Tombs Tour Diary Part 2: Boredom, Drugs, Death & Hamburgers

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 second entry, Hill talks about the futility of drug abuse, shitheel border cops and heavy metal hamburgers. [Read his first blog here.]

6.11.2011        Toronto, ON   19:20

The show last night in Montreal was killer. We played well and everyone was really cool. The stage had a strange layout, it seemed like it was an afterthought. Later on I learned that the venue was formerly a Goth Dance Club; much of the décor remained.  It’s the third show of the tour and we feel locked in. It was the first time that I had a chance to watch A Storm of Light play. It’s good being out on the road with Domenic, he’s got a monstrous bass sound. In general they sounded pretty massive last night.

The venue is above a Mexican restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever had Mexican Food in Canada. I’m about to find out if it’s any good because we just got our meal buy-outs and will be heading down to eat dinner in a while.

6.12.2011        Hamtramck, MI         21:35

McCash called me while we were en route from Toronto to tell me that a good friend of ours is basically on his death bed. He didn’t have all of the details, but the whole thing was grave and there wasn’t much hope.  About two weeks ago he was taken into the ICU and has been slowly deteriorating. I was told that his kidneys were in the process of failing. McCash is on tour with Gates of Slumber and they’re heading back to Indiana to see him. My understanding of the situation is that he isn’t expected to live.

He had been on a downward spiral for quite a while. Months would pass and I’d only see him when he was rolling through town on tour or when I would be in Indianapolis with the band. Each time, he seemed to be slipping away. At the time, I suppose I was blind or in denial. I didn’t want to believe that something was wrong. I feel a little sick thinking about this. What a waste. What’s truly pathetic is the whole romantic bullshit trip that people build around drug use. There’s nothing cool or romantic about wasting your life with drugs, you don’t go out like some dark, misunderstood anti-hero, you just die and break the hearts of everyone that loves you.

I’m sitting in the van. It’s cool outside, it’s like summer decided to skip this part of the country. It makes me wish for Autumn, the greatest season.  It won’t last: in a few days we’ll be in Texas where it’s averaging 100? F and then we’ll feel the pain. I want the challenge of delivering the set under those conditions. After the show in Toronto, we drove out of the city looking for a motel. We must have hit up at least four places before we found a vacancy.  We were exhausted, I just wanted to shut my eyes and slip away. The place was one of the more Spartan motels that we’d stayed in. There were two beds, a sink and a microwave oven. The room smelled like cigarettes. Ironically, the bathroom was in great condition.

When I woke up this morning, I checked my Blackberry and saw that [Anal Cunt's] Seth Putnam had died of a heart attack. I can’t say that I was surprised to hear of him dying at such a young age, he was someone who made no qualms about his drug use over the years. Nonetheless, he was a human being and I’m sure he had family and friends that are heart-broken over his death. I’m sure the internet is alive with shit-talking today, but I don’t have the stomach to check any of it out.

Ah yes, the internet and all of the cowards who post bullshit and leave clever comments. Technology has given rise to generation of bored weaklings. I’m not one of Putnam’s friends, I don’t particularly like Anal Cunt, but I just hope that people can have a little discipline and refrain from bashing the guy, even if it’s for the sake of his family. It’s weak.

We crossed the border back into the states. The border guard was a bored shitheel with a bad attitude. The last time we crossed at that particular entry point, the guard was totally cool. This time, he was trying to find any reason to give us a hard time. In light of the news I got earlier, I wasn’t in the mood. I know he was doing his job, but I find it hard to believe that these guys don’t make it personal sometimes. Maybe his boring, completely unfulfilled existence motivates him to ramp up the cop vibe.

Tonight is going to be a long night. I can’t stop thinking about the news I got earlier. There are five bands on the bill. I want to play hard and bail, get some sleep in a motel room bed and get an early start tomorrow. There was a modest turnout last night but everyone that showed up was cool. The whole thing had to be over early because of a retro-DJ night that they had scheduled. It was still light out when we played. The house sound engineer was awesome, took her job seriously and did a great job mixing us.

A highpoint of the night was meeting Chris Gramlich in person and watching his band Vilipend play. We had been acquainted for several years via email and phone conversations but had never actually met. We did an interview during the Anodyne years. I feel fortunate that I’m still out here doing this stuff. It’s hard out here, grinding it out on the road playing small shows and not making a lot of money but it’s the only way to roll for me. I don’t want to live a life where I don’t have any good stories to tell.

The venue is in a rough area. There are a lot of unfriendly faces around.

6.13.2011        Chicago, IL    18:40

The show last night was small but I’ll take it and move on to the next one. It’s a straight line, a relentless forward-moving machine. I can’t let nights like that get me down because even though the show was small, people showed up and wanted to see bands play. Nonetheless, it’s rough but we did our best. Why the hell else would I be in Hamtramck, MI, but to blast out a set. Beast in the Field and Year of the Pig both played. We shared the stage with them on our last show in Detroit that we did on the way back from the Kylesa tour. It was good seeing those guys again, they’re both solid bands.

We hit Kuma’s Corner, the famous Heavy Metal Burger Joint and waiting about 45 minutes for a table. I have to admit that it was worth the wait. We sat outside and kicked back. I got the Neurosis burger vegetarian-style. I’m not a vegetarian, but I didn’t want to be too brutal on my stomach. We’d been talking about going to this place for nearly two years.

This is our first time playing in Chicago. All of our other shows have been canceled due either to entire tours being canceled (Mayhem, Enslaved), white-out blizzards (Pelican) or the absurd radius clauses that some larger tour inflict on the support bands. Chicago is such a great city, with a lot of great bands, it’s a travesty that until now, we haven’t successfully done any shows here. We’re early, sitting in the van, parked outside of the venue. The place is locked up. I checked out this bookstore / record store called The Bucket of Blood. There was an interesting selection of mainly science fiction, fantasy, serial killer books and a few random records and CDs. I scored Almuric by Robert E. Howard and Abarat by Clive Barker. Both titles were $3 a piece!!

A Storm of Light are parked around the corner. We’re all dug in, waiting to load in.

6.14.2011        St. Louis, MO            20:15

We’re back at the Fubar tonight. We’re doing the familiar St. Louis, OKC, Denton, Austin run that we seem to do on every tour. We loaded in and I’m kicking back with a cup of coffee, waiting. I can see why band guys do drugs: to deal with the boredom. I guess that’s why there’s a 34 year old guy on his death bed now. Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Andrew and I drove out to a coffee place a few miles away from the venue. We both commented on how we haven’t ever ventured out past the The Fubar.  Someone had chipped away sections of the sidewalk and planted mint. The whole area was permeated by this pleasant, fresh mint smell.

Last night in Chicago was great. We played hard and the vibe at the show was cool. I’m relieved that we successfully played out first Chicago date. It was cool to catch up with some friends. I’m glad that wer were able to hang out with the half of Pelican that still lives in Chicago. We ended up crashing with Will. It brought me back to the tour we did a couple of years ago with Pelican and Wolves in the Throne Room. That was a great tour. We were fortunate that year, shortly after that tour wrapped up we were on the road with Isis and Pelican. I always think fondly about that time. It was probably the easiest, no-attitude touring situations that I’ve ever been part of where everyone was cool to each other and we all hung out and helped each other.

 

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  • Ell Tee

    Wow.  This is the best tour diary I’ve ever read.  You’re a great writer.  I sincerely hope that you are writing in other areas; you have a gift with words and an equal gift in being able to show the reader what you’re seeing.