Hi. I'm going on a two month United States tour, as Atom and His Package along with my friend Sean's R&B project Har Mar Superstar starting March 21st, 2001. I hopefully should be able to update this tour diary daily.
Wednesday March 21st
Wednesday March 21st
Thursday March 22nd PHOTO:Annoying drunken fellow at the show at the Black Cat in D.C.
I ran around in the morning doing some last minute stuff. Sean and I left Jenn and the dog at the apartment in Philadelphia and did a reasonably uneventful drive to the Black Cat, a cool punk-ish club. The 'check engine' light is on the dashboard full time now. We'll see. We met some friends for an Ethiopean dinner, and then headed back to the show. Some former campers from when I was a summer camp counselor for one year on Cape Cod somehow had heard about what I do (musically), and came to the show to check it out. They're all taller than me now, and it was nice to see them though we didn't get to chat for too long. The show was fun though there was a really annoying drunken fellow (see picture) who kept falling over, drooling, and switching back and forth between praising me and my songs to giving me the middle finger and cursing at me. Small world news: Sean and I are staying at the fellow who was playing drums for Good Clean Fun on the recent trip I took with them to England and to Israel. He's travelling around the middle east, and it was completely by chance that we ended up here. I'm going to take a digital photograph of me with his motorcycle jacket on, while lying down on his bed, and email it to him. Ahhh... the 21st century is alive and well in Arlington, VA. Y2K compliant am I, yow!
PHOTO:Annoying drunken fellow at the show at the Black Cat in D.C.
Friday March 23rd PHOTOS from L to R: Shark gift that fell apart, Kids liking Har Mar Superstar, Har Mar Superstar
Sean and I woke up at around 11:30, went out for burritos with the people who let us stay at their house, Anne and Betina. We were off to Harrisonburg, VA after having to sit in a bit a of D.C. traffic. The show was at a V.F.W.-like hall. Someone wearing a shirt that said 'QY 700, will you marry me?' gave me a toy shark, which fell apart (i.e. Sean and I got a bit bored during the show and cut it into pieces). The show was fun and the kids went crazy for Har Mar (see photo), even though the p.a. was in fact a Crate (Crate makes the worst sounding stuff, I'm convinced), and sounded pretty lousy. It was still fun and afterwards we went to a party with a bunch of people who helped put on the show and I chatted with a really nice guy named Matt for a while.
PHOTOS from L to R: Shark gift that fell apart, Kids liking Har Mar Superstar, Har Mar Superstar
Saturday March 24th PHOTOS from L to R: Atom at the exotic car wash, Sean at the exotic car wash, NEXT ROW: Atom (topless) at the exotic carwash, Sean (topless) washing the car exotically.
Ok. Sean and I woke up and drove from Harrisonburg, VA to Greensboro, NC while listening to the Pixies, Selby Tigers, Beatles, and Sade (Sean's choice, ugh). The directions to the show in Greensboro, NC read: "take exit (so and so) off of route 40 East, and go past the 'Exotic Car Wash' (a.k.a. 'titty car wash')... HOLD ON JUST A SECOND HERE. How could one possibly go PAST the 'exotic car wash'? So, obviously, Sean and I stopped at the exotic car wash, and against all good judgment, opted to get my mom's car, well... err... washed at the 'exotic car wash'. We pulled up to the barn-like building that housed the topless car washing enterprise and were greeted by a meathead-ed looking fellow who informed us that it would be $30 plus tips. We were okay with that, and then he informed us that we would have to vacate the car, and stand in a small room on the other side of the glass from the topless women washing ones car. The room was full of people who looked like they'd like to kick the asses of people who look like me and Sean, so we asked the kind meathead-ed gentleman if we could remain in the car. He replied, "I don't know. People would start talking about you." Aha. It suddenly seemed like the kind of place that we would not want to patronize (surprise surprise!). So we didn't get the car washed, which is probably better for our self worth, and instead took a few pictures (see below) and headed to Gate City Noise, the record store my old friend Andrew owns, to hang out. After we met him we drove to the apartment of the woman who had set up the show, and her and a nice fellow named Tim had made us Indian food for dinner. It was yummy and we went to play the show which was quite fun, but definitely with less topless people than the exotic car wash. Oh well, what can you do? The band 'Little Brother' played with us and were totally rockin' and fun.
PHOTOS from L to R: Atom at the exotic car wash, Sean at the exotic car wash, NEXT ROW: Atom (topless) at the exotic carwash, Sean (topless) washing the car exotically.
Sunday March 25th
Today was a pretty quiet day. It was gorgeous out in Greensboro. Sean and I went out for pancakes with our friends from Greensboro, Andrew, Blake and our host Katie. Afterwards, Sean and I split for Asheville, a pretty town in the mountains with highways named in honor of Billy Graham (yikes) while listening to Rhapsody, Little Brother, and Papas Fritas, where I was relatively disappointed that the burrito restaurant that I had been to last time I was there was closed so we ended up going to a hippy-ish pizza place where lots of stuff on the menu had double entendres for drug use and paraphanalia. I got a hoagie, not the 'stone baked pizza'. Dude, where's my car? The show was fun though people were doing the dance the stand still (Dismemberment Plan cited here please) for Har Mar Superstar, but then hugged him afterwards and told him how much they loved him. Piedmont Charisma played and rocked as usual. Sean and I played a whole bunch of Area 51. Time for bed.
Monday March 26th PHOTO: Chad, Atom and Sean in Asheville, NC
We woke up and our amazingly hospitable host Chad made us french toast for breakfast and took us to downtown Asheville where we checked out the record stores. I bought the Pixies B-sides CD that just came out and a few used Led Zeppelin CDs for some reason I can't remember right this second. After playing a few more games of Area 51, Sean and I headed to Atlanta where we arrived at the show a few hours early. We met my friend Rebecca for dinner at Tortilla's, a good burrito place and played a show at a cool art gallery/show space called the Eyedrum. The audience was eerily quiet for the most part, but polite. Now we're at a big warehouse space that has been converted into a studio and different rooms where people live. Yum. Tomorrow we arise at 6am to get the car to its 7am appointment with the car dealer to check up on the ever-lit CHECK ENGINE light.
