Exhumed in the Land of Oz

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.

Anthony took us to a wonderful lebanese dinner where we met some of the other ozzie crew that would be working with us throughout the tour, including local maniac Tom from Carnal Viscera who would be our Doctor Philthy stand-in during out tenure in the land down undah. He’d gathered an impressive costume and gore effects and was a delight to chat with. He would proved to be a lot of fun and a great guy (along with his partner Allanah who also played in the band).

Afterwards, we stayed at a grim motel by the airport and said good bye to Anthony because immediately after flying in, we had to fly to our first show in Brisbane.

We were picked up at the airport by another pair, Leilanni and Tay, and taken to another hotel. The plan for the day before the show was to make my dreams come true: meet a koala. I’ve been talking about it for years. I’ve annoyed people about it for years. So many contemporary musician friends of mine have made it to Australia and gotten their photo taken with a koala. After years and dashed tour plans, it was finally going to be MY turn. It was supposed to happen in 2020, whoops, plague. But THIS was IT. Until our hostess Leilanni informed me, according to the website, they were all booked up at the animal sanctuary.

Can I be dramatic? Yes. Everyone in the band could tell I was going to break. I was in pain, had been gone from home for so long, and this was all I wanted from this summer sciatica tour. I just needed one of those stupid chlamydia carrying mother fuckers in my arms for a single photo and this sanctuary was the only place to get it. A couple hours passed and I just couldn’t talk. The band was literally in a panic knowing what a pain in the fucking ass I was going to be. But our hero Leilanni called the sanctuary and they said come anyway. Apparently there were sometimes extra spaces available for this stupid Koala photo. So we jammed, ran to the koala area, and I waited in line 1/2 hour to be the first one to be able to get a ticket for a koala photo. And we all got ’em. And I almost cried. Those fuckers are so INSANELY cute in person. My god.

We also got to see kangaroos, tasmanian devils, and a duck billed platypus. Now that my koala photo was out of the way, I was filled with joy and I could relax through the rest of this tour and just enjoy my un-ending sciatica pain.

We headed to the club in Brisbane and set up. And by set up, I mean everything. There was gear all over the back room and no place to sit, so Matt took charge of cleaning up the club. The person doing merch showed up after the show started so I had to set her up with the insane amount of designs and random sizes Anthony had sent us with that I had no idea the contents of. It was more than a bit of chaos… but the ozzies kind of deal with that in a very laissez faire manner that we weren’t used to. They’re chill as fuck. Maybe a bit too chill in some cases, but the crowd is just as cool and chill. The show was fun and well received, and Tom made a great Dr. Philthy.

The only minus, if I can call it that as it was HILARIOUS, was the weird couple’s fight during our set after some older woman showed us her ass. Couples really need to work out those kinds of things BEFORE the show on what and what is not okay for them. Consent is sexy.

The next day we flew back to Sydney to meet up with Anthony and play our show there. I was very worried because when we showed up with little time before our flight and there was an entire teen fucking orchestra in line in front of us to check their luggage. Luckily (for us, not them) their flight got cancelled so we got bumped up in line and made our flight okay.

Anthony picked us up and we got loaded in the minivan and trailer that would be our home for the next week. We also picked up the second in our crew of ozzies from Your Mate bookings, good ol’ Dave. There was a small panic as the minivan started smoking randomly, but we risked it and went to the club. A mechanic across the street confirmed it was just a bit overfilled with fluids; crisis averted.

The gig was at a lawn bowling club, aka a “bowlo” (I sweat they’re taking the piss on foreigners with these doofus names). Seemed odd, but apparently lawn bowling is huge in Australia and they had a great stage inside the club. We had to talk to some weird ass old timers until the bowlo-ing was finished, but then the club filled up with some cool kids. Around the corner, there was a brew pub and one of the managers was a fan so we got free food and beer.

The show was apparently one of their better attended ones in Sydney. We got to see our man Tom play with Carnal Viscera, and we were stoked.

My favorite interaction of the evening was a young trans person, shy as fuck, but came up to me and asked if I was Ross Sewage. I answered in the affirmative, and they asked “are you a fruit?” and I again answered in the affirmative. They cheered and said “I called Ross Sewage a fruit!!! Would you sign this stuff for me?” This interaction was based on a YouTube comment thread for an interview I did with Justin Horval, aka J Dawg, that got wildly hateful and out of control. But this cute interaction with another queer made that whole ordeal worth it <3

After I BEGGED for a photo op at the Sydney Opera House (I love landmark band photos) we headed to Canberra. Along the way, Anthony took us for savory pies, an Oz favorite, and to see giant sheep balls, another Oz favorite.

Canberra was going to be the biggest, most traditional rock club we played. But Canberra is a weird town. It’s an inorganic creation of suburbs built solely to be the capitol of Australia. It’s not like it’s an old settled town or anything that grew up… they just said “this empty land will be the capital” and built it. So the night life is, eh, not actually existent. It’s manufactured. The show was fine and all, don’t get me wrong, but we headed to another club afterwards to do a DJ night. There was like, no one ACTUALLY from Canberra there and the streets were empty as fuck. But we had a good time with the people who did come.

Canberra was special to me, however, because I got to visit with my extended “family.” My good friend Jenny was a former exchange student to America when I was a child, and her family have been friends with my family for ages, visiting us on the regular. The entire clan came out, all the parents, the kids, the significant others… I swear they made up half the crowd and it was so lovely to finally see them in their own country.

We headed to Melbourne for two days off with just a couple promotional obligations to fulfill. The first night, we were scheduled to appear on a terrestrial metal radio show, Burning Bitumen, that has been running for like 20 years. There we promoted our two nights in a row at the Bendigo Hotel in Melbourne that would be happening that weekend. It was a good laugh getting ripped and bantering with the deejay Kene.

The next night we helped host a metal trivia night that was, eh, coulda been better attended. But the trivia was fun and Matt and Sebastian got to have a good time in a section where they played random riffs from old metal songs as clues and got to show off their intense knowledge of old licks.

After our two days off, we drove to the Enigma Bar in Adelaide which was a helluva drive for a single show. It went off, and then it was straight back to the same airbnb we’d been at already in Melbourne for our actual shows there. I was tired as fuck, cold, and in pain. Woop woop.

We played a wild set at the Bendigo Hotel and it was really fun. And we didn’t have to load shit out because we were playing there again the next day! And I got to see my great friend Aurora who’d moved to Australia some years before. I wrote about meeting her a long time ago in 2012 when she was just a crusty kid in a living in a van looking for free entrance to a show https://www.doktorsewage.com/ghoulection-2012-transmission-six/ and now she’s a married mom and a successful worker on the rails in Australia. So good to see it 🙂

The cocktails were booming and the bartender got us some mushrooms which was clutch because the next day…

I organized everyone to go see the Barbie movie, including most of the members of the band Carnal Viscera. A bunch of us took shrooms and we were blown away by the brilliance of the Barbie movie. I cried. Everyone was wowed, thinking I’d corralled them just to have a laugh at some dumb kids’ movie, not see the weird existential meta mind fuck that is the Barbie movie. It was a great way to spend the day before playing our second set in Melbourne.

The second set in Melbourne also went great. We got to play with Oz legends King Parrot who turned out to be quite a sweet bunch of lads. Melbourne is a fun fucking town with cool shops and really reminded me of being home in California with good spots to eat and enough grime around town to keep it real. Also Melbourne had one of the coolest toy stores I’ve ever been to, really scratching that itch I have for old toys.

We had one final show to play, just outside of Melbourne, in a much more DIY venue that some kids had been building up adjacent to their rehearsal rooms. Sounds grungier than it was; the place was quite nice. Faceless Burial absolutely blew me away and Dave, our travel companion through this whole thing, surprised all of us by being an absolutely shredding guitar player with his band Munitions. He’s just such a low key bloke, I didn’t even know he played guitar until that day! It ended up being another really fun show. We wrapped up and our time in Australia was done.

We headed to the airport the next day and I got to endure a 17 hour flight with tremendous back pain that was fucking killing me the entire time. I really wanted to just be dead. All the exercises I’d been doing and the pain killers I’d taken were for fucking naught. It was horrible. But we did finally make it back to our van in Los Angeles, then a fucking drive to San Luis Obispo, then I had another long drive to make it home. But dammit, I made it. All the pain, all the travel, we managed 3 tours in a row and I survived. And I got my FUCKING KOALA PHOTO.

Then it was right back on to getting ready for the final Ludicra shows… fuck

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