Moist Newsletter 12: Fall 1997

Aside from one brief trip to Thailand Moist have spent the last 8 or 9 months with their feet and occasionally foreheads firmly planted on Canadian soil, spending roughly equal amounts of time on and off the road, and diligently flogging their latest album in any way the local authorities would let them, and wouldn't you know it, during most of that time, said Canadian soil was typically buried under several feet of vicious, unforgiving, unyielding, long lasting misery inducing, hard packed ice and snow. Does this sound familiar to anyone or do I have to keep whining about it? Look, winter touring is almost as much fun as having your toenails removed very, very slowly with red hot electric hedge trimmers, and yet every year, somewhere between December and January, usually on a day when the most bitter gust of flesh freezing wind so far that winter finds its miserable way up your kilt and gives your landing gear a thorough icing, someone up and says "Hey, it's 40 below before windchill and the roads are as mean as a snake on fire ... what to do? I know, let's go tour the country and this time take our sweet time about it, and cross the whole frozen expanse, say TWICE" ... To which Moist typically replies, Duh, sure Boss. Sounds good to us. What could go wrong? Having spent 2 and a half months as old man winter's starving pit bull terrier's absolute favorite chew toy, and having the demeanor and level of patience to prove it, any reasonably sane human being wants nothing more than to face the remainder of winter in the grand tradition of sheer, it's too damn cold out there to breathe properly, cowardice, that is, from deep inside the toastiest room in their apartment, on the couch, remote control in hand, with enough antidepressants, snack food, and reruns of their favorite sitcom to last until the six feet of snow that leers sadistically at them each and every morning from the backyard has the good grace and decency just to melt a little already, if only to acknowledge the unlikely possibility that spring might actually be coming, sometime, around one of the frost encrusted corners that seem to stretch from the present right clear on through winter, 2016. OR You could spend 2 weeks in Thailand laying blissfully by the hotel pool, wearing little more than a great huge shit eating grin (lovingly dedicated to anyone back home who has to wear 7 layers of clothing and an electric blanket just to pick up the mail), stuffing your face with vast amounts of delectable curry, and swilling buckets of mind erasing, ice cold, frosty, tropical drinks, while basking in the sheer decadence of it all and enjoying previously unparalleled heights of regularity... This may sound utterly ridiculous, but we were not actually that thrilled about the idea of going to Thailand. Now, before you get all irate and curse us up, down, and sideways for mewling fools who could find something negative about a free lunch, just try to understand. Being in Thailand is fantastic... get there is the problem and that's primarily because getting there encompasses three airplanes, four airports, twenty-four hours, and at least seven really thoroughly annoying incidents that could have easily been avoided if we had been flying a different airline or any one of us had been carrying a powerful electric cattle prod or a good sized club. And so they flew... True to form, Moist arrive at Dorval airport, obscenely early for scheduled morning flight (is it my paranoia peeking through like a fuzzy little cartoon character, about to get smoked by a falling Steinway at terminal velocity, or are rock bands only permitted to board airplanes between five and ten AM?) and bustle around in a completely trumped up and totally unnecessary state of emergency, instituted by those members of our crew who believe that being punctual means arriving at least four hours before anyone else arrives, or anything is likely to happen that requires our involvement, during which time we amuse ourselves by mercilessly pestering that same unnamed member of the crew... hello Stan... in an ongoing test of skill to see which member of the band can send him screaming over the edge, hot on the heels of that crotchety old guy that guards the jello tree, the fastest. After much pointless milling about and duct taping of beaten up old instrument cases all luggage is stowed with the exception of Kevin's who foolishly maintains that dragging three exceedingly awkward small bags halfway across the planet is far easier than just checking one big one and picking it up at the other end. There really is only one sure way to accurately describe this particular variety of misbegotten assumption... dumb and dead wrong. Ah well, live and learn. As soon as all luggage is loaded, except for those items belonging to the human pack rat, Stan disappears, presumably to busy himself for awhile with the difficult task of clawing painfully back over the edge he went careening over so effortlessly just moments before, into the realm of sanity and good humor that the rest of us inhabit quite happily. Band