I forgot to mention the coolest thing about the flight back from London to Stockholm was that after waiting in Heathrow for hours and watching Californication on the computer, Natascha McElhone sat behind me on the plane, and I talked to her for a tiny bit when we landed. She was dressed exactly the same way she is in the show (except she’s actually British and doesn’t speak the same way.)
Back in Sweden in time for inskolning for the little one. Marlowe started her new pre-school right when I got back from the US East Coast touring, and that meant that I went with her for the first few days, and shadowed her a bit where she could be independent but always look back to see that I was there. Also, this meant that she needed to learn to sleep in the nap room with the other children (I sang her some songs at first.) She did pretty well here, and after a few days I took her there and then said “hej då” and she was unhappy, but waved bye bye and stayed by herself all day.
This is the point of attachment parenting actually, not that the child should be so attached to their parents that they must have them always, but that the child is comfortable with their attachment so that they can be certain of it even when the parent goes away for a while.
Also, Marlowe is incredibly verbal for a one-and-a-half year old. I don’t know whether her play by herself is as complex as it is because of this or whether we know what her fantasy play is simply because she is verbal while doing it. Maybe all kids this age are enacting scenarios but aren’t verbalizing it because they don’t speak yet. Or maybe her advanced language skills enable her to form complex situations while playing with dolls or objects or whatever. It’s cool to watch either way. She speaks mostly Swedish of course, but understands me when I speak English, and sometimes answers me in English, or repeats what I say. (and sometimes she says to mama, “papa says it like this” and says the word in English.
Meanwhile, I finished my Swedish for Immigrants class by taking the test right before leaving on tour in January, and found out when I got back that I passed, I sort of thought that I would. So I put together the papers needed to get the SFI-bonus money from the state, only to find out when I got to the SFI-centrum that I no longer qualified! Fuck! Apparently I had to pass the classes within 15 months (used to be 2 years) of being registered in the county I live in, and despite moving here last June, I was registered when Marlowe was born on July 30 2011. So I got screwed. By 3 months. Me and income of any sort are really not friends. I did meet with a local company that makes digital music compilations from their immense catalog of licensed music from other labels, and I am starting to make some comps for them, but it’s not much money, like $50 per comp. I’m working on Asian music, as nobody there has any experience with it. Unfortunately (for me and potential listeners) I have to work out of the stacks of music from specific labels, rather than being able to cull them from everywhere.
On the last tour, in January, I had brought my “The Paul” Les Paul, after putting the Bigsby on it—the Bigsby, which, by the way, I bought online and had sent to me here in Sweden. What a mistake! The unit together with a Vibramate mount was about $150, but to get it from Swedish post meant I had to pay customs on it, which was an additional $60! I guess I’ll keep my brother’s house in the US as my Paypal address, and just pick things up occasionally. I did buy an old 1966 Stratocaster neck from South Africa ($350! fake or scam, it was a relatively minimal gamble, which I seem to have won, as it is real!) and it was sent there at around Christmas, so that was a piece of good mail picked up from them in Petaluma. I brought that neck to a shop here in Blackeberg which had a pretty good reputation for a new nut and fret dressing while I was in the US in January. I picked it up when I got back, they had attached it to a body and put it in the Plek machine. It has weird big wide frets, which are now professionally dressed. The wood is super dry, though, and soaked up a couple applications of lemon oil into the rosewood super quickly. I wonder what I can use to hydrate the maple….? Anyway, bringing it with me for the next tour.
The Paul, with its Seymour Duncan pickups and the Bigsby, worked really well for the new Camper Van Beethoven songs, I think. The only problem I had was the volume difference between the violin and this guitar when I switched between them. But the Les Paul/Gibson style of pickups and volume and tone controls sound good for this stuff though they require a lot of twiddling of knobs during the songs. Sometimes that’s tough when I’m rushing to switch instruments, or playing two or three things during the course of one song.
