Koffin Kats 2014 Winter Tour – Update #4 (Birmingham, Champaign, Mishawaka, Kalamazoo)

Well, this is it!  This is the final update of the exploits, shenanigans, and happenings on the road with The Koffin Kats on their 2014 Winter Tour.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the first few posts, and based on the feedback we’re seeing on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, it seems a lot of you have been following along as we work our butts off out here on the highway.  Now, settle in and get ready for the grand finale!!

Those pickled eggs have really gone to Vic's head.
Those pickled eggs have really gone to Vic’s head.

As mentioned last week, on Monday night we stayed with some of Eric’s family whom he hadn’t seen in years.  After being treated to pizza and movies, we crashed out.  We woke up the next morning to discover that the winter weather warning we received the previous day was no laughing matter.  Sylvania, Alabama got hit with their first snowfall in around five years.  Thanks a lot, “polar vortex”.

We made an attempt to leave very early that morning, but decided to wait it out until the snow stopped falling and the roads were somewhat cleared.  Being that we were up in the mountains, we didn’t want to get stuck on an incline—we’re big fans of being alive.  Just after noon, we piled into the bus and took off . . .

HA!  I wish.  Instead we got stuck in the mud near the house and had to fight our way out for close to thirty minutes.  We used kitty litter to increase the traction under the tires, but to no avail.  Luckily, a neighbor happened to be driving by and used their Jeep to help pull us out of our predicament.  We thanked them profusely and rewarded them with a couple of free CDs, then headed out toward our next stop in Birmingham, Alabama.  (Note: Within five minutes of leaving they had posted on our Facebook page how much they were enjoying the CDs we just gave them!  Good times.)

Teamwork in Sylvania, Alabama.
Teamwork in Sylvania, Alabama.

Once we arrived in Birmingham we were all very hungry.  Vic’s mouth was watering for Chinese food, so we stopped at a local restaurant for a meal that really hit the spot.  After eating, we drove to the night’s venue (The Nick), parked the bus, and laid down for a food coma-induced nap.

Chinese chow in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.
Chinese chow in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

Upon waking, it was time to unload the gear into the venue.  The Nick is another one of these classic DIY punk rock venues, replete with the requisite stickers and Sharpie scrawling all over the walls.  It also has a ton of posters and press photos of bands stapled to the ceiling, and by just looking at some of the names of the bands it’s easy to see that this venue has been around for years.

Ian lost in thought outside of The Nick in Birmingham, Alabama.
Ian lost in thought outside of The Nick in Birmingham, Alabama.

Since we were in Alabama, I felt it completely necessary to show off a little bit of my roots and put on my dad’s old Alabama (band) jersey shirt from the early 1980s.  I had a guy come up to me lavishing praise for wearing it.  Thanks, dude!

Repping my 3-year-old self in my dad's original 1984 Alabama band shirt in, well, Alabama.
Repping my 3-year-old self in my dad’s original 1984 Alabama band shirt in, well, Alabama.

Once the opening bands were finished warming up the crowd, I set to work getting the sound board ready for Koffin Kats and placing microphones for the show.  The sound system was kicking, and though the gear was somewhat foreign to me, I received compliments from Vic on how the show sounded.  The sound guy must have been quite pleased with the job I did (and not having to worry about running sound for a band) because he was very forthcoming with offering and getting drinks for me.  (Thanks for the Bulleit bourbon, Allen!)  Once again, I was able to join the band on stage for the high backup vocals in their cover of “Maneater” by Hall and Oates, plus lay down the drum solo during “Buzzkill Bitch” while the guys got shots for us to do on stage.  My shot gets poured into my mouth while I play.  WOOHOO!

We loaded out from the show, and headed to another Wal-Mart parking lot to stay in the bus for the night.  When we rose the next day, we found out our show in Memphis, Tennessee at The New Daisy Theater had been cancelled by the venue due to weather.  I put the word out on Facebook to my friends that we were looking for a place to stay in Nashville.  With that floating out there, we went to the gym and had a great workout.

Even though the show in Memphis was cancelled, we still had good news to report for the day: the music video for “Giving Blood” from the newest album Born Of The Motor was released, and it’s absolutely hysterical!!

After the gym, we got in contact with a friend of the band who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.  She said she had no problem with letting us crash at her place for the night, so we skipped Nashville and went straight to her house.  As soon as we opened the door, the smell of awesome cooking was in the air.  Our hostess (Monica) had made us homemade egg rolls and chicken curry with rice and bamboo shoots.  Yum!

Once we had our fill of food, we headed to a local pub for a nightcap, courtesy of our hostess.

