How much fun is it being on a national band tour?

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Answered by: Michael, An Expert in the Bands and Musicians Category
The Presidents of the United States of America

Winter

1996

I get on the bus in Seattle.

The driver's name is Whitey.

It's our second national band tour with Whitey (he nuts).

There are six in our caravan: PUSA band members Chris, Dave and Jason, Tour Manager Craig Montgomery, and Drum Tech/Guitar Tech/Retard Mike Musburger.



I am the 'merch' guy.

We are going to Eugene.

It is our first stop on tour.

We?

Well... someone's gotta sell t-shirts.

So no, I’m not in the band... but WE are all on the same bus.

So STFU.



The show in Eugene is on UO campus. It was kinda dull... that's really all I remember of Eugene.

In the morning we ride to the airport... through snow.

Whitey will meet us in SF.

The band is flying to LA to do some stupid radio show at the Troubadour... their manager Stacy apparently trying to impress some friends.

She didn't like me.

From LA the band would play the next day at the foot of Mt. Rushmore in Rapid City, SD.

Rapid?

Certainly couldn't be slower than Eugene, OR.

The day after that, there was a show at the Warfield in SF.

So there was a lot of flying to be done, it's all about scheduling.

Which made the delay at the Eugene airport a real drag.

The flight to LA required changing planes in SF... but we didn't make our connection due to the delay in Oregon.

Why does everything take forever in Oregon?

If you are driving behind some slow mother-fucker, check the plates... 9 times outta 10 they're from Oregon.

Anyway... we miss our connecting flight to LA for Stacy's precious “look how important I am” radio gig.

It's a 3-day weekend and getting another flight for a 6-top isn't gonna happen; the airport is wall-to-wall assholes.

Dave says the hell with it, he didn't particularly care for the extra flight to LA to do some lame-ass show... “What's more important? Making it to the K-Rock (or whatever-the-fuck radio station) sponsored show or playing on MTV in front of millions of viewers.”

That's damn near an exact quote... and I fully agreed with him.

Stacy was in communication with Craig... so I wasn't privy to the conversation. But I guess Stacy wanted us down in LA so bad she was trying to charter a private jet.

I didn't hear Chris say much much... something about Buddy Holly...

Chris was very even (tempered), but I don't think he was stoked for the extra plane travel either.

Some tween ran up to Jason, Dave and Chris and said, “You guys are POT-U.S.A.!”

That was the first time I’d heard “POT-U.S.A.”

Did kids think they were potheads?

It was also the first time I’d seen anyone “notice” them in public... I remember feeling proud... it was awesome. They signed his shirt and off he went... fan for life.

So we're waiting around SFO, getting to South Dakota is now the priority.

Then all of the sudden a man in an American Airlines uniform runs up to Craig, “We got 5 available seats, get on now or I’ll have to give them to someone else.”

Now I didn't need a calculator to figure out I was not getting on that plane.

Heck, I wanted to ride on the bus from Eugene with Whitey anyway (he's nuts). I used to live in SF and wanted to hang out there instead of brooding in airports for two days.

So off the boys go to Stacy's ever-so-important LA show.

I go to a pay-phone.

I call Stacy to let her know I’m chill.

She says, “Well... I chartered the jet and the money's non-refundable... head down to the tarmac, your pilots are waiting.”

Now I had started drinking at the Eugene airport... and on the flight to SF... and at SFO... I’m not drunk... but I’m not sober.

I find the Lear jet easier than I thought and the pilots give me the safety speech, “Seat belts, flotation device... and here is where we keep the liquor.”.

Might as well keep this buzz

I listened to Supernova on my portable CD player on the way.

“I’m a fool and I like to drool...”

I did feel like a fool too... how the hell did the merch guy get a private flight to LA... it was sick.

I think I landed in Burbank... but as soon as I’m off the plane a large Asian man is waiting for me.

He is my driver.

He must think I’m some hot shot, cause he dodging cars and red lights trying to get me to the Troubadour in record time.

I exit the vehicle and stand in front of the club.

Stacy or Craig must have put me on “the list”.

PUSA is playing when I walk in and I cannot control myself...

