Seek and Destroy
The Sword's slice of Metallica
Okay, so a short preamble to give you some idea of what you may or may not find here.
To start with, I should say it's somewhat out of character for the Sword – myself, J.D. Cronise, Bryan Richie, and Kyle Shutt – to do a "dear diary" piece of our three-month tour with Metallica (James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo). Well, don't get too excited. Out of necessity, I have of course omitted all the juiciest parts, not so much with the intention of concealing our own evil deeds, but for the benefit of all involved. I never know what anyone intends for me to repeat or recount, and I err on the side of discretion.
So if you find these scanty notes to be lacking in the way of certain colorful elements or anecdotes you might expect me to relay, it's not because all the things you imagine aren't true. It's a matter of regard for the company I/we keep, and I don't want to lay bare all that I see or that people tell me, because to us there are no rock stars. Just demystified personages with all their talents and weaknesses trying not to go insane living on a bus or out of hockey-arena locker rooms. That said ...
LEG ONE: Oct. 21-Nov. 23
DAY ONE: Oct. 21
We all hop into our Ferraris, set the cruise control for 180, and tear ass off into the desert. Before we know it, we're at the first show. My Ferrari is red. J.D.'s is black. Bryan's is green. And Kyle's is the first ever Ferrari pickup truck! Then, we play a show for a measly 50,000 people. Tomorrow will be better.
Now, the reality:
DAY ONE: Oct. 21: Jobing Arena, Glendale, Ariz.
Okay then, we're playing "in the round." The stage is a big rectangle that sits in the middle of the arena such that seats are sold in a full 360. I am stuck in one place. (I don't have a revolving drum riser like Lars.) But the dudes are now using wireless units so they can rock out and entertain in complete panoramic mode. This will require a lot of getting used to. I'm accustomed to being able to at least see my bandmates at any given time. Now, they might all be on the other side of the stage, and it's just me rocking one-half of the arena while the dudes are rocking the other half. Oh, hey there's Bryan. What's up dude? There he goes. Later, man. This shit is weird.
Oct. 23: Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque, N.M.
Let's see ... at sound check I got to jam with Hetfield for a minute before he actually got on my drums and started laying down the beats with Pepper Keenan. That dude's actually a pretty good drummer.
I don't know if anyone's heard this crazy story about Phil Anselmo of Down, also on the bill, slapping the glasses off my face once in Turkey. It's true. It was a strange incident with no real explanation. Short background: Dude went bonkers, came to our dressing room, put his arm around me like he was giving me a hug, mumbled something, and then totally unexpectedly slapped the glasses right off my face while yelling something about me needing to know my place and respect him. Total vulgar display of power! He was promptly hauled off, and Down was almost kicked off the U.S. tour.
Anyway, today Phil came up onstage during sound check, shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and gave me one of the most sincere apologies I've ever received from anyone. Phil's actually a good guy. He just has some shit going on that he has a hard time dealing with. Don't we all. Later, Phil and I had a peace-pipe ceremony. Everything's cool now.
Also, it was Robert Trujillo's birthday today, and Kyle and I threw pies at him onstage at the end of "Seek and Destroy."
Oct. 25/26: Kansas City, Kan./Des Moines, Iowa
All arenas are basically the same. It's frankly confusing. Concrete corridors. Locker rooms. Twelve thousand to 17,000 seats. You see one, you've seen 'em all.
Oct. 28: Nutty's North, Sioux Falls, S.D.
A Sword show on a 'Tallica off night. The place has a sign out front that says, "Where all the nuts hang out." It's next to Missile Lube and Dick's Vacuum.
The men's and women's bathrooms are respectively designated "nuts" and "no nuts," and our dressing room is actually a bathroom with a table and two chairs in it. South Dakota!
Day Off – Halloween: Seattle, Wash.
Saw Torche today in one of their last ever performances with Juan Montoya. Rick dressed up as G.G. Allin, and Steve went for Dog the Bounty Hunter. Hands down, best costumes I saw all day.
Nov. 4: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colo.
I made a really realistic-looking fake turd out of a "chocolate brownie" Clif Bar. I put it in the refrigerator in our greenroom, and hilarity ensued. The hospitality girls came in, and one of them, upon the seeing the "turd" through the clear glass front of the illuminated minifridge, actually said: "Oh my God! Tell me that's not a piece of shit!"
Look, I was bored okay?!
Nov. 6: Qwest Center, Omaha, Neb.
Played a total blinder, then Lars invited us to hop aboard the 'Tallica jet and pop up to Chicago for cocktails. That's what we did. Met Anthrax. Nice dudes.
Nov. 7: Bottom Lounge, Chicago
Lars, Hetfield, and Trujillo came to our show tonight. We played a really good one. It's crazy to think about 'Tallica on their night off wanting to come see a band they already play with every day. Lars keeps telling me that I am his hero, whatever that means. We went to a bar later where he put "Freya" from our first album on the jukebox and declared it the quintessential metal song. True or not, this is all really flattering.
Nov. 16: The Mad Hatter, Covington, Ky.
