Thunder Zone Tour 2K13"Classic Tour!"
Thunder Zone is a label I started in late 2011. Over the past two years Thunder Zone has put out music, video, energy drinks, clothing, hacky sacks and really whatever I feel like. While the label's catalog might seem eccentric, to me there is a common intensity that unites everything. With Thunder Zone I wanted to build on the work of my heroes and create something that is at once classic (vinyl records) and modern (energy drinks), something that pushes the boundaries of what a label can (or should do) and represents for the kind of ecstatic music and culture that inspires me to keep on living.
This fall the Thunder Zone went on the road. For two weeks across North America, a trilogy of Thunder Zone artists (Juiceboxxx, Extreme Animals, Schwarz) threw down in a variety of performance situations. There was live music, DJ sets, projections and energy drinks. It was a blast. The following writing was done by David Wightman from Extreme Animals and I think it represents for the true spirit of what it means to be on tour. We have all been doing this for a long time and don't plan on stopping.
Enter The Thunder Zone.
JB: Juiceboxxx the entertainer and CEO of Thunder Zone.
Willy D: Guitarist for Juiceboxxx’s Thunder Zone Band.
Mike: Drummer for Juiceboxxx’s Thunder Zone Band AKA D Gookin.
Schwarz: Baltimore’s fave DJ and “your host for the night.”
Jacob: “Jacob from Paper Rad” and the band Extreme Animals.
David: That’s me! From Extreme Animals and DJ George Costanza.
11/1- ITHICA, NY @ CORNELL
A group lecture/artist talk is a great way to start a tour. The best part is not about what people say about their own work but how others describe someone else’s work. Not only was this a nice pump up for the old ego but it also reminded us of all our similarities and why we’re together…what this tour was “all about.” We get to the co-op/venue and Juiceboxxx gets a haircut while we set up the gear. We eat the first cheese pizza of the tour. Burned my mouth. We set up the merch table, which includes a Thunder Zone banner designed by Jacob. I was curious why the people who lived here took every single piece of furniture out of the room but by the end of the evening everything was destroyed.
The opening act was a rapping grad student who talked about being ill prepared for section that morning. Classic! Wears costume, raps about cereal and video games. Somebody spilled beer all over the merch table and all over the floor. Juice and I tried to carry all of the merch upstairs but the box had completely soaked through with beer and fell apart, tapes all akimbo. This was our brand new merch. :( Almost cried, what a first night of tour! First task for tomorrow: get new boxes for our merch.
11/2- BOSTON, MA @ THE LILYPAD
Somebody knocked Schwarz’s computer off of a table and it fell on the ground and cracked open. Parking in Boston was impossible. Stayed with guy who had cool tattoo and put on nice radio station that basically was a developed idea of the Thunder Zone. Went to Dunkin Donuts…got a muffin. I was already exhausted and felt insane and tired and tour depressed, “zonked”. This feeling usually comes on day 7 of tour, not day 2.
11/3- PROVIDENCE, MA @ DUNGEON C
Drove to Mandy the promoter’s house. There was a BBQ in our honor but Jacob and I stayed inside working on our computers. Bad move! I think I worked on a mix that never got released lol. Jacob bought a cider for me…did I tell you? I started drinking cider.
Show was in a building that we had played years ago with Lightning Bolt, Teengirl Fantasy, and Young Male set up by archivist/runner Ben Fino-Radin before any of the people at this show had been born. What a different time! Sat up our gear, ran and got a grilled cheese and french-fries around the corner. Immediately burnt my mouth on said grilled cheese and French fries because I don’t know how to act. Drank my cider. Unicorn Hard-On played. It was cool because it was her birthday so everybody raged out but I went home and fell asleep on the couch like Wha.
11/4- NEW HAVEN, CT @ PEOPLE’S ART COLLECTIVE
Went to the diner with Schwarz and Mandy. Jacob had food poisoning so he stayed at home wanting to die. Went to pick up JB and Willy D at Michael Williams’s Mom’s house. Then we drove to the mall – nothing like going to the mall on tour to simultaneously get your mind correct and put life in perspective! Mike got a hat. We looked around a bit, have you been in a footlocker recently? Beautiful. Then we went back home to pick up Jacob and drive to New Haven.
Unloaded at “da club” (a DIY political free space for radical thought and art). Went to a fancy pizza place with Jacob because we were in New Haven. “Baby’s first New Haven Pizza!?!” Opening performer was a lone, conscious, bearded rapper. His raps were super depressing but kind of good. We all clapped and were supportive and “Supportive”. One’s desire to do this increases when zero people are at a show. What a surprise to find that when he finished playing he would just leave lol. Welp. The joke was on us.
We literally played to one or two people who weren’t on the Thunder Zone Tour or the Promoters. This was THAT kinda show. Unfortunately I felt like it was maybe Extreme Animals’ most focused set of the tour. But I have to shout out to the promoters for getting us Little Ceasars “Hot and Readys.” This small gesture really meant a lot even though we had already eaten pizza earlier that day. Kilbourne showed up but I was too grumpy/ feeling gross to talk to him.
11/5- BROOKLYN, NY @ PASSION LOUNGE
This show was at the notorious Passion Lounge known for it’s killer sound system and fishbowl drinks (affectionately know as “the life ruiners”). Many an iPhone has been lost because of these fishbowls. Haribo blew us all away. Truly the best band in Brooklyn. It is their time.Hitashya opened up the night with a great DJ set and designed a lovely poster for the show.
11/6- TRAVEL DAY
No show on this day. Started driving at 8:00 at night to get to Chicago the next day. JB played the Here’s the thing podcast where Alec Baldwin interviews Jerry Seinfeld as we barreled across the Pennsylvania countryside. Again, another reminder to strive for excellence. Frankly this interview is a life changer. Highly recommended.
11/7- CHICAGO, IL @ SITUATIONS
Went to Moe’s Southwest Grill somewhere in Indiana for Lunch. This is my favorite place to eat on the road. Everyone hated it and got upset at me and made fun of the food. They even attacked the branding, how 2013 of them! I think the place gets a bad rap because no one orders the nachos, which is by far the best item on the menu. Pulled up to Chicago. Took an amazing nap…possibly the best nap ever? Got up and ate some amazing Mexican food. Drove to the venue. Walked to get coffee at a little place that was having a noise show. What a vibrant musical community!
Came back and someone smudged the venue because we smelled terrible. I ate so much candy, like the most candy I had eaten in 20 years. This was the one show of the tour where I felt like Extreme Animals played ok and people “got” it LOL. Real talk: this tour was cursed for me, on 90% of the shows I either couldn’t hear what was going on or our sound was completely distorted LOL. Ino, “excuses.” Our band is over 10 years old and we’re still going though an awkward phase. “Life is a highway.” Teen Witch played that “Trill Lolitas” song.
11/8- GRINNELL, IA @ GRINNELL COLLEGE
The drive from Chicago heading south and west is one I don’t take often but I always enjoy. There’s nothing like leaving the dark, cramped, hell-ish space that is Chicago to the vast expansive farmlands of Iowa. Started drinking Starbucks’ energy drink and it didn’t kill me. We went to Subway…surprisingly the first one of the tour considering that we’re all huge fans, or ‘Wayheads as they say in the industry. Chipotle Ranch dressing.
Loaded in on the quad at Grinnell. Great show. Unfortunately the mains blew. Jacob invented a new drink called Rolling Thunder that was Rolling Rock mixed with Thunder Zone Energy Drink. It was actually really good, highly recommended. We watched an inspiring tour doc in the verde room about Korn in the studio channeling their childhood abuse on the record. Very sad but the passion/look into the creative process was inspiring. True artisans, as they say in Williamsburg.
After the show we were told that we could DJ at the after party. So of course we went and it was in the community room of a dorm. Spirits were high. We traded fours, each out doing the next in spirit, style, and hype. Unfortunately the campus cops showed up. Jacob and I immediately bailed while JB and Schwarz tried to reason with the officers LOL. Why…just why? Basically I think they were asked to leave campus.
11/9- MADISON, WI @ UW MADISON
Woke up and went to Taco Johns before leaving Grinnell. This was Juiceboxxx’s Moe’s. It was terrible even though they have hashrounds. We pulled into Madison right when a college football game let out. AWKWARD. We loaded in and ordered some Mediterranean wraps. We were playing in the student union, which was fabulous! There was a wedding going on upstairs. Some kids showed up at the end of the show just to ask Juiceboxxx about Lil Ugly Mane (JB released Lil Ugly Mane’s Shirts on his Thunder Zone Entertainment label. Guilt by association J). It was cute and sweet.
11/10- MILWAUKEE, WI @ THE COCOON ROOM
Jacob did a rare VJ set. Some old school drum and bass legend got thrown out for trying to smoke meth in the basement. Stayed at Juiceboxxx’s parents house. After the show we stayed up all night watching this great new show called Bar Rescue. Addictive!
11/11- DETROIT, MI @ ADULT CONTEMPORARY
It started snowing, which was a surprise. Stressful drive to Detroit through Chicago in the snow. We stopped at a Jimmy Jons on the way and it was the worst thing on the whole tour. I don’t understand how that place stays in business. We got there and this really great band played first. Does anyone remember their name? They were all really great. Juiceboxxx almost knocked over the entire PA, I tried to catch him when he jumped off one time. I’ll do anything to foster a positive crowd surfing experience.
A mosh pit started when Extreme Animals played. It was nice, I really appreciate the enthusiasm. After the show we went to this house and slept on the floor. I slept in my guitar case. Jacob slept in this homeless man’s blanket made of plastic bags. Classic tour!