Friday, February 29, 2008

Burial Ground

My predictions of a good day ahead were well founded. We caught up with Ross, Bob, and Steve of Immolation and ended up going to see “There Will Be Blood” at a local theater. The whole story struck me as a Faustian parable in many ways, and I find it is now integrated into the fabric of the tour. We enjoyed it, though it was somewhat comical how we were all coughing in tandem throughout the film. I am not officially sick anymore but I am still coughing up wads of phlegm and producing copious mucous besides. Back to a more savory topic, our party finished out the night at a good local Mexican food restaurant where we swapped funny tour stories and discussed some of the more hilarious idiosyncrasies of some of our other tour mates.

Around midnight we reluctantly bid everyone goodbye and set out towards Texas. I always do the night driving, and this time it was more interesting than usual because we were on a secondary highway that did not feature another car or dwelling once we left Roswell. The road itself was completely unlit save for our headlights, so the effect was that of traveling down a long dark tunnel. There was an abundance of wildlife as well; I ran over a skunk and then successfully avoided hitting two more of them along with a fox and dozens of jackrabbits who scurried across the road in endless numbers like some sort of “Watership Down” revival. Once we got close to the border a large and baleful half moon peered down past a veil of clouds and the atmosphere became ominous. This is Richard Ramirez country, or at least the area that helped shape him into the fiend he became.

Later: We have arrived in San Antonio without incident. Sanguine and I grew up here and Averse Sefira's first show ever in 1997 was here as well. We haven't played here since, and looking at the puny so-called club we're playing tonight this show could be either a total barn-burner or a reason to never play here again.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Phoenix was fun, more in spite of the show than anything else. The Brickhouse was a nicely appointed club with a full kitchen and even a makeshift basketball court. Before long we had a two-on-two game going with me and Andreas of Rotting Christ versus Ross and Steve of Immolation. It was hotly contested though we lost 6 to 10 in the end (Steve was something of a ringer). This is always when tours are the most fun and in some ways the most surreal. As for the show, the sound man was a useless waste of skin who left the bands to fend for themselves so our set featured some of the worst sound of the tour. The drum triggers were pushed as loud as possible into the front monitor so Sanguine and I spent thirty minutes being punched in the face by what felt like artillery fire and we couldn't hear anything else. Somehow we stayed together and pulled it off, but it was not the most fun I have ever had on stage. The crowd was decent for the most part, though right before Belphegor played some drunk homonculoid came up front and started screaming relentlessly for Rotting Christ. He continued to heckle them throughout the set and started up again when Immolation hit the stage. There was finally retribution when he lurched into the back of some fans up front and one guy turned around and laid him out with repeated blows to the face. Then security threw the heckler out. Ross sent a song out to the punchy guy and we all had a good laugh. All the bands sounded pretty terrible and the trigger sounds were a nightmare. Only Belphegor was unfazed by the mess of it all, and Ras stated that he gauges the show only by crowd reaction (they had the best response of the night, of course). I would like our band needs to cultivate more of this kind of untouchable mindset, thought I think a fair amount of that comes from tight touring revolutions, which is what those guys have been doing for about eight years now.

There were some weird and obnoxious people at the show so I mostly stayed in the backstage and hung out on the bus with Immolation. I've known Ross and Bob for over fifteen years and this is the most time I've ever spent with them at once. We resolved last night that in the end the shows may be good or bad but the reliable constant is each other's company.

And now, bad news. We got a call that the Launchpad in Albuquerque is closed due to a fire in the adjacent building. We are all very disappointed as it seemed certain that this would be a good show. We also lose the entire tour payout so that is not a good thing for anyone. We will most certainly play there again but it is still unfortunate to miss it. Since we are now free to make our way to Texas at our leisure, we contacted the tour bus and agreed to meet in Roswell for some good old fashioned weirdness. The day may still prove to be a good one.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Weight of Devotion

Flagstaff is a surprisingly pretty ski town that looks a lot more like Utah than anything I think of as Arizona. It is also held hostage by the non-stop freight trains that travel endlessly through the town. We arrived at a very small venue that had apparently been forsaken by previous management so not only was there a huge leak in the roof right over the stage (of course) but the PA system was a meager set-up that only facilitated vocals and nothing else. The local support Astaroth were there to greet us and we quickly discovered that they were already fans of our work. They also handled ticket presales for the whole of the audience in attendance (about 80 people), so it was an insult and an outrage when their set ended up getting cut. The house sound man had to drive up from Phoenix and he was painfully late, and then the other band on the bill which looked and sounded like a pack of retards took their sweet time getting set up and starting. Astaroth did the wise thing and bowed out, but we were irritated that they had done so much to help this show (including help with loading in our equipment) and ended up losing out to that loser band.

The show itself was the most commando one we have played in some time. Since there were no monitors we were relying on stage volume to carry us. My SansAmp decided to stop working right when we got on stage so I had to line in directly and I found the pluckiness of the sound to be very distracting. After our opening song it was obvious that only drums were discernible, so we cranked the volume and finally got the impact we needed. The crowd, while small, was enthusiastic and we ultimately came away with satisfaction despite the fact that we could scarcely hear each other and the sound was truly weird.

Since we were in the mountains the cold of night came back at us and set off everyone's coughs again. I finally crawled into the back and went to sleep. We have a horridly long drive from Albuquerque to San Antonio coming up so the more rest we get, the better. Not much else to report for now, but sometimes an uneventful day is welcome.

