Aussie/New Zealand excursion 1997/1998
JunkMailer Vol V No II
It’s past 1am right now. I’ve been back from this trip for almost a month but I’m just now sitting down to type this crap. And I work in about 7 hours, so I don’t know how well I’ll fair typing. This is purely first draft so all errors, grammatical, spelling, factual, or otherwise are some sort of Freudian slip and should be dealt with in a serious manner. Damn, I’m tired…
(Oh, this is supposed to be a tour diary for our Australian/New Zealand tour we did at the turn of the year. Nancy Vandal is the band we played/stayed with in Australia, and Ross, Lyn, and Richard are the main three to escort us around New Zealand, so when we say "we" these stinkers are usually included.)
Saturday, Dec 27, 1997
My mom drove Bradley, Mikey, Alex (our tag-along), BonneVicci (our Ghost), and I to the airport. We arrived just as Alan and Joe stepped off the train from San Jose. Notably absent was Matthew Von Burink.
Standing in our very own ticket line was none other than Lagwagon. Even though they have no idea who we are, we no like-y them. Actually we just have no taste for their music, their average fan, or their style of dress. Nothing against them, personally, you see. Since us dirty dogs were entering Australia the punk way (illegally, without visas but with lots of contraband in the form of merchandise and equipment), we tried talking them into passing some of our stuff off as theirs so we could slide on through customs. They were well packed. They had, among other things, a Sony PlayStation for those lonely nights in the hotel room. Mikey told them he had a GameBoy and was responded to with condescending looks. We learned a very important lesson, you don't mess with the big dogs. Little did Lagwagon know, but our very own problem child (Alan) designs video games. So they can rest assured the next game Alan has a hand at creating will definitely contain some sort of Lagwagon-demeaning undertones. Revenge of the nerds, baby.
While on the plane, discussing shitting in a barf bag and leaving it by Lagwagon's aisle, a young lady in front of me turned around and asked, "Lagwagon's on this flight? My boyfriend's band played with them in England." Turns out this girl is going out with James from Pregnant Men, whom All You Can Eat played with while we were in Hong Kong. They all moved to England, but James is in Sydney visiting his family and waiting for his girlfriend to show up. Small, small world. We tried pawning some more of our incriminating possessions on her, namely a few hundred stickers. After customs, she needed to meet us and give our stickers back, and meanwhile I could see James for a little while. Sounds easy enough.
Monday, Dec 29
We set foot in Australia three calendar days after we left San Francisco. Neither James nor his girlfriend were "on the other side" when we got through, so good bye stickers. We did meet up with Dean and JJ (from Nancy Vandal), who took us back to JJ's where we would be setting up camp for the next two weeks. Lucky him.
Joe took his three days on the plane and incubated a nice cold. He still went to the beach with us but I fear he is down for the count. After a few hours of pretending not to be excited about the beach being topless, we came home and JJ gave us a nice tour of all the deadly spiders, lizards, and insects nesting in and around his house. New game: Strip Ping-Pong.
Today we were awoken by the noisiest, most cacophonous birds we could have ever imagined. We all thought it was a joke for the first hour or so. How could animals like that survive? Surely other animals (humans included) must get fed up enough to want to wipe them from existence. JJ was the first to wake up this morning. This was because Alan was cruising through his room naked whilst sleepwalking. Granted, I have to sleep with a large pillow between my legs to balance out my lower back, and a special bone-shaped pillow for my irregular neck, and a mouth guard, and my hair up like Sideshow Bob so I don't get strangled by it, sleeping with Alan is still an adventure. I've slept next to him enough to know that he likes to snore and talk in his sleep (and he laughs in his sleep whenever anyone farts, but apparently we all do that), and he is known to have wet dreams. But his girlfriend has woken up to him beating on her stomach because he thought it was Pete's head (?!), and chasing imaginary cats and mice around their bedroom, all in his sleep. What a guy.
Now both Joe and Alan are fast approaching death via Joe's cold. Nancy Vandal and us hired two vans so we could drive two days to Mildura for the New Year's Eve Willowfest. Mildura, as we understand it, is the Teenage Pregnancy Capital of Australia. It is comparable to Bakersfield, California, if that means anything to you.
This morning angry cows woke us up. Scores of them just moo-ing and moo-ing. But not just any moo, a Hey, asshole! Moo! You got that? I SAID MOOO! type of moo. Now Alex is boarding the sinking ship that is Joe's Virus, and even I am feeling a little sore in the throat. Fox (Nancy Vandal frontman) is also showing signs of sickness. Hi there Aussies. We're Americans. You may remember us from such contributions as Beverly Hills 90210, Spam, and this cold!
