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Apes Spring Mini Tour — Part 1

The date is Saturday March 10th and I hereby declare that Apes Spring Mini-Tour 2007 is officially underway. I am currently sitting in the back left passenger’s captain chair of our beloved ’87 Ford Econoline Conversion van, better know as Vannie. It’s dark in here. Breck is driving. Jeff is in front, no longer the official navigator, as Mike B has given him a GPS and it has voice data software. And when the voice doesn’t direct, Jeff just turns the laptop screen toward the driver with the expectation that he/she will read the screen while driving 80 mph.

DAY ONE: We are 50 miles outside of Charlotte. Erick just hung up the phone with Mike B. We have learned that Mike B has a younger brother who resides in Charlotte, fresh from a divorce. Mike B has been a generous and dedicated Apes fan and friend for many years now. Even though he lives in Memphis, he has ventured to shows all over the southern and central United States. He never arrives empty-handed. There are always gifts and offerings of devotion that are very much appreciated.

Amanda & Erick Ape in the van

Amanda & Erick Ape in the van

Erick and Jeff are discussing several hot topics — Roth IRAs, flaws of the new Windows OS, and Jeff’s 2006 rebate earnings of $420.00. Erick has a mild expressive language disorder. He asks Jeff whether he has started contributing money to his IRS. I know Erick is referring to Roth IRA retirement accounts. I wait for a minute before I gently correct him.

We have just stopped for dinner. Erick and I choose Subway. Breck and Jeff choose Papa John’s pizza. Jeff’s “almost veganism” has intensified and he declares that he can only eat tacos and pizza on this tour. Many of his old favorite tour foods contain egg ingredients, thereby rendering them inedible. Burger King Veggie burgers are no longer allowed. Prior to our dinner stop, there had been extensive discussion surrounding Jeff’s childhood friend, Neal. Neal believes that Taco Bell’s ‘Seven Layer Burrito’ is THEE PERFECT FOOD.

“It’s ‘yummy and mushy so he doesn’t have to chew,” Jeff explains. He has left out nutritious. Neal is the guy who won’t swallow vitamins because they aren’t yummy. Neal also loves chocolate ice cream, but only when it has melted into a soupy syrup.

I started out the drive earlier today. We left late because I took an hour at CVS waiting for prescriptions. We are not in a rush. Our last Charlotte gig didn’t start till 11:00 pm.

Sadly, my mini ipod died a few weeks ago. I will not be replacing it. Jeff has given me a tiny free rubber mp3 player that holds about 20 songs. I have loaded it with a rather strange assortment of music and sounds. I have selected songs by Cat Stevens, Hall and Oates, Dizzee Rascal, Diana Ross, The Spinners, Toots and Maytal, Kate Bush. There are also some bird sounds, a guided meditation and some Russian soldiers chanting.

Just as I get onto Route 95 South, the breathing meditation starts to play and I decide to do the meditation while I am driving. The instructional voice lasts one minute but I do meditative breathing for the next 3 hours. I put myself in this bizarre trance so I can reprogram my mind. I go on a magical brain journey.

When we pull over at a rest stop, I am in a heavy natural high. The combination of low blood sugar from light eating today enhances this sensation.

We pull into the Milestone around 9pm. There are a few police cars in the lot next door to the club. Have refrigerators been stolen? That’s what the boys think.

Neal, the manager and sound man of the club warmly welcomes us. He was here for our last Charlotte show. He’s a talented sound man. I’m glad the atmosphere is relaxed as this is our first show in 4 months. I know I will need some extra time to set up, especially since I now have a TWO-TIERED KYBRD STAND. Wahoooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kleiny’s growing up!

We load in. Ever hear that phrase before? I meet some of the lovely fellows from the other bands with whom we’ll be playing. Sharing the bill tonight are Snagglepuss and Satanic Romantic. I meet Scott and Peter. Both are very warm chaps.

Satanic Romantic start the night. They are dancey, beautiful, high energy, campy, bath-house style cabaret. Mid-set, the man at center mic, opens a bottle of champagne, pours some on his head, takes of his head wrap, and shakes his geri-curl hairdo loose.

