May 4th, 2012 5:26 pm | by CHRIS STAMM Music | Posted In: Upper Extremities

Upper Extremitities #37: Freedom Club Hits the Road

upperextremitiesUpper Extremities Logo - Adam Krueger

There is a frustrated musician inside of me. He gets smaller and quieter every day, as age has a way of polishing ambitions until they are round, smooth things that nestle into forgotten corners of the mind, but once in a while I finger that little nub of rock 'n' roll fantasy and get really sad about the fact that I never got to go on tour with any of the shitty bands I've been in.

And so I take every opportunity to pick more fortunate brains about the life I'm missing out on. I had just such a chance early this week, when Portland's Freedom Club returned from a week-long jaunt down the best coast. As you will see, I'm most curious about the mundane aspects of punk rock road-tripping: the food, the beds, the van entertainment. I spoke to Freedom Club drummer David Rose via email about all this and more.

I suggest you listen to Freedom Club's Rather Be Blind EP while you read through Rose's responses to my semi-frivolous queries. It is great. You like Hot Snakes and Marked Men? You will love this. Check it out for free here.

WW: How long did your tour last?
David Rose: It was a quick loop down to the Bay Area (Sacto/SF/Oakland) then back up through Reno/Boise, six shows in total. Hardly a tour really, but we're just starting out and don't have enough "presence" to pull off anything too grandiose just yet.

What was the largest crowd you played to? Smallest?

Largest was definitely in Reno (where they set shit-the-fuck-off and get extra loose!) and was to approximately 100 people. Smallest was Boise (which isn't to say Boise can't deliver. I've seen it be really fun in the past) on a sleepy Sunday. Maybe like 15 people including the bands. And to make matters worse, the venue/stage was quite large and therefore felt oppressively empty. Oh well. We'd anticipated all of our shows being like that. We set really low expectations so that we could be "pleasantly surprised" at the shows—and overall we were!

What did you eat while on the road? Did you gain weight or lose weight?
We were kinda all over the place food-wise. Brought some stuff with us like mixed nuts, healthy snacks like hummus and raw veggies/fruit, baguettes with goat cheese and shit like that. Once we'd worked our way through that stuff it was onto random meals ranging from Burger King and Little Caesars to polenta parmesan and egg scrambles, burritos, etc. None of us are too picky in the food department.

I don't weigh myself, so I have no gauge of whether or not I lost or gained weight. I feel the same as I did before leaving. Any fluctuation in health directly correlates to the amount of alcohol, cigarettes and lack of quality (non-van) sleep that comes along with touring. I mean when it hurts to swallow your own saliva because you chain-smoked a bunch of unfiltered cigarettes someone gave you, and are drunk when you wake up in the mornings—I think those are the bigger factors at play in relation to health/weight or whatever.

Hotels or floors for sleeping?
Floors, couches, air mattresses, parking lots (on the concrete underneath or near the van), in the van—anything to avoid hotels! There's no way to tour without relying on the hospitality of the host city's local punks and kind souls. Otherwise you've just gotta revert to making do with what you've got. Gas is almost $5 a gallon; if you were to add hotels onto that daily expense you'd need to be making a hell of a lot more than is possible (if you're playing legit DIY/punk music) to break even.

Additionally, it's a lot more fun and beneficial for future tours to make connections, meet cool people, get a sort of impromptu "tour guide" for the place you're at (via the person or people putting you up)! The folks having you at their homes are gonna steer you in the direction of the cheap breakfast spot, cool bar, local swimming hole, etc. You're not gonna get that insight if you're at some dumpheap of a hotel wasting money and sitting around with the same people you've been in a van with all day.

What did you all listen to in the van? What did you read?
This tour was all about the hip-hop, primarily as a result of Richard being obsessed with Dirty South stuff a la Three 6 Mafia, Juicy J, Project Pat, Ludacris, etc. Listened to a TON of that stuff, along with my "smooth" hip-hop offerings from Organized Konfusion, De La Soul, Gangstarr, Wu Tang, etc.

As far as the "punk" end of things goes, we were definitely listening to Regulations, Social Circkle, the Queers, Sharp Objects, the Kids, Marked Men, etc. And then there's the classic "driving music" stints on the 'ol Tom Petty, Kinks, Ghostwriter, Roy Orbison, etc. All told, we're kinda all over the place in relation to what we had playing at any given point in time.

Reading... nah, don't do that. It's bad for your brain, I've heard.

What was the best band you played with and where did you play with them?
Cathedral Ghost in Reno was the best band we played with, hands down! Simple, speedy garage punk offerings that got everyone moving. Faultless and super high-energy—shit was rad and their crowd was extra rowdy!

Did your set get better or worse as the tour progressed?

Our set is always the same, i.e. bad. It can't get better or worse, it is what it is. We take turns having off nights, so all the fault doesn't just land on just one of us. For instance, Gibby (bass) will fuck up one night's set by starting half the songs on the wrong note, then leave it to me (drums) to drop my sticks a thousand times the next nights' set when Gibby is doing everything right. The next show, Josh (guitar) will break a string and kill any momentum we had going, or play completely out of tune because his guitar "doesn't come out of tune" and is therefore not checked prior to a song that requires the guitar intonation to be dialed-in. Richard (guitar) just has shitty, broken-ass gear, so it can be expected that some part of his rig will malfunction at at least one show, and his "metal" head banging, long-ass hippie hair will clog his fretboard and mouth, thus disabling his ability to play, never mind breathe. Haha, we suck.

Which member of Freedom Club gets grumpiest on the road?
Richard. Quite literally the grumpiest morning person ever. He's spoiled as result of being in Mean Jeans, who get to headline all their shows, show up late for everything, don't care (haha, love those guys!). He's not used to being up prior to 3 pm, so reasonable hours (like 11 am) for waking up to complete long drives doesn't really fit his M.O. All of his objections to waking up are pretty hilarious and endearing, though, and otherwise he's definitely the jokester of the band, and he keeps spirits incredibility high!

Did you make out with any strangers?
Nope no strangers for me. That's how you contract diseases (cough...cough...Josh!)

Did you miss Portland?
What's to miss? Shitty cold and rain?

Finally: What's the best thing that happened to you on tour?
Going to the casino in Reno with the full intention of losing what little money I had and knowing that Gibby was dead set on trying to get kicked out by doing something fucked up. So, after having sat at a blackjack table for three rounds of drinks and seeing that all the 'mates were well lubricated we started wandering around until Gibby "threw down" and tossed Richard through a bunch of chairs at a different card table. When asked, "Sir, do i need to call security?" by one of the floor managers, Gibby just goes, "Yeah!" So that put a swift end to our night at the casino. I feel like really amazing things probably happen to people on tour (like getting an offer to record from a label, playing with musician heroes, reuniting with friends that you haven't seen in years or something substantial like that), but that's the best I got. Just saving money that I would've parted with like a drunk idiot and watching my friends incite a hilarious altercation in a place that takes itself way too seriously.

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