Lucid Afterlife: In the beautiful land of Peru
by Thom Turner
In February of this year (2018) my band Lucid Afterlife had the great fortune of being invited to do a two-week tour in the beautiful land of Peru. I know, why would a band from Vancouver B.C. (I live in Bellingham) be asked to play all the way down there? Our vocalist, leader and shaman Nat Jack, had already been there to speak at the ONVI Festival at the ancient site of Marcahuasi about Astral Projection and Lucid Dreaming. He did so well they asked him if he had any other projects that could perform at the next festival. As it happens he did, LAL.
It just so happens that the timing couldn’t be better for our heading down to Peru. We had just released a new EP and two new animated music videos. So we started spreading the word through our singer’s friends down in Peru. The response was insane. So many kids started asking us to come and play in their towns all over the Amazon and even further south into Cusco. The next thing you know we have a full set of shows, we are booked to record for three days in Lima and are even going to get to go down to MACHU PICHU.
Needless to say it all seemed perfectly ludicrous. Luckily, that is exactly how this band does its thing. We were on our way. Through a ton of dedication by our sponsors Tetra Technologies and all the members of the band, myself, Miles Morrison our bassist and Matt Sherlaw our drummer, we managed to get all the money, flights and gear together to make it happen.
So the travel day comes along. Roughly a full 12-13 hours of travel time awaited us. I was flying in from LAX, Nat was already in there getting everything set and Miles and Matt were coming in from Vancouver. Sounds like a set up for disaster right? Half the band is crossing two international borders? They are traveling with expensive gear and instruments? Something is going to happen right? Nope. Somehow we lined it up that everyone got to Lima together.
Unfortunately both myself, and my bassist were forced to check our instruments. Then began the best worst feeling of all time, waiting at baggage claim, in a foreign country of which only one of you sort of understands the language. It is a good time if you are into gambling. If not it is probably the most nerve-racking thing that you can engage in. For you adrenaline seekers out there I highly recommend it. Every bag starts mocking you. Seconds turn into hours. Right when you have given up hope you remember… oh, it was oversized!
We ran over to the door where the big items come out and there is my case but no bass. Panic sets in. I go to the desk attendant and in the most broken Spanish I ask if the bass had come through. She responds in beautiful English that it had not come through yet. After realizing how much harder I should have studied in Spanish class we start really freaking out. His bass case also included his pedals, cables and tuner. So, I start scanning the baggage carousel again. And I see it pop out. I start screaming far too loudly “HOLY SHIT THERE IT IS!! RUN, MILES!! RUN!!!!!” And he takes off running full speed. An added note on the rest of my band… I am 5’9″. They are all well over 6 feet. Miles and Matt are also extremely pale. The average height of Peruvians is 5’1″. So, there is this GIANT, gangly, alabaster colored man running full speed through a crowd of people. It was like an alien had landed and was attacking the village. People peeled right off and just stared clutching their families.
We got the bass just fine and all the contents were in perfect shape. But, after that incident I started to notice just how many eyes were on us at all times. They were filled with such sincere confusion about our presence. It was even more pronounced with Matt. He is 6’3″ and a FIERY GINGER who has one of the most soulful voices you have ever heard. He is a walking contradiction. People everywhere we went were just fixated on him.
After managing to get out of the airport we went looking for a ride to where our singer was staying. Luckily Matt had had the foresight to get an international simcard for his phone. Also, Lima has Uber! So we booked one. Then began to make our way out of the airport. Outside we see a guy waving. And, in my horrible Spanish, I ask if he is our uber driver. He says yes and the name. So we get in. This was not our Uber driver we found out much later. So off we go in a car with some guy toward a major city, late at night with all our gear and we don’t really speak the language and have no idea where we are going.
Sounds like the beginning of a slasher film doesn’t it? Well instead he was the nicest man ever. Stayed with us while we scowered the city near where our singer had told us he was. We couldn’t really get ahold of him then got close and decided to get out. The man stayed with us the whole time till Nat appeared. Best $35 cab ride I have ever had.
We went and met our contacts in Peru (some of the greatest people ever) and sang 90s rock Karaoke till early in the morning.
An important note: the exchange rate in Peru at the time was $1 USD to $3.25 Soles and the $1 CAD to $2.50 Soles. I say this because OUR MONEY WENT FOREVER. When we were headed to the first spot we would stay, it was in this luxurious Air BnB RIGHT NEXT TO THE BEACH IN LIMA!! It cost 30 soles, that is $12 for the night. This place was immaculate on a high floor with a great view and had good wifi. If you have ever road dogged before you know that this is almost never the case. It is sleep in a van or in a tent or in a flop house on a couch that was most recently used to birth 6 puppies (that is another tour story for another time). This was like flying to heaven and having everything just work out.
There are only really two rough parts of the story. Here comes the first. The second night we spent in Lima was at a hostel in the city. It is the first of two we stayed at and it cost like $8 a room. This was exactly what you might expect. The room had two beds that were fine. I mean I still wore all my clothes to bed but alright. The weird thing was the bathroom. We had a bathroom in the room with a nice dark wooden door. Then next to the door right across from the toilet and the shower was glass. And not tinted glass, no no, this was regular old slightly textured glass. So when you went into the room. You were on full display.
Our first gig was at the Onvi festival in a beach town called Chilca near Lima. This was the most beautiful beach and people you could ever ask for. Everyone that we met was so excited to see people from another country, coming down to play. The other bands were amazing and we literally played right on the beach. The drums we just pushed in the sand and our pedals sat on our cases. We played two days there got to play as the sun went down over the ocean. The site backed up against a military test site. So there were guard shacks and lights combing the sky. All this while DJs and bands are playing all this intense music. It was so surreal.
The only way to get to the festival area, or even around town, were these little motor cars. Essentially, they were a trike with this rickshaw style hard plastic cage all around it. And these dudes would rip all around and race each other. Each one had a different very illegal usage of a copywrited logo. Some were batman others had Ferrari logos and even embroidered leather seats. Of course we are just way too broad and tall to use these effectively. So half the time there was a body part or whole person hanging out the side door. The reason we had to take them was that there was no road from the main town to the beach. It was all these rutted paths that went on for almost a mile before you got to where the show was. So we strapped our gear to the outside racks and proceeded to drive through the worst trenched paths. No damage, no accidents.
Our last set the second night we needed to get back to Lima right after. But we could not grab one of the scooters to save our lives. So, a beach cop. Yes, a beach cop in a big red truck said he would give us a ride back to town for a few Soles. So we piled in the bed of the truck and took off full speed back to town hanging on for dear life. We even got some pictures with him.
The rest of the trip went along very similarly. We did two shows in Lima at the famous punk rock club Bar Hensley. The first show was the last show before for old venue shutdown. And we played at the new one across town. All the while eating some of the most pure delicious food you could ever want. After those shows we headed down to Cusco on our way to the town of Ollantaytambo then a train to Aguas Calientes and then Machu Pichu.
Doing Machu Pichu as a band was amazing. We even got our singer to sing while we were there. Our tour guide had heard about the band SOMEHOW and asked him to sing. All that history and power just soaked into us. We wrote two new songs while we were there. It was an incredible trip well worth an extra flight. We headed back and stayed three days in Cusco just going to museums and eating this incredible sauce called joaquina.
After our mini vacation we headed back to Lima for the Black Mass shows in barranco. This was another seaside beach town. The bands were so raw it reminded me of my first garage shows. They loved all the music, and supported their scene. We even had a bunch of people from our first shows come out like an hour away.
We rounded out the trip with three days at Zairam Studios in Lima in the Miraflores district. It is a very high class studio with amazing engineers and gear. We did a recording of two songs and are in the process of mixing them as you read this. Super laid back easy sessions and both the band and the engineers learned a ton about the process.
Then we came home. A glib ending but I think appropriate. The whole experience felt like a dream. Like, it couldn’t happen. But, it did. And just like a dream all of a sudden we woke up back in the northwest. I do apologize for those of reading this article and hoping for some brutal carnage. I just wanted to tell a positive story of the first tour in my 20 years as a road musician to just go right. So you see tour life can have an ending that isn’t in jail, the back of a copcar, or being chased by rent a cops while you flee the Florida old age gated community that you accidentally thought contained a deathmetal bar (also a story for another time.)
Thanks for reading!
See www.lucidafterlife.ca, www.facebook.com/lucidafterlife, or www.instagram.com/lucidafterlife/