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

Stay in touch with The Clancy Six here:



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! 

You can find Machinist! on social media platforms:




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

You can buy merch at bandcamp Merch

Interview with Romain Malavialle, a.k.a. Maro

Joe McRedmond interviewed Romain Malavialle, a.k.a. Maro, sound technician for BRUIT ≤ , PRINCESS THAILAND, LOS GUAYABO BROTHERS, and BRUIT FUREUR, from Toulouse, France, about his 1998 Master Renault 2.5D.

Tell us who you are?

I am Romain Malavialle, a.k.a. Maro, sound technician for 7 years now, and getting on tour with bands in my van around France, my home country, and Europe. Most of the photos I have included were taken last year during BRUIT ≤ ‘s Belgium tour, with whom I’ve worked for 2 years now.

BRUIT ≤  on tour in Belgium. Photo courtesy of Theo Grecolinos.

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

I’ve bought the van in 2013. It was my first one, and I thought about it since the teenagehood.

Classic dream about travelling the world in a mobile house, to discover new places and people, but I did not know in that time I will do all of that like a sound tech! 🙂

Photo by Romain Malavialle.

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

I get it from a little garage, and in his past life he use to drive disabled people.

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 is a Master Renault 2.5D from 1998, and about 5,5m long and 2,45 tall and it’s white.

After 2 years, I rebuilt entirely the old equipment. I try to find the balance between tours and my own needs. Finally there were 7 seats (3 + 4 in the back), a little berth and a trunk. Not so bad!

Photo by Romain Malavialle.

I tried to maintained it as well as i can for we can drive safely. During the past years I have learn mechanics every time we got an issue with the van.

I used to go in an associative DIY garage where I found professional and passionate people who helped me.

Photo by Romain Malavialle.

Any funny or unique features?

No magical features, but I’ve put speakers in the separation between the trunk and the seats, and there was a system to easily remove the bed.

During some journeys i have thought about a training bike inside the van to charge phones and computer’s battery but i have never done it 🙂

Photo by Romain Malavialle.

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

I think the longest drive was when we came back home after an Italy tour with another band, Princess Thailand, from Ravenna (Ita) to Toulouse (Fra), and about 1200km.

Photo by Romain Malavialle.

What do you listen to in the van?

Year of No light, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Amenra, James Blake, Eleven Tigers, TRNA, BRMC, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Bjork, Swans, Thurston Moore, A Place to Bury Strangers, The Breeders, Queens of the Stone Age, Son lux, The Roots, …

Photo by Romain Malavialle.

What do you do for entertainment on drives between shows?

Depends of the mood, but try to sleep is one of them! Also playing some games, reading, joking about shit, smoking and drinking, and in my opinion smartphones take more and more places in our lives.

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

Most of times we got accommodation in people’s house or hotel, and we use the van’s bed during the journeys.

Photo by Romain Malavialle.

Are there any van rules you have? Or band rules in general?

Aha! I think « what happened on tour stay on tour ! » 🙂

Tetris pack by BRUIT ≤ . Photo courtesy of Theo Grecolinos.

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

One time we had an issue with the starter of the van when we took the ferry to go to England. So we have to push it to start every single day during a week!

Also sometimes police look us wrong because of the mystical power of the sentence « we are a rock band travelling » ! 🙂 but finally it always go well.

Where did the van end up? 

Finally I sold the van, because it get older an older and had mechanical issues. I think buy a most recent in the future, even if I really liked the road with this one.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

More to come I hope in this strange era!

How can we help promote any releases?

You can follow BRUIT ≤ on the social media and the new release in February! And please check out “And We Shine” the last release of Princess Thailand.


Stay connected with BRUIT ≤ :



Elusive Sound

Interview: Scumbag Millionaire

Joe McRedmond interviewed Scumbag Millionaire, from Gothenburg, Sweden, about their 1989 Chevrolet G20 van.

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

There are a lot of benefits having our own van. For example, we can smoke in it. Another good thing is that we don’t have to unload the van the same day/night we arrive in our hometown after a tour.

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

We bought it for 800€ from a redneck outside of our hometown in Sweden. It was in 2014.

On the way home the AC/blower motor broke down, and some days later we had a flat tire on the highway. The old tires were really bad.

This specific car model was very common in Sweden during the 80’s because it was cheap to own as a carpenter.

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

It’s a 1989 Chevrolet G20 van. It was originally blue, but we painted it black.

We changed wheels to a set of extra wide Cooper tires, and recently we also changed cylinder heads and a bunch of other parts. The van just passed 330,000 miles (530 000 km) so it needed some extra love. We have traveled all over Europe with it.

Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

Any funny or unique features?

Some cool features: Everything with the van is extra extra (Compared to our European vans).

The seats are big and comfy. Straight pipes for great V8 sound. Red interior porno lights. Wood details. 

Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

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

One of the longest drives we have made non stop is when we drove home to Gothenburg, Sweden from Prague in Czech Republic. It took us around 20 hours. We use to have a cruising speed around 65mph. The first trip we made must have been to our very first show. It was in Falkenberg, Sweden in 2014.

Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

What do you listen to in the van?

We listen to Motorhead, Gluecifer, Turbonegro, The Hives, Kiss, Nashville Pussy, The Stooges, Ramones, and King Diamond. But we also listen to Alan Jackson, Elvis, Madonna, and Avicii. 

Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

What do you do for entertainment on drives between shows?

Depends on how long the drive is. Short drives: drinking, singing, laughing and fighting/arguing.

Long drives: podcasts, sleep and junk food.

Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

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

We sleep at hotels/hostels. Sometimes at weird people’s places.

Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

Do you have any van rules? Or band rules in general?

At every stop, someone has to buy a Wunder-Baum. 

Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

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

Once we backed into a concrete pillar when we arrived at a venue. The rear bumper bent and blocked the cargo doors to be opened. Then the janitor at the venue brought his largest sledge hammer and slammed the bumper back in place, so we could open the doors and unload. Haha

Another time we got caught in a European photo speed trap. We ran 60mph in a slow zone and a camera caught us. Some months later our local police department in Sweden called Max L, who is written as the owner of the van. They wanted him to visit the office to confirm that it was he driving the car on the photo. But it was impossible to tell who of us who was driving, the photo quality was so bad. And Max showed the officer a band photo of us where they could see that we all look the same. Hahahaha. So we did not get any ticket.

Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

Any other entertaining tour stories?

We forgot all our merchandise when we arrived at the airport in Spain. The day after, we had to take a taxi and search for the merch bags.

Our bass player Dennis once forgot his bass guitar on a bus stop in the night. In the morning a lady wrote to our band page that she had found something that belongs to us.

We played in Hamburg some years ago. The promoter forgot to book a hotel room the same day as their local football team FC St Pauli played, so everything was fully booked.

