Monday, March 14, 2005

3/14/05 - Why We Are Not Rock and Roll

March 14, 2005. Bordeaux, FR

It's been a blurry week, shows starting to merge, towns starting to merge, life starting to merge, starting to feel it us getting used to this or have things honestly just been that routine for the past week? Both, I know.

The remainder of the german tour was incredible. We got to munich to find our newfound friends from "...and you will know us by the trail of dead" waiting in our dressing room as a surprise. Many fun was had, there was more dancing....this time the dj at the club was playing gun club and gang of four and human league....ah. We also did something very rock and roll, which was to throw a pair of hardboiled eggs against the wall. Granted, I cleaned up the mess, because I can't stand vandalizing the clubs we work in, but still it felt kind of rock and roll. A little. This brings me to an important point. We are not Rock and Roll. We do not smoke (well, much), drink (well, much), we do not trash dressing rooms, we do not stay up late into the night snorting coke of off groupies tits, in fact we do not do drugs to any Rock and Roll extant at all (does ambien count? We've been eating those like candy to fight jetlag and bus snoring), we do not get into fistfights with other bands, I do have a pair of leather pants that I used to wear religiously in germany but now that I'm actually in a rock band I'm almost too embarrassed to touch them, so we don't wear leather pants, we don't have shaggy hair, we don't wear sunglasses indoors, we don't wear pointy shoes, we are not Rock and Roll. On the contrary. An average day in the land of the dresden dolls is like group therapy at a geriatric nudist commune in the bay area. We drink juice, we do yoga, we get sufficient sleep, we stretch and warm up our voices, we give each other backrubs, we sleep with stuffed animals, we read books, we eat chocolate when we want to feel dangerous....I mean, it's fucking embarrassing bringing people on the tour bus. Instead of “this is the room where we have orgies and this smashed hole in the wall is from when brian....” we say “and this is amanda's tea collection and here's where we keep all our multivitimins.....”

I must say, though, having now been moderately exposed to bands who stay up drinking endlessly and snorting coke before shows: I Don't Know How They Do It. I swear to god I don't. If I eat too much sugar and have one cup of coffee and a couple cigarettes, I practically fuck myself for the next show. How do these people do it? I basically, through trial and error, had to stop drinking on tour. I don't have more than one drink - and rarely that - before going onstage. The early experiments with this, at the lizard lounge in boston when we were in our residency there, resulted in braincramps of the first order. I have a hard enough time remembering the lyrics and chords to all these damn songs that the minute I've got a couple drinks in me they sort of drift away like a childs lost balloon....goodbye, goodbye, there's no way in hell I'm going to remember you. Funny enough, last night (in the throes of complete sobriety, I might add) I decided to play perfect fit for the first time this tour and completely blanked on how the last verse started. I knew it had something to do with cards. Brian was miming insanely over his drumkit....shuffling and dealing like there was no tomorrow but I just didn't get it. We played a nice little instrumental for a good minute until he finally yelled “shuffle cut and deal!!” over my way and the song resumed. You've got to love a drummer who knows the lyrics better than you do. There are certain songs that just don't ever stick, and that's one of them. If I've ever re-written the lyrics, even once ten years ago, the song doesn't stick. I wonder why. I'm sure oliver sacks could tell me.
But I digress, back to being Not Rock and Roll.
I now limit my alcohol intake to two drinks tops on show days and a little more on off days. No coffee on show days. No cigarettes on show days. One on off days. Maybe two if I'm feeling indulgent. Every week I try to do a one-or-two day fast with no alcohol or caffeine or sugar. This helps. There is chocolate everywhere. In vending machines in the subway. Everywhere.

