Last month, I headed out with Exhumed for a tour of Latin America. I’ve already played Mexico a bunch, but this would be the first tour for me, and Exhumed, to head even further South… right down to where the toilet water spins the other direction (lies… it doesn’t). We had just finished recording a new album, literally hours before we got on a plane at LAX to our first stop in Monterrey.
This was the first time I had a dude with a sign waiting to pick me (and the boys) up. It was momentous. It would get tiresome. So… many… flights. We also had some tigers show up to take photos of us. How did they know what flight we were on? Even the promoters couldn’t explain. This would become a frequent occurrence throughout Latin America.
We met up with the other band we were going to tour with, Beyond Creation. They’re a much more sophisticated metal band out of Quebec. They got, like, lots of extra strings on their guitars. Anyway, we all got shuttled to the venue that had a tree growing out of it.
The promoters and the staff at the club were awesome. This was pretty much the way it was throughout the trip. We were mostly provided with awesome gear to our specifications that was awaiting at the venues on stage. Dream gig! I don’t have to load shit!
From Monterrey, we flew to Aguascalientes. We went straight to the hotel first to get some rest then headed to the club for soundcheck. This became the rote schedule for most days. I mean, I want to say I had fun, but that’s rough… I like to see stuff when I tour, and mostly I saw the inside of airports. I hate to complain, the tour was great, and some days we got to see interesting shit like the band Kalaverastecah. They dressed in makeshift Aztec garb and had some traditional instrumentation to augment their metal.
We did the weirdest interview of all time in Aguascalientes. A woman would show us videos of local bands and ask us what we thought. That went on for like 45 minutes. The best part was when I said I wasn’t too into one band and it turned out the two men accompanying her were in that band. It was a gotcha on the level of James O’Keefe. ARGH! We played the show inhaling insane amounts of cigarette smoke, slept briefly at the hotel, and got up early again to head to the airport. On to Ciudad de México, where the show was in a fucking church!
Once again in Mexico City, the tigers showed up in force to take photos with us. Then the same tigers actually beat us to the hotel and took MORE photos with us. Of course, I’m happy indulge, but I’m still befuddled how they beat us. Anyway, we got to the nice hotel, had lunch, then headed to the venue for the show. Like most days on the tour, a lot of us fell asleep at the venue due to getting up early and having to be at an airport. The weird thing was, it took like an hour to get to the venue. But when the show was done, it took like five minutes. Everyone was like, “WTF” and I think the drive got lost the first time round. So that hour long drive was my tourism in one of my favorite cities in the world that day.
The next day, we got shuttled to the airport early. Mexico City has a pretty big airport, so they dropped us off a the International Terminal, which seemed logical as we were headed to Guatemala. BUT… incorrecto. The Mexico promoters and our tour manager/sound guy could not seem to locate where we needed to check-in. They tried to run us past security, and I’m like, uh, no, that’s not how airports work. Finally, they figured we were in the wrong terminal, but to get to the other terminal, you had to have checked-in and gotten a ticket. What kind of kafka-esque nightmare was this? We finally kind of bum rushed the ladies doing security for the airport tram and they let us pass. Then, the TM and promoters start leading us away from where the signs say, in English and Spanish, the international check-in is. We get to our airline, but it’s the domestic check-in, we get to the front, and they’re like, “no no no.” At this point, I’m fed up, and I speak enough Spanish to ask someone where we need to go. As I launch off bringing Exhumed with me, the promoters keep telling me to stop. Then some random tigers show up to take photos, and they tell me to stop saying I’m going the wrong way. I’m cursing them all and FINALLY we end up where we should’ve been two hours previous and too late. We missed the flight.
Everyone is pissed, but at this point, I give up. It’s someone else’s problem now, right? We were up, not drunk, and made lobby call on time. Well, Matt gets industrious and finds us new flights. He makes the tour booker wire him the money first, but we have to use my credit card to get the tickets. Exhumed realizes we need take a bit more interest into checking into our own upcoming flights and the state of the airport, where to go, etc. For their part, the Mexico promoters feel bad and take us out to dinner, which was kind.