The local sound guy offered us a sleeping place at his trailer park outside of Hamburg. They had a ”guesthouse” which was an old Nightliner tour bus, without doors or windows. This was during the winter so it was freezing cold.

Poor and Infamous. Photo courtesy of Scumbag Millionaire

You guys have any new releases? 

Please check out our latest single “Inferno“! And we’re releasing a new album called “Poor and Infamous” on September 25, 2020 on Suburban Records which you can pre-order now!

Scumbag Millionaire – Inferno
Scumbag Millionaire – “Dead End” A BlankTV World Premiere! This video features the van!

Stay abreast of what Scumbag Millionaire is up to here at:




Interview: Mike Greenlees from Tar

Joe McRedmond interviewed Mike Greenlees, drummer from Tar (Chicago), about their touring vessel. (Top photo is Tom Zaluckyj, John Mohr, Mike Greenlees, Mark Zablocki, & Whitney O’Keeffe. “Somewhere in Canada in front of somebody’s apartment where we had stayed. March 1993”. Photo courtesy of Tar).

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

In the spring of 1989, we thought we were ready to start stringing shows together and tour. John (Mohr – Tar guitarist) had the good job, compared to everybody else, and offered to buy a van. The agreement was that during periods where the van was being used by the band, the band would pick up the payments/maintenance. John would retain ownership, as he made the downpayment, and paid for most of the year, etc. He thinks we split stuff like tires (went through a lot of those, obviously).

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

Our van was purchased at Elmhurst Ford in Elmhurst, Illinois in the spring of 1989. 

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?

The “touring vessel” was a white 1988 Econoline 150 cargo van with 22K miles on it. $8500, John thinks. Manual transmission. No a/c. It had two aftermarket sun roofs already installed, which were nice for ventilation, but they leaked when it rained hard enough. I think we beefed up the suspension/leaf springs whatever. John and maybe Mark (Zablocki, guitar) built a loft in the cargo area. Gear below, futon on top, which was the standard. We attached a heavy duty cable, looped through the sliding door and one of the legs of the loft, thus disabling the sliding door, which was not opened again for the duration of the touring years. This meant that the only way to get the gear out was through the back doors, which had one of those hockey puck heavy duty locks.

Tar van circa 1990. Photo courtesy of Mike Greenlees.

Did the van have any funny or unique features?

Not that I recall…John put a cassette system in it, and had a portable cd player that hooked up to it via a cassette contraption. It got stolen once from our practice space, which was in a saucy area at the time.

“30 per cent of the time spent on tour looked like this.” Photo courtesy of Tar.

What did you typically listen to in the van?

A sample of Tar van tunes is: Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?, Neil Young’s Ragged Glory, a Led Zeppelin mix tape, Wipers’ first 3 albums, Buzzcocks’ Singles Going Steady, Big Star’s first 2 records, the Stones’ Exile of Main Street, and NPR Radio.

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

First trip was down to Champaign, Illinois in March 1989. The loft wasn’t built yet. I remember sitting on the floor in the cargo area with the gear as we brought a friend or two with us, Iain Burgess, and I think Bruce Adams.

The longest drive between shows – technically, Minneapolis to Spokane, though we had a day off to make the drive. We left Minneapolis after the show, drove 15 hours to Butte Montana, got a hotel room. This made the drive the following day to Spokane a short one. The longest drive we ever did for gigs on consecutive nights was Edmonton, AB to Winnipeg MB. 13 hours.

“John Mohr driving the 1988E-150. Arcwelder is in the other van, an E-250. Barreling down the highway in Florida in the summer of 1993. This photo was used many years later on a 7″”. Photo courtesy of John Mohr.

“March, 1993. Trans Canada Hwy. Seemed like we toured Canada every winter, and the US deep South and Southwest every summer.” Photo courtesy of Tar.

How did you kill time on long drives?

Reading books, playing scrabble, sleeping, and for John (and sometimes Tom Zaluckyj) driving.

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

All of the above. We almost never stayed in hotels, and almost never had days off when touring the US, which is when we would typically spring for a hotel, if we weren’t somewhere we could stay for a couple of days. I was allergic to cats and dogs, and we would never leave the gear unattended ever, so I slept out in the van whenever we were staying at somebody’s place who had pets. And in general, everybody who put us up had pets. Winter, summer, whenever, wherever I was out in the van, which suited me and my socially awkward ways. Other members occasionally slept in the van as well. The main advantage to that was not having to dump all the gear into somebody’s living room, then pack it all up again the next morning.

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

We didn’t have any behavior rules. The only rules I can remember had to do with the gear. Never leave the gear unattended. If nobody sleeps out in the van, the gear is to be unloaded into the room where we are sleeping. Always pack the gear the same way. This makes loading and unloading more efficient, and since we had that rule of emptying the van whenever it was left unattended, we were loading and unloading the van more than once a day sometimes. John did about 99% of the driving, but that wasn’t really a hard and fast rule. I remember driving once on the heavily under construction (always) PA turnpike with semis riding our ass, and not ever driving again, except for a few times I moved the van, or parked it or something.

Parallel parking our van full of gear, with the manual transmission, on a steep incline in San Francisco one night after a gig was the crowning achievement, probably, of my life. We don’t have hills out here…

– Mike Greenlees

We tended to not give people a break if they didn’t want to pay us a guarantee due to poor turnout. Getting paid was sort of a rule.

Lastly, we never brought extra helpers on tour, and in fact, very seldom allowed anybody we didn’t know well in the van. We did one tour of the US with a soundman, split his pay with Jawbox, but he rode with us because we didn’t care if he smoked in the van. Beyond that, we pretty much pegged the capacity of the van at the 4 band members.

“March 23, 1993, en route to Tucson, Arizona from San Diego, California. Stopping for a ‘rest.'” Photo courtesy of Tar.

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

Nothing too bad. We hit a deer outside of Detroit the first night of a tour. Took out the front end, and we had just enough power/momentum to limp up an exit ramp to a gas station. Got towed to a Ford dealership and we all slept in the van, and spent much of the next day in a diner across from the dealership waiting for it to be repaired. 

We got pulled over speeding near El Paso, and said the magic words “rock band”, so we had to empty out the van so the cops could make a half-hearted effort to find drugs or whatever. They didn’t really look through much but our personal bags.

The van got towed in Brooklyn once. We would always park it on the sidewalk in front of our friend’s storefront apartment on Flatbush, and then on our 4th or 5th time there, it finally got towed. We had all the gear with us inside (see “rules of the van” section), so we just had to go to the yard, and pony up $150 bucks.

“Mark Zablocki and Tom Zaluckyj with the van approximately 2am October 30, 1991 right after they hit a deer outside of Detroit on the first night of their 1991 tour”. Photo courtesy of Mike Greenlees.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

Nothing extraordinary comes to mind. We were not crazy, wild, party dudes. We played music. We played scrabble. We read books. We made friends.

