|Summer Slaughter Tour Blog With Mike Justian of The Red Chord|
|Monday, 23 August 2010 08:48|
The 2010 Summer Slaughter Tour is just wrapping up this week in San Francisco, California. Mike Justian of The Red Chord has been sending us emails throughout the whole tour, documenting what he has experienced. Between Denver and Portland, Sick Drummer Magazine got photographs, short interviews and HD Video of every guy on the tour this year! Keep your eye out in October for our Free Drummer Slaughter Mini-Issue...
July 17 San Diego, CA
Well, here it is. Summer Slaughter has sprung. After a truly hellacious number of days without sleep and shows in the far reaches of the continental United States, we've finally met the tour in sunny San Diego. The first show went surprisingly well. Things seem to be relatively organized and everyone is polite and reasonably accommodating. I took plenty of time to clean and configure my drums, making sure to deduct as many unneccessary drums and cymbals from my set up as possible. There are alot of bands on this thing and most of them have monstrous drum sets. We managed to play a decent set, but the first couple of shows will always involve a certain degree of clearing cobwebs and regaining muscle memory. After the show, I ate some delicious Thai food and met up with our tour manager's unruly friends... Many wrestling matches and lemon fights later, sleep was finally an option.
July 18 Los Angeles, CA
LA can always go one of two ways; either it will be a great show or a total nightmare. Invariably, nerves are a bit high because it's usually an important show. I'm happy to report that this show wasn't a nightmare. We had a slight miscommunication in regard to our backline but no big deal. The show and the response was excellent and at one point, someone threw a purple see-through woman's shirt right at me so I promptly adorned myself in it and continued with the set. After our show, I saw a rotund young man wearing it. Saw some industry brass and champion friends and ultimately had a great night.
July 19 Tempe, AZ
I always liked Tempe. Reminds me of Phoenix on pilates. We got there early in the morning to see a friend of ours and relax before heading to the venue. Very low stress show but I think that the crowd was a bit stunned by the heat. I ate entirely too much before I played and it slowed me down a bit, which was fine because the crowd seemed to be a bit slow as well. I am starting to get my muscle memory back and overall I had a good show. Milled around afterwards and talked with John from Cephalic Carnage about how much we love Meinl cymbals.
July 20 Las Cruces, NM
This was originally supposed to be in El Paso but was moved at the last minute. We rolled in after a long drive and were immediately greeted with a copious spread of delicious Las Cruces mexican food. After we checked out the venue, we headed off to find coffee. Show was lots of fun though I feel a bit bad that we were only allowed to play a 20 minute set due to the strict curfew. In fairness, the heat was nauseating and oppressive. Had the crowd not been so zealous, it would have been a very difficult show. My left foot isn't exactly cooperating with my right foot for some reason, feels sluggish and a bit tight. I'm also having a bit of an issue with my left thumb and right shoulder. I can't stop sweating.
July 21 San Antonio, TX
Played at white rabbit more times than I can count on both hands and its always a good crowd. The show was fine but obviously it was very hot and thus cumbersome to play. Not much to say about ol' San Antone. Time to get a hotel and attempt to cool down.
July 22 Austin, TX
Music City USA, usually a good time, however this day was a bit of a burden. We were given wrong information about parking by the tour manager, there was no space for anything because we were late, and it was raining torrentially. I was so flustered after we loaded that I went for a long walk, ate some mediocre pizza and walked back. Spent some time talking with the drummer for Decapitated amidst drinking a lot of water and trying to stay limber. So far, this is appearing to be the hottest show of the tour, judging from what other bands that played were saying. Admittedly, I was a bit daunted. I am a power player, not a speed player, so playing fast music with as much power as I deliver is quite tricky when it's extremely hot. Suffice to say, the rumors were true and after three songs I didn't know where I was. My muscles were exhausted and my brain was no longer cooperating with my body. Magically, I managed to get through it and actually play a good show. Afterward I treated myself to an adult beverage and just waited to leave. I think that a long cold shower is in order.
