Last Saturday, Chicago band Tinkerbelles performed in Milwaukee not once, but twice. Two performances in the same city in one day is not your average schedule, but Tinkerbelles are not your average band.
On June 19, Tinkerbelles set out on a Guinness record-breaking crusade in an effort to play 40 shows in 10 days. I had the pleasure of chatting with band members Christian and Adam, along with their videographer and Sundance alum, Dan, fresh off a skate park show in Davenport, Iowa, as they made their way to show number 25. (See our conversation, below.)
After having been on the road for seven days, these guys weren’t anything less than pumped and ready to keep trucking. Our conversation was less than 20 minutes, but I already felt like I had been getting to know these guys — and their mothers.
The Tinkerbelles worked the last leg of their insane tour over the weekend at the Burnhearts Pabst Street Party in Bay View, and again at Bremen Café. Keep on scrollin’ if you’d like more of an insight to Tinkerbelles’ life on the road, avoiding arrests, skateboards and what they’re listening to.
First off, how did you guys get here and where did the idea for this insane tour come from?
Christian: As a band, we were in another band that was a four piece, and, like, the other two guys just kind of stopped coming to practice, so Adam and I just kept working, and became this two piece. And we had to fill up all the sounds, so we started to sing to fill up extra vocal parts and just kept playing.
We had a good friend of our pitch us a music video idea that we weren’t really for, it was for our song 40 walls. It was just kind of a strange video idea and we were like “nah, we don’t know if we’re going to do that” so he was just like “well why don’t you just play 40 shows then?” and its like well, we can’t take 40 days off of work, it wouldn’t be fruitful… so we just said I don’t know lets do it in ten days- lets make a metric that’s easy to divide. So we chose ten days and thought, “Yea, we can do that, that’s not a big deal, sure, whatever. We can do that.” It seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. Then, like, a week before we were like “what are we doing?”
Would you say it’s been a pretty grass roots operation so far? How did you come up with the execution of your planning for the tour?
Christian: We worked for about four months, just emailing everyone we could find and venues that we had played before and looking up skate parks- Adam had this great idea about skate parks- so essentially we’re Google mapping all these skate parks to see A) which ones weren’t exactly next to a police station (laughs) and B) which ones had a parking lot we could just roll up to and it was crazy how many skate parks were in the backyard of a police station. Which is just super odd and kind of frightening. Like, here you have all these kids that just want to skate and these people are like “Oh, we better keep our eye on them” sort of thing. They’re calling them out before they’re even doing anything. So, we found the ones that didn’t have a police station nearby and that’s where we’re headed right now. We’ve been playing bars or coffee shops or a record store.
What have been your favorite venues you’ve played in on this tour, currently on day 7 of 10?
Last night we played Foam in St. Louis and that place was amazing. It’s a little club, super rad, everybody there was awesome, the bands were so great. It was probably one of the best shows we’ve played by far. And then at Maudie’s in Cincinnati, it was on a Monday night and we did not expect like a big turn out and everybody was just out like shakin’ it, havin’ a good ole time. And then every record store we’ve played has just been nothing but the best vibes and everybody is like even though it is absurd “you guys can do it! C’mon!”
Right on. That’s very cool. I love that this project of yours is getting that reaction from people.
Christian: Yea, we do too! We’re pumped.
I read that you guys planned on rolling up to some skate parks and just start jamming. How did those go? Any warrants out for your arrests?
Well, ah, in Cleveland we played in this skate park. First we went to this restaurant right down by the water. Great Restaurant, it was on Father’s day on Sunday. We ate there, had this great meal, a couple beers and afterwards, well when we went in there was nobody at the skate park and when we came out there were a bunch of people at the park. So, we rolled up our stuff and played this great show, everybody was really happy about it and had a good time. And people were coming up, like parents and families were coming up from the restaurant, having a good time and rooting us on, and somebody in the restaurant called the cops and by the time the cops got there, at that point in time in the tour we had gotten our set up and tear down to a quick science, so by the time the cop walked up to the skate park, there was only a single symbol left, and that was it. And Dan, our videographer that’s with us in the car, he was walking around doing some post show interviews, kind of getting people’s reactions to things, and he saw a body that was next to him, so he turned to interview him and ask how the show went, and then saw that it was a cop so he just kept turning and walked away.
What are some crazy or comical situations you guys have run into thus far?
(deep chuckles from Christian) wow, ah, well theres been a few.
I want ‘em all, guys.
(more chuckles) Adam: well theres definitely been some at far as places to stay… There’s a lot of comedy in that. But everybody wants to stay up and party with the band, and all we want to do is sleep. We’re so tired, driving and playing four shows a day
So, constantly on the road, do you guys sleep in the van or stop by some buddies’ houses?