March of Dimes (another departure)

I have consistently forgotten to mention the odd presence of dimes at every show we have played on the tour. It is always one dime in an obtrusive location like on the stage or in the sink of the backstage, etc. We have yet to determine the meaning but if there was any doubt of it being a coincidence the fact that Sanguine promptly found a single peso (value: 10 cents) at the Mexicali venue last night points to some sort of signal. It could be anything from signifying our ten years as a band to the amount of net profit we stand to make on this tour. Maybe it will be clearer at tour's end.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Stench of High Heaven

thanks to Shiloh for the photo

After finally emerging from the traffic-clogged rectum that is Los Angeles we made our way to the US border without incident. We met the tour bus in Calexico and offloaded the merchandise into a hotel room as we had no interest in paying massive tariffs or making sales in pesos. The border crossing itself was not a problem as we were guided in by the promoter, and we arrived plenty early to the venue in Mexicali. It was a small place not unlike the Jumping turtle in San Marcos, but it was also a well-appointed metal bar complete with a “Show No Mercy”-era Kerry King poster that we would have liked to steal. Speaking of stealing, Immolation were particularly vigilant regarding the trailer and gear as they had previous bad experiences with theft at Mexico shows. As people arrived and the show began it became apparent that we were at no worse risk than at any other show. Some kid managed to steal some Immolation shirts out of a merch bin in L.A., for instance. Fuck you, L.A., fuck you. The night became enjoyable early on when the manager of the adjacent taqueria came over and invited the bands to eat. The promoter footed the bill so all of us went over and feasted on homemade quesedillas and pork tacos. Afterwards the management invited us behind the grill to take photos that will be framed and put up on the wall. Add another notch towards our immortality.

The show itself turned out well; there was no opening band so it was the usual scenario where we had to take the stage and warm up the audience. It was sort of amusing because the start of the set looked more like a press conference with everyone standing there with cameras and video recorders as we played. Once we got to “The Nascent Ones” three songs in the audience moved from observation to participation and we finally got the room moving. “Battle's Clarion” caused the eruption we sought and since we had sailed through the set without intermission we unleashed “Plagabraha” for the first time on the tour. We hadn't played that in many months but we nailed it to the appreciation of the thrashing mavens up front.

Right as we stepped off the stage we took dozens of photos and signed many autographs so we felt plenty appreciated by the time we went to remove the paint. Belphegor was once again the band of the night and the bus was all but mobbed by fans after their set. Ras kept them waiting for quite a while. He operates on his own schedule and it would take a cattle prod to motivate him otherwise (though something tells me that the presence of a cattle prod would arouse him in some fashion).

This morning was rather unpleasant. We made it back through the border at 2am without any trouble and pulled over to sleep outside of Yuma. Once we resumed driving we came across a border patrol checkpoint and we were summarily pulled over. They did the full routine where we were made to get out and had to answer a bunch of leading and abrupt questions. The patrolmen were predictably accusatory and kept trying to get us to admit we were in possession of drugs. We of course were not and we simply answered their questions truthfully. The drug/wetback smelling dog found something in the van it did not like, so our bags were rummaged through and we sat in the stark Arizona sun for over half an hour while the van was all but rearranged. In the end the only thing they discovered was the grossness of three two-week old bananas that ended up trapped under the mattress we had in the back. I am guessing that this is what the dog found but it could have just been the odor of unwashed black metal personnel. We were free to go but it created a sullen atmosphere in the van until now. We are tired and the Flagstaff show does not feel very exciting at the moment, to say nothing of the fact that we are now very late to the show thanks to the delay and the loss of an hour in crossing over to mountain time. The Flagstaff venue has been moved and it is a Tuesday night so it seems like our only salvation is to presume the worst and hope for the best.

Fall From a High Place

Los Angeles was the antithesis of San Marcos. We do not like it there to begin with; most everyone there are self-serving, pretentious shitheads who work hard at acting like they are unimpressed by everything they see. This show was no exception. We played the House of Blues, which is an over-large, sterile, and Disneyified venue that has no business hosting a metal show. The day started off badly when one of the locks on the trailer was jammed and we could not open the hatch to load in. We tried the key over and over but it would not budge. We then acquired a hammer and Carcass and Ross whaled on it until Steve from Immolation marched up and announced we were using the wrong key and quickly opened the lock to a chorus of our groans.As for the show, the tickets were overpriced so the turnout was thin (I heard 350 but it did not look like it), and once again we were disarmed by technical problems at the start of our set just like last time we were here. Sanguine has some kind of short with his guitar or cables that we have not been able to isolate, and he had to pull out his wireless pack and plug in with a cable right as we got on stage. The intro music already ended so it was an awkward way to start, and then we were unable to hear each other so we mangled the opening song pretty severely. I do not think it would have made any difference, since with the exception of two kids wearing Averse Sefira shirts the rest of the crowd just stood there impassively like we were wasting their time. The confusing part was that they were all doing this right in front of the stage, so I do not know what that is supposed to signify. We did not waste any time blitzing through the set and getting off the stage, and as we passed Ras of Belphegor he shook his head and muttered, “Unbelievable, these people.” The Immolation guys went on to tell us that the show they played here with Suffocation a few months ago was even worse in terms of turnout and response. I do not know what the fuck is wrong with people here and I do not really want to know. Later we heard that someone threw a soda can at Ross when Immolation started their set. Whoever did that is very lucky we had not come downstairs to watch or he would have been one badly beaten L.A. idiot. Do not read this missive as sour grapes; even if the show had been another San Marcos it would not change our utter contempt for this city. Die.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Son of Iniquity