I slink off to the beer closet to change into my costume. Holy shit. It’s really tight. I guess overalls from Gap Kids AREN’T supposed to be worn by adults. I tell myself its okay. My only mistake is not urinating before putting on costume. I have to take it all off again to go sit on a fresh seat of very yellow female urine spray.

I’m psyched. It feels like an eternity since our last show. I put on the ski masks, fetch some bottled waters from the bar, and warm up the crowd with a voice-altered comedy.
We play. I fuck up. I am so excited during the first song that when we get to the 2nd verse, I go right to the 3rd verse! Good one! And it takes me about 10 seconds to figure out my mistake and regroup. My hands are really sloppy for the rest of the set. But damn, it was fun.

After the show, I am approached by a lovely lady named Joy. She is the wife of Darren who is in SnagglePuss. Joy generously offers us her home for the night. She describes a winning combination– spare rooms, clean couches, and a hot shower.

While Snagglepuss plays, I draw their portraits. After their set, I ask to draw Kyler from Satanic Romantic. He is a beautiful man dressed as a beautiful woman. He sits at the bar for me and I sense that he doesn’t want to sit too long. I rush to finish and thank him with a tight hug. He asks me to squeeze his breast. I do. Damn!

After loading out the equipment, we follow our hosts home. They bring along a very pretty girl named Stewey. Joy and Darrin have a beautiful, clean, colorful home. Drinks are brought out, snacks are provided, and our hosts entertain us. I pace, get online, and eat some snacks.

When I finally go lay down at 4 am, I am experiencing a significant amount of nausea. I don’t fall asleep till 6 am. But in my mind, everything feels great. I’m alive, I’m happy, and I’m with band. Erick comes in the room at some point and spreads out on the floor. He reported later that he a hard time falling asleep as well.

I hear the late night conversations continuing. It sounds like there is a lot of over-sharing.

I am up at 7 am. Despite having some new medications to assist me with keeping a more regular schedule, I’m awake and in the kitchen. It takes another snack to put me back to sleep. At 9:30 am, I’m awake for good. There’s old coffee in their pot and soymilk in the fridge. Crabtastic.

We split for Nashville, TN by 2 pm, but not before stopping at a strip of 3 major American fast food establishments. We split up and regroup outside on picnic benches. Erick displays his Taco Bell 7 Layer Burrito. He wants to illustrate for Jeff that it’s basically a regular old burrito (Taco Bell style, of course) and not the mushy diamond that Neal claims. Jeff doesn’t believe. He never ever believes. Its 64 degrees.

DAY 2 and 3: “Youth is a bitch,” says Erick.
We arrive in Nashville earlier than anticipated and embark on the search for food. We pick a Mediterranean hookah bar over a nicer sit- down Indian place. The waitress is sweet but is very slow. After a long, small meal, Jeff and Breck split and head to Checker’s. Jeff wants a chemically flavored Banana shake. Erick and I head toward the club. He decides he wants coffee from Krispy Kreme. I pee. When I come out, he is waiting by the counter, eating a donut.

Erick mid-chew, takes a break from spouting words of wisdom

Erick mid-chew, takes a break from spouting words of wisdom

“Look Kleiny, they gave me a donut, just because I have to wait for the coffee to be brewed.”

He looks extremely pleased. The lady behind the counter walks toward us with his cup of coffee and hands us two more free donuts. Good God. They push this stuff like drugs. Addicts. They want to make us all addicts. More sugar! More flour! Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!
We walk back to the club and head for the entrance. There is a larger man sitting in a pick-up truck outside the club.

He says, “Hey! Can I help ya?”

We meet the sound man, Brad. After we become acquainted, he launches into stories about doing sound in Nashville. He tells us he was just doing sound for a rave until 7am, this morning. He has been doing for The End every night for the last 31 nights. It’s consistent, he tells us. It’s easy, too. It’s the soundboard that runs itself.
“I get levels then I read in the truck.” No wonder he works here.

There is a long line at the club across the street. RJD2 is playing tonight and the kids are lining up down the block in anticipation.

Our venue is empty.

After load in and sound check, I sit in the little dressing room, drawing pictures. Erick enters. I announce that I will not be wearing the white overalls from Gap Kids. I will wear the white dress I purchased before departure. I think it should look good with red tights. I display the dress for Erick. He disapproves.

