My Touring Mantra

Over the next few shows I traveled with the band north-east. We headed up slowly towards New York, which would be our first real time off. 

rene villanueva touring new york city
Relax. Walk. Stretch. Eat.  

The others had places to stay. Well almost all the others. I stayed on a bus, which is much creepier when no one else is on it.

I had time to find a comic shop. Shave. And think a little.

For me the performances had become a series of ups and downs. Not the guys or the music. We just hit some stage craziness. Every night seemed like something new was thrown at us. Feedback loops. Low-end wonkiness echoing across the stage, making everyone think the bass was out of tune, I still maintain I was on but you know... 

There were times when we hit a real groove, and times when we were on the verge of completely falling off the rails, and that was beautiful and exciting edge to walk. 

I remember so many shows looking at our drummer Fred, who has the most stone cold serious face for drumming ever, and there was such intensity in his eyes when he played, and never knowing if he was angry or extremely focused or what. His eyes are like stone. Nailing every beat. But stone. 

And there was me. Trying to get a laugh. Trying to break his character. I'd slide up next to him in-between the songs and say, "Never stop smiling." 

Somewhere between that first time I said it, to now, it has became my touring mantra. 

It's not literal... I take it to just mean: keep your composure. Let the show go on. 

Maybe it's always been my underlining philosophy.

The main speakers shut off
- Never stop smiling
 Radio stations start playing through an amp
- Never stop smiling
Band members (unnamed) not appearing on stage
- Never stop smiling
- Never stop smiling
Musicians competing in a volume arm-race for loudest amp
- Never stop smiling
- Never stop smiling
 Divas desperate for the spotlight
- Never stop smiling
Someone drank more than they should
- Never stop smiling
Someone drank not enough
- Never stop smiling
- Never stop smiling

It sounds crazy. 

Maybe a little denial-ist. But that's missing the point. 

To perform on stage is to live a show. I exist like a character in a play exists. Or a TV show. There is me. And there is me on stage.

And I have a purpose. Something bigger than myself. Bigger than a fight I had on the phone. Bigger than my hunger pains from missing lunch. Bigger than pain from blisters on my hands or the trigger finger that kicks in every random show.

Most of the time, the problems, the stuff that is happening and so immediate and feels like the world is falling apart, goes unnoticed by the audience. WE are the only ones who see that. 

Who feel that. And if you let those things get to you, and you wear those problems than the crowd feels it. They can smell the trouble.

With this band, we always were able to tame it back. 
To hit a near-disaster and escape. 

I have seen so many shows where the band is just devoured by their own self-doubt. Ask me sometime about the time I saw The Darkness play at Stubb's in Austin.

So I hiked through Williamsburg, checking out the stores and food and people, and avoiding going back to the empty buss. Missing my little man and my wife. 

And the people around me with faces like, "Who's this long, tall Texan walking around? Doing nothing but smiling. He never stops smiling."


the grey sounds
a hollowness in me.
i am the vibration. the echo. 
bouncing through the city. alone