Monthly Archives: July 2014

Spitboy: Our Favorite Assumptions (Part II)

Use link below to read Spitboy: Our Favorite Assumptions (Part I)

Spitboy.Ross.NZTwo years later, on our Pacific Rim tour, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, Spitboy discovered the joys of Scrabble. Karin bought a travel Scrabble set, the kind that folds up and has tiny-easy-to-lose tiles that snap in place, allowing the board to be stored away and the game resumed after the next show. In New Zealand, the first country in the Pacific Rim, we rode in rented van, a Rent-a-Dent, driven by Ross who Karin had collaborated with to book the tour. A long-time employee of Mordam records, Karin who handled their overseas sales, had many contacts, making it possible to for a band like Spitboy to tour like we did. New Zealand’s Ross had high cheekbones, a floppy Mohawk, and he wore bondage pants, but he smiled too much to pull off his classic English punk look, never sneering or flipping the bird. We were all in love with him as soon as we met him at the airport where he picked us up in the van that didn’t seem to have a dent on it. In fact, the van had enough space in the way back where someone Dominique’s height could lay down and sleep, which she did so much, rising up with her sweatshirt hood still on, eyes blinking from the bright sun, that we nicknamed her Nessie after the Loch Ness Monster.

Ross was excited to meet us and to introduce us to his friends in Aukland and to take us to see some sights, like the harbor, an indoor bathhouse, and far-off snow-covered mountains. He assured us that even though we were playing all-ages shows that there’d be time to party afterwards, but we were more interested in what we were going to eat and where we were going to sleep. Karin, Dominique, and our roadie/photographer, Karoline Collins were all vegan and would read Lonely Planet in advance of each new country for tips on vegetarian/vegan restaurants. Karoline had toured the Pacific Rim, and she also had several recommendations. The cafe with the vegetarian/vegan sausage sandwiches stands out in my memory.

Once Dominique arrived, on a different flight, for she flew for free since her dad, Captain Bob, was a pilot for American Airlines, and I recovered a bit from terrible vertigo and jetlag, we played in Aukland and set off with Ross for five or six more shows, and a couple of very long drives. It was on these long drives that we became consumed by our Scrabble games. Four people can play the board game, and sometimes all of Spitboy would play, or Karoline would play with Karin, Dominique, and I. Adrienne often felt compelled to co-pilot, sitting with Ross up front in the van, to keep him company. Karin would usually win at Scrabble, having the biggest vocabulary combined with the best offensive and defensive strategies, and I usually lost. Losing never dampened my spirits for the game, or for the chance to pull out the dictionary that Karin also brought for challenging the validity of a word or correct spelling. We weren’t cutthroat players, but we did play by the rules, consulting them on the slim folded sheet of paper that came with the game whenever we needed to. And when one of us was taking a long time on a turn, the others would simply plan her next turn, hoping our desired spot on the board wasn’t used, watch the sights out the window as they rolled by, or even take out whatever book she was reading. I had bought about of short stories written by Maori authors in Aukland, and I undoubtedly had another book from home by some Latina author in my bag.

After being our driver/tour manager for a couple of days, Ross realized that we weren’t big partiers, and he made a comment to that end that made us all squeal and love him even more. We were getting back into the van after stopping to stretch our legs at a rest area with a picnic bench where we snacked on hunks of soft baguettes. As soon as we got into the van, before we even got moving, Karin pulled out the Scrabble board and asked whose turn it was. This was one of our biggest problems with Scrabble. When we had to stop mid-game and resume we could hardly ever remember who was next.

“I remember Dominique spelled “Joe,” I said.

“But someone went after me.” She was looking at the board.

“Here let me see the score sheet,” Karoline said.

Ross who had been fiddling with something on the driver’s side door, turned around.

“You guys are like a bunch of old ladies,” he said with a big smile.

We all looked up. Karin had the Scrabble board open on her lap.

“I wasn’t expecting this at all. When I booked Spitboy, I was thinking we’d be raging all night long, having wild parties, and getting really wasted.”

“Really? You thought that?” Karin said, smiling wider and brighter than she normally did.

We had grown fond of hearing what people thought we might be like, what strange assumptions people had about female hardcore-playing-feminists, but maybe it was weird that we played so much Scrabble.

“No sex, drugs, and rock and roll for this lot,” someone said.

“Really,” Ross said, “My grandmother plays Scrabble.”

This made us all laugh and coo at Ross and love him even more.

I rather liked being compared to Ross’ grandmother, an old woman who liked words and social time with her friends, and I liked that once again, Spitboy was defying stereotypes and preconceived notions about who we were, what we did, and how we did it.


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Spitboy: Our Favorite Assumptions (Part I)


Members of Spitboy being really nice.

People assumed all sorts of things about Spitboy that weren’t exactly true. People thought we were gay, and we weren’t, even though 99% of the band had had sex with at least one other woman. People assumed we were all vegan, and Karin was; Adrienne was sometimes, and Dominique who joined later was, but Paula and I were not. Some people thought that we were crusty punks too, but that was only because Adrienne had what looked like dread locks but was really just lace tied in her hair.

The two things that surprised us the most that people assumed about us were that we were mean/angry or wild partiers. Everywhere we went on our first full US tour the people we met along the way, fans, tour contacts, and other band members often made the same comment.

“You guys are sooooo nice;” to which we at first responded by saying thank you, unsure of what else to say. Were we really that nice?

And it wasn’t only other women who felt compelled to comment on our niceness. Men said it too. It wasn’t until about midway through the tour that we thought to ask what that meant.

“People have been saying that wherever we go,” Karin said.

“Yeah, why do you think that is?” Paula asked, the woman whose house we were staying at after the show.

