What should I be doing instead of this?
April 23rd, 2009 By mbreen | Arts & Culture |

On the Road with Banderas: Part Three


(Editor's note: Cincinnati rockers Banderas recently kicked off an extensive tour with local Rockabilly/Psychobilly band Rumble Club. We've asked them to keep notes and they have obliged with some excellent, entertaining journaling. The "West Bound and Down" tour has hit as far west Anaheim and includes stops in Arizona, Texas and Tennessee. Part Three of their adventures is below. Check out Part One here and Part Two here)

They Call Them the Salty Dogs

April 10 Salt Lake City, Utah
Burt's Tiki Lounge

"Man, I'm getting the wrong ideas looking at all these hot older chicks."
"Yeah, they should rename this place the Cougar's Den".  -Johnny, my roommate and traveling compatriot and your humble narrator while eyeing the crowd during Rumble Club's set

If this trip was a video game, you would call this part of our travels the snow stage. We wake and leave from Paul and Laura's later than we preferred. Juice wakes up and is filled in by T.R. and I about the spectacle he was last night. I tell him how during his stupor he became belligerent and started roughing up Donkey and Johnny, my roommate. I also tell him that as we were driving back to Paul's house, he was sitting in the passenger seat with his head in his hands, incoherent and at that point a threat to no one. Donkey made sure to hit every left turn hard enough for Juice to bounce his head off of the window to even Juice's drunken trespassings. He shuffles out to the van where Johnny is sleeping and apologizes.

With everything all hunky dory again, we say our goodbyes and make our way out of Denver. We drive and enjoy the most scenic landscape we've had thus far. We make our way into Wyoming and out to the middle of nowhere. We arrive at a desolate run-down mountain range gas station. As I walk in I'm apathetically greeted by the gaze of an elk head trophy and a fellow close to my age but mannered and fashioned like someone two generations older. His gaze never lifted from his laptop. I'm looking for cheap snacks and a place to drop a greasy. He's searching for those new Michelin super-duty snow tires for his F-250 and cum-drunk teens looking to take it every way possible. I couldn't tell you what the elk was looking for as he is not much of a talker. Somewhere there is the buzz of a CB radio. We spend some time there refueling, looking at the view and stretching our legs as we are at the halfway point in our drive. Aided by the Nordic accent of the only other travelers we encounter at the station, we get the feeling we're in the Alps sans the hot cocoa and adequate dental care.

Snowy mountains. Hallucinating truckers. Unseen predators moving amongst the rocks. Passages where a man said "Fuck going around the mountain, let's go through it!" We drop anchor in downtown Salt Lake City, the city of polygamy and "sidecars," and load into Burt's Tiki Lounge. This has me perplexed as we're in Burt's Tiki Lounge and there isn't one tiki statue or frou-frou drink in the entire joint. Not even a single douchebag in the building with a fez hat or the entire Ultra Lounge catalog on his iPod except me.

It's wall to wall Punk Rock posters, some going all the way back to ’84. T.R. lost his license and has to spend the night in the van until we play. Dumbass. Jack from Rumble Club is from here and the place is all asses and elbows of his family, friends and the few survivors (literally) of the old SLC punk days. RC blaze a great set sans Chewy, their rhythm guitar player who is out due to some health issues. We set it off and meet some great people and sell a good amount of merch to the believers. We pack up our equipment and our newly acquired fantasies of older women and make our way back onto the road.

Cu Silvio takes over driving duties as we plan to hit Vegas and Los Angeles on our day off. A half hour into the drive I'm a fucking doornail. Thank you draft beer. If not for you I would have lost my shit in Oscar worthy proportions. Approximately 45 minutes into the drive Cu somehow pisses off mother earth and a phantom whiteout hits our section of I-15. We can't see five feet in front of us. Snow has blanketed the terrain, erasing our yellow and white dotted guidelines as Donkey, T.R., and the others are chain smoking the last of their cigarettes and quietly scooting to what seem like safer portions of the van.

Even our GPS has unhooked itself from the van's console and headed for higher ground. Gaia's bitch switch is fully flipped as Cu Silvio white knuckles us into the tracks of semi who's lights are beaconing ahead, long enough to get us to the nearest truck stop. All long I'm bouncing along in the back of the van dead to the world. April showers, right? We get to the truck stop and rest until the storm passes. I awake and am filled in on our death-defying adventures. The snow, not unlike those late night urges to call ex lovers and confess your hindsight musings about how things may have actually worked if there was more anal sex, lifts with nary a trace. Viva Las Vegas!

Can I Buy You a Drink?

April 11, Las Vegas, Nevada and Hollywood, California
Night off

"Up all night, sleep all day." - Slaughter

Today is our only day off on tour and we enter a stretch of prehistoric rock formations and highway barrels that Jesse appropriately mused as "the part of country that is still under construction." Shortly after that we find ourselves in Las Vegas. It's 9 a.m. and old Vegas is empty except for us, the tail end of last night's drunkards and the people who's luck or lack of starts early.

