Today was a bad day… This morning, after driving home through the night from North Carolina, we managed to not securely latch the side door of the trailer when we dropped everyone off at Joel’s house. When we got back to our place to unload our stuff, I opened the side door and both of our suitcases were missing…
Moments later a Range Rover pulled up and the guy shouted, “You guys lose some luggage back there?”
“Yes!” I replied, still in shock.
“Well, I saw it fall out back there, so I grabbed it…” He replied
Oh. my. god… Relief flooded through me… Nothing like coming so close to disaster and avoiding it at the last moment.
He got out, popped open his back door, and there was my suitcase just sitting there… “Great” I said, “What about the other one?”
“Sorry man, I didn’t see anything else…”
The relief I had felt was instantly banished from my body by that wretched sinking feeling again… I don’t even think I was able to adequately thank the guy because my brain just ceased to function in that moment… I looked up and saw Natalie’s face… I couldn’t believe this was happening.
I jumped back in the van… Natalie, fighting off tears and panic, jumped in the Suburban and we headed back to retrace our steps. I called Joel and he popped right out of bed to start scouring his neighborhood while we were on our way… It was not a fun drive.
However I did think, thank goodness we decided to just head to our place instead of Columbia… Trying to retrace our steps from the five minute drive between Joel’s house and ours was making my face numb… The thought of trying to retrace the hour drive down to Nat’s parents… That probably would have melted my brain.
I pull into Joel’s neighborhood and I see his truck coming towards me… Adrenaline and anticipation are pulsing through me… Please let him have found it… Please let this be over…
So I whipped the trailer around to head back to the interstate and scour the on-ramps… It’s got to be there… As I pulled back onto the street I saw Natalie headed up the block in the Burb… As she got closer I could see tears and mascara all over her face… Having to look her in the eye and shake my head was the worst feeling… But we pressed on… We drove the route from our place back to Joel’s four times…
Even Ryan headed back in from Mt. Juliet to help and drove it himself.
… I couldn’t believe this was happening.
The issue wasn’t the shirts or the jeans or the hair dryer… Natalie doesn’t care about that stuff… It’s the belt that she wore on both her album covers… The jewelry that has been gifts from her family… The tools she’s been using to get ready for shows since she was a kid… That’s the stuff that broke her heart to think is gone.
The good news is that it’s all stuff and it can all be replaced… Unfortunately some of that stuff was awfully important to her.
I will ultimately take responsibility for what happened this morning, I should have gone back and checked the door myself before we drove off… To me today is less about the suitcase itself and more about the fact that we failed to do something so simple and it let her down in such a big way…
Obviously, for the most part, we are very good when it comes to this stuff… We have come a long way from my dorm room at 150 MASS Ave.
The problem is that with certain things, doing it right 99% of the time is just not good enough. There’s no extra credit for good effort with a lot of things in life and in this business. And if we are going to be ambitious in life and this business, this stuff matters.
Getting things right under ideal circumstances… When we’re rested… When it’s nice and warm outside… When we’ve got plenty of time… Is easy.
If you can’t do that then you don’t even deserve to play the game… But in order to achieve anything worth achieving, it’s about getting stuff done right when you are tired… When you are cold… When you are in a hurry… And every step we take further down this road, the stakes are going to be higher… The consequences are going to be greater… And the amount of things that we have to get right is going to grow.
There is still a small chance that we will still get her suitcase back. We will call in tomorrow to the police station and see if anyone called the cops when they saw it laying in the middle of the street.
If not, we will just start replacing all the stuff that Natalie needs. It will be fine… Thank goodness Natalie does not lust after expensive jewelry and clothes… And thank goodness we work enough that we are able to get it done… But in the end, it’s more about letting her down…
Even if I wasn’t married to her, I would still think she’s pretty awesome… And she didn’t even get out of the van this morning. She was in there writing us all checks for the shows this weekend and we dropped the ball… That’s a tough pill to swallow tonight.
Will losing this suitcase prevent us from achieving our dreams? Of course not… But even though it sounds obvious, every step we take back is a step we are not taking forward… Things will happen… Transmissions will die… Tires will go flat… Gear will break… You can’t control that stuff… Which is why it’s so important to make sure we affect the things we can… Like double checking locks.
However, I don’t believe that these things are random… There is a reason we are supposed to be learning this lesson again today…
Achieving big dreams starts with doing the little things right. Booking a tour to the middle east where we land on aircraft carriers and hang out of helicopters started with Natalie going door to door in Nashville and sitting at the bar with her press kit and not leaving until the bar manager would talk to her.
Getting a tour bus, hiring roadies, guitar techs, and sound guys… Starts with us being focused and doing the little things right every day… Getting rest… Taking care of gear… Making sure the 17 webpages we maintain are all updated and accurate… Being nice to the people around us… Double checking the locks on our trailer. All those things…
And it’s getting harder… Every year there are more moving parts… More things to keep track of… More things we have to get right.
But the good news is that means we’re getting close… That all the years of hard work we have put into this are starting to pay off… But we have to deliver on our end… Every day… Every show… Everywhere we go.
I know we can do this… Let the lesson we all take from today, whether we get the suitcase back or not, be that it’s time to gear up for the real push. It’s time to stop being too tired to double check the side door… Too worn out to think ahead to the show in front of us and see what we need to do to make it better… Too distracted to double check the details on the calendars… Too timid with the things we are uncomfortable with to get them done… There are good excuses for almost everything… But winners don’t make excuses, they just get it done…
Life is a game of inches and the inches we need are all around us.
We are staring at an opportunity to achieve things that most people never will…. But it’s up to us… The big things, the small things… We’re all in this together.
It’s time to step up and make it happen.
We freely admit that, as a band, we’ve been almost darn near negligent about getting new music out and into your hands… But that’s all about to change in so many ways…
We are about to head in to the studio to begin recording on the new record. We’ve been writing and planning and dreaming about this project for a couple years now and it’s hard to put into words how excited we are that it’s all about to happen…
But that’s not enough.
You guys have been so great to us and you deserve more. So as we’re working on the new record we’re going to be releasing a series of free new music as a way to say thanks for sticking with us and waiting it out.
There will be some of Natalie’s songs that didn’t make the new project… Some fun Stovall-ized versions of songs you already know… And God only knows what else… We’re crazy and capable of almost anything.
The first one is already done and we will be debuting it at 4:30pm central time on Natalie’s Facebook… So, set your watches and pack a lunch because you won’t want to miss it!
See you there!
Tonight we had another awesome show at Nino’s in Findlay OH. It’s so amazing to just watch the crowd and the enthusiasm grow each time we play there. It’s why our job is so cool…
However, that kind of fun and excellence is non-coincidentally related to one of the reasons why our job can be not-as-cool: drunken idiots.
For the record, the vast majority of the drunk people at our shows are not idiots… They are actually a lot of fun. But alcohol can have some amazing effects on people and sometimes those effects aren’t great.
So tonight, we finish the show and we’re out in the club mingling… Meeting new fans… Hanging out with our favorite Findlations (My new word for people from Findlay… You’re welcome) Just having a great time.
Finally it comes time to pack up… No big deal, we do this a lot…
So we start hauling the cases out of the back room, unplugging, wrapping, and dissimulating everything the same way to do every night… I make my usual rounds gathering everyone’s monitor packs and headphones… When I went to grab Natalie’s microphone off of her stand like I do every show, I noticed it wasn’t there… No big deal, someone probably just packed it up… So I looked in the case… No dice… So I asked the guys if they had seen it or if they thought Natalie walked off stage with it… Negatory all around. So I went and found Nat and asked her if she had taken it or put it somewhere strange… Nope. Then the sinking feeling started to sink in…
Someone stole her freaking microphone… You’ve got to be KIDDING ME?
No… That couldn’t be… We were all out there in that room the whole time, along with about a hundred other people… The room isn’t that big… And we love Findlay… Findlay would never do anything to hurt us. It had to be out there somewhere.
So I headed back out to the stage where I could already see the guys tearing the club apart looking for it… The looks on their faces weren’t good.
Someone stole her freaking microphone…
Now mind you, Natalie’s vocal mic is one of the few things we’ve splurged on… Is it the most expensive mic out there? Dear God no… Some microphones are ridiculously expensive and this ain’t one of those… But it’s expensive enough that losing it would definitely put me in a sour mood, to say the least.
By now Rob, the club’s manager… Nino, the owner… And the rest of the bar staff were on the case… Looking under everything, behind everything, inside everything… Nothing…
All of a sudden Rob looked up with a fire in his eye… “I’ll be right back… I’m gonna get this…” And walked off.
A few minutes later I see Rob with a couple girls in the corner having a very intense conversation… For a second I could make out one of the girls saying, “But I really don’t want to get in trouble…” and Rob replying, “You won’t be in trouble if you just give me the name…” Then it trailed off…
A few minutes later Rob comes up to us and says, “Alright, I’ve got some names… Give me a few minutes…” And he walked off…
In the mean time, we plotted a course tomorrow to try and find somewhere we could get a replacement, because we all knew there was no way it was coming back… It’s too small and too easy to hide… It sucked, but at least we figured that the joke was on them because, nice mic or not, it’s wireless – so it’s absolutely no good without the receiver unit… It would just be the most beautiful paperweight that jag-weed ever owned.
