Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Polar Bear Club Fall 2013

Updates have been slow once again but I'm happy to announce I'll be dusting off my colostomy and sleeping bag and heading back out with Polar Bear Club for their headlining Fall tour beginning in November. Super stoked and ready to see new and old friends. Dates are as follows. Of course, I'll also be at Fest 12 with my best buds in Broadway Calls. Looking forward to start doing interviews and starting up a podcast as well. Next few months are going to be super fun and super taxing on the bank account. Get old, get poor. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Warped Tour 2009 Or How I Complained About The Time We Toured On A Bus

You just have to trust me on this one – Warped Tour used to be cool. I once got to see Hot Water Music, Rancid, and Rocket from the Crypt all because of Warped. But I also need a leap of faith on the next statement: Warped Tour is still cool. Well, depending on which year you ask me about. I accompanied Polar Bear Club for two separate summers on Warped; the first was in 2009 and the last was in 2012. Last summer I had the best times of my life. In 2009, not only did I almost lose my penis permanently, but I also misplaced half of my sanity. This entry is about the summer four years ago in which I was driven to the brink of homicide and looked the possibility of hard time in the face and said “I need a nap.” All because of one man. No, not PBC’s Chris Browne. He’s not a man.

I’ve told anyone who will ever listen – I shouldn’t have been a tour manager. I was terrible at it. Hell, I was a worse merch guy – I got a 45 in my High School Math class. Touring for me meant drinking. Touring to others meant counting and attention to detail. I can’t even tell you how many sexual partners I have had (of course I can, it’s -2). When drinking and numbers collide, well, it probably means hundreds of Polar Bear Club money unaccounted for. Drunkenly tallying numbers once the show was over was a common occurrence for me. I enjoyed the pre-tour tasks such as advancing and planning, but day to day details escaped me. It’s not my fault, I never asked for a promotion (yes, I did). I was happy drinking behind a table and giving the stink eye to would be consumers all while growing a gorgeous pair of beer tits. Eventually the time came when Polar Bear Club needed someone to handle more of the touring load and Trevor stepped up! The problem was I could handle small van tours. I could process the little things. Problems arose once I stepped out of my comfort zone and onto a fucking tour bus.
In my defense, we went from a small tour that summer with Living with Lions, had one day off, and were thrown to the Warped wolves the following morning. I never really had a chance to breathe. Adding to my overall anxiety was the fact that we ended up at the first orientation extremely late due to a need for California burritos. From Day One, I was behind.

It was previously decided that our Warped Tour primary goal was to lose as much money as possible. To achieve this, PBC decided to rent an entire bus for ourselves. This meant I was the lone captain of a band who had never toured on a bus previously. Touring on a bus instead of a van is a completely different type of monster. With a van, you drive yourselves. On a bus, you hire a complete stranger and trust this glorified methy truck driver to get you where you need to be, on time and alive. Collecting receipts for gas, the rare hotel, and per diems is about as complex as it gets while manning a van. On a bus, shit gets wacky. Not only was I in charge of the receipts, I also needed to be conscious of bus maintenance bills, paying the driver, paying the band and crew, daily bus rental costs and a bunch of other shit I’ve permanently blacked out. If you have a bus driver who is on top of shit, my list of complaints would probably be a breeze. However, being a tall, white, blue eyed male nothing ever comes easy for me. Our bus driver was NOT on top of his shit. Just writing about him now puts the fear of God in me. I hope he’s dead.

His name was Joe. Stepping onto the bus for the first time on our first day I immediately knew that Joe’s best days, if he ever had good days, were long, long gone. At least 170 years old and probably a onetime driver for Jesus Christ, Joe explained that this was his first tour back after a lengthy retirement. Great, ok. But Joe, have you done Warped tour before? “What’s Warped Tour?”
We’re fucked.

On any tour Internet is essential whether you’re in a van or a spaceship. I know bitching about lack of Internet induces endless amounts of eye rolling but when your work station is a mobile home, wi fi is a must have. I was already feeling the pressure of being behind. After introducing myself to Joe, I asked him where the Internet router was housed. Quizzically, Joe pointed to a small black box in the kitchen area. Figuring Joe was the master of his domain, I assumed this man knew what he was talking about. I should have realized this wasn’t the case because the last time Joe had done a tour, Internet didn’t exist. My doubts were confirmed when I followed Joe’s nicotine tarred pointer finger to the black box across the room. Further investigation proved that this was not an Internet router at all, but rather our microwave oven. We’re fucked. A router and the ability to properly jerk off in one’s own bunk would not arrive for another week. Well, sure, Joe was obviously not a tech whiz. Hey, that’s fine. I lack the ability to drive a bus. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. At least this mother fucker can drive, right? Welllllllllllllllllllll…….

Rare was the evening when the entire crew and band weren’t woken up by the terrifying sound of Joe riding the roadside rumble strips. Each night, we wondered who would be the next Cliff Burton. Luckily, I don’t know how to play bass so there was comfort in that. The one evening Joe didn’t almost drive PBC off a ravine, the hilarity still ensued. All of us afraid to sleep, we watched television in the main living room area just behind the driver’s quarters. Our driver began to have a conversation with an electronic device. No, no, no, not with his Tracphone, but with the GPS.  Every time the GPS offered directions, Joe began to discuss life events with the directional machine. Our driver was speaking to our GPS as if the dull and bored female voice were real. My favorite part of dialogue was an exasperated Joe reaching his wit’s end when the GPS refused to answer his questions of “Where are we going?” “How do we get there?” and “Do you like hotdogs?!”
We’re fucked?

