Interview with Nuzzle

I interviewed Simon Fabela, bass player of Nuzzle from Santa Cruz, California, who were active during the 1990s.

Tell us who you are?

My name is Simon Fabela. I played bass in the band Nuzzle. The other members of the band were Andrew Dalton (vocals), Nathan Dalton (guitar), and Ricardo Reano (drums).

“First thing we needed was a van!”

– Simon Fabela

What was your motivation for getting a van in the first place? How long were you a band before you got one? Did a particular band inspire you?

In the early 90s, it really wasn’t too difficult for someone in their late teens to actually go out and buy a van. Gas was cheap and old vans were not hard to find. 

Nuzzle began to take shape somewhere between 1990-1992. Like so many other bands, it was just four high school friends getting together and making some noise after school or on the weekends.

It was around this time in the early 90s that we began to uncover the underground music scene in and around where we lived in Los Angeles. Going to records stores and buying anything that was out on K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Touch & Go, Dischord, Merge, etc…then seeing flyers for shows and going out to Jabberjaw, Claremont College, Macondo, countless house shows, and just absorbing it all.

When our own songs started to take shape and we recorded our first 7″, it was bands like Lync and Some Velvet Sidewalk from Olympia that we made contacts with when they were on tour in Los Angeles, and encouraged us to come up to Oly or Portland, and they could help us get a show, place to stay and so on. That was really the impetus of us giving it all a go and realizing we can actually do this beyond our own back yard.

First thing we needed was a van!

Photo courtesy of Nuzzle

What kind of van did you get and where did you get it?

Andy Dalton was the main force initially behind pretty much everything we did as a band, so he took it upon himself to sell off the old beat up car he had at the time, and buy a gray late 70s Dodge Tradesman that became the band van.

It was a real beater, not sure how much he paid for it, but it couldn’t have been more than maybe a few hundred dollars. It had some issues. It leaked oil like mad and we had to keep several bottles of oil in the van at all times to refill periodically. But we didn’t care, we just wanted to build a loft and get on the road! Which we did.

Photo courtesy of Nuzzle

What is the first trip you took with it?

Our first real tour was in that van up the west coast for a two week jaunt in the summer of 1994, that coincided with the first Yo Yo A Go Go in Olympia  – which we ended up playing at because of a cancellation!

We had begun trying to “book” a tour that summer only a few months prior to Yo Yo not realizing that these sort of things need to be done way in advance.

So after being told that the Fest was already booked, the amazing folks at Yo Yo agreed to keep us in mind if something opened up.

We bought passes with the intention of just staying in Olympia for the week and going to see the Yo Yo Festival everyday, which we did, but when Antioch Arrow ran into van issues in Colorado and couldn’t make it, we got the call!

Photo courtesy of Nuzzle

Do you have any classic mechanical issue stories from being on tour?

Rewind a few days…

After playing a show in Seattle the day before heading to Olympia, our gray van ran into some issues. While laying down in the loft after the show, en route to where we were supposed to be staying, Ricardo noticed a long streak of liquid behind the van that seemed to be following us around every turn.

When we stopped to see what was up, we noticed a sizable crack in the gas tank under the back of the van just pouring out gas. I remember someone grabbing a Styrofoam cup to try and save some of the gas that was pouring out, and just watching the Styrofoam disintegrate.

The van ended up at a mechanics for a few days in Seattle (with all our equipment still in it!) to get repaired while we hitched rides to Olympia with some friends. When we got the call that we were actually going to be playing the Yo Yo later that night we were ecstatic! Then we quickly realized all of our gear was in Seattle, in the back of the van, in a mechanic’s garage!

We called the garage and were told we could come get it if we got there before they close at 5 pm. Luckily, a friend’s band lent us their van to make a mad dash down to Seattle to gather our gear.

While speeding back to Olympia, with all our gear strewn about the back of this borrowed van, Andy gets pulled over for speeding. How crazy is this situation – speeding van, sweating nervous guy driving, music equipment all hazardously thrown into the back. Andy honesty explains the situation and the cop asks “Who’s van is this?”  Andy says “Gillies”  Cop: “Gillie who?” Andy: “I don’t know her last name.”  Cop goes back to his car for a little bit, then comes back and says, “OK Andy. You can get going, but you need to slow down.” 

WTF!! Lots of “THANK YOU’s” and back off to Oly just in time to load straight onto the stage at the Capitol Theater and play. 

Photo courtesy of Nuzzle

Any other entertaining tour stories?

In 1995, we borrowed a friend’s late 70s yellow Dodge Tradesman 201 to tour the US for 6 weeks with the amazing Fisticuffs Bluff.

Another van with major issues that broke down at least twice. Once leaving us stranded in Chambers, AZ for a couple days (had to replace the water pump), and another time in the South, I want to say Mississippi, when the radiator blew.

When we took it to a garage and the guys working on it (one guy named “Thrash” and the other “Hub”) told us we could either wait a few days and spend a good amount of money on a new radiator, or they can just plug up those holes and take our chances. We rolled the dice and it worked!

I do also recall removing the “doghouse” inside the van – the center piece that covers the engine and sits in between the driver and the passenger – while we were driving and probably late to a show, and feeding oil into the engine to keep it going. So, so dangerous, what the fuck were we thinking!?

The van made it back home after that 6 week endurance test, but died a sad death several months after we got back and was sold for scraps.

Photo courtesy of Nuzzle

Any funny or unique features with your vans?

In 1998, I personally bought a mid 80s white Dodge Ram 15 Passenger van that we used for several years. Like the majority of vans bands used at the time, we took out the back two rows and built a stellar loft.

My mom even made curtains for the back windows.

We used this for our Summer of 1999 US Tour. It was a bare bones van inside and out. There were a couple of small portions of the floor, near the driver’s left foot, that were missing, and you could see the road blurring by. 

No paneling inside, so just metal, and in the middle of summer it was fucking roasting in there. No radio either, so we took a bungee cord and looped it around one of the beams on the ceiling and hung a boom box from it, connected it to the cigarette lighter, and blasted tapes as loud as we could.

Most of the time the noise inside the van, from driving and not being insulated, was louder than the music. I loved this van and had a big childhood poster of mine of Fernando Valenzuela taped to the inside “roof”.

I ended up selling it to another local band from Oakland.

Photo courtesy of Simon Fabela

Did you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or motels/hotels?

Our vans were always the place we slept if we could not find a floor to crash on. Rarely did we rent a motel because we just didn’t have the money.

Four or five humans sleeping in a van in the south in the middle of summer was insane! 

Were there any van rules you had? Or band rules in general? 

There weren’t any specific van rules, though usually whoever was driving got to choose the music. We all ended up getting tired of each other’s musical tastes once we’d got past whatever current obsession we all had at the time (Unwound, Sonic Youth, Neil Young, etc.) so we listened to a lot of comedy tapes – one specific David Sedaris box set of tapes was worn out.

Photo courtesy of Nuzzle

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows?

We had some pretty insane drives back then, I distinctly remember a hellish, roughly 13 hour drive from Seattle to Lake Tahoe, and one from Montana to Minnesota.

The van was like our own traveling living room and even when not on tour, we’d often just hang out in it and dream of the next tour.

Reminisce with Nuzzle here:

Instagram

Bandcamp

Nuzzle – The Sorting That Evens Things Out
Nuzzle – If Left To My Own Devices
Nuzzle – My side of the mountain
Nuzzle – Karpal Tunnel
Nuzzle – Live in Austin, TX – July 10, 1995

VANS TO THE RESCUE! by Chris Reece (The Lewd, Social Distortion)

(Header photo and design of Chris’ Social Distortion playing card by Paul Holland-Nell.)

If not for these utilitarian vehicles, Punk Rock might have never happened.

Full-sized American vans were plentiful in the 1980s. Japanese imports took over the market, and used Dodge vans were $500. Most punk bands had one. Social D did not. We drove much cooler vehicles like 56′ Chevys, Citreons, Cadillacs, etc., which were also $500 cars.

Gas was a buck a gallon, motel rooms were $35.

An average gig paid $200, so you could buy a tank of gas, 2 motel rooms, and a case of beer to get you to the next town, and do it all over again.

I was down from San Francisco, and joined Social Distortion in 1984. We toured California and Arizona at the time. That’s the farthest our vans could travel.

We hired roadies that were usually friends of the band to drive the gear to the gig, then pack it up, and haul it back to the rehearsal hall.

Mike Ness, somewhere in Texas, 1989. Photo by Chris Reece.

When we put out the Prison Bound album, we hit the road in a rental van. The one shown here is a Dodge Ram 87′ 15 passenger. We took out the last rows of seats, and stored amps, guitars, and drums.

View from the office, 1988. Photo by Chris Reece.

We had a tight schedule, and we needed something dependable, so we rented from an agency in Hollywood.

