Seeing how there really isn’t much going on with the band at the moment, for the Halloween/Samhain newsletter, I thought it might be fitting to count down the top 10 most frightening incidents that I have personally experienced while on tour with the band. Although some of these distressing occurrences may have been touched upon in past newsletters, there is much that is new, including certain details that I was reluctant to mention at the time. So, while I sip on a Pina Ghoulada in a blood red-rimmed glass, without further ado, here’s the top 10 most frightening Tool tour moments (again, that I’VE experienced). (NOTE: The October newsletter was written before the websites were shut down due to maintenance issues, and might have remained lost if not for a stranger who approached me while shopping at “Ralphs” and asked me about its whereabouts.)
“THE WENDY’S BURGER AND THE BRAKES”
I believe this incident occurred in 2002, during one of Tool’s “Lateralus” tours. While riding on the tour bus to a show down in Dan Diego, because the guys were planning to stop at Oakley for some swag, and due to traffic concerns, it was decided by the their manager that instead of eating the meal prepared by the tour catering company at the venue, the bus would stop somewhere along the way so they could grab some fast food to go. While most of the band members and their girlfriends picked “El Pollo Loco”, one member and his girlfriend (and one other crew member) turned out to be Wendy’s kind of people. So the search was on to find a Wendy’s in close proximity to an El Pollo Loco - not an easy thing to do, even with the plethora of fast food restaurants viewed from the freeway. Now, while some of us kept our eyes peeled, this particular band member (who wanted Wendy’s, and who shall remain nameless) was telling a couple of us how he was becoming extremely annoyed with being jolted forward as a result of the bus driver’s repeated abrupt braking. This sudden braking had been occurring over the course of the entire tour, and so often - the band member told us - that he didn’t want to use the driver ever again. As I listened to his gripe, someone spotted an El Pollo Loco that was, incredibly enough, within walking distance to a… Wendy’s! Without braking too sharply (or so I thought – where’s the beef?), the shiny tour coach exited the freeway and pulled up alongside the place known for its citrus marinated flame-broiled chicken. Having piled out to get our food to go, about twenty minutes later we climbed back into the bus. In the process of removing our dinner from its greasy paper bags, the bus driver pulled away, heading for the freeway ramp. As we continued, I noticed that the band member who had the sack of Wendy’s fare was carefully (nay, meticulously) arranging the stuff on his “old fashioned burger.” While holding one bun in his right hand, he was busy re-positioning a pickle or tomato or onion with his left hand when suddenly the bus driver abruptly braked. What happened next seemed to occur in slow motion. I remember being jolted forward, watching at the same time as that signature square burger patty was launched from its bun into a high arc that flipped over several times before landing in the middle of the carpeted aisle. Never shall I forget the expression of displeasure on that band member’s face as he sat there holding that (now) burger-less bun. To say that it was frostier than his chocolate Frosty would be an understatement.
“CARNY GAMES IN A POSH SAN DIEGO HOTEL”
The following incident occurred in Danny’s hotel room after a San Diego show during the “10,000 Days” tour. There were about 7 of us in the spacious suite, having drinks and shooting the shit, when Justin and I started playing an impromptu game of ‘dodgeball’ with some of the paper drink coasters. However, soon this evolved into something far more sophisticated (and much better than the usual after show Yahtzee tournament). Removing several items from the room’s mini-bar (standard mini-bar snacks and beverages), I placed them on the shelf against the wall. The object of the game, I informed everyone, was to fling the paper coaster at the desired prize while seated on a couch across the room, and if hit, that object was awarded to the winner. As I remember it, Volto’s John Ziegler was the first to win, scoring himself a cold bottle of Heineken. As someone else hit a small can of Pringles, Danny emerged from the Donniker (or elsewhere) and shouted “CARNIES!” The game continued into the wee hours, with Justin finally nailing a much coveted miniature bottle of Scotch. Next it was Danny, who knocked a bag of peanut M&Ms off the shelf with a lightning fast toss, and was seen afterwards eating and offering the candy to anyone who wanted some. Moments later, as JZ sipped his Pilsener, I saw University of Kansas basketball star, Eric Chenowith pick up a large silver platter from the coffee table and aim it at the few remaining prizes on the shelf. “Don’t toss that”, the greenie uttered. “Why not?” was the big guy’s reply. Before I could answer, Shelee (Justin’s lady) knocked on the door, wanting Justin to leave. “But look at what I won”, beamed the Tool bassist with the British accent as he proudly displayed the miniature bottle of Scotch in the palm of his hand (a bottle just like the ones stocked in the mini-bar in his own room). Now, in case you’re wondering what made this incident so frightening, it was how dangerously close we came on that night to drifting into the shoals of Van Halenism… once Chenowith picked up that silver platter. However, with restraint being the better part of valor, I’m happy to report that nothing got broken (including any brown M&Ms flung at the walls).
