The Smugglers "Selling The Sizzle" Tour
Aug - Oct 1996

And so here we go again, the open highway, the thrills chills and spills one more time. Departing in summer, arriving in fall, the Smugglers' third round of "Selling The Sizzle" to the kids of North America was the longest and most gruelling yet. We held 42 dance contests, presented 42 trophies, held 42 kissing contests and gave away what seemed like 1,000 kisses. Here's what happened...

The cast: The Smugglers12.gif (23295 bytes)
Nick Thomas - guitar, vocals;
David Carswell - guitar, vocals;
Beez bass, vocals;
Graham Watson - drums (usual Smugs drummer Bryce Dunn couldn't make it on this one)
and me
Grant Lawrence - voice.

For the Canadian portion of the tour we were with Duotang; for the American portion, the Queers. We also ran into cub and the Mr. T Experience for certain lengths of time, as well as a ton of other bands.

Thursday August 23
Mickey Finn's, Edmonton AB
ROAD12-BEARHUG.JPG (29692 bytes)
The Smugglers, Duotang, Kid With Manhead:
We weren't even sure if we were actually playing a show in Edmonton or not, but the promoter called me the night before and said, "Fuck yeah, it's on!" So we hit the road at 6:00 AM and somehow pulled into Edmonton at 11:00 PM to play a sloppy show at a packed pub on the strip in the middle of the famous Fringe Festival. The dance contest turned into something like the climax of "Grease" as it was narrowed down to two contestants: one guy showed his naked ass, the other puked from doing one-armed push ups. The ass man won.

Friday August 24
Amigo's, Saskatoon SK
The sight of some of the wildest Smugglers antics ever -- you name it, shit, puke, fuckin'... it's all gone downtown at Amigo's. But on this albeit packed-out Friday night, it wasn't to be, dammit. No one wanted to party with us!!! Our roadie SKA-T picked up a sweet mama but she turned out to be a cold fish.

 

Saturday August 25
Wellington's, Winnipeg MB
The Smugglers, Duotang, Grand Theft Canoe
Something had to be wrong, as this was the second city so far that we pulled in at the atrocious hour of 11:00 PM! So this was Night Two of the "Winnipeg Mod Implosion Weekend" (apparently there used to be a big mod/scooter scene in the 'Peg), and we were the honourary closing ceremony hosts. Wild time, full house, and each band (Grand Theft Canoe, Duotang and us) did a cover of the Jam's "Art School" by complete coincidence! How mod! We busted the record for the best bar sales the Wellington ever had! Eat your heart out, Randy Bachman! YEEHA!

Sunday August 26
Spotlite, Thunder Bay ON
The Smugglers, Duotang
Ouch. A small, humbling crowd of a mere 50 children showed to "Rock With The Smugglers Tonight." Still, a pretty fun show, even though we were afraid to walk to the 7-11 on the corner because there were too many guys who looked like they shoulda been under my mom's sink fixing a leak instead hanging outside on a corner intimidating people. I was personally called a 'lousy piece of shit' and yes, I did nothing about it. Paul Shaeffer must have had it rough!

Monday August 27
Townehouse Tavern, Sudbury ON
The Smugglers, Duotang, The Havocs
Sudbury isn't exactly the cultural mecca of the western world, so we expected another rough night, but thanks to handy local good-guy promoter Paul Loewenburg and his band The Havocs, the place was packed and jumping! The next morning was highlighted by a new set of Smugglers' brush cuts provided by the in-house hotel barber.

Tuesday August 28
The Wellington, Kingston ON
The Smugglers, Duotang
Not to be confused with the cool club of the same moniker in Winnipeg, this place is a tiny British pub in the heart of the Royal City, laid out exactly like the Regal Beagle from good ol' "Three's Company."
04.gif (15445 bytes)Only thing is, the RB didn't have bands and this place shouldn't either. There's just something about thick red shag carpet that hinders a wild dance party. Too much friction? I dunno, but it was a classic "fishbowl" show. I should mention the two moronic promoters of the show who got so completely wasted that they tried to pick fights with both the Smugs and Duotang, accusing both bands of stealing their backpack full of microphones. After ripping through our stuff and spitting slurred insults, one drunken dork says to the other, "Hey, what's that on your back, fuckface!?!" Luckily we were able to make our escape as they then started viciously fighting themselves over who had placed the backpack there.

Wednesday August 29
Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ottawa ON
The Smugglers, Duotang, The Knurlings
Had to play early as we quickly got booted from the bar to make room for disco, but not before enchanting 'n' enhancing our crowd into a fun round of chanting "Disco sucks!" before packing up. Our friend Pat Shanks threw a big party for us, and Nick could have gotten way-laid from an attending vixen, but he stayed true to his lassie back home because he's a good kid.
SIZZLE IN OTTAWA.JPG (39113 bytes) We all passed out throughout the party pad, only to be woken up at the crack of dawn by a roommate screaming "Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck!!!" and violently horking and barfing first in the kitchen sink and floor, then soon after while taking a shower. Lovely!

