Archive for the 'Tour Journal' Category

The Artists Behind the Visuals

When Rob Crow first invited us to come on tour with Pinback he mentioned not only that we would be allowed to use their projector but that he was “excited to see what we come up with”. Pressure was on! Luckily we we know some incredible video artists who have been extremely generous in lending us their talents. For anyone who’s been looking for info on all of the crazy video art going on behind us on this tour with Pinback (as well the homecoming show 5/13 at The Uptown in Oakland), here’s a look at the men behind the screen:


Riki Feldmann:

Specialty: Photography, Audio Engineering, Live Improvisational Video
Recommended: New Idria, After the Fire

I can’t really say enough about this guy. He’s on tour with us right now helping us set up and running the projections. He also filmed and produced a few of the videos we’re using (the ones with the sweet nature shots) and even stars in one of them. If that weren’t enough, he engineered Peacocks/Pink Monsters at his recording studio Nu-Tone and has engineering our next record. Last but not least, he’s my favorite photographer. All of those sweet Judgement Day photos? He took’em. His specialty is abandoned ruins.


Luke Judd:

Specialty: Video Installations and Live Improvisational Video
Recommended: Revelations” – Judgement Day

If you’ve ever been at a sweet underground warehouse show in Oakland with crazy live video projections you’ve probably seen Luke’s work. Dude works with a lot of our favorite bands: The Burning of Rome, Foxtails Brigade, Devotionals, Silian Rail, Saything and many more. We’ve worked with him a few times now and it’s always a pleasure.


VJ odbol (aka Tyler Freeman)

Specialty: Inventing
Recommended: “Finis Omne” – Judgement Day

Odbol specializes in designing interfaces that bring the body closer to the machine. The first time I saw this guy in action he was creating live video for BATTLEHOOCH with a nintendo Wii controller. Awesome thing is, that’s not even his craziest invention. VJacket and DrumPants are just as fun.


Mike Mayfield

Specialty: Animation
Recommended: “Song of the Sad Assassin” – Why

We were so incredibly lucky to have Mike do the animation for our Violin Hero video last year. Dude is a total pro animator, working on big network cartoons like American Dad in addition to creating his own awesome shorts. On Violin Hero he went above and beyond, syncing the animation up flawlessly to every note of the music. “I totally played along with a Guitar Hero controller multiple times while I was working on it to make sure it had the same feel, similar intuitive timing, etc, even though I felt like a total dork doing so!” Right on!

John Snapp

Specialty: Video, Editing
Recommended: “Jingletown Blues” – Poor Bailey

John is the bass player for one of favorite East Bay bands, Poor Bailey and he releases a new video for them every week or two. He’s also made sweet videos for Audrye Sessions.


Specialty: 16mm Found Film
Website: N/A
Recommended: “All in Vain” – Judgement Day

AWK raids thrift stores for used reels of film and rebuilds them into dark collages of doom. You can see his work on many of the Dark Opus music videos.


Published in: Music Videos, Tour Journal | on May 1st, 2011 | 331 Comments »

Sneak Attacks, Parties and Grindcore Violin

This tour has been great! Here are some highlights so far:

Sneak Attacks at SXSW:

An amazing solo grindcore violinist that we played with in Indianapolis:
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A crazy party at Football Frat in Chicago:
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Published in: Live Videos, Tour Journal | on March 29th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

The Epic Final Chapter of Our SXSW Adventure

South by Southwest 2010 is now over but it was an experience that I will never forget. Every band comes to the festival for their own reasons. Some bands come to showcase. Some bands come to party and drink free beer. Some bands come with no plan, just because they have heard that South by Southwest is a place where dreams come true. I think that Judgement Day fit into the latter category this year. Having never been to the festival before, we really had no idea of what to expect. We only had the faith that it would be an event rife with opportunities for our unconventional, independent string-metal band.

