3 nights

Friday: Phoenix

So our beloved Long Beach Airport is going through a messy renovation eh?

Here’s to hoping they don’t fuck up yet another charming local institution.
Sure, gone is the dark hallway bar that we used to squeeze into to nurse hideous Bloody Mary’s at 6am, replaced by the fab new Legends bar upstairs.

We’ll take it.

But the real plus of this little ‘port has always been the ability to wake one hour before your cross-continent flight, race around the traffic circle in your pajamas and still make it onto the Jet Blue #204 for JFK.

You park just across from the art deco terminal, get waved through the sleepy Security trailer and are handed cheap headphones before climbing the old-school flight steps.
And just 50 minutes from your hungover awakening, you are sitting there, heart rate finally slowing, watching a black and white Andy Griffith Show episode while your jet taxis down the runway toward the sunrise.

Try that trick at goddamned LAX and you’ll make it as far as the Avalon offramp before you break down in tears and admit to yourself you’ll be waiting standby for the next six hours.

Planned retail plaza for LGB……wtf? Bring back the seaplanes to Avalon if ya wanna improve the joint!

Good to be back in Phoenix and a show at Rip’s for the record release.

We pick up guitars at the gate and grab a sensible rental car (29.00 standard, return it full please) drop backpacks at a Residence Inn (free internet in the room, coffee always a-brewing) and wolf down some smouldering platters from Thai Elephant (this will hurt you far worse tomorrow, round eye!)

Playing with us again are Scorpion-vs-Tarantula , truly one of the rockingest bands out there–anywhere!

The crowd is in a nutty mood, and we are baptized with can after can of Pabst by the rowdy locals!

I haven’t washed the Land o’ Free shirt yet, and it has come to take on a life of its own…..ripe, brother!

..smell the fury!

We get up and do the thing one more time!

Alfie takes a quick pre set nappy…

…don”t ask me, you’re the one who forgot the setlists!

Played a few songs, shilled a few platters, and our work here is done.
It is time for a fantastically disappointing chow down at Waffle House of all places.

There is not a hint of irony, not a wool cap or beard to be seen, no post-clubbing hipsters here–we like!

And you’d think they would know their breakfasts, but the food is gray and cold, takes forever to make….and, by God, hits the spot!!!!


Saturday: Van Nuys

The crew is grumpy as we drive out to the Valley, but we are consoled when we find Henry Rollins chattering away on KCRW, always a calming soundtrack on a Saturday evening.
That familiar, raspy voice and a wide selection of world music, just the thing before all hell- inevitable as the approaching last call— breaks loose.

Tonight Hank is spinning some good acoustic blues, of all things, naturally.
Oh, it’s not like you’d think he’d be playing non-stop SOA or Minor Threat, but sometimes the show is a long one-sided conversation that only teaches us how little we really know about music outside our little world…jesus!

…and that was Bad Brains…next up, Eedris Abdulkareem!!

But Henry on the radio, he’s become the Garrison Keillor for the black T shirt crowd.
A warm familiar entity just on the other side of the speaker grill, he guides us along the 405 until we hit the Burbank offramp.

Tonight’s assignment is the gala 15th Anniversary party for our chums at Big Wheel Magazine:

15? Why, I have underwear older than that!

Hard to believe it’s been fifteen years since the birth of Team Goon, but God bless ’em!
I mean, who wants to take over, you?
To become the masthead leader of the punk yellow pages, a job as thankless as lighthouse attendant to Stannard Rock– is that what yer gonna do?

Didn’t think so.

So do a solid and support Big Wheel as soon as you can, won’t ya?

Now, onto the cocktails!!

It is a grand evening, and besides our pals in Johnny Madcap and the Distractions and Billy Bones playing, those wacky gals from Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypasswhew!– are making an appearance!


Was it really before Labor Day that we last ran into these road warriors from Tokyo?

Since then they’ve criss crossed this wide continent on a relentless quest to play each and every burg that would have em.
Oh, we like to think we’re veterans of the road, hard working touring punk band and all that don’t ya know….

But god help us if there’s no terrycloth robe hanging in Anthony’s suite and better hide if we don’t have Alf home by 10pm on Sunday night to catch up with his Real Housewives of Atlanta!

Nah, these ladies toughed it out for two months + in a rather questionable looking van, rockin’ it out in any room that had working electricity and a microphone–check em!

..and the crowd goes wild…or is that just rude?

And then we climb up there and do our little act yet again.
The crowd is kind and applauds politely, patronizing as greedy grandkids hovering over their dying rich Grammy……bless em!