PHOTO: Chad, Atom and Sean in Asheville, NC
Tuesday March 27th PHOTO: Atom, John, and Sean at the radio station of University of Georgia
After getting to bed at 1:30 am, we arose at 6am to drive the car to the dealer where we had made an appointment to get the check engine light thingy taken care of. Sean and I sat around for a few hours, and managed to get the senior citizens discount somehow. The problem was some part of the engine that recycles the exhaust, but it's all fixed now. We headed back to the burrito restaurant that we ate at last night, but unfortunately it was closed. We headed to Athens and drove to a friend of Sean's house and slept for a few hours. Afterwards we met the fellow John who was setting up the show and bugged him while he was doing his radio show at the University of Georgia. We went out to eat at Grit, a vegetarian restaurant that Michael Stipe owns. It was tasty and the show was at the Above Bookstore, where I've played before and was probably the best show of the tour thus far. After the show, we avoided the drunk creepy guy in the parking lot, and Sean went to hang out with Gordon and I went with John and Robert to play some video hockey and go to bed. Tomorrow is a long drive to Gainesville, FL.
PHOTO: Atom, John, and Sean at the radio station of University of Georgia
Wednesday March 28th
I woke up and picked up Sean at Gordon's house, where he stayed. We smooshed Gordon in the car for the five minute ride to where he works, at neato lable Kindercore records. He gave us the tour and we left shortly after to Gainesville. We went directly to the No Idea Records office/warehouse, and bugged them for a bit and I bought some Jesus Lizard CDs, and a Naked Raygun CD. We went out to dinner with the No Idea folks... though both my food, and Sean's order never got to the sushi chef preparing the food, so we left and headed to the show with only soup in our bellies. The show was at Market Street Tavern, a pub, and was with Hey Mercedes and Mock Orange. We all got to use a wireless microphone, which was pretty fun. Sean sang a bit from the bathroom.
Thursday March 29th
We woke up and watched a bit of George W. Bush's address to the nation in regards to his first 100 days in office, which surprisingly didn't actually make us vomit our breakfast. We felt a bit ill from the speech and went to the No Idea Records warehouse and counted some shirts that had been shipped there, and then tried to find the sushi restaurant where we attempted to eat at the evening before (see last night's entry) but got lost riding around Gainesville. We did the quick drive to Orlando and played at a big rock club called the Sapphire Food Club with the formerly known as Braid band. It was fun, and I got to FINALLY eat sushi. Waah.
Friday March 30th
We slept late, went out for burritos, and headed to Tampa. We were supposed to go to Tampa early and hang out with my friend Matt, and go to Busch Gardens, an amusement park, but the forecast predicted heavy rain so we decided to sleep late in Orlando. It ended up being a muggy, but not rainy day, so it was too bad that we didn't go to Busch Gardens. We ended up going to an arcade near where the club in Tampa is, where we were assaulted by cries of 'Let's get ready to rumble!!!' through the ultra loud p.a. system for no apparent reason and agressive little shits who demanded that Sean and I let them use our game cards to play video games. We denied their requests, and Sean offered them his tickets, for which one can exchange for pieces of crap prizes, and then ripped them up in front of them, after they repeatedly cut in line. The show was cool, though in a disgusting area of town. Yow.
Saturday March 31st PHOTO: Sean and the quite questionable packaging of the new Nerds candy.
We drove quite uneventfully to Tallahassee, though we were quite disturbed by the reappearance of the 'check engine' light. So, we've made an appointment to bring the car into the second Ford dealer of the trip on monday morning in Mobile, Alabama. Sadly, this is the second time that I will have had to bring the car into that exact dealership (see Fall 1999 U.S. Tour diary ~Mobile, AL). Hopefully this will get taken care of this time, because if we have to keep making appointments with Ford dealers all over the country, it will continue to be a gigantic pain in the ass. We're playing at Florida State University this evening, and we have a 'dressing room' complete with lots of cookies, and internet access. Rock n' roll. Oh, wait. There was something weird about today. Sean and I stopped at a gas station between Tampa and Tallahassee, and noticed a suspicious looking display for a new kind of Nerds candy. What do you think??? Check out the picture. I suppose it's supposed to say 'Rope', but it looks to me like 'Rape' candy. I hope that someone will be fired from the Willy Wonka factory quite soon for that fit of incompetance. It's probably those godamned Oompa Loompas. The Sweet Pickles opened the show and were really fun. We were invited to a dance party after the show by some nice folks, but we were too tired by the time we got everything packed up, so we stayed with someone who was house sitting a house in the middle of the woods, and I got to sleep on a waterbed.
PHOTO: Sean and the quite questionable packaging of the new Nerds candy.
Sunday April 1st
I drove to Mobile, AL while Sean slept and listened to Amon Duul II, Shellac, and Karp. We played at a house in Mobile with XBXRX, a local Mobile band who are total lunatics live, and really awesome. I suggest checking them out when/if they come to your town. They're also really sweet people. After the show, we went back to the parents' house of two of the folks from XBXRX and one of the people from the band, Blakely and their friend Misty made us an awesome burrito fixins dinner. I am completely wiped out and ready for bed, and it's only 1030pm. Tomorrow at 630am, I have an apointment to bring the car into the dealership to get the check engine light taken care of for the second time within a week. Sleep. Now.
Monday April 2nd PHOTOS(from L to R): Atom, Steve, Sean and Chris; and Atom driving
New Orleans, LA
I woke up at 6 am and took the car over to the Ford dealership, and got the problem, which turned out to be a 'gas vacuum tube' fixed. It took a few hours of waiting, but afterwards, I went back to Steve and Chris, from XBXRX's house and slept for a few more hours. We went out for Indian food, went to the mall and played a few arcade games. I did not play the video game where the object is to hunt and kill deer. Do they have that one up north? I haven't seen it. The New Orleans show was fun even though I didn't get back my favorite orange and black shirt that was stolen from me last time I played in New Orleans. I did however, have a really fun time at the show, and I was surprised by my friends Jon and Margot from up north, who showed up at the show to say hello. I also got a few leads on getting my shirt back. Apparently a woman whose nickname is 'juicy' took my shirt, and moved out to the L.A. area. She supposedly hangs out with a lot of squatter punks, so if anyone reading this has any additional leads, that'd be great if you could send them my way. After the show, we went out for sugar covered funnel cake blobs.
PHOTOS(from L to R): Atom, Steve, Sean and Chris; and Atom driving
Tuesday April 3rd
Woke up, got po-boy sandwiches, and left New Orleans and drove six hours to Memphis. The show was in a cafe/bar like place called the Map Room and was cool, even though most of the audience had to be coaxed to stand up from their chairs 3 meters from where the music was being made. Not a particularly eventful day, but fun. The new record officially came out today. Yow!
