Tales from the Road: Wild Rabbit on Murphy’s Law

by Miranda Zickler (with help from Jillian Walker)

Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  It’s thought that some of the first uses of the phrase referred to sailors and the chaos of the sea. We tour in a minivan, but sometimes it’s hard not to feel the tumult of the ocean rolling underneath our medium grade 17-inch rim tires down the I-5 corridor, especially when one of those tires goes flat at 20 minutes to show time in downtown San Francisco. Add weeks of voice-stunting illness, a small town Oregon speed trap, broken venue PAs, sleepless nights, and other bits of bad luck packed into such a short period, and it can make you wonder whether the universe is deliberately trying to tell you and your band something about your time spent on the road and how likely it is that it’s actually pushing you any further along the current.

Photo by Christopher M. Howard

Photo by Christopher M. Howard

We’ve been touring the southwest for almost three weeks now; every city except San Fran and San Luis Obispo have been brand new territory for us, and each show has felt like walking a balance between our living and our art. As a full-time independent band, we run a small business, and have to consider not only our performance and the new ears and faces at each show, but also how we’ll pay our rent, cover our insurance payments, and fill up Ol’ Squeaky’s gas tank.

In San Luis Obispo we played to a packed house of excited fans, both new and pre-existing (which was awesome) but because of the nature of a college town, we left the venue with just barely enough to cover our gas money and hotel for the night. In Fresno, on the other hand, we played from 9 p.m. to midnight to a restaurant full of a very diverse group of folks. Among the families, elderly couples and a few over-served bar patrons, we encountered a rather animated bachelorette party. Complete with matching bedazzled t-shirts, the bridal party made an entrance around halfway through our set. They settled in at a large table near the stage, which eventually led to the creation of a dance party that was not limited to the ladies in sparkles. Several of the dancers even picked up on some of the lyrics and started singing along with us. Though moments like this don’t last as long in a restaurant setting, we were able to sell tons of merch at each break and meet plenty of excited new fans throughout the evening, eager to pull out their phones to show us all the social media accounts they had started following us on. Regardless of the dramatic difference in monetary gain, both of these shows marked their own gains, and getting people excited about our music is ultimately what drives us closer to our goals, and allows us to continue moving forward.

Our night in Sacramento was spent with two local bands full of great new friends, drinking British pub beers and singing along to Tom Waits. Any time we are able to play with other bands on the road, we are reminded of the enormous scope of community that we share, making music. We also often stumble upon unexpected opportunities, serendipitous strings of events leading to house shows to fill empty dates on our way back through Northern California. Moving on down the coast, we played a gorgeous sunny farmers’ market in Anaheim. Realizing quickly that the PA had been blown out before our show, we ended up hopping the tented stage area in favor of an acoustic performance, which is a place we’re pretty comfortable, anyhow. Making light of the situation, we took the opportunity to try playing a few new songs that we had only really played together in the comfort of our own living room. Speaking of which, we have been writing like crazy, and we are incredibly excited about our next album, which, heads up for you, What’s Up! reader: we’ll be recording in the spring, if we can raise the funds for it on Kickstarter early next year.

We stayed with our dear friends (and one of our favorite bands) in San Francisco, and I would like to take this moment to demand that you look up The Family Crest. They’re a collective of some of the sweetest and most talented individuals we’ve ever met and their policy of working with as many musicians of every caliber as possible (there are over 200 credited on their most recent album) has deeply influenced our connection with the most human aspects of this incredibly difficult and rewarding industry. You’ll be doing yourself a great service by looking them up and having your mind blown by their epic orchestral folk rock.

We’re in Santa Fe now, and given the perks of hotels.com we were able to get a great discount and stay at a lovely hotel that is attached to a local casino. After spending a much needed day off of relaxation in the hotel room, we all rallied to try our luck at the penny slots. Feeling like kids in an arcade with our one dollar allowance, we all ran around betting pennies at a time, just trying to figure out how the machines even worked. Nathan was the only one to walk away ahead with three whole dollars to buy himself a Dr. Pepper from the vending machine in the hotel hallway… and he was pretty happy about it (see our Instagram account). The several days we have spent here in the beautiful scenery of New Mexico is offset only by our poor little Northwest lungs breathing the dry desert air and doing their best to turn it into music. We played two radio in-studios, which are always different and always an adventure in keeping our collective sarcastic sense of humor at bay. Between these great adventures we played two consecutive nights at a small brewery full of kind and enthusiastic people, including several transplants from the Northwest (we find them everywhere), excited to connect with us and share stories of home.

Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. What Murphy doesn’t take into account is every minute that things aren’t going wrong. Every minute that life rolls on in whatever capacity you’ve chosen for it. We have a tendency to perk up and pay attention when something terrible or wonderful happens, but not each of the moments in between. After months of touring and playing our music, sometimes we don’t notice the quiet euphoria that comes with people’s stomping feet, with the hours in the car Jillian and I spend with our headphones plugged into a splitter listening to our friends’ beautiful albums, the way some peoples faces light up when they tell you how connected or inspired they feel when they watch to you doing what you love.  I think when we’re grappling with how to take the next step, or even how to keep our footing steady in the step we’re in now, we can lose sight of the beautiful hours we spend in between; not struggling or succeeding, but living each second and navigating the sparkling open waters.

Wild Rabbit returns from their tour later this month, performing at the Green Frog on Dec. 20 at 5 p.m. (kid-friendly) and 8 p.m. For more about the band, see www.wildrabbitmusic.com or follow them on Facebook.

Published in the December 2014 issue of What’s Up! Magazine