hellmore update

franklindkroblevelt“So where do you see yourself in five years,” I asked an in-over-his-head Franklin D(K) Roblevelt on the phone some blustery April afternoon. The kid had fallen off as of late. Here he thought he was calling me up and clueing me into some springtime inside lefts to ride, but I knew this slurry tone. The tone that runs like a disease through any knee up rider around these parts. Stanley had gotten to this baby seal all right, and I shed a tear as I ended the call and thought of the days when I thought Frankie was different. When I believed Frankie stood a chance. Before all of this. Before he was red eyed and claiming a bloodline to Jack Lindholm when I wasn’t around. Before photoshopping himself onto heavy North Shore sections and posting the fraudulent pics up around Pismo pizzerias and The Scoop. He was doomed. As doomed as Wonka, Red Dog, Louie and me before him. Our sciatic nerves are rousted, our midlife crises came early, and we’re broke and loveless. We are in our thirties and renting. We’re rattled. We might not have Halloween pumpkins and animal skulls in our front yards still, but we need something strong to make it through the night. I was never breastfed.

* * *

As mentioned in the swiftly flagged and removed Los Angeles Volume 4 of the Asthmatic Giant! tour diary on RookiesUSA, the seminal ambient folk sensation has been working on their full length debut LP “Red Dog Confessional”. With riveting synth’d out originals such as “Slammies on my Nipps”, “Red Headed Stepchild Blues”, “Gamer Thug”, and “Talkin’ PFC Blues” the Giant! has summoned the lyrical spirit of Roldy with impeccable honesty and plenty of soul on these new oxy friendly tracks. Check www.myspace.com/asthmaticgiant for release dates.

Notes from the Rock ‘n Roll Expressway Volume III

Asthmatic Giant! Tour Diary
By Darren Delmore

12/31/08 – Lompoc, California

A New Year’s Eve gig in the Santa Rita Hills? We couldn’t believe it. Opening up for Oysterhead in SF, maybe, but not a gig in the high end heartland of the ripest, dankest, Pinot Noir grown in the Golden State. Shlune confirmed via fax that Asthmatic Giant! would indeed be finishing up our Year of the Giant 2008 World Tour on a Grand Cru Chardonnay and Pinot Noir site for a private party. Someone saw us at the Troubadour and the word got out. The big news to us was that our bearded, devoted manager would not be there to toast away 2008, as he was obligated to a high stakes poker tourney on a yacht deep into international waters. “The fiscal future of the band depends on it,” he warned us. “I’ve got a big night, dude.” This left the Giant, yours truly, and roadie Pat Patten to pack up two tour vehicles on the morning of the 31st and head straight for J-Lama. We’d draw a cool five grand plus some merch sales from the show. Heinous Chanus’ rider demanded barbecue and mini-verticals of heavy hitting Pinot Noirs. Mine and Pat’s merely requested easy women. We were all out of keychain inhalers after the Hot Tokyo Nights! leg of the tour and were down to posters and the crotchless Asthmatic Giant! G-strings that were designed in Hossegor. The fluorescent ones blew out all across Asia and funded a major, mutual sashimi and Riesling fetish. Women proudly wore them to the next gig, and a visibly soiled pair was flung at the Giant’s face in Singapore as he twenty minute solo’d out on “El Corazón de Pete” with his eyes closed (or more likely unconscious).

Windswept Jalama Beach had provided much of the inspiration for our hit song “El Serpiente”, but after playing it 200 nights in a row around the world to full capacity crowds, we were losing focus. Widely reported in the tabloids, the band had angrily broken up in May, only to reform in August with an offer we couldn’t refuse. And now at the tail end of 2008, raw nerves were exposed once again. The Giant would only speak to me through his attorney, and I’d gotten wind of his talks with Michael Mann about producing his instrumental film score for an upcoming Al Pacino heist flick behind my back. All of this after making my life hell on our last show of our five night run in Quebec, when he fucked up mid synth solo on “The Upper Bench” and smashed the Yamaha in two, leaving me and my acoustic onstage with nothing but Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” to cool the tempered, Canadian crowd.

We needed to get back to our roots. Back to the illicit rhythms and simple pleasures of our Irie Mondays era. Experiences. By the time our heels hit the warm rocks of Tarantulas reef and a chilled bottle of 100% Trebbiano was popped and poured into stemware on the rare 75 degree winter day, spirits were heightened and thirsts were quenched. We murmured our band’s prayer in an emotional huddle before hitting the icy waters for a surf. P. Patten conjured forth the spirit of George Greenough out there on the kelpy right hand reef pass, while H.C. kept it to the shallowest pockets. I played it cool on the shoulder and got some of the longer, lumpy ones. By sundown we were laughing at our luxury, and ready to once again bare our souls through broadcasted folktronica.

Then came the three car pile up. As my tour bus slowed to make the left hand turn across the oncoming lane on Highway 246, the stony L.E. followed suit and took a fifty degree blow from behind! The impact sent the chronic dust of P. Patten’s nearly rolled blunt to the wind. They in turn collided into the back of the tour bus, causing thousands of dollars in damage by erupting a case of 1989 Cristal and ejecting a crate of live Maine lobsters out onto the side of highway 246.

The Giant’s Ray Bans lay broken on the steering wheel. The new Yamaha mysteriously played an E minor organ note – unplugged – then caught fire. An instant Walgreens prescription for unlimited slammies materialized out of thin air in the Giant’s bloodstained palm, and he acknowledged the heaven sent miracle with a tooth cracked grin. A back injury from Pat’s days as a spandexed personal trainer in Cambria was rekindled. The man at fault’s engine spewed fluids onto the highway, flattened in half and immobile as cars roared past the scene at 65 miles per hour.

As all parties got out of their vehicles, there was a primal roar of some bull elephant seal or maybe an enraged Grizzly bear. We watched as the Giant ripped his thrashed bumper from the rear of the Element and heaved it across the highway. The family at fault cowered across the highway. I knew where this was going. I flashbacked to the fate of Tokyo Tony, the pimp and uppers dealer that failed to come through with H.C.’s Oxy purchase on our Japanese tour. We spotted him on his way into the raw bar we were chilling at after the gig, finishing a 17.1 percent alcohol Melville Viognier with blue fin and yellowtail plates. Now they call him Tony Pepperoni ’cause the Giant ripped the man’s nipples off in the back alley and they turned up crispy on a disturbed customer’s Domino’s pizza the next day. I’d never seen H.C. with the look of a lockjawed pitbull before.

As Babylon arrived on the scene of the accident, various Ziploc baggies went sailing off onto the roadsides. Even ground squirrels were chucking their shit. The reports were given. The Giant was given roadside I.V. sedation once the cops ran the check that mentioned how his fists were registered lethal weapons. Once the scene was diffused, we got word that the show would go on.

The 30 acre vineyard with its double wide trailer arena, outdoor space heaters and fire pits welcomed us with open arms. Burgundy Riedels were stuffed into our shaky hands. On the liquor table, a vertical of Clos Pepe running from 2005 to 2007 lay in waiting, as well as a vertical of Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir from 2004-2005. Also represented: The La Vie 2005 Rasta Rita Pinot; three new Santa Rita Hills area releases from Loring Wine Company; the Cargasacchi wines; and Flying Goat’s “Goat Bubbles” sparkling . The vigneron himself Peter Cargasacchi was there, and he demanded that we try the bacon wrapped gopher that was on the outdoor grill. “There is no other meat that shows off terroir,” he added, and after grinding on the skewer of it, we had to agree.

Midnight. Fireside. Time to perform. We came on acoustic with “Cazadero”, then headed straight into the Dead’s “I Know You Rider” with our rhythm guitarist and guest fiddle player chiming in. The crowd went nuts for the stripped down sound. Without the usual technological luxuries at hand, the Giant’s God-given gift of percussion shined through, and for the first time in months, I noticed him smiling as he impeccably slapped on the bongos. Clos Pepe’s Wes Hagen came on as guest percussionist on “Dire Wolf”, as the audience was grooving to the Grateful. He and H.C. high-fived mid-simultaneous drum solo and then we roared back into it. By then the baked goods were well ingrained in Pat’s skull, and he went AWOL into the darkened Santa Rita Hills in search of a supernatural Ms. Right. The Giant and I shared a smiling nod as we pounded out “El Corazón de Pete” and a woman ripped her tank top off. Typical show. It was time to finish up 2008’s tour with a song that rocked the Toobs anniversary party back in March: Merle Haggard’s “Branded Man”. Absolutely killed it on that one, even without a screaming drunken Eskimo in attendance.

We packed up amid wails for “One more!”, and “Hot Tokyo Nights!” and decided to join the crowd for a 2003 Vintage Port before the new frosty blackness of 2009 set in.

Notes from the Rock ‘n Roll Expressway Volume II

Asthmatic Giant! Tour Diary
By Darren Delmore

5/7/08 – Guadalupe, California

Man oh man the things we do for love. Or action. Or the companionship of another body while we slumber to make us feel less alone or not so dead and worthless. And leave it to a slipped doomer at a house show to conjure forth an ugly, jealous, Latin, emo side of a situation, only to send Asthmatic Giant! packing up prematurely and ready to throw down, rushing out to the Stony L-E only to drunkenly drive thru the nearest Carl’s Jr. in the dismal early hours of the morning for a suspicious Carl’s Catch amid overall horrid humanly aromas.

Our manager J. Shlune had us booked for a random May 7th gig in the ex-bootlegging town of Guadalupe, California. “What?” I badgered him. “Shlune? Dude. Come on.” Heinous Chainus, always hungry for cash money and thirsty for purple drank, was pleased as can be to play ten doors down from notorious Romo’s Carniceria at this secret Santa Barbara House Concert, even if it entailed cutting short his studio time on his solo Heinous Chainus electric drum project in Topanga Canyon. Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”) would just have to wait to cut his whistle tracks over Chainus’s curly locked solar drum spasmaticas.

With the venue being an artists’ loft 5 miles west of Santa Maria, I wondered about that hush-toned myth of the “raging underground gay scene” in Santa Maria, and if the flyer for the show would draw forth the likes of reclusive, central cal prone prophet Ian Gould for the music, or to be discovered on the receiving end of a set of glory holes in some master bathroom.

I met with the promoter around 1 PM. After backlining my guitar, mics and harmonicas, I quenched my mid-day, wind tarnished thirst in the Far Western Tavern, running into a drunken Nova Scotia trucker hauling broccoli back to Canada, and a former wine accomplice and solid Guadalupe town mayor candidate Jules Reuter. The open minded, 50 year old retiree was sporting a Melville sweatie and pink in the cheeks, clearly lookin’ for love, with a nice home in Guad and a cellar that’d have R. Hoove’s mom dropping her thong and using it to boomerang a nugget of hydro chronic at the allegedly wealthy, available man. We conversed about the loss of fruit in whole cluster Pinot Noir fermentation, life in the digital 40-something central coast dating pool, condoms that cover both shaft and testicles and how they really should be more widely available, and my forthcoming tour of Holland and France. He promised to come to the show after he watched the Lakers game in the Far Western. The guy from Nova Scotia took my picture a few times and sexually harassed the waitress while I killed time and a glass of local Chardonnay.

The ever holy D Numbers from Santa Fe, New Mexico (www.myspace.com/dnumbersband) called me around 6 PM to unlock the main door, and pubic-side burn donning Chandler Haynes from Twenty Mule Team was a minute behind them. We set up in the lower level space a la Jools Holland sty-lee, with a band in each corner. H.C. and I got the distortion levels right, and fired up the Yamaha. We were going to debut a new one tonight, as well as rock their world with a Yamaha-yoked “El Serpiente”. Pinot Blanc was already flowing like those springtime northwest winds against the loft. Ten years ago police wouldn’t respond to anything in this town after sundown, and until tonight, the only live music had been of the mariachi persuasion. Groundbreaking stuff. As a meager fifteen people or so trickled in around 7:45 PM, it was clear that Asthmatic Giant! was one step away from playing Salt Water Taffy shoppes and kite stores on the Mendocino Coast again. This rock business comes in waves, man. Like Lloyd Banks said, “When you’re as hot as an oven they embrace you with open arms. When you’re as cold as a freezer niggas treat you like they don’t need ya.”

“I.U.D.S.I.S.” I said into the mic over and over again to get the levels right.

By 8:15 a solid, amateur astronomy session was going down on the roof top, with a certain sort of woodsy fog surrounding the participants’ heads. It was clear that it was time for the Giant. H.C. had a mild panic attack after I told him we were on, but he was good to go with a little assurance. Jesse filled our glasses with a homebrewed Belgian Ale, before “The Wrecking Machine” had people going back for seconds on the Two Guys Pizza pies on hand. It was a gastronomic groove, is what it was. We followed it with “Can You See it There? Right There?”, and then a soul-quaking “El Serpiente”. Paul and Brian from D Numbers embraced us after that one. Clearly our sympathetic sonic syringe spiked some emotional vein. I saw the trails of tears beneath the Giant’s Ray Ban sunglasses as we ended it on cue. Time to bring back the upbeat “folk” in “folktronica”, so we roared into Bob Dylan and The Band’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – a debut cover that had chicks looking at us and wiping the pepperoni grease from their lips. Finishing up with a new disco instrumental and flailing for the most part, we rejected a saucy heckler’s “One More!” in lieu of the liquid elixirs in the fridge and the stars in the sky.

Twenty Mule Team took it rock and rootsy, and then the thick bifocaled Ethan Burns took the mic, and, together with his older brother Zach on drums, unleashed a rockabilly monster that took the house down by surprise. Then D Numbers came through big time on their psychedelic-electronica promise, and girls were grooving in front like Burning Man had been moved to this pimped out loft in a town straight out of Mexico.


Notes from the Rock ‘n Roll Expressway Volume I

Asthmatic Giant! Tour Diary
By Darren Delmore

4/15/08 – Morro Bay, California
Hail pelted the dark sheen of the stony Element as we made our way along Highway One to the gig. Jet black and invisible to Babylon, our tour vehicle maneuvered off onto Quintana Road and into a rear parking lot area.There’d been a lot of confusion and finagling over which of the two bands would be the headliner. While told that our set would go unpaid by the house, our manager Jason Schlunus assured us that Asthmatic Giant! playing live would earn us our gold from the endangered bodyboarder population on hand (who were renown to ‘shroom regularly and smoke constantly) when the Double Disc debut album graces the online databanks of iTunes. Heinous Chanus, Schlunedawg, and yours truly Hellmore had a band meeting outside of the venue in Morro Bay, California. What to open with. Where I come in at and where Chanus takes a drum solo. We had new material on our hands here, from many blustery, heavy psychedelic evenings, but we weren’t sure that the beachtown crowd was ready to be exposed to it. The wicked knowledge proffered in songs like “Ballad of the Overmedicated Housewife”, “The Wrecking Machine”, and “Can You See It There, Right There?” would expand the collective consciousness to a dangerous haunted dimension. Most of the crowd on hand would’ve preferred some Brushfire Fairytales with their Coronas.

Aside from a secret midnight ramble at the famed Del’s Pizzeria, in which a feverish Red Dog Roldy joined in for a rare and Donovan Frankenreiteresque bongo contribution to the jam “Slippin’ and a’ Slidin'”, this would be the first show of our 2008 tour across America. Chaney hadn’t seen Red Dog’s beardy chicks that merrily lit up since the legendary post-TGIF bash in Carlsbad. Pretty sure the Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc and 16% alcohol Brochelle Zinfandel had a lot to do with it.

At soundcheck, the mustached venue owner came in and looked up at us on the loft belting out the jams. He scowled and demanded some Loggins and Messina covers tonight. Chanus told him to pay us, and that if he’s not paying us he’d give him some Loggins Linguica up his asshole if he kept fucking with us during our sacred soundcheck. With the Morro Bay Cannabis Club being long closed, I was hoping my bandmate would make it through the night, without gouging anyone’s eye out again.

After being brought on by promoter Marcos at 8 PM, we blew their minds with “The Wrecking Machine”. The crowd drank it up like my wine stash in the backstage area. Men romantically embraced their females from behind and did the rocking, connected pelvises thing like they do at Dave Matthews Band concerts. I’m pretty sure loot was being expedited back to what once was The Den in Grover Beach during “Can You See it There, Right There?”, but this was ultimately a punk show. Chanus and I had a band huddle after a riveting cover of “Dire Wolf” that electrified a random fat cell in accountant Pat Patten’s love handle and sent him flashing back to a kaleidoscope-colored 1984 Reggae on the River trip when the mane was naturally jet black and the ladies were mulleted and topless. They carried him out on a stretcher.

Roaring into “Hot Tokyo Nights” (with me coming in on the electric drum machine’s first gong, which worked well on the eponymous tour across Asia last fall), some last minute food orders were texted down to Harada sushi on the Embarcadero. The crowd just eats up Chanus and his oriental headband. Our costume designer suggested that at the Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills while we drank Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé, had small plates, and wrote the music to “Block 4 Cellular” last winter.

They called us on for an encore. We had to get in the Element if we’d be getting into San Francisco in time for Dim Sum and Sauternes, but they would’ve eaten us alive on our way out had we not given ‘em something more to chew on. So we did an extended version of “1985: Year of the Giant”, “Fishstick Fridays”, and then Merle Haggard’s “Branded Man” to close it. An inebriated engine, surely drunk on excess and Chumash Casino familial paychecks, screamed for “Branded Man” over and over, so we gave him it two more times then bid farewell. We’ll see ya in another five years, Morro Bay, and you drunken Eskimo you.