All large scale touring may be effectively grounded for the foreseeable future, but you know what hasn’t been halted? The imagination of Old Man Gloom drummer (and occasional Decibel contributor) Santos Montano! Rather than sit around and simply think about “what might have been” regarding OMG’s postponed 2020 touring, our man put fingers to keyboard and crafted the greatest Old Man Gloom tour diary (for a tour that never happened). Relive the drama of Part I and Part II, and then hold on tight for Part III, which follows directly below.
Oh the day off. Never has a day been so complicated. You kinda want to rest your dumb heavy metal neck, and not spend an hour untangling your rats nest of hair at the end of the night. You fantasize about not spending hours upon hours in a room that smells like old beer, balls, and head and shoulders. You make complicated fantasies of the delicious food you’ll eat that isn’t within 9 blocks of the club. But…..day’s off also kinda suck. You lose a little momentum, you spend money without making money, and if you’re in OMG, you won’t even get to hang out in a cool city and go out and get trashed and maybe make out with someone. Nope. You’ll stay at a 2 1/2 star hotel in the middle of nowhere so no one will steal your van, and because Aaron and Nate hate fun and hate to party. Well, I love to party, and I hate the Red Roof Inn. I’m also gainfully employed outside of music. That’s right, a dude in a cool band who ALSO has a 401k and a pension. You want medical coverage? I got you. You want dental? I got you. You want to be reimbursed for your therapist who also does reiki? I GOT YOU. I also think i have about another 3 years with this hair.
Anyway, on days off like this, I know the guys are gonna drive and stay somewhere shitty and eat somewhere shitty, and it’ll just be a long day of van chat and maybe a marvel movie in a rural cineplex, so I just sleep in, and take a plane to the next city we’re playing, which is Oakland. I wake up at the airport hotel the fellas dropped me at after my guard rail session, and make my way to the airport. Easy flight, and a quick ride share to my boutique hotel. Folks, did i mention I LOVE boutique hotels? There was a time not so long ago when a guy like me would get weird looks checking into a boutique hotel, but these days, you never know if the scummy hobo owns half of Zillow, or maybe writes a sick instagram blog about tacos with 4 million followers. I play right into that mystique, and give a lot of sly smiles. Or, at least I think I do, but whenever I try it people ask me if I’m ok with their hand on my shoulder, so I think it looks like i’m having a stroke. Regardless, I try, it lands, they let me have my room. It’s fantastic, and tiny, and has a very modern shower. I’m satisfied. $300 well spent. I drop my bag, and get to work. I’ve got to find the perfect dinner.
Now, for old Santy here, the solo dinner out is a big deal. Especially when i’m traveling. I don’t want to “be” with anyone, but I also don’t really want to “be” alone. So there’s criteria:
1. A bar: There has to be a bar to sit at that you can also have dinner. No one wants a table alone. That’s just so sad. But a cool dude sitting at a bar, eating and drinking alone, checking out his phone? That’s a cool dude. Probably on the way to a night out where he’s gonna hi five his bro’s, and maybe have an after hours hang in his sunken living room, where there just happens to be an acoustic guitar…and what do you know, he can play “More Than Words by Extreme”… that’s the vibe I’m going for.
2. $13-and-up cocktails: The cocktail price point is important. If they’re reasonable, they probably aren’t good, or at least that’s what I tell myself. Also, I need everyone in the restaurant bar to notice that i don’t care that i’m alone and spending $50 on cocktails, because that projects an heir of success. I need strangers to believe i’m successful.
3. Sophistication: The bar area has to be sophisticated, a little condescending, and a little put out that you exist. It can’t be the kinda bar where people “wait for a table”. No way. This is just an area for cool solo dinners happen, not a pit stop for socializers. Get lost. I also need to have the space to get two starters and a main, and possibly an a la carte side. I need everyone to know that i’m not afraid to have a $170 solo dinner, and i’ll barely touch that rainbow carrot w/medieval walnut pesto that was $19, because i just want to tantalize my delicate pallet.
4. Space: I always go for a seat with at least one, if not two open seats near me. I don’t WANT company, but if it happens, I want to have options, and space. I need room to casually bring up that i’m in town to play a show with slow presales, but you know, this town is a walk up market, so it’ll probably sell out on the day, but maybe Knocked Loose is playing in San Francisco tonight, so that’s probably why no one showed up….Wait, what was I talking about?
Anyway, I find what i’m looking for! “Ladle of Filth”, Oaklands metal theme soup and stew restaurant. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since I got tagged in a post by them when they made a seasonal special called “The Ape of Cod”, which was an bone broth made from gorilla bones, with delicate pieces of cod, and a rosemary oil and deconstructed saltine garnish, which weirdly was just salt. Looked delicious though, and I know they’ve named dishes after all our related groups (Converge – “all we love we leave behind: leftover stew”, Isis the band – “In the absence of soup: A no broth or liquid soup, which, is kinda just a regular plate of food,” and of course the Cave In inspired “Juggernaut Squash bisque”.) So was excited to roll in and be a huge deal.
I walked in, and the host asked if I had a reservation. Ok…I’ll play ball. I know he knows who I am, but he’s playing it cool. He probably just thinks i can’t possibly be standing in front of him, because I should be in the van. He definitely tracks my days on social media, i can see it in his eyes. Anyway, I tell him i’m just one, and can I get a seat at the bar. To his credit, he played it very cool, didn’t even seem to look at me. I’m sure he’ll ask for a selfie on the way out, he’s a professional and probably wants me to enjoy my dinner. I sit at the bar, and the bartender brings me a menu. She’s ALSO pretending she doesn’t know who I am….Ok, i’ll play your little game of cat and mouse, staff, but don’t expect me to play it cool when I order the SUMAC and cheese soup starter, and a Mutoid Manischewitz and soda. Well, I didn’t play it cool, and still, no one is asking me for a selfie. I go as far ordering the special Isis themed entree “duck panopti-confit”, and an order of Jane Doughnut holes for desert, and no one says a god damn word about how famous adjacent I am. What a drag.
I make my way back to my hotel, and the minute I get there I realize because of my desperation to be noticed, I ordered almost an entire meal of things that have gluten in them. On the bright side, My room is so small I can see the television from the toilet, where I spend almost the entire night. Not that it matters, I get to sleep in tomorrow while those chumps drive all day down the beautiful coast. Together. Having fun, making jokes, probably telling cool secrets and if I had to guess talking mostly about how happy they are because i’m not there. Fuckers.
My dad was from Oakland, so I would get shipped off here in the summer with my brother so my mom could drink and drive without the distraction of two judgmental kids in the backseat, demanding “safety” and “parenting.” I have fond memories of being in the Bay Area, and my dad being a complete asshole to us. Or sometimes him being a complete asshole to a stranger. Or sometimes him being a complete asshole to other family members. Or, usually, all of the above, simultaneously! He was a hell of a guy…wait, no, he was just an asshole.
Regardless, I spent a lot of time here growing up, and 2020 Oakland is pretty much unidentifiable to me. I thought since I had a few hours to kill, and I didn’t have the enthusiasm to take the BART to San Francisco to walk around, I might as well take a tour of some of the Montano family landmarks! I texted my cousin Andy, who isn’t my cousin at all. In fact, I have no idea how i’m related to him, or if I am in fact related to him in anyway. He’s my dads age, mid-60s, and unlike my dad, alive! He also can text, which is a big deal for these boomers. I ask if he’s interested in getting some coffee and walking around a little, showing me some relevant stuff to my family. He agrees, and we meet up an hour later. I haven’t seen cousin Andy in decades, but I’d know him anywhere, mostly because of the prison tattoos on his face. Not a teardrop, that’s hack. Cousin Andy has a “13” on his temple, and a little cross with lines coming out of the corners that is placed just in front of his left ear. They’re completely blown out, but you gotta hand it to the prison tattooer, he made them last. We grab some coffee, which cousin Andy puts 11 sugars in, and we head out the door. We walk a few blocks, and he talks about how his parole is going, and which of his illegitimate kids he’s in touch with and which have taken out a restraining order. We get to a long alley, and he stops in front of it.