“It’s not white, it’s flesh colored,” he declares, “and I don’t like it. The overalls are cooler.”
“The overalls don’t fit,” I reply. “The overalls are made for a child.”

“Whatever dude,” he retorts, “you better make sure you are loud enough. Yeah, and don’t fuck up on Practice Hiding.”

Some members of the other bands come into the dressing room while I am changing. We meet the members of Monotonix, a 3 member band from Tel Aviv, Israel. We are both booked by Michelle from Panache and will be playing 4 shows together. We are introduced to Ami, Yanathan, and Ran. We also meet their American manager, Kevin Guthrie.

Apes and Monotonix

Apes and Monotonix

A woman comes back stage. She is shrieking at the guys in Monotonix.

“Let me come on stage with you guys! Let me come on stage and play an instrument! Look, I can play the clit!” she proclaims. She reaches between her legs and strums her vagina.

It’s Apes time. I go out alone. There are a few scattered people far to the left of the stage. I focus my dialogue toward them and they ignore my requests to come closer to the stage. In fact, they don’t really look away from their conversations. One nice girl, named Elle, touches my knees. I hug her.

I realize later that my failure to interact with the people in the room (not that there were many), throws me off for the whole set. I just feel weird and detached. I also feel like I am watching myself play and I don’t approve. I hate this feeling. But then a real sensation brings me back into my body. My broken toe is screaming at me to stop pounding my feet. I broke the 2nd toe on my right foot back in January. It doesn’t heal. It just swells and recedes, gets purple and fades.

After the show, my spirit sinks. Some annoying internal voice keeps pestering me.
“You are tired, your body hurts, your toe is broken. Why do you this? Why? Why? Why?”
No answer. Nobody’s home.

I draw pictures of the people in the second band while they play.
I don’t try to draw Monotonix. I watch them instead. Ami, the vocalist, starts the show with a long, slow, limping walk toward the drummer. Then the three of them (guitar, drums, vocal) launch into song. The drummer, Ran, lights his cymbals on fire. Chaos ensues. I like many of their songs but midway, leave to sit in the van.

Kevin the tour manager lives in Nashville and has offered to host us for the night. While we are loading out, he asks if we want to go to a bar.

“NO,” I declare. I sound like an ungrateful bitch and immediately regret my tone. We get paid $50.

Back at Kevin’s bachelor pad, we pile in his crowded living room. Jeff opts to sleep in the van.

The next day consists of a quiet drive to Atlanta, back to the Drunken Unicorn. This is our 3rd time playing here this year. But this time, we are without the draw of Liars or Slits to fill the room. Perhaps the 4 bands-bill will entice at least a few people to come out on a Monday night.

Jeff drops us off at Whole Foods. He is driving over to the Earl, alone, to get a black bean burger. He has been missing them for a long time. We are shocked. When Jeff finds something he likes to eat, he truly commits to that food. Erick, Breck, and I wander around Whole Foods. Breck is excited because he is going to get a Kombucha. We have been enjoying this fermented mushroom tea since last summer. Breck likes to drink them as often as possible and he hasn’t had one for several days. Erick selects a ‘day old’ discounted quinoa salad and struggles to pick a hot food topping. He finally decides on the African greens as they have peanut butter, and they are sure to have a little flavor.

I choose an odd assortment of tiny little things that neither go well together, nor taste good. Breck wisely gets supplies to make wraps for several days.

Back at the club, we sit outside for a long time. The weather is perfect, cool and clear. I feel no urgency to sit in the dark, smelly bar.

I talk to a friendly fellow named, “Bobbie” who is writing a book about the Slits. He wants to interview us because we toured with The Slits back in Oct.

The show is okay. The crowd is small, but sweet. When the night is over, the manager finds me outside.

“Sorry dudes, you get $40. But you can have anything from the bar you want — drinks, cigarettes, waters. I love you guys!”

We are the band that is loved by sound men, bartenders, and club managers. Erick takes 12 bottles of water to roll around the van floor.

We drive to Breck’s mother’s house. On the drive, we discuss the various people we have met that evening.

Jeff reports, “This girl came up to the merch table after the show. She kept repeating over and over, ‘when you go to south by, you better be on.’ I had no idea the hell she was saying. At first I thought I couldn’t even hear her. But then she literally repeated herself 5 times. Was she trying to tell me that we better play great at SXSW? Is it that hard to add the words ‘southwest’?”

