When I was 15, I looked ahead to my mid-twenties the way a toddler might stare up at a skyscraper. You don’t know what’s up there, so you just imagine the most beautifully unrealistic best-case-scenario and then proceed to pervert it into fact.
Naturally, I was certain my life at 25 would be exactly like “Friends.”
I’d be surrounded by Monicas, Rachels, and even Phoebes; because, hey, life is fucking crazy and sometimes you meet a quirky girl whose biggest problem is, well, her quirkiness (and comedic denouncement of evolution). Unsurprisingly, aside from constantly meeting women who actually denounce evolution (it’s not as comedic as I thought), my life is nothing like “Friends.”
I’m complaining about my life on a blog. Fuck me.
I’m currently typing this on a near-ancient white MacBook, wearing an ex-girlfriend’s old pajama pants (judge me) and another ex-girlfriend’s mismatched pink tube-socks (judge me: part two).
I own and frequently use/am using now - a Conair HEATING PAD for my back.
You see, roughly two years ago, I fell off Girl-I-Was-Kind-of-Dating-But-Never-Really-Called-It-Dating-Because-We-Sometimes-Make-Bad-Decisions-When-We-Are-Chronically-Lonely’s roof. Again, judge me. But, what else was a profoundly hungover and admittedly over-stoned guy to do when the aforementioned girl’s ailing, live-in grandfather was about to wake up and find me in his house with his granddaughter, basically shitting all over his biblical idea of love, honor, respect, and manhood?
“Don’t worry,” she said. “People do this all the time.” I’ll admit, hearing that made crawling onto her roof much easier.
Her brilliant plan for my escape was for me to leap from the roof to a tall, wooden, peculiarly under-explained pole, then to a pile of more strange, equally under-explained wooden poles, then to the naked ground. But, wait. It gets fuckeder.
The night before, I parked my car at a Dollar General several blocks away. You know, because avoiding grandfathers and entering a girl’s bedroom just short of having a black sheet over my head (Casual Sex Terrorist? Just kidding. We never had sex) is completely normal and is absolutely something an adult should be doing.
Love. Honor. Respect. Manhood.
I made it onto the roof with such ease that I adopted an unfortunate amount of confidence before the next step of my escape. I took the tiny leap from the roof to the pole (a pole that, in retrospect, could be used for impaling someone in Mortal Kombat and/or as a head-hanger for Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now”), lost my balance once atop the pole, and fell to the ground, landing on my tailbone. Now, someone with a juicier bottom-half could have possibly withstood the force of such a fall. But, thanks to a short bout of narcissistic bulimia a few years before and a diet (at the time) that largely consisted of cigarettes, sour candy, and occasional bacon (turkey bacon for whatever reason), I had absolutely no ass. I was pure bone.
When I hit the ground, I was certain I had broken my back. My first thought was “I have broken my back.” My second thought was “My car is several blocks away.” My third and fourth thoughts came kind of at once, in a run-on sentence of a thought that went something like “The fucking neighbors saw me and I can feel them looking at me and I can even feel like them each having internal self-arguments about whether or not to call an ambulance or the police or the grandfather of this stupid girl who is also their neighbor who is also sick and I am such a sucker and what am I doing with my life I am 23.”
In a few weeks, I’ll turn 26. Much like my last birthday, I’ll likely spend the night in a smoky bar with familiar faces I no longer recognize. But no roof escapes this year.
My back still hurts from staring up at skyscrapers.
Build your own pond.
I’ve been dreaming in reverse again
“Don’t fall in love with a fairweather friend!”
Yeah, well, don’t burn all your favorite records
then ask me where the soul went
It’s somewhere between fresh baked cookies and warm sheets from the dryer.
I love how those smells and notions of childhood come back to you, often when you need them most, as some kind of reminder or measure of your progress. Look how far you’ve come! The answer, of course, is always that you haven’t come very far at all and, mostly, you’re the same person. Time just sandwiches itself between yourself then and yourself now, giving this illusion that you’ve changed or grown or suddenly become something else.
Though certainly not an adult.
Floating is nice until you wash ashore. Just pick a direction, any direction, and swim like hell.
“I could drown.”
Sure. But drowning is the best part.
You should drown over and over and over again.
Until your lungs give out.
Moments are all we have.