Another fifteen minutes pass… We’re over it… We were packing up and moving on with our lives… When all of a sudden, here came Rob from the back room…
“It will be back in the bar in 10 minutes…”
Holy crap… How on Earth did Rob pull that off?
Because he’s the man, that’s how…
Rob went around and started asking everyone until he found a couple girls that heard some people drunkenly mumbling something about a microphone as they were paying what I can only imagine was a gigantic bar tab… Then after some polite and respectful coercion he got some names…
Thankfully Findlay is a pretty small town so it didn’t take him long to get some phone numbers and start dialing… He told every person he could get on the phone that he had video tape of someone walking off with the microphone and that people in the bar identified a person in their group as the thief and that if the mic wasn’t back in the bar in 10 minutes his next call was to the cops… After some brief mumbling, backpedaling, and denials… They finally said… “Umm, we’ll be there in a 10 minutes”
Nino’s doesn’t have video cameras… How awesome is that?
Alcohol is a hell of a drug….
Ten minutes later, just as promised, Rob got a call saying, “It’s in the hallway by your front door…”
So, as ninja-like as they had left, they had returned… With the microphone. Boom!
And that’s why, from now until eternity, Rob and everyone else at the bar will be known to us as CSI: Nino’s…
So thank you again to Rob, Nino, and everyone else that assisted them in getting the mic back. We would have been fine without it, but this night sure would have ended on a much crappier note and with a much lamer story.
Good night and God bless.
Over the past couple of years we have had the great fortune to do two tours with the band Safetysuit. Over those two tours they have become one of our favorite bands and some of our very favorite people.
On our last trip together in Asia they were working on finishing up the tracks for their new record. As they were working on the record their label imprint imploded and they were absorbed into their parent label. A lot of times this means big trouble for a band. New staff, new priorities, new cooks in the kitchen… It can get messy.
We could tell they had their worries about the situation… How could they not… But they were also so excited about the music they were getting ready to release… And they deserved to be… The pieces and demos they played for us back then sounded amazing… And they weren’t even done.
After we all got home from Asia, they started working on getting the record out… They would set a release date for it and then the label would push it back… They would set a new one… The label would push it back… (That is also not a very comforting thing for a band in their position)
They were constantly in our thoughts and prayers. They are such a great band and such wonderful people that we really wanted everything to come together for them.
Well, the record finally got it’s digital release last week… It went straight to #2 on the iTunes charts and after a day or so they even bumped Adele’s record off the #1 spot for a while… Which is a gigantic accomplishment… Huge…
The pride and vindication they must have felt after working so long to get that record out… Through all that uncertainty… It must have been incredible.
Well, tonight was their CD release show here in Nashville. It was in a relatively small club so it sold out weeks ago and we’ve been looking forward to it for a while.
We got there early to make sure we could get a good spot… It was packed… Seriously packed… The energy was palpable… It was amazing.
When they finally took the stage the crowd went bananas… They started playing the record down track by track… Killing it the way they always do… And the crowd was eating it up. We’ve seen them a bunch of times from behind the stage, but this was our first time out front with the fans… Man, I didn’t think I could like their show much better than I did… But it happened.
Then all of a sudden, about six songs into the set… Doug, their lead singer made an odd and deliberate run backstage… The lights went down, but you could still make out the faces of the other guys… Something was wrong… After a couple minutes of confusion and on-stage huddling their drummer Tate approached the mic…
Evidently Doug had been really sick all day… He thought he could make it, but he was wrong… He had just made it off stage before collapsing… They were all visibly shaken and concerned… After a couple more minutes Doug made his way back out, supported by their tour manager, to uproarious applause… He made one last attempt to get a song going, but he just didn’t have it in him…
We were on tour a couple years ago with them when the entire tour came down with dysentery… We played three shows with puke bags hidden behind all the amps… These guys are not wusses… So we knew this had to be really bad. You could see it all over his face… He was wrecked. And with tears in his eyes he had to walk away from a packed-to-the-rafters hometown crowd on what should have been the most triumphant and spectacular CD release show… I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. Well, I can… But I don’t want to.
They finally got him off stage, the crowd cheering him along and showing their love the whole way… But the band was still up there… Where can you go from there? All these people have paid to be part of this night, but you have no singer…
After a couple minutes of huddling and head-scratching Tate walked to the mic and asked if the crowd wanted to just sing for Doug… The place went crazy… So Dave, Tate, and Jeremy picked up their gear and finished out the night playing the band’s biggest songs with the crowd and a couple singers from their opening bands belting out every word at the top of their lungs… Holy s*** they have some amazing fans.
I know it’s not what they wanted or how they wanted it to go, but everyone in the room tonight got to be part of something very special. And that’s what they really wanted in the first place. To share something special with the band…
It takes a real band to walk up to the edge of disaster like that during such a huge show, pull it back, and not only salvage it, but leave their fans feeling like they were just a part of something great… No matter how far from the plan it was.
So tonight, like many others, I can honestly say that Safetysuit are my heroes. I just hope they can all see tonight the way their audience did… And we all hope Doug feels better and is back to 11 very soon.
After an amazing three days aboard the Stennis it was finally time to get back to land for our two shows in Bahrain. This was our second time in Bahrain and my first time returning to a foreign country for the second time. (Try and diagram that sentence)
I remember the very first moment I stepped foot in Bahrain… It was a beautiful summer night when the marvelous pressurized door of Boeing 737 swung open to reveal a world I had never dreamed of experiencing… A world where it’s 105 degrees at 10pm on a Tuesday… A world where thinking thoughts is enough to break you into a full-body sweat… A world where… Well… Where it’s really hot.
Much hotter than I imagined… That’s my point.
I had never been to anywhere in the Middle East before… Shocking, I know… I am a drummer after all… But with all that’s happened in America over the last decade or so, I would be lying if I said there wasn’t an odd balancing act between curiosity and apprehension going on inside of me.
Bahrain is an amazing place… It’s viewed as sort of the Las Vegas of the middle east. It’s a predominantly Muslim country, but it is not governed by religious law. You can drink, you can smoke, you can wear western clothes, you can even be Catholic… They don’t care.
And neither do a lot of the Saudis evidently because on the weekends they flood across the bridge to wear jeans, drink beer, eat Kentucky Fried Chicken, and whatever else they want to. The Saudis we were hanging out with in the bar liked to joke that “Allah can’t see across the bridge”. (And in this context, by “Allah”, they mean the head-cracking hand-chopping-off Saudi religious police.)
It’s actually kind of eerie in way when you first start driving around Bahrain because in a lot of ways it looks like you just got off the interstate near a mall in Virginia somewhere… There’s the McDonald’s, there’s the Applebee’s, there’s the TGI Friday’s… The signs are just all in Arabic.
It just goes to prove that literally everyone loves 2-for-1 taquitos and jalapeno poppers.
Our situation in Bahrain was actually very cool… We got to stay in a hotel off base, we got to drink beers with the locals in the bar, we even got to walk around town a bit. My very favorite moment of cross-cultural-mind-bending-ridulousness was when we were out to dinner one night on the first trip and my brain just started buzzing… I had step and back and hit the pause button so I would never forget it… There we were sitting in Bahrain… In a Mexican restaurant… Listening to a Filipino singer… Singing a country song from Nashville… Written by an Australian country singer. BOOM!
I’ll give you a moment to gather your thoughts after that one…
However, even with the KFC and widespread western-tolerance, I won’t lie – it’s a little odd the first time you get passed on the sidewalk by a group of women in head-to-toe Burqas… Or see cars drive by with the husbands in the front seat and the wives in the rear… You’re definitely in another part of the world and there’s no way to forget that.
But the beautiful thing about Bahrain is that right behind the group of women in burqas there’s another group decked out in western fashion… And right behind that car is another one with the wife driving and a rosary hanging from the rear view… And it was all fine.
In fact, I even found the attitudes toward Americans to be much better out and about in Bahrain than I did in southern Italy. Which, on one hand, shouldn’t necessarily be surprising… But after watching the news here in America for the last decade, it was.
Not to say that there aren’t religious and political battles being fought in Bahrain… There are.
Our friend Hussein, one of the locals who works on base who escorted us a lot, had to move his kids out of his house and in with relatives because the violence and prejudice had gotten so bad in his neighborhood… You see Hussein is a Muslim… Just not the right kind evidently.
Hussein is Shi’a Muslim, who are the majority in Bahrain. While the King, the royal family, and most of the government are Sunni Muslims… From what I understand it’s a lot like Catholics and Protestants… Same basic religion with some small, but very important differences in interpretation…
But my point is not to devolve in to a Bahrainian civics lesson… My point is that my time in Bahrain gave me a lot of hope. Tolerance and diversity work the same way over there that they do over here. The problem is never really these people or those people… This religion or that religion… It’s with the crazies and the not-crazies.
Crazies are the worst… They always have the loudest voices, the worst ideas, and they’re willing to ruin everything to get them heard.
And the shows were pretty good too… ; )
Now it’s late, I am soap-boxed out, so I will leave you with some pictures and I will bid you good morrow.