If you had asked me before our tour if I would like to showcase for a room full of music industry bigwigs I would have said, “Yes! for sure!” We definitely did not do that; there were no big record execs at our out-of-the-way, underground shows. After everything that I’ve seen and experienced this week though, I really don’t feel like we missed out. Instead of showcasing for record executives, we spent the week playing real shows for real people. We played on the streets for everyone walking by, and free parties where no one was turned away for lack of an official badge. We played an amazing party on Thursday night, put together by our tour-mates BATTLEHOOCH, in the overgrown back yard of a punk house for a crowd of artists, musicians, fans and friends. We had the time of our lives dancing our hearts out while the lawyers and managers typed away on their BlackBerrys at the official SXSW show across the street.

All week we handed out fliers for our big Saturday show but when the day finally came, the weather (which had been warm and beautiful all week) suddenly became brutally severe. Temperatures dropped into the 30′s and were accompanied by strong gusts of freezing wind. This was bad news for us because the road to our venue was quite a trek from the heart of the SXSW festival. It was 1.5 miles away across a giant bridge infested by over one million bats. We thought for sure that our show would be empty, but as we set up the room began to fill and when we played the house was packed. I cannot fully express our gratitude towards those who braved the storm to see us. I only hope that the show, in my opinion one of our best ever, was a just reward.

In the end, did our dreams come true? I’d say the jury is still out. I dream of the day when a band can find its audience without going through the lawyers and record executives. I definitely doubt that we will come away from this year’s SXSW with the ability to sell out The Fillmore, but I do know this:

We played on the streets of Austin all day long for three days straight and during that time there were not 5 minutes that went by without someone filming us. We may have been filmed over a thousand times. So far only one group has posted their video: NPR’s All Songs Considered. What will happen when everyone else posts?


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Published in: Editorial, Tour Journal | on March 22nd, 2010 | 1 Comment »

SXSW Cello Jamming

One highlight of sxsw was getting to meet and even play with other cello rockers. Break of Reality is a very heavy cello rock band from New York that are kind of like our east coast counterparts.  Zoe Keating is a Bay Area cellist who used to play in a band called Rasputina as well as many other really sweet groups and now has a solo looping project under her own name. She also has a ridiculous number of twitter followers. We all got together for a collaboration outside of the Austin Convention Center, which was very fun. First we played an arrangement of the funeral march from Beethoven 7 for 5 cellos that Zoe put together (Anton played a cello part). Then we traded off playing and improvising on each others music, and to finish we did a couple of completely improvised jams. Good times. Check out those bands here:
something else with the Beethoven:
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Published in: Tour Journal | on March 20th, 2010 | No Comments »

SXSW Guerrilla Attack Day 1

Man,  I am exhausted. We played for at least 5 hours today and walked around for another 3. It actually was pretty awesome.

When we first arrived at around 2 pm there were already quite a few festival-goers out. We set up on a street corner in front of the Coyote Ugly bar and started playing. Our new battery-powered amplifier and bucket drum kit make for a pretty sweet guerrilla metal setup: within one minute we were surrounded by a large crowd of green-clothed music fans (it was also St. Patricks day today,) and by the second song there were multiple giant video cameras pointed at us. I have no idea what any of these camera people were filming for but they all seemed to be into it. All the while Brandon (our new drum tech / metal expert) was passing out fliers for our Saturday show, selling cd’s and generally hyping us up to every single person who stopped to listen. The response was great and for the rest of the day people kept coming up to me telling me that they liked it.

One thing that we found out which was slightly disappointing is that our big Saturday show is kind of far away from the rest of the festival. It turns out that South Congress is not the same as Congress. If you go to 515 Congress, which is right in the middle of the festival, you will be at a bank. That’s not where we are playing. We’re playing at 515 South Congress, which is about a mile away on the other side of the bridge. The place is really cool, but it is definitely a little bit of a hike. There were quite a few people today who were excited to come see the show, so I hope the distance doesn’t deter them. I guess distance is a good reason to do an “official” SXSW show. All of those ones are really easy to walk to. On the plus side, the bridge that you cross to get to our show also happens to be home to over 1.5 million bats and you’ll see them all flying out to hunt as you cross back over to the festival after our set. I have seen it before and it’s quite a site.
Some other good stuff happened today: we now have two more shows. They are both house parties and they are both tomorrow night:

9pm – 92 Rainey st w/BATTLEHOCH

2am – 3603 s 2nd st  w/?

