Friday, March 11, 2011: Philadelphia, PA (Kung Fu Necktie)After hastily packaging our new Viking Funeral LPs, meeting up with our most excellent roadie and merch extraordinaire, Jeffrey Hollis, bidding farewell to our friends at The Acheron and The Anchored Inn (best new bar in town! 59 Waterbury Street 11206), and packing all our gear into our seemingly large trailer when empty; we immediately jumped into the infamous BQE traffic and left Brooklyn with the energy and anticipation of school boys on the first day of summer vacation. Upon arrival in Philadelphia, we realized Thulsa Doom was also playing a reunion show at Nick's Vegan Café with Magrudergrind, Backslider, Callous, Deep Sleep, and Cough. We did not, however, let this little known fact deter us from shredding along the likes of local titans, Ominous Black, and our crushing tour mates, Batillus. The show was great! We saw some old friends, and after herding the rest of the dude-like cats into the van, we headed off to sleep at Jeff’s (drums) parents’ house. In true fashion, our first set of surrogate tour parents supplied us with an ample amount of non-perishables. These snacks proved to come in handy, filling our gullets like a sponge and soaking up all of the extracurricular wet and dry goods to be consumed in the next two weeks.
Saturday, March 12, 2011: Richmond, VA (Strange Matter) Strange Matter fucking rules! They give bands discounted, vegan–friendly food, beers, and their bartenders are quite pleasant on the eyes. Locals Balaclava opened with a familiar His Hero Is Gone-esque style of hardcore that will never get old. Batillus wrought the doom, and U.S. Christmas played as a trimmed down 4 piece, sans an extra guitarist and drummer, but tore it up nonetheless! Richmond is always a good time.
Sunday, March 13, 2011: Johnson City, TN (The Hideaway) Sunday night in the Bible Belt means Ghost Town, USA. The only thing missing from the streets were tumbleweeds. Fortunately, we were playing at The Hideaway with U.S. Christmas! The night actually turned out to be a good one. All the bands ripped it, and it is always great to play with USX--especially in their stomping grounds. Their current album, Run Thick In The Night, was recorded right around the corner from the venue, so it felt pretty nostalgic. All in all, Johnson City ruled! Pot of vegan chili, AND we were able to convince the owner--bro that he was--to sell us a one of a kind, phenomenal velvet painting of a demon and his concubine to hang on the wall of our favorite bar, The Anchored Inn! If you don’t know by now, The Anchored Inn is plastered in amazing velvet paintings and they give touring bands a sufficient bar tab for those who donate one to their walls.
Monday, March 14, 2011: Little Rock, AR (Downtown Music) We are always so stoked to play in Little Rock! The people rule and the Downtown is fucking awesome! The sound is great and we always get down southern style with our friends in Rwake and Deadbird. Upon arrival, we got two waves of bad news: First, The Body broke down 4 hours out and would not be playing the show. Second, Rwake was to be playing with our dudes, Nachtmystium, in Nashville, therefore unable to attend. The show must go on though, and the owner, Samantha, treated us like kings. She gave us food and drinks all night and even sent us off with 40 cans of PBR (for those of us who indulge) to party after the show with our good friend Robin in her quaint, rustic house an hour outside of the city. The night turned out to be amazing, as usual in LR, and CT and B from Rwake actually showed up unexpectedly. Complications forced Rwake to cancel their show; but fortunately, we were able to give hugs and have long awaited conversations about times past. We reminisced about how, at a previous HULL/Rwake show, a fellow bro (who shall remain nameless) smoked half a joint of NYC Strawberry Cough and proceeded to pass out, fall face first, and convulse on the sidewalk. Upon waking up, to our amazement, he promptly asked for the joint back and continued to smoke the rest of it. Party on, Little Rock!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011: Ft. Worth, TX (The Elmo Jones Metal Music Complex) Fuckin’ Texas, man! I drove eight hours to hurriedly load onto the stage at TEJMMC to what seemed to be in the middle of a suburban neighborhood on a school night. We were grateful, however, for our good friend Frank Garcia of Brooklyn spell casters, Wizzardry, who hooked us up with a show in his hometown with local shredders, Four Days To Burn, with like 2 days’ notice. Fortunately, the show was pushed back a bit. Everyone at the venue was nice and accommodating, and actually let our fellow Brooklynites, Lost Cove, open the show, as they were also in Ft. Worth on their way to SXSW. After Lost Cove tore it up, local instruMETALists, Velia Strain, gave us an idea of what the sound system could do. Batillus transcended all other doom bands as usual. About half way through our set, the promoter informed us that the cops were outside and were shutting us down due to the aural strain on the neighborhood. Fuck that shit! We kept playing until the cops were inside on the stage forcing us to turn off our amps or go to jail. After telling them to fuck off, I had decided it would be best to let my guitar feedback and head outside. I feared being locked up as a Yankee in Good Ol’ Texas! As I was cooling down, I noticed one of the cops was coming after me. Although my first instinct was to protect the cavalry, my next instinct was to run from the possibility of going to jail and ruining our SXSW. Next thing I knew, I was hiding out in a random garage in bum fuck Ft. Worth, with five cop cars at the venue. I stealthily made my way back around and hid in the bushes until I saw my chance to make a dash for the van. Quickly I jumped inside, changed my shirt, pulled my hair back, and made my way back inside the venue -- just in time to break down all the gear. We didn’t get to finish our set, nor did we get to see Four Days To Burn, but no one got arrested. We were able to drive off to safety to our second set of surrogate parents house, the Caven’s, in Austin.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011: Austin, TX (Broken Neck) The Caven Compound is no ordinary floor to rest our weary heads. We came across this astounding opportunity by mere luck and good will. Last year, as we were heading out, Carmine (guitar) mentioned to his neighbor, Caitlin, that we were going to SXSW. She mentioned that she grew up in Austin and that every year her parents host bands because they have a huge house and it’s just the two of them. She explained that her parents were hip and if we didn’t feel weird about it, we should contact them. My dad always taught me that the most important 4-letter word is risk; so we decided to do just that. After careening through the hills of the outskirts of Austin, we arrived at what appeared to be a golden mansion atop a cliff overlooking the entire city. Last year The Caven’s put us up along with the Icelandic band, Sea Bear. Although there was plenty of room, this year they decided to have just us, and it was phenomenal! We stayed with them for the four days we were at SXSW. Their hospitality included three meals a day, laundry, and a hammock on the porch! One might say this is not metal, but after sleeping on the floor of punk squats and getting robbed in Cincinnati, I could give a fuck!
Our first show in Austin was at Broken Neck, an anarchist, DIY, Skate warehouse squat, full with a plethora of dogs and face tattoos --Just the way we like it! This show absolutely ruled! We were also very fortunate to see our good friends, Trey and Emily Jacobs, who recently relocated to ATX so that Trey could tear it up with Skycrawler. So many great bands, including Dark Castle, The Roller, Skycrawler, Green & Wood, Royal Thunder, and Asahara killed it in pure punk rock fashion.
Thursday, March 17, 2011: Austin, TX (Emo’s/Ale House) This was the most insane day of tour by far. The morning started out with Jeff and myself dropping the rest of the guys off at the convention center to check in while we went to do an interview with our publishing company, SESAC. We arrived at the address given to us, in what appeared to be a 5-star hotel in the heart of the city. After making our way past the concierge and bellhops in tuxedos, we finally found our way to SESAC’s famed brunch in the mezzanine. I am always weary of buildings with mezzanines -- they are not really a defined floor, and odd things usually happen in “the mezzanine”. Anyway, after weaving through the maze of stonewashed jeans and new Converse, we finally saw Jamie Dominguez, our remarkable SESAC representative. I felt as though we had arrived at a shrine of the holy land after a long and grueling pilgrimage through industry folk compulsively typing away on their smart phones, oblivious to their surroundings. After an awkward interview, we quickly made our descent to the ground floor and outside to safety. We continued our journey to the convention center to pick up the rest of the heathens and head to our first show of the day -- Full Metal Texas at Emo’s. FMT was absolutely ridiculous! So many amazing bands! The promoters are our good buddies, Fred Pessaro from Brooklyn Vegan and Rich Hall from Brooklyn based 1000 Knives. It should have been called Full Brooklyn Texas, with Label mates Goes Cube and All Pigs Must Die playing, along with Funeral Pyre (replacing Rwake), Kvelertak from Norway (new labelmates), Trap Them, and the mighty YOB!
After playing to a packed house, we decided to cart all of our gear the three blocks to The End Records showcase at the Ale House. Because finding a parking spot for a van and trailer in Austin during SXSW is like trying to find an honest politician, this proved to be a more arduous mission than originally thought. We had to dodge the drunken frat dudes and scantily clad females, while staying focused on the task at hand. Finally we made it to the venue, set up the merch, and took a much-needed break, hanging with The Body before our set. Braveyoung opened the show with a fantastic smorgasbord of instrumental soundscapes. Goes Cube was great once again, and we played surprisingly well, considering how tired we all were. Immediately following our set, I ran to watch Agalloch and YOB at the Nanotear showcase because I had to miss them in NYC due to our tour. Agalloch was wonderful, and somehow I managed to end up with the very last Aaron Horkey poster and got all of them to sign it! It was great to hang out with YOB, along with countless other friends from the scene one last time before they flew back to Portland. I felt like a Juggalo at an Insane Clown Posse show, but with much better music and much better people.
After saying my so long’s and farewells, I returned to The Ale House and loaded the trailer. We made our way back to home base.
Friday, March 18, 2011: Austin, TX (Triple Crown Tattoo) We played outside, along with Mutilation Rites, Pack of Wolves and Batillus. I didn’t know the sun could be so hot! It was as if Satan himself was barbecuing The Goat of Mendes in the parking lot while we were playing. The show still ruled, and everyone at Triple Crown was super nice. Sean and I wound up getting tattoos. I convinced the artist, Zach Nelligan, to clamp my Go Pro camera on the top of his gun while tattooing. The footage came out amazing!
Saturday, March 19, 2011: Austin, TX (Shiner Bar) The Shiner Bar seemed like it could be good vibes due to the location, but it turned out to be kind of a bummer. Of course, Pack of Wolves and Batillus were great; but sitting through the crab, metal-bro core, and the ska-core/Decemberists (Yes, imagine if The Decemberists played Ska core and had two back up singers that sounded like Aretha Franklin) bands before us totally, “harshed our mellows, man”! It was pretty awesome how loud we were and the reaction we got from the crowd who decided to stick around, though.
Sunday, March 20, 2011: Blanco County, TX (The Caven Ranch) Ahhhhh… a day off! And what better way to spend it than shooting guns and riding ATV’s on a 1500 acre, GIN-U-WINE, Texas RANCH! Fuck. Yes! The Caven’s explained that they had this ranch in the family since 1833, and we could go out and explore the natural Texas terrain, while scoping wildlife, shootin’ guns (at cans!), riding ATV’s and relaxing in the natural spring that ran through their property! I think it was pretty much a unanimous vote that this would be the way we were going to spend our only day off on tour. What an unparalleled day it was! After having a picnic with the Caven’s, shooting a few rounds (to quote Tom Caven, the blast from the barrel was “the sound of freedom”), and exploring the trails on the ATV, we settled back in the house and had our last supper with our surrogate family. I’ll have to admit, it was a bummer saying goodbye to the Caven’s, but the tour must go on! We had to depart on our next adventure to New Orleans.
Monday, March 21, 2011: New Orleans, LA (Siberia) I absolutely love NOLA. So much culture and history, not to mention the macabre, voodoo vibe that I feel every time I am there. The bayou breeds a hedonistic nature that is unapparent in other parts of the country, sans Las Vegas, but Vegas is much more capitalistic--NOLA just likes to party! Anyway, I always get stoked to play for the Dixie Whiskey crust punk squatters who like to drink beer and headbang on the sidewalk. I was hoping our bros from Eyehategod could come out to the show since we missed their showcase at SXSW, but they had other priorities going on. Fortunately, Gary (bass) and his wife Tomasa agreed to put us up for the night, so I was excited to hang with them after the show.
Siberia is on the outskirts of the French Quarter, and just as presumed, there were a plethora of punks and dogs hanging out in the median across from the venue. Mutilation Rites played their rendition of Brooklyn Black Metal perfectly and Batillus crushed the stage as usual. We were very fortunate to play with Whitehorse from Australia, and they absolutely killed it with their punishing doom! The Body was so heavy, and it was the first time I saw them perform as a 4-piece band. After the other dudes got nice and ripped from the free PBR’s Siberia most graciously provided, we made our way over to Gary and Tomasa’s house, where we were promptly introduced to their two tortoises and cuddly little Chihuahua! It was so nice to get the opportunity to hang out with the two of them, catch up, and talk about the new EHG album. In the morning, their hospitality was so nice. They cooked us breakfast and made sure we hit the road with food in our bellies and a little bit of NOLA hospitality!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011: Nashville, TN (Little Hamilton Collective) The Little Hamilton Collective is a DIY, anarchist, bookstore/show space that we play every time we are in Nashville. The kids come out and truly support the scene, and we always have a good time with our friends in Evil Bebos and Ascent of Everest. Much is true of the latter; but unfortunately, not the former this time around. Something got messed up with the promotion. There was another show going on, and with it being a school night, pretty much no one came out. To make matters worse, Mos Giganticus got held up and were unable to play. As usual though, the show must go on-- and that it did. We got word the scheduled openers, Sacaea, broke up the day before, so a very young, local hardcore band by the name of Fenriz showed up to open the set. Fenriz reminded me of my first band and brought back a ton of good memories. The night ended up being a success anyway, as all the bands played well. We sold some merch, hung out with our good friend, Diana, and our dudes in Wizard Rifle and Årabrot showed up right at the end! After catching up for a bit, we all jumped in the van and headed to the Bebos Castle for a few hours of rest before taking off to Chapel Hill.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011: Carrboro, NC (Reservoir Bar) We have stated on many occasions that we will never turn down a show with Caltrop, no matter what. Ever! Therefore, we were super excited to get to Chapel Hill because we would be playing The Reservoir Bar in their hometown, as well as the next four dates with them. As soon as we pulled up, the party started. This was definitely one of my favorite shows on the tour. Great friends, great bands, great vibes, and we actually made a little money at the door! It was also nice to finally meet Michelle Temple of Black Skies and Lechuza Booking, whom we had been in contact with for quite some time. After the show, we all headed out to Adam (Caltrop guitar) and Hannah’s majestic, country abode on 30 acres of beautiful North Carolina wilderness. There we cooked a huge scramble out of freshly harvested eggs from their chickens and played with their puppies and goats. The weather was so amazing and the air so clean. I really felt like I was in Heaven.
Thursday, March 24, 2011: Baltimore, MD (Sidebar) The Sidebar was much better than the previous venues we had played in Baltimore. The sound was great and the crowd was stoked! Local sludgers, Billows opened the show with their southern influenced riffs and wonderfully diverse lineup. Caltrop and Batillus were flawless as usual, and we even got to see some best friends, Pete and Cameron (Sean’s/bass brother) who came up from DC. All in all, the night was sick!
Friday, March 25, 2011: Montclaire, NJ (Meatlocker) The Meatlocker was aptly named. It was in a freezing cold basement, and just so happened to previously be an actual meat locker. This show was fucked. It was a 6-band bill, with the 3 local bands playing first, and it didn’t even get started until 10:30pm. Just as predicted, every single person who came to the show left after the third band, Chambers, played. We wound up going on at 2:00 a.m. I really can’t complain, as it is always an honor to have the opportunity to play with such great bands as Batillus and Caltrop. Also, we would be playing our homecoming show the following day in NYC at the Studio at Webster Hall for another Brooklyn Vegan/1000 Knives collaboration. One of the owners of Science of Silence Records (released VF LP), Tim Tatulli even showed up, making the trek from Manhattan!
Saturday, March 26, 2011: NYC (Studio at Webster Hall) It was so nice to get back to our stomping grounds and give Caltrop and Horseback a proper NYC show. The Studio was packed with great fans and friends. Since its release, it was the first chance we had to display our new Viking Funeral LP to our home crowd. Brooklyn Vegan and 1000 Knives always do us justice, and the sound at the Studio was top notch. Every band was extremely tight, and even Kat Katz from ANB/Salome showed up to collaborate with Batillus on a new song! The other co-owner of Science of Silence Records, Marc Shapiro, even threw us an official after party at his bar in the Lower East Side, Idle Hands. It couldn’t have been a better way to end an amazing two weeks on the road!