Written by Shaun Soho (Crash Midnight)
The “Fresh From Detox” Tour
We kicked off the “Fresh From Detox” Tour with a show at a little club just outside of Boston called The Beachcomber. We’d spent about a week or so putting up our tour posters all over the town. The Alcohol Commissioner of Quincy apparently caught wind of the show and the tour name, and decided we must be a bunch of degenerates. He started trying to make things difficult for us by being a general pain in the ass and demanding that The Beachcomber cancel our show.
Everything went on as planned, but all the bad blood that this guy had stirred up over the weeks leading up to the show ended up boiling over onto the stage, culminating in a rather spirited dedication of our song “Ain’t Goin’ Down” to the “dumb-fuck Alcohol Commissioner of Quincy who tried to keep this shit from happening.” While the crowd definitely was on board with that sentiment, we would find out later that word got back to the commissioner. From then on, we were officially banned from playing The Beachcomber.
That show really set the tone for what would become one of the most memorable tours of our career. We hit the road the next morning with our friend and roadie, JP (who had assured us of his wealth of previous roadie experience as well as his excellent driving skills).
Our first stop was in Albany, NY where the crowd was gritty and raucous. JP had volunteered to be the night driver as part of his roadie duties, so once we’d loaded all the gear up after the show, he hopped in the driver’s seat ready to earn his keep.
JP put the van into gear, hit the gas, and proceeded to instantly wrap the side of the van against a fire hydrant on the curb. We all piled back outside to assess the damage, and found this impressively long dent running about a quarter of the way down the right side of the van. That was the first (and the last) time that JP would drive on the tour.
About a month beforehand, we’d met this girl who lived in New Jersey. She seemed cool. I guess her father had played with Sly and The Family Stone at one point, and she lived at his place just outside New York City. She had offered to let the band stay at their house, so we figured we’d save some money on a hotel and take her up on it. Solid logic, right?
We arrived late at night, pulling our dented van up to a pretty decent looking brick house in a nice, residential neighborhood. Completely exhausted, we went inside and were led downstairs to the basement. Let me see if I can accurately cover everything going on down there…
The whole basement was caked in some sort of filth. There was a dog that looked like it had just run a mile through the sewer and was crusted in something unidentifiable. We saw (what we believed to be) her little sister playing inside of the dog cage, but since it was about 1:00am, perhaps that’s just where she slept. There were empty bottles of alcohol strewn about everywhere, and just a general smell of filth. This place would have been the perfect case study for Social Services, but since it was too late to go anywhere else, we just made the best of it. Somehow, I was gifted the upstairs guest bedroom. It was still crusty, but less so. We all sort of willed ourselves to sleep that night.
I woke up the next morning desperate for a shower. Being in a rock n’ roll band, we were no strangers to disarray, but this was some next-level shit. The shower stall was literally caked in vomit. You’d think the one place with running water would be the easiest to keep clean, but there it was, just covered in filth. I rinsed off as fast and best as I could, and got the hell out of there.
I came downstairs and looked through the backyard window to see Bo outside smoking a cigarette while hosing our drummer off in the yard. Apparently they’d both taken a look at the shower, said “hell no!”…grabbed a bar of soap, and opted for the great outdoors. Once they dried off, we said a pretty hasty goodbye and bolted.
With that nightmare behind us, it was off to our favorite New York City venue, The Continental. This place had posters of Iggy Pop and The Ramones on the wall, a small, dirty stage, and this ominous downstairs dressing room painted red, with additional red lighting for good measure. The door guy always wore this Chinese Raiden hat, and the bar did some deal with a tray of 16 Jager shots for $20 (which was almost a good idea).
We met these older ladies at the show who took Alex and me on this crazy adventure through underground bars where everyone was doing coke. Alex had a thing for cougars back then, and he hit it off so well with one of them that she invited all of us back to stay at her loft. When we got there, we discovered that it wasn’t so much a “loft” as it was a weird communal living situation where the living room was shared by like 20 other people. I think we still felt like anything was an upgrade from the previous night’s sleeping arrangements, so we settled in while Alex went off to the lady’s private room to go earn our night’s stay.
Somewhere in the night, JP decided he’d had his fill of touring, and split to take a bus back to Boston. The next morning, as we drove off in the van, our drummer – who always had this incredible way of distilling things into some hilariously accurate form – slid up next to Alex and said…“Hey buddy, so how was last night?” Alex just started smiling as our drummer added, “Bet it was just like fucking a glass of water, huh?”…
We had a night to kill before our next show, so we’d planned to hang out at St. Joseph’s College with a girlfriend of Bo’s. She had a bunch of female roommates that found a lot of ways to keep us all entertained. One of the girls was lovingly nicknamed “soccer balls” by our drummer (who had a knack for describing the female anatomy).
Alex did his party trick of imbibing everything in sight, spiking his phone on the floor – to the shock and awe of all present – and then passing out. This is the type of behavior that earned him the nickname “Timebomb.” Once that kid lit the fuse, it was only a matter of time.
Eventually, we all retired to actual bedrooms. All of the ladies had been gracious enough to either shack up with one of us or double up together and give one of us a bed. I woke up the next morning to find my “roommate” from the previous night was gone to some early engagement. As I looked over at my pile of clothes on the floor, there was a crisp twenty dollar bill sitting on top of them. I gathered my stuff and told the rest of the band that I was taking us to breakfast at IHOP.
That night we played a little club called Abilene’s in Philadelphia. The Philly crowd was really cool to us, and a bunch of people invited us back to their place to party afterwards. We pretty much drank until I passed out on a couch.
When I got up the next morning, I realized that not only I had been colored on, but some additional alterations had been made to our tour van during the night. The guys had decided on a late-night Philly Cheesesteak run, and Bo had managed to hit just about everything he drove past in the van along the way. To this day, we still announce a general apology to the city of Philadelphia onstage every time we play there.
It was on to Pittsburgh and this cool punk club called 31st Street Pub. I remember the stage bouncing all over the place as we careened through one of our best performances to date. The night’s line-up featured some great punk rock bands, and everyone wanted to party long into the late hours. We figured we’d pushed our luck enough at that point though, and I didn’t know how many more late night party escapades the van could handle, so we opted to hit the road to our final show in Alex’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus easily ranked as the best accommodations of the tour, staying at Alex’s mom’s house with ample space and running water. It also provided us with one of the most surreal clubs we have ever played.
Club 202 in Columbus had just recently been converted from a lesbian bar to a live music venue. Many of the club’s former clientele still frequented the space, so we had this crowd of some pretty hardcore lesbians mixed with hard rock fans and many of Alex’s childhood friends. It was a great (even if atypical) crowd that partied hard on the floor all night with us. After the show, some of Alex’s hometown friends had planned a bash at their OSU campus apartment. This was an all-out, kids-swinging-from-the-rafters sort of party.
After a night of debauchery, we went back to Alex’s mom’s house to sleep. She had a pretty expansive finished basement, so we packed the whole band (along with many new lady friends) onto the couches and in sleeping bags throughout the space. It looked like something out of an old war movie, but judging by the cascading waves of female vocal approval throughout the room, it sounded like we all had a pretty good night.
As we left Columbus and began our trip back to Boston, the reality of all the damage done to the rental van began to set in. I had taken it out under my name, and opted against purchasing the company’s extra insurance package. [Let me tell you guys, that’s not the way to go.] Our drummer, however, had all sorts of “connections” so he started calling around to his buddies. He finally found some rogue mechanic willing to work out the body damage on the rental van (a highly illegal move, by the way). We called JP to let him know he’d have a bill coming, and Bo was on the hook for the rest. We set out on a breakneck run home to arrive a day early in order to get the work done before the van was due back.
Screeching into a shady mechanic’s garage in the early morning light, we dropped off the van, knowing we had about 24 hours left to return it under the wire. To the guy’s credit, he knocked it out pretty fast, and everything looked plausibly good as new by the time we picked it up. It was after the closing hours for the rental company by that time, so we said “fuck it!” and just drove the van to their lot, dropped it off out front, and popped the keys in the night drop-off box. We haven’t heard from them since, so as far as we know, we got away clean…
At the end of that summer, Alex made the move from his tiny studio apartment to a much nicer two-bedroom spot on Commonwealth Ave in Boston -just down the street from Fenway Park. What started out as a nice little apartment for two people would devolve into a mecca for the parties and debauchery that inspired nearly every song on our debut album, Lost In The City. It became the home for all five guys in the band at one time or another and would forever be referred to as “The Crash Pad.”
Tune in next time for Chapter 4 of “My Rock and Roll Journey”: The Crash Pad.
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