Bumps, bruises, breakdowns and stranded bands– the rocky horrors of the road are an unavoidable part of taking your music cross-country. While bands usually describe touring as one endless party, some may wonder about the experiences and adventures that don’t fall under “the best of times.”
Story by Hayli Rudolph
To gain insight on these tales, ORANGE polled local Austin musicians for their weirdest, funniest and most horrifying tour stories.
Local quartet The Pride is made up of Chris Goranson, Lydia Palazzolo, Matthew Judson and Matias Espinosa. To get in the spirit of Halloween, the soulful jazz-pop group delivered a mysterious take fit for a night around the campfire with spooky photos to match. Check out their most recent single “Tonight” and upcoming shows on their website.
“According to band history, Lydia, Matthew and Chris were moving from Chicago to Austin. This was a cold night. They had been driving for hours. All of the sudden, through the fog, Lydia, who was driving, saw the shadow of a short man hitchhiking. They thought, "This van is full of gear and tired musicians," and they decided not to stop.
They continued driving for a few miles. In the distance, they saw a familiar shadow hitchhiking. “What the hell?,” thought Lydia as she drove past the dark, short figure once more. Several miles had gone by since they last saw it, but they all rode silently as they pondered the nature of what they had seen.
As Lydia looked at her rearview mirror to break the silence, she saw the figure sitting there, a fourth passenger in their cramped van, but as soon as she turned to look, the shadow was gone.
Months after their arrival in Austin, when the memory of the strange shadow had almost faded, they met Matias who plays bass. Lydia has always secretly thought that he resembles that dark, shadowed figure from the highway. With word of this story, Matias provided these photos the others had never seen.”
Anthony Watkins II, also known as Mobley, is a solo pop artist. His music, pulling from electronic and R&B influences, makes audience members instantly start foot tapping, if not break out in a full on dance. Check out Mobley’s video for “Solo” and more music on his website.
“I’ve played hundreds upon hundreds of shows, and while on the road, I’ve had blowouts, breakdowns and even a pretty nasty wreck. My best horror stories all involve my home away from home– the van.
One night, after stopping for gas on the way to a show, the van just refused to start. Somehow or another, through a combination of towing, jump starts and providence, I made it to the show on time that night. Thankfully, some fans at the show were able to help diagnose the problem as being a blown alternator.
The next morning, in order to make the next show on time, we woke up around 4 a.m. and camped out at an auto parts store, watching YouTube videos about how to replace an alternator while we waited for them to open. Through stubbornness as much as anything else, we were able to get the alternator swapped out (not rocket science, but not an easy repair either) and get on the road in time to make it to that night’s show.”
Walker Lukens is a soulful alternative-pop artist. The locally-based musician recently performed at this year’s Austin City Limits Festival, and is currently on his “Make America Lifted Again” tour. Lukens let ORANGE in on a twisting tale of free housing gone wrong. Check out his most recent EP “Never Understood” on SoundCloud.
“As a preface, I’ve never had a strong penchant for picking a stranger out of a crowd and knowing whether or not they’d be an adequate host for a bunch of party monster musicians. With that being said, I would like to tell you the story of how I stopped staying with people who approach me after shows and offer up their living room.
My band and I played in Hot Springs, Arkansas on a Saturday night in the summer of 2013. There’s pretty much only one venue there, so it’s a good gig if you can get it. We played after a band called The Bible Belt Bros. I don’t think I’m making this up.
We played a good set or maybe just a better set that The Bible Belt Bros. Many people bought us drinks. Sometime after a few Fireball shots, a nice guy said, “I loved y’all. Can I buy y’all a round? Do y’all need a place to stay?”
I eagerly reported to the band that not only had I found us more booze, but I had found us a free place to stay. We drank even more because we were only going two blocks down the street. Then, things got weird with our new patron.
“Are you from here?” I said. “I came here after I got out of the VA hospital,” he said. “Oh, wow. Were you injured in Iraq or Afghanistan?” I said. “I have PTSD,” he said.
I don’t remember how I responded, but he went on to tell me that he was forced to shoot a young boy who was firing at him. I decided that we should stay with this fella– we were all drinking, I was drunk and all motels were far. Even if he was a little unhinged, he only lived two blocks away.
We load up and drove to his apartment. As we’re getting out of the van, two of six band members decide that they’re going to sleep in the van. The apartment is a pigsty. It smells of cat shit, dirty clothes, dishes and feet. Another bandmate and I decide to sleep in his loft, which is a tiny three-foot crawl space.
None of us really sleep. The host never sleeps. The next morning everyone loads up, and one band mate can’t find his iPad.
The host denies any knowledge of anything, but the bandmate has Find My iPad. He sounds the alarm and searches. The iPad is up near the roof where the host smoked meth the night before and watched the stars. The last the bandmate sees is our host wrapped in a blanket in August in the South listening to my record really loudly.”