Yet, we willingly bastardize these moments with tag-heavy Facebook statuses, hyper-consolidated tweets, and instant fauxtography.
The only true home for a moment rests in the dual citizenry of the heart and mind.
Beach Party (!) presents:
A Song and a Sandwich, Episode VI
The Mystic Knights of the Cobra discuss their forthcoming EP entitled Fade to Pink while preparing what appears to be the greatest sandwich of all time, dubbed The El Camino. Lady Cobra also appears on the forthcoming Green Day album entitled ¡Dos!, which will be available everywhere on November 13th, 2012.
Trace: So, you’ve got a bit of a sideproject under way, yes?
Frank: Yeah, it’s called Möngöl Hörde. It’s kind of like noise rock, noisecore. So the idea is to be over the top and kind of in your face. It’s something that’s been planned for ages. The drummer involved in it was in Million Dead, the band I was in back in the day and, indeed, other bands I was in before that, as well. We did 4 shows and it was loads of fun! The problem with it is that it has to be on downtime from what I do usually and I’m pretty busy, as it is.
Trace: Are you guys planning a tour?
Frank: Yeah, yeah. I don’t really know when. I mean, I’m hoping that we’ll get a record out next year, hopefully kind of summer of next year. Maybe!
Trace: Through a label?
Frank: Probably through Xtra Mile. I mean, they’re kind of like family for me. I kind of raised the idea with them of just giving the album away - because: fuck it, man! - but people at the label were not overly stoked for that idea, surprisingly enough! I guess we’ll see.
Trace: So, the Olympics. Crazy, right?
Frank: Yeah! My manager got a phonecall saying that Danny Boyle wanted to have a meeting. I just thought…about what? (But) they wouldn’t tell us anything about it over the phone. So, we had to go to this place for this meeting and it was just a bit weird because, obviously, your mind races and you’re wondering what on earth he might want to talk about and then eventually, yeah, he asked me to play at the Opening Ceremonies because he said he thought that what I do kind of fit in with his vision of what he was trying to say about the UK, which is a very flattering thing to be told, particularly by someone like Danny Boyle.
Trace: Yeah, especially to pretty much represent a whole country!
Frank: Yeah, totally. I mean, I’m really not like a nationalist or a patriot or anything like that, but my kind of blackened, cynical soul was touched a little by it. I mean, it’s the only Olympic games in my country in my lifetime. Success in life is fleeting, so when I’ve been forgotten by history, I’ll still have that, you know what I mean? I can take that one home with me.
Trace: Do you give a lot of thought to your legacy?
Frank: I think that’s a waste of time. The thing, for me, is to concentrate on writing good songs, playing good shows, and to present what I do in a kind of - I’m weary of using this word - but in an ethical kind of way, you know what I mean? Beyond that, it’s kind of like: people can just decide what they think about me in the longterm.
Trace: And it’s out of your hands, anyway.
Frank: Exactly. And, also, I think that…anybody who spends their time trying to manage legacy or whatever is sort of…a twat, you know? I do have a certain amount of “live in the present” philosophy going on.
Trace: So, what have you been listening to lately? What’s your favorite album right now?
Frank: Right now, to be honest, the main thing i’ve been listening to is the Jesus Lizard remasters that have just come out. Well, I say just come out, (but) I think they came out last year (and) I’ve just gotten around to it. Jesus Lizard has always been one of my favorite heavy bands. Michael Azerrad described David Yow as sounding like a kidnap victim singing through duct tape. Fucking great. really love that band. Other than that, there’s a guy called Jim Lockey, from the UK, who is - I don’t wanna say that he’s my protege because it sounds a tiny bit up my own ass, but I sort of discovered him at a festival a few years ago and he’s amazing. I’m taking him on tour in November, in the UK, and ideally, I would absolutely fucking love to bring him to the States at some point. You know, he’s a fucking genius. His record is out, at the moment, and everyone should listen to it!
Trace: How’s it different in the states as opposed to touring at home in the UK?
Frank: Well, there’s some differences. I think I’m more kind of associated with the punk scene in this country, you know? Which, I mean, I can outline the reasons why, you know? It has to do with Epitaph and the bands I tour with over here, and, also, in the UK, I kind of - not in a sort of aggressive way - but I sort of slightly took a step away from the punk scene when I started playing this stuff, because I spent years working in it and I felt kind of trapped. But I don’t really care, at the end of the day, whether people think that I’m part of the punk scene or not.