Nightcaps in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Nightcaps in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Refreshed from a good night’s sleep, we all woke up and tended to the business of the day.  For Ian and I it was learning more songs on guitar and taking showers (separately, you perverts).  For Vic and Eric it was going to the bank and taking care of some financial stuff.  Those two were also able to stop at a coin store where Matt Dinger, Eric’s favorite talk radio host, works.  Many don’t know this, but Eric is an avid coin collector, and it was great for him to meet and get a picture with one of his heroes.

Eric with his favorite talk radio host, Matt Dinger from Coin Show Radio! Vic is holding the silver equivalent of a flight to Europe in his hand!! http://LDRcoins.com
Eric with his favorite talk radio host, Matt Dinger from Coin Show Radio! Vic is holding the silver equivalent of a flight to Europe in his hand!! http://LDRcoins.com

When Eric and Vic returned from their outing, we packed up our necessities and left the hospitality of our hostess (thanks, Monica!).  From Indianapolis we were off toward our next stop on the tour, Champaign, IL.  I utilized the time to once again get a head start on this week’s update.  (Being proactive, FTW!!)

We made it to Champaign, Illinois in no time, parked the bus, and went to lunch with one of our good artist friends, Grant.  Ian and I each had a fantastic burger (The Russell) at Farren’s Pub and Eatery, and then we settled in for the requisite post-lunch nap prior to load-in at Cowboy Monkey.

Cowboy Monkey is a swank venue with a very helpful and courteous staff.  Their sound system was great, and once again the band was treated to fantastic audio for the evening.  This stop also marked the second occasion on this tour which we had a “Superfan”!  Thanks, Justin!

This is Justin, aka @mccartytattoo. He just took advantage of our "Superfan" deal: one of each item at the merch table for only $300!! Thanks, Justin! We appreciate YOU!!
This is Justin, aka @mccartytattoo. He just took advantage of our “Superfan” deal: one of each item at the merch table for only $300!! Thanks, Justin! We appreciate YOU!!

That night we slept in the bus while parked in a truck stop parking lot.  Morning came, bladders were emptied, coffees were purchased, and we traveled a few hours to the Planet Fitness in Mishawaka, Indiana.  I was really happy that this particular PF has stability balls for doing some of my ab exercises.

Muscles pumped, we drove to the venue (Smith’s) and ate lunch.  We all had the same thing: salads with extra bacon and blue cheese dressing, and Smith’s “world famous chili”.  Both were excellent.  I followed up my meal with a few games of Twilight Zone pinball, and won two replays on only $1.50.  Pinball wizardry finished, it was nap time in the bus for Eric, Vic, and me; Ian stayed in the venue and changed his guitar strings.

I woke from my nap and joined Ian upstairs in the venue, where he taught me the rest of the songs in the band’s set on guitar.  Just as soon as I had learned the last song, it was time to get our gear from the trailer and set up inside Smith’s.  Another one of our artist friends, Allen, was waiting for Eric to bring his drums upstairs so he could do some custom artwork on his kick drum head.

Eric with his customized kick drum head courtesy of artist Allen Yuhasz (http://Facebook.com/allenyuhasz). He painted the design by hand in less than an hour with no stencils! Fantastic!!
Eric with his customized kick drum head courtesy of artist Allen Yuhasz (http://Facebook.com/allenyuhasz). He painted the design by hand in less than an hour with no stencils! Fantastic!!

The Koffin Kats took the stage at Smith’s and things quickly got rowdy.  A fight even broke out on the dancefloor!  Yeesh!  We did the “Maneater” routine again, and I was able to get a video of “Buzzkill Bitch”, including the drum solo.  (AND IF YOUTUBE WOULD ALLOW ME TO UPLOAD IT, THAT WOULD BE GREAT.  Yeah…)

Once the show was over, we packed everything up and went to stay at our friend Carissa’s house for the night.  The boys all stayed up hanging out while I slept away my belligerent drunkenness in the bus.

The following day we went to a distillery in the area to sample some whiskey.  I was looking forward to the experience, but my hangover was not.  We tasted some different whiskeys and gins, and they were pretty good.  Eric bought a couple bottles of Silver Cross, which was our favorite of the types we tried.

Human hangover.
Human hangover.

After the distillery we headed to a local pub for lunch.  Eric ordered ten chicken wings, but somehow his order ended up in the system as just one wing.  I don’t know if the chef lacks autonomy, or if there is a “customer is always right” policy, but if I were him/her I’d question anyone silly enough to order just ONE WING.

Somehow, someway, Eric's order of 10 chicken wings turned into an order of ONE chicken wing. He's still a happy dude.
Somehow, someway, Eric’s order of 10 chicken wings turned into an order of ONE chicken wing. He’s still a happy dude.

