Hey, Mom, Im a Rock Star

On tour with a wildly famous Orange County band

After the show, I walk out back and run into eight girls who had to go to the hospital with their injured friend. They ask if I know anyone in the band, and could they possibly get an autograph? I tell them I'm in the band. They don't believe me and say they don't recognize me. I tell them I'm the new guy, but I'll go in and see if anyone can come out. I go in and tell the singer the situation and ask if he'll go out there. "Fuck that," he replies. The drummer and the guitarist end up going out, talking to the girls and signing autographs.

Jan. 11. The radio-station Christmas gigs are over. Now comes more promo work on various TV and radio shows. The band's new album comes out tomorrow. A Town Car picks me up and takes me to Hollywood's Le Parc Hotel (El Crap spelled sort of backwards) and dumps me at the front gate. I walk up to Sunset Boulevard and check out Tower Records. They have a huge display for the new album. Meanwhile, the singer, bass player and guitarist are out partying after the American Music Awards. It turns out to be a celeb fest backstage, and the singer gets drunk and attempts to pick up Paula Abdul, who rebuffs him. Later, they attend a label party for Ahmet Ertegun, with Brandy, Matchbox 20 and Kid Rock in attendance. After the party, the singer bolts from the car in a drunken rage and declares, "Fuck this; I'm going." The tour manager, being somewhat large, grabs him and throws him back in the car to take him home. Jan. 12. We have a lobby call at 7:30 a.m. for a live remote KROQ broadcast at Mel's Drive-In. When we get there, we're told that KROQ has requested we postpone it until 8:30, since they expect the crowds to disperse after we leave and the DJs don't want to look like idiots, broadcasting to nobody at a remote location. Someone in the band says crankily, "They look like idiots anyway; what does it matter?"

There are about 400 people, mostly teenage girls, waiting for the singer. I'm the first one onstage. KROQ's Bean greets me warmly, saying, "What? No cigar this time?" He has obviously mistaken me for someone else in the band, so I play off it and say, "No, not this time." We play four songs, interspersed with the singer's dominating, take-the-first-strike-at-the-band interview tactics. What was scheduled to be a band interview turns into a one-man show, featuring the singer employing his modus operandi of beating the critics to the punch in undercutting the band. It works, much to the amusement of the swooning little girls.

Later, we head to NBC in Burbank for a Tonight Show taping. At the camera check, I notice that everybody has a spotlight shining on them except me. I'm not behind any amps this time. I do notice that a spotlight is shining down about two feet behind and to my right. If I step back slightly, I can stick my face in it and have some illumination for the folks back home.

At the taping, as the curtain goes up, I pull out a Peace Corp. sticker and place it on my chest.

Although I manage to move out toward the front during the end of the song, I'm still barely visible in the camera's eye. I shake Jay Leno's hand, we go to commercial, and the band goes over to the Tonight Show couch. Since no one stops me, I go over as well, tearing the sticker off my shirt and hiding it in my coat.

The band has taken up the whole couch, so I'm invited to sit on a bench behind the couch and chairs. This actually works out perfectly, since my chest is in clear view when the singer is on camera. When the lights go up, I replace the sticker on my chest, giving my band national-TV exposure. Afterward, I tear it off again, and no one is the wiser. Back in the green room, we're given a video of the show, but the tape malfunctions before the interview segment, so no one is yet aware.

Jan. 20. New York and The Rosie O'Donnell Show. I fly nonstop to Newark and check in at the Paramount, the "rock & roll hotel." My room is smaller than my teenage bedroom, with the door hitting the bed upon opening. But it is somewhat chic, and hell, I'm in NYC for free. Jan. 21. I awaken at 11 a.m. and head off to NBC studios. When I get there, I find the rest of the band and also what I've been expecting—I'm stuck behind not only a 6-foot amp, but the DJ as well. To make matters worse, they've rented a keyboard, and although it's similar to the one I've been using, it's completely without the presets for the songs we're playing, so I'm forced to dial up some cheesy-sounding preset from the '80s.

On the way backstage after changing, I ask the tour manager for my per diem (about $90), but he says he doesn't have it because the singer borrowed all of "the float" (what they call the cash they take on tour to cover band expenses) to blow on a titty bar the night before.

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