Sludge-metal pioneers the Melvins are attempting to break a world record: 51 shows in 51 states in 51 days. Join SPIN for their exclusive tour diary of this ridiculous and completely inadvisable endeavor! Catch up here.
September 17, 2012 – Sioux Falls, SD @ The Vault
September 18, 2012 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
14 down, 37 to go
I made everyone listen to the Judy Garland live at Carnegie Hall album from top to bottom today on the drive. I think it's a totally weird and amazing record. Actually, it's a really weird album with Judy obviously blasted off her ass on what I would guess to be a wicked combination of barbiturates and booze. At first everyone put up with my seemingly strange musical choice because I was driving and whoever drives normally gets to pick what music is played on the car stereo, but as the album unfolded and we got to the first in a long line of Judy's insane between-song ramblings they all got hooked in. It's hard not to.
Poor Judy I suppose, but who am I to argue or try to second guess what goes through the mind of some fucked up drug addict actress? We all pick our own version of living hell and she was obviously no different. So be it. It's still a great record. Trevor was so intrigued that he started playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" during his solo every night. What a trooper!
Sioux Falls was a really great and surprising show! We played a brand new venue that was attached to a casino right next to a freeway. Tweak Bird described the club as looking like a place where you would "snort coke off some dude's dick." That being said, I liked the venue and I thought we played pretty well and had a very nice and appreciative audience. The only other time we ever played in Sioux Falls was in the mid '90s when we were on tour with Nine Inch Nails. After the show, I watched the cast and crew of NIN do, oh, I'd say $30,000 worth of damage to a brand new arena dressing room. It sounds a lot crazier than it really was, and I wish I could write out the sound of shrugging. Like if you asked me, was I involved in the smashing of a brand new arena dressing room I could go, "Eh [shrug], I guess so." I fortunately got all of that adolescent vandal behavior out of my system when I was still a teenager.
At my age, smashing the shit out of large objects just doesn't have the appeal it did for me when I was young. Back then I used to crave destruction like it was sex. I think the only time that kind of hell-raising really works is when you're young and stupid. These NIN guys were all younger than me so maybe it was still a turn-on for them and the only explanation I can think of for behavior such as this is that they must have been brought up as heavily sheltered idiots with helicoptering parents who were up their ass about every minute detail of their stupid little lives during what I would imagine to be an extremely boring childhood in some middle America shit hole. Now unfortunately, as adults, they need to smash the shit out of a wide variety of hotel and dressing rooms and do tons of drugs along the way just to forget that what they really should have done as teenagers was simply kill their overbearing parents….Be that as it may, I can still think of better ways to blow 30 grand.
This was NIN's Downward Spiral tour, which ended up being the bands zenith, meaning it was their biggest and most interesting album along with the biggest and most semi-interesting point in their career. I honestly didn't know much about NIN before this tour. I mean I knew they were popular with the MTV baby rock crowd and that they had sold a lot of records but I had never actually listened to one of them. Why would I? I usually have no interest in checking out what sort of bands the baby rockers dig. This is as a result of almost always hating whatever bands the baby rockers dig.
That's not hard to do. The baby rockers are wrong. Wrong about everything actually.
I had seen the NIN video they had out then that looked like a total burn of a Joel-Peter Witkin photo. The video was OK, I guess, and surprisingly enough the chorus to this baby rocker hit was "I want to fuck you like an animal," which I couldn't get my head around because the music that goes along with this "fuck-you-like-an-animal" sex boast sounds like weak, elevator music synth crap and would by no means lead you to believe the singer is capable of doing anything "like an animal." I suppose he could get fucked like an animal, but that's not what he's saying.
I suppose he could be writing in the "third person," but I ain't buying that either.
Anyway, they were pretty good live for a band like this, but I do remember the drummer telling me that they probably couldn't even do a live show without backing tapes running pretty much the whole show. Whatever. At least NIN and their heavy-duty arena crew were nice to us and that whole tour, despite the rock and roll posturing horseshit was a cake walk compared to the next band we did a big wheel "arena" tour with, which was White Zombie...
