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 a fan really, REALLY wants to meet Allen. After soundcheck, overwhelmed by green room dick art (a very real thing), 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.
I’ve developed emotional attachments to two vehicles in my life, both vans. And death traps, if I’m honest.
The first van the Al Stone band toured in was a blue Ford E 150. 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, and letting loose awe-inspiring farts. 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. 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 now officially tall enough to be regularly banned due to high winds from highway driving in Wyoming. 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.
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.