Originally published in Seattle Weekly
I had dinner with Alan Parsons the other night. That's right, Alan Parsons, of the Alan Parsons Project. I'm not kidding. You may know him better as the man who recorded Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, or perhaps as the tape operator for a little album called Abbey Road. Anyway, he gave a talk at the EMP, (along with Bob Ezrin, who recorded The Wall), and afterward he joined a small group of us for dinner.
Originally published in Seattle Weekly
I was holed up in my little home studio last Thursday working on writing some songs for the next Long Winters record when I got a text message from a friend telling me to check out the lunar eclipse. There's a window over the desk where I work, so I parted the curtains and there was the eclipse right above me, the moon a burnt red. Fortunately, I had my dad's old Navy binoculars right to hand, so I spent several minutes inspecting the lunar surface.
I was down in Nashville a couple of weeks ago and was lucky enough to get a tour of the Custom Shop from the world-famous Steve Christmas. I'm no expert on guitar-making, but I was surprised by the things I learned on my trip.
We crossed into Spain through Andorra, the tiny country high up in the Pyrenees mountains. At the top of the pass our little van chugged to a crawl- pissing off a few Porsche drivers- high enough to look down on the French ski resorts to our north. Barcelona was our first stop, an unseasonably warm February day.
God, Spain is wonderful for a rock band. Every night the fans came out in droves. Madrid was a madhouse, made all the crazier by the Real Madrid/Bayern Munchen football game happening in the stadium a few blocks from the club. You've never known fear until you've been surrounded by German soccer fans all dressed like the Cat in the Hat
We're four hairy Americans in a van with German license plates, so I suppose that could account in part for the crude reception from other drivers on the English roads. I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the truth of the matter is that drivers in the UK are among the rudest and most incompetent in the western world. They are like petulant children, always flashing their lights and trying to cut you off. I've taken to driving extra crazy, with a mix of the worst habits of LA, NYC, and rural Michigan, just to exact a little revenge. After all, they'll blame it on the Germans.
We woke up in Diksmiude, Belgium and drove through the early morning mist toward the port of Calais. These were the Flanders fields made infamous in World War One, but we had more mundane concerns. Our work permits for the UK weren't sorted properly and I knew it going in. There was every possibility we'd be detained for hours, maybe even denied entry, and we were anxious.
I'm writing this from the plane on my flight back to Seattle. Why isn't this technology available on all flights? …And remote highways, city centers, truck stops, hotels (especially hotels), and every venue we play for that matter? Most importantly - just like it is right now - WIFI should always be FREE. We just finished our European tour. John dropped Nabil, Eric, Jared (our beloved sound guy), and myself off at the Brussels airport this morning. I'll give you a little wrap up of the European tour:
We haven't had a tour update yet, but there's no reason for it, so... Yesterday was just too much crazy, anxious, what-hell-did-we-just-do fun not to share. Here it is, sequentially: We woke up in BEAVER, Utah and drove to Las Vegas, which was our crossroads for the day. When you've got 3 days off, it's time to play. Here were the options: 1) prime rib at a Vegas casino, 2) kick it with the crazies still living next to the Salton Sea, 3) go through DEATH VALLEY. We chose option 3.
Our brand new record, Putting the Days to Bed, has officially been released! All throughout the land church bells are pealing and caped riders are galloping to spread the joyous news, and lo, I am emailing you, in case you were in the shower when the church bells were pealing and caped riders were galloping.
The amazing thing is that even after Radiohead’s impossible-to-follow performance, the Bonnaroo party soldiered on. I found my way back to the hospitality tent and managed to scrounge up a couple of pork chops and a piece of carrot cake for dinner, and sat down with my new friend Elizabeth, who’d been taking pictures all weekend on behalf of the festival. She was heading back to work, photographing the SuperJam, which started at midnight in one of the far-flung tents. SuperJam sounded ominously like the seventh level of jam-band hell, something that might go on forever once the cosmic forces that contained it were unleashed, so in the spirit of my journalistic enterprise I promised to stop by later, and she trudged off like she’d been sentenced to a slow death being stung by wasps.