Death Drive US Tour Recap
I have been touring the world doing music for over a decade, but usually I limit my touring to the west coast and Europe; where my music is best received. This tour was very different from past tours and much more inspiring on every level. Over the years I have experimented with various approaches, sometimes rocking a live band, sometimes rocking a laptop or samplers, or a combination of all of the above, however this is the first tour I’ve done with a DJ. DJ Pain 1 produced all the music on Death Drive and I was shocked at what an incredible live DJ he was. This combination made for some of the best shows I have ever played. With this recent project, “Death Drive” I feel that I’ve finally learned how to make music that effective communicates and rocks the crowd. This is the first time I’ve toured on a new record, played ALL new material and had a solid bloc of people at every show that knew all the words. The tour was amazing all around but here are some highlights:
Touring with Ceschi. We played about 1/3 of our shows with Ceschi. Ceschi is one of my best friends in the music game and upon his release from prison his live performances have been fucking CRAZY. His new music sounds rare and energized and his performances are captivating as fuck. I’ve said it a million times because it’s the truth, when I was down and out and felt like my career was over; fake four had my back, they picked me up from the mud, welcomed me into their family and helped me re-launch my career. So much love to Ceschi and Fake Four! Check out his recent digital 45; this song “Inside” is some of the best music I’ve heard from him.
9-11 in Chicago. When I found out we were playing 9-11 in Chicago I was psyched. On my way to the show I noticed a flier that said there would be live graffiti at the show. I got a sinking feeling, on the day after the US announces to declare war on Iraq again the idea that graffiti writers would be spray painting their names on canvasses at my show didn’t feel right. So I hit up a comrade of mine, Rachael, aka Plussone and asked if there was a way we could use the event to raise awareness and funds for the Nato 3(3 folks who were hemmed up with terrorism charges and prison time for some Molotov F.B.I. entrapment bullshit). We decided to ask the graffiti writers to make 9-11 themed art that we’d raffle off at the end of the show to raise funds. The graffiti writers were down, so we were stoked. Before I got on stage I checked on the progress and it was canvasses with 9-11 written with American flags and the phrase “never forget” written under it. I started freaking out, I didn’t know what to do, “ I was like WTF dude?” the graf writer essentially responded with “I love this country and I support Obama attacking ISIS…” at that moment I said, “Fuck it, we don’t share the same worldview, I can not raffle this stuff.” So apologies to the Nato 3 and no disrespect to the artist that made an attempt to help raise funds, next time I’ll be clearer with what kind of message we want when we collaborate on art projects. Nonetheless it’s a pretty funny story.
I've been reading about Detroit for years and I didn't know what to expect when we went there. We ended up staying with some friends; here is a photo of a squatted community garden in their neighborhood. The arches to the garden are constructed from a telephone pole that had fallen to the ground. The garden feeds the community and is open to everyone who needs food. I was amazed at how much Detroit reminded me of Greece, but greener. Everywhere I looked I saw wildlife reclaiming the collapsed city, literally through the cracks of capitalism. It was pretty beautiful from that perspective, it reminded me of the kind of city I would want to live in. Something like Chernobyl minus the nukes. Maybe eventually all of the US will look like this. Unfortunately this beauty and the spirit of mutual aid and empowerment comes at a heavy toll to poor people who are being gentrified out of their neighborhoods and so many without water. I heard a story from a friend seeing an elderly couple pushing a shopping cart full of water containers down the street and watching them hit a hole in the road as they struggled to get the water back into the carts (of course he helped them). This shit is real and I was a visitor there, getting a second hand account of how this economic collapse is fucking with peoples lives and creating new opportunities and new ways of life. I don’t want to romanticize what I saw there but I was certainly inspired. It reminded me very much of my trip to Athens last year, minus the golden dawn fascists.
NY: New York is typically not one of my favorite places to play, although I have fun hanging out in Williamsburg and eating and seeing friends. This time in NY felt much different. We played at Grasslands, which is a really great venue down by the waterfront. We were joined by Pictureplane, Swagtoof and Ceschi. Pictureplane is one of my all time favorite artists/human beings/ producers. This show had a rare energy in the air, crowd was amped up and engaged and we had a fucking blast. It was especially great to get to meet up with Jeremy Scahill at the show, who we got to hang out with and talk some shit. One of my favorite things about being a musician engaged in social struggles is getting to meet up with people who influence/inform your work, Scahill’s tireless journalism on the war on terror have blown open everything from Blackwater to JSCOC, if you are unfamiliar with his work check out his new film/book “Dirty Wars.” The next day we went to this BBQ hosted by Big Noise Films, hung out, had some awesome food and did an impromptu performance for folks in attendance. Being an avid Democracynow listener for 20 years or so it was absolutely a highlight of the tour to get to chill with a community of radical journalists that take such huge risks to get the truth out.
Speaker For The Dead: I’ve been hearing legends of their live performance for a long time but didn’t know what it would be like live. I was introduced to their music by one of my favorite poets, Brando Chemtrails, and got really sucked into their song writing. The live performance was supposed to be their last in Boston, featured a 20+ person band of strings and horns, crazy crowd engagement and energy… I felt like I was swept up in a tsunami watching them… check out their music here.
Mike Eagle: holy shit I love mike eagle’s music. Originally I had hoped we’d do the full tour with him but because we ended up splitting so much of it up regionally it didn’t work out. It was dope rocking out with him, his live performance has evolved a lot over the years; his new performance with midi is some one of a kind shit.
Oakland: The show in Oakland was a very intimate affair, but the energy was great and it was amazing to see so many friends. Its always weird to return to this city that I have such a rich memory of and having it be almost unrecognizable. Rapid gentrification is happening everywhere, but seeing what I remember to be the most desolate parts of Oakland being reclaimed by hipster barber shops and wine bars is bizarre. Had a blast hanging out with Iraq Veterans Against the War member Scott Olsen and talking about his future plans. Another highlight was to meet up with my homey Ergoat, who penned an article about Occupy that inspired the song "Hey Liberals." Read this informative essay here.
Riot Fest. I’ve never played a festival gig in the US, or if I did it was so shitty that I blocked it from memory. Either way, Riot fest was an amazing experience. I was honestly shocked that anyone that paid over a $100 for a ticket anywhere would be interested in checking us out but we were surprised to play for a huge energetic crowd and many folks knew all the words. Beyond that riot fest was the perfect way to end the tour, typical Colorado style; smoking weed in the grass with my girl while loud music blasts in the background.
Big shout out to everyone who came out and rocked with us! We'll be heading off to tour in Europe in a few weeks, here are the dates:
10/9 Clermont Frd (FR) – Raymond Bar
10/10 Montpellier (FR) – Blacksheep
10/11 Toulouse (FR) – Métronum
10/14 Thionville (FR) - Nimby
10/15 Beauvais (FR) – L’Ouvre Boîte
10/16 Nantes (FR) - Pôle Etudiant
10/17 Marseille (FR) – Le Poste à Galène
10/18 La Rochelle (FR) – L’Alibi
10/21 Paris (FR) – Petit Bain
10/23 Périgueux (FR) – Sans Réserve
10/24 Biarritz (FR) – L’Atabal
10/25 Limoges (FR) – Zic à Zinc
10/28 Lyon (FR) - Le Périscope
10/29 Dijon (FR) – La Vapeur
10/30 Vendôme (FR) – Festival Rockomotives
10/31 Strasbourg (FR) – La Laiterie
11/01 Montreuil (FR) – La Pêche
11/03 : Dortmund (DE) - Rekorder
11/04 : Itzehoe (DE) - Atzehoe
11/06 Hamburg (DE) – Hafenklang
11/07 Postdam (DE) - Klub Spartakus
11/08 Chemnitz (DE) – Pyro Catharsis
11/09 : Praha (CZ) - Cross Club
11/10 : Krakow (PL) - Klub RE
11/11 Leipzig (DE) - Zoro
11/13 Genève (CH) – L’Usine
11/14 Zürich (CH) – Rote Fabrik
11/15 Bern (CH) – Dachstock