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.
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.
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.