July 23 Ft. Worth, TX
This was not a good show for me. Was hotter and more humid this than it was in Austin, total nightmare. Dropped 3 sticks and simply had no energy or technique. The crowd was great and ultimately it was a good show for The Red Chord, in spite of being a couple of close notches away from being an abortion. Luckily, there was a great team of people cooking delicious grilled food and providing plenty of really nice keg beer for everyone. Suffice to say, everyone was in a great mood and interacting with each other. I had a couple of veggie burgers and a few cups of keg beer and called it a night. Great day overall, minus my performance.
July 24 Houston, TX
It was unfathomable to imagine that any show could've been hotter and more oppressive than yesterday... but welcome to Houston. Words can't fully articulate how hot it was. As hot as the Sahara, as wet as the bayou. Somehow I managed to play really well though. I drank a lot of water, probably 3 liters, plus I stretched and warmed up a lot. I burned so many calories that I worked up an insatiable appetite. I ate some veggie/tofu stir fry and I easily could've inhaled 2 more plates. Sleep can't come fast enough.
July 25 Tallahassee, FL
This is an off day show from Summer Slaughter with us and All Shall Perish. Small club with a decent PA and a tight stage. I knew it was going to be a banger and it was. Easily the most fun show so far, played great, felt great. It was deceptively hot but the intimacy and high output from the crowd gave me the energy that I needed. All Shall Perish showed up just before we played and used our backline. Was nice to hear my Taye drums from the audience's perspective. Of course they sounded amazing. After the show, the club opened up for indie karaoke night. Part of me wished that we stayed and bummed everyone out with terrible versions of Joy Division songs but sleeping is much more gratifying.
July 26 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Venue was nice, backstage was fine, stage was great. In fact, the stage was so nice that I unwittingly expended far too much energy right away. I guess that I still pulled it off, but it didn't feel good. After, I was famished so I walked to a "Tex-Mex" restaurant and ate some terrible enchiladas. They were so bad that I literally felt insulted. It was as though they took me for some inept Midwestern tourist that would never be able to discern an enchilada from a pile of uncooked beans, lettuce and cheese, so bad that it wasn't true. Had I not eaten nothing but junk for the past couple of days, I probably woulnd't have been so outraged. Florida is still a decidedly questionable place.
July 27 Atlanta, GA
Played at the legendary Masquerade an incalculable amount of times and it's always a good time. Today was especially great because I got a box of cymbals, courtesy of Meinl. I also got to eat some truly delicious Greek food, also courtesy of Meinl. It really is an honor and a blessing to me that I have such a strong rapport with Chris and everyone at Meinl because they really do produce some of the finest cymbals and they take really great care of this old ghost. Got back from the Greek restaurant just in time to watch some of Animals As Leaders' set. For any of you that are not familiar with their drummer Navene Koperweis, get familiar, he's the best drummer on the tour. Show is looking good, energy is pouring out of the walls and when The Red Chord went on, I was about as ready as I could be. Much to my dismay, I felt very tight for the first number of songs and I ended up flubbing some parts. I got off stage, feeling like I was going to have a black out murderous rage attack, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's that when I play a bad show ,I need to wait at least 15 minutes before I really do or say anything, otherwise I will just ruin everyone's day and further disrupt people's perception of me. Once I cooled off, Chris from Meinl and his photographer Rick sent me some very heartfelt praises about my performance and it was reassuring.
Sometimes it's very disheartening to be a musician when you do a show that you construe to be a bad performance, but I guess that I wouldn't be the drummer that I am now if I was perpetually satisfied with myself. Overall, I had a really great day filled with great food, new cymbals and some champion friends, so I'll continue to emphasize the positive attributes of today... and there's bound to be plenty of tomorrows left in my lifetime.