“Well,” she started off slowly, choosing her words carefully, “I just didn’t think you’d all be so nice.”

“Why wouldn’t we be?” Karin asked, prompting her to continue?

“Yeah, we’re staying at your house. We wouldn’t be mean, would we?” I added.

“Well, it’s just that, well, your music, your songs. You seem so angry.”

“We are angry about some things,” Adrienne said, nodding her head.

“I guess I expected you all to be real serious off stage too, but it’s like the opposite. You’re all so nice and funny and smiling most of the time.” She had gained confidence now explaining what she meant.

I remember being scared at fourteen, going to punk shows in San Francisco, and not just because I was from a small town. The older punk kids seemed so angry and tough, and there was a lot of violence and drunk punks at shows at The Farm or The Mab. It was like some of the punks who went to see The Dead Kennedys took songs like “Too Drunk to Fuck” literally. Since Spitboy was not a party band, and since we were women, I never imagined that anyone would be intimidated by us in this way. I never thought that anyone would expect us to be stomping-around-angry, the way we sometimes appeared to be on stage. I suppose it was a combination of how we sounded, looked, and the stereotypes about angry feminists.

It may have been the anarcho-crusty punk look that Adrienne rocked (and/or that people saw) that was responsible for some of these stereotypes given that singers and how they look come to represent just about any band. Sometimes, I just blamed Econochrist. Regardless of singer Ben Sizemore’s straight edge, bands like Econochrist had somewhat cemented the assumption that hard core applied to partying too. Perhaps it was stories about Jon Sumrall and Mike Scott getting wasted before a show and still being able to play that caused people to think we’d want to stay up all night drinking with them, but no one in Spitboy liked to play a show intoxicated and none of us were heavy drinkers. In fact, we thought it was cliché, bands getting wasted before or a show, or on stage, or as soon as they were finished. It was too rock-n-roll — not in the moment enough for us. We were a punk band with a message, so drinking before a show became against Spitboy code, not to mention dangerous. My inner thighs were already covered in bruises from accidentally hitting them all the time with the butt of my sticks, and I had learned my lesson about playing drunk with my first band Bitch Fight. We were at a party, and I was playing after drinking a couple of Old Milwaukee’s, and I hit myself in the mouth with a Vick Firth Classic Rock stick. I could have lost a tooth.

On tour (especially in Europe), Spitboy may have had one glass of wine with dinner before a late show, but we usually only drank after we played, and then not usually very much because we were too tired already, or didn’t want to be tired or hung over for the long drive the next day.

In Europe, Pete, Nolde, and Eric, our road crew, drank more than we did, Nolde and Eric taking turns, depending on who was driving, and we’d join them sometimes, but only after we’d played. Pete the Roadie learned our preferences for drinking early in the tour, what, when, and how much, and he’d often offer to get me a beer once all the drums were torn down and put aside.

“Beer, Drummer?” he’s say, addressing me by my instrument.

Sometimes, he’d just bring me one, and when he did this, I’d drink it, surprised to be waited on, or considered in this way. Even though he was head over heels in love with Paula, Pete was good company. He’d sit with me at a table or at the bar while I drank my beer, offering me cigarettes or a drag off of his because I fancied myself a non-smoker.

“You want to smoke some hash?” Nolde asked me one night outside a club after a show in Germany.

“Hash? Oh, I don’t know,” I said. I was sitting inside the van, and Nolde was standing outside in front of me with the door open. Pete was there too.

Nolde was a tall strapping German with super long legs and bleached blond hair. He was handsome in a rugged Nordic way, but I had a boyfriend.

“You ever smoke hash, Drummer?” Pete asked.

“Maybe, a long time ago,” I said, pretty sure I hadn’t. They all knew that I did not smoke anything but an occasional cigarette. Everyone in Spitboy had tried marijuana in her teens, but none of us smoked it. In terms of potency, hash seemed like a step up, and I wasn’t so sure I could handle it. On the other hand, I was in Europe, and there was probably no better time to try something new.

“Do you smoke it just like that?” I asked looking at the oily-looking black nub that Nolde held sitting on a piece of foil.

“The best way to do it is to put a little of it in some tobacco. Make a cigarette,” Pete said, knowing my weakness for cigarettes.

I laughed and shook my head.

“Okay, let’s try it.”

Eric who always rolled his own cigarettes rolled one for us, adding in some hash, not too much, at my urging, and got in the van and smoke it. The hash made me giggle and it made me feel like kissing Nolde, which I did not do because of the boyfriend back home. He stretched out next to me on the loft in the back of the van as Eric drove us to our lodging for the night. I giggled the whole way there, trying to explain to Nolde what was so funny about the name of my sleeping bag – the Slumberjack.

“Slumberjack, it’s a play on words.” I tried to keep a straight face and not laugh.

He smiled, but I knew he didn’t get it.

“Slumber is another name for sleep in English.”

“Yes, I’ve heard this word,” he said, looking up at me from a propped arm.

I started giggling again, hoping he didn’t think that I was laughing at him, and once again struck by how just about everyone else we came across on tour spoke English and that was pretty much all we could speak.

“But that’s not what makes it funny,” I continued.

“It rhymes with the word lumber and a lumber jack is a guy who cuts big logs of wood.”

I was laughing now and Karin was too because it really was absurd to be explaining any of this at all.

Nolde stretched out looking at me, his long legs reaching all the way out touching the wall of the van. He still didn’t get it.

“Do you know Paul Bunyon? He’s a lumberjack from children’s story. He has a blue ox.”

“What is this? A blue ox?”

Karin, Jon, and I were all laughing now. It took a second to catch my breath I was laughing so hard.

“The blue ox, it’s not real,” I choked, tears streaming down my face.


Click link below for Spitboy: Our Favorite Assumptions Part II

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