by Derric Miller
– Managing Editor –
Just off the road with Valiant Thorr and Ramming speed, and just before Gypsyhawk heads back out on the road–across the US and Canada–with Trollfest and Alestorm, Gypsyhawk guitarist Erik Kluiber checked in with Hardrock Haven to talk about life on the road, the omnipresence of Wal-Mart, drinking, his drunken alter ego “Ron,” new music and videos, and anything else he wanted to bring up. Like the fact that Tulsa, Okla. sucks.
Hardrock Haven: Hey Erik, thanks for taking the time to check in with Hardrock Haven. Gypsyhawk just finished a US tour with Valient Thorr and Ramming Speed. Can you give us some highlights of the tour, and by that, I mean drunken, crazy, perchance NSFW escapades … nothing to get you in trouble though, of course!
Erik: The night before every tour we always have a serious meeting about how we’re gonna “keep it cool” this tour. We’re not gonna party hard, we’re gonna eat healthy food, and get in at least one hour of exercise every day, ‘cause we’re professionals and it’s time to get serious. When the morning finally arrives, it’s like Christmas. The van is all shiny and everyone is excited for our new journey and adventures. First, we gotta get fuel ‘cause Vannawhite (that’s our van) can’t run on dreams alone. After we get raped, I mean pay the nice fuel man, we hit the closest fast food place we can find. For some reason it’s usually a Carl’s Junior even though it’s Andrew’s least favorite “restaurant.” But fret not, from here on out, Art and Eric scour the horizon like Christopher Columbus looking for every Sonic Burger joint in the nation … and we hit them all. Did you know Sonic has a happy hour from 2-4 every day with half price drinks and slushies? We sure do. They sure must pack a lot of nutrition in those Sonic JR double cheeseburgers cause when I got back from tour, my doctor told me I gained a really healthy amount of weight!
We always do some pick up shows to get to the official opening tour date cause it’s a law that all tours have to either start in Texas or on the East Coast. After we play our pickup shows we always have a good talk to each other after the gig and say “Why, it sure will be nice when we meet up with these other fellers we’re touring with. I reckon when we play with them, there might even be some real live people in the audience to play for!”
During our trip cross country from the west coast to the east we did manage to pull over and throw a frisbee around. Once. After that Mr. Frisbee spent most of his time doubling as a sort of portable table that we’d set these spices on. Now, these road spices looked sorta like what your mamma would have in her cupboards to cook supper with, but we never cooked no food with ‘em. Darndest thing.
But to answer your question Derric, I will say we had a great time touring around bringing this new rock and roll music sound to the people night after night with our friends Ramming Speed and Vaient Thorr. After every good time rock show we’d pack up the trailer with our fine (beat up and broken) equipment and have a huddle. See, after every show we’d realize that we don’t got no place to go for the night. Befuddled, perplexed, and confused, we’d give each other blank stares and listen to the crickets chirp. After few minutes, Eric would break the silence. We all knew what was coming. We braced ourselves like you would as a kid when you was in trouble again, heard your daddy walk in from work, and a spankin was a comin’. Then the words would come out, “The GPS says there’s a Walmart 20 miles from here”. “Oh god no!” we’d scream in terror. I’d rather die than sleep in another Walmart parking lot in the middle of summer! We will die if we sleep at another Walmart. We’re in the South and it’s 100 degrees, that’s like 150 degrees in a van. I don’t wanna go out like some poor dog left in a locked car.”
Then by the grace of the metal gods, we heard a voice. “Y’all don’t have to sleep at no Walmart.” What? Who is this Angel and what are they offering? “No silly, me and my friends are having an after party and we have plenty of floor space for you to crash on if you want. Why, we even have showers.” You don’t say? What is this “Afterparty” thing you’re talking about?” “Well come on over and find out.” “Oh Lordy,” we all cried with joy!
But the Walmart was always there. No matter where we went, what day or time it was, Walmart was always there too. Waiting for us to need him again. Laughing, he taunted us, “Silly pathetic mortals, Angels can’t save you every night. What then, hotels? Who do you think you are, Metallica? I think not. I will always be here, and it will always be hot, and you will never really sleep. You will just sweat until you can’t take it anymore and it’s time for someone to drive. You will be back. I’m eternal, I AM WALMART!”
Now this is where the leprechauns come in.
When we visited these “after parties” there would always be bottles of this crazy sauce they call whiskey. A lot of times the bottles had were named after a man called Jameson. Apparently this Jameson fellow was from Ireland and you know what else is from Ireland? Leprechauns. Leprechauns would follow us around the country and plant surprise bottles of whiskey in our Angel’s cupboards. It wasn’t always Jameson, but I suppose even Leprechauns run out of gold from time to time. Now why would leprechauns follow around a touring rock n roll band in America? I pondered this question day and night until I realized that our drummer Ian Brown is himself a Leprechaun. Not just any leprechaun mind you. He is royalty. He was even the prom king at his high school prom. That’s no small feat for any leprechaun.