While Joe drove through the night and avoided common sense, the rest of us slept. Each day every band was expected to arrive at 6am and begin to load in. Somehow, we were at least one hour late despite rarely taking any sort of break. This meant always showing up to our predetermined stage behind schedule much to the ire of our stage manager. Basically, we looked like jerks for an entire summer. Once we were settled, it was Joe’s responsibility to get to his hotel for much needed rest. Although a grown man, Joe never seemed to be able to find a ride to the pre-paid hotel or have the ability to successfully check in without having me speak to our travel agent or the hotel desk clerk. Already dealing with daily band issues and a dick sore contracted from not showering for fifteen days in a row, Joe’s problems were just too much for me to handle. Eventually, I wouldn’t speak to Joe directly and vice versa. We used a buffer to relay messages back and forth. Not my proudest moment, no. Rumblings within our camp began to surface questioning whether Joe was the man for the job. Should we fire him? No, not yet. Joe was a black man and I once saw a “Coexist” bumper sticker. On to Toronto.

It’s common knowledge that unless you have an international data plan, you shut your fucking phone off once in Canada in order to avoid astronomical roaming charges. Once we were over the border, I assumed that the same would go for the router that had once been falsely accused of being a microwave. You see, the router ran on a 3G type data plan, the same as our mobiles. Being the smart guy I am, I unplugged the entire box and hid it from the band members and our merch guy Bobby. We were blowing money already and this wasn’t another expense we could take on. The only person I told of the router’s location was Joe so he wouldn’t think it was stolen. During this conversation, Joe assured me that we had paid for international Internet. Joe insisted we plug the router back in and enjoy the good life. And that’s what I did. I jerked off in the bathroom. I cranked one out in Emmett’s bunk out of spite and I loved myself selfishly in the back lounge room – all to internet porno. Hell, I even downloaded a Frank Turner record (since deleted). All of this eventually added up to around $3,000 of international roaming. Easily the most expensive jizz ever, I tried to explain my actions to PBC’s manager at the time.

Me: “But Joe said it was cool! Make Joe pay it!”
PBC manager: “Joe, explain yourself!”
Joe: “What’s the Internet?”

Of course, the Internet wasn’t the only Canadian pain in the ass. After the Warped set in Canada, PBC agreed to play a smaller, more intimate show at the Bovine Sex Club. The promoter shuttled us from the bus and to the venue in his own car while we left the bus at the Warped tour fairgrounds. The plan was to have Joe pick us up in the bus after the Bovine show. Easy enough for a professional driver, right? Fuck no. The buzz of playing a successful show was soon dampened by sitting outside on the streets with our equipment anxiously waiting for our chariot to arrive. The calls I made to Joe’s phone went unanswered as the hours ticked by thus guaranteeing another late load in the following day. When our bus eventually did pull up, all Joe could say behind his veil of tears was, “I lost my phone!”
Go fuck yourself, Joe.

We had had enough of this. It was time for Polar Bear Club and Joe to part ways. This was a culmination of the Canadian missteps and Joe’s feeble attempt to get the band to sign a contract promising not to smoke pot on the bus. While no one in PBC does drugs, I do. I don’t smoke pot but to be given this ultimatum from a man who once claimed to drive Rick James was violating my human rights as a bag of booze. The problem was that we were more than halfway done with the tour. We made attempts to terminate Joe through the bus rental agency, but unfortunately a replacement was never found. We would have to stick it out with the devil.
The day after the Toronto show, Joe died.

Ok, that’s not true but in my heart Joe would only live on as a nightmare that flares up like a rash on my inner thighs. The last day of Warped tour, we stuffed Joe’s metaphorical corpse into a cab and said goodbye. And by goodbye, I mean fuck you. We drove back to Rochester in a van and never looked back.

Like any tour, that summer had highlights and lowlights. If you recall I said earlier that Warped Tour was cool and I certainly meant it. Free beer, good friends, and if you looked hard enough, a couple good bands such as the Bouncing Souls and the Flatliners. I vowed never to do another bus tour and told myself that I would never do Warped Tour again. Like the cigarettes that I can never truly quit, of course I came back in 2012. However, the frustrations of a new bus driver and the most slovenly band to share a space with are for another day for I need to check my email on the microwave. Till we talk to again, fuck you, Joe. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Can't Stop Using Passive Voice

I wasn’t always this cool and by cool, I mean this fat. No wait, I meant cool. Looking back, I didn’t really tour for that long with Polar Bear Club – only about four years or so. Along the way, I had the greatest time of my life and met the best people possible. But before all this there was a different Trevor. A Trevor in high school. Still tall, 1000 times ganglier, and 300 times more sexless. Before I caught the punk flu, I played sports. Fuck what you heard. Sports and the friends I met on my teams saved me from some dark days. I regret nothing and don’t care what you think about me. You idiots love The Smiths, well, I love basketball. Did then and I still do now. The following tale predates Polar Bear Club. This story predates most of you. This is the true account of the time in high school when I met a centaur face to face and lived. The names of my high school bros have been changed to spare them the wrath of the horse beast.

I didn’t start drinking until late in high school. In fact, I resented my friends who did consume alcohol and felt it was an attention grab on their part. But then I noticed they were hanging out with girls and I threw out my ideals and traded them in for Milwaukee’s Best.  I can’t pinpoint the night I started listening to good music but before I did, most weeknights were spent listening to early REM, SpinArt records, and probably some Yo La Tengo. What I can tell you is the night my pals and I took a trip to a local abandoned house and stared fate in the eyes, I was sober as fuck.  And a virgin until my 20’s, by the way.

This was the 90’s, kids, and yes I’m aware how old I am. A time where the CD was more than just an instrument to snort cocaine off of. Cell phones didn’t exist in my world and Victory Records still put out good bands. The Offspring, Green Day, and Rancid were beginning to take over a new kind of radio called modern rock. My drug dealer friends had pagers and I still had a hairline that would make current era Skiba weep tears of goth blood. Just like today, my dick was lonely and struggling to attract female attention. Jawbreaker still sucked, so there is comfort in that. One Friday, my group of friends and I, instead of touching boobs, decided to venture outside of our comfort zone and figure out exactly what sort of evil haunted a local abandoned house located on Keck Road.

