Koffin Kats March 2014 Tour — Update #3 (Austin, Laredo, Harlingen, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Springfield, Grand Rapids)

Hey-o! Here’s the final update from the road on our two-week March tour, and our one-off show with Mustard Plug this past weekend!

After being treated to a delicious bacon and eggs breakfast in Beaumont, Texas (thanks, Alicia!), we hit the highway to Austin, Texas. Once we got through the crazy rush hour traffic in downtown Austin, we pulled up to the night’s venue, The Lost Well.

Just another manic(ure) Monday.  On the way to Austin, TX.
Just another manic(ure) Monday. On the way to Austin, TX.

The Lost Well is another DIY rock and roll venue with a relatively small stage (not as small as the stage in Laredo, Texas, but we’ll get to that soon). Vic and I set up our rigs, and then I immediately got to work changing Angel’s strings and cleaning off the residue of sweat and beer that inevitably ends up getting on her. Strings tuned and stretched, I helped myself to some of the wonderful homemade lasagna provided for us.

Our show that night had a really good turnout and crowd response, especially considering Austin had just hosted their annual South By Southwest festival; it was a Monday night; and it was St. Patrick’s Day. The audience included several longtime friends and fans of The Koffin Kats, who warmed up to me quickly and had much positive feedback. Post show, we went to our friend Alyssa’s house and hung out for a bit, smoking and drinking. Soon enough, my tiredness hit me and I retired to the bus for a good sleep.

Morning came sooner than expected (time flies when you’re having fun), and after brushing my teeth we left Alyssa’s to get to a local Ford dealership where our buddy Steve from the band Klax works. Steve is a gearhead, and really knows his way around diesel engines, so we tapped him to help us work out a couple kinks with our bus. While the bus was being worked on, we went to grab a bite to eat at Logan’s Roadhouse, then walked around Cabela’s for a bit. We had more time to kill while the bus was in the shop, so we hit up Wal-Mart and Vic purchased a Panama hat for the outdoor work he’ll be doing this spring/summer.

Ready for sunny weather in Austin, TX.
Ready for sunny weather in Austin, TX.

Eric and I treated ourselves to milkshakes at Sonic, and we walked back to the dealership to scoop us the bus and travel to Laredo, Texas. Vic drove us the whole way to Laredo, since Eric and I were passed out having sugar dreams. Our arrival at the venue, On The Rocks, was a bit early, so we spent a little time walking around town, eventually stopping to look across the Rio Grande and the border into Mexico. Back at the venue, the opening band (Scarecrow) was chilling outside, and we all sat around and chatted for a bit about band dealings and music stuff.

On The Rocks is a narrow venue, with a stage so small it required Vic and I to set up our rigs directly in front of Eric’s drum kit. In fact, there wasn’t enough room to store our gear inside the venue, so while Scarecrow was playing we staged our stuff outside on the sidewalk. Once on stage, Vic and I each had about a 3’x2’ area in which to perform, but we made the most of it. The crowd was incredibly responsive, and the fans made their appreciation known throughout the night. They were truly grateful for us coming to Laredo, and encouraged us to not only come back, but to book shows in Mexico, too. Someday!

We had hotel rooms that night in Laredo at a local Motel 6. That’s right; I said r-o-o-m-s, plural. Each of us had our own hotel room in which to sleep and do whatever dudes do when they’re alone in a hotel room. It was refreshing to sleep in a bed, even though the bed was a little stiff.

I feel like Motel 6’s amenities are a direct reflection of the nonchalance in the voice of their spokesman in their commercials; everything was just annoying enough to not be too annoying, but noticeable: the bed was a little stiff, but not too stiff; the towels were slightly scratchy, but not so scratchy that you couldn’t use them; the TV was small, but not so small you couldn’t enjoy it; the bedding was thin, but not so thin you couldn’t keep warm. Then again, we were in a Motel 6 in Laredo, Texas. (In other news, I’m really good at using colons and semicolons.)

After a morning shower, we left for Harlingen, Texas. Seriously, I had to ask the boys “What did we do between leaving Laredo and arriving in Harlingen?” It turns out all we did was drive and take naps. Fine by me! We got to the Harlingen venue, The Hop Shop, with plenty of time to spare, so we…took another nap. God, we’re old.

