Sonic Temple

Week Eight USA June/July 2001

Anaheim, Los Angeles, Portland, San Fransisco and Las Vegas

HOME!!!!! Finally after all these weeks, the bus rolls into Los Angeles around ten in the morning, and I go home. I make sure that Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Baja Fresh all get a visit from me and I unpack my bags, savouring every moment!! It’s nice to be back, even if it is only for a few days. I have some friends from UK in town, recording their album (the band has the most bizarre name ever – Big Yoga Muffin) so I go over to hear what they’re up to, and hang out for a while. I also go to see Jurassic Park 3 which is exactly what I expect, and what I need from a movie right now……sedation for the brain!
The next day is the Anaheim H.O.B. show at Disneyland, and I manage to get a pass for the park, so after the soundcheck, I check out a few rides, and get my adrenaline fix. Back at the venue, everyone’s just hanging out, eating dinner and the vibe is very relaxed. Steve Jones (Mr Sex Pistol) has come down with us for the day, and Mike, Steve and myself amuse each other playing Bowie songs on the acoustic guitar in the back of the bus. It’s a really nice vibe – little do I know what’s in store for me on the stage. Rise and In The Clouds are ok, and then its time to change guitars for L’il Devil. Billy D starts the riff, Matt does the fill and………….nothing!!! I’m up the front, foot on the monitors, giving it large rock and roll shapes, and my bass doesn’t work!! I look over at my tech and neither of us have any idea what’s wrong. He runs around doing stuff while I keep playing and eventually, I switch basses and finish the song. But the whole thing happens again four songs later. By the time it happens a third time, in Sanctuary, I’m really angry, and I just throw my bass at Jimmy and stand by my amps, without any bass, until he sorts it out. After the show, we find out that everything in Disneyland is RF controlled, and I happened to be on a frequency that they were using. So nothing worked!! Sorry for the outburst, Jimmy!! After I leave the stage, I head back to LA straight away, eager to avoid the post mortem. I’m angry that my equipment let the guys down, and just wanna get into bed and start the next day as quickly as possible.

I wake up on the morning of the big LA show feeling great; the dramas of last night buried somewhere deep in my head. Universal Amphitheatre and six thousand Cult fans……Fucking Awesome!!! I kinda drift through most of the morning until its time to meet up with everyone and get the bus over to the venue. Billy and Matt are on good form and we meet Mike at the soundcheck. Ian doesn’t appear all day, as he needs to look after his voice and is resting up for show time. But the four of us have a good long soundcheck and everything gets dialled in perfectly. It’s looking like its going to be a very cool show. As the doors open and the Hollywood All Stars fill up the backstage area, it becomes increasingly stressful, making sure that all our guests are in, with the right pass etc etc. I give up and hide in the dressing room until its time to go on. The big rock show, ladies and gentleman, complete with staging, lighting, production everywhere, and……..The Kabuki!!! Now I’m writing this on a plane to Portland, and Mr Mike Dimkich is sitting next to me, so I figure he should be the one to explain what happened next, in true Spinal Tap fashion.

“With all the current hoopla surrounding the current version of the film PLANET OF THE APES I imagine that most are now familiar with the old version where superstar Charlton Heston is captured by angry apes who throw a net over our hapless human hero…God, how I can relate!!  As the first chords of “Rise” erupted from our blaring banks of amplifiers, I was greeted by the sight of two baffled stage hands whose job it was to pull said Kabuki down as quickly as possible the moment it was released. Their confusion culminated in the Kabuki becoming the net that snared Mr. Heston in the aforementioned film, yet this time it was yours truly who was entangled in the Kabuki/net, Mr. Morrison managed to deftly slip out of the clutches of our theatrical prop gone horribly wrong!  Do not fret dear reader for through the quick actions of our production manager, Moe, the Kabuki was hauled from my person as I bravely soldiered on, utterly massacering my part in “Rise”.  All in all, no one was injured, the Kabuki survived without any snags or runs (oh, thank goodness) and no apes with guns threw me in a cage wearing only a loincloth.  Until later, goodbye folks.”

Thank you Mike!! It was pure Spinal Tap!! The rest of the show was just perfect – thank you Los Angeles for making it a good hometown show. We all played well, and the whole of Universal was on its feet by the mid-point in the set. By the time Wild Flower came around, the front of the venue was just going off, and all the people around the sides were punching the air and singing along. Ian’s comment of “get off your cell phones and move” seemed exactly the right sentiment and by the end of the show, no one was making a call!!!! Sometimes the big city shows can be a bit dead, because the audience is too spoiled for choice. They see every band that’s touring and an apathetic vibe spreads over the whole “let’s go see a show” thing. Especially in Hollywood, where people go to shows to be seen, and to spot celebrities and not to listen to the music. But our Universal show didn’t suffer from that and to see an LA audience singing and jumping around made us all really happy. The aftershow party was full of people and I stayed around for a long while, hanging with my friends from England, and talking to everyone. The free bar and food that we laid on seemed to go down well, and the casualties started early – free bars seem to do that to people!! Eventually it was time to leave – Billy and I went home, Matt went to The Standard, and I didn’t see Ian and Mike once we left the stage. But I know we were all really made up with the day.

