Over the past year and a half Full Service electric-style hasn’t done much touring. We’ve done a lot of living room/backyard touring (aka the “20 Tours”) that features the stripped-down, acoustic setup, we spent months making a record, and of course we put a lot of time into planning and executing the 2013 Full Service Circus. So this tour finds us digging back into the club circuit with our electric setup.
So we knew this tour would be a little different in that we’d have to fill some dates in some places that we’ve either never been or only been to once. With a 20-Tour it was never about “filling dates”. There’s at least one fan in every city and they would book us to come play their house and every show would technically be sold out. (There’s only so many people you can fit in a living room or a backyard, and there’s also sort of a threshold of people that when exceeded makes for a less conducive listening environment. Hence 20-50 is the perfect number, with exceptions—ahem, Jon Adams’ luau-au and Hammer and the Hare’s Ahk-Fest).
Long story short, though we knew we’d have killer shows in our usual markets, we also knew that this tour we’d be playing to some light crowds. BUT…there’s one thing you should know about us. We’ll play our arms off for just one engaged fan the same as we’d play for hundreds of engaged fans.
Roanoke. A place called “Corned Beef and Co.”. Sounds weird, but it was actually a very nice place. Great beers on tap (I had a Pumpkin Porter and a Northern Lights IPA) and good vibrations pervaded the room. And not that we don’t have ANY fans in Roanoke, but we can count them on one hand. Among them, Chandler, Joe, Matt and Scott. And of course the venue itself attracts a walk-in crowd, so we had people to play for, but it was a different sort of show. Though we played acoustic, it was not a 20-Tour situation where people sit down and watch us quietly. And though it was a venue, it was not an electric-style situation where we are up on a stage rocking loudly. So we walked a balance beam that night.
It sounded great though. So what if we were tucked into a corner next to the front door of the bar? There were people dancing, and our handful of fans seemed to know every single word of the songs we played from the new album “Carousel.” That was pretty excellent for morale. We have a great recording of the two-hour set that will be for sale after the tour.
Of course, I can’t wrap up the Roanoke diary entry without first mentioning the “Go Outside” festival we stumbled upon a few hours before the show thanks to a tip from fansaw Chandler Lamborn. Carnival meets Circus meets camping meets State Fair. After Bonesaw and I had a go on the rock-climbing wall (way harder than it looked, considering the ease with which the 8-year old girl scurried up) we threw the frisbee for a while, raced miniature bikes, and attempted to swing these little rings onto hooks attached to a wooden plank. (Maybe you’ve seen this game. It’s difficult. Sunny seemed to lock in very well but for the rest of us it was pretty frustrating).
Bonesaw and Sunny racing mini-bikes at the “Go Outside Festival” in Roanoke, VA
Bonesaw climbing the rock wall.
Smell just chillin’.
Me dominating a parallel parking job near the venue in Roanoke. They always call me in to parallel park because I have a savant-like ability to get it done every time with just two turns of the wheel.
So Roanoke was fun. If you ever find yourself there, go grab a Pumpkin Porter at “Corned Beef and Co.” and—if it’s October—head over to the “Go Outside” Festival.
Next stop: Wilmington, North Carolina. Last time we were in Wilmington was 2005, our first ever tour. It was here on the beach before our show that we met famed fansaws Mark and Jen, aka “The Newlyweds”. 8 years ago we were handing out demos to people on the beach, trying to get people out to our show that night, when a man and woman over by the dunes hailed us over to talk. They were in town on their honeymoon and were looking for something to do that night, so we suggested our show. They came, rocked out, and they’ve been fans/friends ever since. They were also the first fansaws ever to get a Full Service tattoo. They are obviously Hall of Famers.
But, as I mentioned, they were only visiting Wilmington, so we knew they wouldn’t be at our show in present day 2013. In fact, we had no idea if anyone would be at our show in present day 2013. We hadn’t played here in 8 years, our one family friend the Platz’s were sadly out of town, and we were playing the gig without an opening band. Yikes.
Anyway, we got into town pretty early so we had time to hang out on the beach for a while and take a dip. As we crossed the bridge towards the water I couldn’t help but relive one of my fondest memories from early Full Service touring. It was that day back in 2005, and Twinky-P and I were putting up stickers all over Wilmington. Our journey took us across the very bridge we were now crossing in 2013, and we stopped about halfway to tag a big telephone pole when all of a sudden we saw a big black SUV screech to a halt in front of us, sirens wailing (whaling?). I looked at Twink, eyes wide. He looked at me the same.
“I’ll give ya TWO CHOICES!” says the big, bad, bald police officer marching towards us.
