"A surreal melancholy full circle moment."
If I told you in the last 24 hours of this tour I hadn’t showered in two days, have slept on a bench seat in a van that smelt like decaying food, sweaty man flesh and a damp musk from clothes recently gigged in, eaten nothing but American fast food, felt pretty solidly hungover for two weeks and now had vomiting and diarrhoea which I’d miss a show for and which I’d pass to Mitch the following night, you’d probably come to one conclusion about doing a long tour in the US - this fucking sucks! But I wouldn’t change it.
By the fourth week of this tour the novelty of sleeping in the van and playing dive bar shows in a new city every night with the prospect of driving for six hours or so the next day had started to wear thin, but in a weird way it also feels very normal. Leaving our break destination of Morro Bay - brought me back to reality after 30 straight hours of being awake in LA - we headed to San Francisco, a stop which I was extremely excited for after weeks in the south. It didn’t disappoint between the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and its endless streets of tasty food and hipster bars, 24 hours didn’t seem like long enough. Oh, and sleeping in the car park above the Golden Gate Bridge is not a bad view at all, but bring two jackets and anything warm cause that wind is a cold, harsh bitch.
Then making our way further north we headed up Route One along the Californian coast and it did not disappoint; if you’ve ever done the drive along the Great Ocean road back home you’ll have an idea of what I mean. Endless winding roads with huge cliffs dividing mountains and the sea. This slowly turned into the huge national forests of Redwoods winding through mountains and rivers, all day I couldn’t stop staring out the window at the endless picturesque scenery. This lead us to Burlington camp site which we reached at about 8pm. After lighting a fire, eating some sandwiches and having a few drinks we thought we might have just had the best day of the trip.
How wrong I would be. The boys awoke to find their already pretty smelly lady-man drummer now with probably the worst case of gastro I’ve been through. I spent the next day telling whoever was driving to pull over as we made our way to Eugene where I didn’t leave the bed in our accommodation until the next day, our gig that night was cancelled. Next day I was feeling more like a human and we made the short drive to Portland where we met Andy and Tamara plus family and a cat that I’m pretty sure was the inspiration for Garfield. Again, a few drinks, the first real meal in weeks courtesy of our hosts and some of Oregon’s strong legalised weed and it seemed like a good night of sleep was on its way. Enter gastro 2.0 – “this time its diabetical”. A scary night where Mitch opened the bathroom door with his eyes rolling back in his head and enduring an extreme low from his diabetes which was triggered by the illness, after a quick moment of panic he started to recover and managed to get back to sleep. We left him to sleep it off and went out to Portland which like San Francisco was full of good food, bars, music shops and of course weed dispensaries, God bless America! That night Mitch barely managed to muster up the strength to play a show at the Holocene as we played with new friends Fur Coats and Liquid Lights, both bands putting on a great show.
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The next day we made the trip up to Seattle, a city I’ve wanted to visit since I was a teen. We found ourselves with a few hours to spare and so made our way to the park bench next to Kurt Cobain’s house 22 years to the day after he left us. Acknowledging that we, like many people across the world were changed by his music. The bench read notes of love an admiration from locals to people from India. I couldn’t help but feel had he not existed I may not be in America with my closest mates, making music and seeing the world. Definitely a surreal melancholy full circle moment.
The show that night was at the Central Saloon, a venue that had been around well over 100 years and had put shows on from some of my favourite bands. There we played with Medicine Bow and The Ruffians (their first show). Got chatting to some local people and had a good night. One of the boys from Medicine Bow was nice enough to let us park in his driveway for the night and not knowing we didn’t have an internet connection sent us a message saying he had left us bananas which we didn’t get until a couple hours on the road. Disappointed we went to IHOP and I ate a dangerous amount of food to make up for the lack of potassium in my system.
As I write this we drive the 19-hour trip from Seattle to Denver, a smorgasbord of beautiful scenery including the Rocky’s and the edge of Yellowstone and so many snow capped mountains, winding rivers, endless plains and deep canyons that I’ve never heard of but felt privileged to witness. We found another freezing truck stop to park up and I found myself thinking about home. My girlfriend, friends, family, food that wouldn’t kill me and a coffee that doesn’t taste like it was brewed in a construction workers boot. I expect as we head back down to the south slowly but surely there will be less weed, more billboards telling us to accept Christ as our saviour and my painted nails will go slowly back into my pockets for fear of some redneck will wanna make me his bitch. Not that people in the south have seemed unkind or unfriendly in fact quite the opposite, but I still feel a little uneasy with the amount of god floating about the place.
Really for me this country is beautiful anywhere you go; the desert, the mountains the cities, as long as its not Phoenix or Birmingham. The thing which really changes is the people the north of the US made me super jealous of a country which weeks before in places like Alabama and Texas had made me feel grateful to live in a country that wasn’t so fucking backwards. It really is a country of each end of the spectrum; Progressive vs Backwards, Instant friends vs Assholes, Bernie vs Trump, Love vs Hate… oh and Man vs Food.
Written by Lewis Walsh
The Love Junkies take their new single, Nobody, around Australia this May. For all dates, see theGuide or The Music App.