well, since i can’t leave the house now. i am having a lot of nostalgia and appreciation for all the places in the world i have been over the last few years. i feel they deserve that love, respect and reflection that i maybe couldn’t give in the moment while i was taking simple thing for granted. and as i write these out i get to go back there for a little bit in my head. strongly suggest.
mälmo, sweden :
“scandinavian” has been on my mind a lot lately. just images come in and out. i don’t know what it is. the peace, cleanliness, the minimalism, maybe how i felt when i was there. that one day we had off on tour, the sun came out and i walked miles through town to blå hoddans fisk – a seafood shack by a tiny river and had the best salmon of my whole life. i remember sitting at the picnic bench, sun, the stark primary colors, flat, like the whole world was piet mondrian or a franco fontana photo. i would cruise around the town on a scooter. it was that temperature when still it was pretty nice but when i was going 15mph on a bird, cold. i found a park by a river, a spot in the sun. i remember this swedish lady with a camera with this cartoon size lens trying to take a picture of the swans but every time she would stick her big fat lens inches from their face they would turn away. i remember thinking “people and they’re stupid fucking pictures” – then i remembered the video for “love supreme (work together!)” was coming out and i had to take a photo for it (hypocrite) I also wanted to include the swans in the background but they successfully avoided the frame every time. i was also tired and irritable because another band crashed at the place we were staying and they were up having a bedroom disco all night the night before and i almost lost my shit. that was the most time i spent alone in a long time, three days roaming mälmo.
porto/lisbon, portugal :
today i woke up thinking about sunbeams, large bright green tropical leaves, super colorful murals, sweating, hills. i thought it was portugal. then i went back and looked for photos from there and turns out i think i am thinking of somewhere else – or maybe just one moment in the whole two days there. i’m saying all this because it is funny how we remember things. we can sum up a whole experience or time period based on one second that was unrelated to the entire thing. the first day in lisbon i feel like we were chasing the sun. it would go in and out, the streets were so steep, my first time ever seeing a funicular – which is basically an outdoor elevator. there was a point where we were in a neighborhood super high up, almost at the top, no buildings to block the sun and it was super quiet, like an oasis on top of a city. that’s where the leaves and the murals were but also this strange concern that maybe we shouldn’t be where we were because suddenly there were no people around, abandoned but beautiful buildings and silence. why afraid of silence? then we descended. i know there is probably nothing enjoyable or transportative (did i make that word up?) about reading this – but for me the whole time i’ve been sitting here typing i got sent back there and completely forgot i was in my backyard. that’s the point i guess.
everyone said “you gotta have the baccala”. we found the baccala. at this cool market near the venue we played. it was called “time out market” it was like reading terminal in philly, or ponce city market in atlanta or…
i loved porto more. thats where we were the next day. there was the porto river and colorful boats and street vendors and peace, i felt peace there. like i was inside of a painting. I liked it way more to the point where i don’t have much to say about it.
milan, italy :
the first time i ever went to italy began in milan and then went on to be the best week of my life. being in italy for the first time is like having food, breathing air and meeting humanity for the first time again. it was the third week of june too. it made me question what the fuck i have been doing my whole life. i was a kid again. everything was fascinating, every tree, building, person, edible thing. the first pizza i had, the first pasta i had made me realize i have never eaten real food before, everything before was just a step to this moment. i ate like a psychopath. i was on a cloud. wes anderson has a cafe there that looks exactly like you would expect, after we left the cafe, i started carrying a cardboard box around as a joke and eventually that lead to the idea for the video for “always elsewhere”. we found a jazz band playing on the canal in navigli. we slept in an apartment we rented for the night from an old woman that spoke zero english. little did i know, going to sleep that night, that in a few days i would meet the love of my life on a beach a few hours away and it would change everything. but this strange bridge of a week between what i now look at as two chapters of life, before and after began in milan and for that reason it will always be an important place even though it is not even close to one of my favorite places in the country.