“YOUNG HOOLIGANS ON A TRAIN NEAR MANCHESTER ENGLAND”
My brother and I were taking a train from Edinburgh, Scotland to London to catch a couple of Tool shows at the Brixton Academy. Things were going swimmingly when our reverie was shattered by a gang of young British hooligans who boarded (needless to say, without tickets) during a stop in Manchester. Wearing rubbish-heap tattered gabardine and Burberry checkered caps, the unruly horde (aged 10 to 13 years of age by my best guesstimate) were puffing cigarette butts and guzzling tall cans of some indigenous ale as they proceeded to terrorize the passengers, demanding money, cigarettes, and items from the snack vendor with their rhyming slang bafflegab. I even saw one of the ‘Clockwork Orange’ hobbits making crude sexual gestures to a horrified elderly woman, wagging his scummy black tongue to reveal teeth not unlike those who are weaned on Mountain Dew in the hills of Kentucky. It was only a matter of time before the pack of inbreeds accosted us, I thought. Fortunately, moments later, the authorities arrived. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, accompanied by threats of a proper bashing, the hooligans jumped off the train and fled into the woods of their ramshackle shire (until such a time when they are old enough to terrorize the Amsterdam “Red Light” or some holiday resort on a Greek island). But the story gets even more frightening once we arrive a King’s Cross Station. There more hooligans confront us, only these guys aren’t twelve years old. Even so, after donating a few cigarettes to the cause, we managed to make the show on time. Having seen a number of Tool shows in Europe during the “Lateralus” tour (and usually from the side of the stage or front of house – thank you), for a change of pace, at the Brixton Academy, my brother and I decided to sit at the back of the venue; in fact, in the row of seats farthest away from the stage. Frighteningly enough, David Bottrill was seated right in front of us. David Bottrill? Hadn’t he had something to do with the record? WTF? Were tickets really that hard to come by!
“GODDAMN, THERE BETTER NOT BE SODAS IN THE COOLERS!!!”
While driving to a Tool show from Houston to Dallas, I am informed that the venue is in a dry county. Immediately I make a call to a band member to share my concerns. Guess what his reply was?
“GHOSTS IN RAFTERS WATCHING WITHOUT TICKETS”
Number six on our countdown of the most frightening moments involving a Tool tour occurred at a show in Honolulu’s Blaisdell Concert Hall. As LaraLee, myself, and a couple of others were watching the performance from the side of the stage, we couldn’t help notice that one of the band’s security honchos kept shining his flashlight up at the venue’s rafters. Evidently, local ghosts – dead tribal chieftains, sinners, surfers, and authors of the “Macadamia Cooking Treasury” - were attempting to watch the show without paying. It was even likely that some of these tattooed spirits may have been taking photographs and/or recording the band with who knows what type of portable devices. The frightening thing, though, was that if security managed to have them tossed out of the Concert Hall, what form of retaliation might they take? I for one certainly didn’t want to be awakened later that night with the smell of Bazooka Joe bubblegum and whizzing orange fireballs in the hotel room. And then there was the possibility of chocolate fingerprints. BTW, did I mention that Metallica’s Kirk Hammett joined the band on stage for “Sober?”
