Man, these night drives are killing me. We had been warned by one of the gentlemen from Havok that when driving through the Southwest it is best to travel overnight because with the intense, hellish daytime heat, the roads essentially become a river of lava and you run the risk of your vehicle overheating and your tires melting and popping. To me, night driving in a packed van is like ancient Chinese water torture. You can’t get comfortable enough to sleep but your mind just screams for sweet, delicious rest the entire time. We drove all night to Albuquerque, New Mexico to play a show at a tremendous venue called the Launchpad. When we pulled into town at around 8am we headed to the house we were to stay at, and to our weary apprehension, the house was full of people still fired up, drinking and cranking classic 70’s jams from an all night booze and drug binge the night before. We clumsily moseyed down to the wet, unfinished basement and spread out on the rough concrete floor while Van Halen’s “Jump” cranked on the loudspeaker, rattling the bare floor joists above us. We all fought tooth and nail for some rest, and later that afternoon we reluctantly arose to get to the show.
Its funny how we seem to have the best days after those uncomfortable and restless nights. We headed early to a park and played in the sun all afternoon. We had a marvellous BBQ and played ultimate Frisbee until it was time to head to the Launchpad. So far, the Launchpad was my favourite venue we have hit on this tour: great sound, big stage and awesome lights. Afterwards, we were sure as hell not heading back to the party house, so we got a motel room, crammed all 10 of us in and had an incredible evening. We all got hammered drunk, and sat around watching cable TV well into the morning. I love everything about cable TV. I think I just enjoy handling the remote control and the power that it wields. It’s like a magic wand that makes reruns of Married… With Children appear. Every half hour you can start all over again. Anything can happen in cable TV land. Especially when you have 10 dudes in tow to relentlessly make fun of everything you see.
Warhead. We slept like sardines until the late afternoon and we headed to our gig at the Red Owl. In a plaza adjacent to the bar there was an astonishing record store called Asylum Records that was almost more of a rock and roll museum than anything else. They had classic memorabilia, original signed guitars from Paul Stanley of KISS and Dimebag from Pantera, and a hypnotizing Led Zeppelin live DVD playing on their big screens. I could have gotten lost in there for days. We got our pictures taken and framed on the wall next to fellow Canadians Anvil, which is a great honour.
We played an extremely enjoyable Tuesday night set. I got nice and loose. I even called out for our cover of “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, for which we have an up-beat and dynamic arrangement with improvised elements. It’s a jam we have had in our arsenal since we were young; the whole point is for me to abruptly play 20 seconds of a completely different song at each instrumental break of Hocus Pocus. As long as I pick a song in the key of “A”, (or “EH” as we call it in Canada), it comes across as a musical magic trick. For instance: at the beginning of each instrumental break I will just start playing something like “Cat Scratch Fever” or “Seek and Destroy” or any song I can think of off the top of my head, and it sounds consistent as long as it is in the same key. Then I can seamlessly bust back into the Hocus Pocus groove by calling out a “1-2-3-4!” count to the rest of the band. The beautiful part is that my band has no clue what songs I am going to play until I play it, so it keeps us all on our toes and displays sophisticated musicianship. It’s a high-risk endeavour that could fall apart at any moment. Whenever we nail this song live it creates an air of spontaneity that you can almost feel in your bones. To play it unsuccessfully and fall flat is a fate worse than death where the audience wonders why you wasted 10 minutes of their lives and you feel like a silly billy for the rest of the night.
Spencer “Advil, please” LeVon
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