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, Part II, Part III and then hold on tight for the exciting conclusion, which follows directly below.
We wake up fairly early to hit the road. It’s gonna be an interesting drive today. I love leaving the West coast and driving East into the desert. It feels like a shedding of skin, a metamorphoses of sorts. I am no longer Daryl Hannah in Splash, some watery mer-person, full of moisture and hope. NO, I am the Maud’Dib, a desert and sand dweller, who recycles his pee into craft cocktails. I think Dune had a whole story line about using pee for craft cocktails, right? I haven’t read it in a while. Regardless…I’m coming home, to the desert!
The problem: this is the Arizona desert, not the New Mexico desert. Arizona is a less fun, and way more Trumpy desert. Though I’ve had some great times in Phoenix. One time I came here and… um… I’m actually struggling to think of a good time I’ve had in Arizona. WAIT! One time I went camping in Sedona by myself, and the camp site next to me listened to “I Hate Everything About You” by Ugly Kid Joe over and over. That was…. fun? No. That was awful. Huh.
Well, I guess we’ll start to make some good Arizona memories today, how about that?
The drive is actually stunning. The desert landscape rolls by, accented by the occasional McDonald’s and pro-life billboard. We’re about an hour outside of Phoenix when we stop at a truck stop to get snacks and some gas. I make my way into the sprawling complex, and it catches my eye: a stuffed toy claw game filed with baby Yodas. Now, I’m a fun guy, you all know that. But what if—now stay with me—what if I had a stuffed baby Yoda sitting on my drums tonight before we play? That’s the kind of hilarious statement that might just launch me into the level of comedian where I get to be on Marc Maron. I mean, a stuffed Yoda sitting behind some drums? I’m not saying it will land me a spot on SNL, but I think at the very least it could get me an audition. You have to be a pretty special comedic innovator to think to put a stuffed Yoda behind some drums. So, I know this is my destiny, and I get to work. I remember I don’t have a wallet, so I need to do some quick thinking. I see the snack machine has Apple Pay, and I’ve still got my phone. I buy a pack of Mentos, and a Diet Coke. I’ve spent enough time on Instagram to know that when you combine these two things, magic just HAPPENS. I take my tubes of Mentos and dump them into the area where the stuffed baby Yoda falls if you successful grab him. Now, all I need to do is pour all the diet coke in there, the machine will fill with a harmless foam, and at LEAST one baby Yoda should float on the foam, and fall into my waiting hands. If anyone gets weird about it, I’ll just Apple Pay for their time, and move on my way.
Well… it certainly worked. The entire machine filled with brown foam. Turns out it isn’t harmless at all. Not only did I ruin every baby Yoda in there, but I ruined the entire machine, and made a sloshy foamy mess in the game room outside the bathrooms. I’m not an asshole, so I get to work attempting to “fix it.” I go in the men’s room for some toilet paper, and grab a few handfuls. Should be enough? When I get back to the game room, I’m stopped by security. I tell them who I am, expecting to have to again talk about what it’s like to be in a band with the inventor of post-metal, but to my surprise, they don’t seem to want to talk about Isis the Band at all. I try Converge. Not interested. They seem very focused on the Coke and Mentos situation. Some people need to find some perspective, so I try to help them. I offer some free T-shirts if they just let bygones be bygones. No dice.
The cops show up, and ask for some ID. I tell them about cousin Andy, and the wallet. They seem to be a little skeptical. I tell them to talk to my bandmates, and it’ll all become clear. Well, I guess the fellas decided this wasn’t the truck stop they wanted to stop in, and had left. I tell them I’m SURE they’ll be back momentarily, and to just hang out for a minute. They don’t seem interested, and put me in the back of the police car. Weirdly, this must be some rogue police squad, because their car says “ICE” instead of “POLICE.” Maybe it’s because they’re way cooler than normal police? Or maybe it’s like Top Gun and they get to put their nicknames on their vehicles. I ask Mr. ICE if he can give me a ride to the venue so we can clear all this up, and he ignores me. We hit the road, and after about 45 minutes, we come to a sprawling campground. I tell him about my previous camping experience, and the Ugly Kid Joe, and again, no response. I ask if they have an amplified music policy at all, and nothing. Before I know it, I’m in a very unflattering orange jumpsuit, and am shown to my tent. I’m starting to realize that maybe I’m in deep shit. I think I’m being detained, and probably soon to be deported, which is weird, because I don’t even speak Spanish. First things first, I ask the ICE MAN for my phone so I can download the Rosetta Stone app to get a jump on my Spanish, to which he again has no response. I am going to get my platinum Yelper pal to help me annihilate these guys when I’m outta here. The customer service is awful.
I spend the afternoon trying to make friends, or alliances. I’ve seen enough reality TV to know you need to create alliances on the first day to win. I get in with some guys who I assume are big Converge fans, as they all have facial tattoos, numbers, letters, tears, etc. I don’t see anyone with a Jane Doe neck tattoo, but I assume they’re just under their shirts or on their calves or something. Luckily, these fellas are leaving tonight, and I assume since they’re Converge fans, they’ll be headed to the show. I ask If I can join, and they don’t answer. Lots of nonverbal communication at this campground… I can adapt.
A few hours later, and not long before I’m due to play my set, me and my new friends crawl through a tunnel for a few hundred feet, and then breaststroke through a pool of what seems like sewage. I alternate breaststroke and backstroke, as I don’t want to work any muscle group too heavily before my set. After that, we army crawl on our tum-tums under some razor wire, and then one of my pals actually strangles a dog. That part wasn’t fun. But that dog and he seemed to have some history, with the way they were carrying on. I didn’t want to get involved. Maybe they’re family? We make it to the highway, and a U-Haul is waiting for us. Everyone piles in, and I help my pals get in. Just as I go to climb in last, the U-Haul speeds away, leaving me by the side of the road. I try unsuccessfully to hitch-hike, but these “DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS” signs near the campground are working like a charm, and no one is stopping. I start walking and after about five hours I get to a small service station. It’s already WAY past when I was supposed to be on stage, but those guys always have the “backup drummer” ready to go, as I love adventures. The backup is a second-gen iPod that just has the drum tracks on it, so all they need is a headphone auxiliary cord and an audience. They’ll be just fine. I ask the service station attendant if I can use the bathroom, and he hands me the key. He also gives me a stoic wink, and hands me some clothes from a box labeled lost and found behind the counter. I guess he’s attracted to men in jumpsuits? I don’t know what the wink was about, but I figure I should just put these clothes on since my jumpsuit smells like sewage. I ask if I can use his phone, and I call the only number I know by heart, which is my grandmother’s house phone. She’s been dead for six years, but I bet whoever has that line has WiFi, and can help me out. They do! Jimmy is a really nice guy, and he not only happily signs into my email for me, he pens a note to the rest of my band telling them where I am. An hour and a half later, the fellas pull up, and I hop in. Off to Taos!
Later I would find out that Jimmy completely stole my identity. Along with the passwords I gave him, he also knew my grandma’s maiden name, and the street that I grew up on, seeing as he lived in my grandma’s house. Rascal. He ordered $4,000 worth of Pixar collectibles off eBay. It took me months to assure the U.S. Government that my social security number did NOT belong to a guy named Jimmy Pixar. Although it is a beautiful name, I may name one of my upcoming children after him. Little Jimmy Pixar Montaño.
As you probably know, Old Man Gloom was founded in New Mexico, but we’ve never played a show here. We were so good, that the minute we made music, we HAD to move to a bigger city to contain our immense talent. So here we are, 20 years later, playing our first home state show. I wish it was in Santa Fe, but Taos will certainly do. I really didn’t know what to expect today. We’re a huge deal—this is indisputable—but how huge? Would people embrace us as a home grown product, or will they shun us for moving on so quickly, and do that thing that your hillbilly family does at family gatherings, where they say things like “well, this is what we eat down here, I know it probably isn’t as fancy as what you get in [insert big city name here]”. Maybe they’re past us, maybe they don’t care, maybe they were sick of waiting. Who knows?
