Vast Robot Armies’ Studio Diary – Day Two

vra00

(Author’s Note – again. Remember when I said I would be less verbose for the upcoming entries. Ya, maybe not. But don’t worry, all the “what happens in the studio stuff?” is coming. It all ramps up from Day 3-12)

I awoke in the Agee household. Everyone in that house was now very aware that my earlier declarations of: “I wake up early. I can’t sleep in. My internal body clock is somewhat of an asshole” were, in fact, not exaggerations. I climbed out onto John’s roof, had some coffee and just took in the morning. I also passive-aggressively made enough noise to alert the household sleepers “Hey, I’m up! Let’s do something!” This had the most impact on Joe as he was asleep on the upstairs couch, and could not avoid me shuffling around.

rooftop

Despite my early morning awakening, everything about this day was late. Like “late” late. The plan was to shoehorn in another VRA practice somewhere around noon, and then have the rest of the Sundiver guys show up around 1 to have a rehearsal for them. As luck would have it, Sundiver was playing that evening (the day before we were to leave for Chicago) in an 8 band metal extravaganza. I was stoked, as I’m a fan of theirs. Well, 1:00 turned into 1:30, which quickly made its way to 2pm. The VRA practice never happened. Drummer Nick Organ showed up somewhere, but they were still down a member. So they decided to jam as a 3 piece. Their bass player Bobby (who I quite like and enjoyed getting to know later that evening – highlight was the 3 person bottle whistle session of “Here Come the Bride” backstage. * see video) was still sleeping. If you’ve ever been in a band, you know there is ALWAYS that one guy that no matter what they do is habitually late. In my old band, guitarist John Pogue got to wear that crown (that being said John Pogue was amazing at everything else, just not the whole “on time” deal). Not to suggest there is anything wrong with it. It happens. But invariably it can add to the anxiety of any day. I was curious to hear what a bassless Sundiver practice would sound like. I was, in all honestly shocked. In my own Vast Robot Army-centric state I had forgotten just how good and talented these guys are. I sat on the roof and listened to their whole practice. All the while thinking “We are gonna be just fine this week. If anything, I’m gonna be the problem.

After practice we packed up all the gear, to which I kept thinking (and saying) “So wait? Everything goes? There’s no backline at this EIGHT BAND show? No drum sharing??” all the while looking at John’s narrow staircase. Lame.

We packed the car(s) and van and proceeded to make our way downtown. The show was all ages so it was an early start (3pm). So we needed to grab some lunch before the show. The discussion turned to ribs. I’m gonna backtrack here for a second. Since I landed, there had been a developing conversation about which KCMO BBQ place they needed to take me to. Having previously spent time in Kansas, I had experienced the BBQ (it wins). LC’s, Sir Arthur Bryant’s.

I had not been to Gates or Oklahoma Joes. Apparently Oklahoma Joes (complete with its outlandish 2.5 hour wait to pick up food. Ya, 2 hrs to PICK. IT. UP.) is the place to beat. However, time was an issue and Joe was championing Gates. It got to the point where hunger was winning out over “The Best Place”. Gates it was. It was fine (*sorry Joe, but it was “fine”). This was more fuel for the “what can we tease Joe about for the next week” game. It was an impressive list of material by the end of the record.

Now with all of us in the throes of a food coma we made our way to the show. John and I are beginning to have discussions about what time we should leave for Chicago the next morning. John being younger keeps saying (cryptically) “it’s gonna be a late start…” to which my replies were: “Hey, how about …fuck that and let’s hit the road by 11-12…

(In the end, John won that debate).

Sundiver hit the stage around 3pm. It was an interesting billing, within a very large older theatre in downtown Kansas City. Watching the food coma, grouchy, 3pm start time Sundiver hit the stage and destroy what was a tough crowd and room (they were very much the outlier’s on the bill) was so fun. It was one of those proud moments you have for your friends in bands. They were all tired, middle of the day, playing to a crowd that wasn’t necessarily “theirs” and they killed it. I caught the other bands on the bill acknowledging how good it was.

sundiver

After the show, we all hung out in the band’s green room where there was an endless supply of Bud Light. To which we all joked: “You just, can’t get drunk on these…” as we consumed them.

(You can. We did.)

We hung out and talked about the upcoming World Series and The Royals chances (this will have a bigger impact as we move forward in this diary). It was also around this time Bobby Bayer, Lauren Sharp and Joe Wells performed ‘Here Comes the Bride’ on strategically half empty beer bottles (again. See vid).

John and my passive debate about leaving for Chicago time had long since disappeared and we embraced our Bud Light buzzes. We packed up and made our way to the bar district downtown. It’s here where the wheels come off the track. After a quick walk to a place called Californos and a sizeable whisky and beer, I happened to spot a Reflexology / Shiatsu clinic (no. not that type of place). As it happened, I was super tense from the flight and futon sleep from the night before. I joked: “I need to go there. 20 bucks, half an hour…that’s a deal. It’s like the universe is just laying it out there for me.” John laughed and not knowing who he was dealing with here, jokingly said “OH YA, you should totally do it.” Seconds after that sentence came out, I was 5 paces toward the door.

I walked into the clinic. I was not ready for this. It was all zen and calm. I was all whiskey and loud. The room was one big open area. Dimly lit. Soft “relax in a field of flowers” music played. Multiple rows of ergonomic beds lined with other club goers, and normal people, having massage and Shiatsu experts drilling them with elbows and knees presented itself to me.

This is a mistake” I thought.

So I walked up to the reception.

Me: “HOW MUSSH?

Reception: “shhhh. 20 dollars.

Me: “YA THATZ A DEAL! SIGN ME’S UP!

Reception: “Shhhhhhhh. Please sit over there.”

I sat and waited. Eventually I was called up. I took my spot and began to get pummelled by a large Asian man. He kept asking, “are you ok?” in a hushed tone. Riding a Bud Light sized sense of invulnerability I said “No prob.

(It was not ok, and it was a prob)

I soon realized mixing internal toxins stored up in travel weary muscles and an evening’s worth of whiskey and beer just sucks.

I finished up. Stood up and thought “Shit. This is bad…” I walked out of the clinic and towards John, Joe and Lauren (there was someone else too, but I didn’t care at this point). They all laughed, until I got closer. The laughter stopped as soon as I got close enough for them to see me up close.

John asked “Dude!? Are you alright?” Apparently my skin had gone ashen white and my eyes were completely bloodshot. I felt like I was right on the edge of it all going epically bad. I excused myself and went and plunged my head into the men’s room sink for about 2 mins. This enabled me to get it together enough to walk with the group and watch them buy food. It was around 2 am at this point. The “getting an early start” idea was a bust. We eventually made our way over to Joe’s house. Feeling better, John and I destroyed a tray of brownies that Joe’s neighbor made for him and then took a cab home to John’s.

We all retired to our rooms with the intent of hitting the road by noon and being in Chicago at Electronical Studios by 7-8pm.

Ya. Ok. That didn’t happen.
Here comes Chicago

Words & Photos: Jason Thomson

Vast Robot Armies Bandcamp. Facebook. Twitter.

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