amsterdam, netherlands :
bas and teun’s kitchen. (those are my dutch friends. we also work together. they book my european tours.) im in their tiny galley kitchen. making my wheatgrass shot. the sun is coming up and feel a little breeze coming through the glass door that leads to the balcony, in my mind that door is purple. i dont like purple that much but if i did it would be the shade of what the door is in my head. im in their kitchen going through my bag of snacks. everyone is still asleep. yesterday i was in chiaras room in italy having a meltdown because our tour that was to start in a few days was turning out to be a minor disaster already. i was scared about the flight. but when i touched down on the ground at schiphol it was a second chance at life – like it always is when i land on a plane. i go to the train station. sun out. tourists, dutch folk lounging on the lawns, hi-tech futuristic aesthetic. neat, clean. i feel great honestly. i see the guys. it is good to see them. okay back to the following morning. its 7:30, im up of course. i get dressed silently and hit the streets. sloterdijk area of amsterdam. its brisk. i choose to go right. no one is around. its like the whole city is built out of legos. old ones. i come to a main street and find a small organic grocery. for me that is a goldmine. i stock up on snacks. i take my time. im enjoying the moment. always a little nerves checking out in a dutch grocery store because THAT LANGUAGE. man. thankfully she knows a little bit of english. i take my time walking back, i almost get killed by a biker on the very clearly designated bike path, i go in circles, i explore. i also cant get back in to the apartment cus its locked and if i call someone to let me in that means i wake them up and that means the end of my solo time – no talking. just sunny amsterdam and me and the moment.
prague, czech republic :
the first time we played in prague was a venue inside an old battle ship docked in an abandon industrial part of the city. off the dock was a super modern minimalist artisanal bar/food place. it was like world war 2 meets brooklyn. the second time there we had a couple days to spend. i remember this garden near the apartment having beautiful flowers but also having bad allergies. the catch. sneeze attack, admire, sneeze attack, adore. ate the best mexican food i maybe ever had. i was super irritated and needed a coffee so walked down the street from the apartment and found a classical music cafe. i almost bought chiara a beethoven pencil. but then decided against it because maybe she still had bitter feelings about the whole classical musician world. all the pressure as a kid. don’t want to trigger that. ever try really hard to find the perfect souvenir and you can never find something? but when you are not looking you find something mindblowingly perfect, almost like the physical form of an inside joke only you two have? omg its lyke liiiife. the moments i always remember from the past are when the placement of the sun was particularly good. like when we were sitting at the ramen place in the table where the sun was just hitting us under the umbrella. or when the others got those psycho ice cream donut cone things. standing right there in the warm sun which was good for me and bad for the state of the ice cream. im a flower. we found a cafe with normal american coffee, which is hard to find in euroland, it was served to us by a kind, bald guy. as i sit here and revisit prague in my head – i am realizing the juxtaposition between how i was feeling when i was there and how i feel now. i was burnt then, on my music, on tour, on myself. playing shows was difficult for me, it was just the motions, it was a job. now that i’ve stepped back – i’ve never felt more ready to return to it, with a fresh outlook and new appreciation that when you are in it, that is it. thats all there is. now it’s just a memory and i can do anything with it i want besides relive it.
leeds, UK :
when we pulled up to headrow house it was gray. but that was preferred and what i expect. i loved the vibe. a little fancy. modern clean white brick, plants, the string lights, the show posters on the wall with really good minimalist sense of design and a lot of them had my friends names on them because they would be where we were sometime in the next month. i like this stuff. its refreshing from rolling up to a hole in the wall shit rock club covered in awful band stickers and grime and no paper towels in the bathroom and no taste and a place that embraces and thrives in disgust and destruction. done with all that. i feel like some people derive some weird sense of authenticity by intentionally living shitty, like that is “rock and roll” or something. i think its bullshit. i think its privilege. if you have to choose shitty or put out this angsty, nihilist vibe all the time – that means you are too fortunate and probably feel guilty about it. maybe they are all catholic. i think we should strive for better. anyway, my first impression of leeds was a very good one. after we setup and sound checked i ran out the door in a rush to go explore the town. i was in a mood and needed to be away from everyone. turned right and found this streetwear shop, one of the ones with like 15 items all very cool and unaffordable and you get nerves walking in because its silent and theres one employee with nothing to do standing there. just them and me and 15 articles of cool cloth. i picked up and tried on and put down this one hat like 3 times. feeling awkward with my indecision because i had an audience of one just watching me the whole time silently. even his stare had a british accent. smiling. arms folded behind his back. i think CJ came in and bailed me out, broke the tension and we got out of there. this time went left instead. one of the coolest downtowns i’d seen. did not expect it at all. it was one of those wide streets with no cars and a million people walking, a square i guess, but very long. had never been in a topshop before, that place is a trip. found a cafe. dreary. it looked like the “lo-fi study beats” spotify playlist had materialized into an establishment. minimalist, an accent plant. reclaimed wood. simplicity. natural light but the sky was gray so it was calm and muted. i really enjoyed leeds. it felt like the romantic idea of england i had in my head before i ever went there. when we are free again, i would like to go back there.