“You know, one time your dad and I crashed a wedding, and told everyone we were their cousins from up north. We danced with all the girls, and the family loved us so much, they asked us to give the security guard a ride home because he got drunk. We pulled over here, your dad took his gun, shot him in the leg, and we drove off. Your dad was such a joker. We laughed about that one for years!”
Huh. I guess that’s… funny? Nope. That is not a funny anecdote. He continues on, and we get to a parking lot. Cousin Andy get’s that far off glazed over look again….
“This used to be a Greyhound station…One time your dad was trying to skip town from an assault charge, but he was trashed. The bus driver told him he was too drunk to get on the bus, so your dad pulled him off the bus and beat the shit outta him! No one on that bus went up north that day!”
Again…. not a funny story. That’s, well, just terrible. We walk, and every few blocks he tells another story that’s more disturbing than the last. We get to a weird looking supermarket, one that doesn’t have almost anything on the shelves. Cousin Andy says “hey, gimme your wallet, i gotta go in a grab something. It’s a surprise for you.” Now, i’m a pretty trusting guy, kinda to a fault, so I give cousin Andy my wallet, and he goes inside. I know he’s gonna steal from me, he always does. That’s fine. I know I don’t have a ton of cash, and I’ll just make sure I have my ID and credit cards when he comes out. I take a squat against the building out front, and wait for him to come out. It starts to take just a little too long, and I begin to get a pinch worried. I stand up, and look in. Not only is Cousin Andy not in there, I notice there’s another entrance at the back, and he’s just gone. Typical cousin Andy… he got my whole wallet this time! Rascal…
Well, it’s Apple Aay for me for the rest of the tour!
I decide to make my way to the venue, and get into load in and soundcheck with the fellas. It all goes according to plan, and I tell Aaron I’ll take the first shift at the march table. Plus, I know what’s coming. Every single time I play in the Bay Area, a younger out of place person finds me and tells me i’m their sibling. In the last 21 years of Old Man Gloom I’ve had six siblings ambush me at a show. Tonight was no exception. I could see him a mile away… that little fire hydrant body, that beautiful head of hair, that unmistakeable emotionally damaged look in his eye… well, I was right! I met my brother Eduberto tonight! He’s a Capricorn, works at Raging Waters, San Jose’s premier water park, and loves Impractical Jokers, and can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so the Impractical Jokers Cruise can be rescheduled. As I do with all my new siblings, I tell him I need to go get ready to play, and I’ll see him after the show. I go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet looking at instagram until we play. The show was fine, i kept catching my “brother” staring at me the way I probably look at Aaron when he’s playing with SUMAC, confused, kinda angry, loving, and praying for it to be over. After we finish, I go out to the van, I crawl underneath, and lay on the street til everyone is gone and someone starts the engine. That’s when I know the coast is clear. Great show, Oakland!
Here’s an excerpt from my meeting my “brother”:
Eduberto: Hey, you have that white shirt in a medium?
Eduberto : How big is a medium?
Santos: Uh…medium? It’s bigger than small, but smaller- wait, what are you asking me?
Eduberto: Can I just try it?
Santos: Sure. Can I just ask, are you related to me, and just feigning interest in merch to decide if you’re gonna talk to me?
Eduberto: I… umm… yeah. How did you know?
Santos: Your sister told me, she’s at the bar. And your other two brothers pointed you out as well. I actually introduced them to their new sister. We also have a transitioning sibling who’s in the local opening band. They’re really good at guitar. Wanna meet them?
Eduberto: I’m gonna need a few minutes. Excuse me.
