probably won’t keep a journal for this next solo tour (sept 8-sept 22) because i’ll be busy having conversations with myself. if there are photos, i’ll post them upon return. paka.
from 2015 tour:
more photos from czech republic, taken by vlastik vojacek:
june 25, 2015:
made it to namur. playing an early show in the basement of the cultural center building, in a dvd/cd rental place that doubles as a venue. got the most sleep on tour last night, after wandering around and eating for 8 hours straight. went out to the car at the end of the night to get some clothes and somehow ended up wandering for 2 more hours looking for a belgian waffle place, which we eventually found at the far end of the city. drank a black khomeini–“a long drink for ‘dare devils’ with herbal vermouth, black carrots and stout beer”–at a bar that changes its handwritten 5-cocktail menu every night and made it to the list of top-ten bars in europe last year but has the unfortunate name “jiggers.” we never would have found it if justin’s friend abe hadn’t taken us. (you have to ring a bell to get in.) we probably would have ended up at the drifter, purportedly belgium’s only tikki bar, where you come classy and leave trashy. anyway, got to namur all burned out from sightseeing and drank jupiler beer in the sun by the canal, came back to the venue and watched duran vs. hagler, then duran vs. de jesus I, both epic.
i made some good friends on this tour, some really kind and unforgettable people who reminded me why this is worth the months of stress and preparation that go into organizing it. and i got to know justin, a cool guy and great tourmate who might have a mental breakdown if you put mayonnaise on his food. leaving for the airport tomorrow. excited as ever to be home. next up are a handful of shows in july, tba soon, writing for the next album and finally being comfortable–when im not sitting in my cubicle of course.
june 24, ghent, belgium:
june 24 2015:
packed show at cafe video in ghent. strange because the first time here with Travels we played to an empty room. sweetest moment of the night was a father asking me to make a record out to his babies so they can have it one day when they inherit his music. as expected, i gave up on updating this page and the journal. its a gorgeous day in ghent, and the first day off after playing 18 straight shows, so i don’t plan to spend it on facebook. last show tomorrow night in namur. day after tomorrow life goes back to normal. here are photos of ghent, of a creepy toystore in bamberg germany, and of the silver rocket castle show, taken by the talented Vlastik Vojacek.
june 21, later:
a wonderful night in prague with Aran Epochal, aka Adam, one of the kindest and most encouraging music people i’ve ever known. without him i wouldnt have made it to europe. here we are being Leto fanboys.
june 21 2015:
mismas, a huge DIY festival in the czech countryside. (stage is in a converted barn.) a mashup of genres, no sponsors, gourmet vegetarian food, a wine cellar, camping. latest night of the tour. 15th straight show. saw a lot of the friends we’ve made around the country, drank white wine until 3 am, got lost walking down a dark road looking for our cabin, saw the sun come up, woke up a little hungover and a little depressed to be leaving. but we’ve had a string of good shows, and prague has yet to disappoint.
june 19 2015:
bunch of photos taken from justin’s page, mostly from when our gps took us to the backroads of czech republic. also the sleeping arrangements last night. slept surprisingly well, no bites of any kind. chemnitz tonight. 13th show in a row.
june 18 2015:
lovely show in berlin. huge thanks to emperor x for opening and melissa for organizing. on a bad note, looks like the brussels show fell through. if there’s anyone at all who’s interested in organizing a show on june 24th please send a note. we’re easy, we’ll play loud or quiet. get in touch.
june 17 2015, later:
lednice, drive to mikulov, downtown mikulov, Dionysus after a hard day of drinking, “smoke weed every day”, synagogue, horse stables, locally sourced veggie burger and spinach gnocchi each under $5, view from the bathroom window, downtown pardubice, where trumpets are playing Amazing Grace. hotel anna.
june 17 2015:
breclav, another memorable venue, another sweet promoter going out of his way to make everything perfect, another small (35 people) attentive audience. a wilder night packed with ipa, homemade wine, cherries from vaslik’s garden and local characters, most with nicknames like hamster and mum. could have been a scene from a john waters movie. tonight we play in pardubice, CZ with aran epochal, aka adam, my friend & the owner of lokal rekorc in prague. but first our new friend vlastik is taking us on a tour of Mikulov, a small town in the southern moravia region (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikulov
). i love this country.