The Hop Shop in Harlingen, TX.
The Hop Shop in Harlingen, TX.

Loaded in, The Hop Shop treated us to barbecued chicken and ribs, which were great. Full of protein, we greeted the fans and friends who were filling the venue quickly. We took the stage (read: the floor), and the crowd went nuts. Fans were jostling for a better view, since we were slightly obscured by a half wall, and people were knocking into each other and having a blast. They even coerced us into two encores!

Who are you calling "chicken"???
Who are you calling “chicken”???

Once we departed The Hop Shop, we drove to Corpus Christi and parked at another Wal-Mart to catch some Zzzz. Up and at ‘em the next day, we made the short trek to San Antonio and parked outside the venue, Korova. Our buddy John met up with us and treated us to lunch at Bill Miller BBQ. The food was delicious, and we were quite grateful. Lunch consumed, we went for a walk around downtown San Antonio, stopping for ice cream and cigars along the way. We went to the Alamo and strolled along the riverwalk, which was very pleasant. I remarked to the boys that I felt like I was on vacation; the weather was perfect, and the scenery was lovely. We returned to the bus and, you guessed it, took another old man nap.

Got 'em.  Smokin' 'em.  In San Antonio, TX.  Post-lunch.  Pre-nap.
Got ’em. Smokin’ ’em. In San Antonio, TX. Post-lunch. Pre-nap.

That’s really been our routine on this tour: wake up, breakfast, gym, drive/nap, lunch, walk around with an ice cream or milkshake, nap, load in, set up/change strings, hang out at the merch table, perform, hang out at the merch table, tear down, load out, drive to where we’re staying, sleep; rinse, repeat. I’ve loved every minute of it!

IMG_0713

We loaded in, and after setting up my rig I immediately went to work changing strings on both Angel and McFly, my blue sparkle Sensei from Reverend Guitars. Strings changed and stretched, I moseyed to the merch table and hung out, meeting and greeting friends and fans. I even autographed the skin of several people in order for them to turn my signature into tattoos. I sure hope they know what “permanent” means! I’ve never been asked to do that before, and it’s proving to be less rare than I would imagine. Koffin Kats fans are awesome, and I’m honored that someone would want my name on their body, especially since we’re not dating. Ha!

The crowd at Korova in San Antonio, TX.
The crowd at Korova in San Antonio, TX.

The crowd at Korova was fantastic, all up at the front of the stage and eager for the show. The stage was, in my opinion, the perfect size for the show we like to put on, and I was able to engage with the audience much more than at previous shows. This was the first show at which I felt brave enough to take my shirt off and perform, and did so later in the set to much appreciation from the females in the audience — I see you, ladies! 😉 We came back on stage and did a two-song encore of “A Darker Place” and “Needles and Blades,” then we were mobbed at the merch table for pictures and autographs.

The last of the friends and fans left after the venue had closed, and we packed up and headed to our friend Luis’s house. Luis and his wife had an amazing spread of food waiting for us, including this phenomenal macaroni and cheese with bacon and chicken. It was some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. We stayed up for a bit, drinking and chatting, then passed out in our respective areas.

Looks like our bus stole the show in San Antonio, TX.
Looks like our bus stole the show in San Antonio, TX.

The next morning, we were fed breakfast and a cinnamon cheesecake concoction that made us all feel nice and full, ready for the drive ahead. Before breakfast, Vic took some time to make some adjustments to the pedalboard enclosure he built for me. Now I can see the digital readout without having to crouch down and look inside the enclosure, which makes for a much smoother transition between songs. Breakfast finished, we departed the company of Luis and his family, and made for the nearest Buc-ee’s so Eric could buy us some beef jerky for the road.

Breakfast with friends in San Antonio, TX.
Breakfast with friends in San Antonio, TX.

Our destination was Fort Worth, Texas. We arrived a couple of hours early and walked around town, stopping at a liquor store where we purchased a bottle of Herman Marshall pure Texas bourbon. The distiller was at the store offering samples, and this whiskey was quite smooth and flavorful. We ate at Freebirds World Burrito, and I made sure their restroom felt my wrath on two occasions within two hours.

