Alright, got 3 shows under our belts so I’d say this tour is officially in full-swing. And by that I mean Bonesaw has lost (and then found) his wallet, Sean has gotten violent with his tempermental tuning-pedal, Smell has given myriad speeches on why he hates it when I eat tortilla chips inside the van, and I have…well I have managed to somehow piss off Smell by eating tortilla chips in the van. (For real man, get over it).

We have a have stage manager/sound guy with us this time, and his name is Dylan Jones. I think. He’s a pretty secretive fellow. Often wears dark clothing to more smoothly blend into the shadows. So he says his name is “Dylan Jones” but that sounds an awful lot like a name someone would use as an alias. Anyway, we’ll call him Dylan. (Don’t call him “Dyl” though. The other day while he and I and Bonesaw were exercising in the hotel weight room Bonesaw asked “Hey Dyl, you ever do burpies?” and after a beat Dylan said, “About as often as I let people call me ‘Dyl’”). He’s the type of guy who doesn’t like a lot of attention. So we won’t dwell on him, but I’ll just say that he is a great addition to the crew, and it’s amazing to have someone working sound for us for the first time in our career. Here’s a picture of Dylan fixing something under the Whale. Pretty fitting that you can’t see his face.

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And here are some photos we took from the road on the way up to Omaha.

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The very first thing we did on this tour was meet up with Fansaw Joe Pietro in Omaha, NE for a 5-on-5 full court basketball rematch from when we were in town last year. That time we beat them, but only on account of our superior conditioning. This time Joe had 4 teammates that were 6’3” or taller. (“It wasn’t on purpose! I called all my friends and they were the ones that could make it!”) It was a close game though. We were up 10-7 (game to 15) when Joe called a timeout and held a meeting with his team. Then they came out and went on like a 6-0 run. Joe himself turned into a whirling dervish of point-scoring efficiency. Dude was a professional baseball player not too long ago, so he has that x-factor. That burst of speed. Not to mention four teammates that were 6’3”. But whatever, no excuses.

Here’s us all after the game.

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That night we played in Omaha to a smattering of hardcore fansaws from the region (shout-out to Matt, Jake, Elena, Megan, and the friends they brought). That’s not ALL the people who were there, but almost. We’ve only done one club show in Omaha, so it’s all good. I remember at the end of the night Bonesaw saying to us “Ya know, it’s all about your perspective. You could look at our visit to Omaha through the lens of ‘we got our asses kicked in basketball then went to play a show to 20 people and made $85 that doesn’t even pay for a tank of gas’, or you could look at like “sweet, we got to play some basketball then we got to rock some of our new shit to 20 hardcore fans”.

Here’s how my drums are lookin’ these days, by the way. Underlit, baby!

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And here’s how the amps are looking. (Ya know, “Carousel” theme).

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The next morning we met up with Joe and Elena (and their new baby Bo who is a riot) and Elena’s mom Ellen and Jake Gardner for breakfast at a great diner called “Diner”. Jake even gave us a preview tour of the new “Hive Bar” he’s putting together. It’s gorgeous, and we will definitely play there next time we’re in Omaha.

Next night we drove up to Ames to stay with my aunt Priscilla and uncle Charlie for a day off. Priscilla and Charlie are great for a lot of reasons, but here’s one: As soon as we got there they gave us $20 to go down the street and buy beer. “Just don’t get any light beer”, Priscilla said. I just smiled and walked off. A woman after my own heart! It just so happened that Iowa State was playing Texas that evening, so when Smell and I walked the gauntlet of fraternity houses on our way to the beer store, we were heckled mercilessly by pimply drunk college dudes hanging out their third floor windows. “Hippies! Check it out guys, hippies! Go STATE!” to which Smell stopped mid-stride and said “actually….HOOK ‘EM!!”. The pimply dudes loved that.

A couple other reasons my aunt and uncle are so cool? Charlie got Priscilla a bottle of Gopher Poison for Christmas, which says a lot about them I think. And Priscilla helped us stuff lyric sheets into envelopes for two hours. (Speaking of which, has everybody gotten their packages yet?)

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Here’s some of Priscilla’s art

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Next day it was off to Chicago. We really wanted to do well in Chicago because we’ve been there a bunch, so we were delighted when 9pm rolled around and the place was swarming with high-intensity fansaws. Too many to shout out to. But I’ll try. Nneka, Aubrey, Andy, Shelby, Frenchie, Jon Adams, Jerad, Scott, Jon’s brothers, Dustin, Wing Ding, Wheeler, Dave, our cousin Will, etc etc etc. We did 100 people in a city very far away from home, and it was by no means a passive crowd. Everybody was piled right up front and ready for action. Big thanks to Greenbook for opening the show, and for not being a reggae band. You guys sounded great!

