Waste Man was formed in 2015 (originally as Hound); and though they are a group of young dudes, they summon the proto-punk energy of decades prior, sounding like a slightly more aggro Minutemen. Their most recent release, A New Type of Worry, was released last year on Digital Hotdogs (out of Austin, Texas). Waste Man consists of vocalist Jack Long, guitarist Christian Borges, bassist Dylan Siegelman, and drummer Gabriel Borges, who penned this diary of a ten-day tour through the Midwest and East Coast.
We usually go through the same routine every tour. However, this one was a bit different and I must say it was the most DIY experience I’ve gone through, besides booking all these tours. A week before the tour we borrowed a four-track cassette recorder from our good friend Matt Seferian’ (Pope, Matt Surfin’) and some mics and cables from Brian Pretus (PEARS). We recorded a three track demo, dubbed 40 tapes, printed and cut 40 j-cards in about two days, plus Jack and I went to the Community Printshop and screenprinted 50 shirts, then darted over to Banks Street Bar to play our kick-off show a day before tour. With the show over and merch ready to be sold, we were tour-ready. Saturday morning we woke up, frantically packed our bags, got an oil change, and hit the road. I always pack carelessly and regret it after the second day of the tour.
The show I had originally booked in Birmingham got canceled two days before the gig because members of the other bands couldn’t get off work. Luckily, we found a last minute show from a friend of ours and we ended up on a bill with a circus act from North Carolina, the Cut Throat Freak Show. I was worried that a bunch of people who paid almost $20 to see a circus act would be pissed to see us open—they weren’t! After seeing the Cut Throats perform, I understood why. This was the weirdest, coolest thing I’ve seen. I’d call the Cut Throat Freaks the punks of the circus community. They consist of three tattooed clowns who do the wildest shit I’ve ever seen. The first clown put his genitalia in a bucket of fireworks and shoved an entire ballpoint pen up his nasal cavity. The second clown wore a dildo and got the crowd to toss rings on it, then held a contest for who could get the ring on the dildo in the coolest way. I ended up doing a crab walk and put the ring on their dildo using my mouth (I won). Before and after the show we hung out with our good friend Calla, drummer of Bad Example. Calla is the nicest, most hospitable person we’ve ever met through touring. We woke up the next morning and went to a river spot to swim and tag up the walls before heading off to the next show.
Sunday shows can be hit or miss. You never know what the turn out will be, so pulling into Chattanooga wasn’t the most exciting of moments. However, the show rocked. We played at Sluggo’s Vegan Cafe and every single person there was very welcoming. Besides the show, the craziest thing that happened there was a 60-foot tree fell down in the parking lot and smashed several cars underneath it. Apparently, this has happened twice in the past month. Weird. We got asked by a bunch of locals to go and explore the caves that lie in the mountains that night; but unfortunately, we had to make a nine-hour drive to Chicago and decided to leave after the show. For the few hours we spent in Chattanooga, I enjoyed it very much and would recommend making it a destination on tour.
We left Chattanooga around 11 p.m. for Chicago. It wasn’t the smartest decision because there was a snow storm occurring in Chicago and the surrounding areas that night. We told ourselves that when we saw snow we would stop or let Jack or Dylan drive. Jack’s from Colorado and Dylan’s from Philly, so they know how to handle driving through snow. Neil Berthier from Donovan Wolfington texted us around the time we left, saying, “Do not drive here. Wait!” That message was ignored and we were all happy it was. The drive ended up being nice and the snowstorm stopped before we even saw it.
We arrived in Chicago around 9 a.m. I was driving while everyone else was sleeping. When I saw the city horizon I blasted some Wu-Tang and drove straight into downtown. “WAKE UP! WE MADE IT.” I can’t really express how good it feels to roll into a big city after a full night of driving. Dylan immediately woke up and looked up “The Bean” [i.e. “Cloud Gate”] on his maps and we drove straight there. What a magnificent bean. After that, we met up with Neil in Chinatown, had lunch, and went back to his place. We tried to relax before the show, playing chess and watching Soul Train and Prince videos. Before we knew it, it was gig time. Neil drove us to the show and boy, what a great parallel parker he is. Who knew? This was the first show that I personally felt nervous about. I suppose it was just that it was a big crowd in a big city, I’m not totally sure. I heard we did great, but I wasn’t feeling it. In a moment like that you just try to relax and know you’ll do better next time. No sweat. The band CALYX, from Pittsburgh, played after us and it was the best set I’ve seen in awhile. They were tour-tight and had the most phenomenal drummer I’ve seen. I think it was Zach Hill in disguise. After the show, drunk and tired from the long drive before, we loaded up the car, found out we weren’t getting any money, and went back to Neil’s. Dylan, Neil, and I smoked some weed and tried to watch the new Twilight Zone. I don’t remember much after that.
