Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So Many Dynamos: 0, Missouri gas station rednecks: 1

Drove all night to Denver and now my tired ass is typing from a coffee shop around the corner from the house that The Photo Atlas lives in. It's apparently the only place in Denver that advertises for free wireless internet and actually has it. McDonalds, Burger King, and Starbucks in the neighborhood all lied to me.

Our shows in the Midwest recently were all much more home-y than we were expecting. Chicago was the best show of the tour (sorry Philadelphia) and possibly our best Chicago show in general. Iowa City was fun, the St. Louis show was a party, and Lawrence was actually painless unlike every other show we've ever played in Lawrence.

In the middle of Missouri yesterday, I woke up from an unsatisfying van nap and stumbled into a gas station. I bought a Laffy Taffy rope and a small package of Now and Laters, both of which were 25 cents. The guy behind the counter (stocky redneck with a bright gold cross necklace) tried to charge me over a dollar. I asked him how he got that number and showed him that it blatantly said 25 cents on the Laffy Taffy wrapper.

He looked dumbfounded and glanced at his fellow redneck employee behind the counter. "Can you believe this is only a quarter? How are we supposed to make any money anymore?" As I paid the man, he leaned to his friend and said "well, if Obama becomes president, we'll be selling everything for a quarter. We're all going to be his right hand man." I don't know what that sentence means, but it's retarded.

His friend replied "He's already Bush's right hand man!" I know what that sentence means, and it's completely retarded.

So I told the men behind the counter, "you guys are both retarded."

"Oh yeah?" they chuckled.

"Yeah," I replied. "Completely retarded."

Then I left and got into the van and realized that I left my Laffy Taffy rope on the counter. I guess they win this round.

We're going to be driving a lot in the next few days. I got the new Chuck Klosterman book and it's great. The Loud Wars is coming out in February.

more news to come.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Michigan, Ohio, and the art of pooping snot.

We're all sick. I started today on a diet of Day Quil and Mucinex. I have never used Mucinex before but apparently it eliminates the mucus from your cavities and you eventually poop it out. Gross, but in a different kind of way than having to swallow my own drainage because I'm in the backseat and I can't get a window open to spit out of and even if I could get a window open I'm not very good at projecting my saliva so I'll probably end up spitting a loogie all over the inside of the door instead of the pavement and then having to clean it up and being embarassed. But I digress....

It feels good to be back in the midwest. We're in Warren, MI just outside of Detroit at a bar called The Ritz. The place is filled with old people that are taking advantage of happy hour and their privelage to smoke indoors. This is Gary, HORSE the band tour manager's last day with the tour. He's Canadian, and whenever he's at a show where smoking is allowed inside he wears one of those blue doctors' masks like he's trying to avoid SARS.

Last night was Akron, Ohio. Small place, packed with kids, no heckling retards. Watching the kids freaking out and falling over each other while singing along to HORSE songs was a blast. I was standing by the side of the stage and this kid ran past me to get on stage and dive into the crowd. When he passed me, he lightly bumped into me and he quickly apologized. It seemed weird that he felt sorry for grazing my arm on his way to jump on top of a bunch of other people. Life is funny sometimes.

Got some news on the prospect of The Loud Wars actually coming out today and we're very very very very very very excited.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Overheard in the parking lot: "I HAD to go outside during So Many Dynamos. They were so awful."

Philadelphia was a party. Kids new our songs and they danced and we got them to do foolish things like sit on the floor and do "jazz hands". Our show at First Unitarian Church the other day was the best of the tour so far, much like how our show there years ago with Harvey Danger was the best show of that tour.

Our show in Danbury, CT last night was the polar opposite. I won't complain about the cold reaction from the crowd during our set, as we are never going to be the band that expects anything from the audienc and people were more friendly and supportive of our band than their inbetween song cheers indicated. There's nothing worse than the mosh-metal opening bands we've had yell at the crowd for not dancing. The Heirloom Arts Theater in Danbury has a bar in their balcony, which gave a prime view of the pit ninjas. This, of course, is what I'm going to complain about.

During HORSE the band, Danbury had the most stupid, reckless pit yet. Kids were running around just pointlessly pushing each other and knocking each other down, and it looked more like a drunken WWF cage match than a hardcore pit. It would be different if their movements seemed to coordinate with the music being played on stage at all, but it didn't.

