Alligators and the Giant Maggot: Kylesa’s life on the road with GWAR

Last month, Savannah psychedelic metal crew Kylesa put in some serious road miles in support of GWAR. Prosthetics, artificial blood and semen are not everyday items on the underground metal touring circuit, so we got Kylesa guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants to take some pics and notes. This is what went down.

04-13 San Antonio, TX | Backstage Live
So we drove from Savannah, Georgia to San Antonio, Texas. We were supposed to have a show in New Orleans but they canceled on us at the last minute. We drove, I mean, it was 20-something hours. We had a van but it was the most pimped van I’ve ever been in; it was a big Spinner that had been converted into like, I guess a very miniature Nightliner. There were some bunks up there, some benches, a TV, DVD… it was pretty comfortable. I slept most of the way. We got there on the day of the show but got there early. The first day of tour is always so hectic; there’s merch everywhere, there’s just things you’ve forgot at home. We hopped on at the end of the tour, they had been pluggin’ along for several weeks already. It was cool in San Antonio ‘cos I didn’t know who was in Ghoul, and when I walked backstage I immediately saw Ross (Sewage) and Dino, and I’ve known those guys for years, from other bands. It was like, “Shit, you guys are on this tour!? Awesome.” Everything was starting off on the right foot. We met the GWAR guys, their crew – and the tour manager, Eddy, was super-cool. I first saw GWAR when I was like 14 or 15. It was definitely cool to go out with them ‘cos I hadn’t seen them for such a long time. We were the meat in a bloody sandwich between them and Ghoul.

Eric Hernandez, who used to be our second drummer, is playing bass for us on this tour. It’s kinda like an open-door policy with him; he’s going to school and we were kinda working it around the schedule so he could finish up college and play with us. But y’know, he is welcome to play with us when he can and when he wants to. It’s like on that level. Right now it’s working out for him and for us. He’s a good friend and great to tour with.

04-14 Corpus Christi, TX | House of Rock
Corpus Christi, I’d been there like once before, many years ago, and the show was pretty good. I don’t really have anything major to report. I don’t remember too much happening there, but we played, I got sick on a cold, second day of tour, and after this Corpus Christi show the cold was kicking my ass, then we had a day off to drive. I was kinda in a state of mucous and misery. I just needed sleep, water and no one to talk to me.

Phillip Cope and an Electrical Guitar electric guitar

04-16 Pensacola, FL | Vinyl Music Hall
I was looking forward to Pensacola. I planned to meet up with Kevin Burkett from Electrical Guitar Company. He and I had met at a Mastodon show in December, and we were talking about building a new guitar. Phillip [Cope, guitar] and I went to his workshop where they make all these badass guitars; he shows us around, all the machines, all the wood, all the pieces. It was cool to see how those guitars are made. We discussed my next custom guitar, which I am pretty excited about. Oh, you’ll just see it when it’s finished, but no it does not have a vibrato; I have a Fender Strat for that. But I am excited. We played around with some of the guitars he had there and then he and his wife came to the show, had dinner and hung out. That was definitely the highlight of Pensacola.

04-17 Orlando, FL | Beacham Theater
The weird town of Orlando! …but we have some friends from Savannah there, so they came to the show, and after the show we just had a big dinner, went over to their house. I had veal parmigiana, which was the highlight. And I had my own bed. See, that’s how exciting being on tour is; there’s nothing about the show, but I did have veal parmigiana. [That’s like Dave Witte] Yeah, he checks in with me all the time, “Do you know of any good beer places in Savannah.” It was either Orlando or the next show that there was a balcony so I could watch GWAR. They are so much fun. Towards the end of the tour I got shot in the face trying to get some pictures of Ghoul, blood, all over my jeans that I’d just bought that day… “But you didn’t get my camera! So it’s cool”; I played with a bloody face that day.

04-18 Jacksonville, FL | Freebird Live
I watched GWAR’s crew operate. Matt, who is a big part in making their costumes, he’s also a slave. I was just asking him questions about the costumes, man, it’s really self-contained: it’s really cool what they do. It is a music performance but very much a performance, a stage-show. You have to see them live [to understand them]. They are fun entertainment; the costumes, sense of humor is great, it’s good metal and people are there to have a good time. That’s why I liked their crowd; they were just getting drunk, there was blood everywhere… We played right by the beach, so I went to the beach, went sunbathing, went in the water and had beach drinks and it was pretty awesome. And after an afternoon of sunbathing and listening to music on the beach, we went in and played. I can’t really complain.
04-19 Asheville, NC | The Orange Peel
We stopped off in Savannah for a few hours to shower, drop off some laundry… For a few hours it was nice. The Orange Peel in Asheville is great. It is a great venue, and it is in a good location where you can kinda walk around and see some cool stuff. Asheville is just a beautiful, cool city. We got there early and met up with Kyle from Blackout Effectors. Phillip and I just walked over there and spent and hour just playing with some pedals. We each walked away with a couple of pedals, which is always a good feeling. I got a Crystal Dagger, which is a really cool octave fuzz and ring modulator, and I got a Twosome Dual Fuzz. They’re both super badass. The Orange Peel was great. We had some friends come round. Being from North Carolina I knew people from my hometown who live in Asheville. We played the show, and afterwards went to a dive bar where a couple punk bands were playing. On tour, I start out eating right, not drinking too much, taking my vitamins and by the time it gets to the end I’ll be eating any crap and it’s just game over.