On the recordings of “La Costa Perdida”, when I wasn’t playing violin, I actually used my ’64 Gretsch Double Anniversary for Northern California Girls (that part that goes way outside by the end of the song), but in concert I liked using the Les Paul. I’ve been favoring using the handy Stratocaster lately, again, because I can get some low volume feedback going on…
The Gretsch was also on “Love for All Time” (along with the Rickenbacker 450-12 string.) My part is the hypnotic part, not the melodic part that Greg plays. I played Les Paul (Standard) on “You’ve Got to Roll”, and Stratocaster on “Too High For the Love In”, so in concert, “You’ve Got to Roll” was great on The Paul, but I have a good way to play it on Stratocaster also, because for that song I use three tone settings: one for the body of the verse, a brighter (bridge pickup on either guitar) for the fast part and then the neck pickup with tone rolled off and distortion for the slow part of the chorus. Works on either guitar, actually.
I did get to play one gig here in Stockholm before heading back to play more with Camper Van Beethoven, again sitting in with the Plastic Pals, whose new record (CD and LP!) is great. We played at the Southside Cavern on Hornsgatan, a cave below an Irish pub.
So, back again to the US, I flew through Amsterdam this time to Minneapolis, where Camper Van Beethoven was playing a Valentine’s Day concert with Cracker at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. I got in and made it to our hotel near the airport, which is also near the MALL OF AMERICA! Our hotel also had a built in water park, though I never managed to make use of it. I did go to the MALL OF AMERICA the next morning to find coffee because there was a convenient shuttle straight from the hotel. While I was looking around at it, at the complete weirdness of having some sort of theme park within the mall, complete with large carnival rides and stuff, David called to say that we could go have lunch in town with an economist named Joel Waldfogel, who had written a bunch of stuff on the music business (and could I get him a latte.) So I managed to find my way out and we went into the city to a Vietnamese place and discussed the idea of tracking whether music had “quality” by seeing how long it was maintained by the listening audience. Joel’s data says that music in the 60s was of an increasing quality as it continued and continues to be played on the radio and online streams, and less so for music of the 70s, in a decreasing line. And so forth. But his point is that after the drop in the industry into the digital stream world, around 2000, the “quality” line goes up a little and then flattens out. So he surmises that quality music is still being made despite the lack of sales. I would argue that it is potentially in the public eye for as long as it is now simply due to the fact that it takes longer to find or to disseminate the word on quality music now, so it just appears to stay in the public eye for as long as it does.
Eventually we had to get back and pick up everybody and go to the performing arts center.
This was a new theatre, you could still smell the construction materials! Nice, raked seating, good sounding stage. I borrowed a guitar from a local fan to use at this show! This appeared to be a sponsored show (we had banners behind us for the radio station that covered the baseball teams) and so we had to do a signing and have pictures taken with people after sound check. Which is fine, of course, I just wonder what actually happens to all those photos that people take with us. I have a photo I had taken a long time ago with Thom Yorke at some festival in England that I have kept, but he’s famous. The next day, Victor, Greg and I flew to San Francisco while Frank and David went to play a Cracker gig in Michigan. So we who went to SF landed before the sun went down, Victor and I got to go walk his dog on Bernal Hill and then go home and have a nice dinner. I was supposed to stay at some hotel by the airport, but stayed at Victor’s instead. When the other guys got into town, they were running on empty entirely, they had played some casino and flown after no sleep. Frank was supposed to stay at Victor’s but wanted to trade for my hotel room, but they wouldn’t let him cuz it had my name on it. Stupid.
Staying at Victor’s allowed me to put the old Stratocaster neck onto my west coast touring guitar which I leave at Victor’s, it’s a 2004 AVRI ’62 Strat, with Lindy Fralin pickups. And an old tortoise-shell pickguard. Now with a very old neck.
We made it to the San Francisco venue, the Rickshaw Stop, later that afternoon and set up. The room was an old sound stage for TV production, so it still had its asbestos-lined walls (can’t break ’em now!) and sounded amazingly dead. This was the beginning of a run of sold-out shows in Northern California. All of them were great shows, in different ways. In SF and Novato, our opening band was The Black Marshmallows, which had several people from Santa Cruz bands from back when Camper was a Santa Cruz band, including David Knowles and Roderick Wyllie, whom Victor (and I) had played “fake jazz” with in a band called Clutch Cargo in San Francisco in the 90s as well. They sounded excellent, a little like Television and a little country music thrown in there. I got to see many old friends at the San Francisco show (though I forgot to sing Happy Birthday in Swedish for Kristy.)
