Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fall / Winter tour diary part III: The never-ending party (?) grinds on, and on, and on...

Let's pick up where we left off, shall we... 

November 20th, Nashville, TN

We were playing the same venue in Nashville that we were at a few months prior with Cannibal Corpse, the Exit Inn, but this time, we arrived in town much earlier. We decided to head downtown to check out the heart of music city USA. It was kind of cool, very kitschy. We ran into the Speedwolf guys at the Ernest Tubbs record store (which carried both kinds of music, country and western), checked out an awesome vintage guitar shop and ate some amazing barbecue not far from the club. I know I started off the last update by saying I was eating healthier and cutting back on meat, but this was an occasion that definitely called for eating some serious red meat. I ate something called Cowboy Sushi, which was a chunk of hot link with a jalepeno inside, wrapped in a strip of barbecued beef brisket. If you think that sounds amazing, you are correct. At any rate, we finally moseyed over to the venue and were still a bit early. Kevin and I went and checked out a weird old bookstore across the street that had been closed the last time we were in town. The bookstore was plastered with right wing clippings, cartoons, Romney / Ryan stickers, and also had signs everywhere banning cell phone use, loud children, unsupervised children, etc. etc. Needless to say, it was not a friendly atmosphere. That said, the place was crammed full of old books. Almost half the store was Civil War history (I wonder whose side the owners were on?) and most of the books were at least 50-60 years old. Between a hesher in tight black jeans and a leather jacket and a half-black Canadian, we got a lot of dirty looks from the old man who presumably owned the place. At any rate, it was finally time to load in and get settled at the venue. We finally got our whirling saw blade props up and running, after carrying them around for a couple of weeks since the Vermont show. The show itself was pretty decent, not mind-blowing but definitely solid. We partied for a while after the show and Dave Witte turned me on to some of his private reserve stash of extremely unusual and unusually strong micro-brews. Somehow I went from kinda drunk to severely wasted instantly. By the time we got in the van a little while later I was super riled up and wanted to rage. The other dudes were seriously wondering if I was on coke, PCP or what. I started blaring classic Death Metal albums and pounding on the dashboard screaming along at the top of my lungs and being a very obnoxious jackass. I'm a bit hazy on the rest of the night, but it may have involved some random vandalism on my part, and it definitely ended (for me anyway) with a meal at Waffle House where I finally started to calm down before the imminent passing-out to come.
I did manage to find this gem among the racks of country. A true diamond in the rough!

It's okay to eat meat when it's cooked in a giant choo-choo shaped BBQ, right?

This dude definitely knows what he's doing!

Dave Witte - his seemingly bottomless craft beer arsenal will getcha!

Mike surveys his handiwork, mounting our fancy spinning saw-blades at last.
November 21st, Lexington, KY

We got to Lexington pretty early in the morning and met some folks that knew some other folks Bud had met in Vermont. We had parked at their place, which is where I woke up, cotton-mouthed and confused. I met the dudes that lived there and we walked quite a ways to where the other Exhumed guys had gone to get some coffee. After killing some time, we headed to the venue, which was really close by. I learned that Dave had given me Barley Wine the previous night, which I will absolutely pin all my obnoxious behavior on. It was Dave's fault! Whatever it was, whew... Anyway, the show was pretty cool, a lot better vibe for us than the Summer Slaughter stop there without Cannibal Corpse had been. After the show we headed to our buddy Mark's house. We had met Mark when he was doing sound on the Black Dahlia Murder Canadian tour we did earlier this summer and we hung out with him, his brother and some of their friends watching Robocop and Poultrygeist and drinking Jack Daniels well into the early morning.
Bud gets cozy in Kentucky
November 22nd, Day off

Holidays are never that cool when you're on tour, unless you're headlining and you route to your Mom's house or something. The next day's show was in Richmond, VA, Municipal Waste's hometown, so they had planned well and were probably already home by the time we left Lexington around noon. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving lunch / dinner, figuring that would be the closest to a home-cooked all-American meal we would be likely to find off the interstate. My mom approved of our choice of restaurants so I guess we did okay. We stopped to break up the drive and watch some football in Charleston, West Virginia. We ordered a couple of towers of beer, and ended up meeting a couple of flight attendants who came over and partied with us for a while. They had a tower of some fancy beer that we helped them dispose of pretty quickly. One of the flight attendants got pretty sloshed and then they went out for some “fresh air” and totally took off, ditching out on their bill entirely. Luckily the waiter was pretty cool and didn't charge us for their drinks. When we got gas a little later, we met a hilarious redneck gas station attendant who was bemoaning the lack of good methamphetamines in his area and his unwillingness to use his nephew's drug hookup because his nephew was just a kid. Slice of Americana right there. Without further incident, we headed out for Richmond VA.