Motor City! No other place like it! I got us booked at a house venue called Crow Manor. The house was built in the 1800s and purchased by a bunch of punks several years ago for about $1500. We were all shocked because it didn’t seem to be in bad shape at all, at least nothing a little work couldn’t fix. When we arrived, the house was already packed with punks, young and old. They had an entire bar set up, making fancy blueberry cocktails. They even had drink tickets for us. In the kitchen was a full spread of hotdogs and potatoes. Everything was delicious. Two solo artists opened up the show, Lrad and Shug Avery. Both sets were absolutely amazing. Before us a band named Womb Worm played and kicked ass. They really got the people moving with their weird, twangy punk sound. Right before we started to play, it turned midnight, now officially my birthday. I told Jack not to mention it over the mic; however, he decided to mention it halfway through the set. After we played, we celebrated with everyone at the house and got drunk off the blueberry cocktails. When the party started to settle down, Christian drove us to a 24-hour burger spot. It was one of those moments where you drunkenly eat shitty food and know you’ll feel like garbage in the morning. When we got back to Crow Manor, Jack left the door open and one of the drunk housemates yelled at us. We apologized and went up the house’s three stories to sleep in the attic. That moment when you eat bad and know you’ll feel sick in the morning? It happened. Hungover on my birthday, an eight-hour drive to Reading (Pennsylvania) was the last thing I wanted to do. When we started the drive, I kept thinking of what Neil told me in Chicago: “You don’t need to get drunk every night and eat like shit on tour.” Neil’s advice didn’t really get through to us.
We were all really excited to be playing in Reading with the great rock’n’rollers known as BLEEDERS. Another reason for the anticipation for the show was the fact that Reading is an insanely small town. We felt good about playing a show in a place where there’s nothing but backroads, small businesses, and Amish country all around. The drive wasn’t bad, and once we hit the Pennsylvania mountain scenery, it was quite enjoyable. We listened to the new season of Serial on the way and it disturbed all of us learning about the injustices in the justice system. It’s one part interesting (learning about all the courtroom stuff), three parts hopelessness and despair. I broke my last pair of drum sticks the night before, so we stopped at a little music shop called Penn Avenue Music. They didn’t have a big selection of sticks, but we got what I needed, plus a recommendation for some good Thai food. Since we had time to spare, we decided to go get our first decent meal. Christian and Jack split some spicy chicken curry and noodles. Dylan got a vegetable curry and so did I. It was delicious!
The show that night was at Gnome Hutch, another house venue. We drove down this dark, middle-of-nowhere road to get there, with little-to-no light but the stars. The houses made it look like we were still in the 1700s. We arrived on time and started to make small talk with the kids at the show. Dylan and I realized they had no alcohol there, so we drove to an Italian restaurant to buy three six packs, which ended up costing us around $40—the weirdest, most confusing thing we’ve ever done. I don’t think people realize how spoiled we are here in New Orleans. With the beer in hand, we drove back down this spooky road to the show. BLEEDERS were already playing and absolutely crushing it. All the kids were going nuts for them. It was a good sight. I was a little worried that all of the kids came out for them and since they played first, people would just leave. But everyone stayed and went even crazier for us, all packed into the 5’8” tall basement. After the show, the homeowners set up a bonfire in a field behind the house and we hung out and drank until I couldn’t stay up any longer. However, right before bed, someone went up to Jack looking upset or angry and asked, “Did you delete the photo?” Turns out, Jack went to the bathroom earlier and left his phone there. A group of girls found it, guessed the password and started posting pictures of themselves on Instagram. The person talking to Jack was weirdly very angry that he deleted the photos and continued to bug him about it. Christian, Dylan, and I thought it was hilarious.
