Downstate New York quartet Timeshares have sent us a couple of updates from the road. The group is currently touring down to The Fest 9 in Gainesville, FL, which is happening this weekend in case you forgot.
Eric continued his hot streak in Pittsburgh Saturday night, where after the first band played and then handed him a free CD he responded by saying "Yeah, I'll smash it."
Now I should clarify that we all sort of do this thing where we use verbs like "smash" or "bang" in totally incorrect places to mean just about anything. For example, Eric could have said "Yeah, I'll bang it out", and it would have meant the same thing, and in this scenario "smash it" meant "rip this compact disc you've given me to my computer and listen to it. Thank you and good set." Unfortunately for his new first-band-of-the-night chum, there was no translator for Dickhead Latin on hand and he ended up on the receiving end of an insult only the ghost of Chuck the Fuck (who'd at last been conquered by this point) could deliver with such confidence.
We played at 222 Ormsby that night, and it was just lovely. We'd always seen the place on other band's tour postings and the place is just all kinds of sweet. Apparently the downstairs used to be a supermarket. Or at least I think I heard that from someone. I certainly won't be checking either way. We played with World's Scariest Police Chases. Everything about that band. Christ. Their live act is so Earth shatteringly brilliant that I don't want to describe it in fear of spoiling it for anyone. Their t-shirts and stickers read "Punk Rock Ruined My Life". I wanted to look their merch rack square in the eye and say "If you only knew the half of it, sir."
After the show we were in the hands of our ol' buddies in Shady Ave. They've never failed in guiding us fearlessly into new and unexplored terrain in the great wide stupid. This night was no exception. After a quick dance session to a mean electric drumset and teaching a new class of recruits how to play Ninja just so we could fucking slaughter them in it (no really, it was a bloodbath) we somehow found ourselves on a porch of Pittsburgers playing flip cup out of cups hardly bigger than those tiny condiment cups you get at fast food places. The penalty for losing was having your ass spanked by the rest of the porchdwellers on hand simultaneously. Standing before a crowd of our peers just making a mess out of an unfortunate rump, our hearts swelled with pride. We were a part of something great.
When we wake up the next morning, Mike looks like someone beat the wrong end of him after he lost a round ass spank flip cup. A cat allergy hit him pretty hard it seemed, and it has ended up carrying on with him since. This adorable kitty left his head looking like a giant hairy and especially cranky tomato, that I damn near tried to dice up and stick in my omelette when we got to the All-You-Can-Eat Waffle House in Youngsville, OH. Yes, All-You-Can-Eat Waffle House, you read that correctly.
Right now however, it's Tuesday night and we're driving to Kalamazoo, MI. I'm on the tail end of my own debilitating illness that might at long last be getting ousted from my body by ELO's Greatest Hits. Few things do more for mind, body and soul than the opening notes of Telephone Line.
Said illness took hold in Toledo, where on Sunday night we played a show at a bar that I believe we hopped on pretty late in booking this tour. I think that's why in lieu of getting any money from the door, they compensated us in PBR and hot dogs. I'm tempted to switch all future bookings to this arrangement. They are my spinach this evening. Lemuria played this one as well. They're the nicest people in the world, and every time we get to play with them we're ecstatic. They have a newer song called Lemons that is mostly Sheena by herself that I heard for the first time at last year's Fest, and have been head over heels, coo-coo for cocoa puffs crazy about since. I'm the obnoxious guy with an annoying request the band probably doesn't want to play every time I see them now. It kind of sucks but when you get those jammies in your head you just gotta hear them shits. This time I grabbed a bunch of lemon slices from the bar and waved them over my head.
I'd have simply asked for the song, but by the time our set was over I felt like Chuck The Fuck's liver. Battered. Defeated. Opening my mouth for anything that wasn't a hot dog was excruciating. I spent the night on a futon waking up periodically only to hear someone yell out the next fun thing they were doing without me. I prayed for death and only got boogers.
In Rockford, IL on Tuesday my vision gets spinny and I have some trouble even staying on my feet every time I have to sing during our set. jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj. A cat stepped on my keyboard and typed that. I'm on a couch in Indianapolis now, it's Thursday night.
Our friends Amy and Tim from Chicago drove out to that Rockford show and after we played I'd meant to only duck out with them for one quick beer at the bar across the street and then run back for the next band. I hate not watching the other bands, and everyone told me later that crankupmadonna, the band I rudely missed, was fantastic. Unfortunately, something came up.
This bar was a god damn snakepit, but this snakepit had a free taco table where you could make all the tacos you want until the Monday Night Football game was over. I'm surprised legendary cooler and sex icon James Dalton himself isn't spinkicking my sorry ass out of the bar as I cough and drip all over the guac. Amy wraps up a story that ends with a friend hers banging some type of lunatic woman and this catches the attention of a large man to my right. Red in the face, eyes akin to those of the Cookie Monster, we'd caught the ear of this round and rowdy older man practically busting out of his Buffalo Wild Wings button-down, with both enthusiasm and mass. "Now, when you say…banging…what exactly do you mean?" We sort of freeze. I'm not entirely sure how explicitly I'm supposed to answer this. "doin' it", Amy explains. "Okay, so you mean fucking." aaaaand we're off. We listen our new friend who I'd begun calling the Mayor of Rockford detail at length his confusion at the generational gap in how we refer to boning. Now, apparently in his youth one and their partner would strictly be "knocking boots". That sounded familiar enough. He made sure to mention another old favorite - "Balls and wall". "Oh," I said "balls to the wall you mean?". I think I lost him on that one. "Balls and wall, my brother"
To clear up any misunderstanding he puts down his dollar High Life draft and shows us what he means. To illustrate the act of knocking boots he kind of claps a little bit with his hands held horizontally and then skips to taking his index and middle fingers and jabbing them into a hole made by his other hand's fist. Understood. Of course, when it comes to balls and wall, he just sort of batters his fisthole with the other hand. Good God, I think aloud. He makes it clear to us though that neither of these things will be taking place with his wife on this particular evening when she comes back in to fetch him from her cigarette which is apparently the size of my leg.
There IS a happy ending. Us youngsters are freaks who can get down with just about anything, but even our guy found himself enamored with the thought of "banging". He appreciated the energy and filth implied, as long his two daughters in their twenties weren't doing it. Fair enough, Mayor. But there was still one more question to be asked. My partner-in-taco-eating Mike Natoli arrives at the bar completely unaware of what had just transpired and takes a seat next to our quickly fading pal. "Whoa, what? Who let this dickhead in here?" he bellowed. And just as quickly, he was gone.
On the way to Kalamazoo it's becoming clear that both my voice and Mike's have just turned to horseshit and we had only a few hours to make them work well enough to at least pretend we were a real band that night. Now my own voice's absence was by and large my own fault. I've abused and neglected my body and health to the point of brutal illness on the road consistently, and always seem to end up attempting to remedy it with booze and even less sleep. Mike however, was very unfortunately still on the wrong end of a long battle with some ruthless kitty cat dander in Pittsburgh. In a sense this very scenario paints the picture of how this band works.
While I'd prefer to give myself more credit than this (because I'm arrogant and love myself) one could say Michael and I are sort of a Goofus and Gallant type. Mike's Gallant is seemingly prepared for every scenario, does responsible things, and carries around a weird little baggy of vitamins and footspray, where my Goofus isn't entirely sure how you correctly pronounce Gallant. I'm referencing Highlights magazine here folks, get into it.
I couldn't stumble my way through all this fuckery alone though, so fortunately I have Jason. Traveling with Jay has taught me all kinds of new and exciting ways to be irresponsible and make the wrong decisions while never holding yourself accountable for your own actions. It's this mentality that makes us not only awesome, but the fun ones. Somewhere along the line the two of us began referring to ourselves as Rifftime, because it sounds cool and we both agree that ultimate riffage comes before all.
Of course it'd be a tall task for Mike to discipline and generally father his two rambunctious scamps, and filling the mother role is our Eric Bedell. Where we fear Mike's dad beatings, we dread the loving disappointment of mom. In time they became the Rhythm Pigs and have done their best to send their children down the right path. But kids will be kids, sometimes especially shitty ones at that, and so the struggle between Rifftime and the Rhythm Pigs defines what this band is.
But en route to Kalamazoo, Dad sounded like fuck, and like any fearless leader he had a plan. Our first day off was coming the following day. We use that time to recover. In the mean time though, our rock, one half of our source of morality and integrity, Mike Natoli, the same Mike Natoli that will outright scold me if I drink enough before we play, declared that on this night he would down four or five whiskeys to command his throat to do as he told it. The van erupts in cheers.
We arrived at the Globe Theater, received our drink tickets, plopped down in front of the Yankee game and got right to work. Whether it was in our minds or in our glasses our strength seemed to be returning. As I was tuning up and getting ready for us to strike up our first song, I can just barely hear from the other side of the stage as Dad, Mike Natoli, walks up to Mom, Eric Bedell, and says something to the effect of "Alright, play 'em all fast. Too fast."
So we did. And it's moments like these that remind you why you're in Kalamazoo getting your ass kicked by Bubonic Fuck and not lying in bed at home with a bank account and body that will thank you for it. For at least this evening, there was no such thing as Rifftime OR the Rhythm Pigs. We, all of us, were just assholes.