I've finally come home. You guys have seen this right?
Most of that was filmed when I was a little kid growing up in the Oakland Hills. I'd borrow my parents' old school Sony Super 8 camcorder and make insane videos for hours, then play them for my friends (for their amusement and consternation).
Well, get this - this summer, I'm subletting an apartment under a house in the Oakland Hills that I found on Craigslist. Coincidentally (ironically?) the place is TWO HOUSES down from where I grew up as a kid. My parents moved us to the Monterey Peninsula between fourth and fifth grade, and I'd always missed the Bay Area. So I'm back to my genesis point before I go on tour again late next month.
I went for a walk today around the neighborhood, and it's so strange to be in a place I haven't lived in for sixteen years. Everything seems so small, but the feeling I get being back here - the air, the weather, the beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay from the hills - is unlike anything else. I feel a peacefulness I haven't felt since the mid-90's. So yay for synchronicity and sporadic connections to the past.
I'm also single again. I was dating an awesome Northwest girl for almost two years - we were even cohabitating - but we broke when I was on tour with the Aquabats in the UK a few months ago. Completely mutual and good. But on the freedom tip - it's really liberating to be in an apartment where I can do my own thing. Not that I didn't love my ex - I'm just saying it's awesome being on my own again. I once again have that the freedom and creativity that comes with being able to work on a track until 5 am.... which is hard when you're in a studio apartment with a girl who has a nine-to-five retail job... when my nine-to-five is nine p.m. to five a.m. It's also given me more time to hang out with my other friends and dedicate more time to my comics. The next girl I date - we're not moving in for a long time, and if we do, best believe it will be in a two-bedroom apartment, son.
So - moving on from my existentialist glee (which you all have in your grasp, by the way, mix some Jean Paul Sartre and Tibetan Buddhist teachings and you'll find that even though the world doesn't exist, we're free to be happy in its impermanence and satisfy our human needs) - the point of this blog is to sum up the rest of the Australian tour.
When we last left you, we were in Melbourne. I was just about to see my family that still lives in Victoria. There are four brothers by one of the daughters on my Grandfather's brother (i.e. my Great Aunt and Great Uncle's side), and they all play instruments. I was trying to convince them that they should start a band - like the Aussie Jonas Brothers - and I'd sign them to Horris Records. Here's a picture of the young MC Lars second cousins in Sydney, being joyful and looking related (the four brothers on one side and two sisters on the other):
The next day we went back to the monastery and drove with the Wherewolves guys to Sydney. Once we arrived in Sydney, we stayed with our friend Andrew from Taperjean. He lives with his parents in a big house in the Sydney suburbs. It was his Dad's birthday so the house was festively scented. The next morning Andrew made us an amazing Indian breakfast and then the Wherewolves guys picked us up for our show at Blush in Gosford on the Central Coast.
Between soundcheck and dinner, DJ and I went for a walk and made a flow chart of the next four projects we're working on in the next year or so. We started brainstorming guests and collaborations and beats. Not to give stuff away, but the list contains (but is not exclusive to):
- an EP with K.Flay
- an EP with Jesse Dangerously
- my children's / Christmas record
- my next full-length
(Side note - tomorrow I'm meeting with DJ and Flay to start talking about the EP... beats... concepts... schedules. All of that fun pre-production stuff.)
Anyways, after our dinner at the Poker Hall across the street from the Gosford club (these are huge in Australia and I've heard from Bill Bryson that gambling accounts for 20% of their GNP - WTF?), I went to meet up with my homie Dave, the drummer for a band that's very famous in Australia, Something with Numbers. I toured with them in 2005 in Australia then brought them out to America in 2006 with the Matches. If you don't know Something with Numbers, check out "Apple of the Eye" on YouTube.
At the show I got to hang out with some of the other members of the band and catch up with them - Tim and Scott - and saw their old guitarist Lachlan. The touring life is a strange one because you'll go out on a month long journey where you spend every second of your life with another band and then you won't see them except for about five minutes three years later. But those five minutes make it feel like no time has passed between encounters. I loved seeing my old Aussie rocker friends - they are kicking butt in Australia and deserve everything they're getting because they've worked like hell for it.
There were piranhas in a fish tank at the show and Dave joked that they were a barometer of a band's performance. It was funny - every time an opening band sounded good, it seemed like the piranhas were motionless and staring at the stage in rapt attention. When the opening bands messed up or weren't sounding right, the piranhas were swimming around like they were bored and ignored the stage. It was pretty hilarious. Here's a picture of the piranha enjoying one of the opening bands:
The next morning DJ and I had a meeting with our Australian label rep Andrew about the upcoming projects and next singles for Australia and got really excited. Let me tell you about Taperjean - it's a label run by our friend Andrew Perumalla, and he has put out stuff by bands like Cartel (LOL), Limbeck and their new hit Closure in Moscow. They are distributed in Australia by Shock, one of the best distributors down there, and have done super well by putting out a diverse roster of music.