We arrived in Mildura earlier this afternoon and Pete Pee treated us to hotel rooms, lotsa of beer and sodas, pizza, all-access laminated passes, and a nice tarp tent to hang out under. Most of the afternoon we drank champagne in the hotel spa just to say we did. The show was a stand-out, to say the least. The stage was a trailer that folded out into a full Rock venue, complete with Rock lighting, smoke machines, ample speakers, bed bunks, a toilet, and a shower. It was set at one end of a football field.
Before we went on two local DJs told us to "go out there and let 'em all have it. Have as good as time as you can!" We walked out on stage in front of a sea of young, restless, drunk Milurans and Mikey said, "Hi there! Now, fuck off, you cunts!" We then went on to call their local footie team the Mildura Poo Punchers and made other small-town pride-bashing comments. Unbeknownst to us, police were waiting in the wings to arrest due to excessive vulgarity before we even played our first song, but, fearing a riot, and at the behest of our new friend The Stage Hand, they waited till we finished. During our (pretty decent) set we heard the usual "Fuck Off!" "You Suck!" and ever-so-witty "Fags!" We accepted it, internalized it, and turned it against them. It's fair to say that by the end of our (fairly entertaining) set the lot of them hated our guts. We thanked only the garbage cans, singling out certain ones towards the back that weren't already full of beer cans. We invited the crowd to throw whatever they wanted at us. They did. Then security started getting pissed because all the misfired trash intended for us was hitting them instead. We were all totally oblivious to our growing opposition until after we left the stage, of course.
We talked our way out of everything and went on with our post-show merchandise-pushing. We attacked the numerous couples making out in the shadows because they didn't care what we were selling. We were like the Mariachi guys at Spanish restaurants who hang around your table playing guitar until you pay them to go away. Then we went around grabbing guy's butts while they were kissing their (new, drunk) girlfriends, so the guys would think it was the girl and get even more blue in the balls. Mikey got interviewed via mobile phone lines for a radio station and I doubt he said one thing that was true.
Random Quotes From the Evening:
- potential fan: "You guys were shit. Total shit. Complete fucking noise! I mean, sure, you're up there and you're doing your thing, but your thing's total shit."
- security guard: "Sorry, I don't pick up trash. I'm just here to smack people around."
- young girl to Bradley: "Can I ask you a question? I, uh, I've, well, never been with an American boy and"
- "Sorry for making fun of you guys while you were up there, but you're just not as good as the Offspring."
- a kid about Alex: "You guys cut shit! You really went off fantastically! But that one guy, he's kinda, ya know, weird."
Another kid came up to me and asked if I was going to the Islander Hotel for the afterparty. That's the hotel we're staying at and none of us knew of any afterparty, and with half of us getting sicker by the hour I doubt many were up for it, and surely the hotel staff didn't want to deal with it. I still told him, "Dude, no matter what, I'm gonna be there." (I may be hobbled up in our room huffing on steamy shower vapors trying to clear my sinuses, but I'll be there!) He asked if there was going to be security.
**DON'T WORRY! MOST ENTRIES FROM HERE ON OUT WILL BE MUCH SHORTER! I PROMISE!!**
January 1, 1998!
Just as we were loading out from the hotel I stole a box of cookies and got caught. We rode all the way home today and it was a long ride, especially for all the sick ones. Told you these entries were going to be shorter.
Arose to the local bird life outside JJ's window again. Now I'm really feeling like shit. We still all made it to the zoo (except for Alan who opted to lay on his deathbed all day). Late in the afternoon, an announcement was made about the gorilla feeding. Scores of people made their way to the primate exhibit and watched as a gorilla sat right in front shitting into his hand and eating it. To get to the zoo, you need to take a ferry and on the way back we left Alex behind because he was in the loo puking or pooping or something. For dinner we went to some famous Rock star's house on top of a sea cliff and ate BBQ and got sicker. We listened to "There Goes the Neighborhood" on the ride home.
We played two shows today at the same club. The first was all-ages and in the middle of the day. Everyone except Bradley was feeling like total crap, so the show suffered. We then all went out to an Indian restaurant with world renowned posters of class on the walls, like the one with a cat hanging from a limb with the caption "Oh Shit!" The meal rejuvenated us and we went back to the club and played ourselves an entirely mediocre show. We talked about Joe seeing his grandpa's cock and the time I got stuck in a toilet.
Dying can't..go on help ..kill .me.
I like having Mikey around because he has shallow pockets and is always dropping change, and change here is worth way more than back in the States. I bought a sandwich today off the change I scrounged from Mikey's former seats.
