Tour 1: Lowering the Drinking Age (summer 2009)
I know it’s been a while since the tour, but here’s a summation. This is actually the exact kind of email you’ll receive if you join the Achachay! Mailing list:
As most of you know about a month ago Achachay! completed our first
tour ever. It was a smashing success, the smashing part being mostly
the HO Bus’s transmission getting smashed and causing us to leave it
by an abandoned power plant on the wide and dilapidated streets of New
Orleans. The success part, albeit possibly less entertaining, included
significant crowds at most of our 18 shows (we often performed to at
least 15-20 strangers), a definite break even (still debating whether
or not to buy accounting software for a Mac to really run the
numbers), extremely positive feedback about our music, high merch
sales, and the opportunity to spend quality time with countless
friends from our previous endeavors -Austin, Houston, Rice, Tulane,
Ghana, and Spain.
The vast majority of the tour is well chronicled via vignettes on this site. Click on “blogroll” to see the previous posts.
I am humbled and grateful for the support we received from you – our
fans and friends along the way. We had people at our shows and pillows
under our heads because of you all scattered far and wide. Thank God
for Facebook too- how else could I remember where people are when I
can hardly even keep track of my mom’s birthday? We’ll certainly
continue touring, most likely back along I-10 in September and up the
West Coast in early 2010.
WHAT I LEARNED:
- Old buses are not reliable
- Veggie oil is still badass
- The most useful feature on the iPhone is probably Google Maps
- Tight living quarters bring out quirks, irritations and judgements
that I’m often unaware of; this is good because it provides me with
the chance to acknowledge them and get past them
- Pack your own equipment so nothing gets left behind
- Have more than one key
- Small towns and small town people are so friendly
- Maintaining a consistent physical and spiritual practice is harder
while on the road, requiring planning and intense dedication
3 THINGS I’LL MISS:
- Playing every night, in front of a new crowd
- Getting to see long distance friends, make new ones
- The purpose and direction that comes from the intense schedule
That’s a laconic update on the tour. Since we’ve been back we’ve
been working hard to (a) get a good time slot for a CD release party
in Austin, (b) book a bunch of other shows around town and around
Texas, including a weekly Dizzy Rooster gig on Mondays, (c) get our CD
reviewed by any and all publications we can think of, (d) get our
songs on the radio, and (e) compose new music, amongst other things.
As always, if you can help us with any of these things we appreciate
every bit of it.
We are seriously shooting to sell 1000 copies of our CD “A Preachy
Catfish” so you’ve got to tell people about it. Right now we’ve sold a
little less than 100.
Keep in touch y’all, and
thanks for your support.
Achachay (c/o Jordan)
(1) What do you rely on your friends for? What would you feel
uncomfortable asking them for?
(2) What have you learned in the past month?
(3) How do you keep from losing things? How do you keep from getting
P.S. I just cut my hair all off. .
One fine evening at our great friends the Sortes, we decided to relax in a a hot tub. Out of nowhere GASP! bubbles formed before our very eyes. Within minutes there were feet of bubbles covering the surface of the tub and spilling over into the pool like a shallow soapy waterfall. Insanity ensued!
The pictures say it all. Check back for more pictures as they surface and dodge all the dodgy bubbles.
Also check back for updates on our calendar. We’re working hard to book shows in and around Austin, and will likely head out East on I-10 again in early September.
I have no idea how I lost the key – that’s the nature of something being lost isn’t it? I went to the van to get my running shoes, and then played some frisbee with Suzanne (Jane’s sister) and Michael. Innocent enough, right? Next thing I know the band and the whole Sundermann family is tearing up the house, the street and the park, looking for some scintillating grey metal.
OoooKKK. We can still make it to the show with all our equipment by borrowing two cars. The next morning if we haven’t located the missing key we’ll get Enterprise to make us a new one. Easy enough, right?