june 16 2015:
possibly the most surreal show ive ever played. a basement full of people between 15 and 75 years old, among them a czech willie nelson dancing through the set, peace sign around his neck. the openers (Leto) sounded like a mix of the raveonettes and the cure. (i bought you a cassette, matt.) the crowd was incredibly kind and respectful. at one point a fight nearly broke out, but the promoter broke it up and we finished the set as if nothing ever happened. played a new song as the encore and learned that my tape echo pedal does things i never knew were possible. words cant do these kind of nights any justice. also, not that i just figured this out, but justin is a fucking great drummer. tonight we found our groove. empty stage post-set. czech nelson.
june 15 2015:
in koprivnice, czech republic, population 20,000. tonight we play with Leto, a husband & wife duo we met at the silver rocket festival on sunday. (palma, half of leto, designed the cover art for Classic Ballroom Dances.) listened to a few of their songs from the hostel this morning, and cant be more excited to hear them live. (http://www.silver-rocket.org/mp3/leto-trava.mp3
). the venue is a small hookah bar in a basement, cozy and dim. last night at kabinet muz in brno was good. a dog showed up, sat down to listen to the set, barked during applause. so far every show has had at least one dog in attendance, always respectful. went out drinking to celebrate matt’s last night on the tour, stumbled into a bar with this ridiculous menu. woke up to a parking ticket on the windshield, went to 3 different police stations to try to pay it, got a lot of blank stares. it will remain unpaid. check out this guy leaning on a slice of pizza, and some other photos i stole from justins page.
june 14 2015:
played in a church 2 kilometers from a tiny czech village called vernovice. a couple hundred people drove out and camped in the woods. great bands, audience, scenery, beer. slept in a cabin clearly built for children, drank from a well. first thing in the morning everyone was drinking beer. video from the show & better photos (matt’s photos) coming later. sitting at a reststop off a small road, about to eat fish and chips. probably a bad idea.
june 12 2015:
drinks on the town, a view from our flat, a photo of a polaroid, us looking like bozos pre-race. exhilarating. and this city is fucking great. ciao.
june 11, later:
back of the venue. a proper pilsner.
june 11 2015:
tonights venue in pilsen, playing in 3 hours. was led here by a guy on rollerblades.
june 9 2015, later
played in this castle. stayed up until 3 am doing a podcast with 2 hilarious germans. good night.
june 8 2015
got to karlsruhe early, drove around the city trying not to hit cyclists, walked into these woods we passed and didnt come out for a while. playing at a bar at a student center. unlike student centers in the US, this one has a cigarette and beer machine (1 euro for a local brew). played ping pong and got killed 3 games to none. walked to the penny mart and got 50 cent pilsners, warm, and drank them outside because we’re in germany and we can. another delicious vegetable dinner and good conversation with students, watching overdubbed Mash, a lovely vibe, justin’s getting nostalgic. killing time on the roof, admiring treetops and the karlsruhe skyline. bar/venue opens in 20. excited and feeling good about this show.
june 7 2015
delicious food all day–fruit salads, tofu scrambles, bratwurst, spinach risotto, mango chutney, spreads galore. played a small outdoor show in a dusty art junkyard across the street from a stripclub and brothel and stripclub-themed pizzeria. first outdoor show i ever played, at dusk, watched trains pass in the distance during instrumental passages. loading out, i saw two teens take ecstasy and crack each others backs. earlier, we drove around koln and explored the kolner dom, built in the 13th century. today i learned you can’t call a beer a kolsch unless the kolner dom cathedral can be seen from the brewery. here is alva, friend & promoter & fantastic cook, hanging out of her window. right now she’s across the table and we’re watching Germany absolutely kill Ivory Coast. tonight justin and i share her roommate’s bedroom while he travels in Israel. tomorro
w we play in Karlsruhe. the private house show is now a public show at a place called Insterburger, located at insterberger strasse 2. come on out.
june 6 2015
writing from the bandflat, 1:30 in the morning. too lazy to reflect on the day. all was good, all thanks to bielefeld and our kind promoter Jonas. salads galore, beer after beer. spent midnight in a room with a man named sebastian and his friends, celebrating his birthday. everyone took turns giving him hugs and it was the sweetest thing. ciao.
june 5 2015
awake about 24 hours now. cramped, stuffy flights from boston to reykavic to brussels, as expected, bjork featured in airplane literature and pretty much everywhere else in the airport, including the duty-free shop where they sell bjork-themed liquors. went from watching 50 boxes of live lobsters and A FUCKING CASKET being removed from airplane cargo to driving through rush hour traffic and lightning in brussels to kevin & gina’s house to get the records, to wandering around the sleepy, foggy town of ruiselede. exhausted, we made it to the gear rental place, ran through the set, sort of, mostly spent the night kissing Jenna the dog and talking about Prince with our lovely hosts. barely got the gear into the car. i was ready to give up, but justin kept cool and somehow made it work. tomorrow we wake at 9, hit up the bakery and leave for Bielefeld. first show with Des Ark. played with them a few years back in Germany, kind of strange to be playing with them again here of all places, 3,500 miles from both our homes.
june 3 2015
i promised i’d write here for the few who will want to follow. mostly it’s an exercise in discipline. there isn’t much to do anyway—flashes of sightseeing, but mainly driving and nursing beers and waiting. although anna reminded me this morning that i did see a pack of wolves last time.
i’m traveling with a mini ipad and the tiniest keyboard i’ve ever typed on, so expect typos. the shift button also gets lost, so capitalization is out the window. i’m also depending on Justin to take the photos since i’m not bringing a camera.
here are the albums i’m most excited to listen to in the car:
little wings- explains
jim o’rourke- simple songs
tobias jesso jr- goon
bobby charles- bobby charles
glenn jones- my garden state
mick turner- marlan rosa
cat power- you are free
And here is a really thoughtful review of the new album, from Clicky Clicky Music Blog:
here we go.
june 1 2015
mar 12 2014
just got these lovely photos from my new friend David, who hosted the house show in Switzerland.
Not much else to report. Writing a bunch of songs, piece by piece, all at once, recording and deleting, recording and deleting. Will be a while before the next one.
feb 25 2014
home sweet home. no gear was stolen or lost or broken. no fights. no accidents. all in all, a success. thanks to all of the kind promoters & showgoers for making it a great one. now, back to work.
feb 7 2014
well, i lost the camera. one less thing to think about. bad timing, though, because we’re playing at kafe kult tonight. my 4th time here. maybe my favorite venue in all of germany. a city-sponsored cultural center, surrounded by sculptures, graffiti all around, painted school buses, up in the woods, just a 15 minute tram ride from downtown munich. my friend christian is the promoter for this one, and it’s nice to see a familiar face. access to a beer fridge all night. group dinner. hovered over the pot of veggies and rice, and it feels like home.
anyhow, im getting tired of trying to separate private thoughts (and notes) from the public ones. if you live in Europe and you ended up here because you’re thinking about coming to a show, please do, and say hello, and have a drink with me.
tune in to byte.fm around 4 pm (germany time) on feb 14th for an interview & a couple of songs.
fam and friends, assume the shows are good, the people kind, the drives safe, the border crossings smooth, the beers hearty, the valleys deep.
feb 6 2014
last night was a good show, and the people were kind. and there was a dog there. a big one. Tomasz was the best, and Sven Pacher, the house photographer and all-around good guy, took some photos of the show. (the only two good photos, in b&w, below). thought it would be an early night, but the drinks started coming at 11:30. local beer & the german equivalent of jagermeister. eeeek. ended up at the bar late. walked to the flat, a classic german flat, with a view of the valley, about 10 minutes away. and a kitty cat named Picasso. a group of us all around the living room. it got late and i tried to sleep, but the party went on all around me–until 2, 3, 4 am. that + the jet lag made it impossible. suddenly it broke up and everyone passed out, and the hosts to their rooms. but i never really fell asleep, even after it came to an end. every clock in their house is set 4 minutes late, so they can always be on time. Germans. functioning on about an hour of sleep today. missing warm bed and home, but a good night’s sleep should change that.showed up in siegen early. an idyllic town. sleepily wandered around, met up with Steffi at the Vortex club, another club she’s involved with. had a home cooked meal: green salad with peppers and vegan bolognese. delicious. spending the night in a private band flat at the vortex, so we’ll make up for lost sleep. showtime in 3 hours. playing with a local band who sing in German, and i like that. and steffi tells me that two friends (farrid & timo) i made here last time are coming tonight to have a drink and catch up. Schellack is swanky. Cotton Jones on the stereo, my favorite song of theirs. an old acquaintance from maryland. james is taking a shot of homemade mexicana, a sort of schnapps. good night.