boards plane, and wonders, between outbursts of evil laughter, whether or not Stan will miss the plane, allowing us to enter Bangkok without an interview schedule or plan of any kind, and therefore have the chance to run gleefully amok without even an inkling of a clue in the age old tradition of total, joyful, irresponsibility. Unbeknownst to us Stan had actually been inexplicably rewarded for his tendency to go flying off the handle at the tiniest smidgen of provocation with a complimentary first class bump up from a softhearted airport employee and had been guiltily skulking around in the "nice people's" part of the aircraft ever since, fearing retribution. Meanwhile back in steerage... This is about the time things started to go horribly wrong... When embarking on a long, tedious, intercontinental flight the key to comfort is to completely ignore your assigned seat and instantly snag the five middle seats and defend them belligerently against all other passengers by strewing your personal belongings around recklessly, stretching out, wearing as few items of clothing as possible, feigning deep, troubled sleep, drooling copiously into the aisle, and muttering, loudly, and angrily at nothing in particular every so often. Paul, for obvious reasons, is probably better at this than anyone else in the band, but none of his vast skill could help him this time... It's like this... Paul scans the cabin and skillfully executes the above mentioned manoeuvre flawlessly leaving just enough space on the fifth chair so as not to appear overly pushy. This final flourish is the equivalent of a perfect Telemark landing in Olympic ski jumping. Normally this would discourage even the most persistent seatknapper. Not this time. Before you could say, "Let's get 'im," the seatknapper had wiggled into place and no amount of stretching, drooling, and muttering on Paul's part could dislodge him. Rather than give the offender the thrashing he so richly deserved, Paul opted to play nice and move to another empty five seat comfort zone, the plane being relatively empty, owing largely to our ludicrously early departure time. The seat stalker follows. He moves again. The seat stalker follows again. By this point in time even Paul's "legendary good will and boundless patience" are at an end, so after some seriously frightening drooling, legitimately angry muttering and some swift preemptive action on the part of a perceptive member of the cabin crew, the seat stalker is defeated leaving Paul in relative peace. The hours pass... slowly... Ok, the difference between a good airline and a crappy airline is not measured in terms of security, the frequency of flights to popular destinations, or even the number of aircraft owned and operated by said airline that have dropped out of the sky for no apparent reason recently. It's measured purely on how well entertained and fed, and subsequently happy, and less prone to mutiny they keep their passengers on long, mindshatteringly boring, intercontinental flights. The idea is, that if you're on a good airline and the airplane begins to plummet earthward, you should actually be disappointed that you'll miss the end of the flight movie due to you untimely and imminent disintegration. Fair enough? Right, one meal, two pathetic movies, and the same episode of Mr. Bean they've shown on every flight we've taken in the history of Moist, and we're still only three and a half hours into a sixteen hour flight, bored senseless, more than a little snippy, and hungry enough to eat our seat belts... Meanwhile at roughly the same altitude but above a different part of the world and most importantly on an airline financially stable enough to have the ability to offer the odd passenger an extra sandwich or (gasp) an entire can of juice without having to force their work force to take a pay cut just to stay solvent, Mark is sipping a glass of wine and being waited on pretty much hand and foot with not a care in the world. About this time Jeff, not usually the first member of the band to get all postal on someone when things don't go his way, begins to feel a mite peckish and so politely asks a passing member of the cabin crew if he might possibly impose upon him to find him some small morsel on which to nibble before he is forced by hunger to gnaw his own arm off. To which the reply is, "no it's not time for the snack yet, and if I serve you then someone else might want something and I'd have to do some work instead of lurking in the shadows in the rear of the aircraft looking surly and snapping angrily at other passengers who have paid obscene amounts of money to be ignored by me for sixteen consecutive fun filled hours." After more than a few angry words, one or two thinly veiled threats and some pretty hostile teeth tapping on Jeff's part, Attila the steward returns after the obligatory fifteen minute sulk 'n' wait to reward Jeff with an anaemic lump of dough and gristle cleverly disguised as a sandwich before throwing a minor temper tantrum which involves cursing a blue streak and angrily returning a semi-conscious Paul Wilcox's seat to