With two more shows down and one final performance to go, King Of France drummer/journalist Michael Azerrad checks in with more stories from the road.
I’d totally forgotten that every tour eventually develops a catchphrase. Ours has turned out to be the verb “to piledrive” in all its many-splendored, uh, conjugations. “Hi,” Steve from the Robbers said from the stage the other night, “We’re Piledriver.” And really, anything can be piledriven. “By Tuesday, my amplifier shall have been piledriven by Ben from the Robbers over half a dozen times.” It’s just one of those juvenile little jokes that are good for a chuckle no matter how many times you repeat it, especially when you’re a little squirrelly from being on tour for a while. Twenty years from now, I could walk up to Tomer from the Robbers and ask him, “So are you still piledriving the drums?” and he’d laugh.
Our show in Madison was kind of a bust audience-wise but the after-show cavorting was quite fine. Our keyboardist Matt and I thought we’d show Morgan from the Robbers how much we liked him by carrying him to the bar we were headed to after the show. We carried him three long blocks – without dropping him once, I might add – only to discover that the bar we were supposed to go to was in the same building as the place where we’d just played the show. There, the bartender sported us each a shot of nice bourbon and it went on from there. That night, Steve from the Robbers tried to crawl into a drawer in his motel room bureau and instead toppled the TV set, the impact of which I felt three rooms away. I am happy to report that both the TV and Steve were fine.
The next morning, the first thing our bassist Don Piper did when he woke up -- I mean, the sheets, were still pulled up to his waist -- was to grab his lap steel and start working out the slide guitar part to “My Sweet Lord” (which we’d been planning on playing as a double-band encore the final night of the tour). Man, that’s a musician.
In Milwaukee we played an all-ages show after a decent pop-punk-emo band called Inside Pitch. (They’re changing their name to Ann Arbor, which is a good idea.) We hit the stage promptly at 5:50 PM. After the last song, Steve shouted to the youthful crowd, “Thank you and good afternoon!” Later, we joined the Robbers for their extended, impromptu encore of “Rock & Roll, Pt. II” and literally drove the entire audience out of the room. Sweet.
One of the things I have learned on this tour is that it is impossible to to safely keep a banana in the van for more than a day – it just gets crushed if it hangs around longer than that. I hope that someone reads this and is saved a lot of heartache and expense.
After a week or so of carefree rocking in the hinterlands, it was back to business. The biggest show of the tour was in Chicago at Schuba’s. That day, we did an interview at the Virgin Megastore, shook some hands at Reckless Records and hung with the incredibly helpful and sharp Gina Williams from ADA, which distributes our album. The Schuba’s show was sold out thanks to the headliner Wolf Parade, and various heavies would be coming to see us. Luckily, Schuba’s is a great place to play – they feed you, everyone there is super nice and the room sounds great. And it sure did the trick – we played a killer set, the kind of show you can only pull off after a while on the road, just powerful, joyous, confident and loose in all the right ways. The audience was wall-to-wall Wicker Park hipsters but they couldn’t help but whoop for us when we finished. Not bad for the first band of the night. We did great.
And just to make a fantastic night even more fantastic, to my immense delight there was a Trader Joe’s right across the street from our motel! Like so many of the Super 8s where we’ve stayed, the motel itself was another potential David Lynch movie set. When we came in around 3:00 in the morning, we heard a woman hollering at somebody from within one of the rooms; when we left early the next morning the argument was still raging. Birds were chirping from inside another room. In the parking lot a shifty-looking guy was taking the license plates off his car and not replacing them with other ones. It was a strange place. Don
and I went for a very satisfying Trader Joe’s session in morning. Ahhhh…. TJ’s. Now we’re on the road to Cleveland for the last show of the tour.
Source: Michael Azerrad