The story goes that the house, set back in an unkempt forest that resembles Chris Browne’s pubic hair, and down a long crooked dirt path, had been left to its own devices after a family man had gone crazy and murdered his clan – wife and young children included. Think me in ten years but replace the spouse and children with an inflatable river raft and fourteen feral cats all named George Foreman 1- 14. I don’t know exactly if the murder/suicide angle was in fact true, but inside the house laid a graveyard of outdated children’s clothes and toys left to collect dust and freak out white people. I don’t know this for sure because I was never man enough to ever go inside. No, the only manly thing I’ve ever done is watch every episode of Sex and the City. However, my sister spent some time inside and came out alive to describe the contents inside of the abandoned house. Rumor had it that the popular kids often snuck inside at night to drink beers and most likely finger bang bored teenage girls hoping for oh so much more out of life. Desperately copying anything that might have been seen as cool and probably still listening to Naughty By Nature, it was decided between my pimply brah’s and myself to take a trip down hell alley and see for ourselves exactly what was inside.

Getting to the Keck House wasn’t as easy as I’m making it sound. In order to satisfy one’s blood lust, you had to drive past a house that was occupied in order to make it to the death path. It was wise to drive your vehicle as far as one could and once deep inside the marked gates and from there you would exit your safety and walk the rest of the way.  I’m not sure what we would have done once inside. It’s not like we brought flashlights or brought beer since none of us had a fake ID or, well, money.  I can only assume the thought process was to make it as far as possible and pray for naked girls. Or a naked girl ghost. Anything naked, please.

I offered to drive because it wasn’t my car and I had no respect for my parent’s property. I steered the Ford Tempo down the dirty, grassy path and I wish I could say we made it all the way. I wish I could tell you I found a bunch of old Sam Cooke records inside which I would eventually sell for dirt weed. But we never made it to the house. No, the gatekeeper wouldn’t allow such trespass.

Making it as far as the initial entrance, dark as the devil’s dick outside, we crept slowly in the car. We would get no further though because from the right side of the path sprung with such ferocity a half man half horse. Stopping right in front of my car, I gazed into the most chiseled man chest I had ever seen pre Jimmy Stadt. After screaming and slamming on the breaks, I looked past this beast’s bare bosom to his hindquarters where I actually saw the devil’s dick. But ya know, a horse dick. Hooves and a tail and a shiny coat. This was no person. This was a fucking centaur. If he had been holding a trident, I probably would have followed him to the dark side.

As I pulled myself together, I looked at the mythical creature in its bright blue eyes. Gazing at me knowingly and lovingly, Horse Beast sprung again but this time back into the woods. While no words were spoken other than cries of help, the message was clear: “Don’t you dare go into my fuck pad. Not with these sport-o’s.” I heeded his warning as I did not want to see a horse orgy, I swung the car into reverse and drove madly backwards, passed the gate and onto the main road. Without any comprehension of what any of us had seen, we drove back to Geoff’s house never uttering a single word.

 I’m still pretty good friends with some of the guys that accompanied me that night. However, we rarely speak of what we all saw that night. In fact, when we do reminisce, most of them deny what was clearly seen. Maybe because I was the only one not brainwashed by Horse Beast. Since their futures all included owning their own homes, while I instead contracted student loan debt and dick sores, I can’t help but think they sold their souls that night to the creature in order to obtain financial success. There is comfort in the fact I made it out alive and live to tell the tale.  But I know what I saw. I saw a golden god. The next day that house burned down and we never went back. Who knows what would have happened to us if Horse Beast hadn’t shown us the light. Hell, I might never have slept with that hooker I told you guys all about a couple  weeks ago.

Acid is the best drug I’ve ever eaten.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Name's Alien. My real name is Al, But Truf Be Told, I Am Not From This Planet Y'all (Interview with Nate Morris, ex Polar Bear Club, Marathon)

Nate Morris, along with being my best friend and fellow guy that won’t accept that he’s balding, also played guitar in Polar Bear Club until recently. Back in the day he also played guitar in one of my favorite bands ever called Marathon. The following is a brief interview conducted via email. Nate went big city on me and moved to New York City whereas I moved out to Portland to start experimenting with prescription pills. The move was good for one of us. You won’t find anything really compelling in here but I wanted to catch up with him post PBC since any time I text him I get “Who is this? Just got a new phone?” Probably should have just gone with a Goose interview since Nate has the personality of an egg salad sandwich. Without the olives.

Side note, I didn't send this to be edited first. It's all really rough but I think it's still worth a read. Thanks for reading!

XTX:  Your last show with PBC was at least six months ago with The Gaslight Anthem, a show PBC was added to after the show had sold out. Thus, anyone who bought a ticket wasn’t buying one to see you dudes. Also, this show was in Boston, MA making it impossible for me to attend. Your second to last show was at The Fest in Gainesville, an event PBC fans always come out to support. I was at this show, so were your friends past and present. Lastly, there was almost enough beer to make me almost think about watching those dickbags inTeenage Bottlerocket (I didn’t). Basically, what the fuck? Why did you decide to hang it up at a soulless show in a House of Blues, a venue that you’ve never gone over well in. So what I’m saying is, should I take this personally?

Nate: Haha.  Yes that was in fact just to hurt you.  No, the fest set would have been a more logical choice for a last show, but I also didn’t really want to have the fest weekend be sad at all. If I had one more show, it was easier to just enjoy fest and have a great time, and not get too sentimental.  Playing to a large crowd that for the most part knows nothing about your band is exciting as a performer. The challenge of trying to win over or impress new people and get them into your band is also fun show in a very different way, than say the fest set was.  So I got to have one more of each type of show.  Also we did so much touring with Gaslight when we were first a full time band that it was cool to play with them once more. 