So… tomorrow’s going to be another big day. I better get some rest. Bed time!


Published in: Tour Journal | on March 18th, 2010 | No Comments »

Touring with Battlehooch

Normally I’d write all of my stories on this blog. This time I’ve been asked to write them for other blogs, so I’m just going to post a bunch of links:

Here is basically my first tour blog entry, which talks about our trip up through Tucson:

Here’s a cool little interview that Grant from Battlehooch and I both did talking about each other’s bands:

Here are a bunch of sweet videos from our San Diego show:

Here’s my favorite from those videos:

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Published in: Tour Journal | on March 17th, 2010 | No Comments »

European Tour Part 2

Here is a video of all of the best footage I filmed on our trip. I think it is a pretty good representation of our tour:

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As soon as we hit Germany,  our casual European vacation turned into a full-on, epic rock tour. Dredg are heroes in Germany, and every night we played to over 1000 people. This was definitely the biggest week in Judgement Day’s life so far, and it went incredibly well. For all of the German shows we were also joined by another cool band called The Parlor Mob, from New Jersey. They fit perfectly into the bill with excellent musicianship and a sound vaguely reminiscent of classic Led Zeppelin. They seemed to be excited about our band as well. Their sound engineer Tony liked us so much that he ended up doing our sound for free, which made a huge difference for us.

The Prank

A few days before our show in Berlin, Dredg got a memo from the Berlin police department saying that they were looking for “Dradg” for questioning about some “property damage”.  Everyone in the band got really paranoid, so Drew Roulette (bass player) came up with a brilliant prank:

On the night of the Berlin show, he hired 2 actors to dress up like German police, come on stage in the middle of the set and arrest Gavin and Dino (singer and drummer)! It worked perfectly: Gavin and Dino were scared shitless!

Drew wanted all of the fans to think that the arrest was real for the first few days, so after the show we posted this video, which cuts off just before the prank is revealed:

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Three days later we posted the full, uncut version:

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Last Three Shows

Our last big German show was in Hamburg, which is a total party town. It’s kind of like the German Las Vegas: there are tons of bars and clubs, and gambling and prostitution are legal. There are transvestites and prostitutes walking around everywhere and sometimes they try to grab you. Lewis, Drew and I walked down the main prostitute street to check out the craziness and it was interesting. The clubs in Hamburg stay open all night so we celebrated our tour properly, drinking and dancing until 5am.

Two days later we played in Christiania, an anarchist commune town in the middle of Copenhagen where drugs are legal. The club there was awesome. It looked like a viking tavern – totally metal. The crowd was small so we decided it would be a good opportunity to practice for the Dark Opus 5th Anniversary show. We played Dark Opus all of the way through and it went way better than any of us thought it would. We got an awesome review from that show; one of the best live reviews we’ve ever gotten. You can read it here but it might give away a couple of surprises for this Thursday’s show.

The last show was in London, a city that I love. We played one of our best sets of the tour and the next day we flew home.

Summing it all up…

My friend let me borrow a Flip video camera for this trip, and I did my best to film cool stuff with it. I edited all of the footage together into a music video that I think sums up our tour well. Here it is – my official Dark Opus video for Pitfires of Hell:

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Published in: Live Videos, Music Videos, Tour Journal | on November 17th, 2009 | 27 Comments »

European Tour Part 1

I have been having a hard time writing on this trip. Every time I start writing something I decide it’s not worth posting, but we are now already halfway through our first European tour so I finally forced myself to finish something.

This is what I wrote a few days ago: “Well here we are, in Rome, Italy. The sun is out and the weather is warm. We woke up early today to go explore the city and saw all kinds of amazing ancient ruins and Renaissance architecture. Yesterday we had a whole day off in Venice, riding around in boats exploring narrow alleyways and eating delicious pasta. Obviously, this has not been our typical starving-and-sleeping-on-dirty-floors DIY tour.  This is as posh as it gets.”