lake garda, IT :
july 2nd, 2019 – it wasn’t the best of times. was coming off a crazy stressful time, dealing with some family stuff and i just found out, with almost no notice, i had to leave italy and chiara and i would be apart for 3 months. we had a whole backpack trip planned. i was gonna write and record a new record in different cities all over europe. cancelled. summer. over. see you in the fall. so even though i still had a little under two weeks – there was this inevitable thing looming we didn’t want to face. so we went to lake garda. one of chiara’s favorite places – a place she can breathe well (asthma). inside i felt like what i was looking out at – the lake – just this big endless empty mysterious beautiful hazy space, i felt detached. everything was saturated in this gloom. we walked the town, we learned about each other, we sat on the beach, learned more about each other. i felt hollow. and a little freaked out. and was fishing for reassurances. our relationship constantly had to deal with the future. it was hard to be present because we always had to plan if we wanted to make it work. so we attempted peace at the lake. it was like a ghost town for some reason. we went to a grocery store and went to go eat on the beach. once it was dark we struggled to decide if we should drive home or stay. we figured we could just sleep in the car for a few hours. tried that but there is something unsettling about people seeing you and there wasn’t anywhere secluded enough. broke down and booked a hotel. drove there to find out they had no rooms. so we found an empty bank parking lot by the water and slept for a few hours. woke up with the sun, went down by the water. peaceful, exhausted, the gloom.
what’s crazy is how real that nausea was of having to say goodbye for such a long time out of our control, but now that we got through it feels like it never even happened. a dread so real, and NOW i’ve been back and forth twice, survived these things very easily that seem like such a big deal when they are happening. it makes me realize we will survive this too and one thing to be grateful for that we get to go through together. stay close. and one day we will sit on lake garda again with a whole new appreciation. survival eyes make suns more orange, water more blue, air more clear. it will be redemption for all the places that we couldn’t fully see because of the imaginary clouds. (4/13/20)
brussels, belgium :
today i write about brussels because one year ago on this day that’s where i was. it was perfect day outside. we were playing anciennes belgique that night which was right in the center of brussels in the “gayborhood” of the city. found a lime scooter, cruised, got a cappucino, we found a store called “PUMP!”, there was a small park where all the homeless people lived, i found a tiny organic market and it felt like an oasis, walked up the museum steps. is this where brussel sprouts come from? that night we were playing with a band from LA called mike krol. after the show we were walking back to our hotel and in a doorway of an abandon building we saw a homeless family – mom, dad and two kids, dirty and sprawled across their foam pad, we gave them what we had including some money and food and water and kept walking to the hotel. the fathers face radiated gratitiude and joy. the hotel was fancy as shit, and when we checked in we realized they had given us three double rooms for 4 people – our tour manager was moved by the scene that happened a few minutes ago and he suggested that we share rooms and give the third room to that family – to which me and one bandmate wholeheartedly agreed – however another bandmate had a very different response and decided to put his own comfort first and took the third room to himself. this was a major turning point for me – i knew then that the future of this band would not look like this. i was furious at that level of selfishness and it did not fit in to what i was trying to put out into the world. we missed a chance there. the next morning i got up early and had maybe the best hotel breakfast i’d ever had on the roof of the hotel overlooking the whole city. felt peaceful, but still shocked by what happened the night before. (4/21/20)
paris, france :
(didn’t even take any photos!!!!)
