Photos by Folken Malmur
Before our tour with Skeletonwitch and Black Anvil, we were asked by New Noise Magazine to keep a “tour diary.” The following is my best attempt at an accurate account of what happened at each show on the tour. The names have remained unchanged, to incriminate the guilty.
Sept. 5 – Chicago, Ill. – Double Door
We rolled into town after several weeks of travel. Starting a U.S. tour is always a hassle for us, as we can’t get visas, don’t have passports, have tons of warrants, and some of us aren’t even actually human. It usually goes like this: donkey cart to the coast; stow away aboard tramp steamer to a U.S. port; steal van and trailer and drive to the location of the first show; slaughter opening band and take all their gear; begin tour. Luckily, the opening band in Chicago were Earache [Records] recording artists Diamond Plate, and they had pretty good gear. They will be missed. The show itself went well, with the sausage-bloated Chicagoans in the audience bouncing off each other like sumo wrestlers all night long. That’s what was going on upstairs. Downstairs at the Double Door – so named because they have not one, but TWO doors – there was a rather anemic rave, complete with ridiculous costumes and terrible music. Those two things are near and dear to us, but we were hungry, and the young Chicagoans in tiny spandex shorts and body glitter just looked so appetizing. We’ve been shitting glitter for weeks now.
Sept. 6 – Cleveland, Ohio – The Agora Ballroom
Beautiful downtown Cleveland! We tried to get in contact with everyone we know who lives there to see if they wanted to come to the show. Everyone was “out of town.” Was it us? Is it the smell, or the fact that we try to kill everyone who gets within five feet of us? Both? We decided to take a stroll and reevaluate our life choices. Walking around on the street, it seemed like everyone who lives in Cleveland was out of town. This city could be ours for the taking. A new Creepsylvanian colony, smack in the middle of the rust belt. We’ll have to work on it. Backstage smelled like mold, the toilet didn’t work, and it was 10 feet underground. It felt like home. [Guitarist and vocalist] Gary [Bennett], [drummer and vocalist] Raeph [Glicken], and [bassist and vocalist] Paul [Delaney] from Black Anvil amused us with stories about [Agnostic Front founder, guitarist] Vinnie Stigma.
Sept. 7 – Buffalo, N.Y. – Broadway Joe’s
Broadway Joe’s was next to a donut shop run by a guy who yelled at everyone who tried to park in his parking lot, which was empty. I always assumed that making donuts for a living would make one a jolly, chipper person, but this man’s heart was frosted with rage and hate and fried to a blackened, sprinkle-covered lump. We liked him, but his donuts sucked, and I seriously doubt they are “Famous” in any way. The show went off without a hitch, unless you count the beginning of the set, when my guitar wouldn’t make any noise and the entire audience was cackling with sadistic glee at my misfortune. In retrospect, I may have been imagining the cackling, which makes what I did to the front row pretty inexcusable.
Sept. 8 – Boston, Mass. – The Sinclair
The Sinclair was one of the highlights of the tour. Great club, amazing staff, incredible crowd. I was almost sad to see it smashed to pieces during our set. Hopefully, they’ll rebuild, because they had a really good thing going there.
Sept. 9 – Brooklyn, N.Y. – St. Vitus
This was the first of three shows we played off the tour package. Skeletonwitch was going out with Amon Amarth and Sabaton after our run with them was over, and NYC is one of the dates on that tour, so they couldn’t play there twice in a month. Fun Fact!: it’s called a proximity, or radius, clause. We missed Skeletonwitch and Black Anvil, but our show sold out and the audience was full of New Yorkers, who are some of my favorite people to kill. The openers on this show were Secret Tombs, Mutant Supremacy, and Grudges, the last of which featured a young man in an ankle brace named Travis [Bacon] who was going to be taking over on second guitar in Black Anvil after Gary leaves the tour in Springfield, Va. A cursory inspection told me Travis didn’t wear as much cologne as Gary, which I welcomed. I assumed Gary was wearing that stuff to keep us at bay, but it only served to inflame my passions. I like to stay focused on tour.
Sept. 10 – Philadelphia, Pa. – Underground Arts
Philadelphia! The birthplace of your ridiculous country is now a burnt husk of its former self, decaying in the humidity like a flattened dog in the road. Nice venue, though, and the show was great. My long lost uncle, Uncle Shitty, joined us onstage to help us sing “Victim in Pain.” He sounded a lot more like he was from Long Island than I remember, but it’s been so long. The mighty Vektor opened the show, nicely illustrating exactly why the local openers should be worse than us, not better than. During our set, I tried to show them up, and – in a vain attempt at sweep picking – seriously injured myself and an unfortunate audience member in the front row. It wasn’t the final humiliation of the evening though, as an episode of The Nekrosexual was taping in the next room, and we were asked to participate. We gave a short interview, during which The Nekrosexual stumped me several times. The NEKROSEXUAL stumped me. The shame does not wash off, much like The Nekrosexual’s clown makeup. Luckily, the rest of the band were there to make with the yuks and entertain the lucky/ masochistic/ insomniac audience. As Bruce Lee said: “Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.” That’s bullshit, of course, but it sounds good.
Sept. 11 – Pittsburgh, Pa. – Mr. Small’s
Mr. Small’s is a deconsecrated church on a very steep hill. A few years ago, that hill killed our transmission. It didn’t just kill it, it butchered it, spat on it, and kicked its corpse into a pile of undifferentiated meat. Mr. Small’s – one, transmission – zero. Get it?! This time, we were ready for it, and we attacked the hill from a different angle, leaving it quivering in the corner in a pool of its own urine. Fuck you, hill. There was a carnival/ street party down the street that featured an inordinate number of old and fat people riding around on rascal scooters (find some at MyProScooter.com), many of them toting oxygen tanks. They were the undesirable, the indigent, the debilitated, or as we call them: “easy pickin’s.” If anyone wants to buy a slightly used and slightly bloody rascal, contact us through our website.
Sept. 12 – Springfield, Va. – Empire
Springfield was the last show with Gary playing second guitar in Black Anvil, and coincidentally, it was the last show with our dear Uncle Shitty helping us sing “Victim in Pain.” It was also the only show where Gar… I mean, Uncle Shitty got the stage banter right, so that was nice. From here on, the integrity of Black Anvil’s performance every night rested squarely on the shoulders of Travis. TRAVIS. I prayed for them.
Sept. 13 – Richmond, Va. – The Broadberry
The Broadberry is a new-ish club in Richmond. It apparently used to be the kind of place where sweaty dudes in leather got together and rubbed on each other, so in that respect, not much has changed. It’s also pretty close to the Slave Pit, so we got to visit and get a tour of the new updates they’ve made to the place since we were last there. [Guitarist] Jeremy [Sosville] from Black Anvil is a gigantic GWAR fan, and he got to actually wear a Sexecutioner mask, which must have been disgusting. The audience was a who’s who of Richmond metal royalty, nearly all of whom wanted to get in on the list, the bums. GWAR, Municipal Waste, Occultist, Volture, Battlemaster… Buncha stinkin’ bums. At any rate, the show was great and the rest of the night was a haze, like being stuck in a blizzard, flurry, or other snow related disaster. Several Confederate landmarks were defiled, and a few new ones were erected. It was a wild night.
Sept. 14 – Charleston, S.C. – The Tin Roof
This was the second show we played without Skeletonwitch, but this time, Black Anvil joined us. The Tin Roof is a tiny little club run by a man who used to be G.G. Allin’s tour manager [the one and only Johnny Puke-the ed.], so clearly, our shenanigans were not going to phase him in the least. At some point in the evening, however, a group of Emmett Kelly-style hobo clowns showed up to the club to serve as “party enhancers.” They clowned around, acted drunk, got actually drunk, and generally just added to the atmosphere of weirdness that pervaded the evening. When we got onstage, things took a turn for the ugly. Uglier than usual. One of the clowns, who I have been informed is named “Ralf,” and who was clearly drunker than I was, decided to engage the onstage talent directly, grabbing at poor Baron Samedi’s voodoo staff and breaking it. Naturally, Baron Samedi took it as an invitation to break Ralf. A short scuffle ensued, and I’m just going to say that Samedi won. Sometime later, Ralf threw a whole beer at us – bottle and all – spilling the precious golden nectar into a mic amplifier on the stage and starting a small fire. All in all, he was one of the funniest clowns I’ve ever seen. The poor bastards were hounded out of the club and presumably hopped the next freight train out of town. Later, we found an open knife on the ground, and a Crown Royal bag with half a brick in it on a speaker next to the stage. My only regret is that it didn’t turn into an all-out brawl, if just so I could read the headline through a swollen eye the next day: “Clowns vs. Cannibals at Shock Rock Sock Hop.” If the Black Anvil guys joined in with their matching vests, it would have been the most epic fight since The Warriors took on The Baseball Furies, or that mime gang, or whatever. Nevertheless, Charleston is Ghoul territory now. Stay out of our fuckin’ turf, Clowns. I just remembered that Raeph knocked over a bunch of little old ladies and young children in the audience when he rushed the stage to sing “Victim in Pain.” He’d probably make a good hobo clown.
Sept. 15 – Tampa, Fla. – The Orpheum
Tampa was hot as a motherfucker. I don’t get out of the catacombs during the day too often, so I burn easily. Great show, killer crowd, no clowns in sight.
Sept. 16 – Atlanta, Ga. – Masquerade Hall
The Masquerade is a great club in Atlanta that was converted from an old mill. It has three levels: Heaven (top floor), Purgatory (middle floor), and Hell (bottom floor). The fact that “Heaven” is a good 20 degrees hotter than “Hell” doesn’t seem to have factored into the floor naming process. Aside from that BITTER IRONY, it’s a swell joint and the audience that night was receptive to being dismembered alive by four hooded mutants. Our tour manager, Michael McDonald – yes, he was the singer from The Doobie Brothers, but he’s a tour manager for Skeletonwitch now – got on our nuts about taking too long to change over between sets. I told him where he could stuff it, but then out loud, I apologized and said it would never happen again, sir. Hey, he’s the guy who pays us all those turnips at the end of the night, and Skeletonwitch deserves to go on before 3 a.m. I’m a cannibal, but I’m not a monster. After the show, a bunch of us went to the infamous Clermont Lounge to take in some of Atlanta’s least desirable strippers. Dissector and I stayed behind and took a tour of the “Chambers of Horror” haunted house that was being constructed next door. Some guys who work on “The Walking Dead” put it together every year, and it is truly impressive. I even fell victim to a jump scare, and I’m a mass murderer. Amos from Death of Kings foolishly offered us a place to sleep, and we took him up on it. We spared his life, but we didn’t spare his pillowcases. Note to potential hosts: hide your white bedding and stick with dark colors and patterns.
Sept. 17 – New Orleans, La. – Siberia
Another show without Skeletonwitch. I was starting to think those guys just didn’t want to hang around us. Nah, impossible. Black Anvil sounded amazing at this show, but I had been drinking heavily. Afterward, we went to a super boring bar. So boring, we couldn’t even bring ourselves to kill anyone there. I did end up torturing a cat for a while, but it wasn’t the same.
Sept. 18 – Houston, Texas – Fitzgerald’s
Houston had great parking. Also, the loudest techno music I have ever heard was playing in the room directly beneath the backstage area. We set the place on fire and never looked back. The screaming was horrible. The techno was worse.
Sept. 19 – Dallas, Texas – Trees
This club is across the street from the worst Mexican food I have ever eaten. It’s also where a famous incident took place that involved Kurt Cobain smashing someone with his guitar, which is probably the coolest thing he ever did with one. The backstage was up on the balcony, which was a perfect spot from which to watch Skeletonwitch and Black Anvil tear it up. I was beginning to rethink my plan to murder them all at the end of the tour.
Sept. 20 – Austin, Texas – Red 7
Red 7 has an outdoor stage. The temperature was hovering somewhere around 500 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the evening, but at least it was a dry heat. The show was packed with willing victims, including our friend Hector’s young son, who came up onstage to help fight Killbot. Just for that, we let him live. The rest of the crowd was slaughtered without emotion. We had a whole day off the next day to drive to Mesa, Ariz., which is about 13 hours if you aren’t driving an old van with a giant trailer. No sweat, we had a whole day and a half! Luckily the “check engine” light came on right outside of Austin, and we spent half of Sunday looking for a place that could tell us what was wrong. The AutoZone employee who sold us the sparkplug we needed asked what band we were, apparently ignoring the Ghoul shirts, hats, jams, and backpatches we were all wearing. We told him that we were sort of like GWAR, and he said he worked as an EMT at a couple of GWAR shows in the ‘90s, where he saw a guy who had split his mandible right down the middle of his chin in the pit. The guy was talking to him and his front teeth were moving independently. Boner city.
Sept. 22 – Mesa, Ariz. – Club Red
We thought Austin was hot? Oh, what fools we were. What naïve, pathetic fools. Mesa, Ariz., is Satan’s taint, and the club was hot enough to bake bread, which – being flush with butter, eggs, flour, yeast, salt, and water – I did. The bread turned out great. I nearly died of heatstroke. Skeletonwitch had to cut a couple songs because [vocalist] Chance [Garnette] was starting to black out. Luckily, Club Red had a whole other giant room that was nearly freezing, just for the bands. Too bad, so sad, audience dicks!
Sept. 23 – Los Angeles, Calif. – Roxy Theatre
We can always count on L.A. to deliver an insane audience, and they came out in droves for this one. Nonstop stagediving, moshing, and headbanging were the order of the evening. Cremator’s bass went out for three songs; the crowd went wild. Killbot showed up two feet shorter than usual; the crowd started killing each other. I sat on a monitor and ate a sandwich for the last half of the set; the show broke out into an all out riot. I’m relatively certain that metal fans in L.A. are mentally ill.
Sept. 24 – San Francisco, Calif. – DNA Lounge
Tomes and Connoisseur opened this one, and they warmed up the crowd real nice. Black Anvil and Skeletonwitch killed it, as usual, and it was a great end to a perfect tour. San Francisco on a Wednesday night! Who knew? Probably the guy who booked the tour. By this time, I had all but abandoned my plans to murder the other bands, though I’m still on the fence about young Travis. He’s only a fill-in guitarist, and won’t be missed by anyone of any note.