We play the show at Felix’s (which was badass, by the way). Tons of fans, almost all friends of Jane, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, and a hazy “afterparty” in a STL basement with the booking agent, sound guy, and some of their friends. Great night, ready to rock our last show in Chicago. Call Enterprise the next morning and they send over AAA to make a new key. Simple enough, right?
This AAA guy tells me that you can’t just make a new key, despite the fact that the van doesn’t even have power locks or power windows. There’s a little chip in the key that sync’s up with the van’s computer, and it takes 30 minutes to do so. Intended to reduce theft, it apparently has just increased the number of straight up car jackings. Anyway Mr. AAA locksmith can’t get it to work. Chicago is 5 1/2 hours away and our show isn’t until 1130 so I’m not worried. Time enough, right?
After two and a half hours he tells me he can’t do it and peaces out. That’s it. No word of help, no advice. So I call Enterprise and they say no prob, tow it to a dealership and they’ll be able to make a new key. Fine. But now it’s 3 and I’m starting to realize that if it takes the alloted 75 minutes for the tow-truck, 20 minutes to get towed, and another 30 to get a key made, we’re cutting it really close. And that’s assuming everything is copacetic. As you can imagine, it wasn’t. Fortunately Joanie, Jane’s mom, had the brilliant idea of getting a loaner van from Enterprise. So I called.
which have little to do with each other and little regard for how quickly this issue gets resolved. I have nothing but gratitude towards Enterprise – they really helped us out and were very kind. The scene was just hilarious – six disparate companies.
I’m on the phone with (1) Enterprise central office, and they have to call (2) Enterprise in New Orleans to OK the van switch. Then, they call (3) Enterprise St. Louis to OK the deal. Next they call (4) AAA to get the tow truck, and AAA calls (5) a local towing company. Finally, there’s (6) the dealership we get the vehicle towed to. At one point I’m on a four way conference call with Enterprise Central, Enterprise New Orleans, and Enterprise St. Louis. Ridic.
Somehow the beauracracy is well oiled and we manage to slip through a pile of paperwork into a loaner van for the Chicago show. We end up making it with about thirty minutes to spare, and play a killer last show. Big shout out to Ryan’s friend Elissa for bringing a crowd. Plus I got to catch up with two amazing people from study abroad, Sasha and Montana, and party balls with old Rice friends Kirby and Darren. Awesome hosts. But I digress.
The next morning we drive back to St. Louis with the intention of a quick pick-up-the-van stop on our way to Arkansas. We’ve got to get back to Austin for a wedding on Saturday and it’s already Thursday at this point. I call Enterprise to find out where the van is. They don’t know.
What? So I start calling Chevy/GMC/Buick dealerships and asking around. No one knows where this van is. What the hell?
Enterprise figures it out and calls me back, so I call back the dealerships I’ve been asking and let them know I found our van. Turns out the tow company just dropped off the van without a word and the service guys at the dealership had no clue who owned the van or what to do with it.
I tell them what’s up and they say it should only take a half hour. Yeah right.
We show up at three hours later at 6 and the service guys have all gone home. No one knows what’s up with the van and they’re trying to jump it because it “won’t start.” That’s because the key doesn’t work.
OK, we’ll show up first thing in the morning. We all wanted to watch “The Hangover” anyway. We’ll just have to drive the 18 hours from STL to Austin all on Friday.
We call Friday morning and they say it should only take a half hour. Sure….
I don’t believe them, but know that we have to be ready anyway. Jane and I head down to the dealership and whaddayaknow, we wait two hours! Finally, the guy comes out and tells us that the key they’ve been trying to program for the past two days, the one made by the original AAA locksmith that couldn’t do it, doesn’t work. I know, gasp in mock surprise. All they have to do is make a new key and it will take a half hour!
This time, that’s all it takes. Three days later, we have a replacement for our lost key.
The tour has now been over for 3 days, but I’m still recovering so I have had no chance to write. So much to tell! Day 20 in NYC, traveling to St. Louis and staying with Ryan’s family, hanging and playing in STL, losing the van key and the ensuing madness, our last show in CHI-city, plus anal suppositories. Yes we live a charmed life and have much to tell.