the upright position with enough force to not only fully wake him (never a wise idea) but the wedge his head securely between the seats directly in front of him putting yet another nail in the coffin of an already deteriorating professional relationship. At this point, Mark, still on the other side of the world in his country club in the sky, is recovering from a particularly vigorous manicure while nibbling distractedly on some tidbits of sushi and wondering which of the eight movies available on his personal in-seat television he should watch next. Back on a flight so dull self-inflicted oral surgery is beginning to look like a serious option, the band, who by this time have begun to resemble a heartless, blood thirsty mob, approach their ever so attentive cabin crew to ask, with varying degrees of polite frustration, if they might possibly view one of the other four feature films available on board that have thus far been denied us only to be given the following response... No, we don't want to ruin the films for those passengers returning to Canada with us at the end of their holidays, and besides people are sleeping. I've got news for you, nobody cares. If you're so far gone with boredom and frustration to watch Fly Away Home once with rapt attention chances are you'll do it again when presented with no other options. Never mind that the several hundred people on that flight were more likely to be suffering from identical boredom-induced comas than doing any kind of sleeping, and besides aren't those ill fitting headphones you people heaved at us seven interminable hours ago in one of those rare moments when you actually seemed to be busy created and supplied for just this purpose. Things might have gotten irrevocably ugly if Stan had no chosen that particular moment to descend from his throne in first class for a brief visit, inadvertently distracting us long enough for the cabin crew to escape they lynching we had in mind. Stan, incidentally, could, would, will, and has on numerous occasions found something negative about a free lunch, and would not dream of wasting an opportunity to chew your ear off for half an hour or so to let you know just exactly what that something is. Band: (speaking through clenched and grinding teeth), "HELLO Stan, you sneaky bean counting, weasel, how's the flight so far?" Stan: (in his best 'now it's time for the self righteous tirade of biblical proportions' voice), "Grr, it'd be fine if they didn't keep pestering me constantly. Would you like another pillow, how about a blanket, can I get you something more to eat, some more lobster bisque perhaps, or would you just like me to freshen up your complimentary cocktail, grr, and worst of all I've got my own personal TV, but there's only six movies to choose from, gnash, sputter, and I don't like any of them, nar, why I oughta, arr, spit, gnash, grr, hey you kids... and so on. Nine extravagantly tedious hours later, after landing at Tokyo's Narita airport for a scintillating four hour layover, band and crew unwind by mocking Kevin "luggage boy" Young as he struggles under the burden of his now clearly unworkable packing strategy. Eight or nine action packed hours after that we arrive in our hotel in Bangkok and manage to stay conscious long enough to take one long searching look at our press schedule, make a few pretty worthless mental calculations in an attempt to determine how many hours we'll be spending in Bangkok traffic over the next ten days, and scarf down roughly a gallon of curry each before dragging our weary selves to bed. At first glance our schedule looked, well... unworkable, and well... insane. The problem you run into when trying to get anything done in Bangkok is the traffic. It works like this... if you're in a car trying to get somewhere during rush hour (which starts around 6AM and lasts straight through to 11PM the next day) it can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to travel 30 feet. As soon as you get fed up with sitting in your favorite, pleasantly air conditioned mode of conveyance, watching pedestrians speed by you, and decide to get out to walk, said traffic usually starts moving alarmingly fast all around you in every direction at once, leaving you standing in the middle of a frothing sea of metal and carbon monoxide sweating like a pig and cursing yourself for the idiot you truly are... This should be a monstrous pain in the ass, right? Wrong. What this actually means is that the band gets to spend more time laying around the pool stuffing their faces and taking Polaroids for the express purpose of compiling a little photo essay for I Mother Earth who are at that moment in time playing outdoors in Newfoundland at Snowjob '97. How does this work you ask? Well, quite a lot of people are trying desperately to get something done in Bangkok and chances are they've stuck in the same traffic you are at any given moment. The key difference being that these people know better than to jump out of a cab in a busy intersection in downtown Bangkok because that's something only ignorant tourists do. To continue, if your interviewer happens to be stuck somewhere deep in the previously mentioned snarl of hideous traffic and is determined to come to the hotel to interview you... well, you may as well sit down, order a large, cool drink and a second lunch because no one is ever on time and everyone is fairly laid back about it. While this takes some getting used to it's far better than arriving 6 hours early for everything, and besides, we seem to have developed the somewhat unfortunate reputation for being the most ludicrously punctual band in history and have been chastised on many occasions by interviewers, record label people and the like for having the unmitigated gall to show up on time if not early, sober, and at the right address and expecting to be taken seriously, and it's high time we started to work on being less punctual and more of a colossal liability for our handlers. And so they promoted themselves shamelessly... After two days of wondering where everyone was and what happened to the much discussed, often revised, and un believably elaborate itinerary we saw the night of our arrival, Moist resolve to let things unfold naturally, according to fate and the laws of physics, and cram as much sheer relaxation into every sun drenched minute as possible. While the next 8 days are pretty much a blur of traffic, promotion, Maekong, some very odd shows, more Maekong, and the obligatory "lets spite Jeff" shopping sprees, which consists of Jeff picking up some trinket or other, such as a CD player, laser printer, or some intriguing but ultimately useless kitchen doodad, at a local market or electronics shop and the rest of the band and crew rushing out to find the same item or snazzier, more up to date version of it at a far better price for the sole purpose of having something new to gloat over. Out shows in Thailand ranged from the bizarre to even stranger most notably when bassist Jeff Pearce snagged the spotlight in our hotel bar and sang a heartfelt rendition of... with a cover band from the Phillippines and several night later, after staggering quantities of curry and Maekong, and with no cover band in sight but all their gear unattended and vulnerable, an impromptu performance by members of Moist and Thai band Smiling Buffalo gets underway during which bassist Jeff Pearce attempts to play several Moist songs as well as some unadvisable covers on his mandolin... hey if you thought the cover for I Will Survive we played in Quebec City during the last tour was sloppy you should have heard us this night. This was followed by gigs at Hollywood Place where, of course, very little of the gear provided or the gear we brought with us worked with anything even remotely resembling reliability, however we still manage to get through the show without having any unscheduled intermissions/repair sessions or having to resort to performing the a capella version of Shrieking Love, and at a large outdoor festival at Army Stadium, which was subsequently followed by more press, more Maekong, TV and radio, and of course massive quantities of food. Thailand was, naturally, a fantastic time and our heartfelt thanks go out to all of the people who made our stay there so pleasant. Hopefully we'll be back soon but if not just pester our record company mercilessly with phone calls, letters, and sit-ins. They love that sort of thing. Really. the way home... Given our recent experiences flying the friendly skies with Air Annoyance and recognizing that while there is safety in numbers as well as obvious advantages to traveling in a group, and arriving, if not while the airport is still under construction, the at least four or five hours before the departure and being paraded about in strict military formation by Stan "Colonel Potter" Wardle in full view of airport personnel, there is also something to be said for splitting up and taking different flights on different airlines to completely different destinations in the hope that at least some of us will get lucky and have reasonably enjoyable flights home and that, coupled with the now mandatory period of two or three days of rigorous sleep deprivation prior to intercontinental travel (just to be on the safe side) is exactly what we did. Now, for the most part this worked out pretty surprisingly well. The flights were fine, probably because we were basically unconscious and drooling the whole trip. In truth the only drawback to traveling more or less separately seemed to be some tense moments in Hong Kong trying to convince airport personnel that Paul and his luggage did indeed exist and that he really needed to get on the plane that was scheduled to leave five minutes ago for Vancouver. After this point had been resolved more or less to our satisfaction, i.e. we were assured that Paul would definitely be able to board the plane as planned but that his luggage might have to buy a new ticket at some later unspecified date. At any rate it seemed like clear sailing from here on in... Right. Y'know Canadian customs loves musicians traveling alone because they're easy pickings, and although we have met some customs officials