I Know You Rider (And All Your Secret Desires)
Now that winter has actually began to act like the bitter-cold bratty season it is, us here in Minnesota are following suit: Everybodys getting a little cranky, but our cars have no cold-cranking amps. The days are grey and the nights dead; so are our moods and ambitions. Now were expected to rise to the occasion known as Valentines Day, which begs the question: Who the hell decided to put Lovers Eve in the coldest month of the year? If youre going to be martyred in jail for the purposes of pumping up Hallmarks card sales, at least exercise the common decency to do it in the summer.
Alas, Im grouchy as all get-out. Everything is annoying, but some things more so than others. Here are my current top-five peeves:
1. Men who refer to their mustaches and goatees as flavor savers.
2. Packer fans.
3. Anybody that announces theyre running for President a full twelve months before it matters. Senators Obama, Brownback and Clinton seemed to have forgotten that as of February 92, nobody had even heard of Governor Bill Clinton. One would think the latter had been hip to Wild Bills wily ways, but as we all know, she didnt pay close enough attention to anything her husband did. As for McCain, he gets a free pass because he never squealed while held captive in a Vietnam prison camp. Like Chuck Norris, he can do anything he wants.
4. Smoke-free bars. Hypothermia or lung cancer? Now I can have both!
5. When Jon Schwartz eases up on the whip even though I havent even came close to whispering the safety word. (I cant get no No-no-no! Sat-is-faction!)
Although I cant get off in this freezing cold, many rock-n-roll brethren have taken steps to insure satisfaction. Instead of doing anything useful, these folks embarked on the most draining tasks assigned to musicians: Theyre going on tour. With that mission in mind, theyre prepared to suffer through countless meals that offer fries with that and motel beds that inspire sleeplessness as a religion.
However, theres a small piece of satisfaction that should placate a musician on the road: the fruits of the tour rider. A rider is an addendum to the performance contract that stipulates what the artist desires to ensure their comfort. In an effort to help the artist feel at home, the promoter does his or (too rarely) her best to fulfill the items requested.
Not unlike the riders legislators attach to congressional bills (which is how $850,000 of research funding for coyote husbandry gets passed into law while piggy-backing on a transportation budget, if you cared to know), a bands wish list appears to be disproportionate to the needs of regular folks.
When the Big Wu briefly climbed up the tour ladder far enough to hire buses, our manager compelled us to rewrite the tour rider. Aside from the technical stuff (desired stage size, number of funny lights that look cool to the terminally stoned, etc.), open season was declared on petty desires.
At the stroke of a pen, absurd requests along with tour staples were put into print: Beer, specifically Old Style on ice, was written in bold print. Other goodies, such as ciggy-butts and desired brands of vodka and grapefruit juice (_not grapefruit cocktail_) framed the list for fun. Useful items, such as deli trays and after-show pizzas filled in the blanks.
When promoters fill the rider, its like winning the lottery. Not that its a guarantee life becomes sweet upon delivery of said items. The University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point fed us a salmonella-inducing cheese tray the day before we recorded a live album. Even though the performance the next day (when the puking and diarrhea explosions hit their zenith) was oddly tight, its no way to live. Or for that matter, die.
There are two conflicting thoughts that cross the mind of anyone reading a bands rider: The first is: Four cases of beer and six pizzas for a trio? How self-indulgent can they be? The second is Theyre actually begging for white tube socks from K-Mart! And I thought I was a chump.
Yet a clean pair of socks and a slice can carry a musician through the night, which is all one can ask for in the middle of a tour. No point in explaining the request for 92 cans of beer.
The real kicker comes from the reasons musicians ask for and rightfully receive these perks: If a drummer isnt getting lost on the streets of Philadelphia looking for a pack of Camel Lights, then hell be easier to find come show time. Otherwise, its assumed that hes free to complete more important tasks, like warming up or writing set lists.
Of all the bands Ive shared the stage with over ten years, Ive witnessed exactly two make honest-to-god efforts at blocking distractions in favor of going nuts while warming up. The first was Tom Johnston from the Doobie Brothers. I was about to approach him thinking he was a roadie, I mean he looked more like a carnie than a rock star, to ask him where the Doobies were hanging before he began doing vocal exercises. His telltale voice stunned me before I made a world class-ass of myself. The other batch of pre-show do-gooders was SCI before their show at Sommerset, WI. They had a green room next to ours with a micro-set up: tiny amps, a little drum set, pony keg of beer Just kidding, SCI doesnt fool with intoxicating substances, as we all know. But there they were, warming up for a show with more equipment than most garage bands have.
While I will admit it was pretty cool, no good deed goes unpunished: The show was canceled due to an Armageddon-class storm. Oh well.
Show or no show, that room, complete with designated non-fluorescent lights, a clean couch, (and probably) non-alcoholic beverages, was in their rider.
As for the rest of us, fulfillment of the rider grants bass players and other desperate criminals a license to prepare for a performance in any way we see fit.
By fit, I mean bad and wrong, sometimes/usually illegal. Every minute passed is a minute wasted in the pursuit of future entertainment. By entertainment, Im talking about various methods of self-medication, watching X-Files reruns on satellite TV, scouting talent for the post-stage adult show, and of course, more drugs.
Not that I, or any other band Ive ever played with, endorses the use of highly dangerous and illicit narcotics. But I must confess that Ive heard many a whisper about the abuse of said substances by so-called Christian Rock bands. Looking back, Im not surprised at their behavior in those yellow and black leather outfits, silly feathered hair, and wacky lyrics inspired by the freaked-out revelations of St. John the mushroom head. Ill give Stryper the benefit of the doubt by not mentioning their name in print.
Alas, even crappy god-rawk bands have extensive riders. Unfortunately for their drug-hazed reputation, they didnt bother coming up with legendary tales of contract ridermanship. That particular task was left to Van Halen.
As the story goes: After getting shafted night after night on various items specified in their rider, David Lee Roth became convinced that promoters weren’t paying attention to their requests. In turn, he inserted an explicit clause into the contract: among the food stuffs delivered to their dressing room, a bowl of M&Ms was to be provided- sans brown M&Ms. On top of that, the modified contract stipulated that failure to remove the offending brown candies gave the band full license trash the dressing room. Actually, trash isnt the right word. Utterly destroy fits better.
For good or evil, contract riders have become a respected part of the deal ever since. In turn, thesmokinggun.com has collected riders of the rich and famous for a few years. If we assume the rider reflects something of the personalities that wrote them, then we can draw three conclusions:
1. How self-absorbed: Do they have a fear of food? Do they make demands so indulging that the mind reels while in consideration of requested items? Scored 0-10 on the asinine-o-meter.
2. Where they land on the spectrum between Fruit Cake and Nut Job: Like the political span between totalitarian blowhards such as John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, and Al Gore and conversely, terminal/perennial utopian chumps Ralph Nader and Lyndon LaRouche, everybody lands somewhere. Entertainers are by nature one of the two. Scored +/- 10 on between fruitcake (-10) to nut-job (+10)
3. Do they live up to their reputation? Scored between 0-10
The Gun Says: As any Claymate could tell you, Clay Aiken has no nuts. And this ‘truly is very, very serious.’
Anything containing mushrooms, chocolate, coffee, mint or shellfish also receives the official nish-nish. Also, nothing cooked the night before is unacceptable. Everybody instinctively knows that sashimi aside; leftovers often trump the actual dinner as the flavors of the dish have time to combine, or dance together. But nobody in the American Idol camp, and most certainly Aikens tour manager, has ever been accused of having taste.
To add insult to boredom, dinner revolves on a weekly schedule (Chef Padres suggestions in parenthesis):
MON: BBQ Night (Pulled Pocket Pork)
TUE: Asian Night (Cream of Sum-Yun-Guy)
WED: Mexican Night (Blumper Burrito)
THUR: American Night (Roasted Critters found in Richard Geres Poop Chute)
FRI: Carving Night (Kosher Trimmings)
SAT: Pasta Bar (No joke needed, some things are their own punishment.)
SUN: Turkey Dinner (Once a week? And you thought American Idol sucked.)
The only alcohol on the rider is a case of Coors Light to be delivered to the crew bus. One case? Where did he hire his crew? Disney Land? Im at a loss for words
Ummm, ummmm, ummm, wait! I got it!
Q: What does Coors and having sex in a canoe have in common?
A: Theyre both fucking close to water.
Just think: Mushroom-stuffed crab with a hot cup of chocolate/mint coffee is all it takes to shut anaphylactic Aiken up but good.
FRUITCAKE/NUT-JOB: -10 FRUITCAKE
Need I say more?
Not only does he live up to it, he goes down on it regularly.
Beyond the standard goofy six glasses of brand X water to be supplied on a 2×2 table… bullshit, The Gun Says: 1960s orthodoxies have given way to the 21st century’s new age order: organic foods, million-dollar liability caveats
Didnt she have sex with CSN&Y? Geez. Yuck.
Well, shes far pickier these days. Her rider stipulates that No drugs or alcohol be permitted back stage in area, dressing room, on the stage, or backstage by stagehands, or technical crew.
She may be sober, but she still cant differentiate between back stage in area and backstage. As for the technical crew- dont worry; hopefully shell leave soon. And if she keeps hanging around, yawn, look at your watch, and light a butt. But not before she goes on stage. You see, _ARTIST is subject to sever allergies, which are under medical treatment. ARTIST reacts violently to cigarette smoke, and could be handicapped vocally if these restrictions are not in effect. _
In our new stupid age, this might actually sound reasonable. Except, all of the allergen molecules in cigarette smoke are too big to cause a medically accurate reaction in the receptors of Judy Collins respiratory system. Thats science speaking.
Thats also a fancy way of saying shes a whiner that wont demand everybody live like her because its her fucking stage and she simply hates cigarette smoke. Which is fine, but you gotta grab some sack and stop making excuses if you dont want to be pointed out as a
Whatever. Its Judy Collins were talking about. (Did somebody really hire her in 2001?)
Judy Blue Eyes requests flowers- but only certain kinds, cut at certain lengths: _PURCHASER will provide One (1) wildflower arrangement in clear vase to be placed on the table beside the piano, two feet to 30 inches tall; Please avoid Daisies, Snap Dragons, Mums or Carnations as MS. COLLINS is allergic. _
Ms. Collins? Am I under the impression that nobody wants to marry her, or that she may be difficult to live with? If someone did make an honest woman out of her, sharing the bathroom would be out of the question: _One Star locked dressing room for MS. COLLINS with the following items: Twelve (12) large white bath towels for MS. COLLINS, and six (6) for Musicians rooms. _
I bet she has seven or more members in the band.
To top it off, she has a million-dollar liability clause in her rider, presumably to safeguard her from catching Gross Disease from second-hand Stephen Stills Pole Smoking
SELF-ABSORBED: A perfect 10! Anything else we can do for you Ms. Collins? Perhaps make somebody care youre still alive? Oh, by the way, your insurance company called- they want their million dollars in Monopoly money back for your liability clause
Although a contender for the fruitcake crown with her inability to differentiate between her own living room and the back stage at Tom-Tom Pines Casino in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, the mandated star on her dressing room door tips the scale.
Her fairy tale demands that the stage resembles her Prozac pipe dreams undermines something, but I dont know what. However, You are what you are; you make it hard.
The Gun Says: _Considering how few tickets and albums Kevin Federline sells, we’re surprised that Britney Spears’ estranged husband has enough juice to demand anything more than tap water and a sleeve of Ritz crackers backstage. _
The brevity of Federlines rider is the only thing saving him from a world-class ass ripping. Not only is it 1/10th the size of the Big Wus, it simply asks for smokes, beer, whiskey, vodka, and Doritos, which mirrors my diet for the last two months. Incidentally, this is all one needs before playing a few rounds of butt darts with Britney.
Theres nothing, and I mean nothing, in Federdines rider that suggests he alone is privy to the spoils of Spears. Like a pirate, his rider smacks of- borderline demands- that everybody going onstage with him will be as fucked-up and unnecessary as he is.
Getting hitched to something as useless as Britney takes a combination of ambition, patience, and a willingness to ignore her midnight phone calls while balling some Hollywood nere-do-well. Bothering to make believe the completion of these tasks equates talent is another thing.
REPUTATION: Who cares?
STRING CHEESE INCIDENT
The Gun Says: _as for the group’s requested vegetarian option at lunch and dinner, last time we checked the catch of the day is not considered a vegetable. _
As stated before, SCI doesnt ask for anything too offensive, save vegetarian meals. Actually, they cross the line by demanding two vegan-cuisine dishes. Like Judy Collins, one suspects theyre up to something morally unpalatable, but aside from eating Tofurky-brand foodstuffs, we cant quite finger it. (Boy, their innocence is really getting my goat.)
While their rider grants rights to fans entering with _*empty* water or Nalgene (or the like) _, which earns major kudos, those vegan meals still suggest that where theres smoke, fire is sure to follow.
Damn you people and your reasonable requests! Why dont you swear off tofu and set an example for kids?
I really, really, really thought there would be more fuel for the fire. But this is about reputation, i.e.: Wheres the request for the closure of interstate highways so the rhythm section can ride their mountain bikes without interference? Hmmm
The Gun Says: _While Van Halen no longer asks to have the brown M&Ms removed from the backstage candy bowl (they now seem to prefer peanut butter cups), the group’s booze list remains a thing to behold—from tequila (‘the best you’ve got!’) to Jack Daniel’s (Black Label) to Bacardi Anejo rum. And that backstage celery (‘to be trimmed, but not peeled’) seems to serve a dual purpose—as an ingredient for organic vegetable juice drinks and as a Bloody Mary component. _
From the masters of backstage ridermanship comes the longest rider Ive seen yet, thirty pages and counting. What makes their list of demands so lengthy is the required preparations needed because one never knows which Eddie Van Halen is going to show up. Will it be sober Eddie who asks for _1 case Sharps non-alcoholic beer (must be in cans) _, or the other Eddie, who joins the gang in the festivities?
Drink orders (not including mixers) follows:
One-half (1/2) case regular local beer
_One-half (1/2) case premium beer (Grolsch, Pilsner Urquell, Corona) _
_One (1) pint Jack Daniels (Black Label) _
One (1) pint Absolute Vodka or Finlandia or Stoli
One (1)750ml. Bacardi Anejo Rum (Bacardi Dark if not available) not Black
Two (2) bottles white wine, top quality
One (1) bottle red wine, top quality
_One (1) 750 ml. Tequila- The best you got! Gold variety. Choice as follows: _
B. TERASO DE SAN FELIPE MUY ANEJO
And so on. Theres several more acceptable choices of tequila- actually six in all- most of them I cant enunciate. And neither can anybody else in the band after they get to work on them.
Oh, dont forget the _Several small bottles of Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Ingredients for Bloody Marys, Six (6) whole limes and Margarita salt and four (4) shot glasses. _ (I dont think the fourth shot glass is for the hair stylist/fluffer.) And because Van Halen knows the magic word; Please furnish a Blender for Margaritas
Everything except the mandate of four (4) shot glasses suggests that this party is for everybody that can weasel/connive/blow their way backstage. Double points for the Margarita blender, as everyone knows that tequila requires every participant to share the joy, the laughter, the paternity tests and the yes, the blame. Bonus points awarded for Sammy Hagar not demanding that his vanity line of tequila be served, whether or (usually) not liquor stores carry it.
Van Halen is hitting the road with Diamond Dave this summer. However, a few things have changed since their last shared tour in 1985: Eddie has an artificial hip and is missing half his tongue, while Roth lost both his voice and his hair. Fair Warning indeed.
They really countered their own shtick by adding the 1 case Sharps non-alcoholic beer (must be in cans). Whenever in doubt, tell two punch lines.
So, if you were in a band, what would be on your rider? Stop wishing and start ummmm. Wishing!
Lemme know by emailing your dream rider to:
Please use the subject header Relix Rider. The top three (judged by me) receive prizes courtesy of Relix Magazine:
1st Place: A subscription to Relix and some great Relix schwag.
2nd Place: A whole bunch of good Relix schwag.
3rd Place: Regular Relix schwag.
Please include a mailing address in your entry.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH:
Since Ive taken on a job cooking for Big Wu Family Reunion chef Monty, Ive been thinking a lot about you folks. This month I have an easy, useful and flexible variation on that mother-of-all ingredients: Butter!
The uses for Bianca Butter are as vast as they are valid; One tablespoon of this stuff can turn your regular eggs, saute vegetables, steaks- whatever- into a masterpiece. Simply go to the store and buy:
1 pound butter
1 TBL spoon Dried Oregano
1 TBL spoon Dried Basil
1 pinch Garlic Powder
1 pinch Onion Powder
1 hint/whiff Cayenne Pepper
Soften the butter by leaving it out while you go to work and mix in the spices when you come home. Refrigerate in some kind of airtight Tupper Ware dish and youre good to go for quite a while. This recipe costs almost nothing (if you dont have these spices, you should) yet buys so much- such as the ability to look like a kitchen stud without having to wear a stupid hat.
Cook well, be nice to your mother, and drink your milk!