Rubbing The Road: Southern Comforts

June 02, 2006

A-Trak and The Rub are only a few days away from finishing up their Sunglasses Is A Must tour (presented by ye olde FADER mag) and we bet their van smells like BROS. Recapping their last week on the road is none other than A-Trak himself. Enjoy Young Trizzy's words and photos after the jump.

When Cosmo last briefed you on the Sunglasses traveling circus, we had just had a surprisingly stupendous time in Tempe, Arizona. The next day we were meant to play in Albuquerque, of which my only reference was Bugs Bunny’s “I knew I shouldn’t have taken that left turn in…” jokes. For reasons I can’t explain, I was actually booked to open up for Mobb Deep at that show. And when Mobb Deep pulled out of the event due to slow presales – I guess New Mexico wasn’t feeling the VSOP ASAP steelo – the whole thing went into shambles and the promoter dropped the ball the day before the show. Fair enough. We went to El Paso instead, had the best 2 a.m. enchiladas ever and then stayed with Mama Scooter.

The biggest lesson I learnt last week was simple but powerful: Texas is very big. Of course I could always see that on maps but driving through it in a Dodge Caravan gives you a whole ‘nother perspective on things. Scooter warned us that it’s best to drive at night because the roads are amazingly bare and long. So we left El Paso at midnight with a 10-hour drive to Dallas ahead of us, blasted our newly purchased Eagles of Death Metal CD and slowly crept into tumbleweed-induced delirium.

By 6:30 a.m. Cosmo was wearing his computer case on his head like Crunchy Black’s Chinese hat, he and Ayres were inexplicably shirtless and we were blasting the metronomic “Ping Island/Lightning Strike” theme song from the Life Aquatic soundtrack on repeat for a good 20 minutes, jumping on our seats while looking for a hotel to rest our weary heads. Thank heavens for Sweetwater, TX. A few hours of shut-eye, an eye-opening and GI tract-upsetting stop at Sonic (the official diner-style drive-in of the South, they tell me), and a few more hours of driving and we arrived in Dallas.

To quote Young Ayres, the less we talk about Dallas, the better it is. I will say this though: Cosmo pointed out that our hotel was just a block away from the spot where JFK was shot. Check out the picture he took from the window of his room. You can see the proverbial grassy knoll and everything. I think every tour has its Random Fact Man. In our case it’s Curly Cos. Anyhoo, we hop-skipped-and-jumped out of Dallas and rolled over to Austin, where Ayres and Cosmo are probably wanted by 5-0 for their highly blogged SXSW hijinks. We stopped en route to visit our old catfish friends at the Cracker Barrel, and while we were there we found a new touring companion.

Loopy the Bird is a toy parrot that repeats whatever it hears, twice and slightly sped-up. Before you know it Loopy was happily perched on the minivan’s coat hanger handle, next to Ayres and behind poor Scoot, whose driving was heckled to no end by the battery-operated pest until we reached Austin.

We were playing at a spot called the Parish, which is actually a venue where Scooter had booked Z-Trip and me back in 98, when he was a promoter and I was a teenager. Shout outs to Rapid Ric who stopped by to bring us mixtapes and What It Dew t-shirts, and to DJ Mel who’s just a stand-up guy all around. Ayres caught up with some of his college friends before the show, but there’s one reunion that he surely couldn’t have predicted that night.

You see, what the rest of us knew was that his wife Veronika was planning on surprising him with a weekend visit. And sure enough she showed up at the club while we were performing. Later on Ayres was recapping: “I looked in the crowd and I thought, that girl looks like Veronika. Then I thought, wait, that IS Veronika!” Ah, romance. It’s spring agaaaiiiiiiiin.

After the show I had to pull another one of my Kanye escapades again – the now all-too-familiar routine of going straight to the airport for a 6 a.m. flight. This time we were playing at the HFS Festival just outside of Baltimore. MTV Canada is filming a Diary on me during the tour; they filmed some stuff in LA and they came to this event also, to get some Trizzy/Kanye interaction. First things first, I linked up with tour barber extraordinaire Ibn and got my haircut fix. Since I’m heading back home in a week and I was wearing my Expos hat that day, he drew the Expos logo on the back of my head for good measure. The show itself was smooth sailing. Most of the event was pretty hippy-ish, and we played in between Cypress Hill and (gasp) Matisyahu. Then we retreated back to the hotel and Kanye, Don C, Ibn and I watched the epic drama that is Killa Season (the movie, the myth, the masterpiece).

The next day I flew over to Baton Rouge where I actually had a night off. I linked up with my homie KLC and chopped it up with him for a bit. For the uninitiated, KL produced a slew of Southern classics like Master P “I’m Bout It”, Ludacris “Move Bitch”, Mystical “Down For My Niggas”, Paul Wall “Internet Going Nutz”, and more. He’s got a new album coming in the fall and his single “Play It Loud” is bonkers. But wait… you’ve all seen KLC in my DVD right? OK, cool. While all this was happening, The Rub boys had a show in Houston and then skidaddled over to Ayres’ family’s ranch in Natchez, Mississippi for the day off. So I’m finna pass the mic over to Urrrs to recount his tall tales of horseback riding and tree hugging. Ayres?

"The hardest thing about this tour for me has been being away from my wife for so long, so this was by far the best leg of the tour for me. The morning after the Austin gig, we had a little time on our hands so Veronika and I linked up with Matt Sonzala and his family and went swimming at Barton Springs."

“Houston was really fun. A-Trak had his Kanye gig in Baltimore so Cosmo and I did a Rub party separately, with help from the homies JD, DJ Mel, Cashless and Cee Plus. We all had a bunch of friends there - Tittsworth and Martin came up from Austin and a bunch of the Houston expats we know from NY were home for the holiday weekend. After the party we drove straight to Mississippi to hang out with my parents on the farm where I grew up. Mississippi was all about creole food, bug bites, bowling, swimming and swinging on the rope swing.”

Thanks Ayres. Good stuff. Rich and compelling. So we all reconvened at the Baton Rouge show, which was on Memorial Day Monday. Not the best turnout of the tour… But our Master P doll got some great mileage that night, scratching it up as you can see on these candid snapshots. That show also marked the start of the home stretch, where we have daily shows for the last 7 dates, with phenomenally long drives in between. In other words, up at 6 and off to Atlanta. We really didn’t know what to expect for Atlanta. Originally we were supposed to share the bill with Prefuse but when he cancelled his tour we weren’t sure where that left us with that venue. But in a merry turn of events it turned out to be a great show.

Now, you know how we’re always talking about how hard it is to get any type of errand done on the road? Well, one of my turntables has had a faulty RCA cable for weeks and we thought we’d never get it fixed before the end of the tour. (Sidebar: that’s one of my bar-mitzvah-money turntables from when I was 13.) But my homie Mega came through in a major way in Atlanta. He got his boy to fix my turntable in our dressing room at like midnight, while the show was going on! I went back there to get some water and there he was, soldering gun in one hand, turntable upside-down. So crucial. Ayres’s sister Corinne and her friends came up from Mississippi for the show and danced, hooted and hollered all night. Oh and also, this one kid drove all the way from Illinois to Atlanta to see the show. Dedication.

Indianapolis was tight the next day, and now we’re driving to Lansing, Michigan for the last US date. Canada, here we come! I should mention a few things before I go. We stopped at a Guitar Center this afternoon to buy new needles but instead Cosmo bought a cowbell. Why? Because I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.

After that Scooter informed me that we had just officially circumnavigated North America. Circumnavigated, son! The odometer now reads 11,000 miles. Our only worry is a possible encounter with the Yeti in the land up North. Aside from that, things are going swimmingly.

Trizzy over and out.

Posted: June 02, 2006
Rubbing The Road: Southern Comforts