The first Allen Stone song I ever learned was Your Eyes. Oh, oh, oh, your eeeeyyyyyyyes. If you’d told me I’d be playing that song for drunk Japanese salarymen at Blue Note Tokyo a year or so down the road, I’d have legitimately laughed out loud.
I’m asked often how I met Allen and the fellas, and the honest answer’s I didn’t give the whole situation much thought. I mean, how could I? I was going through an unfortunate kinda-sorta Justin Beiber-y bowl cut phase, and Allen was rocking oversized sweaters. The keyboard player at the time, upon our first meeting, produced fresh biscuits from his jacket pocket and espoused Harry Potter conspiracy theories (“that’s why it rains so much here, Harry Potter’s too popular. It’s WITCHCRAFT!”). We were, and still are, a bunch of buffoons. This’d be a quick four show run through California and that’s it- I’d be back to pondering my place in the universe in seconds flat.
There was a first meeting, obviously, and it occurred over a plate of nachos at Matador in Ballard. We talked shop. “Shop,” such as it was, consisted of Allen acknowledging that, yes, there were shows in California, and he'd recently jury rigged a Play Station setup in his van. Tiger Woods Golf, I was assured, would be an option. I was still in, right?
Allen and I knew each other from the scene in Seattle and the Unaware video was picking up steam around this time. It was exciting, watching the view count jump by a few thousand everyday but, ultimately, unconvincing. There’s a validation false economy in the internet-driven music world, wherein those quick dopamine hits from likes and retweets convince us we’re lighting the world on fire. I was curious, and more than a little skeptical, if we’d have an audience outside Seattle.
In these first weeks, I’d discover that Heavenly Donuts in Redding, CA is the biggest misnomer in America. And, yes, it was in fact human urine on the sheets at the Shasta Lodge (we’d stay there multiple times). We were a rag tag bunch of miscreants, and I’d purchased a bright blue collared shirt for the occasion.
If professional touring can be likened to immaculately crafted pop mega-hits, we were on some free-jazz shit.