Tour Horror Stories: Redman, Mastodon, Charly Bliss and More Get Spooky
Halloween might be the one day per year that the normals can wear glitter and/or tight pants and/or a clown mask and let their id take the wheel. For musicians, every day is basically Halloween — which means both treats and tricks.
We spoke with a bevy of musicians — from Mastodon to Redman — about their most chilling of horror stories from that many-storied place: the road.
Troy Sanders (Mastodon): This was on our first U.S. tour with Slayer, 2004 or 2005. We were supporting Slayer and played the hockey arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first note of the first song of our set — the timing couldn’t have been better — I was hit in the bridge of my nose by an Italian sausage in a bun with hot mustard.
It kind of broke apart on my face and it fell right down below me, and it all landed on my pedal board. I look down at my pedal board and I see bits of hot dog bun and bits of sausage and mustard. It took a second for me to wrap my head around what I think just happened. Then I remember my next thought was, I was blown away that hot Italian sausages are sold at this particular Slayer show. That was impressive. Then, the third split second later, I realized that there’s spicy mustard in my eyeballs. [I was] blown away that someone would throw an entire, probably expensive, sausage at me. We hadn’t even played one note! How can you hate us yet?
Redman: Me and Meth [Method Man] had a show in Tampa Bay, Florida, and we was at another spot out there that’s rated top 5 in the world in haunted places. It was a big establishment from back in the day when they used to bring people in and ship ‘em in — let ‘em stay in there for a minute then move on out.
It was like so many rooms: a theater here, a room over here where the big executives of that company back in the 1930s had meetings at and a basement that looked like an asylum. And all these rooms, everyone got killed there; someone hung themselves in the theater, someone shot themselves in the executive room, in the basement maybe like 30 people got killed down there.
I’m walking through the place, just walking to the bathroom. They [were] having a wedding there the next day so they had the place set up with all the candles, there was like 40 tables in that bitch. So I go use the bathroom and go hit the blunt right quick, and all the candles on the table are lit. I was like, nobody could have did that that fast.
So I seen one of the people that work in the building, and they said sometimes that happens. And they said it with confidence ‘cause they work there. They said shit like, ‘This always happens. Don’t worry. You’re in good spirits.’ It gave me a little chill.
Charly Bliss: The most memorable tour horror story in the Charly Bliss canon took place during the last drive of a small winter tour we did in January 2016. We were trying to knock out a 13-hour drive from Indiana back home to Brooklyn in one day and everything was going smoothly: clear skies, open roads and the soothing sounds of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone audiobook had us all lulled into a meditative state. It was around hour 10 when it began to snow.
For the first few minutes it was gentle and scenic, but things turned quickly. Without a moment’s notice, the cascade of little white flurries turned into a snowstorm so thick and unrelenting that we could hardly see more than a few inches in front of us. The wind was making the chassis of the van shake violently from side to side like it was a bobble head on wheels. It was impossible to tell if we had veered off onto the shoulder or were still on the road. Spencer was shouting a string of expletives, Eva was texting her mom for support, Dan was checking out the window to try to help with directions and Sam sat bravely at the helm, trying to steer us to safety. It was horrifying, and then it stopped as abruptly as it had started.
We were all a complete mess so we pulled off the highway to take a second to stop the car and breathe. We took the first exit we saw and ended up on the side of the road in some rural town in Pennsylvania. No one was saying a word, a lot of heavy breathing and sighs of relief, but no talking. Then, right when things were just starting to feel normal again, three ornate horse-drawn carriages slowly rolled past us. Our eyes followed the buggies in unison until they disappeared out of sight. Somehow the silence in the van had gotten even quieter and the horrifying truth set in: had we been sucked into a time rift?
What happened next is something I will never forget: Sam, the cool-headed and rational one in the band, gripped the steering wheel tightly and screamed, ‘WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT IS GOING ON? WHAT. THE. FUCK. IS GOING ON?!’
At this point, the absurdity of the situation mixed with the adrenaline that comes with any near death experience made the van burst out laughing. It didn’t take long before we realized that the horse drawn carriages were an indicator that we had pulled over in Amish county and not that we had entered a tear in the fabric of space and time. We hightailed it to the closest motel we could find, which happened to be an especially filthy one whose front desk attendant bore a striking resemblance to Edgar the Bug from Men in Black.
We slept well that night and made it home to tell the tale, but to this day, the very sight of a horse drawn buggy sends a chill down our spines.
Nicole Atkins: One time, we played at this weird venue down in Atlanta called Masquerade that was full of weird Halloween dolls and super dark. Our drummer had one of his old friends from grammar school come that he hasn’t seen in a long time. The dude told him that he was possessed by the devil and couldn’t stay for the whole show because there were too many crosses in the building. He kept growling at the walls. I hid in the van for the rest of the night.
Carly Pearce: We were out West. We were convinced by a certain person that we would stay in an RV on site instead of getting hotel rooms, which ended up being a complete disaster and ended up being awesome ’cause we all camped together like it was summer camp. But it was 100 degrees in the camper when we got there, no running water, no nothing. And we each had to use a porta potty right outside of the RV all night, and we were kinda scared ‘cause were out in the middle of a field at 3 a.m., and it’s silent out there. It was the middle of nowhere. It was something out of a horror movie. Somewhere out West, in the middle of the field. I felt like Michael Myers was gonna come out, but we made it. We were in it together.
Ezra Furman: There was one time in Portland, Oregon. We got to the venue and this dive bar full of people. We called up the promoter and said, ‘There’s no sound guy or equipment here. No microphones.’ He said, ‘Oh, you need microphones? You didn’t bring your own?’ No band ever does that; usually the venue can amplify the music.
He said, ‘OK, here’s what you got to do. Look for the guy with the cowboy hat. He’ll hook you up. He may be in the bar somewhere, hanging around. He’s not working today, but he has some microphones in his garage.’
So we found the cowboy, his name was Cowboy; it was the name he preferred to be called by. Cowboy said, ‘I’ll get them, but it’s going to take a while.’ There was also nobody really that came to see us…and that turned out to be a great night!
Nai Palm: There was a time on tour in Istanbul in Turkey, and the Paris attack happened. And we were supposed to fly into Paris and stay a couple of blocks away. So they closed the airport, they closed the borders and on top of that, my tour manager had a kidney stone and he refused to drink water. So we’re at the airport being told there’s this crazy attack and people have died, and my tour manager was literally getting a shot of penicillin/morphine in his ass because he was in immense pain. It was the craziest situation ever.
Justin Quiles: This one time, early on in my career, I was doing a performance. During that time my manager had a problem with someone at the club where I was performing. We were going to get jumped, all of us. There was no security, there was nothing. We only had our car so everyone was yelling, ‘Everybody jump in the car now! Let’s go right now! Move, move, move!’ We all get in the car and just start driving.
There was a car following us everywhere, but thank God, after a bit, we lost them. We were like, ‘OK, OK. We’re good now.’ We went back to the hotel and we were fine. But it was crazy to experience that. Back in the day it was only about three or four of us that traveled together so it was really a horror when we saw those 30 other guys.
(Art credit: Dimitri Drjuchin)
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