It is true. This tour has been quite luxurious. The main reason is that we are splitting a tour bus with Dredg. Riding on a bus makes everything so much easier. We party, watch movies and sleep during the drives, and then wake up every morning exactly where we need to be. Riding with Dredg has been incredibly fun. There are eleven of us total riding on the bus and everyone hangs out and has a good time. It’s much easier to be traveling with a larger group of people because you don’t get sick of everyone. It also helps that everyone on our bus is chill and fun.

Bunks on the bus: our home for the month.
Bunks on the bus: our home for the month.
When we first got to the bus there was nobody there so we had to wait with all of our gear for a little while.
When we first got to the bus in Barcelona, there was nobody there. This is us waiting for someone to show up and let us in.

In addition to the luxury of the bus, the hospitality in Europe is absolutely amazing. Almost every day we find our dressing room stocked with gourmet cheese, meats, vegetables and sweets. Almost every night we have an amazing catered dinner with wine. They sure know how to treat musicians over here.

It hasn’t been all fun and games though. To help offset the enormous bill that we are going to get at the end of the tour we have been hustling extra hard to sell cds. We have been playing on street corners in the day and sometimes outside of the clubs when the shows get out:

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We made a special European tour cd that we are only selling on this trip called Excerpts. It includes three songs off of our upcoming record Peacocks /Pink Monsters as well as all of Opus 3: Acoustic. It has been selling pretty well and it seems like people like it:

Only Available on the 2009 European Tour

Last night for Halloween we were in Dortmund, Germany. They don’t really celebrate Halloween here like we do in the US but we had a night off and we got into a show where The Hives were playing so that was pretty cool. Most of the rest of the shows on the tour are in Germany, which is where Dredg is hugely popular, so hopefully they will be good for us. I will try my best to publish reports of all interesting occurrences.



The super-awesome music blog Kata Rokkar is doing a ticket giveaway for the Dark Opus 5th Anniversary show. They are having a fun contest. All you have to do is describe what our music sounds like (and there is a song posted there) and the best description wins two tickets to the show. Details here:

Published in: Discography, Live Videos, Tour Journal | on November 1st, 2009 | 6 Comments »

7″ Release Tour Diary


Wow, what a crazy week! This was a great tour. It was the first tour that we booked ourselves in a while, so that meant way more adventure. The northern California shows were all great, especially at The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz, which sold out! Big shout out to Mountain Animal Hospital, the great Santa Cruz band that we played with that night. We definitely felt a whole-lotta-love from Nor Cal. Thank you!

Santa Barbara was interesting. We played at a sporty tequila bar called Sandbar, opening for our friend’s Reggae band Onetwo Tree. When we got there we heard that the owner wanted us to play our “softer, more melodic material”. I guess he was worried we would scare away the party crowd. To be honest, we were a little bit worried too, but as soon as we started people were totally into it. It turned out to be another awesome show. Afterwards I sat in on violin with Onetwo Tree, which was really educational. They are all solid musicians and their drummer, who used to play in Steel Pulse, holds it down with a totally different kind of feel than I am used to. Playing with them was quite a pleasure.

This is the bar that we played at in Santa Barbara

This is the bar that we played at in Santa Barbara

Our LA show was also pretty unusual. It was at this new place called The Bootleg Theater in Echo Park. It is actually a theater – as in dramatic theater. There was a play going on and we were supposed to play in the lobby. It was pretty weird. We loaded in and set up during the first act, then everyone came out for intermission and we just kind of hung out for a bit, then everyone went back in and we had to wait quietly until the second act was over. What made it even weirder was that the play was running about a half hour late, so all of our friends started showing up in the middle of the second act and we had to wait around whispering until the play ended. It was a little bit awkward. As soon as the play got out we were supposed to get up on stage and start playing before all of the play audience left. That was actually kind of cool, because we got to play for a totally different audience, at least for the first couple of songs. There was one little kid who came up and sat right in front of the stage. He was totally feeling it. Future metalhead for sure.

This was the play that was going on at the Bootleg Theater while we were waiting to play.

This was the play that was going on at the Bootleg Theater while we were waiting to play.