July 28 Raleigh, NC
I woke up in a swampy puddle of sweat, which I love doing. We pulled up to the venue, which was comfortably situated in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, the club was quite cozy with its galvanized metal roof and faulty air conditioning. The illustrious backstage was quite sleek. I didn't at all find the putrid stench of rotting carpets to be offensive, nor did I mind that there was no bathroom or that it was actually a segue room for the jam spaces that were connected to the club. Monitors were awesome, especially when the guitars jumped up about 20 db in the wedges for absolutely no reason. I was at least very relieved that the stage was a hot buttery mess and playing good was virtually impossible. Overall, I think that we pulled it off and I did start climbing on the pipes above the stage in the middle of our set. I must say though that the best part about the show was that the pleasant and accommodating staff at the venue wouldn't let me eat my veggie sub at the bar. One thing that disappointed me about this wonderful experience was the lack of attractive ladies at the show since North Carolina is a super factory of beautiful women. Better luck next time... hopefully at the same awesome venue.
July 29 Philadelphia, PA
Feel totally shot. Didn't get any sleep because the roads were so bad last night that it felt like we were driving through the Romanian countryside. The TLA is a very nice venue right on South St in the thick of the bustling Philly lifestyle. Lots of space for everyone's gear, decent dressing rooms and air conditioning. Only problem is parking but luckily we found a spot just a few hundred feet away. Went to Govinda's on the other end of South St for lunch. Admittedly, the 12 block walk made my otherwise delicious vegetarian cheese steak seem like it wasn't quite worth it, especially since it sat in my stomach like a pound of lead. Suffice to say, I felt a bit sluggish on stage but played well overall. Oddly enough, my feet felt smooth and powerful, but my arms were a bit like jello. I think that part of the problem is that "Black Santa" is the third song in the set, which for me is the most demanding song in our set. I wish that we were playing it a bit later in the set as the first song of the second block. After the show, I went to an Irish pub with my friend Nick and drank a refreshing Irish cider with ice. Had some great conversation with Nick, John from Cephalic Carnage and Fred from Carnifex. Eventually I
succumbed to Lorenzo & Sons for a couple of fresh pizza slices. Nice way to cap off a really good day. Cannot wait to sleep.
July 30 Baltimore, MD
We got in a bit late. Didn't realize that 8 other bands were added. Apparently there was also an anime convention going on at the same time in downtown. Show was good but I definitely should not have eaten that giant bag of fries before we played. Mike had more problems with his gear - 3 shows in a row now. I think that he should be a bit more pro and mind his gear better but that's just my opinion. During our last couple of songs, we had a fan in a wheelchair come up on stage with us. It definitely made his night. As soon as we played, we packed up and shoved off to Boston for a chance to sleep in our own beds... except for me, I slept on my couch because there was someone sleeping in my bed.
July 31 Worcester, MA
Spent my day sitting at home, drinking coffee and feeling very uneasy. My dog was always the primary incentive to come home. Now that he's gone, my home is simply a house that almost feels more like an albatross than a comfortable place to live. After spending some bitter sweet hours at my house, I went to the show. Got there about an hour before showtime and I really must have felt the burden and stress of being home when I was on stage, because I played horribly. It was easily the worst I've played on the tour. The sound at the Palladium is always less than stellar and I can honestly say that I've never played a great show there. Even when Unearth headlined shows and fests there, it never felt very good. After we played, I felt so embarrassed that I wanted to get out of there as soon as humanly possible, which I did. I'm quite positive that it sounded infinitely better than I think, but "assuming the worst" is the curse of having such an intimate experience with your instrument. By virtue of the fact that the kit wraps around the player and ultimately provides an infrastructure, the player is forced to notice every nuance of the performance,which invariably includes every victory as well as every failure. After I left, I came home and ate at my favorite local pizza place and life got better.
