Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Spitboy Rule: Part II

Use link below to read The Spitboy Rule: Part I


Spitboy: European Tour 1993
Top: MCG Paula Hibb Rines, Pete The Roadie
Middle: Jon Hiltz, Nolde, Erich (merch and drivers)
Bottom: Karin Gembus and Adrienne Droogas                                                                                      

Boyfriends on tour in Europe did change the dynamic, but it never changed what we had on stage every night. People often commented on our live performances and the way we connected with one another and the audience. It probably helped that we all wrote lyrics. Adrienne always sang lead and if she were singing lead on a song that I wrote, I would sing with her. This sort of collaboration worked the same way with songs written by Karin, Paula, and later Dominique. Jon Hiltz said that we were the most positive, supportive band he ever met. His experience in his own band had apparently been somewhat fraught, but I could see how difficult it could be to get along on tour with some people, away from the comforts of home, the stress of the long drives, the fatigue, and the close quarters.  Though it came somewhat naturally for Spitboy to make an effort and not  take one another for granted and to accept certain quirks we hadn’t noticed at home — Paula was moody at times; Karin was very good at getting her own needs met, I was probably, at times, too stand offish and needy, and Adrienne loved to socialize so much that she had trouble getting to certain band duties like helping tear down equipment and selling merchandise. Accepting these quirks was the right the thing to do and never affected our live performances. On the other hand, if being in a band is like a marriage, and trust me it is, then playing live is the sex, which would make playing live easy, the pay off, the place where we might even be able to fake it. Plenty of dysfunctional people in dysfunctional relationships have sex are able to connect this this way in order to satisfy this one need, only this wasn’t the case with Spitboy. Spitboy never faked it. We genuinely liked one another, admired one another in many ways too.

Karin, our guitar player, was the subject of such admiration during and after our first show in France. It happened about mid-way through a sluggish, we’re-tired-after-touring-all-week-with-Citizen Fish-and-we-just-got-off-the-ferry set of songs, a guy started shouted something from the crowd, something like, “Enlevez vos blouses! Enlevez vos blouses,” meaning take off your shirts!  As soon as he said it, a woman standing at the front of the low stage began waving her hands wildly and yelling to us in English, wanting to tell us what he had said, but Karin being fluent in French since college had understood it herself. And instead of launching into the next song, she stepped up to her microphone and calmly, almost politely, cussed the guy out in his own language. For a second, the room went almost totally silent. Then it erupted into a loud volley of cheering and laughter, especially by the women in the crowd. No one had been expecting anything like that at all.

In part, it was this sort of admiration of one another and all that each was capable of that caused us to make the no-boyfriends-on-tour rule in the first place. I know I never wanted divided loyalties to interfere with or change any of it. But after the first US tour, we were never able to fully abide by the boyfriend rule, though it was there in the back our minds, reminding us to not pick at the quirks, to remain united, to make the most of each quick stop in a different city, and in the case of Europe, sometimes, a different country each day. Together we played to five hundred people in Rome, walked over the spooky, beautiful Charles Bridge in Prague, gazed up at the Gaudi Museum in Barcelona after dark, and ate pizza fresh out of a backyard brick oven overlooking an olive farm in Toscano, Italy. I never felt alone or divided on days like that, and I wasn’t.