Thursday August 29
Call The Office, London ON
The Smugglers, Duotang
Send in the clowns! What with the fun-time success of our video "Especially You" on MuchMusic, throughout the tour, we noticed that song received the most cheer and interest of any other song in the set. On this night, a fan's interest in that video could only be graded as sheer obsession. Following each Smuggler around the bar, he explained repeatedly that the song spoke to him and that it was about his life and his exact social situation. When he finally followed Dave into a shitter stall in the washroom to discuss the lyrics more intimately, Dave pulled the plug on the stinky little fellow, telling him to "Get the fuck out away from me now." He did, but not before pestering the rest of us to the point where we were all hiding backstage quivering in raw fear. Tonight the kissing contest winner was a man who made me kiss his wet, naked ass. Too true.

Friday August 30
The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON
The Smugglers, The Stinkies, Duotang, Danko Jones
Well, it was a great gig. We finally got to play the famous Horseshoe, arguably Canada's most famous music club. The heartbeat of the country, the stage that could tell a thousand stories. We had an absolute blast, recognizing all the people from across the country who happened to be in Toronto and make it out to the show. The dance contest winner was from Nova Scotia, the kissing contest winner from Saskatchewan, and the girls from Lik The Pole gave me my first stage boner. I love Canada.

LIKTHEPOLE.GIF (21483 bytes)

Saturday August 31
The Cabaret, Montreal PQ
The Smugglers, The Planet Smashers, Duotang
Still skittish after my premier stage-stiffy, I was a tad tentative at this night's show, but I soon got fully into it as the Cabaret must be the nicest venue in all of Canada! Wow, is this place swank! We felt like the Beatles at the Palladium. The highlight tonight had to be the kissing contest winner who ran across the stage, tackled me, wrapped her arms around me and shoved her tongue down my throat for about five minutes. I was being licked down like the kid in Lassie! Holy sweet Jesus, that was wild, but I was just too jittery to enjoy it. We also had a great time getting sloshed after the gig on St. Laurent. Montreal is truly the Party Capital of Canada. Hey Quebec, stick around, baby, you're HOT!

Sunday September 1
Bogie's, Albany NY
08.gif (16957 bytes)
Crossing-the-Border Day, always our worst for touring nerves. But the crossing at Champlain turned out to be not that bad at all. The guard merely asked if we were "a team or something" to which I replied that indeed we were, and he wished us good luck and we were on our way! Bogie's is usually pretty wild, but it was a bit of a snoozer this time. Oh, I got another woman's hot, wet, juicy tongue down my throat for the kissing contest again. (If any of you happen to be wondering what these contests are, we give a trophy to the best dancer of the night, and for the kissing contest, we play a song from a TV show and whoever can guess the show the song came from wins a kiss from the Smuggler of their choice, or can have a Smuggler kiss them on any part of their body they so desire).

Monday September 2
DAY OFF! So we headed off to the Saratoga Springs Race Track for some good old fashioned betting on the horses. Unfortunately we kept picking, um, kinda slow horses. The drunker we got, the slower the horses got. The long-shot bet on "Granny Go-Go" was particularly embarrassing. I think she had a heart attack or something.

Tuesday September 3
Hillside Miniature Gold Course, Lehigh Valley PA
No, that is not a misprint! We indeed did play at an outdoor miniature golf course! Picture this: A run-down 1960s miniature golf course with a corn field at one end and a graveyard on the other, all perched at the top of a long, picturesque green valley in the middle of nowhere.
14.gif (19287 bytes)The stage was set up right in front of the golf course with our backs to the corn field. The weather was great and yes sir we rocked those kids at that course like shit through a goose! The owner's eight year old child was running around wearing an Alannis Morrisette shirt, so when pops wasn't looking someone asked the kid "Hey, I betcha you really want to fuck that Alannis don't ya, ya little shit?" After a red-faced moment of silence he admitted that yes, he indeed did want to fuck Alannis.