“OZZY FLEES THE PORTA POTTY”
Although I don’t remember specifically what tour this was, the venue was the “Rock-am-Ring” festival at the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany. While my good friend Michael, Sash Popovic, my brother and I were on the Autobahn heading to the show in our rented Audi, someone (Michael) wanted to stop at a sausage stand that he espied from the road and verified when we exited for petrol. With abject horror, I watched as he sampled several of those fleshy tubes made from the casings of pig intestines. Along with a spectrum of condiments, he devoured the damn things on rye, caraway and black breads. Bockwurst, brats, Knockwurst… I don’t know what was wurst, but with all the congealed blood, eggs, pickling salts, spices, juniper berries, and chucks of pistachios, I soon feared the wurst. When we finally arrived at the festival and parked near the band’s buses, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone (Michael) needed desperately to hit the (single) porta potty that had been set up in the backstage area beer-garden. I’m not sure how long he was in there, but soon it was evident that someone else was desperate to use the thing. As my friend exited, this someone else entered. I would compare the time that it took for the man who bites the heads off bats to flee the dreadful whirlpool in that particular porta potty (at that particular time) to be even faster than the person behind you in L.A. takes to honk their horn when the traffic light switches to green. Not scary enough? Well, with all that Warsteiner, I, too, desperately had to whiz…
“DANNY WATCHING THE OPERA”
The number four most frightening thing happened at Tool’s storied loft. On the night of one of the band’s “Aenima” tour shows in Los Angeles, I stopped by the loft in order to get a jacket that I had left there the night before. My plan was to pick up the jacket and then drive down to the show. Having my own set of keys to the loft, I entered the darkened rehearsal space. Before finding the light switch, I noticed the flickering of a television set up in the actual loft where Danny’s waterbed was. Thinking he just left the tv on, I proceeded into the room to search for my jacket. There, I was a bit puzzled to see Danny watching an opera. Didn’t he have a show in a couple of hours? With his eyes riveted to the screen, almost as if he was in a trance, I asked if the Tool concert was still happening. After acknowledging that it was, he glanced at a clock and stood up. “Shouldn’t you be leaving soon?” I asked. “Yeah… I should probably head down there pretty soon”, he calmly replied. “Did you drive over here?”
“THE DECOY TOUR BUS AND DECOY BAND MEMBERS”
I think this happened in Fresno, though it might have been in Reno, Nevada. Several hours before the show, Danny, Justin and a few of us were seated outside by where the tour buses were parked.
Suddenly, from out of the bushes (I believe) a young kid and his girlfriend approached, telling us that they were huge Tool fans ands had just sneaked into the back stage area. After telling us about this miraculous feat, the guy asked us if we’d seen any of the band members. When someone (it might have been Danny) replied that they were on the bus, the guy informed his young girlfriend that those where decoy tour buses, and that the real buses were parked elsewhere. If I remember correctly, Justin looked at the kid and told him that he was probably right. Now, the frightening thing here is that, not only was the guy right about the decoy tour buses (which run near a million dollars), but those band members who I was previously enjoying a conversation with were undoubtedly decoys themselves! Damn, I wonder were they found them?
“NOT JUST ANOTHER TOOL SHOW AT THE COCONUT TEASZER”
This happened a long, long, long time ago. After performing in the small club on the Sunset strip (for which they might not have received any money for, but they sure as hell DIDN’T pay to play), the guys signed with their first manager. Despite having a few ‘fishbowls’ of Bud, I vividly remember standing outside next to the van as the manager handed the guys a single twenty-dollar bill so that they could all go get a cup of coffee.
Which brings us to the number 1 most frightening incident that I’ve personally experienced during a Tool tour. However, before revealing it, there are numerous other incidents that could have easily made the list. These include the time that a friend of Danny’s volunteered to deliver the band’s talismanic board (with its magically illegal “Word of Power”) to the backstage area of the Coachella Festival (where the venue stage manager gave us all kinds of grief in a Pazuzuesque preternatural baritone). Also there was the outdoor show where afterwards someone asked me how it felt to be standing right next to Pamella Anderson Lee the entire time, and I had to admit that I didn’t even notice her. (NOTE: Come to think of it, that wasn’t really too frightening. What if I had started talking with her, and we became friends – then I’d have to some day meet Kid Rock. Instead, I should include the Pinkpop Festival in Holland, when Danny and I were on the side stage during Limp Bizkit’s performance and were only given a second’s notice by a stage hand that pyrotechnics were going to explode nearby). Another frightening episode occurred the night after a show in Paris when my credit card was fraudulently charged $1, 400.00 for a SINGLE glass of beer in a nightclub in the sparkling Champs-Elysees. And then there was the “Krystal Nightmare” in New Orleans, with all of the roaches, tattooed throngs of Tool fans, and my half dozen attempts to get one of those tiny burgers without mayo and cheese. And let’s not forget the time in London when we ran into Justin in the secret honor bar in the Covent Garden hotel (This was frightening because we were so tired at the time, and just wanted to get some sleep). Finally, another incident that deserves an honorable mention would be the McDonald’s hamburger that I ate at the train station in Hamburg…
“THE POMONA EPICENTER 09 AFTERSHOW PARTY”
Being the last show of the tour, surely there would be a big party after the band finished playing the Pomona “Epicenter 09” extravaganza. And although there was lots of talk about doing just that, nobody (not even Dodgers lefty Randy Wolf, nor Rich, nor Frank, nor Glendon Rusch) seemed to know where and when such a celebration was to take place. Finally, I was informed that it was to be back at the Pomona Sheraton Fairplex hotel where the guys were staying. WhooHoo! Having been given bad directions, we eventually found the place and entered the lobby. Looking around, there didn’t seem to be any indication of a party at the hotel bar (just a bunch of businessmen, golfers, Jessica Alba (?), and Bob Ritchie trying to order a “Kid Rock” beer. About a half hour later, a band member who shall remain nameless walked up and told me to go to a particular room. Alright, they’ve rented an entire room for the shindig! That’s what we all thought. However, once inside this near-empty room, all I saw were a couple of people hiding under a table, the only furnishing in the place (for what reason these people were hiding under the table, I never found out. Kid Rock?). Next, the band member appeared again, this time holding a warm unopened case of Corona beer! Not to be alarmed, a woman was right behind our glorious benefactor, she carrying a large bag of ice. With the sight of the case of Corona (lest we forget the ice), pandemonium broke out, with dozens of people attempting to grab as many warm bottles as they could carry. As I tried to restore order, shouting that the beers weren’t yet cold, an elderly man in a dark suit burst into the room and grabbed the iced case of beer, informing us in no uncertain terms that we had no right to be in the room, and that drinking beer at this hour (it was well after 2:00 am) was very much against the law. Though I feared for the MIB as he hurried down the hall with our golden treasure, I feared for the after-partygoers even more. Then my cell-phone rang. It was Danny, asking why I wasn’t up at the party in his hotel room? I asked if there were carny games and told him that I’d be right up. And, that my friends, is what makes this particular incident so damn frightening…
So there you have it, the top 10 and a few honorable mentions. Before I make myself another one of these Pina Ghouladas, I should like to add that I absolutely expect something to one-day top number 10. This will most likely occur in Australia, involving one of those deadly ticks or a huntsman on my Hahn Premium, or even Red Ned stains (provided of course, the band tours there, and I’ve a protective Aussie suit). But then again, it could just as easily happen here… though not likely at the Coconut Teaszer…