by Brian Costello
We stopped off in Richardton, North Dakota, where the Midwest nasaltones end and Cowboy Country begins. It was time to get gas, food, some beer, a stretch, a little break from that van and the farting, yelling, sullen bandmembers inside said van.
The customers and clerks all looked at us like we were Venusian invaders, but we were so used to it by that point that it no longer affected us. The gas station had a minimart with a little deli off to the side. Sick of living on nothing but almonds, I decided to order a sandwich.
"So yer with them, then?" asked the sandwich girl as she squirted the mustard and mayo on my order. She had short blonde hair and a small silver nose ring in her left nostril, looking off to where my fellow bandmembers stood in their loud clothes waiting to crap in the men's room.
"Yes I am," I smiled.
"Are you guys on a road trip?"
"Sort of," I said. "We're in a band. We're on tour."
She looked up from the sandwich she was making and glowed. "That's cool!" she said. "What type of music do you play?"
I never know how to answer this question. I mean, I wasn't gonna say "Protomersh," or, "We're like the most discordant elements of the Electric Eels, the Clone Defects and the Germs." So I just shrugged and said, "Oh, garage rock, punk rock, I guess..."
"That's cool," the Sandwich Girl said again, while dealing out the tomato slices across the bread. "I play guitar and sing. I used to be in a band, but the guys I was playing with turned out to be total ASSHOLES."
"Yeah, that happens," I laughed, knowing all-too-well about playing music with assholes.
"So why aren't you playing in Richardton?" she asked, smiling.
"Nobody asked us," I said, determined not to be the big-city-where-I-come-from-you-can-get-a-bagel-at-3AM snob I probably am anyway. "I just posted on a bunch of message boards saying we wanted to play west, and people wrote back and set us up.
Sandwich Girl tried hiding her confusion. "What's the name of your band?" I told her. No, she had never heard of us. The sandwich was made. She rang up my order. "It must be a lot of fun being on tour," she said. "I've always wanted to do something like that."
I wanted to tell her that it's not very glamorous, especially when you're playing the, in the immortal words of Jered from the Black Lips, "Loser's Circuit," especially, in the immortal words of Timmy Vulgar, "riding around the country in a beat-up old van," especially when you're cooped up with a guitar player with chronic disgusting flatulence, a bass player who can't frontseat drive at all but has no problem backseat driving like the most ballbusting missus, and another guitar player who enjoys yelling at the top of his lungs for no discernible reason between bites of greasy pizza and slim jims, but instead, I said, "Yeah, it's definitely not boring."
I took my food and my change. "Well good luck to ya," Sandwich Girl said.
"Thanks. You too. Good luck finding a band," I said. Sandwich Girl thanked me and nodded, looking at me, at the rest of the band, with unsubtle envy. And off we went down the road, farting, singing, yelling, and fighting the whole way...
Hey you know what?!? You guys, each and every one of you, are FUCKING DORKS!!! And I mean that! And I love you for it!
The above anecdote was intended to provide all of you with some much needed PERSPECTIVE!!! You live in cloistered denim and white belt towers, so much a part of this subculture of a subculture of a subculture that you oftentimes forget that NOBODY OUTSIDE OF THIS REALLY KNOWS NOR REALLY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT THE HUNCHES OR THE PONYS OR THE BLACK LIPS OR ANY OF THESE OTHER GREAT BANDS!!! Too many of you forget this, especially if all your dorky friends like something that you think is notso hotso. Therefore, the band or the LP is "overhyped," when you forget that NOBODY AND I MEAN NOBODY OUTSIDE OF THESE MESSAGE BOARDS AND THIS SUBCULTURE GIVES TWO RUNNY MALT LIQUOR SHITS ABOUT "MAYBE CHICAGO" OR GOODBYE BOOZY OR HORIZONTAL ACTION!!! This, all of this, is SMALL FUCKING POTATOES!!!
Most people out there see music as little more than a Soundtrack for Jazzercising, or, even more pathetic, Aural Valium to get them through workweek drudgery. Most people are happy if a song has the proverbial "good beat that you can dance to." Even 95% of kids looking to rebel or looking for something "different" get duped by average mersh uninspired bullshit like Blink 182 or something, or, just as bad, hardcore. Or, there are the kids in small towns like the Sandwich Girl who just might like the stuff we like if the distributors made it that far.
So consider yourselves lucky, dorks. You're part of something great and you know it. And I know it too, because I'm also, believe it or not, a big dork as well. This is why I love all y'all. Even if I don't know you, you're aces.
Despite the fact that you're dorks, geeking out on these message boards about Which is the Best Killed by Death Record or What if Dave Alexander Hadn't Been Kicked Out of the Stooges, I love you, because I care about this stuff too. I love you folks despite the fact that you have some, if not all of the following character traits: moody, alcoholic, flaky, self-absorbed, self-centered, bitter, pompous, cynical, lazy, smelly, hypercritical, hypocritical, annoying, petty, irritating, socially retarded, just plain retarded, geeky, immature, stoners, cockblockers, smarmy, unctuous, phony. I can tolerate that in the same way I can tolerate sitting in a van that smells like Wisconsin during chemical fertilizer season because all of you also happen to have some, if not all, of THESE traits, traits, I might add, that are in short supply outside of our cloistered denim and white belt towers: kind, supportive, hilarious, passionate, fascinating, sensitive, fun fun fun, unique, ballsy, and easily the most creative and intelligent people I've had the pleasure of knowing. These have been great times for me, and I owe it to all of you.
Warts and all, you are who you are and make no apologies, and this inspires me every day of my life. At the show in Seattle, when we were greeted with the news of Ronald Reagan's death, everybody cheered and clinked their bottles. This alone gives me hope that not everybody is a total goddamn idiot. And to know that there are people out there whose ears aren't plugged up with lameass dogshit also keeps me going.
So keep being dorks about these bands. Because it is, despite the total lack of interest outside our little scene, Very Important.
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