I got home from tour yesterday. Forty shows in 40 cities across the US and Canada, in 46 days with Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band, Bad Veins, and The Dig. While I'm ecstatic to be home, I'm physically, aurally, and socially exhausted--a post-tour-stress syndrome that is almost as gratifying as it is annoying, because it's a reminder that you, to borrow an sports phrase, "left it all out there (on the field)" even though you feel like a hearing-impaired, socially retarded bag of bruises--I'd be lying if I said I didn't wake up missing it this morning.
And by "it," I mean the camaraderie of being with bands and crews, unified towards a singular goal of putting on the best show we possibly can, every single night. I miss the budding friendships with the bands we were out with, and hate that after being totally immersed in those friendships for nearly seven weeks, we now have to battle the forces of incompatible schedules and inconvenient geography in order to ever have what we just had. (The best way I can think of describing this to someone that hasn't toured before is to have them think of the separation anxiety you'd get after a week of summer camp when you were a kid--subtract the youthful cluelessness, add adult social competency, wit and humor, and multiply by seven.)
Most of all, I miss seeing and being inspired by great musicians and songwriters playing fantastic songs every night. Being able to spend so much time with these people, watching them play, picking their brains about the "how and why" they do what do on a visceral level, discussing theory (or lack thereof), influences, technique, gear, etc. is absolutely invaluable to me as a musician. Even though I can't (or won't) share all of our music nerdery, tour stories and conversations, I can share music. So here are three songs I've heard almost every day for the past two months that you need to hear immediately (if you haven't already).
The Dig, "Look Inside"
These guys were the band I was least familiar with prior to the tour, but if the past 24 hours is any indication, they'll be the band I listen to the most from here on out. I cannot stop listening to this record. I saw these guys play this track 40 times (maybe more if we're counting soundchecks) over the past seven weeks, and since I got the Electric Toys record on Monday night, I've listened to this track (no exaggerating) 33 times. I'm not sure I can give a more ringing endorsement. It's got everything--energy, outstanding drums and percussion, an infectious melody and impassioned vocals, a ridiculously good bass line, gritty distorted Rhodes, atmospheric synths, a dark hypnotic bridge, and a cathartic outro. Genius. In the 11 years that we've been touring together, I'm not sure if we've ever played with a more talented group of musicians. Buy this record.
Bad Veins, "Crosseyed"
If I were to make a list of My Favorite Records of 2009 That I Didn't Hear Until 2010, Bad Veins' self-titled album would be on top of that list, without question. I actually stumbled across them this January via former-NBA player andESPN.com
columnist, and currentauthor
writer and podcaster, Paul Shirley'sTop 10 records of 2009
. I've been hooked ever since. Their record is jam packed with some of the catchiest songs I've heard in years. "Crosseyed," in particular, has been stuck in my head for almost half a year, and it's not going anywhere. It got so bad at a few points on this tour, that I actually caught myself whistling the melody from the chorus every time I saw Ben (guitar, keys, synths) or Sebastien (drums).
Kevin Devine, "I Could Be With Anyone"
I'd only met Kevin Devine in passing prior to this tour, but had heard a lot about him and his music via our good friends inBrand New
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, who'd toured with him in the past. Both camps gushed about how great Kevin and his band were as musicians, and even more so as people, and they were spot-on. I think every tour has a "glue" band--the band that holds everyone together, that strengthens the friendships, that bridges the gaps in personalities--and Kevin and his band were that band.
They're one of the kindest, wittiest, most thoughtful, and most positive groups of people we've ever toured with. I think Kevin (a brilliant lyricist, in my opinion) summed this tour up better than I could ever hope to in a text he sent me early yesterday morning, when he wrote, "..the great thing I feel with you guys is that due to the gradual way that our friendships developed over its course, the tour feels more like the beginning of actually being friends, rather than a self-contained thing to be shelved upon completion." So true. And that's exactly why I'll always look back on this tour fondly. We could have been with anyone, but we chose to tour together, and now we all have friends, music, and inspiration that will last us a lifetime.