After the delicious food, we drove to Kalamazoo, Michigan and checked out the venue, Louie’s.  Koffin Kats had never played there before, and we had no idea what to expect.  It reminded us a bit of a bar back home near Detroit called Beaver Creek.  There were taxidermied animals all over the place.  The stage was only six inches off of the ground and the sound system was just a couple steps up from barebones, but it definitely got the job done.  Stage size doesn’t matter to Koffin Kats, ever.  They put on the same intense show even if they’re on the floor.

The band hadn’t played in Kalamazoo in three years, so there was a big audience very excited for the gig.  Everything worked out well, and the crowd really showed their love for the band by dancing and moshing throughout the entire set.  During the show, I got a shout-out from Vic for doing a fantastic job and working really hard on the tour.  It warmed my heart.

Once we packed our gear in the trailer, I said goodbye to the band and left with a fan I met on Twitter.  He had asked how long we’d be in Kalamazoo, and I told him that the band was taking off to go back home to Detroit, but I needed a place to stay and a ride to the train station in the morning because I   was heading to Chicago the following morning.  He graciously put me up for the night at his place, allowed me to shower, and even gave me the use of his bed (thanks, Greg!).  The next morning, I was on the train to Chicago for a week of relaxation with my queen.

This Friday, I’ll be taking the bus from Chicago back to Detroit in order to be at Vic’s birthday show at Woodruff’s in Ypsilanti.  This show is going to be special, not only because it’s a birthday celebration, but also because it happens to be Ian’s last show with The Koffin Kats…

You see, the reason I’ve been on this tour was twofold: First, I was being tested to see if I could handle life on the road away from my loved ones and normal routine.  Second, I needed Ian to teach me the guitar parts for all of the songs because I am now the new guitarist for the band!!  Ian has personal business to take care of back home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it will take longer than a few months.

I regret that there are unfortunate circumstances which have caused Ian to leave the group and open up this opportunity for me.  I aim to honor his (and Tommy’s) legacy in the group, and Vic, Eric, and I have big plans for the immediate future of Koffin Kats.  We’ve already discussed recording new music, and plan to hearken back to the early days of the band with breakneck tunes and the “wicked pist” vibe.

I look forward to meeting all of you wonderful people during our upcoming tours, and I hope you are able to accept me in the future as you have with Tommy and Ian in the past.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you out on the road!  NOSTROVIA!!!

:-J

Koffin Kats 2014 Winter Tour – Update #3 (Fayetteville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville, Johnson City)

Smello, you!  We’re over two weeks into our tour, and everything has been going swimmingly so far.  Here’s the third update in the series of weeklies.

As I mentioned in last week’s update, we had a couple of days off in Fayetteville prior to Tuesday’s show at The Rock Shop.  Before the show, Ian took the time to teach me some Koffin Kats songs on guitar, and we all just hung out, taking care of business and booking shows.  (See you this summer, Europe!)

5:00 PM arrived before we knew it, and we were off to The Rock Shop for load-in.  After a detailed sound check (thanks, Sean!), we headed to Miyabi Japanese Steakhouse for some pre-show hibachi.  The food was absolutely fantastic; steak, shrimp, chicken, veggies, and more rice than China has exported in the last decade.  While the food was wonderful, the highlight of the dinner was definitely the surprise we arranged for Vic.  We had the restaurant sing “Happy Birthday” to him (it was not his birthday), and he was asked to dance “Gangnam Style”.  He had no idea what to do, so this is what ended up happening:

Once we were filled to bursting with grub, we arrived at The Rock Shop and set up our merch tables.  The venue is huge, with two stages and a pretty good sound and lighting system.  The bartender is also a big fan of the band, and did a great job of taking care of us all night (thanks, Christina!).  The Kats killed it on stage, and I even jumped up there to do the high backup vocals during their cover of Hall and Oates’ “Maneater”.

Post-gig, Vic took me backstage to show me an unfortunate casualty: his upright double bass had a giant split in the wood of the body.  Part of Koffin Kats’ electrifying live show includes instances of Vic or Ian standing on the bass while playing their instruments.  It’s visually striking and the crowd absolutely loves it, but sometimes it results in an accident.  No matter; Vic is a seasoned touring musician, and he’s got contingency plans for events like this.

Bass glued and taped, we loaded out and headed back to the house we were staying at and partied a bit before passing out.  The next day, we hung out, watched Halo and Zoolander, then got in the bus and on the road for the short drive to Raleigh, North Carolina.  Along the way, we stopped at a gas station to fill up, and I took the opportunity to fill my big water jug.  I couldn’t find a water dispenser, so I asked an employee if there was one available.  He took me into the back and attempted to begin filling my jug from the hose they use to fill their mop bucket.  The guy lost control of the hose and, through what I believe was some sort of prank of the gods, it sprayed directly toward me, soaking my clothes.  After going back to the bus to change, I returned to find my water jug filled.  One taste was all I needed; I’ll be buying a new water jug tomorrow.

