...And the Road Goes on Forever
- December 19, 2017
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Hello, friends! Rob here.
What feels like
twelve lifetimes ago, we were in a studio in New Orleans called The
Music Shed, working on Vital Signs.
We were pretty inexperienced in the studio at that point, and after
a week or so we'd already come down with a bit of cabin fever. There
was an issue of Rolling Stone in the control
room that we'd all taken turns thumbing through. The cover story was
a sprawling retrospective on The Beatles (a bit of digging suggests
September 2009), and at one point Zack opened it to a full-page photo
of Ringo Starr and walked up to me (I'm honestly not sure if it was
me, but I'm going to say it was me so I don't have to use a bunch of
weird pronouns just to get through this dumb anecdote) with an
intense look on his face, and just, like, showed me that picture of Ringo. Really put some Ringo into my eyeballs. (Starrs in my eyes?)
He had Ringoed me.
From there, Ringoing quickly evolved into a series of elaborate traps and escalating reprisals which would continue far beyond the remainder of the recording session. It was sort of like getting iced, but there was no real punishment- other than knowing you'd been Ringoed, which stung like hell. Our producer and engineer, the immeasurably awesome Chris Finney (whose name you may recognize from the liner notes of pretty much everything we've ever done), was all about Ringoing, and by the end of that week, we had transformed his studio into a veritable Ringo minefield. Getting a drink from the break room fridge? Ringo on the inside of the refrigerator door. Left your laptop open in the control room when you went to the bathroom? Enjoy your new Ringo screen saver. At one point, Finney told me to close my eyes and then played a dissonant chord on a keyboard and claimed to have Ringoed me psychosonically with the power of suggestion. (I'm ashamed to admit that it worked- probably for the same reason that saying "don't think about a banana" makes you think about a banana.) The battle rages on to this very day. After a show at the Grammy Museum this past June, we used band money to purchase a tote bag bearing Ringo's gorgeous visage from their gift shop and shipped it to Finney.
A few nights ago, after the final, glorious show of a huge, glorious tour, I took a moment to greet a few diligent fans who had been waiting outside by our bus. One of them, a Tulane student in a big fur coat, had her phone in her hand. I assumed she was going to ask for a selfie, but then I saw what was on the screen. It was Ringo. I had been Ringoed. You win this round, Finney-sama.
DISCLAIMER: Under no circumstances should you take this tradition as a knock against Ringo Starr, who is an excellent and criminally underrated drummer and by all accounts a wonderful human as well. Ringo kicks ass. The only reason Ringoing is a thing is because it's a thing. STUFF DOESN'T ALWAYS HAVE TO MEAN THINGS
Day 20. 3:33 AM Eastern Standard Time. I'm not sure when I'll actually post this, but I'm doing the majority of the writing in my bunk on the bus ride home from tour. Bus tour is cool because you get to just time-warp to the next place. I'm going to fall asleep on a futon mattress as it trembles and sways with the motions of the bus, and when I wake up I'll be in New Orleans. I just set my watch back to Central time in anticipation. Oh joy, oh rapture unforseen.
I love when I'm surfing the 'net and visiting all of my favorite websites and absorbing tons of content, and then all of a sudden there's a pop-up that's like, "subscribe to our newsletter or whatever!” and I can either click on "Yes” or "No,” but then the yes/no buttons are "YES! I- like most cool, successful people- choose to get THE HOTTEST CONTENT delivered straight to my Geocities inbox!” and "no thank you; I am a dumb gross idiot for passing up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy free content." Like I'm the asshole for not wanting to receive fortnightly* emails from a website that I already check twelve times a day. Anyway, click the "NEWSLETTER” button in the upper right-hand corner of this webpage screen to sign up for our newsletter. You probably won't regret it.
*: After seconds of exhaustive research, I have arrived at the conclusion that "bi-weekly” is ambiguous, as it may refer to something which occurs once every two weeks, or something which occurs twice every week. I have therefore chosen to follow the example of our friends in Australia and New Zealand and employ the less equivocal (and frankly much more elegant) "fortnightly.” Let's keep "fortnight” in the vernacular, people. Would that I could stand athwart "fortnight”'s inevitable fall into desuetude.
The friend whose album I'm plugging today is Natalie Mae, with her hot-off-the-press release, Run To You. Natalie is an old friend of the Revivalists, going back to her days with a raucous folk-rock group from the old scene called The Blue Party and a particularly debauched tour we shared with them in 2010. She's also birthday twins with our own Zack Feinberg! Natalie's solo work is more characteristic of her folk roots, with heart-lain-bare songwriting and front-porch instrumentation. I'm going to hell for picking the instrumental track on an album full of stories, but I can't help it- this one just levels me:
People always ask questions like "how long is your tour?” and they're always impossible to answer, because, in a sense, we've kind of been "on tour" since like 2011. We have time off, and time on, but it still feels more like a continuum to me than a lot of definite start/stops. Everything is a part of everything else, maaaaan. Embrace the harmony. I feel like it's standard practice for me to recap a bunch of shows individually, or at least mention every city by name and say something nice about all of them. And I could totally do that, but part of what really struck me about this tour-segment is the degree of consistency from night to night.
That's mostly thanks to our crew, who really stepped up and took the time to get everything down to a science. (Didn't I mention something about a "tech day” a few weeks ago?) But it also comes down to the rooms we're playing and the people who keep showing up and filling those rooms and being fun as heck. So what's interesting for me about the past three weeks is that I can't really point to any one show and say "that was the standout,” or "this one was a little rough.” Obviously, I'm going to be biased towards the Tulsa show, because we finally got back to my hometown, and how could I not favor a show that was essentially my thirteen-and-a-quarter-year high school reunion over the rest of them? But was it actually a better show than, say, the second night at the Belly Up in Aspen? Or the Saenger in Mobile? Were we tighter in Knoxville? Was the crowd more exuberant in St. Louis? Was the backstage hummus richer in texture and more savory in Lafayette? I can't say. This tour was always loud, it was always smooth, and it was always sweaty as hell. I've always said sweaty shows are the best shows, and by that metric, this was the best tour.
At least, until the next one. Which is also still this one. See you in a little under a fortnight.