This statement, ‘when you go to south by, you better be on,’ would be repeated in our van over and over, for the entire length of the tour.

Back at Breck’s mom’s home, Breck makes wraps for everyone. Laundry is started. I have only brought one bra on this tour. I wear it all day and play in it every night. Yummm…

I sleep in the scented room. There is a plenty of potpourri, scented oils, and candles, to mask the stink that Erick and I are probably projecting.

In the morning, Jeff takes many photos of Breck with dolls.

DAY 4: The next drive is to Shreveport, LA. We are playing a house show. There is a kid who lives in Shreveport named Alec. Alec loves music, bands, and shows. Alec loves them so much that he opens his home to these bands and invites them to play in his living room. He also opens his home to other local lovers of music. Tonight we are going to play at Alec’s house, known as Cooper Manor. We are supposed to play between the local opening band and Monotonix. We have mild concerns that we will have to play do after Monotonix as, quite honestly, they are a tough act to follow. The dramatics in their show, and the mess that they leave, are a rocky foundation upon which to play one’s set.

Breck makes a new friend

Breck makes a new friend

Breck and his new friend are pretty chummy

Breck and his new friend are pretty chummy

We start out late and have an 8 or 9 hour drive to Louisiana. Throughout the afternoon there are phone calls from Alec. The contract that we had received from our booking agent stated that our set time was “whenever the band wants to play”. When Alec calls to ask again about our dinner requests, he informs us that he wants the whole show over by 11:00 pm. The first band will start at 8, Apes at 9, and Monotonix at 10. We know we won’t arrive till 10:00 pm. I call him back and speak to him in a positive and warm, teacher-voice.

“Alec, this is what we’ll do. You’ll make a bunch of vegetarian curries. The first band will start at 9. The Apes will go on at 10, and Monotonix can play at 11. Okay? Great!” He goes for it.

We are way off schedule according to Jeff’s computerized mapping program and GPS satellite system. Jeff has lovingly named the female voice that speaks directions, “Candace.” Candace tells us we are one hour delayed. At our final gas stop, Erick pulls me aside.

“Kleiny, you better drive like the wind. We have to play before Monotonix.” Great. I love it when my band pressures me to speed.

I take the final drive leg of the journey. There are cops EVERYWHERE on the road. I see a utility van a few cars ahead of me. I accelerate and weave a bit to catch the van. My theory is that if I keep pace with the van, and drive just behind it, speed radar will catch him and not me. Also, he is going over 80 and I figure it’s a good incentive to push me to SPEED, SPEED, SPEED!

In the end it doesn’t matter. We pull up at Alec’s house after 10:15. It’s pouring rain. The food is mostly gone and Monotonix are already playing. We are starving. I take a bowl of the meat and bean concoction from a pot on the stove and start eating. A little Japanese girl approaches me. “Oh, um, that the one that I use ketchup. It have corn syrup.” I’m cursed.

Monotonix don’t hold back because they are playing in someone’s home. The fires are set. Ami jumps in a trash can. He dumps the remaining salad and scatters it all over the kitchen. He tapes youths together with duct tape. At one point, he touches a skate board that is cautiously held by a long-haired blond youngster, wearing glasses. The boy’s face becomes terror- struck and then furious. He grabs his skateboard and runs out the front door. I think he is running home until he reappears moments later. He has broken the skate board in half. I guess that the boy felt it was contaminated after Ami touched it. Perhaps he felt compelled to destroy it completely. I plan to console him later.

The heat coming from the show room is oppressive. Monotonix finish their set. We try to clean up a little bit but mostly we rush to load in as I know Alec wants to get this show over as early as possible. Its one of those bizarre shows that I will never forget. The combination of the heat, the salad on the floor, the broken skate board, and the dancing youth make for a memorable show.

After the show, I talk to some kids and then jump in the shower. Alec has offered to stay at a friend’s house tonight. Monotonix spread out in the living room. Jeff heads for the van. Erick, Breck, and I blast the air conditioner in Alec’s bedroom and settle in for the night.