Wednesday April 4th
We went out to lunch with our host/friend Jonathan, and found yet another wonderful all you can eat Indian food buffet. Afterwards, Sean and I drove around doing errands like getting the oil changed etc. We headed to Conway, AR and got stuck in a few traffic jams. On the way, we stopped in Little Rock to hang out with our friend Clay, who was going to meet us at the show later on that night. Before the show, we went out for dinner with some nice people who helped put on the show to a Mexican food restaurant that sparked the "chunk" discussion. The "chunk" discussion is the one where I have to explain to people my really stupid, often embarrassing eating habits. I don't really eat things with "chunks" in them. For instance, I like salsa, that is, the flavor but I can't eat the chunks of stuff that are often in salsa. My anti-chunk sentiment is pretty consistent all along the board. I like cherry water ice, but don't like it if it has chunks of actual cherry in it. Same thing with fruit drinks etc. I love orange juice, but can't drink it if it has pulp in it. I actually hate all fruit. Seriously. Fruit sucks. The show was cool, and some nice people gave me a cool wallet they had made out of duct tape and a loaf of bread(?) (the wallet and the loaf of bread were seperate items... the wallet was not made of both duct tape and a loaf of bread I mean). After the show, we drove back to Little Rock to hang out with Clay and some other Little Rock-ian friends.
PHOTOS (from L to R):Sean and Clay, Atom driving more.
Thursday April 5th
We drove from noon until about 8pm to get to the show in Lawrence, Kansas. We got to Bottleneck's, the place we were to play, and Avail was finishing up an early show in the same place we were about to play. I caught a few songs, and then a bit later we played what was probably the best show of the tour. The highlight of the show was an interruption while I was playing by a band called "Killed in the Face" (I think) which was about four or five people dressed up in very excellent costumes, complete with snare drum and trombone. They jumped up on stage as I was playing and played a few songs, including the radio hit "Bob Dylan is not a Spokesperson for my Generation". After the show we went back to a nice fellow named Ryan's house. Sleep.
Friday April 6th
On our way out of Lawrence, we stopped at Sean's all time favorite restaurant 'Taco Johns'. It was a step above Taco Bell. 'Nuff said. One of the few crappy parts of going on tour is eating. If we have short enough drives, we can usually go to where the show is and look for decent, but cheap restaurants in the area, or ask the people who are putting on the show for some food advice, but when you have to drive 8 hours or so through nothing, the only option for food is fast food crap. We got stuck in tons of traffic and arrived in Fayetteville a bit later than we meant to and went directly to the University of Arkansas radio station, where we were greeted by radio DJs wielding "We Want Package" and "I (heart) Har Mar" signs outside the station. We entered the radio station to do an interview with nice fellow/radio DJ named Wes. A little bewildered from the signs and the shitty drive, Sean and I were really boring/stupid guests, but it was fun anyway. Afterwards we headed to Clunk Music Hall, the place where the show was to be. The show was with Soophie Nun Squad, a band of 7 (or 8, or 9 or 10, depending on the show) people who pretty much define the word fun. They were awesome as usual and the whole show turned into a big dance party. Even between bands, everyone was dancing to the !!! being played over the p.a. This was one of the most fun shows I've played, ever. Arkansas is a really amazing place. The number of really sweet, motivated, positive, FUN people that have come out of Little Rock and Fayetteville is really amazing. It gives me a very warm feeling to see such a big group of friends having such a lovely time though at the same time it made me miss home and my group of friends and my family. Some people came up to me before the show, one wearing another homemade 'QY700, Will you marry me?' shirt, and one wearing and homemade Go Metric Now! shirt, bearing a terrible protein drink called 'Whoop Ass' (it tasted like carbonated Flintstones vitamins, if you're interested, not recommended), and a nice plastic skull with light up-able eyes. After the show, a bunch of people from the show went to a party with more dancing. Fun stuff. Oh, also, there's a fellow named Justin from Minnesota, who goes to film school in Chicago, who is going to be following Har Mar and myself around for the next week or so, making a documentary on us for his documentary class. He seems nice and has an equally ridiculous vehichle as us, so there's no awkwardness in that department.
PHOTOS (from L to R): Soophie Nun Squad rocking, Sean outside his favorite restaurant.
Saturday April 7th
We went to sleep late, arose early, and took off for Omaha, with Sean and I in our car and Justin, the fellow filming the documentary on the trip for the next week, behind us in his car. After 7 and 1/2 hours of driving, listening to Frank Black, Franklin, Girls vs. Boys and of course, Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, we arrived in Omaha, and went to the Cog Factory, the club which we were to play. No one was there. So, we found a really cool record store/used book store called the Antiquarium, and I bought a few used CDs and chatted with the fellow behind the counter about old baseball hats. The show was fun even though the p.a. was totally messed up. At one point while I was a playing, a fellow started yelling "Lundstad". I was as confused as you probably are right now. He kept repeating "Lundstad" until I asked, "What the hell are you talking about?" He was referring to the shirt I was wearing, which said "Lundstad 2nd General Hospital". I have no idea where I had gotten the shirt, and had no idea what it meant. The fellow explained that it's from a hospital on an American army base in Germany, where he had grown up. He offered to trade his shoes and New Order shirt for my shirt. Sounded like a good deal for me. I declined the shoe part of deal because they were big and bulky, but I traded my shirt for his, and quickly put his on. It was pretty weird, because although I'd been wearing the "Lundstad" shirt for the last week, while getting disgustingly sweaty in it every night while playing, his New Order shirt was hundreds of times stinkier than mine. I'm not kidding. The witnesses at the show can back this claim up. So, after the show, I returned his stinky ass shirt, and let him keep the Lunstad one. After the show, we picked up some food from the grocery store and went back to our friends' from The Faint (a great great band... may I recommend Blank Wave Arcade?) house. Tomorrow's drive is pretty short, so we're looking forward to being able to sleep late.
