Tombs Tour Diary Part 1: Canada, Colds & “C**ty” Fans
Brooklyn-based experimental metal band Tombs just wrapped up a month-long North American tour in support of their latest record, Path of Totality (Relapse). Guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill kept a journal chronicling all of the action, and we’ll be rolling it out in a few installments. In his first entry, Hill talks about the subjectivity of memories, male savagery, the protocols of entering Canada and advises how not to be “c*nty” fan.
6.8.2011 Allston, MA 18:45
We left New York this morning at 11:30 and as the city receded in my rear-view mirror, I felt myself slowly unclench. I always get uptight during the days leading up to a tour; the night before is especially bad. I always feel like I’m leaving something behind. Preparation: I run down all of my checklists and things rigorously but that doesn’t seem to help.
We arrived in Allston before 15:00 and went directly to Le’s, one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants to get some chow and kill time. I used to hit this place regularly when I lived in Boston, back then it was called Pho Pasteur. It’s pretty much identical—the interior, the menu, the quality of the food—except for the name. There’s even a lot of the same lifer waitstaff working there. It was somehow comforting—so many things change at such an accelerating rate that the familiar things sort of smooth out the rough edges.
We’re all loaded in now and I’m sitting at a Starbucks two blocks from Great Scott, the venue we’re playing at tonight. The AC is cranked and I’m sitting alone at a table. The heat is brutal outside and the air is thick to the point where you can almost taste it. A few college-aged kids are hanging around in small groups working on their laptops. Some completely middle-of-the-road music is being played over the sound system. I can’t quite make out what song it is, but it sounds so familiar…
Starbucks is a funny place. It’s one of the few places, along with Denny’s and Ruby Tuesday, that I seek out on the road. Familiarity is the constant. The days pass so quickly when you’re out here that places like these are calming.
Tonight should be cool. Blacktail is playing as well and I’m looking forward to seeing them. They don’t play very often so this is a real event for me. I’ve known most of the members of the band for nearly two decades of my life. Mike and Thos were part of the first full Anodyne lineup. There are two other bands playing that I don’t know anything about.
Path of Totality, our new record, came out yesterday. I’m stoked that people can actually pick up a copy but for me the record seems like history. We recorded it back in December, mastered it in January and it’s been on ice until yesterday.
I have the lid off of my cup of coffee so it will cool down to a reasonable temperature. A thin, oily film has developed on the surface; you can see a subtle rainbow pattern against the blackness. It’s making me think about the Rainbow song, “Man on the Silver Mountain.”
6.9.2011 New York, NY 20:40
I’ve been doing a lot of press. Interviews and conversations with people all blur together. The heat is unbearable today; summer is like a hammer. Outside, it feels like I can’t get enough oxygen into my body. The heat is inescapable. Maybe I should have trained harder before this tour. I have a cold; what kind of an asshole gets a cold in the summer? It’s fucking with my voice. I can take the discomfort, but I’m bummed out that it might compromise my ability to play as hard as I want.
A Storm of Light is playing. I’m sitting in the little room next to the stage waiting to play. Last night in Boston was cool; the best part of the night, aside from playing, was seeing Blacktail kick it. What a great band. It’s always great watching Thos play drums. I thought about how we used to play together back in the late 90’s writing material that would become the songs on the Anodyne record Silent Wars. I was working at the Newbury Comics warehouse, had just been dumped by my girlfriend and wanted to spend long hours away from the apartment I shared with five other guys. Time flies on broken wings; we remember things, even times that might not have been such great times, and the amber filters come on line and the past becomes subjective, an interpretation.
I’m glad last night’s set is behind us. We played well, but we haven’t clicked into tour mode. It won’t be until the third of fourth show that the set becomes ingrained into our subconscious. That’s the greatest feeling ever, when you get on stage, plug in and execute, the playing is part of an extinct. We rehearse a lot, so we’re always in shape, but there’s that certain, intangible thing that happens from driving ling hours all day and launching into the set.
I want to play and hit the road. We’re leaving after load-out tonight to eat up some of the miles on the trek up to Montreal.
6.10.2011 Montreal, QC 21:30
We made it into the country without any problems. The whole border crossing thing only took about 15 minutes, it was a no stress situation which hasn’t always been the case. Back when Anodyne used to cross into Canada, before all of the terrorism paranoia we would do what most other bands did: we’d show up armed with a fake letter saying that we were going to record at some studio in Montreal. Looking back, I don’t know how it worked, but somehow it did. These days, all of your paperwork has to be in order and you need a passport. It’s a lot harder to get into the country, I’ve heard of a lot of people being denied due to old misdemeanors and other technicalities.
Earlier on, I observed a supreme example of cunty-ness. This kid rolled up to the merch table wanting to haggle over the price of an LP and a shirt. He offered Carson $35.00 for something that cost $40.00. For the record, we aren’t opposed to cutting deals if someone says something like,”I only have $35.00 on me can you work with me.” Once he agreed to sell him the shirt and the record for the reduced price, the kid gave him $40.00 and asked for change. That’s cunty. It’s insulting. I wanted to tell the kid if he wanted his change he’d have to take it off of me. There’s always someone out there who wants to somehow get one over on you.
It’s only 5 bucks. I should grow up and get over it.
There’s a lot happening on in the city tonight; there’s a big Formula 1 event going on, some of the streets around the venue are closed down and there are droves of drunk people wandering around. We’re close to the famed red light area of town. Some of the more dedicated sex workers were out. I walked by a woman wearing next to nothing standing at the entrance of a dark stairway leading upstairs. She had these hard, vacant eyes. There was a sinister vibe. She was an expert on the male savage, the relentless need to shoot loads and avoid responsibility.
Earlier on, we met up with our long-time friend Mark Holmes. He’s been living up here for a few months and knew where to get decent chow. We hit up this vegetarian spot and kicked back for a while. It was a long journey getting here so it was great to unwind with some good food.
Montreal is the closest thing to a European city that you can get in North America, except for maybe Quebec. People are speaking French all around us and unlike most parts of Canada, you truly feel like a stranger here.