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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