A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I played drums in a band from Boulder, CO called The VSS. The band formed -- as the cliche of the era went -- "rising from the ashes" of Angel Hair in January 1995. I'd been on tour just a few times before, first in 1986 when my older sister drove my teenage band Deviant Behavior (none of us were old enough to drive) to play out of town in Salt Lake City, UT. Subsequent brief "tours" over the years lead to a yearning to explore and play every night. Luckily (perhaps), I liked to keep a journal of my daily life and relished creating specific journals for every tour. I continued this practice for several years, documenting every tour of my various bands until I finally tired of describing what I realized is an unchanging ritual of arrival, exploration, performing, getting drunk and moving on to the next town.
What follows is one of my journals from the second tour that The VSS embarked upon in August 1995. We'd toured the west coast in spring of that year, then concluded the trek from Colorado throughout the east coast in August, joined for much of it by our friends in Bare Minimum. This selection picks up in the second leg of tour... I believe the journal of the earlier tour has unfortunately been lost. Admittedly, a lot of this is largely uninteresting and peppered with inside jokes, but I do appreciate the honest glee of a young band discovering the world around them. I'd hope it's entertaining for anyone to read, but my main interest in posting this (and perhaps other tour journals) is to share it with those who were there, in our band, the bands we played with and longtime friends that we'd made some 15 years ago.
The VSS Tour Diary - August 1995 - Part 1
08/03: First day, late start out of Colorado, and yet Andy has been endued of the Coca-Cola company one free beverage of his choice. (See Andy's rendering, Appendix A, Fig. A) The kids of Rapid City, most notably the boys, appear like scared puppies with slouched shoulders and "don't look at me" whimper-faces. No wonder the girls here seem spazzy and boisterous.
Ed Gein himself is seated inside the Atomic Cafe with each eye glued to separate corners of the room. Probably scouring for new skin masks.
08/04: Prior to our set in South Dakota, Wendy-o-Matic (or whatever) treated our guests to her Captain-Kirk-boldly-going-to-smash-patriarchy poetic stylings. It was "special." Our performance was somewhat shy of dousing the audience in napalm, perhaps more like dipping them in a rich toffee coating. Nonetheless, undaunted we forge forth in new states of consciousness -- as Josh discovers himself seer of myriad psychic blockades. Awakening while Andy drives, Josh says in a syrupy voice, "Andy… look… out" and gestures toward the "couch" he imagines in the road before us. Fortunately for the safety of us all, said couch was actually a truck equipped with 4 tires and a V-6 engine and keeping pace quite nicely, thank you.
By this morning, we've killed damn near a million little bugs and flagrantly displayed their irksome little carcasses on the windshield. We're like serial killer, deaf to the screams of such pitiful creatures and with disturbing schadenfreude, continue to wreak such misfortune.
As I write this, Bob Medina, road management associate, is wearing a rather unusual sunglass attachment on his glasses, making him look, how you say… goofy. (see Appendix A, Fig. B.)
Todd is still sleeping, so I just can't make fun of him at this juncture. But opportunity is rife.
We're racing to Champaign, IL by tonight and it's quite a haul. Perhaps it'll all pay off in a wealth of Polish sausage and bad accents.
08/05: Last night's show in Champaign, IL was wonderfuck. Ever the do-gooders that we are, our beneficence extended to further the cause of parrying white man's guilt and "liberate" a death row Black Panther from the assaultive, murderous U.S. legal system and its capitalist microwave oven world of tasty strudel buns that cook in seconds and have a delectably sweet frosting which glides across your tongue. Yes, assuring that none of us are free until we ALL are able to wear little round glasses and ponytails, until we ALL are of the understanding that what's mine is everyone else's and until we ALL hear Tracy Chapman and yelp, "yes, I've been a bad boy!" We played for a handful of folks -- some of whom regarded our performance as "phenomenal." Indeed.
On to further phenomena, this morning I bore witness to to the traumatic Great Peanut Butter Eruption of '95, which entails my jar of PB spilling all over the inside of our cooler. Eeeewww. Placing myself somewhat proximate to "the wagon" last night, we enjoyed beer, many of which Bob enjoyed "one." The friendly fellow on the porch waited for Braid pals to arrive. But as he sensed our insatiable need to drink HIS Schlitz, he decided to relocate. I believe it was downstairs. Sadly, his friends never arrived so that we could tell them he was downstairs. However, let the record show, the tweaker went downstairs with Schlitz.
08/06: Shi-KAAH-goo, IL. Fireside Bowl. The city was alive with rock action, but thankfully a warm fistful of folks came, watched and consumed goods. Probably even threw around words like "rad". Foo Fighers at the Metro, Flat Duo Jets at Lounge Ax, Laughing Hyenas at Empty Bottle and Braid at Fireside Bowl. Tough choices, but the kids knew -- Nathan Todd Corbett was in town.
