Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Facebook is an odd phenomenon for a number of reasons. The one I’ll briefly explore is the fact that I never know if I’ve “told” someone a story. It works in two distinct ways. Either a) I’ll be telling a friend some tale of weekend heroics or absolute failure and they’ll have this bored look in their eyes suggesting they are all too familiar with the details or b) an absolute stranger walks up to me and tells me about some intimate detail of my life that I forgot I willingly tossed out into the universe for consumption. Since the advent of the Heavy Guilt I have been active on ye ole facebook, initially my actions were strictly for the band, then gradually, as I figured out how to navigate the post myspace waters, it morphed into a crack like addiction to harvest the fleeting minutia of stranger’s lives. I thought I was doing pretty well at facebook until I read a post this morning that said “if you are popular at facebook, you suck at life” (to the authors disadvantage it had about a million “likes”). That was the safety pin blow to my ego balloon, but alas, I digress. This first part was simply to apologize to any of you who may have heard the following tales of the Heavy Guilt New Year's Eve show and related shenanigans.

I’ve been playing gigs for a long enough time to healthily take on most of them as they come, I generally sleep well the night before and dream of rotisserie chicken just like I always do and I walk through the “day of” with the frail air of confidence that I have on any other day. But there are about two shows a year that utterly shake my anxiety to the core for whatever reason. New Year's Eve was one of those shows. We were playing at the same time as Transfer, one of ours and san diego’s favorite bands, it was sold out, we played at 10 and I had to work til 9. These factors were swirling around the centrifuge of my mind all through the excessively slow work shift. The minute hands of the work clock taunted me, they pointed and laughed, they moonwalked, clicking, ticking backwards and my shift moved at the pace of a slug crawling over a salt flat. Questions bloomed in mind, would I be able to find parking and get to the stage on time, would anyone see our set, and just how much red sauce will my burrito fire onto my white shirt (I was prepared for that, I’d drop an equal amount of green sauce and just call it a Christmas decoration). I literally paced around the store the last three hours of my shift with the swiftness that could have beaten a Kenyan in a marathon. Finally 9pm came and I was off to the Lafayette Hotel.

I made it to the gig on time, I parked across the street, thttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhere were people there, all anxiety was squashed upon downbeat and we put a big fat ass exclamation point at the end of 2011. It was the hottest I’ve ever been during a gig and I wasn’t bright enough to bring a change of clothes, so all apologies to anyone I hugged when the clock struck midnight and I was soaked to the bone. I basically gave you a full body temporary frontal autograph, just marking my friends people. We closed out the year with a cover of Iggy & And the Stooges I Wanna Be Your Dog, on the video you can distinctly see Jason Littlefield laughing and singing his revised version in his head “now I wanna feed your dog”. This version is born out of our singer being a professional dog walker/sitter and a more apt and relevant lyric for him to sing when reflecting on his life from stage. However, I’m pretty sure if we ever uttered such softening changes to the song a shirtless sweaty leathery Iggy Pop would show up at the Guilt’s rehearsal space and severely kick our collective asses (and rightfully so) and eat Erik’s soul (Iggy can do that). The night progresses.

After our set I see an attractive lady who looks extremely familiar. Not in the way that you make up before sauntering over and delivering a worthless “do I know you”, but more of a legitimate I think I know this person. So I walk over to her and she seems to recognize me. Since there are basically three skinny tall black dudes in San Diego we get mistaken for each other from time to time, so initially she is under the impression that I’m a DJ that spun a moving set of electronica in some desert years ago. It is too loud to explain that the closest I’ve come to electronica was watching Run Lola Run, so I just thanked hhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifer for the compliment. At this moment she asks when I’m DJing next at which point I’m outed for the fraud that I am. “Oh, I’m not a DJ”. After a period of awkward silence and still trying to figure out how I know this person, I ask “have you ever heard of the Heavy Guilt”. The answer was “no”, next follow up question, “Back in the day I used to be some kinda rapper, my name is Alfred Howard.” Apparently that struck a cord cause I witnessed her face change from “happy to meet her favorite DJ” smiles to “I just bit into a lemon or a beehive” scowl. Her response “Alfred Mother F*&King Howard, I know who you are, 9 years ago you smashed my Birthday Cake”. At this point I should have skulked away into the shame of the night, but I had no recollection of smashing anyone’s birthday cake, I ate someone’s birthday cake once at 4a.m. but that was in Boston 1997 (sorry Jen) and I’ve already been punished for that maneuver. So I wanted to defend myself, I’ve been basically sober for 13 years (excluding 2 months in 2005) and all my cake smashing happened knee deep in a bottle of hard alcohol. So I asked her if she had witnessed me smash her cake or if it was rumored. At this point she goes into detail “not only did I see you smash my cake, but you explained why you did it, you said that I looked like the kind of cute girl who got everything I ever wanted in high school and I needed to get my cake smashed”. At this instant I remembered doing exactly that, a swift attack on her cake for all the nerds out there who never had a chance. I should have just pretended I was the DJ and called it a night.

At the end of the night it was time to go home. I was the designated driver and I figured I could put some extra bodies in my 15-passenger van. I had Erik and Jess and I offered two friends a ride home as well. We circled the van to the front of the hotel to pick up my friends, Erik and Jess already snug in the van. Though the van is spacious we had tons of equipment and extra stuff so there was room for two more people and no more than that. When I got to the front of the hotel the van door opened, a woman got in and Erik, not knowing my friends, assumed that she was one of them (why else would a lone woman get into a tinted van on El Cajon Blvd at 3 in the morning filled with dirty sweaty dudes and loose saw blades on the seats). I turned around to see the blonde confident stranger, I politely asked “who the F*&k are you?” She looked at me with eyes that seemed to ask the same question and were definitely incapable of answering it. Then she delivered the simple and to the point “Drive my ass home!!!”. Erik, ever the rational, explained to her how we weren’t a cab. She responded “I don’t give a f*&K what you are, just take me home”. I stepped in “I got two friends I need to give a ride home and there’s just no space for a third” at which point I received one of the most piercing “stink eyes” ever witnessed. Then my friends showed up and tried to get in the band and our trespassenger said “really, you’re gonna give these b**ches a ride and not me.” Sorry lady, but I know these b**tches. Jessica turned into an instant heroine, sprung into action and extracted our new “friend”. Hopefully she was able to find another tinted out white creeper van on the Boulevard to take her again. 2012 is gonna be adventurous.

The Heavy Guilt loves you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poetry has finally paid off

I started my musical career as a spoken word artist. I’ve always enjoyed the art of poetry, but generally frowned on it in a competitive sense (except a few times when wants of the stomach or wallet have surfaced, which as an artist, has been often). I’ve had the great fortune of winning a few competitions in my day, but the prize has never been the bullseye of my aim. For instance, for the first "poetry slam" I ever won, I was rewarded with a hard cover copy of Jewel’s poetry book. That’s right, Jewel, the 90s pop artist whose hits may have escaped my radar, but penetrated the ears of many millions. I’m not sure that there has ever been anything in print I wanted to read less than Jewel’s poetic ramblings. I’d rather let my eyes feast on calculus textbooks, encyclopedias (remember those) or the screenplay to literally any Vin Diesel movie before indulging in Jewel’s take on a sestina. After dropping my winnings off at the local Goodwill, my next victory was in Flagstaff Arizona. I took home second prize which was a large shelf fungus, hand illustrated by some hippie with some finger paints. The giant rock hard mushroom was painted with a scenic vista, a turkey vulture sitting on a white rock beneath blue Arizona skies, perhaps the hippie artist had chewed some of the mushroom off to add a hint of abstractness. I didn’t know exactly what to do with that one, I couldn’t throw it away cause someone put some time into it, but it didn’t match my Sanford and Son d├ęcor so I gave it to someone for their birthday. The last time I won (before this weeks exciting victory) was at a large competition up in Encinitas. First place was $500 bucks, second place was 30 bucks in change in a KFC bucket. Despite the two standing ovations and what seemed like a locked victory, I lost to an elderly woman who read a poem about sex. She was old, in fact, she may have invented sex, and the shock of an old lady talkin bout sex catapulted her into the $500 prize and me to a mere memory fast fading. I had already promised my victory winnings to my date in the form of Lobster so my $30 was spoken for. It was as if the world had forgotten the Golden Girls' Blanch Devereaux had already been both old and sexual, what of Mona from Who's the Boss? But alas, second place is the first loser and I stepped down from competitive poetry for several years. This was until last week, when prompted by Joanie Mendenhall to submit a haiku into a facebook competition for a tattoo. It was fierce competition and one of the haikus was about a mother’s love for her unborn child. I was pretty certain I’d get crushed by that unborn kiddo, I even thought to write a haiku about some starving children or drowning puppies or something of emotive significance, but instead I went with the following

the light of onyx eyes
In silences a city
Bathed in ebony

Guess who’s getting a tattoo

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The High Sierra Music Festival

Alright, a few weeks ago we had the great fortune of attending and performing at the 20th annual High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California. This has always been my favorite music festival, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, evergreens, lakes, rivers and an atmosphere composed of brilliant sounds. If you take a photograph in any direction you have an instant postcard to send to your friends (outside of Hawaii) and make them jealous of your whereabouts.

Our journey started out in Ocean Beach, early in the a.m. We packed our van like a clown car. It was so saturated with belongings, equipment, sleeping bags, snacks, people and the infinite etcetera you would think we wouldn’t even be able to fit the addition of a fly, though
later mishaps would prove that theory wrong. With bungee cords, we strapped down lawn chairs to our roof. We even stuffed an attached pod with additional possessions. Don’t worry, we’re not Sex in the City brand divas, traveling with mountainous tiger print non-essentials and hat boxes, there just happened to be ten of us making this trip in two vehicles. After a Josh Rice pack job, that rivaled the swiftest Japanese tetris players, we were off.

Our 2-train caravan was almost derailed right away. As I came to a halt at the first stop sign of the journey, two kids went flying by on the sidewalk on their bikes. I slammed on the brakes and we were inches from no High Sierra, my first hit and run, or High Sierra for some/jail for me. After I collected my thoughts and made a left it took about a block before I caught up with the kids speeding through youth on their bicycles. The girl bring up the rear made a sharp left and completely wiped out and rolled her bike into a poll. It was worthy of failblog, it was worthy of America’s Funniest Home Videos and it was at this moment I knew that if our sets were anywhere near as gratifying as watching that girl fall off of her bike, it was
gonna be a GREAT weekend.

The first half of the drive was relatively non-eventful, good
conversation or good soundtrack and occasionally both. Shortly shy of Gilroy on the 5 north I was looking into the side mirror and I watched as sleeping bags and pillows shot out from the top of the van. Apparently a small plastic latch broke and our pod opened up, spewing out personal belongings. I didn’t see anything that was mine, so I was willing to keep driving, but the screams of others suggested I pull over. I was concerned that we were going to have a Lethal Weapon 2 moment (spoiler alert), like when the surfboard shoots off some dude’s roof rack and decapitates a bad guy and Mel Gibson says “Wipe Out.” Though I would have said “Surf’s Up”, but that’s just me. Now if a guitar shot out of our roof rack and ripped some guys head off what would does an action hero say “Ripping Solo”, “Eddie Van Impalen”, “Nice Axe” or “That was a face melter, literally.” I’m down for suggestions on that one. Oh wait, I got this. “Your guitar lessons over!”

Fortunately, we just lost sleeping bags and our trailing clown car was on it. Though they were beyond the sight of our rearview mirror, I imagined some bold and daring darting through interstate 5 traffic to retrieve Josh’s neck pillow and a sleeping bag. We pulled off on the Highway,
let Josh get his Macgyver on and fix the pod with duct tape, an extension cord and a peanut. And we were off again.

It was surreal watching Josh’s repair work. The place we pulled off would have been an ideal set if you were recreating a documentary of the dustbowl. The winds whipped rapid, the sun beat down and the dust filled the air. Josh surfed the roof of the van as a silhouette while the rest caught heat and cigarettes.

Pressed on, but this time we had some stowaways. Somehow, within the brevity of that instant pull off, we acquired about 50 flies. I’m pretty sure they recognized the cultural and literal drought of their surroundings and sensed we were bound towards greener pastures (or that we had food) so they decided to tag along. I’m sure at least one made it to Quincy, the rest were forced through
windows at 80 miles per hour. Their efforts to cling on were noticed.

Shortly after we released our unwanted guest we stopped for gas and food. This is where, for the first time since September of 1999, I ate some fast food. KFC was speaking to me, $3 for 2 fat pieces of chicken, corn and mashed potatoes seemed beyond reasonable, especially
considering at the same list of titles Whole Foods that might cost you a couple of months rent, though it would be heady organic free range wheat free down tempo chicken. What appeared to be a great idea at the time haunted my stomach and the air within the van for the next several hours, the low moaned rumbling reminder that will hopefully last me the next decade of gas station decisions and speedy meal abstinence.

Late that night after 13 hours of driving, some L.A.
traffic, enough bathroom stops to satisfy the needs of ten misaligned bladders and one near disastrous deer encounter, we were safe beneath the fresh mountain air of Quincy California.

I woke up early the next morning. I guess I should say I got up, more than woke up cause I didn’t really sleep the night before. I was excited and nervous and had rapidly streaming orbit of all thoughts keeping me awake. For my last band High Sierra was pretty much the key to everything we were able to do. Every show we played outside San Diego for our entire post high sierra career involved someone saying “hey, you guys were great at high sierra.” It opened up door after door to new ears and its impact was very clear and tangible.

We’d be opening the fest, which worked to our advantage. All the people that were there were ready for some music, even if it was to be delivered shortly after the sun crept over the canvas. Our job would be to create a sound magnetic enough to pull people away from setting up their tents, to bait them out of hangovers with potency, to distract passers by from their initial destination, to be more alluring than a breakfast burrito. So at 6 a.m. I walked alone through quiet woods and empty streets, contemplating and imagining how the battle would unfold. I even conjured up a pep talk to deliver to the band, it was somewhere between Vince Lombardi, Theoden from Return of the King and Mike Tyson’s crazy ass. But I was so exhausted by the time our set came around I said something to the likes of “lets get em guys” or something equally anti-climactic. Either way, it worked, we came out the gate swingin, made friends with new ears and then relaxed into the weekend.

After our set I finally slept. I wrapped myself thoroughly into a hammock and apparently during my slumber the band contemplated tipping my hammock and filming it. Truth is, I would have been a thousand percent behind it. As long as they put a heavy guilt song in the back
drop and threw it up on youtube. Erik can sing his heart out and the band can play their asses off and get a few hits on youtube, but a dude getting rolled out a hammock and getting speared in the forehead by his afro pick has got to be at least worth double rainbow guy status. Fortunately for me, but not for our youtube stature, they opted to let me sleep.

I woke up and decided to walk into town which took so much longer than I realized it would. A short drive maybe, but there was one point when I was walking and hadn’t seen anything but open fields and turkey vultures for sometime and I started wondering what exactly was I
doing. In fact two days later a couple stopped me after one of our sets and said “hey, were you that guy walking out into nothing the other day? Where were you going?” They said it as if it were the scene at the end of a movie, where the main character, sick on the evils of the world, just walks towards the setting sun, out into the empty abyss of beyond. It kind of felt like that as well. The worst
part is that I was simply walking into town to get a kombucha and when I arrived at the Health Food Store they let me know that they just pulled all their kombucha off the shelf, something to do with alcohol and Lindsay Lohan. Though some of that must have been a hallucination from heat exhaustion.

After the Thursday set we could take it easy for a couple of days, witness some musical miracles, experience the deep fried pickle, get changed by Nels Cline’s fret work. Over the weekend some of our highlights were Dr Dog, Edward Sharpe, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, the Avett Brothers, Robert Walters, Marco, the Slip and Surprise Me Mr, Davis. We also managed to play about 9 sets worth of music everywhere from the food court to the kickball field.

The rest of this email comes in list form. Unfortunately, the list might be missing some things cause I texted the list to myself and then stepped on my phone in a severe-life ending-fasion. I think that this was my 7th High Sierra, 3rd with a band. And my god it was great to be back. Saw a ton of old friends I hadn’t gotten to catch up with in years past. Got to play with Jordan Feinstein, one of my favorite organ players and favorite people in general. But not only did he add a beautiful layer of texture to the Heavy Guilt’s Saturday morning set, but he told me of an age-old secret, kept through years on guarded tongues, protected by 7 bearded hippie wizards, there is a hidden toilet, a porcelain god to which when you pray, you are truly worshiping a deity. Bathrooms at festivals generally get battered and bruised as the days wear on, when one
binges on deep fried pickles, their contribution to the stall has “staying power.” So it was an honor, up there with opening the festival, to be exposed to this alternate facility of silence, grace and solitude, a toilet so clean, one wouldn’t hesitate to rest a blueberry muffin on it’s rim, a secret (outside of this email) I will take to my grave.

It was interesting, to say the least, to play at 10 a.m Saturday, I’ve always considered the Heavy Guilt a nighttime band. Our brand of dreary rock n roll lends itself to a navy curtain draped around us. Also, after a night that may have just ended for many, the 10a.m. call is beyond the pull of coffee. I met a couple of cats at 4 in the same morning and after a brief exchange of conversation, they said “Yeah, we’ll definitely be there for you Saturday morning set” but something in their eyes rolling in the back of their head and the emptied whiskey bottle between them suggested otherwise. When headed towards the stage for sound check the audience was composed of tumbleweed and a few empties, but come 10 a.m. the souls came out of the woodwork. I think we provided a healthy sonic alarm clock to start the day. The set sure woke my ass up.

I play the chain in the band, in case you haven’t seen us, it basically involves me having a chain tied to my foot as I stomp it as hard as I can onto a wooden box. It probably looks like I’m very angry at that box, like the box murdered my family or was responsible for launching Lady Gaga’s career and I’m trying to get back at the box with my foot. After one of our guerrilla sets a guy came up to me and we were talking music for a while. And he suggested something very logical that I had never thought about. He said “you should probably wear some extra arch supports or padding to protect your foot and your knees, stomping that chain as hard as you do is fun to watch but probably not good for you.” I have since heeded this man’s words of wisdom, I had also noticed the bruises on my foot post High Sierra. I had never had a second thought after deciding that I’d be the guy in the band who slams a chain vehemently into a wooden box. After his initial warning I was on board, but here is where he added a very funny sentence. He said “What you’re gonna want to do is get together with some other chain players and see what they’ve done to do it healthily” He said it with such lubricated nonchalance that I almost believed him, like that was just something I could do, log on to chainplayers.com or call up the chain players guild and ask for Rick, see how he’s made adjustments in his life to play the chain. My ego is not raging enough to believe that I’m the only guy out there playin the chain, but I haven’t seen a ton of other people doing it. Anyway, I’m thankful that this cat caught me before I broke off my chain foot, but I should have asked him where I might find this collection of chain players, cause I think he might have known.

We’d like to thank Jiivan (Pronounced Ja-von), a slender Caucasian cook from South Carolina with a name built for an irate heavy set black woman defending herself vociferously on the Montell Williams show. He hooked us up with leftovers and to be discarded food. In fact the most unfortunate event of the weekend was when I had just learned that deep fried pickles existed and that I could exchange money for them. I had gorged on the new delicacy and ran into Jiivan shortly after. He offered me more free BBQ than I knew what to do with. The moment I had to turn away free BBQ was as sad/angry as I’ve been since Arrested Development was canceled. Anyway, Jiivan gets four thumbs up for his contribution to our High Sierra experience.

Jessica Canzona is like the little white sister that I've never had. We feud, fight and we quarrel, but at the end of the day we're good friends. I like to think that I emerge victorious after most shenanigans and practical jokes, but every dog has his day. This was her day. I was walking innocently in the sun, enjoying the fresh rays of a summer day when I heard my phone's text message alert sound off. I tried to read the text, but the sun was too bright. As I tried to position the phone in a place where I could read the message Jessica crept up behind me, like a silent ghost ninja in isotoner slippers, and delivered a well timed kick to that area behind my straightened knee that completely knocked me to the ground. I couldn't have folded any more thoroughly if I was origami expert on speed in a paper mill (Dunder Mifflin), and her execution was as good as that last metaphor was bad. And as I lay collapsed in the shade of my shame, I could finally read the text. It was from Jess and it was a photograph of her middle finger. Well played Canzona, though I promise my revenge will be swift, exact and immense.

Somehow in the realm of the Heavy Guilt I have been elected the speaker of the house, the guy who addresses the crowd, announces the band, pleas to deaf ears to buy buy our stuff, t-shirts in the back, next week we'll be somewhere, grab a cd so I can eat food and the infinite etc... I'm not certain how that came to pass as I am as horrible at it with the Heavy Guilt as I was with the K23. I stutter and mumble, make inside jokes that I happen to be the only individual inside of and possess a congested nasally voice to rival the finest nerds of the land. During our second set I had a brief moment of lucidity where I thought I had something clever to say. We rocked out as hard as we could for a song called Ain't No Sinner, I beat my floor tom barehanded, like a red headed step child, and the next song on out set was called Blistered Hands. The light bulb above my head burst into audible action, I said "this next song is called Blistered Hands (pregnant pause) which I will have tomorrow." I thought it was funny but the silence I was greeted with made me feel like Michael Richards stand-up at the Apollo (or a Chuck D performance in rural Arizona), never before had I heard crickets at a rock concert. Shortly afterward Jenny capitalized on my bad joke with the old "ba-dum-bum" on the drums, the proper punctuation to failure. Well played Jenny. You join Jessica on my enemies list.

I’m not sure if it was a gigantic insect or a small extra terrestrial, but something black and about 5 inches long, huh huh huh, landed on Josh’s shoulder and gathered as large a crowd as any of our guerilla sets. Its antennae were about as long as the creature itself and it was WEIRD looking. If I had the power to blow it up about 100 times in size I would base a Predators franchise around it. I’d text you a photo, but like I said I destroyed my phone, so . . .

The Wander Wookie. I’ve always enjoyed the familial vibe of High Sierra. I love that artist camping is right there in the midst of everything else. When the K23 played High Sierra in 2004 or 5, we were camped next to one of my musical heroes, Les Claypool. I admired how there was no separation between the audience and the crowd and that if I felt the urge I could saunter up to Les and drop him a quick compliment. Now generally that works out. I like to think I didn’t blab on and on into Les’s ear. I’m pretty sure I told him that I took a date to a Primus show and it directly resulted in no action for me, though I had a great time. I hope he got a kick out of that and I kept it under 34 seconds and was on my way. I feel that about 9 times out of ten that space is respected, and people pick up on the vibe of all aboard or exclusivity, whichever you place out there into the universe. I enjoyed my interaction with just about every person who wandered into our campsite, whether old friend or new. But there was one guy, we dubbed him Tarzan, partially because of his shirtlessness, partially because he hadn’t mastered the art of communicating with the humans, partially because of his long feral hair, locked and muddied, who I could have done without his presence in our sacred circle. There was a group of us lounging and conversing when Tarzan materialized in our space. He was silent and staring and he just kind of stood there for ten minutes until we acknowledged him. I said “hey, what’s happening man?” at this point he looked at me blankly (I may have stumped him with the question) and returned into the wilds of Northern California.

There was a spotting of the rare and illusive tie dyed confederate flag t-shirt. It's like a fashion statement having an argument with itself where both sides lost. Most tie-dyed hippies tense up when beneath a waving confederate flag and you don't see a lot of confederate flags at the Peace Love and Unity Fest, in fact this may be the first sighting outside of a Skynyrd Concert in years. But there it was, Sunday afternoon at the Marco Bennevento Trio workshop. I snuck up behind it, hoping my black ass wouldn't be spotted and meet an untimely demise. I felt like I was capturing the last passenger pigeon and since I got my shot, and remained unnoticed, it was awesome.

My only complaint of the year was the missing Caribbean Food booth. Every year I salivate in knowing that I’m inches and dollars away from that grilled salmon plate, with sides, that spicy salvation that proliferates through the air of the food court. I almost cried as I searched around and around for them, I felt like a mother who lost her child at a supermarket, frantically looking everywhere, even the impossible places, peering desperately under the other booths for jerk chicken. I was as disappointed as Tyrone Bigguns at the 5 O’clock free crack giveaway.

During our last guerilla set most of our stuff was packed away. Josh “Pack Master” Rice had to leave early so we were hesitant to disassemble his pack job and try to reassemble without his expertise. So instead of using drums and drum sticks, jenny played on my cajon with a mallet and a broken in half piece of wood, basically a giant splinter. And to make a further obstacle course for Jenny, there was a loose baby who kept grabbing her makeshift “McGyver” sticks. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a million youtube hits with baby drummer, but at the time it was just challenging.

So in closing, High Sierra was an incredible experience. The kind of reminder a musician needs from time to time, the warm purr of a guiding voice, whispering “you’re on the right track, keep putting it out there into the universe.” The drive home was relaxed. The winding roads turned from verdant riverside greenery, to those mountain lion tan rolling hills, burning hot at rest stops and eventually into the reality of cities, the working of gears and minute
hands, the inevitable return to jobs and life, but the gorgeous specter of the experience looming pleasantly in the background of everything. Hopefully we’ll be back there next year, beneath the stars, within the warmth, snacking on fresh sounds and deep fried pickles.

With Love
- alfred howard

PS, Forgot one essential tale.

I owned the drive home, not trying to toot my own horn, I just caught the groove of pavement and handled it for 12 straight hours, I was pumped up by guayaki yerba mate and the Can's full length debut Monster Movie. Also, since there were 7 people and all our equipment in the van, if I gave up the driver's seat I'd be demoted to a bench with three people, and playing twister with bandmates isn't a great way to keep the ensemble united. We were making exceptional pace, though we did come to a complete stop north of L.A. on the 5. This derailing of momentum was terrifying cause there was a chemical fire, dudes in Hazmat suits and for 20 still minutes I was certain we'd be sleeping in the van. The mess was cleared up and we were back to burning down the interstate. By the time we got back to San Diego, however, I was completely finished. The disadvantage of owning the van is that you have to drop everyone else off at their homes before you can go to yours. After the 2nd drop off I folded, Erik lives pretty close to me and I made up some dumb excuse about sparse parking in my neighborhood and he wound up dropping me off at home. I made no plans to retrieve the van nor the keys, I just walked straight to my bed and got reacquainted with the concept of sleep (it had been a while). At 11a.m. the next day I woke up, refreshed and ready for work. I walked a mile and some change to Erik's and knocked on his door, then I rang his door bell, than I knocked again, this alternating process went on for shy of two hours. The best part is that he heard one doorbell ring and let me in as if it were the first. I don't think he would have believed I spent my morning out there if he didn't receive my obsessive voice mails and novella of texts. I got to work just on time, thinking about the vistas of Quincy all shift long.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Heavy Guilt in the News. Don't Blink or you'll miss us. You missed us.

Yes, this past Sunday the Heavy Guilt was featured in a brief segment on the KUSI morning news program. Brief is the amount of time it takes for Clark Kent to change into superman. Our band’s brand of brevity made Kent’s phone booth clothing swap look like elderly tortoises riding glaciers to molasses town. But as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity (though I bet lately some of the Catholic priests would beg to differ). On Thursday evening I got the phone call that the Artwalk had selected us to be their musical representative for their news segment on KUSI. We would be performing live on what was supposed to be Sunday morning. I reached out to the band and heard back quickly from Sean and Jason with a fearful and vehement “NO.” Their “NO” was the unique kind of “NO” that could only be related to a nightmarishly bad experience. The kind of “NO” one delivers after they were brutally beaten in Central Park and you ask them “Hey, you want to meet me at midnight in Central Park for a jog on a full moon on Halloween?” “NOOOOOO!!!” Apparently they had the dishonor of being rushed through the a.m. news cycle a few times and it had left an acrid taste in their mouth. Erik and I conversed and we thought it would be a worthwhile venture and it was either that or sleep, so…

Friday afternoon I received a call saying that they moved the newscast to Saturday morning. At this moment I texted Erik and he responded, “Yes, I’m in.” I responded to the artwalk with a confirming text, “Yes, we’re in”. Here is where the communication breakdown began. I was at work and seconds after my confirmation texts, two separate people dropped off about a thousand records for me to go through. This, coupled with the fact that I was the only guy at the record store, coupled with an already busy Friday afternoon, meant that I was going to be occupied for my remaining hours at the store. This is where I missed the pertinent call, text and email from Erik saying “wait a second, tonight is my sister’s birthday and there is a Chicago-style Celebration, so 8a.m tomorrow isn’t sounding so good.” This is also when I missed the email from the artwalk with directions and assorted information about the gig.

I met Erik at 8:45a.m. at the KUSI news studio. I was beat from going to the Swap Meet at 6:30a.m. and he was beat from a late night of sibling celebration inebriation..The best news all morning wasn’t the 30-minute heart stopping coverage of the local gem fair, but that we would be setting up outside, thus I had a legitimate excuse to wear sunglasses and didn’t just look like that d-bag with the indoor shades. We were told that we would play 3 songs, which was a pleasant surprise.

The first song would be short, the second song would be a “full” song and the third song would be a short song that they would fade out the show with. Erik and I had a pow wow, we plotted and planned, we would play Clove first, his whisper would evolve into a growl before they could fade out. Second, we would play Heavier than Mist, the logic behind this was that we would take the soft song and build it to a revelatory intensity that would win over the mass of people watching the local small network morning news at 8:45am. Third, we would perform Ashtray Blues, playing the show out with gritty enthusiasm, securing our newfound fame.

We started with Clove, Erik slowly growled the opening line “She’s a slow burning Clove cigarette”, but as soon as he made it to “burning” the camera, like a little kid on a sugar high in a free arcade, had fixed its attention on something else. An omniscient voice said “DONE!” before the first sentence of the song came to a close. “That’s alright” we said to ourselves, the true impacting punch lay in the end of our second and full song, the howling peak of lament and love lost would move the a.m. viewers to spirited and unexplained tears, they would run to their computers, ferret out our website, purchase 10 discs for friends, family and self. Or not.

The best part about this next song was the fact that it contains the phrase “God Damn.” Erik and I dissected it, “can we say that on the air?” we went back and forth, contemplating the ramifications, would a little controversy stir the Heavy Guilt reputation from neighborly gentlemen to bad boys of rock, a campaign of shock and awe starting on the KUSI morning show and ending in a smashed Hotel Room and a litany of young children that strangely resemble members of the band. After much deliberation we decided to edit the song live, cut out the “God”, slur the “damn” into some unintelligible chatter, sing the hell out of the rest. Unfortunately, by the end of the first verse, the same voice echoed out “DONE!” like a thunderclap of authority. The camera had moved on. We were stunned. If we were a punk band perhaps we could have fit one song in. The Descendents have a song called All, they may have been able to fit it in if they hustled. We made it about 1 inch from the first chorus.

So alas, this was not to be our coming out party equivalent to the Ed Sullivan show for the Beatles. This is the moment when the Suit says to me “Hey dudes, you guys want to play something with a little more bounce to it.” I kinda wanted to punch him in the neck and say “No “dude”, we’re not Fergie, we’re the Heavy F*^&kin Guilt, your gonna get .5 seconds of morose and bounce-less droning lovelorn lament.” But as usual, I kept my mouth shut. We played 3 seconds of our closing song and that was a wrap. Some lucky highschool nerd gave a longer performance on prom night….

If you have a second to view the video there are some interesting things to note.
The Heavy Guilt on KUSI

T-2:22: “T-shirt connoisseur.” Where is that even coming from and what does that mean?

T-2:13: Newscaster comes close to a fondle

T-2:04: Pause it at 2:04, notice the Al Howard ice grill. A hard look that seems to question the legitimacy of our presence there so early.

T-1:57: Coffee fueled cameraman cuts her head off

T-1:39: I love his response to “We transform Little Italy.” “I know.”

T-1:30: How long can we focus in on t-shirt? A long time.

T-1:15: That dead eyed dog portrait was staring at me the whole segment, judging me, accessing my a.m. discontent with it’s mute cold canvas eyes.

Notice how we are unsure of who says band name, is it Erik? Is it Al? Only two options here.

T-0:40: I tried to sneak my last name in there, it didn’t fit. This inspired Erik to do the same, also eclipsed.

Look at all these cool contraptions. Just don’t touch them suit-o.

The silence of my cool contraptions turns whispers to shouts.

That was our full song…

The artwalk is a great event, there is so much incredible artwork everywhere and the town is literally saturated with creativity. Hope you get a chance to make it down.

Here is what that song should have sounded like:

The Heavy Guilt Loves You,

- al

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Mmmm Tissss of Youth, a Migraine For Me

I'm 32 years old, give or take. According to my girlfriend I have one gray hair, but I haven't seen it and therefor, like Santa Claus or Satan, I'm skeptical of its existence. Though if Satan does exist, I'm sure he is an electronica DJ, but I'll return to that sentiment in a little (I just lost all the Heavy Guilt's techno fans in one fell swoop, don't worry, we'll win you back with a Paul Oakenfold remix cd in a few years). Anyway, 32 isn't exactly old, I see people with more than one grain of salt in their pepper, running, biking, playing basketball and doing a variety of strenuous activities slightly beyond my reach, but my 32, for whatever reason, feels doubled. I'd like to blame Lymes Disease, but that's just one piece of my young elderly puzzle.
Last night we played at a trendy Club in North Park and every 10-minutes I spent within its walls, I felt about one year older. I had a very brief love affair with techno in the late nineties, I dated a woman who was really into it and happened to be pretty awesome. In fact, she was awesome enough that I even went to a rave or two. I was there and I still can't picture myself at a rave, so I'm hoping you cats have a more active imagination than I. I can fault her epic hotness and my lack of sobriety for my presence in some New York City warehouse at 4 a.m., immense speakers pulsing, glow-sticks trailing figure eights, shady street pharmacist in bathroom stalls and me trying my hardest not to look too foolish (thank God that was the nineties, before everyone was filming everything at all times, otherwise there'd be some version of me on youtube gyrating awkwardly like Elaine Benes on speed in a wind tunnel, little brother is watching). Fortunately she dumped me one sad Christmas eve and I burned all my techno cds (old school burning, in a fire, not on a laptop) and I was officially and bitterly, yet blissfully, divorced from electronica. When we loaded into the club last night, the mmmm tissss of techno was thoroughly present, its loudness eclipsed all the whispered complaints I tried to share with my guilty cohorts. We tucked ourselves discretely into the welcome silence of the Green Room and bided our time til our set. Every once in a while I would creep out to check the vibe of the audience. the Techno was bumping, young people danced and I prepared for the worst. In my mind I had the scenario all laid out. The Saturday night club filled with youthful party goers, dressed in their weekend finest would have their current and fully functioning electro-dance-party interrupted by the slow dark balladry of the Heavy Guilt. When we launched into our stark funeral procession of sound, a young and sexy asian girl would throw a tomato at us. I would contemplate on stage "where did she get that tomato" as more fruits and vegetables pelted the band from a Benetton add of races. I knew we were doomed when the cdj (that's my term for djs who use cds instead of vinyl, I could also use the term Lazy, but cdj will suffice) played a 50 Cent cut and the crowd got hyped. In my closed and naive mind you can't like fitty cent and the Heavy Guilt, there's just not enough room on the mental playground for both and 50 Cent is tough. Back to the sanctity of the greenroom, laughing and enjoying the presence of the band and the long journey from load in til downbeat. 10:30 rolled around and we stepped to the stage. We were missing our singer who's appendix exploded on wednesday and knocked him out of commission (moment of silence for Erik's fallen appendix). The techno faded into nothing, the crowd, hungry for sound, beat with the pulse of dialogue as we eased into our set of quiet loud quiet post rock. And though we were as far from House Music as I am from 1997 the Guilt instrumental set went over pretty well, no tomatoes at all, only applause. The Guilt even got a little funky and lit a live spark to the Club (not unlike Great White, except fro the lack of casualties). The set was short and sweet and upon its end we made haste so the next band could get set up.
As I was facing the stage, placing my equipment away, something strange happened. I felt a hand on my buttocks, it went past a congratulatory ass-tap when the hand closed. I thought / hoped / prayed / assumed it was my girlfriend messing with me, or at least some member of the band playing a joke that would need to be addressed at the next band meeting. Before I turned around (I was really trying to focus on putting all my stuff away and getting it off stage), I noticed that someone was quite literally dry humping my leg. I'm known for hyperbole and this is not it. Just like when a dog is feeling that instinctual motivation towards release and bear hugs the neighbor's unexpecting leg, someone latched on to my back at started to "freak" me (I believe that's what the children call it). I turned around cause as certain as I wanted to be that it was my lady, the hand on my hip felt considerably larger with a more powerful grip than hers. When I turned around there was a young bald man standing there, looking at me with an expression that seemed to say "WTF, why did you interrupt me while I was making sweet inappropriate love to your back side." What is the correct action in said situation? Seriously, if you have any suggestions please email us at info@theheavyguilt.com, we'll post the best suggestions on our website. I was so thunderstruck with befuddlement I just slunked away like a mopey tenderfoot, carrying my shame like an 80 pound collar. Apparently there is something in the hypnotic rhythms of a trance track that send a pulse to the brain which says "dry hump the man in front of you", it was like a real life Axe Body Spray commercial and equally annoying. When I made it to the safety of techo-less outside, one of the cats from the crowd took the reward for drunk fool of the night. It was an upset of grand proportions, it was like a 16 seed coming from nowhere to beat Duke (I love that I could skip NCAA hoops for a solid decade and I just assume that Duke is a #1 seed and be correct) because by this point of the night, I was absolutely certain that the drunk fool of the night award would go to the young man who gave me a new vivid memory to repress. And then, as sudden as a buzzer beating three point half court shot for victory, this dude walks up to Josh's electric piano (as he breaks it down outside) and asks not only if a) it was a grill, but b) if he could get a couple of fish tacos. "No kind sir, this isn't a grill, it is a fender rhodes electric piano, in fact you just watched us, from the very front row, play our set a mere 3 minutes ago." Although, in hindsight, I wish Josh had said "Sure, that will be $5" and we just took the guys money and ran. I probably could have sold him a piece of newspaper with some authentic urban refuse wrapped in it and called it rolled tacos, just don't ask me for a Mountain Dew. Josh and I missed missed a golden opportunity to make some extra cash. Just call it a toll for stupidity, I've paid plenty in my 32 years.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Colorado My First Tour 2005

the Heavy Guilt has a newer old song called Colorado. The song was written by Sean Martin and I in 2007, long before the Heavy Guilt was born. There is even an early version out there with me singing it, but I'll let you mine the spacious caverns of myspace to find that one, and if you do, I apologize for my vocals. If you want to hear the version where Erik sings it it exists in the following locale.

I wrote this story at the library back in 05 before I had a computer or any means to save it, so you’ll have to get it from memory, but I promise only slightly blurred authenticity. So, I was in Aspen, rich, walking down the street with Penelope Cruz after lifting weights, and I pulled this gold bar out, after a recent fight with Kanye West......... Let me start again, dig a little deeper.
Due to primacy and recency, I mostly remember the bookends of the trip, fortunately those were the most important parts. This trip, still to this date, was the most treacherous and arduous tour I’ve ever been a part of (excluding all the other treacherous and arduous tours that you'll read about in these pages). It’s the kind of trip that could quite easily derail a young band from the tracks of existence. It started off in Flagstaff Arizona, on New Years Day.

If I was ever considering shooting an apocalyptic zombie movie and I was on the minimal budget that I’d assume I’d be on, I would just film any town on New Years day. All cities move at the slow pace of an extreme hangover. Tumbleweed owns the streets all through the a.m., and once people start to limp out of their foggy haze in noon bloom, they move in a drearily languid fashion through mostly empty roads. I would need no terrifyingly intricate makeup jobs to shoot this film, no detailed directions, I’d simply set up a camera and capture the slow midday march to the coffee shop and the fighting for position in line. In our band mailer I referred to the show as a “FREE ASPRIN GIVEAWAY”, hoping to bait all those owning headaches to come hear some peaking loud rock music.
Only the truly dedicated fans come out to a show on new years day, unless of course you have the drawing power of a Jimi Hendrix resurrection show sponsored by Myspace with Prince opening, or a boy band reunion tour. But even the dedicated K23 fans were facing other obstacles, mainly the blizzard that began to dump snow during our early sound check, accompanied with a frigid wind that bitch slapped you like a trifling hooker in a seventies flick and low temperatures, so low that if they were a person’s age, you couldn’t legally date them (unless you were Jerry Lee Lewis).
For some reason on this pass through Flagstaff we were playing in a very large antique theatre as opposed to the usual tiny dive bar that we’ve frequented over the years. I like the little dive bar because if you put 23 people in there it feels like a packed and energetic house, whereas the 23 people speckled lightly in the Orpheum (which can and hold closer to 800) felt a little awkward. I remember finishing a song and questioning if it was applause I was hearing off in the distance or if it was just phantom white noise from an old busted guitar amp, the claps took a while to get from the distant hands to my eardrum. I think a black panther meeting in rural Kansas would have drawn a larger crowd, but either way it was cool to stand on stage in a history soaked, gorgeous old theatre and hear the reverb of our band echo huge throughout the room.
The Orpheum has one of the most difficult load ins we have yet to face. Nimble gymnast would struggle navigating its twist and turns, especially with the addition of heavy and often awkwardly shaped instruments and amplifiers, not to mention the extreme snowfall that had accumulated during our sets. After the show, by the time we got packed up, had a snowball fight, took a quick drive and set up our sleeping bags on the floor of our friend’s house it was approaching 2 a.m. We had to be up and out by 5 a.m. to make the long drive to Breckinridge, under normal circumstances, a 10-hour drive.
I got about 1 hour of sleep because I watched some dumb movie (Van Helsing, more later) that I had to finish until about 4 a.m. When the various chimes of cell phone alarms began to ring at 5am, we made a quick escape. This was the early pre-band-van days of the K23 and we were in a three-car caravan, 7-people, a ton of equipment and a bunch of gas tanks to fill. I remember the briskness that child-slapped me upon opening the door to wintry Flagstaff and the wind had knocked a tree down blocking us into the driveway. We took the needed time to work our way out onto the road and head east through the kind or treacherous weather one leaves behind when one moves to San Diego.
Ice, sleet and snow fell steadily all the way to Breckinridge. I was in the one vehicle that had no cell phone owner and naturally we got separated from the pack in Denver. Our truck felt doomed like the young wildebeest with a sprained ankle who costarred in a number of Discovery channel hits. I was also one of two drivers in our truck, but the fact that I didn’t know how to drive stick shift meant that I was as useless as a remote control on top of a television. All the way through Colorado was the litter of car accidents. Drivers had met the ice, but didn’t befriend it and the ice was vengeful. Jeremy, who was driving our car, was a San Diego native who was only seeing snow for the second time, the first being the previous night in Flagstaff, so navigating the slippery terrain was a brand new challenge for him. All the spinning and careening eclipsed my ability to nap, so I was getting delirious from 1-hour of sleep. My batteries were far from charged. This was the first time I ever heard Wilco’s Ghost is Born album. It fit in with the streaking echo of street lamps and the slow cold madness of the day, it would also change my approach to writing lyrics immensely, moving from too much is never enough towards a less is more mentality.
We managed to get into Breckinridge, s-a-f-e-l-y, at about 10pm, just in time to load in our equipment down an ice slicked flight of stairs and start playing from 10:40-2am. The bar was filled with a bunch of rowdy frat boy Texans who were out there on a College sponsored ski trip. Their priorities didn’t necessarily coincide with our lefty-protest-jam-rock, but we made a few local converts. It was perhaps the longest marathon set of under-appreciated music ever churned out on 1-hr of sleep after 18+ hours of driving through obstacles worthy of their own video game. The polite light trill of golf claps and conversations stings awful, but we were inches from rest and that knowledge pulled us through. After the set. After the load out up the icy steps. After a few arguments sponsored by fatigue and distain. After packing the vehicles. After filling up the tanks, we were ready to make one more drive, short in the grand scheme of things, but at least a couple of hours. We were headed to Glenwood Springs Colorado to sleep at Josh’s brother’s house. At this point sleep was like dropping the ring of power into the depths of mount doom (sorry, I’m a nerd), like waking up from a coma and having the first food in a long time enter your mouth (strawberry milkshake), like a member of the chess club finally getting lucky on prom night with a non-unattractive girl, sleep was to be my heaven. The drive was slow through snow, but we were nearing Glenwood springs, I could feel the pillow against my face gently smothering me into oblivion (even if the driver just gave up and it was an airbag). At this point we begin seeing a number of brake lights, we started to lose speed ourselves and 15-minutes from our destination, we came to a complete stop. This frigid stop, this stop that stomped our will like an eager fat man atop grapes at a vineyard, this unexpected punctuation, the three exclamation points which follow the word SHIT!!!, this closed road due to an overturned truck in a one way tunnel would set the exhausted pace which we would move at through the remainder of our first extended tour. Somewhere around 9am we would find solace at Josh’s brother’s, a little more than a day after we left Flagstaff, Arizona.
What little I remember about the rest of the tour is what you might expect from a young band’s first time that far from home, playing shows during the workweek. It was similar to any mid-western town on new years day, except the tumbleweed was actually inside the bars we were performing in. You take that kind of stuff in stride and learn to expect it on the road, but after a rather extreme opening to the run, we were pretty beat up. The last day of the tour was in Denver, opening for Digital Underground and as exciting as that would have been when I was in 7th grade, when the Humpty Dance was the soundtrack for adolescence, it was rather anti-climactic nearing 30 years of age.
The venue was supposed to provide a keyboard for Digital Underground, but through the fine art of miscommunication, the keyboard never made it. They offered us $50 to borrow ours, which meant that we had to stay until last call. Fifty bucks meant a tank of gas and since some of the gigs earlier in the week were less profitable than a short-lived paper route (we were literally paid in peanuts in Carbondale, Colorado, no salt and we had to open them), we opted to loan them the keyboard. We played our set and time passed very slowly after that. I wound up making out with a very drunk girl to help speed up the time. She eventually threw up (hopefully due to alcohol consumption as opposed to her bad decisions in evening companionship) on the bar and was escorted out by men the size of the Bronco’s offensive line. Once again the minute hand lost a race to frozen molasses dripping uphill. Since the venue is in a neighborhood where the police don’t really care about (you know, the kind where a bunch of minorities live) the venue stayed open late and we didn’t make our escape until well after 3 a.m.
When forced with the decision to either a) ferret out a hotel in Denver or b) make the 16-hour drive to the place where our beds and televisions resided. The decision was quick and unanimous. About 15-hours into the harrowing all-nighter we met a torrential downpour which made an attempt on our lives. Apparently we were still on our epic quest to destroy the one ring of power (nerd remember). We were driving next to a semi and we basically hit a lake in the middle of Interstate 15, just outside of Temecula, California. It seemed like an eternity, but for a few seconds the van I was in and the 18-wheeler hydroplaned out of control and somehow managed not to hit each other. We breathed a collective sigh of relief and strayed into silence for the remainder of the drive. Sleep never tasted so good.

