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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.