thanks to Morgan for the photo

San Marcos rocketed to the best show of the tour thus far, and it is probably among the best shows we've ever played anywhere. The audience, as Ross would say, was on fire. The venue was relatively small and it was jammed with people who seemed to think that it was 1991 based on their reaction. We hit the stage and it was bedlam from the first note. You'll remember my mention of the non-stop pit for Immolation; we got ours tonight too. The whole thing was pretty unbelievable. Those who weren't in the pit (which was also full of good looking girls who were hitting just as hard as the guys) were up front headbanging and spilling all over the low slung stage. We played a flawless set, in large part because there was no way we could bungle it with that kind of energy behind us. These are the times when true communion is achieved- when the performance becomes a ritual and a bridge between band and audience. There is nothing quite like it and it is exactly why so many bands play lousy show after lousy show because they know somewhere this inimitable experience is waiting for them.

I am pleased to say that all the bands turned in amazing sets to the same kind of mania that greeted us. Rotting Christ was fantastic and I liked seeing them in commando mode with some of their normal polish removed by the intensity of the room. The Carcass was in the pit by this point and he was an ambulatory wrecking ball that could not be stopped. Afterwards, the show turned into a party with all the bands and fans carousing and having a good time. Ras of Belphegor was in a rather untoward mode and aside from dry-humping everything that was vertical (including yours truly) he ended up trying to perform oral sex on a girl right through her pants. It was bizarre to begin with as he dropped to his knees and began rubbing his face in her crotch and she responded with somewhat confused laughter. He must have somehow gotten somewhere critical as her face suddenly showed alarm and she abruptly broke free of him. Down, boy. We finally took the party onto the tour bus where it ended up being just the bands again. We blasted Slayer and had a lot of laughs. This was an absolutely perfect night, and to anyone reading this who attended the show we thank you profusely for your contribution. This was a show I think all of the bands really needed after such a cold and long trek through the north. LA is tomorrow, and I'm holding my breath as to how it will go. A three night winning streak is a lot to ask for, but with any luck we will have it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Devil I Know

The In 'n Out Double Double combo with Animal style burger, Animal style fries, and Neopolitan shake had no prayer against us. We devoured them with impunity. The drive itself was punctuated by rain and the hellish traffic as we skirted Los Angeles, and the van roared with Beethoven and The Doors (which is a more fitting combination than one might expect). Load in turned out to be noon and we made it in at 3pm. Whoops. The Galaxy Theater is another ballroom but at least this time the floor area is cordoned off by tiers of seating so the issue will be forced somewhat.

Later: The venue was packed and all the bands joined in a full-court press that turned the room into a pressure cooker. We had a strong showing and we were also galvanized by the fact that several of our shirts were floating around throughout the audience. Belphegor had a maniac response, though Immolation once again shined as the elder statesmen as they delivered a set that kept the room a swirling mass of colliding bodies. It is rare that you see a pit from the beginning to the end of a set. It was incredible. I was so agitated by the end that when George from Rotting Christ found that his guitar was locked in a dressing room where Serpent was fucking his nightly groupie, I reared back to kick the door in before George implored me to stop. This is one of those nights that make me wish tours would last forever, that our band and our friends bands would never stop, that moments like this could be the only moments that matter. I have to confess the thought of Averse Sefira and Immolation inevitably ceasing to exist one day is almost painfully poignant, but I cannot allow it to overshadow the occasion. Its greatness will always remain.

Failures for Gods

Apparently some people do not respond well to change. Transmission to the Averse Sefira email address:

Re: You fail

What the hell were you guys smoking? Advent Parallax is weak, weak!!!!!!!!!! The production is piss and there is no emotion whatsoever.

My suggestions on the next album,

1. fix the fucking production
2. drop the norsecore blasting
3. spend more time developing song structure
4. reduce the length in songs (it makes it feel restrained and it drags)
5. quit trying to be epic it just makes it feel happy
6. stop listening to modern black metal i.e. Deathspell Omega, Antaeus, MGLA, Funeral Mist etc.
7. go back and see why candlelight signed you
8. listen to your old albums
9. quit touring
10. stop whatever behavior that led to your conception of Advent Parallax