August 1 New York City
Was late getting picked up but traffic wasn't too bad for a Sunday. Managed to find a parking spot a half a block from the venue. Walked in to check it out. Animals As Leaders was playing and it was like a can of sardines in there. Met with a friend and eventually got my things together for the show. I used Navene from Animals As Leaders' drum kit for this show. His kit sounded great and was easy to play, but I like my Taye drums better. Was really surprised that I played so well. Kind of expected to blow it. However, I don't think I've ever played a bad show in NYC so maybe I never will. After the show, I went out to eat with some friends. Wasn't my preferred restaurant, but the kale and roasted corn were exquisite. Staying with a friend in the East Village, since Quebec City isn't going to happen for TRC, due to our trailer getting fixed. It's amazing that the trailer is evidently more problematic than the van. I guess there's always something getting in the way of doing our jobs.
Aug 5 Cleveland, OH
Unfortunately, we had to miss our three eastern Canada shows because of a bad trailer axle, so we hoofed it 12 hours to meet back with the tour in good ol' Clevo. Home to one of the world's largest book stores, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as lots of industrial architecture. The venue is a bit of an experience that has become synonymous with the city - take that comment as you will. After we arrived, I cessed out the Middle Eastern restaurant that I always eat at - much to my dismay, it was gone. However, I found an epic burrito joint and got myself an edible football stuffed with delicious vegetables and guacamole for a mere 5 dollars. The venue was the standard sweltering heat and three days off definitely showed in our playing and performance. The Red Chord as a band was embarrassing. I as a drummer was haggard. I felt very tight and uneven and just overall lacked the finesse and control that I need in order to be on top of things. I was sweating so badly from my hands that playing just sucked. There's nothing as ungratifying as sacrificing so much to play music, only to have it be a bad performance compounded by bad playing. The good news though, is that it's not brain surgery. If someone fucks up, nobody's going to die. Doesn't negate the fact that I want to be playing my best and feeling let down when I'm not, but oh well, always tomorrow.
Aug 6 Cincinnati, OH
We were quite late to arrive, which is something that always bothers me. Luckily, it didn't make too much of a difference. The venue was roughly at half capacity and the crowd was a bit tired. All Shall Perish was doing some grilling and I was urging everyone on the tour that is any kind of gear zealot to check out the very well regarded Mike's Music. Mike's is such a definitive oasis of obscure, vintage and classic gear that I make sure to have at least 100 dollars of expendable income when I go, otherwise I simply won't bother torturing myself. Sure enough, I found a great vintage keyboard at a steal. Thank you Mike's Music, you're one of the best music stores in America and unquestionably the best thing about Cincinnati. So with that bit of good fortune, my spirits were immediately lifted, despite an incompetent local sound crew and a rather bitchy loading crew. I understand that it's a big tour and a long day for the same money, but that is everyone's situation on the tour. I'm certainly not fond of 10 band festival tours being held in venues that are designed to facilitate 4 band bills. I don't like stewing around a parking lot for several hours or walking backstage only to find that there's no space to put my bag. I especially hate the fact that there's a shortage of water everyday and almost every drive is at least 7 hours. Luckily, I can say with complete confidence that none of the bands on this tour are pulling power moves or being blatantly inconsiderate. Overall, this show was great. We played great, we sounded great and the venue was actually quite comfortable on stage, which was a very welcome change that clearly showed in my playing. After, we got out of there and ate some atrocious pizza, which is apparently the best pizza place in Cincinnati. Perhaps Mike's Music should serve fresh slices and become my favorite place in America.
Aug 7 Detroit, MI
The legendary Harpo's venue, situated in a legendary part of Detroit, known for being extremely dangerous.I n fact, it is such a bad area of the city that there are armed security guards patrolling the parking lot. The venue itself is very unique and unusual. The stage is literally 7 feet high and in the middle of the room there's a disco dance floor. As if that wasn't interesting enough, they also foster some of Detroit's finest local talent. For this show, there was an additional 6 or so bands that played and they were all perfect. By perfect, I mean that they were the most terrible bands I've ever seen, but in the most perfect way. After all, it is possible to be perfectly bad, just as it's possible to be perfectly good. The show seemed to lumber along and by the time we played, I was just tired. We set up, lights went down, followed by a roar and a chant from the crowd. I think that we played fine, but nothing special. As soon as we finished, I ran to the pizza place before it got dark, since walking anywhere in that neighborhood after dark is not an option, broke down
and ate. We left as soon as we could. Was good to play but after a long day it was great to leave.
