|All photos by Sean M Flynn|
Today, we’re excited to kick off Cold War Kids’ Tour Diary Series with an entry by lead singer Nathan Willett, written after the St. Louis performance. Enjoy!
Woke up on the bus and put on running clothes. Went outside. Way too cold. Knew that I needed a warmer jacket to run and thought about the perfect Dri fit jacket that I asked Nike to send me, which they did, for free, overnight, and I still left it at home for no logical reason. These tiny oversights are the great tragedies of touring. Life on the road. You cannot have it all. But you must try. You must try to eat well, workout, read your book club book that you bought in Australia and do not like, read your super inspiring fun book “Ask the Dust” that Dom let you borrow, watch Newsroom for entertainment, stretch, stay organized. Fight the battle against monotony. Not too much beer. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Drink only vodka sodas to stay fun and keep the Cal’s down but not so much to mess with the Voice which is has been barely hanging on for two months, demanding a whisper speak voice all day long which communicates a ‘please feel sorry for me cause I’m the lead singer’ type of tone that I am embarrassed by but I must whisper nonetheless. Also do not miss out on how truly unique this whole experience is by busying yourself with things that you could be doing at home. Be outgoing. Talk to the locals. Give people your time. And the crew. Encourage the crew that they are working harder than anyone and we appreciate it. You must try to get all kinds of things done like songwriting and reading and journaling and soul searching and profound experience for human research of all sorts that may assist in your experience. But also know that is kinda bullshit. Cause whatever job you may have for the second half of your life when you no longer have this job, all this travel, all this experience will probably have no relevance. Because you have chosen a job that you has already lasted far longer than you or your friends or your parents ever dreamed it would’ve. And for that you are eternally grateful. You have chosen the job of an indie rock singer.
Our merch guy Dom is walking to a coffee shop across the street. Dom decided to come with us on this tour to do merch, and I am pretty sure three days in has realized that this is not the fun, hop in the van with your friends and travel America experience he hoped to have, but rather the load in to a venue and do a mind numbing count of sweatshirts, t shirts, CD’s and vinyl every morning till night with only a short dinner break before doors. I am feeling a little guilty about this, but this is often the story with friends on tour. I needed to go to the bathroom so I followed him there. He asked the Coffee Shop Girl about a good running trail. I took this as my opportunity to slip in to the restroom without buying something. As I came out the running trail explanation was still happening with other people joining in and I listened. Huge park nearby. Bigger than central park. We left. Saw Maust on the bus and he told me our old friend Beeman was picking him up. I knew I probably wouldn’t get a run in if I joined them but I weighed the cost of Black Hole of Lonely vs. not Running and knew I should get in the car.
We went to a restaurant that was very far from the venue. Probably 4 miles. I weighed the cost of this distance since it meant I could not walk for reasons of distance, danger of neighborhoods and uber app not working. I like a situation I can get out of easily. To not get stuck. But Beeman is great to be with. We know him from college, Maust knows him from grade school. Beeman used to do everything for us on tour; monitors, merch, Front of House, Tour Managing. But now he is in St. Louis and sort of lives like a king. Owns a huge building on an up and coming street with a bar downstairs, an amazing recording studio that he built out himself, much of the wood and supplies hijacked from other abandoned buildings. Resourceful. I am a little jealous. I admire living in a place where you could do so much. Not just survive. But like be a real adult that makes big investments in an up and coming city.
As we pull away in Beeman’s car, three people are frantically running out of the coffee shop and down the street. One of the people is the Coffee Shop Girl and the other is a nice guy who told us about the route. They are chasing first guy up a hill. Beeman and I pop out of the car and animal instinct turns on. The Coffee Shop Girl gives up running and looks at us. ‘What happened?’ we ask ? ‘Stole my tips’ she says. We say ‘oh, bummer’ and come off of attack mode. Not worth tackling some guy over 9 bucks.
Being a touring musician, an enormous of amount of time is wasted. Much of my brain power is spent attempting to cut down that Black Hole of Loneliness. There is an opportunity cost where the use of brain power to weigh the best choice of how to spend ones time can lead to enough stress to then lead one in to the Black Hole of Loneliness even though enormous efforts were made to fight it. The stress of making the wrong choice is the other thing to avoid. Wrong choices are anything that amounts to huge amount of effort put in to a task or journey that is basically unfulfilling. We all experience the same thing at home but its different on tour because of the importance of keeping sane, staying on an even keel in order to play a show every night with the most amount of energy. To be caught up in the moment but to be aware of having a home, being rooted, from somewhere else, to have a family and identity here as well as there. To miss it just the right amount. To keep the mind sharp.
I am an introvert and need time alone. But time alone in a city that is icy streets cold without clear choices for food, in the absence of a controlled space like a hotel room or cozy backstage, I may find myself alone with the peace that my mind and spirit desire, but so quickly am hit with the necessities of the body. Futility. To be in a hotel room and need food. No room service. Nothing nearby. Ignoring the ache of the stomach to appreciate the stillness and comfort of a room: Opportunity cost.
We arrive to the restaurant and start to order. Beeman speaks to the cashier who has a messy pixie haircut and is pretty. Beeman tells her she “looks tired.” She is annoyed and kindly explains that that is the one thing you should never say to a woman. Beeman persists, that he only speaks the truth. I am leaping out of my skin. I overcompensate and tell her she looks great today. Pixie asks if Beeman ever told his wife that she “looks tired,” and Beeman says simply that he has never seen his wife look tired. This is going bad. She barks – “What do you want.” We order. Beeman pays. I learn later that she is married and Beeman is close friends with her so it is not as weird as I thought.
Breakfast was really good and I’m so glad I’m here. Poached eggs with lentils and sour cream. Maust and I told Beeman the story of watching Daniel Lanois perform at his legendary Silverlake Mansion. He loves these stories. Stuff like this doesn’t happen in St. Louis. Weird mythical stuff that we are lucky to see. When I mention that the Coffee Shop Girl said Forest Park is bigger than Central Park he says everyone in St. Louis says that and its annoying. He says his friends in St. Louis are the most talented people he’s ever met. They are engineers and architects and poets and wilderness experts all in one person. But they don’t know how to make money, he says. That’s what LA does know how to do. We have to make money to pay rent on our tiny apartments. We could never dream of having the kind of studio space that Beeman has. But that’s the trade off of living in the midwest and having a utopia recording studio with cheap rent. Less action, less bands coming through.