XTX:  Again, I was with you guys in October at The Fest side Stage while you performed. You dudes were nice enough to fly me out from Portland for free as a bonus for doing such a perfect job of tour managing Warped Tour the previous summer. Your old band started off with songs from the last album, Clash Battle Guilt Pride and the crowd reaction was overwhelmingly positive. From there you dudes threw a bit of a curveball at the audience and broke into your first EP, The Redder The Better from start to finish, and it became noticeable, at least to me, that the crowd lost their spark a bit. Dudes who gave you guys shit on messageboards for not writing The Redder The Better type record over and over have moved on and declared La Dispute or The Menzingers their new saviors would have been stoked. If this were five years ago and you broke into the first EP any venue would have imploded. Do you personally regret performing TRTB in its entirety instead of a “normal” set that encompassed all records? Or has too much time passed where you don’t even give a shit.

Nate: Ha, actually I’d forgotten we even did that until this interview! No I wouldn’t say I regret it.  Maybe that set catered to a smaller group of people than a normal set would have, but those people were probably also that much more stoked.  The idea was to try and do something special for Fest, hopefully people liked it. 

XTX:  Polar bear club, for the second time in their career played Warped Tour this past summer. A tour that I came out of retirement to tour manage. (Nate, why didn’t you just interview me? This would have been far more funny)  For the most part, PBC played to pretty good crowds minus a few stinkers here and there (fuck you Minnesota). You and I discussed how we both believed Polar Bear Club was beginning to reach a new and larger audience. However, I remember at that time you were already thinking about leaving. Was 2012 Warped Tour when you finally came to your decision? What would have had to happen success wise for you to stay? If you did come to your decision to quit on Warped, what was the final straw? Was it being surrounded by more successful, less relevant and younger bands? Was it sharing a bus with the grosses band on earth The Sweathogs (Make Do And Mend)? Did you just finally have enough of the size of Chris Browne’s head? Or in all seriousness, was it your upcoming wedding? Was there a need to be at home more for your fiancé who has carried your broke ass for six plus years? Talk to Daddy, he likes to listen.  

Nate: I don’t think there really was a final straw.  There was no one moment that I can remember where I thought to myself, I’m done.  Also I don’t think other bands success would ever be a reason to stop touring.  Sure, sometimes it stings a little when you see a stadium full of people going crazy for music that you don’t necessarily think of AS music, but that’s life.  It was a lot of things all together, and really none of them were due to the success of the band.  Earlier in the year I missed a tour to do a semester of school and leading up to that tour I was really scared about how not being there would affect me mentally.  When the time came and PBC went on tour and I stayed home with Jasmyn (Nate’s fiancé and far, far, far better half)  and went to school, I found that I was just as happy or happier than when I was on tour.  And I think that was when I really started to think about leaving the band.  I knew I wasn’t getting any younger and I wanted to finish my degree and marry Jasmyn, and yes being broke for all those years does begin to take a toll on you.  There wouldn’t have been any type of success that would have made me want to stay at that point.  Once I realized that I truly wanted something else, even if PBC was the biggest rock band in the world, I still would have wanted to leave. 

XTX:  Broadway Calls, Every Time I Die, those posers in Defeater, Strike Anywhere, Shook Ones, Title Fight, Lemuria, our main dudes Living With Lions, pre major label The Gaslight Anthem and American Steel. All rad bands we had the pleasure of touring with. Plus, one of the best times we had bro wise was with Set Your Goals and Four Year Strong. Not bad. From there we did tours with Thrice. I think we made ten dollars in merch that entire run. For some god damn reason we then did the AP Tour with Bring Me The Horizon and some church metal bands. Jesus Christ. Along the way I’m sure there were some others that were a bummer but I drink to forget. Which tour do you regret the most? Do you think the AP tour alienated your “old” fan base to the point where they never come back? Kids in their teens and 20’s can be very fickle. I touched a boob once when I was 23, hated it. Since then I’ve touched two tits and I guess it’s pretty cool. See what I mean? Anyway, which of the rad tours gave your old dead soul the most pleasure? It can be a tour that I wasn’t on but know that I’ll attach a .jpeg of your wrinkly, crooked dick. I have pictures of all your dicks. It’s basically my retirement fund.

Nate: I do see what you mean.  It’s hard to say. I remember personally really wanting to do a headline tour the fall that we did the AP tour instead, but I also remember we had a really fun time on the AP tour so I wouldn’t say I regret it.  I certainly don’t think we alienated fans by doing one tour, at least I hope not.  If someone decided to no longer be a fan of Polar Bear Club because of one tour we did, then they probably shouldn’t have come to our shows in the first place.  As for the tour that I had the most fun on, it’s hard to say but probably Warped 2012.   I had just come off of six months or so of not touring and I was really excited to go out, there were so many bands on the tour we were friends with, you came back out, the sets were fun, the hangouts and days off were really fun.  I have very good memories from that tour. 

XTX: Before Polar Bear Club you were in a band also based out of the Rochester/Syracuse area called Marathon.  A band that was special to many including myself. Absolutely not appreciated at the time and a minor travesty that the band didn’t get huge, in the realm of white people problems, of course. You dicks also gave me five dollars a day in per diems, which has nothing to do with anything. Although Marathon only put of an EP and one full length, it was a matter of quality over quantity. Since you were in both bands, which band’s work are you more proud of? Was Marathon, for lack of a better word, “superior” than Polar Bear Club? Do you wish Marathon had received the same tour offers, same success and traveled the world instead of Polar Bear Club? Be honest, no one is going to read this. Goose already deleted my phone number, Chris Browne only reads sports articles and stories about the struggling upper middle class and well, PBC’s current drummer can’t read. Also, was there ever a time when we were close to witnessing a Marathon reunion? If so, why did it never materialize? Throw us a bone here, Nate. There are four of us still interested.

Nate: Ha, I do certainly wish that Marathon had gotten more opportunities and tour offers.  At the time that was all we really wanted, just one support slot for a bigger band.  But I don’t wish that it had happened to Marathon INSTEAD of PBC.  I’m also very thankful for the opportunities PBC got, and all that we accomplished.  I’m really proud of the Marathon full length and always have been, but I feel just as proud about Clash Battle Guilt Pride.  Those are my two favorite albums that I have been a part of.  And as for a reunion we have definitely kicked around the idea, and I think that if logistically we could figure out how to do it, we would.  But that’s a big if because we all are spread out over the country.