Today was the beginning of the end for our bus driver. To start with, the guy was kind of a dick from day one, but today, instead of checking in at his hotel in the afternoon, he decided to get blackout drunk and come back to the bus where he proceeded to go full-on Laurel and Hardy by stepping backward into a small wastebasket that he couldn't get off of his foot. He insisted that it was 4am when it was actually 4pm. What's more, he thought it was time to leave for the next city, didn't know where we had been the previous day, called us a bunch of wannabe rock stars, and then whipped out his dick and pissed on the side of the bus while waiting for a cab that we had to call for him because he couldn't figure out how to use his phone! What a turd! Later, dude. You're fired!
Nov. 18: Bok Center, Tulsa, Okla.
Everyone gets their piece of the pie. Tonight was Kirk's birthday so ... you guessed it. Kyle (among others) got to pie him onstage. There was also a lot of Silly String involved. I'm amazed at what good sports these guys are.
Nov. 20: Toyota Center, Houston
For us, I guess this was as close to a hometown show as it gets. You always want to really destroy on your home turf. I think tonight we played a set that reminded everyone what nutz are for.
Nov. 22: Alltel Arena, Little Rock, Ark.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth came to our show. Nice chaps, and of course always a pleasure to see Brandon Crowe, one of my personal favorite drummers.
Nov. 23: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans
Instead of slapping me in the face at the end of this run, Anselmo gave me a big hug! I guess this is the happy ending to the first part of this faerie tale.
LEG TWO: Dec. 1-20
Dec. 1: Key Arena, Seattle
Freshly rested and our blade honed, the Sword gave it to Seattle raw tonight! Hopefully, it won't get pregnant, though I doubt Seattle would mind having our baby. It loves us and wants us to stay.
Dec. 2: General Motors Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver is the fucking best! They love metal. They love the Sword. They wear insane amounts of denim. And everybody headbangs! Also, you can smoke weed anywhere. They don't give a shit! Not to mention the generous portions of cheap top-grade sushi that you trip over if you take two steps in any direction. I'm moving here.
Dec. 4-7: The rest of Western and Central Canada is boring and cold.
Okay, hold on. Here's an ambiguous aside: If you're a millionaire, you can go to restaurants or bars and just have them close the place for you so you can have it to yourself. Then you can do whatever the fuck you want!!! Whatever you want. Does anyone know how to get rid of a dead hooker? Just kidding.
Okay, one more. Night one of Calgary: Chris Adler of Lamb of God goes out for drinks with Ulrich. He's totally starstruck and, out of the nervousness that can result from suddenly finding yourself in the casual company of one of your idols, proceeds to guzzle Champagne in quantities that lead to Bryan Richie literally walking him around like a zombie, pulling him out of the street, and keeping him from getting hit by cars. At some point in this evening, there took place a now legendary wrestling match between Lars and Chris. I wish I had a picture of that. The punch line to this story is that one extremely hung over Chris Adler threw up in his own mouth during Lamb of God's set the next night. Little do I know, the check is in the mail for me.
Dec. 17/18: The Forum, Los Angeles
Night One: So the night before, Lars had been sending me these text messages about wanting to party. I guess I got excited, because before the show had even ended, I had consumed at least half a bottle of Jägermeister on my own. I got kind of belligerent and was somewhat rude to a guy I later learned was Jon Theodore of the Mars Volta (a drummer that totally blows my mind). At some point, I was with Lars, Dave Grohl, Jon, and I can't remember who else when Lars says: "OK, the top five drummers are here! I'm number one; Trivett, you're number two; three [points to Grohl]; four [Theodore]; and five ..." I don't remember who that last one was as I was beginning to black out at this point.
I tell Dave about my Nirvana cover band, In Dudero, to which he chuckles and replies, "Who are you again?" Next thing I know, we're on Dave Grohl's "Grohler Coaster," a limousine bus that he rents to take people out on the town partying. We're headed to some bar called Red Rocks, but before we get there, all the Jäger kicks in (not to mention the scotch, the beers, and whatever else), and I start spinning. We pull up to the place, and I start barfing immediately and pass out on the floor of the bar. Real classy. Apparently, at some point I'm lying on Dave's lap, and he's babysitting me. I must have been really pathetic.
Eventually I ended up back at Lars' hotel, where I actually threw up in my cupped hands while we were checking in. Woke up totally confused and took a cab back to the Forum, spewing out of the cab on the way there.
After our set, Lars drops by our dressing room to check on me and fill in the blanks a little bit. Apparently, right before I went nonverbal, I was drinking a mixture of Jägermeister and Champagne, which I spilled all over my pants as I became totally incoherent. So the moral of the story is: Don't mix Jägermeister and Champagne, especially if you get nauseous on Grohler Coasters.
Night Two: J.D. is losing his voice due to an infection, so we play a largely instrumental set, and it actually turns out well. It's taken a little persuading, but Lars is now intent on playing with the Sword. Supposedly he's going to get onstage later in the tour (next leg) and play "Freya."
Dec. 20: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.
Fuck yeah! Our buddies from Saviours and Black Cobra are in town and come to the show. This is our favorite thing, to catch up with our raddest duders. We played an okay show and then, as Lars' b-day is just a few days away and this is the last night of the tour for a while, at Hetfield's behest, Kyle and I attempt to pie Lars onstage (at the end of "Seek and Destroy," of course). Man, that dude can run! (He actually runs several miles a day.) Seeing everyone coming, he sprinted, jumped off the stage (which is pretty high), and managed to dodge pies for a minute or two hiding down between the barricades. Eventually we caught him.