Ever since their debut record was released in 2012 their music has spread virally to far corners of the world, taking Tales of Murder and Dust around Europe for more than 40 concerts since 2014. Recently their status as the most successful psych act to ever come out of Aarhus was solidified when they recently signed with Fuzz Club Records for their latest LP “The Flow in Between”. Now they are taking on a whole new continent.
Already in 2015 the band had caught attention in the US by licensing a song to Cleopatra Records for one of their famed Psych box compilations but now they have accomplished a feat reserved for the very few; An invitation to the Psycho Las Vegas 6-date Roadshow followed by an appearance at the massive Psycho Las Vegas Festival.
Last week the band returned from the desert and we got a hold of a diary that we assigned them to do for us. This is the result.
Day 1 – Hello Las Vegas, Hello Epic Drive
We shouldn’t really call it “day one “or “day two” for the next 48 hours. It is just some 48 hours, not really a sensible day/night division. Period. It is one epic journey from Las Vegas to Chicago: the first test of stamina.
Due to some changes in the tour plan, we had to start the tour in Chicago. But unfortunately our flights were booked to Las Vegas and could not be changed, so we had to make the grueling journey from Las Vegas to Chicago in one go. Yes: in one go. We were told we would have to go straight from the plane to the tour van, so we had already set our minds to not getting any sleep – a familiar feeling from being on tour. So, nothing new. Or perhaps, we just couldn’t wrap our heads around the insanity.
Already when we left Aarhus early morning on the 16th of August, that surreal feeling surrounding the journey we were about to take on started creeping in.: The fact that we are actually going to the US with everything taken care of by someone else – we just have to show up! – is pretty surreal! albeit in a very affirmative way.
And also: The fact that we have to drive across the US, a road trip people would normally spend weeks doing, as the first thing on the itinerary, that too seemed – and turned out to be – surreal.
When we landed in Las Vegas we immediately ran into some members of The Cosmic Dead whom, among others, are a part of the same Road Show as us. So we grabbed a taxi together to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino where, much to our surprise, we had rooms waiting for us! Yes! Sweet sleep!
It’s 5.30 am and we’re packing the van. The Cosmic Dead on the photo.
After 4 hours of sleep, we stepped out to the front of the hotel at 5 am, and the tour managers pulled up a 9 seater SUV that had seemingly been the rolling home to many a rock musician, before us. The trailer behind the SUV got packed with our gear, and we all crammed into the vehicle with The Cosmic Dead and the two drivers that were coming with us.
Off we went to take on a surreal journey of hours and hours of scorching desert, prairie lands and vast open planes. With an AC “somewhat” working.
When you drive for a very long time you start to go into a meditative state; Your sense of time and space start to warp and at some point you no longer feel the excitement for the scenery outside the window as you initially did. The hostile and inhabitable nature of these deserted parts of the US are also places of unparalleled beauty, and it’s just hard to wrap your head around the scale, the magnitude of this place. And last but not least the distance travelled through it. Partly excited, partly exhausted; this first grueling 32 hours were spent either taking in the scenery, taking tons of photos, eating dubious gas station food and sleeping.
When night had just fallen we reached Denver and the temperature had dropped from a staggering 40 to a chilling 15.
Meanwhile we scrambled to replace our shorts and sandals with whatever we could pull out of our suitcases, it had started to become clear that we were two hours behind schedule. This meant there were no longer breaks for the two drivers to rest. Needless to say that fatigue did kick in and there was swerving, but they pulled through the difficult hours of the night, transporting us across states and zones.
Day 2 – Murphy’s law part 1
At dawn we where probably somewhere around mid Iowa. Already at 8 am, the dry hot air from the south west had been replaced with humid, clammy heat. And we still had a devastating 16 hours left of the drive. The shorts and sandals had to come back on. Then more driving!
We made it to the venue in Chicago at around 7 pm, but the backline hadn’t arrived yet, so there was no sound check. And when it did there had been a delay from a supplier so the amps that we’re supposed to use didn’t arrive at all, and we had to use whatever was available. As stressful as it can be to just jump on stage and do next to no line-check, it’s really unnerving when you find out that you are not even playing on something that is remotely close to your usual gear.
When it was our turn to get on stage to set up, it was “go, go, go”, and we just had to trust our instincts with all the gear settings. However, it just never really feels the same. And it is a challenge to play your music when you are quite far from your usual “sound”.
