Saturday, February 4, 2012

Call Me Pigtail 9/20

On The Road Again 
The wanderlust is building, the countryside is calling. Time to wake up and go outside, back out to where we were, the clubs and college towns. Let's get in the van and drive and drive and drive and fill foreign stages with our glorious tacky debris, blast their brains out with our new-found power, make them hate us, make them love us. It will be hard at first, there will be some empty clubs, just like in Chicago. But we don't care. We've seen worse.
Somehow the old band always managed to get gigs in towns from San Francisco to Winnipeg, from Memphis to NYC. We never drew crowds or made any money, yet they booked us again and again. Why? Well, that band looked good on paper. We had four albums and a decent press kit, and we know how to manage time and distance and money and promotion. But now, who is "we"? Does Skipper Zwakinov know how to pick up a phone, dial a number, and deliver a coherent pitch to a busy club owner? Does Pigtail Dick know how to package and address a stack of fliers with the correct date on them? Can Goodtime Dammitt read a map and tell the band how to find the club? No, no, and no. The solution is obvious, at least to us: Let Kenn, Rick and John book, promote, and plan the tour. But in that process always, always, refer to Skipper, Pigtail and GT in the third person. Deny any association. Put our logistical expertise and experience to work on behalf of these three idiots who are incapable of wiping their own noses and who, of course, are also us. Only they aren't. It can get a little confusing. Only it's not.
So in the little office from which he books our old band along with a few other local semi-losers, Kenn picks up the phone and dials a club in Iowa City and asks to speak to Dan, the booker. Kenn has booked our other band there many times, the two dudes are friends, and Kenn says "Yeah, Dan, listen. We got a new band over here. I'm pretty sure you're gonna like these guys." And then he goes into some detail about this hot new property, but never mentions he's in the band, or that it is in fact made up of three guys Dan knows well, we've even done a few short tours together with his side band, so when NDI finally does pull up in front of the Iowa City club and climb out and wander into the club, in our matching hats and matching snazzy coats and encounter Dan at the bar, he'll give us a "what the fuck?" look and Skipper will walk up to him and stick out his hand and say, with the most unruffled straight face in the business, "Skipper Zwakinov. Nice to meet you." There are a lot of Dans out there, a lot of clubs our old band played, and Kenn spends a lot of time on the phone talking up the new rock ensemble.
Those clubs where we have never played, have never been invited/allowed to play, are a little tougher to crack. So how does NDI approach a club for the first time? For most bands at this time, the standard promo pack includes an 8x10 black and white glossy photo with the band's name, a poorly executed bio with dubious claims and outrageous spelling, and a stapled-together packet of photocopied clippings from local papers and zines. Bands with recordings to flaunt, like our old band, toss those in as well. It's a conformist and awkward little exercise.
NDI has no recordings, no reviews or press clippings, no photos to speak of. We're unknown and stupid. But what the fuck -- it don't matter. We put one together in the same spirit that we set up the stage and make up our songs. So here's what's in the official New Duncan Imperials promo pack that we mail to clubs::
* a thrift store TV with the guts removed and a photo copy of Skipper's grinning face taped to the screen
* a hand-written plea from Goodtime to book our band "because we are nice."
* a copy of "Sir!" magazine
* a double handful of confetti
* two or three packages of pork rinds and moon pies
* condoms
* noisemakers and party horns
* an assortment of class-C fireworks
* a genuine custom-wrecked NDI straw hat
* random items on hand from constant foraging; stuffed animals, dolls with parts missing, Mexican candy, mismatched socks, pomade, off-brand cologne, trucker speed, old sunglasses, a handful of change, 8-track tapes, and so on.
No mention of our music, our sound, our history; no press clippings, no recordings. But we're pretty sure it's going to get us noticed. We start sending these love bombs out to clubs, plotting our first ever real road trip as NDI.
But where are we going? Ah. Yes. Iowa City, for a start. Dan will give us $200 for a Friday, that's gas and food for a few days. Then St. Louis, get an opening spot at Cicero's Basement Bar, a place the old band played, a weird and cramped little cellar with a support pillar smack in the middle of the stage, but they pay okay thanks to the restaurant upstairs. Maybe then keep going south -- can we get back to Louisville? Fuck yeah, pretty sure that'll be a good night, after the lunacy that transpired last time, probably enough money to coast for awhile. There's no place in Lexington that'll hire us, but the Antenna Club in Memphis does a lot of punk bands, too hardcore and cool for the old band to get a gig but the owner will probably like the TV we send him, so let's pursue that. Keep heading south! LaFayette, Louisiana! Send 'em a TV and a thrift-store hairpiece and see what happens. And since we're in the neighborhood, howabout New Orleans? We've never even tried to get a gig there, but clearly Skipper, Pigtail and Goodtime understand the concept of bars without doors and free shit giveaways. Send 'em a TV and a filthy Barbie Styling Head and see what happens. That's over a week out, almost two including travel days, and now we need to get back before we starve, die, or completely lose sight of reality. So let's drive north, and pick up a gig or two on the way back -- Jackson Mississippi is routed right, send 'em a TV and a Don Ho album and see what happens. Then maybe Carbondale, or Springfield. Some cheap-ass weeknight gimme gig on the last leg so we don't have to drive too far from Jackson. DONE. Get Kenn on the phone, get those packages sent out. The world wobbles a little farther off-axis. Invasion USA starts NOW.

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