I'll never understand this type of dancing. The kids swinging their arms around and kind of doing this tough-guy version of skanking. There are a few things that I find confusing and somewhat hilarious about it:

1. Some of these kids are really, really good at this dancing. That means that they HAVE to have practiced it. And the way the pits are set up, there's a big circle and people take turns going in the center and doing their "solo", kind of like Soul Train. This leads me to point two.

2. Nobody looks cool at all doing this. Nobody, one bit. It just reminds me of a 8 year old kid having a hissy fit.

3. It all comes together to be the lamest dick-measuring contest I've ever seen. When the arms are windmilling around in the pit, the mentality is that if you run into the dancer and get hurt, it's YOUR fault. It's all about territory marking. It's all primitive in a strangely metrosexual post-modern way.

The hilarious thing about it is that HORSE the band and Heavy Heavy Low Low are two bands that are simultaneously embracing and mocking traditionalist hardcore ideas, and there are tons of kids that just don't get it.

This, of course, is not how every kid acts who dances at every show. This is just how Danbury was last night, and only for about half of the time.

During HORSE's set in Orlando, there was stage diving and the kind of non-violent mosh pit that happens when you cram too many dancing folks into too small of a room. A lot of times I look at the pit ninjas and I can tell they aren't taking themselves too seriously and it honestly looks like it might have been fun when I was younger. I used to go to ska shows and skank, so I can't judge them for doing the thing they're supposed to do by tradition.

Also, this dude in Danbury peed in front of our van and there was a stream of urine that ran under the vehicle and ended in a puddle about five feet from our back left tire. I hope he got ejected.

Philadelphia put things into perspective about what we want crowds to be like, much like whenever we play Visalia, California and everybody just freaks out in their own way. Tonight we play the School of Rock in Hackensack, New Jersey, which was one of the best shows last time we went out with HORSE and HHLL. Hopefully the kids will like it, that's all we really want.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So Many Dynamos: now available extra-crispy

I've never been one to say that So Many Dynamos, as an entity, is the "best" or "most" of something. I mean, we're all pretty good at Tetris or Ms. PacMan, but I wouldn't say we're the "best band at Tetris" by any means, because a. that's cocky and b. it's probably not true. However, I think I can say this in complete earnesty without feeling arrogant: I think So Many Dynamos is currently the most sunburned touring band in the country.

We went to Daytona Beach a few days ago inbetween Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida. For five dollars, you can actually park your vehicle on the beach. Granted, we got stuck twice (first time from coming it at an angle and the second time from trying to back in). A bunch of shirtless beach hunks helped push us out of the sand the first time, and they got dead bugs all over their hands from the grill of the van.

The third time was a charm on the parking front. We swam and played catch but none of us used proper protection from the ultra-violent rays of the sun. My shoulders feel crispy and my chest is burned in an awkwardly splotchy pattern that makes it look like I have a skin condition. As it heals, it gets itchy, but I can't scratch it because it's sunburned, but the sunburn is what makes it itchy. It's a viscous circle. The other guys all have it pretty bad too; Griffin's shoulders look maroon.

I'm typing from a loveseat at a very clean dudehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, which we nabbed for lodging as a result of our "we need a place to stay" sign. Show was good, I was a little worried at first because the pit ninjas were trying to dance all hxc during our set. In the past, this has resulted in some unwarranted and innapropriate shoving, but it was more calm than that. Dancing is dancing, as long as the kids are having a good time I can't complain.

Aaron did guest vocals on the recording of the song "Rotten Church/Mall/Parking Lot" by Heavy Heavy Low Low on their new album, so he's been coming up on stage almost every night during their set to sing his part. It's really funny every time and I can't really explain why.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We have a whirlpool.

We had one really good and two pretty good shows in Florida, and now I'm more than happy to say goodbye to its swampy hotness. Last night in Tampa we played one of the most brutally hot shows we've ever gotten through. It was in this big theater venue with no air conditioning and blazing white lights on us the whole set. My shirt looked like it was painted on by the end.

