On the Road with RJ Reynolds (Stolas)- Chapter 1

This is the first installment of a series that will follow the day to day happenings of a band on tour.
Anyone who follows RJ on social media knows he has an unparalleled way with words. He was kind enough to chronicle the tour in what little free time he has and write a sort of tour diary.


Chapter 1: CHAPT-er?! I hardly wrote her!

I landed in Vegas sometime after 9 PM about a week out from the first show, Sergio scooping me up in his sister’s Toyota before speeding out of the airport to our first rehearsal. Car chase. Squad cars. Pull into a quiet neighborhood. Cut the engine. Lose the fuzz. Quick coffee stop. This was my first tour after moving to Boston to live with my partner, in support of our newest album and our first release on EVR. I was trying to hit a “first” quota in this paragraph. First. First. There.

Having Nathan Sletner helm the drums was a stroke of genius and something Sergio really pushed for, and rightly so: Nathan is not only a beast of a drummer but a terrific musician, listening across the band and picking up on what Sergio or I suggest in jam sections like the one in “Circuit Theory.” Add in Tim Brown (Icarus the Owl) to hold down the second guitar parts with effortless gusto, and we had the best Stolas live show to date.

The eve before our first show (and a hometown one at that), Sergio, Tim, and I stayed up with our good friend and tour photographer Rex (@brownmetal on Instagram) polishing off some Johnnie Walker Black while enjoying our favorite pass-time: riffing on potential ideas for reality TV. We were riding the anticipatory high preceding every tour: the one that portends certain joy between every rock and hard place as well as long drives filled with laughter at the nonsensical.

In retrospect, it strikes me as some ancient rite-of-passage that we began the following day with no sleep: we drove immediately to pick up our tour manager Kristelle Pliez (referred to henceforth as Gambit), went back to Sergio’s for some breakfast, hopped in the van two hours later to pick up our new records, drove to The Space to load-in and backline our gear, booked it over to Zia Records for an in-store signing, ran back to the venue half an hour later, and waited like hummingbirds in a shoebox to start the tour off as we had the band five years ago: delirious but committed to giving it everything we had.

Against common sense, we began the long drive toward Fresno to avoid the post-weekend Vegas traffic that puts the I-15 at a dead stop all Sunday.  Car chase. Kill the engine. Say goodbye to loved ones.

Fresno is fucking weird. It’s the backdrop for every B-rate horror movie I’ve never worked up the nerve to click on while cruising Netflix on a Tuesday night. It’s Gatlin, Nebraska and He Who Walks Behind the Rows had already staged the coup, replaced the inhabitants with Stepford Wives, and set up a Starbucks across from a perfectly good cafe.

It also houses one of our favorite venues: Strummers. The sound is perfect, the Front-of-House engineer always accommodating and friendly. For such an odd city, it’s to date our favorite place to play. We just always play and jet out of town before crew members start wandering off into dark alleys alone.

Next up was Che Cafe, a DIY-and-proud venue nestled in San Diego next to what I can only assume is a mist factory, because it covered the surrounding area in a haze so dense that I’m positive the Pacific Northwest imports all of their fog from this one location. It’s owned, operated, and furnished entirely by volunteers, which is conceptually charming but practically unsuited for the kind of music in our tour package. We had to set up our merch outside and, because of the aforementioned humidity generator, every display item got soaked. We packed up our trailer and mutually agreed to find a hair dryer early the next morning.

We’ve been selling the album throughout the tour, and the welcoming reception we’ve received has been incredible.  By the time we hit the Phoenix show, we were receiving a lot of messages from fans enjoying the new album both for its content and production quality. This made us all the more stoked for the release show.  But before that, a 17-hour drive from Arizona to the heart of Texas.

Findings:

  • Play every song until you’re tired of hearing it. Then keep playing it. Then stop. Then feel guilty and keep playing it.
  • Can we talk about how the last time I went to Fresno, someone stuck a baby stroller on top of a handicapped parking sign?
  • “They’re gonna try you for treason, Joe! You’re gonna be a traitor, Joe! That’s what they’re gonna call you! TRAITOR JOE.” Thus the healthy-eating grocer was born.
  • Carlo and I have the ability to catch anything the other throws, and this ability has not dulled with living distance.
  • There’s a toy shop in Kansas that sells hyper-realistic hands to put on your fingers.
    – Written by RJ Reynolds
    – All photos by @brownmetal

Listen to Stolas’ new self-titled album below:

Catch us at a show near you soon. Get your tickets here!

3/23 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade

3/24 Nashville, TN @ Rocketown

3/26 Grand Prairie, TX @ So What?! Music Festival

3/27 Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th St. Collective

3/28 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar Lounge

3/29 Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theatre

3/30 Pittsburgh, PA @ The Smiling Moose

3/31 Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall

4/1 New York City, NY @ Studio at Webster Hall

4/2 Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East

4/4 Philadelphia, PA @ The Voltage Lounge

4/5 Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar

4/6 Columbus, OH @ Woodlands Tavern

4/7 Detroit, MI @ The Ritz

4/8 Chicago, IL @ Subt Downstairs

4/10 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre

4/11 Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep

4/12 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Loading Dock

4/14 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon

4/15 Portland, OR @ Analog

4/17 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst

4/18 Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction

Stay tuned for Chapter 2!

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