Steve Shalaty Immolation/Vader Tour Blog – Day 22
Day 22 – Houston, Texas:
Houston, god damn Texas! It's hot and dusty. The parking lot is a dirt and gravel mix, mostly dirt. The dust is sticking to my early morning sweat and the sun is blazing. This is what I live for. I see the tour dogs emerging from the vehicles all straggly hair and parched mouths. Most are quick to duck back into the shade. A breakfast club assembles including myself and most of Lecherous Nocturne. We greet and toast the Texas sun with the last of the water on the bus.
Time to load-in. The members of the tour are suffering in the heat and the one helper from the club is soaked in minutes. I feel invigorated and try to spearhead the load-in. These poor guys are just miserable inside the building and trying to assemble the amps and stage gear. Paul is drenched and finally shakes his head and says he can't focus. I tell him to go sit in the A.C. on the bus and have a drink. I finish the kit myself and set out for breakfast. The club helper guy said there was a taco truck parked a little way down the street, so I stroll down to check it out. 3 tacos to go and a giant homemade lemonade. That lemonade was so damn good after the load-in and set-up. I practically ran back to the club eager to feast. After a salty, greasy scarf session I warm up my hands a bit on the pad. It's no fun going up for sound check cold and trying to stumble your way through a fast tune. No thanks. Mikey's ready for me so I hop on the kit. We're set up on a two piece riser consisting of a right and left halves. The two halves are not fixed to each other so when you play the whole drumset dances and jiggles around. This can wreak havoc on fast bouble bass parts or even mid-paced runs where you get a pulse going. Nice. Sure enough we play a fast one for sound check. My feet are a bit messy. Even at slow tempos. Wtf? We are running short on time so we wrap it up. I stay behind and put a couple shirts on my snare so I can run some metronome drills between my hands and feet while the other bands backline and the opening band sets up. I haven't had the chance to work on my feet enough this tour. It feels good to beat them up a little in a controlled drill. The sweat is pouring at the 20 minute mark and I finish out the cycle at 280 bpm. I feel better now and decide to take my pad out back where I can catch the breeze that is swinging through the parking lot. The temperature is already starting to drop and the black shirts are multiplying. After a while I catch Ross and Bob with that "dinner?" look in their eye. A death metal drummer on tour must pay particular attention to when and what he eats. Subway is relatively clean fuel and if I relax before the show the timing should be about right. So, I accompany my bandmates to Jared's Place and eat heartily.
We return just in time for me to help Lecherous get the big black Mapex up and ready. L.N. proceed to eradicate all weakness and ensnare the minds of those left standing. It may sound dramatic, but they are truly a musical gauntlet. Lecherous is not a casual listen and I enjoy observing unsuspecting first time audiences. Their ferocity is immediately apparent, but once you catch on to the haywire complexity of the riffing you become transfixed. This audience is made victim and spasmodically shouts their approval between songs. The Carolinans come off stage soaked and visibly relieved. Almost as if they were able to expell some venom from their systems during the set.
We move Alex's rig offstage and replace it with Ken's to get A.W. ready to roll. It's a beautiful night for a party and the crowd does just that in the open air smoking section of the club while the boys in Abigail Williams prepare themselves. Paul appears backstage smiling and looking relieved after a good rest on the bus. We talk for a minute and then I head back to my spot right outside the back of the building where my pad and sticks await me. With the sweet Texas breeze on me I rap away on my rubber tourmate and b.s. with people passing through and hanging out. These are the moments that make it for me. Beautiful weather, palm trees, and a clear sense of purpose and objective. I play along once again with Ken as he steers Abigail through their haunting and melodic soundscapes. Although more a fan of flesh shredding stuff like Lecherous, I must admit that Abigail Williams do what they do very well. They have masterfully captured an atmosphere and feel with the music that has definite artistic integrity. The dark and forlorn wails float to me as Ken marches the band towards the end of the set.
Its time for Vader to be tested by the heat. Paul helps me switch cymbals and blows out a few flurries of blast to make sure he's ready. The Imperial March begins signaling all pitworthy combatants to enter the building and take their places down front. After a smooth and suave address from the Polish frontman the crowd waits for the last heralding trumpets and then Vader crashes upon them with guns blazing. Bathed in infernal red light the four piece are relentless and look like a surging phalanx on stage. Piotr's soothing voice between songs is the perfect counterpoint to his demonic roars during them. " What about Sothissssss? " a hissing inquiry to a nearly rabid crowd that screams in anticipation. I am fired up myself and have to tear myself away to continue my preparation. I try to push the speed of my warm up tonight. Playing along with Paul's parts is pretty intense and gets me loose in no time. Vader finishes in grand fashion and I shake hands with them as they come off stage. Paul is soaked but happy and we exchange cymbals and snare drums quickly so he can clean up. Wow. The pedals feel like lightning tonight. I'm definitely glad I spent time on my feet today. I run quick sixteenth triplets on the kicks throughout the entire line check and then the lights go down. I am calm and already sweating. I feel like an electrical charge is building inside me and that I must control its discharge in a precise manner. As the intro swells I count in and we start "The Purge". Its fast and calm and in the pocket. Mint. We get to "World Agony" , the second to last song before I feel the fatigue setting in. Mostly my left foot which is strange since I've been bullying my right tonight on the single foot blasts. The last song of the set is the real bitch of the new stuff and it takes all I've got to force my feet to finish smooth. Yes! Good set tonight. The party rages late after load-out in the dusty parking lot. I visit with Duane Timlin and have extended conversations with several fans before a group of us decide to walk to a local diner for a late night slob down. The stage is set for an extreme eating event with myself, Paul, Ray and the Lecherous gang being joined by Duane and some of his crew. This turned out to be one of the most hilarious and enjoyable nights on the tour. Suffice to say that Paul had his way with the menu and walked out with a $60.00 tab. No one came close to his total haul despite valiant efforts from many of us. The conversation was vile and hilarious and I found myself out of breath from laughter on more than one occasion.
Thanks to Jason, Alex, Creesh, James, Ethan, Paul and Ray for keeping me in stitches all f'ing night. You guys are something else!