We had recurring in-jokes involving taking credit for preposterous feats such as building roads. 

“Man, this is a nice stretch of road.” 


I would like to point out that in the photo at the beginning of this interview, with the four of us standing in front of the van with our soundman, “Sweet Knees” O’Keeffe, that is not my hair. I had on a ridiculous winter flap-hat, which I lost somewhere in the ensuing years. Which is unfortunate, as The Kids in the Hall autographed the underside of the bill. Retroactive shout out to Don Pyle for getting us in to see a taping earlier on that tour. We blew off a soundcheck to attend the earlier taping – they did the same show twice for two different audiences, I think. Don Pyle, the drummer for Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, who did the music for Kids in the Hall live at the tapings, got us front row seats. The main sketch I remember involved a father, played by Bruce McCulloch, taking his son out to the traditional rock where the men of the family get blind drunk or something like that.

Kids in the Hall – Drunk Dad Advice

“Tar and Arcwelder hit the South pretty hard in the summer of 1993 for a coupla two-tree weeks. And look, here are some band members milling around in front of their touring vessels at a Florida rest area”. Photo courtesy of Tar.

Where did the van end up? 

John sold it in 1996 with about 220K miles on it. He thinks he got about $1200 for it.

“Tar on tour, 2018 edition. Heading to Birmingham, AL for a show at Saturn with Arcwelder and Man, or Astroman”. Photo courtesy of Tar.
Tar – Land Luck
Tar – Mach Song
Tar – Billow My Sail

Keep up with what Tar is up to here at:

Tar’s Facebook page

Tar’s Bandcamp

Tar’s “1988-1995” release with Chunklet Industries

Interview: Mike “Wid” Middleton from The Neptunes (TX/DC), and Mojo Nixon & The Toadliquors

Joe McRedmond interviewed Mike “Wid” Middleton, drummer for The Neptunes (TX/DC), and Mojo Nixon & The Toadliquors, about his hard travelin’ days in touring vehicles.

Tell us about yourself?

I am Mike “Wid” Middleton. My nickname “Wid” came from a band mate who noticed it was my conjunction for ‘we would’ (we’d), as in “Wid go downtown”. I was the drummer for a band from DC called The Neptunes. As a punk tie in, I graduated Wilson high school in DC in 1985 (where Ian Mckaye /Fugazi  went), and was a contemporary of the guys in Soulside/Girls against Boys , Citizen Cope, and a bunch of other punk/go-go/rockabilly musicians. We were primarily a roots rock band along the lines of NRBQ.

The Neptunes. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

In 1987, we decided to move to Austin, TX to immerse ourselves in the growing scene down in Central Texas. We were fans of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Joe Ely, as well as knowing other DC rockers who had moved down there, most notably Evan Johns from the H-Bombs.
The theory behind the move was that it was easier to tour both coasts, and our first house we rented was a 3/2 for $450.

What was your van situation?

I bought a 1985 B-350 15 passenger Dodge van from a church in Montgomery County, Md. I think it was $7500 with 50k miles on it. It had the Prospector package, and while I don’t know what that is, we always said we were digging for gold. 

We drove down in the fall of 1987, and immediately started touring. None of us wanted jobs, so a $200 gig was enough to keep us fed, with a roof over our heads, and enough to fill the thirsty Ram 360 cu. in. V8. The Neptunes toured constantly year round, logging 75k miles a year. We laughed at the time, that we would drive anywhere for $250, even if it was Austin-New Orleans- Houston- New Jersey- back to DC, etc. I think our booking agent (Davis McLarty, Joe Ely’s drummer) threw darts over his shoulder backwards, and blindfolded, at a US map.

“We were 20 years old. It was the time of Arena Rock. It made sense to us at the time.”

– Mike Middleton

The combination of the van being “mine”, and me not drinking much (at the time), meant that I drove 98% of the time. We had installed plywood over the windows in back, and taken all the seats out, except for the first row, leaving us enough room to carry all the gear, including a Yamaha CP-70, in ATA flight cases. Come to think of it, all of our gear was in flight cases. The San Diego rockabilly legends The Paladins once said they remembered us because of our “heavy blue cases”. We were 20 years old. It was the time of Arena Rock. It made sense to us at the time.

I hauled down my ’55 Buick from DC to Austin after Xmas one year  behind the van. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.

With all of the touring we did, we met musicians all over the country. Played bills with Guadalcanal Diary, Scruffy the Cat, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dash Rip Rock, and hundreds of other gigs. Our original Texas bass player was Sean Mencher, who went on to start High Noon. Second bass player was Miles Zuniga, who later formed Fastball. Our final bass player was Steve Watson, who was still in high school in Virginia when we moved to Austin. Fun side note: Steve’s dad is Bugsy Watson, who at the time was in the Guinness Book for most NHL penalty minutes in a career.

Steve Watson and I hanging at the back of the van. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.

Here we stopped for a requisite photo in Happy, Tx. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.

Did you give your van a name?

I don’t recall it having a name. It did have it’s own gang sign. It was a hand gesture that roughly translated into the crossed pick and shovel of the Ram Prospector.

More at the back of the van. You can see the plywood over the rear windows. Photo by Mike Middleton.

Can you describe any difficulties you had on the road?

We never missed a gig because of mechanical failures, BUT it did overheat in Waco (a hundred miles north of Austin), and we got towed to a gig riding in the van.

I won’t name any names, but on one member’s birthday, I couldn’t find a good place to stop, and that guy shat himself by the side of the road. Another incident was when we were driving across a bridge in Philadelphia. Steve started throwing gum balls, or jellybeans, or something in the back of my head. For some reason I got mad, and kicked the rear view mirror off, before pulling over and fighting by the side of I-95.

The pic below is of us after spending the night in Gunnison, Colorado, where it got down to something like negative 40. Some hillbilly lit a fire under the van to get the oil moving. The pic is actually of us chiseling the snow and ice out of the wheel wells that would build up, and every time we would hit a bump, it would physically hit the tire and “brake” for us.

I have no idea what somebody used silly string to write on the van, but clearly I was shocked. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.
Jake, Steve and Pete before a show. I was driving and somebody else took the shot from between the front seats.  You can see our hanging rod that we hung fancy gig shirts on behind those three. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.

Young me (artistic shot) Driving… again. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.
Outside the Coyote Club in Wichita Kansas (I think?). Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.

How did you end up playing with Mojo Nixon?

Ok, so The Neptunes traveled all over the US, playing 46 states with tons of different bands. After three years, Steve and our guitarist/singer Jake Flack decide they have had enough, so the band is breaking up (summer 1990).