Outside of the 4808 Club Charlotte, NC . 1988. Photo by Chris Reece.

I now own a 1999 Ford E-350 Cargo Van, and could not imagine life without one. Right now it’s being used to haul outdoor seating to my restaurant The Pike Restaurant and Bar in Long Beach, California.    

VANS TO THE RESCUE!

“Nasty Nester”. Mike Ness, photo by Chris Reece.

Stay connected with Chris at Pike Restaurant and Bar on Instagram and Facebook.

Also, check out Chris’ Cars of the Punk Rock Stars and Chris Reece Drummer.

The Social Distortion playing cards are available at Paul Holland-Nell’s Etsy Shop.

The Lewd – Mobile Home

Social Distortion – Telling Them, and No Pain, No Gain – Live at the RITZ, February 22, 1986, NEW YORK CITY

Social Distortion playing So Far Away at Cal. State. 1990

Social Distortion – Ghost Town Blues – Live at a party in Lake Perris, July 2, 1988

Social Distortion – Alone And Forsaken (Original Version)

Social Distortion – Mainliner/On My Nerves – Live at the Ritz, New York, Feb 1986

Interview with Brandon Butler from Boys Life

I interviewed Brandon Butler from Boys Life (KC), The Farewell Bend (KC/DC), Canyon (DC), The Vicars of Dickroy (DC), and Six Bells (KY), etc., about Boys Life’s first van and touring.

Boys Life:

Brandon Butler – Guitar/Vocals

Joe Winkle – Guitar

John Rejba – Bass

John Anderson – Drums

______________________________________________________________________________

Why did you get a van in the first place?

We needed one for a few shows we booked. We had our first drummer, I was just days out of high school, and our cars weren’t going to do the trick. We figured we’d sleep in the van since we had no real contacts yet.

Did a particular band or event inspire you?

Nah, no particular bands inspired us, just that we needed one. Well, maybe “Tour Song” by Jawbreaker.

Where did you get it? Did you know the its background when you purchased it?

Joe worked with a guy who had an old church van. We had $250 in the band fund, and Joe threw in a bicycle. We did four U.S. tours in it with very little maintenance.

“When we would hit a good gust of wind it could change lanes on its own.”

– Brandon Butler

Tell us about the van, year, make, model, color – did it need work, and did you do any DIY, build a loft, etc.?

It was a Ford short body from the early 80s. It had a GOOD straight six in it that you just couldn’t kill. It was light blue, and the paint was all chalky like all those old Fords get.

I waxed it, and we built the most insane loft inside. There was just the two front seats, and then the loft, extended the whole length of the van so you had to sit cross legged, or on a stack of pillows, but never could your legs hang down unless you sat between the two front seats.

The whole thing was carpeted to the nines because Joe’s old man was a master carpet installer. Honestly,  that van was the best running vehicle I have ever driven, or been in, except that the steering linkage was badly worn.  When we would hit a good gust of wind it could change lanes on its own.

Photo by John Rejba.

Any funny or unique features?

We had no place for our spare tire so we tied it to the top of the van. We also had a heart spray painted on the back door.

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows? What was the first trip you took with it?

The longest drive we ever did was between Kansas City and San Diego when we recorded our first record.  We did manage to jump on a show while in California.

That was the infamous trip where we decided to steal gas the entire way. We made it past Sante Fe on Highway 40 before we got caught. It all went down on a reservation, so the cop was not a state trooper, and let us go after a bullshit story along with my willingness to let him search the van. He didn’t. I think after he saw our van, and the loft set-up, he felt sorry for us and let us go.

We made it all the way to San Diego after that. Coming back home, we would experience another such encounter with police in Nebraska.

Joe Winkle. Photo by Paul Drake.

Who maintained the van?

At that point in the band, Joe and I did all the maintenance. Oil changes, cap and rotor, etc. The van was on point mechanically, and even though it was rusty, we washed it when we could.

Brandon working on the Canyon van. Photos by Evan Berodt.

I woke up in Bellingham one time with kitty litter stuck to my cheek.

Did you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or hotels?

We always slept on people’s floors. We played the punk house circuit, and they were all super cool, even if the house was super gross. Most of the houses were nasty as fuck.

I woke up in Bellingham one time with kitty litter stuck to my cheek. Joe found chicken bones in a borrowed pillow one time too.

I preferred the van. It sucked, but it was a suck level I could deal with.

John and John. Photo by Paul Drake.

Did you have any van rules, or band rules in general?

The van was lawless. We would drink, smoke, brawl (like really brawl), make up, bitch about music selections, have fun. It was the Wild West in our van. Riding in the Boys Life and Canyon van was raucous stuff.

Dirty deeds done by Brandon to the Giants Chair van. Photo courtesy of Brandon Butler.

The Farewell Bend van was chill, but that band was different. We were on a mission. It was about delivering the goods. Nobody got too whacked out. That band was the rebound girlfriend for us, we needed it at the time, and finally realized we needed to move on. Both Giants Chair and Boys Life split at about the same time… I’m mean c’mon, like I’m not asking Paul (Ackerman) to do a band? We probably recorded the best sleeper “emo” album of the 90s from that group. That record will hold up forever.  

Now wouldn’t it be cool if that record came out on vinyl? Hmm… 

The Farewell Bend – Service Engine Soon

The Farewell Bend – Live at The Granada, Lawrence, KS 05.31.97

What is your craziest tour story?

Well… on tour coming back to Kansas City on an all night drive, we pulled into a rest area so Paul Drake could pee, and get a break from driving. We were all asleep in the back, including Eric (Richter, Christie Front Drive).

I woke to the smell of electricity similar to a Marshall amp just before it dies. I opened my eyes, and there was a thick green smoke emanating from the front A/C vents. I knew shit was about to hit the fan. “Everybody out, get the fuck out of the van now” I was yelling. Everybody bailed out. Because at this point the dash had caught fire, we didn’t even grab our shoes or anything. We all had to take our turn, literally jumping through flames, because the fire was coming out of the dash rolling up the windshield.

I went to the back doors, slung them open, and all of us started throwing guitar cases, amps, speaker cabinets on the ground. Drums were rolling about the parking area, and all of the semi trucks were starting to bail out.

I’d say the flames at that point were at least forty feet tall. The heat was so intense while we moved the salvaged gear to a safe distance, my eyeballs dried, and my hoodie hurt when it touched my skin, that fucking HOT.

Tires were exploding, and the fiberglass dome that had once made the van such an attractive option to tour in was melting like a giant picnic cup in a camp fire. Finally, the gas tank lit up and heaved a giant plume of bright yellow flame that ran out into the parking lot, all over the remaining chassis, exploding the rear tires, every color of the rainbow was present in that fire.

It burned so fast that by the time the two fire trucks arrived they were just wetting it for safety.

We ended up loading our sorry asses, broke, cold, and shoe-less in a giant Ryder truck, one of those really big ones. We were so fucking over it. We played our final show of the tour in KC, at The Daily Grin with The Get Up Kids.

We didn’t practice or talk about band stuff for a month. I was sure as a band we were finished.  I really think that was the moment we changed our view of touring.  We wouldn’t play shows without a guarantee, and we tried to play clubs more than punk space/house shows.

But as insane as this story sounds, we had so many weird ass experiences on tour. Those dangerous and surreal moments were why I wanted to keep touring. 

Photo by Paul Drake.

Where did the van end up?

All of the vans we ever owned got junked. Joe traded the last van he owned in for a good Honda hatchback that he drove to San Francisco after the band broke up.

Boys Life. Photo by Paul Drake.

Photo by Paul Drake.

Photo by Paul Drake.

I started to think this guy might be some Buffalo Bill wanting to put lotion in my basket, and these “films” might be a way to get the ball rolling.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

I could write a book just on Boys Life tour stories. Here’s a quick one, and I warn you its gross.

We played Milwaukee this one time, and a guy at the show offered us a place to stay. He said he lived in an old theater with a working film projector, one of the big ones. He said he had a bunch of couches, and a fire pit inside the space. I was fucking sold!

So when we got there, it was a warehouse. Yes, he had a projector, and films, and a bunch of couches. The fire pit was a 55 gallon drum, but it all seemed like it could work out to be cool place to hang out. We had a few beers, and he wanted to show us some “films.”

Photo by Paul Drake.
Photo by Paul Drake.

The films ended up to be porn…? 1970s German stuff that had really pasty white people, lots of hair, ball gags, and whips. Some gross looking shit that you know is about to go sideways. It didn’t freak us out right away, but I started to think this guy might be some Buffalo Bill wanting to put lotion in my basket, and these “films” might be a way to get the ball rolling. I was like 22 at the time.

Things went south when the guy in the movie made a stinky on his lady friend. Rejba made an audible groan. None of us was watching this train wreck anymore. Anderson rolled up in his sleeping bag and checked out. I think Rejba and I were messing around the fire barrel. We could see the guys interest level growing in the film.