PHOTO: Justin, Sean, and Atom lying on the pavement outside the Cog Factory in Omaha, NE
Sunday April 8th
Iowa City, IA
Sean, Justin and I stopped at a casino just over the Iowa border to eat at the 'ultimate buffet'. It was quite ultimatious. Sean had lasagna and french toast on the same plate. The ride to across Iowa was err.... brown. John Darnielle, (The Mountain Goats) and his hockey playing wife Lalitree came down to Iowa City for the show. John joined me and helped sing my version of the Mountain Goats song Going to Georgia. Nice. I have a godamn cold though which sucks. After the show we headed back to some really nice folks' apartment and made frozen pizza and went to sleep.
Monday April 9th
The three of us went out around Iowa City with our wonderful hosts Matt and Grace. They took us to yet another wonderful all you can eat Indian food buffet, and to a few good record stores. I napped while Sean drove for an hour and a half, and then he napped while I drove for an hour and a half and listened to Deadbolt (not the metal one), Crooked Fingers and Quicksand. The show was at Illinois Wesleyan University in a gigantic room, so the sound was really reverb-alicious, but fun, and there were a bunch of nice people who helped us carry in and out all of our stuff. I'm still trying to shake the cold I have, so after the show, we went back to John's (the fellow who put on the show) house, and I ate some food and watched a bit of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, showered, and went to bed while Sean and Justin went out with John and some friends to celebrate John's 21st birthday.
Tuesday April 10th
After lunch at a crappy burrito place, Justin, Sean and I went to a laudromat to wash some of our filthy clothes. Afterwards we left for Davenport. While enroute, Sean received a call from Justin (who was driving in a seperate car) saying he was having some weird engine noises, so he was going to get it checked out, and drive home to Chicago and meet us at the Chicago show the following day. Sean and I arrived in Davenport, Iowa and had another great Indian food meal, except that Sean and I had to take time out to confront some moronic family spewing racist crap in the restaurant while they were eating. The show was cool even though kids seemed a bit sleepy/bored by the time I played. After the show, Sean and I drove to Chicago to stay with our friend Michael. Still fighting off the cold.
Wednesday April 11th
We ate lunch at a tasty place called Bite, and attempted to get into the Empty Bottle to play Area 51 but alas, it was closed. We headed over to the Fireside to play with the Busy Signals, and Q and Not U, who were both rockin' though in different ways. When I played, there was some sound difficulty for the first couple of songs, but that got taken care of. Weirdly enough, for the second two-thirds of my set there was a bona fide 'mosh pit' going on. It was pretty strange since the Atom and His Package music is not a kind that I'd think was 'moshable', but apparently it is somehow, and annoying to lots of people who didn't want to be run into. It was kinda stinky because I'm much more of a fan of dance party dancing, than the kind that involves people running into people who don't want to be run into. I play a lot so I'm confident that in most situations, I know how to handle, but I guess I was taken a bit off guard. Oops. Felt a little stupid. After the show, I went back to Michael's while Sean and co. went to a Tiki Bar. I watched a bit of the Samhain video, and a bit of When We Were Kings and went to sleep.
Thursday April 12th
After we went over to hang out with our friends Jessica and Joan at Hyper PR, we went out to lunch at the same tasty place we ate at the day before called Bite. I got the same exact thing. So... 'We' is now Sean, myself, Justin, and his friend Jessie who is going to be along with us for the next couple of days to help Justin film. We did the short drive to Milwaukee and played an early show at a club called the Globe East again with Q and Not U. Har Mar played first, at like 6pm, but surprisingly to us, people showed up early. All of us (Q and Not U, Sean, me, Justin and Jessie) met up with Mark and Todd from Hey Mercedes (with whom we had played a few shows in Florida) and went out for dinner and back to there apartment. They were incredibly accomodating and hospitable hosts. I think there were 8 of us total. After dinner, a bunch of us went to a bowling alley/arcade/bar type thing. I played crappy pinball (that is, my playing was crappy, not the machine) and went to bed.
Friday April 13th
After a tasty sushi lunch, Justin, Sean, Jessie and I mistakenly returned to the arcade-ish place that we had hung out at the evening before. Leaving, armed with a big headache from Area 51, we went to a few local record stores that Mark, our host had suggested visiting. We drove the short distance to Madison, which is pretty awesomely infested with bike stores. My mom's best friend from high school came to the show, and it was wonderful hanging out with her and her husband because she's a sweet, funny woman. The show was with Ivan Klipstein, a Wisconsinite who I unfortunately didn't get to watch much of, since the record selling table was in a hallway behind where the band was playing. The audience was quiet, but cool. The club was kinda stinky. It was a sports-like bar with an attached bar in the back room where they had the all ages show though it was made apparent that the all ages show was only put on reluctantly, and they ended up keeping a really large portion of the money made from the door. Oh well. After the show, Sean and I hopped in the car and drove 4 hours to Minneapolis where we went to a party that some of Sean's friends were having. We stayed up way too late.
PHOTOS: (L to R) Atom playing in Fayetteville, AR; Sean's moneymaker; Justin, Jessie and Atom in Milwaukee
Saturday April 14th
St. Paul, MN
Sean and I went out for some excellent Thai food near his apartment for lunch, and then went and grabbed some more shirts that I had had shipped to a record store not far from Sean's apartment. We headed to the show at the University of Minnesota. There I met up with my old friend Alysia who I hadn't seen in almost 5 years. We went out for dinner with her friend C.J. and had a really nice time. This was the last show that Justin and Jessie were to be along with us. Tis too bad. We'll miss 'em. After the show, Sean and I went to an art opening at a bar in Minneapolis, and then headed back to his apartment where a bunch of people came to hang out. Again, I stayed up way too late, and blame Sean Tillmann entirely.
Sunday April 15th
Sioux Falls, SD
Sean grew up in a town called Owatonna, which is about an hour south of the twin cities. It's on the way to Sioux Falls, so we met Sean's dad and went out for some Mexican food, and headed for Sioux Falls. I drove while Sean slept, and listened to Sigur Ros. The show in Sioux Falls was in a big VFW-like hall for 'Nordic People' called the Nordic Club. The show was fine though the attendees definitely acted like it was Sunday, which it was, so it was okay. After the show we went back to the fellow who set up the show's house (Jayson) where there were a bunch of people, and the fellows from The Honor System, who played the show also. Today was the first day of the trip that I felt grumpy. Tomorrow we have a kinda needed day off to get to Denver by tuesday. Lots of car time. Rock.
