Moon Tooth is on tour with Fit For An Autopsy & Tombs and they will be contributing a photo-tour-journal series as they go. Here is guitarist/vocalist Nick Lee re-capping the first week of the three week tour and shows in Baltimore, Reading, Greensboro, Atlanta, & Tampa.
It’s day seven of tour with Fit For An Autopsy and Tombs. I’m currently sitting in the front passenger seat of the van while we carve through the southeast corner of the U.S. It’s a drive day; Tampa, FL to Austin, TX, which is a nice 17 hour drive on paper before you start including stops to eat, shit, cry, etc… Claustrophobia, cabin fever, irritable bowels, anxiety, swamp ass, bog balls, and general insanity are all settling in… And I don’t know if I’m just being paranoid but I have a strong feeling the other guys in the band are plotting my death telepathically at this very moment. (I can’t help but read this back in the voice of Hunter S. Thompson.)
Drive days are kind of nice actually…. and the delirium caused by the lack of space, privacy, and comfort always makes for good laughs. Sometimes you just have to scream and freak the fuck out for a second. Not at anyone, just to yourself. It helps avoid crankiness if you just howl like a lunatic while pulling into yet another greasy gas station, where you’ll be able count the beads of sweat falling off of your nose while you swat flies away and try to hover over a toilet seat in central Floridian humidity. Now that’s some fucking rock star multitasking, huh kids? They don’t tell you about that when you’re a youngling acting like you’re gonna be in Metallica one day.
I’m of course mostly kidding. I’m really just trying to paint a small portion of the whole picture of “what touring is like” there. Minus the blistering summer heat vs. no A/C in our van situation, this tour has honestly been a fucking great time so far.
This tour has a really cool mix of bands. It goes without saying at this point that Fit For An Autopsy is a modern death metal juggernaut and a fixture of the scene for any fan of fast, heavy, brutal, technical, hardcore-influenced death metal. Ray (MT drummer) and I have known their guitarist Tim Howley since we were 15 years old (we’re 27 & 28 now). If I’m remembering correctly, we met him at The Downtown in Farmingdale (RIP) at an open mic night our band at the time was playing. I thought he was in his 20’s because at 15/16 he already had a longer beard than I can grow now.
We’ve been friends and playing shows together on and off ever since. We were so psyched on him joining FFAA and getting all over the world with them and now to be able to actually do a Full U.S. tour together after talking about it for over a decade feels really fucking good.
One time in my junior year of high school I was eating lunch with Tim in the school cafeteria and he was taking hot dog buns and rolling them into balls and throwing them as hard as he could at the wall or windows so they would stick, and they would. He would get yelled at but always talk his way out of getting in trouble somehow…
Anyway, FFAA crushes every night. Their sound is always tight and they’re great performers. They really make the insane shit they’re playing look easy and the kids who roll out to see them all leave with smiles on their faces every night.
Tombs brings something very different to the package. Their mix of black metal and dark, punishing, metallic riffing is an onslaught of powerful evil. I’ve been following Tombs and Mike Hill for many years now and it’s very cool to be touring with them and watching them do their thing every night. Apparently the other guys are all new to the band for this record/touring cycle which is amazing because they all hit the songs like they’ve been touring on them for years night after night. Also, big surprise, they’re all awesome, friendly dudes and have been a pleasure to tour with. You can learn so much from every band you tour with, about the industry, the craft, the gear, and really everything about life, personal or professional…
I guess I’ll go back to the beginning now.
“I won’t be mad, I’ll just be drunk.”
First show was in Baltimore at Ottobar and it was actually one of the best so far which is surprising because I feel like first shows of tour are always tough. You’re back in the saddle after a little while away and I’m usually always trying something a little new out on each tour, as far as our set, or my rig or playing goes. Plus, you’re meeting everyone on the tour for the first time but in this case I’ve met everyone from Fit and had hung out with most of them at least a little bit before so for me it immediately felt comfortable and I was beyond psyched to play.