I've never eaten so much garlic in my life. My gad, what is that smell?
We locked ourselves out of Gilli's house leaving us stranded in the rain. Crap! I still smell that smell!! Anyone who recognizes me from All You Can Eat seems to be wearing a tie. Mikey got a chicken with boxing gloves tattooed on his upper thigh. Not only is it cool that he can say, "Wanna see my cock?" and lift his pants to reveal something other than his wang, but the artist was none other than Peter Wells, guitarist for Rose Tattoo!
Sean No Deal put us on the Sommerset/Crank show and I got to see a lot of old friend's I hadn't seen or heard from in a couple years (and none of them were wearing ties). Too bad we had to suck as bad as we did. Bradley is the only remaining member of our party that's remotely healthy. After the show Mikey and Sean went out and got pissed. No one, including Mikey, knows how he found his way home. I think I found my female counterpart. Gilli farts (get this) more than I do. And they're good ones! She has long dreads, a sordid sense of humor, and is an overt pervert. She Rocks, big time.
There was a 6-foot barrier in front of the stage tonight! Why not just dig a moat and fill it with alligators? We acted like the morons we are and most people watched in a very confused manner. Cops were, again, in tow the whole time we played, afraid our crass, tawdry conduct might need to be halted at any time. What an honor it is to have even the police watching your set.
A guy came up to me after the show and asked, "What would you say if I told you a girl over there wants to fuck you?"
"Let her know I only have sex with under-aged boys, like yourself."
We were told that Sommerset (the band we played with last night who are from New Zealand) have caught our American virus. Man, that's scary how that happens. That reminds me of the four most gruesome pages of English literature I have ever read from the book The Hot Zone, where it goes on about how easily and quickly viruses spread, and exactly how the Ebola Zaire virus breaks down the body. Nasty, nasty stuff, and thus, highly recommended.
Using my authentic American accent, I cunningly bypassed hotel security and reached the AVAIL/Lagwagon suites. Tim AVAIL remembered us as the annoying band that followed them around two summers ago trying to hop on their shows. He put us all on the guest list for their show this afternoon.
While hanging out at the 3000-capacity venue our accents prompted a kid to ask me if I was in Lagwagon. I told him No repeatedly but he wasn't buying it. He wouldn't leave me alone till I signed his shirt. I signed it "I am not in Lagwagon." A few minutes later all his friends were standing around me trying to get me to sign them, too. I wonder what they were thinking when Lagwagon finally played and I wasn't up there. I know what Mikey was thinking. He was thinking it would be funny if Lagwagon drank the water bottle he just filled with pee and threw back on stage.
Tonight we played at Club Bizzohs, a "men's club for business men." They have slot machines, meat raffles and, tonight, us. We honestly thought we were going to get mauled but, surprisingly, we only got applauded. Shit, a bunch of 'em even said they liked us. Freaks. Speaking of freaks, Mr Devon Morf showed up with his wrestling mask and took on much of the crowd. He and Mikey are going to be a great tag-team Oh, gotta mention this: a beautiful young lady in a form-fitting dress pulled me aside after we played and whispered in my ear, "Thank you. I received great pleasure from watching you tonight."
Drove way out of Sydney to play in a roller rink called Froggy's. The free roller skating was cool (really cool), but it was shadowed by the fact that numerous people drove a LONG way to come see us tonight. We played, sold out of CDs, and headed back home to rest up for the flight outta town tomorrow. We will be leaving Australia having made a breathtaking $380 (around $200USD). That PlayStation to GameBoy ratio really is indicative.
We farted up a storm waiting at Gate 3A for our flight to New Zealand. When we landed in Auckland (or Cockland, as we now call it) I was detained by customs for over an hour because of some shifty guy officials thought I was traveling with. Scruff and Dr. Kitsch were waiting on the other side and they took us back to the punk Graceland of New Zealand, College Hill, a communist warehouse established for leftists, by leftists. This being my third time to New Zealand, and thus, my third time to this 'house, I felt so at home that I immediately stripped naked in the main room (I wanted to get out of my "border" clothes as soon as possible).
Scattered everywhere were pieces of YM tour propaganda. Stickers had been made, huge poster-flyers screened, t-shirts, hand bills, promo sheets, patches, the whole nine yards (or roughly 9.5 meters). These folks had definitely been kicking ass. We even got to play a bona fide punk show tonight! A rented child day care facility hosted a tasty 4-band bill. All I remember about playing were numerous requests for Venom and getting stuck in a hand stand position with no spotters. Met some more casualties from our sickness that Sommerset contracted and spread around.
