Welcome to Hell – Exhumed with Venom, Inc.

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!

Texas was hot as hades. In fact, most of this tour was going to be insufferable, possibly the hottest June in 1,200 years (not me worried about the world ending). The majority of the days topped out at around 105-110º because you know… the world is ending. It was another reason I hadn’t really wanted to do the tour… summer in the south west But I found ways to treat myself.

Exhumed picked up me, Cheyenne the sound person and Rachel the merch person at the hotel in Dallas after a pretty monster drive from California. We were playing Trees Lounge in the heart of Deep Ellum, the “cool” district of Dallas aka where the young kids go to be douchey and get drunk and try to get laid. Our old friends Enforced showed up and everyone but me knew some of the fellas in Acid Witch. It was a bit daunting going up and jamming with no rehearsal, but the show went fine.

Acid Witch turn up the heat

Next up was San Antonio, Texas. Not having really paid attention to the routing, I had not realized we would have 5 shows in Texas. And I’d already spent four days in Austin. In the Texas heat wave. Everything is bigger in Texas, including my misery. But the shows were good, as was the next night in Houston.

About this time, the burgeoning sciatica I’d been feeling since before I’d left home really started to take hold. I’m writing this in the future, and it’s been more than a month and I’m still aching. Getting old sucks, no doubt about it. But I had to soldier on… though I may have been grumpier with my bandmates and random show goers. Apologies to all.

We continued west through Texas playing Lubbock and then El Paso. I hit up some toy stores on the way, as is my last joyous hunt to be had from touring the United States. I’ve seen a lot of the landmarks and I’ve seen them again. Toy hunting keeps me sane. I also got a massage in El Paso, my first in decades. I hoped it would help my sciatica. Here’s a hot tip… if they provide a blanket, get under it and cover your ass. The poor lady saw my tiny white butt and nearly screamed. My bad. I covered up and tbh I don’t think it helped that much.

The Venom Inc. crew were nice enough, but the absolute lack of any green room sharing wore pretty thin on me. Granted, it’s their right, they’re the headliner, and they really were congenial folks. Just… chilling out in the parking lot got really old really fast in the deep heat.

but then again how maybe I would have never seen this sweet, sweet Star Wars van

Tuscon, Arizona, home of one Jackie Daytona, was not the most amazing of shows, but we had a good time doing a plank challenge amongst the members of Exhumed. Me and Matt may be old, and my body may be falling apart, but we still beat the younger members in the physical fitness challenge. Take that, juniors. Matt also sprang for the dopest motel with a salt water heated pool. The chill factor for our crew went all the way up to 11.

We showed up in Phoenix and it was 106º. There was zero water in the venue for bands at load in, so I ended up going to an “inconvenience store” (an AA fronted store with no alcohol but PLENTY of smokes) for water for the band. Ridiculous hospitality tbh… people are in serious danger of passing out in this kinda weather.

Phoenix is always a blast, though loading in to the Nile Underground never is. Lucky for us, for the first time ever, we played the Nile upstairs and the crowd showed up in droves and went wild. I hope that holds in the future because if I never have to load down those rickety stairs ever again it’ll be too soon.

An all night drive to San Diego was well worth it. The first actually temperate weather of the tour! San Diego always has nice weather, and we experienced the best of it. After checking into a hotel early, I joyfully walked the quiet neighborhood, bought some comic books, bought some food, and went to get another massage for my back. About 20 minutes into my massage, the lady asked if I wanted to turn over. I was like, NO… my back is fucked and I actually NEED a massage! I can jerk MYSELF off thank you very much. So she climbed on my back and folded me in half and it felt wonderful on my sore muscles and fucked up nerves.

I was dubious about this relatively small tour playing the vaunted House of Blues Inc. club in San Diego, but it’s one of the smaller House of Blues and the show was pretty well attended. While we did have to deal with some usual house of rules bullshit regarding our stage show, it was wonderful having multiple green rooms decked out with food and drink. We had a great time in ours, sharing space with members of the other bands and drinking and making merriment.

Next up was the famous Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles on the Sunset strip. Like any venue on the strip, it is a logistical nightmare to play! There’s no street parking typically and you have to load straight out after playing because there’s no room inside. We paid for our van and trailer to be parked in a sketchy parking lot behind the club that was night impossible to fit into… we paid for 3 spaces so they wouldn’t block our trailer, but they managed to anyway. Good times with capitalism. The show was packed AND fun, however, and we had some good times with Lemmy down at the nearby Rainbow Room.

people say there’s a resemblance, but I’m decidedly more alive

We headed northeast to the sleepy town of Fresno, California and no wonder it’s sleepy… it was 110º when we showed up. It was a mini-fest of sorts, with our tour inside and some locals outside. OUTSIDE. Good lord. Thank you for your extremely hot service, local bands. Full Circle Brewing is an a’ight spot to play, getting to sample their micro-brews and the people of Fresno are always cool when bands remember to come through. The crowds rip and despite the heat, it should be on tour promoter’s lists more often.

Finally, our van pointed towards my home of the Bay Area. We went straight to the DNA club in San Francisco where lo and behold, parking was reserved for us, water was available, and the staff helpful with loading out. Hospitality in my home! It felt good to be home.

Enforced tear San Francisco a new one

We were leaving the tour this night AND it was Adam’s birthday… so we let him request an Exhumed song that wasn’t in the set because he’s a nut like that. He WANTED to learn an extra song… okay, over-achiever! The show went great and it’s always rad for Exhumed in the Bay… spiritually if not literally Exhumed’s homeland. At least our birthplace, if you include San Jose (which is somewhat dubious, but gets included solely because “computers”)

Exhumed left the Bay without me. I had one day at home, and the next day I had to go get my car and head down to San Luis Obispo following a quick visit with my family. I met up with Baz and Adam and we rehearsed two NEW sets to play in Japan and Australia! The next day we were to meet with Matt, drive to Los Angeles, and catch our flights over the great Pacific Ocean…

To be continued!

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