We wander about, thumbing through the ads for call girls and finally decide that using the money we've made from shows thus far for prozzies isn't a viable option as we are now only at our halfway point on the tour. We make our way down to the Golden Nugget to buy some souvenirs for loved ones and to maybe double up on some cash. We pass through the casino. I try my hand at video poker and put up an epically heroic fight against the house until I go down just like the rest of my companions. Johnny on the other hand manages to piss off a couple of guidos by sitting next to them and hitting the $75 jackpot on the penny slots. Fucker. The two hours on our parking meter run out and we make our way back to the van. Like two ships passing in the night, our encounter was sweet and brief. We'll meet again, Vegas. When we do, you'll be getting the raw dog.

California here we come. We fire the mobile command center (now equipped with an "Ass, Gas, or Grass … No One Rides for Free" sticker) through the desert and the Easter traffic as the afternoon sun starts to rage down upon us like that fourth grade teacher when I accidentally spelled "shit" instead of "shirt" during a spelling lesson. We're getting our first bona-fide taste of heat when we get to the California border. We hit a customs check point. Badged men in aviator sunglasses look us up and down, ask us if we have anything from a list of undesirable items on board, and write us off as "a bunch of homos off to San Francisco to marry each other." Quickly they send us on our way to engage in all of the faggotry our little rainbowed hearts can handle.

We arrive in Hollywood and meet up with a couple of our girlfriends who have been vacationing there for the past week. T.R., Cu and I go back to their hotel room to clean up and get reacquainted. Jesse, Donkey, Juice and Johnny meet up with Jesse and Donkey's cousin who lives out that way and puts them up for the night. We all get a shower and decide to meet up again at the Rainbow Room to celebrate Donkey's birthday.

The Rainbow Room was the hangout spot for all of the old Hair Metal guys back in the ’80s. As we hoof down Sunset, the street is filled with people that look like every lower tier Rock band that comes out of this area. Meticulously coifed hair, bad eyeliner and enough cliche tattoos to keep you working in the stockroom for the rest of your independently gastrointestinal life. The Rainbow Room is no different. $10 to get in the door. It's as crowded as whatever club is hot that month back home in Northside, only difference being that instead of all American Apparel and The Kills it's all Lip Service and Slaughter. We meet up with the others in the upper level of The Rainbow (which costs us another $5) and I meet Jesse and Donkey's cousin. Cousin Aaron is a jovial fellow. Well dressed and looking like a younger, more chiseled Will Ferrell. He introduces me to his girlfriend who is nice and spends the night laughing at the stories we've amassed thus far. Aaron clues me in on the theory that any women you see in a bar drinking Budweiser is into anal sex. I laugh and spend the rest of the night looking at the drinks in the female patrons' hands.

Three sheets to the wind, we've had a great time. Last call comes and goes and the bar closes at 1:30 a.m. just like all of the other bars on Sunset. This sort of soils the Motley Crue mythos for me a bit, seeing how I'm not figuring out how I'm going to get home from the bar until 3 a.m. when I'm at the bars back home. The day and the time zone wearing on me, I take a cab back to the hotel leaving the others to cabs charioting them off to their own devices.

Handers, Knubbers and White Knuckled Reacharounds

April 12, Anaheim, California
The Doll Hut

"Dude, If you beat off onto a rattlesnake you are king of the jungle … or desert if you wanna get technical." - Juice

I've spent my time off seeing sights about Hollywood — the Sunset strip, the Wax Museum, the Chinese Theater. It's Easter Sunday and the tourists have dwindled astronomically since yesterday. I'm enjoying a nice Turkish lunch when I find out that Rumble Club hit the jackpot playing Viva Las Vegas yesterday, pulling in over $400 in merch sales alone. Good for them. Jack and the boys are stand up guys and deserve the best. It makes me feel good to catch wind that they had so much success in Las Vegas.  

I also hear of what catastrophes the rest of the Banderases found themselves a part of.

"Last night was like Grand Theft Auto," Jesse tells me.

"We tried to go to a strip club called Jimbo's Circus where all of the women are midgets and amputees and the like but it was too far away for a cab ride. We opted for the Bodyshop but were told the place caught fire earlier in the week so we settled on the Seven Veils because Motley Crue sang about it in 'Girls, Girls, Girls.' We get into a cab parked in a line of cabs and the driver just ignores us. He just stands outside of the cab arguing on his cellphone. We all get out and get in the cab behind us and the first cab driver starts getting all mad dog on the other cab driver. Our new cab driver gets out and they get into each other's shit. There was some pushing and a punch was thrown all while our meter is running. Donkey was fumbling with the controls trying to stop the meter. He accidentally turned on the spotlight and it stopped the arguing cabbies. Our driver got in the car and did about 50 in reverse down the road. He gets out for a second and paces around then gets back the car and we go flying down the road this time in the right direction. This goes on for another five minutes before we mention that the meter is still running. He screeches to a stop, apologizes and resets the meter. He asks us where we're going and white knuckle it all the way back to Aaron's house."

"Oh yeah? Well I fell asleep to HGTV," I tell him.

Painting the Doll Hut accurately, it's like Sudsy Malone's broom closet or maybe a Rock & Roll double-wide trailer. Pictures of Brian Setzer and other legends that have played there are displayed for all to see. The club is modestly filled with people rich inside the pedigree of Orange County's Pop Punk heyday, complete with slightly baggy Dickies and laid-back Hispanic accents. We put up out good sweat displaying our songs, during which the members of Foxy Shazam walk in on. They have been out in California holed up in a house getting ready to record their new record for Warner Bros. and came from some Brett Michaels reality show wrap-up party to come check us out. We share stories and enjoy the surreal experience of friends hanging out a thousand miles from home. They offer us a place to sleep and shower courtesy of that Warner money but we decline as the L.A traffic after a holiday is a motherfucker. We pack up and make our way partially to Phoenix under the cover of night in order to avoid the heat.

The Warden is at the Psychiatrist and the Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum

April 13, Phoenix, Arizona
The Blooze Bar

"Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men." - Charles Bukowski

This is where we lose it. You could say madness has been already peaking up through the stitches from time to time thus far. You could even say we were bat shit crazy from the get-go. I mean, here we are, out in the middle of the desert hocking our wares when no one knows who the fuck we are. One could definitely call that shit loco. If the process was gradual or just a simple flip of the moon, the point is still that we've lost it.

We've made great strides so far and everyone's gotten along swimmingly. We woke up at a rest stop amid the blazing heat and piloted the van across the endless sea of dunes and tumbleweeds and dirt and mirages and bandits waiting to sell the women into slavery (if some were crazy enough to come along with us) and strip us of everything we own. We find our way into Phoenix and arrive in a shopping center which houses the Blooze Bar.

We are apprehensive about this show after reading the reviews about this club online. It was described as a biker bar and it's denizens were toughs that would piss on you rather than hold the door open for you. It's about noon pacific time and we are greeted by our evening's host, Tumbleweed. The source of Tumbleweed's nickname is easily identifiable just by looking at him. A hulking middle aged man whose lengthy beard and hair are prematurely grayed and frayed not unlike a desert tumbleweed. He's a very hospitable man in contrast to his appearance, ending many of his sentences with the word "brother." He is a very hands-on promoter, making sure no question goes unanswered and no need goes unfulfilled.

Tumbleweed shows us into the bar and introduces us to his quite bodacious wife who is slinging her wares to the types that prefer to drink their lunch. Mrs. Tumbleweed is not like most of the bartenders we encounter on our travels — instead of being hard-assed or seeming like you're one good tip away from getting her in the sack, she floats behind the bar, bubbly and personable and letting everything bounce off of her. The other patrons look at her in awe. She is the queen and everyone who steps into the Blooze knows it.

We're to open the night, joining Rumble Club, Voodoo Swing (which features the wife of one the Meat Puppet guys on stand-up bass) and the Dead City Sinners. I'm feeling the effects of the desert heat and am feeling run down. A nap is order but the idea of sleeping in a van with the sun beating down upon it doesn't sound very attractive. I decide to use a little of ingenuity and knock back a couple of drafts to make myself nice and sleepy before I hit the van.

It's show time and everyone is nice scooped on top of an extra helping of nice. It's the first time they have had live music, let alone touring bands, at the Blooze on a Monday. Everyone has come out in droves and are conservatively excited about music. We play and do well at the merch booth, especially with a few already established Ruble Club fans.

At this point I don't know if it was the heat, the burgeoning wait of playing first in a foreign time zone or the unconscious need to balance out the karma from everyone being so nice to us, but we lose it. Juice has drank way too much for lack of anything else better to do and has taken up inebriated attempts to haze Cu. Cu, not standing for it engages in a screaming, shoving and fingerpointing match that takes them up the back alley, down the back alley, in the van and back outside of the van. Donkey has been spending the evening getting close to a woman who, during their conversations, told him that she had a son the same age. With the Juice/Cu typhoon subsided — with Kevin (Juice) dozing in the passenger seat and a grumbling Cu Silvio preparing to drive us to the house we are staying for the night — Donkey is in the parking lot sucking face with the woman from earlier before. Looking at this woman, you would say his judgment is impaired, but I know Donkey a lot better than you. One of Jack from Rumble Club's friends let's us stay at a house he is moving out of for the night and everyone for the moment is quiet and in the van waiting to go.

Jesse has taken the Steve Clark approach and is washing down his madness with a pint of Jack Daniels. I go to the parking lot one, two, three times and inform the very staggering and unresponsive Donkey that we have to leave. He mumbles a couple things in acknowledgment followed by glares and smarmy comments by old saddlebags. I patronize her the same way anyone would the geriatric or senile. Finally showing up, Donkey stumbles into the van accusing us of preventing him from having any fun. He has it with out with everyone, Juice stirs and begins again, Jesse keeps drinking, Cu is all teeth and nails and everyone else attempts to keep our shit from capsizing right here in the desert.

Everyone calms down, except the GPS, which told us to figure out the directions ourselves, and that it's sick of our insane shit. Maps out, we set off to the place we are going to stay for the night.

Calgon, take me away.

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