We hadn’t even hit Metairie before the veggie oil system on Greased Thunder started giving us trouble. After sending the spent fryer oil to the engine, we were decelerating before we could even finish celebrating our travels. Terribly unfortunate thoughts were flying around the head space of the van: this eggie oil van idea was a total wash; we should just go home; there’s no way we can pay for a week’s worth of diesel; fuck dreams, let’s go back home and be boring. While all this was going on inside our heads, we were doing all we could to troubleshoot our vessel. Was it a fuse? Could something be stuck in the tank? Or perhaps it was just fate, pointing at our destiny and laughing hysterically?
It’s times like these that unrelenting positivity and not accepting failure as an option come in handy. After running over our various options, we were able to quickly fix the problem by clearing out a bit of air in the system’s lines. Big fuss, little mess. Luckily, we were on our way to an incredible showcase in San Antonio called Do It Together Fest, put on by Texas Is Funny Records.
Do It Together Fest was a smorgasbord of awesome eclectic music to say the least. Flaunting three stages with 30+ bands from about six different labels from Louisiana and Texas, we were hard pressed to find disappointment in most of them. We even connected with some people who had seen All People and Caddywhompus the last time we played San Antonio in August and had come specifically to see us again. This, my friends, is the best feeling in the world.
After the show was over around 4 a.m., we went for some much-needed authentic San Antonio tacos with Woozy and Scott from Texas Is Funny. On the way to the car, Greg and Zach indulged in a quick game of grab-ass, chasing each other around the parking lot, which resulted in Zach being thrown into some bushes, which he quickly recovered from only to scream, “I DON’T NEED YOU TO THROW ME INTO A BUSH!” and immediately jumped even deeper into the same bush.
“BUT I DON’T WANNA GO TO BASEBALL PRACTICE!” This was the early morning wake up call Zach and I heard from outside the van the day we were set to begin All People’s descent into Austin for SXSW. For the fourth morning in a row, we woke up from a three-hour nap, only to jump back in the van and drive another eight hours to the next show. We were all starting to feel pretty exhausted, but were still riding high on the positive waves of the first three shows in San Antonio, Houston, and Denton. As we shut the doors and prepared for take off, we heard one last unsuccessful attempt at resistance in a long, muffled, high-pitched scream from inside the baseball mom van. Zach then lamented, “If I ever have a kid that screams at me like that, I’m just gonna go ‘AAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH!’ right back at ‘em and say ‘YEAH! DOESN’T THAT SUCK?!’”
The trek to Austin was relatively chill. We took turns playing our “favorite” 311 songs to commemorate the most illustrious holiday that is 311 Day (the crowd pleasers being “Butterfly” by Crazy Town and “Cowboy” by Kid Rock). After getting stuck in some light downtown Austin traffic, we rolled up to the Texas Is Funny // Better Days Will Haunt You showcase five minutes before our set was supposed to start. Within an hour’s time, we had unloaded the trailer, legally parked our rig, set up our equipment and merch table, said hello to a few familiar faces and played a killer 20 minute set.
While we were playing, I managed to spill someone’s beer all over them and me, but they were way more stoked than pissed so that was pretty rad. When offered to replace his beverage, he wanted nothing of it. None of us could have expected so many confused looks as we sarcastically wished the crowd “Happy 311 Day.” We later discussed each of our slow realizations of the age gap. These shows were the first time people besides close friends had heard the new jams and it felt good to see them oing over so well.
You know what punx do on their day off at SXSW? Stay away from SXSW. We woke up a little after noon feeling like someone had hit the refresh button. Our favorite coffee shop in Austin is Thunderbird Coffee, so before we tried communicating with other human beings, we headed there. Afterwards, Greg sat on the computer and knocked out some graphic design / internet stuff while Rob, Zach and myself went in search of veggie oil. Our first stop was in the little area where we played the night before. There were quite a few different restaurants that looked like they had fried food and there was a record shop Rob wanted to check out. After spending about 2 hours asking all the restaurants in a three-block radius, all we had done was buy slices of pizza, vinyl records, and cassette tapes.
Some of the restaurants straight up said “No thanks,” but the majority of them were open to the idea… until they realized they actually didn’t have any oil in the back… or we took a look at their “grease” that had somehow turned into a yellow styrofoam-looking substance and we said “No thanks.” We then made some phone calls to some vegan restaurants to no avail and drove around to two other areas before finally hitting the jackpot in a falafel chain called Maoz. More often than not, this is generally the process of finding veggie oil: you have to know how to take “no” for an answer and get back to the search without getting discouraged. It’s out there, but it’s not always right in front of your face or in the first spot you look.
This real sweet lady with a thick Irish accent led us to the concrete cinder block fortress that held the grease trap and left us to our bidding. It was a real tight entrance, so Rob hopped out and directed while I backed up Greased Thunder into the loading dock. There was no room to walk around back so I climbed through the van only to realize that the back door doesn’t open from the inside. Zach climbed over the top of the van and let me out while Rob hooked the pump up to the van battery. Zach inched the half full barrel closer to the van and we claimed our treasure: roughly 30 gallons of extremely clean, spent fryer oil that would fuel our ride back to the home planet of New Orleans at a whopping 13 highway MPG.
We were really stoked/nervous about how our first showcase would go, so we showed up a few hours early to make sure everything ran smoothly. As expected, there was a pretty big footprint to clean up from the night before, so we loaded in and started sweeping up and throwing away trash. Our new friend Ceci, who helped us set up the showcase, was really rad with getting a free keg and spreading the word to people about the show. Throughout the day, there were always people hanging out and watching bands, which felt good. They weren’t just coming in to grab a free beer and peace; they were paying attention and taking the free Com Rec Comps we were handing out to everyone who walked into the courtyard.
All of the bands were incredible (Lisabi from Brazil, All People, Caddywhompus, Free Pizza and Designer from Boston, Donovan Wolfington) and it was nice to have a day to see a ton of familiar faces, playing in front of new friends and old. Even the amazing Patrick Quirk was there to document the day through his photography (which you can find via CommunityRecords.org). We said our goodbyes, cleaned up our mess, ate some last chance tacos, grabbed a coffee, and started what ended up being a 12-hour journey home. All in all, SXSW was way more enjoyable than ever before. Thanks to everyone who had a hand in making it possible and hopefully we can make next year even better.