Trace: Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t really matter!
Frank: Yeah. I mean, I personally feel that my entire outlook on music is based in punk rock but, I mean, if all the time and energy that people have spent arguing about punk could have been used towards, like, researching a cure for cancer or something, the world would be a better place. So, I’m not…I don’t want to contribute to that sort of “shitfest” any further. So, there’s that.
And, I mean, people travel further in this country. In the UK, if you don’t play within 20 minutes of someone’s front door, they go “Oh, you’re not fucking playing where I live!” and it’s just sort of like “Really? You twats!”
You know, I’ve toured in Russia, Israel, and China and places like that, and with that kind of perspective, I sort of feel like, you know, America, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia…it’s all kind of…it’s not that different. I mean, everyone speaks English! German people speak better English than I do!
Trace: If you look at the charts at all, there is currently an obvious fixation on electronic music. Coming from rock music, how does this make you feel? Do you feel those two worlds (electronic and rock) are at odds now more than ever?
Frank: Well, maybe. I think I’m going to answer the question in an oblique way. One of the good things about the internet…the internet is a fact. So, I think it’s sort of like getting overexcited about downloading being a terrible thing. It’s just a waste of time, because it just is. So, you deal with it, you know what I mean? But one of the interesting things about music is that I think music is a lot less monolithic. Prior to the internet being around, I can remember from when I was a kid, basically in the UK, if you got Radio One and NME on your side, you’re huge. That’s it. And I remember when I was a kid, I used to get like No Idea records catalogs and Initial Records catalogs and I would buy records blind from it, because there was no way of hearing anything on it. So, you know, you read the little descriptions. I used to do that thing with cross-referencing thanks lists in albums. If a band was mentioned in, like, 3 albums I had, it was like - okay! I guess I’ll buy something from them. The thing now is that, you know, if I said a band name - Jim Lockey, for example - if you’ve got internet connection on your phone, you can hear what he sounds like in 30 seconds.
And the cool thing about that is that it means, I think, that basically there’s enough space now in the music world for people to get on with whatever the fuck they want to get on with. Do you know what I mean? I’m not really into, like, drum & bass, just to pick a random genre, (but) some of my friends are. I went last year to some parties with some friends of mine in London and there’s fucking tons of people there! It’s just like “Huh? Who the fuck are this people?”
Trace: Everything has found or is finding its audience, yeah.
Frank: Exactly! And so, on a similar level, I mean, particularly in the UK, like we did Wembley which is like 12,000 - but it’s still, I mean, I’m still not, by any stretch of the imagination, a household name in the UK. The reaction a lot of people have to what I do is: people come up to me after shows and go “Fuck! Where did this come from? What the fuck?” And, in a way, I think that’s kind of cool. So, I mean, if the kind of “tastemakers” or whatever the fuck they want to call themselves this week, like the magazines or radio are into electronic music right now, that’s cool. That’s fine! Good luck to you! Carry on! I mean, it’s not massively to my tastes, personally. I mean, I went through a massive electro phase when I was younger, but I don’t really keep up with it now. I just feel like I don’t really need to care. The people who want to listen to the kind of music I make exist and can find it and that’s that. That was a long answer!
Trace: Any more personal recommendations?
Frank: You know, I’m so behind the curve on this, but I just discovered The National.
Trace: Fucking amazing!
Frank: Yeah! Fucking incredible. It was one of those things where I actually, the first time around, when they first sort of got successful, they sort of passed me by a bit, but when I was having a long e-mail conversation with a friend of mine, and she started sending me National lyrics…like the one that’s like “I haven’t changed, you’ve just raised your standards.” I thought “Fuck! That’s a knockout lyric right there.” And what’s the other one? “I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders.” That fucker! I want to get inside his brain and steal a bit of it if he comes up with that kind of shit. So, yeah, I mean - there’s always cool stuff. I’ve got the new Off With Their Heads record…
Trace: I love it, man.
Frank: Yeah, I mean there’s a degree of egoism in me saying that because Ryan’s a good friend of mine, but it’s good.
Trace: Anything else you want to say to Atlanta, Georgia?
Yeah! The problem with the statement I’m about to make is it’s going to sound like I say this wherever I go and there is no way of me getting out of that, but I really love the south of this country.