Jesus, I hope there’s a choice I prefer in this scenario.
“Take that sticker down from that pole or get hauled off to jail.
Phew. I strongly prefer choice number one.
“Ok we’ll take it down,” says Twinky-P.
“You think you guys can just litter up Wilmington like that, what’s wrong with you boys?!” as we scrape and scrape and scrape.
It’s hard to get across the incomprehensible level of intensity this officer displayed, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was a terrifying experience that neither Twink-P nor I will ever forget.
I made sure to snap a photo of the bridge and text it to Twink as we drove over it 8 years later. He responded with many “LOL”’s.
So we did the beach thing for a couple hours—jogging, shell-collecting, Frisbee-throwing (Dylan hit me in perfect dive-stride into the ocean to cap it off)—and afterwards we dined on some Japanese food at “Kyoto”. The craziest thing happened. The waitress came up to me and goes, “I’ll give ya TWO CHOICES! You can have the SUSHI, or you can GET OUT!” No, just kidding. But I would have been ready for it.
Showtime later that night. The moment of truth. Would anybody come out and see Full Service in Wilmington? Lo and behold, as we pile out of the van to unload, who is standing on the sidewalk but new fansaw Jim Fox. Dude flew in from Houston! Immediately we had our one engaged fan! The night would not be lost no matter what.
Still, as we started our set the floor in front of us was completely empty, as Jim was in the back playing pool with an old buddy of his from high school (I say this not to call you out Jim—in fact I totally support the pool-playing—I’m just setting up what happened next).
There was an older couple—(not “old” really, mid-50’s)—listening very closely and smiling and shouting politely “You guys are great! This is excellent stuff!”, and in fact they stayed the whole show without planning on it, so that was encouraging. But the point is, the place was pretty much empty.
And then…out of the blue…when we thought the whole show would go by with the floor in front of us completely clear and without need of an after-show sweep from the venue staff…JUSTIN GAINES comes charging up to the “front row” with a buddy of his and starts jamming out HARD. This picture really says it all (thanks Jim, for capturing the moment).
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. We have the best fans in the world.
After Wilmington we had two days off before playing a show in Asheville, where we’ve never been. Everybody we run into on the road always says “Oh you guys gotta go to Asheville, you’d love it there.” I’m pretty sure Bonesaw planned these two days off so that we’d have plenty of time to explore the place.
The first day we were there we all kinda split up. Bonesaw, Sean and Dylan went on a huge 11 mile hike in the Pisgah National Forrest, and Smell and I decided to take a veg-out day and sleep in until about 1pm. We later walked over to a nearby movie theater. (We were feelin’ that kind of hike that day. Urban style. Even had to duck under some trees at one point). It was a good flick, Captain Phillips. That Hanks is a master of his craft.
But like I said, the other dudes hiked and came back with a story that made me and Smell feel like a couple of lazy goobers. Apparently the guys hiked up to a landmark called “Shining Rock” that the Native Americans believed was the gateway to Heaven. Smell and I sat in a movie theater and the other guys visited the gateway to Heaven. Pretty sure we lose that one.
Dylan and Sunny at Pisgah National Forrest
After the movie the guys picked us up and we headed into downtown Asheville to see what all the fuss was about. Bonesaw’s old friend Semper showed us around. Had some tasty local beers, listened to some street musicians, and wrapped up the evening with a quiet dinner at an Indian place.
The next day I decided to get in on the hiking action. This time it was Sunny and Smell who stayed behind while Dylan, Bonesaw and I hiked up a mountain with a huge cell phone tower at the top. Yesterday they got the “Gateway to Heaven” and today I get…a cell phone tower. No matter, though. The tower was very impressive. And besides that, there was the view. A multifoliate ocean of mountains wrapping around us 360 degrees. Many thanks to the man-made viewing deck that made this experience possible (erected in 1979 by the Youth Corps of America). It is also on this deck that I learned that “James loves Rebecca”. I wonder when that was written and how the two of them are doing now. I like to think that they have a couple young children and maybe once a year they all hike up here and revisit the scene of their inscription.
Me at the deck railing.
In short, we found that Asheville lives up to its hype. And though it was our first time playing in town, we had a great show at a place called One Stop. We decided to play acoustic since it was an early show and somewhat of a mellower club, and we even set up a live stream that fans from around the country could tune into. If you missed it, there’s a link up on our facebook Full Service band page. Check it out! I think my jokes went over pretty well, and the musicianship was on point too, if I do say so myself.
Many thanks to the fansaws that travelled hours to come see us that night, among them Cirro and his wife, Oscar and crew, Justin and Shock, and Chandler. And thanks also to all the local Ashevillians that came out on a whim and showed us love. Welcome aboard! We’ll be back soon.
