The tour is over. I honestly have two 'knob-twisting' blisters on my thumbs, so I can return home happy in the fact that I didn't sit idly behind a laptop the whole time. In fact, while Chris and I have nothing on Iszoloscope's and Censor's laptop headbanging acts, I think we were definitely animated throughout most of the tour. It was great fun to see Needle Sharing rock the stage every night. Whether there were 10 people or 200, he always seemed pumped up he and projected the energy of his tracks outward. He also sounded good just about anywhere, which was great because his music can sound really huge and epic when its in the right place, but even over small, over-taxed systems, it just seems to be bursting out of the speakers. It was an honor to warm crowds up for him every night.

The tour was a weird lesson in tolerance for me. I had to put up with four people chain-smoking in a van for 11 days and my clothes may never smell lemony-fresh again. The group often wanted to eat here or sight-see there all of which were minor battles to fight since I wanted to spend most of my downtime resting and preparing for the next show. There were hosts with widely varying ideas about what was a reasonable level of cleanliness for guests to sleep on, and while we are always grateful for a free place to stay, we all have limits. The folks who showed up largely identified with the industrial/rivethead culture, and it was trying to walk into venue after venue and not judge people on their appearance alone. I almost always had less faith than I should have had in our audiences who were almost entirely clad in black but were also generally pretty open to what we were doing.

What surprised me the most about this whole exercise in tolerance was the way in which is was anticipated by the record, 'Fashion Victim'. I really wasn't thinking about the goth/industrial crowd when I was writing the record or coming up with the ideas that spawned it, but it all seemed so appropriate every time we stepped into a club that looked like it was stuck in a time-warp to the clubs I hung out in when I was 16. In fact, it usually appeared that everything about the 'scene' is related to fashion in some way. Whether it was the goggles on heads, the neon drinking straws woven into dreads, the platform leather boots, or the studded bondage chokers, almost everyone at most of these shows was playing happily into the fashion of industrial sub-culture. I know, because I used to do it too. The thing is, it started to look a lot like any other kind of secluded, isolationist, insular community. Nicolas and Roland would have looked just as out-of place in a hip-hop club as I did in most of these joints, and it started me thinking even more about the themes that the album touches on. It's all such an artiface and in a lot of ways, a barrier. Happily, I think we were able to break down the barrier most nights and I met a lot of really cool people who wanted to talk about the show, the scene, the themes in the video, and on and on. Once people saw the show, they were generally pretty open and friendly and I shook a lot of hands and thanked a lot of people just about everywhere. It was great, and warm, and connected and it really made tangible a lot of the reasons that I do this in the first place.

So, the moral of the story? I think it's that fashion is as vacuous and empty as I always thought it was, but that it's maybe not as noxious. The boots and spikes and retro-industrial hairstyles were all a pretty superficial wall between me and everyone else when it came right down to it. Even when I wish people could spend less energy getting dressed and fitting in and more energy creating or doing something or connecting with people, I still have to say that somehow it worked despite my initial pessimism. In fact, I hope to see everyone again really soon.