Before we went out on tour, our record label talked us into buying a van to tour in which was actually a good idea since every vehicle we ever rented broke down. We broke down once in the middle of Georgia in the middle of summer with no road signs telling us where we were, but thats another story for another day. This story focuses on the fact that I being the only member of the band with a great credit rating and the president of the LLC, I was chosen to be the one whose name was on everything that we purchased as a band. Little did I know this would come back to not only bite me in the ass later on down the road, but nearly ruin me financially for all eternity.
We purchased ourselves a nice, shiny, slightly used 15 passenger church van in which to go on tour. Not the most comfortable i've ever been, but the bench seats were a hell of a lot better than being cramped in a regular car. Also, you tend to learn to sleep in any position about a week into the tour so it doesn't matter. Along with the van, we purchased ourselves a very, very slightly used trailer to haul all of our equipment around. The van was in tip top shape having had a complete tune-up, inspection, complete fluid change...the works. We failed to inspect the trailer with the fine-toothed comb that we had with the van.
Our first leg of the tour, we were to spend the first two weeks opening up for Valejo in various clubs around Texas. For those of you who don't know who Valejo is, they were pretty big in the late 90's, early 2000's. It was a very exciting time for us. We were chomping at the bit to get out on the road to support our burgeoning fame. Our second single was beginning to light up the airways around the country and we had stars in our eyes.
We were heading to Odessa, Texas for our first show of the tour and we were driving overnight. We were planning on reaching our destination early in the morning, getting into the hotel and resting most of the day before our show that night. Since Clancey and I did most of the driving, each of us would sleep while the other drove to keep ourselves fresh. It was my turn to do some sleeping so I took one of the middle bench seats to spread out and get my sleep on. I quickly fell asleep thinking about one day being on tour in a bus, playing in front of thousands every night; as I did most nights. This night I awoke to a nightmare.
Sometime around 5 o'clock in the morning, when night is at its darkest, I awoke to Clancey cursing and the feeling that the van was going out of control. I sat bolt upright just in time to witness the right tire of the trailer bounce past the van, hit some concrete on the side of the road and bounce about 20 feet in the air, nearly coming down directly onto the windshield. Lucky it was Clancey at the wheel and not me, his former Marine training kept him cool, calm and collected. I would have screamed like a 5 year old with a skinned knee and dove out of the van, leaving it careening into the darkness.
When we came to a stop along the side of the road, we had no idea where we were. It was very eerie out. Dense fog, complete darkness in all directions and no road signs to be seen. I had seen too many horror movies that began this way. This was when we realized that AAA would have been a good idea, but hindsight is always 20/20. We decided to sleep until the sun came up and then try calling our manager and see if he could help us out. Our manager, we'll call him "Byron", was a short, squirrely, no-necked cajun man who began every sentence with "Lemme askya sumpin." Byron had a gift for taking a simple situation such as finding out who the closest towing company was and getting a tow, and turning it into a 9 hour phone tag session. He was a guy who would call every single towing company in the state to see who would do it cheaper if it meant saving 3 dollars, even if it meant taking 5 hours longer. But what did he care, he was sitting in a nice comfortable office while we sat on the side of the road.
But here is the best part of the story, when I awoke a few hours later at about 7 in the morning; I look up to see our singer Gerald's feet directly above my head and quite possibly one of the worst smells I had ever smelled up to that point. I punched him on the bottom of the foot and told him that his feet smelled like a rotten corpse. "That's not my feet, that's the asphalt factory across the road." He said.
Lucky us, we break down in the middle of nowhere Texas, about 30 miles from our destination and we do it in front of an asphalt factory who started up promptly at 7 in the morning. If you have never smelled an asphalt factory in its full glory, let me paint the picture for you: Rotten eggs, old gym socks, dog farts, and just a hint of hot garbage. We were stuck there until 2 in the afternoon when a tow truck finally showed up after hours and hours of our manager haggling with AAA trying to get us an account. The luckiest part of all of that was that there was actually a trailer repair place on the way to our destination. They loaned us a replacement for the night and would have ours fixed by the next morning. We made it to the show with about 2 hours to spare that evening, met Valejo and shared many drinks together over the next 2 weeks and we rocked the house.
To Be Continued.....