Since Pete “Wet Dawg” Gordon (future co-owner/manager of the famous Continental Club in Houston) and I wanted nothing to do with real life or real jobs, we started putting gig feelers out. Coincidentally, at the same time Mojo Nixon was breaking up with Skid Roper and wanted a band. We had never met each other, but all of our band friends told Mojo that an insane piano player, and hard hitting drummer were available.

…We met in Austin on a Thursday, ran through a set of Mojo tunes, and played at the University of Arizona baseball stadium for 10,000 people on that Saturday…

In the Fall of 1990, Pete and I officially became the Toadliquors. The first tour we played was a triple bill of Enigma Records bands: Mojo, the Dead Milkmen, and the Cavedogs (Boston, Ma). In a very non-punk way, the tour was sponsored by Fuji Film. They were already famous for cassette tapes, but I guess they were expanding. Here’s the kicker. Fuji paid for two buses.

It started out as the “Smoking Bus” and the “Non-smoking Bus”. By the middle of the tour, the smoking bus turned into the nobody sleeps bus, and it turned into just the Mojo and the Toadliquors bus. Remember when I said I didn’t drink earlier? Well, with a bus driver I didn’t have to drive anymore, and I only had to be cognizant enough to beat the shit out of the drums for an hour a night.

With Mojo, we did similar long touring schedules, usually 6 weeks on, maybe a month off. We continued using the old Neptune van for merch during the Fuji tour, and local Texas shows. By this time, the van was at around 225k miles.

I sold it to Wet Dawg, who kept it for maybe a year, and then sold it to a local tile guy. Last I saw it, it was headed south on IH 35, still with the Redskins bumper sticker on the back.

The Fuji bus driver in a Neptunes helmet. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.
The crew loading the bus. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.

What is your favorite memory of playing with Mojo?

Playing in the Pleasure Barons. I got to play with Dave Alvin (from the Blasters), Country Dick Montana (Beat Farmers), Mojo, John Doe (X) along with a superstar cast of Americana musicians, playing Tom Jones and other Vegas hits.

On the Pleasure Barons’ bus, the “destination scroll“ on the front of the old tour bus had numerous names. One was “John Denver” and one was “Shousurtitz”. I didn’t know where that city was until the bus driver said to say it out loud.

I don’t have any pics of Jello Biafra, who we did a record with, near a van or bus.

The Pleasure Barons next to the bus. Photo courtesy of Mike Middleton.

Any funny tour stories?

Earl Freedom (Matt Eskey/Freedom Records/Mojo Manifesto) joined the Toadliquors as a bass player in around 1994. He may have stories about van stuff too. The one story about him is that we would stop for gas, and then take off down the road. Once we hit the highway, I would hear a plastic bottle filling with pee. He preferred peeing in water bottles to the Flying J bathrooms.

During “Don Henley must Die” (Mojo Song), Wet Dawg would beer fuck an inflatable “Luv Ewe” sheep. Somebody brought their own one night, and it got popped. I am sure we did it, but I don’t remember how.

The owner of the dead sheep carved “YOU KILLED OUR SHEEP” into the hood of the rental van. That is hard to explain.

We had to pay $500 for that one.

We were a party band. We didn’t rehearse. EVER.  The sex, drugs and rock and roll happened in the van. Except we didn’t play rock and roll in the van. We listened to Bill Hicks before anybody had heard of him. We listened to Richard Pryor, Rudy Ray Moore, Robin Harris, Chris Rock on tape and later CD. We had a portable TV/VCR combo between the front two seats. Since I was always driving, I never got to watch the movies, but I can quote line for line all of Trading Places, Animal House, Caddyshack, and the Blues Brothers.

Somewhere along the way, we stopped carrying around the anvil flight cases, but we still hauled around the two piece piano.

What ever happened to the original van?

After I sold the Neptune van, we rented vans from Capps Rentals in Austin. We always got the Ford Chateau factory conversion. Kept the four captain chairs, and pulled the bench so we could put gear back there. They complained about that, but never said anything about how much I smoked in them. Different times.

Very rare The Neptunes 12 inch record “Nocturnal Habit”.

Jello Biafra with Mojo Nixon & the Toadliquors – Prairie Home Invasion

Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon – Convoy In The Sky

Mojo Nixon & the Toadliquors – ¡Sock Ray Blue!


Listen to Mike’s current band, The Mooks from Austin, TX.

The Mooks – She Ain’t Got No Windows

Follow Mike “Wid” Middleton here:

Midtown Restorations

Midtown Drums

Stay up to date on the upcoming Mojo Nixon documentary at Mojo Manifesto

THE MOJO MANIFESTO: The Life & Times of Mojo Nixon – teaser #1
THE MOJO MANIFESTO: The Life & Times of Mojo Nixon – teaser #2

Interview: Zeke McKinney from idle threat

Joe McRedmond interviewed Zeke McKinney, bass guitarist and vocalist from idle threat from Nashville, TN, about touring in their 1997 Dodge Ram Van 1500.

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

Well we really wanted to start touring more often, but it was also because I needed a new vehicle. Two birds with one stone kind of thing.

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

I found it on craigslist, and before it belonged to me, it was the property of an organization in Murfreesboro, TN called Greenhouse Ministries. I think that they used it to take the kids on camping trips, and stuff like that. Before them, it was owned by an elderly couple who used it to take road trips.

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?

It was a black 1997 Dodge Ram Van 1500. It really didn’t need that much work, and we really didn’t do much customizing to it, besides taking the back bench seat out so we could fit more gear in it. But it was still our road home, and it’s name was “Turk” (yes, that’s a Scrubs reference).

idle threat’s 1997 Dodge Ram Van 1500 “Turk” Photo courtesy of Zeke McKinney.

Did the van have any funny or unique features?

It had a TV and a VHS player. The TV worked, but we wanted to see if the VHS player did, too. So one time, we got “Space Jam” and “Liar, Liar” at a Goodwill to test it out. We decided to put “Liar, Liar” in first just in case something went wrong. It’s still stuck in there today.

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

One time we started off a tour in Johnstown, PA, and so in one day, we drove all the way there from Nashville, TN. It ended up taking us around 10 or 11 hours. The first trip that we ever took in “Turk” was a spring tour in early March of 2017. The second show was in Birmingham, AL, so that was the first real drive of the tour.

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

All of the above, but more often than not we were blessed enough to have friends and people that we met on the road offer up their homes for us to sleep in.

“Someone always stays up with the driver, to help them stay awake, and driver controls the tunes.”

– Zeke McKinney

Do you have any van rules? Or band rules in general?

Only a couple, but nothing crazy. Just things like “someone always stays up with the driver, to help them stay awake” and “driver controls the tunes”; AKA Ernie and I do the driving, and JJ either sleeps in the back, or just acts a complete fool.

idle threat on “Turk”. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Tell us about a nightmare van story from a tour or any other shows?