Actually, fuck it! Let’s get a bit more philosophical about this!
In Europe, in the UK, there is this thing which is this really kind of lazy armchair kind of Anti-Americanism a lot of people have. A lot of it’s kind of, you know, people read Chomsky books and then go “Fuck Americans!” And I was completely guilty of that myself when I was a kid, basically before I’d been to America. Now, I’ve been here a fair amount. I’m hugely into America and American culture. You know, Stephen Fry said “Any statement you could make about America, the exact opposite is also true.” And that’s an excellent way of looking at it. And, particularly the south, you know, there’s a lot of…kind of like…people watch Deliverance or whatever and I remember the first time I came through the South on tour. Actually, in particular: Birmingham, Alabama.
Trace: The Bottletree, right?
Frank: Yeah, but before that. I played at like a rehearsal space or like a warehouse, kinda, with Fake Problems years and years ago. And, everyone’s just really fucking nice! And it’s just a beautiful part of the world where everyone is really cool and everyone’s really enthusiastic about music. It’s kind of an eyeopener.
Trace: People are just instantly amazed by anything, so they really support it here.
Yeah, really. I remember the first time I stayed in Birmingham and a guy, who’s now a friend of mine, he - I had never met him before - but he was putting me up on tour, and he went and slept in his truck, because he lived in a one room house, and he wanted me to have my own room. I was like “Are you fucking joking?” Everyone is really, really cool. I remember when I did the Bonnaroo festival in 2010 and, actually, that guy and another friend of mine, the 3 of us just got a motel near Bonnaroo and we ended up not really going to the festival at all. We were just driving around Tennessee and having a great fucking time, stopping at diners and all. So, yeah. It’s really nice to be here and it’s pleasant to find out that, actually, some place is really fucking cool and that the stereotypes are bullshit, basically. So, yes. Hooray for the south!
For more on Frank Turner:
“Do you know Tom Cruise?”
She posed this ridiculous question with a cynical smirk. She seemed to be waiting on me to roll my eyes before letting out an annoyed “yeah.” She was, perhaps, the most persistent tour guide I had ever met. I really just wanted to compliment her and the entire Scientology Celebrity Centre for the delicious club sandwich I had just eaten. A friend of a friend of a friend suggested I try one while in town, but made it clear that I should try to avoid any and all tour guides. Instead, I smiled and said “No, why do you ask?” This, of course, was a lie. I had followed Tom Cruise’s career since the age of five.
“So,” she said. “You’ve heard nothing about him and the Center?” I paused. Why not ask to be directed to the nearest register so I could pay for my club sandwich and be on my way? I had already spent half the day lost between buses in downtown Los Angeles. I had an acting class early the next morning. Logic whispered “get out!” but my adventurous heart screamed otherwise. “I mean, I know who he is. But I haven’t heard anything, no.” She seemed genuinely pleased with my response. “Right this way,” she said. I followed.
Our tour began with a quick jaunt through what appeared to be a gift shop. The selection of literature and general paraphernalia was vast, assuming you only wanted to choose from a smorgasbord of various L. Ron Hubbard novels. We stopped in front of a display promoting Hubbard’s infamous Dianetics program. The faces on the poster seemed eerily happy, flashing painfully white teeth and smooth Photoshop skin. I started thinking about the club sandwich again. “Look,” I said. “I really just need to - ” She put a hand on my chest and smiled, the way you would smile at a kindergardener for inquiring about the origins of babies. “It’s okay,” she said. “Let’s try this.”
She directed me to the E-meter display. The E-meter, reportedly, measures whether or not an individual has been “relinquished” from the spiritual and/or emotional pains of his or her past. I held two can-like structures as the tour guide (auditor?) turned a few knobs and asked a series of questions, covering everything from family relationships to personal passions. I felt nothing but intense satisfaction from the aforementioned club sandwich. “Oh,” I thought. “I should probably go ahead and figure out where to pay for that now.” Once again, however, my adventurous heart screamed louder than the whispers of logic. My journey continued.
After passing through another gift shop, we arrived at a small theatre. “Just relax,” she said. “I’m going to show you a film that may change your life. Forever.” I couldn’t believe a club sandwich had taken me this far. The lights dimmed as I shifted in my seat, searching for a comfortable but respectable amount of recline. The film was a series of “testimonials” outlining the profound important of Dianetics in the lives of what appeared to be “everyday people.” However, these “everyday people” were once again flaunting belligerently whitened teeth and the smoothest Photoshopped skin money (or a torrent) could buy.