Aug 8 Milwaukee, WI
Played at this venue a few times. Shows are always good but the neighborhood is just a bit unsettling. Right across the street, there's a hotel where Jeffery Dahmer allegedly stored the remains of some of his victims. What I really like about this venue is that it has some of the nicest, most relaxing dressing rooms I've seen. It's rumored that the rooms underwent a massive makeover, as stipulated in a performance contract from Prince. Didn't really do too much but wait to play so I felt really sluggish by the time we went on. However, I managed to play really strong, probably played harder for this show than any other. Felt great to clobber my kit, even if it wasn't the tightest. After, we packed up and went straight to Chicago to get a hotel and relax. Got in to the city around midnight so Greg, our merch guy Justin, and I headed to the legendary Pizzeria Due for a late night bite of sheer bliss. I simply could not stop eating, which wasn't so blissful by the time I got back to the hotel.
Aug 9 Chicago, IL
Woke up in pain from my delicious but very intense Pizzeria Due experience last night. Load in was at 9am so I walked over to the venue from the hotel to check things out. Loaded in and went to get breakfast, then walked around a bit. House Of Blues is right in downtown so there's no shortage of great architecture and amazing food. I must admit though, I basically only ate at Due. When it was time to play, I felt like a gelatinous blob. Fortunately,the crowd was very lack luster, so I didn't feel too bad about being a bit sluggish. After, I met with a friend and had dinner at... you guessed it... Pizzeria Due. Wandered back to the venue to check out a bit of Decapitated. It was great to see the crowd come alive and give them a much deserved great show. After that, I took John from Cephalic to Due, went back to the venue, then back to Due. I've felt better.
Aug 10 Minneapolis, MN
Slept terribly, woke feeling awful as a result. Got to the venue early. This city is kind of weird because it's basically set up like a bad airport. Loaded in, had soup for lunch, played a decent show, ate Thai for dinner with a friend, loaded out and left. Yup.
August 11 Indianapolis, IN
We got into the vicinity early enough to have breakfast and take a relaxed attitude towards getting to the venue, especially since the venue itself is without question the worst venue of the tour. Luckily, I had a friend that stole me and took me downtown for a few hours. When I got back, I apprehensively stepped in and felt like I just opened the door to an oven. Suffice to say, I was a bit nervous to play since I was stuffed with fries and a veggie burger. However, I ended up playing really great because I paced myself and took it easy for "Demoralizer" and "bone needle". I definitely felt like I was going to throw up in my mouth during the last song, but all went well. After, I treated myself to a delicious shake at Steak'n'Shake and went to bed.
August 12 Kansas City, MO
This was an off date show that Carnifex was gracious enough to let us jump on with only 24 hours notice. It was a good day for me because I had lunch at a delicious Indian buffet. Was great to pig out on some truly good food for a change, though I probably didn't need to eat as much as I did. Unfortunately, I felt quite sluggish for the rest of the day. The show was really good but it was painfully hot and stuffy on stage - that, coupled with being packed full of tofu marsala, dal maharani, aloo gobi, naan, etc. During Carnifex, there was a sleek 6' blonde woman in high heels and a go-go dress going absolutely ballistic for their set. It definitely made my night to see this pseudo runway model flipping out and head banging to some brutal death metal band, since I'm such a huge advocate of undercutting expectations and pretenses.
