The night that lasted 6 days and Bud Lite Lime in bed
This one is a doozy. It was a series of so many unfortunate events.
Stereos was finishing up a 2 week run of festival shows, and everyone was anxious to get home. Oh so anxious. Well, we had one more show in northern Manitoba to get through and we were home free. I had driven all night to make our 8am load in, and due to exhaustion I thought for sure I was dreaming when I saw the entrance to the town that was a bridge I could only explain as being built 100 years ago by cavemen. If we plummet to our deaths after falling through this rickety bridge one could only hope we'd at least make the local news.
Our tour manager had left a day or two before for a wedding or some other completely true "reason". So, DJ has to step up to the plate and take over. First task, settling the show. I follow one the of the ladies in production into a private room to go over the contract and get our cheque etc. She has a big brown shipping envelope that looked like it had a bowling ball in it. We go over the finer details and the remainder of our guarantee is $15,000. The lady says "no problem here it is" and heaves the bowling ball envelope to me. It was $15,000 in 5s, 10s, and a few 20s. This HAS to be a joke/dream/nightmare. Their math checks out and now I have a whole bunch of cash to protect and hide from the jackals/band members I share a van with.
We play the show and if the money settlement wasn't a sign that shit is about to get weird, then our sound guy getting into a near fist fight with the headlining band's sound guy should have tipped me off. Nope, still didn't register. Our two crew guys stay at the arena to sell merch and myself and the band went to the hotel to get cleaned up etc. We're at the hotel for less than 15 min when I get a panicked and on the verge of freaking out phone call from our merch guy. "Dude! Come get us NOW! It's getting really bad and we need to get out of here". I can usually tell when people are overreacting to a situation that doesn't require it, and this situation I deduced needed some serious urgency. I round up the degenerates/band members and run all the red lights back to the arena. As I'm calling our merch guy and getting no answer, I see a side service door bust open and out comes our merch guy and sound guy sprinting with boxes of merch under their arms, screaming "GOOOO LETS GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!!!!" About 30 yards behind them is a group of people chasing them. As if this day/night wasn't weird enough. We toss the boxes in our trailer and peel out of there, leaving a group of 50+ rabid fans/promoter/who knows screaming and still chasing after us.
After everyone has calmed down and we are cruising down the highway, it turns out there were some discrepancies in the merch count out with the arena staff, some egos were bruised, and essentially people started rioting in and around our merch table, the mob mentality was off the charts and the target was our two crew guys. In light of this fiasco we decide instead of staying the night in this town we'll just get the hell outta there (most likely the staff knew which hotel we were at and would've conducted a full blown witch hunt for us).
Now, we had to make it to Winnipeg by 5 am because Pat was flying to New York to work on our next album, our sound guy George was flying to Europe to start a different tour, and Robb was flying to La to meet up with his then wife. Awesome. Welcome to playing in a band, where driving all day and night is the price you pay to be on stage for 30 minutes of glory.
About an hour and a half outside of Winnipeg, at around 3am I hear the unmistakeable sound that no one in a hurry wants to hear: flat trailer tire. Our trailer was a tandem axel, so we could still drive (slowly) but the flat tire had somehow caught the fender and wrapped it around the axel like spaghetti around a fork. This is not good. My clutch genius plan? Leave the trailer somewhere close, take the flat tire/rim and get to Winnipeg to make the flights, get a new tire, and return to the trailer and haul ass home.
I find a weird little camping site, truck stop town thing, and ask the gas station manager if I can leave the trailer behind the station and come pick it up in a few hours. "sure man no problem, park it over there". Great. This is great, my flawless plan is coming together.
Off we go trailerless to Winnipeg. Made it there in record time and drop off the guys who were (smart) flying. At this point I have slept less than an hour since the previous morning. Around noon the trailer tire is repaired and now we have to go BACK in the opposite direction, away from home, to pick up the trailer.
Pulling into the gas station lot I am extremely confused when I don't see the trailer. My confusion quickly turns to anger when I question the same attendant as to the whereabouts of our vanished trailer, yknow the one that he confirmed was ok to park there. I get an infuriating reply "I dunno" complete with the open palm shoulder shrug. As I'm walking out the door he offers up this suggestion: "maybe check with the police station, MAYBE they came and got it". Something tells me he knows that's where the trailer is. Anger level 7/10.
