Western Settings Tour Journal – We’re Not Fucking Dead!

By Tony Shrum

The best part about going on the road with a band is building a stronger relationship with people – not only the band members, but people you meet on the road – whether they are complete strangers or people you have met prior to the tour; they all become your family. The sense of family is exactly what Western Settings, and their label (La Escalera Records) embody.

Before launching into the tour diary, I want to give you a rundown of the key players on this trip, mainly those who’ve traveled in the van at some point.

Will Castro (Guitarist) – Will plays guitar in Western Settings, and is also the owner of La Escalera Records. He also screenprints anything you need (hit him up here). He’s the “adult” (not necessarily due to age) in the outfit and maintains a professional attitude, but when business has been dealt with he becomes just as dysfunctional as the rest of them.

Ricky Schmidt (Bassist) – Ricky is a goddamn sweetheart. I tried ripping out any mean bone in his body this whole tour and I couldn’t find it. If you’ve had any interaction with him you know what I’m talking about. He takes time to thank everyone, and not the “I’m saying this because I have to” thank you’s, but actual, heartfelt thank you’s. He is Tin Man’s polar opposite.

Adam Kissell (Drummer) – Adam is the quietest member of the band, yet you can see the wheels turning in his head – he’s very aware of what’s going on, and when he opens his mouth it’s something worth hearing, whether comedic gold or a hard hitting realization.

Dylan Wolters (Guitarist) – Dylan is the “funny man” who can carry a conversation to the point of having to say “Shut the fuck up!,” though it never really reaches that point because everything he says is entertaining, He never got pissed off and rolled with whatever happened. This dude will launch a conversation onto some next level shit.

Maggie – Maggie is an angel. She descended upon us heathens in Denver and blessed us with everything you hope for on tour – hotel rooms, beer, food, etc. It was my first time meeting her and she’s awesome. She’s been a friend of members of Western Settings for more years than I can count on my fingers.

Kevin White – Fuckin’ Kevin. Kevin flew into Albuquerque where he joined us for the last few shows of the tour. Kevin moved to Florida from San Diego, but still remains a major part of the SD / La Escalera family. I hadn’t met him prior to this (only brief exchanges on Facebook), but I knew he was loved by everyone so I was excited to finally hang out with him in person. He’s as loveable, and beautiful, as I had heard.

TOUR JOURNAL

Los Angeles, CA

Technically, their kick off show was the night before in their hometown of San Diego, but I wasn’t there so I can only speculate it was a good time. I met the band at The Redwood in LA for “kick off tour part 2” since a lot of friends were in attendance. This was the, “Ok, you ready to do this, Tony?” show.

After the show, we heading over to Josh from The Bombpops house and partied. Ricky took several darts to the ass cheeks for $50, which was the amount we all collected from our pockets (we’re a sad group). The final dart, thrown by Will, actually stuck in Ricky’s ass cheek.

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Oakland, CA

We woke up at Josh’s and began our drive up to Oakland. Adam gave some of us Emergen-C to mix into my water, which was gross. We then jumped into a conversation about how funny it would be if someone did a remix of Dead To Me’s Cuban Ballerina with actual chicken noises for the vocals.

Anyway, driving up the 5 is ugly but we powered through and got to Oakland. The show was bittersweet – on one hand we got to see people we don’t get to  see often, including Civil War Rust (who are part of the La Escalera family), and then on the other hand, it had only been a week or two since the tragic death of Emilio Nevarez from The Lucky Eejits outside the venue Western Settings was playing that night. The show was awesome, and the enormous amount of love was great.

After the show we drove to Lisa’s (New Noise Magazine’s editor) house and pretty much went straight to sleep after a long day of driving and hanging out in Oakland. It’s always nice going to Lisa’s because a.) she’s awesome as hell, and b.) her place is mellow and has a nice view of the bay. And she calls me “Shrummy.”

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Sacramento, CA

Having a short drive this day from the Bay Area to Sacramento afforded us time to hang out, and there’s no better place to go then The Warehouse in Port Costa. If you stay with Lisa, you’re more than likely familiar, as it’s tradition to give this place a visit. There was a cover band playing, bikers everywhere, etc. – all having a good time.

Some of us made the mistake of getting pretty drunk while in Port Costa, which meant when it came time to leave for Sacramento, we sobered up along the way. The only thing to potentially pick us back up was too start drinking again, and it was just all one big mess.

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The Sacramento scene is held down by Sean & Pat Hills (not solely of course, but they’re a major part). Sean throws a lot of the shows in Sacramento so if you’re looking for something do ask him where you should be; he’ll have something for you. And if you’re looking to have your band recorded, talk to his brother Pat. The brothers perform in the band Bastards of Young, another La Escalera band (it’s an awesome roster), who played the show that night with Western Settings.

After the show we left Cafe Colonial and headed to The Hideout for some drinks and talked all kinds of nonsense with the members of Bastards of Young, Dead Dads, and others from the show. We got to sit in a pretty sweet tiki hut, eventually leaving after last call.

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Bend, OR

Now on to pretty country! As we went up the 5 things slowly became greener while pushing into Oregon. By law, we’re not allowed to pump our own gas in Oregon, which still gets me the first time filling up after crossing the border.Western Settings Tour Journal 8Western Settings Tour Journal 9

After the long drive and a couple stops to do some acoustic videos, we ended up at the venue in Bend (Volcanic Theatre Pub). The place had a great set up, and shared a courtyard area with a few other breweries/restaurants. According to the owner of the venue, Bend is known for having a lot of breweries; I can’t remember the exact statistic he gave us, but the ratio of brewery to people was pretty high on the list in United States.

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This is the night things got kind of strange…

This was one of the nights where we didn’t have a place to stay set up in advance, so I booked us a hotel room when things didn’t look to promising. Then one of the couples at the show invited us to their house – where we could party, sleep, wake up, shower, and eat. The couple weren’t the typical punk rock showgoers and were more the age of our parents, which wasn’t a bad thing, but nonetheless looked as if it’d shape up to be an unusual night. So we said “Fuck it. Let’s do it.” I cancelled the hotel, got the directions to their house and we headed on our way.

This was the point where we realized Adam and I suck ass at being navigator and driver – him driving, me navigating. And it was mainly do to hitting two traffic circles (or roundabouts) and him taking the wrong exits. To save time, let’s just say we had different ideas of how to identify which exit to take.

We eventually made it to the house and were greeted by several people who were at the show and down to party.The homeowner welcomed us to any of the rooms in his house to sleep in, even giving us a tour of the house, offering his kids’ beds to sleep in, the floor of an empty bedroom, and so on. We all politely declined any of the rooms and stuck together downstairs in the living room. Figured if he turned out to be a killer, the chance of him getting all of us was greatly reduced by us being in the same area, versus being spread out in separate rooms where he could pick us off quietly one by one.

We eventually woke up and none of us were dead so the night was a success. They even made us some kind of breakfast pizzas, which were good as hell. They were nice to us and I feel bad for not remembering their names.

Corvalis, OR

Now it’s time for some short drives, the first one being to Corvalis – a small college town with a smaller scene than the first few shows.The show was at a coffee shop/venue right near the college campus. We had the show set up through Nathan Lawson of Hi Ho Silver Away!, which is a great band. If you haven’t heard them yet check out their album Chore.

The show was free so several people walking by would pop in and out to join the crowd throughout the night. It’s a cool spot, and a cool little town.

After the show we headed to Nathan’s house where we hung out for a bit before passing out. To keep the plug going, Nathan also runs a label called Secret Pennies Records, and moved up from Santa Barbara to Corvalis a little while back. Check out their releases here if you get the chance.

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Portland, OR

Aaaaah, beautiful Portland, OR. We started off this day by hitting up the BlankTV house, where Western Settings played some acoustic songs, one of which you can watch below. It seems like a patterns emerging – just as Nathan left California for Oregon, Smitty & Donivee at BlankTV did the same, ditching Los Angeles for Portland. A good move according to Donivee, and one I’d back, as she now has green trails to walk her dogs on.

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They cooked us food, gave us beer & candy, and sent us on our way full and happy. Thank you guys!

We got to the venue a little early, so we decided to find the nearest Little Caesars and head to it. Ricky, Will and Adam kept talking about that damn bacon crust pizza, while Dylan and I could give two shits about it, because we’re not slaves to the flesh and blah blah blah.

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We found Little Caesars, ate it in the van, then headed back to the venue (Panic Room). Apparently the venue was on Bar Rescue because it was going down the tubes. But all is well, it got filled with Ikea style furniture and everything is back on track! It was kind of an odd setup and the bar service was handled weirdly; I’d rate it “room for improvement.”

After the show we stayed at Brodie’s house (member of The Brass) and partied until about 4am. It was a long night, but the next day was a short drive so it’s all good. Brodie cooked us breakfast burritos in the morning, like a sweetheart.

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Tacoma, OR

I love Tacoma. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, but I imagine this is what Pittsburgh is like. It’s got an industrial feel with a grittiness that feels oddly comforting. As soon as we pulled up to the venue we were greeted by Drew Smith from Burn Burn Burn (more La Escalera homies). The doorman was an old dude that had that “I’ve seen some shit” demeanor, and with the show being donation based, he made sure to grab a can and hustling for donations for Western Settings – definitely a strong candidate for “Doorman of the Year.”

Drew did an acoustic set, including the controversial cover of Ludacris’ “Move Bitch.” Hilltop Rats also played; it was my first time seeing them and they played a pretty sweet set.

Seattle, WA

We drove up to Rev from Success’ house to sleep after the Tacoma show (as is custom), and Will, Adam and I woke up and went to eat burritos at El Chupacabra. “Can’t compete homie” was very much the slogan for Seattle’s burritos.

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The Kraken! The greatest punk bar, or just greatest bar in all of Seattle. If you’re in a punk band that’s not playing the arena circuit, you’ve probably played The Kraken and got pizza at Ragazzi.

The bands did their thing on stage, played some video games and headed back to Rev’s house to party for a bit.

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Wenatchee, WA

We woke up and hit the road for the two and half hour drive to Wenatchee, WA where Western Settings would be playing at Wally’s House of Booze – great bar name. Everything went smoothly the whole ride until we got into Wenatchee where some locals wanted to give us a warm welcome by slamming their vehicle into the front end of our van while trying to turn sharply in front of us. Dylan and I had a near death experience (wasn’t really that bad) and then we were back on our way.

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The town was having some annual event so we parked by the venue in front of the “Safe Zone” and half of us headed into town to see what the fuss was all about. There was live music in the town square, along with a bunch of food vendors (minus funnel cakes which was a bummer). AND we ended up running into the people that hit us! But it’s all good; we let them know there was no hard feelings.

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Went back to the bar/venue where they had a pretty sweet backstage area for bands, but that shit’s cheesey hanging out back there so we spent our time out front near the bar. This night was really fun because the guy who booked it lived close by so we were all able to get drunk and get into all kinds of shenanigans.

Richland, WA

Another short two hour drive to Richland, WA the next morning where we met Joe Undem at his house and played beer darts and barbequed until the show that night at Ray’s Golden Lion – restaurant by day, venue by night. This was the lowest turn out of the tour, BUT anytime you get to party with Joe is pretty sweet; the dude’s a gentle giant.

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Boise, ID

On our way to Boise, where everything started to turn green. THIS is the night we met the one and only Tech N9ne by accident, which nobody cared about other than me. We’ll get to that.

The show was at a coffee shop/venue that didn’t serve alcohol, but there was a convenient store on the corner where we could buy alcohol and drink backstage. So we spent most the time before the show at the bar a couple doors down where we could redeem our drink tickets (the same guy owns the coffee shop and the bar), and then back at the coffee shop drinking. We also found a ball and started kicking at each other as hard as we could.

While we’re loading the van, Dylan tells us Tech N9ne is at the metal show happening at the bar we were drinking at earlier, and at first I think he’s saying they’re playing Tech N9ne’s music in between bands, but indeed he’s talking about the actual Tech N9ne being in the bar. So we quickly load up the band, because I’m getting excited and we all head over to the bar.

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Sure enough, there’s Tech N9ne, just chillin’ and getting drunk. So some of us walk up, say hello, and through conversation he eventually shows us the tattoo he just got on his stomach that day, which was huge and had an acronym for something his grandma said to him at the hospital right before she died. I feel like an asshole for not remembering what it was. Anyway, we watch the metal bands for a little bit and then leave.

Nowhere to stay this night so we book a hotel and head to a bar nearby for a couple more drinks. We get back to the hotel room and we’re hungry so we order some of that nasty 2am pizza. At some point Ricky and Dylan end up on the roof hanging out, then we go to sleep with the door open because thug life.

Salt Lake City, UT

On our way out of Boise we see Tech N9ne tour buses (multiple) parked outside the venue he’ll be playing that night and we make way for Salt Lake City.

This is the point of tour I’m most excited for because the next few stops are places I’ve never been. So I’m reading up on the horrific Ogden Hi-Fi murders and Googling why the Great Salt Lake was salty.

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Salt Lake City is the cleanest city I’ve ever seen; they had some sketchy areas of town, but even those looked pristine next to other major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland.

We popped over to Del Taco because it happened to be “Taco Tuesday” and then went over to the venue, Bar Deluxe, which was shutting its doors a few days later to move to a busier part of town and cutting out live music. Such a shame.

Ft. Collins, CO

Before hitting Ft. Collins we crossed the great, empty state of Wyoming. Luckily we came through during the spring so we missed all of the snow, which we probably have died in.

We stopped in Laramie to do laundry at Spic & Span Laundromat and then flopped over to Savvi’s house to take showers and hang out for a bit. Savvi runs Feed the Scene Denver and is another blessing for tour bands. This was literally her last day in Laramie before moving to Denver, and we were happy to have been her last guests at the Laramie spot.

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Now on to Ft. Collins…

This was an odd show. The band played in Illegal Pete’s to a mostly unsuspecting crowd just there to eat. Most seem to be enjoying it, though watching people walk in was pretty entertaining since they weren’t expecting a punk rock band to be playing a show. Awkwardness aside, Illegal Pete’s really takes care of bands through their Starving Musicians program, and even gave us a decent tab for food/drinks.

We ran into Tim from Elway, who told us it was Surfside 7’s last night being open so we made our way over there and celebrated the bittersweet night. Though looking at their Facebook page it seems like they’re still in business, so the angles must have descended from Heaven and blessed them in some way, which is awesome.

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This was also the first night we were joined by Black Dots, who’d stick around for the rest of the tour. We headed down to Denver to stay with Tim of Black Dots in what felt to be a haunted apartment complex. The building was getting renovated so the only people living in the three or four story building was Tim and another dude down on the ground floor. So some of claimed spots in Tim’s apartment while some of us took up some floor space in an abandoned apartment across the hall. Weird situation, but fun experience.

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Denver, CO

Boom. We’re already in Denver, which is a beautiful thing because I’ve heard Denver was a great city and was looking forward to seeing it.

We start our day by picking up Maggie, who just flew in from Hawaii (jealous), then proceeded to Illegal Pete’s where we redeemed our vouchers for free food. After the food we decided to go to the Coors Factory for their free tour and beer. So much free stuff in the Denver area!

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The Coors Factory is located in Golden, CO where there’s a citywide ban on smoking, anywhere. I think that’s awesome, but the band is ¾ smokers so I imagine they suffered a little bit, though nobody really showed it. We took the tour – free parking, free shuttle – and wondered our way to the factory until the end where the give you three drinks for free, decent size ones too. Pretty cool experience.

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We then headed to the hotel Maggie booked for us and laid around the pool until it was time to head to Ross Hostage of Allout Helter’s place where we ate food made by Savvi. So good!

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The venue (Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub) was a bar that was selling 50 cent 12oz. PBRs that night, which was just ridiculous. It was funny seeing people order tall cans at the bar for 3 bucks – guess they didn’t read the sign coming in. Oh well, more for us.

The show was packed with folks, who came to see Western Settings, Black Dots, Allout Helter, and The Larimers. Fun night, and arguably my favorite night.

Albuquerque, NM

Onward to Albuquerque where we’d finally pick up the one & only Kevin! He was originally going to join us in denver but duty called and he had to change it to Albuquerque.

As soon as we got into town we heading to a bar (see a pattern) near the airport to pick him up. We greeted him, gave him hugs ‘n kisses and then went to check into the hotel Maggie got us all, which turns out had a indoor water slide. You had to pay to ride it so we passed on it, and instead took showers and whatever.

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We then headed the the venue (Duke City Sound), which was a recording studio / live venue. This meant great sound, but no bar. The owner allowed us to drink in the van so we hit the liquor store and headed back to the venue. The turnout was alright and the hotel hangout after was awesome.

The hotel bar was closed so we headed to a nearby convenient store with literally two minutes to buy alcohol. Black Dots rolled through and we partied until a hotel employee came by to tell us to keep it down, at which point we called it a night.

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Tempe, AZ

Tempe is hot (imagine that). We drove down I-40 on a not so pretty drive, then veered off onto some freeways going through some pretty national forests. We even stopped and picked up some fireworks on the way, since we planned on driving straight to San Diego overnight to make it in time to get ready for the La Escalera Records anniversary extravaganza.

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So we pop into the venue, which is a bar (Tempe Tavern) right next to a sex shop with some seedy folks hanging out back, where the front entrance actually happened to be. After a quick peak, there was nothing special inside, just a regular sex shop.

The show went smooth as usual, drinks were being consumed more heavily from being anxious about crossing the California border and being home.Western Settings Tour Journal 49

After the show we packed it up and started driving; several of us slept the whole way, but since that included me I couldn’t tell you who was awake other than Ricky. I remember he was driving because at some point we were all woken up by the sound of him and I believe Will arguing about some stupid shit. Basically Ricky though everyone was out to get him. It got heated for a little bit, but then we all laughed it off (and at Ricky) then resumed our sleep.

San Diego, CA

This was the biggest show, mainly because it was a special event. La Escalera Records was celebrating its fourth anniversary so they threw a whole day shindig, which included ten bands playing throughout the day at Til-Two Club. Ziggy’s out front grilling chicken and making burritos, everyone’s catching up with members of the other bands, most of which haven’t seen each other in awhile. Every direction you turned there was someone to catch up with; it was a really fun day and a nice end to the tour.

Overall, Western Settings are great dudes, who play great music. Not once did I get tired of hearing them play their set; I’m proud of these guys and amazed that they’d let me experience it again with them. Bring it on Europe!Western Settings Tour Journal 52

Pick up La Escalera Records releases here!

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