20140210-234215.jpg
Wednesdays are when we have fun with our friends and fans online playing #WhereIsVic .

Impromptu shower notwithstanding, we got to the venue (The Maywood) and loaded in our gear.  The Maywood is a good-sized venue, and their slogan is “Bourbon, Billiards, and Bands”.  My kind of place!  The owner/bartender, Jane, saw to our minimal needs (booze, mostly) throughout the night, and the vibe of the place was wonderful.  Moreover, we were bombarded once again with amazing food!  Dane, a member of the band Motorbilly, who also performed at the show that night, cooked up a dish of rigatoni with sausage, Angus and Italian-style meatballs, and pepperoni, covered on top with pizza crust.  We mowed it down quickly, and holy crap, was it good.  Another friend brought us Spanish rice, chicken tortillas, and some kind of cinnamon coffee cake.  We saved that grub for after the show and the next day.  Fantastic fans, we have.  (Thanks, Dane and Cat!)

20140210-234222.jpg
Hahahaha! “The Koffin FATS”!! Food from friends in Raleigh, NC!

When we first headed out on this tour, we discussed the idea of me jumping up on stage during the drum solo break in “Buzzkill Bitch” and taking over the drums from Eric so he could go to the bar and do shots with Ian and Vic.  Since “Buzzkill” is an alternate song in the set, each night I ask Vic what songs they’ll be inserting.  Under the impression there would be no alternates on this occasion, I settled into my chair behind the merch tables, and continued reading my Mick Jagger biography.  Next thing I knew, I heard a drum solo happening.  (I don’t know the Kats’ older material as much as I know the songs which I’ve recorded with them.  Gotta fix that!)  I jumped up onto a bench and made eye contact with Eric, who motioned his head for me to get up on stage.  I launched into an impromptu drum solo for about 45 seconds, then handed the sticks back to Eric.  The crowd really enjoyed it, and I received several compliments.

20140210-234227.jpg
The Koffin Kats killing it at The Maywood in Raleigh, NC.

The set finished, we packed up and left The Maywood.  That night, we stayed at Dane’s house and were treated to one of the best moments of tour so far: HOT TUB.  Man, did it feel good to relax in the tub, and our relaxation was enhanced by several beers and liquor.  Everyone must have been feeling pretty good post-dip, because before I knew it roughhousing had commenced.  Tackles, punches, and strangling occurred, and the next morning I woke up with wounds on my hands.  Partying with The Koffin Kats can hurt.

20140210-234013.jpg
Rub-a-dub-dub, three Kats in a tub . . .

The next day we had another rare day off. During the day Vic and Eric went out and handled some business stuff—including buying clamps and glue to fix Vic’s upright bass, and having a key for our trailer locks made for Eric; his broke off inside the lock when we were in Winchester, Virginia the previous week, and Vic’s copy was unavailable at the time. Ian and I played guitar for most of the day and took naps.

Eric woke me up with some sushi from the restaurant at which he and Vic ate. At night we all hung out in the living room with Dane and his wife while watching shows like Pawn Stars and American Pickers, and chatting and drinking scotch.

(I also began the habit that evening of preparing a draft for this week’s update: I do my best to be as detailed as possible without getting into too much small stuff, but I’ve been running into so many people at shows who have been referencing things from these posts. It seems you all actually pay attention to what The Koffin Kats are up to on any given day, and that’s awesome. We are grateful to have you as our friends and best fans in the world.)

And, of course, we went in the hot tub again.

20140210-234013.jpg
Too good to not do it again!

In the morning we headed out on the road to Charlotte, North Carolina. Ian went with Dane to eat and ended up traveling with Motorbilly to meet us at the venue—The Milestone—later. Eric, Vic, and I made good use of our three-hour drive, handling a bunch of business by telephone and making notes for what are becoming “Management Mondays”.

20140210-234022.jpg
Business never sleeps.

After a time, we stopped at a music store just outside of the city so Vic could buy a thumb plectrum (non-musicians: a plectrum is a guitar pick) to practice clawhammer picking on the guitar. I took advantage of the opportunity to urinate in the music store bathroom and snap a selfie.

20140210-234259.jpg
This is my good side.

We left the music store and stopped at a diner in the same plaza for a late lunch.

20140210-234307.jpg
Healthy habits in Charlotte, NC.

Our meals eaten and paid for, we walked to a bookstore near the diner and browsed for a bit then got in the bus for the short venture to The Milestone.

20140210-234330.jpg
Hello, Charl’ . . .