Bringing the houndstooth sport coat look back to punk rock, yo!

Wednesday: Long Beach

We’re sitting upstairs at swanky Fingerprints Records deep –deep!– in the heart of the LBC.
We take another peek over the rail at the empty store below, downbeat in 15 minutes, and there’s maybe ten people in the joint–goddamnit!

We’re here to do another shameless promotion for the new record, an in-store performance at Fingerprints’ cool digs on 4th st.

Record Store performances, they’re a funny thing, we’ve learned.
Absent is the self absorbed chatter of the drunken twit, as familiar and soothing to a musician as the white noise of an offline television is to the night shift alcoholic.

No, the people that show up to these gigs tend to be sober, respectful, and –worst of all!-they actually listen to the music!

It is nerve racking, I tell ya, to play under the harsh fluorescent lights and face the respectful silence between each song—
give me the heckling Nazis at the Observatory any day brother!!

We console ourselves by screwing around with the awesome merchandise while setting up……

Alfie warms up backstage….
Now that’s a backline: Combo amps and Ayn Rand hardcovers!
…yeh right–you wrote the fuckin’ book!

But our fears are eased when staff comes up and tells us that a nice crowd is waiting out on the sidewalk—whew!

So we go on down and do a few songs for family and friends.
We try to make the old ones sound like they used to, we try to play the new ones without peeking down at our cheat sheets:

Thank God that the attached Berlin bistro now sells beer and wine, for the crowd is loose and having fun.

And we thought it was going to be just another Comic Con Q&A session!

We tell a few stories behind the songs like we’re goddamned Def Leppard on VH1 Storytellers, we stick to the new ones and obscure oldies.

..and then me Father died and Mum, well, she went soon after…… And that’s how I came up with Pour Some Sugar on Me!

And then it’s meet and greet time before adjourning to The Pike!

We still got it! Signing boobs after the show!

We wrap up another extended weekend:

It’s with a wary eye that we glance down at the calendar.
We see the days circled coming up, count the ones past and canceled out with an X.

How much longer they-them! will put up with us, I don’t know.
But we leave the bags packed, as we leave for Portland on Thursday.

And we now know how the carny feels as he rolls up the tent before first light, its garish stripes slick with morning dew:
Ready to slink away from this provoked town and onto the next one, one blessedly unaware of the old tricks they’ll soon enough be sold.

Photoblog: TKO Record Release Party

…oh dear, what a rude logo!

We warned ya, didn’t we?– that you’d be soon sick of our shameless self promoting and grandstand pandering!

As you read this, the new release is finally available on the Hostage Records website, the radio shows have been called in.
Facebook is properly bombarded with breathless updates every 3 minutes, cheesy videos are hastily thrown together and slapped on the web….

The supermarkets have been christened properly, large novelty scissors in hand as we drop yet another satin ribbon to the the ground, soon to be trampled under the wobbly wheels of the herd of new shoppers.

Our work here is done!

Shame? There is none.
We stand at the ready for any opportunity to sell just that much more of our dignity, like Bob Denver hovering by the kitchen phone just prior to boat show season.

Kimm signs one for the sick kids…the sick kids on Ebay!

Hey, it’s not like we do this every year, so indulge us for being a little obnoxious, will ya?

So when the release weekend coincided with mighty TKO Fifth Year Anniversary weekend, we jumped at the chance to congratulate Mark and company by crashing his party and eating all the goddamn pizza!

After a grueling week of actually practicing and figuring out how to play these bizarre (and by bizarre, meaning less than 30 years old!) compositions, we descend upon the unwitting Brookhurst Ave strip mall and roll out the banjos!

..oh look, Andrew WK made it after all!

We set up under the fluorescent lights, amongst the import bargain bins and Poison Idea codpieces: Downbeat!

…obviously posed shot of the fellas getting down!
..Eugene fills in for Maria!

The crowd is in a strange mood, and several times we have to stop mid song and wake them up!

Putting ’em to sleep!

….I’m telling ya, this crowd was wacky!
Jim Kaa auditions for background vocals

And then it’s back behind the counter to shill yet again.
Copies are signed whether they want it or not.
Hands are shook, babies kissed.

We load out sweaty and tired at night’s end,
but it’s all empty pizza boxes and dried out Sharpies now.

And it feels good, to have something new in hand, and we’re getting back in the swing of this promotion thing.

So we take another stack of records, and unable to let a sale get away, we stand at the freeway off ramp:

Offering bags of oranges and 7″ vinyl cookies, we’re selling way more than just songs.

…just buy one and I swear we’ll shut up and leave!