November 23rd, Richmond VA

We rolled into Richmond really early, and I was inexplicably awake at around six AM. That is not like me at all. At any rate, since we were so early and it was black friday, I decided it would be as good a time as any (and hopefully cheaper than most) to get a laptop. By the time we got to Best Buy around nine in the morning, the real maniacs had already done their shopping and it was a fairly sane shopping experience. Since we had so much time to kill, we headed to Barnes and Nobles for some free wifi. I dicked around on my computer for a few hours while the guys checked out the mall, got coffee and whatever else they do. At any rate, eventually I got in a nap, and we were at our late load-in with plenty of time to spare. This would be the last day of the tour with Kevin Stewart-Panko along for the ride. He was unexpectedly called away with a family emergency. This is the second tour we've done with him, and he hasn't finished either of them. Was it something we said? Was it my incessant farting in the van? At any rate, there was a matinee show at the club before ours so we couldn't even load in until 8PM, and of course it was a total clusterfuck. But it was worth it. The kids were going apeshit, and the place was packed. I managed to sneak out for a beer or two with Albert Mudrian, author of “Choosing Death” and Decibel magazine's intrepid editor-in-chief. It was good to get caught up and look at his oh-so-cute baby pictures. After the show, we dropped Kevin off at the airport in Richmond and headed south for Bud's house in Charlotte, NC.

November 24th, Charlotte NC

We got there early in the morning and headed into Bud's pad to get some inside sleep while Bud caught up with friends in town. By the time he came back I had slept and showered and we were ready to head to the venue, the Tremont Music Hall. We had done a very underwhelming headlining show there, but tonight was much better. I think after coming back with Cannibal and again with Napalm Death we might be starting to get a little traction in Charlotte. A friend of Bud's brought us her Thanksgiving leftovers which were much appreciated. The green bean casserole was great even cold. At any rate, the show was cool, and afterward we headed to Bud's local watering hole, The Thirsty Beaver, to have a couple of beers until last call. We ended the night on Bud's couch and recliner before an early van call for the drive to Chattanooga Tennessee.
Two of my favorite drummers not named Mike Hamilton, Danny Walker, or  Col Jones - in Charlotte, NC
November 25th, Chattanooga TN
I woke up at a Wal-Mart where were getting our oil changed. Now I know that Wal-Mart is an atrocious corporation that preys on small towns by destroying local business infrastructure and reducing the average wage level to below the poverty line, but when you're on tour, it helps to buy goods and services at national chains because you can actually take advantage of their warranties and return policies no matter where you are in the country. At any rate, this seemingly trivial detail will attain at least a semblance of significance as you read on. So... This show had been moved from Knoxville to Chattanooga due to the venue in Knoxville getting shut down. The place in Chattanooga was a tiny bar with very little PA or any space for staging equipments, banners, etc. We were all stoked when we saw it. Especially after having so much fun “roughing it” in Buffalo, Denver and Cheyenne we were excited for such an up-close and personal kind of show. Again loading in and out wasn't particularly easy, but after getting everything figured out as far as sharing equipment to minimize logistical hassles, we headed off to grab some food at the Yellow Deli, another find from the Happy Cow app. The food was killer, and we headed back to the venue ready to have some fun. The show had a great energy, and when Reed from Speedwolf dedicated “I Can't Die” to a biker in attendance, things really got going. It was one of the many nights after Oakland where I kept thinking I might end up going to get more stitches in my lip. Thankfully, Steve, who was running sound for us and Napalm Death on the tour, helped me keep the microphone and my face more or less out of harm's way. I met a super nice kid named Dave who gave me his band Aortic's cover of “Decrepit Crescendo” on CD, which was not only accurate but pretty well done. The place was so small that after we played, I hung out in the merch area most of the rest of the night where we worked on a bottle of whiskey and somehow ended up leaving with a mounted boar's head. Good times. While I was sippin' Tennessee whiskey, Mike Hamilton was regulating shit next door during the Municipal Waste set. Mike was onstage trying to help Dave with his kit during one of their songs, and got dragged into the pit, almost getting into a brawl until Tony stopped the song and explained the situation. Later that night, we ended up crashing at some dude's apartment with the Speedwolf guys. The apartment was a little weird because a) there was no toilet paper / paper towels / tissues anywhere and b) the room Dr. Philthy stayed in had a strap-on dildo on the dresser. We had to split pretty early the next day so we didn't even get a chance to thank him or get an idea of what kind of freaky shit goes on there on a daily basis. We may never know, and that's totally okay with us.