The next day we did an in-store show at Amoeba in San Francisco at 2pm, over on Haight St. A little hectic to park and load over there, especially considering we had all the gear with us because we had to head out afterwards to the next show. Amoeba is always great to play at, and they reward the band with vouchers for buying records. I like this. I picked up a few new CDs, including the latest Sigur Ros and the latest Meshuggah, to catch up on the Scandinavian music (a coincidental and possibly funny thing also is that a friend of mine’s boyfriend is the lead singer in Meshuggah, but he also had been stricken by the same sickness I had and lost his voice, so their last show had him as a cardboard cut-out on stage…)
Then we drove to the evening show, which was at the Hopmonk in Novato, which is a satellite of the Hopmonk in Sebastopol where we had played before. This one was in a shopping center which was a little weird. The IHOP-monk? (Seriously, there was an IHOP next door.) Another new venue, still working its sound out, but generally very good. Good pub-style food. After the show, we drove all the way to Davis (a whole hour.) We we got to wake up in Davis, and head downtown for an in-store at Armadillo Music, which was cool because I got to see my brother and his family and my dad! Plus several friends from high school who were still living nearby, including Shelley LaFreniere, former keyboardist for Game Theory, now living on a big farm outside of Davis, and partway off the grid (that is to say, not on Facebook, that sort of thing.) She brought organic eggs from her chickens. (Victor ended up with them.)
By this time, my voice was entirely gone, I had been sick from whatever floated through the pre-school in Stockholm for a week already and though I didn’t feel too bad, I was still coughing and getting laryngitis. I’ve actually never had laryngitis before, it’s sort of weird. But luckily I am not the lead singer in CVB, though the audience had to suffer through me croaking out backing vocals.
We left Davis in the pouring rain the next day to go back to SF to play on KFOG, some sort of in-studio-with-a-small-audience acoustic thing. Pretty weird, actually. Who were these people in the audience? Then afterwards we tried to continue shooting bits for a music video for “Someday Our Love Will Sell Us Out”, as the record company people didn’t think that the psychedelic home-made-in-iMovie videos I made for Summer Days nor “Come Down the Coast” would fly for the absolute professional needs of blogs like Pitchfork or whatever. So those are on the shelf now. I’ll put them up somewhere, sometime.
Then we headed to LA, where we landed at LAX and went to El Segundo, nearby, to stay at some Hacienda Hotel, near where our tour manager Bobby Conner lives. Cracker actually picked up Bobby when they went to play in Iraq, he was tour managing there. I guess if you can do that, you can do anything. In fact, on top of everything else, he was filming this video. But also, he knew where to get some great Mexican food nearby, which was definitely something I don’t find in Sweden. A little later, we all drove to Long Beach to play a CVB-trio acoustic in-store show at Fingerprints Records. They had moved from the east-side business area to downtown Long Beach since I’d last been there, which may have been when I did an in-store show there with Sparklehorse many years earlier. Apparently they still remembered that show, though, and said it was one of the best they had ever had. (Until this one, of course. The CVB show was packed and was really good!)
We spent the next afternoon out on the beach at El Segundo filming bits of me and David playing for the video, before we had to drive up to Hollywood to the House of Blues. At the HoB, we were opening for Leftover Salmon, who are a bluegrass-style electric jam band. I don’t actually know if their audience appreciates us at all. This show was on borrowed amps and drums, and the stage sound was intensely loud. Probably not our best show, but at least I got to see some friends afterwards for a few minutes before we headed back to El Segundo for a little sleep before a 7am lobby call to get back to the airport and fly to Seattle, by now in a dextromethorphan and guaifenisen haze (for me, at least.)
The last two shows were great, Seattle and Portland. We played with a cool Portland band called Casey Neill and the Norway Rats, whose gear we used also. Both shows were packed and sold out, in very very hipster neighborhoods, the Seattle one in Ballard at the Tractor Tavern and the Portland one at Mississippi Studios. We drove rental cars between the cities, which was a nice drive in the Pacific Northwest. I drove a big Toyota SUV with David and Greg and we listened to XM stations, eventually settling on one that played the entirety of Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” amongst other things. David worked on making lectures for his class.
Here’s a nice review of the Seattle show from the East Portland Blog.
After the Portland show, we stayed a bit in the bar attached and even Greg had a beer (for some reason he doesn’t do that very often.) Then back to the hotel by the airport, up early for flights away.
I flew straight from PDX to Amsterdam, where I had a long layover, but made it home by the evening of the next day.