thank you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Once Ordained

Oakland would have been great had we been playing in a 200 capacity venue instead of a 1400 capacity ballroom. I hate playing ballrooms unless they are full. This tour is simply not big enough to pull those numbers so the crowd ends up spread out and the sound in the room is booming and awful. Still, the reaction was good and I approved of our performance. We seem to have it locked in now, and the slight adjustment we made to the set list have made all the difference in terms of flow and dynamic. I was feeling poorly after the long drive from Portland, and even though my head was swimming it still felt comfortable and coherent on stage. My voice is still wrecked and it wasn't helped by the two back-to-back interviews I did afterwards. Even on the ground floor I had to shout over the din of Belphegor and Immolation and now my throat is tired. On the other hand it was massively cool to walk out onto the street and hear “Internal Decacence” raging and booming through the neighboring buildings. We found out tonight that we are selling the most CDs of all the bands on the tour. That bodes well for the success of “Advent Parallax”, and it was also encouraging to know that we are holding our own with the other bands in that regard. An odd moment occurred when Sanguine and I discovered a portal independently of one another. Old ballrooms seem to be clearinghouses for paranormal energy, so I was not totally surprised. There was an unlit black painted hallway connecting two dressing rooms and as I walked between them I noticed another room to my left. It was pitch dark and I peered into the inkiness and tried to discern what was in there. For some reason I felt like I was supposed to enter, so I stepped forward and bounced off the wall. I then came back into the dressing room and told Sanguine I needed to get more sleep because I was hallucinating. He smiled and said he had done the exact same thing a few minutes earlier. We walked back down the hall together and studied the wall, and there was clearly nothing there. Hello from the other side.

Now: We have showered and rediscovered our human selves. We are on the way to Santa Ana and we feel revitalized from the night of good sleep. The climate is finally mild and relaxing and the upcoming travel legs are short so we are looking forward to more leisure in the days ahead. Right now we are blasting towards Los Angeles with In'n'Out Burger at the top of the agenda. The Double Animal is mandatory.

Dawn of Possession

We arrived early in Portland and The Carcass arranged a tattoo appointment for himself to get another tour souvenir. Bill from Immolation, Sanguine, and I went to Powell's which is allegedly the largest used book store on earth. Once we were done we desperately attempted to get back to the club with limited success since Portland was clearly laid out by those guys in wool hats who smoke a lot of dope and say “It's all good, man” a lot. Finally we returned and were greeted by Bane of the Ajna Offensive. We got some dinner and chatted with him about the tour and book publishing. He collaborated with T. Ketola on a new book called Qabalah, Qliphoth, and Goetic Magic. It looks like it will be excellent, and I will purchase one of the limited editions despite the fact that I am functionally broke. We are also discussing the ins and outs of getting Jos A. Smith to come on board with Ajna to publish a book of his art, and I am excited at the prospect of this coming to fore.

In the evening we were greeted by a full lunar eclipse, which we took as good tiding for the night ahead. The show itself was really quite good, which was a pleasant surprise since were expecting the worst when we first hit the stage. The crowd started off very quiet and clearly ambivalent but it only took a minute or two into “A Shower of Idols” to thaw them out. From there it got more animated, including a pit by the end of the set. Sometimes there is almost more reward in winning over an audience than playing to one that is already yours for the taking. Sometimes. In any event we felt like we conquered another city and then we hurriedly packed and vacated in the interest of getting out to Oakland. The sick has its claws in me now, along with everyone else on the tour. We are all standing around coughing up stuff that looks like the color scheme of an Overkill album, and as of today my voice is completely shot. Sanguine is holding up fairly well so we have that at least. I am ready to just get to Oakland and get out of the van.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rival the Eminent

For once it seems like we were the only band on the tour that really enjoyed the show. Seattle was ready for us and we laid down a spotless performance in response. The sound on stage was ghastly but we stayed tight and did not let it stop us. We met Paul from the band Alchemy, and if he is not our biggest fan he at least makes the top five. I don't think I've ever received so many fervent bear hugs in my life. It is validating to meet people for whom our work much holds so much value. Rotting Christ seemed to be unhappy with their set, but it is hard to tell since they virtually always communicate in raised voices regardless of the situation. Bob was also unhappy as he is drained by illness, which is understandable. I still thought they sounded great regardless. We also bid a reluctant goodbye to our friend Jme; ten hours does not really make up for nine years of separation and I once again found myself wishing that everyone important to me lived in the same place.

After the show we put Immolation in our van and went to an all-night diner called Hurricane. As we pulled out we saw Ras of Belphegor shaking his fist at us for leaving him behind. Sorry chief. Over an excess of food (one of the restaurant's specialties is a 12-egg omelet) we joked and griped and got a show of hands as to who has yet to walk in on Serpent from Belphegor during one of his sexual escapades. It was my turn tonight since he had apparently holed up in the only backstage bathroom. Ross was irately trying the door and suddenly it pulled open with Serpent peering out at us questioningly. In the mirror behind him we saw his paramour fully naked up against the wall. The man is an operator, there can be no debate. We are on to Portland now, which is a short and relatively painless drive compared to the ten hour hell we will experience tonight in order to get to Oakland.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Restaurant at the Center of the Universe (a departure)

The sun was out and the roads were clear through the west end of Montana and into Idaho. This did not stop a half a dozen people from wiping out on the winding roads. Gigantic car accidents have been a theme of this tour; we have been detoured by several, many involving jackknifed semi trucks, and one in Ohio featured a truck cab that had been peeled open like a can of tuna with the top half of it thrown about three hundred feet back on the road. No doubt it was a fatality. We managed to make it through all of this unscathed and once in Idaho we stopped in a town called Wallace, which was basically a late 1800's main street that once hosted a bordello on the second floor of every building. It also happens that Wallace is the center of the universe. There are even municipal signs on the signposts to prove it. We found a great diner whose cook knew the whole history of the town. It was refreshing to be in a place that was still virtually untouched by the gaudy corporate world outside. I enjoy visiting places that seem frozen in time. From there we floored it all the way to Seattle which was a grueling and overlong ride, but we finally made it to our friend Jme's house. It was remote in the woods but we were happy to be there as we had not seen her since our Rochester days nine years before. It feels like the sick that has been permeating the tour now wants me too so I am concentrating on staying warm, staying rested, and staying well-fed. Bob is now full-blown ill and he was one of the last holdouts so I may not get any say in the matter.

