Hello, my little chickadees. Greetings from West End Espresso and Tea, a very fine coffee shop in the very fine little city of San Luis Obispo, CA. Today is day eighteen of the MONITOUR, which has proven to be every bit the magical adventure that we had been hoping it would be. There is much to cover, so let us not mince words. After all, brevity is the soul of wit, so here we go!
Firstly, it is with enormous excitement that we announce the MONITOUR fulfilling its destiny (its manifest destiny, as it were), for now we can finally declare that we have closed all the gaps in our schedule and made our "childish obsession with not taking days off," as my father calls it, a reality. The final shows added to the MONITOUR itinerary are as follows: On March 29th, we will be playing a house show at 540 Van Buren Street in Eugene, OR. Okay, great! Then, on April 3rd, and this is really fucking awesome, we will be playing at The Retired and Enlisted Association in Rapid City, SOUTH DAKOTA! That's right, baby - we are hitting both Dakotas on this tour. Rapid City is also a short twenty minutes from MOUNT RUSHMORE - hello!! That is going to be the bomb, even if it means two ten hour drives right in a row. Who cares, right? This puts the totality of the American MONITOUR at 54 shows in 48 days. You heard it here first, kids - taking it easy is totally bunk!
Yes, there is no doubt about it - America is a many-splendored paradise. Yet, though we love America the most, we acknowledge the needs of punks the world around to be entertained, and with that, it is our distinct pleasure to announce what will be the final leg of the MONITOUR, roughly two weeks of high-octane rock and roll madness on our second favorite continent, Europe, leading up to and including the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, which we have already heard about (remember? Pavement?). On this tour, we will be taking a couple of days off, because Europe is a huge and baffling continent. Those shows are as follows:
5/15/2010 - Utrecht, ND - Da Helling - Club Radar
5/16/2010 - Rotterdam, ND - Rotown
5/17/2010 - Amsterdam, ND - Bitterzoet (w/Surfer Blood)
5/18/2010 - Gent, Belgium - Charlatan
5/20/2010 - Paris, FR - La Fleche D'or
5/21/2010 - Liverpool, UK - Sound City Festival
5/22/2010 - Glasgow, UK - Stag and Dagger Festival
5/23/2010 - Leeds, UK - Cockpit 2
5/24/2010 - Manchester, UK - Ruby Lounge
5/25/2010 - London, UK - City and Arts Project
and of course...
5/27/2010 - Barcelona, Spain - Primavera Sound Festival w/ PAVEMENT
Okay, that sounds like it is gonna be a total gas! As is our way, we throw ourselves at yr feet, at the mercy of yr generosity, our European comrades, and ask that perhaps you consider inviting us over to yr house after the show to let us sleep on the floor. Europe is a nice continent, but yr hotels are soul-destroying. If I never set foot in another Etap again, it will be much too soon (although we have stayed at some nice ones in the Netherlands, admittedly). If you can find it in yr heart to assist us in this, we will gladly let you and yr friend come to the show for free. E-mail TitusAndronicusTheBand@Gmail.com if you are interested.
Okay, so... what else is going on. As you may know, we began this tour by making a series of appearances in some of America's more admirable independent record stores, and that was a lot of fun. I gotta tell ya, when I was first told about this idea, I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever heard. Historically, I have always hated playing in record stores - so awkward! I was pretty sure this whole record store trip was going to be pure punishment, but I am happy to admit that I was dead wrong - it was actually a ton of fun! Wheee! Here is us having some of that awesome fun at Ear X-Tacy in Louisville, KY, a great store, and workplace of the friendliest man who has ever lived, our new friend Sean. What up, Sean!!
Yeah, it was pretty fun, all right. Thanks to all the folks who came out to see us, and all the great people at all the stores for treating us with so much kindness and respect. Top drawer, everybody! Another awesome thing was, because we were mostly playing in the afternoon or early evening, our nights were free to do whatever we pleased. This usually meant going to bed at a reasonable hour, but when we were in Chicago, we delighted to learn that our old buddies Ted Leo and the Pharmacists were playing a concert! Thanks to those guys for getting us in and entertaining us so thoroughly. I also had the distinct honor of singing a couple songs with the band, another one of those things that would make my teenage brain explode. Here is the last song of the night, "Angelfuck" by the Misfits, a very appropriate thing since earlier that day, no less a reputable source than the New York Times published a very nice article about the state of indie rock and roll in New Jersey, using our two bands as subjects! Wow! The Misfits are from New Jersey too, you have to understand. Bon appetit:
There is another video floating around the internet of this same crew playing "Merchandise" by Fugazi with this guy named Ralph, but I shall not post that here because Ralph is a much better singer and dancer than myself. A quite similar scenario played itself out the following night in St. Louis, MO, where we played a last-minute, "secret" show with our buddies Deer Tick, starring erstwhile Titus Andronicus guitarist and once-and-future best bro Ian O'Neil. They generously invited me onstage with them to help sing "Authority Song" by John Mellancamp. It looked pretty much exactly like this:
We also played a couple of normal concerts, which were pretty cool too. One of those was in Athens, OH - here's a picture of us just pretty much hanging out there, because that is something which we really do. Hanging out, I mean.
Damn, that shit is real! We played in Tulsa, OK too, which was also cool. After the show, we stayed with some more super-nice acquaintances of ours, Bart and Emily, who were very accommodating, and whose company was extremely agreeable. Serious Titusheads will remember them as the people whose hamster we buried in Episode 4 of Titus TV, "Super Maximum Overdrive." They had a funny ash-tray man made out of a beer can and a bunch of bottle caps, who had a funny penis that could be revealed to hilarious effect. Look at this thing:
They also had a pretty badass tree fort out back, which you can see below, with Ian standing on it like a true king. Dust yr shoulders off, Ian!