Our Oceanside show was really special, and probably my favorite show of the tour. I first discovered Speakeasy Studios, an amazing recording studio and art gallery built into a car repair warehouse, during our tour with Dredg in May. There I saw The Burning of Rome play an epic, inspiring show, complete with robots, wedding gowns, fire dancers and the kind of choruses that could get even the most stuck-up, arms-crossed hipster audiences pumping their fists and singing along. Later, I contacted them to tell them to see if they would want to do a show with us and they offered to have us play their next event. It was so awesome playing on the quirky, home-made Speakeasy stage. We got to go on right after nightfall, the perfect time to play, and we got the audience to pack in really close. It was a blast.

Check out this crazy robot and alien art that was showing in the Speakeasy gallery.

After our set the cops came! Everyone had to go home and The Burning of Rome didn’t get to play. LAME! There was one little girl, maybe about 5 years old, who explained to me what happened: “There’s a mean lady on a hill who called the police. And she’s trying to sleep really early.” (You can read the real story of why the cops came HERE) After most of the crowd left we started packing up the stage, which was outside, and moving all of the gear back into the studio. The Burning of Rome set everything back up in the studio and rocked late into the night for all of us after-partiers. It was a great time.

The next day, after a crazy, late night of partying and jamming we woke up at 5:30 am and drove to the Orange County airport. Lewis and I had to catch a plane to meet up with Mates of State in Tahoe for the Wanderlust festival. Jon, always the trooper, drove the van back to the bay by himself. We had a super quick layover at the San Francisco airport. I split up with Lewis to go use the bathroom and I didn’t see him after that. When we landed in Reno I called him to see where he was and he told me that he was still in San Francisco. He had missed the flight! He had used the bathroom too but apparently his trip had been a little more serious.

Check out my sweet ride at Wanderlust!

Check out my sweet ride at Wanderlust!

Well he totally missed out. I picked my rental car at the airport. It was a bright blue 2010 Mustang! So I rolled up phat to the Squaw Valley resort, parked and hopped on the Gondola, which took me way up the mountain to the festival site. It was absolutely amazing. This was the first year of the Wanderlust festival but if I ever have the opportunity to go again I would want to go and camp out. It was just so beautiful. I had a great day, hanging with the Mates and other friends. I met a bunch of really nice musicians from other bands like Broken Social Scene, Rogue Wave and Spoon. Our old friends in Wendy Darling were playing there too, and my friend Tyson, from my other band Devotionals was just there hanging out. So it was a quite party. We drank lots of beer, went wading in a freezing cold pond during the beautiful sounds of Andrew Bird, and got to watch some great bands from the side of the stage. Spoon totally killed! There were parties and fun happening afterwards but I was too tired, so for the first time on the tour, I stayed in. I had a big week. Can you blame me?


Published in: Editorial, Free Music Downloads, Tour Journal | on July 28th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

More highlights from the tour

Thank you to everyone involved for another great tour.  Our longer set including Lewis’ Etude seemed go over quite well.

At our hometown release show in San Francisco we were stoked to see a lot of new faces in the crowd.

After our SOLD OUT show at the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz, we hung out with the Heet brothers, and enjoyed a game called “Who can we get to drink the Smirnoff Ice.”

In Santa Barbara, Anton jammed the night away with the headlining reggae band.

In LA we were graced with the presence of Ninja Academy.  Guest members Ninjamamalickum, Gongis Khan, and Tai Kwan Dan were welcome additions, adding to the group’s interesting and dynamic sound.

After our Long Beach show, this dude Copeland invited us to stay at a 110 year old theatre.  Anton slept on the stage, while Lewis and I slept on a couch in the women’s bathroom.  Yes, there was a couch in the women’s bathroom, making me wonder, “what lies behind all those forbidden doors.”

Oceanside – where to begin?  Speakeasy Studios – A ridiculously awesome Recording Studio/Art Studio/Venue/Truck Repair.  Everything about the night was perfect… until the cops showed up and shut it down.  We got to finish our set, but our friends in The Burning of Rome got the shaft.  But they took it in stride and moved the party inside to the studio where they rocked a late night set for the remaining soldiers.


Published in: Tour Journal | on July 28th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
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