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Last year, Exhumed was invited to play the 2018 edition of the annual 70000 Tons of Metal cruise. I hadn’t played with Exhumed in almost a full year’s time while their former bass player, Matt Slime, filled-in for me. He’s logged in more time playing with Exhumed than I have since “replacing” him. I actually did offer Exhumed to take Slime in my stead, because a nice cruise seemed like it would be a good reward for hard work. Well, they insisted I go and I got to enjoy my second 70000 Tons.
I played the boat two years ago with my fellow hooded cannibals. It was a wild ride. We’re obviously not the main kind of draw that the cruise has, it being mostly populated with power metal bands from Europe. They do get a few good death and thrash bands to even things out a bit for the attendees who like something more than just songs about ale and vikings on long boats.
Our band recently had the amazing opportunity to go on tour for nearly two months as direct support for the Scumdogs of the Universe, GWAR. This came with some strings attached, however. No, we didn’t have to service Blothar’s dick-teats, that was voluntary. Instead, a couple of us would be pressed into service for our lords and masters. I was one of those: the shameless, the stepped-on, the slaves of GWAR.
For two months, we would play a show, furiously load our gear out in snow, rain, or heat, and then three of us would run back inside to don a more revealing pair of skivvies and monster shoes. To say it was rewarding would be one way to describe. The other would be grueling.
It’s like some kind of weird dream… I’m apparently back in Exhumed. Only, it’s not in the same room, and like, there’s a snake rolling a donut. I mean, it’s actually been almost two years since I accepted the invitation to rejoin, but we’ve had just a handful of shows since. Matt has had a record ready to record before I even joined, though. This last March, when I asked Matt when we would get down to practice new stuff, he informed me, actually, we were going ahead and recording . It had to be done before May. Oh, fuck. Okay, the dream became a nightmare.
So, okay… get your shit together, Sewage, this is fucking happening. Matt and Mike were heading to Florida to get guitars and drums tracked. To keep things easy (and cheap) I was going to take care of my own vocal and bass tracking back in Oakland. This not only had the benefit of saving costs, but also of sparing anyone the time of editing all the shitty playing that was to be forthcoming on a bunch of songs I’d never actually played with a band. It was lucky that I had collected the gear, had the studio with my other Oakland-based band, and had been through some of this before. Here’s how I did it.
I didn’t really manage to keep a good tour diary on this last European tour… call it lack of motivation, call it the ability to download and watch TONS of films from Netflix on my phone. Either way, I still feel the need to put something down before it ebbs from aging and already addled mind: at least to learn a few lessons. Yeah, we made some mistakes on this tour, but fuck it; it really was one of the most easy going tours I’ve ever done with a crew that managed 0% slacking and 100% laughter.
There’s no real need for tour stories here; we all had a good time with relatively few crazy adventures. Most of the tour stories would just be us talking about old cartoons or cult movies while imbibing lots of alcohol. So let’s try a list of errors we made and how to correct them.
We finished up our tour with Carcass and Crowbar on the East Coast, so we and Night Demon had a string of shows in order to get back to California. Originally we had wanted to go to Cleveland (sorry guys) but we ended up in Webster, NY, at some old Mason hall or church or whatever… I don’t know. It was near Rochester, and even the few folks from Rochester were like, “Webster?” But whatever, the people who did show up were the right people and had a rocking good time.
We had to drive all night, again, but were set to hit Chicago and one of the best venues in the United States, Reggie’s Rock Club. The staff lead by Edgar is fucking on point, the food at the attached bar is great, they have laundry, a back room, but most importantly, they have insane Chicagoans who know how to rock the fuck out. Easily it bested any of the previous nights on tour… the ENTIRE tour.
We stepped out of the van into the Albuquerque sun behind the aptly named Sunshine Theater. Instantly, I could feel the carcinogens forming in my skin. This place was dastardly hot. The only place to unload our gear was currently baking in the open sunlight, so we opted to leave loading until we could find shade for our multitude of meltable props. Sean and I headed in an Uber to Home Depot and picked up more crap to fix all our broken hardware. We came, we played, we got paid, we were on our way for a two-day drive to Memphis. Until…
We were flagged down on the road by a woman pointing at our front left tire. I pulled off to the next rest stop and had a look. The rubber had quite literally been baked off the steel-belt of the tire, likely by the amazing New Mexico heat the day before. We avoided a blow out, but we did’t avoid being flummoxed by the lack of a tire iron in our rented van.
I mean, seriously, where to even begin? I’d say it was the worst start of a tour ever, but then again, I had one tour start where our guitarist and friend was near death with a burst appendix. Perspective, ya know? Losing a bus and all the money invested is really nothing so long as nobody is hurt. It costs a bunch, but that’s what credit cards are for.