As we’re going through security, Dylan finally gets stopped. I mean, he’s got a severed head in his backpack. Or as he tells security, a “cabeza replicada.” Keep in mind, the severed head does not look real. It looks like a beat up CPR dummy. But police surround him and we get nervous. Then the police start laughing and taking photos. It took awhile, but they took him back to the check-in desk, asked the airline if they were cool with it, and he was on his way to terrorize the tigers.
We finally get on a flight to Guatemala and have to take photos to prove to the Guatemalans we’re going to make it… and we do… just as the last band before our tour package finishes. As we quickly load out, the crowd outside the show in Guatemala City starts chanting “MATT HARV-EY! MATT HARV-EY!” Matt turns beet red, but we have a great show, despite the fact I had to unplug the bass amp and go direct on account of the rig they had sounding like a wet fart.
Blessedly, we drove to the next show in El Salvador. Does this seem scary? It wasn’t. The countryside was beautiful, and unlike an airport where you have to be awake for so many steps, some of us could get blessed sleep. The border crossing was easy and we were on our way to a hotel that we were promised had a pool! And it did! And it had garbage in it! Oh well. There were some random weirdo Christian faith healers at the hotel, as well as some more tigers looking to take photos with us. How’d they find us? No idea! But they gave us little El Salvador flag lapel pins. Good times!
We played a pizza place in El Salvador called Buho’s Pizza. It was one of the few businesses in El Salvador that did not have an armed guard with a shotgun out front. Even Papa John’s had a dude with a shotgun, but then again, Buho’s was across the street from a police station. So there’s that. The show was fun, the pizza was welcome, and we turned in back at the hotel for our next flight to San José, Costa Rica, and sort-of-kind-of a day off.
The promoters of this show took us out to a local restaurant where we ate delicious Costa Rican food and burned our mouths on amazing new hot sauces. After a brief respite at the hotel, Exhumed was taken out to a meet-n-greet at a local metal shop. I’m not sure why Beyond Creation didn’t go, they’re pretty fucking big in Latin America, but it was just us. I brought a bottle of wine I’d gotten at the duty free shop and we got drunk while signing CDs and taking photos.
After the signing, they took us to a local metal bar called Donde Bravo, where we continued getting drunk, ate some shit, and Dylan took some dude’s Harley around the block while the locals cheered at a crazy gringo motoring on their streets. Dylan and I returned to our room and took some shots of a local moonshine he was given. This would turn out to be a disaster, as we both got liquid lava shits the next day (and for weeks to come). I wanted to walk around San José, but the rapidity of my voluminous anal explosions kept me near the hotel. I prayed I’d be okay at the club.
The club did not have running water. The toilets would not flush. Oh boy… I had clenched cheeks all fucking night. The show itself was great, we had a good time, and a local guy made miniature replicas of all our guitars to give us! It was a very welcoming atmosphere and everyone there was rad.
Another early lobby call the next day, and we were on our way to Panama City. Here, we stayed in our fanciest hotel, with a balcony, lots of room, and zero time to really enjoy it. Off to lunch and then the show!
The neighborhood our hotel was in was weird… at least, like, in that way where you’re in a foreign country but then there’s lots of people you don’t expect to be there speaking a language you don’t expect them to speak. It was Chinese neighborhood in Latin America, is what I’m saying. This befuddled me, then I remembered the strategic location Panama holds for companies shipping shit around the world and it made perfect sense. Globalism, y’all!
We played a smaller club called Hangar 18. It, too, did not have running water. At first, I thought maybe we could all piss in the toilet tank to create a flush. After my first attempt, I saw how big the tank was compared to my stream and realized how futile this would be. I had to head back with Beyond Creation to the hotel so Montezuma could get his revenge on me. I returned, watched some of the opening bands, and we jammed a good set. Panama City seems cool and weird and I’d love to go back and actually see some shit. In the meantime, we went back to the hotel, back to sleep, and another early lobby call… and another flight. Guh. But this time, we were headed to a whole other god damned continent! We were on our way to South America!