Monday April 16th
Day Off to Drive to Denver
We got up and drove and drove and drove, over 500 miles total. We stayed at a Super 8 in the middle of nowhere in northeastern Colorado. By the time we got to the hotel, the only place open that served food was a place called 'Restaurant'. Not 'The Restaurant'. 'Restaurant'. Nice.
Tuesday April 17th
We arrived in Denver at 1:30 PM, and stopped at a used record store and found a paper that had movie listings, so we drove to the suburbs of Denver, and found the movie theatre we were looking for and saw Blow, the new Johnny Depp movie. It was okay and entertaining... very Good Fellas-esque, but not as good. Afterwards, Sean and I headed to an Indian restaurant that we had seen earlier in the day to eat dinner. The show was at a club called the Raven, with a fun band called Curse of Lono. People seemed appreciative of Har Mar and my stuff, especially the fellow dressed in a banana costume with a pirate hat on. The drive to Salt Lake City, where we have to be tomorrow for a show, is almost 500 miles, so we decided to head west and knock out a couple of hours of driving, so here we are at another hotel. Rock n' roll. Oh. We came about 2 meters from hitting a deer that was in the middle of the highway. Very frightening. The deer was taller than the car. Sean's old band Calvin Krime was driving through Pennsylvania many years ago and they struck a deer. They had wounded it very badly but it was not dead, so one of the fellows in the band had to put it out of its misery with a flashlight. Thoughts of the horror that running into a deer would be danced through our heads the entire drive.
Wednesday April 18th
Salt Lake City, UT
We arose and drove through the gorgeous mountains of western Colorado and the pretty landscape of eastern Utah up to Salt Lake City. We arrived at Kilby Court, which is the place where the show was to be, an underground-gone-legit club. It's at the end of this alley with a lot of little houses smooshed together. Phil, the fellow who runs Kilby Court approached us and said, "Come with me to Steve's house." Steve lived in one of the houses along the alley that Kilby Court resided. Sean and I followed Phil to Steve's house where we were introduced to Steve, who was an older, perhaps aged around 60 years, and 3 or 4 other folks about one third of his age. Steve seemed pretty drunk but was pleasant and asked Sean and I about our music and what we were doing etc. Steve then led us into his house, and handed me an acoustic guitar and said "Tune this." I tried, but the intonation was all messed up. Steve requested Sean and I to play songs. I kept passing the guitar to Sean and he kept passing it back to me to avoid having to play anything and to somehow escape the awkward situation. Eventually we talked Steve into playing a song. He did. After he was done his song, called 'Tombstone', we managed to politely leave Steve's house. Not much of a point to that story, but it was pretty odd at the time.
Thursday April 19th
Woke up, after watching Bottle Rocket the evening before. We ate a crappy lunch and were off to Boise. I drove the entire way while Sean read the second Harry Potter book. We arrived in Boise at The House of Rock, a house where a few kids live and put on shows in their garage. The garage was decorated with pink streamers and sheets and 'Atom' and 'Har Mar' signs. Very pretty. The show was super fun and it was fun to hang out with old friend from the Fracture days, Bug. After the show, we drive to somewhere in northeast Oregon to sleep a bit before we continue the 500 mile drive to Seattle, where our show is tomorrow.
Friday April 20th
We arrived at the Redmond Fire House, a firehouse that has been converted into a totally awesome youth center. The people who run it and kids who hang out and help run it are fun, enthusiastic sweet people. It's one of my favorite places to play. Sean and I dropped our stuff off at the firehouse and walked to a recommended Mexican food restaurant nearby. Sean and I were eating our food in the crowded restaurant, when two people with fake beards, staffs, placards that read "The Package is Near!" & "Empower the QY700!" and shirts that had "PROPHETS OF ATOM" printed on them walked into the restaurant and proclaimed rather loudly, while handing out pamphlets, "You are in the presence of a god!" (somehow referring to me?!). The pamphlets read among other things, reasons why one "should confess one's brotherhood with Atom." Included in these reasons were that "Only Atom and his followers may know true enlightenment", and my favorite "Free rice pudding and we sleep in bunk beds." I took a few pictures of the prophets, and the disturbed fellow diners. The prophets decided to leave moments before they would have been asked to do so, leaving while shouting, "Fools! You are in the presence of a god!! Do not take him for granted!!!!" The people eating were only mildly disturbed. At the show, the prophets were joined by a few more, all with matching t-shirts, and the show was super fun, though I played for way too long. After the show, we drove up to Bellingham, to stay with my friends Chris and Amy, and their two children Connor, and Phinn.
PHOTOS from L to R: The Prophets of Atom and Atom, The Prophets of Atom at the Mexican Restaurant. NEXT ROW: The Prophets of Atom in the crowd at the Redmond, WA show; The Prophets of Atom.
Saturday April 21st
We spent most of the day unpacking the car, and worrying about crossing the Canadian border. I had a terrible experience crossing into Canada a number of years ago, and ended up getting fined a bunch of money and scared out of my mind. See, you're not allowed to play shows, or sell any merchandise in Canada if you're not a Canadian citizen, unless you have working papers, because you're not supposed to collect money without it being taxed. And, being Van Halen and everything, me and Har Mar Superstar would be cheating the Canadian government out of shitloads of money. So, we unpacked the car, and worried a lot more about crossing the border because there was a protest of the plans for free trade of the Americas scheduled to take place at the border where we were hoping to cross, so we expected ultra tight border security, so we left EVERYTHING at our friends' house in Bellingham, Washington, except the bare essentials to play. We ended up crossing the border with no problem at all and arrived in Vancouver many hours before we had to be at the show, so we found a movie theatre and watched Mimento. Sean hated it, but I liked it. The show was cool, but having no merchandise to sell, we didn't have too much Candian money from the show, so Sean and I tried to spend as much of it as we can, as there's a fair amount of comission taken for exchanging Canadian money near the border and at banks that aren't ones we have accounts at, so we filled up the car with gas, and bought stupid magazines and postcards at the gas station, and found a place that was open and ordered/ate as much food as we possibly could. Decadent as fuk.
PHOTOS:Atom and Sean on the seesaw outside of the Vancouver show.; Sean and Atom and the food they didn't eat.
