POZ Road Blog: This Is Hell

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 25, 2012

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From Rick Jimenez:

Well for as good as the last three shows with Unearth were, the first three shows of our summer North American “GREAT AMERCAN THRASH” tour were fucked up. I bet only 1 out of 100 people get where that tour name came from and can appreciate how and why it’s so radical… the others are missing out.

Anyway, first show in northern PA, you know what that means? That’s right, more goddamn traffic. Once we finally arrived at the venue, we met up with Xerxes and bullshitted for a little while like you do with new tourmates, lifted some weights like you do when you’re in This is Hell, and then played the show to a crowd that would have been fine in a small venue but not completely right for the medium/large size one. Those in attendance still had a good time and got down so it was still fun enough. Ever have one of those days where nothing seems comfortable and therefor prohibits you from performing a task properly? That’s how I felt while actually playing. My recently serviced guitar felt fucked, then my strap felt too small, then too big, then the amp sounded weird… whatever. Just a strange feeling. Taking advantage of location, we went to a Wawa and ate away our sorrows before crashing at Scuzz’ parents place in the woods.

The next day’s drive to Harrisonburg, VA was a stress filled one where I fixated on my messed up gear the entire time, so I tried to mess with it as soon as we got to the venue. Pete did a bit of work too to try to help and we thought shit would be cool so we got in a bench press day in the back of the venue of which finally made me realize that the bench I bring on tour is definitely better than nothing but starting to be closer to nothing than something. Follow that? No? The goddamn bench is a piece of shit and makes my back feel like Rocky Dennis’ face. The workout kinda sucked. To make the day radical, there were 3 bands added to the show a few hours prior. Helping out 2 other touring bands in a bind is a good thing. Making it so half the crowd there for the band playing last leaves because at 12am they have been at a show for 6 hours and sat through other bands they didn’t know were even playing, not a good thing. Suffice to say, we went on at 12:45 am to a tiny crowd that although we were extremely appreciative that they stuck around, it still sucked to play to a portion of who was there prior, knowing that timing had played at least some part in their departure. Or maybe they just think we suck. Either way, the set was a downer, the energy was low, my gear malfunctioned for a good 3 or 4 minutes just prior to us beginning and the fact that once we started playing, my guitar still felt like a 1995 $125 Hohner standard, the concrete 75% empty room sounded like a concrete 95% empty room, and we played like it was our second show ever. Xerxes was rad that night though. Small victory for the tour overall I guess? I hate small victories.

We had an 8 hour drive to where we were staying in Knoxville that night so it was perfect that we didn’t get on the road til about 1:45am. I slept next to an overturned dead bug. Instead of being grossed out and throwing a fit, I kinda stared at it for a while and thought “that’s like the white version of me right now, only with more legs and a disgusting exoskeleton.” Get the fuck out of here with that emo bullshit. I called the dead bug gross, gave it the finger and went the fuck to sleep for an hour or two then woke up and made some oatmeal and told the other dudes to wake up to get some real food. 

Once everyone woke up to get some “real food”… we went to a mall where we ate stupid, stupid shit that tasted great. Was about to start the pre-show workout outside the venue and a local dude gave me a bag of supplements and other cool workout shit. THAT was rad. He hung out during the workout and bullshitted with us. The venue was pretty rad and the crowd seemed cool. Our buddies in Will To Die played also and killed it and everything was going ok. I messed with my gear prior to the shows start and decided to just start off the show with my backup guitar to avoid wanting to smash my fucked up regular one, and also tried to remedy any amp problems I was having from the day before. Once we began, nothing made sense. Just another “off day” and it was draining. The crowd had their moments, but nothing felt right. To make things really awesome, I broke a string mid-song. The black cloud filled with shit over our heads was actually diarrheaing into the entire bar at this point. Being done with the set was so welcomed. Nothing makes me feel shittier than ending a show and feeling like the crowd was cheated. Diarrhea happens I guess.

We started the drive to Alabama the next day super early so I could bring my guitar to a repairman with hopes that someone could figure out what the fuck was wrong and validate that I am in fact NOT crazy. Few hours of driving and stress later, we show up to this little place called Fretted Instruments in Birmingham, AL and were greeted by a few older white haired men that accessed the situation quickly and within 5 minutes, a neck adjustment, nut filing, bridge and tailpiece adjustments, my guitar felt like MY GUITAR again. I was so goddamn happy and relieved that I wanted to drop a bowling ball into pit of smiling kittens and puppies. I mean that in the best way possible. The wise wizard asked for only $10 and we were on our way. You know what ruled on top of that? Finally finding a gym in the area I could go to. Got in a decent leg workout that i am still feeling 2 days later and headed to The Firehouse; the coolest venue in Alabama with the raddest sketchy gas station in America across the street… Good old Munchies.

Riffed out with Pete in the trailer for a bit then went in to the show and stressed about having our first bad show there, being that the prior two times we’ve played there were rad and radder. By the time we hit the newly finished, sawdusted stage, the place was full with different types of people: gender, race, musical interest etc. THAT in itself is always the sickest. Even better, the set started off awesome and just got better and better as it went on. Stage dives, sawdust flying everywhere, circle pitting, headbanging, some mosh… crossover central. DRI would be proud. Guitar felt right, amp’s sounded correct, we played like we knew what we were doing… it was like This is Hell was playing, which it hadn’t felt like for a few days. What a goddamn relief and a good time. We wound up doing Enter Sandman as an encore and everyone lost it. Nothing like getting socked in the face with a good time, especially when you get used to being kicked in the junk with shit covered boot. We stayed with our friend Josh and his new wife in the area and he took care of us as usual and we pet his giant dogs’ heads.

The drive from Birmingham to Little Rock was about 500 years long, had tons and tons of traffic, a few finger exchanges with rednecks on the highway, two redbulls, one viewing of Smackdown on the iphone between the steering wheel and the speedometer, great pod selections and a couple of good virtual co-pilots. Upon arrival to the venue, I had the same “I hope this show doesn’t suck because every time we come here it’s good and I hate ruining that” feeling. The crowd seemed sparse but by the time we hit the stage, it filled it a bit and kids were up front ready to be siked and along the sides ready to do what kids on the side do while bands play thrash metal. The two local bands stuck around for both us and Xerxes, which is always the right thing to do but still appreciated, and the set turned out to be rad. The sound at Downtown Music in Little Rock always rules and fortunately the crowd always does too. The whole set was great and having fun two days in a row is everything cool and nothing shitty. We figured we drove all goddamn day and have to drive all goddamn night to get to Dallas, so we treated ourselves to a sit down meal at Dennys. Why I consider that a treat, I have no fucking idea, but the place was super Mastic style so I took off my Flights and enjoyed the night breakfast while we watched a bunch of the “How to cook ____ properly” videos on youtube and laughed too loud for public. I’ll do what I want, I just played a scorcher in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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