"I only put stuff out by bands I believe in," Andrew told us as we ate Thai food and dreamed of our exciting futures. "I mean, if you don't believe in the long term sustainability of the bands you work with, who will?"
I've licensed EPs and LPs to lots of different labels through the years. Truck Records, Sidecho, Big Mouth, Below Par, Nettwerk... but I'm really happy with the current situation. Jaret Reddick from Bowling for Soup started a label with a producer named Linus Dotson, and they teamed up with our friend Carl Caprioglio to start a label called Crappy Records under Oglio. They have been growing the label and invested a lot of time and energy and financial resources into my new album. They then sublicensed the record to Taperjean and exported copies to the UK and Japan. They let me put my Horris Records logo on the back of the CD, but really, the album is a Crappy Records release, which I try to clarify in the interest of helping the label grow and reciprocate their support.
They are putting out other cool stuff like the Leftovers (from southern Maine) and Skyfox (from Denver). One day Crappy Records will be blinging like Epitaph, but for now it's a few hardworking dudes helping young bands get their stuff heard in an industry that makes it harder and harder to make a dime off of well-recorded music. So if you've downloaded my music illegally, I know I've rapped about "new media economics" and stuff, but please also make sure to buy the CD or get it off of iTunes - my label guys have been nothing but awesome and together we are going to kick ass with "This Gigantic Robot Kills" and their young rock bands and make Crappy Records happen worldwide (the joke is that the albums aren't actually crappy, get it? LOL BFS).
Anyway, let me finish up describing the rest of the tour. We took a ride on a ferry around the Sydney Harbour, looking at the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge - two sites that when you see them all you can say is, "Yeah, I'm in Australia". It's an unmistakable moment I always have every time I get to Circular Quay where it hits me that I'm on the other side of the world. Bill Bryson describes this in his book about Australia, "In a Sunburned Country".
We went to Campbelltown for our second New South Wales show. When we were being told about this place, everyone kept saying, "Ooh! Campbelltown is rough mate! Watch out!" and "You'll get mugged!", so DJ and I were slightly apprehensive.
But if you've ever met me in real life, you'll know that I'm a big guy, and DJ is straight-up gangster, so you might wonder why we'd be nervous.
Well, we got there and the city felt extremely safe. People were friendly - it was well lit, clean, and felt like an upscale Bay Area suburb. I'm not going to make any jokes about the relative dangers of boomerangs to AK-47s (sorry, I did the opposite of what I said I would) but I guess the scale of "dangerous" in Australia is a little different than we had anticipated. We went for a walk and got some food and DJ went to a barber shop to get his hair cut.
When we walked in, and because DJ is a pro in telling people how to shave his head, he was very specific about what gauge clippers he needed etc. Since we walked in the room, the mood was very silent, like the barbers were wondering, "What are these weird Americans doing here in this random Sydney suburb?" It was very very quiet and awkward.
DJ paid the guys and as we were leaving one of the guys asked, "Where are you from?" We told him California.
"You know we're Iraqi right?"
DJ and I then went on to explain our embarrassment with our former leader's international policy decisions and how we were sorry our country had messed up their relatives' lives so badly. They laughed and we all shook hands. The mood became lighter. Everyone was smiling and laughing about the awkwardness.
"Well, if you need anything while you're here, come back, let us know," they told us. What a nice thing to say.
It was a cool cultural exchange. For the record, Australian dudes living in the Sydney suburbs are super cool and friendly. It made me so happy that we'd just said peace to our redneck Former President No-Talent-Ass-Clown.
The show in Campbelltown was really fun and afterward we went back to Andrew's house. The next morning DJ and I woke up early to meet up with his friend Nicole and her boyfriend and they took us on a fun trip around Sydney. We went to Bondi Beach, Watsons Bay, saw an awesome view of the skyline, and went to my personal highlight of the trip, the Featherdale Wildlife Park.
Now, for those of you who don't know (which I'm sure you all do), Australia has some of the freshest fauna on the face of this planet. That's because all of the animals evolved unique on this giant, organically heterogenous island. That's why you see animals that you only see on Australia - some of the coolest and most resilient in the world. And because the ecosystems are so diverse due to the many different biomes in Australia, the animals have to evolve uniquely. It's like Darwin's Galapagos Island studies extrapolated onto a continental level. That's why (I've heard) the animals on New Zealand are so different - unique evolution due to a varied climate and geological separation.
At the zoo, we hung out with wallabies, koalas, emus, Tasmanian Devils, dingos, and all sorts of awesome animals. Check out our photos from the experience that reflect the enjoyment of meeting our new friends as North American cultural ambassadors:
While we were feeding the wallabies, the freaking emus kept coming over and knocking the food out of our hands. Here you will see a picture of the spilled cone of such a tragic interaction. Look how sad the wallaby looks. I put the "FAIL" logo on for comedy to emulate Failblog.org. I know, I'm hilarious with this Photoshop ish.
I posted a link to some of these on Flickr earlier today, and someone wrote on Twitter "You shouldn't feed wallabies ice cream." For the record it wasn't ice cream!! They put wallaby food in a cone so you can feed them better.
We went back into town to meet up with Wherewolves and rocked one of the most fun shows of the tour. It was in downtown Sydney at a club called Spectrum, a place I'd played at twice before. I saw a lot of my old friends, including Denley Healy who was at Shock when the Graduate dropped, and Stephen Wade, our friend at Select Music who helped us book the tour. It was awesome. The club owner let me help DJ and we danced until really late. As a finale I put on Men at Work's "Down Under" and we all sang along. It was like something out of a movie. A weird, fun, international movie - involving lots of alcohol. As they say, when in Rome...
Wasted, Andrew and I took a taxi back to his house. Andrew was rapping my lyrics back to me the whole way back - interpreting them with his own spin - and, much to our cab driver's amusement and consternation, we made it back to his house. You don't tip in Australia, but because our cab driver Babu was so patient with our intoxicated boisterous antics, best believed I tipped him nicely.
Andrew's half-awake Dad let us in at 4 a.m. and Andrew and I stayed up late talking about girls and how to know if they like you or not - and how to know when to call them v. text them. It's funny how little changes when you're in your mid-twenties - you still stay up late talking about what you talked about in fifth grade.
I took a plane early the next morning and flew to Brisbane. I met up with my friend Chanel, a CSUMB student who's spending a year studying in Queensland, and she took me on a tour of the city. We saw the Aboriginal art the museum, the man-made lake by the river, and went to hear a semi-funny street comic get shut down by the police. I bought a bunch of postcards to mail to friends but forgot to mail them. Is it still fresh if they're postmarked from San Francisco? LOL I don't know.
The Brisbane show was really really great. It was full of incredibly hot tattooed barely dressed Australian punk rock girls who kept coming up to me and hugging me and asking me to sign their CDs/their shirts/them. I'm not saying that this doesn't happen in America. Wait, it doesn't. I guess it helps having a top 30 hit song in a country where the women are all beautiful and have mad style.
I even got a few kisses on the cheek by a few of them - true player. But seriously- thank you to the bangin' punk rock girls of Brisbane for buying me drinks making my last night there so fun and hilarious. See you next time. I promise.
Before the show, we learned that one of my favorite extreme metal bands from the UK was there hanging out and had come to see the show. They are called Cradle of Filth, I found out about them in high school when they did a sick-ass cover of Iron Maiden's "Hallowed be thy Name." Do yourself a favor and check them out - if you're not a metal fan, you will be after hearing this. This a video a fan synced of that song to footage form the third Prince of Persia game... it works pretty well:
So I knew I had to give them a shout out. What song though? I don't really have any metal jams, and "Guitar Hero Hero", while it has a rocking solo, is not really metal. Then I thought, did I have any dark songs? And it hit me - I'd dedicate my song about one of the darkest poems by one of America's darkest poets, "Mr. Raven."
It worked, after the show their manager came up and thanked me for giving them props and invited me to come see them the next night. I said I'd go if I could reschedule my flight (it didn't happen unfortunately) but I got to meet the guys, and they were really cool and friendly. I don't know if they were big hip-hop fans, but I'd love to work with them one day. We could tear it up on a rap metal tip that will make Fred Durst have to change his drawers. You feel me?
After the show we hung out at the club and I said peace to Chanel and her cool friend from Chicago and headed back to Sam from Wherewolves' house get a few hours sleep. He and his kind girlfriend drove me to the airport early the next morning. I flew to Sydney, hung out there for an hour or so, and took the long long flight back to San Francisco. Because of the partying we'd done on the last few shows, and the lack of sleep, I slept most of the way back across the Pacfic. I'm still on Australia time but the jet lag could have been a lotttttt worse had I not adjusted en route home.
So that's it. Thanks to the fans who came out, thanks to the DJs who have been playing the single on the radio in Australia, thanks to Taperjean and Crappy for putting the album into stores, and thanks to Wherewolves for rocking our music so hard every night. We'll be back to Australia soon, we promise. In the meantime - we've got BFD this weekend and our big-ass US summer tour (more info to follow). We'll probably be back in the UK later this year too - I've been hollering at Ed who runs the Good to Go Tour, so that's looking good.
Love to all! Good night.
From his summer residence in the Oakland Hills, I'm outtsie like Bukowksi. (Feel free to steal that - I know it's not the last time I'll be using it.)