The Smugglers’ Top Eleven Things To Avoid When Touring

Grant from the Smugglers here to share a few words of "wisdom" from the Smugglers touring archives.... Since the Smugglers have spent so much of our lives on the road, people often ask us for touring advice, so basically, the list below is both for all you young bands out there gettin’ the urge to hit the road for a little rock ‘n’ roll glory, and for the simply curious. This is the stuff you SHOULDN’T do. We, uh, strongly suggest you take the points below seriously. All stories are true. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent because in the Smugglers party wagon there’s no such thing! Yeeha!


1. Punk Rock Pets

Here’s a couple examples of how punk rock pets can seriously effect a good night’s slumber. A hot summer night in Memphis TN, 1992: the two punk dudes who put on our show were nice enough to let us sleep over. All was swell, until their "dog", a tiny black toy poodle, bounced into the room. "Bobo" was unfortunately in a high degree of hyper-active heat and took a shine to the snoozing face of yours truly. What ensued was a sleepness night I would wish to no other person, living or dead. The impish, horny, curly haired beast repeated mounted my face and literally tried to fuck me in rapid-fire, jack-rabbit fashion. When I tried to bury my head in my sleeping bag, the soggy heat of the night clashed with my down-filled Canadian sleep sack, causing instant suffocation. Each time I came up for air, the randy, undersexed little canine would be there, full mast, right on my face. It is the only time that I have ever openly wept while on tour.


2. The Asshole In The Crowd

This is a dangerous one. What to do when some drunken loogan starts heckling your band and won’t shut up? Well, certainly feel free to use my favourite line "listen buddy, if we come to blows, you blow me first"! But could it be an OHL defenseman that will beat you senseless the second you get off the stage, or just a good natured ribbing from an embittered local record store employee? Be careful - it’s gone either way for us. I’ll never forget the time I was chased down Queen Street in Toronto by a Horseshoe Tavern patron who just flat out thought we sucked and was going to giving me a good ol’ fashioned Hogtown horsewhipping as punishment.


3. Playing A Club That Is On Fire

Even though it sounded like a perfect publicity stunt for our album "Selling The Sizzle", when the famous Maxwell’s of Hoboken, New Jersey burst into flames during our set in front of a packed house, this was no phony fire drill. I mean, I know The Smugglers live show is red hot, but baby, as the black smoke filled the small club and flames started lickin’ our bodies, we knew there would be no encore that night.


4. Jaegermeister

Sure, everybody loves to party a little and a lot while on tour! Heck, why not every night!? Such was the plan in Hamburg, Germany when Dave Carswell, Smugglers guitarist and song writing genius that he is, decided to take his medicine... an entire bottle of the thick, black, potent cough syrup that is Jaegermeister. When Dave came to his senses the next morning, he was in the kitchen of a stranger’s apartment eating a cheese sandwich.


5. Bishy-Bishy!

A title of a Smugglers song, and the Japanese word for "diarrhea", this one affects even the hardiest of travelers. Throw in nothing but junk food, cheap beer and lousy sex for weeks on end, and you’ve got the recipe for some nasty toilet disasters. An example? Here’s what happened at a truck stop just outside of Sin City... Las Vegas, 1996. The scene: One bathroom, one toilet, one long line of truckers waiting to use it, and me on it, in the violent throws of a bishy-bishy attack. Once eventually "done", I turned to flush the poison when to my horror, my new, expensive mag light slipped from my breast pocket, straight into the brown lava filling the toilet bowl. Somehow the little flashlight managed to turn itself on and was now illuminating my mess from the bottom of the bowl. As I stood their contemplating my disgusting situation, the truckers grew impatient, banging on the flimsy stall door. Finally, because I am an extremely CHEAP person with no SELF RESPECT, I did something I will always regret. I rolled up my sleeve, reached into the toilet, and retrieved my flashlight. As I emerged from the stall, clutching my lit, soiled flashlight and my arm covered in my own shit up to the elbow, the crowd of horrified truckers cleared me a path for me faster than you can say "that guy is covered in shit and holding a flashlight". I felt like Brown Moses in a redneck sea.


6. A Riot At A Black Gay Disco

Sure, I’m the first to admit that The Smugglers have been "mis-booked" a few times. We maybe shouldn’t have played that Vets Hall in Montana, or the seniors dance in France, or the communist squat in Naples. And we definitely should have avoided playing a black gay disco in Denver, Colorado in 1997. Punks rented the place out so ourselves and the Mr. T Experience could play there, and when our usually mild-mannered bassist Beez got into a fist-fight with a local punk over some misplaced underwear, all hell broke loose, and violence quickly enveloped the whole club. Punks, jocks, cops, gay black people, bouncers and bartenders were all fighting, throwing chairs, smashing bottles, screaming, pulling hair and generally, well... rioting! It was a scene of complete bedlam and a collision of way too many worlds for one night.