feb 5 2014
Wuppertal, home of the suspended tram and one long, beautiful valley. so much more comfortable here. the language comes easily. at least ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘one water and one beer,’ and ‘you’re welcome,’ which is actually the same word as ‘please.’ driving on the highway from Brussels felt like driving through lancaster, PA. stopped at a grocery on the way here. waffles everywhere. waffle heaven. 2 wuppertal facts: 2nd most steps in all of Germany. also, home of pina bausch. and engels.
the venue is gorgeous. lit by candlelight. the entire city, too. we went for a walk and got a view from the top of the valley. back now, and dinner is coming in a few.
feb 4 2014
1 down, 19 to go. first show was great, truthfully in my top 10 favorites. and we were fed duck confit w/ a layer of mashed potatoes and a layer of pumpkin. amazing. the cozy bar (le chaff) was packed, and by the 2nd song the crowd was quiet. got called back up for an encore, and played a michael hurley cover (light green fellow). got to play a new song for the first time too. so drained now that the thought of uploading this journal every day is daunting, and don’t be surprised if this is the end of it. sorry fam. maybe everything will improve on more than 3 hours of sleep.
the rental gear place was out in the country, but had a bakery across the street. nothing else for who knows how long. it was a Flemish-speaking territory, and just when we started feeling comfortable with bon soir and merci. the amps are great, and the nord electro keyboard is Zap Mama’s. fact. the bakery had a huge selection of Cock’s Fresh cheeses and sausages. and the freshest pastries. the people who loaned us the gear had a Leonberger named Jenna.
feb 3 2014
nighttime. made it to brussels early (9:30 am). flight was quick, but we were stuck in front of a cackling woman and a grunter. UH UH UH after every word she said. went to pick up the little car and they upgraded us to this sweet volvo station wagon for free. pure luxury, and a built-in GPS. brussels was sunny and warm, and birds were flapping around madly, dogs off leashes, streets crammed with signage, cars in reverse everywhere you turn. all to the soundtrack of Air’s talkie walkie. made it to kevin and gina’s lovely apartment, with a cozy room all set up for us. stepped right back out and went into the city to explore on foot. got too hungry (and panicky), picked up a baguette and prosciutto and brie at the grocery, ate like savages on the side of the street. napped for 3 hours. went back out to explore some more. every bar in this neighborhood has slots and a pinball machine. smokers in bars, smokers drinking beers outside of bars, policemen looking like they’re playing dress-up. turkish guy tried to sell us cocaine. got belligerent when we told him to fuck off. got the adrenaline pumping. back at “home” safe. tomorrow we get the gear and rehearse. first show at 8 pm at Le Chaff. scoped out the place today, and it was cozy, had windy stairs and glass walls. playing with kevin’s band (he died while hunting).meanwhile, another kind review of Lost Weekend from Czech Republic. google working its magic on it:”When I finally got sound through anger and vanity (normal dispute between us) in the head, everything froze, dry the tears, the view is stuck at one point, although the imagery beneath it ran. The music disarm me …
Almost every song is waiting for you. Each has its core, what keeps it alive and makes all the power, magnetic and here. How monolitého middle italic text. Identification sign. This music got me. It is not so dense as to be Siskiyou is easier to powdery perfume. Songs Boduf against her doleful and lazy. Although I listened total plate out loud (to my mind not one loophole to dodge) less than a year my son fell asleep in my arms (and do not tell that little Kontrollák is the volume used to it – it is not). The board recommended not only introvertům, but everything … will make you an introvert.
The whole work is based on the guitar, piano, drums, effects, and some “dejchavýho” (this term I invented for shampoo) voice. The first song drew me into the summer-scented forest, rain drops fall on the waxy leaves of oak trees and puddles to outpace circles, everything is greener and every breath the walls of the trachea irrigation pure dew. “I’m Your Man” to me is the biggest hit song. This piano is so gentle, yet playful, sexy and such a whole, it is about a guy. It is hairy, has facial hair (of course) and it makes me to submissiveness, throw away pride and look up to you. “Shyness” – this one I wanted to wear together as a musical clock on the move, keep it in your bag and always rebellious finger to push the sheets, accelerate and decelerate.
What? A dog with no legs? Why? Dogs … this one is disability are able to live and what’s more, run! Strong determination and tenacity of a dog.
Is .so tender and surprising, like me pouring honey into the wound.
feb 3 2014
dublin airport. all is dark, and our gate is empty. guitars were let on the undersold flight here, no questions asked. i took a row of 5 seats but still couldn’t sleep. james slept through everything somehow. strangely, aer lingus served a decent southwestern chicken & rice meal, not what i was expecting. i’m boring myself just writing this, so i’ll stop now. this is for friends and family, so don’t come looking for entertainment. it’s easier than writing to everyone separately. i’ll leave you with this hilarious and typically british (BBC) coverage of the superbowl that james pointed out. (sorry, anna, couldn’t have been much fun to watch.)
“Jermaine Kearse further humiliated the Broncos when he received Russell Wilson’s pass, spun 360 degrees to evade a pair of converging defenders, and trotted into the endzone for a 23-yard score.”
feb 2 2014
here is the practice space, aka the corner of my bedroom. my neighbor doesn’t know i’m gone for tour, but he’ll find out soon and it’s going to make him very, very happy.
not a person in line at the aer lingus counter. easy check-in. a piece of luggage 4 lb over, but no one cared. past security in 2 minutes. beer & burger at Durgin Park. not much selection at this janky airport. needs more dive bars and less hugo boss. lotsa bro talk from the waiter, and forced responses from us. CNN reporting Philip Seymour Hoffman dead at 46. shoot. rocking chairs interspersed with wheelchairs.
unrelated: discovered this vincent zompoa poem on the BOMB magazine site yesterday, and fell in love with it. thought about it again this morning when I woke up. nothing to do with tour–except Meidoornstraat, a reference to a street in Netherlands perhaps. enjoy.
Seventh of June
I am putting together the puzzle you sent me.
On the back it says Meidoornstraat 55,
but I know it was siphoned through a lens
in the 5th century AD by Tyronia of Masticon,
the meat eater, the oil collector,
woman with a dappled soul soaked and glowing.
The woman who ripped a map of France, a woman
who saluted and dove from salt cliffs at dawn
to find breakfast among the sponges.
I know your light will leak to me
when I solve this puzzle
while the bedbugs and airplanes and radios
suds up the Long Island Expressway.
I know the sun that pulls the dogwood’s naked howl,
its limbs crossed around the secret it protects,
the sun that makes me throw kissing sounds
to clouds passing and kissing sounds to passing
juncos and kissing sounds to little street cats
that stop in recognition of their two-legged brother.
And I know this sun also misses things:
drum-toothed mastodons and four-legged
milky birds we have no name for.
We rename all the animals and plants.
We piece them together when love begins.
And from so far away you write that I am
your psychic diamond, your powdery moped,
your rusty hat. I chew things
and wait for such puzzles.
jan 23 2014
and if you can’t read Czech :
1) There is not much information about you on the internet except mentions of the bands you played in. What else can you tell us? Well, I can give you some facts: my dayjob is at The MIT Press, the publishing arm of the university. I’ve worked here for about 5 years, in different capacities. A lot of what we publish is too difficult for me—linguistics, robotics, philosophy, etc.—but I’ve made some good friends, and I like it here. Strangely, since we both have the Geoff Farina connection, we’ll be publishing a book he’s translating next year sometime. More on that when we see each other next month. What else? I spend the rest of my time bicycling around the city, sparring at the gym, cooking, reading, watching cooking reality tv shows, snuggling my cat Clio, listening to records and generally worrying about every little thing that’s out of my control. These are the boring things I’ve left out of my online bio.
2) Are you really amateur boxer? Why boxing?
Yes, I started boxing about four years ago and have been drawn to it since. Frankly, I felt unhealthy and had put on about forty pounds that summer eating ice cream. I needed to get to 165 pounds (from 210) to fight as a middleweight, so that consumed my life. The training early on was painful, but it was satisfying to feel connected with my own body again. And that feeling multiplied when I began sparring. As an anxious person, it helped me trust my own instincts; when the bell rings, there’s no one to rely on, and I like that. Admittedly, I’ve been more focused on writing and recording these past few months. And I don’t have any dreams of competing again, because it takes more time to prepare and make weight than I’m willing to put in.
3) Is “New Dog” just you?
New Dog, on this first album, is just me playing all the instruments. I recorded it alone in my apartment over the course of a few months. On this tour, I’ll be joined by my friend James on guitar and keyboard, and he’ll trigger some samples on the laptop, too. Going forward, I’m not sure what will happen. Making this album helped me come to terms with the fact that I’m perhaps not the easiest person to collaborate with—because I want things to sound exactly as I hear them, and I make enough compromises in everyday life to make them in music too.
4) Your songs are very, very introverted (at least that´s how I feel about them). How does it feel to perform them live?
I can only hope people listen to at least one song before coming to the show, and realize they’re in for a somewhat quiet set. When I worry about playing these fragile songs, I think about some of my favorite musicians—Mark Linkous (of Sparlehorse), Jason Molina, etc.—and realize that some of what I love about them is their willingness to play their songs, as exposed as they are, without covering them up. Not comparing myself to them at all, though—their voices put mine to shame.
5) I can tell from my experiences that one man projects are somehow a challenge for somebody who used to play in the band. There is no one else to lean on, no one to blame…
As you probably know, not having someone to lean on is both terrifying and doubly rewarding. You work at your own pace, and set your own rules. My pace can be frantic sometimes, and I know that can annoy others. I also feel a sense of guilt all the time, often for no reason at all, and that can be exhausting when having to tell a collaborator that I’m not sold on something. So working alone helps alleviate that.
6) You’re touring in February… depressing weather, cold, snow. What will you be listening to on the drives?
Townes Van Zandt- self/titled (from 1969)
Bill Frisell- Big Sur
Lee Hazlewood- Trouble is a Lonesome Town
Daughn Gibson- All Hell
F.J. Mcmahon- Spirit of the Golden Juice
Songs: Ohia- Magnolia Electric Co.
Earth- The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull
jan 21 2014
jan 14 2014
three weeks to go. full-blown anxiety has come and gone and come and gone. lists upon lists. plane tix bought. aer lingus, who last time around (travels’ 2011 tour) went on strike and flew us to JFK instead of logan, put us on a shuttle bus with no heat to boston, bags with apples and water for all. ah well. car rented. airport pickup at 5 am. automatic, so we can both drive. wish i learned manual. voltage transformer ready. 99-cent foam mic cover ordered, and a backup (thanks james), the cost of not getting electrocuted. box of adapters packed. amps & keyboard & rehearsal space in ruiselede for the 4th. the folks there (the-mic.be) even invited us to come spend the last night of tour there in a private band apartment, for free, when we return the gear, and they’d prepare breakfast. the kindest hosts of all (thank you kevin & gina) in brussels. xmas lights to wrap around stand. small mixer for house shows. and a mic to hang from a ceiling. jumprope for cardio. venue addresses confirmed, places to sleep, dinners, all confirmed… almost. google doc for finances, and a packing list. passport, check. nearly expired. book of carver stories, some unread. a chance to read bulkagov’s heart of a dog. add that to the list. face lotion. new albums for the ipod. Earth. Glenn Jones. Magnolia Electric Co. Gil Evans for rainy mornings. some posters sent. some 3rd-person bios avoided. more waiting now, tying up loose ends at work all month. wish this was full time some days, but mostly not. working on new material, want to replace the old material, but should sleep on it.
a blurry photo from our show on Jan 9th at the ACT performance cube: