Tour Guides from Hell

Tour Guides From Hell: Kim Benzie of Dead Letter Circus Gives Ten Tips for Australians Touring the U, S and A

Photo Credit: Alicat27's Flickr
Photo Credit: Alicat27’s Flickr

Welcome back to “Tour Guides from Hell,” in which musicians from across the metalsphere tell us about some of their favorite places to hit up while they’re out on tour! This edition has been penned by Dead Letter Circus vocalist Kim Benzie; catch Dead Letter Circus on tour right now with Periphery, Born of Osiris and Twelve Foot Ninja. 

Midnight Fireworks: A trick we learned on our first tour of the states in a van was how to stay alive and awake on the road when the driver’s eyelids are starting to get heavy. As you drive along the highways here in certain states  you can’t help but be drawn to a fireworks warehouse out of curiosity. Inside you’ll find a supermarket sized arena of explosive everything.  Do yourself a favour and grab a small cache of boom boom for later,  as at about 3am in the middle of nowhere it could save your life. As you will have no idea whether it is even legal to be lighting where you stop, or if a farmer could possibly have you in the telescopic sites of his high powered rifle, the adrenaline rush is equivalent to about four shots of espresso and way more fun.

Good Bed vs. Free Internet: For some reason in America there is a strange relationship between the quality of your accommodation and the price of internet. Stay at a Motel 6 where you shower in flip flops and risk bed lice and you get sweet, sweet, free internet dripping into your portable device and laptop. Stay at a Hilton you find on Priceline and prepare to back up onto a fist to only get access on one device per room at a ridiculous rate. Make your choice, kids: is that internet flirtation you have set up in the next town worth being covered in bites for?

Walmart Circus: I don’t think you could find an Australian that would walk into Walmart and not be amazed. Don’t get me wrong, Australia reeks of market dominance by large corporations and a lot of what is wrong with the system, but it’s still a sight to behold.  Where else would you find grocery items, pharmaceuticals, liquor and firearms all in the one place? Whether you want to grow a third nipple from the GMO pestifood available, or perhaps accustom your children to weapons at an early age, this is the place with BB gun versions of every gun imaginable from a Glock to an MK47. Check it out purely for the circus-like value.

America on Weed: It seems to us being a non-weed smoking band that the entirety of the US and A are on the green stuff. So if you do not partake you need to prepare a series of polite ways to decline as you will literally be asked to go for a smoke every few minutes at the merch stand and you run the risk of sounding like a broken record. I recommend a cycle of seven. Should you succumb to peer pressure and partake of the Marley — if you your last experience was some mellow Aussie bush weed — be aware that in some places here it is legal and they’ve applied the best scientists to formulate LSD-level pot that will make you question life.

Late Night Gas Station Wonderland: When you are hitting the road hard in the US the one place that becomes so much a part of your life like never before is the gas station. So when your driver is looking at his options when pulling up to one, or if you are the driver, care must be made to select the weirdest looking one as this will be your only source of real world mental stimulation that doesn’t involved a handheld device. Don’t piss outside, get involved, look on every shelf for the weird and wonderful. You’ll find some internet gold that will get way more likes on Instagram than that over-filtered sky you posted earlier. The more “deliverance country” the town, the wilder the wonderland.

The Quest for Decent Coffee: The reality that America doesn’t understand the concept of good coffee becomes very real very fast upon arrival. Somehow you elevate the disgrace that is Starbucks to a place of hope and wonder upon sight. You have to fight the urge to give them your money. Download yourself a coffee finder app like Beanhunter, use Google Maps, and before you even arrive at the venue know where the coffee is at. It exists, but only in little independent stores. You just have to want it enough.

Operating Showers in America: Every hotel in America has some weird shower tap system designed in the past purely to torment slightly inebriated band members from foreign countries in the future. My advice, don’t let the anger and feeling of mental inadequacy overrun you. There  is no pattern or method to it, they are all different and unintuitive. If you want to feel good about your IQ after failing and having a cold shower for the third time on tour, turn on American TV and you’ll feel heaps smart in no time.

If you are Eating Fast Food,  Eat Vego: Know that if you are eating at any burger establishment that is a chain in America you are saying yes to the most appalling treatment of animals on the planet. The movies like Earthlings and all those epic PETA videos that don’t always apply to other countries, they’re all from here. Money before Morals is the mission statement of big business fast food here, make no mistake, you are in the rotten heart of capitalism. Now even if you are one of those complete, head up your ass, ‘death is death, this is food, I need protein man’ people,  you have to remain aware of what your dollar is actually justifying here. So, if you have to eat chain fast food, like, really have to, give the torture meat a miss, and if you need more than a moral reason to do this it will impress the girls you are chatting up at merch.

Boy Toys: America, the land of Cheese and Guns, is the ultimate playground for manboys! You can obtain BB guns, tasers, blowdarts, hunting bows, shanghais, ninja-star playing cards and even remote control toy tanks that can kill a small animal at the supermarket, and often even at gas stations. All of these things must be obtained and experienced to the full potential of one’s imagination.     Yes, you will end up shooting each other with the CO2 powered BB guns when you are drunk, and yes, someone will volunteer to be tasered or shot in the ass with a blow dart. But don’t hold back on these seemingly immature acts, as these are the things we have been starved of in our progressively disarmed nations, and in America it’s our constitutional right, so roll with it and unleash the boy within.

Be Wary of the Free Pour: If you are impartial to partaking in a beverage or two you need to be wary of a cycle that exists over the bar. In countries like Australia where the gratuity system is not in place, the hotter the bar chick the ruder the service. This is due to her intolerance of drunken men trying to hit on her while she is working hard for her more than sweet Australian minimum wage. In American the people behind the bar are getting paid about five bucks an hour and thus relying on your tips to eat and live. As a result you get the most amazing service and even the good looking bar person is super friendly and engaging. This has no relevance to your chances of picking them up, although due to the years of being given the leper treatment in Aus, the drunker you get, the more you will think you are in and the more you will tip. All this tip will result in is stronger drinks from said bartender in thanks for your gratuity. As they free pour in America, they can give you as strong a drink as they want as their way of saying thanks. This can result in the most devastatingly drunk moments of foreigners lives here as you can suddenly be falling off your chair a slurring mess in four or five drinks wondering if you’ve been roey’d. For the record, don’t tip based on looks either; make it the service that decides how thankful you are. It’s way more classy and rewards the hard worker, not just the hard bodied.

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