Upon arriving at the venue I was taken aback. It’s a total DIY punk rock bar with walls completely covered in stickers and Sharpie, a minimal sound system, trash-strewn floors, and a chilling room temperature. They did have pre-show entertainment in the form of a Nintendo 64 running Mario Kart near the bar! Eric and I played a few matches together before the venue opened its doors to the fans patiently waiting outside.

Once the show began the venue filled up quickly, and suddenly we had another packed house on our hands. While one of the opening acts was performing, Ian was treated to a gift from Motorbilly.

20140210-234400.jpg
Whatever you’re into, I guess.

When Koffin Kats took the stage the audience went absolutely bonkers. Fans were dancing and moshing and thrashing about happily. This was also the first show at which we had crowd-surfing take place, and everyone had a great time. Vic’s bass even took a turn surfing the crowd!

Equipment loaded in the trailer, we made a short journey to a house where Dane had set up for us to spend the night. Before going to bed we ate some potato chips and drank some moonshine, which seems to be prevalent around the Kats for some reason. Sleeping was difficult due to the symphony of snoring in the room among six drunk dudes passed out on the floor, so just after sunrise I relocated to the van for the remainder of my rest.

I woke up to Eric handing me a breakfast sandwich from Bojangles, a going away present courtesy of Dane—a present which would haunt Eric’s digestive system for the next forty-eight hours. On the way to Asheville, North Carolina, we made a stop at the company that handles the embroidery machines the band uses to make their custom patches. We picked up some thread for the machines back home then left for the venue.

20140210-234417.jpg
Guess who’s making more embroidered patches when they get home???

We arrived at Lexington Avenue Brewery, or “The LAB”, in Asheville, North Carolina at 6:00 PM for load-in. The LAB is a swank bar and restaurant in downtown Asheville, and it was full with dinner customers when we brought in all of our gear. Because of the nature of the building, there are no load-in doors anywhere near the live music room, which is located at the very rear of the establishment. So, we had to schlep our equipment through the entire building, navigating around disdainful diners and bustling wait staff. Once we got into the actual venue, we were pleasantly surprised to find a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting setup waiting for us. We were able to get a full sound check and take a snapshot of the mix to make for a quick changeover between acts. Prior to the show Vic, Ian, and I were treated to steak and vegetables, which were fantastic.

20140210-234432.jpg
/drool

Eric forewent the delectable dinner due to arising complications from the aforementioned Bojangles experience earlier in the day.

20140210-234425.jpg
Somebody had a tummy ache.

Stomach expulsion finished, Eric joined the band on stage for their nightly hour-long set of songs. The capacity crowd was full of new faces to the band, which was great. Koffin Kats are in their tenth year of touring and have a wide and loyal fan base in the US and Europe, and having fresh faces on the dance floor is a wonderful sight. The band played excellently, and the sound that night was probably the best of the tour so far.

20140210-234439.jpg
Another packed house!! Thank you, Asheville, NC!!!

There was an afterparty waiting for us at a local bar called The Yacht Club once we packed up our gear. Vic, Ian, and I headed there and partied with everyone while Eric stayed in the van to attempt to sleep off his stomach sickness. A well-known Tennessean named Joe Buck was performing at the party, and we took the opportunity to get a picture with him before heading to our friend’s house outside of Asheville to stay the night.

20140210-234446.jpg
Hanging out with Joe Buck at the afterparty in Asheville, NC. We weren’t drunk, we promise.

At our friend’s house (Derek and Stacey, the organizers of the show), we were blessed with a beautiful breakfast of eggs and bacon. I. Love. Bacon.  We also had some fun shooting Derek’s guns . . .

Ammo depleted, we left the humbling hospitality of our Asheville friends (thanks, Derek and Stacey!) and were on our way to Johnson City, Tennessee to our show at The Mecca Lounge. This venue was a stark contrast to The LAB; tiny dive bar with indoor smoking allowed, no stage, and a barebones sound system (the only microphones used were for the three vocals and the kick drum). They didn’t lack for hospitality, though! We had a buffet of awesome homemade food brought for us including fried chicken (both regular and barbecued), rice and beans, smothered burritos, fresh salad, and some of the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had, and I’m not really fan of mac and cheese.

20140210-234456.jpg
Bitchin’ buffet for us at Mecca Lounge in Johnson City, TN.

While the opening bands were performing I spent time playing the guitar and reading my Mick Jagger biography. (I’m not sure if you have ever heard this, but that guy really likes to have sex with different women [and men].) When the band took the floor(!) I dialed in their levels then went back to the merch tables and played along to the first half of the set on guitar. The lead solos are a pain in my butt!

The Koffin Kats did what they do and the crowd responded in kind. After sitting through five acts over the course of five hours, the audience was exhausted and quickly left to their repose. We packed up and drove to a Wal-Mart to sleep in their parking lot for the night. Along the way we ate more of the delicious food from the venue as a late night snack.