Wednesday September 4
Maxwell's, Hoboken NJ
cub, The Smugglers, Pansy Division
Holy smokes! This show was a hot one! The place was on fire tonight! No, really.... It was great to be back at our favourite club in North America to sell the sizzle, but little did we know how far Maxwell's was going to take our performance credo. Just as we struck our final blazing chord and cub were quickly setting up to take advantage of the revved up crowd, a cook came running into the venue, arms in the air screaming "FIRE! FIRE! EVERYWHERE, FIRE!"
ROAD01-GRANTFIRE.JPG (14078 bytes) Everyone piled out into the street as smoke billowed from the kitchen into the venue and out the now-broken windows. Soon firetrucks roared up and were spraying the fire down, trying to gain control. In the meantime, your Smugglers had nestled themselves in the upstairs backstage area and were busy getting changed when we were suddenly engulfed with smoke. We grabbed a couple of coldies and our wallets and ran out. I was, most unfortunately, clad only in a mere towel wrapped around my waist as I joined the rest of the disgruntled gig patrons in the street. After about 30 minutes of standing in that towel, I decided the fire had died down enough to re-enter the building to finish changing, so I slipped under the yellow ribbon, past the busy firemen, up the stairs and into the room. I immediately had to get on all fours to deal with the smoke but managed to get changed and back down to the street without so much as a third degree burn. Smart, eh? Oh, no one was hurt and we got all of our stuff out unscathed, and cub has learned to never try headlining over us again! Oh yeah, the kissing contest winner was an aide to NBC's Tom Brokaw!!!
ROAD03-GRANTBEEZ.JPG (17809 bytes)

Thurday September 5
Coney Island High, New York NY
The Queers, The Mr. T Experience, Pansy Division, cub, The Smugglers, The Groovie Ghoulies
This was the big CMJ Music Marathon convention show, and we were playing a big gig with the Queers, the Mr. T Experience, Pansy Division and cub at the Lookout and Mint Records showcase.
02.gif (25320 bytes) The place was absolutely packed-out, and the celebrities in our audience included none other than the GODFATHER himself JOEY RAMONE, as well as Lemmy from Motorhead and the gnarly folks from Rancid. Nutty!06.gif (13528 bytes) Earlier in the day we ran into C-grade celebrity Michael Moriarty from "Law And Order" fame (as well as about 100 movies including "Pale Rider," the role I discussed with him) on the street in Times Square (if any readers remember a past report of mine for Toronto-based Canadian preemo music magazine Impact from CMJ '94, I have a knack for seeking out and running into celebrities).

Friday September 6
early show - Middle East, Boston MA
The Queers, The Mr. T Experience, cub, The Smugglers
late show - CBGB's, New York NY The Smugglers, The Swingin' Neckbreakers, The Woggles, The Insomniacs, The Minstrels
As one can read, we attempted and ultimately succeeded in an act most other rock bands would take one look at, jizz, then quit the biz. We played an early all-ages show in Boston, then drove five hours to play a headlining set at CBGB's in New York City!!! YES!!! The Boston show was fun; an audience member's pair of panties managed to strike me in the face and stick, which was a nice touch. The hardest thing about it was having to leave a very cute young lady behind who actually wanted to talk to ME! I begged her to come to our New Haven gig but she never showed.

At CBGB's, we played with the Swingin' Neckbreakers and the Woggles; both excellent bands. Though exhausted, we (as the Mr. T Experience would say) dug deep down and pulled off one of the best shows of the tour. A highlight was the introduction to our new stage character "Wee Willy Dinky" which is actually a statue/bottle of a small boy that dispenses booze (Wild Turkey) through his penis. A big hit with the crowd... they were linin' up to suck on that kid's wee-wee! The kissing contest winner dropped his drawers and had poor Beez kiss his naked, boney ass. But as we always say, anything in the name of rock'n'roll!

Saturday September 7
Tune Inn, New Haven CT
The Queers, The Mr. T Experience, cub, The Smugglers
As this is one of the roughest punk venues in the States, and the last time we played here it was a "Punx Against Corruption" show complete with a burning car on the sidewalk, we are very happy to report that there was nothing to report from this show.

Sunday September 8
Trocadero, Philadelphia PA
The Queers, The Mr. T Experience, cub, The Smugglers
The only thing of note about being back at this great venue was the Smugglers' overall jealousy that all the members of the Mr. T Experience had women buzzing around them like flies on shit.

Monday September 9
Black Cat, Washington DC
The Queers, The Mr. T Experience, cub, The Smugglers
It's certainly odd visiting another nation's capital; you just kind of feel out of the loop. That was certainly the case until we found out that the Smithsonian Museum had a pop culture section that included actual artifacts from TV shows! We saw FONZIE'S ACTUAL SHIT-BROWN LEATHER JACKET!!! Also sighted was Archie Bunker's actual chair, Ted Knight's actual weatherman jacket from "MTM," Mr. Roger's actual red cardigan, and lots of other bizarre and forgotten props from yesterTVyear. The gig was cool, and it was our last night with cub until Denver. Bye cub!

