It was a longer flight than I’d anticipated from Japan to Sydney, Australia. It was about nine hours and I was just slowly doling out my ibuprofen to deal with the summer of sciatica. There was some more customs hassles to deal with getting into Oz, namely a carnet, a document we had to provide that listed ALL our gear, computers, etc. It went as well as it could, and we entered the airport to find our lovely host, Anthony of Your Mate Bookings, holding a sign displaying a traditional Australian greeting.
I can’t lie, Anthony’s handsomeness put me off a bit. It’s hard to trust a sexy guy who’s decided to denigrate themselves by working in the metal scene. But his humor and typical Australian friendliness did a lot to ease my nerves. He ended up being a great host and our adventures in Australia would prove to be extremely positive.
We headed out early the morning of July 5 to make it to Los Angeles Airport, shit hole of the West. We had to get their very early to take care of three things: checking in, visa forms for Japan, and having our last decent Mexican food for awhile. We made it into Japan without incident, besides maybe some leftover bean farts.
Our first stop was Tokyo. We met with two members of what was to become our amazing fucking crew, Bastian and Benoit. In a weird twist, our hosts in Japan were French expats. Incroyable! We packed into the very, very tiny van, my sciatica flaring in full force after the long flight, and made our way to the Shinjuku region of Tokyo.
Immediately following the Ludicra shows in New York and Texas, I had agreed to a tour with Exhumed in late June 2023 opening for Venom. Well, I was cajoled into it. We’d been offered the gig after we’d made plans to go to Japan and Australia, and frankly, my time was growing thin. Matt was worried about our expenses for the overseas trips, however, so he talked me into it. And then they added days. My original plans to go home after Ludicra for a break were dashed. I had to go immediately from Austin to Dallas and meet up with these turkeys and start shows with zero in-person rehearsal.
Complicating things further was the absence of our actual drummer Mike Hamilton. He had asked for this time off to tech an Exodus tour and get some more face time with with his family. Our friend Adam Houmam of Cartilage had stepped in during the last show of our 2022 tour when Mike fell ill. The silly boy accidentally ate someone’s weed gummies because he didn’t ask and he understandably freaked out. Adam was actually able to play like six of our songs with 20 minutes notice. It was Mike’s suggestion to call him in to fill in and Adam was down. Without rehearsals, I was only going to find out how he played our songs live on stage!
Ludicra’s next chapter started with an offer to play Oblivion Access in Austin, Texas. Austin was not in my plans for Ludicra, but the money was okay and everyone was on board so we said yes. I thought we could use it as a hub to complete what I thought was essential to giving Ludicra the closure I was looking for. We could make a lil mini tour and book shows in New York, Austin, Portland, and at that point I’d have really been okay calling it quits.
New York had family for some members of Ludicra but was also just a nice big hub to fill in for any East Coast fans of the band to see us one last time. Portland was aways a big draw and a home away from home I wanted us to play one last time.
Last year, Ludicra, the rock band that forgot it was a black metal band, reunited. It was at the North West Terror Fest in Seattle Washington. Later in the year, we played an emotional set reuniting in our Bay Area home playing Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA. Now, this past summer, we’ve managed to squeeze a little more life out of the husk by playing Saint Vitus in New York and the Oblivion Access Festival in Austin Texas. And we have at least three more shows left. Then, we’re done.
Some members are ready for the band to be over again. Others are not. But we’re agreeing to an end so that Ludicra can shuffle off this mortal coil in a more celebratory way than it did in the past. It was an ugly death full of acrimony and accusations that got drug out over the course of years. My previously close friendships with John and Aesop shattered and took years to recover. The way we ended in 2011, right after enjoying our first successful European tour with no goodbye never sat well with me.
Kind of an odd post for this blog, but music often includes theater and theater includes costumes. On the last Exhumed tour in 2022, I was fortunate enough to have my lovely girlfriend accompany us for three shows. At the last minute, our guitarist Baz remembered a photo shoot I had done with her featuring my teal “sexy nurse” GB-4 bass and my girlfriend in a sexy latex nurse costume she had from before we met. It just HAPPENED to be the exact same colors. I call it kismet. Anyway, he suggested we invite her on stage with us to perform with us and our own inimitable Dr. Philthy! It was a grand idea and she assented.
Latex clothing is a tricky beast. It needs to be tight but this can also make it difficult to put on. It doesn’t slide on like normal cotton, it’s got tack to it when applied to skin. While getting ready before our show in Philadelphia at Johnny Brenda’s, we moved a little too fast and undid some of the seams on the collar of the dress. The seams are glued, not sewn (obviously) and we were lucky we didn’t actually rip the latex. Also of some luck, our direct support had red duct tape that matched the collar’s piping so I was able to make a quick fix for the night and the show went on. This dress wasn’t cheap, though, so we needed to do a REAL fix. So, I learned how to fix latex clothing.
I hate active electronics. It’s not that they don’t serve a purpose, they just don’t serve a purpose for me. I play death metal and run everything through distortion, so actives are pretty pointless. I’m not looking for clarity in tone, I’m overdriving everything. Unfortunately, any new gear seems to be marketed with active preamps and pickups and a bunch of bullshit that’s going to fail on me. Such was the case with my OTHERWISE excellent LTD GB-4 bass guitar.
We went on tour in October of 2021 and this bass failed on me two separate times live (and in front of some lovely looking people i was trying to impress). The GB-4 comes with a Seymour Duncan STC-3M3 active tone circuit to compliment the passive Seymour Duncan SSB-4 soapbar humbuckers and it also eats batteries like a mother fucker. Once we’d figured that out after it died on me twice on stage, i was replacing batteries every 4-5 days. Also on stage, something happened to the active treble and bass combo knob, and i had to tape it in place so it wouldn’t crackle. Embarassing. I was done with it. This bullshit active electronics package was going to be ripped out and I was going to piss all over it.
A friend picked up this classic Acoustic Model 220 solid-state amp for cheap. It did not work. She figured it was worth the gamble of $50 to buy a non-functioning amp and see if she knew someone who could fix it. The call went up on Facebook for anyone willing to take a look and I answered it.
She had two amps, actually, for me to take a look at. The other was an Acoustic 370, another great piece of solid-state hardware. That one was easy; it had a cracked solder weld and was easily patched. This one was a little trickier. Considering the age of the amp, though, it was still easy and a testament to how durable these old solid-states really are.