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Backstage with Baldy

Syracuse – May 12th

I punched Mike Inez’s suitcase.

It had absolutely nothing to do with Mike other than the fact that his luggage is made of extremely hard shell plastic, and it was on top of everyone else’s.

I’d completely forgotten about doing it until I took a shower later in the day and wondered why the knuckles on my left hand were sore and smeared with a little bit of blood.

Why did I hit Mike’s suitcase?

Well, as I’ve mentioned before, we tend to arrive at our hotels at some pretty ungodly hours, which means that oftentimes there’s no bellman on duty and I have to get the band member’s bags to their rooms on my own.

Which is really no big deal, but if you pull out your human behavior calculator and take two hours of sleep, multiply it by 12 pieces of luggage, add one wobbly-wheeled luggage cart that refuses to be pushed in a straight line, and divide it by a grumpy Baldy, the result is one piece of punched luggage.

I generally tend to be a mild-mannered guy. I’ve never punched or hit another human being in my life, and I can’t imagine that I ever will.

But when I snap, I tend to express my anger in quick bursts of obscenities, followed by the striking of inanimate objects.

I know that this sounds a bit Neanderthal-y, but I also know that I’m not alone in this behavior.

World renowned drummer Sean Kinney nearly missed the recording of the band’s first album Facelift because he broke his hand punching a brick wall several weeks before they were due to enter the studio.

And just last year Jerry punched a horse.

(dig through the blog archives for Oklahoma City if you missed that one)

Me? I tend to take that valuable split second to think it through a bit before I start swinging.

I’ve punched a hole in a wall, but at least it was plaster.

I even punched a cheeseburger in the drive-thru at McDonalds once when I was a kid. (When I said no pickles & onions, I REALLY meant it)

I’m not proud to say that I’ve punched a lot of things over the years, and I’m fortunate that I’ve never hurt my hand.

But just like all of the prior instances, the luggage punching was just a brief burst of anger that came and went quickly, and I was back to normal in no time.

(And now I have some cool knuckle scarring that makes me feel tough)

Anyway, fast forward through a day off that included a screaming 15 minute (false) fire alarm going off in the hotel, a 6 A.M. wake-up and early departure to Syracuse for the gig, and some questionable venue security once we got there that resulted in people without credentials backstage, on stage, and at one point, in the rafters.

It was a frustrating 36 hours.

But then it all got better for a minute.

I made my way to the dressing room during the middle of the set, and a familiar tune was coming from the street.

No, it wasn’t Sludge Factory, it was The Entertainer, and it was coming from a Skippy’s Soft Serve truck parked below the dressing room.

And just like that, all of the stresses of the previous 36 hours melted away.

Because ice cream cures all of life’s ills.

But then the realization sank in that I couldn’t make my way down there to actually buy some ice cream.

And as we all know, the ice cream truck plays the same song over and over and over on a loop, so it only took a couple of minutes before The Entertainer had grated my nerves down to the nub.

I knew there was only one thing that was going to heal my broken spirit and ease my irritation, so I finished my work in the dressing room and ran back down to the stage to rinse my ears out with Got Me Wrong and Would?.

Because Alice In Chains music is like ice cream for your frayed nerves.

And just like that, everything was good again.

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