But since I’m still dealing with the Ho Bus in NOLA (how will we get it back when it accelerates so slowly and won’t exceed 30 mph?) you’ll have to wait a few more days for all the details.
In the meantime, I’ll share a little anecdote which some might find hilarious whilst others find vulgar.
Someone (no names will be mentioned to protect the self conception of our anecdotes protagonist, referred to as “zed” to retain gender neutrality) had not experienced a bowel movement in over a week. Chalk it up to poor eating habits, too much peanut butter and protein bars, or 13 hour averages between meals but whatever the case it came to a vicious conclusion at dinner Thursday night. Zed’s contorted face alarmed the others present at the table; was zed OK? No, zed said, because zed hadn’t crapped in over a week. What a terrible predicament. Zed’s discomfiture had exacerbated over the course of our travels and now prevented zed from even being interesting in watching “The Hangover” until zed’s “hangover” was expelled. I left the table and hauled it to Walgreens. Zed needed immediate relief, so I bought the quickest acting box I could find. I did not read active ingredients, warnings, or method of dispense.
Upon arrival at the table, one band member commented, “haha, hopefully you didn’t get anal suppositories.” We all chuckled. Zed tore into the package with delight and looked up wide eyed. “These pills must be made for horses!” Four rather large, torpedo shaped capsules grinned up from the plastic. Oh no. I look at the box and on the bottom right hand corner, in plain english, beamed the word “suppositories” in shining whine.
Such is life, mistakes are made, and many distasteful jokes ensued. I felt kind of bad until zed delicately placed the suppository in it’s rightful bed and experienced immediate relief. The package said it would work from 15-45 minutes after application; our disgruntled compatriot hit the toilet after less than a minute. Zed was, in the end, grateful that zed didn’t have to wait eight hours for stool to soften or an organic supplement to work it’s magic. Jordan was, in the end, grateful zed’d let him chronicle the story on this blog.
Things that should be mentioned, but most likely won’t because a lot of stuff happens on the road and there’s not enough time to write about them, or possibly enough interest to warrant it:
(1) Karen, Ryan’s relative and our Cape Cod host, is awesome
(2) We love the whole Sorte family. Check back soon for pics of us in their bubbly hot tub
Day 19: Mr. Beery’s
I can’t tell whether Mr. Beery, the bar’s namesake, is always drunk or just naturally offbeat, funny, and loves to heckle. His hair is as long as mine and curly, so we got along immediately. It remains unclear whether his and manager Tom’s personalities or the impressive selection of specialty beers on tap (many of which are dutch style with high percentage alcohol contents) inspire an eclectic collection of regulars, but the crowd was large enough, attentive, and quite friendly.
One regular in particular, a tall, muscular, long haired blonde man named Robin, took a liking to us. We did play a badass show, after all. He bought us our first round right after we finished. Great, Jane’s driving and we’re cool getting a little buzzed. We hang out, meet a bunch of people, chill with the other bands, talk about climbing. Robin loves to climb. Buys us another round – wishes we could visit the caves about an hour away where there’s still ice, offers his place next time we’re in town. Nice guy.
Around 2AM we start packing up our stuff and heading to the door when he buys us the third round- two each, around 8.5% each. Chug the first. “I just want to make sure you feel the hospitality up here.” I manage to pass off some of the fourth drink to Michael, whose performance appears unhindered by evening excesses. Ok, a little drunker than I would have hoped but hey, we’re rock stars on tour right?
Thirty minutes later Jane and Michael are already in the van when Ryan and I run back inside to make one more check through the bar (no pedal board fiascos anymore). Robin catches us in the parking lot on the way out and hands us the fifth round, this one a hefty 12.5% beer. “Thanks Robin, but this might be a little too much hospitality. We have a big show in NYC tomorrow.” I don’t think he hears me. He’s already chugging. Ryan and I share a look. Should we just drink it? He looks skeptical as he takes his first sip. If it were just a beer, maybe, but they serve this beer-wine business in the tall glasses. Another shared look and we seem to agree: too rude to just dash out. Someone bumps Robin and he drops his drink, where it shatters all over the asphalt. Seizing the opportunity I dump about 3/4 of the beer behind me. I see Ryan size up my drink with confusion. He starts to chug. I guess I was a little too discreet in my evasion. Oh the joys of making friends at bars.
We made it back without too much incidence. I tried to convince the NYC parking garage attendant that the van wasn’t oversized, then proceeded to talk to him and Jane in Spanish about his family in the Dominican Republic. We almost left Michael asleep in the van. He swears he’d have been more comfortable than he was on the couch coushins of Ryan’s cousin’s apt. Ryan and I had a heart to heart. All in all, it was a good night.
coming soon Day 20: NYC
Jordan: Hey Michael, what are things worth mentioning that happened over the past four days?
“Was the show in Worcester 4 days ago?
- Mr. Beery’s badass, I like that guy.
- good, loyal crowd at mr. beery’s
- long island’s cool
- sandwiches are way too big in NY – I had a pound of meat on my sandwich
- we spent more money in NY than the entire tour up to this point
- ‘Go to NY if you want to leave penniless’ should be their new motto.”
Jordan: “What else?”
Michael: Bar B Q festival. we found pizza for a dollar.
Jordan: did you end up buying a bunch of slices?
Michael: No I only bought one slice!
J: Anything else you’d want to share with your parents and friends?
M: Replaced a fuse in the van, ate a really good bagel with salmon on it. I think it’s called lox. Salmon and lox. Rode the subway. Saw a Lamborghini and a Ferrari, and a Maserati.
Made a guest appearance on David Letterman… walked across the brooklyn bridge. Don’t know if that’s noteworthy but that’s really cool. You get to the top and you can see all of New York, all the lights. It’s a wooden bridge so you can see all the way to the water. That water is disgusting. I heard about a guy who dropped something expensive in the water, got in with a cut on his foot, and they ended up having to cut it off because it got infected with a bunch of nasty stuff.
Oh yeah I also paid $10 for a beer, which sucks.”
We have been on the road for about 2 and a half weeks now and I have come to the realization that as a band we must play any show offered to us while we are on the road. I have come to this realization because every show that seems like it is going to be lame or not worth playing ‘on paper’ turns out to be an awesome show (and many of the shows I thought would be good have turned out to be the worst).Last night we played in Worcester, Mass at a bar called the Lucky Dog Music Hall. Now, we picked up the show the day before and I was already tired of playing in Massachusetts so I initially didn’t even want to play the show. I don’t know jack about most of these places we play, and Worcester didn’t seem promising. The bar also told us we were not getting paid, which I typically don’t care about, but gas is expensive and eating out everyday isn’t helping either, but we are on the road. Well the show turned out to be great. We played really well, and on top of that there was actually a good crowd! I was stoked to see about 20 people we didn’t know nodding their heads, dancing and shouting our name back at us for the hour we played for them. We even sold a good amount of merch and got a 20 spot for gas from the bar. It’s an amazing feeling when people are yelling your name even after you get off the stage, and for the rest of the night too. Worcester on a Tuesday.
This is not the first time this has happened: the show in Fayetteville was the same way. Fayetteville, NC is not even close to being a great place to visit. It has more strip-clubs than restaurants and its not particularly pleasing on the eyes. But Fayetteville on a Tuesday night at the Rock Shop was bad-ass. Out of nowhere showed up 50 or so people and everyone really dug on our music. Another great part about this show, and the show in Worcester, was that the other musicians playing that night (and hanging around) were all really cool and talented. It was a pleasure to share the stage and talk with them.
These shows are great and even better because expectations are so low going into them. On the other hand it just really sucks when shows you think are going to be good or at least OK turn out to be shit. Namely the show in Springfield, Mass. at the Rock Cafe (notice a trend in the bar names?). Don’t get me wrong, the show itself was great: we played for my family who came out from CT and we actually played well. The bad part was that the club owner gave us the run-around and, in my opinion, took advantage of us because we are young and from out of town. He promised us a set amount of money before we began playing, but once we were done he avoided us and insisted we stay to listen to a cover band (which he was playing in) until the end of the night so he could pay us. Then he proceeded to give us some shite story about how “the bar didn’t make any money” and he could only give us $20. Alright, so the bar didn’t do well that night (there was a good crowd there, drinking fairly heavily for most of the night but…) you can at least throw us enough for a tank of gas. The guarantee that we had before the show was only $50, and I think that would have been doable. Then he brings up that he has to be pay the cover band too which is a BS excuse because we are on tour and they are a group of 40 and 50 something weekend-warriors who definitely have day jobs (the lead singer told me he owns his own landscaping business).
OK well I think I have ranted long enough, and thank you for sticking with me this long. The tour has been awesome, and I feel very thankful to be able to do this.
I love you all
“What is this place?” Amanda asks one of the hosts of the four story warehouse where we partied Saturday night. People danced to live DJs on the second floor while bands played on the fourth. Original artwork decked the frames and studs awaiting sheetrock. “The Rugg,” the host responds with a coy smile. “I mean, what is it during the day?” she retorts. “NOTHING!” He smiles again and walks away.
Our friend Adam had connected us up with this highly illegal underground warehouse party. Within minutes of arriving he and I both became body canvasses. Michael got in on the live party painting as well, on the artist side of things. Themed elemental, a decent percentage of the party goers represented fire, water, or earth. Not many represented wind, although I suggested some dress only in saran wrap.
The real crux of the party, what enthralled us until sunrise, was the plethora of fantastic live music on the third floor, including the standout Benedict Arnold - jazzed up underground hip hop, highly skilled musicians. Check it out, it’s good shiza. Needless to say, the party was possibly the best way to celebrate Ryan’s birthday in a foreign city, simply because it was so crazy.
Pedal Board Fiasco:
Somehow I left my pedal board in Springfield MA. Fortunately, we added a gig in Northampton – only 45 minutes away – for Sunday. Unfortunately the bar wasn’t open and owner Joe had a baptism to go to so he cou
ldn’t let us in. Fortunately he had the bright idea to leave it in a restaurant down the street. Unfortunately when we arrived that restaurant was closed. In fact it doesn’t open on Sundays either. I did my best to find a way to break in without breaking anything, but we eventually had to leave empty handed. Faces red with frustration. Would we have to drive an hour and half out of our way to get it before we headed to the Cape? Joe, why did you leave our pedal board in a closed restaurant?
Note from the future: We added a last minute Worcester gig, only about an hour from Springfield, and grabbed the pedal board without incident.
A last minute show in Northampton:
About a week and a half ago we jumped on a last minute bill with Our Mothers Are Gods at “The Elevens” in Northampton. It felt like a couple days ago with the way time flies as we play and drive. Anyway we show up and grab some pizza and calzones down the street from the venue and happen to run into a bunch of Canadians wearing matching Tibetan shi
rt-smocks (They had just bought them at the local flea market-mall). Naturally they were in a band (Oman Ra) playing at the Elevens with us, so we made friends. Bunch of nice guys.
The show was short and solid. We jammed out the end of existential funk with a new take on an old part, and the other, non Canadian bands were friendly and supportive.
In the interest of time, and so that you guys actually have an idea of what’s been going on during our tour, I’m going to write this post in bullet points. Consider it an outline; fill in the details with your imagination
By “Rest” we mean:
- Get our music ready to be sold online
- Try to maximize the profit from online sales
- Make sure our gig on Saturday in NYC that was double booked still happens/and or move it to Thursday
- Find out how to get the Ho Bus back to Austin (Three AAA plus cards? Borrow a friend’s truck?)
- Make sure our gig in Chicago that was double booked (WTF why is this happening?) still happens
- Practice covers that Michael never learned
- Catch up on sleep
The Rock Cafe in Springfield:
- Left my pedal board at the show (bummer)
- Only got paid $20 (plus most of a bar tab, fortunately they had Guinness and Sam Adam’s Summer Ale on tap)
- Got to perform for Ryan’s family
- Huge thanks to Del, Arthur, Josh, Nicole, Isaac and Elliot for letting us crash in CT for two nights, and for feeding us. mmmmm I love bagels.
- I busted my lip on the microphone. That’s rock n roll if I’ve ever heard of it. And I have.
- Very distinct from Boston (there is a 79 5th street in both)
- Thought of some good pranks to pull on the Harvard campus. Wireless loudspeaker and microphone at old John Harvard’s statue anyone?
- All Asia Bar was a tight place with a solid, responsive crowd. Great show.
- Thanks to Brent from Trashed on Fiction for loaning me his overdrive pedal.
- Amanda cooks delicious breaded lemon chicken, pasta primavera, and banana bread
- Three friends from Austin came to see us, and hung out!
- Preston ran the merch table! Take that Roni . . . you bastard … you left us . . . . [sobbing uncontrollably]
Jordan to the band, “Did anything really crazy happen in the past couple of days that I should mention?”
Michael: “We melted some faces [20 second pause] but that’s not very crazy for us.”
Baltimore was touch and go – we literally arrived at 8P for load in, closed out the night from around 11-12, and drove to DC to stay with Allie at Gallaudet (the top college for the deaf, hard-of-hearing, audiologists and speech pathologists). The show was good, we got a sweet recording of it which I’ll try to get online at some point, and highlights include playing for Allie, her friends, and her mom’s friend Jennifer. Yes in fact we’d have played for about three people if Ms. Wilson hadn’t brought a crew.
- Staying at a dorm is fun. Especially when a bunch of guys all go to the women’s communal bathroom/showers together.
- Staying at a deaf school is intense; you feel really self conscious. What if you pick your nose but it turns out you’re tell someone to eat your boogers? What if you try to wave but it comes out as “F you!”
- Staying at a deaf school means men can be really loud in the women’s communal bathroom/showers cause no one can hear it!
Also of interest – I’ve mentioned how living on the road we sometimes don’t eat enough. Well we’d had one meal that day and I was exhausted before the show. So I bounced out to the van and made a couple of PB&J sandwiches. There’s a reason the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is such a staple in American eating culture: it has almost eve
rything you need. Especially when you slam 100% whole wheat bread and preserves like we do; PB&J’s provide energy, protein, carbs through fruit, nuts, and grains, and they taste great.
LOWERING THE DRINKING AGE
By the way, I’d like to mention how no one gives a crap about our cause of Lowering the Drinking Age. We have not had a single person talk to us after a show about it. It has sparked a couple lively discussions with friends before a show, so it has somewhat accomplished the goal of spreading the word. Plus when we talk about it we get some hearty chuckles from the crowd. But no one has signed up to join the Choose Responsibility campaign and hardly anyone ever glances at their literature on the merch table.
I understand that the majority of the crowds we entertain are over 21 and therefore have little incentive to get involved. I understand that the 21 year old drinking age is not anyone’s highest priority. But isn’t that the problem? Isn’t that the reason we’re out here promoting the cause? Isn’t that why we still have these ridiculous laws and unhealthy traditions in American drinking culture amongst young adults?
It’s more of an interesting observation than a rant, I just got carried away cause its 4AM and I’m freaking tired.
- A “day of rest” in CT
- housekeeping: a new show, moving the NYC show to Thurs, frustrations with booking agents
- putting our EP on sale online. “SOFT LAUNCH” Sunday
- Springfield, MA
- The All Asia Bar in Boston