On the road to Fort Worth, Texas. Eric is making full use of his degree from Nap So Hard University.
On the road to Fort Worth, Texas. Eric is making full use of his degree from Nap So Hard University.

We loaded in at Lola’s and hung out at the merch table, like we do. The place filled up very quickly, and there was hardly room to move inside the venue, even during the opening bands, which is awesome. While the first acts were performing, I was able to meet a bunch of friends of the band, all nice people. We chatted and got to know one another for a bit, and then it was time to play. The crowd was incredibly energetic and moved throughout the entire set. Ladies in the front row were begging me to take my shirt off, and I obliged.

You know, a good, smelly saloon . . . is my favorite place in the world.
You know, a good, smelly saloon . . . is my favorite place in the world.

The performance at Lola’s was one of the strongest we had during this tour. Vic came up to me after the show, shook my hand and told me, “You’re owning it.” I was speechless and grateful. After we packed up our gear, we went to an IHOP to eat some food with Fort Worth friends before heading out on the road for the eight-hour drive to Springfield, Missouri.

Lola's was ready.
Lola’s was ready.

 

After parking at the venue (Outland Ballroom), we trekked to a local market for a healthy late lunch. Once lunch was finished, we went to the bus and took a short nap before loading in. Load-in at Outland Ballroom is somewhat painstaking; all gear needs to be brought up a long, steep ramp, which leads to the rear of the venue. We set up and had an awesome sound check. (I could actually hear my guitar while playing!)

Honoring Grandpa by wearing his hat and chewing on a toothpick in Springfield, MO.
Honoring Grandpa by wearing his hat and chewing on a toothpick in Springfield, MO.

This show was a fitting end to my first tour as guitarist for Koffin Kats: We were on a big stage with a great sound system and solid engineer, we had our buddies Brutally Frank (Joplin, Missouri) and Gutter Ghouls (Detroit, Michigan) opening the show for us, and many longtime fans and friends of the band were in attendance. The crowd was highly engaged, and women were grabbing at my junk every time I made my way to the front of the stage (I am NOT a piece of meat, ladies! :-D).

If this van's a rockin' . . . it's just Ballman getting more merch out of the trailer.  In Springfield, MO.
If this van’s a rockin’ . . . it’s just Ballman getting more merch out of the trailer. In Springfield, MO.

When the last of our friends and fans had left and with the trailer packed, we began the long drive home to Detroit. We got home in the middle of the afternoon, and I immediately set to work preparing Stu Stu Studio for my clients’ arrival that evening. The following week would be filled with ten-hour recording sessions and sleeping.

Almost home.
Almost home.

This past Saturday, we played with our buddies Mustard Plug at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The venue layout is awesome, and it has a wonderful sound system. We loaded in while the sun was still shining then walked to a local dive bar for dinner. Upon returning to the venue, I changed Angel’s strings and hung out with our people.

This was the first opportunity that my girlfriend Jackie, Vic’s girlfriend Liz, and Eric’s brother Michael had to see me perform. They each were very complimentary toward me, and even though the damned clip on my guitar’s wireless transmitter broke halfway through the show (!!!), it was a successful night.

The Red Queen and I at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, MI.
The Red Queen and me at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, MI.

After we finished at the venue, Jackie and I went to a late night coffee shop before boarding the Megabus to Chicago, where I write this now.  I’m working on learning all of the old material so we can add more old songs to the set if we want.

Study materials.
Study materials.

When the band first approached me about playing guitar for the group, I was fearful that my skill set wasn’t at the level necessary, and doubtful of my ability to play the lead solos accurately and smoothly. I busted my ass for days practicing the songs and solos over and over and over, building calluses and developing muscle memory. Though I still have a flub here and there, I feel extremely comfortable in my new role, and I absolutely love performing with Vic and Eric. Our vibe is great, and everyone is telling us that I fit right in with the band. This opportunity has dramatically changed my life for the better, and I am so thankful to have been chosen for this position.

I also want to thank those of you who read these posts and follow the band in everything we do. To those of you whom I’ve met, I look forward to seeing you the next time we’re in your area. To those of you whom I’ve yet to meet, don’t be shy; I’m quite approachable, and though I may occasionally forget your name, I appreciate you and your support for the group. You are why I get up on stage every night.

I just can’t wait to get on the road again . . .

/smooches

:-J

Koffin Kats March 2014 Tour – Update #2 (Tulsa, Corpus Christi, Houston, Beaumont)

Well, I’m one week into my tenure as guitarist for The Koffin Kats, and everything has been going wonderfully!  As I prepare to write this update, I fear that it won’t be as info-packed as my previous posts; also, my capturing of photos and videos has been few and far between.  (I’ve slept a LOT in the past week.)  So, I’ll do my best to cram as much as I can into the following paragraphs.  Let’s go!

 

After leaving the hospitality of our Brutally Frank friends (thanks, Steve and Mel!), we left Joplin, Missouri and stopped in neighboring Carl Junction so Eric and I could get haircuts.

Pompin' ain't easy in Carl Junction, Missouri.
Pompin’ ain’t easy in Carl Junction, Missouri.

Fresh from the barbershop we drove to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and hit the gym.  Afterward, we stopped at Gardner’s Used Books and browsed for a bit.  Vic bought a bunch of books, and when checking out he discovered that the store clerk was a Koffin Kats fan!  So, we all took a photo with him and then left for the venue.

Went to a used book store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and guy behind the counter is a Koffin Kats fan!  Reading is fundamental, rockers!
Went to a used book store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and guy behind the counter is a Koffin Kats fan! Reading is fundamental, rockers!

We arrived at Downtown Lounge a couple of hours early for load-in.  Once we checked in with the promoter and received our food buyouts, we walked to a nearby Mexican restaurant and ate taco salads.  Bellies full, we settled into the bus for a late afternoon nap.

Loaded in, I took the opportunity to change the strings on Angel, my Reeves Gabrels Spacehawk Signature Reverend guitar.  I like to change my strings every other show, because after two shows’ worth of playing they start to sound a little dull.  I know it’s only rock and roll, but I like to sound as good as possible.  If I could afford to change my strings every single show, I would do so.

Before the show started, we reached another milestone: 70,000 likes on Facebook!  We did some celebration shots and snapped this pic…

Celebration shots for 70,000 likes on Facebook!
Celebration shots for 70,000 likes on Facebook!

We took the stage at Downtown Lounge to great fanfare.  I felt much more comfortable with the flow of the set, and had worked out a few of the kinks from the previous two shows.  I did have one boo-boo though: when I jumped off of Vic’s upright bass after playing the guitar solo in “Chaos”, I placed too much weight on my heel and it cracked the outer shell.  No matter, the show went on smoothly, and all was well.  The crowd was stoked to see us, and we hung out and smoked and drank for a little while before packing up and beginning the eleven-hour drive to Corpus Christ, Texas.

Vic drove through the night for a few hours before pulling over to sleep.  A couple hours later, Eric woke up and picked up where Vic left off; I joined Eric up front to keep him company and read another chapter of my current book.

As we were getting closer to Corpus Christi, we stopped at a Buc-ee’s.  I’ve never been in a Buc-ee’s before, and had no idea what to expect.  This place is a huge fill station/food mart/gift shop/grocery store.  It had two endless rows of gas pumps, and there were so many people bustling about that it felt like I was at a crowded amusement park.  I ordered a sandwich, filled my water bottle, and got the hell out of there.  After bulldogging my sandwich, I proceeded to my bunk to have a nap.

I woke up when we had arrived at Boneshakers in Corpus Christi.  We set up our gear, and Vic and I took some time to work on a couple of my guitar effects for a few songs.  We also fixed the crack in Vic’s bass, and during the process I gouged a chunk of skin out my thumb when I caught it on the exposed tip of a screw.  I swear, something about this band and giving me hand wounds…it’s not right.

Once we got on stage to perform, the crowd was warmed up and ready to let loose.  And loose they got!  The area directly in front of the stage was a tiled floor, and since drinks had been spilled while people were dancing and moshing around during the opening band, the floor had been turned into a slippery death trap.  There were a few rowdy fans taking turns pushing each other across the floor, slipping and falling, getting up and repeating the whole effort.  I didn’t know what was more entertaining, our performance or the spectacle on the dance floor!

Loaded out, we drove to a nearby Wal-Mart and slept in the parking lot.  We woke up just before 11:00 AM and had breakfast burritos at one of our friends’ restaurant.  Breakfast finished, we started out on the road toward Houston, and I settled in for a nap.  I woke up and we had made it to a Planet Fitness in Houston to get a workout in before heading to the venue, Walter’s Downtown.  When we reached Walter’s, Vic enjoyed an early evening snack of sardines and sriracha sauce.

It's sardini time for Vic outside Walter's Downtown in Houston, Texas.
It’s sardini time for Vic outside Walter’s Downtown in Houston, Texas.

After loading in and playing through a couple of songs for a sound check, I changed Angel’s strings and warmed up my hands by running through chromatic scales and lead solos backstage.  There were snacks there for us including candy bars, pretzels, and cookies.  Vic and Eric chose to subsist on the snacks instead of spending money on dinner, and I followed suit.  It turned out that was a poor decision on my part, because after having only two beers and two shots, I played a set with more flubs than I care to count.  It wasn’t a horrible performance, but it certainly wasn’t my best.  That night I made the decision that going forward I will always eat at least two hours before we play.

The rug really ties the stage together at Walter's in Houston, Texas.
The rug really ties the stage together at Walter’s in Houston, Texas.

Gear loaded in the trailer, we followed some friends to another bar for a quick nightcap.  We got there at last call, and the next thing I knew I had two shots of Bulleit bourbon in one hand and two shots of tequila in my right hand.  The last thing I remember was leaving the bar, climbing in the bus, and getting in my bunk.  After that, blackness.

The next day, we joined our friends Dave and Lisa at their store The Haunted Heel on the boardwalk in Kemah, Texas; they sell creeper shoes, dresses, shirts, and other rock and roll-inspired attire and accessories.  Vic picked up a new pair of shoes and then we all went out to lunch at Aquarium.  We ate some fantastic seafood, and I was able to drink some hair of the dog in the form of Dos Equis lager.  Lunch eaten, I went into the bus and…you guessed it…took a nice long nap.

Seafood lunch with our friends from The Haunted Heel on the Kemah, Texas boardwalk.  SO.  GOOD.
Seafood lunch with our friends from The Haunted Heel on the Kemah, Texas boardwalk. SO. GOOD.

We drove to our “road mom” Alicia’s house and hung out for a few hours before heading to the venue.  Well, at least Vic and Eric did.  I opted to continue sleeping in the bus, and did so until we arrived at Tequila Rok in Beaumont, Texas.  I got my rig set up, tuned my guitars, and set my sights on finding a big salad to eat.  Alicia ended up driving me to a local Italian restaurant and I got what I wanted.  I felt lucid (read: hungover) all day until I finished that salad.

The Koffin Kats have played at Tequila Rok before, and usually perform on their outside patio stage.  Due to rain, we were forced to perform inside on a stage four feet off the ground, which was fun.  We also discovered that when I don’t drink before going on stage, I am MUCH more on point when it comes to my performance.  So, from here on out, I’ll be politely refusing drinks prior to show time.  Sorry in advance to those of you who want to get me drunk!

We had a few fans from Walter’s in Houston make the trek to Beaumont to see us again.  One of them remarked to Eric that she “didn’t want to like the new guy, but he makes it really hard not to!”  Hahaha!  I knew going into this venture that there would be fans and friends of the band who are close to both Ian and Tommy, and I figured it would be difficult for me to win people over.  As I stated when my new role was first announced, all I aim to do is honor their legacies and add whatever value I’m able.  It’s awesome to have so many people come up and tell me I “fit right in”.  It feels really good, and it just makes me want to do even better the next night, which is always the goal.

Once we packed up our gear into the trailer, we went back to Alicia’s house and were treated to an amazing pot roast with potatoes and bread.  We ate heartily, drank some secret recipe moonshine and whiskey, and Vic passed out listening to music while Eric and I stayed up watching TV and talking until the sun started to come up.  It was a fitting end to a great first week.

Today, we handled our band business.  Normally we would do it on Management Monday, but since today is our only day off we moved everything up so we can just roll out to Austin, Texas tomorrow with a clean slate.  One of the topics we covered was making a music video for a certain song on Born Of The Motor, and hopefully that seed bears fruit soon.

I leave you with that titillating thought until next week, ladies and gents!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

:-J

John Kay is loving being on the road, getting better every day, and working hard to win you over.  Subscribe to The Real John Kay’s blog to receive an email whenever a new post occurs!

Wanna hear a sample of 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.

Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
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Music: johnkay.bandcamp.com

Koffin Kats 2014 March Tour — Update #1 (St. Louis, Joplin)

Helloooooooooo!!!!

mrs_doubtfires-cake-face

This blog post is my very first as the guitarist for The Koffin Kats, and even though we’re only two shows into this short, two-week tour, I’m excited to report the happenings so far!


Our first show of the tour — and my first show on guitar! — was in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday, March 8.  The prior evening, I had developed a serious sinus infection while packing for the trip.  I got up on Saturday morning at 5:45 AM, barely able to breath out of my nose and with severe pressure in my skull.  I made and drank a cup of Bulletproof coffee, and went to the gym.  I proceeded to do my full workout routine so I could push the sickness out of me, or so I hoped.  After going back home and taking a hot shower, I said goodbye to my family and boarded the bus for our 9-hour drive to the St. Louis venue, Fubar.

March 2014 Tour Dates
March 2014 Tour Dates

After going through half a pack of facial tissues and several Airborne tablets, we arrived at Fubar.  The venue has two rooms, and their bigger room was being used to host a metal show featuring Within The Ruins and Oceano.  We got our gear set up and backlined, and I promptly headed to a back room to change my guitar strings and break them in.  I also used the time to warm up my hands by doing chromatic scales and playing through all of the solos.  The venue filled up quickly, and by the time we took the stage the place was filled to the brim.

Packed house at Fubar in St. Louis for my first show!
Packed house at Fubar in St. Louis for my first show!

We launched into the set and without any warning, the crowd…went…OFF.  We had seen a few rowdy shows on our previous tour, and this one was already set to rival the top three from that particular outing.  Fans were bowling over each other less than a foot from the stage; freshly opened beers were being whirled around in the air like towels at a Pittsburgh Steelers game; people were falling onto my effects pedalboard; most importantly, everyone was singing and shouting along with the songs!  (I was told after the show that St. Louis is one of the first markets in which Koffin Kats established themselves early in their career, and these are some of the most dedicated and die-hard fans we have.  Awesome.)

About last night . . .
About last night . . .

A few flubs aside (…goddamned lead solos…), our first show went really, really well.  After wrapping up the set, I had several people come up to me to congratulate me on my performance.  According to these folks, I not only lived up to expectations, but shattered them!  I was pretty disappointed in my playing in regard to the solos, but they were very forthcoming with their praise, and insistent that things will only get better over time.  Considering my sinus infection, and the fact that it was my first show as a lead guitarist EVER, I walked away satisfied and optimistic for the next gig.

Self-explanatory.
Self-explanatory.

Post-gig, we headed to our buddy Mitch’s house.  Mitch plays in Benedict Arnold, one of the bands on the bill at Fubar and good friends of Koffin Kats.  We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, smoking and drinking…and eating amazing steaks that he had been marinating all day.  After polishing off our STELLAR steaks (thanks, Mitch!), we adjourned to sleep out in the bus.

The sun up, we joined Mitch and his girlfriend in the house for morning coffee.  I don’t know if it’s pure coincidence, but it seems like everyone we stay with while on the road owns a Keurig coffee maker.  They are incredibly convenient, and thankfully, our friends have good taste in coffee, because I sure do, too.

Simply the best K-cup.  Better than all the rest.
Simply the best K-cup. Better than all the rest.

After coffee and morning grooming, we left Mitch’s hospitality and departed for Joplin, Missouri.  While we were home in Michigan we had some maintenance done on the bus at a local Ford dealership and a Midas location.  The Ford dealership thought they could get one over on us and charge for two hours of labor on a half-hour job.  Vic made sure to point out his vehicle repair knowledge and got the quote adjusted accordingly.

The first day on the road, we noticed a sound coming from the bus which led us to believe there was a leaking manifold or air intake.  Our power felt sluggish, and going up hills was slow-going.  So, on the way to Joplin, we finally stopped to check out the situation.  It turned out that the Midas crew neglected to reattach the clamp for the turbo intake for the bus.  Vic jumped in there and took care of the problem lickity-split.  Screw you, lazy mechanics!!

"Yeah, get in there nice and deep, Vic . . . " - E-Ball
“Yeah, get in there nice and deep, Vic . . . ” – E-Ball

Once we got the bus running at a tip-top level, I settled in for a nap.  When I woke up, Vic and Eric had already begun loading our gear into the Joplin venue, Blackthorn.  Blackthorn is a pizza pub, and immediately after load-in we were treated to a hot pizza with roast beef, green peppers, and Alfredo sauce.  Oh, man, did it hit the spot.  Once I was filled with pizza goodness, I took the time to set up my guitar rig, tune up, and get everything ready for transport to the stage.

Second show setup and staging area at Blackthorn in Joplin, Missouri.
Second show setup and staging area at Blackthorn in Joplin, Missouri.  Note the hot tea (with whiskey) on top of the amplifier.

After setting up, the bartender (Crash) treated me to his go-to cure for clearing out sinuses: a shot of vodka with scorpion pepper.  I must say it worked well for long enough to get me through the show (which was shortened due to an unforeseen sound curfew).

The venue has a very small stage, and I had to set my rig up behind Eric in order to have room to get back there for a drum solo later in the show.  Vic and I performed most of the set on the floor, and I took the liberty of walking and dancing around in the crowd while performing.  It was fun, and we each agreed it went smoother than the previous night, which is the goal every night.  Fans and friends were “highly impressed” with my performance, and told me I “fit right in”.  Their kind words left me feeling really good.  If only words could cure my sinus infection!  Haha!  (No, seriously.  Sinus infections can suck it.)

Our good friends in Brutally Frank (Steve and Mel) allowed us to stay at their home for the entire time between our Joplin show and our upcoming show in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The night of the Blackthorn gig, we all hung out afterward doing the party thing, and I ended up crashing out on what would become my bed for the stay.  I woke up on Monday morning feeling much better than I had the previous three days.  Vic was kind enough to hook me up with wheat grass and his Bulletproof coffee ingredients to help knock out this sinus nonsense.

Monday is generally our one day off during the week, and we refer to it affectionately as “Management Monday”.  We’re constantly brainstorming and strategizing while we’re on the road, and since we don’t have wi-fi in the bus, we make notes of everything we need to take care of and bang it all out (or most of it) each Monday.  After accomplishing the tasks of the day, we joined our friends a few miles away for a wonderful dinner.  The spread was fantastic: appetizers consisting of spinach dip, bruschetta, meatballs, and smoked sausage links; fried chicken and baked ribs for dinner, with mashed potatoes, macaroni and gravy; and for dessert . . . chocolates cheescake with chocolate mousse and chocolate chips.  It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  Thanks Aaron and Amanda!

Dinner with friends in Joplin, MO.
Dinner with friends in Joplin, MO.

Just before dinner (and after drinking and uh…er…having a puff), I stepped outside to capture some photos of the gorgeous sunset taking place on the horizon.  I “stopped to smell the roses”, even though my nose was still stuffed up.  HA!

Nature's beauty in Joplin, MO.  No filter necessary.
Nature’s beauty in Joplin, MO. No filter necessary.

After thanking our friends for their generosity and saying our goodbyes, we went back to Steve and Mel’s and settled in to watch and “live tweet” a horror movie.  We had announced that we were going to do this via our Facebook page, and the fans voted for us to watch Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.

We live-tweeted this movie while we stayed in Joplin, MO.
We live-tweeted this movie while we stayed in Joplin, MO.

I had never seen the movie before and had no idea what to expect.  Quite honestly, I don’t dig horror movies, mostly because they give me intense and very real-feeling nightmares.  This one eschewed the gratuitous gore and psycho killers for more of a comedy-horror vibe.  We laughed our asses off!  Very funny movie, one that I would likely watch again after a puff or two.  😉

That brings us to today, Tuesday!  We have the day off in Joplin, and it’s a beautiful 75-degree day.  We just got back from picking up a new kick drum head for Eric, and now we’re firing up the grill to eat steaks!!  Life is good.

I’ll leave you this week with the following picture of me teaching Eric how Twitter works (he’s a Twitter n00b), and taking a break to give Steve and Mel’s dog, Bruno the Boxer, some love:

Sometimes you just have to take a break from business and get kissed by a dog.
Sometimes you just have to take a break from business and get kissed by a dog.

Thanks for reading.  See you next week!

:-J

P.S. Eric is now officially endorsing Warlock Drums, and I’m endorsing Reverend Guitars and Revolution Amplification!!  Check ’em all out!!  😀

John Kay is engaged in a ferocious battle with his sinuses, tempering his insatiable addiction to chocolate, and sneezing into his elbow pit so as not to infect others.  Subscribe to The Real John Kay’s blog to receive an email whenever a new post occurs!

Wanna hear a sample of 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.

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

Vic Victor Chimes in on Koffin Kats Happenings

Vic here… Some of you who stay hip to all things Internet may have noticed that we have had more of an “online presence” in the last month with our associated social media outlets. No, we did not hire an outsider to swarm you with band updates. We just brought on a very enthusiastic new guitar player who showed E-Ball and I the ways of social media and interaction. Interaction…I thought that’s why we tour?!! Either way, we are trying to stay “connected” and keep our friends up to date on what is going on in Koffin Kat land. And boy is there a lot going on at this time!

Before I move on, I would like to thank you all who actually take the time to read this and have helped promote us online. I actually can’t believe the amount of new “likes” we have garnered in the last month. Like 10,000 something!?!? For little ole us?? That’s wild!

Oh yeah, new guitar player. If you missed the announcement a few weeks back, ill give you the short version here. After 4 years with us, Ian has left the band. With respect for his personal life I can only tell you that when family duty calls, you have to step up to the plate. And that’s exactly what Ian has done and we always will wish him the best and in no way can we or should anyone else fault him for that.

Unfortunately his leaving is a permanent thing so we have enlisted a new guitar player. No, it’s not Tommy Koffin. I asked Tommy and he said, “no way, I like cleaning carpets better.” I’m serious! So in an effort to try to bring in someone close to the band and our goofy ways, we have brought in a long time friend of ours. You may not be familiar with him but he has been a “behind the scenes” member of KK since 2007. Working as engineer/producer/slash guitar solo fixer/extra recording vocalist on a good portion of releases. Including the most recent “Born Of The Motor.” (Ever listen to “Chaos” and wonder who that voice that isn’t a usual KK voice is”) Everyone… meet Johnny Kay. He has been busting his ass the last few weeks to get the tour set list down and we are looking forward to the upcoming run which will take us down into Texas and through some of the Mid West! Change is never easy, but from what I’ve seen and heard during our practice sessions, Johnny has been paying close attention to every detail of the old and new songs. Doing his best to emulate the guitar tone and vocals as close to the original recordings as possible.

We really appreciate everyone’s support during this changeover. I know Ian really appreciated the kind words everyone has had for him on his departure. Its killer that Johnny has already been able to see what kind of awesome folks we have that come out to our shows and he is starting to see why when we’re on tour, there’s never a reason to feel lonely. We have great friends in every city and we cant thank you all enough for that!!!

This update is the first of what will become a news bloggy thingy that one of us will contribute to on the first of every month. If you really want to know what were up to week by week and want some better detailed insights to Koffin Kats road life, you can check out Johnny Kay’s blog @

This year is another full year of international touring. We are constantly adding new shows on date’s page on http://www.koffinkatsrock.com. Check out the site from time to time or follow us on you social media drug of choice. Were on all the potent ones. Hah! Alight, that wasn’t that funny. But now I refuse to hit the backspace button that many times.

Hopefully see ya out there somewhere on the road!

Vic