7. Stealing Danko Jones’ Pants

Ok, we admit it! It may also be the name of a song on our new album "Rosie", but it’s all true, folks. Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, 1996. Danko was just a young’un back then, but he still dressed like the finest mofo in T.O.. The proof was in the pants we managed to Smuggle out the back door and into the van. Once discovered hanging amongst our soiled suits like a diamond in the rough, they certainly got us our fair share of attention from the ladies, depending on which Smuggler "won" the right to wear "the Danko Pants". And we ALL wore them, all over North America. Let’s just say there was a whole lot of Danko Jones "magic" left in those pants. Not having such a good time as the free-wheelin’, jizz-squirtin’ Schmugs was an enraged Danko Jones, who, pantless, demanded the safe return of his sharkskin stove pipe hot pants "immediately, you damn dirty thievin’ motherfuckers!". As soon as we were safely home in Vancouver, the magic pants of a great man were returned safe and sound, via Fedex.


8. Hitting An Inflated Raft Bouncing Down The Highway

Sometimes you gotta keep your wits about you when on the open roads of America. Case in point: The I-5, Seattle WA, 1990. As we rattled up the freeway in our old VW van, Your Smugglers were suddenly very shocked to see a fully inflated Zodiac raft rip its way free from the back of a pick ‘em up truck and bounce its way down the I-5 like a retarded Tinky Winky playing in traffic. Even though we tried to dodge it, the raft seemed destined to smack us, and it did, head on. It went right over top of us, over the roof and down the back, ripping our bumper off, and tearing a huge hole in the dancing rubber boat. Once everything was sorted out at the side of the road awhile later, the owner of the boat was furious with US for putting a gaping hole in it!! "Well it’s fuckin’ useless now - you boys wrecked it".


9. German Ski Lodges

Another case of mis-booking, this one saw us playing a ski lodge in the tiny Bavarian village of Isny, high in the German Alps. The town was completely isolated, and since we were the first entertainment in months, the young Germans didn’t quite know how to react to the Canadian punk rock and roll we nervously provided. These "fans" decided to show their affection by chugging their beer at a rapid rate, then whipping the empty pint glasses at us at full force. Glass, blood and slush was soon coated the club. At the end of the night we tried to quietly escape, but a couple of ski-punks were transfixed by our drummer’s trademark mop top of hair. Convinced it was a wig, the two sloshed krautrockers kept tugging at it, and when Bryce tried to get away, the duo chased him deep into the Bavarian forest. On the other side of the club, guitarist Nick watched as one enraged, drunken mountaineer tore a Smugglers poster off the wall, methodically crumpled it up, put the poster in his mouth, chewed it up and swallowed it, all the while glaring at Nick. Achtung, baby!


10. Bangers

An obvious one, but none the less very important. For those who may be confused by our regional terminology, a "banger" is a hesher, or a rocker, or basically a long-haired stoner who loves metal, pussy and muscle cars. Though we’ve had several overtly negative encounters with this group, one clash in particular really bit us in the ass. Northern California, 1991: we were minding our own business, enjoying a few high-balls while on our way to San Francisco when out of the blue, a classic late-seventies Camaro disco box pulls up a long side of us. The two bangers riding in her took a long, mean look at us, and what they saw they seemingly disapproved of as the passenger gave us two high-flying, unprovoked middle finger salutes. Certainly unintimidated by bangers, we gave chase, tailing the C-bird through the winding hills of the Sunshine State. Of course the Smugglers get thirsty for a few "road cokes" now and then (beer in car) and as mentioned, the "bar was open" when this all went down. When we eventually pulled along side the bangers, I rolled down the window and flung my half full can of beer as hard as I could at them. Little did I know that a California Highway Patrol car (CHiPs!) was following directly behind us, about to pull us both over for reckless driving. Unfortunately, the beer can flew straight back, spraying the side of our van with beer, then hitting the hood of the cop car, sending beer suds all over their windshield, the can bouncing off their roof.

Four hours and a large fine later and we were free to go!


11. The Jizz Chamber

Sometimes, after a show, you inadvertently end up staying with people you’ve never met. Minneapolis, October 1997: as we started to bed down in a huge old house occupied by art-punks, an offer was put forth by our hosts that one of us could stay in a special room upstairs, a place called... the Jizz Chamber. Sure enough, at the top of the old stair case, a door opened into a tiny room just big enough for a single bed. At the foot of the bed was a television with porno tapes stacked all around it. At the head of the bed, the TV converter, a stack of towels, and... a large Gatorade Bottle half full with what appeared to be a thick, oozing, translucent green goo. Jizz. Collected, we were informed, by many different visitors over the past few months. As it was explained, if any of The Smugglers were to stay in the Jizz Chamber they would be obligated to "sign the guest book" as it were, by watching a porn and then adding to the collection by jizzing into the Gatorade bottle. Our hosts’ dream was to fill that damn bottle right to the top. After a moment of silence, our guitarist Dave said "well, good night fellas!" and stepped into the Jizz Chamber, closing the door behind him.