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Tombs Tour Diary Part 3: Propaganda, 'Tokyo Tapes' & Texas Heat

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 third  entry [read 1 & 2], Hill talks about propaganda, war vets and beating the Texas heat.

6.15.2011        Oklahoma City, OK 19:48

It was a long haul today; about eight hours on the road.  This is the familiar route for us: St. Louis, OKC, Denton and Austin. This is the part of the country where you start seeing the signs about Jesus and all the Christian propaganda.

Last night was small, but I’ll take it over not playing. St. Louis is a hard-won town but I feel like we’re making progress there; you have to keep coming back. The one cool thing is the sound man is always on point; I don’t remember his name, but he’s the singer in Everything Went Black. I just got news that their guitarist died a couple of months ago. They’re such young guys and it’s heavy to deal with death at an age where you should feel indestructible.

I got an update from McCash. It doesn’t look good. Our friend is still alive but no one is expecting him to pull out of it. I wish I could be there with those guys. I keep thinking about the last time I saw him out in Indy; I wish I had a chance to talk to him. It’s likely that I will never see him alive again. It’s such a hard trip. I keep thinking that this will turn around.

Chris, Pelican’s soundman, was at the show last night. We were hanging outside of the venue when this confrontation broke out with some of the guys working at the venue and this lone, drunk dude. I don’t know all of the details but it was basically just a shoving match, no one really wanted to fight. The drunk guy agreed to chill out and everyone dispersed. He spotted us and came over. He was probably about 25 years old, short haired and drunk. He said that he’s living in a homeless shelter until his disability kicks in. He’s a vet. He kept talking about how he wanted to fight and get beat up. At one point he was talking about “letting the blackness in.”

It made me think how lightweight most of our experiences are and how none of us have really dealt with anything as intense as being in combat. This is what the government does for kids who put their bodies on the line. They get discharged into the great nowhere, back to their hometowns. I’d like to think things will turn out okay for him but I know that most likely he’ll continue to drink himself into numbness and probably end up on the street or dead.

Doors are opening shortly. Carson and I hit Size Records next door. That’s the drill when we’re in OKC. Unfortunately, Jim, the owner wasn’t there. Hopefully he shows up later, I was looking forward to hanging out. He usually works the door at the shows, but he wasn’t there during load-out.  For the last year or so, we’ve been seeing that guy every four months or so, so I feel like we’re friends at this point. The last few times, we played here, he re-opened the store when the show cleared out for a late-night record buying session. This time around  I picked up an original copy of the first St.Vitus record, Scorpions Tokyo Tapes and the AC/DC box set Bonfire, all reasonably priced.

6.16.2011        Denton, TX     19:30

It was a quick run down here from OKC. We did a live recording for this site called Violitionist. It went well. We loaded into this dude’s house, set up our gear and went for it. Afterward, we did a short interview. When we loaded in, one of his neighbors rolled up and asked how long we’re be playing because the last time, it was really loud. These kind of “live in the studio” situations always feel a little stale to me, but usually we get a decent recording out of it. We’ve been on tour for a while so I think we’re tight.

The show last night was pretty much what all of our OKC shows are like. A small but cool group of people that have seen us play several times. At this point, we’re getting to know everyone by sight, if not by name. I dig that. Unfortunately, there was no Jim last night. I had been looking forward to kicking it with him, but he was M.I.A.

6.17.2011        Denton, TX     09:21

I just hit the complimentary breakfast downstairs.  They had a waffle iron shaped like the state of Texas, the coffee was serviceable.

A Storm of Light drops off after tonight. We continue on our own for a few more days and then we’re home for a while before heading out to Europe with The Secret. It was a short tour, but I’ll take it any day over staying home. There were definitely some good shows on this tour, but there were also some less than great shows. I don’t want to say that they were bad because, even at the worst, kids showed up to see the bands. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to booking a tour that the bands don’t see; maybe it’s because I’ve spent years booking my own bands that I can empathize with the obstacles that booking agents run into when setting up a tour. Some nights are just nights to get from place to place without a day off.

Last night was kind of slow, but Bryan at Rubber Gloves is cool and he digs the band. A few kids showed up and we played for them. Brent and Mike from Violitionist were there. Either way, we were in Denton to play a show and we played the show.

It’ 100? F today in Austin.

Austin, TX      20:40

We did an in-store at Waterloo records earlier today. It’s hot, like a blast furnace. The air is dry and intense, I can feel all of the moisture leaving my body. It makes me feel like a lightweight, I wish there was some way I could have prepared for this. The short in-store set went well, a handful of people showed up and we kicked the first four songs of our set. I remembered the tiny stage from the first time we played there at SXSW a few years ago. After our set, we did this quick video thing where we had to decipher these death / black metal logos.

Ron met us at Waterloo and we drove to Red 7 for load-in before hitting Serrano’s, our go-to Mexican restaurant in Austin. Our tire looked a little low, like there might be a slow leak. I’m dug in now, waiting it out until we play. This is a great music city, people down here love music. Every bar has some kind of stage and there are always bands playing. I like it here, but the intensity of the heat is kind of daunting sad to say.

When we were loading out of Waterloo they were playing the new record on the store system. I didn’t recognize it at first. I don’t think I’ve listened to the record since the mastering session back in January. The material feels old to me at this point, we recorded it back in December of last year and now it’s finally available. It’s been a long process, writing, recording, all of the intermittent decisions that have to be made along the way about artwork and production. It’s behind us now and I want to get on to the next thing.

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