Away From God

This is the part I was dreading. We are now proceeding through North Dakota and while there is no snow or storm in the region the forty mile an hour winds are buffeting the van and creating intermittent white-out conditions that are fairly scary. There is literally nothing out here- no cell phone reception, few exits, no people, and potentially no help if something goes wrong. Once again I have to question why it was decided that this package should travel through the northernmost parts of the US in the most brutal month of the year. I suppose one might ask why we agreed to do it (hint: the answer begins with 'I' and ends with '-ation'). Regardless, I just want us to get through here as quickly and safely as possible and the problem is that we may be forced to choose one over the other, ideally the latter.

Later: After about 100 miles the wind died down and the going was easier. It was still deadly cold though, and even leaving the van for more than a couple of minutes was excruciating. This is not just a Texan's estimation, mind you; below zero is cold, period. Once we entered Montana we discovered that the roads had not been sufficiently cleared and once we started skidding we had to slow down significantly. Finally the roads dried up and we were able to make much better time to the point where we even passed up the tour bus. North Dakota is desolate and harsh. I recently read about the massive depopulation that has occurred in this region, but it is hard to imagine that such a cruel place would ever have been teeming with people. We are now in the center of Montana and it is nice to see mountains again. Nevertheless, we are anxious to make it to Seattle as we have friends there and we'd like a day off somewhere other than a truck stop or a motel in the middle of nowhere.

Under the Supreme

Minneapolis exceeded my guarded expectations by miles. We played the 7th Street Entry which is part of the 1st Avenue club that Prince made famous in the film “Purple Rain”, so it was a special honor to get to wash my hair in the ladies' room sink. The room in which we played was extremely small at only 200 person capacity and it was also sold out so people were packed in very tightly. This was actually an ideal scenario for us as we enjoy playing in intimate settings and connecting head-on with the audience. We had a great set and the response was fantastic. This show, along with New York and Poughkeepsie, was probably the best of the tour so far and it was a badly needed recovery from the disappointments of the previous two. Our friends Neil and Tanner came out and I enjoyed watching Immolation and going crazy with them up front. All the bands had a good night, and if every show was like this one I would never want to leave the road. Afterwards we went to an Irish pub across the street and had some drinks and a very delicious shepherd's pie.

We did ourselves a favor and got three separate hotel rooms for the night and this morning is the first time I've felt like something other than a homeless person in about a week. We have the two day drive to Seattle ahead of us and it is something of a relief to know that my morning shower will not be summarily undone within a handful of hours. Bob suggested that we rendezvous somewhere along the road and all have a meal together. We'll see if we can meet the pacing demands but I would indeed like more chances to socialize with the other bands.

The guys in Rotting Christ and Belphegor are cool people and they have been very accommodating and supportive of us, but as they are on the bus and we are in the van we have not had as much time to bond with them as we did with the bands on our previous tour. We still have almost two and a half weeks to go so there is still more time, but the sad thing is that it is usually the last third of the tour where everyone gets to be proper friends and then it is all over too soon.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Put My Hand in the Fire – When the burn sets in, part II

Being the opening band on the tour is as hard as it looks. It often means going on early to a half-full room and not being the band everyone is there to see. It means less money, less sales, less hospitality, less of everything. We knew this would be the case of course, but we are tired and this feels difficult right now. We played well in Chicago despite an absurd stage mix but despite an overall good response it felt like we were reintroducing ourselves. It is also daunting to be followed by Belphegor who seem to be a fan favorite on this tour. Their reaction makes ours feel muted by comparison even when the show was otherwise a good one. We knew we were in for this when we agreed to start touring nationally; we are no longer a big fish in a small pond, and we are also having to quickly develop chitinous protection to our collective ego in order to see things for what they are. All that aside, we are glad to have a couple of days off after Minneapolis as Sanguine and The Carcass are both sick and we will need a rest. We have 24 hours worth of driving to do to get to Seattle but not having to perform makes it easier. The rest of the Chicago show was a success, particularly for Immolation who set the room on fire and inspired a violent pit. Our friend Tammy came out as well and it was good to see her. At the end of the night I had a very late dinner with Ross and Bob and they counseled me on the nature of uphill battles with a band. They certainly have had their share of them, and I always appreciate their practical and earnest advice.

We finally cleared out from the venue and cursed the steep flights of stairs that we had tackled earlier. I like old buildings but loading a four-band backline up three flights of steep stairs is not my idea of a good time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I Feel Nothing

Nashville was bad. Every band has their off nights and this one was definitely ours. The room and stage were unusually dark so I got caught in some unsecured cables and nearly fell while taking my position, the stage sound was impossibly bad and we could not hear one another, and none of this did anything to win over the static audience who attended the set. Sanguine is still struggling with his illness and his voice, so we ended up paring the set down to four songs. We debated this wisdom of this after the fact but I doubt it would have improved the situation to play the full set. We cut “Vomitorium Angelis”, which is the closing track off the new album, as it is the longest song we have on this tour and while we like performing it is starting to feel unwieldy and as it is new it is also a lot for an audience to absorb. We will likely perform other tracks in its stead for the remaining dates. We left early from Nashville to get to Chicago in plenty of time. I was fine to go and allow the bad show cloud to dissipate but it meant having to walk away from an Immolation set so our departure was not without regret.