DAY 5: It’s Wednesday. We are bound for Austin and it’s the first official day of the South by Southwest Festival, 2007. We are not playing tonight. Our tentative plan is to register, get dinner, and go to the Birdman Records showcase at Club D’Ville. All day while I am driving, I think back to past festivals. We have never stayed for more than a day or two but this time, we are staying till Sunday. I also keep thinking that it was right after this festival, in 2004, that I developed anorexia. I had been engaging in many maladaptive food and exercise behavior for years leading up to that time, but when I got home after that tour, everything got far worse. That spring season, I believed that I was engaging in a great experiment. I thought that I was practicing the only scientifically proven way of extending cellular lifespan … calorie restriction. But it became an obsession, one that would leave with almost no measurable body fat and seriously ill for 3 years. Anorexia is a bitch. It’s like being possessed. Anorexia claims more lives than any other mental illness. It’s also much more difficult to recover when it starts in adults with a history of being overweight. That was pretty much my case history. I finally got help around Christmas. At the present moment, I am ‘in recovery’. I am aware of the relapse rates. I am also aware that when I was actively anorexic, I was totally mentally and physically incapable of interacting with anyone or creating anything. I could go on and on about life with anorexia and life in recovery, but the whole point of my writing about this is to simply say that I am, for the first time, perhaps going to experience this festival, as a healthier person. I will experience the festival.

Erick and Breck on the road

Erick and Breck on the road

When we get to Austin, traffic is a mess. There are bands, vans, music people, industry people, press people everywhere, filling the sidewalks, streets, and bars. We double park by the Hilton. Erick and I head for the convention center. Instantly someone hands us black Miller Highlife hooded sweatshirts. Someone calls our names from above. We look up. Todd Cote, our old booking agent from Leafy Green, is waving at us from the 2nd floor of the Hilton. We excitedly wave back. We are looking forward to seeing tons of friends down here.

“Free shit! That’s what I’m talking about!” says Erick. We are all hoping that the next several days will be filled with ample amounts of free food, alcohol, and designer custom-tailored clothing. The Apes have set their sights quite high.

We learn that we get only one badge per band and each band member must be present to get their own wrist band. With our new hoodies, and a giant tote bag full of SxSW paraphernalia, (music magazines, condoms, and a hangover survival kit), we return to the van.

After Breck and Jeff have gotten their wristlets we park the van, get food, and head to the Birdman Records showcase. I can’t wait to see David KazNelson, Matthew Johnson, Paul Quattrone, Alexei, all of our birdman family.

There are lots of excited hugs. I run into one of David’s business partners that I had met during CMJ. We had hit it off during CMJ but due to the band’s recording and show schedule, we hadn’t had another chance to hang out. It’s an unexpected treat to run into each other again. This very generous person buys drinks for all of my band mates. They couldn’t be happier. We hang out at Club D’ville for a while until the boys want to go see Faceless Wearwolves playing down the street. We walk over together and as soon as they settle it near the front of the stage, I take off alone. I have the itch to wander and stare at people.

I get several text messages while I walk and ignore them all. Just as I start to return to find my group, I run into some of the guys from Club D’ville. They are going back to their room at the Hilton and invite me to join them. My first inclination is to refuse, as if I’m abandoning my band. But that’s ridiculous. I can go somewhere without them. I go.

Being at the Hilton is bizarre. Apes don’t go to 4 star hotels. Apes don’t really go to hotels at all, unless we are in Europe, and the promoters pick up the tab. The Hilton is bustling with the fancier side of the music crowd. We go up to the 18th floor. Room service is ordered. I get a delightful foot massage. Wow. I use the bathroom several times, only because its so cool to not sit in urine. No pee on the floor either. Or writing on the walls. When the toilet flushes, its contents go down.

I am invited to stay at the Hilton. There is an extra bed. My phone rings. Erick Jackson.

“Dude, where are you? Where’d you go? Everyone was looking for you,” he reports.

“I’m at the Hilton.”

“What are you doing there? You better not get any ideas in your head. Are you gettin’ weird? You are coming home with us,” he insists.

He’s right. I am going home with them. I had committed to driving them back to Adam’s house and I have no intention of going back on that word. I also feel weird about staying in someone’s room that I don’t really know. At 1:45 am, I take off and find my band mates on the street. I feel relieved to be back with them, for no particular reason.