Santos: No prob. No in’s and out’s at this show, but the girl working the door is also your sister, so just let her know what’s going on, she’ll understand.
Well, the drive from Oakland to L.A .is a real bummer, so after the show, we get in a few hours on the road, and stay at a real piece of shit hotel in the middle of nowhere. I wake up early, take out my laptop, and start getting my head right. I’ve got a big meeting today!
I asked a friend of a friend to beg for a meeting with an agent he knows, because i’m a writer and a social media influencer, so I know i’m entitled to at least a series on Netflix, or a staff writing job, and i’m here to cash in. I don’t know why no one has asked me to sell tummy tea, or why i didn’t get asked to promote Fyre fest, but I know that I am going to soundcheck today as a professional TV writer. I’ve earned this. I get to the office, and it looks just like it’s supposed to, or at least what they look like on Entourage. I’m a little bummed no one offers me a cappuccino or some cashews, but i’m not gonna make a fuss.
I get in the room with Alex, who is some kinda agent. I don’t really know what an agent is, but I also don’t know what a 6/4 time signature is, and I can fake that shit, so this should be a breeze. He’s young and handsome in a boring way, and asks me to sit down.
Alex: So, Santos, Thomas tells me you’re a writer?
Santos: I am! I’ve written three movies, four TV shows, and I’ve got probably three unfinished things I can bust out, if you need more.
Alex: Right, of course. That’s great. But… how is that relevant?
Santos: I’m sorry. Are you asking me how writing is relevant to being a writer?
Alex: What? No. What? I’m asking why you’re talking about screen writing. I’m interested in your relevant writing experience.
Santos: I’m a… writer. Sooooo… I can write whatever? Maybe just so we’re on the same page, why don’t you tell me what kind of agent you are.
Alex: I’m not an agent at all. This is a publishing company. We make kids books. Thomas told me you’re a children’s book author. Something about a very popular series that was only published in Mexico?
Santos: Yes. Yes, yes… right. Of course. My popular Mexican children’s book series. How could I forget. Sorry, jet lag. I just came from Oakland…
Alex: Right. That’s not really how jet lag works. Anyway, tell me about this series?
Santos: Right! Of course! It’s called…. the Sad Huarache…It’s about a little Mexican sandal that… has adventures?
Alex: Huh… like, what kind of adventures?
Santos: Well… it takes a lot of walks? And he’s made from… old tires?
Alex: You’re lying, right? You aren’t a children’s author, are you?
Santos: No…But I could be? Are you interested in a series about a sad sandal?
Alex: Hey, would you want a cappuccino?
Santos: Fucking absolutely! I can’t believe it took this long to be asked.
Alex pushes a button on his intercom.
Alex: Carl, can you make sure Mr. Santos get’s a cappuccino in a to go cup on his way out? And make sure security takes him all the way to the door. Thanks for coming in, Mr Santos, we’ll be in touch!
Well, needless to say, i’m pretty stoked on how well it went. I’ve already written three books in my Sad Huarache series. Turns out a book about a sandal in Mexico is pretty easy to make sad… anyway, soundcheck was terrible, and the show was sparsely attended. When did the entire country become a “walk-up market” where no one walks up? Regardless, I ate a lot of tacos and donuts, and even saw the bass player from Infectious Grooves eating a waffle at a brunch restaurant! L.A, is wild. After the show I left with some enthusiastic goth girls, and they said we were going to a party at Drew Carey’s house. We followed another car for an hour, then stopped at a bar to get a drink, then got back in cars to start the trip to Drew Carrey’s house again. After driving for about an hour, we got to an apartment complex, and went in to some tiny apartment. Once in, it was just eight early-20-something Asian kids drinking vodka sodas and talking about stocks and leveraging gold futures. I just walked out without saying a word to anyone, and got a Uber to my hotel. Goddamn L.A,. how come I never ACTUALLY end up at Drew Carrey’s house?