We were driving through Michigan at the end of last year, when our back left tire started losing air so quickly that it eventually lost it all. We had to pull off on the side of the road, but not before the tire was completely shredded. We were only like 30 minutes away from the venue. Luckily, we know some amazing people in Michigan that we are honored to call our friends. They picked us up, and took us to the show in a couple of vehicles in which we crammed all the gear that we absolutely needed. Since we had to leave the van behind, we had to go get it after the show. I have AAA, so we called them following our set to see when they could come tow the van. They said they would be there to get the van in about 30 to 40 minutes. So Ernie’s now-wife took us to meet them. Long story short, AAA ended up taking about 2 to 3 hours to meet us there. By that time, it was about 3:30 am and we were all delirious. To top it all off, when they were towing the van onto the truck at 3:30 am, they popped the other back tire.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

In the summer of 2017, we went on a month-long tour up to Boston, MA and back down the east coast. The first half of the tour was with a band called Native Tongue, and one night after our show in Pittsburgh we decided to ask for help via FB for a place to stay in Buffalo. Our next show was in Syracuse, NY, so we wanted to cut the drive. The tour party was so large that half of us ended up at one host home, and our band ended up at another. We rolled up to the guy’s house at 1 AM, a complete stranger to us, and
he was giving weird vibes from the start.

…We quickly realized that he was a drug dealer, and he and his roommates were strangely interested in our gear…

At about 4 AM, we decided to quietly pack up, and just drive to Niagara Falls. We “slept” in a Tim Horton’s parking lot, woke up at sunrise, and saw the Falls.
Never talked to that guy again.

Ernie Fabian (vocalist/guitarist) flipping bottles & dabbing in “Turk “.

Where did the van end up?

It is right now sitting on the lot of a shop in Smyrna, TN. It just kept having problem after problem earlier this summer, and I financially couldn’t keep up with it. So, I am trying to see just what I can get for it.

How can we help promote any releases?

Our new EP, “Nothing is Broken for Good”, is set to release via Tooth & Nail Records on August 21, 2020.
You can pre-order the record at Tooth & Nail Records.

The following is from a press release issued by Atom Splitter PR on July 21, 2020:

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, the trio idle threat have signed to Tooth & Nail Records, and will release their label debut, the Nothing Is Broken For Good EP, on August 21st.

Listen to the first track, “Cement,” below.

“Nothing is Broken For Good is about temporal pain and suffering and the endurance that it takes to remain hopeful that it will come to pass,” the band says. “‘Cement’ is a song about keeping faith through the loss of loved ones with the promise that death, too, is only but a moment.”

If you are a fan of Title Fight, Defeater, Balance & Composure, La Dispute you’ll enjoy this.

Formed in 2014 by Zeke McKinney, Justin Jones, and Ernie Fabian, idle threat began by smashing sounds together from emo to post hardcore and punk rock.

The band previously released the Grown Tired EP in 2016.

Their upcoming EP offers a response to Grown Tired’s air of lament. It channels hope and optimism in both lyric and instrumentation.

For over half-a-decade, idle threat have organized and hosted the two-day musical festival, Threat Fest. Their goal is to bring artists together via collaboration, not competition, and allow musicians the chance to feel both inspired and supported. Unfortunately, they announced on Facebook on June 19 that this year’s Threat Fest in cancelled due to the current health concerns.

The group have played alongside an array of bands – The Devil Wears Prada, ‘68, Gideon, Greyhaven, Birds In Row, and more.

Follow idle threat on:





Interview with Doug Carrion from Field Day

Joe McRedmond interviewed Doug Carrion, bass guitarist with Field Day, Humble Gods, Descendents, and Dag Nasty, about a few of the vans he’s used to travel with bands over the last 35 years.

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

I’ve had several vans over the years. Generally speaking, there’s one specific theme they all have in common: how to get the band and crew from point A to point B with all the gear safely, and within a certain time frame. On the surface that sounds easy, but it can be tricky, and there are a few things I learned along the way that might be helpful to someone starting out, or considering getting a van. These are not hard fast rules, but valid information I’ve stumbled upon after spending decades bouncing around from town to town, city to city, doing punk shows.

What is your budget?
How many people are traveling?
How much gear do we have?
To trailer or not to trailer, that is the question.

Here is the philosophy I adopted after a conversation with Keith from Circle Jerks. Get a van that costs $3,000, and drive it until it dies. Take the plates off, rinse and repeat.
The idea is getting a mid-priced van. If you get a beater van, you’re likely to miss shows, and/or be dealing with breakdowns in the middle of nowhere. Which sucks (believe me, I know). Or if you get a van that’s too new, you’ll get killed on payments when you’re not touring. Basically, get one right in the middle, price range wise.

“My idea is to be as stealth as humanly possible at ALL times. It should look like a family van going to church.”

– Doug Carrion

It’s a work vehicle, so keep that in mind. I’m adding a wrinkle to this. If you get a van that looks like a beater, you’re gonna get hassled by the cops when you travel into small towns. I was always amazed that COC (Corrosion of Conformity), in the early days, traveled in a van with graffiti. I’d never do that. I never want to draw ANY attention to the band. On the other side, getting a van that is new, will get broken into when you travel to big cities. We all know crackheads love to rip off vans. My idea is to be as stealth as humanly possible at ALL times. It should look like a family van going to church. Very, very low key. In fact, I only wash the van once a week while on tour. I want it to look clean, but not too clean, and not so dirty that people think you’re the Manson family traveling around in a creeper van. Ultimately, what you want is a van that looks very average, but can drive from California to New York tonight, without any worry of breaking down.

How many people are traveling:
I like as much space as possible. I always aim for enough room where everyone can have a seat, and you have enough room for 2 people to sleep at the same time. Example: driver and co-pilot up front (2), one bench seat will fit another 2 people comfortably. A second bench seat will fit another 2 people comfortably. If 2 are in the loft sleeping, that’s 8 people in a traditional 15 passenger van. Why? On some days, you might spend more time in the van than actually out of the van. So make sure it’s set up the right way for comfort, or reduce your crew. On average, you’re gonna spend 6 hours or more in the van everyday. As of late, I’ve been wanting ALL the gear in the van, and try not to use a trailer. This brings up the question of how are you gonna build out the van?

There are a few ways to do this, you can research this on the net, but overall these are the go to designs:

  • The Firewall – Some way all the gear is behind a wall of some kind, built within the van.
  • The Loft – Also known as “the scratch stack.” All the gear goes underneath, and people sleep on top.
  • Using a Trailer – (more on that later).

I’ve used all these designs several times, and this changes depending on how much gear, and how many people are traveling.