The stage at the venue last night was homemade, and my side of the stage (some folks call it "stage left") was made from a different piece of wood than the rest of it. As a result, my part was a lot more wobbly, and before the first song was over some concerned kids in the front row pushed my microphone stand back from having shifted to the edge of the stage. Unfortunately, nobody (myself included) noticed that my Casio was slowly sliding off of its stand until it fell on the ground and broke open, exposing its innards. It looks pretty busted up. I'll reassemble it today and see...

There was a tree by our van yesterday that was dripping water consistently for a long time and it sounded like somebody was peeing by our van. I was concerned, because it wouldn't be the first time somebody was peeing by our van.

Currently at a Marriot Courtyard hotel in Charlotte, NC that we got a sweet deal on. It's WAY too fancy for us which makes it hilarious that we're staying here and so is Heavy Heavy Low Low. We drove all night from Tampa, FL and now we're spending the day in air conditioned bliss.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Are you disconnecting me? Are you?

First off, the British lady that lives inside of our Garmin GPS unit is going insane. She keeps telling us to take nonexistant exits and get on highways in the wrong direction. Crikey!

I'm in the "game room" of a home in Orlando that houses 4 video game loving college students. I'm about two feet away from the drum set from "Rock Band" and all I can think about is the notorious drum fill from In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins. The 2 people that live here that invited us over from the show are both going to school for computer animation, and last night they showed me some of the stuff they do for school and for hire. This includes a video by a talking CGI copy machine for a sales DVD that explains its features and eats memory cards. It was every bit as good as Veggietales.

Today we have one of the shortest drives of the tour so we're going to hit up the beath in Jacksonville, FL before our show. We might do the Anheuser Busch brewery tour too, it depends on when we get out there.

We were THIS close to catching Lisa Loeb last night around the corner. We worked it out so that we could get in free, but it turns out she played the early show and we just plain missed her set. Bummer.

Here's a video somebody posted of one of the first shows on this tour:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Atlanta at the clean house of Harvey Danger superfan Christin with an awesome dog and awesome cat. Ate some awesome pasta and awesome Heath bar ice cream. About to have awesome slumber on awesome couch. Awesome.

Tonight we played Wiffle Ball outside of the venue, watched ridiculous videos that Heavy Heavy Low Low made on their computers, played a decent set, watched HHLL play the most punk rock set i've seen them do, listened to You'd Prefer an Astronaut by Hum on the PA between bands, watched HORSE with their intense new backdrops of "Paradise and Hell" by Bosch, loaded out, drove to Harvey Danger superfan Chrstin's place, see above.

Nathan from HORSE met a potentially homeless guy outside of the venue that he's completely convinced is himself from the future. I think his mind exploded.

This evening's set:

Search Party
We Vibrate, We Do
New Bones
Keep it Simple
Home Is Where the Box Wine Is
In Every Direction
If You Didn't Want to Know

...or else you're leaving with a fat lip

In Athens at Bryant from Cinemechanica's place. We played last night at the Go Bar, which is a tiny brick room outside of downtown that Michael Stipe has some form of ownership in. It's the only show we have this month that isn't with HORSE the band and Heavy Heavy Low Low. The only thing that's kind of a bummer about the HTB/HHLL tour is how the local opening bands for each tour have been (with one exception) bad hardcore bands, so it was definitely a relief when we found out that last night's opener was called Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel. And that's exactly what the band was: two dudes playing ambient soundscapey stuff and plugging the theremin and lap steel into their computers to run live effects on them through software. WAYYYY better than drop A- chug metal.

While Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel was playing, Jeff from We Versus the Shark leaned over to me and said "you're totally going to blog the shit out of this, aren't you?" And here I am today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

There are no red states or blue states

Gas stations are a crucial part of our daily routine. Aside from the necessary fuel, bathrooms, and snacks, they also are a source of entertainment. I've been getting a kick out of the things people write and etch onto the bathroom walls, mirrors, hand driers, and any other hard surface they can scribble on.
We've been knee deep in the Bible Belt for the past few days and our rest stops have peppered the rural South so it is no surprise that this is what we would find:

This did not sit too well with me.

It's hard to read, but "WHITE POWER KKK" has been etched into the Xcelerator hand washer.
By the time we pulled out of the parking lot it looked like this

Here are a few souveniers we chose to pass on during our pit stops:

"Drinking doesn't cause hangover waking up does" and
"Jesus is the key to eternal life" hats on the same rack.
I think it's funny.

