Tour Life: A Bit of Clarity Amongst the Rubble
We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a bit frightened, playing a show in literally the most dangerous city in the world. We went to Juarez, Mexico. We had seen the documentaries (thanks Eric Davis!) about the corruption and the death; the murders in broad daylight; the missing women and the mass graves. We had heard it all. But it didn’t matter. Upon planning, we were informed that we wouldn’t be driving ourselves in, blind, that we’d have a guide to help us cross the border and get us around. However, once we got to El Paso, TX, we found that not to be the case at all. Everyone we were told that would help us had vehemently declined going across the boarder. Making the 7 mile drive across the boarder was not even a thought in anyone’s mind. We were told countless times not to even go. Almost everyone had a tale of heads on stakes and entire restaurant shoot-outs by drug cartels just to hit one person. So many statistics, so many murder rates were constantly told to us, but still we wanted to go. Yet, we had no ride. Living in our van means our lives are in it. Trying to cross a border known for drug smuggling, it just really wasn’t a good idea to cross with a van loaded with sleeping bags, luggage, etc. So we had to cancel. We just couldn’t do it. We’d sneaked into Europe and Canada, but this was a whole different beast, and we just didn’t feel comfortable going there alone.
And that wasn’t that only disappointment.
We were told several times by this new person we were working with, that we had to rush from Salt Lake City, UT, to get to El Paso, TX. Why? Because the 15 hour drive would be so rewarding once we arrived in the arms of anticipating ‘fans’ and new ‘friends’ in El Paso and Juarez who were wanting to open their homes to us and have us play big and successful shows all over Texas and that it would be the end of our financial downfall. We were even told that we had an endorsement from MOTEL 6 and that we wouldn’t have to sleep in our van anymore. The biggest highlight was going to be perform for tens of thousands of people for a large festival in El Paso!
How foolish we were. So. Damn. Foolish. Our first week was spent sleeping at Walmart. Our shows were scarce with little money made. Juarez looked like a no go and we still hadn’t gotten confirmation from the festival. The near future was starting to lose its promise.
So, sitting in front of the computer, feeling terrible about cancelling our show in Juarez….mind you, a show that we really really really wanted to play, having never gone to Mexico, we felt so cheated. And we take a lot of pride in following through with promises. We hate cancelling shows. Somehow, someone was telepathically receiving our thoughts through the computer screen. Because that’s when I (Jason) received a message directly from a ‘fan’ who wanted to attend the show. After a good little IM exchange of me telling him our dilemma about getting across the border, he offered to pick us up and bring us over. He saw were were playing the next day in El Paso, and came to our show and we physically met and he, again, offered his help. Saul Torres, you were our hero!
And boy, did we need his help. We were so offended by this new guy we were working with, this arrogant guy who told us that he had been there multiple times before…. but with bands who were from the area… He encouraged us that it would be totally safe to cross the border with all of our belongings. Funny, because not only would we not have been able to find the venue on our own, but the traffic patterns were unlike what we were used to and we immediately loaded in and definitely emptied the vehicle to prevent a VERY POSSIBLE break in, as highly advised by our new friend. Thank you again, Saul!
All set up with some time to spare, we wanted to experience as much as we could, whatever we Juarez had to offer. Dilapidated buildings, the tranny whorehouse across from the venue, our eyes were wide open. I felt like I was back home in Richmond, CA for some reason. I don’t know why, but I didn’t feel like a total stranger. Like, there was a purpose for us to be there. We connected with the people of Juarez real easy. Even with the language barrier. Then there was the food. The food was fabulous and very cheap. JUST THE WAY WE LIKE IT! The people were kind and excited that we made it. We learned that bad press of extreme violence prevented a lot of artists to come over and perform. The reception we got in Juarez was very moving to say the least. So many people approached us trying their best to speak the little English they knew, letting us know that even though they couldn’t understand everything, they could “feel” our music and were touched by it. Wow. That’s all we want to do, isn’t it? I’m so proud of Chicky. She was battling a severe case of heat stroke with a major headache and threw up immediately after our set. You’d never know she was holding all that in during her stunning performance.
That was an experience we will talk about to friends and amongst ourselves for the rest of our lives. Even after the 4 hour wait go back across the border to the US, we still felt it was worth it. Saul Torres, if you’re down, we are going to want to do that again!
Back in El Paso, we were back to the realism of the shitty limbo position we were in, not knowing where we stood with this festival. We already had to cancel shows in Austin, Houston and our favorite city NOLA, where our good friends were excitedly expecting us. But, we just couldn’t afford the drives. We needed so bad to keep it together until we found out the details for the festival because as most bands know, festivals are SO HARD to get on. What an amazing opportunity this was going to be! We would finally be able to play for the large audiences we were craving for, even larger than the ones we had been in front of during the Godflesh tour!
As the days progressed, we weren’t receiving any details. We were told we were a late addition and we wouldn’t be on the initial posters. And after further questions, we weren’t getting any real answers. Our hopes were starting to fade. We started meeting kind people who let us stay in their homes but we didn’t want to be a burden. The weather was too hot to stay at Walmart, our money was continuing to dwindle and there was only so long we could live off of refillable McDonalds coffee. To those of you who took us in to house us and give us a cool place to hang out and feed us and take us to baseball games… you have very warm places in our hearts and we are never going to forget your graciousness. You actually probably effed yourselves because you all are definitely going to be the same people we hit up EVERY TIME we come to your area so that we can impose ourselves on your lives and force your warm presence and fun company!
In all seriousness, we were left out, alone, and you guys showed us a home. Warm beds, hot showers, and a place to wash clothes. You even took us to a baseball game. A very special place in our heart for you good people in El Paso, TX that helped us through this nightmare. Our eyes get wet when we think about how much you did for us.
And now we are back in California. Not quite home yet. But then again, we don’t have a ‘home’ to get back to. This is the brokest we have been. I feel like we say that a lot. And even if we think things can’t get any worse, we definitely have learned that that’s never the case. Things can always get worse. So far, this is definitely the brokest we have even been. We definitely waited all that time to learn details from a festival that we eventually found we never confirmed for. (Geezes, even trying to figure that out was a long process of asking pretty much everyone in El Paso… but never from the one person who told us that we were playing.) Our drive back to Cali was mostly silent; No music; No conversation. For a brief moment, I felt like I wanted to quit music once and for all. Chicky, however, takes a longer time to get over these things. Almost a week later, she still isn’t back to her old self. She cries and is fighting depression, trying to find worth in our efforts. I look at her sometimes and I can tell she’s trying to hide how she feels. She sometimes looks as if her soul has died. I can see it all on her face. She, like me was tired of hoping for a chance to get to the next level, a chance to play for thousands of people. The Godflesh tour spoiled us. Our treatment, the venue sizes, the audiences… Our dreams were realized were too brief of a moment. Now, we’re back to small clubs/bars where people were more concerned about getting laid than hearing new music. The same show that we did in front of hundreds just a few weeks earlier, we played for 10 in Denver. 10 people. Appreciative as they may have been, it was starting to become a huge let down. She’s finding it hard to want to do it anymore. Can I? Are we just fooling ourselves? Are our parents right? Are we just selfish little kids trying to live out some ridiculous fantasy?
This is where we are right now. We are just trying to figure life out. Already in our mid 30’s and we are still trying to figure life out.