I find the police station in this town that is masquerading as a campsite and lo and behold, I find the trailer parked in front. I walk over and to my horror I see that they not only cut the locks off, they actually sawed off the entire back door locking system, the levers, bars, etc. My anger is climbing to a 9/10. I furiously enter the station demanding answers. The lady cop at the front "desk" continues to ask me to calm down. She then explains that they had to follow protocol and break into the trailer to make sure there were no BOMBS inside. I am then presented with a ticket for illegally parking the trailer. I am then presented with a bill for the tow. 10/10 anger. Shouting and cursing follows. I am escorted out of the station and threatened with a "disobeying a police officer" ticket.
I somehow calm myself down and get us back on the road. Someone else takes the wheel and I am finally able to snooze for a bit. I felt as though I blinked my eyes and already I'm being shooken awake. We are now crossing the border into the US and we are going into the search bay. We are ordered to get out and wait "over there". They begin the search of the van and trailer, pulling everything apart and leaving a mess like they are apparently taught to do. Do they literally choose the most unstable candidates for this job? Do they check off a box on the application that says "completely removed from reality with a crippling case of little man syndrome"??? One officer comes over with the bowling ball of money envelope and our cash box, "Care to explain this?". I had totally forgotten we had so much cash on hand and started silently cursing our tour manager's existence. I get escorted into a private room with two border patrol dudes and have to count this money out (again). But this time there was previous show money and merch money as well. We had over $35,000 in cash, I'm sure you can imagine how long that took to count out by hand....
I got a couple bench naps in between driving shifts and was slowly becoming human again. Around 8pm on a Friday it's my turn to drive, we are somewhere in Michigan between Flint and Lansing and I will be damned if I don't hammer down and get this circus home to Toronto tonight. It was then that I saw in my rear view mirror our trailer was consistently bouncing unusually high and weird on one side. I pull over to a gas station to see what's up. This cannot be happening. We have now blown ANOTHER trailer tire. I ask the very rude gas station attendant lady if there is a shop nearby, she replies "yes.....but" and informs me that it's a long weekend, and nothing will be open til TUESDAY. This is the side of touring you don't see, the seedy, depressing, gruelling underbelly that has claimed the future of so many great bands that never were. I refuse to be one of those bands and look at my options:
1. Leave the trailer and drive everyone home, come back with a wheel and fetch the trailer.
2. Wait out the long weekend, get the tire fixed and cruise home.
3. Give up on life and settle down in this town that consists of an adult bookstore, Taco Bell, gas station, and motel. Accept my fate that my home in Toronto doesn't exist anymore seeing that the universe is so obviously telling me I'm doing something wrong in my life.
I vote for an amended version of #2. I book the 4 of us into one room at the tiny motel, I'm frugal (cheap) so let's just say I was a real gem to tour with back then. I go to the gas station and purchase an undisclosed amount of Bud Lite Lime 24oz cans to smooth over any feelings of anger/depression/helplessness and carry me over into the glorious land where nothing matters and I start texting ex girlfriends. Cue the scene where I'm laying in bed, pouring the beer into my mouth. Just when you think you couldn't go any lower, trust me, you can.
Night 4,5, and 6
These days and nights became somewhat of a blur for obvious reasons but there was a few moments that stood out. First, there was the mutiny. A whisper had began among the men they were to leave their fearless leader (me) behind, drive home, and send someone from management to rescue me. I am mildly shocked by this but let's be honest it wasn't the first time. Then there was the night I went to Taco Bell twice. There was about an hour and a half in between visits so relax, I'm not a complete loser. And last but not least there was the night I got blindingly wasted and called everyone i knew to let them know how much I loved them. If you know me at all you how I get when I'm swimming in liquor.
Tuesday morning our tire is replaced and we are driving no slower than 140 km/hr to get home. We finally arrive at our destination and I canonball into my bed, foolishly wishing I will wake up the next morning and realize the whole ridiculous ordeal was just a bad dream.