First thing this morning we hopped in our hired van and headed towards Napier. On the way we stopped at a hot springs where geo-thermally "cooked" water runs into the freezing currents of a large river. The water is at once exhilarating and confusing. Our hosts have continued kicking ass by so far providing us with vegan food at least three times a day. Ross says it's because he knows how shitty it can be traveling around in a van all day.
Last time I played in this town there were 6 people watching us, three of which were from the other band, one was the soundguy, and another was the door person. The soundguy from that show, Hannay, has set up a production company called the "State of It." Now he has turned the same club I remember as being a vacant, open ballroom into a thriving youth events center. Hats off to these guys who have the guts, patience, and smarts to pull this kind of thing off! He also made copies of our CD and passed it around. When we showed up to the venue kids where waiting outside telling us we were "legends." Hannay made some sort of arrangement allowing us to sleep comfortably in a motel room. It was over the pizza Hannay bought for us that we discussed the limits to which our Rockness reached. The only hotel room-trashing we ever do (when we do get a hotel room - which is to say four times in our eight year existence) is leaving a ring around the bath tub and clogging the toilet.
The final attendance for tonight was somewhere around 200 (that's 30X more than last time). As usual, they thought we all surfed and listened to Lagwagon. We proudly do neither of those things. Some kids asked Alex if, at the age of 14, all American guys walked around with their dongs hanging out of their pants. Alex had no response except "there are only two McDonald's in all of America." Other kids told us how sometimes school gets cancelled due to flies. They say that when it gets so bad you can't open your mouth class is called off.
After the show (our second in this country) we had already paid off all our regional travel expenses, and all our pre-set-up expenses like phone calls, t-shirts, etc, and have made more than we did the entire time in Australia.
At 9am sharp, I was pulled out of bed for an interview that took an hour. Shortly after it was done we left for Masterton. We stopped in every city on the way so that Lyn could put stickers on poles for their anarchist bookshop in Wellington. These two (Ross and Lyn) are fast approaching 30 years-old and this is the kind of juvenile crap they pull. I love them.
Once we arrived to Masterton, the locals took us to their favorite swimmin' hole (keep in mind it is summer down here) and we took in some toxic rays. Even BonneVicci took a plunge into the clear waters. Unfortunately, the sand flies were ruthless. Some even drew blood, those bastards!
The show was a brilliantly explosive affair. The entire spectrum of audience-types were there. Everything from the wallflowers to the falling down drunk moshers, to mullet-having "Fuckin' play!" hessions, to stage-diving black metalheads, to teenie-bopping lasses, to gnarly mohawk-sporting punk rockers. As we were tuning up to play a couple of rocker-trash meatheads got up on stage and started pushing us around because we weren't playing yet. Everybody was going crazy while we played and whenever we instructed them to Have Fun Or Die they went certifiably bonkers. Throughout most of the show these two large dominatrix-looking women were yelling stuff at us. One would yell "Fuck off!" and then turn to the other and giggle. Then the other would command us to "Shut up!" before turning back to her friend and giggling. This was obviously their first punk show of this ilk, and they were still having fun with the fact that you can yell obscenities at bands without serious repercussions. Finally, I singled one of the girls out and asked her to repeat what she had just yelled at me. She blushed and dropped her head. I told everyone I was pretty sure she was saying "Fuck you" to me, and if she wasn't man enough to say it again I was going to do it for her. I started yelling "Fuck me! Fuck me! Fuck me! Fuck me!" and turning my middle finger towards myself. Soon the entire population of the club was chanting "Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!" at me. There's really little more a Rock personality like myself can ask for in the way of crowd participation. Masterton will definitely go down as a prime YM crowd.
**I'm getting really tired of typing right now. Excuse the incoherence that will surely follow.**
Wellington provided comic book shops, record shops, and thrift stores aplenty for us to rummage through. Instead of shopping, Joe spent the entire day playing Magic with Ross' roommate Phil. The show was fun, but uneventful, especially after Masterton. Diecast RULED. We played a sloppy set, as usual, and Alan and I got naked while the rest played in their undies.
The Stomach, Palmerston North's government-funded community center, is every Rock kid's dream. To use the space for band practice, all you have to do is sign up, then show up with guitars and drumsticks. The rest of the equipment is provided! And for $10/hour you can use their 8-track studio! How rad is that?! As has become tradition before each show, we went back to our host's house (Kevin, from the band Master Cheese Maker, whom I have been brief pen-pals with since he mailed us a request to take part in his geek-only zine) and ate a large vegan dinner suitably weighing us down for our set.
