RETOX TOUR DIARY- PATHOLOGICAL OPTIMISM – UPDATE 11/20/11 – 11/29/11
We asked Southern California’s Retox to keep a tour diary as they make their way through Europe. Written entries by Guitarist Mike Crain; Photos by singer Justin Pearson.
“RETOX is an outcome of stagnant and boring western culture, as well as the self-proclaimed counterculture, which has slipped into a sea of pointlessness. The band manages to detach themselves from what one might consider a promotional paragraph trying to explain what is not really important to the band themselves; such as a list of influences—they are influenced by much more than music, but more so by the world at large. The band has no goal for what the future holds.
Sonically, the band’s crude and primitive aspects make sense in this day and age. The band is a reaction to the world that the members and their comrades have lived in: shitty childhoods, bureaucratic frustration, and the overall justification of continuous war. That sensibility coupled with a modern artistic delivery, the music is educated as well as furious, and most importantly, blurring genre lines of punk, hardcore, thrash, metal and whatever else seems fitting to the critics.”
Check out the video for “Thirty Cents Shy of a Quarter.” Vice Cooler 2011
NEW VIDEO “Ten Pounds of Shit in a Five Pound Bag.” Siegfried Productions 2011
The European leg of our “tour blur cycle” was finally over and the time machine had spit me out into an alternate December 2011. Not one where I was a female porn star but one that I was not expecting and that totally fucking sucked nonetheless. It was a very distorted and confusing December 2011. Kinda like a mash-up between SST era Sonic Youth and Elton John. One where I was completely broke, in debt, in trouble, devoid of any valuable possessions, suddenly single as well as an asshole, homeless, and a victim of identity theft. But yet, still hip looking and cool sounding. Fuck! We haven’t been home five days and I’m totally ready to leave on tour again. Ahh the tour blur cycle. At least down there everything was simple and it made sense. All that was expected of you was to make it to your gigs on time and put on a great show. Up here in the real world life is much more complex and involves many more people. You have to account for their feelings and be accountable. Bills need to be paid. Work needs to get done. Dogs need to be walked. Family needs to be visited. Girls need to be consoled. It’s a total fucking struggle. Oh well. The tour machine is cruel and cunning.
After Germany we headed back to Paris. We played in another basement bomb shelter. There are several venues crafted out of giant old bomb shelters in Europe. Those Germans back in the 1940’s were fucking unrelenting on these poor people. The show’s promoter was totally rad and on top of it. He even went to bat for us when, while sound checking the club owner, came running onto the stage, flailing his arms around and screaming at us in French. Apparently we were way to loud and over the legal decibel limit for live music venues. Are you fucking kidding me?! Seriously?! Why the fuck were we invited here to play then? Why wasn’t this stipulated in our contract? They knew what kind of band we were and these French pussies were trying to pull a fast one. Like i said though, the promoter talked the owner off the ledge assuring him that everything would be fine and nobody would call the police. He was totally right too. The show was packed and went without a hitch. Excellent. We found out later that the noise restrictions in France are a huge problem for bands of all sizes. Legend has it that the Swans had a serious fucking blow out with a promoter and venue the last time they tried to play in Paris. Ha Ha! Can you imagine the looks on their faces when the Swans started to sound check? Jerry Lewis himself must have came down from the sky yelling and screaming.
We were up and out early the next morning to drive all goddamn day to make it to Birmingham, UK. This show was also extremely fun. We got to see and hang out with some of our British friends. I love those limey bastards. We also got to watch an amazing all girl opening band play named “Pettybone.” More specifically I got to watch them play. Even more specifically I got to watch their sexy as hell guitarist play. Wow I really like this band. We quickly became friends. Her and I should start a band. Or just make babies. I’m cool with either one. By the way Ivona, if you are reading this, hit me up because I lost your email address (wink wink nudge nudge).
We played two more UK dates before our final show in London. One in Bristol then one in Leeds. Bristol was pretty fucking amazing and actually so was Leeds. The only problem with Leeds was that the show attendance was a little thin, thin for a Leeds show anyways. The promoter told us it was because the Mariachi El Bronx were in town the same night to play a show. We were definitely not going to win that battle. They are slightly more popular than we are. Ha Ha. Our London show was totally fucking bad ass. London shows usually always are. Pettybone opened the show and wow’d the crowd of 20-30 year old single guys. A few of them actually had girlfriends though. Our EU booking Agent’s band “Tropics” played as well and were rad too. I wasn’t really paying attention but apparently during our set, some guy in the audience got totally out of control and climbed onto the stage and then accosted Justin. I was later told that the man was escorted out of the show head first. This is not the first time something of this nature has happened to Justin on stage. Trust me!