I wait for the right moment... “But that's to-tally... fea-ther pluck-in-

I rush the stage, dive into a crowd that peels back just enough to allow me room to smack flush into the floor...

-insane”

I hate LA.

After the stupid gig we get the itinerary... American Airways?

We need to be in Vegas in the morning for a direct flight to Rapid City..

So off to LAX we go to catch a late flight to Vegas.

LAX was worse than SFO... it was stacked so deep we couldn't even find space to sit on the floor... and I’m not exaggerating... people were laying everywhere... it looked like fucking Jonestown.

It was a relief to finally take a seat on the plane... I never thought I’d be happy to sit in coach.

When we land in Sin City, Craig gets us some lodging pretty dern close to the airport... he's handing out keys and I ask, “What time are we checking out?”

I decide waking up in 4 hours isn't worth it, so I get a cab into Old Town Vegas.

I eat something... it had potatoes and gravy... it might have been meatloaf.

I drink and gamble... Video Poker... I hit four 10s... I’m $70 ahead when I head back to the motel.

When we get to the airport something isn't right.

American Airways figured out a way to get us from LA to Vegas, but the guitars went to Salt Lake City.

I’m not even sure how that's possible.

Now Craig Montgomery has an impossible task in front of him... how the fuck are you gonna get six people from Vegas to Mt. Rushmore with several guitars waiting for us from SLC?

Craig Montgomery was a solid road manager... though I’m not sure he was very fond of me.

It's hard to know, because I never saw him with more than one expression on his face on the many national band tours we were on together.

But the guy could put out fires... even with me drunkenly yelling (through a bullhorn out the window of the bus) at the police in NYC, *Squelch* “Put Down The Weapon...” Craig, “Watson, no.”

Craig gets shit done. He charters a jet that will take us from Vegas to SLC to pick up the axes. We'll get back on that charter to Mt. Rushmore for the MTV show... then the same pilots will fly us to SF to end our nightmare travel ordeal.

And the kicker is, it'll actually cost less than 6 tickets on a commercial airliner. Craig, you rock!

My second private jet in 12 hours, but this one is at capacity.

Thank god there's liquor on this one too... no reason to stop now.

At SLC airport I limp behind Dave (my knee is throbbing from the fall at the Troubadour) looking for the goddamn guitars... the whole situation is ridiculous... I felt like Dave appreciated having me there even in my half-conscious stupor. I love Dave.

Band, equipment and off we go to Rapid City.

When we land, MTV is there filming as we deplane... there is a limo waiting to escort us to the stage set up below the National Park.

It was way more 'rock-star' than I expected... it was glamorous and stupid... it felt like I was watching it from my sofa... an out-of-body experience.

There are two trailers/dressing rooms at the famous American landmark for us to keep warm and relax in before the nationally televised event.

And really, it was the first time since getting off the plane at SFO that we did relax.

There was liquor in the trailers... and I was on a mission.

Chris convinced me it would be a good idea to have a Mohawk... how could I argue... when would there be a better time to get one?

So he took his clippers and carefully sculpted my skull... we were laughing the whole time and I’ll never forget it... even through a sleep-deprived drinking binge.

That show, in that cold and craziness on President's Day Weekend, at the base of Mt. Rushmore was simply fantastic.

Those kids in South Dakota don't often get to see national acts roll through... and they were jumping and bobbing and having as good a time as I’ve seen at a President's show.

I watched from the side of the stage with Musburger. I had a paper cup filled with a fortified beverage.

With my new hair-do I was dancing and yelling and having as much fun as the crowd...

A Parks Cop (Ranger Buzzkill) had his eye on me and as he approached I swigged the last contents of my cup. He questioned me about drinking and being intoxicated.

Musburger (Boo-boo to my Yogi) stepped in and explained that, “That's just how he is.” .

Thanks Mike.

The show ends, we pack up the gear and head back to the airport... our pilots ready for the trip back to SF.

On the way there I recall how many cities I had been drunk and/or had been drinking in since the weekend started... Eugene, SF, LA, Vegas, SLC, Rapid City... and SF again.

7 cities, 36 hours, god knows how many drinks.

I can't wait to land and get some shut-eye.

I’m excited to see Whitey (he's nuts).

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