After a month of driving our van from town to town, playing clubs, the High Life tour was topped off by an odd non sequitur finale: taking a plane to Copenhagen and playing a Tommy Hilfiger party.
I was devoted to punk rock in high school, and I’ve done a lot of the thinking about the preciousness and purity of music, and consequently, a lot of thinking about selling out. Obviously, I’ve always thought selling out is lame. For me, music is about emotion, passion, healing, about creative weird people coming together, sharing stories, and celebrating life. To merge music with the sale of products is to taint it. This is not even to mention that, on November 12, our band was linking up with a clothing brand that, at least in the 1990s, belonged to the kids who wanted to kick my ass.
It’s funny, when I used to imagine what the process of selling out would look like, it seemed more intentional and cowardly. But two days ago, it played out much differently. I found myself on the tour of my friend Darwin, a tour which I have limited control over. Darwin makes some decisions, Stephen at Lucky Number makes some decisions, there’s agents who handle the booking, other people who handle radio promotion, others who handle internet stuff. Being on a tour of this scale is more like being strapped into a fun house ride, jerking down the tracks, zooming past clown faces and jack-in-the-boxes. So when, during the home stretch of this funhouse ride, I realized it was time to wake up with a couple hours sleep, jet over to Copenhagen, play some weird fancy clothing brand party, and then shoot back to the United States where everything would feel infinitely far away and astoundingly dreamlike, it seemed… amusing. Kinda comedic, curious, stimulating, bizarre. So our band shrugged and went for it. “Technically, we’re only selling out in Denmark,” we sarcastically assured each other.
A smiling driver in a suit carted us from the airport to the Tommy Hilfiger store downtown. Loaded with free clothes, we continued our drive through enchanting Copenhagen. The car happened to roll pass an enormous billboard with the words “Darwin Deez.” Surreal. Next stop was an elaborate artsy hotel. Then, on to the venue, where we were interviewed by Danish MTV. As the camera rolled, Cole, Darwin, and I held and caressed each other, homoerotic for no clear reason (Tour exhaustion? An effort to keep interviews interesting? Sincere man love?). I took a nap while Cole and Darwin were thoroughly impressed by the Beach House concert next door (Darwin described Beach House’s successful sound formula as: “Coldplay, chopped and screwed, no lyrics, and female vocals.”) After our set, my night plunged into a paradise of Danish damsels, whose physical beauty and sexuality are unparalleled. No one slept.
Before I knew it, a Copenhagen cab driver was carting me back to the hotel, asking me if I knew the Lord Jesus. And then I was aboard Virgin Airlines, weeping uncontrollably to Toy Story 3. And soon, I was dragging my green suitcase up the stairs of my apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, still wearing jeans and no underwear. I slept, woke, dragged myself to the church where I work as an organist, and in that familiar post-tour sort of way, it indeed felt like none of it had ever happened.