Right about then, the dude who made number two earlier brought in one of those miniature ponies… we bailed with the quickness.  We told the guy we needed something from the van long enough for that gross ass crime against nature to be over. Rejba gagged outside a few times, and I was afraid to go to sleep.

Eventually, I was banned from voting on where to stay. 

Boys Life and The Crownhate Ruin in front of Camelot in Higginsville, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Boys Life.
The Farewell Bend with Kerosene 454 at the Amish Cheese House in Chouteau, OK. Photo by Paul Drake.
Brandon sitting in with The Boom. Photo courtesy of Brandon Butler.

How can we help promote any releases?

Look up Rejba’s band Wet Tropics, they’re great.

I have put up a lot of free music on my bandcamp page.

Joe hangs out and jams with John Wall from Kerosene 454, from what i hear through the grape vine. I’m not sure if they are a thing, or just having fun, but yeah.

Anderson is a wicked drummer, and I wish he lived closer to me.

Boys Life Instagram

Boys Life Facebook

The Farewell Bend Facebook

Wet Tropics Instagram

Wet Tropics Facebook

Boys Life – “Fire Engine Red”

Canyon – Drive All Night

Brandon Butler performs Dear Assassin. Red Palace, DC. 7/24/11

The Vicars of Dickroy – Iota, Arlington 1.24.13

Six Bells perform “Silver Seed”

Tragic Accidents by Wet Tropics (Live at DZ Records)

Interview with Charlie DeBolt from Upsetting

I interviewed Charlie DeBolt, the drummer/vocalist of Upsetting from Denton, Texas, after learning of their tragic van fire that occurred a couple of weeks ago.

Upsetting is a 4-piece sub-pop/sad rock band from Denton, Texas, made up of Caleb Lewis (Guitar/Vocals), Charlie DeBolt (Drums/Vocals), Drew Kee (Lead Guitar), and Kevin Adkins (Bass/Vocals). 

What was the catalyst, motivation, or inspiration for getting a van in the first place, specifically? How long were you a band before you got one?

Actually, we were pretty fortunate to land our first van thanks to our first record deal. Our debut album, “Everything I’ve Done So Far” was released through local record label State Fair Records (Dallas, TX) in 2018, and shortly after its release they signed the title for an old 1998 church van they had through the years for other bands to tour in over to Kevin.

Before that, we had gone on a couple tours in a van a friend rented to me. But renting vans can be stupid expensive, so we probably would have looked at buying a van sooner or later either way. So as old and used as it was, getting that first van was a huge step for us and I’m pretty sure we had our next tour booked 2-3 weeks after receiving the new wheels. 

Did you know the background of this van when you purchased it? Were you looking for a specific make and model?

We’re not exactly sure how many bands had used it before us… the label never mentioned exactly how long ago they purchased it (from the First Baptist Church of Azle, TX), but we know that The Vandoliers, a pretty popular “cow-punk” band from Dallas, were the last to use it before us. It’s also very possible that The Old 97’s had it at one point (State Fair worked with them in their earlier years).

We just needed something that could get us around comfortably, honestly we never had more than 4-5 people ever ride in it at a time on tour so a 15 passenger van was a little excessive, but the extra elbow room was nice.

What was the year, make, model, color? Did it need work, and did you do any DIY? Did you give it a name? Who maintained it?

The van was a maroon red 1998 Dodge 3500. Shortly after the first tour, we ran with it, the computer started gradually failing, which meant that some of our gauges wouldn’t read correctly… then the windows stopped rolling up… at it’s worst state we lost the speedometer (which is scary) and the AC (which in Texas is pretty rough).

We got pretty crafty with swapping out fuses and at one point Kevin did this crazy shit where he tied a wire from one fuse to the AC fuse to help give that extra power. When we were still with State Fair Records, they helped us with a lot of repairs when we needed it, but the past year or so Kevin was taking care of the maintenance.

We named the van Ruby “Van” Akroyd… I think Caleb and I had watched Blues Brothers some time around when we got it, so Dan was just on our mind, lol.

Photo by Erin Devany, All Hallows Productions.

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows?

Our longest drive between shows was easily a short West Coast run where we decided to just start out at the farthest point. We played a show in Dallas, then the next morning at like 5 am drove 23 hours straight to Bakersfield, CA. The next day we had a show in Pacifica, CA.

It was honestly really nice getting the big drive out of the way the day before, because we were able to spend the whole next day enjoying the coast around the Bay Area. That whole part of California is beautiful, and Pacifica is a chill smaller town that we took a lot of fun band photos around.

Photo by Garrett Smith

What do you listen to in the van?

I’m very glad that our group has a pretty wide range of music tastes with the occasional podcast listen to mix things up. Musically, I’d say our top 5 played artists would be Modern Baseball, Modest Mouse, Mark Morrison (but really just “Return of the Mack” over and over), Mimisiku, and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver.

We also listen to the podcast “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” as much as any of those artists. The whole band is big on the McElroy brothers.

When my partner, Erin Devany (All Hallows Productions), comes with us on the road (she handles almost all of our photography/music videos), we also get to listen to some fun spooky podcasts like “My Favorite Murder” and “Last Podcast on the Left”.

Photo by Erin Devany, All Hallows Productions.

What else do you do for entertainment on drives between shows?

When we’re not just vibing out on music, we each have our other forms of entertainment. I bought these fun little silicone hand puppets that looked like Labrador Retriever heads… they got real silly real quick.

I normally bring an acoustic guitar for anyone to fiddle around with, and I’ve actually written a song or two for my side project (Springtime and the Changes) while on the road with Upsetting.

Normally, if we have a photographer with us, the road is their main opportunity to edit photos so we can post them during our travels. And we’ve gotten better over the last year or so about keeping an eye out for any fun regional sights we can take time to check out in between stops.

One of my favorite places we’ve checked out is Bishop Castle out near Rye, CO. Its this crazy castle this dude named Jim Bishop hand built, and its sturdy enough to walk around inside of. If you ever get the chance I highly recommend it.

Photo by Garrett Smith

Do you have any songs that reference touring or about the van?

Our song “Donnie” actually references the van quite a bit. That song is about a cat of mine that got hit by a car during Thanksgiving of 2018. I didn’t have a car at the time, so Kevin let me use the van to visit my family on Thanksgiving, I got home pretty late and the next morning found out about my cat, Donnie. I’m pretty sure the van makes a brief appearance off in the background about 40 seconds into the music video.

Upsetting – “DONNIE” Official Music Video

There’s also a brief moment about a minute into the “Family Tradition Plays Quietly in the Background” music video where we include a little footage of us having fun inside the van on a tour we went on with our local goth-rock homies, Rosegarden Funeral Party.

Upsetting – “Family Tradition Plays Quietly in the Backgroud” OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO
Upsetting / Rosegarden Funeral Party Tour 2019

And the recent music video we put out for “Eye of a Needle” turned into a bit of a tribute to Ruby since our recent van fire happened on our way back from filming the video.

Upsetting – Eye of a Needle (Official Video)

Do you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or motels/hotels?

I’d say our sleeping arrangements on tour were roughly 60% friend’s/people’s houses, 20% Air B’n’Bs, 10% motels/hotels, and 10% sleeping in the van. Everyone in the band is kinda big, so those van benches don’t quite fit the same, but we’ve made it work when we need to.

My favorite place we’ve ever crashed though, was this tiny little cabin out in Zanesville, Ohio. It rented for $36, and had 4 comfy places to sleep, a fire pit, and little solar powered appliances inside. It was incredibly cozy for how cheap it was, for anyone looking for a good option to crash in between Pittsburgh & Columbus.

Do you have any van rules? Or band rules in general? For example the last band I was in had the following rule “don’t freak out, and don’t fuck up”. You?

Haha, I think one of the only van rules we had to implement after our first few runs was no smoking weed in the van while its moving. We’ve never had a real encounter with the cops aside from the occasional speeding warning, but on some of our routes near the border we’ve come across a checkpoint a little too soon after boofing a joint.

Other than that, we try to keep the band rules reasonable. A couple of us have had bad experiences with hard drugs in the past so we avoid those altogether as a band, and we’ve learned our limits as far as drinking before a set. And, you know, don’t be a creep. There’s too many of those already.

What’s your craziest van story?

Our crazy van story was actually very recent and still something I think about daily. On September 6th, we were heading home from Kirvin, TX (kind of near Waco) after shooting the music video for “Eye of a Needle” out on Caleb’s mom’s property. Kevin was driving with Caleb riding shotgun, my partner Erin (who was filming for us) and I were in the first bench, and Drew was in the second row. This was actually Drew’s first real outing with us as a band, since he joined as the lead guitar player for our band after the pandemic hit.

