Acorn Project: Anywhere, USA (particularly en route to C0)
by Sam Lax
While en route to Colorado in June to perform at the Sonic Bloom Festival, our beloved sprinter van loses a wheel at 75 mph in the middle of Wyoming. This was not a flat tire. This was an entire wheel shooting off hundreds of yards into a black abyss never to be found. It was the middle of the night; the combination of excellent driving skills and a lot of luck left everyone and our gear unscathed. This was more than just a close call according to officials who assessed the situation.
The likelihood of avoiding a complete rollover and catastrophic accident in that moment was slim to none. After a night at a hotel in the middle of nowhere, a diagnosed bent axel and insurance claim were viewed as nothing more than nuisances considering what could have been. Cancelling only our second show in AP history in Denver the next night was a tougher pill to swallow. We pride ourselves on making gigs no matter the complications, but we were stuck. We had to leave the van behind; sometimes it’s part of the game.
A dear friend of the band drove 15 hours round trip from Colorado in a pickup with a trailer. He loaded all of the passengers and the gear into his 3-seat cab and canopied bed. The band safely arrived to the festival two nights later, but only after a bit of rest at his house up at 12,000 feet in Leadville. Shooting guns and a few other backwood affairs were the entertainment along with libations aplenty. Let’s just say those that rode in the bed of the truck for over seven hours were less stoked than those who weren’t exactly ecstatic to make the mission in the cab.
The festival greeted us with open arms and we proceeded to rage. Our celebration on stage was felt in an epic performance. We stayed the entire weekend enjoying the festival. Six last minute flights on the Monday after the festival brought nearly everyone home.
Our bassist T-bone offered to stay and drive the van back later in the week. Oops. Mechanics in Wyoming are potentially a little slower than those everywhere else in the country. Now a grizzled man, he ended up living up in Leadville with his friend for weeks. Unkempt and bearded, having survived off the land fishing in blown out flip flops and haggard clothes, he resembles someone that may have drank from the ‘Kazinski Puddle.’ He is returned to Wyoming by his savior friend in the same truck with the gear, picks up the sprinter, and triumphantly returns home from his month long, solo, one-off tour.
Four serious break-downs in a year!? You’ve got to be kidding us right? I mean, come on, can we get through a tour without a tow. It can’t be good when AAA is basically answering and having conversations about the wife and kids with you before you give them the details of your roadside assistance needs. Well that’s pretty much how the last year has shaped up for us folks. Lots of time putting out fires and taking care of business on the roadside.Mad dash scrambles to get to the gigs on time.Overtly insane expense sheets due to freak accidents in the bus. You know all the shitstorms aside, we keep it rollin.
AP has worked tirelessly to establish ourselves as a national touring act. The tales from the road are endless. When you feel as though every rest stop, gas station, small highway route, and motel is somewhere you’ve been to before, you know you’ve logged the hours. Touring is often over-glorified, but performing your craft brings a high like none other. We do it all for the love of the music. It’s a post-punk world out there on the grind. Bikers, truckers, bands, hobos and those just trying to disappear. Dust off your pants, run a comb through your hair, brush your teeth in a rest stop sink and keep on truckin’.
It’s been nearly 10 years since some of us started the band Acorn Project. Having met in college dorm rooms at WWU, we really had no idea our ingenuine search for creative expression through music would manifest into such an important chapter in our lives. We have all shared in that original creative inspiration and vision of growth since the inception of AP. As we are moving toward the decade anniversary this fall, we can’t help but feel extreme gratitude for the community that has grown alongside us in support of our dream. A true family in all ways. The hearts and souls of our fans are equally as powerful and important to our existence as a band. Nowhere is that felt more strongly than in Bellingham.
We have travelled the Western half of the US exhaustively. We have performed over 700 shows, logged over 150,000 miles, and poured out our energy and passion at large festivals and tiny dive bars alike. We’ve slept on dirty basement floors, lathered up in posh hotel rooms, rolled in the dirt in ditches on the side of the road, and raged campgrounds aplenty. We’ve been shaken down by the man, watched the bus get towed, survived blizzards, hairpin turns, burnt brakes, broken axels and exploding engines alike. We’ve argued, cried, laughed, and loved each other. We’ve celebrated, amongst all of our friends and family on hundreds of stages having overcoming these challenges. Challenges that only a lint-laden wallet and true rambling spirit truly understand. We’ve done it all for the love of picking up our instruments. We’ve loved every second of it, and we’ve loved our fans being there with us every step of the way.
The truth is that the life of a touring musician is filled with extremes.The rigors of tour-life have been catching up with Acorn. The current economic climate and culture surrounding live music make for a difficult living. Believe it or not, it’s not that easy to remain healthy or comfortable while living out of a van. Past players who shared the lifestyle with AP, found these challenges overwhelming enough to depart on different paths along the way. Now, for the first time, we are feeling as an entire group the need for reprieve from full-time touring. Acorn Project is planning a hiatus beginning in the late fall of this year.
We anticipate a time away from performance to relax and catch up with our lives at home, knowing it will allow us to better harness our creative energy in our collective art. The question isn’t if we’ll perform again, it’s how often, where, and when. What a long strange trip it’s been! We never imagined it’d take us this far. We can only be grateful for the experiences we’ve shared and memories we’ve created along the way.
Thank you all so very much for your incredible love and continued support! We hope to see you all out at one of our fall tour dates: Friday, Sept. 26 – Star Theater, Portland, OR; Friday, Oct. 3 – The Crocodile, Seattle; and Saturday, Oct. 4 – The Wild Buffalo, Bellingham.
Published in the September 2014 issue of What’s Up! Magazine