Tour Diary: Jucifer Recall Meeting Dave Lombardo, Getting Shut Down by the Cops, and a Giant Ass
If Jucifer are known for one thing, it's volume. The alt-metal two-piece hauls walls of amps all over the U.S. to create its sludgy mix of hard rock and metal. The group's new album, Throned in Blood (Nomadic Fortress), is out now. Road dogs that they are, the pair is already touring for it. Here, guitarist and vocalist Amber Valentine shares her tour diary from last month.
March 5, 2010
Somewhere between Albuquerque and Socorro, NM
Played in Santa Fe in this pretty rad brewpub with a fake adobe stage and the biggest antler chandelier I've ever seen. At first we thought they were gonna make us turn down a lot, because we were supposed to go on at 8 and they serve dinner. And it's a fancy-looking place. But the owners reassured us it would be a "thrasher" crowd and they were right. Fun night. Now we're at this RV park/horse motel in the middle of the desert. Totally beautiful. They rescue horses, donkeys, sheep, guinea pigs, and random fowl. Our dogs are super into the donkeys for some reason. One of the donkeys must be almost seven feet tall at the shoulder--not a mule either, just a giant donkey. I wonder if they've checked out the Guinness World Record for donkey size.
The Giant Donkey
March 6, 2010
Las Cruces, NM
Playing at a little coffee house tonight. Very small and looked scary for electricity. Then we found a bunch of separate circuits. Who knows why they're there, but it's a good thing! Still didn't bring in all of our gear because there's five other bands on the show and no room in this place. The PA is minimal too. Like two speakers and maybe 400 watt amp. Time to eat... vegan chili cold from the can with tortilla chips.
March 7, 2010
I'm writing in a truck stop. Last night was weird but better than I really expected. We had some fans there. Never played Las Cruces before so didn't have any expectations! And the owner was nice. It's cool that she's trying to make an all ages place happen. The weirdness came when we got into the part of our set where Edgar [Livingood, drums] usually sings. I didn't hear him so I looked over and realized he didn't have a mic. Fuuuuuck. I wanted the vocals to be there 'cause his parts are awesome, so I tried to sing them myself. But then I realized I didn't know them well enough. We were running sound for ourselves(!) so nobody came through with a rescue mic. Oh well. The other weird part of the night was when a Swedish electro-pop band(!) played a Dixie Chicks song.
View from the Arizona Truck Stop
March 8, 2010
Holy shit last night was crazy!!! First of all, we had a seven-hour drive after three hours of sleep. Blegh. Get to the anarchist collective where we're playing just in time to catch a group of people leaving, who let us in. Which is good, 'cause we have to start loading if we're gonna be done in time for doors.
So we're setting up for a while, and it's actually pretty peaceful. We're in a sleep-deprived daze. And afternoon light slants through the window in a pleasant way. We have to run extension cords all over the building, which is a pain in the ass... but at least there are enough different circuits that we shouldn't blow the power. I'm almost done running all the lines for my rig when this dude comes in carrying a puppy. So fuckin' cute, a little Jack Russell puppy named Maya. He lets me hold her and she wriggles around trying to eat my hair, neck, face, shirt, and hands. At first we think he's coming for a meeting but it turns out he's there to visit this guy Pierre Camembert who's doing a pirate radio show in the back of the building. So we go into their makeshift studio to do an interview. I give 'em the split we just did on the Montreal label Choking Hazard and they play a couple tracks in between the interview while Maya tries to eat everything on the floor including my boots with my feet in them. (So cute it makes my teeth hurt.) Pretty cool to find out Pierre has our album from like 10 years ago and is psyched to find out we're there.
Get done setting up and cram some food down, lay back on the couch for one of those naps where you don't fall asleep but just being still in the dark with your eyes closed gives you a second wind. Check out the bands before us, both cool and awesomely different from each other. There's a good crowd forming.
We start playing and it's great... The crowd's enthusiastic and the power is holding. We're ready to destroy! About halfway through the first song I feel something brush my arm. At first I think it has something to do with this unidentified shit I feel dripping onto my head (which I assume is ceiling debris--that happens to us a lot in old buildings, since we're usually the loudest band that's ever been there) but then I realize it's the promoter tugging on me. Shit. We're getting shut down?! So fucking painful to be interrupted when you're hitting the stride of a great show! Coitus interruptus.