30 miles into our trip, right outside of Corsicana, TX, I felt something bottom out from right underneath where I was sitting, and we all heard/felt it drag while we were going 60mph on the highway. Fortunately, there was an exit ramp near us, so Kevin got off the main road and pulled over.

Before he even fully came to a stop, flames came up the side of the van in front of the passenger doors. We immediately hopped out of the driver side door, and I’ll never forget the panic everyone felt as we were screaming to get out.

Video courtesy of Charlie DeBolt

After we all made it out okay, there had to be 2 solid minutes where we all just stood there frozen, not sure how to process seeing the van we were just occupying quickly being consumed by flames.

Before it was completely engulfed, Kevin and I acted quick and threw the back door open to salvage what we could, including mine and Erin’s phones which were the last things he grabbed before the flames got too bad.

Video courtesy of Charlie DeBolt
Photo Courtesy of Charlie DeBolt

It couldn’t have been more than 15-20 minutes after we pulled over that the van was completely torched.

I don’t ever want to experience some of the sights and sounds I witnessed that day… windows getting so hot they pop and shatter… the tires expanding until the air inside starts squealing as it tears the rubber apart to escape… that will hopefully remain the scariest day of my life.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Debolt
Video Courtesy of Charlie DeBolt

We’re glad everyone is okay. Where is the van now? 

There was nothing to salvage of the van, so a tow truck in Corsicana picked it up and took it away. I made sure there was nothing we needed to sign or anything like that, but I think we knew seconds after getting out of the van that we weren’t going to be riding in it ever again.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

Man… a lot of tour stories to pick from. I guess I’ll use this opportunity to thank Ceremony for that one time they guest-listed 9 of us for their sold out show at The Crocodile in Seattle. We had a day off and saw they were playing, so I messaged them on Facebook saying we were too broke but wanted to see them… I did not expect them to even reply, let alone get us into the show. But they did, and that was one CRAZY day off.

We also had the good fortune of making friends with a band from Monterrey named Local Champion, and had a fun little mini-tour in Mexico last October thanks to them.

We played one night in Torreon, at a new bar called Ojo De Tigre. The owner is incredibly passionate about music, and to celebrate her first year of operation, she had a mural artist paint the names of every band that played there in the first year, so our name’s up on a bar wall in Torreon… which sounds pretty epic. 

“Eye of a Needle”
out 9/27/2020
artwork by Alz Garcia

How can we help promote any releases? 

Our music is up on most major streaming platforms, you can check out our latest single, “Eye of a Needle”, anywhere you usually listen to music. And we’ve got our last single, “In November on Normal St.”, coming out in November, so keep your eyes peeled for that one! Social media & additional links below:

Bandcamp

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

GoFundMe for New Van Fund

Interview with Short Fictions

I interviewed Sam Treber from Short Fictions about touring in vans.

“Short Fictions is an indie/emo band from Pittsburgh PA. We like to get heavy, but we also love to have fun. We are a band of friends.
In our tenure as a band, we’ve toured in about five different vans by my count. To answer each question, we chose the funniest, most interesting, or most applicable van to talk about.”

– Sam Treber

Short Fictions is Sam Treber, Shimpei Blackriver, Ryan Veith, Alex Barkley, Alex Martin, and Nick Bursick.

What was the catalyst, motivation, or inspiration for getting a van in the first place? 

We’re a six-piece band haha. We couldn’t even tour in a sedan or SUV if we wanted to for sheer lack of seats. We have toured in the past in a mini-van, but it’s been incredibly cramped.

For a long time we were renting a decommissioned school transit van from our friend. It was yellow, and where it originally had stickers reading out “SCHOOL STUDENTS,” it had been picked apart to read “ C OOL STUD S.”

That was a pretty decent ride, but once we started touring upwards of 90 days a year, it became more economical for us to own a van, since we were paying a daily rental fee. Perhaps more so than that though, was the fact that this van didn’t have working AC, which on top of its having leather upholstery, made for some absolutely unbearable summer tours.

Interestingly, the band Mover Shaker owns that van now.

Where/from whom did you get it? Did you know the background of this van when you purchased it?

I’m going to transition now to talking about the first van that we bought for ourselves, and continue to refer to this one, because it is far and away the funniest van we’ve ever toured in, and also the worst.

I bought it on Facebook Marketplace from two very sketchy, albeit friendly guys who lived about 40 minutes outside of the city. They said they ran a lawn care service, and I believe them, because to this day it has an ineradicable smell of gasoline and cut-grass.

I bought it for $800, but they said that we could tell the notary that I only spent $100, so that the sales tax would be lowered. They had a preferred notary that we went to first thing in the morning.

It was super weird because I pulled up to the destination, and it was very clearly just some guy’s house. There were a thousand wind chimes and lawn gnomes on his porch leading to the entrance. We knocked on his door, and a woman next door leaned out her window and yelled, “He ain’t in yet.”

Okay. Eventually, he comes out and we step into his office, which is straight up just the mud room of his house. Sale goes off without a hitch.

Photo courtesy of Short Fictions

Tell us about the van, year, make, model, color – did it need work, and did you do any DIY, build a loft, etc.? Did you give it a name? Who maintained it?

It was a 1992 Chevy G20, and despite being 27 years old, it only had about 120K miles on it, which isn’t terrible. It was a cargo van though, not a passenger van, so the first DIY I did was add seats.

I was looking for seats on Craigslist and honestly, they were surprisingly expensive, but by some miracle, the very next day I found a bench seat just sitting in the parking lot at our practice space. It was covered in dirt and there were no seat belt connections. Of course, I had no ability to actually install a bench seat, so I kinda just stuck it in there loose, and leaned it against the side wall.

We called it “The Mustard Mobile” because it had one yellow door, and because you have to “give it (the gas pedal) a little mustard” or else it stalls out haha!

Photo courtesy of Short Fictions
Photo courtesy of Short Fictions

Any funny or unique features?

Not sure if “feature” is the right word, but I will list its quirks:

First, it has a security system that doesn’t actually do anything other than periodically (about every 15 minutes) a red light will flash, a clicking sound happens, and the hazard lights blink.

There is no way to turn it off.

If you turn on the heat, it starts an electrical fire and smoke comes out of the dashboard.

The transmission is set up such that at absolutely no point can you exceed 55 mph.

It has a functioning cigarette lighter and cassette tape player. The windows are crank operated, and there are no cup holders. The side door does not work. The rear door does not lock.

Photo courtesy of Short Fictions
Photo courtesy of Short Fictions

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows? What was the first trip you took with it?

In that van, a drive we did to New Jersey that should have taken 6 hours turned into about 10.

For better or for worse I’m an optimist when it comes to shows. If ten people are there, or if anybody buys merch, or if I just get to have a fun time with my friends, I leave satisfied so I guess it’s almost always worth it.

Photo courtesy of Short Fictions

What do you listen to in the van?

In that van we could only listen to tapes, so I brought a handful from my collection. Some that I remember listening to a bit include Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”, Smash Mouth – “Astro Lounge”, Aaron Carter – “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)”, Sioux Falls – “Rot Forever”, and Slick Rick’s “The Adventures of Slick Rick”.

Now that we have a van with a Bluetooth connection, we listen to a lot of classic rock, and also podcasts such as “No Such Thing as a Fish”, “Car Talk,” and “Beep Beep Lettuce”.

Photo courtesy of Short Fictions

What do you do for entertainment on drives between shows?

I love just chit-chatting with my band mates, and recounting old tour stories. We also stop a lot to eat snacks and steal from gas stations.

Photo courtesy of Short Fictions

Do you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or motels/hotels?

All three haha. People’s houses is obviously the best option, but isn’t always possible. Hotels are fun, but we don’t often have the budget to do that more than a few times each tour.

I’m a big proponent of sleeping in the van, but everybody hates me for it. Sometimes I drive until everyone’s asleep, and then just pull over.

Photo courtesy of Short Fictions

Any van rules? Or band rules in general?

Try to throw your thrash away, open a window if you fart.

Also no texting and driving, and no speeding, but pretty much no one obeys the rules except me.

Do you have any crazy stories from tour or any other shows?

We had a tour where we drove through the night in the dead of winter, and the road was so slick that we spun out on the highway. We landed in the median without flipping over thank god, but we were stuck in about half a foot of snow. We spent like two hours treating the median like a half-pipe, trying to get enough momentum to propel ourselves out of it, and back onto the highway.

This was in Iowa, and very forebodingly, we wrecked just a stone’s throw from where Buddy Holly’s plane had crashed in the 1950s. Super weird.

Where did that van end up? 

The Chevy is still in my backyard haha. It still runs, but I don’t ever leave the city in it, or even go on the highway.

My mechanic said it will never pass a state inspection, so I kinda have to
drive it in stealth mode. It’s good for moving furniture and that’s about it.

Photo courtesy of Short Fictions

Any other entertaining tour stories?