The next morning, after using the Wal-Mart bathroom to wash my hands and brush my teeth, we stopped at a gas station for coffee and headed to a Planet Fitness in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (Side note: I relish going into Wal-Mart and buying nothing, but using everything.) We all had a great workout, and it was refreshing to push out the toxins from the afterparty in Asheville.

Every time we go the gym, Eric and I have been sharing a locker since I don’t have one. On this day his lock was getting stuck due to a buildup of salt and dirt from having to be used on the trailer in lieu of the pucks we normally use. When I attempted to remove the lock it wouldn’t budge, so I got a hammer from the front desk and hit it in hopes of dislodging it. No dice. (Yes, the combination was correct; yes, it was his locker.) I returned the hammer and requested a bolt cutter; problem solved. “Charge it to the game, Eric!”

Showered and feeling fresh, we drove to Chattanooga for one of our trademark late lunches. Though, they’re actually not late, considering we normally wake up at the crack of noon. From now on, it’s just “lunch” to me. We parked the bus and went to a Mediterranean restaurant, which ended up being an excellent choice. The soup and salads that Vic, Eric, and I had were outstanding, and Ian’s shwarma wrap looked excellent too.

20140210-234503.jpg
Vic is a picky eater in Chattanooga, TN.

Lunch in our bellies we moseyed to a nearby Ben & Jerry’s for a small treat. We returned to the bus and figured out where to head next, since it was our day off. We ended up getting in touch with some of Eric’s family who live in Alabama along the way to the next venue on our tour. We arrived at his aunt’s house in Sylvania and were warmly welcomed. The family treated us to a pizza dinner and a place to stay for the night. Currently, the boys are in the living room watching Captain Phillips

And that is where I leave you this time around, folks. I must say I’m glad I took the time at Dane’s house to get a head start on this update, considering I’ve been sitting here for over four hours just to finish it! Take care, and check back next week for the finale update of this particular tour. Or better yet, subscribe to this blog and get an email as soon as next week’s update is posted! Do what makes the most sense to you!

Until next week, guys and gals.

:-J

John Kay is learning the rules of the road, crossing the lines of acceptable public behavior, and shocking everyone the whole while long.  Subscribe to The Real John Kay’s blog to receive an email whenever a new post occurs!

Wanna hear the music John Kay makes when he’s not on the road with The Koffin Kats??? Check out the first single “Dealing With People” from his upcoming debut solo album here.

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

Koffin Kats 2014 Winter Tour – Update #2 (Beckley, Winchester, Newark, Baltimore, Richmond)

Hey, everyone!  Here’s the second installment of weekly updates from the open road with The Koffin Kats.  If you missed part one, click here and check it out.  GO!!

After posting last week’s update, we headed to Foster’s Main Street Tavern in Beckley, West Virginia.  The promoters of the show (Kid In The Background) did a great job of packing the place, and Koffin Kats managed to pull off their intense live show on the smallest of stages.

Image
A Graveyard Tree grows in Beckley.

One of the…um…”patrons” at Foster’s took a liking to me, and was flirting pretty aggressively at the merch table.  She made it very clear what she wanted to do to me by whispering into my ear words soaked in beer-drenched breath; I deftly deflected her advances.  She must have wanted to get away from me quickly because she proceeded to steal a fan’s truck and speed away!!  After the show, the band went back to crash out and I attended an afterparty where things got a little weird with a Vic Victor bobble head.

Image
Beckley, WV fans doing godknowswhat with a Vic Victor bobble head.

Overall, the vibe was great in Beckley, and for such a small town they really knew how to bring the ruckus.

Image
Beckley, West Virginia . . . Y’all know how to show a band a good time. Cheers to you.

From Beckley, we got on the road to Winchester, Virginia.  Koffin Kats set up their tour routing very intelligently in that they do their best to make the driving distances between shows as minimal as possible.  Our trips from city to city seem to just fly by, and I never find myself bored or wanting for something to do.  When we arrived in Winchester we had some time to chill before loading in, so we parked outside the venue (Sweet Caroline’s) and walked around the town, stopping for coffees and to browse a bookstore.

Image
Knowledge is power in Winchester, VA.

This was Koffin Kats’ first time performing at Sweet Caroline’s, and from the moment we walked in we knew it was going to be cool. The venue has a really good layout, and everyone in attendance has a great view of the band on stage.  Also, this was the first truly professional sound system we’ve encountered on this tour, and the sound guy was extremely helpful (thanks, George!).  We were able to take a snapshot of the mix from the sound board so we can use it at future shows.

Image
“We have a no-limit policy on merch tonight in Winchester. All major credit cards accepted.”

Some of our fans and friends take it upon themselves to do something extra special for Koffin Kats in addition to paying to see us perform.  Namely, they bring us food!!  One of our fervent followers on Twitter (click here to follow Koffin Kats on “The Twitter”) brought us a tin of snickerdoodles and a container of macaroons, which Eric didn’t eat because he doesn’t like coconut.  His loss, because those macaroons were deliciousssssssss.  /nomnomnom

Image
This is one of THE BEST parts of when we tour. We love getting food and baked goods . . . as long as you don’t bake your hair into them.  Thanks, Rachel!

The Koffin Kats sounded fantastic through the sound system, and the crowd rocked out hard.  A long-time Sweet Caroline’s concert goer had a brief moment of fame when she decided to jump on stage and dance along for half of a song, but was swiftly taken down by the venue owner with a karate chop and brutal roundhouse kick to the noggin.  (Not really; he politely beckoned her off the stage and all was fine.  Thanks, Tyler!)

After the show, the band congregated near the merch table like always, and we ordered up celebration shots for each of us since the band reached an online milestone of 60,000 “like”s on their Facebook page!  We had a great time at Sweet Caroline’s, and we will definitely be back.

Image
We just hit 60,000 likes on Facebook! Celebration shots!!

Post-show we loaded out and made a short drive to Martinsburg, VA where we stayed with friends.  They had noticed our photo of Ian playing Goldeneye on Nintendo 64 from the night before, and had gone out that day to purchase a Nintendo 64 console and copies of Goldeneye and Super Mario Kart!  We were totally surprised and thankful to have such awesome friends.  After eating some BBQ chicken, I crashed out early — don’t worry, they made sure to tell me I was a pussy the next day — and the guys stayed up partying and playing video games into the wee hours.  We woke up the next morning to find that our friends had cooked us a hearty breakfast, and Vic extolled the virtues of “Bulletproof coffee” (which is fantastic, BTW).  Everywhere we’ve been so far we’ve been treated like family, and it’s a blessing to have such wonderful people in our lives supporting who we are and what we do.

Image
Friends in Martinsburg, VA who put us up for the night.  Thanks for the hospitality, JR and Lorie!

From Martinsburg we took off for Newark, Delaware.  Ian had a speaker cable issue the night before, and Eric wanted to replace the drum heads which were giving him fits, so we stopped at a Guitar Center on the way to the venue (Mojo Main).

Image
Grabbing some necessities on the way to Mojo Main in Newark, DE.

Mojo Main was a stark contrast to Sweet Caroline’s.  A much smaller venue, it has a real DIY rock and roll vibe and a humble sound system.  Someone at the venue took it upon themselves to go above and beyond, and made a chalk drawing of an older Koffin Kats logo.

Image
The folks at Mojo Main made a chalk drawing of one of our logos! Neato!

The stage at Mojo Main was cramped, but that never stops Koffin Kats from bringing their electrifying stage show to life.  Once the rock and roll was over, Ian found a surprise waiting for him.  The previous night, his treasured Batman goblet was accidentally broken by one of the other bands on the bill.  In true gentlemanly fashion, the band (Pain) replaced the goblet with a brand new one. (Thanks, Chris!)

Image
Batcup Begins (the huge line of shots).

That night we had a rare (so far) occasion of sleeping in the van.  Warm weather crept up on us through the night, and we woke up to a stinky atmosphere of booze sweat and man flatulence.  Duane, the owner of Koffin Kats’ record label (Sailor’s Grave Records), picked up Ian that morning to go get some fresh new ink, and Vic, Eric and I went to the gym for a much-needed workout and showers.

Image
Ian getting some fresh ink from Joe Lathe at Have Fun Be Lucky Tattoo in Baltimore, MD.

Swollen and showered, the three of us headed toward our next city (Baltimore, Maryland) and stopped at a local Barnes & Noble to pass some time and check out more books (we love reading!).  I found a hardcover, first-edition 2012 biography of Mick Jagger for only two dollars, and snatched that bad boy up lickety split.  I love learning about the greats in the music industry, and this dude is one of the greatest of the greats.

Image
Found this bad boy for $2 at Barnes & Noble in Rosedale, MD.

We arrived at the Baltimore venue (Sidebar) promptly at 6:00 PM in order to secure free parking directly outside the venue.  I set up the merch tables in what was essentially a glorified closet, but no matter; whatever it takes.  The venue filled up quickly, and before we knew it we had our first SOLD OUT show of the tour!!!  Fans and friends must be paying attention to the pictures we’ve been posting online because we were inundated with food and road necessities!  We had so much stuff brought for us that it was hard to find room to store it, so we made several trips to the van to deposit all of the goodies.  We even had someone take advantage of our “Superfan” deal at the merch table; one of everything for $300!! Thanks, Baltimore friends!

Image
Baltimore friends brought gift bags with road necessities, and cupcakes with Cadbury cream in the middle!! (Not pictured: peanut butter cream pie, peanut butter and chocolate chip fudge, homemade lasagna, and a fifth of Jack Daniels.)

The band took the stage at Sidebar to a roaring crowd, and no one in attendance was standing still.  Check out this clip of The Koffin Kats’ show intro!

Once Sidebar had been laid to waste, we drove towards our next city (Richmond, Virginia) and stopped to sleep in the van after passing through Washington D.C.  Learning from the previous night, I slept naked in order to make sure I didn’t wake up in a sweat-soaked sleeping bag again.  My sleeping bag is righteous.  Not only does it have a snag-free main zipper, there is a second zipper at the bottom of the bag which allows my feet to breath, and there’s a pouch made for storing a smartphone near the head of the bag with tactile ability!  I Velcro that baby in there, and fall asleep listening to classical music.  Awesome sauce.

(SIDE NOTE: We’ve started a fun little game called #WhereIsVic.  If you or someone you know has an official Vic Victor bobble head, put it in a silly situation, take a picture, and post it on Twitter with the hashtags #WhereIsVic and #KoffinKats.  We’ll be picking our three favorite pictures each week and retweeting and posting them, so go out there and get creative!  Anything goes!!)

Photo Jan 30, 7 43 19 PM
#WhereIsVic #KoffinKats

 

When we reached Richmond, we dropped Ian off to hang out with one of his former bandmates, and the rest of us hit the gym for the second day in a row.  It’s pretty cool that Koffin Kats take good care of themselves by eating healthy and exercising regularly.  (I’ve already lost five pounds since leaving home.)  Cardio completed, we showered and drove to the Richmond venue (Wonderland), parked the bus, and went to a local pub for lunch.  Lunch finished, we stopped next door to peruse their vast selection of whiskey.

Image
Bad decisions in Richmond, VA.

Food comas set in shortly after Eric purchased a bottle of bourbon, and we took naps in the van.  Sleep is not easy to come by while on tour, so we take full advantage of every opportunity to get some shut-eye.  Following a good one-and-a-half-hour nap, we loaded in at Wonderland.  The vibe in this place is creepy (in a good way), and the staff was super-friendly and took great care of us all night.

Image
“Nobody puts Vic Victor in a corner.” Creepy baby heads and dolls at Wonderland in Richmond, VA. (If you squint hard enough, I look like Jar-Jar Binks . . . )

Richmond surprised us with our second SOLD OUT show in a row!!!  Fans were outside for over two hours waiting for people to leave so they could gain entry to the venue.  Some even went so far as to show us their boobs and butts in an attempt to coerce their way in.  Rules are rules, though, and besides, the club was already as packed as sardines in a can.  The band delivered another excellent performance, and we ended up completely selling out of their new embroidered patches!

From Richmond, Vic drove through the night while I kept him company in the passenger seat.  We passed the time by talking about old country music stars and band business.  Before I knew it, we were at our destination in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  We have great friends in Fayetteville who put us up in one of their houses which isn’t being used at this time, so we have the whole place to ourselves!

Image
Our Fayetteville, NC friends arranged for us to have this awesome house to ourselves for three days!!

The house next door to the one at which we’re staying is owned by the Road Devils’ National Sergeant-at-Arms and President of the Devil’s Brigade Chapter.  His house is baller, and we’ve been hanging out there for the past two days, which included the Super Bowl party I mentioned I was looking forward to in last week’s post.  Even though the game ended up being a blowout — the Denver Broncos took it harder than a Bunny Ranch employee — the party was fantastic!  Food and adult beverages flowed all night, and everything was delicious.  I didn’t win any of the squares I bet on (thanks a lot for choosing a futile 2-point conversion instead of an extra point, Broncos!!), but I definitely cleaned up in Cee-lo!!  (I roll 4-5-6 like it’s my J-O-B.)  At halftime during the big game, we had everyone get together for a group photo.  We told them it was a photo . . . we lied.

This first 11 days has flown by so quickly, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  I’m sure there will be difficult and challenging days in the future, but so far everything has been easy peasy lemon squeezy.  This tour life is the life for me, for sure.  Thanks for reading this update, and be sure to check back next week for more inside info — or make life easier and subscribe to this blog to get updates in your email instantly.

If you made it this far, you get a reward: here’s “The Way of the Road” performed in its entirety at the SOLD OUT show at Wonderland in Richmond, VA!!

John Kay farts in his sleep, calls people out on their bullshit, and strives to be a better person every day.  Subscribe to The Real John Kay’s blog to receive an email whenever a new post occurs!

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

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