So yeah, phase one of the MONITOUR pretty much went like that. Let us move on, then, to that event which indie rocks nationwide look forward to every year with the sort of feverish anticipation usually reserved for kiddies awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus, the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, TX (hereafter referred to simply as SXSW). We had a lot of fun at this conference last year, but this year was even more of a blast. Is it okay if I tell you all about it now? Okay, I will!
Perhaps the best way to understand our experience objectively would be to read this great article, written by our new friend Patrick Caldwell, which details the excruciating minutae of our daily lives, in this case, on the day of March the 18th. It ran the following day in the Austin Statesman, and there are some cool pictures for you to look at here.
Early that sweltering Texas morning, we had the opportunity to break bread with some of the brass up at Extra Large Recordings, including our main man Kris Chen, who, as luck would have it, was wearing a shirt identical to Ian's! Look at these awesome twins, and understand that much better the strength of our bond.
Another serious highlight of our time in Austin was playing with the great band Free Energy at the Rolling Stone showcase. I have seen them a couple of times previously, but on this night, they were really blazing. Totally awesome. They also hooked us up with a cassette of their fantastic album, Stuck on Nothing, which has gone into extremely heavy rotation in Blue Thunder. I couldn't find any videos of that particular performance, so here is them kicking some other asses at a different show. I mean, it is pretty much the same shit, right? Just enjoy.
I also must say that it was a distinct honor to play not one but two shows with the greatest punk band of our young century, Fucked Up, one of which was their own showcase at Red 7. Maybe the most "fucked up" thing about this band is how nice they are, even though their music is so intense and often terrifying! They really treated us very kindly and had us feeling wicked good following all of our interactions. Thanks, Fucked Up! Annoyingly enough, our busy schedule precluded actually seeing them play at either of the shows we played together, but happily, our ace booking agent John Chavez, who also books FU, was able to get us into their performance at the Fader Fort on Thursday, where we all delighted in seeing them tear it up. Here they are playing "Son the Father," the opening salvo on their brain-melting masterpiece, Chemistry of Common Life.
So, what else did we do... some of the conference's corporate sponsors had some sort of rocker oasis set up on 6th Street, where we were rewarded for a brief interview with all the snacks we could eat and all the ping pong we could play. Here are Amy and Ian going at it:
Sadly, I was too out of breath to enjoy any of this as much as I might have, as I had just run to and from a performance by Demolished Thoughts, an 80's hardcore cover band fronted by Thurston Moore and featuring J Masic and Jonah from Fucked Up on guitar and bass, respectively. Two other people were in the band too, but shit if I know who they were. Here is this awesome band playing "I Hate Sports" by 7 Seconds, from their epochal seven inch, Skins, Brains and Guts.
Back at the place with the ping pong, Eric captured Dave in quite a candid moment of badass behavior, dramatically removing his coat ala Neo from The Matrix. We sure do get a kick out of this picture, and we hope you do, too!
Well, that is enough about that particular conference. Let us discuss the proper tour now. It has been going pretty well, so far. We have been traveling with a very fine band of British youngsters called Let's Wrestle, who are pretty much killing it. They are real nice lads too, even if they WALK AROUND GAS STATION BATHROOMS WITHOUT ANY SHOES OR SOCKS ON! Ewwwwww! So gross! Good band, though. Here is them strutting their stuff at the Bootleg Theater the other night in Los Angeles.
That was a cool show. We actually sold all of the tickets - only the third time that has occured in the history of Titus Andronicus. Thanks, LA! Also, we got to hang out with our man Doug after the show! Shit yeah! Doug is awesome. You might remember him as the fellow who did that stirring reading from Titus Andronicus (the play) on our album, The Airing of Grievances. Yeah, all things considered, it was a pretty fun night. Here is us playing our song "Four Score and Seven" at that very same concert.
Still not convinced this show was good? Okay, fair enough. Before you really make up yr mind though, why not read this quite nice article that ran in the Los Angeles Times the following day? They wouldn't say all these nice things if they weren't true, would they? WOULD THEY?!?!?
Here's some other massive news. The other day, just outsude of Phoenix, AZ, our beloved van, Blue Thunder aka Art Vandelay aka Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj, hit the magic 200,000 mile mark. We celebrated by listening to "Blue Thunder" by Galaxie 500 and doing a van-centric madlib. It was awesome. Here's the proof:
If I had to pick one moment of this tour where I really achieved transcendence, though, it would have to be a few nights ago in El Paso, where we found ourselves playing second on a four band bill, after our pals Let's Wrestle, but before this band called Nice Nice (not named after the club from the Lifter Puller mythology, I found out), who I had never heard of before. Long story short, THEY ARE FUCKING AMAZING. As a guy who has never been shy about his lack of patience with the excessive glut of "drummer and guy with a loop pedal" bands and how they usually suck, I can safely say that this band renders all those others moot and quadruple-handedly justifies the whole genre. Also, they use their technical virtuosity for good rather than evil, which is just unheard of. I will not bother trying to describe their music, as it was wild, nor shall I plug any record by them, as they truly have to be seen to be believed. They look like this:
Man, they rock. All right, well, I have to go and meet the others at the San Luis Obispo Arts Center to prepare to attempt to rock the faces off of whatever punks happen to show up. Why are we working so hard, you ask? Well, isn't it obvious?
BALLIN'!!! Okay, talk to you kids later. Stay safe.