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Turns out the rumor wasn't true. It was bassist Mike Mills in the front row, although Stipe had been kicking around the bar that night. "I told you it was Mike Mills, not Michael Stipe," Garner corrects his friend.
"Well, maybe it wasn't you then," Dufilho says. "But someone came back there and told me--and it almost ruined the whole show for me."
Rule 353: Rock Isn't Rude
There's a lot of ego in the music industry. Beefy security guards, drug-addled club owners, money-grubbing label heads. And, of course, there is your garden-variety musician asshole.
"We were opening for this band, and the drummer set up his drums onstage and left us a tiny sliver of space for all our equipment," Dufilho says. "He was like, 'Do not touch these. You're the opening act. You have to set up in front of us. Deal with it.'"
What did they do? They promptly tossed the kit backstage, of course.
"I don't care how much money you make. I don't care how many people like your band," Dufilho says. "There's no room for that kind of ego."
Rule 46: And the Band Plays On, Part 2 They were playing a packed show in Reno, Nevada, when the power blew. (It's quite possible this had to do with the band's staggering collection of 500 rope lights.) So about five songs in, the whole place blinks into darkness, at which point--thank God--drummer Robert Anderson just keeps going. In fact, they all keep going, grabbing some maracas and shakers from Ingles and plowing on through blackness for about 15 minutes until the power kicks on, a climax you could hardly have planned better.
"I talked to the owner that night," Garner remembers, "and he thought we shut the lights down on purpose."
Dufilho smiles. "Now that was one of my favorite shows."
Rules 501-999: Love What You Do "There's so many bands out there, hundreds of thousands of bands, and I figured from the beginning the only way I could make sure we tour is if we do it ourselves," Dufilho says. "Some bands wait for the big labels to come to them, wait for the big audience to come to them, but I say make it happen for yourself, 'cause it might not happen otherwise."
But being a touring band is hard. It's often boring and dirty and terribly inconvenient to such institutions as marriage, friendships and jobs. Touring musicians grapple with loneliness. Touring musicians grapple with Birmingham, Alabama. So it helps to be intoxicated by the stage--and, of course, it helps to be pretty intoxicated.
I ask Dufilho and Garner what advice they would give to bands on the road. Dufilho thinks on this and answers, finally, "Love what you do."
"And," adds Garner, "take a designated driver."