The Dag Nasty bus was a loft at first, then became a firewall setup.
Dag Nasty Bonneville van – We used a trailer.
Descendents Econoline van – Scratch stack, gear underneath.
Descendents Dodge Ram van – Firewall with a mid-level loft in the back.

The last van I built out was 2 front seats, 1 bench seat, and a loft, with all the gear hidden underneath. I went as far as painting the windows in the back, and the last 2 side windows flat black. This van traveled 4 people comfortably, with zero way of seeing any gear at all times. Everything was hidden, and the dark windows made it easy to sleep during the day, because it blocked out a reasonable amount of light.

The van life…

If you’re a mid-range band playing 400 cap rooms, you can get away with a 15 passenger van for a while. If you all of a sudden start opening for a bigger band playing 1500 cap rooms, and that band is in a bus, you’ll be doing lots and lots of all night drives. Remember before, when I was talking about space to sleep and sit up? Here comes some advice from Eric of Die Kreuzen, “When we do overnight drives, everyone drives 100 miles and we rotate.”  Why? There is always some lazy bastard in the band that will pretend they can’t drive at night, forget their license, or whatever bullshit excuse to not be a team player, or wanna help out. So you gotta squash that shit right out of the gate. Everyone drives 100 miles on all-nighters. This way nobody is exhausted the next day. Even if you bring along someone to help drive/crew, you should rotate drivers for your own safety. Field Day rarely do overnight drives; we avoid them if possible.

A quick note on trailers. Don’t do it! I’ve come full circle on this a few times over the years, but in 2020, I’m firmly against them. Why? Trailers get stolen, are a bitch to park in a big city, suck in the snow, have speed limit requirements, and draw too much attention to you as a band. 

Believe it or not, you might be better off with 2 vans. One for gear and merchandise, and the other one for people.  To get more detailed, most insurance only covers the vehicle, not the trailer. So if it gets broken into, you’re out several thousand dollars, and stuck with no way to perform. I’ve noticed that places in the South with a border close to Mexico, like California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico, have a higher rate of trailers being snatched.  I’ve heard the gear ends up going to Mexico, to be sold on the black market.

“This is the Descendents 71 Econoline. 
Taken the same night as the one with the band. In Memphis 1985. Never before seen. Photo by my dad, Bill Carrion.”

What vans did you use, and where did you get them? Did you know the background of the vans at the time of purchase?

Descendents – 1971 Ford Econoline.
Bill got this from the Recycler. He and Chuck from Black Flag did the original inspection to check the engine. The van was a beater, but all we could afford at the time. No AC, no frills, with a wooden loft – scratch stack, no padding or mattress, just plywood. A cargo van with added skylight, and side windows that leaked 🙂 The van was so overloaded with gear, there was something like 15 inches between the loft and the hot ceiling. I was small enough to be able to flip over while sleeping, but Bill and Milo had to decide if they wanted to sleep on their stomachs or backs for the next 8 hours. With all that extra weight, the van went through 3 or 4 transmissions on the first tour. At one point the van died, and was towed to Lomita, where we rehearsed and lived, and was parked in the back of our small parking lot. While we were on tour with our second van, a Dodge Ram, the cops towed the Econoline away, and we got charged an arm and a leg to get it out of impound. Not cool. I have no idea what happened to it.

Descendents Second Van – 1985 Dodge Ram Van Extended.
Worked well, had the “firewall wall/low loft” set up. After I left the group, they continued using it. I think it ended with 300,000 miles on it. RAD 🙂
You’d have to ask Bill what happened to it.

Dag Nasty – School Bus (short version) wanna say it was a GMC.
I have no clue where Brian got it. I remember it was “3-on-the-tree.”
We had a few versions of the build, firewall and scratch stack.
At one point there was a mattress in the back, and Peter slept and read most of the time.

The second Dag van was a late 70’s used Chevy Bonneville.
This one had windows, and we opted to travel with a trailer.
We did a bunch of tours with this one.  It ended up back in
Los Angeles, and Brian used it as his main ride after Dag broke up.
I’d imagine he sold it here in LA, best guess 1989.

Humble Gods – 1995 new Chevy Starcraft conversion van with a trailer.

Field Day – We do mostly fly dates, so we rent 15 passenger studio vans.

Descendents 71 Econoline. Outside City Gardens. Photo by Ron Gregorio. 

Did the vans have any funny or unique features?

Descendents Van 1 – Radio with a cassette player, usually shorted out, and caught fire once. There was a small wooden bench seat that had a trapdoor. I used to put my hair products there 🙂

Dag Bus – No radio, no features. The school bus door was cool. Grab a lever and open the door.

Dag Bonneville – Very stock.

Humble GodsStarcraft – That had a DVD/TV set up. Electric folding bed. Kinda cool for a conversion van.

Dag bus. Photo courtesy of Dag Nasty.

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

I wanna say an overnight drive from El Paso to Dallas, which is only about 9 hours, but in the older Descendents van it took almost 12 hours.
The other one was in the Descendents Dodge Ram, going from Toronto to Chicago in the snow, which ended up being about 15 hours.

Noteworthy: When we can, we route shows around the weather.
Example: in the winter we try to stay below Interstate 40.
You’d think that was something we would have learned sooner. Nope. Only in the last few years, especially with Field Day, do we route around the weather, trying to avoid missing shows because of snow.

Dag bus. Photo courtesy of Dag Nasty.

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

Descendents – Mostly overnight drives, and at people’s houses. I slept in the van a zillion times.
Dag Nasty – Mostly people’s houses, and an occasional 5 guys to a room at a Motel 6.
Humble Gods – Hotels, 2 people per room.
Field Day – Hotels, 2 people per room.

I saw the Dag Nasty School Bus at this show at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA in 1987, where my band was an opener. Flyer by Jeremy Weiss, from the Ronn Mann flyer collection.

Were there any van rules you had? 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?

Punkers don’t follow rules, you know that. No rules beyond “don’t crash”.  Overall, the van is a traveling locker room with funky sleeping options. Think about 7 roommates living on top of each other, for months at a time, in a tiny space. You don’t wanna be a prick, but there has to be some mutual balance and respect between the people traveling, or shit hits the fan. Oddly enough, van drama has a way of sorting itself out. For example,

…if you bring 8 pairs of chucks on tour, and leave your shoes on the floor of the van, chances are they will get kicked out accidentally, or on purpose…

at some point, because band member 1 is mad at band member 2 for not helping load out.  This happens 🙂 Most touring musicians know the basics of van etiquette. Be cool and be respectful or you get called out.

Descendents – Wet clothes in trash bags in the back. Other than that, no rules needed. Really easy guys to work with.

Dag – No rules needed, with the exception of Brian’s and Peter’s books. Brian would read a book a day, so we always had to manage what to do with all the grocery store best sellers on the floor. Ha ha. Peter was a bit more contained with his books and materials.