I was so feverishly ill and dehydrated in California that my pee was neon orange for like a week.

Shimp came in his pants once.

How can we help promote any releases? 

Have your followers stream us or have them add our songs to their playlists! We drop merch every so often, so follow us on bandcamp. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Insta. “Fates Worse than Death” is available everywhere, new music is on the horizon!

Short Fictions – Really Like You (Music Video)
Short Fictions – Living In Places Like These Can Be Bad For Your Health
Short Fictions – Cities Under Water
Crazy Ryan in “Short Fictions Coffee Mug & Ash Tray set”
CRAZY RYAN’S CRAZY MERCH BLOWOUT
“Howdy folks! Like a lot of other people we got kinda boned by having half of our tour canceled so we’ve restocked our Bandcamp store with everything we have including more FWTD records, a new T-Shirt, and a couple of misc things; if you have some spare cash in these trying times, here would be a great place to spend it lol. But don’t take it from me, let Crazy Ryan tell ya about it!

Interview with Cerberus Shoal

I interviewed Chriss Sutherland (bass guitar, vocals), and Tom Rogers (drums) of Cerberus Shoal from Boston/Portland, Maine, about van touring. Cerberus Shoal was active from 1994 through the mid-2000s.

What was the catalyst, motivation, or inspiration for getting a van in the first place, specifically? 


Chriss – We wanted to tour the U.S. and therefore needed a van to do so. There really isn’t much more to it.

Where/from whom did you get it? Did you know the background of this van when you purchased it?

Chriss – The first van came from a used car dealership up in central Maine where some of us were from. I had my uncle look at it, and he gave me the skinny as to what he thought it might need for repair. 

Photo courtesy of Cerberus Shoal

Tell us about the van, year, make, model, color – did it need work, and did you do any DIY, build a loft, etc.? Did you give it a name? Who maintained it?

Chriss – The van was a white GMC painter’s vans with a sliding door and no side windows. It only had two seats up front. It was probably an ’84 or something like that. We weren’t talented enough to make a loft so we just stuck the gear in the back loose and really unsafe like… we plunked a soft shitty couch/futon type of thing in the middle facing the sliding door and that was it. The van was in my name and I maintained it though we used collective funds. It had no name… we weren’t like that.

Any funny or unique features?, – for example, we had a band member make a jumbo cup holder, and installed the stereo into the glove compartment, so it was hidden. 

Chriss – Nothing really. It had three gears on the steering column (“three on the tree”). We put some weird posters and stickers inside, but it was all utility baby.

Photo courtesy of Cerberus Shoal

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows? What was the first trip you took with it?

Chriss – The longest was probably Yellowstone to Chicago or something like that. It’s hard to remember as it was twenty five years ago.

Tom – or possibly Richmond, VA to Miami, FL…during our first tour in the summer of 1995, only Chriss and I had our licenses out of the four of us, Chriss doing a majority of the driving. 

Chriss – The first trip was to NYC to play at ABC No Rio.

What did you listen to in the van?

Chriss – Not much because it didn’t have a stereo system. We brought a little battery power tape player and would jam Neurosis and Iconoclast.

Photo courtesy of Cerberus Shoal

What did you do for entertainment on drives between shows?

Chriss – We did a lot of talking. We were friends and we would discuss stuff… like our feelings, dreams, hopes, fears, etc.

Did you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or motels/hotels?

Chriss – We did it all: slept in, on top, and around the van.. we slept in every type of house and apartment you can think of, but at that time rarely motels/hotels as that was not punk and we had no money.

Tom – I’ll never forget the time we pulled over on the highway in Texas at night on our way from San Antonio to El Paso, and two of us slept on top of the van, the others inside the van. Another time waking up in our sleeping bags at a rest area in the grass in Wisconsin, bystanders looking at us like we were crazy. 

Photo courtesy of Cerberus Shoal

Were there any van rules you had? Or band rules in general?

Chriss – No rules as that was not who we were. We tried to take care of each other and do everything possible to get to the show.

Do you have a classic nightmare van/police/mechanical/crash/fire story from tour or any other shows?

Chriss – At that particular time, and with that particular van, we were very blessed, and it seemed that we had someone watching over us. I think that the intense boredom of downtime between shows in tiny rural zones with no money sticks out most in my mind. It was very adventurous… we once broke into Thermopolis Hot Spring Park and went swimming at night… definitely shouldn’t have been swimming there… we would swim anywhere.

Tom – Yes! Haha, Thermopolis, Wyoming. We had 8 days off and decided to see how far we could go out west and make it back to our next show in Wisconsin. We ended up spending one day in Sturgis, South Dakota, entertained at the world’s largest biker rally, visited Badlands National Park, SD, sightseeing in Yellowstone National Park, seeing Devil’s Tower, WY & as Chriss stated, sneaking into Thermopolis to swim in the world’s largest hot spring. 

Photo courtesy of Cerberus Shoal

Where did the van end up? 

Chriss – I can’t exactly remember. We sold it to buy another newer van.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

Chriss – We sweated a lot in that van, and brought the real punk stuff to many states in the mid nineties when emocore wasn’t popular and young men struggled to make their feelings known. Our band was amazing!

Tom – One of our Los Angeles shows was eventful, we played the Silver Lake Lounge and met the actor Vincent Gallo and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. They were there together to see one of the other bands on the bill, but caught our set and loved it. Vincent invited us to party at his place in the Hollywood Hills, but we didn’t end up going…can’t remember why!  

We were always searched & questioned (sometimes separately) when trying to cross the border from the States into Canada. During that first tour in 1995, we didn’t have the work permit to perform in Canada and I’m still flagged to this day, 25 years later because of that. 

European tour of 2001: our rental van was broken into twice, once in Aarhus, Denmark and once in Marseille, France. Fortunately, all of our equipment was already inside the venue and only some records/CD’s, & my camera was stolen.

Photo courtesy of Cerberus Shoal

How can we help promote any releases? 

Chriss – You can shout out SNAEX (Tom Rogers and I are in this band now) and our new vinyl record “The Nameless and The Named” on El Gran E. Records! 

Tom – on Instagram, can be found at SNAEX

Cerberus Shoal bandcamp

Cerberus Shoal Instagram

Cerberus Shoal Facebook

Cerberus Shoal – Breakaway Cable Terminal
Cerberus Shoal – Make Winter A Driving Song
Cerberus Shoal – The Real Ding
Cerberus Shoal – Wyrm
Cerberus Shoal – Destination Creeps
Cerberus Shoal – Christopher’s Winded
Snaex – Hidden in the Heart of the City
Snaex – Foreign Homes

Interview with Tyler Fieldhouse from GILT

I interviewed Tyler Fieldhouse, vocalist/guitarist of GILT, from Jacksonville, Florida, about their vans and traveling.

GILT is:

Tyler Fieldhouse – Vocals/Guitar

Nico Bacigalupo – Vocals/Bass

Tristan Komorny – Lead Guitar

Ash Locke – Drums

Hey! My name’s Tyler (they/them) and I sing and play guitar for GILT. I’m also the only person who drives the van, outside of maybe 3 times in my life, where I was rendered unconscious by illness. Welcome to my crib (sound clip of my van trying to start, shutting off, and then again.) It turns on the third time, usually.

What was the motivation for getting a van in the first place?


We’ve had two vans, the first was my family’s ‘94 Chevy Astro, and it was just there. My old band had used it before a little bit, my parents were cool with it being used, and GILT wanted to get on the road immediately. There’s just not that much in North Florida. You have to go on tour.

Where/from whom did you get it? Did you know the background of this van when you purchased it?

Our current van we got from a seller I found online. It’s an old church van (you can still see the Presbyterian Church sticker residue on the side), and when we got to his house, he had it running, and it had some wear and tear, but seemed great. He did fail to inform me of some issues, like that it doesn’t start right up when you crank it. But that’s my fault for getting distracted by his life story about adopting 14 kids, and not being religious.

Tell us about the van, year, make, model, color – did it need work, and did you do any DIY, build a loft, etc.? Does it have a name? Who maintains it?

The current one is a 2000 Chevy Express. Basic white. It’s the super extra heavy version, so it gets 11mpg whether it’s full to the brim or empty. Not only did it need work when we got it 2ish years ago, but it still does! The back panel is gone, as is the inner handle to that door, so the entire thing opens with an elaborate zip-tie system from inside. The driver’s outdoor door handle broke off almost immediately, so the driver (me) has to crawl in the passenger side. The speedometer runs about 10mph over the actual speed until you hit around 40, where it becomes 20 over. Most of the outlets don’t work. The windshield shattered and we got it replaced, but ever since, the weather stripping likes to fly off periodically.