August 13 Denver, CO
For once, we were the first band at the venue. Turns out that one of the buses had broken down but I had my own concerns. The venue wasn't open and I was in dire need of a bathroom so I trekked down a few streets and eventually came to a coffee shop and killed 2 birds with 1 proverbial stone. Eventually the venue opened up. Nice place. After I loaded in, I headed off on foot to one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in the world, the mighty Watercoarse Foods. Once again, I ate way too much but the walk did a good job of pacifying the tremors in my stomach. When I got back to the venue, the buses had just arrived and all was back on track. This was a good show with a packed house and a receptive crowd. Normally, I really struggle to maintain my stamina for shows in Denver because of the high altitude but I played really well, strong and sturdy. After we played, everyone except for myself went to a baseball game down the street. I opted to stay behind and have a few adult beverages since there was a bar conveniently attached to the backstage. I made conversation with the bartender and probably drank much more than I should have... I'm not the rock 'n 'roller I used to be. I ended my night with an epic burrito from a local institution called Illegal Pete's and slipped into a very satisfying coma.
August 14 Salt Lake City, UT
In the rare occasions that I play in SLC, there is always trouble, perhaps due in part to the oppressive nature of a religion that appears to oversaturate the city. Personally, I like the landscape of SLC and once again we were early so we walked around a farmer's market and had lunch as we waited for the club to open. When I got back, there was chaos; too many bands and simply not enough space. The stage manager and tour manager were not much help and subsequently I opted to just set up out side and walk my stuff to the stage once it was time to play. The crowd was pouring energy for every band so I was excited to play. Before we hit the stage, we decided to dress up as Tosin from Animals As Leaders, since Tosin is without question the most dapper man on tour... Even more so than me. In fact, the other guys in the band borrowed some of my clothes to complete their "Tosin" outfits. The only annoyance was that I forgot my stick bag in Denver so I borrowed some Vic Firth Steve Gadd signature sticks. I have to say, they felt great. I use Vic Firth Extreme 5Bs and I really like them for their diversity, but those Steve Gadds practically played themselves. The only issue I have with them is the lacquered finish, which I find to be cumbersome when my hands begin to sweat. Luckily I borrowed some sticks with the Vic Firth brand grip tape and that solved the problem. The stage was actually fairly comfortable and certainly having 2 utility fans pointing at me helps a lot. After the show, we were all invited to the Baroness/Deftones show up the street but I really didn't need to hear more loud music, even though Abe Cunningham is one of my favorite drummers. Instead, I ate at a Tex-Mex restaurant and it sucked. I felt so full after I ate that I ended up taking a nap before we left. Woke an hour later to some dude knocking on the window to tell me how great I was and that was my cue to wake up, load out and move on. SLC is a much nicer place to play when the fans aren't smuggling machetes into the shows and moshing with them.
August 15 day off in Montana
One of the best days off I've had on tour. Clean air, great breakfast, trails in the forest, lakes, fires, milk shakes and lots of quality hang time. If my dinner wasn't so disgusting it would've been one of the best days ever.
August 16 Calgary, AB, Canada
Cleared customs as easily as ordering a pizza. No fines or fees or taxes to pay. Upon crossing the border, we hit the first Tim Horton's that we could find and it was as good as ever. Got in to the city a couple of hours later and loaded in. The club is small but I suspect that it will be a fun show and I was right. Crowd was a bit sparse though very excited. I played really well but as a band we kind of sucked. My feet and hands were getting along great for a welcome change. Played with a lot of zeal too, just felt great overall. After,I found a falafel restaurant and completely stuffed myself. We drove to Edmonton to get a hotel for a couple of days.
August 17 Edmonton, AB, Canada
Last time I was here was with Unearth and the show did not end well. At any rate,Edmonton is a nice city with some interesting architecture - most notably is the rather whimsically designed art museum. After we loaded in, I walked a respectable distance to a field with what appeared to be 4 glass pyramids and when I got there, it was completely fenced off, so I walked back.Felt like an eternity was spent waiting to play and kind of felt like I was out of gas when we finally did. I flubbed a lot of parts and just didn't play that strongly. I guess that it was an OK show, simply because the crowd was really feeling it. Sadly, I was not. Once I was packed up, I walked to a restaurant and ate a delicious meal alone. I suppose that it's often considered unusual and even a bit taboo to eat alone, but I quite enjoy it. Now it's time to get some sleep and prepare for the barren 15 hour drive day.