June 1-3 Slam Dunk Italy & a day off!
Rimini, Italy (Day Off)
There are a few things I should preface this write-up with.
First of all, we have NEVER played Italy. We have performed in Italy, but, both shows we have played here were with the military, so it’s not quite the same. Playing for the military goes one of two ways.
The show is INSANE and they go ape shit and you feel like you just did something so amazing you will never be able to explain it.
You are background music to a picnic. Everyone appreciates you being there, but they are clearly just happy to not be working at that very moment.
Both experiences are great, and I wouldn’t trade any of the shows we have done for our armed forces, but, there is no pressure on us to “bring a crowd.”
If you have read about the two German shows, you have a pretty good idea where this is going. We are to headline the second stage at Slam Dunk Italy. We are sandwiched between Frank Turner and Rancid, and to watch us does require leaving the main stage area and venturing over to the smaller, yet still massive, stage.
The other thing that brings us up to speed here, is that UK bus drivers MUST stop driving for 45 hours after a certain amount of hours at the wheel. There is no exception to this rule. They actually have a physical card that they insert into the bus that will just stop letting the bus move if they are due for a break. It is all for safety, but, as you can imagine, it requires some major planning sometimes during tour.
I hate to give their story away, but the poor guys in Less Than Jake got held up at the ferry on the way over to Germany a few days back. One option when facing bus downtime is to bring in a second driver. This is fairly common and not as strange as it sounds. So they got held up long enough that on the way to the venue in Köln, where they could have parked on the day off, both bus drivers ran out of drive time. They were 20 minutes from the venue. They had to stop. Turn off the bus power, and just sit and wait. Sound miserable? It is!! And I would have lost my ever-loving shit if that had happened to us after so much planning.
Buddy (Less Than Jake), Rob, and Gary watching Four Years Strong
Anyway, I tell you all of that because we rolled into Slam Dunk Italy on our day off. We were able to park and use the backstage toilets, but most of all, hang with friends! It was so great to see Zebrahead after such a long time. Our very good friend Adrian Estrella (also of Assuming We Survive and formerly of MEST) is singing for them now and we hadn’t been able to see him play with them. It was amazing! They absolutely killed! I also finally got to see Stand Atlantic! If you haven’t heard them, I am super surprised, they are on every pop-punk playlist I have ever heard! They are awesome! Really enjoyed the live show too!
We have a long-standing relationship with Sum 41. Someday I need to type out the story of our first tour together. We were both really young, in vans, and ready to take over the world. Not to mention, We toured with GOB around the same time, and that is where Thomas Thacker came from. We have managed to stay in touch pretty well over the years, but I never get tired of seeing them live. I honestly feel like Sum 41 is on the Mount Rushmore of pop-punk. Even with the metal-leaning years…There is no denying that they have written some of the all-time pop-punk anthems! And the attitude they brought in those early days was what it was all about! By the way, Cone and Thom have both been on Rockstar Dad Show. Good listens and great stories on the episodes!
Rob, Dave “Brown Sound" from Sum 41, Dan from Zebrahead, and Thom Thacker from Sum 41/ GOB
Dave managed to make friends with a little family-owned cafe across from where the bus was parked, so we kept getting some amazing lasagna and pizza bread delivered. It was a fine day off!
Jaret and Dave from Sum 41
Slam Dunk Italy
I tell you what’s weird. Going to sleep after spending a solid day with your buddies. Waking up in the same place, only to find that NEW buddies had shown up and taken their parking spots!
But the big news I woke up to was that our YOU ASKED FOR IT TOUR which will hit the UK in February 2024, had gone on sale. And sales were REALLY good. Hopefully, if you are in the UK, you are planning to come see BFS, Less Than Jake, and the Vandoliers!
My entire day was chillin' in the bus, talking shop to the band, my agent, and my manager, then venturing out to see some buddies play, or to say hello to someone I heard was lurking around!
We were glad to see Destroy Boys again. This was my first time ever seeing The Bronx and they blew my mind! Of course, I didn’t miss Less Than Jake. Caught up with Anti-Flag and always enjoy seeing them rock! The Punk Rock Factory boys have become good mates. We finally got to see them play live and they do NOT disappoint!
If you follow me on anything, you know how much I love Frank Turner as a person and as a musician. I was glad to get to watch him for a few songs. But even more glad I got to catch up with him. We did a weekly Instagram chat for over a year during lockdown called Back To The Metal. It was a highlight of the week for a lot of folks, including me! :)
Jaret and Frank Turner, Rob with Frank Turner
I had a feeling I knew how the show would go. The day before, watching the other bands on the day off, people waved to us from the crowd. Stopping us for photos when we were between the buses and backstage. I figured out that at least SOME folks would know who were were. But again…We have NEVER played here. And in order to see us, you have to give up the spot you got during Frank Turner and try and get it back for Rancid. The walk over to the stage is through the crowd. My thought on how this was about to go down was pretty much on point by then. We were about to have a show of a lifetime. And we fucking DID! From the moment we walked on stage, people smiled and sang and danced. Happiness was infectious.
We opened with Almost and the crowd sang the guitar line as though they were singing the lyrics. But I think the thing that floored all of us….the band, the crew, the other bands watching…was the next song.
The idea is to go into the drum beat for High School Never Ends. We do this transition often. It allows me to mess with the crowd. Get them hyped and get them singing! Well, it didn’t go like that. The second Gary hit the first beat, they erupted into High School Never Ends. As though they had been queued in and ready for it! I think all of us were taken aback a little. I started laughing and just looked back at my friends watching from the side like “WTF?!?!”
Video taken by JR of Less Than Jake
The show itself was magical. One of those nights where I knew there were people in that crowd that had waited a long to hear those songs live. My agent said the walk back through the crowd was like the Beatles arriving at JFK in the 60s. Not sure about that, but people were happy and I took as many photos as security would let me. And I haven’t stopped smiling.
I did make it back for Rancid. Rancid is that band for me that I forget is one of my favorite bands sometimes. Does that make sense? I don’t mention them much when I list out bands I love, but when I hear them I'm reminded that I love every song and that the first 3 or so albums are SUPER important to me! (Side Note: Tim Armstrong of Rancid wrote Here We Go - the song we had in the Scooby Doo Movie - also on Bowling For Soup Goes To The Movies.) The band sounds great as ever. The vocals are always on point and I never get sick of seeing Matt Freeman play bass.
Innsbruck, Austria (Day Off)
As I said in an earlier post, these days off are new. But I am getting used to them. :)
The only thing to report here is that we are in an insane-looking hotel, across from the Olympic Arena they have here. We are surrounded by mountains that go up to 9,000 feet. The air is so clean here. And the people are sweet.
We ventured downtown today. I don’t usually get out and do much, but we needed lunch and there were a lot of us, so out we went! It is just a really cool town. Some of the guys rode a cable car to the top of a mountain. I decided to sit and write this. Off to sleep now. Tomorrow is SBÄM Fest, but also the last show of this run.
I can feel my body trying to push through. It’s hard out here for younger guys that drink less and take better care of themselves, so it can get pretty tough on us. I always promise myself I am going to get back into some sort of exercise thing when I get home. I think it might work this time. I really want to keep doing this for a while longer!