We tried to build a loft, but didn’t allot enough time, so we just went on tour with this massive plank of wood we sat on top of the gear. It has foam glued to it that the ice cream cones at my job get shipped in, and we just call it the bed. When we sleep in the van, we move the bed on top of the middle two rows of seats, and I sleep on top of it. Everyone hates it because they wake up, and are staring at the exposed screws on the bottom, but it’s comfy. Sometimes we just leave it on the gear, and I sleep at whatever slant the way we packed the gear leads to, and wake up with different limbs going numb.

Photo by Christian Denmark

Does the Express have any funny or unique features?

Because only the passenger speaker and one far back speaker work, we never use the radio. We bring a bluetooth speaker, and honestly it’s much easier than passing around the aux chord. Plus, if I don’t like what’s playing, I just hand it back to the middle row and it’s a lot quieter.

Other than that, we tried to install curtains, which was really funny, but only because we did it so poorly, and all the Velcro we mounted fell apart over the course of the trip.

I think the best feature is the missing driver door handle honestly, because it’s such a good theft deterrent. Also, it’s got an issue with a fuel leak in the cylinders, so if you drive it at all, next time you go to start it, it won’t crank until you give it two or three tries, unless you let it sit for about 24 hours. It’s basically impossible to steal.

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows? What was the first trip you took with it?

When we tour, we go on ridiculously long trips, so the drives aren’t ever horrible. But there sure isn’t a lot between Portland, Boise, and Salt Lake City.

The first trip we took was a quick run down to Miami for our first Snipfest (charity festival we run across Florida to provide funds for gender-affirming surgeries). The kickoff show was at home, and Nico (bass/vox) split their knee open on stage, and it was too late to go anywhere but the ER, so we just patched it up and went home. The next morning, the doctor said too much time had passed for stitches, so Nico had to take that first drive all the way down the state with their leg up on the dash to keep it from splitting back open.

What do you listen to in the van?

When we pick individual things, Tristan picks Pile or Modest Mouse a lot. Ash picks metalcore stuff that I generally mentally tune out. Nico has been known to play Twin Falls Idaho on repeat for entire states, only to switch to Pinback’s “Loro” for the next two straight days.

I wait till everyone falls asleep, and listen to my old classic albums in their entirety: Thursday – “War All The Time/Common Existence”, Fall Out Boy – (everything up until “Save Rock n Roll”), Lydia – “Illuminate”, Margot and The Nuclear So And So’s – “Not Animal”, Iron And Wine – “Around The Well”.

The albums we all agree on collectively are Great Grandpa – “Plastic Cough”, Idles (any), Kevin Devine – “Brother’s Blood”, and Mewithoutyou – “Pale Horse”.

Photo by Christian Denmark

What do you do for entertainment on drives between shows?

Ash and Nico have Switches, so there’s lots of Smash Bros, and Ash loves to rope everyone into playing Uno. Sometimes we’ll pick an album and just completely dissect it together, which is kind of cool to not only see everyone’s taste, but see what parts of anything we might use in our own music. But mostly Smash Bros.

Do you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or motels/hotels?

We always assume we’re going to sleep in the van, but usually we get offered a house! It’s always great to stay with people, just to make friends. People bond really quickly when you’re in their home because they feel safe and comfortable I think.

In all our years, we’ve only gotten a hotel twice. Once because it was a snowstorm, and we physically couldn’t sleep in the van, and the other because it was the only way to avoid the cops getting called. Neither hotel was that great. The only good hotel is the Wyndham at FEST and we just sleep in their parking lot.

Photo courtesy of GILT

Any van rules? Or band rules in general? For example, the last band I was in had the following rule “don’t freak out, and don’t fuck up”. You?

We’re constantly fucking up, so maybe we should consider making that a rule not too. I like to ask people not to vape in the van, because Nico has asthma, and I just don’t want my van to smell like Raspberry Mint Cotton Candy Supreme, but it hasn’t stopped people.

Mostly the rule is if we’re stopping for food, we’re ALL stopping, so our eating schedules stay aligned. Which means we have to agree on either one place we can all enjoy, or at least one part of town.

Do you have a classic nightmare van/police/mechanical/crash/fire story from tour or any other shows?

Oh definitely! On our last 2 month run across the country (and into Mexico and Canada) we paid about $2k to get the van fixed up and ready, which was a lot but at least we knew how much we had to recoup on the road. About half way through the water heater crapped out among with some other things and it was another $2k. It’s still not completely fixed, full disclosure.

My favorite cop story was from the above-mentioned hotel. We couldn’t find a Wal-Mart and I was dead tired so for the first time ever (outside of FEST) I parked us in a hotel parking lot to sleep. Turns out it was one of the major hotels with shuttles to Anaheim Disney. I got woken up to a security guard yelling at us to leave, and when I tried to crank the van up, it wouldn’t start. I started to call AAA, but before I could even get a tow-truck, he was calling the cops. So the only thing I could to do to avoid the situation was to walk inside and get a room on the spot. I have to admit, it did feel good to see him hang up the phone pissed off that he couldn’t get us in trouble. But that room sucked. Didn’t even have a TV and it was EXPENSIVE.

Otherwise, it’s just a montage of us getting parking tickets in California because the roads are confusingly labeled, and there’s no Wal-Marts. If you tour California and aren’t independently wealthy, I’m sorry.

Photo by Christian Denmark

Where is the van now?

Whenever stuff goes wrong with the van we get it fixed asap. But I do think it’s fitting that on our first big 3 month trip around the U.S., our first van crapped out on us about 45 minutes from home, so we got towed home. It was definitely a fitting end to that trip.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

We were playing a show in Houston at a very strange house that was run by some sort of new-agey tai chi/monk style person who said he was in charge of rehabilitating people with brain injuries. (Turns out he just made/sold drugs to them and people in the area). Our friends were sitting in the front seat of their car, which was parked next to our van, and they watched the guy who had been running door casually walk over, try to open our van, and move on to their car because ours was locked.

He entered the back of their car because it was unlocked, not noticing them, and when they asked him what he was doing as he was picking up their gear to steal it he just paused, looked at them blankly and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t usually do this.”



Obviously, the situation didn’t go too well, but as far as reactions to getting caught committing a crime go, that’s my absolute favorite.

Photo by Paul Meacham

How can we help promote any releases?

We just put out our first LP ‘Ignore What’s Missing’ and we’d love if anyone reading this wanted to check it out on Spotify / Apple / Bandcamp, and all the other usual platforms. We’ll be promoting merch and live streams until we can resume touring and we announce that stuff on all our social medias, which all use the @giltfl handle.

GILT Instagram

GILT Facebook

GILT Twitter

GILT – Sink And Tithe (Official Video)
GILT – Flowers (Official Video)
GILT – Charity (Official Lyric Video)
GILT – Car Seat (Official Lyric Video)

Interview with Liam MacPherson from closure.

I interviewed Liam MacPherson, bass player with closure. from Syracuse, NY, about their Ford Clubwagon.

closure. is:

Liam MacPherson (bass)

Collins Van Gorden (guitar/vocals)

Tyler Battist (guitar)

Jake Blake (drums)

Why did you get a van in the first place?

Really just to tour with, we didn’t want to have to rent a van – especially if we plan on touring often. So it just made the most sense economically and logistically.

What is the background of your van?

We bought it from somebody on Craigslist. They must’ve owned it for a short while, because they didn’t seem to have used it a ton. It was a fire safety van before they had it. We got a great deal on it, so we were really pretty lucky. 

Tell us about the van, year, make, model, color – did it need work, and did you do any DIY, build a loft, etc.? Did you give it a name? Who maintains it?

It’s a 1998 Ford E-350 Clubwagon, ex fire safety van. It’s white with a red stripe going down it, so it looks like an emergency vehicle almost. We were really lucky, because it was in really good shape and well maintained because of that.

It only had 75k miles. Jake put a good bit of work in to it, repainting the bumpers, and putting carpet in the back. Patching up a hole under the driver side seat. Jake also took out one of the seats, and put in a couple bunk beds. He really did a great job with it. 

Photo courtesy of closure.

Any funny or unique features?

The best part of the van is we have a power inverter in there. So we can basically plug in lap tops and phones, and whatever we want, and use wifi, and it’s almost like being at home anyways. It’s super comfy.

I think the only funny thing is the drawing on the driver side door by Thomas from Good Sleepy, that just says “a doggone van”, which still hasn’t come off somehow. 

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows? What was the first trip you took with it?

The longest drive was probably to Bowling Green, Ohio from Syracuse, NY. I think it was 7 hours, and we even drove back that night. It was a long drive, but we made it. 

The first trip I believe was the doggone tour with Good Sleepy and Knope. It was a lot of fun. It was only 5 nights from Syracuse, NY to Worcester, MA to Baltimore, MD, but the van surely proved itself. 

What do you typically listen to in the van?