I drive home. I should say, I drive to Adam’s.

You’d think a clean comfortable bed in a quiet room at the Hilton would ease ‘ol crazy brain to sleep. Not me! Not this nut job! I was too tense about getting back to Adam’s house in the morning. Arrangements for my transportation had been made the night before but the mode of transportation was making me tense as well.

Amanda and her sweet ride

Amanda and her sweet ride

I had to be in the Hilton lobby at 9:00 am, as that was the time that the limousine would be picking me up. Yes, I did say limousine. I needed a ride to a place that was 2 miles away and I had 2 hours in a chauffeured limo to get there. When the limo pulled up, I rushed over to it and jumped in. The transition from 87 Ford Econoline Conversion Van to limousine is not a smooth one but I quickly became friends with the driver. Since I had two hours allotted for a 30 minute ride, I asked him to take me to Whole Foods for breakfast. Next, I asked for the river. I wanted water.

Jason, the driver, and I walked around the nature path discussing every topic imaginable. I saw beautiful birds and 4 red-eared sliders (turtles). He dropped me back at Adam’s around 10:30 am. The door was unlocked and everyone was sleeping. The living room smelled vaguely of drummer sweat and dog fart. I had just taken a photo of the limo sitting adjacent to Vannie (our van).

Vannie vs Limo

Vannie vs Limo

Today we had two shows. We were scheduled to play a party for KVRX radio station and we were also playing the showcase for our booking agent, Michelle of Panache Booking, later that night. The KVRX party was being held at a place called The Indepedence Brewery located quite a distance from the downtown area. Many of the roads leading to the Brewery were so new that Candace (the computer) and our GPS didn’t identify them.

The female computer voice repeated herself several times. “Off route. Return to route.” I know, Candace! I know! Relax! Sometimes you just have to take a chance! Jeff showed me on his screen that we were floating in space.

It was an odd afternoon but nonetheless pleasurable. By the time we were finished, we had to drive straight downtown to load into the Flamingo Cantina. Due to numerous road closures and imprecise directions, it took a damn long time to make our way into the alley behind the Cantina to unload. I had to promise the police officer blocking the street that I would take only 10 minutes to unload and leave the premises.

Jeff and Breck decided to go back to Adam’s after load-in. Erick and I wanted to stay downtown amidst the chaos. We wandered for a while and eventually made our way to Mekong River for an Asian dinner. Erick firmly believes that he plays best with Asain food in his stomach. Hey, whatever it takes. We waited 45 minutes for our dinner. I watched several patrons become enraged and demand either food or money. I guess you can’t let people get too hungry or they lose their minds. Duh.

We headed back to the club around 9 pm. I started to get excited because I was hoping to see many loved ones at this show. The bands began and there was not one disappointment.

After our set, we hung out with friends and watched the other bands. When we were leaving, Josh and Evan decided to come with us. It seemed like everyone wanted to keep partying, even though it was really late. Well, Erick was the most determined to keep partying. I think that he thinks he is going to miss out on something if he goes to bed before 5 am. I like to stay out, too, but I have limits. By the time we dropped Jeff and Breck off, Erick has planned to go right back to the Flamingo Cantina. He wanted to pick up Michelle so she could lead us to the hottest party in Austin. I had already changed my mind. I just wanted to chill with Evan and Josh, quietly, maybe at their motel. Erick was relentless.

“Kleiny. We are going back out. How often are we all together in Austin? Hunh? Hunh? Don’t be lame, Kleiny! Don’t be lame! Lame! Kleiny! Kleiny! Come on, Kleiny!” I’m never sure if he thinks that saying my name 100 times will finally change my mind. But I’m weak. Erick never gives up till he gets his way or you disappear. Then the phone calls start.

I had already given up. We were already back in the van going to retrieve Michelle. She had received word about some party on a bridge. Did they say Hansen was supposed to play?

When we finally arrived at the bridge, there was, in fact, a band playing. It was a punk band from Milwaukee. Despite the sleep deprivation that was beginning to accumulate, I was dancing and having fun. But my buddy Josh tuckered out. When he announced he was going to start walking home, I insisted we all drive back together. It was time. We did stay long enough to greet former tour mates, zZz, from the Netherlands. They were still the tallest dudes we’d ever played with. When I hugged Bjorni, I think he wanted to pick me up but I clenched those little feet on the ground. We said our farewells at 4:30 am.

: I sleep like shit.

Jeff and I are sharing an L-shaped couch. Breck is sleeping on the loveseat. Erick is sleeping on the bare cement floor next to Adam’s room. He wants to sleep as far away from us as possible, even if it means snuggling with concrete.

Sharing an L-shaped couch

Sharing an L-shaped couch

My sleeping pills aren’t working as well as they did in the beginning. I’m also starting to drink tea later in the day again. Dumb. Don’t be dumb, Kleiny. Don’t do it. BREAK THE CYCLE!

We shower and head over to the Wheatsville Food Co-op for some fine hippie grub before our first SXSW show at the Hole in the Wall. After we make our purchases, we go outside to eat. Jeff and Breck sit on a bench. Erick and I share a table with a girl already sitting. I watch Jeff’s breakfast burrito fall apart. There is salsa all over the bench, the ground, and on his little plate. Out comes my camera. Snap! Snap! Ha Ha!

We drive over to Hole in the Wall. I park in the alley right next to the bar and hope that no one asks me to move the van. Monotonix and Kevin Guthrie are already inside. There is a screaming blond girl on stage.

I head to the rear of the venue and discover a patio bar out back. Kevin sits with me outside and we converse. He tells me stories from the time in his life when he was actively a stand-up comedian. I imagine its much more challenging to be a comedian that a musician. There is no music to hind behind. It’s just you and your voice and the faces of your audience, and either the sounds of their laughter, or the sounds of their jeers. The scariest sound of all is the sound of their silence.

Kevin tells me a bunch of his jokes. I make cracks back at him. The sun feels great and the weather couldn’t be more perfect. I go inside to watch a band called, “The Health.” I draw a picture of their drummer, BJ, while they play.

When Monotonix go on, they set up their equipment on the floor and gather the audience to stand on the stage. The next 45 minutes is utter chaos. Ami is rolling around in the trash can. Ran does a crazy drum solo. Ami is climbing on the bar. Yanathan plays guitar laying on his back. Ami is taping someone’s mouth closed. Ami drinks beer from a shoe. I enjoy their songs and the combination is very entertaining.

After clean-up, it’s our turn. I have pondering topics for the pre-show chat. What I planned was lost immediately. For some reason, I tell a horrible pedophile joke. Then I sing a song from “Evita”. I also ramble some other nonsense. Without the voice changer, this speech would be pretty pathetic. By the time we start to play, there is a great crowd of new people that have arrived. They seem to be genuinely into the music.

Apes at Hole in the Wall (photo by Adam Cimino of the Mall)

Apes at Hole in the Wall (photo by Adam Cimino of the Mall)

When we finish, our friend, Divya, gives me a ride downtown and I meet a few friends for a pre-dinner snack. I have been invited to a State Club dinner. I’m not exactly sure what this means except that I have been told that the attendees are the most important people in the music business … owners of major labels, licensing attorneys, and some very special venture capitalists. I was also told that other guests would include Bob Dylan, and guys from Talking Heads. Again, this is a very un-Apes like event, and I’m going alone.

The dinner itself is being held at a steak restaurant on 6th Avenue. When we arrive, we are lead upstairs to a private room with one very long table running the length of one side of the room. I sit with my friends but I see a few other people I know. Its not really awkward, as I thought it may have been. I have no problem talking to friends or strangers. I just wish I had name tags for everyone who was at the dinner. I met several people and don’t know for sure if any Talking Heads were there. I think Bob Dylan missed his plane. After dinner, I go with this group to a few of the showcases. We end up seeing the entire set of Dengue Fever at Emo’s.

My band mates are also at Emo’s. It feels odd that I don’t leave the venue with them. I end up going back to the bar at the Hilton and sip very expensive Bourbons with my friend. We engage in very stimulating conversation. When I am offered lodging for the evening, I accept.

At 1:00 am, I get a text message. One of my best friends, Evan, just arrived in town. He had gotten an unexpected ride to Austin with band friends from Chicago (where he now lives). This is an expected treat because we don’t see each other often. Wahooooo!!! The fun will continue tomorrow.

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