XTX:  Soon after you quit the band, Erik “Goose” Henning finished out an Australian tour and called it a day within the last couple months. While you and Goose are not original members of Polar Bear Club, I believe most fans would identify you guys as the core of the band that enjoyed the most success. Polar Bear Club still has two original members. Jimmy and guitarist Chris Browne. PBC continues to tour with newer members and I believe plan to record another album. Are you disappointed the band didn’t decide to break up instead of carry on with dudes who had nothing to do with writing any of your previous records? Most importantly, Their last tour manager rubbed me the wrong way, what should we do about that? Or do you just not give a fuck what PBC does anymore? I know you and the band are on good terms so there is no animosity but what are your thoughts on the whole thing? Also, are you the one responsible for writing “Another Night In The Rock”?  I hate that song more than my hemorrhoids.

Nate: As far as the new tour manager, I think you should tell him how you feel.  I don’t personally know him, but maybe I can get you an email address or something?  It’ll be good to get it off your chest.  Yeah I don’t know, In a perfect world everyone would have wanted to stop at the same time, and we could have slowed down touring or stopped as a band or whatever, but that’s just not how it happened.  For our own different reasons, Emmett, Goose, and I wanted to stop before Jimmy and Chris did.  I wouldn’t have wanted to force the band to slow down and work around my school schedule, or keep finding fill ins, that wouldn’t have been fair to the fill in, or the band.  So when I left I just kind of trained myself to not think about it in a bad way or anything.  I truly wish PBC every success, but no I don’t really think about it that much.  I’m no longer in a PBC and am very happy with my life, and at the same time Jimmy and Chris were able to continue doing what they love, so that’s how I look at it.  And no I not responsible for Another Night in the Rock, I am however responsible for the wah guitar solo at the end and for that I am sorry.

XTX:  Ever see that movie called “Rock Star” starring my boy Mark Wahlberg? You know, the one where Marky tries out for an established metal band and ends up joining the band? He tours with them, embellishes a bit too much and eventually is fired after having sex with a woman with a beautiful penis. He wasn’t fired for that particular act but you know what I’m saying. Anyway, at the end we find Marky’s character out of makeup and acting like a human being again. He’s in a small coffee shop playing folk songs to an audience comprised entirely of white people.  Is this how Nate’s musical carreer plays out? Acoustic guitar in hand and a non fat latte in the other? What’s next musically for you? Do you still have any interest in playing fast music? Or since you’re like 45 now, is it just sad bastard shit from here on out? Tell me what’s next.

Nate: I would be interested in playing fast music again, and I’d also love to play sad bastard music. There are many types of music I’d love to play, but I don’t know if or when it will happen. I’m pretty busy with school, I have a wedding to help plan, and have been spending a lot of time on my bike getting in some long rides, which is something that I had to pretty much give up the entire time I was touring.  So for now I’m really excited about all of that.  I have been playing guitar a little bit more lately and have been trying to focus on the fun of doing just that. 

XTX:  The last time I saw you we were watching one of our favorite bands, Lagwagon, together in Florida drinking beers. To me, that was the perfect way to close our PBC chapters. Me and my best friend singing along to “Sleep”.  Thanks for that night and the host of countless other memories. Anything else you’d like to share? Some of your favorite memories? This is the last time anyone is ever going to interview you. After you quit touring, no one gives a fuck about you anymore. I’m proof of this, so feel free to go solo for awhile.

Nate: That was a great night, that whole day was actually an awesome way to go out. I’m very thankful for that and for everything I got to do as part of Polar Bear Club. I regrettably only kept any sort of journal for the first tour or two we did, I wish I had done that more so I could remember some of the crazy times that I’ve probably completely forgotten about now.  One day that I always think about is that first day in LA on our first full US tour.  When we stayed with our friend who had this pool in the Hollywood hills, and got a case of two-buck-chuck and we drank and swam with the LA skyline in the distance.  It was so early on so fun.  (I saw Nate’s dick this night)  Also that one time in Zurich Switzerland with some of our best friends Broadway Calls.  The venue, I think is called Dynamo, and is right on this river that runs through town.  We got there pretty early and it was a summer day and there was a bridge you could jump off into the river and then kind of float with the current down through town in between all the people sunbathing on the banks and get out and walk back.  We did that all day, played a fun show and then we kept at it after the show. I think we ended walking a long way into town and getting back waaaay too late for how early both bands had to get up to do a big drive.  Every time we went back to that venue we always tried to go swimming but I don’t think it was ever as fun as that first time.  There were obviously so many amazing shows we played while I was in the band, but its always those random beach days, swimming holes, or hikes, or chances you get to go see ancient ruins that you remember the most fondly.  Or at least I do.  I certainly miss playing music but those one or two days of every tour where everything just clicks and everyone has the best time are what I’ll miss most.  I’m really glad we got to do it for as long as we did. 

XTX:  Thanks for boring us to tears, Nate!