We listen to a lot of variety, things that come to mind immediately are Chet Baker, Billie Eilish, Knocked Loose, Good Sleepy, and Knope.

closure. with Knope, and Good Sleepy. Photo courtesy of closure.

What do you do for entertainment on drives between shows?

We bring our laptops and stuff, so that’s always an option. For the most part, we really just chat with each other about whatever comes up when visiting new places, how the shows went, and what we’re looking forward to. Something about driving late night always provides for interesting conversations alongside slight delirium. 

Do you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or motels/hotels?

We haven’t actually had to sleep in the van yet, even though we could if we needed to, thanks to the bunk beds Jake made. There always seems to be someone willing to offer us at least a floor to crash on, which we’ve been super grateful for. 

Any van rules? Or band rules in general?

Honestly, none that I can think of really. We’ve all known each other for quite some time, so it never felt necessary to establish any.

Maybe the biggest rule we have is just to make sure we lock all the doors! 

Do you have any nightmare van/police/mechanical/crash/fire stories from tour or any other shows?

We’ve been pretty fortunate so far, knock on wood.

The scariest thing that has happened was starting to run out of gas on the middle of the highway in who knows where. We managed to roll off and barely sputter up to a gas station, but we’ve got a spare gas tank now, in case that happens again. 

Where do you park it?

It’s at Jake’s house! It’s maintained and ready to go whenever we need it. 

Any other entertaining tour stories?

The funniest one I can think of was when we were staying at a motel, I think somewhere in Massachusetts.

We had made a good amount of money that night, more than usual, so we decided to get a room.

During the night, Collins had a dream someone was breaking in to the van, so when he woke up, he ran outside –  shirtless and just in boxers.

After realizing no one had broken in to the van, it was then evident that he locked himself out on the balcony. Eventually, one of us woke up to let him back in.

That was the first and last time we ever stayed at a motel. 

How can we help promote any releases? 

We have a new record coming out via Sakers Music on September 17th!

We have a music video out now with our single “call me” you can check out here:

closure. – call me (official video)

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Interview with The Clancy Six

Joe McRedmond interviewed The Clancy Six, a noisy hardcore/metal band from Baltimore, MD/York, PA, that existed from 1998-2005. 

During the band’s existence, its members experienced a lot of highs, and plenty of lows, trying to navigate the world of being a DIY band in the American punk/hardcore underground. We had the opportunity to meet and work with a ton of great people, but also, on many occasions, question why we were putting ourselves through all the bullshit associated with this same DIY scene. 

The questions below were answered to the best of our ability. We’d like to thank everyone who is taking the time to read this. Also, thanks to Joe for the interview and doing this great blog!

The Clancy Six

What was the catalyst, motivation, or inspiration for getting a van in the first place, specifically? 

I think with most bands just starting out, you’re traveling to shows in a caravan of cars. You’re likely playing locally, so everyone hops in their respective vehicle with their gear, or maybe you borrow your parent’s SUV and load up and go that way. When we started playing out more frequently, and going out of town, it just made sense to purchase a van and travel that way. 

Tell us about the van, year, make, model, color – did it need work, and did you do any DIY, build a loft, etc.? Did you give it a name? Who maintained it? Where/from whom did you get it? Did you know the background of this van when you purchased it?

We had three main vans during our existence: 

  1. 1997 white Chevy conversion van
  2. 1990 blue Chevy Suburban 
  3. 2001 blue Dodge Ram Van

The conversion van belonged to our guitarists’ parents, and they were gracious enough to let us use it, as long we maintained the upkeep, and paid the insurance. Luckily, the van needed no work, and had a built in loft. This was by far our most favorite and comfortable ride. We nicknamed this van “Van Halen’s Reunion”. 

The Chevy Suburban was used in a pinch for a tour when our conversion van took a shit right before a tour. Again, this belonged to our guitarists’ parents, and they saved our asses with this vehicle. Only work it needed was a new starter.

The final vehicle was a 1999 blue Dodge Ram van that we bought off some random dude from Craigslist. I don’t really remember it being that expensive. Maybe around $4,000? It was priced to move and I’m pretty sure it needed some work done, but don’t remember what. At this time, for reasons unknown now, we had a pretty good chunk of money saved up so we were able to pay for most of the van, and its repairs, without having to dip too much into our personal money. 

As anyone who’s been in a band can tell you, maintaining and paying for vans can certainly take its toll on your psyche and make you question being in a band altogether. 

Summer 2002 – Standing in front of our Chevy Suburban with no working air conditioner and a busted tape deck. Why no one bothered to get any of these things fixed is still a mystery to this day. So many stupid things would happen to us on this trip. Had we known better we would’ve just broken up then.  Photo courtesy of The Clancy Six.

Did the vans have any funny or unique features?

There weren’t really any unique features of any of our vehicles. They were better defined by their non-working features actually.

The worst of them was the Chevy Suburban with a non-working radio/tape deck, and a busted air conditioning unit. We were smart enough to take that out on a summer East Coast tour. 

Photo courtesy of The Clancy Six

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows? What was the first trip you took with it?

We did a lot of long drives, that sometimes seemed to stretch on forever, with endless expanses of nothing. You realize all towns seem to look the same. 

Whenever we would hit the road for tours, or long weekends, we would try our best to space out shows with at most 4-5 hour drives in between. I think the longest drive we ever did was about 10 hours straight to Dayton, OH to play Not Much More Than Music Fest in either 2004 or 2005(?). We took a hit on that one, but felt it was worth it since our friend, James Downing, was helping to set it up, and we would be playing with a lot of great bands. 

The look of disgust on our bassist’s face along with his hideous farmers tan & flip flops should be reason enough to just stay home and quit music. Photo courtesy of The Clancy Six.

What did you listen to in the van? 

Between the 5 of us, we pretty much listened to everything. Also, for the style of music we played, we hardly listened to anything “heavy” in the van. After all, we’d be playing with those types of bands all night long, so it made no sense to fatigue ourselves with noisy music with lots of screaming. The bands/artists on constant rotation in the van from what I can remember were: Pixies/Frank Black, Flaming Lips, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, & Rolling Stones. 

If certain members of the band were in a cranky or cantankerous mood, the Pied Piper of R&B would be invoked. Yes, R. Kelly’s “Greatest Hits” album would be deployed, to further aggravate these certain members, simply to watch them get even more irate.

What did you do for entertainment on drives between shows? 

Usually, we would sit in silence and read. This was before smart phones, so you really didn’t have much in the way of entertainment . If we weren’t reading, you could usually find one or two of the guys ganging up on our drummer Denny. He was younger than all of us, and would be the butt of many of our cruel jokes. He was constantly blamed for us getting lost on the way to shows, even though he wasn’t driving. He earned the nickname “Sweat Box”, for the simple fact that no matter the temperature, or climate, he would profusely sweat. By simply existing, he incurred our wrath and ire. Aren’t all drummers dumb anyway?

Nothing quite like the boredom of long drives and trying to avoid eye contact with everyone around you.
Photo courtesy of The Clancy Six.

Did you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or motels/hotels?

We usually did a mix of all 3. If people were nice enough to let us stay at their pad, we were very thankful.

The unfortunate thing is that the places we’d be offered to stay at were hell-holes of depravity. If the people weren’t scumbags, then the environment was. Cat piss stained carpets, faulty plumbing, and unnecessarily loud music playing all night, with no one listening, seemed to be par for the course. 

Motels were the saving grace most of the time, though. We did not mind splurging on them if we had the cash. They were usually decrepit, but not on the scale the local “punk house” was. You had a pot to piss in, a bed to sleep on, and if you were a sweaty version of Bigfoot, like our drummer was, you could temporarily clean the stink off your body in a somewhat functional shower. 

Sleeping in the van happened maybe once or twice, for reasons I don’t remember. Though, no matter where we stayed, one of us always had to sleep in the van overnight to guard the equipment. Luckily, nothing was ever taken, but one night our singer scared someone off that was rattling the doors trying to get in.

Denny the Sweatbox in his natural habitat. Broken down somewhere in North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of The Clancy Six.

Were there any van rules you had? Or band rules in general?

There weren’t really any hard or fast rules we stuck to. The only one of importance was that if we did overnight drives, whoever was riding shotgun was the co-pilot, and helped the driver navigate, and they couldn’t fall asleep. There was hell to pay if you fell asleep as the co-pilot, and it did happen more than once. I’m sure you can guess who that sweaty person was. Let’s just say “lessons were learned” when that stuff happened. 

Band rules in general were that you announced your presence to the show promoter upon arrival, and exchanged pleasantries. Also, everybody was expected to load in/out the gear. Just regular things you do as a human that plays in a band.

Tracy pointing a cap gun to no one in particular. Many times we wished this gun was real as we would often put it to our temples or in our mouth in a feeble attempt to end it all.
Photo courtesy of The Clancy Six.