We were playing in Philly the next day with Impulso from Italy and The Ire. We all had a feeling that this was going to be the best show of tour and with that, we went to bed anxious to get up and rush to Philly.
Philly may well be our favorite place in the States. We have tons of friends there and shows always go really well. We played at Cousin Danny’s, a super sick bar in West Philly with a big upstairs room. Before the show we walked around Old Towne and then got Middle Eastern food with Dylan’s mom. Although I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, it was the best food I had on tour. After our bellies were full of lamb kabobs, we headed to Cousin Danny’s. The Ire opened up the gig and blew us away. They were like a more goth version of Special Interest. Impulso, an Italian band, played after that and tore the crowd up. I would recommend both of these bands to anyone. Absolutely amazing, nice people. By the end of the show, I was really feeling myself. We ended up walking to what we thought was a party, but turned out to be the end of a party. I fell asleep on the porch, Dylan got a tattoo in the living room, and Jack and Christian talked with people outside. I got woken up when we left to go sleep at a friend’s house. Another success in Philly.
Yet again, another long drive… We’re really not good at keeping these shows close.
I don’t have much to say about Charlotte. I don’t know if any of us do. We played at some bar called Tommy’s Pub, located in a shopping mall. There was some bicycle gang rodeo happening in town, so it was packed with “bikers.” You could barely walk through the venue. We played first and it went really well. Got lots of love, but the main reason Charlotte made an impression on us is because of The Infamous Sugar. The Infamous Sugar was a piano player who played after us. His skills on the piano were great and his songs were both kick-ass and hilarious. He sang about getting girlfriends in the psych ward and how the cocaine in the States isn’t good anymore. He also sang a song about hot dogs. This may sound corny, but I promise—you need to go listen to their music. After the gig we ended up at another bar, throwing darts, hungry. It was now Christian’s birthday so we went and got McDonald’s. There it was again: eating garbage, willingly knowing we would feel awful in the morning. Who cares.
We got to our friend’s house, where we slept on a hardwood floor. Dylan smoked a bong and couldn’t control his giggles. He wouldn’t stop cupping. Cupping is when Dylan looks at you and holds his hand out like a spoon. It’s his way of saying, please pee in my hands. He cupped all night. We laughed and made jokes until we fell asleep.
I know I said that Philly might be our favorite place, but Asheville is an even tie. Every single time we go to Asheville, it feels brand new. We arrived in the city around noon and went straight to the Moog factory. Dylan was dying for a picture outside in his steampunk goggles. He’s a big synth head. We played around in the factory for awhile, making beeps and boops. We then decided to head to the venue, Static Age Records. We were playing a festival by the name of Melted Fest. It was still just getting started and Dylan and I were starving, so we headed downtown to find some grub. As we all met up on our walk back to Static Age, we saw a man walking a wolf, NO LIE. This was a real wolf, straight from the mountains. We stood in shock, all thinking the same thing: “That’s a fucking wolf.” By 9 p.m., the venue was packed with kids. All the other bands were on the garage rock wave, so we stuck out like sore thumbs—the complete opposite of Detroit. However, we played a great show and everyone enjoyed us. We sold lots of merch that night and met a ton of cool people. Once again, we found ourselves at a bar next door after the show, drinking until the 2 a.m. cutoff. We slept at our friend Amelia’s cabin that night. I woke up the next morning before everyone and couldn’t stand my clothes anymore. The bag I barely packed got wet early on and I was wearing the same outfit almost the entire tour. I grabbed the keys and snuck off to good ol’ Walmart where I bought an $8 pair of pants and a white T. Success.
I came back right when everyone woke up, and we got breakfast. After eating and saying our goodbyes, we headed back to NOLA. We were all tired and it was pretty quiet at first. Dylan, Jack, and I ended up getting bored and decided to play some games. We came up with a fun game where we would make up an entirely false story and when Christian woke up, we’d try and get him to believe it. This was the story: a giant turkey just walked onto the highway with his penis out and Jack had to swerve out of the way and almost drove into a tree. Then we drove by a lake where we saw the Nitro Circus doing tricks, and there was a scary man waving to us on the dock.
For about 30 minutes, Christian 100% believed it.