who might want to spend some quality time with a psychotherapist immediately, most, including the gentleman who reluctantly, yet thoroughly tore us apart in the Vancouver airport, are pretty decent human beings. Unfortunately the day that Paul and Kevin chose to arrive in Vancouver happened to be his first day manning the "OK oen you bag and cower before me, I wish to fondle your undergarments and read excerpts from your personal journal" desk and his supervisor was watching him, and anyone attempting to enter the country through him, like a petty tyrant slowly losing his hold on reality while inexplicably and simultaneously tightening his impotent little grip on his pathetic little domain. The bottom line is that this guy had just spent far too much time studying bad 1970's cop shows and couldn't wait to try out the wealth of interrogation techniques he'd culled from all those late night reruns of Matt Houston and Mannix. It's a pretty fair bet that the first thing this man does in the morning is to spend 45 minutes or so scowling at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, pulling an imaginary gun on himself, and yelling, "Freeze, Canadian customs, drop your carry on baggage on the floor and step away from the Samsonite briefcase or I'll fill your forms with lead," as well as spending all his free time practicing his delivery of inane catch phrases like, "book 'em Dano" and "just the facts ma'am" over and over to himself on the off chance that one day he might finally get to take part in that pitched chase after evildoers through the bowels of the airport and right out onto the incoming luggage belt he's been fantasizing about for years. First customs official a.k.a. "good cop"; I'm really sorry about this. Disgruntled but painstakingly polite keyboard player; "That's Ok, I understand." Second customs official a.k.a. "bad cop"; So you spend some time in Thailand eh? Cagney get in here! And what do you do for a living, mister? "I'm a musician." So you were there on business eh?...On the floor Dirtbag! And what kind of business is that? ... And spread 'em! Make it snappy son I don't have all day. "Making music, oddly enough." So you're a musician? .... Just the facts ma'am! I'm sorry, was I speaking too quietly the first time or is the ambient noise in your own little world interfering with your hearing. I'm just making sure you can keep your story straight, punk... Go ahead, make my day! (what, like I'm going to forget what I said 30 seconds ago and suddenly blurt out: Actually, I'm a ruthless, South American drug lord and I was just doing a little cross border shopping for automatic weapons and miscellaneous contraband. Arrest me. P L E A S E). "That's correct." "And what... What's the word on the street huggy!... what kind of music do you play? (Said in the tone of voice the implies that any other answer than "both kinds, sir, country and western," is a crime that should be punishable by life imprisonment.) "Rock and Roll." "Well now, you wouldn't be trying to transport any illegal materials into the country would you? Don't try my patience sonny, I've got a pencil and I'm not afraid to push it. SEE!" (That's right, I'm an evil genius and there's a small nuclear device stashed in my carry on right behind the baggies full of dismembered, endangered animal parts, and in front of the illicit fruits and vegetable I plan to use to trigger an environmental holocaust of catastrophic proportions in Canada. Sheesh). "No." "All right, you've missed your connecting flight you're free to go..." that's all folks, nuthin to see here, move along see, yeah! Book 'em Dano, yeah! Several minutes later, Paul has the virtually same conversation and while he's planning to stay in Vancouver for a few days anyway and is therefore less concerned about connecting flights he has just spent a tearful extra half an hour watching an empty luggage belt spin, all the while feeling like the only passenger on our last flight without a date for the prom since discovering that his luggage has just won a free week long holiday in Peru and is on it's merry way to South America at that very moment. This makes him unhappy, not only due to the fact that he now has extremely limited wardrobe options but that he has to convince the petty bureaucrat guarding the gates of Canada that his luggage has in fact been lost, and that he is not attempting to hide it somewhere in the 30 feet between the customs desk and the luggage belt for some sinister purpose. In other news, "Creature" was released June 18th in the U.S.A. on Arista records. For those of you who classify as our American readers this is your cue to go out and buy half a dozen copies and pester your friends, family, and members of Congress relentlessly to request Moist on their local radio stations, television stations, and any other form of media you care to name to spread the word and aid us in our continuing quest for world domination. More on America, summer and fall shows, and a full description of the "incident" next time. Nauselbaum, Moist

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