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Tour Journal 5 - Rantings (Written by Dan Franklin)


Rantings: The zombies in Oregon infected me with their strangeness and love of the arts. I’ve left the pine-surrounded city with an epic yearning and desire in my heart. How could I enjoy something so odd? My past-self would answer that question with a nuanced answer, but the new me accepts things as they are, and that includes the weirdos in Oregon. They loved us, so we loved them harder. And by the ‘us,’ I am speaking of the band of which I am officially a part of: French Mouth

              With Portland in our review mirror, we headed further north to Seattle, Washington for a quick set of two shows. Officially, we were only staying one night, but we were booked for two shows, so after the second show the plan was to head back to Northern California immediately after our set was finished. It was a horrendous plan, but there was no turning back now. The distance and timing of it all frightened me, but there was something else that tore even worse at my heart. There was no longer any fight in me to return home. In fact, the anxiousness that once held me hostage at home had evolved into an anxiousness that wanted me to keep away it – forever on the road.

              The first show was booked at the Central Mill Saloon, one of the oldest pub in Washington, dating back to 1892. A landmark in the city and host to many iconic musical acts in the 90’s rock scene such as Nirvana and Jane’s Addiction. It seems strange to be playing places like these. I feel so normal in comparison to the band’s I play alongside. Hell, I’ve got a regular day job and a wife at home, yet here I am playing a show on a Monday night, miles away from said home. It’s an honor to play where other greats have been, and this sentiment wasn’t lost on the Frenchie Boys. The mood was present that night when we entered the old saloon and was still burning when we left. Dee led the charge with several beers and three shots of tequila. James, Brandon, and I drank our share of booze, this is the High-Tolerance Tour after all, but it was Dee who truly gave way to the ‘spirits’ in the room.

              Dee has always proven himself as a frontman, but on that night he solidified his place on earth as one of LA’s best. When the French music hits, you’ll find Dee in your face, or on his way to get in your face. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the front row, at the bar, or in the bathroom, that man is coming to get you. It’s like there’s a fire inside that he wants to share with you: He brings it close, reveals its presence and warmth, and then charges away onto the next onlooker.

              “And I watch it...” he shrieks at the end of ‘Hunting Season,’ one of my favotites. “And you watch it!”

              That night at the Central Saloon was no different Dee. Once he set his guitar down, he launched himself off the 10-foot stage with the mic in hand and his legs tucked underneath him like Spiderman, and once he hit the deck, he took no prisoners. The front of the stage turned into a swarm as he hollered at every excited face that bore witness. Fueled with hops and tequila, Dee stormed the bar, shattering several glasses along the way. And on his way back to the stage, as penance for his sins, he dropped facedown onto the floor into a push-up position. With the glass crunching between his palms and the floor, he pushed himself up and down, screeching into the microphone that he set perfectly on the ground beneath his lips.

              It was a hell of a thing to be a part of. Dee’s got that dog in him and some, and the Central Saloon is better for having him perform there.

              The next day we had to fill Dee in on all the details. His last memory from the evening prior was of himself scarfing down a pulled-pork slider (compliments of the house). After that he couldn’t recall a damn thing, he explained to us. We could only laugh in response because he had clearly put on one of his best performances of the tour. Dee was horrified that so much of the night before had been erased from memory, but we assured him that he remained the epitome of High-Tolerance.

              We slept one night in Bellevue, Washington and then packed the van tight. It was time for our final show in pacific northwest, followed by the treacherous drive down south back to Northern California. A mix of excitement, anxiousness, and even angst hovered over our vehicle as we drove to the show. Packing the van is an art of sorts, and something I’m proud to say I’ve become very good at it. It’s like Tetris, except you’re cramming luggage and musical equipment that costs a few thousand dollars into the misshapen innards of a fifteen passenger van. That said, no matter how good you manage to pack, it’s still wildly uncomfortable.

              The next show was at an all ages venue known as The Cherry Pit. A previous liquor store that had been gutted out to make way for a showroom with an open floor-pan and a none-working refrigerator section that proved to be the perfect area for a dance-off…It was a modest venue, and with the few folks in attendance (twenty-five at best), it appeared that our presence in the area would only be heard by a few, and that was quite alright with us. No matter the place, the time, or the size of the audience, French Mouth prides themselves on putting on a show. On top of being well-polished musicians, there’s a desire to produce, in a word, art. What you see and hear onstage is a perspective you’ve likely never heard, and even if you’ve heard it before, I can assure you that you’ve never heard quite like this.


            In the DIY space, Dee made it a point to play the role as grounds inspector, and so for the entire set he could be found swinging from the rafters, inspecting the bathrooms, dancing behind the glass refrigerator doors, and even singing outside in the front while the band continued playing inside. The audience was gripped, and so was I. Perhaps this was our smallest gig – they can’t all be massive after all – but it truthfully felt no different. I was happy to be there, in the moment, with my band without another care in the world. The audience, too, was happy to be there, and that’s all that really mattered.

              The Washington crowd was a sweet bunch. Shoutout to the members in Kids on Fire for playing host and giving us the rundown. The world needs more men like the brothers in that band. Also, shoutout to the boys in Laamb – these young dudes are going places so keep an ear out! We hope to comeback soon and catch ya’ll at another show.

              The show was over and the boozing was done. It was time to hit the road and begin our long drive to Albany. We had less than 24 hours to make it to our hotel, nap, shower, and then head to the next gig. It was certainly doable, but the skies were warning of inclement weather ahead. Snow was falling in Grants pass, the route that would lead us into Northern California. If we were to make it to the next show on time, we’d have to gun it straight through, no time to wait until the snow cleared. It was after midnight when we left Seattle. David and James took the first shift while the rest of us attempted to sleep. For me, I scrunched myself in the way back of the van, pressing my head against someone’s jacket and a merchandise bin. With one leg outstretched, and the other bent at the knee and tucked under the seat, I sat silently with my eyes open, headphones on, and neck pillow in place. In the cold, light of morning I thought of home for the first time and what that meant when I returned. I realized that this was all going to end soon, and it made me terribly sad. I didn’t sleep, though I tried, and when I finally took the 0400 shift to drive, my eyes were burning and my brain was fried.

Nothing a little coffee won’t fix

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