Well… I couldn’t possibly predict what happened when we approached Taos. As we got close to town, I started seeing cars lining the highway, like when you’re going to some big event, and people are having to park so far away that the interstate shoulder becomes the parking lot. I pondered that maybe the Rainbow Gathering was happening this weekend, or maybe some kinda satellite Burning Man rave. You know, Taos shit.
Then we get to town, and a sprawling banner could be seen from very far away: “WELCOME HOME OLD MAN GLOOM, NEW MEXICO’S FAVORITE SONS!”
When the van got closer, the scope of the crowd came into focus. Thousands of New Mexican’s packed the streets of Taos, waiting to catch glimpse of Old Man Gloom. The banner was flanked by two giant statues, one of Aaron, wearing an elvish outfit of twigs and leaves, a baby in his strong arms, and one of me, wearing a suit of armor and a giant sombrero, maybe the size of a merry-go-round on the top of my head. It was glorious. We slowed to a crawl, and the van was showered with streamers and confetti. A group of around 300 children were in the road, moving ahead of us, tossing large handfuls of rose petals in the road. As we crawled through town, young and old alike touched the van, screaming in adoration. The occasional senior citizen would get their shirt up, and press their ancient naked flesh against the van window, which was very erotic, and disturbing.
When we finally reached the main plaza in the center of town, a stage was set up with a large podium on it. We got out, took a lot of photos with people, and signed autographs. Finally, we were led to the stage, where we were presented with the key to the city, and informed that from here on out, May 28th will be known as OLD MAN GLOOM DAY.
Hey Siri, set reminder: start petition to make OMG Day a national holiday.
Anyway, it was awesome. We decided the fest stage wasn’t going to be big enough, so we abandoned that show and just set up on the stage the podium was on and played a ripping set under the hot-ass sun, right then and there.
Well, it turns out we had signed a pretty ironclad non-compete radius clause with the fest, and by playing a show half a mile away on the same day as the festival, we really blew it. We got a call from Lil Ronnie Gantano, our lawyer. That Monolith on the Mesa now owned the name “Old Man Gloom”, and all the intellectual property associated with the group. Ughhhhh…not again. I’m sure you all know the story about how we started a project called Slipknot in the late ’90s, and then I sold the idea for a bottle of CKOne and a half empty box of Lil’ Debbie oatmeal creme pies in an Arby’s parking lot. I should’ve learned this lesson already.
Oh, well… live and learn! If you’re coming to check us out this summer on tour, we’ll be playing an entirely new set, after we write another catalogue of songs, and we’ll be traveling under the name Resurrectum. Stop by the merch table and say hi!
Thanks a lot for reading this “tour diary.” Seriously, it’s been cathartic to write this. I know we’re all living through something we probably struggled to imagine six months ago, but the reality has become far more confusing and taxing than I could’ve foreseen, and making people laugh has become a lifeline for me. Not going out and playing these shows was a huge disappointment, so writing about them has been a nice way to connect with the experience. While I’m seen as this social media-obsessed person, I actually have no personal social media, so when I’m on it, I’m just doing Gloom stuff. Which means I’ve been pretty removed from what other people’s experience through this has been. That being said, it’s been really important to me to interact with all of the people who follow us, and it’s given me a connection with the outside world, and solidarity for what’s been a very intense period of time.
So, I really want to express my appreciation to anyone who’s coming here and reading this stuff, and commenting on various posts, and sending me messages. It means a lot. I’ll keep being an idiot in public for as long as you all keep looking at it. I hope we’re coming to the point where we can see some light on the horizon. Stay safe, and take care of each other.