Highly Suspect: Tour Diary 3

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I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell you as much as I tell you. I’ve never read a tour diary so I don’t know how it’s done. I’d prefer to keep it that way so that if anything these can be unique. I guess I would just rather keep it real, because otherwise what’s the point? I live to connect and to create. I can’t tell you every detail out of respect for those who we meet along the way, whose secrets and encounters are entrusted between us. But I’ll give you as much as I can on every one of these tour entries without giving our label or management a heart attack. You’re real, I’m real, my crew is real… Fuck the layers that seperate us. We’re gonna bridge that gap and be the people’s band.

I didn’t wake up naked in a van today, however I did wake up naked in a room with two tarantulas. They were in tanks but still, it’s closer than I’ve ever been and closer than I’ll ever be to spiders of that magnitude again. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spider in Brooklyn and it could very well be the reason why I live there. It’s not really that I’m afraid of them so much as it is that I abhor their presence. The house these spiders live in is a fucking trip. It belongs to this pretty little Assiniboine girl with more tattoos than any of us combined. The walls were a living collage comprised of notable figures from the early 20th century. Your Vincent Price’s and Sophia Loren’s. This is Billings, Montana, home of the infamous John “Liver Eating” Johnston. You can Google that.

 

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I will convey this next thought delicately and with respect to everywhere we have been. Although this tour has been amazing and every city/town holds it’s own charm, Billings has easily had the most unique energy I’ve felt yet; the antithesis of New York. It’s the largest city in all of Montana and yet everyone knows everyone else’s name. Last night we played in the Babcock Theatre. A hall, if you will, that I can imagine has held everything from town meetings about World War II rations, Christmas pageants and solo Bonnie Raitt performances alike. Underneath this haunted edifice is a door that leads to the Billings Catacombs – a spooky network of underground tunnels and rooms that were once heavily used by the privileged and now provide shelter to the Brown Recluse. On the night we arrived in Billings we heard a bar down the street blasting Zeppelin on the jukebox. It only seemed right that we go check it out. We didn’t expect to walk into an almost ‘at capacity’ establishment getting their face fucked by an all female Led Zeppelin cover band called Zepparella. Seriously, these girls were intense and as a musician I was personally humbled.

This bar would quickly become our own during these two nights. Honestly, I’m planning a return trip just to sit on the smoking deck and talk to our new friends again. Dana, Jade, Lil Jon, Ger, Will, Levi… the list goes on. You guys rule! I think we met half the people that we played for the night before we played. Billings is just like that, a true community. To better explain, the police sergeant, Matt Brewer, who I might add is an excellent person, was in attendance at the show. He was off duty and after our performance he stood outside the venue with a beer in his hand and a kind smile that only broke for sincere compliments. I let him know that if we were in Brooklyn, he could be arrested for having an open container on the street, (I should know) and he simply laughed and offered to buy me a beer.

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Rewind to ThursdayWww.walldrug.com – that’s where we stayed after Fargo. Chevelle had gone to Canada and we had opted out. This is for several reasons: 1) We needed to explore the Badlands. 2) We needed to write music. 3) I’m on probation and did not want to deal with border hassles. 4) We aren’t ready to get rid of our weed until Texas. Before Texas we will give that shit away! Chevelle told us that they have had their tour bus searched down there. Who searches a tour bus? Not Sergeant Brewer. Anyways… Walldrug was a real trip. On Thursday night we all went out for a family dinner at the only restaurant in town. Our eyes being bigger than our stomachs, we ordered everything. After a couple Shiner Bocks and the best country fried steak you could ever imagine, we headed back to our Inn. I sat under the porch while my whole crew slept, bought a Dr. Pepper from the dimly lit, buzzing vending machine and gazed out over the Badlands of South Dakota watching lightning strike the hills. I had my guitar in hand, and wrote a creepy song based on a true story I overheard at the restaurant about a man that kidnapped a little girl out there and is now spending the rest of his life in prison. I stayed up so late to get those words right. One day soon you will all hear them.