We had Pad Thai and I flushed from niacin mixing with the spices and felt like absolute dogma. Today's journey involves a long drive to Pennsylvania and the house of Hughes. Since this Indiana highway is so well maintained I'm forced to stop writing for now.
08/10: After a 3 day rest stop at the Hughes compound for food, beer, movies and hi-fivin' jocularity, we're back in action. We went cliff jumping in a damp pile of algae. I sussed out and couldn't get myself to make the high jump. We did DC-Philly-back-again kicking' it smooth in the Boyz II Men style. I got a cymbal case and new 23" cymbal from Darren 454 whose vow to "set me up" came through.
Our show in Phillydelphia was wicked A. It was inside an old church in the pulsing, throbbing heart of the city. We played rather well, probably due to the dearth of fay-barette Oly-rock yawn-fest bands who played before us. My new makeup was pretty runny by the end. Andy is now carrying a comb to maintain his perfunctory coiffure. We sold a fair amount of stuff -- especially for a band with an invisible 7". Thanks Jeff.
Today, we're 100 miles and running for the burgeoning villa of Kane, PA. At least Los Crudos is also playing, so there may be a few persons in attendance. We don't mind if they're all related, as long as none of us are told we have a pretty mouth. Road production associate Medina has left with Patricia and Charlotte Kay, along with his fortune amassed in Colorado Krew compilations.
08/11: Nathan Todd Corbett, road companion associate, is resting oddly contorted & comfortable next to me, on his big fluffy, comfy pillow. Nathan seems either very sleepy or deeply contemplative of his lot in life. Mmmmmm… probably the former. (See Figure C, Appendix A for my artist's rendering.)
08/12: Fuck emo! We played a Food Not Bombs "benefit" with Los Crudos in Kane, PA. It turned out okay, but it was a harsh surprise to discover we'd driven all that way in order to just feel the joy in our hearts and the clumpy vegetarian spaghetti in our stomachs. Somehow, these kids haven't learned how to cook rice and spaghetti. It took them 4 hours to prepare. Less punk, more home economics.
Pittsburgh was also an unusual event. The show was at the VFW hall filled with drunken vets who seemed to honestly love The VSS. Oh, and Pittsburgh sucks. It's constructed atop a gigantic sweat gland, which accounts for its constant stench and dampness. There seem to be a wealth of "everything's cool, man" balding college dudes and "I'm sorry for breathing" emo kids.
08/14: The VSS "tone 'n' shape" program in the Long Island YMCA was a success with healthy minds and teen fitness buffs. The floor was bouncing up and down as we played, and my drums kept leaning over and bobbing to and fro, adding quick reaction to my workout regimen. Anyhoo… Todd doesn't stink (for now.) The van's running. We're gonna foray into the oblique maelstrom of NYC today for a look at their goodies and to administer good cheer to the lowly beings haunting her streets. Ayn Rand would be so displeased. The Chairman of the Board says he'll keep some cocktails chilled, and if we can make it there, we'll make it anywhere. Somehow, I'm not convinced. His data may be slightly skewed.
It's hot, yet fairly dry here… which is a nice change from Pittsburgh's spongy saturation. Perhaps one of the neighborhood children will see fit to open a fire hydrant upon the streets. Living archetypes, another in a series.
We seem very out-of-place in this NY-area scene, since so many of the kids dig the plod of mighty behemoth (see Appendix A, Fig. D) and we sound like its eradicators (see Appendix A, Fig. E).
Alas, such is our lot. Tonight's show seems auspicious, however, for these crackling' rosies, we're bound for a hot August night.
08/16: We played last night at the Rye Coalition "last show till recess" drunkest, and pulled the damp performance of the year. T'was a sauna. The night before at John Hiltz's house wasn't as impressive save for Andy Lee Roth's glorious McTwist "launch" from his cabinets -- which was actually more like him kicking them over. The kids were "stoked". A post-set swim/clothes laundering in the pool was appropriate. Mssr Hiltz is indeed one fine fellow.
Anyhoo, back to Rye. In this seaside town, that they forgot to burn down -- Tom's River, NJ -- an amassing of effulgent and heat-emitting youth rendered the evening ass-kicking. Rye sounded quite stacked from upstairs, but it was way too hot and sweaty inside to venture downstairs for more than seconds at a time. Afterwards, we placed libidinous portions of spirits into our bodies with the overly liver-endowed Bare Minimum. I'm feeling just a bit hung-über after all the drinking damage incurred. Beginning with a harmless -- even accommodating -- 40oz. beer beverage, further steps presented their necessity upon imbibing the remains of Anthony's Crazy Horse malt. (See Appendix F, Figs. A & B).
I added an oil can size Labatt's Ice to the ruction (see again Appendix F, Fig B). However, the Bare Minimum mania for torture remained unsatiated. So, we concocted several cups of stomach-razor gin & juice (see Appendix F, Fig. C). I must be retarded.
To be continued...