We haven’t toured since February or played a show since March and as soon as we launched into the set that first night I immediately felt a piece of myself that was missing return to its place.
Of course there are always issues. I felt like anytime I had to address the sound guy, his responses were as if I had just insulted his entire family tree. A little salty and very passive aggressive when it came to any questions we had, backlining (even though we were told to), and of course stage volume. I don’t understand why he was so bent out of shape or simply hated us but he was good at mixing overall. I’d probably hate everyone too if I had to mix bands every night. Bands are obviously the WORST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.
Anyhoo, fun first show, every band killed it, got to see our friends Cole and Cameron from the incredible Passage Between, and it was our best night for selling merch thus far. We stayed with our friend Noamel who we met a year ago in Baltimore when we were rolling through with Intronaut & Entheos… He was nice enough to put us up in his home where he lives with his wife and daughter. He hardly knows us and he opened his home to us for a safe, comfortable, and free place to crash. Kindness of strangers is the lifesblood of bands like us touring right now. Talked music for a while with him and then finally slept probably around 4am in Baltimore after leaving my home on Long Island, NY at 8am that morning. Good first night of tour. Thanks again Noamel!
Next up was Reading, PA at Reverb. We’d never played Reading before. The whole town smelled like the inside of a barn (a nice way to say it smelled like cow shit, no offense) and after awhile it was giving me a splitting headache but Reverb was a nice club, just fucking huge… a little too huge; ginormous concrete box… This was the worst show of tour for us so far. This has unfortunately happened before, Vin’s (MT bassist) or my pedal board was having some kind of issue and the pitch of one of our instruments was not matching our tuner. We tuned to the same tuner (on literally three different tuners) and would still be out of tune. It got to the point where we just did it by ear right there on stage… It didn’t make for a very fulfilling performance… It was one of those shows I can only liken to a bad show anxiety dream, which I’ve had my fair share of. Only it’s not a dream…
Once I had a dream that we were playing with Slayer at (our 200 cap favorite local Long Island haunt) Amityville Music Hall. They were opening for us and it wasn’t until I walked onstage that I realized my pedal board was in another state or some stupid shit like that. It’s always some variation of those terrible ingredients, but trust me, experiencing one of those in real life is way worse than anything your brain can conjure in a dream.
But whatever – win some, lose some – and it wasn’t really THAT terrible all things considered. We finished our set, still moved some merch, won a few kids over… In the past I would let that ruin my night (probably the next day too) but I managed not to let it. Drank a little whiskey and laughed it off. A little disastrous embarrassment is good for building character, right?
We crashed with Andy from Tombs & Black Crown Initiate in Reading, woke up painfully early the next day, and were off to Richmond, VA to play Strange Matter for Day 3.
A local hip hop artist named Black Liquid opened the show. He was great. A nice break from the usual deathcore shit. Also I love Strange Matter, really cool place, good food. Show was pretty good. Richmond has been a tough nut to crack over the years touring through there. I’d probably hit up Strange Matter four or five times over the years booking our own tours and it wasn’t until we were opening for Intronaut that we were ever able to play there. Richmond seems to have a very metal bloodline but I’m not sure how easy it is for outsiders… The guy working the door the night of this last show was in Inter Arma and we got to bullshit for a little while after the show. Their last record is fucking killer and we’d played them once at CMJ in NYC so it was cool to reconnect.
We stayed outside of Richmond with our friend Jake from the band Gritter and his wife. Really sweet people, barbequed for us and shared their home. We had some good conversation about music, touring, etc… I think Jake thought Long Island (where we’re from) and Rhode Island (not where we’re from) are the same place and kept yelling that we wanted some “hot lager” (pronounced lagaaah) in a thick New England accent. I explained the difference but he just said “ah, all y’all sound the same to me” in his Virginian drawl which was pretty fucking hilarious. Our bass player Vin was also drinking tequila all night and he stole an American flag cowboy hat from Tim FFAA and wouldn’t take it off so his alter ego Dr. Freaky M.D. was out in full force.
The next morning we were off to Greensboro, NC. We’ve had some interesting history in that city. We’ve had some pretty shot shows there but a few good ones too and despite the bad ones, we’ve made some good friends there. The guys from Ascentia, Escher, Wings Denied, and our friend Justin (ex-Grooms of the Stool) and his whole crew from Raleigh have all helped us find a place to stay and have come out to see almost every time over the last couple years.
We were at the Blind Tiger this time around. We had played there once before a year or two back. Our show got moved there the morning of and “we” blew the power once and then the PA permanently during our set. John (MT singer) ended up telling jokes for twenty minutes and bringing members of the crowd onstage to contribute their own jokes, we played “never have I ever” with the crowd, and did a stripped-down quiet version of our song “Silver Gallows” without a PA.
Needless to say, we were a little concerned rolling up to this spot for the only time since that night but I’m happy to say we were pleasantly surprised. Venue and PA had been renovated, sound was killer, and we brought a lot of friends out. It was definitely the best set we’d played so far and it was the loudest crowd for us so far. We owe that to stopping here on every tour for the last couple of years and to the friends we’ve made there along the way. Ray ran across the street to some nearby whiskey-bar and the bartender instantly recognized him saying “oh shit! Moon Tooth!” and hooked him up with a free drink, adding that we were held in high regard in that town. Thank you Greensboro friends!
Of course the night couldn’t all go well and the battery of our van died in the parking lot while it was pouring rain. Thankfully the promoter Chris was on his way out, hooked us up with a jump, and it wasn’t too long before we were on our way.
We stayed at our friend Justin from Ascentia’s house and he fucked all our brains up with his Virtual Reality headset thing. I tried playing Resident Evil on it after smoking a bowl and I think it permanently damaged me. Good stuff. Thanks Justin!
The next morning we were off to Hotlanta for show number five at The Drunken Unicorn. Got there kind of early, Pat from FFAA lives down in Atlanta and tattoos at a really killer studio right next to the venue. We’ve been talking about getting a Tooth band-tattoo on this tour but it didn’t end up working out this day…
I thought we played tight as fuck at this show and for a tight, tiny stage, the stage sound was my favorite so far. It helped to have a few friends from Harvester, and our homie Se’nam from Crispin Wah in the audience rocking out and getting loud. John managed to get a pit going during one of our new songs “Thumb Spike”.
I think the kids that have never seen us before are a little confused by us for the first couple songs. All of the locals except for Richmond have been somewhere in the death metal/hardcore/djent spectrum and when we start playing some of our more rock shit, you can kind of tell who gets down with that and who doesn’t but I really think we are winning a lot of them over. At least at this show it felt that way. There was one kid there who was at his first show ever and he bought a CD and had us all sign it. He was maybe 16-18 years old, if I had to guess. That’s a great feeling to be one of the first bands a dude has ever seen live.
It was a fun night. We would have loved to have stayed and partied with our Atlanta friends but decided to knock out a few hours of the drive to Tampa the next day and find a hotel. Ended up falling asleep around 5am just to be woken up at 7am to move our van because our trailer was blocking their dumpster a little bit. Ouch. Yeah haven’t slept much on this tour but so it goes…
I feel like once you start driving through Georgia and Florida the molasses of the Southern summer air starts to really coagulate in your lungs and blood. You move and talk slower because it feels like the sun is sitting on your chest and squeezing every last bead of sweat out of your pores. Not having A/C in your van in Tampa is not good. Wouldn’t recommend it.
This started off as a pretty good one. We made it on time, loaded in, got some grub next door, the sound guy was super nice and helped me repair a broken resistor on one of my pedals by donating a soldering gun and a resistor from a broken DI box he wasn’t using. Thanks again dude. The venue was called the Orpheum. It was pretty cool minus the fact that they gave no waters or drink deals, charged the bands $10/beer and $1/water… I don’t care what you do about alcohol but don’t make the bands pay for waters. Come on…
Ray and I and Andy and Justin from Tombs got to check out the Sand City Brewing Company and grab a flight before the show started. Breweries are a fun way to get a little memory from a specific city to take with you… plus, BEER. Oak barrel version of Jai Alai was my favorite thing I got to try.
Sound on stage was harsh that night, I was getting a loud hum through my amp (could that have been the resistor? It was only for an LED light…) and everything was very loud (probably my fault)… I still thought we played tight though and we had kids paying attention and a few headbanging and bopping around a little bit but overall the crowd was DEAD. So many kids on the back wall with their arms crossed, not even clapping after the songs. I was surprised how many of them came up to us to say “good set” and buy merch afterwards because we just felt like they fucking hated us.
John and I have fun feeding off of that though. I told them to enjoy their nap and John asked them if they were done doing their taxes as he poured a full bottle of water on his crotch. Having a crowd like that where they seem disconnected or plain uninterested fires me up in a “fight me you coward” kinda way. It makes jumping on my cabinet easier for me because I’m just riding the rage inside of me that steps in the path of self-preservation and makes me unafraid to hurt myself or anyone around me. It’s like “Oh I’m sorry are we boring you because we don’t have eight string guitars, backing tracks, and riffs that don’t involve fretting playing to a fucking metronome every night? Would you like us more if we were blowing vape clouds through each other’s gauged ear-holes and talking about how tight ergonomic guitars and fake amps are? I didn’t sleep for two hours and drive endlessly in the boiling Floridian bog with no A/C to look at your *2 cool 4 this* blank expression and arms crossed buddy and I don’t care if you’ve never heard of us before. I need your energy like Nosferatu needs blood motherfucker. It’s the only thing that makes touring like this worth it. Allow me to hang from the rafters while I scowl at you full eye contact and spray dehydrated, sticky saliva everywhere and see how that works.”
Whatever, like I said, I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction afterwards when kids were coming up to the merch table but I dunno… is Tampa just like that? It was our first time there and we’ve learned that some cities are just more down to get loose at a show than others. It will be interesting to go back eventually and see if it’s like that or if we just suck!
Drove a few hours after the show to a hotel. Tried to find some information on how to get cats to stop fighting. I left my poor girlfriend with our two cats, one of which we just adopted, and the other of which is an adorable little hellspawn demon named Lucas. Should have named him Damien. He broke the bathroom door somehow and won’t stop picking on his new brother and keeping her up all night. I wish I brought him on tour to sell merch and be our muscle… Where’s the Cat Daddy when you need him? Send me advice on that people who probably stopped reading this nine paragraphs ago…
Anyway, got a hotel after the show and drove 12 hours yesterday to Lafayette, LA where we got a KILLER Airbnb. For $41 we had a beautiful southern air-conditioned house with enough couches and beds to sleep all of us, free wifi, and a kitchen we could store our groceries until morning. It’s hard on the road because you get to where you’re crashing so late but if you can ever Airbnb it I would highly recommend it, especially on drive/off days.
Rolled out early again this morning for the scorching six hour drive to Austin from Lafayette, got a flat tire only an hour into it. Now we’re sitting in disgusting traffic carving our way through Texas to play Grizzly Hall tonight in Austin. Then we play a few more in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before we’re off to the West Coast where the real adventure of this tour begins; driving through California playing shows in LA and SF on our way up to Portland and Seattle for our first time as Moon Tooth in the Pacific Northwest.
Can. Not. Fucking. Wait. For. Those. Drives. And. Shows. Fuck.
Jesus, did anyone read all of that garbage? Anyway, here are some more pictures below worth more than those 3,000 words I just typed. It killed some time at least! More shenanigans to come. Thanks New Noise for hosting this again.
Come catch us at one of the remaining shows:
6/28 – West Hollywood, CA @ Roxy
6/29 – San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
6/30 – Chico, CA @ Lost On Main
7/1 – Portland, OR @ Analog
7/2 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
7/5 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
7/6 – Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room
7/7 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
7/8 – Cleveland, OH @ Foundry
7/9 – Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory