Steve Shalaty Immolation/Vader Tour Blog – Day 17, 19, 20, 21
Day 17 – San Diego, California:
I wake up late and load in has already begun. As soon as I get off the bus I see Redline Stein, the vocalist for Lecherous Nocturne, barefoot and stumbling toward me with a shopping cart that has been equipped with a "please help" paper cup. So hilarious and politically incorrect I can't help myself but bust up. He's really getting into it and totally looks the part with his full-on, homeless, red beard. Haha.
I join the train of worker ants running the equipment in. Some people are using shopping carts to haul stuff. This includes Jimbo, the white haired former surfer that is working as a stage hand tonight. Once everything's in we build and tune the kit.
Ross and Bob have decided to change the set up a bit so we play the 2 substitute songs for soundcheck and nail both. Nice. Well see how they go over tonight. After some homemade lasagna and a little practice, too little, I head to my bunk to catch up on the tour blog. The pasta makes me very tired and after awhile I roll over and pass out. Napping is sometimes nescessary on tour when your sleeping patterns get chopped up. The waking up process sucks though and I'm usually angry for a spell afterward. I avoid humans until I get my wits about me again and then stagger in to see what's going on. Good lord. Abigail Williams is on already and Gene Hoglan is in the house. Paul comes up and is visibly nervous about playing in front of the Big Man. I assure him that he'll do fine and that I'm sure Gene will enjoy his playing. Now, its time to worry about how I'm going to play tonight. I jam on the pad for the rest of Abigail Williams' set. Ken sounds like he might be having an off night and I find out later that they wouldn't allow Ken in the club until it was time to play because he's only 20. Which means no extended warm up like usual. Sucks. 21 and over shows are rare but still happen. When I help him off stage he's a little bent but cool. It's Vader time so after getting Paul set in the drum department I head to the bus for drinks etc.
When I return the Imperial March is heralding the arrival of the Polish Machine. Soon Vader is gunning away at the crowd with pure aggression. Paul is blasting up in the 240s-250s like a sicko. I go to the pad to see if I can hang with him during warm up. Just in bursts. My left hand is lame but coming around lately. My hands feel nice and quick by the end of Vader's set though and my energy level is up from the nap.
Prime time to take the stage. Its a quick changeover and I get right to foot warm up. I feel ready. The intro rolls then we crack into "The Purge". The subdivisions on the second triplet ruff on the bass drums are a little rushed but otherwise my feet lock up nicely and I relax my way through the first three tunes. Now I'm good and sweaty and I let loose a little on "Hate's Plague" and "Father". Its a good comfortable set. The new additions "Swarm of Terror" and "Passion Kill" are upbeat and aggresive and seem to go over very well. Two good shows in a row…….. now I'm getting nervous.
I pay my regards and bow low to Gene as he leaves. Such a cool guy and an amazing talent. He tells me "good show" and I tell him that he inspires every one of us to play our very best when he is in the building. I think he may have blushed a little at that, but I'm not sure.
After a long and grueling load out we relax awhile and socialize with everyone on the tour before it's time to head out. Special thanks to Gene for bringing out the best in us and to Jimbo for all his help. I can only hope to be as spry as he at his age.
Day 19 – Show cancelled, Day off… Gay
Day 20 – Day off
Day 21 – Austin, Texas:
What a cool town. We're playing on the main strip which is loaded with restaurants, stores and clubs. Another gorgeous day. The venue is running two shows in two different rooms tonight. The headliner in the big room is IWrestledABearOnce with Chelsea Grin and a few other bands I forgot. Sorry. I have never heard any of the bands on the bill and my tourmates have said everything from Gay to Christian to Emo. There was a rainbow. I am curious to see the mix of crowds in the main courtyard between the stages tonight. Whatever's going on over there I don't know, but our side is going to be metal.
Anyway, we load in and set up. More damage to the set. Its like gremlins take my drums out in the trailer and beat them with tiny hammers. The backstage storage area is cramped but there is enough room for all the drums on the tour. The stage is too small for 2 kits so we strike mine after a decent feeling soundcheck. Decent is not leaving me satisfied and I set up my pad backstage and go to work. After a good session I head out to explore food options with Paul and Ray from Vader. The sun is already hanging low and the strip is getting busier by the minute. We settle on a pita shop and pig out. Paul's eating prowess has become legendary on the tour and I, who am considered quite an eater even by Immolation standards, have been bested by him time and time again. He doubles me tonight and handily I might add. Once again I am amazed and alarmed.
