Wendy's WWADThe Camaro Witch Tour Chronicles – Part II

Sunday November 9th – Day 25

As we depart from the nuclear-bomb-building-toxic-waste-dump city of Richland en route to Portland, Oregon, I shift in my seat when I realize I’m sitting on a book. It’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, written by a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I realize a little history of the Camarosmith boys might be in order. The band is comprised of Ben Rew (vox), Chris Johnsen (guitar), Matt Fox (guitar playing replacement for Pat “Fucking” Brown), Jeff Matz (bass player for Zeke), and Donny Paycheck (drummer for Zeke). For the record Zeke was definitely top three of the most ass-kicking-in-your-face-relentless-fucking-rock-bands in the nineties. They were also a bunch of drug addicts, however, which may have contributed to the band’s demise in 2001. In any case, Donny Paycheck has been clean and sober for a number of years, and the other members as well (with the exception of Jeff, who was never that fucked up to begin with). For whatever reason, Ben and Chris from Camarosmith (maybe it has something to do with the heroin scene in Seattle…maybe not) are sober too, leaving only Matt and Jeff as my party buds (quite a change from the Witch van). Donny justified his sober position to the equally sober Ben with, “When you’re sober you’re going to have time to get more work done, save more money, get better cars, better jobs, meet women who actually like your personality.” Whatever dude. Like your fucking personality? Are you fucking kidding me?
As we drive to Portland, I am thoroughly impressed by the awesomeness of the scenery. There are mountains everywhere and assloads of water. We drove alongside the Columbia River which, as Matt informs me, comes down from the base of the Cascades (up by Alberta or somewhere in Canada) then goes along the Washington / Oregon border, all the way to the ocean. Matt added, “I think this river carries more water (volume wise) than any river in the world, with the exception of the Amazon.” What up trivia whiz? “I’m not a trivia whiz,” Matt explains, “Just an overeducated shithead.” We made our way past The Dalles and Hood River (one of the biggest wind surfing places on the west coast), still following the Columbia. Donny quipped, “Say Noah, how about building me an ark? Fuck no, God. Well how long can you tread water? Well, I guess I’ll start building that ark.”
Chris laughed, “Donny’s Bible stories.”
I settled back in my own full-length seat for once (Camarosmith has a 15 passenger van), without having to share a seat with furball Trinidad, and noted that rock journalism definitely has its benefits. Matt observed, “You’re moving up in the world.” Post-Zeke, we rocked the fuck out to Blue Oyster Cult, which is where the Houston-based-Carson-led-now-obsolete band, Transmaniacon MC got their name. Regardless, Jeff opted to rock out with his headphones on, oblivious to the rest of us as he played air bass. Then I became privy to all sorts of wacky conversation, how-the-fuck-this-started-I-have-no-idea.
Ben - “He said he was twelve but he had the body of a nine year old.”
Donny - “Stuff their mouths with peanut butter and slap some duct tape over it. Nice and quiet.” Jeff - “Mr. Hill, step away from the swing set and put down the candy.”
Donny – “I smell sulfur.”
Ben – “That’s the exhaust.”
Donny – “Sulfur is not exhaust.”
The moon rose up over the mountains looking like a huge badass orange ball. Matt observed, “I see a bad moon rising, and I just know werewolves are going to come out and eat us.” Jeff added, “Bad things are going to happen.” We arrive at the Portland venue late with Chris commenting, “That’s why Dixie Witch always gets to the gig before us. We always have to stop at a lot of playgrounds.” In the Dixie Witch van it seems that all they talk about is shit, and their shits, and the act of shitting, whereas in the Camarosmith van, there seems to be a lot of pedophiliac jokes going on. I can’t figure out which one is worse.
Insert jeff.jpg – “Jeff tunes us out and rocks out on his own”
The club that night was the Twilight Café & Bar, where I found myself ordering my third French dip in just as many days (it seems they’re more prevalent in this neck of the woods than they are down in Texas). The tiny place was fucking packed…chock full of motherfuckers for a Sunday night, including Mark from stonerrock.com. I told him about my blackout incident at CBGB’s and, believe it or not, he not only didn’t sound surprised but said, “That sounds like the first night I met you.”
Insert wwadstoner.jpg “WWAD & Mark Stonerrock.com”
Insert camarowitch.jpg “Claytallica, Ben & Trinidad goofing at the Twilite”
I have decided (this is show number three with the boys now) that Camarosmith fucking rocks ass. Ben, the consummate showman, likes to talk a lot of shit in between songs, with comments like, “So I guess you like that rock-n-roll, huh? It reminds you of when you could sit down with a 6 pack in some older man’s Camaro, and suck a dick…like Donny used to do.” And Matt Fox seems to be a good addition to Camarosmith (although Pat “Motherfucking” Brown was motherfucking hot). You can tell Matt’s a rocker-metalhead-lifer from way the fuck back. And Ben Rew has got the boogie-woogie going on, especially when he’s jamming on the tambourine. Maybe it has something to do with the tambourine (the boogie-woogie that is) since Bad Wizard is cursed / blessed with the same affliction.
Insert jeffdonny.jpg “Camaro – Zeke rockers Jeff & Donny”
The Witch started off their set with Get Busy. They sounded great this particular night, not fucking up like they did in Seattle. Ronia-Teargas-Red-Ruffle-Ass-Out kept buying me white Russians so, by the night’s end, I was pretty tore up. I noticed that there’s definitely a lot of fucking freaks in Portland, and a super-fucking-high guy to chick ratio. The last band pretty much rocked ass. They were called Bast and had these shirts (unfortunately I didn’t learn this until the next day when it was too late to acquire one) that said Bast Blue Ribbon with the Pabst logo.
Insert bast.jpg “Bast Blue Ribbon”
During the Bast set, Chris from Camarosmith wandered over to hang out with me and I couldn’t help but ask him why he started sporting a mustache. Chris responded, “I’m entering a psychedelic phase of my development and I don’t want girls to talk to me.” Hmmm…After loading up the gear and saying goodbye to the Witch, I dove in the back of the Camarosmith van and went to some dude’s house (I have no fucking idea whose house it was) where we sat up and partied in the basement with a bunch of people whose names I can’t remember at all, until I passed out down there.
Insert Camaro.jpg “Matt, Ben & Chris-with-the-new-mustache”

Monday November 10th – Day 26

Woke up feeling pretty fucking hungover, and intercepted the shower before anyone else could (except for Matt), and checked out the new Tony Hawk video game which features a ton of bands on the soundtrack including: Camarosmith, and the likes of KISS, Bad Religion, and Queens of the Stone Age. One funny thing that I discovered was that Matt is also in a band called Gene’s Addiction (ode to the corporate and ugly as fuck mastermind behind KISS’s capitalism). There’s a link to it either off Gene’s web site or the KISS fan club website. He’s also in a Thin Lizzy tribute band called Tin Lizzy (“Just so we could steal their logo”, Matt explains). We went to get gas (it’s full service everywhere in Oregon because some douchebag blew up a gas station back in the 50’s or something so the state passed a law that doesn’t allow citizens to pump their own) and talked to the gas station attendant about Arcata (our destination). It seems that the old dude used to live there so we had a conversation about that good old Humboldt county weed. Then he directed us to this joint called Katie O’Brien’s for coffee coffee coffee and some “breffast”. I’ve already got these Camarosmith cats figured out. I guess if you used to party and you go straight edge, coffee and food become your replacement drugs so, the second I sat down, I ordered six coffees and six waters…and all present were happy.
So far I’ve discovered that Ben is all about the Buddhism, commenting that he’s trying to focus on affecting people in a positive way when he plays. Ben is reading Thich Nhat Hanh, Creating True Peace (more Buddhist propaganda…I mean literature). I guess Buddha is his higher power in the 12 Step program. Although Ben started singing when he was three, he noted that he wasn’t in any important bands prior to Camarosmith and added, “I was singing in bands during the whole grunge explosion thing but it was so depressing, and I was really into ‘seventies rock, rather than the grunge.” According to Rew, “Camarosmith came about because Pat Brown and I wanted to do some music together. So we wrote a few songs, and then we brought Jeff in because we were friends and couldn’t find a bass player. Then Chris came in. We had already gone through a couple of really crappy drummers and, although I worked with Donny, I didn’t really think about asking him originally because I thought he was only into punk rock. When he acted like he might be into it we got together and jammed. It started out as a joke really.” Obviously the joke has become a reality, as Ben and Donny are business partners in Red Devil Management, and also own Dead Teenager records (which, among Speedealer, have these killer bands from Seattle like Flamethrower, Load Levelers and the Angry Amputees).
En route to Arcata, I decided Oregon is absolutely beautemous, with the most magnificent pine trees ever, scattered with periodic rain spells as we passed through Eugene. Having known Zeke and Camarosmith since their first appearances in Austin,
I’ve decided that Jeff Matz is one of those dudes who is genuine “gold”…so to speak. He’s one of those guys who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, and he has this huge hilarious laugh. It’s fucking awesome. As we go through Grant’s Pass Ben asks if anyone has any fruit on them. Of course, the one item of food-stuff I actually have on me is an apple. “Get rid of it,” Ben warns, “They don’t let you bring any fruit into California. They’ve got a quarantine on Washington apples, and they’re going to bring out the apple sniffing burros. They’re going to bring a donkey in the van.” Then Donny quips, “I don’t need no goddamn fruit. What am I going to do with that?” And the stupidity continues…
Ben – “I’ve got syphilis and a fat colon. I just want to sell shirts, but you’ve got to have a shirt that’s a bargain. You need to have one shirt that costs less than the others.”
Jeff – “Just grab a shirt, wipe your ass with it, and sell it for 12 bucks.”
Donny – “We better not be eating pizza tonight, because pizza’s not conducive to the rock. I mean I love pizza; it’s just not good for rocking.”
This ride was excruciatingly quiet, as the tape to CD adaptor was fucked (a-new-and-very-uncool-development), and the only tapes along were Thin Lizzy and Megadeth…courtesy of Matt.
Ben – “I hate fucking Megadeth.”
Ben – “I had to take care of Crispin Glover for three days when he was doing these shows up in Seattle and he drove me fucking crazy. We would go into places and he would cause such a fucking disturbance it was ridiculous. It was like, “Hello, I’m fucking insane!”
To be continued…

Rock-n-Roll Q & A with Lee Ving from motherfucking Fear

Who are your favorite bands / greatest influences?
Lee – My favorite bands are Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Ron Carter. My greatest influences are John Coltrane, Charles Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, George Jones, Conway Twitty, and Elvis Presley.

What is your definition of success in rock-n-roll?
Lee – Fulfillment.


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