Monday April 18

A bit of background -- We've been home for about 3 weeks since our SxSW tour. For me, this is long enough! The weather is warm, the skies are clear and with the new record coming out, the only place for Apes to be is on the road. Apes have been together since 1999 and have been touring regularly since 2001. We have released several records on various labels and our most recent full length, Baba's Mountain, has just come out on Birdman Records. Early reviews state definitively that we are Stoners with Boners-self indulgent, heavy, Sabbathy, Wanky, Druggies. It's funny because it couldn't be further from the truth. But I suppose that truth is relative and personal. And here we thought we were making the poppiest record that we could muster! My personal need to tour is not based on the actual desire to 'sell records'. I get pleasure from sitting in the van, driving the van, wandering around bizarre little towns, stumbling through wacky big cities, facing the challenge of finding mildly healthy food choices, endlessly looking for the hippie coffee shop, and above all, I dig all the people along the way.

With all those things in mind, when Q and Not U offered us 5 shows from Denver to Cleveland, Apes agreed immediately. We planned a little mini-tour to get out to Denver to meet them. Departure day is here. We are bound for Columbus, OH.

It's time to go. It's Monday around noon and we arrive at Jeff's. Our 1987 Ford Econline is parked on the street in front of Jeff's parents' home in the Maryland suburbs. It is complete with pinstripes, plush burgundy carpet, and captain's chairs. When I hop in to move it into the driveway for loading, I notice the strange new silver box on the dashboard. It could be like the black box kept in airline cockpits, meant to record the voices of the captains as the plane goes down. But I see it's attached to the cigarette lighter. And it has power inputs. Jeff has bought a goddamned power converter for the van. We don't have a CD player. We don't have an audible radio. We don't have air conditioning. We don't have heat. But now, we can use portable computers for more than 2 hours at a time. [Jeff: It's a power inverter, actually. Now I can have my laptop running constantly so I can watch fights, read digitized comics, and do some website stuff. ]

The drive to Columbus is uneventful. It's a beautiful day and I'm happy to sit in the back of the van and watch Paul run his hand through his feathery locks as they blow in the wind. The only tension amongst us is the possible announcement that our Europe tour is about to be cancelled due to some serious shortcomings on the part of our Euro booking agent. For a 23- day tour, the fellow confirmed 4 shows and only told us one month before our arrival date. There was no other communication before hand to let us know. Oh well. I like to eat shit. Who doesn't? This music 'industry' is run by music lovers and musicians and it's brimming with good hearted flakes.

We drive. We pass through beloved Breezewood, hit the Pennsylvania Turnpike, rock some mountain roads, and arrive in flat Ohio, with mapping instructions provided by Jeff whose laptop computer is being powered by the internal generator of our little van. [Jeff: Inverter. I didn't yet have the map program at this point. Read on for the exciting tale of how I acquired it!] We load into Little Brothers and suddenly it's pouring rain. We bring in our other new 'quality of life' purchase -- a hotpot with thermal mug so we can constantly have hot water to brew Throat Coat Tea for Paul's vocal folds. We've read in TapeOp Magazine that this is the way to prevent a vocalist from losing his voice and by golly, we will keep Paul intact come screaming, bar smoke, and hard livin'!

We scatter to find dinner. Erick and I get Chinese Food. We are given huge plates of oily food with MOUNTAINS OF RICE. We get some coffee on the college strip. While we are in line, the guy that is in front of us turns to look at me. He doesn't say anything at first.

Then he says, "You can have my gift card if you want it."

"Really?" I say. I hope he doesn't think I will suck his dick.

He replies, "Sure, there is enough left on it for one more coffee treat."

His lips curls into a half smile.

"Wow. Thanks. You are the April-in-Columbus-Coffee-Claus."

I excitedly order my 4 shots of espresso over ice. First night of tour and I need a little lift to assist transition from normal person schedule to rock schedule.

I look around to thank him one more time. He's gone.

Sadly, there aren't many college kids to look at on the strip tonight so we head back to the club to talk on cell phones.While I'm standing on the street talking to my family, 3 morbidly obese women drive by in a car and scream unintelligible sounds at me.

Little Brothers is a large venue and on a Monday night, even with support from local faves, El Jesus de Magico (who've rocked Columbus with us about 5 times), there are about 60 good souls and the room feels a touch unloved. People are cool though as they often are.

Tonight we meet Gene Mullet. This man has been working with the Cheater Slicks for some time and is a buddy of our label owner, Dave Kaznelson. Gene is a true music lover and we enjoy hearing his stories. We also meet his good buddy, Craig, who is an equally big music fan. Gene apparently has video footage of our beloved Dave in his old house. Gene promises they are CRAZY! We beg for a viewing.

Also in attendance is my childhood best friend, Mandy, and her husband, Matt. I'm seeing her for the first time in 15 or so years (tour is good for reconnecting with long lost people).

There are some minor equipment problems during our set. My amp seems to not produce any sounds for a significant period of time. I just keep throwing my head around like an asshole and smash my little fists down on that keyboard, pretending to be oblivious to the silence.

After the show, Mandy and Matt come backstage. Matt tells us that they got us a hotel room at the Hampton Inn, 7 blocks down the street. Typical Ape accommodations are the homes of college kids we meet the night of the show. These kids typically don't take out their trash. They usually have flea-infested cats that are missing eyes. They usually invite 30 friends over to start partying with the band at 2:00 am.

But, not tonight. We rush to load out so we can go to the hotel and enjoy valet parking and beds. At 1 am, Craig and Gene bring me a deli tray of cut vegetables, a bottle of carrot juice, a bottle of club soda, and a jar of Grey Poupon. Craig gives me a massage to possibly prevent the 2 days of neck pain that always accompany the start of a tour. When I pee in the toilet that isn't already covered in urine, I mentally thank Mandy for making some solid life choices.

We have a free breakfast at the hotel in the morning. I get to use the hotel gym. I could get used to this.

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