04-20 N. Myrtle Beach, SC | House of Blues
Our set-up takes so long, and when we are doing these support tours, we just kinda knock out seven or eight songs and just keep it pretty straight and to the point. There’s only 30 to 45 minutes to play. Phillip has been using the theremin, but in this kind of set when there is less breathing time between songs it wasn’t as prominent as it is in our full set. We could play two different sets and sound totally different. We kept it short and sweet on this tour with the more aggressive stuff, although we were still considerably slower than the other bands. Myrtle Beach was great. I didn’t go to the beach, right by the club there was an alligator farm. I spent like two hours at this alligator farm looking at all these different alligators and crocodiles. They had these ancient turtles, bats, lemurs and all kinds of cool shit. A lot of us went over there. I held a baby alligator.

04-21 Baltimore, MD | Sonar
Yes, that’s totally the same venue as Maryland Death Fest. All of Baltimore is really bad, haha! You see some shit in Baltimore. It’s pretty sketchy. But that was a cool show. Some people who had saw us at MDF last year came to see us.

04-22 Columbus, OH | Newport Music Hall
Columbus was cool. That was, if I am not mistaken, in an old theatre place that was really cool. It was spectacular. Fuck, I can’t remember what happened there, except it was just rock and roll, playing guitar, drinking, hanging out.

04-23 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works
Yeah, Nashville was cool! It was in this big kinda open-plan, I guess some sort of old warehouse that they’d renovated. My cousin lives there. I met up with my cousin for dinner, and that was cool, catching up, and all, but at the venue there was an arcade, with a bunch of arcade games that were free. I played arcade games for a good portion of that time, battling the guys in GWAR and Ghoul on Streetfighter. Basically, it was a lot of Streetfighter. I just mash the buttons! I’m a total button masher. You just need some super-basic moves like defense and jump, a special move and you’re golden. That might have been the Jägermeister night. I ended up with lots of bruises the next day. I was getting pretty surly, and the singer for Legacy of Disorder is this big muscly guy, so I was practicing my punches on him. We were both bruised; I had bruises on my fist; he had bruises on his ribs.

04-25 Buffalo, NY | The Town Ballroom
We hadn’t been there in a really long time, a long time. That was probably my favorite show of the tour; the energy was really good. There were lots of Kylesa fans there who either hadn’t seen us before or hadn’t seen us in a really long time. That was a fun show. We’d added a song to the set ‘cos we had a bit more time but we kept it the same pretty much every night. I feel sometimes like we play the same stuff too much and I wanna play just some of our other material to switch it up. But then there are the songs I always enjoy playing. I mean, I always enjoy playing everything or I would switch it up….

04-26 Poughkeepsie, NY | The Chance
I’ve never been there before. You missed off our day off. That was the mall day. Ross was looking for a pair of skeleton gloves, couldn’t find any, and I got a pair of acid-wash jeans that were properly destroyed with Ghoul blood. Then we watched the fairly entertaining Cabin in the Woods, which for a day-off matinee was pretty entertaining. Yeah, the day at the mall was kinda funny. Poughkeepsie was cold. I walked about town and it just seemed like a depressed area, not much to write home about. The crowd in a major city is going to be much different to the crowd in a smaller city. The average GWAR fan? Just super-fans, young and old, it’s a good mix of people who are just ready to have a good time and get bloodied. If you’re into comic books, sci-fi, video games and metal, GWAR is a perfect band for you. It’s got all of those elements. It’s perfect.

04-27 Hampton Beach, NH | Wally’s Pub
Although it was pretty chilly, it was beautiful on the beach. There was a masseuse there too. We walked about the arcade, and it was weird; you could totally tell that Hampton Beach was a seasonal town and it hadn’t quite opened up for the season yet. It was like all boarded up shops everywhere, even the McDonald’s was boarded up, ATMs were boarded up; it looked deserted, but the arcade was open and the beach was cool. We played a lot of arcade games. I had to say to the guys, “Man, this tour is great; there is like activities at every show!”

04-28 Allentown, PA | Crocodile Rock
I guess this is another small town, a college town, and it kinda seemed like I was in a time-warp, in the city that America forgot. It was pretty strange. I took some photographs there just ‘cos it was so desolate. That was the last show. It was fun. I watched GWAR’s set and went into the Maggot. There’s like this huge maggot thing that the slaves feed at the end of the set. They fed me to the Maggot.

**Kylesa “Spiral Shadow” is out now. Buy it here**