We’re somewhere in the state of Washington. It’s not important exactly where; no, the important thing is that Jerry Sprinter is heading east: home.
With Jerry tilted in this direction many thoughts come over me. But first, Jarrod and I witnessed one of the most beautiful interactions between men. Shades was driving and asked Skip, in the passenger seat, if that was peanut butter and jelly on the side view mirror. Skip was reading and didn’t hear Shades. This question, absurd as it is, just hung in the air, begging for a reply. Not just a reply, but why would there be pb & j on the side view mirror to begin with? Then Jarrod and I agreed–probably something to do with Kyle. What a summer.
With our day off in LA a few of us went to Amoeba Records to spend money we don’t have on records we probably don’t need. Ok, we need them. I caught up with Paul Weller‘s last ten years, bought some Frankie Miller on vinyl, and even bought The Sights’ Got What We Want. The label that released that record said they’re out of print (burned in a fire–what a cliche). It was funny, as the lady was ringing me up, she was asking me about my life. I’d told her I’d played Amoeba back in 2005, and now I’m here buying my old record. It was cool to see “The Sights” still had a card representing us in the vinyl and cd sections, with a few records in each. Kinda surreal, very much LA.
At night the six of us walked to an English pub themed bar in Hollywood (The Cat & Fiddle) that didn’t feel like lame ass LA at all. We’d stumbled upon a free outdoor movie–the original Willy Wonka! Who doesn’t love that movie? It was a good night for the band. It was a night off, and here we were, a buncha dudes acting kid-like while Wonka is blaring behind us. We were singing along and having a good time.
The next day we had three meetings to go to. Shades and I went to the first one, and the dudes we met were cool as hell. I tend to get nervous in these places, but once you walk in and see the way they personalize their office, you can get a feel of how they are. Anyway, the first set of dudes were great, but I was squirming when they decided to listen to our new record, Left Over Right, in the office. In front of me. Right now. Ok, where the hell do I look? I found myself staring at the shoe that was closest to me, with one of my legs being crossed resting on the other leg. Where’s Shades? Oh, looking out the window. Why can’t he stop this? It was hell. It’s like asking a girl out and waiting, and waiting. The music is playing, and they are judging it and me. Ok, it’s over. I’m worthy, contract’s in the mail (for real). First meeting: success.
The next meeting was more of a lunch date with Patrick at Alive Records. He invited us to the Alive/Bomp Records headquarters and we met Suzy Shaw. The walls were peeling with history, and as my eyes raced from record cover to record cover on the wall, familiarity and home reigned supreme. What a cool fucking place, with a big poster of Greg Shaw overlooking the empire–like a god smiling down.
Patrick and Peter from the label took us to a burger joint and we wolfed down our meat like happy boys. After the meal we went back to the label’s lair and Patrick let us grab a few (or more) lps. So, yeah, we grabbed some Rationals, MC5, and Stooges. Typical Detroit dorks. Everybody got an Alive shirt too. I’ve seen someone in this van wear their Alive shirt every damn day since then. Thanks Patrick, you’re a good man.
Onward to the next meeting. It went well, and when it felt like I’d run out of steam Shades would do a great job propping me back up. We’re in these trenches together, and it’s great having him next to me in battle. Screw you, Maginot Line. You’ll get yours yet.
And so we loaded into the Wiltern Theatre in LA. We’d done two nights there with Robert Plant in 2005, so it was nice to be back. I like saying it’s good to be back to some giant place–as if I could sell this place out.
Before the gig a few of us grabbed something to eat while I had a cup of coffee. Some of the guys were getting bleak on me, with this being the last gig with Tenacious D. It was the final night of their tour, with ours continuing another week while we play our way home. The dudes were getting all pessimistic on my ass, and it was bothering me. I tried to get them to see this as merely a break from the usual, and not the end of everything. Conversation turned to the exciting things we have coming in the fall, and common sense was restored. Thomas Paine would have been proud–the colonies were still intact.
We played the gig, and it was unbelievably good. At this point we’re a machine that knows how to get shit done. I busted a string and Patrick Dorsey, the D’s cool as shit guitar tech, came out and handed me my spare. I wanted to do the thing Jack does with him, but thought best not to, haha. Patrick is one of the coolest people I’ve met in this business in a long time. A sincerely good man, and thorough.
After the show I hung with ML Liebler and his wife, who were in town with their son and daughter (it was cool to see Shane, their son, who I went to high school with). I talked with them about love, life, everything. ML is many things to me–mentor, teacher, uncle, brother, bandmate, list goes forever. I can tell him things you just can’t say to your pops. He sometimes has a bluntness that throws me off (“So, like, uh, what are doing this for? What’s the end result here?”) but I value his honesty. It was awesome to connect with him and his wife amidst the cartoon chaos that is touring. We also hung with Rick Fusco. Fusco has become legendary in our van, as I am sure he is a legend to some in Detroit for nefarious reasons. His new thing was to throw a “zilla” tail on everything, so stuff became blankzilla and blahzilla. Fuscozilla.
I had spoken to Jack Black about having us aboard their European trek and Jack was into it, but it’d been a week since we talked about it. Tonight’s the night, as Neil once said, and I had to go in for the kill. I didn’t want to bother him pre-show, plus it’s LA, there’s family in town, etc. So after the show I ran into their production manager Joe Beebe and thanked him for a wonderful summer and that hopefully I’d run into him again. He said, “Of course you will, you’re going to Europe with us, aren’t you?” Sure, BB. That’s right! So I immediately darted backstage to find…KG eating a slice of pizza. I found one for myself, sat down next to him on the couch, and he said to me right away: “Congrats dude, I’ll see you in Europe.” Two for two, Baranek, stay cool. Then Jack comes into my vision, throws out the left arm fora high five, and said “Europa, we’re doing it!” Thanks, Jack. Thanks for a great summer and a cooler fall.
So I run back to tell the guys we’re in, Europe’s a go. You see, it’s not over. It’s just the beginning.
All the best,
Today’s high according to Jerry Sprinter‘s thermometer: 91
Photos by Shades
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