For those of you who don’t me or my past (…gees, that sounds sordid), I like to consider myself a musician first and foremost. I’ve spent almost 20 years playing drums for a band called The Monoxides with my friends Steve, Derek and PJ. Our pal Marco joined the band in 2003 and will sadly only have minimal involvement in these tales from the road as most of this stuff went down years before…Sorry Marco!
From 1995 through 1998, the band spent a lot of time on the road. Well, we considered it to be a lot of time but I’ve seen other Moncton bands tour much harder and for much longer than we ever did (Chris Colepaugh, I’m looking in your direction). But I digress…
I’m intending to use the “Tales From The Road” series on the MusicNerd Chronicles to share some of the experiences that we encountered during our time travelling across Canada.
Since I’m opening this can of worms with the full cooperation of Steve, Derek and PJ, I felt it appropriate that the first story I relay concern yours truly.
In September and October 1997, The Monoxides had the chance to open shows for Canadian rock band The Pursuit Of Happiness. All of us in the band admired TPOH long before we met them; Moe (Berg, TPOH mainman) produced our “Galaxy Of Stooges” record so to say we were comfortable being on the road with them would be an understatement.
For the most part, our tour with them was relatively tame although we still managed to spend a fair share of nights getting loaded together (when you’re routinely given 24 beer a night, why not, right?) Things really came to a head on the tour’s final night in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Our show that night took place at the Outpost at Lakehead University, a venue we had the pleasure of playing on a few occasions. The staff at the Outpost really treated their bands generously which probably only further helped to make the evening such a mess.
Once TPOH had finished their set, we all joined together in their dressing room for the start of armageddon (the event, not the movie). They presented us with an awesome slab cake to celebrate the tour coming to a close and soon enough, we loaded out of the venue and were en route to our hotel.
When we arrived at the hotel, our tour manager Adam pleaded with us to remain in the van until he had secured the room keys. Adam was a smart cat and figured that if we had the room keys in hand, the hotel would have a harder time turning us away as opposed to willingly checking in four clearly inebriated hotel guests.
Not long after Adam’s departure from the van to check us in, I vaguely remember Steve saying something along the lines of “Fuck this, I’m going in.” That was the rallying cry that PJ, Derek and I needed to follow suit.
The rule among The Monoxides (and probably every other band out there) was that if you were the last to leave the van, you were responsible for ensuring the van was locked up. Makes sense, right? Well, as I was the last to be leaving the van, I was turning to ensure that all doors in the van were locked when I saw the cake that TPOH had given us.
(For the record, I have a bad sweet tooth. Ask Steve, Derek and PJ: almost every gas/rest stop that the band made, I would come back to the van armed with at least one chocolate bar. I could easily forego water, pop, chips, etc but I could never be without my chocolate.)
On this night in Thunder Bay, my sweet tooth was in full effect. With my suitcase in one hand and another bag over my shoulder, I decided right there and then that I’m going to have more of this yummy cake and no one is going to say otherwise. Not that anyone was around to say otherwise anyway.
I managed to lock up the van while holding the cake and my two pieces of luggage. When it came to getting in the hotel though, it was a whole different story. Adam, Steve, Derek and PJ were nowhere to be found. I vaguely remember looking for the wheelchair access button to have the doors open for me without me having to actually open them but they were nowhere to be found in my hazy state.
Against my better judgement, with a slab cake taking up both of my arms and two suitcases in tow, I decide to attempt to open the hotel door using my right hand. Total recipe for disaster. The cake smashed to the ground and was completely obliterated, covering the ground, the doors and myself.
Of course, Adam, Steve, Derek and PJ ALL show up at that very moment and while I can’t recall their exact expressions at the baking carnage before them, Steve was smart enough to grab my video camera to capture as much of the aftermath as possible. Adam’s expression on the video tape says it all: you can tell he is trying not to laugh but does great at looking “angry” to appease the hotel staff.
I seem to remember Adam got a mop or some rags and made me clean up as much of the cake explosion as I could. It was futile though; I could barely see straight let alone thoroughly clean the mess I had made.
After my cleaning duties were done, I joined Adam and my bandmates at the hotel front desk, probably only adding to Adam’s stress that the hotel was going to decline giving us rooms based on my behaviour alone. For whatever reason, PJ chose that very moment to attempt to pile-drive me right at the hotel front desk. Despite Adam’s best spoken efforts for PJ and I to stop (I think even the front desk person was asking us to cool it…) I screamed my lungs out for PJ to put me down before we both crashed to the ground in fits of hysterical laughter.
But even after the cake and pile driver incidents, the saint of a hotel clerk we had that night checked us in anyway, simply asking we do our best not to disturb the other guests.
Hotel front desk person, wherever you are now, I hope you’re well. You saved my ass that night. Thank you for checking us in.