Koffin Kats 2014 Winter Tour – Update #1 (Toledo, Youngstown, Pittsburgh)

Hey-o!!  This is the first installment of what will be a weekly update of happenings while on the road with Vic Victor, Ian Jarrell, and Eric Walls, known to their fans as international touring rock and roll band The Koffin Kats.  We generally have Mondays off, and my aim is to post a new update every Monday from here on out until the end of time as we know it . . . or at least until the end of this tour.  Hold on, and enjoy the ride!

 

We left Detroit in the late afternoon this past Friday and made the short drive to Frankie’s in Toledo, OH without incident.  Though I’ve played in Toledo earlier in my career, this was my first time at the venue.  It’s big enough to hold 150 people, and set up for maximum band visibility.

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Koffin Kats at Frankie’s (Toledo, OH)

Next door to Frankie’s is a shop which makes custom handmade guitars.  I posted a picture of the storefront on Instagram and added #KoffinKats, which sparked my curiosity as to whether others have used the same hashtag.  Sure enough, someone had posted earlier that day about heading to Frankie’s, so I reached out and told them to stop by the merch table to say hello.  An hour or so into the show, they showed up, introduced themselves, and picked up some goodies from our huge selection (thanks, @Frieda_313!).

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Location, location, location.

After successfully wowing the crowd at Frankie’s, we loaded the trailer and started making our way toward Youngstown, OH.  The roads were awful, and we passed several vehicles which had slid off the highway and into the ditches on either side.  What a mess.  We decided to stop about halfway to Youngstown and get some sleep.

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Slow is fast. Fast is dead.

Upon arriving in Youngstown, we met up with the show promoter, Angelo.  He and his girlfriend Jen were incredibly hospitable to us, and allowed us to stay at their place in lieu of sleeping in the van.  Heading to the venue (The Royal Oaks) the snow was plentiful, coming down fast and heavy.  The Royal Oaks is a very small bar and grill, and the band played to a packed house.  Though it was a bit cramped, the vibe was excellent and everyone was friendly and welcoming.

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Koffin Kats at The Royal Oaks in Youngstown, OH.

After the show, we went back to Angelo’s house and partied until almost 7:00 AM.  The next day, Angelo cooked breakfast for everyone, and then we were all on our computers handling business stuff and spitballing ideas back and forth while we watched Billy Madison and hair bands on VH1 Classic.  Ian also took the time to teach me guitar parts for a bunch of Koffin Kats songs.  Once the day started turning into night, we took off for Howler’s Coyote Cafe in Pittsburgh, PA.

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‘Sup, Pittsburgh?

Loading at Howler’s is unique: the load-in door is located directly behind the stage, and part of the stage is hinged and has to be lifted up to allow for easy load-in.  While the crowd was much smaller than the two previous shows, they had a ton of energy and rocked out and danced like it was a packed house.  They were also quite generous at the merch table, with several people being so kind as to tip us gas money — some fans gave us $10 and $20 tips!  Tips always help us put gas in the tank and food in our bellies, and we appreciate every bit of support we get.  Thank you so much, Pittsburgh!

After the show, an artistically-inclined fan allowed us to crash at his place (thanks, Charlie!), and we ended up hanging out and watching Cabin In The Woods before going to bed.  We were offered some food, and Vic decided to eat a massive bowl of what he called “the best ramen I’ve ever had”.  He passed out while watching the movie, and we had to wake him up in order to get him off the couch so we could open the sofa bed.  This proved to be difficult, as the sodium in the ramen had made a beeline for his brain.  As Ian and I were pulling Vic up by the arms, he woke up in an addled and bewildered state, resulting in a pretty hilarious demonstration of motor skills and words of wisdom.  We put him to bed, and before he fell back asleep, he was nice enough to give me some advice about tour life with Koffin Kats…

 

The next morning we woke up and went to the gym to get in a workout before heading to the next city.  After the gym, we stopped at Sheetz for some food, and I was excited because Sheetz is just like Wawa, which I haven’t had since the last time I was on tour many years ago.  I bulldogged a custom club sandwich on a pretzel roll like it was my job, then settled in to my bunk for a decent nap.  Upon waking, we had just arrived in Beckley, WV.

Beckley is a small town in southern West Virginia, and it’s a very tight-knit community; everyone pretty much knows everyone.  The promoters of tonight’s show at Foster’s Main Street Tavern have a studio — Kid In The Background — where they do audio and video recording, graphic design, and guitar lessons.  The vibe of the place is really cool, with something interesting to look at on every wall and every shelf.  (The studio also affords us the opportunity to have a short rehearsal before tonight’s gig, which is nice.)  The best part of the studio, though, is the fact that they have a working Nintendo 64 console and a copy of Goldeneye.

After going to Applebee’s and being treated to dinner by one of the promoters (thanks, Jason!), we went to Foster’s for a nightcap.  When we got back to Kid In The Background, Ian and I played Goldeneye for an hour or so before putting on a movie and passing out.

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The Jimi Hendrix of Goldeneye.

I immediately started writing this post after waking up.  Eric and Ian just got back from the store with some snacks to eat before we decide on lunch or dinner.  One thing I want to focus on while on the road is to continue to eat as healthily as possible, but doggone it if these pizza bites aren’t delicious.

Koffin Kats are touring in support of their new full-length album, Born Of The Motor, and I’m stoked to finally hear the tunes come to life in front of a live audience.  Every fan I’ve spoken to at the merch table who has purchased BOTM loves it, and praises it for its sound quality.  (We even have limited-edition blue and white marbled vinyl copies of the album available, and I can’t wait to listen to it back at Stu Stu Studio where we recorded it.)  It’s really is the best-sounding album of their career, and I am proud to have been a part of its creation.  Each night, the crowd has erupted with cheers as soon as the band breaks into the opening riff of “All of Me is Gone”, and it’s very satisfying to see such a reception to the new material.

Click the picture to purchase Born Of The Motor.

I hope you enjoyed reading this first installment of the weekly tour updates, and there is definitely more to come.  This next string of five shows starts tonight here in Beckley, and continues through Winchester (VA), Newark (DE), Baltimore (MD), and Richmond (VA).  Following these shows, we will be arriving on Sunday in Fayetteville, NC, where a Super Bowl party has been planned for us.  Being the only die-hard sports fan in the group, I am definitely looking forward to Sunday’s shenanigans.

Until next week, Kats and Kittens.

:-J

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At Charlie’s house. We found the Pittsburgh penguin.

John Kay makes music, tells grandpa jokes, and gets as much sleep as possible while on tour.  Subscribe to The Real John Kay’s blog to receive emails with updates as they occur!

Wanna know more about John Kay?? Click here to read Part One of his musical journey.

Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Music: johnkay.bandcamp.com

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