Before the show, Bonesaw gave an interview with Ian Wheeler of “Wheeler’s Weekend Jams”, so we’re looking forward to seeing that footage crop up somewhere soon. I desperately wanted to sneak up behind Bonesaw and do a pie-in-the-face thing, but there were no pie stores around.

Also, before I end the Chicago segment of the tour diary, I want to mention two things. One, the dinner we had at some Thai food place down the street from the Elbo Room. It was a delicious meal of sodium-packed greatness. The placemat told me that because I was born in the year of the monkey, I would “make a great politician”, but I’m not sure about that. All I’m sure about is that those noodles slammed hard, so thank you.

Secondly, I just wanted to mention a conversation I had with Jon Adams, who hosted the legendary “Lu’au-au” 20-tour show from earlier this year. Jon told me about a kid interning at his company who was battling a difficult depression. I got the impression the kid was sort of an outcast. Jon thought he would enjoy the new Full Service record, particularly the song “Sawdust”, so he brought in a copy to work and told the kid to take a listen. Apparently it really grabbed the kid, and it has helped him get through a difficult period. I thought that was really cool. It may come as a surprise to you, but I rarely consider the fact that our music might be helpful to somebody. I know it helps me a lot. I face my fears and doubts and worries (as well as my joys and loves and hopes) in the lyric and song-writing process, and it’s pretty powerful to hear that somebody identifies with me when they hear a lyric.

Here are some photos from Chicago.

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Also, how cool is it that Jon reached out to a kid in need of some guidance and goodwill? You’re a good man, Jon.

After Chicago we headed up to Sarnia, Ontario for a show at a great club called the Metro. Thanks to Lauren and Greg for putting that together and for bringing out all those people, too. Wow. We also had some people cross the border for us too, led by Sheri, Tony, and Tray. Can’t forget Matt and Lauren for their help as well. Good job all around, guys. What a sweet photo session afterwards on top of the whale, too.

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Perhaps the best part of the trip to Canada was Dylan’s unbridled excitement at seeing a real live “Canadian Tuxedo” in Canada! He asked us to take a photo on the sly as he stood next to the guy.

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After the show we headed back to Lauren and Greg’s where they put us up for the night and made breakfast for us the next morning. And not just eggs and coffee (which would have been plenty). We’re talking P-Meal (Canadian bacon), strawberries, eggs, sweet bread, toast, juice, coffee, tomatoes, avocado, and cucumber. They should run a bed and breakfast. Oh, and thanks for the Whale door-knocker guys. It doubles as a rubber-band gun!

After Sarnia we had the night off on our way to Cleveland, so we holed up in a hotel room and watched football all day. Also drank some beers, too. And made fun of lots of commercials. And each other. Fell asleep, grabbed some breakfast sandwiches and coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, and rolled out to Cleveland. Got into Cleveland around noon, so we had some serious time to kill before our show that night at 10:30. So we did as we usually do about that time…we went to the zoo! It was a good zoo. Not Omaha-level, but a damn good zoo. All the major mammals were represented, and the amphibians too. Sort of lacking in the fish department, but that’s what aquariums are for I guess. They had safari animals too. (It’s weird seeing a giraffe in Cleveland).

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The funniest thing we saw, though, was a pair of monkeys engaged in some kinky grooming. To them there was probably nothing kinky about it. Purely hygienic. But when you assume those positions…I don’t know man. It’s just hard for a human not to laugh, you know?

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And here are some disgusting naked moles.

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Fast-forward a couple hours later and Smell and Bonesaw are seeing a movie, Dylan goes to the shoe store for some new kicks, and Sean and I take naps on the Whale benches. There was also some tortilla-chip eating happening in there at some point, but I could do this freely and without fear of ridicule because Smell was out watching a movie. We both needed that time I think.

Head to the club, set up our gear, set up merch, and then WHAM—the greatest dinner I’ve had in a very long time. Maybe it was enhanced by how hungry and road-worn we were, but man…the potatoes in particular. Out of this WORLD. I went to the kitchen afterwards to thank the chef and ask about the potatoes. “Oh, thanks. Just salt and garlic really,” she said. Bullshit. There was a heavy dose of magically-delicious in those things.

The show in Cleveland was a first for us. We had a painter come up on stage and do a live painting during our set. It was so fun for us to turn around after (or during, let’s be honest) a song and see what he was up to back there. We played “Hi-ho” last and in the time it took to play the tune he had added a big pirate ship to the scene. I’m ashamed to say I don’t think I ever got the dude’s name. Bonesaw, if you’re reading this and have editing capabilities, please add his name.

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Well, you’re all caught up folks! Stay tuned. We’ve got Princeton, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and New York City coming up in the next few days. Had a day off in Philly today and played some frisbee golf in the yard!

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