Promoter explains that the cops are there and, this is funny, they say that the show was OK before, and, "You need to go back to the instruments you were using before." As if the opening bands were just us playing different instruments! Anyway, they say the show can go on if we just turn down, so I cut all my volume knobs to half of what they were--which is a lot quieter--and we pick up where we left off. Shit is still dripping on my head and I can feel it on my hands occasionally. It's weird because it feels like kitty litter, but I can't see anything. We're halfway through "Contempt," and I feel the hand on my arm again. Dude. Such a bummer. The cops have shut it down for real. Which is crazy because this venue is literally 20 yards from a very busy railroad crossing where trains are constantly blowing their horns probably five times louder than our show. Oh yeah, and it's an anarchist collective but they obey the cops. (I totally understand why, but it's still pretty hilarious.)
The drips on my head turned out to be a roof leak. For some reason they didn't feel wet. But it's good to know I don't have asbestos fragments in my hair.
Friday March 12
Los Angeles, CA
Played our in-store at Vacation Vinyl last night. Remarkably good setup for such a small space... We couldn't fit all our stuff but still enough to be moronically loud. Heh, heh. Pete and Dave from the store were awesome to deal with, and Pete did great working the soundboard. Shit they have a lot of awesome records! It's a good thing we got no place to store 'em or we'd have been in trouble.
Loading was interesting 'cause we had to double park. And the only place for our rig to end up was about half a mile away. So Edgar held the spot down there and I loaded... good thing about having the pack designed so I don't have to have help. Got some from Pete and Dave though, which was cool. Randomly ran into a guy who worked on a short film I was in back in 1991 (Levitate Me by Dominic DeJoseph). No, it's not porn. It was a bizarre coincidence. Good to know those guys are still in action.
Saturday March 13
Los Angeles, CA
The drug dealers don't take Saturday off. They start early, too--9 AM, whistling and yelling. Ate my cereal watching them. They're in front of a U-Haul lot and nobody seems to be able to stop them. There's like 15 dudes! They get in cars and ride around the block to make the transaction. Cops are at the next corner and obviously just don't care.
I'm having a hard time walking back and forth in here because of this angle... Hollywood Blvd. slumps drunkenly to one side. I try to pull out my notepad to work on this diary and set off a cascade of shit. Coffee can, roll of paper towels, motorcycle boots, map and toaster now adorn the floor. The angle makes loading a special treat too. Thanks, gravity.
Last night's show was the third this week without a soundman. In a tiny tiny bar attached to a Thai restaurant that is apparently the hub of heavy shows in LA right now. So many little clubs like this here, places that aren't necessarily equipped for shows at all but acquire a transient (or permanent) hipness. Relax has a stage but we'd never fit on it together with Edgar's kit even if I just used a combo amp... so we set up against the wall facing the bar. And we ran our own sound again.
Dave Lombardo's band Philm was originally supposed to play but they decided to play our Sunday show instead. We're glad, 'cause with our backline, there was almost no room for the other bands, who played on the floor, too. It was bad enough to be cramping all the bands that did play, but with Dave's big kit, it would've probably been impossible for his band to fit. Not the way we wanna finally meet him. It was a fun show though, since we love playing on the floor.
Jucifer's Edgar Livengood with Dave Lombardo
Monday March 15
Somewhere in wine country, NorCal
Last night was amazing. Dragonfly is a really good club, probably the best we've done in LA besides the now-defunct Knitting Factory. And I think the sound is better at Dragonfly than it was at the Knit even though their system and staff were great... just a better room. And it was the first time this week we've been able to fit all of our gear onstage. At last!
Everybody we dealt with at the club was cool and the show was fun, but mostly we geeked out on meeting Dave Lombardo. We've loved Slayer since we were kids--duh, right?! Meeting Dave and finding out how into our band he is was incredible. Jaw-dropping. He gave me the "we're not worthy" bow down and I was like, "Dude, you gotta be kidding me!!" And he was gracious enough to sign a stick for one of our friend's friends who has cancer. It's so fuckin' cool when you meet someone legendary and they're also nice and down to earth.
Goofing Off in Wine Country: "Merlot: The Most Metal of Grapes"