Music

We Do It For The Love: Shapeshifting

I love music.

From the gym, to the shower, then in my car.  To relax, to energize, to deal with issues, to trigger memories, to relate to others dealing with similar emotions; I find solace in tunes.

As I watch the music industry struggle to evolve and save itself from itself, I find it increasingly difficult to find music I’m truly passionate about. In many ways the music industry is a reflection of what’s happening in our society. There’s a few at the top, an ever shrinking middle class, and a wealth of talent struggling to make ends meet/meat. Career musicians are meeting the teachings of Darwin in what has become an ‘adapt or die’ industry.

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As the casualties continue to mount, Lorie Beth and I were set to see a band at the pinnacle of the music food chain. We were on the VIP list for a sold out TOOL show at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, and we were part of a Q & A with Adam Jones. It turned out that this topic weighed heavily on Adam’s mind as well, at least that evening. As the event unfolded, it was fascinating and chilling to hear Adam talk about how the industry is on life support. His band was in the middle of a sold out arena tour generating huge dollars. However, even at their level he mentioned funding issues for several projects, and talked about distribution and production woes. The Q & A wasn’t all doom and gloom. He talked about a wide range of topics, but the industry stuff really hit home for me. As he was talking, quotes from his bandmate Maynard James Keenan and recollections of my personal experiences with J Loren played like an 8mm film in my head. Quotes like:

“There’s a disconnect between people not buying music and not understanding why [bands] go away. There are people who are like monkeys in a cage just hitting the coke button. They don’t really get that for [musicians and artists] to do these things, they have to fund them. They have to have something to pay the rent.” -Maynard James Keenan from Nobody’s Tool interview.

Tool at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville TN

Tool at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville TN

Exactly three weeks later, I was enjoying shooting toothpicks from a straw into the ceiling of a popular burger joint in Memphis with my kids, when the phone rang. It was none other than J Loren. He was on the “Music with Friends” tour with Sean Danielsen from Smile Empty Soul. They were set to play a gig in Texas that night, but the venue closed down in the days leading up to the show. Another industry casualty. J told me he was looking to do Sean ‘a solid’ for doing this tour with him, and he knew I’d be just the guy to call.

No tour bus is complete without a cup holder full of sharpies for autographs.

No tour bus is complete without a cup holder full of sharpies for autographs.

Their tour bus was essentially running 24 hours a day. The guys were living out of it, but it didn’t have sure power. Sure power allows the electronics in the living space of the bus to be used without the engine running. Sure power conserves fuel and prolongs engine life by preventing excessive wear and tear to the engine and other vehicle components by alleviating the need to constantly run. It’s simply more economical. I told the guys to give me a few days and I’d get back to them.

I sent Brandon Wheeler, owner of Hotwired Car Audio, a text to see if he’d be interested in doing this project. “Hell yeah we will do it!” was the text I received back. Things were in motion before dinner was done. Over the next week, Brandon, Lorie Beth, and I went back and forth with J and Sean to hash out the details of our plan. Finally, Lorie Beth and I set up a date to meet up with J and Sean on the bookends of their Johnson City Show to talk about the project face to face and to get our first look at Sean’s current set up.

Ironically, in traditional rock and roll tour fashion, there’s a predictable level of unpredictability that accompanies tours. This tour proved to be no different. At 2:00 am, the morning of the show, J called. A couple of phone calls later, a grocery list of sorts was made. The guys needed:

This was J playing Lorie's violin in a parking lot near the Johnson City Venue.

This was J playing Lorie’s violin in a parking lot near the Johnson City Venue.

  • a headlight for the tour bus
  • a violin [so J could play ‘Fighting Tao’ for me without having to tune his violin differently from what the rest of his set required]
  • the name and phone number for the Programming Director at the Johnson City rock station
  • some healthy greens for Sean [if you follow him, or Smile, you know that eating REAL food even while touring is important to him]
  • a straight razor or dog groomer

Over the course of the day we rounded up the needed items, minus the razor, and drove to the show.

Upon arriving, Sean welcomed us into their home. It was clear, this was no ambulance. It is much better equipped for tour life. His 3500 Mercedes Sprinter is a scaled down version of much larger tour buses. It has all the essentials covered and it’s nice, but to call it anything other than cramped for a full band on tour would be a mistake.

The stage was set for Sean to put on a great show.

The stage was set for Sean to put on a great show.

Sean explained to us that he wanted to be taught everything from general maintenance to electrical wiring. Over the course of the evening the conversation shifted to a wide range of stories and topics including the state of music. Sean talked about how the industry had evolved from the days of MTV, and bands having handlers that would prop musicians up on stage so they could perform, to bands like his constantly fighting to find ways to continue to make a living doing what they love.

It was a fascinating discussion that would have felt at home in a college level economics or business course. This is a man who has evolved and adapted to the environmental changes around him. He’s found ways to succeed where many others have failed for that reason. He’s willing to listen, learn, be humble, and develop new skill sets to continue to produce music for a living. Over the years, he and his bandmates have learned to do much of their own marketing and management. They’ve shifted from record deals to producing the albums they want to make and taking the finished product to the labels for distribution deals. Along with that, the guys from Smile Empty Soul are just really good people. I’ve hung out with them several times in the past during HURT tours. They never really had any clue who I was, but they were always incredibly nice to me… the random guy hanging out on their bus or back stage at venues. This is the kind of band I want to support in any way I can.