Sunday April 22nd
Crappy day out weather-wise. Typical of this area of the country I suspect. The show was great, but really really long. Got to hang out with my buddy Sara, and ate Indian food with friends from Missouri who are on a tour, of sorts. Someone got yelled at, at the show for wearing a really stupid, offensive shirt... The company that made the shirt was called 'Bitch Skateboards', and the shirt had a stick figure of a guy holding a gun to the head of a stickfigure of a woman. I'm not sure the fellow who was wearing the shirt fully realized how offensive the shirt was... but very classy nonetheless. Yep. A few of the Prophets of Atom (see Friday's entry) came down for the show, though their numbers were depleted dramatically. I really did play too long on friday I guess. Long long day. Sleep now.
Monday April 23rd
I stayed at my friend Sara's house, and Sean stayed with his friend Chris. When I got up, I drove around and ran some errands, and met Sean at the Kill Rock Stars office, and made him go out for lunch with me even though he'd already eaten. Afterwards, we headed to Portland where we played at a recording studio modified for shows called the Robot Steakhouse. The p.a. sounded crappy, but people were enthusiastic anyway. Tonight, we're staying with my friend Pat. Pat moved out here from Philadelphia a while ago, and bought a trashed house and fixed it up himself. It's pretty amazing.
Tuesday April 24th
Woke up, and drove forever. Got to Chico, where we were playing with a show with friends XBXRX (you absolutely CANNOT miss them if they come to your town), and new friends the Sissies, who played cool catchy punk. The show was fun, and now we're at the people whose house we're staying at.... We don't really know them, but they're hospitable and nice. We'll try and stay out of the way.
Wednesday April 25th
San Francisco, CA
After a weird night sleep due to a certain housemate of the people with whom we stayed, stumbled in, scarily drunk, and bumping into stuff and falling over onto Sean, we woke up and drove to Sacramento to stop by the Mordam warehouse. Mordam records is an ultra cool punk rock distributor that recently moved from San Francisco. They recently picked up the record label I help run so I wanted to drop by and meet everyone in person. It's insanely huge... like Sam's Club warehouse huge. I bought a few records, met everyone and we took off for San Francisco. We drove to the corner of 16th and Mission where our friends XBXRX were playing a show with a few other bands OUTSIDE, ON THE STREET CORNER! I'm not sure how the show was set up, or how it was allowed to continue, but it was awesome. The audience was a mix of weird, sketchy characters, punk kids, and normal passerbyers. It was great. After that, we headed over to the Bottom of the Hill, the club where we were to play. The show was fun, and I met up with my good friend Martha, whose house we stayed at after the show.
PHOTOS: XBXRX walking across the street to play the show; XBXRX rocking.
Thursday April 26th
Monterey Bay, CA
This was the strangest day of the trip. Sean, Martha and I went to sleep at about 3 am and woke up at 7 am to get to Monterey Bay, which is two hours south of the Oakland, where Martha lives. The show was originally supposed to be at night at California State University in Monterey Bay, but it somehow got messed up, so me and Har Mar were scheduled to play at noon, on the big field outside the dining hall at CSU Monterey Bay. CSU Monterey Bay is a very weird place. It's a new university, and was born out of a closed down army base, so the campus is huge, with lots of boarded up barracks and other unused big buildings and there are actually very very few humans on campus. It's sort of creepy actually, and really really ugly. So, at noon, Har Mar Superstar began to play outside the dining hall, and there were perhaps 4 people in attendence. Because of the lack of humans on the campus, people weren't even walking by the green outside the dining hall on the way to eat. It was a hilarious scene. Har Mar sat down, read, looked at the bulletin board, talked to friends on the phone, while 'performing'. It was hilarious. My set of songs was equally successful. We laughed a lot, returned to Oakland, and went out for sushi, and then headed to the UC Berkeley radio station KALX, where a nice fellow named Lei interviewed me for a bit, and played embarrassing songs of the older records of mine, because they didn't have the new one. Oops.
PHOTOS:Har Mar playing for almost no one in a big field; Har Mar reading while he's 'performing'.
Friday April 27th
Martha had to go to work, so Sean and I met his friend Sarah for lunch and then walked around Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and went record and book shopping. I bought a bunch of used stuff, which looks promising. We'll know for sure during the car ride tomorrow. We met up with Martha late in the afternoon and headed to 924 Gilman St. for the show. We checked in with the people who volunteer there and went to eat some pizza. 924 Gilman St. is a wonderful volunteer D.I.Y punk club. It's really a wonderful place, and it's great to be able to come back year after year. The show was great, and fun even though some dancing folks stepped on the power strip and turned off the guitar amp and package during Har Mar and my duet. This was pretty funny, even though the dancing pair felt guilty about doing it even though we didn't care at all. We drove into San Francisco after the show to meet up with our friend Chris, who is playing drums for Ted Leo, who were playing a show there tonight. We're staying with my friend Debbie, who's hilarious, and has a giant iguana who lives in her closet named Guaca. I'm not kidding. I'll take a picture tomorrow morning.
PHOTO: Our pal Debbie, and her iguana pal Guaca
Saturday April 28th
Chris, Sean, Debbie, and I met my friend Vic and went out for burritos with him in the Mission district in San Francisco. Afterwards, Sean and I drove to Santa Barbara,and played a show with a mock glam metal band called Freezerburn that was dolled up amazingly so and even rented a limo to drive them around the block to the entrance of the show. Rock n' roll. After the show, Sean and I left to drive to Van Nuys, CA, which is just north of Los Angeles to stay at our friend Louis's house. Louis runs Hopeless Records... the record label that just released my latest CD. We arrived really late and stayed up even later chatting.
Sunday April 29th
Los Angeles, CA
Today was the beginning of the insanity. We're playing 6 shows in 3 days. Today, Louis had a barbeque/party for a bunch of folks, and Har Mar and I played with two other bands on Louis's back porch. A guest named Tito ate two spritzes of Windex. It was great to hang out with the Hopeless folks, and after a quick nap, Sean and I drove to play in a really crappy part of Los Angeles, which houses a neat art space/club called the Smell. The show was pretty fun even though their sound system resembled aural ca ca.
PHOTO: The welcome sign for us at Louis's barbeque.
