the tour has left me in a sorry mess, coughing up interesting things as i lay in state among a pile of tissue and phlegm.
last night we finished in boston. today i was supposed to go into the studio and keep working on the record....doing vocal fixes, mixes, nixes....instead i stayed home, played Stumble Through The Luggage in my kitchen, making tea and dragging myself out to dinner with my family, where i assumed the role of humanoid for a while. On the drive back i listened (i was in lee's car, there's a tape deck) to an old mix tape from college and my mind went into a kind of dream state. oh, my mind went. the pink dots, tones on tail, philip glass, laurie anderson, morphine.....i sank into reverie.....old tapes....the jane's addiction song made me pull over at a record store, which was luckily still open, and i made an impulse purchase of "three days", their recent tour dvd. i don't know why, but i needed an injection of perry farrell like medicine. i think it worked. i think he healed me. i think if i had to pick a single man in the universe for something tonight, it'd be him. for what, i don't know. i just know he'd be it. i've decided tonight that all concerts should aspire to the condition of jane's addiction. if perry wouldn't come, then maybe flea would. i think i love flea. if i could pick a brother, it would be flea.
the bus was stuffed with bodies. half of us ended up getting sick at one point or another. along with our regular crew came some extras....jessica foxxx, who filmed and documented....jonas and krin, who organized the brigade and did circus for the masses....and wonderful dawn the faun, our opener in her lonesome, faun fables. we were 11 on the bus. the back lounge was filled with suitcases and boxes, there wasn't room for everyone to sit when the bus was moving. we moved horizontally. the back lounge and the front lounge would often splinter into two camps. wander to the front and watch the "trailer park boys" DVDs and talk about soundgear or wander to the back and talk about love and the naturalists. craig, our merch guy, was flown in as an import and met us on the first day of tour. nice guy, clean cut, bleached-haired, leather-jacketed, earringed and well-spoken. he's been on a lot of tours with a lot of bands, but i swear i've never seen a man look so confused by his surroundings. it was like they mixed up animals in the zoo. one night he sat there watching jonas and dawn screaming out of a harold pinter play (dawn held it steady) while brian washed his lace tights and hung them from the window to dry and i walked through in my underwear with my electric toothbrush to grab my vitamins with jessica filming the whole circus and i just saw the "does not compute" look flashing in his eyes. beer, yes, girls, yes, pot, yes, cocaine, sure, but plays? what fucking band reads plays? by the end he got into it. we did get really pissed that he secretly sprayed febreeze on everybody's stuff the night before he left. i saw that as a passive-aggressive move.
i caught the flu somewhere around detroit and was sick for about half of the tour. i assumed it would be the typical 2-day cold, but it sank it's claws and stayed attached like a yippiyuc. some shows were worse than others but the last half of the tour is just a blur of tissue and toilet paper. for a few days i rolled from my bus-pod to soundcheck, back to bed, then stage, then bed. left the phone off. pretended i didn't exist. after i while i just stopped fighting and relegated myself to the fact that i was plagued. being sick on the road is about the least fucking fun thing i can imagine. i was well enough to gather my energy every night and get on stage, but barely. i almost passed out in buffalo, NY. i wonder how these things work. i just close my eyes, pray and walk on stage. i assume it will work. when it doesn't i fake it. i skip songs. i change octaves. i adjust and pray for the end to come. and a few minutes into the set i forget about the end and forget about being ill and forget about the bullshit emails and negotiations with the label and the deadlines for the album artwork and the fuck fuck fuck and just see brian. he saves me just by existing, by being there, his fragile self, the two of us just trying to stay afloat and not collapse, like two drowning people hanging onto to each other for dear life. this may sound dramatic. when two people with the flu have to play to a sold-out house, it feels fucking dramatic. we only lost it once, in pittsburgh.
