The following are excerpts from a diary I kept during my days on the road with the band Crazy Town. Prior to the band signing to a major label, they were a struggling act that toured relentlessly and partied relentlessly, as well. Little did I know when I answered that Craigslist ad for a roadie what I’d be getting into. Due to the length and amount of hours logged into my tour diaries, I’ll be breaking this up into several chapters and separately releasing each. Godspeed.
Read Chapter 1 HERE!
Today was the day I’d meet my new employers and I was anxious to say the least. I had no idea where this adventure was going to take me. Seth wasn’t very forthcoming on the phone, so all I had to work with was his sketchy directions to the studio. He said he was “super busy cutting mad demos” and to “hurry the fuck up”. So I drove like a maniac to the ass end of Van Nuys; I didn’t want to keep my new boss waiting!
In my head I was picturing your typical recording studio. Something similar to a nondescript building with a buzzer at the door and lots of musicians hanging around in the parking lot, guzzling beers and smoking weed. But when I arrived at my destination, it wasn’t a recording studio at all. It was a run down apartment complex. I was confused so I doubled checked the address that I had written down. According to Seth, this was the place. A bad feeling started to creep up; it felt like my lower intestines were trying to force out whatever fecal matter might still be in my empty guts. Immediately, my mind shouted at me to run back to Costco and apologize to my old manager for calling him a prick in front of everyone in the hope he’d give me my job back. It was then I remembered that rent was overdue. I timidly walked up to the building.
I rang the buzzer in the lobby of the apartment building. No answer. I rang again. No answer. I could hear the loud thump of a bass track bouncing around the walls of the courtyard, so I knew I was in the right place.
From behind me a woman’s voice said, “Hey! Hey are you the new road bitch? Here! Carry some of this shit!”
Her name was Janet. She rented the apartment where the band was crashing. I would come to learn a lot about the ‘rock star’ life from her. First lesson being – don’t EVER tell a band that they can crash at your place “for a little bit”. She forced a 30-pack of Natural Ice into my arms like a bundle of fire wood. She said parking was terrible in her neighborhood. Or as she put it, it could lick her asshole. She stood 5’2″ and was covered in tattoos. She chain smoked menthols and talked like a convict. I was instantly in awe of her.
Janet led me through the courtyard. The features included an empty pool with a broken BBQ grill at the bottom, clotheslines strewn from one end of the upper floor to the next, and a good number of residents leaning off their balconies smoking and ashing their cigarettes as they stared at me. I felt like I just walked into a prison in a foreign country. My place will never be on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens, but it was a damn sight better than this. As we were walking, I suddenly got hit in the head with a red hot cigarette butt. I squealed out of shock. The owner of the spent butt mumbled something in Vietnamese and went back into his apartment. At that point, I wanted to chuck the case of beer and hightail it back to my car, but I soldiered on.
As we arrived at the apartment, the music stopped thumping. In fact, it was absolutely silent inside. She opened the door and let me go in first, which I thought was strange. Then I realized why. A fist came crashing into my nose so suddenly that I had no time to duck. I was still carrying the beer and as soon as the punch made contact, the 30-pack ripped open spilling cans everywhere. I fell to the ground and while still slightly disoriented, tried to get up. That was when I heard “Welcome to the team bitch!” as a hand presented itself to help me up.
I was still trying to gather myself, assesses my surroundings, and figure out if anyone else was going to hit me. There I was, in a shitty studio apartment with blood coming out of my nose. There were six big dudes standing in front of me while Janet, somewhere out of frame, was laughing her ass off. I was standing there like an idiot, still holding part of the now empty case of beer. The big dude that punched me stepped forward.
“Sorry bro, kinda tradition when we get a new roadie, bro!”
This was Seth. I recognized his voice from the phone. As I introduced myself, he informed me to never call him Seth. He wanted everyone to call him by his new moniker, Shifty Shellshock. He said the only people that can call him ‘Seth’ now were his mom, Jesus, and his probation officer. Judging by the erratic behavior I had witnessed, I thought it fitting. So ‘Shifty’ it is.
Shifty handed me a beer and an ice pack. He said the first order of business for me was to acquire him some crack cocaine… and he actually said it just like that. This shook me a bit. Usually roadie bitch work is a run to Guitar Center to replace a bad mic cable or to grab some food when the band is up late in the studio. THIS was a tall order.
“Look bro, I gotta know I can trust you, that the crew can trust you!” Shifty said. “My homie L-Doug has rocks and he’s in Pasadena. It won’t even take you long!”
As much as meeting his buddy L-Doug sounded appealing, I really didn’t want my first task for the band to be a supplier of crack rocks. I wanted to ease into becoming a drug mule, not get fisted into it.
I asked to be introduced to the other band members in the room because they were all staring at me like I should already be halfway on my way to get crack.
“Nawww dog, these boys are my homies. All the guys in the band have boring ass day jobs!”
Let me break this down for you – it went from Shifty in the studio cranking out beats with the band to Shifty hanging out in a shitty studio apartment that doesn’t belong to him making beats while a bunch of random guys hung out.
“Okay, so right there you got Whitey, Freddy D, Pito, Chump Change the God, and Gary, oh and you already met this lovely lady, Janet.”
As he went around the room and named them, they all kind of grunted. Gary was the only one who came up and shook my hand. He seemed like the crew’s punching bag.
“So check it – when you get to L-Doug’s house, keep the noise to a minimum. His mom has stage four cancer and is a real bitch about it.”
I was without words. Seth was so matter of fact about me going to buy him drugs from a man with a shitty nickname who lived with his dying mother.
Before I jumped in the car to make my first of what would be many drug purchases, Shifty let me hear some of the demos he and the band has been working on. At first, I couldn’t tell if it was a joke because to me it sounded like Limp Bizkit, leaning hard on the Limp. But Shifty was headbanging and rapping along to the track. There was just something about him. The guy had a presence I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This man practically caved in my face five minutes ago, but suddenly I was captivated by him. Then, he jumped on the coffee table that was littered with empty beer cans and assorted drug paraphernalia and started kicking the stuff off the table while rapping his heart out. Cans, bongs, and short straws flew around the room as he danced and sang with a fervent joy. He intentionally kicked an empty Jim Beam bottle at Gary. Gary ducked and just gave a smile that seethed with passive aggressiveness, like an employee who was on the verge of calling his boss a prick. And that was when I realized it. Oh god. I was the new Gary!!!