Monday, July 15, 2013

True Love Lasts Forever

I knew I’d never tour forever. I did however know that I’d always tour with Polar Bear Club. I never understood tour managers that bounced around from band to band handling different personalities and preferences. With the same band you usually know what you were getting into. Each tour Goose would get mad at me for something that probably wasn’t my fault, not speak to me for weeks, and then finally tell me what the issue was. Jimmy was always the one guy that wouldn’t show me his dick. Chris was guaranteed to belittle me on stage for his equipment fucking up even though I never claimed to be a tech. I could always count on Nate as a best friend to treat me well, drink the beers with me, and once and awhile, steal my cigarettes. If you’re making money tour managing hopping from band to band, awesome, I wish I could have sustained that career. However, you’re still never, ever going to see Jimmy’s dick.
Since it was assumed that one day I’d have to get back to working in the “real world,” most likely in the nonprofit section that I’ve spent over ten years of my life giving away to, I’ve always been hesitant to tell this following story. Of course, potential employers Google would-be employees. A Google search of my full name doesn’t bring up much anymore since I’ve been out of the game so long. After this story, an internet search of Trevor B….. will guarantee I get fired from my current position as a counselor and ensure that there’s a bed saved for me in the shelter I work for.
I love sex. I’m terrible at sex. My penis is like Troll 2, unintentionally funny. Somehow over the years enough girls have felt bad about themselves and agreed to bed down with this slab of veal. I’ve never had to pay for my friction. Well, until that one time in Europe where I purchased the services of a professional. A hooker. And when I say I paid, well, I mean Polar Bear Club paid. There it is. No going back, let’s continue, shall we? (We shouldn’t).
I forget the year but I can tell you that the European tour we were on included headliners The Gaslight Anthem and direct support Frank Turner. This was a six week tour where Polar Bear Club was being paid 50 euro a show and our driver was making 100. As openers, Polar Bear Club wasn’t racking in the money. Often times we were forced to play before doors and at best, the band was greeted with indifference by attendees. Of course, there were some good shows but the bad outweighed the positive. What I’m trying to convey here is that we were poor as fuck. Well, that and our booking agent at the time apparently fucking sucked. 50 euro? I wouldn’t get out of bed and wash my three balls for 75.
Again, I forget things because I drank my brain into a fossil, but I can tell you we weren’t in Amsterdam. We did play a show in a city that allowed prostitution and the legalization of marijuana, so I’m guessing it was either Detroit or somewhere in the vicinity of Amsterdam. I don’t remember the occasion, but it was decided by Polar Bear Club that I needed to fuck. And since I was twenty pounds overweight, bald, and have the complexion of a Klan uniform, no girl in Europe was willing to let me into her F spot. Always horny, always alone. Either way, after PBC’s set a group of us wandered aimlessly into the red light district to see what I’d be up against. At this point I’d like to point out I respect women, am a feminist, and love my mother and sister. My dick, however, is none of those things. So I went. And I was scared shitless.
If you’ve never been, a red light district is just that. It’s a part of town quarantined with red lights to let travelers know that this is where the magic happens. And by magic, I mean penis in vagina. Cringing on my walk while also gawking at the women in the windows selling their busty wares I became nervous and scared. What would I do if I walked up to a woman, said hello, and she just laughed in my face? (I’ll tell you what happens; I go to Senior Prom by myself.) What happens if once inside the room, their pimp pops out and demands the Redder the Better test press? I was scared to death and almost backed out. But driven by a three inch erection and the insistence of my friends, I pressed on pretty much like an Afghanistan soldier.
I gently knocked on the window of the first girl that reminded me nothing of any ex-girlfriend I’ve ever had.  I didn’t need disappointment following me overseas. I named her Celeste and she spoke worse English than the client that is currently watching me type this story up while I’m here at work. The poor soul pretended to be happy about what had just walked into her concubine. A quick cash exchange later and I was on my way to nervous, bad sex.
Celeste insisted I get entirely naked. I wanted to keep my shirt on, as I figured I do that in the shower, why can’t I do that while I enter a stranger? But my friends, Celeste wouldn’t take no for an answer. My superior titties sensually popping out of my t-shirt must have instantly turned on the only woman I’ll ever love because she took me then and there like The Menzingers took the Punknews.org most beloved band title from Polar Bear Club. Explaining to me that my money bought me three sex positions and me insisting to Celeste I’d only need one, we both stuffed my noodle penis in the smallest condom Europe has seen since the Swellers were in town.
From there I gave Celeste the best twenty seconds of her forced into sex industry life. Not because I can come quick, no, no, no. I couldn’t sustain an erection. Just knowing that some of Polar Bear Club was outside the window while I was naked and vulnerable surprisingly couldn’t keep me hard. In fact, it would take a scaffolding crew of thirty for that to happen. I gave up on sex. Ask my ex-girlfriend what that’s like, she’ll tell you. But Celeste treated me like a king, even helping me get back into my sized 38 jeans and assisting me with buttoning up my XL Atticus dress shirt. (You need to dress up when paying for sex guys.) Gently caressing my face and wishing me the best, Celeste for the first time asked my name. Pointing directly to my tour laminate, I said “Frank Turner” and walked out into the night, hoping I gave her a story she could tell her next abortion.

Hookers are fucking awesome. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Worst Night, In The Worst City