Lorie Beth and I came away from that night with a game plan. The next day I contacted Austin Kelley, one of the diesel mechanics who helped us with the ambulance. Austin was excited and willing to be part of this, but scheduling conflicts wouldn’t allow it.  So I contacted Jeff Stevens next. I met Jeff several years ago when I was recruiting for an automotive technical college. He graduated at the top of his class and does vehicle maintenance and mechanical work for a large municipal government.

Jeff quickly joined, and our team was set for this project.

This was going to happen quickly. We had Saturday afternoon, March 5th, at Hotwired Car Audio in Jonesboro Arkansas to install sure power, repair a torn seat, service the vehicle for the next Smile Empty Soul tour, take care of a few other small issues, and teach Sean how to do all of it in the process.

Over the next two weeks, we hammered a plan, gathered parts, and developed a timeline for how the day would flow.

Then, in the words of our buddy J Loren, “everything just fell apart.”

Actually, it wasn’t that bad, but even the best laid plans are still just plans.

Hotwired Car Audio specializes in custom car audio installations, but they also work on a wide range of other projects as well. On the day we were there they had projects ranging from an RV to a boat, and of course, the Smile Empty Soul Sprinter Van. With each job being different, it’s tough to predict exactly how long a job will take, and what exactly will be needed until it’s time to start doing the work.

Sean, Brandon, and Justin going over the plan.

Sean, Brandon, and Justin going over the plan.

Shortly after Sean arrived, our team sprang to action.

The view under the driver's seat.

The view under the driver’s seat.

Lorie Beth grabbed the couch cushion, stripped it, and began prep for her repair work.

Brandon and Justin Letson got their first look at the Sprinter van.

Jeff popped the hood to give everything a quick look.

I did what I do best: I took pictures with my phone, and made sure everyone was going to be able to complete their part of the project.

Justin and Brandon quickly realized that this appeared to be a much simpler job than they had anticipated. However, that meant gathering a different set of supplies than they had planned on. Our team split up. Brandon and Justin went on an electrical parts run, while Lorie Beth, Sean, Jeff and I went on a lunch and mechanical parts and tool run.

Jeff teaching Sean how to change oil.

Jeff teaching Sean how to change oil.

Jeff’s goal was to set Sean up with a list of tools he would need to do routine maintenance on his van and then teach him how to do basic maintenance. Jeff was able to walk him through changing the oil and filters and give him a quick crash course on diesel maintenance. Jeff and I were able to give him several pointers on how to save money on maintenance while touring.

Next up was Lorie Beth’s sewing work. Sean and I walked to our hotel room so Lorie Beth could talk to him about the material used for his seats. Once she finished the seat we walked back to the shop so we could say goodbye to Jeff, who had driven a couple of hours to spend the afternoon helping us.

A seat that smells like gig ass is nothing compared to the smells that lurk in a 25 year old ambulance.

A seat that smells like gig ass is nothing compared to the smells that lurk in a 25 year old ambulance.

With the mechanical and cosmetic aspects of the project completed and the rest of our team still hunting down parts, it was play time for Lorie’s dog, Willow.

Sean and Willow taking a break.

Sean and Willow taking a break.

Once the guys arrived, they quickly installed the sure power, and ran the line to a switch they installed beside the inverter. It was time to test the set up…

After installing the sure power, a switch was added to toggle between power sources.

After installing the sure power, a switch was added to toggle between power sources.

What first looked like a simple job quickly turned into ghost chasing, reminiscent of the final hours of J’s ambulance. For some reason, even with everything installed correctly, the electronics weren’t receiving power like they should. I could see Sean getting a little nervous. This was his baby, his source of income, his home. It simply had to function properly.

What we planned on taking an afternoon turned into a night. As the guys ran through a process of elimination, they decided it could be a faulty battery isolator. Once it was suspected, Sean confirmed that he’d been having issues with the controls for the rear power not working at times. The battery isolator was going to fail on them and it needed to be replaced. Failing on the road could leave the band without any amenities, including air flow or lighting. With living space already tight and the interior an almost exclusively black color scheme with blacked out windows, it didn’t need to fail on them while touring. There wasn’t a replacement to be found after business hours on a Saturday. Keeping the van until the following Monday wasn’t a practical option. With a Smile Empty Soul tour set to start in just a few weeks, we needed to quickly find a solution.

This was the ghost we were chasing.

This was the ghost we were chasing.

Once again, Brandon and Justin found a way. They removed the electronic battery isolator and installed a manual switch. Taking out the mechanical battery isolator leaves one less part to fail on these guys. Everything worked properly! The van was quickly reassembled and Sean presented the crew with signed copies of all of his music. It was time for a group photo and to send the rock star on his way home.

The manual switch the guys installed in place of the battery isolator.

The manual switch the guys installed in place of the battery isolator.

This was a great success. For less than the price Sean had been paying for an oil change, we were able to teach him how to service his vehicle and give his band a set up that will save them money and prolong the life of their vehicle and hopefully career. Ultimately, as this industry evolves and the people in it struggle to find their footing, those that become Shapeshifters will eventually find away to thrive once again.