We head back at dusk and stop a few times along the way to check out some shops. We roll in just in time to catch Lecherous as they kick it off. Woohoo! Those tender minds next door wincing and wilting from the aural battery. The thought of it makes me grin uncontrollably as I bob along with the thrashing machine on stage. "Blood for Plastic" is a boldfaced half-bribe, half-dare delivered nightly to the crowd by a crazy eyed Jason Stein. Tonight's edition incites a lop sided pit that if maintained for the full 2 minute song will see it's most enthusiastic participant receive a copy of L.N.'s new disc " The Age of Miracles Has Passed ". I plan on winning that disc before the tour is up but not tonight because there is a crazed behemoth orbiting the poles in the middle of the room and deflecting all comers like a runaway planet. Planet behemoth wins the disc and a round of applause before Lecherous lapses back into violence. When Alex and the boys are finished venting I help switch the drum kits to get Abigail Williams ready to go.
After Ken is assembled, I head through the courtyard to the other stage. The courtyard is lit up in a cool and subtle way and has a perfect vibe for the mixing crowds. I catch a few minutes of one of the bands and they have a breakdown thing going on at the end of the song that isn't nearly as heavy as they are making it out to be, but is decent enough to hold me for a minute. After some well rehearsed banter they launch into a "new song" which is nothing like what they were just playing and after a few seconds there is some harmonized vocal bubblegum that repels me back to our side of the venue again. A.W. starts and I duck into the storage area for some sporadic pad beating. During the 2 days off I played for a 2 hour block, hands only, on the first night in El Paso. In the parking lot of the most bootleg WalMart I have ever seen from about 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.. That's about it, so I'm laying into it today and I'm anxious to rip.
After about 20 minutes I head back to one of the shops we passed earlier to grab a blue Mountain Dew. Voltage baby! So delicious and it rips down my throat like a raging blue river. Haha. Back to the club to prep Paul and Vader. Paul is chomping at the bit as well and he let's loose a little on the cans before line check. The kid is fast! AND a hammer. Sheesh. Back to the pad for me. I play along with Paul for most of the set, at one point popping out to see my friend Mark from Averse Sefira and Birth A.D., also a skinsman, nodding along with the necksnapping pulse of the Vader Tank's engine. Its a good crowd and I see some kids from the show next door are checking out some no nonsense Polish death metal as well. Who better to bring them over to the dark side! All too soon it's over and my time has arrived. Paul is drenched and claims to have had a few slip ups but I assure him I heard nothing. He shakes his head. I know the feeling. A handshake and a slap on the back later and the kit is mine.
I feel like pushing tonight. I want to push my feet especially. I rev them throughout line check to be as loose as possible. The start is good. I'm a little relaxed and casual through the first song but start to get my heart rate up and swing a little on the next two. I'm pushing the throttle more tonight and the boys are responding well and holding it together right to the edge. The last song on the set list is a burner and it felt like my right foot was dogging a little but that was the barrier I wanted to hit so I felt satisfied. The crowd was strong throughout and enthusiastic converts from next door introduced themselves and further investigated the merch tables. As I said the vibe is sweet and the tour hangs late and celebrates Paul's birthday in the courtyard.
Afterward we head down the street to Billy Milano's club "Head Hunter". After a beer and a toast with Billy, who apparently checked out the set tonight, we go upstairs to the patio and hang. I talk to John Zig from Sarcolytic and Smitty from Dead Sea and Billy some more. He tells some stories about Immolation shows he's seen and we all feel a little starstruck by our host. Soon he has to throw us out and close down so we say goodbye and hurry to snap some pictures before heading back to the vehicles. We all swap our own Billy Milano stories on the way back and laugh like little kids.
Thanks to Billy for his hospitality and razor sharp memory. And thanks to all my Texas friends who found their way out to the show tonight. Brazos. Brazos.