Haven’t seen the sun for days
And all I know is Rocky gray
Awake for almost 48
This ghost awaits sleeps slim embrace

Wind blows shadows through the black
Those shadows settle into cracks
Beneath my eyes and on my back
A worn will searches for the track

Sleepless lids that long to meet
Left turn down this icy street
These naked trees have lost their leaves
Reminds me of my home back east

A sunrise split apart by clouds
A thousand beams break on this town
Hard rain beats against the ground
I need to dream before I drown

My bed is calling out my name
Whipped around by wind and rain
Drifting in the center lane
Break lights just a fading flame

The sky is blackened by night’s cloak
A fork ahead divides the road
One way leading us towards home
The other points towards the unknown

Is this the way the story ends
Is this the way the story ends
Is this the way the story ends
As long as I am with my friends

Is this the way the story ends
Is this the way the story ends
Is this the way the story ends
As long as I am with my friends

Lay down and dream this noon away
Just burn the blue that turns to gray
A star in bloom would guide our way
It’s time to move I’d rather stay
What’s stranger than this gray friction
To sacrifice the space between
When ego ran through the quicksand
And silence burst instead of screams
The same source feeds my love and hate
These times when youth evaporates
Between the moon and suns first rays
I didn’t kneel this time to pray
Just threw a hope into the sky
The daylight pounds me into dream
Rearview mirror eye to eye
And silence burst instead of screams

Mamma, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Sword Swallowers (no this has no metaphorical association to prop 8)

My mouth is a low rent ghetto-housing tenement populated by microscopic thugs, jaundiced hoodlums and Cavity Creeps. The Super (superintendant for those of you who didn’t grow up in the inner city) is a slum lord and 3 wisdom teeth will soon be evicted (they are bad substance abusing tenants, replace bags of crack with baggies of powdered sugar, including a brief collegiate phase where I used to steal the crystals from the bottom of the Sour Patch Kid’s bin), maybe not worthy of the attention of David Simon (creator of the Wire), but definitely a troubling neighborhood of the mouth.

Sorry, I’m just bitter, freshly home from the Dentist and the verdict was not pleasant. X-rays and an intense cleaning process, coupled with an intolerable sound, 7-cavities and three impacted wisdom teeth that incite the wrath the Gods from cold beverages. But alas, I’ve digressed before even starting. This is a band mailer about sword swallowing. I was going to try to use metaphor to segue the dental experience to that of a sword swallower and honestly, I don’t know which is more harrowing, and even though they both occur in the mouth, it seemed like a bit of an abrupt leap.

Last week at the Heavy Guilt show we had a surprise during the intermission. All it takes to derail the momentum of an evening is one glanced over email. In this case I missed the all-important message containing the knowledge that there would be an extreme performance during our set break. Now, to set this story up appropriately, I have to describe our singer Erik a little bit. We’ll see what happens to the following text because I recently found out Erik edits these things before they hit the streets. In fact I found out he turned the word “@#*!%*” to “child” in one band mailer, but you may not even be reading this sentence, so I got nothing to loose. Erik is clean. Imagine the opposite of the earlier description of my corroded and left behind post sugar-cane-Katrina mouth. If I was at Erik’s house and I dropped a slice of pizza on the ground and said slice landed cheese first, I would feel comfortable eating it after 10 seconds, in fact, I would feel fine if I dropped the slice before a gig, came back after the gig and happened to be hungry, and if by miracle the pizza was still there, I would also feel comfortable eating it. At the same time, I’m not allowed at Erik’s because I’m the kind of dirt-bag who drops pizza on people’s floors and leaves it there for several hours.

Erik recently purchased a microphone, because a.) as a singer it is important to have your own mic and b.) microphones are perhaps the most filthy, germ ridden places on earth, a war ravaged third world space bombed to attrition by bacteria and hurricane rains of musician spittle (who knows where we’ve been). Alright, time to re-rail my train of thought. Erik’s shiny new safe haven of a microphone made its debut last week. When we took our set break we stepped outside for a breather. We could all see inside as the barroom lights lit up the lone microphone in the glory of its shimmering virgin newness. At this point the set break performance began. The sword swallower/sideshow took the stage. He grabbed Erik’s pristine, unsullied microphone and busted into his routine which began with him flossing his teeth with a condom. WOW!!! The defeated look on Erik’s face was incredible. If there is a band out there called “the Disappointment” please email us, we’ll send you the photo, it can be your album cover, touring poster and bumper sticker.

So, on Erik’s mic, he swallowed 4 swords, yelled deafeningly loud, told some foul tales, the aforementioned condom flossing incident (and after the dental visit, I’m all about flossing, but that’s just a bit much), he stuck 4 spiked rods through his stomach (and yes, we witnessed them pushing against the skin and popping out his backside, G-R-O-S-S, I would have rather watched a Sandra Bullock / Keanu Reeves film) and the coup de grace was when he invited audience members to staple money to various body parts, $5 bought most real estate, but the head shot with a staple gun cost $20. This is an interesting approach, because as the sideshow act went on for about 40-long-minutes, the last ten minutes were particularly infuriating to our band. We paced around the shadows of street lamps and waited for our second and truncated set. I secretly was willing to pay money to staple this guy in the face, “how much for an eye shot” I thought to myself “I know where I can get a nail gun, how much longer will you be on?” By the end of the night he was covered in blood, staples and money.

I bet if you pulled Erik aside earlier in the day and said “What three things won’t touch your new mic tonight?” his answer would have been “I don’t know, but if I had to guess, hmmmm, blood, money and staples.” WRONG!!!! So, to you folks planning on coming down to see the Guilt this weekend, we’ll likely have an iPod crooning between us and the next band, but if you want to staple $100 to my pinky toe, I’m totally fine with that, I’ll have some grocery money left after my copay.

PS. If I ever wind up "accidentally" impaled, please notify the good people at Unsolved mysteries, or the cat who wrote and or directed Zodiac. (and don't let Jamie Foxx play me)