Despondent Souls

Louisville was a good show but the circumstances surrounding it definitely could have been better. We nearly died of exposure in the van during our meager four hours of sleep and when I pulled the van up to parallel park in front of the club I failed to see the tiny Ford Focus parked on our right and sideswiped it. Fortunately the owner was a nice college girl in a neighboring coffee shop who was ambivalent about the damage but I was mad at myself all the same. This is why you always purchase the insurance coverage on rental vehicles. The coffee shop itself was a comfortable place to relax and recharge, and the management even allowed us to use their bathroom to change into our gear. Bob and Steve from Immolation broke into uproarious laughter when they saw us emerging from the shop in full regalia. It is an understatement to say that we would have a much easier time if we decided to stop wearing the corpse paint, but that will never happen so we have no choice but to take advantage of any mirrors and lockable doors that are offered to us.

The show itself was well-attended and we were greeted with another fervent crowd. For some reason my wireless unit died during “Battle's Clarion”, I had no vocals in the mix, and the stage levels were horrendous, but we were still given horns and hails throughout. Sanguine gave a monstrous performance despite the fact that he is now (almost like clockwork) sick and losing his voice. The entire tour bus is a hive of road-AIDS now, with members of all the bands coughing, snorting, and generally laying around and looking haggard. I am doing my best to stay well, but it may be a losing battle in the end. The climate is not helping in the least, but mercifully Nashville is about twenty degrees warmer than our last stop. We have been mining for reviews for “Advent Parallax” and they range from glowing to hilariously muddled. We have no problem with legitimate criticism but it seems like the naysayers are too busy complaining about how they don't understand the album to offer a proper review. As far as I am concerned this proves we have succeeded in our mission once again. We are not seeking approval in every corner, as this demands compromises we do not wish to make.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Unholy cult

Somehow, despite lethal temperatures and the accompanying snow storm, Detroit managed to be another good show. As mentioned earlier we had to organize the merchandise ourselves, and there were very few people when the doors opened so it was assumed by all that the evening would prove a fiasco. At the last minute we were informed that the opening band was not to play and suddenly we were expected to go on before we had applied paint or even changed into our stage gear. We managed to assemble a stripped down but suitable visage and took the stage to a somewhat small but very eager audience. I felt we played well and the set was fluid and dynamic. Sometimes going in with low expectations removes the urgency in a way that allows a freeness to shine through. We need to continue in cultivating this sensibility regardless of the size or prestige of the show in question. It can only serve us well. By the time Belphegor hit the stage the room had filled, which was great for the shows overall success though it is also one of the downsides for us in that we have to go on early even if the crowd capacity has not yet been met. Immolation was, as always, simply amazing and they once again played songs from every album with mastery. If you haven't realized it by now Immolation is my all time favorite band, and if you find my fervent admiration of them to be tiresome then you are out of luck.

As the night went on we were approached by more and more people who wanted autographs and photos and complained about how the road conditions made them miss our set. It was a shame to think that we could have been playing to a bigger audience but it was still good to know that we were anticipated. We also signed the torsos of two attractive girls with an oversized black magic marker. Incantations were scrawled across their chests, arms, and backs, and it looked pretty arcane when we were done.

The I-Rock has quite a bit of history attached to it, judging by all the rock and metal memorabilia on the walls, many of which are signed by the respective artists. The club owner honored us by requesting an artifact of ours to add to the gallery and we obliged with a battered cymbal that was personally destroyed by The Carcass. Another first for the cabal, and a fitting tribute to a tumultuous but ultimately triumphant night.

Close to a world below

Both Immolation and Rotting Christ are 20 years old this year. That is pretty amazing, especially when I consider that I've been listening to Immolation since their inception. It is impossible for me to know if we will last that long, but we have no planned termination point so who can say? If we end up as revered as either band then I will be more than satisfied regardless of where it ends. Cleveland was good, particularly for a Monday night. I finally watched a Belphegor set and was struck by Ras' chokehold approach to playing guitar. His presence is brutish and imposing and it is not hard to figure why so many girls tend to approach him with doe-eyed and tentative demeanors. I have now missed two Immolation sets so I plan to get caught up tonight. Other than that it was just cold and uncomfortable weather that made load out a bracing experience. We played at Peabody's this time and this served to purge my bad memories of the execrable Jigsaw show from last year.

