photo diary: Great Grandpa
photos: Elyse Lankford
In our few days off on this tour that were not filled with long drives or sloth like rest, we went to the beach. Some of us laid around on the scorching white sand of Miami, some of us bobbed in the waves pretending to surf- throwing up the occasional hang loose sign or yelling “woah! big wave dude!” This was the day that we met our first ever real life shark. While Pat and I waded, chatting in the water we saw a large, dark, finned creature seemingly drifting towards us. I yelled “WHAT the F*CK is THAT?” And Pat said “it’s a DOLPHIN!” We soon realized it was not a dolphin and was in fact a 6-8 foot shark swimming right at Elyse, our tour manager and friend. After a few worried but hushed calls around it didn’t take long to evacuate all parties from the water. We left the beach, went to lunch, and returned back to the beautiful blue waters the next day, but at a different location. This time I stayed clothed to protect my already burnt skin and took on the task of attempting a large sand castle. This was just one of the many places I imagined my self proclaimed “nomadic” self living in while on the road (We almost ended up living there because Dylan Locked the keys in the van. We waited for a long time for a nice service provider to come rescue us.)
One time I remember we stopped at a small coffee shop in North Carolina. It’s back patio stretched through trails of the woods lined with little bulb string lights. We didn’t stay long but Elyse and I agreed that we could move to this town and I could get a job as a barista here and she could sit in the early of the day on her laptop writing emails.
Another time, our van broke down (before the coffee shop encounter) on our way to North Carolina. We needed new spark plugs and probably something else I don’t remember. I walked around to a strip mall with Elyse while Pat, Cam, and Dylan triumphantly doctored and soothed our valiant steed. I imagined what living in this town would be like. Probably not much different from what living in most towns would be like. So, I returned to my usual suspect, Carboro, NC -home of Carborito, one of our favorite food spots in the area. Sadly by the time we skated in to the gig, Carborito was closed and we had to rush (with the help of the very kind and gracious staff of Cats Cradle) to load onto the stage for sound check. We were about two weeks in to our tour with The Get Up Kids and even with the chaos of van troubles and a rushed line check, we were happy to be reunited with our pals. It didn’t take long for us to feel a nice friendly bond with TGUK members. We even met up on a day off closer to the end of our two and a half week tour at their campsite on Lake Gaston. Matt enthusiastically prepared an assortment of chopped veggies and proteins for everyone to bundle up in their own special dish. We cooked our meals wrapped in tin foil balls over the fire while sitting around and talking about music, our lives at home and how tour was going. We played a round of mini golf that turned into a frenzy game of goofing around and drinking. After dinner, Elyse and I took the realistic donut floaties down to the lake. The sun was setting and yet somehow it felt like the air was growing warmer and filled with static charge from the lightning storm. Some may say that floating in a body of water while shocks of major electricity are crashing down in the near distance is not the brightest idea, but we both agreed later on that it was on of our favorite memories of tour.
Other tour memories I think of warmly are usually the ones sharing a conversation with a stranger outside the venue. After our headlining show in Bloomington, IL I was tapped gently on the shoulder by a very kind person. They asked if I had a minute to talk and we stepped away from the trailer where we were loading our gear. This person started to well up and let me know that they generally don’t have reactions like this to music but that one of our songs touched them deeply and really struck a chord with some current events they were facing in their life. This was such a small and fast interaction that has left a big feeling for me. To be cheesy and extremely cliche I have to say that those types of interactions are one of the things that affirms why playing music to people feels important. Beyond that, playing music with some of my best friends and sending out messages that we all equally find solace and community in - has got to be one of the coolest things. Tour can be grueling and really test your limits of self and ability to communicate effectively through hunger and sleep deprivation. But I never imagined that this is where I’d be right now and I am thankful for the road I get to travel down and for those whom I get to share it with.