Now the real fun began. Our dip shit EU driver was totally losing his mind by the time the show was over. You could tell that after three + weeks with us, he despised Americans. Loathed them. He was so ready to get rid of us that it was fucking comical. He was not at all willing to miss any of our connections to get us on our way. We had to haul ass loading up as soon as the show was over, make it to our channel tunnel departure time, arrive back in France, drive several hours into the morning to the airport in Amsterdam, make our flight in time through the heavy holiday crowds, fly 11 hours back to Los Angeles, get picked up by our manager Shannon at LAX, immediately drive to San Diego, play a show, then continue the end of our tour with Melt Banana. Mother fuck me…..I’m ready to take a nap. I’m tired. In case you are wondering and did not get to see any of those west coast shows with Melt Banana, they totally fucking killed it and are arguably one of the best bands on the planet. God I love rock n roll. What a great time. What a great tour. At least this part of my life is not completely fucked!
So this is where I say good bye. “Retox” and myself thank you all for reading and I hope you were entertained. We would also like to say thanks to everybody who helped make our EU tour and this diary possible. You know who you are. Thank you.
“Musa acuminata Transportation”
Yes! That all sounds delicious. I would love a warm bowl of science fiction, a bottomless cup of poisonous green snake tea, excellent conversation, and beautiful people. The Sprinter style time machine was very kind to us. It spit us out in Berlin for a three day port of call while it got its flux capacitor repaired. Ah…….Berlin. We had people here. Comrades. Allies. Bohemian beauties and freedom. Much needed freedom from the blur cycle of touring. It’s been a long one for sure. We aren’t even done yet and I’ve already lost two waist sizes, my bank account, and complete touch with the real world up above and outside of the worm hole.
We were greeted in Berlin by our people Gary, Chantal, her friend Uta, and Chantal’s children Mira and Elliot. They were dear friends of Justin’s deployed to Berlin some time ago. Aside from these people being absolutely righteous, they also had a major advantage. They were all given the highest clearance along with dual citizenship. This means that not only do they know everything that is going on in and out of the vast network of “tour blur cycles,” but they can also move freely in and out of it. They have constant contact with everything true, blurry, and fiction. My band and I desperately needed to reconnect to anything tangible.
The only unfortunate thing that happened was on our first day off when Justin and Thor both got food poisoning from some imposter vegan Indian food. Poor guys. They were really sick well into our third day there. They even soldiered through a show we had on our second day in between vomiting. Despite this the show ended up being excellent.
Shantal and company spent every spare minute they could accommodating us. They ruled! We got to go everywhere we needed in Berlin and see everything we wanted. Brian and I even had some of the best fucking cheeseburgers we have ever had. The Turkish men responsible for these yummy works of art took much pride in their work and explained to us that their culinary skills were genetic. Awesome! I could get used to this place. Time to get back to the time machine. Fuck I wish Michael J. Fox was our roadie. Well, the 1986 Michael J. Fox anyways.
“Combahee River Collective”
“Angel of Death”
“Angel of Death, Pt. 2”
“Angel of Death, Pt. 3”
“Goat Statue with Low Hanging Balls”
“Magical Arab, Side View”
“Holidays in the Sun”
We arrived in Prague to very welcoming Siberian winter weather. Fuck this bullshit! This place is brutal. Within minutes I want to listen to Christian Death and cut myself. The venue we played was some legendary club on campus that had some serious energy. We were supposed to headline but ended up playing first because the two other touring American bands that were supposed to open were running extremely late. The venue has a very strict curfew so we suited up and took one for the team. It was all good. The place was packed and going ape shit during our set. I even saw a couple of orangutangs crowd surfing. It looked like a lot of fun.
