Part of the Machine

  • November 10, 2014
  • /   Rob
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A swerve, a thump, and an eruption of shocked cursing.  Tour manager and now thrice-tested crisis driver David Melerine regains control of the sprinter and, after a few frantic seconds of debate as to the status of our vehicle, turns on the hazard lights and eases onto the southbound shoulder of Interstate 65.  From the very back, where I am lying down, it sounds and feels like yet another violently blown tire.   It is worse.  We hit a deer.

Our vehicle looks like it took a shotgun blast to the face.  The hood is fractured.  The headlights are walleyed.  Lifeblood is gushing from severed hoses.  This is a problem.
We call everyone. Triple-A, Progressive, management, Indiana state police, girlfriends, Dave's dad... Everyone. We figure out the first few steps of a plan. We'll figure out the next few as the night progresses. For now, we are waiting. Waiting on a tow truck to take our devastated chariot to a service center in Indianapolis (very few places will actually work on Sprinters). Waiting on Dave's anointed father to drive from not-so-nearby Hamilton, OH to hitch up our trailer and bring it to the show in Cincinnati. Waiting for a cab to come and ferry us in shifts from the site of the accident to the Holiday Inn Express in Rensselaer, IN, which was the closest hotel we could find. Rensselaer has no cabs of its own, so we'll have to wait forty-five-minutes for one to arrive from Lafayette, IN. Home of the Purdue Boilermakers.
I am in the first cab ride, along with Zack, George, Ed, Andrew, and most of the bags. We check in and find the elevator. With five of us, and everyone's bags, it's a tight squeeze. Fortunately it's a short ride. As the doors close, Zack deadpans, "I hope this elevator doesn't hit a deer.”
Hello, friends! Rob here.
Ahhh, it's nice to be back on tour. We're coming off of what feels like a lot of time at home, although perhaps deceptively so. We've had a few days off, we spent a week in New Orleans in the studio, and we capped off our pre-halloween bus(!) run with back-to-back shows at home, but we've really been in and out of town a fair amount even though the last time we were gone for more than a week was back in early September.
Halloween was fun. As I mentioned (and as I'm sure you already know), we were on a bus for that run. It wasn't necessarily meant to be us "taking the next step” so much as it was the only practical way for us to play a show in Austin on Halloween night and then play Tipitina's in New Orleans the following evening*.
Basically, everything was great. We played shows with The London Souls and Naughty Professor, both of whom are favorites of ours that I'm sure I've mentioned in previous entries on account of their, um, favoriteness. After months of heated debate, during which we settled upon other bands not once but twice, we kind of magically realized that this year's Halloween "musical costume” (a term I learned from my friend Brian) just hadto be The Who. The material came together for us more easily than I would have expected, and it was cool to get to do the set in both Austin and New Orleans. Also, I'm really glad we've decided to keep playing some of these songs. Hearing the crowd at Voodoo sing along to "Baba O'Riley” (which is actually my favorite song, period) was a huge personal highlight.
Which brings us to the present. After a strong start, our tour hit a large, hooved speedbump. We managed to stitch a pretty complicated contingency plan together in order to keep our schedule intact. It's been a long day already, and I'm getting tired just thinking of all of the intermediary steps, but the silver lining to all of this hassle and all of those tragically orphaned fawns is that we'll now (once again out of necessity) be finishing this tour in style. Bus style. Coming to a theater near you. Or perhaps more of a standing-room-only club-type venue. Sometimes a smaller, intimate, in-your-face sort of dive. Occasionally a barbecue restaurant.
The point is, we're going to keep going places and rocking faces. The end.
*: It is worth noting that we have, in fact, made crazy sleepless overnight drives before big shows in the past, but hey, we're not getting any younger. It is also worth noting, with a big tip of the hat, that our friends Naughty Professor, who are still young and spry, opened the Halloween show in Austin, drove overnight immediately afterward, played a daytime set at Voodoo Fest, and then came over to Tipitina's to open the show that night. Respect.