Do you have any classic nightmare van/police/mechanical/crash/fire stories from tour or any other shows?

Believe it or not, for the entirety of our existence, we didn’t have any traumatic van experiences. Other than the occasional flat tire, we managed to escape things unscathed. I can remember being pulled over a total of 3 times. Twice for speeding, and one for running a red light in downtown Daytona Beach. 

Usually, a cloud of bad omens would follow us around, but when it came to the actual driving part, the Van Gods smiled down upon us.

That’s not to say that stupid shit didn’t happen INSIDE the van. People would throw up occasionally, and sometimes not make it outside. Insane arguments would break out over the most mundane things, and just general riff-raff associated with idiots in their early 20’s.

Where did the vans end up? 

Where they all end up in…junkyards. 

Though the previously mentioned Chevy conversion van sits in the front yard of Chas & Barney’s parent’s house. It is filled to the brim with canned goods. So if a zombie apocalypse breaks out, the Ruths will not go hungry.

Photo courtesy of The Clancy Six

Any other entertaining tour stories?

There are far too many. Most of them involved alcohol and/or drugs so memories get fuzzy. 

One that comes to mind is Binghamton, NY. We arrived to the venue, 123 Fake Street. We meet the girl doing the show. She informs us that she “didn’t really” put up any fliers for the show. Ok?! So there’s 3 out of town bands essentially playing for each other. Whatever. It’s punk rock, right? 

There’s a bar across the street where we can at least drown our sorrows. 3/5 of the band proceed to get hammered. Our guitarist, Barney, has the great idea of prank calling this comic book store in Columbus, Ohio. The place was called Midgard Comics. He found their business card in his wallet. You see, we had tried playing there 2 weeks earlier. We showed up to play a show at this comic book shop, but when we rolled up, there was an honest to goodness Magic: The Gathering tournament happening. Obviously, the promoter flaked, but there was a PA there, and the guy running the store said we could play, but it’d have to be while this Magic card tournament was happening. We didn’t have the heart to ruin these kid’s tournament so we bailed. 

So anyway, Barney proceeds to prank call this store. He was already three sheets to the wind, but he was berating the guy about how his Magic: The Gathering cards were making him lose all his matches, and that he wanted a refund of his purchase. The guy hung up on him right away the first time, but Barney called back, and kept screaming how he was ripped off, and wanted a refund. I can only imagine what the comic store guy was thinking. The other patrons in the bar were all looking at us with total contempt.

Eventually, the dude tells Barney to fuck off, and we go play this show where half the set we are all playing 3 different songs at once. I asked the girl doing the show for gas money afterwards, and she scoffed, and asked who was going to pay for her 2 microphones that we broke. I told her to charge it to “the game” and we bounced. 

How can we help promote any releases? 

There really isn’t much to promote besides an LP we’re working on. During the initial phase of quarantine, we had the idea to do an LP of our previously released 7” tracks, along with some unreleased recordings. During the existence of the band, there were multiple line up changes, and each configuration recorded a bunch. We figured it would be a neat project to work on, and we’ll only be pressing about 200-300 copies. We’re hoping to have it out by the end of the year, or early 2021. Everyone is busy with work & families, but we’ll eventually find time to work on it, and release it. 

Clancy Six live @ BassMint Reading, PA 2002
Clancy Six @Nolo House York, PA

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A Decade of Van Stories with Jeff Hill, Vocalist of Machinist!

Joe McRedmond asked Jeff Hill, vocalist of Machinist!, a metal band from Valdosta, Ga., some questions about the vans they’ve used over the last decade. Here’s what Jeff had to say…

Machinist! Photo courtesy of Jeff Hill.

Thanks for taking the time to interview me! I’ve kinda shotgun blast answered a lot of the questions together, so it’s all kinda mixed in together. So here it is.

When the band formed back in 2011, we knew we wanted to get out of town ASAP. We rented a van from a local band for our first couple of tours, and then ended up buying it from them.

We were touring all over the states in a mid nineties Dodge Ram passenger van we named “GG Vanlin“. It was a great starter for the band, and took us on a ton of adventures. We lost that van to a transmission lock up while traveling down to Tampa to record the Birthright EP. We loaded the van full of gear, and then it wouldn’t shift. We ended up riding  down in the bass player’s (Jesse) mini van.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hill

We followed that van with a beater ass Ford conversion van we named “Luther Vandross”. It was a total lemon. Top speed was 55 mph.

We took it on two tours. We blew six tires, and the final straw was in Gainesville, Florida. We were on our way to a gig, and were at a red light.

These two college bro’s pulled up on a scooter, and one said in total frat Chad voice “hey brah, your wheel’s on fire.”

Our guitar player at the time, thinking they were being dicks, gave em the surfer no worries hand sign and said “your wheels are on fire too man!” The they were like “No, for real, it’s on fire.”

We pulled over and sure enough our front brakes were stuck, and red hot. We piled out, and some unloaded the van, while the rest of us poured our cooler, water bottles, beers, and whatever else we could find onto the tire and brakes.

We got home and sold that shit quick to a guy named Adolf. (Named after the Mexican painter, not the Nazi.) The last time I saw it around town, it had been spray painted black, and had an actual window unit air conditioner in the back window. 

Machinst! with “Luther Vandross”. Photo courtesy of Jeff Hill.

At this point, we swore off conversion vans. They’re built for old people to take their grand-kids on vacation, not to haul punkers, and full stacks around the country.

Next we bought another Dodge Ram passenger van. This one was a 2002, and it was burgundy. We named it “Charlie Vanson”, and it took us to California and back several times.

One of those times we took our longest drive to date. Long Beach, California to El Paso Texas. I don’t recommend it. It’s supposedly 12 hours, but it took us 17. 

     

We began modifying this van with personalized charging stations under every seat, and a CD player that actually had an auxiliary out. Normally the driver had control of the music, so if I was driving, it was a lot of RuPaul and Dredg.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hill

The ceiling liner was falling, and my partner Kristi made a patch work new one. At this point we were touring almost non stop, and we spent most of our time on the road, and we slept in “Charlie” a lot.

By this point, only one of us smoked, so the van became a no smoking vehicle. We didn’t have a lot of rules aside from that.

We also didn’t allow friends or significant others on tour unless they were working. Tour is stressful even when it’s going well. Extra bodies multiply that stress.

 

So this van had some massive issues throughout its tenure. Once leaving us, and a band called False Tongues, stuck in Kentucky in January for 4 days, while a mechanic replaced the computer control system. Later the same van stranded us in Saint Augustine, Florida when the transmission gave out. “Charlie” went to the scrap yard, and we were on to the next one. 

Machinst! Photo courtesy of Jeff Hill.

The next one was a 1986 Ford Econoline that we bought from a church for 700 bucks. It was the absolute worst. It still had all the church decals on it, and we of course left them.

The deacon of the church that sold us the van told us it was a good van that could haul a heavy load, because it had “hauled a lot of big women.” No fucking lie that’s what he said to me.

This van sucked from start to finish. The roof leaked, the radio only played AM gospel, and the wheels were a ridiculous size that had only been used in 1986. So getting new tires was a nightmare.

Church van Machinst! bought for $700. Photo courtesy of Jeff Hill.

Once while coming off the interstate in Houston, Texas, I hit the brakes, and they went to the floor with no hint of slowing. We found out that the back drum brakes were leaking fluid like a fucking sieve.

We ended up putting a pair of vice grips on the line between the front and rear brakes, which basically cut them off, and allowed the front ones to have enough pressure to work. We made it through that tour, and hundreds of miles back home, with vice grips on the brake line.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hill.

One time our bass player, Matt Zagorski, had to deliver for Pizza Hut in this van.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hill

We ended up abandoning that van in Florida. It began making crazy noises, and we pulled into a gas station. We realized gas was pouring out of the engine, and while laying under the van, we decided that we were done with it.

We pushed it into the corner of the parking lot, and proceeded to break everything we could on it. We gave the keys to a dude that pulled up with a trailer, and said “Merry Christmas”. We rented a Uhaul, and came home.

I love my van very much

I don’t own a van anymore, and I’m so fucking glad. We rent now, and I’m never going back. I’ve spent enough time under a beater van on the side of the road to last several lifetimes.

I wouldn’t trade those times for the world, but I’m glad they’re behind me. 

Machinist! “The Infant”
Machinist! – Blood Colored Glasses
Machinist! – “Without Rest”, “Ignorant Masterpiece”, and more Live at the Atlantic

As far as new releases, we have a split coming out later this year. The official announcement hasn’t dropped yet, but be on the lookout for the pre-orders for that. There’s gonna be some tight vinyl bundles, and some exclusive merch dropping with the release. Thanks again for taking the time to ask me questions. Your site is an absolute gem! 

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You can stream our releases on bandcamp, Spotify, and anywhere else you stream.

You can buy merch at bandcamp Merch