I found this gem on the wall in the Men's room at The Door in Dallas.

Here are a few pictures from our night on Bourbon Street with HORSE the Band

Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Today marks the end of the first week of tour. We've been losing a battle with having internet access, so we have to play catch up.

Bartlett, Tennessee

Thumbs up: To the Taco Johns we stopped in on the way where two guys came up to us and said "good show the other day." We didn't realize we were back in Atkins, AR where we had played a few days prior. Minutes after they left, the dude who booked the show came in and was pretty surprised that we were there. To the band Nights Like These who put us up at their apartment where they were having a birthday party with a keg and a great dog. To the kid who said "you guys are in So Many Dynamos? Once I took acid and listened to your band for 10 hours straight."

Thumbs down: To the Bible-beating moms who took offense to the lyrics of us, HORSE the Band and Heavy Heavy Low Low and tried to get the show shut down. To the Bartlett police department for being too aggressive and randomly checking ID's of kids hanging out outside the venue for warrants. To the kid at the party that stole HHLL merch guy Erol's Wendys. To my stomach for rejecting the keg beer and vomiting on the grass outside of our van.

Metairie, Louisiana

Thumbs up: To Sonic for offering tater tots instead of fries and having real strawberries in their strawberry limeade. To the High Ground for being an overall rad DIY venue and also for moving their show area to downstairs to avoid loading up the hellish staircase that leads to the upstairs. To the kid from the opening band that nerded out with me about early 2000's Vagrant Records emo bands like The Get Up Kids and The Anniversary. To the French Quarter of New Orleans and to bar that existed inside of a gift shop, where we had a drink and looked through offensive t-shirts. To the invention of the "hand grenade" girly drink that I'm not man enough for.

Thumbs down: To my right eye for being irritated all day. To Chris from Heavy Heavy Low Low for asking me if I had pink eye. To the High Ground's lack of toilet paper and generally disgusting bathroom. To HORSE the band for staying in a four star hotel while we stayed in a Motel 6 because we forgot to ask around for a place to stay after the show. To Erik from HORSE for saying "Motel 6? It's that a ONE star hotel?..." To the National Guard for trolling the streets of New Orleans and informing us, gun in hand, about their 2 AM curfew.

Anniston, Alabama

Thumbs up: To the best Pizza Hut buffet that has ever and will ever exist. To Maps and Atlases for making the You and Me and the Mountain EP. To the kids who drove from Birmingham, Alabama to see us. To Model City Records for putting little pieces of irregularly shaped foam on the walls sporadically in an adorable effort to make the room acoustically more sound (it's the thought that counts). To HORSE for making us watch Xavier: Renegade Angel. To Griffin for letting Danny from HHLL borrow his guitar and forgetting to put it in drop D first. To the first set we've played on this tour that felt like a party.

Thumbs down: To the thousands of bugs that died by way of our van's grill driving through the swampy paths that lead out of New Orleans. To Heavy Heavy Low Low's trailer for blowing an axle. To HORSE the band for eating at a nice seafood restaurant while we held ourselves over with Doritos before we could eat at Taco Bell after the show. To somebody being drunk and urinating in the middle of HORSE's mosh pit (subsequent semi-ironic thumbs up to the kids who said "fuck it" and ninja-danced in the urine to the breakdown in "Cutsman" anyway). To the girl who was vomiting in a bag in the greenroom when we were leaving.

We're in Athens right now playing our only show this month that isn't with our two heavy handed friends. Tonight we're at the Go Bar with free-jazz obsessed pop band Mouser and some touring bands that nobody has told us who they are. Thumbs up to Luke Shark for letting us into his home at 5:15 in the morning.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Now with footnotes!

I'm backstage at the Marquee in Tulsa, OK while HORSE the band plays their set. This means that I'm about 8 feet away from the metal-est Nintendo band (or Nintendo-est metal band) in the universe. They're playing, i'm backstage writing on our blog and drinking Coors with 3.2% alcohol in it. How lame is that?*

The 4 hour drive from Dallas today was about as painless as it gets. Before the tour we downloaded the "200 best songs of the 1960's" according to Pitchfork Media.** We listened to 1-50. Realizations:

-The Who rule
-"Tomorrow Never Knows" by The Beatles is the best recording of all time.
-Records sounded better 40 years ago.
-"I Want You Back" by The Jackson Five is also the best recording of all time.***
-James fucking Brown.
-I want to listen to "Pet Sounds" really badly

Griffin's old childhood friend Chuck lodged us last evening (is that proper terminology?) and made us homemade pizza. The crust didn't involve sugar, which is fascinating. Apparently it's more "Italian" that way. We hung out and listened to "Judy Blue Eyes" by Crosby Stills and Nash more times than I can count. So good.

Tonight in Tulsa, I could totally tell which kids were here to see us. This is actually a common phenomenon on this tour. Kid with the Devil Wears Prada shirt and headband? Here for HORSE and Heavy Heavy Low Low. Guy with gigantic Dan Deacon glasses and a jew-fro, here for us.

Chad Matheny (aka. Emperor X [aka. complete genius]) caught me on Gmail chat today and sent me a link to a pulsar recording of the big bang. I don't even know what that means, but after HORSE plays "Cutsman" and this crazy mess chills out, i will. Oh yes, I will.


**out of fear of appearing "lame", i feel obligated to mention that I downloaded this folder after randomly finding it in somebody's Soulseek folder. Saying that I didn't compile the tracks myself or search it out myself seems necessary to me for some reason, I guess as to not appear like a Pitchfork fetishist. However, I do respect the individual that did assemble these tracks, and the Pitchfork writers to compiled the list. They all made our day better.

***calling this a realization of the day is unfair. This is something that has been fact for quite some time.


One of the first times we played with HORSE the band, inbetween songs, their frontman Nathan said "are there any Native Americans here? You guys have some pretty sweet pottery."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

We've fashioned moon boots now.

I woke up this morning with a bad case of what we call "rock neck": neck pain caused by non-ideal sleeping situations and physial stress from strapping on a guitar daily. I can roll my shoulders and the sound of my sore muscles rubbing against each other is loud enough to create an echo if I were to be in a large, cavernous room or an actual cavern. It's offical, we're on tour.

Two mornings ago we drove to Atkins, AR to play at this warehouse-ish venue called the Godbey. When we arrived I asked where the bathroom was and the promoter pointed to this door at the top of an out-of-place looking staircase. I hiked up the stairs and the door, expecting to walk into a bathroom. Instead I entered a really nice apartment with a kitchen and a bathroom. Played a show, made some spaghetti and drove all night to the house of our pals Toto (from The Octopus Project) and Brandi.

On the drive to Atkins, we were listening to the new Target Market album, which I finished recording in our basement mere hours before we left for tour. TM used to be an angular-ish spazz-ish dance-ish band not unlike us until they got obsessed with Pavement a few years ago. We were driving and listening to this record while we passed a sign that said "New Pavement". Maybe you had to be there, but we got a hearty chuckle out of it.

Arrived at Toto/Brandi's at 9:45 AM after our GPS got us lost and angry (please reference sentences 5-7 of the third paragraph of this). Slept, made some grilled cheese and tomato soup and fruit bowls, drove to San Antonio. Accidentally drove to the promoter's house instead of the venue, then hastily figured it out. Played show, drove back to Austin and Toto/Brandi's, drank Lone Star. Lone Star is Texan for "Budweiser".

San Antonio was significant for us for a few reasons. It was our first of 30 or so shows with our buddies HORSE the band and Heavy Heavy Low Low. The other thing that makes San Antonio somewhat important is that, last time we went out with these bands, our show in San Antonio was the first one where we felt like we had done well with the crowd.

Last night's show in San Antonio was one of the rare-ish shows on this tour where we had a significant part of the draw. We made a lot of friends last time and we got to experience that sheer excitement of watching people you've never seen before sing along to our songs. Today is Dallas, where our show on this same bill last year was one of the coldest responses we received. I feel like, if we can win them over this time, we'll be on top of the opening-band world.

It's hard to be the weirdo indie rock band on the hardcore tour, but I think we've got our heads on straight about it this time. Last time, our sets were as much (if not more) about heckling as playing music. For fear of sounding like a hippie, we put out some bad vibes and got worse ones back. I can already tell this one is going to be different. Things are gonna change, I can feel it.

Oh, and we got added to two shows with this band. Booyah acheived.