people face to face, they would come to the show that night. Talk to someone for ten minutes in a coffee house and tell them you were in town, they would show up. They might be the only people there, but the next time around they would bring their friends. This was something you had to see. It's really like some bad growth on your arm. It started, now it would grow. Who would be the first to say, "I saw them first." Sure the first people all got free CD's and shirts, but their friends had to buy them. It really didn't matter to me as long as we weren't playing to empty halls anymore. I would do anything for you to look at me.
This was underground promotion.
I knew how to work it. Any town we hit, I would jump out. Talk to people at the local bars or coffee shops and get them to like us. Tell them they are cool and they would really like us. They would come to the show. See, you have to think that way. Someone is going to tell someone else about you and if they have that thought to come to your show, you kinda really won.
You did all you could do and a few of them came.
It's all you can do.
The reason I tell this little bit of background on promotion is to make an excuse to why certain things happened one night.
By the time we got to the hotel, I really needed a break. We didn't really need much promotion. Big city. I really didn't have to do anything, but everyone was driving me crazy. I mean no one would stop talking. Always more drama. You did this or you did that. Fuck man. If you would shut the fuck up for a few minutes and let me watch "Jeopardy" we can discuss this like normal people, but until we get to Final Jeopardy, I'm not saying shit about anything. It was a good episode that night. One of our friends dug out about an 8 ball of cocaine and broke out about ten lines on the top of the toilet. Like that's gonna make this situation any better. More yelling. But, I nailed back a couple and did that foot on your chest breathing while I opened the door and looked outside. The band needed to talk about some serious things going on with us, but I needed to promote. Don't ask me. I can only take being called an asshole for about 17 hours a day before I need a break. And, no, I didn't need to promote that night. I just needed out.
By the end of a tour, this is the way it gets.
I walked outside the hotel as people I didn't know walked into our room. Wait. Didn't we have some rule? No parties in the band room? Well, that rule was shot. Wasn't my rule in the first place. I think I was the reason for the rule, but fuck it, I'm not splitting hairs. The club we were playing across the street already had a line so I really didn't need to do anything. Just wander around for 15 minutes till the cocaine tug came in me. I had nothing to do and hey, I am a people person. So I wandered around and found two strippers outside a strip club calling people in. The "Callers" out front. This is where it gets tricky. For some reason, saying "I'm playing in that club over there later tonight and we had a bunch of coke back in the hotel" will get strippers to walk off the job and follow you back to the room.
It's like physics or something.
I don't know.
Well I had two strippers in tow with me walking faster than me to get to the drugs. Hey dude, I don't run. Besides, I had to think of an excuse why I'm bringing almost naked girls back to the place. Oh wait. We dumped the no party rule, right? So fuck the band. I don't need an excuse. I kicked the door open and the party was going full on. The equipment had been moved across the street and somehow the drugs had been increased. I walked to the bathroom and just nailed about three lines back. The girls followed me. They packed back a bunch and then wandered out. I surveyed at what I had done. Well, this is ok but I know I can do better. Let me crack a beer and think.
Two minutes later, I had the strippers calling their friends to come to the show. The people there had already called their friends to come to the show. More people came into the hotel. I mean really, it was a huge drug induced party. Clothes on the floor as more stripers and people came in. This place was spilled out on to the patio, into the pool and on to the street. The original strippers were naked now, which is not that big of a deal, but I thought, as I always do, we could make this bigger.
More phone calls were made and more people lined up to get into the pre show. We took that hotel over. So here I was. The star of the show. I was the reason everyone at the party was high, packed out the show and got strippers walking around and dancing for everyone. I loved it. Something that you get to look at and move on. But, this was over for me. I had to fucking go like ten minutes ago. My bass was somewhere. I had to find it and I couldn't even recognize a wall. See, big rule with me. Never fucking touch my bass. I don't care if you are friend or not. Don't touch it. If you have ever felt that feeling of "where the hell is it?" you can kinda feel me. That terror of losing something. But, I found it packed under the bed and looked at it.
When the show ended I packed up my bass thinking I did a pretty good job. Everyone was patting me on the back and everything was cool. We had a good night. Trust me, try being on the road for a long time. You will find out good nights are few and far between. So you need to savor that moment. That good moment. Clear you mind and just savor what you are seeing. Look over the carnage slowly and see what you did that night. Beer cups and cigarette butts covering the floor. Actually getting paid. Finally being able to hear again. You just need to sit down and listen to the drummer tell you how all the work paid off tonight. The singer asking me if I want a beer. The guitarist? Meh, guitarists are always pricks so I could really give a fuck about what he said to me. But to the club and the band, I was a god. They knew what happened behind the scenes. The crowd didn't know what happened that night. But the band did. And that's all that mattered.
Savor the moment.
I walked across the street to the hotel. A roadie was inside ripping up the place looking for our stuff. Our room had been broken into. Everything was gone. The strippers had came back after we had left. Smashed the window and cleaned us out. All the cocaine and merch was gone. All pieces of unused equipment was gone. Everything that could be sold was gone. Everything was gone.
All eyes turned on me. After all, I brought the strippers back here.
I was the one who did this. A hard drag on my cigarette. A silent thought.
This was my fault.
Sometimes you are the king and sometimes you are the jester.
And it can all change within seconds.