Now in Detroit: Sara the merch girl has presented with the flu and as usual BB King's completely messed up all the band shirt counts, so we were forced to bring in every last box and recount all of the shirts and CDs. It was tedious, but then again there is absolutely no place to go in this area and it is still blisteringly cold so it isn't as if we had plenty of other things to do. I am curious to see if anyone shows up tonight. I hear a lot of people cross here from Canada so perhaps it will be another respectable showing. We got a hotel last night and are rested enough so the upcoming drive to Louisville, KY, will hopefully not be too arduous. Perhaps it will be a bit warmer as well.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nailed to gold

New York could not have gone any better. We arrived in plenty of time to be buffeted by arctic winds that blasted down the chasm of 42nd street like the blizzard beasts of Immortal lore, but we had little trouble in loading and parking the van. A masseuse was on hand downstairs and we all partook of her alarmingly strong hands. I was in dire need of the attention as my neck and left shoulder were a network of burning knots. Just as I emerged from my lactic acid trip I was greeted by Jos Smith and Charissa. There was concern that the oncoming snow would prevent them from coming but thankfully this was not the case. Soon after we turned in an electric performance to a full room. We had a couple of technical outages with our pedals but they were quickly remedied and did not undermine the impact. Jos was pleased with all the merchandise and posters and he enthused about our performance. The prestige of the evening was compounded by the fulfillment of a very long-standing aspiration of mine, which was to play a show with Immolation in New York. I have been waiting to do that since 1991, though I never imagined that we would not only play in New York with them but 24 other dates as well. This will not be the last time either, as they are already looking into taking us to Europe by year's end.

A couple of young girls found their way backstage and they excitedly told us how much they enjoyed our set before being hustled into the dressing room by Belphegor members. Those guys are a randy crew, indeed, and they are not shy about taking what they want. In the meantime, we stayed in the back and talked to many of our friends from the city, along with a seemingly deep-fried Dani Filth. Random. It speaks a lot of the great time we were having that we did not actually go out front to watch Immolation tonight.

The end of the night brought more terrifyingly cold winds and then a visit to the world famous Gray's Papaya. $4.50 for a great meal in downtown New York is an unbeatable deal. The only down side to an otherwise perfect evening was that our favorite jewelry store, C'est Magnifique, was closed on Sundays. Last time we were here with Emperor, Sanguine trumped me mightily with the purchase of an octopus ring and I was anxious to find something comparable. We will return sooner than later, so there will be other opportunities.

We slept at a truck stop in six degree weather which was not comfortable at all. I expect we will have to splurge on a hotel tonight as we left the van running for a couple of hours and nearly ran out of gas in the process. Cleveland is tonight, and I hope it will be better than last time as I really cannot tolerate that town.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Passion Kill

Mark's Place fucking sucks, and I hope we do not play there again any time soon. The growing snow storm kept the audience relatively small (though I say relatively as it is clear that we will not play to any empty rooms on this tour), and while the attendant were sufficiently roused by the set I could not hear myself very well and did not like my performance. Mark's Place has a trillion rules for entry and crowd conduct, all of which are asinine and designed to discourage anyone from attending. I think this is likely because the whole operation is clearly a front for hookers, drugs, and whatever else, so they don't really care if the shows are well-attended. We make it a point of not ever taking out these kinds of frustrations on our fans as we always appreciate their support, but all the same, fuck that place.

Later: onward to NYC. We beat the snow storm by inches and now drive on a clear road. We should get there plenty early so lunch and a good parking spot are the two priorities. Jos A. Smith and his wife Charissa are to be present tonight, and I am excited to show him all the shirts and posters that feature his amazing work. As I write this, however, a blizzard is setting in on the city and it is possible he may not make it from Pennsylvania. I can only hope for the best.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bring them down

It is rare that you'll read the words “excellent” and “Poughkeepsie” in the same sentence, but that is the only fair description of last night's show. We were greeted by a host of enthusiastically headbanging maniacs who made the show a great one for us. We also received our superb-looking new hooded sweatshirts from Blunt Force Graphics and finally our advance copies of “Advent Parallax” which sold briskly. All the bands had great reactions and great performances. Another addition to the flavor of the evening is that the Chance Theater is clearly haunted. When I was in the upper mezzanine before show time, the floorboards creaked with footsteps behind me and I turned to see nobody at all. Sanguine reported a similar situation as he went up the stairs to the dressing rooms. It was intriguing up until the point when I went back into the venue at the end of the night and found a darkened stairwell actively staring back at me. I decided I had intruded enough. We slept surprisingly well in our van despite the cold and now we are at Mark's Place in New Hampshire- you know, the venue that's attached to a strip club that's attached to a building that is definitely not a hotel? That's the one.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Not everything is bigger in Texas...


No Jesus, No Beast

Rochester was exactly how we remembered it- grey, dreary, and encased in ice and stale snow. Fortunately the bad weather blew past us quickly and the roads were clear. We were very pleased to have the hotel and I ended up sleeping for almost 12 hours after we arrived. It turns out the Hartford show was canceled because the promoter drowned while visiting the Virgin Islands. Apparently his body was only recently discovered and he was missing since Xmas. Grim. The strange part for me was that in charting the maps between venues I routed us straight from Springfield to Rochester and completely skipped Hartford. I was planning on correcting it but something told me not to bother. I did the same thing with Nashville, so if this show is also canceled then I will take it as one of my random echoes of divination at work. As for the Rochester show, the turnout was about as good as it could be for this town; nobody has any money and the weather is not an additional incentive. Still, I should not complain as the crowds have been responsive and attentive regardless of their size, We experienced several technical problems attached to the drum kit and triggers that forced us to start, abort, and reattempt our opening song, “Descension”. That is never a good thing, but luckily the audience was accommodating about it. Overall the stage sound was awful for all the bands, but we managed to pull off a good showing. Immolation was great as usual, and I'm trying to log more time watching Belphegor and Rotting Christ. It is difficult since we invariably miss any band that immediately follows us as we are usually packing our gear and cleaning up. Still, it would be a pity to not actually see the bands with whom we share the stage. Merchandise sales have not been terribly good for any of the bands so far from what I can tell. Hopefully we will see an upswing in the bigger market. I hope that the shadow of the recession is not a factor in this, as it is merch sales that keep us and our tour mates afloat.

On to Poughkeepsie. We got a bit of a late start but the thruway is a straight show across the state and the roads are clear, so we should arrive on time without incident. We play a large and venerable theater called the Chance, so I hope the show will prove memorable.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Those Left Behind

Jaxx had a relatively lean turnout, which I suppose should be expected on a Tuesday night. Still, over 200 people is not a shameful showing. Immolation was once again incredible and they added “Those Left Behind” to the set which was a real triumph of the night. Their current lineup is definitely my favorite to date. Steve and Bill back Bob and Ross seamlessly and do justice to both new and classic material. We are tired already, as our initial drive from Texas to North Carolina was compressed into a day due to my illness. Fortunately our show in Hartford was canceled so we have a day off and plenty of time to drive to Rochester. I will not further speculate on what shows will be good as it seems that it is anyone's guess, but I am indeed excited to see many old friends we haven't seen since 1999 when Averse Sefira operated out of western New York. We did not successfully sleep in the van last night as we seem to be in the mode where we are too exhausted to sleep. Also, I seem to have pinched some nerves in my left leg that is making it seem like my foot is being held to a low flame. We will take advantage of the free time and get a hotel tonight in order to rest sufficiently. The Rotting Christ/Immolation/Belphegor bus apparently died about an hour south of Rochester and they will have to remain there until a replacement bus arrives. In the meantime we are wending our way through the back roads of Pennsylvania as those are the only roads there are in this state. We'll arrive in New York in a few hours and several ugly little townships later.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Here in After, VA

Charlotte was well-attended and well-behaved (which is sometimes a double-edged sword). I managed to break free of the flu's grip to help turn in a very satisfactory performance with the band, which was a good omen since often times the first show is invariably one of the worst. I am donning quite a bit more armor than before and between the newness of it and my lingering fatigue it felt like I was performing on Jupiter. No matter; it will all lock into place soon as it always does. Everyone in the bands are agreeable people, and I look forward to getting to know them more in the days ahead. Immolation in particular was amazing, and watching them play was exhilarating as usual. I've seen them perform since 1991 and I think they are truly at the top of their game. There are no other remarkable events to report at this time. We are here in Springfield at Jaxx and I expect a good show tonight. The sound at this venue is massive, and there are plenty of AVRS adherents in the area. I have to begin answering interviews for magazines while on the road, and it is already mildly irritated due to the patent nature of many of the questions. It is a real chore to have to try and turn a one-note question into something of substance as if I am some kind of hostage negotiator. Yes, yes, fame is a burden.

Photos should be forthcoming as soon as I figure out a reliable way to resize them.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Fall in Disease

Touring by definition means to forgo many comforts and guarantees, including a regular wage, a warm bed, decent food, or enough sleep. This life isn't for everyone and it never surprises me when even members of successful touring bands suddenly panic and abandon their comrades at the end (or sometimes in the middle) of a tour. I walked away from a job that was going well and could still become a productive career for the sake of this tour, never mind the fact that I also came down with the flu less than forty-eight hours before we were due to embark. Yet here I am again along with my band mates who share in my situation. We have no certainties as to whether or not we'll see any success or money at the end of this run, though I'd like to think that based on the standing response to the new material we will hold our own. In any case, there's no place I'd rather be. Money and jobs come and go, but these experiences will echo through eternity.

For those of you keeping score, here are the dates for the tour:

04 Feb 2008 USA Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
05 Feb 2008 USA West Springfield, VA @ Jaxx
06 Feb 2008 USA Hartford, CT @ Webster Theater
07 Feb 2008 USA Rochester, NY @ Penny Arcade
08 Feb 2008 USA Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
09 Feb 2008 USA Bedford, NH @ Mark�s Place
10 Feb 2008 USA New York City, NY @ B.B. Kings Blues Club
11 Feb 2008 USA Cleveland, OH @ Peabody�s
12 Feb 2008 USA Detroit, MI @ I-Rock
13 Feb 2008 USA Louisville KY @ Uncle Pleasants
14 Feb 2008 USA Nashville, TN @ The Muse
15 Feb 2008 USA Chicago, IL @ Logan Square Auditorium
16 Feb 2008 USA Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
19 Feb 2008 USA Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
20 Feb 2008 USA Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
21 Feb 2008 USA Oakland, CA @ Oakland Metro
22 Feb 2008 USA Santa Ana, CA @ Galaxy Theater
23 Feb 2008 USA San Marcos, CA @ Jumping Turtle
24 Feb 2008 USA West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
25 Feb 2008 MEX Mexicali @ El Jardin del Silencio Extreme Rock Bar
26 Feb 2008 USA Flagstaff, AZ @ Orpheum Theater
27 Feb 2008 USA Tempe, AZ @ The Sets
28 Feb 2008 USA Albuquerque, NM @ Launch Pad
29 Feb 2008 USA San Antonio, TX @ Rock Bottom Bar
01 Mar 2008 USA Mc Allen, TX @ Cine El Rey
02 Mar 2008 USA Houston, TX @ Meridian