Admittedly, I pondered making a swift escape. I could sneak out the side door, I thought, and cut through one of the gift shops. I could hide in a bathroom until I felt it was safe to go, although I couldn’t remember seeing any bathrooms during our entire tour. But, the sandwich! The delicious club sandwich! I had to pay, right? The film ended and the lights returned. The tour guide approached me with a clipboard. “Would you mind filling out a quick form for us? Just so we can keep in touch, of course!” She seemed very, very tired. Or hungry. Perhaps, she needed one of the club sandwiches from the lobby. I filled out the form, giving my name as “Tres Cohen” and my occupation as “business person.” She walked me back to the entrance, handed me a free Dianetics DVD, and opened the door.
“Thank you for your interest in our services,” she said with a lifeless smile. I pondered the idea of maybe simply thanking her for the sandwich, which would likely lead to her directing me to the nearest cash register. Instead, my adventurous heart silenced the murmurs of logic.
“Have a nice day!” I said, shaking her hand with vigor.
Lunch is on me next time, Mr. Cruise.
You wake up on a nameless person’s couch. Or in a self-constructed “bed” in the back of a beaten van. At best, you wake up in a small bunk to the sounds of a town you can’t even begin to recognize. It’s show day, but really, every day is show day. You’re peddling songs across the continent. Every song is an open road song. It’s all you know. In a matter of hours, you’ll be presenting these songs - once more - for a room full of hundreds of people who have been waiting months, even years, to see you.
The question, then, is: how many shots of whiskey does it take to put the jitters to sleep?
For The Audition frontman Danny Stevens, it’s a modest amount. His daily tour routine begins with relaxation (naps and reading), and ends with sleeping jitters. “(When) the energy needs to come back for the performance,” says Stevens, “I’ll drink a beer or two and take a shot or two of whiskey to get me loose.”
(The Audition in Atlanta, GA 05/15/2012)
Danny and his bandmates are in an exciting position. Having left Victory Records in 2010, the band self-released their new EP earlier this year (the confident 6 song collection entitled Chapter II). Now, the guys are pounding their way across the United States with recently reunited pop/rock gods Eve 6. Some may balk at the tour as an odd if not nonsensical pairing, but those people are sadly mistaken. For Stevens, the tour makes perfect sense.
“We wanted to play for an audience that (was) our age and older, for a few reasons,” says Stevens. “The total purpose for this tour was for us to gain new fans, and I think we’ve done a good job so far. We were excited to do it because, the way I see it, these people work 9-to-5 (jobs) seven days a week and are excited to go to a concert and see a few bands. By being excited in the first place, it really makes me think that they would head into the venue with an open mind for all the bands playing, instead of (just) knowing who you want to go see and not caring about anyone else.”
The Audition are an undeniable force, even if a bit hard to accurately categorize for the listener who only looks for genre and “stamps of approval.” Having toured with bands such as All Time Low, We the Kings, and New Found Glory, the band became unfairly lumped into that sector of rock music. Interestingly enough, a closer inspection into the songwriting and performance style of The Audition actually puts them closer to the sector of, say, Eve 6 than New Found Glory and the like.
(Max Collins of Eve 6 in Atlanta, GA 05/15/2012)
Jumping from a more limiting genre to something largely more all-encompassing is quite the hurdle, especially considering the typically nonexistent attention spans of the most active sector of music listeners/buyers/participants - the youth. However, the transition is going remarkably well for The Audition.
“Considering we are on a tour where I’d say (about) 90 % of the audience doesn’t know who we are, it’s pretty amazing,” says Stevens. “Midway through the set, (you) see their heads bobbing and they’re starting to open up and relax. Then, by the end of the set, they’re full-on dancing and clapping along. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.”
Regardless of categorization, genre, etc. - the main goal of any artist is connection. The Audition’s connection with their audience is admirably unique and, most importantly - the connection is pure.
“(This) was my dream as a little kid,” says Stevens.
Thankfully, it’s safe to say the dream is more alive than ever.
Here’s to many more jitter whiskeys, Danny.
For more on The Audition:
For more on Eve 6:
New South (1)