I’ve always hated New York City. Not like the hate that one has for an older brother who still lives with their parents, but more of a Saves the Day “In Reverie” type of detest. I’m not a good looking man as some of you know, but whenever I had the misfortune of spending time in the City That Never Cleans Itself, I always felt like a human hamper. Everyone in NYC is better looking, skinnier, and having sex with a hotter girlfriend than you (me) ever will. Even the guy with a harelip is getting three hand jobs a week in New York City. I had the worst day of my life on the worst tour in the worst city.
                It’s been too long to remember exactly who to place the blame on, but at some point Polar Bear Club decided that it was a good idea to tour with Bring Me the Horizon, two different bands that believe in God, and This Is Hell (a band named after a listener’s reaction after hearing their last album). So of course, there was PBC sandwiched between fake metal and Christ. Can’t you just see the crossover appeal? I write this entry years later, but I believe this show was near the end of the tour and as it turned out, my last tour with Polar Bear Club. (That’s a lie; I came back for one more grasp at youth and almost lost my dick in a war with germs.)
                The venue of choice that night was an old DIY space called the Best Buy Theater started by a bunch of crust punks back in the early 2000’s. At Least I’m pretty sure it was do it yourself. I mean, punk spaces have escalators, countless security guards, and are usually the size of a city block, yes? Well, fuck the Best Buy Theater. The trouble began when the band pulled up to the loading dock area where we were greeted with a barrage of curses and threats from  employees of Best Buy – all because he had not parked in the designated area located about three feet to our right. Let’s get something clear; I’m not socially well adjusted. In fact, I should collect a disability check I’m so incapable of living. So, of course a shouting match ensued between me and security.
It is no easy task being forced to back out onto a busy street in a large city with a can and trailer midday all just to move a couple feet. PBC’s former drummer Emmett, who has since retired to a life of taking pictures of his motorcycle on Instagram, was in charge of backing our fleet up while I was at the back of the trailer ensuring no one was to be run over. Well, Emmett almost ran over a child. I didn’t warn Emmett or the child of the possible homicide because the only thing that could have satiated my already building rage was the blood of a dead boy. However, the brat was destined to live another day and more importantly, we were able to move the van and trailer to the appropriate spot to drop off the band’s equipment.
                As the van arrived a group of urbanized yokels as useful as an appendix were dispatched to help us move the amps and everything inside the venue. This is usually how it goes for larger shows, employees of the venue are paid to help “load” or carry the band’s wares to make the process easier on everyone. Instead, Polar Bear Club received cold stares and indifference (similar to their last album, no?) Instantly and out of nowhere, up my ass was a particular woman holding a clipboard so right away I knew she was important. Clipboards = power. After a brief discussion with this land hag, I could tell that she had never felt the loving touch of a mother. Spitting out bile and angry orders regarding merch, I threw my hands up in desperation, slinked away, and hoped I would never see my ghost of Christmas future again.
Finally loaded in, it was now our responsibility to move and park our vehicle for the duration of the show. I mean why would a venue that generates thousands and thousands of dollars provide space to park for an opening band? Well, probably because we didn’t have neck tattoos. Emmett, captain of our ship of sadness navigated us through the grid of misery know as Manhattan. I should have mentioned this earlier, but I’m a terrible writer. This was also the night before Thanksgiving making parking impossible. For the next two hours, time was spent trying to locate a space to accommodate our length (intentionally sexual). After 120 minutes of tears, we located a fenced in lot that screamed “Road Warrior.” A quick conversation with this man, who had one blind eye and evil in the other, revealed the cost of housing our van and trailer for a couple hours would be 175 dollars. Always defeated, and only smiling when high, I handed over the keys knowing full well I’d never see them again.
The almost two mile journey back to Best Buy Theater lifted no one’s spirits. Once inside, news of my run in with the previous employees seemed to have spread like a viral video of Nick Diener in a bondage video. During sound check, engineers openly mocked members of the band and were almost as inept at their jobs as myself as a tour manager. Knowing that the night was already a bust, I did the only thinking I learned in college – I opened a bottle and I poured.
Reveling in the novelty that there were no bands on this tour I wanted to watch, I sat in a cozy backstage room and dumped whiskey into a coke and named it “Bottled Youth.” With this new cocktail that no one has probably ever heard of, I initially began to go to my happy place before the sweats and anxiety began to settle in. The show was drawing to a close which meant packing up both musical equipment and merch. I opted not to deal with picking up the van from the lot so I would not have a conversation with these two . Instead I decided to see how merch pack up was going.
                Stumbling down stairs and escalators, fueled by nature’s liquid fun tonic, I tripped over myself as I noticed the evil banshee from before lording over merch world with that god damn clipboard of strength. Even in my blunted state of alcohol fueled rage, I knew we’d be looking at a merch cut. It was my duty as a man who hasn’t told his parents in over ten years that he loves them to handle communication with a woman whom I already wished a brutal maiming upon.
                What’s a merch cut you ask? Terrible venues that operate solely to make money and care nothing about the bands performing enjoy stealing a percentage of the performer’s sales of t-shirts and records. Usually a soulless individual without empathy for their fellow man is employed by the venue to collect and ward. It is their duty to count merchandise in and then count again after the show, making quite sure that the venue gets their blood money. I’ve been to some venues where the shit heads stand next to you at the table marking down every sale. Sure the headlining band on this tour, Bring Me the Horizon, probably brought in at least five grand in merch sales so I can see why Best Buy would want a cut of that cheddar. But on this tour, Polar Bear Club once earned thirteen dollars for an entire show. We weren’t selling well and for the venue to insist payment felt offensive and mean. (Side note, we once played a show in Albany with American Steel. They literally sold 4 dollars in merch and the venue insisted on a cut of that four dollars. Best thing I’ve ever witnessed.)
                I remember sending our actual merch guy, Bobby, away to the van. I didn’t want him to see me at my worst, in the worst venue, in the worst city. Best Buy merch cut lady and her clipboard of fuck you waddled my way. Drunk on the fact that I’d never be in that venue again and well, drunk, I stood defiantly challenging her sorcery and her math. Of course, like with most women in my life I was soon turned into a pool of piss and shame.
                On previous attempts to avoid a merch cut, I’ve literally picked up the bins and ran (they chased me and I had to pay.) Giving out a free t-shirt sometimes helps to avoid an ugly math debate, but much like my dead end job I was trapped and like most scared animals afraid of small spaces I lashed out. Verbally. It was three years ago but I distinctively remember telling the woman that no one loved her. I gently reminded her that she in fact would never be loved. “Ma’am, you will die alone” exited my lips. She was a bad person so I told her just that. And when all was said and done, when my best material was used, I did what any man would do – I called her an asshole.

Luckily my lowest moment of my life was only witnessed by a few. That’s at least what I tell myself. I haven’t been back to New York City since the 2010 show and I hope I never return. Am I embarrassed of my actions? Yes and no. I mean, I was drunk and I probably handed over way too much of a merch percentage. I can’t count past twelve. But you know what? That lady really WAS an asshole. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Homework 101

Recently, I started going to school again. I already have a BA in Criminal Justice but that has gotten me about as far as the Crime In Stereo Reunion - nowhere. I decided to pursue a nursing degree since I'm told they make money and I don't have money. Working in the mental health field for over ten years, the transition makes a bit of sense. However, I did so poorly my first time around in college that none of my previous credits are transferring over to my new school in Portland, Oregon. This means I'm starting over from scratch. I am a 80 year old freshman surrounded by 18 year olds. I also have no real home but that's a story for another blog in three years. My life is the saddest sitcom you would never want to watch. Getting to the point, for a writing class I took we had to come up with a paper about a Utopian paradise we once encountered. Since I received a good grade and it's the first piece of real writing I've finished, I'm going to go ahead and post it here. Keep in mind, like most of my posts and tweets, it's all fiction. And of course, it's not funny. I know no one reads this anymore, and why should you, but I always enjoyed writing and the feedback I received. I wish I kept with it but how many times can you tell the same dick joke before your dick actually falls off? If you're still reading, the paper is below.