You have to be really self-contained to tour, or everyone gets pissed, and the drama builds up. I say, “Don’t be that guy”, and don’t create drama. I guess it’s about common sense, and reasonable behavior toward the group.  I have an interesting perspective that follows a 90%/10% rule. 10% of the time, you have to be a monster player, punctual professional, and all that, but the other 90% is how you are as a human being. Are you easy to get along with, are you nice to bartenders, servers, other bands, promoters, etc?  We’re gonna spend lots and lots of time in airports, venues, hotels, and vans together, so if you’re a spoiled, overly entitled person that is rude, or has a hard time making do and being flexible, it’s gonna be a bummer for everyone. Mainly you. As Bruce Lee says, “Be the water, not the rock.”

When you pull up to a gas station, and see trash cans, throw out all the trash. Taco Bell bags, old coffee cups, Subway sandwich remains need to go.

There will be tons of time you have to eat in the van while driving, and trash builds up. The other thing is, sometimes people need a ride from the venue to the hotel or whatever. It’s gross to get into a band van that smells like death, with food and god knows what all over the place 🙂 Ugh.
Also, you’re gonna get pulled over by the cops. If they see a van that looks like a frat house bar on wheels, you’re gonna get fucked with.

Anything that’s illegal, like drugs, weed, pills, firearms…whatever…if we get stopped, you own up to it.  

Dag Nasty and their Chevy Bonneville, Photo courtesy of Doug Carrion.

Do you have a classic nightmare van story from tour or any other shows?

Too many to tell. But what comes to mind is a drive with Descendents from Syracuse to NYC to play CBGB’s in the winter. We slid off the road 3 times during that drive. It was a “white-knuckler” for sure.  Dag getting snowed in on the 95 coming from Boston to DC, and having to sleep under a bridge in the school bus van. Got hassled by the cops for stopping.  One time, doing a snowboard festival in Utah with Humble Gods, and it started to snow, and the weather dropped, so the roads were icy. We opted to drive down the mountain at night after the show. Maybe slide our way down the hill is a better depiction of the situation. That sucked. Peter and I just had one with
Field Day in November 2019. We played St. Louis, and had to get to Chicago for a flight. There was a storm, and we crept our way through the snow for hours, sliding and driving into the storm. Kevin and I made our flights west, but Peter got stuck in Chicago, and had to overnight there. Ugh.

Where did the vans end up? 

Descendents Van 1 – Died, no clue what happened to it.
Descendents Van 2 – They continued to use.
Dag Bus – Died. Brian sold it in DC.
Dag Bonneville – Brian used for a while, and it sold in LA.
Humble Gods Starcraft – Brad kept it, and it was the first van Kottonmouth Kings used.

Are you working on any new releases? 

We have a new 7″ called “Field Day 2.0” that came out on Unity Worldwide June 5. You can get vinyl at Cortex if you’re in Europe or at RevHQ if you’re in the states.  The digital is everywhere…Amazon, Spotify, iTunes.

Field Day is mixing a new release called “Opposite Land” slated to come out November 2020. The vinyl will be available via Cortex and from our web store and digitally in all the usual places.




Interview with Ceci dit

Joe McRedmond interviewed Ceci dit, a punk rock band from Troyes, France, via email about their travels over the last two years.

Published on July 18, 2020

Thanks for agreeing to an interview with me!

Hello! We are Ceci dit (“That being said” in English). We are a three men punk rock band which has been formed in February 2018. In our songs we are dealing with our relation to other people, to ourselves, and to the world. At the moment we have released a demo and a EP, and played nearly 40 shows mainly in the east of  France. It is a pleasure to share our experience with other people. Thanks Joe for having us!

Tell us what the catalyst, motivation, or inspiration for traveling outside of your hometown in the first place, specifically?

We have begun to play in other cities because we wanted to share our music with new people in new places. It allows us to meet great people and to go to some places we’ve never been before. We are often playing in our hometown because we are organizing shows here, so it is always nice to get off the beaten track.

When you travel out of town, what is your main method of transportation? Did you know the background of this vehicle when you purchased it?

For our first summer of touring, 6 months after we created the band, we had the chance to pick the old van from Lucas’ cousin, but most of the time we are using Lucas’ car to travel.

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

Our van was a Renault Trafic T1000 from 1989 used to carry tools and workers in vineyards, so we had a lot of space at the back, but only 3 seats. As we said before, at the moment our main tour vehicle was Lucas’ car, a tiny Peugeot 206, but we are always surprised by the amount of instruments and personal stuff this car can carry. 

Ceci dit’s 1989 Renault Trafic T1000. Photo courtesy of Ceci dit.

Any funny or unique features?

The back of our first van was modified so we could sleep in it with a mattress to make it even more comfortable. Lucas’ cousin also added extra storage, batteries to plug electrical stuff, and a ventilation system to improve the quality of the inside.

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

The longest drive we made in our van was between Dijon (well known for the mustard) and Romilly-sur-Seine (a tiny town near our hometown). Because of taking wrong directions, and the tiny motor for this big van, it took us 4 hours to go to the show instead of 2h30. The first trip we had with the van was less complicated. We didn’t take too much time to go to the venue in Reims (well known for its champagne), but we had some scare when we had to park the van in the big avenue where the venue was located. But finally, after a risky half turn realized by our trucker drummer Stann’, we made it.

Officially, the longest trip we have done was last year when we played in Belgium. It took us 4 hours to drive to the venue, and we had a big hangover. Not a great time, but a great memory. If we are right, the first time we have toured as a band with a car was when we went to Metz (another big city of Eastern France). As usual, when Lucas is driving, we made some detours, but we have played in the best place we’ve ever been. It was at an associative venue called ‘La chaouée’. We had the chance to sleep upstairs the venue. Good party and partial memories. 

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

Our van was modified to welcome some mattresses at the back, but we were not able to use this feature because the space was taken by the gears. So most of the time we sleep in people’s houses, often in the promoter’s house. We really like it because we can have some chill time with people and discuss more easily than in the crowded and noisy venue.

Are there any vehicle rules you have? Or band rules in general?

The only rule we have when we are traveling is “no smoking inside the vehicle”. Except that we didn’t have any explicit rules. By touring we have learned how to know each other, and now we know how to adapt our behavior in the tour life to avoid tensions, and keep a good vibe in the band.

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

We are not touring all the time, so when we know we will have to travel more than usual, we take time to check all the parts of the vehicle to make sure we can go to the shows safely. By chance our families have mechanical skills, so we can fix issues really quickly when we have some troubles. 

Ceci Dit with Marée Basse (RIP)

Where did the Renault end up?