I've also been exercising more on this tour than any other, because I know I'll shrivel and die if I don't. My mood is so seriously effected by the amount of exercise I get that I'm starting to wonder if all that high school depression came on only because I quit the lacrosse team and joined the drama club. I carve out a little land for myself in the backstage area, lay down my yoga mat, and drishdi my little heart out for an hour every few days. I always feel a weird combination of pride (fuck yes! I'm exercising! I'm actively taking care of myself! This Is Unheard Of!) and shame (this is so not Rock and Roll). Granted, it's 98% pride to 2% shame, but the shame is still there. the ame ratio is there every time I turn down a drink, every time I decline an invitation to go painting the town red after a show, every time I toast with mineral water. But I know my body would fucking mutiny if I didn't do this. And our shows would start to suck, and my voice would disappear. So in order to rock and roll, one must not be Rock and Roll. It is the Rock and Roll Paradox. I look at all these aging rockers like keith richards and metallica and iggy pop and aerosmith and on and on and they've all had to become straight, yoga-fixated, juice-obsessed dorks like me over the years to sustain the touring life. I feel like I've just skipped the step where I OD and end up in recovery for six months.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

03/06/05 - the dresden dolls in dresden

Dresden was a off-the-usual-touring-route for most bands, deep in eastern germany where the orange and brown polyester furniture echoes the commie era and the vibe is still very different from west german cities. It's poorer, it's bleaker and it also happened to get, oh, flattened in the war. Headed into the old town (I'd been once, back in 96 when I was living in regensburg) and walked around in the blistering cold, marveling at the beauty and visiting the newly restored fraunkirche. This huge, gorgeous church was pummeled in the bombing and the ruins were left standing by the DDR as a reminder of western evil. When the wall came down, they worked on the restoration which was just completed for the 60th anniversary of the firebombing.

We had no idea if people would show up for the concert, but in the end about 600+ folks showed up and it was one of the best concerts of the tour so far. Whatever it was in the air that was caused by the band name was palpable and we felt more embraced than in any other city....highlights included a big black banner in the crowd that read “welcome home in dresden” and a few dresdeners after the show coming to us and saying how genuinely proud they felt that we had named the band after their town, that we honored them. Holy shit. Weeping-worthy stuff.

The show in Cologne last night took a turn south as Brian and I bickered about bullshit up til showtime and I found myself completely distracted by the petty arguments echoing in my head during the show (about the same old bullshit....control issues, who's in charge of what, who has rights to stay and leave and call the shots for whom and on and on and god it's tiresome) and not fully able to concentrate on what I was doing until halfway through the set, which is rare and having PMS made it even harder to let the shit drop and just focus. One of the worst, and rare, parts of our otherwise mostly wonderful bandship is that we fucking love to argue and we can never let an argument end. When we get into let's-address-the-issue mode, we're both “....and another thing!...” types and this causes endless late soundchecks and bus departures while we go on and on at each other. It's very spinal tap, it's very typical for people in bands in general, and it's always been like this, but granted: it's getting way better than it used to be and our love for each other and the band grows ever deeper. There seems to be a two-three week point on every tour where the happy bubble bursts and everyone starts getting whinier and pissier.

On a brighter note, I'm slowly and painfully sifting through the 1000+ photos I've taken on my new digital camera since september and working on a fully captioned (sights! sounds! smells!) tour diary of the past six months. I'm trying to figure out whether to start at the beginning or the end....

I have resolved to cut coffee, sugar, beer and cigarettes out of my diet for the next three days, til we hit france. What was once (two short weeks ago) a very mild and harmless chocolate habit has grown into an ugly, wild-eyed addiction and I've been drinking not tons, but enough to leave me feeling crusty in the morning. Basta. Having quit smoking about two years ago, I'm still one of those annoying people who will ask you for a drag of your cigarette and then hold it there, worshipping it's smoking papery holiness like it's a bar of gold (“handrolled by god and licked shut by the claudia schiffer's pussylips” in the words of our hero bill hicks) before inhaling and sorrowfully returning it. Nasty habit, that, got to stop.

Every few days Brian or I will look at each other and one of us will say “we're opening up for nine inch nails this spring”. Then we'll observe a moment of stunned silence, then we'll pretend-faint and then we'll hop up and down a little. It should be an excellent tour, we're waiting on the word from herr reznor to see whether living statues in the theater lobbies will jive with the NIN aesthetic.