Moon Tooth is on tour with Thank You Scientist & The Tea Club. Checking in for their second tour journal entry is guitarist & vocalist Nick Lee:
Tour Journal #2
Ouch… let me see if I can concentrate on writing this despite the gurgling, bubbling pot of Cracker Barrel rotgut that is my stomach right now. CB is kind of a tour staple but every time I have it I wonder why that is. Still though, you can’t totally hate on a place where you can get a chicken fried steak, a rocking chair, a CD of Reba’s Greatest Hits, and diabetes all in one shot.
Anyway, on to less important things: TOUR WITH THANK YOU SCIENTIST IS RULING! Seriously amazing so far. I guess I’ll have to go back to the start….
We got on the road to escape Long Island around 2pm last Thursday, December 1st. First show was at The Outer Space Ballroom in Hamden, CT.
Outer Space is in this little industrial looking complex and it includes a few other buildings attached to the Space name; another venue, a rehearsal space, and The Outer Space Ballroom itself is attached to another bar and has a backyard fire pit area. It’s like it’s own little micro music universe in the middle of CT. Pretty sweet.
We’ve never met Thank You Scientist or the opening band The Tea Club before so meeting all collective 15 of them at once was a bit overwhelming but all good, friendly, vibes right off the bat. It’s a really cool experience to go on tour with people you’ve never met before. That first day is always a little awkward but it usually doesn’t take longer than a few hours before everyone is chilling, laughing, talking shop, or getting drinks together. By the end of the tour you usually have at least a few new lifelong friends. Yet another reason I never doubt this musical path I’m on is the right one….
I pretty much went into this tour not knowing anything about The Tea Club’s music. I liked the idea of going into it with no preconceptions so I could be surprised no matter what and I’m happy I did. They’re prog rock in the true sense similar to a band like Yes. The vocals of their brother-guitarists Pat & Dan are harmonized beautifully and the skills of the band all around are astounding. I’ve been really enjoying getting to know their set better each night. They psyched me out that first night in CT when they said “this is our last song” and I was still warming up, stretching, crying, etc… and I cut my warm-up rituals off early to get where I’d have to be only to figure out that that last song is actually fifteen minutes long.
It was a packed house when we went on and our first show in a month and a half. First show of tour is always the hardest one for obvious reasons. I can’t wait to get through it so we can get to the point where the sets so dialed into our brains that we could do it while we’re brushing our teeth if we had to. I also just started playing a brand new Vigier guitar and have an entirely different pedal board configuration thanks to my man Joe Sanders aka the Colonel coming through with a Mammoth 3-looper pedal switcher that he built for me. It’s great because I can now turn multiple pedals on at once which means less tap dancing and it’s easier for me to switch sounds while I’m also concentrating on singing or screaming into a mic. A few silly mishaps because of the new gear got me a little unavoidably stuck in my own head which is not where I like to be when I’m performing but I knew it was just typical first-day bullshit. I don’t want to be in my head, over-thinking while playing. The stage is one place you should truly be in the moment but being very comfortable with the gear/setup you’re using is part of that.
Overall though it was a good set and we had a really awesome crowd. Thank you Hamden.
We got a brand new song in the set, a cover, and a song we haven’t played much live that I sing lead on so it’s been a fun yet challenging set. It’s awesome to finally get 45 mins on stage instead of the usual 30. Of course the set where I have to sing more is on the tour where we’re out with the best fucking singers I’ve ever heard… oh well, hope you like being screamed at prog-nerds!
Speaking of amazing singers, holy shit Thank You Scientist’s set is incredible. All of those dudes are running a clinic up there. Their singer Sal is unbelievably on point and consistent every night and their guitarist Tom plays some of the nastiest leads I’ve ever heard in person. He’s also busting out a fretless Vigier guitar as well as a Japanese instrument called the Shamisen which looks like a massive spatula that you play with a tiny ice scraper. It’s weird but really cool. Amazing violin and brass chops are things I’m not used to hearing night after night on tour and I’m really grateful to be exposed to it every night. This is our first “non-metal” tour so we were wondering how it would feel and how we’d fit in and honestly it’s been a great change of pace for us. TYS’s fans have been really attentive and cool to us!