Monday April 30th
San Diego, CA
We slept for a few hours, and dropped by the Hopeless Records office/warehouse to say hello and eat some lunch. After lunch, we drove for an hour to Riverside, CA where we played at 2:30 PM at a place called the barn which resembled a cafeteria much more than a barn. The sound was stinky for some reason, but it was fun for a monday afternoon show. Sean destroyed a Dashboard Confessional CD during his set, and then humped the monitor on the stage. After we were done playing, we got back in the car, and drove to San Diego. Sean and I had a few hours to kill before the show, so we stopped at The Guitar Center, and made lots of noise on guitars, drums, and other crap for a few hours, and got frustrated with the run of the mill, annoying music store sales people. After our noise fest at The Guitar Center, we headed to the Che Cafe, on the UCSD campus. It's a cool, volunteer run cafe that has shows pretty frequently. It's a great place, but in the past, the shows I've played there have been pretty boring, with 90% of the attendees sitting outside and ignoring the bands they paid to see. However, tonight's show was one of the best of the tour. It was completely different than the previous shows I've played there. Lots of fun enthusiastic, dancing folks. There was one idiot who yelled out something homophobic and stupid on the microphone after the show, but Sean and I yelled at him a bunch.
Tuesday May 1st
Santa Ana, CA
We ended up staying with two young gentlemen who are in the Navy(!?). After waking up, we drove straight back to Los Angeles to the radio station KXLU, which is the radio station for Loyola Marymount University. I did an interview, and a horrible performance on the air (the performance, being particular horrible in part because the volume in my headphones was so quiet, I couldn't really sing at full volume, and I was sitting down at a desk). My apologies to anyone who heard the radio performance. The fellow whose radio show it was, was neat-o though, and afterwards, we drove to another part of Los Angeles, which took forever, as does driving to anywhere in Los Angeles, to meet Sean's recently relocated from Minneapolis friend Tad for lunch. After lunch, we went to the house of another recently relocated from Minneapolis friend of Sean's named Dan, who's a photographer, so Sean and I posed for a bunch of photos, some including a pink feather boa wrapped around our necks. Afterwards, we headed to Koo's Cafe in Santa Ana, which is one of my favorite places to play on the planet. It's a youth run, volunteer cafe and it's fucking rad. The kids who run it are responsible, and fun. It's great. The show was one of the most fun that I've ever played. There were tons of people packed into a tiny room, dancing and singing along. After the show, Sean and I drove about an hour to get a jump on the long drive to Phoenix tomorrow.
Wednesday May 2nd
We drove from just east of Los Angeles to Phoenix, where we met the promoter for the show outside of the club we were to play at. Mike, the promoter fellow was one of the weirdest fellows I've met ever. He's a young kid, but owns his own show promotions company and acts very very 'L.A., or 'pro''. He definitely knows what he's doing in terms of booking shows, but he's very intense about it and definitely comes from a different world than Sean and I live him. For instance, he was convinced that I had never been on tour before because he hadn't 'heard of it'. He drove us to his office, and record label mogul-like pad. He warned us of an 'attack dog' as we were entering the office, and there on the couch was a Jack Russell Terrier (a little dog, like the one on Fraiser). Convinced that Mike was kidding, I reached out my hands (still from 2 meters away) to say hi to the pup. It jumped off the couch and latched its jaws onto the webbing between my thumb and index finger. Ow. Afterwards, Mike took us out to dinner, and we dropped by the venue where Sick of It All, Boy Sets Fire and Death By Stereo were playing (down the street from where we were going to play) so Mike (who was promoting that show as well) could pick up some stuff. The show was cool and more interesting since the electricity went off for the entire club for five minutes during my set. We all sat around in complete darkness for the whole time. Fun.
Thursday May 3rd
Hi. My name is Atom. Today my friend Sean and I drove over 1600 km (over 1,000 miles). Good night.
Friday May 4th
We ran around all day doing all sorts of errands with our friend Ben, and his girlfriend Beth. We went to a record store where a friend of Ben's band was playing and then out for sushi with a bunch of his friends. The show was cool, and with Ben's band Attack Formation, and I went back to Ben's to sleep while everyone else went to a par-tay. Yow.
Saturday May 5th
Dallas and Denton, TX
We woke up early after a late night to drive to Dallas, where Har Mar and I were to play at a cool indie record store called Good Records. A bunch of people showed up, and the store employees BBQ'd some stuff. I bought a few CDs, and it was a bit weird playing to an audience of people split up by huge CD racks, but fun. Afterwards, Sean and I drove to some nice folks from Denton's house, who let us hang out, and nap for a bit, and even made us some Boca burgers. The show was cool, but it was another late night. Afterwards, Sean and I drove for a bit because we had planned to meet our friend Ben, from Austin in Houston at the six flags amusement park there.
Sunday May 6th
After a few hours of sleep, Sean and I headed to Houston where we met up with Ben and a bunch of his friends at six flags. I got to ride on 3 rides in almost 5 hours... with the best one (Greezed Lightin') having NO wait at all, while the other, not as fun roller coasters had over an hour and a half waits(!) each. After we were done at the amusement park, we headed to Rice University where we were playing with Ben's band Attack Formation again. The show was cool, and the people who had set it up got food for the bands, and attenders of the show including 30(!!!!!) pounds of hommous. Yum. We have a short ride tomorrow, so I look forward to a long, good night's sleep.
Monday May 7th
Lake Charles, LA
We finally got a good night's sleep and woke up and met up with our friend from Houston, Ryan, who has done shows for both Sean and me in the past. He took us to the Guitar Center, where I get a discount, which is barely just worth having to deal with the annoying music store employees. I bought a barritone guitar for really cheap, and then we went for burritos. After lunch, we departed for Lake Charles and drove through tons of heavy rain. We arrived at where the show was a full 3 hours before we were supposed to be there, so Sean and I went to see the Mummy Returns. It was lousy, but at least loud enough so that I wasn't able to sleep through it. The show was cool, and we're staying at someone named Jodi's house. She actually is seeing someone named Jody. Adorable. I'm about to go to sleep. The room I'm in has a huge painting of a lion roaring. I took a picture of me with 10 chins sitting in front of it. I'll add it to the tour diary when I have a chance.
Tuesday May 8th
Little Rock, AR
Drove to Little Rock, and met up with our friend Clay and went for pizza. The show was in the back of a tattoo shop and the fun was accentuated by the Star Trek pinball machine. After the show, Clay had a bunch of people over at his house. My friend Mike, who was driving back from Los Angeles, to D.C. after going on tour with the International Noise Conspiracy stopped by for a break, and we went over to my friend Mary's house, and she very kindly made them some food. Sleep.
Wednesday May 9th
St. Louis, MO
We woke up, went to lunch with our friends Mary, Billy and Clay in Little Rock, and were off to St. Louis. I started the 4th Harry Potter book in the car. It is Potterlicious. The show was really fun, and we're at the fellow's house, where I stayed the last time I was in St. Louis. On the drive back to Billy's house, we saw two guys on superbikes, and one was doing WHEELIES ON HIS MOTORCYCLE GOING 80 Miles Per HouR!!!!! Insane. We showed him up by doing wheelies in our car. I kicked Billy's ass in a hockey game for his Sega dreamcast 2 out of 3 times. I am a competitive bastard.
Thursday May 10th
We drove to Louisville, and stopped once, where Sean bought a cammoflage safari hat, and to take pictures of Sean in said hat. We played a really cool youth center called the BRYCC House in Louisville. A fellow named Jody made fun of me for reading a Harry Potter book and called it 'pathetic'. After the show, we went out for dinner with some of the people who help run the youth center. Sean and I obnoxiously spent a lot of time on our cell phones talking to our friends back home... but apparently not long enough to miss the story of the fellow who was sitting with us at the table and his tongue. He had his tongue split down the middle about 2 inches by a scalpel that was heated until it was white hot, by a blow torch. Yes, a forked tongue. Apparently, he has the video footage of this procedure on his website, though I don't know how/why you'd find it. This is a weird world... between the wheelie-ing motorcycle folks in St. Louis and this fellow... wow, and we had thought that this area of the country would be boring since we've both been here so many times.
Friday May 11th
Our host in Louisville, KY Mike, made us wonderful pancakes and took us to a few record stores, and then we went to catch a movie. Since Sean and I have such short drives for the rest of the tour, we intend on seeing one matinee movie per day for the rest of the trip. Today we saw Knight's Tale. Please do not pay attention to the good reviews. It's awful and boring. Afterwards, we said goodbye to Mike and headed to Cincinnati, where the kind people who had set up the show were having a BBQ, which they kindly invited Sean and me to. The show was fun, though it sounded like doo doo from where I was standing for most of the evening. I got a fellow who was wearing a 'wifebeater' undershirt to yell 'wifebeater wifebeater, yeah yeah yeah!' a couple of times. Now, we're at the people who did the show's house, and Sean and I are sleeping in a room that is clean except for the cat litter box and rat cage, and rat in it. Good thing I'm not pregnant. Too bad Sean's upcoming baby will have problems from the cat urine.
Saturday May 12th
We woke up, got directions to the nearest movie theatre at which Spy Kids was playing, and headed out. Spy Kids was totally awesome and fun. There are at least five fake moustaches in the movie, which only added to the fun. I'm serious. It was great. Afterwards, we drove to Indianapolis, without mistakenly taking into account that Indiana doesn't respect day light's saving time, so we arrived an hour earlier than we had thought (we had thought that we had arrived 3 hours earlier than the time of the show start, but in fact arrived 4 hours earlier than we'd though. Wonderful. We found an arcade to waste some time/money in, and headed back to where the show was. We ate some lousy Chinese food and went to the show which was fun, and then headed back to a nice fellow named Matt's house, and watched the Virgin Suicides. Yum.
Sunday May 13th
Grand Rapids, MI
Drove to Grand Rapids (which is still abbreviated on the signs for it as Gd Rapids for some reason), stopping only to eat lunch at a mediocre Chinese buffet restaurant. The show was at a cool, small theatre, where I had played before. People were enthusiastic at the show, including weirdo, young, drunk girls who alternated between loving the stuff I played, and giving me the finger and yelling at me for no apparent reason. Afterwards, we ate some pizza with Jann, the fellow who did the show and his friends, and went to a bar for a moment then prepared ourselves to watch Josie and the Pussycats the following day. Word. I am over halfway through the Goblet of Fire thanks to Sean's marvellous reading aloud to me in the car, while I was driving today. Yum.
Monday May 14th
East Lansing, MI
Sean, Brian (the fellow who had put us up the evening before) and I wasted some time by going to see the matinee showing of Josie and the Pussycats at a mall outside of Grand Rapids. The movie was boring. Spy Kids Spy Kids!!! Afterwards, Sean and I drove to East Lansing where we were to play a show in the basement of a house. The show was fun even though the p.a. was ca ca and sounded so. After the show, Sean and I went with a few friends from the show to an excellent burrito place where they make the tortillas in a huge steam press looking thing moments before they make your burrito. Afterwards, we went back to the house where the show was to hang out for a bit and eventually go to sleep. There were some drunk folks who had a big water fight, so the interior of the house now has a coating of dry nasty residue everywhere, but no one who lives here seems to mind, so why should I, right?
Tuesday May 15th
We woke up and went for Indian food with our friend Nate, who lives in East Lansing and then found a movie theatre to waste some time, and ended up seeing.... Crocodile Dundee III. It was great... with a terrible enough screenplay that it was funny, and nonsensical scenes. Much much more enjoyable than Knight's Tale or Josie and the Pussycats by far. Afterwards, we drove to Toledo and played the show which was fun, especially because of the insanely complex lighting that was crammed onto the tiny stage at the place called the bottle rocket. Insane light show for Har Mar. Rock. 2 days left. Crazy.
Wednesday May 16th
We woke up and had nothing to do all day, so we went to a truck stop service plaza where Sean did some laundry and I answered email for a few hours. Afterwards we took off for Cleveland and went over to Sean's sister's and husband's apartment and went out for burritos. After dinner, we went to the Speak in Tongues club, which is an awesome collectively run show space in Cleveland. The show was cool, with Beckett and Friends opening the show. While I was playing, this fellow offered me $5 to play my version of the Dead Milkmens' song Nutrition. I gladly accepted the $5. Unfortunately, after the show, the guy was a whining baby and wouldn't leave me or Sean alone, and ended up whining his way into getting a few heavily discounted records from us. Barf.
Thursday May 17th
Got up and got the oil changed and the car wash in returning it home to mommy, and shipped a bunch of Sean's crap back to his home in St. Paul, as after the show tonight, Sean will be taking a bus to Columbus, OH to play one more show, and then flying from there, back to St. Paul, MN. I, on the other hand will be driving straight back to Philadelphia (home) and my dog. The show was cool, but it was hard to sleep afterwards, anticipating the following day's car ride home. Friday May 18th
Got up at 730am and drove 5 hours to Philadelphia. I have to go play with Books, my dog. 62 performances in the last 58 days. Thanks if you got this far. I will hibernate now for a long time.