Unfortunately, the van we used during our first tour is not usable anymore, because it didn’t pass road worthiness testing. It is now used as a garden van to go through all the land owned by Lucas’ cousin.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

Yes for sure! During our first tour days we have forgotten to think about a place to sleep, so we have planned to sleep outside in our tent in an abandoned skate park. At the last moment we found someone in the audience who welcomed us in his apartment. Good after-party with weird songs. It depicts well our lack of experience at the time, and all the troubles a band can face in their tour life.

How can we help promote any releases?

The way you did by giving us some space on the internet to speak about our passion is a good way to help. We have a Facebook page we often used to update back in the time we were able to play shows. Our last record “Il s’agirait de grandir” which means “It would be about growing up” is available on every streaming platform, but we are suggesting to people to listen to our songs on bandcamp. As you will notice, we are singing in French, but don’t worry, you can find all the lyrics on the bandcamp site, and translate the song easily by copying and pasting texts on a translator. 

On our EP you can find two songs dealing with our tour life and the choice we have made to play punk rock. The first one is “1247”. This song is about the emptiness we feel every time we come back home after touring and how to use all those memories to fight the struggles of routine. The second one is called “Echec subjectif” which means “Subjective failure”. In that song , we are speaking of the fact that we sometimes have some troubles to explain our passion to other people, because they don’t understand how we can find pleasure in it, and also because they feel that it is not a rational choice to cross the country just to play in front of few people for little money. That one has a video clip that you can find on our YouTube channel and where you can spot our main tour car.

If you like it you can share it with your friends and spread our music on social networks by doing all the things we are not really at ease with.

Ceci dit – 1247
Ceci Dit – Echec Subjectif 

Interview with Adam McGrath from Cave In

Joe McRedmond interviewed Adam McGrath, guitarist from Cave In from Methuen, MA, via email about two of the vans they have used over the years.

Published July 13, 2020

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

Specifically, the band Piebald from Andover, MA was the catalyst for Cave In to take our band to a more serious level. They were close to our age and were already playing shows around and outside New England before Cave In got it together to do the same. They had purchased an old small school bus (named Melvin) and “successfully” toured down to Florida and back which was a mind blowing achievement to us back then. They literally and figuratively gave us the road map on how to take our band out of Methuen and into basements, living rooms and small DIY clubs down the east coast and eventually around America.

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

Our first van was purchased from Harpoon Brewery Boston for $1200 via the old analog want ads. It had been previously used by Harpoon for promotional purposes at early nineties beer festivals. The brewery wanted the RV off their property day of sale, so I remember we stupidly drove the unregistered and unplated RV through downtown Boston and back to Allston (Where we had lived at the time) via Sorrow Drive, barely clearing the low hanging bridges. We almost tore the roof off within minutes of owning it.

First Cave In van/RV purchased from Harpoon Brewery. Photo courtesy of Adam McGrath.

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

1978 Ford V8 RV black with red trim. The RV interior had been gutted and left with only a captain’s chair and van bench seat that could fold out into a bed. Large windows had been added along the exterior of the RV box, making it almost like a hot greenhouse on wheels. None of these giant windows opened, and the only air flow came from the driver and passenger windows. My uncle had to fix the drive shaft, and three of the eight cylinders immediately, before we could actually travel with it. My uncle also thought I was insane to have purchased the monstrosity I had brought before him to fix. We made some DIY wooden gear storage lockers inside that also had a loft bed at the top.

Any funny or unique features?

The 1978 RV camper had a CB/intercom system that was very entertaining while it worked. We would dramatically announce our entrance or departure at the venues. Or sometimes just yell or say random shit on the intercom and watch people look around wondering where the voice of god came from.

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

Berkeley, CA to Syracuse, NY was the longest drive we ever did. I can’t remember the actual first trip, but the 1978 Ford RV only lasted one complete summer US tour (which was Cave In’s first full US tour with the Canadian band IRE).

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

We always insisted drivers had a co-pilot to keep them company and awake especially on night drives.

It was your responsibility to throw away your own bottle of urine. We learned the hard way it’s a terrible idea to toss an open container of liquid out of a moving vehicle, because it will just blow back in. So don’t do it.

In the early days our drummer JR would only drive if he could listen to Motley Crue the entire time. 

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

We had a van fire with a ’91 Ford Econoline baby blue van at a rest area fifty miles west of Philadelphia which ended our 1999 US tour with ISIS (the band). We pretty much lost everything except some luggage and a few guitars. $6000 in cash burned under the driver seat. We had been plagued with overheating problems with that particular van the entire time of owning it. We also concluded later that there must have been some sort of gas or oil leak. We pulled over to the rest area and all went inside to use the restroom and grab snacks. It was supposed to be a quick stop as we were supposed to play Philadelphia that evening. People started stirring around the rest area food court saying there was a van smoking outside and right away we knew it was us. Some of our crew ran outside, and tried to pop the hood and get access to the smoking engine, but they were unable as the hood was already dangerously hot. The rest of us ran around the food court pleading for someone to call the fire department, or tried to find a fire extinguisher to put the fire out ourselves. The fire engulfed the entire front of the van very fast, and soon we realized there was nothing we could do to stop it. Our stash of fireworks blasted out the exploding windows. Tires popping like gunshots one by one from the extreme heat. We got home by renting a U-haul box truck with whatever we salvaged from the burnt gear. To this day I still have the Gibson SG that was pulled out of the van still on fire and put out with the fire hose.

Aftermath of the van fire at a PA rest stop. Photos by Jason Hellmann courtesy of Adam McGrath.
Charred remains of Adam’s Gibson SG saved from the van fire. Photo courtesy of Adam McGrath.

Where did the vans end up? 

The 1978 RV was never the same once we came home from the first US tour with it. We attempted one last trip to Canada but the RV died on the side of 93-N in New Hampshire to the sound of loud backfiring. It was then towed to our drummer’s then girlfriend’s back yard lot where it would then rot for the next couple of years. It was then junked with a dead engine and RV’s roof had eventually caved in. The ’91 Econoline that burned was abandoned in the rest area.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

IRE stuck a bag of feces in the RV air conditioner, which led to days of everyone wondering what smelled so rank and foul. The smell made our eyes water. We all searched corner to corner of the RV, trying to figure out what and where the smell was coming from, to later find a plastic bag of shit jammed in the air conditioner. To be young and derelict!

How can we help promote any releases?

Cave In is currently wood shedding riffs, ideas, and songs to remotely try and piece together a new record. In the uncertainty of current times, there is no definitive timeline for completion, but it feels good to still be moving forward with the band after so many years together. 

Thanks Adam for doing this interview!

Thanks for the interview. Full disclosure: HOOVER was and still is one of my favorite Dischord bands. Hoover/Lincoln split is legendary in my circle of friends. Every time I pick up a bass I play Electrolux! THANK YOU!

Cave In -Juggernaut

Cave In – On the Prowl

Cave In – Night Crawler

More Cave In here: