“What’s happening? Why is there a giant cock on my arm?”
– Handsome Anthony in regards to the new tatoo we gave him while he slept
Tuesday, March 13, Calgary
Driving day. We challenge the Salmo-Creston Highway 3 mountain pass today, in all it’s frozen, winter glory. This time of year it is not a road you want to dare, but you do it anyway. This is a rock and roll tour, not a road trip, remember? Before we begin the trek to Calgary, we head into Nelson to pick up Dan and Handsome Anthony at The Balls (Yup, that’s right) The weather is fine as can be, except for every internet database telling us the pass is supposed to be closed. We leave in hopes it will open by the time we approach. It’s risky, but the alternate route involves a ferry with extensive line-ups and we just have too many classic rock cassettes to dive into, thank to Dan’s rock and roll Dad, Dave Ball. We throw in Whitesnake and turn the radio up and Anthony tells us all about the fine activity of “hotknifing.”
By the time we reach the pass it is absolutely dreadful, with compact snow and ice, but it is open and it is not snowing for the moment. We are too lazy to deal with putting on the tire chains so we all yell an enthusiastic “Fuck it!” and get the van up to 88. As we approach the summit and beyond we see many semi-trucks and pick-ups with trailers stuck on the side of the road struggling to get free. We wipe our brows and continue on to Creston, by this time the radio’s playing Queen and we stop at a Subway. There is a middle-aged man with many regrettable facial tattoos, making inappropriate passes at the young, teenage, female sandwich artists. You know, one of those guys who has to comment on every single thing and make it known EXACTLY how he likes everything. It is an awkward lunch as he drivels on and makes the entire restaurant uncomfortable.
The mountain pass has destroyed our windshield wiper blades so we stop at heaven’s own hardware store, Canadian Tire, for replacements and it is an absolute ordeal, not to mention $60.00. We make it to Calgary around 10:00 pm, once again staying with our wonderful friends Jaime and Kelly. The weather is cold but bearable and when we stop by their restaurant, Ox and Angela, a fine cocktail bar and taqueria, to get keys to the place, we are informed that there was a gigantic flood in the building and that the elevators have been shut down for the time being. “No problem” we say, smug as all hell. When we arrive, we forget that the place is on the 8th floor and there is a loud collective groan as we trudge up 8 stories, a panting, sweaty mess. “No more cheeseburgers tour.” Dan says, struggling to catch his breath. When Anthony falls asleep, Tyson is about 5 fireballs deep and him and Cody draw a fine penis on his arm, a well-articulated, triumphant bastard. Hilarity ensues when he wakes up.
Wednesday, March 14, Edmonton
We arrive in Edmonton right on time for our interview and hang-out session at Sonic 102.9, where Dan and I speak with Layne Mitchell, an amazing dude, with a passion for radio and sound engineering, about tour-life, specialty beer and tonight’s show at The Pawn Shop, one of our favorite venues in Canada. A venue we’ve played in the past with some great bands from Alberta, and also, a venue where Dan once got hassled for public urination (it’s a problem) and also, a venue where we once discovered a drunk girl passed out literally under our van, right after Dan was hassled for public urination, the very reason she was discovered in time before we started driving. It could have been ugly.
We decide to do a quick rehearsal on the empty stage before our soundcheck and we make fast friends with “Greater Than Giants,” our new tour-mates. They are an amazing pop-punk band who write incredible songs, drink like champs and are quite the characters for their age, perfect for an independently booked, cross-Canada tour. We discuss the potential trouble we will get in this month, and though we laugh about it, we all share a middle-distance stare into our own thoughts that I swear is honest-to-god, concern.
We are re-united with our dear friend and former tour manager, Sprack, and we are invited to a fine establishment next door called Filthy Mcnasty’s, a rowdy punk bar where there are $7.00 steak sandwiches and $3.00 dollar domestic beers. Not bad at all. We all flock over there with Greater Than Giants for dinner and an Oiler’s game (they won) and there are discussions on the topics of preferred sexual manoeveurs (not positions), favorite beers and Blink 182 albums, would Tyson look less old with a hat, guitar tones, top 40 pop music. The waitress is sassy and Handsome Anthony likes it. Perfect tour-mates indeed.
The show begins with an absolutely genius band called “Forester.” I expect something heavy and emo, from the talk I hear and from the members’ previous bands, but am rather surprised to see and hear something refreshing and completely original. I am blown away and will remain stoked on this band for months. If you’re in Edmonton when they are performing, I highly recommend seeing them. Next up is Greater Than Giants. I am in love with this band right from the first chorus, “How can I write these words if you don’t give me something to feel?” They play the song “Never Growing Up” and I am completely sold and expect to be singing along with it for the rest of the tour. they even do a legendary cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” which sounds like it would be ridiculous and over-done, but take it from me, they pull it off like no other and kick it’s ass. The solo is spot on and Tyler nails all of the high notes. Colour me impressed.
By the time we play the bar is full and we are shocked and amazed by the turnout for a Wednesday night. The set is good and I come very close to falling face-first off the stage, slipping in a spilled beer and some cord-sex, of all things. It is a great feeling to be playing here again and to have such great friends and fans that are willing to have a good time with us late on a weeknight, and who also sing along loudly with every word and mean it. We even play one of our oldest songs, “Closer,” as an encore and we feel loved like no other. Our hat’s off to Edmonton tonight. It is by far one of the most energetic and awesome audiences we’ve played to in a long time. We promise to bring it even more the next time around.
A super huge thanks to the people of Edmonton and Sonic 102.9 for the constant support!