 You might not be able to tell by looking at me but I swear to you, I have had adventures. Before old age forced itself upon me, before the hair on my head dwindled to a mere dusting, I was brave. No, there were neither Utopian discoveries nor battles fought, but I did often fling myself over large bodies of water. I did so as an employee of a punk band but my real intent was to meet new people and drink an enormous amount of alcohol. There was Australia, England, Germany, the Netherlands, unfortunately the South, and vast expanses of nothing in Western Canada. There were others, but the names and places currently escape me. And while the booze has stolen most of my recollections from these conquests, there will always be memories of one country no beverage can steal. Where? Some City I Can’t Remember The Name Of, Italy.

Truth be told, this was not even my first visit to Italy. The first time I do remember. It was Milan and in a part of the city where smashed windshield glass scattered the streets like leaves on an autumn day in upstate New York. Our guide advised us to not make eye contact with any of the locals due to a recent soccer match that did not turn out the way the Italians intended. Apparently, eye contact could end up in a maiming and when there is potential to lose a limb, you don’t forget the details. On this second trip to Italy, I recall waking curled on a bench in a sprinter van the color of a brick with the velocity of a submarine surrounded by six other sweaty and salty smelling band members. My mouth tasted of an ash tray from the 100 cigarettes I choked down the night before and I scratched at my eyes where my contact lenses remained glued to my eyeballs for three days straight. I stared at a GPS that flashed back question marks pleading for better directions to that night’s concert venue. Arriving entirely too early in a strange country after an all-night drive from who knows where, an international cell phone was thrust in my face and it was now up to me to get in contact with the concert promoter to find out exactly where we needed to be. Punching in a series of numbers that at the time seemed 40 characters long, I connected with an offensively too cheery individual given the early hour and the boulders in my head from my hung over state.

 Our point of contact, bald as a baby seal with a mouth full of perfect teeth that resembled marbles, arrived in a sporty and flighty yellow Fiat worthy of The Italian Job. In pristine English, the gentleman insisted we follow his speedy ride through the crooked and cracked streets of this strange city. A jigsaw puzzle of left and right hand turns led us to a sprawling resort which sat atop a beach staring directly into an ocean made up of crashing waves. (Well, ocean, sea, or lake, hell, I’m no geologist.) The sandy floor would serve as the outside stage facing the never ending sea of blue.

 Immediately we could tell that this was the type of spot you would take your family on a vacation , but the season had not yet turned warm so instead of a piece of land choked by tourists, a group of smelly, dirty punks had the place to ourselves. Our host sat us down and made promises we felt could not be fulfilled – hundreds of kids in attendance, each our own dressing room, personal showers, and an all you could eat buffet of seafood pulled directly from the waters to our right. Taking a break from the hospitality, I wandered toward the beach for a chance to take in what lied ahead.

 I knew I was somewhere worlds away from where I called home: the kind of place I only saw pictures of in a text books from a college millions of miles away. This was a place my parents could only dream of seeing (hey, no one told them to have four kids by the time they were 30) and I felt it my duty to remember every finite detail in order to retell the story later. And I did. I remembered everything. Well, until the wine-- each which tasted of my favorite Jolly Rancher bled like an unchecked sieve of goodness.

 From what I have been told, the night was a complete success. Dinner was made up of simple delicacies from shrimp and mussels to the type of sea monsters you only read about in science fiction stories – squid, octopus, and squishy things without faces. The show would be free to the public as who knows how many kids from Italy would actually pay to see an American punk rock band on a beach? I sat up a merchandise booth selling our records and t-shirts and proudly watched on as the crowd surged and sang along to the lyrics in both English and Italian. All kidding aside, I do remember an overwhelming feeling of joy pounding from my chest. And yes, the wine continued to flow.

All this talk of happiness and goodness might lead you to believe that this city was a utopian paradise but along with the good, there was band. I’m not talking Le Guin’s suffering closet child in “The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas”, but sacrifices were certainly made by your hero. That sea of slimy food I told you about? I was a vegetarian. I became ill just looking at the antennae and claws and various crustaceans. I starved all night until a stranger took pity upon me and offered up a loaf of bread and peanut butter. The private showers and dressing room that were part of the promised accommodations? If your idea of luxury is a hose and a hole to pee and poop in, book your room now!

But as the show concluded, show goers thrust money the shape and color of Monopoly currency in my face demanding the band’s wares. Speaking a mix of Italian, English, and what sounded like Jawa, I did my best to meet their requests. Not conscious of any type of currency conversation rate, I probably ended up giving away most of what we had with us. But the night felt special, everyone was feeling young again, and the promoter was pleased and insisted we come back as humanly possible. We never did go back to whatever the hell that city in Italy was called, but I still hear from the promoter every couple of months when I log into Facebook to ignore each and every one of his e-vites.

 There’s a picture of me from that day somewhere in the bowels of my computer hard drive that I still look at from time to time. I’m firmly planted on the beach, waves rolling in at a break neck pace, and my eyes are firmly shut with a smile so wide you just knew I was lucky to be there. Or drunk. I was never the type of guy who went out of his way to do any touristy activities or journal or record any of the events over those years I lived out of a van. I guess I just wanted to “live the moment,” but I think I was just too lazy. If you ask most of my tour mates at the time, they might even tell you I didn’t have a good time because I always insisted on being business. Well, most of the time. Ahem, some of the time. But in preparation of this piece, I asked a couple of the guys, “Hey, when on tour did I have the most fun?” The resounding answer was “that weird city in Italy!” and I still have the picture to prove it.