Adam: Yea, we stayed with Christians mom last night and we’re staying with my mom tomorrow, so definitely seems like family has been super supportive to put us up. And a lot of friends in different places, so it’s been very cool. New friends and old ones.
Awesome. Moms are the best.
Christian: They are! This is the first tour that we’ve stayed in hotels as well, which is mind-blowing.
Yea, you guys have made it to the big leagues.
Adam: I don’t know about that!
Christian: We’re still very paranoid, and staring out the window at the car making sure nobody is like ripping all of our stuff off. Very paranoid.
You guys mentioned that you have a friend, Dan, who’s been to Sundance and is filming the tour- is there a possible music video or documentary in there?
Adam: Do you want to answer that Dan? (I imagine Dan popping his head up to the front of the van to join the conversation, in which he has been quiet thus far)
Dan: So yea, me and my fellow filmmaker buddy, Alan, who’s the other conspirator in this, we’ve had some talks, and we’re trying to make a classic rock-doc, where you just follow a band around and get a taste of what they’re all about, but also kind of just show how grueling this track is. It’s a grind. And hopeful it will show how impressive this feat will be. And along the way we’ve been getting tons of interviews of crazy people who are just all about the music and want to be a part of it which makes it so much better. So, we’re trying to just collect the materials and see if something unfolds before us.
Christian: And this is Dan’s first tour too!
Dan: I’m gonna make it!
I believe in you, Dan. Speaking of that, what kind of physical and mental toll has this tour had on you guys as individuals and as a band?
Christian: I’d say definitely, more so than the shows, it’s the packing up and bringing all the equipment out and tearing it down for each show. Its not the 40 shows that’s so hard, it’s the 80 load in and load outs that really just beat you up. Lifting with the legs, always, always. Adam has these little squares from a disco ball glued on to his bass, so those have been coming off and kind of cutting up his wrist as he’s playing
Oh, very rock n’ roll, Adam
Adam: Yeah, haha, and our voices are about 50%, which is to be expected, at this point. Lots of tea and honey.
Now that you’re almost done with the tour, in retrospect, what expectations did you have that have either come to fruition or been drastically different?
Christian: I’d have to say, I thought we were going to lose our minds around show 19, you know, I thought we were going to be physically just destroyed.
Adam: Somebody’s quitting or something.
Christian: Right. Somebody’s going to get hurt, or Adam’s going to lose his voice, or I break my hand.
Adam: Or the van breaks down.
Christian: But it’s been nothing but green lights and high spirits
Adam: And I’d have to say, too, as far as the skate parks go, for the most part its been kids like 10 to 15 which is pretty great because it’s the middle of summer. And rolling up out of nowhere and playing out of nowhere unexpected unannounced is a super insane thing to kind of witness. There were these three kids the other day who were like “Dude! Dan is going to be so mad that he missed this!” I guess the dude was supposed to be with them that day and for whatever reason had to back out. At the very least, if one kid picks up a guitar or a drumstick after seeing something like that, that’s worth it.
That’s awesome, it seems like almost inadvertently you have been targeting this audience that are young boys and kids that are growing up in this super pop era and introducing them to this post-punk world that you guys are rockin’ in, and that’s really cool.
Adam: Yeah, we didn’t expect that.
Christian: No, we did not. And that’s the thing about these kids at the skate parks, they don’t have any filters. If you suck, they will just rip into you. But we feel very honored to have been accepted by them so far.
You guys have been going to all these skate parks, have either of you picked up a board at all?
Christian: No, no, no.
Adam: I used to skate till I broke a board in half when I was 12 so I was like, “Alright! Looks like I’m not supposed to skate.
Christian: We are fighting against injury as it is, so there’s no need inviting it.
Lastly, This tour requires a lot of driving. What are a few songs you could say have been the soundtrack to your tour, a few things you can’t stop listening to that in a few months you’ll hear and immediately think of being on the road?
Adam: That’s tough! That’s so tough.
Christian: We’ve basically just been exploring each others, like, deepest darkest things. Definitely have been rocking the latest Viet Cong record, which is amazing.
Adam: So good.
Christian: Its self titled if you haven’t heard it, hear it.
Adam: Dreams is another band from Cincinnati that is really good. Ah, man, there’s so much stuff. We were listening to De La Cruz today and getting crazy pumped about that. And then some older funk stuff.
Christian: Dan and I have bonded over our mutual love of Wings, so we’ve gotten into all these deep Wings cuts.
Dan: 90’s stuff!