We were staying with our merch dude and good friend Garrett after the show but since his neighborhood in New Haven is a little rough we left the gear and van at the Outer Space and just took his car back to his place minus our singer John who slept in the van. Now that we have a mattress on a loft in the back it’s actually very comfy in here minus the cold. Luckily our heat still works! Staff at the Outer Space was very cool to us. Their sound engineer OT told me a bit about how they started as “The Space” in a house somewhere in the neighborhood and they evolved it into this awesome full-on music facility for the community that does everything from death metal shows to bar mitzvahs, all thanks to their determination to pursue what they love. Respect!
The next morning we got on the road to Boston to play a late show at The Great Scott. We got to town somewhat early, dropped our bags off at our buddy Zak’s where we were staying, and loaded in at Great Scott. The show didn’t start until after 10 because of GS’s weekly comedy show was happening before ours. I wanted to watch the whole thing but ended up napping in the van through most of it. I caught the last two comics though and they were pretty good. You have to respect the balls on comics to get up there by themselves, tour by themselves, etc… there’s definitely parallels between touring musicians and comics but at least if we have a shit set we can help each other get over it afterwards and talk about how to fix it. That support network on tour is crucial in my opinion. How else can you keep getting tighter as a band and as friends without that commiseration? It would be hard to do this alone.
Anyway, Boston show was killer. Probably my favorite so far. We’ve played MA a lot the last two years and we’ve made so many awesome supportive friends there. InAeona, Rozamov, Carnivora, Pathogenic, Merithius are a few bands who had at least a few members at the show and that means a lot to us! It definitely helped my mindset for the show, knowing we had some “friends of the road” out to see us! Show all around was great, all the bands crushed. Afterwards we went back to Zak’s and crashed but not before hanging a bit with his roommate Poh Hock of the band Native Construct who let us nerd out over his Strandberg 8-string guitar. I usually hate how 8-strings play but that thing changed my mind! I traded some licks with him too, he’s an unbelievable guitar player! It’s awesome getting exposed to new musicians constantly on tour. It always inspires me to come home and write some wavy shit!
Next day we made the trek to Philadelphia which has easily become one of our favorite cities to play over the last four years. People in Philly seem to like to have a good time at shows. Maybe it’s just coincidence but I tend to see less judging, jaded, arm-folding motherfuckers in Philly and more people just getting loose and rocking out. This show was at Underground Arts which was a beautiful basement venue. Luckily for us they had freight elevators to bring all the gear down and the staff was super friendly and helpful getting all three touring bands’ gear down there.
I got to teach my first on-the-road guitar lesson before the show. Thanks Stephen! I hope one day I can get a couple students before every show on tour. It’s great to meet people that way and of course helps me survive financially while I’m out here.
Local band In The Presence of Wolves kicked things off right. Great band! Our good buddies in the band Witch Fist came out to support as well as our manager Jimmy so we had some good hangs before the show. Backstage area was huge and really nice with some cool antique pianos and stereos and stuff sitting around. A few of the Tea Club and TYS guys were messing around on an old player piano. So many great musicians on this tour!
Our set went over pretty well. At one point I had that by-chance miracle fuck-up of unknowingly kicking a patch cable out of one of my many pedals and the band and I were able to time my recovery in a way that didn’t fuck the flow of the song up. Love when that happens. The crowd gets to see how comfortable we are playing on stage together because we know what to do when shit hits the fan! Plus, nailing a tight recovery from an otherwise hair-pulling technical problem feels pretty good!
Crashed with our good friend Jamie of Witch Fist who was nice enough to make us a king’s breakfast before we got on the road to DC. We hadn’t played DC in years and the one time we did was pretty shot so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. We got a killer turnout on a Sunday night, and played a set on par with the one in Boston. Great crowd for every band. They were responsive, attentive, and I think the loudest of tour so far! Thank You Scientist brought the house down. Besides being world class musicians, they’re good performers, and their set has enough funny moments to really be a special experience. Way worth the price of admission. Don’t sleep on TYS!
We stayed with our buddy Adam who moved to DC a few years back. He is one of my friends I am grateful I get to see on tour because otherwise I never would! He destroyed us in Goldeneye for N64 while ripping Vin apart for being an Islanders fan. Good times! Only problem is that he thinks Death Magnetic was better than this new Metallica album. Disagree! But instead of fighting about it we just listened to Kill Em All and laughed about Lulu. “It’s 2016 and you guys are talking about Metallica…” – Vin.
That brings me to today. It’s our first day off so we got some decent sleep and some 3pm breakfast at Cracker Barrell but we got on the road late and have to drive to Orlando so we’ll probably be driving into the small hours of the night to get to SC and crash at Vin’s dad’s.
It’s one of those nights where you forget you’re in a van and you feel more like your back in your padded cell that is shaking and bouncing through the darkness. It gets a little cozier every tour though. We bought the mini fridge over the summer and Ray brought a crock pot this time. He made some very delicious vegan chili the other day. It really does feel like home in this thing at this point. We even have a little TV, a mattress, and cabinets for food.
We’ve played nearly every continental state this year plus a few dates in Canada and over 100 shows… By far our biggest year so far and every night starts and ends in this dangerous fart-box on wheels careening down the highway. There’s a metaphor for our lives in there somewhere but I will spare you the cliches. Just go listen to that Bob Seger song instead. *saxophone solo*
Actually I’m currently listening to Hunted by Khemmis. I’d never heard of them until I read Decibel gave them album of the year. I’m digging it! I’m always excited to hear bands doing something heavy as nails but still coming up with strong vocal melodies as that is part of what I personally strive to do with Moon Tooth. Other stuff I’ve been listening to a lot lately: Whores – Gold, Neurosis – Sun That Never Sets, Jeff Buckley – Sketches for My Sweetheart The Drunk, new Metallica, Earthless, Napalm Death, Nomeansno, Oathbreaker, Lord Almighty, Daughters….
Thanks for reading guys. Y’all come back in a few days for Vin or Ray’s addition to this tour journal. Here’s the rest of what’s coming up:
Dec 6 Tue // Orlando, FL // Backbooth
Dec 7 Wed // Atlanta, GA // Purgatory
Dec 8 Thu // Nashville, TN // High Watt
Dec 9 Fri // Columbus, OH // Rumba
Dec 10 Sat // Chicago, IL // The Beat Kitchen
Dec 11 Sun // Minneapolis, MN // 7th Street Entry
Dec 13 Tue // Grand Rapids, MI // Pyramid Scheme
Dec 14 Wed // Cleveland, OH // Mahall’s
Dec 15 Thu // Toronto, ON // Hard Luck
Dec 16 Fri // Montreal, QC // Ritz
Dec 17 Sat // Brooklyn, NY // Knitting Factory
Dec 18 Sun // Asbury Park, NJ // House of Independents
Loading the van on day one.
Thank You Scientist in CT.
TYS & Moon Tooth at The Outer Space in CT.
Road to Boston.
Our new merch table freak “Beanie” courtesy of Joe Z.
Ray working on his crock pot recipe at 70 mph.
John, Ray, & Garrett getting down on some shwarma in Boston.
Comedy in Boston. I believe this was Myq Kaplan.
Garrett slangin’ shirts in Boston.
Warming up in the shit house. Boston.
Ray in front of Underground Arts.
Moon Tooth on stage in Philly.
Thank You Scientist in Philly.
Backstage at Underground Arts.
Jamie is a good friend.
DC9 in… DC.
Best load-in of tour!
Hungry mofos waiting for food at DC9.
TYS in DC.