By the end of the night Brian had definitely expressed interest in several of the sexy 19 year old female alcoholics to be, but unfortunately he wasn’t having any luck. Enter older brother and bandmate Mike. I have been around for a little while and definitely know my way around shitty bars and shitty rocker bar sluts, so by default i pulled wing-man duty again. I will just say this…….Prague girls know how to drink and apparently know how to show way ward drummer boys a good time. Brian scored.
50 Euros poorer, several bottles of schnapps down, and multiple US citizenship requests later, Brian had had enough. Lets head to Nuremberg.
“Another Fucking Church”
Massive tidal waves of monster mountains are about to crash in and swallow us up whole. This little van on this little highway winding through these little postcard-esque towns on a feeble little highway. We were eclipsed by the biggest, angriest mountains I have ever seen. They are so fed up and so tired. Who the fuck gave humans permission to be here? This was their region of Land Europa, Hemisphere North, Earth planet #3, Galaxy Milky Way. I’m getting the feeling that they just want to go back to sleep forever and take everybody with them.
I had violently been awaken out of one of my time travel sleep between a city from the past and a city from the future, by cold turbulence. The mountains are standing up straight and tall and breathing down hard frigid death breath on us. It’s like a continuous cold bite that penetrates the skin and goes for your lungs. We’re fucked. The people in these little towns that inhabit this region are still here only because the mountain allows them to be. But we were unwelcome guests. Our windows are totally fogged up now by the mountain’s breath. It was trying to make us crash or drive off of one of its cliffs. It wants to kill us. I don’t want to die yet. Out of the pitch black mountain hate, I spotted a light up ahead on the road. Thank God there’s a tunnel up ahead. Fucking hurry! The mountain started to scream at us as we barreled towards the mouth of safety. I could see that it was well lit and immune to icy mountain death breath. Our driver firmly held the wheel and remained calm. He has experienced this mountain’s hostility before. He wiped his forehead, pressed on, then announced to me that we made it. This tunnel allowed us safe passage through the entire length of the mountain. It was actually the longest tunnel I have ever seen. We had a lot to be protected from. It was not a joke. We were lucky. This was my first experience driving through the snowy dark Swiss Alps to get to our next show in Austria.
This place is fucking rad! It turned out to be some cultural hot spot where people fucking loved Retox. Lucky for us. The venue was typical of most European venues, three different sized rooms for smaller to bigger concerts all connected by one big bar area. But this place was a little different. This place had some serious fucking old world charm. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. The main bar area was outdoors with several picnic tables, an out door kitchen, and a burn barrel near by. It gets pretty fucking cold there at night. The staff cooked huge pots of vegan chili and rice for us and all the other acts playing in all three rooms that night. We all sat and ate together by the crackling fire near by. There was laughter, food, drinks, excitement, happiness, and dogs. Yup! Lots of stray happy dogs running around and playing everywhere, eating our table scraps then continuing on. Nobody ever yelled at them or was mean. This was truly fucking amazing.
I sat and ate with my new friends and favorite band “Zeus” from Milan. These two guys are bad fucking ass and as cool as they come. After we ate, we walked across the street to a cafe and I got a cappuccino. They couldn’t believe that I was having one in the evening. They said that was the weirdest thing they had ever seen. Ha Ha if only they knew how fucked up I really was. We sat and talked forever. Europeans love stories of America. They especially can’t believe my stories of Los Angeles. Particularly how violent and lawless it used to be. That kind of cultural distress doesn’t fucking exist in Europe, well at least in Western Europe. They just don’t understand it and why should they? It fucking sucks. These people were about good art and good living. This was the European experience I wanted to have so bad.
The show was fucking packed and insane. Because you could just pay to get into the complex and essentially all three shows it was pretty much like a festival. People were not holding back or afraid to have fun. They were getting down for sure. We played in a downstairs cellar type room that was connected to another room where the bands sold merch. Both rooms were filled with cigarette smoke and people smoking. Its normal here. Periodically some of the dogs would run through the crowd to check things out then scamper back outside to play. So awesome!
Now I’ve played some epic shows in my days but this was one for the books. The crowd was going insane. They where so fucking happy and having so much fun. They took our energy then threw it right back at us magnified by a thousand. It was intense to say the least. Towards the end of our set they all grabbed Justin and lifted him up in the air and wouldn’t let him go. He belonged to them now. The people of Italy. The owners of art.