Day off, and Billy and myself have booked a double tattoo appointment with Kevin Quinn in LA. For those of you unaware, Kevin is a very cool guy who is not only renowned for his ink, but also played in a band called American Pearl. So I turn up on time at Kevin’s, and we start to discuss some details about my new piece – the word “CHAOS” on my neck. Billy D is due in for some Japanese style wind bars and clouds on his shoulder, to go with his dragon.  I think when you’re eighteen and getting tattooed, it’s all about how tough you are, and how long you can sit under the needle. By the time you’re thirty something, it just fucking HURTS!!!! I sit well, and don’t move a muscle for an hour and a half, but I can tell you that tattooing your neck is not a good idea if you’re after a peaceful Sunday afternoon pursuit!! Try coffee and shopping – it’s a lot less painful!! But Kevin does a beautiful job, and my neck is starting to look how I want it. A few more wind bars and waves and flowers and……….oh god, when will I learn?! I’m really pleased with my new work and I hang around with Billy while Kevin draws him up and starts digging in with the needles. Its going to look great when its done, so I say my goodbyes, and head over to see Bone who is in A+M Studios, mixing one of our live shows for a radio broadcast. It sounds really live and really powerful, and the rest of the night is spent hanging out at the studio and eating Baja Fresh burritos.

The next morning, at 6.00am, the alarm goes off and I’m staggering around my apartment, bumping into walls and trying to drink enough coffee and smoke enough cigarettes to get me into the shower, dressed and downstairs into the car. We have a 9.00am flight up to Portland, to play another radio festival, and the mood at this ridiculous hour of the morning is subdued, to say the least. On to the plane, put the “leave me alone” sunglasses on, and sleep until we land. We are all now used to these radio events – twenty bands in a day, quick turn around times, and playing in daylight to an unfamiliar audience. Not exactly the best situation for live rock and roll, but necessary, nonetheless. The actual festival site is beautiful, set in a natural amphitheatre surrounded by a forest, and getting reasonably full, even at midday. By the time we hit the stage at four oclock, its very full. And I’ve gotta say that the audience totally took us by surprise. They were into it from the beginning, and took us for a 45 minute ride. We changed the set around, and I for one had a brilliant time. I had no expectations of the crowd, so when I saw them start to go off, I went with it and jumped about like a lunatic!! What a laugh!! We had a good time in Portland and hung around to watch a bit of The Offspring – Matt flew down to San Fransisco after the show, so when we leave to start the twelve hour drive, the bus seems spacious with only the four of us on it (the two Billys, Tony and Bone) – we pull over and buy some chips and salsa, put The Unforgiven DVD on the TV, and chill out until the early hours. Clint Eastwood is God!!

San Fransisco, and the second to last show of the tour. We pull up at The Warfield theatre at about 9.00am and immediately, some mad crackhead junkie is banging on the door, trying to bum a smoke and a few bucks. As I get off the bus to check out the neighbourhood, a few more ask me for a dollar, and it dawns on me that maybe an early morning stroll around the block is not such a good idea!! All along the sidewalk, guys are drinking from 40’s in brown paper bags, ‘ladies of the night’ are still being ladies of the night, even though its nine oclock in the morning and at least ten pairs of eyes settle on my spikey haired, tattooed frame emerging sleepily from the very expensive looking bus and are probably choosing their exact moment to relieve me of my money, watch, jeans, Nike’s and even my underwear if they can get it!!! I hang around for half an hour and get the runner to take me to the hotel. Check the emails, get some coffee, and relax – a better idea than being dragged down an alley and shot full of horse tranquilliser!!! I take a trip down to Fishermans Wharf to see the seals – hundreds of seals have decided that the harbour in San Fransisco is a cool place to live, and the authorities have built them a bunch of rafts to hang out on, and the noise is incredible. There they are, just hanging out in the sun, pushing each other off the rafts and playing about in the water……in the middle of the Wharf!!! We get tired of watching them eventually and head back to the venue for dinner, a meet and greet, and to start warming up for the show. San Fransisco welcomes us warmly, and off we go again!! Another good show, although I STILL have a bass go down in Bridges Burn. I think we finally realise what the problem is, and we should have it all fixed by the time we hit Japan. Apart from that, the show is cool. We are all tired, and it’s hard work, but we get through it, we play well, and the crowd is loud. But then, in the encore, Ian jumps in the air, lands badly, goes down, and doesn’t get up. I can see him shaking his head at the people on the side of the stage, and I realise he’s hurt his leg badly. We get through to the end of Love Removal, and he’s helped off by a bunch of people and then we have to wait to find out if he’s broken anything. Thoughts of a cancelled Japanese/UK tour flash through my head, but we don’t know anything for sure yet, so he goes off to see the doctors, and we get on the bus and drive to Las Vegas. We’ll find out tomorrow exactly what the damage is, and how much it will affect us.

Ians leg, although very painful for him, is not broken, and the last show of the tour is on!! The day is spent hanging out at The Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the House of Blues venue is, and also our rooms. Yours Truly loses a twenty spot in the slot machines (big time gambler, me!!) and everyone else hides out in their rooms until showtime. Its show number sixty, and the last date on the current US tour and we are all ready for a few days rest. The show is brilliant, even though Ian is really tied to the mic because of his leg. He sings every word, the crowd go banana’s , and we respond with a ten minute ending of Love Removal, with possibly Billy D’s longest guitar solo ever!! Mike and myself are dying, trying to keep up with Duffy and Sorum, but it is a great rock and roll ending to three months on the road. After the show, we have a party in the Foundation Room, although we are all wasted, and just want to go home. And that’s it. Rumours of more US dates abound, but I’ll let the management confirm all that – for now, its home to bed for four days before the hideous flight to Japan. Thank you to every single one of you who came to a show, said hello, supported the band and bought the album. We will be back before you know it, and until then, I will keep you up to date with all the gossip from Japan and England. Europe will happen at some point, I’m sure. It’s just that we have yet more commitments in the US right now, and the rest of the world will get a dose of The Cult next year. Thank you all once again for making me feel comfortable in the band and we’ll see you all next time around. Until Japan……Peace

Billy Morrison