Easily the worst touring experience of my entire life was the White Zombie tour we did. I could write a whole book about that infernal bullshit. On the first day of the tour, the first person we met from the entire White Zombie cast and crew was a mullet headed road manager who ended up behaving like a mean version of Cotton Mather. He was a "professional" roadie. Now I have never met a group of people who hate music more than professional roadies, and it is clearly obvious that 99.9 percent of them know nothing at all about music. Nothing. I find this to be quite strange really. It's like someone who works in a bakery knowing nothing about baking. Actually this also extends to most of the bands these guys work for as well, but I pretty much lump all of these bands and crew into one big sewage pit. It's fitting.
Mr. Mullet told us straight up that he was going to see to it that we got fucked over every night PA-wise in order to not piss off his boss, the swollen White Zombie dictator Rob Zombie. And it just went from there. He openly told us that Rob acted a prick to him, and that's how life on the road was going to go for us as well. Perfect. One insane thing after another every day for the whole tour. On one of the few times we actually got a soundcheck, Mr. Mullet came on stage and pulled the plug because Rob was eating and that we were to "shut the fuck up" because he didn't like the "noise."
My instant thought was what the fuck is he eating, a Faberge Egg omelet? I'd been to their catering and it was the same swill they always serve at these horrid rock'n'roll extravaganzas which amounts to nothing more than disgusting macaroni and cheese type garbage and an assortment of what appears to be dead things in jelly. You'd think he'd want some kind of booming symphonic distraction to help disguise the fact that he's eating a big plate of steaming dog shit. Or so you would think….
And the idiocy didn't stop there. Rob did this between song speech every night that consisted of unintelligible talking gibberish delivered in a "heavy metal" guttural grunt, and at some point he inevitably started saying "they said we couldn't do it, they said it couldn't be done." Which I'm guessing is in reference to them surprisingly being able to peddle another million records to their highly gullible brainless fans. I'm not sure why he thought his dull minions needed to know this. Their entire thing was just dumb.
Don't get me wrong, it was all our fault for doing a stupid tour like that in the first place and I certainly can't blame them for that. We accepted the offer! Big mistake on our part but we did learn our lesson as a result of that stupidity. I think it's a bad idea for us to try to sell our band like that. Actually, we believed that then as well, but it was their idea to have us along and for some reason that remains a mystery to me, they paid us pretty well. But those days are over for us. Now, I would rather eat my own shit then do another tour with people who behave like that. Actually if not my own, then who's shit would I eat? That's a good question....
I got up early after our Sioux Falls show to meet up with Tom Hazelmyer of AmRep fame who had driven there from Minneapolis the night before for the express purpose of doing some "haunted house treasure hunting" on the way to Fargo. What we do is drive down the interstate until we see an abandoned farm house and then go and check it out. This time I got some great pictures of a particularly destroyed place somewhere in rural South Dakota. We try to pick out places that are by no means occupied, otherwise you could end up getting your head blown off and rightly so. There are no lack of these dumps in areas like this and we usually don't have to really even break in. This time I only had to gently push open the back door and in we went. It's not treasure hunting really, it's more like looking around and it's a lot of fun.
Fargo, North Dakota: As we were loading our gear after a really fun Fargo show, a stoner rock hipster in his mid 20s started talking to me about how I was obviously looking at his girlfriend as we were playing…Keep in mind that I don't see much at all while I'm on stage and I certainly don't focus in on one person or another during a performance. I'm busy, and the idea that I could be making eyes at some chick during our set is totally absurd. Just then his girlfriend walked up puffing on a smoke and obviously heavily inebriated. She looked like a cross between a heavy metal Elvis and a slightly overweight street-tough version of Elvira and certainly seemed like she would take a dare. I told him he was a lucky man.
What else could I say? In those situations you have to pick your words carefully or else you'll end up getting the crap kicked out of you. How would that look? Me getting the crap kicked out of me by some scrawny dudes girlfriend?