November 26th, Birmingham AL

We had to split earlier than we'd planned from the casa de strap-on due to Wal-Mart never giving our keys back after yesterday's oil change. After going about 40 minutes in the opposite direction, we got on the road to Alabama in earnest. Again, we were at the same venue we had played earlier with Cannibal Corpse, so it wasn't too much of a surprise. This time we skipped the cool downtown area with the hilarious statue of the goat man reading books to the little animals and just hung out at the venue once we got there. The show was cool, not as intense as when we played with Cannibal, but still a really fun vibe. Nothing too incredibly interesting happened, so onto New Orleans...
Barney making one of his 1 zillion guest appearances, this one with Municipal Waste on "United Forces" in Alabama. 
November 27th, New Orleans LA

The last time we had played in New Orleans we made a grievous mistake before the show. We headed to Bourbon Street for “a couple of beers” at around 2 in the afternoon. Needless to say by the time we played ten hours later, Rob could barely stand and the rest of us could barely play. We left the show angry and wasted in the pouring rain. We were determined to not repeat that experience and to make it up to the folks that attended the last show – which may have been the worst show I've played since high school. We instituted a self-imposed ban – Exhumed is not allowed in New Orleans until seven PM. We killed time about a half hour away soaking up our hangovers, scouting for more stage props (unsuccessfully) and of course, sitting in the van. By the time we got into town, it was time for load-in. Our plan worked and the show turned out to be really fun. They had totally revamped the kitchen at Siberia for the better. Dinner was delicious, and after we played I got a killer asparagus sandwich, anticipating the need to soak up the undoubtedly copious amount of alcohol in store. After the show, we headed to the outskirts of Bourbon street with most of the Municipal crew, Mitch from Napalm, and the Speedwolf guys. Interesting things that happened that night / morning: Reed from Speedwolf bounced a guy out of a bar, not sure why; a random dude in a suit gave me 10 dollars to monopolize the jukebox with; Rob almost fought a guy because Rob didn't like his bike; Bud got up to piss after passing out and left his shorts in an alley; and, to top it off, we saw a bad-ass midget on the ride to a friend's house at around 7am.

November 28th, Day off

We woke up sometime in the afternoon and headed into the Garden district to get some excellent Mexican Food (not like barrio style, more like Mexican fusion, but fucking delicious) at Juan's Flying Burrito, which is becoming something of a tradition for New Orleans mornings for us (even though our New Orleans mornings usually start after 2PM) and hung out loafing until around six in the evening when traffic on the way out of town died down. It was a long drive to Jacksonville, Florida that I was eager to sleep through. We did manage to get pulled over for the first time on that drive, for failure to stop at an agricultural inspection station. The State Trooper turned out to be a pretty cool good ol' boy and we went along our way without ticket or further incident.

November 29th, Jacksonville FL
Now, anyone that knows me knows that Florida is not one of my favorite states, classic Death Metal notwithstanding, but in late November, Jacksonville is an awesome place to be. I gleefully donned shorts for the first time in a couple of weeks, did laundry and then we headed to Jacksonville beach for a few minutes of sea and sand before finally checking out the latest James Bond flick, Skyfall. I love Bond movies in general and really enjoyed this one as well. At any rate, after the movie, we headed to the venue which was in a weird strip mall kind of place. The venue was huge and cavernous, with multiple stages and rooms but seemed very unorganized and set up really oddly. At any rate, the show wasn't all that great, but it was a good day, the weather was nice and we had some good Mexican food for dinner near the venue where Shane from Napalm ate an enormous burrito in one go. Now we know how he got the Brujeria gig. We were all psyched to hang out with friends in Atlanta so we hopped in the van and got moving pretty soon after the show.
Jacksonville Beach, FL. Beautiful place.