Now before I end the Asheville portion of the diary, I have to mention the send-off hike the morning after the show, led by Justin and Shock. These dudes know the Appalachian Trail, having done “probably 200 miles so far this year”. They came prepared with a destination they wanted us to see (Max Patch) proper attire, hand-warmers, stuff to start a fire, the whole shebang. We, on the other hand, were wearing shorts and thin long-sleeved shorts. Sunny and Smellman were wearing sandals. Justin and Shock asked if we wanted to maybe change into something a little more…serious…but we brushed them off. Then we begged them for gloves and hats and jackets when we got to the trail-head and felt the 36 degree wind-chill.
Turned out to be quite the adventure. At the bald summit we met the type of wind you can lean into and be like Michael Jackson with that impossible dance move from “Smooth Criminal”. Dylan’s ears almost fell off and Smell and Sunny’s toes were useless, but soon after we headed down the other side of the summit we found warmth in the woods and were even able to start a 20-minute fire. I won’t ever forget that hike. That was the real deal. Thanks for leading us, Justin and Shock!
“Build a little fire we could put at our feet”
From Asheville we sailed the Whale over to Charlotte, where we’ve played several times over the past few years. We’ve done it all here: a Takeover during the Takeover Tour, several opening slots playing electric at Amos’, a 20-tour show hosted by Will Wooten, and a film screening for the “Takeover!” documentary. So we have some fans here, most of which have turned the corner to being friends.
This time we came to Charlotte to plug in and play the full drum kit, the marshall stack, etc etc. After a deliciously comp’d meal from the venue’s sister restaurant (went with the black-bean burger) and a couple of pumpkin ales from NoDa brewing, we did a quick sound-check and then KA-BLOO-EE! We launched into a 90-minute set of FS songs old and new. From the new album we’ve generally been playing anywhere from 6-10 of the tracks. I think in Charlotte we did 7: Oddball Memories, Evergreen, Honeybee, Flower Boxes, Twangy, Me and the Moon, and Circus Freak.
Oh snap! Carly Simon just came on the hotel muzak radio here in Jacksonville. “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard it Should be”. I won’t be able to concentrate for a few minutes. I’ll be back.
Ok, good stuff. And I don’t want any of you thinking I’m joking about Carly. She’s something special and if you can’t see that then you’re a kind of a doofus.
Anyway, Charlotte turned out to be a great one! Many thanks to our good friends in Of Good Nature for closing the show for us. And thanks for the help bringing the crowd, guys! Ya’ll sounded great.
At the end of the night before loading out of the venue I took this instantly classic photo portrait of all my tiger-kit drum hardware piled high in the hallway. I love this drum kit. I look at this photo and I see an elite team of highly trained operatives all dedicated to the pursuit of rhythmic freedom. Nice work, boys!
And here’s me and Smell with Osiel, a great fansaw.
Speaking of the hardware, before this tour we recently got a new heavy-duty case for all of it. It’s quite the monster, however, and it’s proven very difficult to conceive of a loading-technique that does not put our backs in danger of long-term injury. Everything usually goes well up until the point of actually hoisting it above the 1-inch lip just inside the body of the Whale. Without a fail, there is always a stall at this point. Much grunting, much cussing. In a weird way it sort of brings us all together. Not that I’m usually involved. I certainly have been. And I always watch. But my history of neck-spasms usually gives me a pass.
I don’t know why I’m mentioning all this. Maybe I’m hoping some of you will read it and take pity and construct some type of retractable ramp that can be installed into the back of the Whale. I dunno…Christmas is coming.
Next stop, Atlanta. As Bonesaw recalled during the show, Atlanta has a weird place in our hearts. Our first time there was on Bonesaw’s birthday many years ago, and we played to an empty club. Not a club that had a few people in it. A club that was completely empty. Even the bartendress and the sound guy left to go downstairs. (That hurt). I remember all of us turning to each other with looks that said “should we just pack up and go?” but then we all shrugged a shrug that said, “F*** it, let’s keep rocking.”
But this time, folks…this time people came out. It’s been a few years and we’ve been back a few times, and it meant so much to see so many people come out to The Vinyl to check us out.
So, as usual, there are more interesting things to talk about in this diary than the actual shows we play. Those you will be able to experience when we get home and release them all on band camp (for a small fee). I want to give you guys the in-between stories of tour-life. As such, I will now recount two misadventures from our brief stay in Hotlanta.
First of all, it ain’t “Hotlanta” in late October. It’s “FreezeYourDrumsticksOffLanta”. At least this night it was. But back to that in a moment. Let’s first talk about our parking comedy of errors.
Parking always sucks. Not just for us. For everybody, everywhere, all the time. In the canon of sucky-things-about-driving, parking ranks near the top, right near I-35 traffic, Louisiana potholes, state-trooper robotrons, and Florida’s inexplicable no-left-turns-to-be-found-anygoddamnwhere-at-all.
But with the Whale it’s a little different. We need to first live-park—hazards on—extremely close to the venue so that we can unload our gear. Best case scenario, there’s a place reserved for us. But that never happens. So here in Atlanta we had a situation where there was a line of people extended all along the sidewalk (they were headed to a different show in an adjacent venue, unfortunately, but whatever, our crowd came out later). Not only would all of these people witness the circus that became our parking attempt, but at various points we put several of their lives in danger.
After a nearby parking garage attendant told us to drive through his garage and double-back around the corner to a space he assured us actually existed, we politely asked some people to clear out of the way, confusing them with our probably-unnecessary explanation of “The Whale’s poor torqueing abilities and alignment problems.”
Anyway, so they move, and we pull into the garage. Or start to. We see another garage dude down inside the bowels and he’s shaking his head “no”. I think he’s trying to tell us we are far too big to fit in one of his spaces down there, but we’re wondering whether we’re too tall to even make it under the low-ceiling bar. It says 7 feet, but…here goes nothing.
We clear it! The dude is still shaking his head though. “You cannot park here,” he says, almost laughing. We tell him—without stopping—that we’re “just passing through”, and this seems to confuse him, but he happily returns to his little garage cabin and waves us out. So eventually we’re at the exit, trying to find this mysterious parking spot that attendant #1 told us about, but it’s nowhere. We pull out onto the street and look everywhere, but all we see are people from the sidewalk-line looking at us like “what is wrong with these hippies”. Over comes attendant #1 and he’s shaking his head and smiling. He doesn’t speak much English, but he knows how to say “WHAT you doin’ man? I try to tell you, you need back up.”
“You need back up, there”.
We hadn’t seen the space because of the sidewalk peanut gallery.
“You need back up there, but you have to go round ‘gain. Cars behind you”.
Anyway, long story short, we make another trip through the parking garage, encounter another confused look from attendant #2, more strange looks from the sidewalk crew, and eventually find the spot. Best part is, we ended up handing out flyers for the show to those people in line. Figured maybe they’d come to our show after the one they were going to was over. Even better part is, some of them did. Anything for a fan, baby!
Well, that story took too long. I don’t think I have it in me to recount misadventure #2, the one that saw us walking in the freezing cold halfway across the city to a pizza place after already having found a pizza place in the first 3 minutes of our wandering only to decide there was “probably something better close by, let’s just go a little further”, then going a little further, then turning back the way we came, past that first pizza place, to an office park that google maps told us would have places to eat, but we needed card-passes into the office buildings to get to the places, then walking back towards the club where we started, shoulders locked in muscle cramps from crouch-walking into the wind, and eventually meeting our friends Shane and crew, as well as my old college roommate Dave and his wife Melinda, at a pizza place that was definitely not a step up from the original place we had found 30 minutes ago. I’ll save that story for another time.
On the whole, though, Atlanta treated us very well. A special thanks to Will Scroggin for that tasty diner breakfast the following morning. You’re a great friend will, and a fine ambassador for the city of Atlanta.
Will and Dusty and us after breakfast.
My old college roommate Dave and his wife Melinda.
Bonesaw with Nick and Dusty before the Atlanta show.
Two hours south of Atlanta there’s a place called “Valdosta”. Anybody ever heard of it? It’s a college town I guess, and I think I’d heard of it before knowing we had a show booked there, but I can’t be sure. In any case, a place called “Lucky’s” hosted us and—thought it was our first time there—we ended up playing a very enjoyable 2-hour set to a very attentive crowd. They even liked my jokes! We got a great recording of this performance, too, and a pretty cool video of my drum solo that Bonesaw shot from stage. Check it out…
So now we’re here in Jacksonville Beach with a couple days off before our show tomorrow here in town. We’ve been chillin’ pretty hard. Beach, hotel hot tub, laundry, watching the World Series. (An obstruction call and a pick-off play? As Bill Simmonds said, “This World Series is on drugs”).
After the Jacksonville show we have a 20-tour acoustic show on Merritt Island, and then it’s time for the Rombello Caribbean Cruise! See ya’ll soon!
Oh yeah, since we last spoke I got real into the Bitstrip fad. Here are some of my favorites: