Any touring musician will tell you the van’s a sacred place. An oasis of calm in a turbulent sea of alcohol fueled faux pax, it’s where you retreat when an enthusiastic fan really, REALLY wants to meet Allen. After soundcheck, when the green room wreaks of sewage and the sound guy’d rather be literally anywhere else, it’s where you huddle for comfort. When a room at the Days Inn may as well be a suite at the St. Regis, it’s where you sleep. Any musician worth their salt’s spent more time in a van than the place they pay rent.
I have no problem admitting I’ve developed emotional attachments to two vehicles in my life, both vans. And death traps, if I’m honest.
The first van we toured in was a blue Ford E 150. A conversion van, this meant someone was tasked nightly with sleeping in the van to “protect the gear,” aka avoid the clown car situation that’s piling an entire band into a single roach infested motel room. I volunteered to “protect the gear” many times. All things considered, the blue Ford was pretty comfortable. You could, for example, lie down behind the back seats on a kinda sorta makeshift platform. I fondly recall being extremely sick on our first tour through Canada, keeled over on said platform, letting loose with awe-inspiring flatulence. The incident, called “Sick Trev,” lives in infamy as the most offensive ass-related moment in the band’s history. But I digress.
The second van we toured in was a Dodge Sprinter. Purchased from the Worst Ramada in the History of the World, I remember this being big news. You could stand up in it, and there was enough room in-between the seats and sliding door for someone to repurpose my yoga mat as a mattress. Sprinters are typically diesel, which saves a TON of money, and we were officially tall enough to be banned from highway driving near Cheyanne, Wyoming due to high winds. A meth-addled semi driver clipped our Dodge Sprinter at a truck stop in Iowa, and I remember Jason chasing after him and thinking he might actually catch up. Sure, sometimes the thing didn’t start and the sliding and front passenger doors both were broken but hey, what’re a few bumps and bruises? We fit all our gear in the back, which still amazes me, and never bothered building a barrier between the back storage area and rear seats. On numerous occasions, we were all buried in guitars, cymbals and merch boxes after a sudden stop.
My combined mileage total in these vehicles easily tops 400,000. Through their windows, I saw America for the first time. When we formed the band, things took off quickly- first gig, June 2011, Conan O’Brien, October that same year. We were largely strangers when we piled into the blue Ford. Jumping off the Dodge Sprinter for the last time, we were brothers.