Vern, Napalm's drum tech takes on a formidable burrito challenge in Jacksonville.

November 30th, Atlanta GA

Again, we got there very early. It seemed like all the drives toward the end of the tour were just a bit too long to stay in the town we played in, but short enough to where we seemed to arrive at around seven or eight in the morning the following day. At any rate, we woke up and headed to Little Five Points to hang out for a bit. We picked up some supremely ugly Christmas sweaters at a thrift shop, poked around some other stores, ate lunch at an excellent natural foods store in the neighborhood where I got an amazing jerk-style tempeh sandwich that was one of my favorite things I've eaten all tour. After that we hung out with Mike (Longoria) from Withered and checked out their jam space until it was time to load in. The club was a new place I'd never heard of or played before but the it was really nice. Next to the club was an event facility where a swanky wedding was taking place. Apparently the wedding was being filmed for a reality show about weddings which was odd, but there were a lot of well-dressed, good looking women going in and out of there all night which was cool. I met up with my old buddy John Mincemoyer who writes for Iron Fist and Terrorizer (among others through the years) who took us to Mellow Mushroom for some pizza. Their spinach and feta pizza was killer. The show went over really well, and afterward, I headed off with Mike (Thompson) from Withered and our Mike (Hamilton, for those of you keeping a tally of all the Mikes in my life) to another bar for a quick drink, then we made it back to the venue in time for a killer beer / meat tasting hosted by micro-brew master Dave Witte and a friend of his who is a professional butcher. It was cool hanging with Brann from Mastodon and the Royal Thunder crew as well, all while enjoying some delicious meat like blood sausage, pork pate with pistachio and pork skin, hand sliced prosciutto and other exotic carnivorous delights alongside Dave's extensive selection of beers, everything from stout to sour to porter to you-name-it. I cracked a couple more beers with Ryan and Phil on the Municipal Waste bus before we took off for Tampa that night – our last night on tour with Municipal and Napalm.

Ted gets a little TLC in Atlanta. Poor guy's been through a lot!

Beer and meat tasting prep. Yum!

Brann from Mastodon and Bud - Contamination tour 1999 reunion!
December 1st, Tampa FL

We woke up in Tampa at Rob Barrett from Cannibal Corpse's place, where his lovely wife received us and made us an amazing lunch. Rob was on tour of course, but his lady was a great host. By the time we headed to Ybor City for load in we were fed, showered and had managed to watch some Dirty Harry movies. It was the last night of the tour for us and Speedwolf, and it was definitely a celebration. The show was kicked off by Bastard Deceiver, an awesome grind / crust band from Tampa, which was an excellent surprise. We organized another group stage-dive during “Suffer The Children”, and as I watched Napalm's last song, “Instinct of Survival” from the side of the stage, Shane walked over and handed me his bass so I finished the song out with the band, which was awesome. While that happened, the other Exhumed and Municipal guys came out and started doing jumping jacks. It was definitely a party vibe. We were all bummed to not be continuing on to Miami and the cruise, but looking forward to heading home and getting some rest. Between the recording, Japan, and the tour, none of us had really been in our own beds since September. Of course, that didn't stop us from heading down the street to the Boneyard for more drinks. Toward the end, somehow country started dominating the juke box and it ended up being us and Speedwolf singing along to David Allan Coe (and even a Garth Brooks song, I admit it) and being drunk idiots. We headed back into town to crash out at a friend of Mike's and get psyched for the loooooong drive home. The drive would end up being quite a bit longer than we anticipated, but we'll get into all that in the next installment of the continuing adventures of the drunk, dumb and ugly that is our collective life on the road.
Body bag in the swamp. At least his beard is right at home.

Barney guesting on "Iron Fist" with Speedwolf in Tampa. 

Last pic of Barney, I swear! Barney and I at the afterparty at the Boneyard in Tampa. 

'Til next time – face front, true believers!
Matt and the lads


  1. Hey guys, thanks for coming to Charlotte! Come back soon? Thanks for the pick Matt!

  2. juan's flying burrito, fuck yeah. dave witte, fuck yeah.