“A Holy Molar and Friends”
We’re making the rounds in Italy at the moment. Played in Milan two nights ago and Rome last night. The drive through the south of France into Italy was absolutely fucking phenomenal. No movie or photo can truly capture that region’s beauty. My bandmates slept through the whole drive. Ha Ha.
When we arrived in Rome I thought we were actually in Mexico City. Pretty fucking ghetto and congested. Pretty much looks the same. The show was a lot of fun and the people were really cool. Afterwards there was a discrepancy with our lodging for the night so we opted to stay with one of Justin’s American friends from San Diego who lives in Rome. She was bad ass!
We had planned on seeing the coliseum in the morning but instead got to see the inside of a Mercedes service center. Fucking awesome. The alternator on the Sprinter was about to go and we would have been fucked. Luckily the tour company’s dispatch found this place for us. 900 Euros later we were on our way to Bologna.
“Where Do I Aim?”
This shit is honestly just a blur. A total fucking blur and I’m no longer able to see clearly. Whether its Europe, the US, or fucking South America, it doesn’t matter. B…..L…..U……R. But wait, there is a catch!
A closer look will reveal that once the blur of “touring” comes into focus, it’s actually a deceptively perfect circle of emotions and events that you can’t escape. Its a masterfully designed wormhole that swallows any true artist whole! Once you have allowed yourself full entry into this seductive and blurry world, the odds of an escape and complete recovery are nil. Many will grow old or die here.
Now that i have fallen into this abyss completely, I can describe to you what it’s like! If it wasn’t for technology like the Internet, I would have no way to communicate to you from down here.
All of my days begin in a strange place. Some times I have been there before, most of the time I haven’t. It really doesn’t matter because the next place I go is into the time machine, disguised as a Mercedes Sprinter. Here the Cure takes over my Ipod and finalizes my re-entry back into the perpetual “blurry circle” of touring.
It’s always the same. It starts and ends the same way every time; Love, lust, longing, loneliness, despair, hunger, hatred, confusion, acceptance, happiness, humor, elation, then absolute fucking fire! This leads into the first second of the first song of our set. It’s the moment that I live for and nothing can touch or take it away. It’s the only time in life when everything makes sense and is understood. It’s a product of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s exactly what lured me down the worm hole into this world in the first place and the reason I can never escape. I love you all. Good bye.
“Punk’s Not Dead”
“It’s beginning to look a lot like (homeless) Xmas”
I’m definitely running out of lives here on this stupid fucking planet. I was thinking back to our last two tours in which I had near death experiences. That or I was going to die and it cost me a couple of my lives. A few months ago we played some So Cal and Mexico dates and out in the middle of the desolate and baron Mexican desert we pulled over to take a piss on the side of the highway. We got out of the van and I walked around into the darkness. I took one step onto the sand and as I put my foot down something moved rapidly under me. It violently struck my foot and started making a loud rattling sound. Mother fucker this cannot be happening! I stepped on a goddamn piece of shit rattle snake. I pretty much pissed myself and screamed at this point. As we sped away like bandits the guys had me tear my shoe off to inspect my foot. Luckily the little fucker didn’t quite make it through my fancy leather shoes and instead just left a minor puncture with a lot of shiny venom sprayed down my shoe.
The next month we were on tour with OFF and Cerebral Ballzy. Somewhere in the middle of the dates I started to get sick, really sick. After a week of unbearable throat pain and progressively losing the ability to swallow, I drove myself to an ER in St. Petersburg, FL. The doctors did a CT scan and found a giant abscess in my throat. Son of a bitch! They said that it would have to be drained and I would need high powered anti biotics immediately. They hit me with some morphine, pep talked me for the painful process about to come, held my head and jaw open, then jammed the largest syringe I have ever seen into the back of my throat. Three times! Mind you I have seen plenty of syringes and endured a lot of pain in my life but this was far and beyond some of the worst pain I have ever felt. After they drained the back of my skull and gave me a courtesy shot of morphine, our manager Shannon picked me up and we went on to play that night.
I’m telling these stories because honestly nothing to terribly exciting has happened in a couple of days other then awesome shows and they wouldn’t be to interesting to read about.
No time traveling for me today. I’m wide awake for this portion of the trip. We’re driving through the south of France right now on our way to Milan, Italy. Unfuckingbelievable! The landscape and coastline is so breath taking that it doesn’t even seem real.
“Space Invaded Again”
Do people even realize how fucking good Van Morrison’s “Moondance” is? Not the damn song but the LP. It’s so good. I hate it when people won’t admit that they like or even love something because they are afraid of being judged. And even worse are the people who laugh at others for their honesty. Fuck you. Fuck you all I say! That’s what I like.
Other then the long drives, fun as hell shows, and awesome fan interactions, the only exciting thing that happened was me having to pull wing man duty for Brian. After Barcelona we played in Montperrier, France. Three cute college girls approached Brian and I after the show and wanted to “party.” Now I’m very familiar with the American version of this and to my dismay the French version was just as fucking annoying. The whole night consisted of us unknowingly giving the girls a free English lesson, them all coked up, them running out of coke and booze, watching them fiend for more coke, not being able to get it, and then just when it was do or die time the girl Brian was into suddenly divulging that she had a boyfriend. LAME! I guess if anything it was good to figure out that stupid college girls are stupid college girls any where in the world.
“America, Fuck Yeah”
The drive to Barcelona was brutal. The aroma in the van was even more brutal. Imagine a Navy Seal in full corpse paint, in a Florida swamp, listening to King Diamond on his special issue Ipod, sloppily butt-fucking a soggy G.G. Allin. That is what our van smelled like…….HA HA. Just kidding. It’s really not that bad. I was able to “time travel” a little though so that made the drive significantly more tolerable. Long drives on a tour are a piece of cake when you get to time travel. All you do is go to sleep and wake up at your destination. Simple.
Our show in Barcelona was awesome and fucking loud as hell. I swear to God I’m going to blow out one of my ear drums playing in this band. Ear plugs suck live so don’t even bother. We also got a really good compliment after the show. Some guy told me that we were the most violent live band he had ever seen. Thanks dude! Clearly he didn’t make it to some of the shows I went to back in the day though or he would say we are pussies. Chuck Landis’ “Country Club” or “Fender’s Ballroom” would make anybody get used to seeing blood, broken limbs, and huge fucking gashes down the sides of faces. I was in the 9th grade when I started going to those venues and I saw some of the worst shit I have ever seen happen to human beings there. Anyways, I doubt my new Spanish friend was at any of those shows.
We all walked to a charming little Vegan restaurant that Justin knew about from previous Barcelona shows, and I must say that it was delicious. It was crazy because it had fliers/posters for animal cruelty awareness and right next door was another eatery that had animal carcasses hanging in the window. Interesting.
OK……..Now can we please talk about how fucking out of hand downtown Barcelona gets after dark?! Holy Mother of God! Aside from the frequent drunken brawls and the scores of hustlers giving out free beer to every single passer by, it was like the 2011 United Colors of Benetton’s prostitution convention out there. They weren’t just advertising, they were trying to make hard fucking sales! A “she-male” that looked as if Mike Tyson and Carlos Santana had a baby, totally fucking punked Brian! As we walked pass her and her posse, she effortlessly pushed me out of the way, strolled right up to him, and firmly grabbed a hold of him and his dick in front of a whole street full of people. I can’t remember what exactly she whispered to him but he looked like he was about to cry and got all freaked out. Justin got it the worst though. He is just way too fucking cute to be out on those streets at night. They wanted a piece of him so bad! Ahhhhhh. Goodnight, Barcelona.
“Good Luck Barcelona”
I have been yelled at by women my whole life. Especially first thing in the morning. Usually it was something like…..”get the fuck out of my house” or “where the hell were you last night?” or “I can’t believe you did that, she’s my best friend.” But this morning it was different and kind of endearing. The yelling was in French and coming from a woman I hadn’t wronged. It was the hotel’s cleaning lady who kept barging in telling us to wake up and check out.
Throw shoes on
Jump in van
Listen to T-Rex
Get uncomfortably aroused
Take a nap
Drive four more hours to Bordeaux
This is my first time in France and I must say that Bordeaux is absolutely fucking charming and curiously seductive. I could easily see myself coming back here in the future to impregnate one of their dark complected, big eyed, PJ Harvey looking beauties then grow old and die. Yup! Bordeaux is the place for sure.
Now let’s get down to band business. Before load in and sound check, we had to claim some of our merch that got shipped to us from our label Ipecac, in The States. To our surprise 90% of the shipment was missing. Fucking awesome! Through the tracking number we learned that French customs officials were holding it all for ransom. That will have to get dealt with tomorrow before Barcelona. We still have to replace Brian’s rental high-hat stand that he accidentally left back in Amsterdam along with his wallet and his mojo. 75 Euros for a piece of hardware that costs 35 bucks in The States. What a country.
The show was in the basement of a venue called Saint-Ex and was quite literally an old bomb shelter. The show was a lot of fun. We were excessively loud and brutal. The crowd was terrified. Everything was pretty typical. Brian couldn’t land a chick for the night, Thor and Sarah had tons of stockpiled vegan food, I had a cheese burger and chocolate, JP had air and water. Goodnight.
I rarely ride in the front of the van with our driver but this was a special occasion because tonight Iggy Pop was at the wheel. We were barreling through the bullshit French countryside and all this old iconic dickhead in the front seat would talk to me about were his dietary restrictions and how poor my eating habits were. As it turns out father Iggy is quite healthy and does not approve of junk food or smoking; two of my favorite things in life. Give me a fucking break dude! I wanted to hear first hand his tales of heroin shooting, binge drinking, ass fucking, Bowie loving, rock n’ fucking roll insanity! I was about to fall asleep mid-sentence when to my surprise he leaned over to me, gently put his hand on my knee, then began to work his way up my leg. Whoa, wait a minute! This dude doesn’t fuck around. As I was about to rip his hand away from my penis he sternly says to me, “you wanna be my dog?”
I woke up at that very moment feeling gross and violated and realized that I just had to piss really bad. I had fallen asleep listening to “Fun House” on my iPod and was having gnarly MSG-induced dreams from the worst fucking Chinese food I’ve ever eaten. It would have been different if it was young Iggy but it was the modern day leathery Iggy instead, which therefore classified my dream as a nightmare. Back to the Chinese food, seeing as how it was the highlight of our boring driving day. The poor vegans in our camp JP, Thor, and Sarah, couldn’t even eat that shit and sent it back. The rest of us pigged out and payed for it later. This creepy, back woods, shitty French eatery had one redeeming quality though, a beautiful waitress. She was unstoppably cute and had no idea. Like a little lost chinadoll, she meekly scurried around from table to table not looking customers in the eyes as to upset her master. Brian and I immediately hatched a plan to kidnap her, stuff her into one of our merch bags, and bring her back to the US. However we aborted the mission when our bandmates went up to her to complain about their meal. Oh well. On to Bordeaux, France.
“Gypsies in Paris”
Now tour life really begins;
Get in van
iPods are the best invention ever.
Listen to Fleetwood Mac, Budgie, Slayer, Mazzy Star, Stretch Heads, T-Rex, E.S.G, and a lot of Sade! Yup. Sade. She’s the best fucking thing ever.
Get to the venue
Load in and sound check
Eat and drink everything we can get our hands on back stage.
Play the show
Hang out and talk to fans
Drive some more
Go to the hotel and try to sleep
Tonight we actually had a guest singer join in on a couple sings with us though, Sarah Ze from Malaysia. She was super bad ass and had the best sense of dress of anybody I have ever met
“Justin and Ze.”
The flight to the EU was totally not out of the ordinary at all, except for the fact that it was delayed 6 hours. My meal actually was not bad at all considering I wasn’t really sure what I was eating. I am absolutely positively sure though that whatever I was eating was a thousand times better then my band mates “vegan” meals. Ha Ha. We landed in Amsterdam, found our driver, picked up our backline, and headed to the venue, Winston. We were in Amsterdam no more than 20 minutes when our drummer Brian noticed his wallet was missing. Somewhere within the 100 square ft. between our van, the venue doors, the drug dealers in the alley watching our every move, and the “Jersey Shore” style fuck heads going clubbing, Brian dropped his wallet and it was never to be seen again. Poor guy. Young, single, and his first time to Amsterdam. All the guy wanted to do was overdose on pussy and pot! He got nothing. Well, he did actually come up on some pot. The show was a lot fun. People were terrified. It was perfect. After the show one of the venues promoters, Irene, put us up for the night. She was totally fucking awesome and hospitable, even though she likes Slipknot. Just kidding.
“Non Animal Liberation”