So about Murphy’s Law: It turned out that Stine’s midi-controller had an issue with the midi-connection and we just could not get any sound through. So after attempts to trouble shoot, we called upon Lewis from the Cosmic Dead, who quickly hooked us up with a Minilogue.
As if we had a gun to our heads, we frantically dialed the knobs as close as possible to our regular string sound, but it was still quite far from it, and we knew we had to cut some songs that would not work well with this sound
With no time to actually do a line check at this point, we just had to start playing, with monitors and levels not really adjusted. The sense of surrealism returned; We somehow scrambled through it alright, and although the cheers were substantial and the feedback from the crowd afterwards, was surprisingly good, we could not help but feel like it wasn’t actually Tales of Murder and Dust who were just up there on stage. We missed the massive power produced from our usual amps and felt like we had become a bit diluted. So feelings were quite mixed and naturally you start feeling a bit weary about the upcoming 6 shows: How would we cope with walking on stage each night and not really feel like our full sonic potential has been released? – Especially in the light of the fact that we have travelled so far to play these shows.
Upon leaving Chicago, the full tour party of 4 bands was split up into two vehicles: the van we had travelled to Chicago in, and a 15 person bus with bunk beds – the “rock n roll” bus, where everything you think goes on in a tour bus pretty much goes on. Minus the women.
As we are writing this we still haven’t seen Rasmus yet. See, we where offered a spot in the bus, so one of us could lay down, and Rasmus got it. The rest of us went back into the first van, which we now had to split with Highlands, as The Cosmic Dead had gone to the big bus. With less people in the van, the outlook for some sleep was welcome and we headed of into the night to drive. But already when leaving the venue, time was against us. And things were about to get worse.
Day 4 – Murphy’s law part 2
So we were supposed to play Denver yesterday, but we had already been delayed when leaving Chicago in the early hours. So we could tell that we were going to be really late on the eve of the 19th.
Our courageous drivers had taken the van to the road with 40 degrees outside and pulling 4000 pounds behind us. Hoping to make it on time. But then:
Halfway through the 16 hour drive to Denver, the van started showing signs of a breakdown, so we had to drive into Des Moines to find a place to get it diagnosed. Hoping it was just a quick fix, we were still optimistic. But it turned out that the van was as good as done, dead.
Although we managed to replace the van with two rentals, the outlook of reaching Denver was just too bleak, and the production manager who was also driving, made the decision to head for Austin where we were playing the next day. Highlands got a sedan and drove to Austin, while the three remaining members of Tales (Rasmus is stil in the big bus at this point) and the two drivers got into a SUV pulling the trailer. The plan was good but it turned out our troubles were not yet over.
At midnight, some 6 hours into our drive towards Austin (now in a rental SUV) we hit a massive thunder storm. Now, you can deal with a storm in a SUV, but an SUV pulling a trailer: Terrible cocktail. With our safety at risk we had to pull over for the storm to pass. So everyone got some much needed sleep while the storm was raging outside the car.
A few hours after midnight it was quieting down and we we’re slowly reaching Kansas. A bit into Kansas the blue and red lights suddenly started blinking behind the SUV, indicating us to pull over. Luckily we had just forgot to pay road toll and had to pay a fine of 11 dollars. But this process still slowed us down even further.
Reaching Dallas in the morning, things were looking good and we we’re doing ok for schedule:
We may even get to check into our hotel and get a shower before going to the venue to do sound check! Oh wait: Rasmus is still in the other van. Alright, so at least three of get to sound check and try out the gear before playing it(?).
Not long after this sudden spate of optimism passed our minds, we hit a massive queue: there goes the nap… Oh there goes the shower….
Well, here we are now. 75 hours of driving, and one concert. And our bass player is apparently quite far away from Austin. Word is that most of the tickets have already been sold, and we are stoked to play at one of the premier rock venues in town. Will Rasmus make it in time for the show? Could there possibly any more obstacles?
Day 5 – kicking back?
Phew. Rasmus turned up just 30 minutes before we went on stage last night. The guys in Highlands were kind enough to switch gig-times with us so this worked out.
The venue, Barracuda, is pretty well-known in Austin and usually hosts really great gigs, but like most places in downtown Austin people drop in and out of the venue, to check out the action, and it was kind of strange with all the traffic. But the commotion and stress was alleviated heavily but the sound tech being so super cool. It really makes a difference when the sound tech actually gives a proper f*** about their job and the bands they work with. Communication, caring, friendliness just goes a long way. Definitely a big up! And more ups were in their way; a friend of a friend’s who lives in Austin came out to see our gig – and to get a normal conversation, a quiet beer – just a sense of normalcy for a moment on top of the hectic last three days was much appreciated. And it got better: Eventually we got the tour party together at 2 am and drove to the hotel. We were checked in to the executive suites, which was quite a change: suddenly our surroundings were clean, tidy, quiet, not smelly and sweaty. So we kicked back for another hour with a bottle of wine and cigarettes on our balcony and sort of let everything sink in for a bit.
Now, it’s 4 pm and we are up and driving towards Tempe, Arizona. Unfortunately we are still split up as a band: Jacob and Rasmus with Highlands in the sedan, and Christian and Stine in the tour bus.
But it took us a while to get here: For some reason the tour bus wasn’t going anywhere and we were caught in limbo in the hotel lobby waiting for news about what was happening. It turned out that the truck battery has not charged overnight and had to be recharged or something… so we hung around, there was nowhere to go really for food, cos we had to stay put and ready in case the truck was done charging. So we crossed our fingers that we would hit the road and bizarrely our growling stomachs looked forward to a gas station. Luckily we got the chance to go nuts in a Walmart. Guess everyone was so hungry they went a bit overboard. well, the bus is packed with beer and chips and it seems a party celebratory mood is kicking in.
Let’s do some 18 hours of driving!
Day 7 – in San Francisco
So there’s been a lot of driving, and frankly this diary is starting to revolve around driving and when we get to eat, and not so much about music. So let’s summarize: Yesterday, we arrived in Tempe, Arizona some time in the afternoon and the tour party in the bus headed straight to get some Mexican food. The soaring temperatures had followed us since we last left the van pass the famous White Sands – which only Rasmus and Jacob’s tour party had time to check out with Highlands.
Tempe was our first chance to do a gig that wasn’t super rushed with stage times and change-overs. There was a sense that all bands chilled out some more and really got into the “hole-in-the-wall”- feel that the venue afforded. And some mystical stranger at the far end of this dive bar sorted us out for Gin and Tonic, so it was party on. Next step was to try to get a big bunch of drunk musicians to pack up their gear and load a van, and then off to a hotel where only Tales was going to spend the night.
En video slået op af Zyklon-T Shagrat (@dogs_of_gore) den
(INSTAGRAM video taken from a silly, drunken, taking-the-piss-with-this-rock-n-roll-thing moment in the bus when leaving the venue)
The reason for this being that the tour management had reckoned (thank God!) that our band had had a pretty rough time being thrown around in separate vehicles with no real option to sleep. So the plan was to fly us to SF next day. However, we got there so late in the morning that we only managed to catch up with 3 hours of sleep before we had to get up to catch a flight from Phoenix Airport. Zombies at this stage, we slept the whole way through.
The upside to this particular itinerary change, is that we have had a pretty long day in San Fransisco today to walk around a bit and see the city (picture above). And since we were the first band on that night, we got to do sound check – and oh boy was that a welcome thing! Everything sounded great on stage and we really enjoyed our gig fully. Now we’re off to sleep somewhere at someone’s house….
Day 9 – arrived in Las Vegas!
Last night we played one of those venues that you probably hear off if you follow in major Psych rock acts and where they play. So having heard so much about it, we we’re stoked to play The Echo in Los Angeles!
After we left the venue in SF, the other night, Stine and Christian crashed with a friend of Highlands and Jacob and Rasmus went in the bus, since there was still this issue of how to transport Tales of Murder and Dust around on the tour. For Stine and Christian this mean another night of practically no sleep, since they had to leave early to do the 7 hour drive down to LA.
Both tour parties made it there at 4 PM, but there was this kind of sense of not knowing exactly what was going to happen. Maybe everyone was just tired and hungry. To be honest, we cannot remember much from that night simply due to exhaustion. We fell asleep in the greenroom, went on autopilot in stage and did an interview afterwards – it all felt like a lucid dream. It was over before we even knew it happened.
Now, we have just checked into our hotel in Las Vegas and it has started to dawn upon us what is actually going on: We’re on tour in the US,(or were) we’re in Las Vegas in two gorgeous hotel rooms overlooking the pool and the LV skyline. ZZZZzzzzzz
—- A long nap later and it’s almost bed time, again!:
Woke up to catch Highlands, White Hills and Black Mountain play the opening event for the festival. All fantastic sets! We stuck around with Highlands and hit the hotel bars, then some partying in our rooms.
(yes, that is a bowling alley in a hotel room)
Day 11 – Pool, drink, sleep, eat, party
So the days have gone on, and it has been on big bowl full of everything. We really have been doing pretty much everything you would expect to do when you’re band staying at the Hard Rock Hotel (being a festival venue) and you keep running in to the other, now, Psycho Road Show- veterans. Add in some pool side relaxation. New experiences: 1)We’ve seen many of our psych rock heroes in bathing shorts. 2) We’ve tried (actual!) bowling in a pent house suite at the hotel.
(a bit of Highlands, a bit of Black Mountain, a bit of The Cosmic Dead, a bit of Tales, and who knows else… In an elevator… living it up… On the way to the infamous pent house suite).
The surreal feeling is here and acute. It’s weird to walk around and experience so many other bands playing, while just waiting your turn.
Around us people truly are living out the “rock’n’roll”- dream, and all kinds of vices are lurking in the corners big or small suites. All the cliches, all the “clientele” you may expect is easy to point out… But good times are there, gotta just go with the flow, yeah?…
So, we’re back in Denmark, and we should first and foremost tell you how the gig went:
After having paced around for three days to finally get up on stage, it felt like the last few hours we’re just going to take FOREVER. Having your own Hotel Room (your bed!) as a “backstage” is quite surreal, so we had some beers and watched Family Feud Celebrity to kill the time. This was quite an odd moment for us all; At one point we just looked around at each other as if saying “should we be doing something else? Is there anything else to do, really”, and carried on quietly prepping ourselves mentally.
(waiting around in our “green room” for our turn to take the stage)
We went to the stage an hour early to give the tech our visuals and found out that not all the gear from the backline that was supposed to be there was there, and suddenly that last hour started to go by really fast. We also had to make sure that the Minilogue that The Cosmic Dead would use was there, since we could never feel 100% sure that Stine’s keys felt like making sound. Luckily everything arrived just 20 minutes before after we had frantically called up everyone we could possibly think of as having a connection with the festival. Sadly, Stine’s keys needed to be replaced; this also meant a bit of a change in our “sound”, but much to our comfort we had managed to call in some very special guns:
Highlands had helped us engage Black Mountain’s regular sound engineer who turned out to be happy to come around and mix our sound. And from what we heard from people afterwards, this was a very good idea.
At first the crowd was small, Mars Red Sky and Sleep had just overlapped the first 25 minutes of our show, but suddenly it poured in with people, and half way through the cheers were hefty and the crowd kept getting closer. It felt amazing! Firstly to experience that quite a bunch did actually chose us above Sleep, and secondly that bunch came in and got a really great (seemingly unexpected) experience that they felt worthwhile sticking around for.
(INSTAGRAM video from the audience)
Retrospectively, even a diary couldn’t help us keep track of everything. There was no real day/night division and every time our energy came back we did invest it all in the good times that were always at hand. So have we learned anything? Nothing we didn’t already experience from previous tour in some amount. However, the sleep deprivation and hunger was to a whole new extreme, and we got to experience ourselves getting through such extreme conditions, surprisingly well; One part of you is struggling to stay sane and normal, and the other part is dying to scream at everyone how terrible you feel or curl up in a corner of the restrooms at the next truck stop. Luckily, professionalism prevailed!
In general, it was super strange to be on tour and not be physically together most of the time. And not being able to contact each other either (phone bills!). And when such things happen you do realize that the togetherness you have while on tour is something so, so crucial that you don’t even notice its significance before you don’t have it.
So finding out, like this. how much the social aspect actually means to our ability (and perhaps quality) to perform as a band and to delve into the music on stage, we do also recognize that we will not compromise this on future tours!
Finally, there were so many things that went on that we can’t say anything about, and THAT is pretty much the core of the surreal experience that we had. Some things will have to stay in our memories only (you can probably guess why), and other things are just hard to explain. It’s hard to fully express what goes through your mind during this experience, for better or worse.
Yet, on the back end of this experience we’ve somehow managed to suppress the insanity of it all, and mostly give space in our minds for good memories:
Encounters with new friends, meeting old and new fans (realizing that there are people in the US who actually know us and travel far to see us play is insane!), the beauty of the landscapes we passed through, AND the tremendous gratitude of having been given this once (or first?) in a life-time experience!