this day last year i was in paris. it may sound like it but there is no romance in that sentence. i’m not saying it with that weird fake british accent some fancy new york people talk with in in the movies. i’ve been there a few times and i am always open to seeing the magic of a place but it does not live up to the image that we all have in our heads about it. there is a word in Japanese for this :
“Paris syndrome (French: syndrome de Paris, Japanese: パリ症候群, pari shōkōgun) is a condition exhibited by some individuals when visiting or going on vacation to Paris, as a result of extreme shock at discovering that Paris is different from their expectations”
but everytime i go i get re-excited that this time i will discover the parts i am missing. not last time. i dont think i’ve ever seen the sun there. does it go there? the venue smelled like…gymshorts + bleach, it was all wet. like some disgusting disco had just happened in there then everyone disappeared. meal? cold, inedible curry. stroll the neighborhood. like some bleak new york city section. i go to an “american burger” place – which might be telling of the options. mediocre but expensive. that night in the green room with one tiny lamp and a french effort of providing garbage snacks that “Americans like” – we recorded a jingle for a place in Wisconsin called “Deak’s Pub”. this stems from the psychotic inside joke world that is cultivated during spending years on the road, an evolution of the “Steak” joke. which if you want me to explain – is just saying the word steak a lot, especially as a positive adjective. anyway, we recorded an unprompted jingle for “Deak’s Pub” – a place we found by searching for made up words on google maps and we e-mailed it to them, completely unsolicited. It has been one year and they still have not responded. As of two weeks ago I have jumped in as a Dylan’s fake manager, “R.J.” trying to sell them on the song and guaranteeing them a 300-400% increase in sales if they use it.
lausanne, switzerland :
i love switzerland so much. my first time there chiara and i took a train from milan. getting close to the city, you are in a train, on a lush, beautiful hilly mountainside and on your left is lake geneva and its turquoise, immaculate water. it felt like there should have been some triumphant disney opening credits music. it felt like another world and one of the best moments in memory. we got picked up by the #crew. and went down by the water – it was heavenlike, people swimming off the big rocks and the crystal water and the surrounding mountains and green. we took a photo (above). switzerland feels like taking a deep breath of the purest air you have ever encountered. we drove down these tiny winding roads through small villages to arrive at our hotel. this swiss chalet style building surrounded by mountains, green, goats, pastures. goats. hung with goats. our room had a kitchen in it. there was a small market next to the hotel that was closed but then something happened that would never happen in America – a chef from the hotel poked his head out from the kitchen back door and said “i will call the owner and see if she can come down!” and 5 minutes later she showed up, opened the shop just for us to get groceries. thank you. the next day we played on top of a mountain. it was a festival centered around a cheese called “raclette” which was one of the best things i ever had. kind swiss folk serving plates of raclette cheese with potatoes.
the second time in lausanne was one of the best experiences i ever had playing music as far as hospitality and warm welcome. our green room was stocked with more local fruit, cheeses, chocolate, wine and snacks we could ever consume. shortly after soundcheck we got called for dinnertime downstairs. it was a communal dinner for all bands and crew prepared by two women that i think came in just to cook for the bands – it was one of the best meals of my entire life (pictured) – i don’t think i was eating too much meat back then but this was an exception this was an honor. i don’t know what they did to prepare that chicken but it was some other world shit. i strolled the town, solo, afterwards i bought this orange and green striped shirt. it was a grey day. i am still waking up and my head isn’t so clear but i am really feeling heavy on the nostalgia today, it’s hard to put into words to describe my time in switzerland but i just remember the feeling of being there and when i think of the world and am romanticizing travel in my head – it is always images from these times. (5/1/20)
munich, germany :
today i’m going to munich. not sure why. it reminds me of mucus. i do know why – because even the places that weren’t all that beautiful look good to me now. just that i was somewhere. even if it felt like barracks. long rows of industrial buildings. german employees smoking cigarettes and drinking beers. graffiti. an empty skatepark at the very end. i remember the day we were in munich was also the day the album “IGOR” by tyler, the creator came out. “IGOR” feels like a pretty german name. our apartment was one building over from the venue. always a desirable setup. even if the room looked like prison bunks with the ghosts of thousands of internationally touring musicians sleeping in the same beds which is an even more insane concept now. the walls of the venue were orange. that was nice. the crowd was stiff and confusing. that wasn’t surprising. in the morning i got up early and walked a while. found a cafe with one outdoor seat in the sun and it was mine. on the way out of town we stopped at a flea market off the highway. i bought a yellow watch that never really did it’s only job that well, but looked nice until the band broke a few weeks ago. i don’t need the wrist weight, feels like handcuffs naturally now anyway, but for my own good.