Now, there were a few occasions when the leprechauns would call in sick from Leprechaunitis. On these nights our Angel’s cupboards were not magically stocked with our beloved crazy sauce and we’d start to panic. That’s when Ian, King of the Nebraskan Leprechauns, would reach into his magic sack. He’d rummage around an endless bounty of Twizzlers, Twix candy bars, Slim Jims, and low and behold, he would procure a golden brown chalice of whiskey. Sometimes it said Early Times, but more often than not they said Jim Beam. Either way, it was plenty powerful and the good times never had to stop!
During a lot of these good times my friend Ron would come out to play. He’s kinda like a big dummy who goes with me everywhere I go. He’s pretty clumsy and he likes to fall down a lot. Some people think he’s half-retarded ‘cause he has trouble putting together complete sentences. I don’t ever remember what Ron does, but he sure does like to get in trouble. Every morning I’d wake up and people would tell me stories of what Ron did the night before. Oh Ron, when will you learn?
Sometimes at these “after parties”, some of the boys would slip away with some of the pretty ladies who also after partying. I don’t know what they did together, but I think it’s a game grown ups call “sex” or “sucky sucky long time” or “oh god, harder” or “ooh baby, stick it in my ass.” Now, I never learned what this “sex” thing is ‘cause I went to school in Detroit and they can’t afford to teach dumb things like Health Class. Don’t feel bad for me though, ‘cause I heard Detroit is reading a big accounting book and they’re stuck on Chapter 9. Why, they can’t even afford to have schools at all anymore. I’m lucky.
Every morning we wake up feeling (like hell) great and get back in Vannawhite. All aboard? Off to another city, Rock and Roll stops for no one and we are some Rock and Roll mutha fuckas. Call me psychic, but I bet there’s a Sonic or a Taco Bell in our near future.
This is how tour goes every night.
HRH: Any of the shows stand out as the best? Any of the cities that you hit that you can’t wait to get back to again?
Boston – can you say energy with crazy accents? Ehnah-gee
New York – It’s New York Fucking City! Always a good time.
Chicago – Wild crowd, good food next door, and Willie Gee! Venomous Maximus was on the bill. All four bands partied at a Three Floyds house after the show. Went to bed at 10 a.m. Special shout out to my boys in I Decline who opened.
Minneapolis – how can they fit so many people in such a tiny room and what drugs are they not on? Even better food than Chicago next door.
Houston – Sick as a dog from the previous night’s shenanigans. We killed it on stage, perhaps our best performance of the tour. Must have been 200 degrees in that joint. Art even thought we were good.
Tampa – Thanks Dean Guitars! And David Vincent saw our set.
Raleigh – Last night of the tour. Never played Raleigh before. Everyone killed it. Big hugs, kisses, and pats on the balls. Cauldron was hanging out too which was a total surprise.
Tulsa – Fuck that place. Don’t even bother. Andrew and Art have a podcast on spreaker that goes into a bit of detail on this. http://www.spreaker.com/user/gypsyhawk
New Orleans – only ‘cause some douchebag security assholes at some fancy pants hotel locked me in the elevator for 30 minutes on my birthday cause they thought I was a bum. They stopped the elevator in between floors and wouldn’t let me out. When the security finally let me out, I told ‘em I had a room there. They didn’t believe me, ‘cause I was a bit intoxicated. Whatever. I tried to call the band so they could explain what was up to these civilian mall cops, but my flip phone died. So, they’re walking me off the premises as I’m telling them I had a fucking room there and didn’t do anything wrong when Art materializes out of thin air and saved me from getting arrested. Thanks again Art. Fucking civilian pricks. Sorry we got a room at your four-star hotel for 59 bucks off of Priceline, get over it. Yes, we did actually stay at a few hotels this tour (thank you Priceline).
HRH: I’ve known you for quite a while, back to your Overloaded days, on to your White Wizzard days, and now Gypsyhawk. As a fan of your style and writing … what’s it like to look back on where you came from and find yourself going on nationwide tours with a critically acclaimed album like Revelry & Resilience under your arm?
Erik: I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done. Just writing music and rocking out onstage. I think I’ve grown as a composer and player. I make full length demos at home with all the parts done now. I used to just write one riff and present it to the band. I’ve learned that having a solid outline from start to finish greatly speeds up the songwriting process.
Being in a band is not rocket science. But you know, if you can’t or won’t tour, you won’t go anywhere in rock and roll or metal music. And if there isn’t mutual respect, the band is doomed. You gotta have your priorities right in life, rock and roll is #1, everything else takes a back seat.
HRH: Looks like no rest for the wicked … in early July an announcement came out that Gypsyhawk is heading back out across the US and to Canada with Trollfest and Alestorm. Will there be any beer consumed on that tour? Has Gypsyhawk toured with either of those bands before?
Erik: Oh, I’m sure a lot of beer and whiskey will be drank. I mean come on. But no, we’ve never toured with Alestorm or Trollfest. Eric toured with Alestorm a few years ago on Paganfest when he was in Huntress. He’s friends with them to this day, which is how we got on the tour. It’ll be our first tour that goes through Canada which we’re all looking forward to. There might be another tour announced before the Alestorm tour by or around the time this gets posted.