To quote Maynard James Keenan:

“It’s going to default back to people who want to do this and are willing to do this. Once people find their own way and find their own audience, they might kind of peek their head up over the crowd long enough to see that there’s an entire movement happening, and we did it individually. It’s critical mass; it all disseminates in a way that you go, ‘Oh, this is the new thing now.’ People just did it naturally, and people just did it in their own ways, in their lines and their mediums and surroundings. They’ll all step back and realize they’ve all come to the same place.” –Nobody’s Tool

As always, and until our next project… Thank you for reading.

Smile Empty Soul, Shapeshifter pre-order page!

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Thank You For Helping

From Left to Right: Me, Brandon, Lorie, J, Austin, Justin

From Left to Right: Me, Brandon, Lorie, J, Austin, Justin

It doesn’t seem real. None of it. This was such a wild project from start to finish, and now that it’s over, we’ve finished, but wish we could start again. This wasn’t just a build. There was so much love and emotion in this from everyone involved. Our blog has viewers from over 60 countries, and we received donations from all over the place. Everyone that contributed anything helped give the project life support.

I can’t begin to express to you how much doing this meant to me. (So much emotion.) The group I’m about to thank worked tirelessly and without ego. As much stress and pressure as we were under at the end, and as hot as it was, and as late as it was every time we got together, there was never any bickering, infighting, or ego. This is an amazing team, and their heart can’t be matched.

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Brandon Wheeler, owner of HotWired Car Audio in Jonesboro Arkansas, THANK YOU. Your team didn’t just under promise, over deliver… you saved the project. I’m forever indebted to you guys for your hard work. People like you are EXACTLY what the world needs more of. I asked for very little from you at the start, and I asked for something nearly impossible at the end. Each time you didn’t just come through, you exceeded expectations with an unmatched level of quality and professionalism.

Lorie (we took full advantage of Sonic Happy Hour)

Lorie (we took full advantage of Sonic Happy Hour)

Lorie Beth, bunk and interior designer, and all around hard worker. THANK YOU. I recruited you for this because I knew you were a brilliant furniture maker, artist, and loyal fan of the band. I challenged you to do something no one had ever done before and you delivered. You drove countless hours, slept in your car, in the ambulance, and in sleazy motels while working around the clock on numerous occasions to pull this off. You were able to design and build our bunk set up from seven hours away with measurements and photos mostly taken over the phone. Your amazing attitude and work ethic will take you far in life, wherever you decide to go. You’ll always have a special place in my heart because I don’t think another person exists that would make the sacrifices you made to see this through.

Austin and Justin working hard

Austin and Justin working hard

Austin Kelley, diesel mechanic and fabricator, THANK YOU. Several people contacted me about doing the job I asked you to do. I chose you because of your training and I could tell by Facebook stalking you what kind of person you were. You showed up and busted your butt for us. You gelled with our group perfectly, and you had the same passion for this project the rest of us did. At the end, per J’s request for a gauge, you pulled the gauge we needed out of your own car and professionally installed it in minutes. Everything about that sums up what you brought to this project.

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Justin Letson, carpenter, THANK YOU. You finished gutting Pandora’s Box for us, and built any and everything we asked you to. Your attention to detail is why this project looks as good as it does. The trim pieces and other details you added to the fundamental components you built really make her look first class.

Jackie Yee Grau, the legal team, THANK YOU. You’re such a positive and intelligent inspiration and a great friend to everyone. Every challenge we threw at you from local ordinance laws to blog editing you delivered quickly on. Thanks for representing me against the Jackson shop going forward. (And for those reading this, she was secretly included in our group photo by Lorie Beth. Lorie’s is holding a card from Jackie in her left hand in the group shot.)

Anonymous donor from the East Coast- THANK YOU. This project would not have happened without your donation. The transmission alone was more than the budget we had to start with. It’s tough to count on people to do what they say they’re going to do, you certainly did just that.

Anonymous donor from the Northeastern US- THANK YOU. I loved the inspirational stories about HURT you shared with me. You didn’t just deliver on the bedding, you delivered six fold, and got us EXACTLY what we were asking for.

Rickie Lindsey, hardworking support, THANK YOU. I shared with J the video of you and me tearing apart the driver’s side wall. You busted your butt doing the grunt work on this project on numerous occasions, and your work largely went unheralded in blog posts. I promise you, I do NOT group you with the shop in Jackson, and I apologize my frustrations with their management frequently seemed to filter its way back to you. You’re a good guy, and you have the work ethic to go as far in life as you want to go.

Trevor Arnold, lead mechanic to start the project, THANK YOU. Seriously, THANK YOU. This project would have ended up being done at a technical college if you hadn’t agreed to take it on. But since you did, I was able to assemble an amazing team and spend my summer working on such a cool and unique project. You were put in really bad places at the end by your boss, and I apologize you had to be the middle man at times, and deal with the frustration from both sides. You’re a gifted mechanic, and that’s why I chose you for this project. Hone your skills and grow your career.

Rose Haley, graphic design, THANK YOU. You did a great job with your artwork and designs. You drove hours out of your way to work on this, and stuck around to meet me, and never got the chance to. Thanks for your contributions to this project.

Donnie Tipton, hardworking nice guy, THANK YOU. I don’t think I’d ever met you until the last hours of our time with Pandora’s Box, but you showed up with an awesome work ethic and energy. You busted your butt for us when we really needed it. THANK YOU.

Barry Martin and Jessica Yarbro at Sign Design Graphics, graphic design, THANK YOU. I don’t know anyone else who would put vinyl on for free at 3:00 am. Your artwork really helped make the exterior look good.

Josh Fischer, Antoine Nihart, Jessie Henry, James Merritt, and Adam Morris… THANK YOU. You guys supported us in a variety of different ways and rolls. You guys frequently came at crazy hours with no notice, and helped make this happen for us. You guys are all great friends.

Karla Fisher, editor and blog street teamer, THANK YOU. You’ve been a good friend to me for years, and your editing skills and feedback came in handy throughout this project. Thanks for continuously promoting the blog on your Facebook page and in all the other ways you helped me.

Cain LaVelle, Pete Tellez, Brad Covey, Chad Hardin, and anyone else that donated gear and equipment. (IF I’m leaving your name off, please shoot me a quick message and I will edit this.) Thank you! This blog was titled Life Support, and you guys gave us the exact support we needed to help make this possible.

The rest of the HotWired Crew I didn’t name… THANK YOU guys for all your support. We tore your shop up, and you responded by buying us food, letting us use your tools, and be in your way. Thank you.

THANK YOU to every last person that read this blog. You guys kept us on track, and kept everyone motivated. You guys were awesome support.

I hope I’m not leaving anyone off this list. There were so many people that helped in so many ways.

Finally I want to thank J Loren.

What it took to build him, wasn't enough to kill him.

What it took to build him, wasn’t enough to kill him.

Your music has been an inspiration to countless people from around the world. The trust and faith you put in me to deliver this for you was greatly appreciated. You handled a really negative looking situation at the end beautifully. I hope you’re able to get exactly what you need out of Pandora’s Box, and I hope she truly serves you well. Somehow you find your way into some of the most bizarre moments of my life, and you’ve become a true friend through those experiences. THANK YOU.

 

Thank you to everyone that read this until the end, you were my support… until the rapture should come to meet us.

Bo

Bo

Goodbye to (the Insides of) the Machine

Inside of the BoxIt seems fitting that an ambulance would be built with the mumblings of Charles Darwin dancing in the back of the designers’ minds. After all, it takes an incredibly evolved vehicle to be able to sustain life that’s on the brink of death while transporting it. Maybe it’s from the vein of Darwin’s words that Friedrich Nietzsche derived his quote “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” If not, then perhaps the quote could trace its origins back to the story of the Phoenix.

According to folklore, the Phoenix was a beautiful immortal bird who spent her days happily singing songs until she became old, tired, and weak. The Phoenix didn’t want to continue living this way, so she made the long journey back to her home and rested on top of a palm tree. Shortly after landing, the Phoenix loudly sang a song to the sun asking for it to make her young and strong once more. The sun immediately shone down with all its might directly onto the Phoenix, causing her to burn brightly.

Once the flames died down, all that was left of the Phoenix was a pile of ashes. From those ashes the Phoenix began to form and rise again. This time she rose with renewed grace, strength, and power. The Phoenix had new life and began to sing her beautiful melodies once more. She was brought to the brink of death and emerged stronger.

Pandora’s Box is much like the Phoenix. She’s tired and weak, and yearns to sing a different tune. She returned to an area, just a short drive from where she was originally born, to be born again. She needs to be completely broken down and ripped apart.  We’ll then carefully craft her to make sure she’s strong enough to enjoy her new life delivering melodies to the world.

Can't make this stuff up. That's a nomadic evangelical electrician who sells solar panels from a van.

Can’t make this stuff up. That’s a nomadic evangelical electrician who sells solar panels from a van.

It’s time for her to evolve, but this time she’ll be equipped with the power of the sun — not destroyed by it. Solar panels can be pricy, so the hunt for the perfect panel was not something we would take lightly. A Craigslist ad sent to me by Austin Kelley proved to be a great start. Two weeks later, I found myself buying our panel from a nomadic evangelical electrician who was hocking them from an I-40 truck stop about an hour away from the shop. Sadly, the panel wouldn’t fit in my car.  The guy drove about 45 minutes back towards the shop before he dropped the panel off with me at another I-40 truck stop. I had to wait about half an hour for a ride. It was easy to pass the time though. I made direct eye contact for as long as possible with anyone pumping gas. My goal was to confuse them more than anything. Was I a bum with a solar panel? Was I trying to sell it? Was I looking to kill someone? Was I hitchhiking and expecting someone to let me take my five-foot-tall panel along for the ride? Well, that one was partially true.

Once we got the solar panel, it was time to start focusing on other items. Thanks to your generous support, bunk sheets have arrived, batteries were located, comforters are being hunted down and most of the critical interior components have been ordered or pledged to the cause. I’m keeping the parts list up to date with what we need, so please check back frequently if you’re interested in donating or sponsoring. Every little bit helps!

Next, it was time to turn her into the ashes from which our lovely Pandora will soon rise. Removing the shelving from the rear passenger side was simple. The driver’s side, however, pitted us against Pandora in a Darwinist style battle.

We planned to remove each piece very carefully.

We planned to remove each piece very carefully.

We started with screwdrivers and a plan to repurpose as much of the wood as possible. Once we removed the screws, we upgraded to claw hammers to remove as many of the nails as possible. Then, we learned the 1.5 inch thick plywood boards were glued together, making the shelving components three inches thick. We traded our small hammers for crowbars and sledge hammers. It was only at that point Pandora began to crack.  Sledge hammers made way for saws.  Finally, the testosterone laden youth and rage from our team of three proved to be too much for her.

We knew there was transmission wear when we got her, but Trevor was able to diagnosis the extent of the damage. First gear is basically gone. (We have a video describing the transmission issues. I couldn’t get it to post on YouTube, but if enough people really want to see it, I’ll try to load it again.)

Progress is being made, slowly but surely, one weekend at a time. We are determined to deliver this to J by the summer’s end. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche again, “without muSmashingsic, life would be a mistake.”

As always, thank you for listening.

Bo

 

 

 

 

We cut off a piece to make sure we weren't going to cut into any wires.

We cut off a piece to make sure we weren’t going to cut into any wires.

After we realized what we were up against, we had to be a little more aggressive.

After we realized what we were up against, we had to be a little more aggressive.

What it took to build her, wasn't enough to kill her.

What it takes to build her, wasn’t enough to kill her.

How We End Up… With An Awkward Photo of Kayla Riley and An Extended Visit from Uncle Pervy (Part 2)

Part 2: An Extended Visit from Uncle Pervy

(If you haven’t read part 1 yet, go here.)

Once Kayla left the room to introduce the first band, the conversation shifted back to the van. I learned they lovingly called it, ‘Uncle Pervy’ because it looked like a van your creepy, perverted uncle would drive. They had all kinds of jokes and stories about Uncle Pervy’s misadventures.

Smile's Set

Smile’s Set

During the show, I sent texts to a cousin who lived nearby. I asked her if she had a spot where I could park a large van for a day or two. I didn’t give her any more information than that. She gave me the address for her church. That seemed like a perfectly fitting spot to hide a church van for a few days.

HURT's Set

HURT’s Set

After the show, I grabbed the spare set of keys for Uncle Pervy, gave the guys the address to drop off the van, and made the drive from Nashville to Chattanooga. I was only going to be able to grab an hour of sleep before I needed to be at work, but it was okay. I hadn’t had a significant amount of caffeine in months, so I stopped at a gas station before I got to my hotel and loaded up on energy drinks and Starbucks.

Morning After Pills

Morning After Pills

As soon as I woke up, I was incredibly thirsty.  So I downed everything in the picture within minutes. That proved to be a great move because between a sugar rush, caffeine high, and pure adrenaline, I delivered high energy presentations all day. Since I recruit for a technical college, I was traveling with a PA, folding tables, and several boxes of DVDs and other swag. A few kids helped me tear down my gear when the event was over and load up my car. They thought it would be funny to put a giant fake mustache on the front of my Hyundai. It was perfect. Uncle Pervy’s mustache was found! I put the mustache on him as soon as I got to him, and it was a match made in heaven.

When it came time to bring Uncle Pervy home, I verified with the guys that he was safe to drive, and they assured me he was. When I first opened his old rusty door, I honestly got a little depressed. I couldn’t believe a band that had so much talent, such a large fan base, and could be heard on radio stations from coast to coast was touring out of that van. At that moment, I gained so much more respect for this band that I already loved.

I jumped in, started him up, and began to take Uncle Pervy to my place. We were just outside of Nashville before I realized that he basically tops out at 65 mph. I stopped for gas and as I started to merge back onto the interstate, I was nearly killed trying to get up to speed. The speedometer seemed to lock in place at just over 35 mph and I couldn’t get out of the way of the fast approaching traffic. When I realized he wasn’t going to get any faster I hit the shoulder and stopped. Suddenly all the jokes and comments about J doing 35 on the interstate made sense. I turned the van off, called my wife, explained what was happening, and told her to be ready to come get me if I couldn’t get him up to speed. After about ten minutes, I started him up and this time I had no problems getting up to speed.

My friend Cat housed Pervy for a bit at her place, she referred to him as "Creepy Rape Van"

My friend Cat housed Pervy for a bit at her place, she referred to him as “Creepy Rape Van”

Once I got Uncle Pervy home, I was able to show him a good time. I took him to the mall, the playground, gravel roads, and Midtown Memphis. Each time he drew a lot of attention. He was camera friendly so I took plenty of photos of him to send back to the band so they could see their old pal was having a good time.

After several discussions the band decided it was time to part ways with their much loved family member. I cleaned up Uncle

Blood and Grease from Bringing Uncle Pervy Back to Life!

Blood and Grease from Bringing Uncle Pervy Back to Life!

Pervy and made a few necessary repairs.  I sold him before the tour ended for more than what the band had originally paid! Uncle Pervy was sold to a man who was taking a youth group to church camp. He was finally home again.

When the tour rolled through Memphis, I had a heart-to-heart with the band about their touring conditions. I explained to them that I had access to dealers-only auto auctions and sent students to school to learn how to do custom vehicles. I told them that when they were ready to purchase another vehicle to let me get involved. I had all the necessary connections to provide a much better set up than what they were using. When I got the phone call about the ambulance, it was déjà vu. I still had the connections, I still had the desire to help, and most importantly… I still had the mustache. As soon as the ambulance arrived, the first thing I did was put the mustache on her and sent the guys a picture. She didn’t have a name, so I referred to her as Pervy 2.0 until we came up with her name. She will NOT have the mustache when we are done. I will save it for the next HURT touring vehicle.

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING, I would love to see comments in the thread below sharing YOUR HURT stories. The crazier the better.

Bo

The Tour Schedule Posted Inside of the Van

The Tour Schedule Posted Inside of the Van

Uncle Pervy's Day Off

Uncle Pervy’s Day Off

Junk in Trunk

Bunks

Engine

Driver’s Seat and Engine

Passanger Side Drivers Side Backside

All cleaned up and ready for a new beginning

All cleaned up and ready for a new beginning

How We End Up… With An Awkward Photo of Kayla Riley and An Extended Visit from Uncle Pervy (Part 1)

First off, please join me in going here and wishing Victor a very happy birthday.

Second, I’ve gotten several emails asking me about how I ended up with Pandora’s Box and what is with the mustache on her. I decide to write this very long story to explain how we got to this point. I’m breaking it into two parts and editing out the typical drugs, sex, and rock and roll parts you might expect to find in a story with a title such as this one.

What's with the mustache?

What’s with the mustache?

Part 1: An Awkward Photo of Kayla Riley

Rock 4 Revival

Fourteen months ago HURT was headlining Rock 4 Revival with Smile Empty Soul. The tour was getting ready to roll into Nashville and Kayla Riley was going to host the event. I couldn’t have come up with a better excuse to hang out with HURT before a show if I tried. It was a Tuesday night, I had to be at work in Chattanooga early in the morning, and I wanted to meet Kayla Riley. So the day before the show I sent J a message asking if he’d be interested in bringing Kayla with him for dinner before the show. He took my idea and ran with it, firing back a few quick witted texts about Kayla being engaged, but adding that he’d certainly play his part to introduce us. [Note: I didn’t know what Kayla looked like. There was nothing sexual motivating me.]

Not an awkward photo.

Not an awkward photo. (Photo taken from Kayla’s Facebook page.)

Honestly, his responses freaked me out. I’m introverted, typically pretty shy [and married]. For example, the first time I met J, he sat down beside me at an almost completely empty bar before a show, ordered his food, and then nodded at me as if to say, “Aren’t you going to say something?” I nodded back, then pretty much ignored him as I talked to their tour manager who was sitting a few spots over. J eventually got up and sat with some other group of fans when they arrived. It wasn’t until after the show that night that we had any real conversation at all.

The day of the Nashville show, J sent me a message telling me they were having mechanical issues and he was working on finding a shop. ‘Issues’ didn’t shock me too much. They had been having an electrical problem and he had said they weren’t in the greatest set up. This time it was the transmission. That’s a tour killing type of problem. He told me if I wanted to hang out before the show I’d need to pick him up at a repair shop. So I made my way to the shop. When I got there I walked in, he gave me hug, and introduced me to the lady that worked there. Minutes later a mechanic walked in and delivered the much anticipated, but still feared, bad news. He wasn’t sure what was wrong with the transmission but no matter what it was, there was simply no way to get the parts needed to fix it before the band needed to be in Louisville for the next show. Furthermore, he told us it wasn’t going to make it anywhere pulling their trailer.

Dinner plans were put on the back burner. Now it was time to get back to the band and form a plan. J went around to the garage to get their van and I returned to my car. I made a couple of phone calls to give him about a ten minute head start, because I didn’t think I needed to be there when serious discussions were taking place. When I finally left the shop I got on the interstate and immediately noticed traffic was moving unusually slow. I couldn’t figure out why, but proceeded to weave my way through traffic until I could see the problem. There was a white rusted old church van in the center lane doing about 35 in a 65. Cars were cutting each other off to get around the van, causing a domino effect of heavy braking that was the root of the traffic jam. As I accelerated towards the van I noticed the hand hanging out the driver’s side window and holding a cigarette was tattooed. It was J. I was a bit confused, but ended up passing him and getting to the venue long before him. When I got out at the venue, my plan was to find a bar, eat and have a drink or two, then go to the show. As I round a corner, I ran into the rest of the band as well as the guys from Smile Empty Soul. Rek asks me if I’ve seen J. I told him I passed him on the interstate coming in. The guys cracked a couple of jokes about him doing 35, and again I was puzzled. The guy makes his living as a rock star, certainly he couldn’t drive that slowly all the time. Before I could excuse myself, J came around the same corner and gave everyone the news, then led us all to a bar and grill across the street.

While conversations were mostly light hearted and funny [I’m pretty sure everyone in the band is known amongst their friends as a notoriously bad joke teller] things kept circling back to what their plan was for the van. J was also continuously texting Kayla to get updates on her arrival for dinner. That was making me increasingly nervous for no real reason at all. It didn’t help that he kept mentioning that since I wanted to meet her, he was going to make sure it happened. Seriously, it wasn’t that big of a deal, I had just made one comment about having her join us for dinner. Meanwhile, a rental was lined up but there just wasn’t a viable option for what to do with the van. Once it became apparent that there wasn’t going to be a good alternative, I offered to take it off their hands. Victor’s eyes seemingly turned to lasers as he scanned me from head to toe sizing me up. I understood exactly what he was thinking. We’d hung out a few times before, but you don’t just hand anyone the keys to your house and walk away for a month or two. He asked me what my plan was. I told him I knew a ton of good mechanics between Nashville and Memphis, so if it died on me I’d get it into a shop. If it made it back to Memphis, I’d get the repairs done there and they could pick it back up in two weeks when the tour was playing Memphis. It was really the only option that made sense, so that became the plan.

Moments later, Kayla walked in and sat down with us. She takes pride in taking care of herself so she wasn’t about to eat any of the bar food. We were all done eating at that point anyway so we made our way over to the venue.

As we approached the venue there was a line of people waiting to get in. Coach, the merch guy, told me to “look like a bad ass, walk tall beside J and don’t make direct eye contact with anyone.” I did as I was told, as Coach proceeded to yell instructions for the night to all the fans. They were going to immediately get out of our way, buy merch when they got inside, and then have a great time at the show. I walked in and sat down at the bar. J started to head to the dressing room then turned around and yelled for me to come with them. Once there everyone relaxed and had a few drinks. Michael and Rek began watching movies on their computers. Victor was sitting on a couch across from me talking to Kayla, and J was across the room getting ready for the show. I felt a little out of place at this point, but was stoked to be the only person in the room not part of the show. I grabbed my phone and sent a text to a friend of mine telling him what I was doing. Basically I was just doing it to look like I was occupied since everyone else in the room was doing their own thing. He responded back, “Send me a pic of Kayla, or it didn’t happen.” I mentioned earlier I’m shy and introverted… well, I’m also extremely weird about pictures. I like being in pictures. I don’t mind taking pictures. I just have a taboo about asking people to be in pictures with me. At this point in the night the only thing I’ve said to Kayla is “Hi, I’m Bo” and occasionally I’d jump into her and Victor’s conversation with a random comment.  They were in pretty deep discussion, so rather than interrupt, I figured I’d just be sneaky and take a quick picture without even asking.

And then it happened.

My phone flashed repeatedly for what seemed like two minutes as it struggled to find the right light to capture the picture. I was embarrassed and Kayla immediately said, “Oh, I didn’t know we were doing pictures. I’m sure that one was terrible.” It was indeed an awkward photo. I mustered up a quick apology and then sent my proof to my buddy along with a long message explaining that I just made an ass of myself.

Minutes later Kayla and the band had their phones out taking pictures. While I was in a few, I didn’t ask for another. One awkward photo was plenty for me.

The awkward photo of Kayla Riley.

The awkward photo of Kayla Riley.

As always, THANK YOU FOR LISTENING

-Bo

Part two of this story will be published tomorrow. You can help our cause by going here or here.

Meet the House Carpenters: Our Mechanics

“There is a feeling that anything can happen in HURT’s music” –Brett Hickman of Static Multimedia

The same sentiment is easily applied to our team and machines.

These guys aren’t just country boys. They are highly skilled mechanics with a creative edge that most people lack.

It creates power, and a WTF moment when people see it work.

It creates power and a WTF moment when people see it work

They call this the “WTF Machine.” It was built by Trevor and Kyle as teenagers with scraps, but it was built with purpose. They used it to jump start cars until it was sold out of the back of their truck to a stranger in the Lowes parking lot for $150. They called it the “WTF Machine” because everyone that looked at it had a “WTF moment.”

My first run-in with these guys came just after they converted this El Camino to run on hydrogen for their school science fair. By the way, that hydrogen was produced from solar energy. It was a set-up they came up with after learning about making solar panels and hydrogen conversions on the internet.

Powered by hydrogen that was produced by solar power.

Powered by hydrogen that was produced by solar power

These guys were mostly self-taught creative geniuses. My role was to get them formal training and enhanced skill development at the college level.

So off to tech school they went. Their course work included classes like Drivetrain Systems, Advanced Street Rod Building, and Motorsports Chassis Fabrication. These guys were trained to work on all of the mechanical and electrical systems in a wide range of vehicles. Advanced sheet metal shaping, custom body modifications, custom painting, roll cage construction, and structural welding were just part of what rounded out their time in school.

While in school, they were part of a team that built a 1967 Mustang for the Armed Services that is used as a show car at events all over the country.

Rickie, the third mechanic on the team, won his District SkillsUSA competition for High Performance Engine Building.

These guys are the perfect combination of youth, creative minds, and formal training to bring to life Pandora’s Box.

There will be several others helping us out along the way, and I’ll introduce you to them as well in time.

As always, Thank You For Listening

Bo

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To help us with the project fill out the form below or click here.

METAL fan!

Trevor- METAL fan!

Kyle

Kyle

Rickie

Rickie

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Pandora’s Box

According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. Blessed with true beauty and traits bestowed by the goddess of love mixed with some craftsmanship from Zeus, mankind’s world would soon be rocked forever. Zeus gave Pandora to Epimetheus as a bride, along with a box.

That box came with a warning label demanding it never be opened. As the story goes, Pandora would eventually succumb to her ever-mounting curiosity and take a peak. At the first glimpse of light, ghostly images raced out and filled the world with all the evils we currently know. However, the story doesn’t end there. Elpis, the spirit of hope, was left hiding in the box and unknowingly Pandora trapped hope in the box once more.

While J Loren has frequently told us “there’s no more beauty, in this world” and more specifically “there’s no more beauty in this, world,” I plan to perhaps give him a different perspective on things by building his next touring vehicle with Elpis still inside.

The life of this ambulance is a great metaphor for what once lurked inside of Pandora’s Box. Ghostly images of illness, death and emotion still haunt its cold insides. However, below all of the negative is a far greater force fighting to push through. Hope. In its prior life, that hope came from the EMTs providing life support, and the patients clinging to a chance to see another day.

Now that hope takes a different form. We, the fans and supporters of this group, are giving this band life support… hope. So many people reading this blog have shared stories with myself and the guys in the band about the hope this music has given them. It’s a self-feeding ecosystem that once set in motion can become a self-sustaining force in this world. The music gives us hope, we give hope to the music. With that hope comes sustainability; life support for all.

With that being said, the title of this blog will be “Life Support,” and the ambulance will be named “Pandora’s Box.”

For those who have hope in the project and would like to see it succeed there’s a number of ways to help.

The tab at the top of this page labeled “Parts” contains a lists of parts we are getting set to buy. Please contact me if you’d like to purchase any of the items on the list, or can provide us a discount to help purchase them.

We will be selling sponsorship space on Pandora’s Box as well as on the band’s trailer and this blog. If you have a business, or a lead for us, click the sponsorship tab for more information, and contact me.

Please follow this blog, and visit this page a couple of times a week. The more visitors this blog gets, the more value sponsors see in it.

Thank you to everyone who took part in naming the blog and the ambulance.

And as always, THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

Shop Entrance The Driver

Trevor (Standing) Randy (Sitting) Kyle (Working on tire)

Trevor (Standing)
Rickie (Sitting)
Kyle (Working on tire)

Front

An early sketch of how the bunks will look.

An early sketch of how the bunks will look.

Falls Apart…

It’s finally here. I can’t call it by its name yet, because we’ve yet to name it. I’ve kicked around several (lame) titles for the project, but ultimately it was decided that naming things was not my strongest attribute.

It got here on life support to say least. Actually, it was put on the back of a truck and hauled through several states to the backwoods of Tennessee. It wasn’t going to make it any further than where it almost killed J Loren. (And I learned my lesson the first time HURT left me the keys to their ride, but that’s for a future post.) He was having to nurse the ambulance because of some tire issues and persistent electrical woes. However, when the cruise control stuck accelerating the vehicle and forced the musician to do his best Ricky Bobby on the interstate in an ambulance, J decided enough was enough.

When I got the phone call and heard what happened my first thought was “man this keeps happening to this guy,” and my second was “it’s not happening again if I have anything to do with it.” I’m not sure if J called just to vent or if he was asking for advice/help. It didn’t matter. The mission was clear; how do we get him a vehicle that can meet all the strenuous demands of the road on a budget that might be stretched far enough to get a good Daewoo?

I’ve spent the last several years recruiting for the automotive industry and I’ve made some connections with the people that supply the talent for several of the automotive shows that air on various channels. I started to pitch J how we could buy him a gutted old bus and get it on one of these shows. The first words out of my mouth were “the first thing we need to do is get a budget.” Immediately J responded with “I have a budget, and I have a vehicle stuck at a dealership.”

‘My plan B’ was instantly pulled out of my ass. [I’m calling it ‘my plan B,’ because I’m not sure how many plans J had before calling me became the best option. I was about 700 miles away from him at that point.] ‘My plan B’ was to get his vehicle to a technical college located about half way between where the vehicle was and where it was going to end up. Just in case that didn’t work, I gave J ‘my plan C’ as well. [A technical college closer to me, but further away from J and the ambulance.] After we ended the conversation I began working the phones like crazy to pull everything off.

Ultimately, after a couple of weeks of phone calls and emails, I ended up going with ‘my plan D,’ none of the above. I had the vehicle towed to a shop outside of Jackson TN. Why Jackson TN you might ask? A little over a year earlier, I met two young guys from there that were doing INSANELY challenging projects. I talk to countless people in the industry every day with years of experience, and these two guys just out of high school were taking on projects that others with way more experience wouldn’t have the knowledge to handle. I quizzed them about these projects to make sure they weren’t exaggerating, and what I found were two guys that where extremely passionate and dedicated to developing their craft at the highest level. (They reminded me of a certain musician I know.) I helped get these guys into one of the best technical colleges in the country to hone their skills. They didn’t disappoint me, and I’ll feature both of them in an upcoming blog post.

After it was decided where the project was going, it was time to create a game plan. Emails of sketches and ideas were bounced back and forth based on the basic things J was asking for. We had a few pictures of the ambulance but no measurements, and no real good grasp of what the interior looked like, or what kind of work was actually needed. But a crew was assembled based on everyone’s skill sets.

In case you’re wondering, that’s my skill set. I have very limited automotive range compared to the countless mechanics I’ve helped get careers for. However, I can network with the best of them. I called seven states before I decided that starting this project just outside of Jackson TN in a small shop about two hours from my home was the best bet.

But back to the ambulance. The driver called me at 7:30 Friday morning trying to figure out how exactly he was going to get his truck with an ambulance on it down the narrowly winding backwoods road to the shop. After I gave him a little positive reinforcement, he was convinced to make the delivery at the proper destination as agreed.

An hour later I received a text message from Trevor, the shop owner that read “This thing is pretty sweet, but it does need a lot of work.”

“Perfect,” I thought while smiling. As soon as I finished my work for the day I made the drive to his place to see exactly what I’ve gotten myself into…

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If you’d  like to help with the project, please fill out the form.

 


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