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The next day we set course to the center of the badlands and climbed around the desert. Not much to say about that other than it was hot out there and we all took at least a couple dozen cave-selfies. I had also never seen Madge high before… I think she got a little too high actually and had to find her face. Of course, Rich and I climbed higher than we should have on the loose rocks. He has climbing experience and I’m just a total idiot. In the end it was all worth it. The view was like nothing I had ever experienced before.

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After the badlands we drove to Rapid City, SD and ate all of the tequila fruit. All of it. Met a few older women who were in town just for the night. I guess Rapid City is that kind of place. I was removed from the bar after being caught making out with one of these Moms in the women’s bathroom. I think it was probably for the best. A few of the local kids took us to a dance club and showed us an alley that had legal graffiti. After that night I woke up naked in the van. That’s 3 times now. But considering we’ve only been on the road for 11 days I’d say the ratio of naked van mornings to non-naked van mornings isn’t that bad.

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After leaving Rapid City, we did some touristy shit. Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse monument…. it had to be done. We think it’s pretty funny that Roosevelt put himself on the wall when he had it made. One of Teddy’s power moves. Here comes my particular favorite moment of the week. I grew up reading about the “Big Sky” and dreaming of the day I would be in Montana. Last summer I bought the belt I’m wearing now because it says Montana on it. When asked if I’m from Montana I simply reply “I wish.” So the day we actually crossed over the Wyoming border is one I’ll never forget. None of us could have predicted how beautiful it would be out here. I feel free. I feel alive. Somehow we pulled our shit together this morning and got back in the van. Sold out of our expected quota of CD’s in Billings. Madge is counting the cash. That’s the one thing I haven’t written enough about but I feel weird writing about it. I’ll say this though… People are like losing their shit over us. This is really working. Out of all of the shows we have played together (almost 800) there is something crazy going on. I don’t know if it’s confidence, or the fact that we have been together so long or the new songs that are coming out or if it’s just because we’re out in this country and unlike New York people, these fans aren’t afraid to let go and dance (love you NY but you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about). But for some reason we’re killing it. Maybe it’s just because we’re real people. Relatable. Underdogs. A misfit group of dreamers that won’t quit having fun.

We’re currently on the way to Missoula. Ryan is passed out in the back. I heard he got pretty rambunctious and that we’re lucky he wasn’t arrested. I’m not going to say what he did so as not to incriminate… But Tim was able to rein him in and take him to Denny’s. I wish I ate Denny’s last night. But I did have an awesome time hanging out with my new tarantula friends “Stella” and “Artois”.  See you tonight Missoula!!

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Here are 9 facts that I couldn’t figure out how to place into this entry fluidly:

1. Ryan and Rich cannot stop buying weapons.

2. Ryan can’t hit the famous drum fill in bath salts… Hasn’t happened once and it’s hilarious.

3. I met a couple that hadn’t seen each other in 21 years but just re-united and fell in love. Our show with Chevelle was there first concert.

4. I’ve fallen in love with people and places alike and every time I leave a spot I have a lump in my throat.

5. Madge is yelling about potato chips while clutching a stuffed horse.

6. Tim is the smoothest schlub alive.

7. The gun is decommissioned. But the spring-assisted knives are not legal in NY.

8. We’re in the wild fucking west.

9. #mcid

 

Johnny

 

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There are 3 comments

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  1. vanessa

    Johnny I’m very glad your guys are having such I good time on your tour and I hope it just keeps getting better for you guys. You guys are such an amazing group and I feel like you guys deserve this even though I don’t know you guys I feel like you all have worked very hard to get were you guys are. Good luck on the rest of your tour and I can not wait to hear some new music. And read more of your posts.

  2. Ron L. Whitener

    I actually heard you for the first time a few months ago, when “I Am Human,” blew up. I think you are the best band so far to come out of the new century. I liked the song, so researched the band. Now I am a fan!
    All I can say, is that you’re fucking awesome!


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