When we came back (an hour after showtime) there were only six people there. Nobody had played yet because Kevin was in the first band. By the time they were done about 30 or 40 more people showed up. And by the time Motorsheep were finished the place looked pretty full (not packed, but acceptably occupied). We played and the kids went nuts! Again! A guy in a wheelchair kept launching himself onto the stage while we played in a display of unbridled Rock. Everyone laughed at us (that's good) and a bunch stayed after and talked to us for a while (also good). Another stand-out show. What is it with this place?
Alan bought a (cheap, used Dean) bass before we left because all other basses he has touched are now inoperable but, in all the confusion of waking up and loading the van, it was left behind. Tonight is our last night in this YM -friendly land and we get the dubious honor of dirtying up the College Hill living room stage (though it's not so much a room as it is a large open space, ideal for bands). Along with us on our ride back was a dog. He kept shedding onto Bradley so Bradley spent the ride back extracting each dog hair from his clothes and placing them back in the dog's coat.
We stopped at a geothermal outlet and Alex got sprayed with scalding hot mud and we all had a good laugh. We kept waving BonneVicci out the window at passing cars and pedestrians and "Arrrr"ing like pirates. When we would stop for gas and those motorists would pass us they would honk and "Arrrr" back. I just realized I have not showered or changed my clothes since we've been here.
With the exception of some joker who put on a big show across town knowing full-well we were coming to town, our show went awesome. We played for a freaking hour (much of which buck naked) and pulled out such long-neglected (and for good reason) YM standards like "South of Heaven" and "Greased Lightening." I kept hearing those Venom requests but I was too concerned with the screw sticking out of the back of my guitar getting tangled in my pubes.
Today we go home. This sucks. I HATE going home. We left Poo Zealand with over $3000, though! Too bad it cost $120 just to leave the airport. Hightower himself, Bubba Smith, was on our flight. He needed first class only because there is no way he would fit into a coach-sized seat. This last leg of the tour has gone smoother than any of us could have ever imagined. We've had practices with more complications than we've had this whole week. Ross and Lyn really really blew us away with how together their shit was. Not too shabby for a couple of stinky punkers.
We left the Cockland airport at 6pm tonight and we arrived in the States at around 10:30am the same day. Our connecting flights were canceled so some haphazard replanning was in order. In the end we all arrived in San Francisco at the same time, less our luggage. A couple hours later everything but BonneVicci arrived. We waited another hour until filing a missing ghost report. (Two days later he was hand delivered to Joe's house just as he was leaving to meet us at Gilman Street to paint the place into a huge beach. What a thrill it was to see the guy, all white and plastic and stuff!)
Blah blah blah I'm too tired to put some sort of snappy ending on this sucker. It's already too long and the only people still reading are the ones we met on the trip who are still looking for their name somewhere in all this. Ha ha, suckers. If you're not on the lists below, UP YOURS, FOO! (or maybe we forgot your name, in which case Sorry). Man o man, i need some sleep. Those bug bites we got in Masterton (Jan 14) are still around and are still itching like crazy. Up mine
These Australians and New Zealanders wasted their time on us in one way or another. Thanks:
Bar Code the World, CRANK, FATIGUE, GRINSPOON, Ian the sound fucker, Iron Duke, Kate Green, LAWNSMELL (rip), Mildura (the teenage pregnancy capital of Australia), MOLER, MUFF PUTTY, MYSELF, NANCY VANDAL (JJ & Racheal, Fux, Gilli Pepper, Tess, Tel Aviv, Big Boy Dean), Narelle, NITOCRIS, Pete PEE, Pete Wells & ROSE TATTOO, Phantom Records, Sean No Deal, SKULKER, SPRUNG MONKEY, STICKBOY, STITCHFACE, STORYTIME, Sugar Kane, Giles and Tracey, TUBh, we gave Stewart $300.
BALANCE, BIG BLUE BLANKET, College Hill/Black Lagoon, CREED, DIE CAST, DISWOMBLE, FATAL ERROR, Freedom Shop, Gabrielle (Masterton), Hannay/State Of It (Napier), IMA Hitt, Jared and Kevin and James (Palmerston North) can we have our fun fur undies back?, KITSCH, KOVESHE, MALEVOLENCE, MASTER CHEESE MAKER, MOTORSHEEP, Peter King, PHANTASMAGORA, POODLE, Richard and Cookie Monster, Rick One Foot, Scott One Foot, Screaming Asylum Ross, Lyn, Phil, Mog, Kayla, Greg, Chris, Rachel, and Mike, Scruff, SOMMERSET, Spencer, WITNESS.
craigums, feb 1998.
thanks to my roomate doug for letting me use his scanner