HRH: I won’t get into specifics, but there have been times in your career that alcohol, on some level, has changed your career in one direction or another, neither in a good nor bad way—you are in Gypsyhawk, after all. But how hard is it to censor your intake when you are hitting stage night after night? Is that ever an issue or have you, like most of us (hopefully) after trial and error, learned when enough is enough?
Erik: I hardly drink before shows anymore. Maybe a beer or two at the most. We did a warm up gig a while back right before the Sword tour. It was a low key Halloween Party. We were supposed to play at 11 and it got pushed to like 1:30 a.m. I was drinking beer all night. I thought I was fine, but when I got on stage I realized that my motor skills had been significantly reduced and I bombed that show. It was so embarrassing. The guys from Ex-Mortus were right in front of me and they’re total shredders and I was butchering our songs. I’ve never been so embarrassed. I took it as a sign, and I keep it totally cool before shows ever since. Even if we don’t go on until 1 a.m, I won’t get drunk.
After the gig though, look out, it’s party time. Yeah, I still get fucked up after the shows. But I have been working on it and trying not to get so retarded. I slip up though. A lot.
Ian did pat me on the back towards the end of last tour and said, “Ron, you’ve been the best I’ve ever seen you on tour this time around.” I was like thanks Ian, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. Then we went to an after party and got obliterated.
HRH: I kind of dropped the ball on your Lincoln, Neb. show July 11. We’d talked on the phone, and I wanted to head there and catch Gypsyhawk and review the gig as you guys played your way home. Tell me what I missed so I can feel like a dolt.
Erik: Our drummer Ian is from Lincoln, Neb. His parents are always super cool to us. His mom makes us tons of food and his dad helped us fix the flooring in our trailer this time around. I had this terrible ink stain from an open sharpie that I left in my pants pocket, and his mom got the stain out which was super rad ‘cause I only own two pairs of pants. These were my special rock and roll pants and I was stoked after she fixed ‘em. They always put us up in this hotel called the Candlewood Suites, so we’re basically spoiled every time we go there.
The gig itself was cool as far as sound, performance, vibe, and crowd. We have a good fan base in Lincoln between Ian’s friends and all the time’s we’ve played there, especially from the Sword tour. But after an otherwise killer show, the club paid us $85 bucks. And we’re like “is this a fucking joke?” I know it was a door deal, but a few days ago we made $320 on a door deal on a last minute DIY gig we booked in Lexington, Ky. on a Monday. Last time we played Knickerbockers in Lincoln the turnout was similar and we got like $250. I saw you collecting money at the door. People were paying. We’re trying to get gas money to make it to Denver the next day and this time around you’re gonna pay us $85? That’s the type of shit you have to eat on the road. Needless to say, we were pissed. Next time we have to book a DIY show in Nebraska it’ll probably be in Omaha because of that stunt.
HRH: I’m watching the video for “Silver Queen” right now … Gypsyhawk is one of the few bands who keep making videos for their “singles,” although radio/TV/everything has changed since this was the norm for bands. It’s really funny, drunken, pretty racy (thank God), violent as hell and has a storyline. When the band makes videos, how much of the conceptualization does the band input to the making of the video?
Erik: The band had a short meeting and discussed ideas two tours ago before a gig in Nebraska (of all places) for the theme and imagery of “Silver Queen.” Video director Farron Loathing of the band Lightning Swords of Death took our ideas and expanded on them. After that, we just took direction as none of us know what the fuck we’re doing in videos. Personally, I’m not a big fan of that video. Too many boring shots of us walking around Imo.
HRH: What about the videos for “State Lines” and “Hedgeking”?
Erik: “State Lines” is my favorite of the three. Metal Blade sent their employee (and our friend) Jordan Goldstein to come hang on the road with us for 3 days and shoot some footage. The party performance footage was shot at our friend Josh Lease’s house in Lake Tahoe during a DIY tour. It was the second day of that tour. Andrew Packer decided to marry our merch girl at the time, Bonnie, a few hours before the shoot. It was wild and it turned out fun. Vince who works at Metal Blade edited it together during his lunch break or something. Dude’s good.
“Hedgeking” was shot and directed by Simon Chan. It’s got some cool effects in it. He shot all the performances separate and put them together in post so it looks like we’re playing together. That Australian actor Guy Grundy was hilarious.
HRH: Looks like your Alestorm and Trollfest tour is going to take you all the way to the end of 2013. So the question begs … what’s next for Gypsyhawk as we go into 2014? New album in the works? Any side projects you yourself are working on?
Erik: No side projects for me thank you. Tentatively, we’re going back in the studio in March to release our second album with Metal Blade. We hope for a summer 2014 release.
HRH: Is there anything I left out that you’d like to leave with our Hardrock Haven faithful?
Erik: Be excellent to each other. And if you really love a band, go the extra mile and support them by purchasing their CD, LP or legal download.