Generally, when my pals ask me “How was the tour?” my answer comes in abbreviated form.
“It was great!” I’ll say, often adding a footnote of “yeah, really good fun. Shows were great.”
Sometimes it’s all I can be bothered to say, glad as I am just to be home and out of the washer/dryer machine that is ‘The Tour’. Often, I’m saying it to hide the fact that it can be a pretty mundane experience most of the time. No, really. We ain’t Motley Crüe, and I find most tour stories can have a distinct ‘you had to be there’ flavour to them. Like the time we bought 100oz. plastic Strats full of Pina Colada from a Cabo Wabo in Vegas. Fucking hilarious. You had to be there.
But there’s no denying that it has it’s highlights, and this summer’s jaunt across North America with Death Cab for Cutie was no exception to that rule. You definitely had to be there, but because you weren’t, and because I can’t be bothered to elaborate in person, here are five of my favourite bits (to be read as ‘The Only Bits I Can Remember Right Now’).
1. Looking ‘round Johnny Cash’s tourbus at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame…
…and being amazed that it wasn’t that fancy. Sure, the tables and units were made from specially imported wood and the seats looked darned comfy (sky blue velour, sir?), but other than that it was surprisingly familiar. To me, it served as a reminder of what was most important to the great man. Simple comfort was quite enough as long as he was performing and could have his family around him.
Made me feel like a fucking brat for bemoaning the fact that our bus didn’t have ‘an extendy bit’ or a Foreman grill. Other highlights of the Hall of Fame included the Everly Brothers’ old tap shoes (tiny!), drawings Jimi Hendrix had done as a child (speedboats and football players) and Britney’s ‘Sergeant Spears’ outfit (absolutely bangin’).
2. The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (with a side of Batman)
We realised soon after we arrived that the day we visited was, in fact, Mr Warhol’s birthday. I can only imagine that he didn’t really care much for celebrating his own birthday, but I enjoyed picturing him with a paper hat on as I wandered through the exhibits.
I really can’t recommend this museum highly enough. I thought I knew about most of his output, but I was wrong. I could have spent an entire day in the room that was screening episodes of his TV shows alone. Check this out as a taster…
Oh yeah, about that Dark Knight salad… As I alighted the bus, I was aware that there were strange, deep rumbling sounds and occasional bangs and cracks emanating from the stadium overlooking the venue. I took it to be another day at the office for some American sport, knowing how much they liked to put on a flashy spectacle to make up for the fact that the games themselves are pretty fucking slow.
I later learned that a scene from the latest Batman movie was being filmed there. I’m happy to report that, going by the rumbles and bangs alone, the film is going to be at least as entertaining as a game of baseball. Can’t wait. Which brings us to #3…
3. Our first ball game.
I am now, by default, a Detroit Tigers fan. I don’t know if they are a shit team or a great team, in fact, I kind of hope they are shit (Scots love a good underachiever). No matter; due entirely to the fact that Ben kindly took a few of us out to watch Detroit square up to Anaheim from ‘The Tiger’s Den’ one afternoon, whichever way the Tigers swing, they are now my team.
The thing I have never really understood about baseball is how complex it is in it’s presentation on TV, in spite of my preconception of it being about throwing, hitting, running, catching and chewing tobacco. Though it certainly is about all of the above, I’ve learned that there’s SO MUCH MORE!
Players have their own theme music, just like wrestlers, as Gordon observed. The other thing I didn’t realise is how little the majority of the audience actually paid attention. That’s not intended as a slight – I actually loved the ‘day out’ feeling of the game whereby folks come and go, tuning out of the game to chat, drink and picnic from inning to inning.
It can feel so passive at times that we concluded that the random interjections of zany organ music (a real hit with us) served as a timely ‘snooze button’ for anyone who has dozed off. I will say this though; when we finally witnessed a home run, after 70 minutes of fairly dry, stat-heavy sport, it was fantastic. Alas, Batman didn’t make an appearance…
4. Shooting a gun at a piece of paper
In Scotland, guns belong to farmers. They’re not for civilians, they’re not even really for policemen (isolated incidents aside) and they’re certainly not for sheet-white singers with weak wrists and a penchant for pencil crayons. But, heck, we were in Nashville and everyone else was doing it. So to Gun City we drove, and into the cracked fat war vet’s basement we did go, armed, for the first time in our lives, with fucking GUNS.
I wasn’t prepared for the sound. When a gun fires in a room it’s a deadly, sharp, dark sound. In close quarters, this seemed less like a lark and a bit too real. Perhaps it was the ol’ ticky brain over thinking it, but when I held the gun I felt like I was holding 15 potential deaths. This thought was aided capably by the paper silhouette of a human staring at me from the other end of the range.
I struggled to imagine him as a bastard, someone who deserved to be shot. Thus, I was initially too timid to shoot the thing. But then the brain rallied… Jim Davidson! I thought, it’s Jim Davidson! BANG! Shot the cunt in the cock. Jim was now on the floor screaming, holding the place where his knob used to be, but right behind him was Darren from Hollyoaks… BANG! Missed. Shit. BANG! Took the prick’s arm off. Fuckin YAAASSS.
That’ll do now. Jim was almost dead and Darren would certainly die from the blood loss. That was quite enough. Though I can joke about it, and will admit to feeling a bit giddy for a minute or so afterwards, this was not a gateway drug for me. I will never feel compelled to go to a firing range or shoot a gun again. It may be wrong to mark this down as a ‘tour highlight’, but it was an afternoon I won’t forget.
5. Buying 100oz. plastic Stratocasters filled with Pina Colada from a Cabo Wabo in Vegas.
It appears that I’ve neglected to mention anything at all about the reason for being in the US in the first place: the shows. I think we were all agreed that it was pretty much up there as one of the best touring experiences of our lives. Thanks to Death Cab for Cutie for that. They and they’re crew are the tits, each and every one of them.
Thanks also to our brilliant fans that came out to support us, thanks to the new ears that got right on board from the first chords and to anyone who clapped/cheered, even in a half-arsed way, in-between and during our songs. I won’t bore you with any more detailed accounts. Instead, I’ll leave you with a few sub-headings of events from the summer tour. You can fill in the rest…
Magic Carpet Ride On Modified Electric Wheelchair Outside Bar In Los Angeles Almost Breaks Man’s Back
Gentlemen Add Sprite To Beer, Christen It ‘The Chazz’, Become Less Gentlemanly
Group Of Guys Watches Drunk Old Lady Throw-Up In Vegas Then Get Wheeled Out Of Shopping Mall By Paramedics
Scott Shoplifts Snow Globe From Wal-Mart By Mistake, Feels Proud
Pork Neck Causes A Stir
‘Yo Heart Folk Music’ Tee Causes Waves Of Jealousy Within DCFC
Billy Kicks Ass At Cornhole, Denies Speculation That He Is A Robot
Tour Manager Uses Billy To Win Games Of Cornhole Doubles And Gloats Up In Everyone’s Face
Band Invents Rod Stewart App In Moment Of Boredom And Vows To Contact A Guy They Know About Developing The App, For Real
Pleasant Sunrise Becomes Unsettling When Band Realises What Time It Is
Two Americans Attempt To Out-Dance One Another To Katy Perry’s Hit ‘Firework’, Both Lose
Singer Tells Story Which Is Only Funny If You Had Been There