What can be said?
While some Europeans (read: Germans) complain that though France is a beautiful place, Paris is full of rude people, traffic, overpriced food and hotels, I say they’re CRAZY. Paris is the shit, and while there are other parts of France that are in fact beautiful and perhaps more welcoming to outsiders, Paris is a magical place that has to be experienced not just once, but several times in one’s lifetime. I was lucky enough that this was I believe somewhere around my 5th or 6th time in the city of lights, and I couldn’t believe our good fortune that we had a night off to hang and experience the city.
We checked into what was the largest hotel room I’d ever seen in Paris, then hit a cafe around the corner for a perfect French meal. We all sat together and enjoyed the ambiance and food, and of course the bread. Though it was in the very touristy part of town known as Montmartre, the cafe felt like it was the Parisian version of a Silverlake bistro; young staff, hipsters, great food, beer, wine…just less beards and no one was wearing Tom’s with cut-offs.
After lunch I walked the area looking for a place to do laundry (though we’d be leaving for home the next day, there was no way I was packing a bag full of dirty clothes), and I found one a block from the hotel which I decided I’d hit in the am. Back to the hotel to change and rest, and after a short hang, Adam and I met up with Peddy, Thomas and Pop along with our Parisian promoter at a bar that was hosting our “after show party”, but seeing as how we were leaving early the morning after our show, they threw a “pre-show party”. Adam and I walked past the Moulin Rouge, many sex clubs and street urchins to find our way to the club/restaurant, and once there we watched Peddy and Pop eat raw hamburger and my mind raced, filled with visions of parasites, Dateline television episodes, and stomach bugs in foreign lands. On the table was a bottle of hot sauce just begging for me to try, so after Thomas sampled it, I felt as if I had to. It was without a doubt the hottest, most offensive thing one could ever put into their mouths. Certainly the “Ghost pepper” was a key ingredient, and it was a solid 10 minutes before I regained feeling on my tongue. Try as I might Adam would not sample said hot sauce (wise move). I had a mineral water, chatted up the promoter and crew, then Adam and I split, as the “pre—party” was apparently one or two goth girls in the basement, not quite enough for Adam to break out the turntables as they had hoped.
The next day Adam and I walked the neighborhood trying to decide where we were going to have our Moules Frites, so we checked out every spot in walking distance until we found a place that seemed suitable. We ate at the sidewalk cafe as an old man talked and blew his cigarette smoke in our direction long after his colleagues had left. I know it’s Paris, but the cigarette thing is a real drag for non-smokers…but I digress….
After lunch I hit the laundromat and sat and did laundry like a good Montmartre local, then after, walked with my bag full of clean clothes to the nearby venue for sound check.
The venue was great, much bigger than the last place we’d played 6 years earlier when we were last there, and besides being the last show of the tour, it was going to be special as Paris is one of our favorite cities. After sound check we all split up and went our separate ways. I joined Jason for some pastries and coffees at a nearby Patisserie and bar then we headed back to the venue to kill time till the rock show.
The upside of Paris for me is it’s the one place where I can speak enough of the language to get by, being that I was the guy that took 3 years of French in junior high (smart for a kid from North Hollywood to pass up Spanish, I know), so I can order food, clumsily hold conversations with an accent so true they forgive my searching for the most basic of words, but never the less they are always impressed and it makes me feel good finally not being the dumb American looking to his promoter/guide to ask a question, order food or hold the smallest of conversations.
The show was everything I’d hoped, sold out, packed, sweaty as fuck, and a great time. The crowd sang along, danced, and made for an amazing night of music and a great send off to a tour that meant so much to us. (Besides the fact that we’d not played Europe in 6 years we knew that we had no idea when we’d be able to make it back, so for us it was a way of saying thank you to the kids who’d waited so long and patiently to see us play, as well as a way of saying to ourselves, “hey, you’ve waited this long, go have a blast and rock the fuck out….you’ve earned it”).
We had some after-show pizza with our promoter, had a long emotional goodbye with Peddy and Pop (hands down two of the best humans and crew we’ve EVER had the opportunity to work with), said goodbye to Jason (as he was staying on in Europe), and headed back to a sketchy hotel by the airport to crash for a few hours, the US of A getting closer by the second.
The 4th of July.
Adam, Thomas and I woke, hit the airport, and said our goodbyes. (Thomas was off to Sweden to visit friends). After spending an ungodly amount of money on our baggage and guitars, Adam and I hit the terminal in search of food, and lucky for us we found what we were looking for and so much more when we stumbled upon Ladurée, favorite of Blair Waldorf and soon to be mine. The decor was unbelievable; all pastels and something out of a Disneyland child’s ride. Hues of pink and green and a menu that would put a real dent in one’s wallet, but seeing as it was our last meal of the tour we treated ourselves and went big - omelets, fresh squeezed orange juice, the best crossaint EVER, coffee and pastries. Well worth the $100 plus dollars for the feeling of UES extravagance and Serena and Blair style breakfast fun. We stopped off to grab some grub for the plane, bottles of water, and soon it was time to board our flight home.
On board (window seats of course) I sat in front of Adam, and occasionally we’d check with one another, conferring about the movie selections, trying to pass the time with the best possible cinematic experience while avoiding the dogs. I watched movies for hours, slept a bit, did some reading, caught up on some blogging, and waited patiently for the moment my feet hit the soil of our motherland on the day of our independence. It had been a long tour and tired didn’t begin to tell the story; all I could think about was my family, the ocean, and sunlight…..oh, and not having to eat ham for a very, very long time.
Los Angeles, CA.
Home. Passport control. Baggage claim. Curbside goodbye with 12, and then to the parking garage to meet my lovely wife and son with hugs and gifts. It was a long hard tour, and seeing their faces at the finish line is what I’d been imagining whenever it started to get to me.
If you’re not in a band and have never toured you may think a journal like this is strange (food, coffee, jogging, country by country minutia), but let me tell you, touring is not what you think it is.
It’s not drugs and groupies, parties on the tour bus and 1970’s Cameron Crowe fantasy. It’s not all epic shows, camaraderie, back-pats and Madonna prayer circles.
Often it’s finding a decent bathroom, hoping for a window seat, praying for a good monitor man, crossing your fingers for a healthy walk-up when ticket sales are slow. It’s wake, coffee, bathroom, shower, sound check, food, nap, show, shower, food, sleep and repeat…..and repeat.
It’s looking for a clean healthy meal, and writing about it when you find one, it’s a joke between band members, a fight on the sidewalk, the joy of a few hundred people connecting with something you and your best friend wrote in your living room before….everything.
It’s being excited for Waffle House, jonesing for Cracker Barrel, and feeling like you’re back at home when you stock up at Whole Foods. It’s the team-spirit of a midnight Wal-Mart run, stocking up the bus with snacks and deciding what the next episodic television series everyone is going to dive into in the back lounge.
It’s choosing your bunk on the first day of the tour and buying a fresh pillow, it’s cash in your pocket from the club giving you a buy-out, it’s the rush of playing new songs for the first time; the terror and panic of forgetting your parts/words, but the feeling of satisfaction when you nail it.
It’s 5 friends sitting in a Starbucks waiting to use the toilet and the cute girl behind the counter knows exactly what’s going on. It’s celebrating Thanksgiving as a road family, or coming home with tattoos. It’s huge cell phone bills and girlfriends coming to visit, it’s fighting with the opening band, their bus catches on fire, then you make up and drive them to the hotel and forget why you fought.
It’s your favorite food in your favorite city and the best fans in the world who are going to come see you yet again, and you feel lucky every time they show.
It’s waking up and wanting to be home, grinding out the most boring day of your life, being pulled from your bus bunk to play a show, then meeting the kids who drove 8 hours to see you for the first time and in that moment you remember why you’re there and it’s all worth it.
It’s being thousands of miles from home, exhausted, out of your element, sick, lonely and depressed but still having the presence of mind to know that this is THE DREAM, this is what you wanted since you were a kid, and no matter how exhausted, how out of your element, how sick, lonely or depressed, at that very moment you are still the luckiest guys in the world. Whether there were 20 or 2,000 people in the crowd, it is an incredible way to live one’s life; making something out of love and having it find love in the world, sometimes thousands of miles away.
Touring and being in a band is not what you think it is; it’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s the best gig in town, and anyone that says anything to the contrary is a either an asshole, a fool, or not paying attention to the big picture.
Thanks to all those that came out for our Russian/European tour, it meant a lot. We love you guys.
Back at home, sunny California, sitting in the back seat of my car beside my son as he talks my ear off as a nearly 5 year old boy should when his dad’s been away for a month. I ask my wife to stop for coffee, and with just a quick stop to refuel we weave through the holiday traffic making our way to Malibu to celebrate the 4th of July in the way I had since I was nearly 5 - on the beach, with fireworks, family and friends, and eating barbecued meats.
America, fuck yeah.