Tuesday September 10
Club Stratis, Pittsburgh PA
The Queers, The Mr. T Experience, The Smugglers
Picture this: we're in a packed, blue-collar, Steel-town hockey bar watching the Canada vs. USA World Cup game. We hit overtime. Tension draws tight than a nun's you-know-whatzit. Canada's Steve Yzerman nets the overtime winner. We take the game. Six Canadian nerds are screaming in delight, oblivious to the fact that 200 very angry men who work with steel on a daily basis and live for hockey are very, very angry at us. We quickly formed a conga line and got the hell out of there and went back to the club. It was run by the Pittsburgh mob, so it's best we don't talk about it.

Wednesday September 11
Peabody's Down Under, Cleveland, OH
The Queers, The Mr. T Experience, The Smugglers
So what's in Cleveland, Ohio? Nothing right? Wrong, moochacho! Cleveland is now the proud proprieter of the one and only Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame!
ROAD02-HALLOFFAME.JPG (25041 bytes) IT IS INCREDIBLE! Only Nick and I got up in time to get to see it, but after hearing Nick and I rave 'n' babble, the others can only regret not seeing it. I cried, I marvelled, I reeled. The Ramones have an exhibit! The Young Fresh Fellows are mentioned! They had every one of Mick Jagger's outfits from every tour, even the football one! There's a Seattle display and cub is on a gig poster! I highly recommend anyone who loves rock'n'roll music must go... NOW!!! The actual show was in a party zone called The Flats. We couldn't hang around after the show because Beez got very offended at a restaurant called Dick's. That's their schtick, they're "dicks" to their customers and that's supposed to be funny, but Beez doesn't like rude people who throw cutlery at him, so he told our linebacker-sized waiter to "Go fuck himself up the fuckin' asshole with a fuckin' carrot!" and we high-tailed it.

Thursday September 12
The Shelter, Detroit MI
We are very happy to report that none of us were injured in anyway; in fact it was another fun show in Detroit. It ain't so bad! Oh, and this film crew came down from Flint and yeah, they knew Michael Moore, the guy who made "Roger And Me" and "Canadian Bacon"!

Friday September 13
Bogart's, Cincinnatti OH
The Queers, The Vandals, The Mr. T Experience, The Smugglers, Assorted Jellybeans
Not to be confused with Bogie's of Albany, Bogart's of WKRP-town was as sweet as titty sauce to us Smugglers! 1,400 kids showed up to see us, the Mr. T Experience, the Vandals and the Queers. It was truly a rock concert. It was so big, we had to set up the dance contest by picking a winner beforehand and have her waiting in the wings. Unfortunately a "fixed dance contest" rumour spread through the crowd like diahhrea and a gang of punks cornered us while loading out at the end of the night, demanding that they get a trophy of their own since the contest was a "set up." We had no choice but to fork a shiny one over to the rampant beasts. That night we slept somewhere across the border in the wilds of Kentucky.

Saturday September 14
The Hi-Pointe, St. Louis, MO
The Queers, The Smugglers
A completely out of control, insane show, this one had the audience surging like surf all over the tiny, sold-out club. The winner of the kiss gave me the tongue AGAIN, and we actually ended up staying at her house. No, you filthy fucking bastards, I am a gentleman and I pursued nothing further than that hot tongue. Back at the club we actually all slipped into a drunken depression, learning that the Canadians had fallen to the Americans in the World Cup Of Hockey. No one to console us but a bunch of raving Yanks.

Sunday + Monday September 15 + 16
Filmaker's Theatre, Chicago IL
The Queers, The Smugglers, Boris The Sprinkler, Oblivion
This was a ridiculous two night punk rock stand that made us swear we'd never do it again. Half the deal with these shows we play is 1) rocking, 2) wrapping up, and 3) getting the hell out of dodge, to quote Huevos Rancheros. Not this time, as we had to come back again to the same stage at the same venue in the same city. Yick! The only thing of note was that there was an apparent skin-head problem but when the cops came they grabbed two innocent big-haired goth kids and threw 'em in the back of the cruiser and took off. Oh well... maybe next time.

Tuesday September 17
Concert Cafe, Green Bay WI
The Queers, The Smugglers
We had our best show of our last US tour here, and the kids weren't gonna dissapoint us tonight either. We knew it was going to be good when we drove into town and saw a HUGE Smugglers window display which we all quickly got out of the van to pose for pictures beside. The show was great, the kids were wild, and the oddspot was in the parking lot where all the punks were bugging a metal kid for being an oddball loser. The tides they have turned! Dave quickly lectured the kids that punk is just a fad and they'll be the minority soon and they should be nice to metal kids. A bunch of girls mobbed Nick and grabbed his towel just after he had swabbed off his wet crotch and these girls were sticking it in their faces for deep whiffs! They came back and all got us to sign it later, which was sweet.

  More sizzle