the brigade was beautiful and bright and as uneven as ever....in some cities there was literally nobody to perform and on boston and new york things were chaos. in chicago we found mucca pazza, who were a free-roaming marching band, all punk rock delight. they took over every space in the club at one point or another. emily's story of "we're the noise artists" coming in with their jackets and dark glasses and expecting rock-star treatment was classic. they set up in the lobby and sounded delightful, but most people wanted to strangle me (or them). there were statues, winged girls chained to poles, magicians, burlesque dancers, lots of lovely cigarette girls and more....it's beginnning to take on a life of it's own, it's a beautiful site. having krin and jonas, who are trained circus performers, was a fucking relief....i could finally focus on soundcheck without having to rally the brigade. krin did an aerial act in the cities that would permit....she hung material up to 60 feet in the air, tied herself into it for aerial stunts (most people are familiar with this sort of act through cirque de soleil) and performed a rocking piece to "gravity"; jonas played the bashful coin-operated boy (a gift from lovely krin every night). volunteer brigadiers were rounded up every night to act as brides with krin during "perfect fit"....secretly low-lit, flower-bearing, they moved through the balconies, backstage and audience, barely noticable and then threw their angry petals at the crowd and onto the stage during the last chorus. "girl anachronism" used the same cast dressed as wounded and confused cheerleaders with various neck braces and bandages. all the guys in DeVotchKa and dawn the faun joined us every night (well, almost every night, it took us four cities to learn it) for "The Flesh Failures" from the musica Hair. we threw ourselves into that every night as the last gasp and tried to coerce the audience to join in. they usually did and we left stage feeling covered in love. perry'd have been proud.
i tried to find quiet. i tried to read. in the first week or so, the schedule was less erratic and there were mass yoga exoduses. we piled in cabs and went to bikram we found on the internet. the strange world. krin and jonas put us all to shame with their circus-bodies. time disappears on tour. any writing i thought i would get done, any catching up....a joke. once i got sick it was a survival game. the most exciting and creative part of the day was making oatmel on the bus with extra ingredients from last nights rider. ooooh, peanut granola bars. put it in the oatmeal. we bought a turkey candle and a santa candle at a salvation army somewhere in the midwest, in order to bring cheer to tge bus environment . they ended up being art film porn stars. jessica filmed willingly.
the show would end. we've stopped going out after every show to autograph...it's gotten too much. i would abscond to the bus, change and shower if the venue had a shower, hoark several times for everyone's benfit, and crawl into my pod. sometimes i would sleep for 11 or 12 hours. wake up in another city and get my shit together for soundcheck so i didn't blow my voice just testing mic levels. a drag. a routine. a sick blur. pull the curtain shit, listen to the blur of conversation coming from the lounge, the clinking, the re-cap, the talk talk tallllking....pick up my copy of berlin stories and read a half a page before crashing dead asleep. i barely had the energy to whack off. i was sick sick sick.
waking up in a bus is disorienting. it's black. there are no windows to tell time. try to locate phone. phone lost in pile of clothes. shuffle to the bus kitchen. bleary look at clock. if before 10, shuffle back to pod and repeat. if after ten, put on water for tea. watch other shufflers. dawn was a morning person. we would sit there alone, sometimes, drinking tea and watching america. i came to love that woman. i still think of her as she-ra, princess of power with a guitar. i also fell hard for all the guys (and gal) in DeVotchKa. truly great people. lance and his whole tattooed body made me melt. for a while everyday i would provide him with a fake mustache using my eyebrow pen. he then took on the character of "phillipe". i rode with the whole DeVotchKa van to madison, since the bus went on ahead of me so i could take a day off in chicago. i Remember The Van. it wasn't long ago. it's a shit way to travel but you gotta do it. my theory was confirmed Yet Again.....every touring band, whether it's NIN or punk or Salsa or whatever the fuck, ends up making poop and fart jokes after a few hours on the road. it's like a law of nature. DeVotchKa had a wonderful ongoing list of poop band names written with sharpie on the inside of the van. Steppenpoop and Coldpoop were the two best ones. Runners up, the red hot chili poopers and queens of the stone poop. the road does this to everyone.
i am wrapped in my quilt. the heat is up full blast. i cannot sleep but i also haven't really tried. i'm not into the upcoming days, i don't want to work on the record, i don't want to catch up, i don't want to answer everything i've ignored. i just want to sleep and read and disappear. a few things i keep knocking into remind me where i just came from. the mug i bought in iowa city. the humidifier i took from the bus. i am unpacking one item at a time. a few objects every hour. in a weeks' time i'll be finished.
as the new york show approached i started to get really worried about the flu. we had an early load, radio to do, press to do, and a full orchestra to rehearse for three numbers. but it wasn;t just that, new york always has this icky sticky You Better Not Fuck This Show Up, Amanda, You're Selling Out Webster Hall and Everybody's Watching To See If You Are Hip feeling that will not leave. the label comes, the publishers come, the famous people come, the blaaaaaaa. it doesn't matter of the rest of your tour has been stellar. if this show is shit, one gets the impression that that is the impression the world will get and then go impress on everybody else. most of it is in our heads. go figure. it was a fantastic show. my flu fled for a few hours and the orchestra (www.ambitiousorchestra.com, those in NYC go see them this month at galapagos and say hello from amanda) kicked ass. we covered "one" by three dog night and i got to do my impersonation of a lead singer sans piano. then we pulled out a really old song, "have to drive", and the conductor had done an incredible job orchestrating with strings and horns pounding heartbreak in every direction. we finished up with "girl anachronism" which i fucked up. i got so distracted by the beauty of the conductor throwing the used-up pages of sheet music in the air i totally forgot where i was. it was a close save, but if you listen carefully to the recording, you'll hear me basically pounding on the piano with my fists and saying "and you can teff fron they ther geeyy ffffeeer ste fer the des akk" for about 12 seconds.
providence goes down in history as most insane We Should Have Slept Longer show ever. I retained my Girl A braincramp from the night before and had the stop the song and restart. radio interference in the monitors. the club was was 55 degrees. it started to rain. i was so sick i could barely talk coherently. we got on stage and just kind of oozed loudly all over the audience. we had a day off in boston during which i slept, slept, checked my email, slept, made tea and slept. then we played the boston show, also sold out (about 2000 people) and i just went for broke, reminding myself that i wouldn't be onstage for months to come. i screamed my voice away and used the last reserves. it worked. the show was brilliant. i collapsed. i remain collapsed.
i don't care about the new record right now. i could give a fuck. i have come to terms with the fact that certain things cannot be multitasked. i will start caring when i am able. right now i care about my poor lungs, which hurt when i cough, and my nose, which is blistering over with a very attractive cold sore that i must resist picking. this was supposed to be a month off and i can already see what has happened. as i predicted - and nobody listened, or cared, rather - the time that was supposed to be sacred time off is getting swallowed by the record. we'll be finished with the record by the middle of the month. thanksgiving will come. time will disappear. nothing will come out of me. i won't even catch up. i'll keep dying this sad artistic death that i deny is happening even though every fact proved otherwise. i haven't written a song i'm really proud of in over two years. i was supposed to spend this whole month in new york, writing. i just cancelled the sublet. i've nobody to blame but myself, i let other people make bad decisions for me....and when left to my own devices i make my own bad ones that don't prioritize any free time. then i suffer.
when i stopped at the record store tonight i asked the store manager, who i chat with sometimes, if they had any jane's addiction DVDs....actually, if they had it, a compilation of their videos. i've only seen snippets here and there and i wanted to see the full collection to inspire some of our own work. they had "three days" in stock, but that had no videos...only documentary and live footage.....he said he'd dig around and he came back with a weird 90's collection of videos and documentary that had about 16 bands, including jane's addiction. if i wanted, he'd unwrap it and throw it on the display player. sure, thank you. they were closing up anyway. so he cued it up and there i saw footage of perry farrell, circa 1991 or so, cut together with a beautiful hand-held video of them playing live somewhere outside on venice beach. between swaths of pure rock love energy and beautiful bare chests and guitars and glitter and skirts and dreadlocks and tattoos and chains and nail polish, comes this face looking at me, this face like death warmed over it (he must have been on something, either that or he was Damn Tired), the face looked at me in it's three-foot hi-definition dispair and started talking to me: I don't know anything anymore, it said....i used to think i had advice for everybody, but now i know nothing....i thought when we signed with warner brothers i was the shit, that we'd made it....that everything was going to be easier....i haven't written a song in months....i used to write three or four songs a day....now i'm having fights with people twice my age, people who have screwed everybody to get where they are....and i just wanted to make art, man, to create something beautiful...they've been talking about banning the cover and it just makes no sense, i'm not hurting anybody, i'm not trying to hurt anybody at all....i just want to think that when people see us play they'll be transported, they'll lose themselves....they'll forget about their lives and their problems and this world, because this world is so sad and terrible, it's so sad....it's so (and here his eyes glazed over and he slowed down and choked up)...i don't know....
...and with that i found myself crying, like a baby, in the middle of newbury comics in boston.