Montag, 28. März 2011

Last Breath Before The Plunge

Our second tour ended a little over a week ago in Austin during SXSW. It was funny how things worked out for us starting the very same night as my last blog entry (you’ll remember that it included a laundry list of things that went wrong for us…). Well, that night in Shreveport, LA of all places, we celebrated Lehnen’s 100th show in proper fashion- a tight show, good transitions, good vibes, and in excellent company (oh yeah…and FREE OF TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES!). With spirits lifted, we drove on to Austin the next day where we were greeted by chaos; the chaos that is the South By Southwest Music Festival.

Imagine a city overrun by zombies….except these ones aren’t out for your brains. They’re after shows, booze, and whatever illicit substances the streets have to offer. Probably sounds like paradise to some. It was a bit overwhelming for us as a band, but hey….we had a show to play. So, after carrying our equipment through dense crowds of hipsters parading the blocked off streets, we began setting up our gear backstage and preparing for the show we’d all been waiting for. JBTV and the Trophy Room set up a pretty tight schedule, so we scrambled once the band before us was finished with their set. After the fastest soundcheck we’d ever done in our life, we began to play. I cannot remember a whole lot save for the fact that there was sweat everywhere; in all our eyes, my back, my legs, arms, my cymbals, snare…even my coveted synth station. I also remember holding my breath through many stretches praying for our samples to work flawlessly. And they did. It was our favorite show up until then.

Unfortunately, our second show set up for that week had to be cancelled, so we killed time by seeing other friends destroy on stage, playing Texas Hold ‘Em, and….well, at the very end, imbibing liquor so vile and disgusting it should be illegal (lest any parents get unnecessarily upset, I’ll go on record and say it was only me who was stupid and curious enough to do this). Dumb? Yes, but this form of stupidity inspired one of the best things to happen to us on tour. Our hosts along with some other friends jokingly suggested we set up our equipment in their garage and play a last-minute house show. Well, we were out of Four Loko ( and MD 20/20 ( , so why not play a quick show for friends before hopping into the smelly tardcave for 18 hours? We called as many friends as possible, set up, and shred (kind of like this: for about 35 minutes. Not how we expected to end our second tour, but as it turns out, we had more fun at that “show” than at any other on the entire tour.

(Notice our friend, Justin, adding R. Kelly’s “Pregnant” to our jam-session of “Home” that ensued at the end of the concert…priceless)
Hugs were given, hands shaken, bags packed, and rubber burned as the Lehnen mobile peeled out of the driveway on its final voyage back to Fort Collins, CO. Two short days later, my friends left for home.

So, I’m still in Fort Collins spending time with friends and enjoying a bit of time off from long car-rides, setting up, tearing down, and sleeping on floors. I’ll be leaving soon, and settling back into normal life. The end of a tour is always bizarre. For a month, one becomes accustomed to living on the road and off of the goodness of people who open their houses and apartments to you. Sometimes I forget that I have a home of my own across the Atlantic. I love touring. I love playing concerts every day. I love meeting new people. I love re-uniting with friends and family in this place. I have even come to love the challenges one is faced with while abroad. Watching it all come to an end is painful. A close friend once said to me, “Just when I think my heart can’t break any more, it does…”. We’ve all learned a few things about pain and uncertainty while on tour this time around. It’s become so very real, and at times it’s made us all ask ourselves, “Is this really worth it”. Even in the dark times, we’ve come to agree, “Yes, it is”.

On that note, I (on behalf of all of LEHNEN) would like to thank the following people:

Laura Daley (our friend, booking agent, and Mom abroad- we love you truly)
David and Lisa Boyd (thank you for welcoming us into your home each time we come out here)
Our dear, dear friends in the bands Caspian, Walking Oceans, For A Minor Reflection, Junius, Constants, Elevator Action, and a plethora of others I have surely (and regrettably) forgotten.
All of our friends and loved ones scattered across the plains of North America (and back home, of course!)
Charity:Water (for inspiring so much love and goodness towards people who need it)

We have a few fun spring/summer shows coming up this year, but after that, we all foresee a season of silence as we take our last breaths before the plunge and begin expanding our sound and recording it. The future is wide open, and I think I see light. Thank you


Dienstag, 15. März 2011


It’s been about 2 weeks since my last blog entry, so I figured it was time for an update. This one isn’t the happiest I’ve ever written for Lehnen, so if you’re looking for a “picker-upper”, read between the lines or look elsewhere. Just as I tell you all of the wonderful experiences we’ve had on the road, I think it’s only fair of me to be honest and let you know that sometimes things go wrong, too.

The last time I blogged we were in Minneapolis. That was pretty much the last concert to go somewhat as expected. Pretty funny, actually. All was well in our world on tour over here, and that is precisely where I left you all off. Since then, a number of things have gone awry. I don’t care to make this a long account of all the misfortunes we’ve had over the last few weeks, so I’ll put it in bulletin form.

• Madison, WI. The venue tells us we’re unable to play our show there. There was apparently a misunderstanding between their booking agent and ours. Who is actually to blame shall remain nameless. First show on the tour to be cancelled.
• Chicago, IL. Our electronic and bass samples die twice during our set during the second most important show of the tour. The end of “Home” (our closing song of late) is played without bass and (at least to us) comes across as powerless.
• Fort Wayne, IN. The venue/pizza parlor in which our show is booked failed to inform our booking agent that they do not have a sound system. Laura (our booking agent) manages to find a sound guy who shows up and does a good job for us. Still, there was little to no promotion and the bands playing that night (ours and our good friends FOR A MINOR REFLECTION) end up playing for each other.
• Pittsburgh, PA. Our (borrowed) bass-amp starts showing signs of failure when the samples come out sound crackled. We attempt to use another band’s amp. Two songs in, their bass amp loses power and begins emitting strange smells. Another bass amp is brought up on stage, and we manage to finish the show.
• No Boston concert. Fuck (our exact response to the sad news along with that of many friends in the state of Massachusetts).
• New York City. Amazing show yielding promising new connections. Unfortunately, our van breaks down in front of our host’s house in Brooklyn at 3:30am. The next morning Joel has the van towed to a repair shop. We spend all of the money we’d earned on tour up until then on repairs. All fueling expenses are paid out of pocket from that moment on.
• Harrisonburg, VA. We speed down the highway in attempts of making our show that night. We end up arriving right as the headlining act takes the stage. We set up our gear, soundcheck, and begin to play. By the time we start, it’s nearly 1am, and all but 7-8 people have gone home. Our samples die once during the performance as well.
• Asheville, NC. We arrive at the Emerald Lounge where nobody seems to realize we are included in the line-up for the night. The other two bands are country/folk outfits and they draw a fitting crowd for their likes. We go two doors down to a hookah bar where two young gentlemen are playing wonderful ambient/drone music. We end up playing after them, but there aren’t very many people there, and again, our samples crash. Nobody is able to give us a place to stay, so we pay even more money for a motel.
• Clarksville, TN. Our show in Athens, GA gets cancelled due to problems with the police, so Laura adds us to the line up of a show just outside of Nashville. Virtually no one shows up outside of a few friends of ours and the opening act. Samples die towards the end of the set. Again. No money for gas is given to any of the bands that night.
• Memphis, TN. Laura informs us that we will be sharing the stage with our dear friends from Walking Oceans along with For a Minor Reflection. Literally NO ONE shows up at the bar. The opening act plays, the rest of us come to the conclusion that it’s not worth the hassle of setting up. We all just laugh and drink a few watered-down beers together (which with all of the shit that we’ve been through at that point is really all one can do). At least I can say we had a night in which our samples didn’t crash.

So, yes- we’ve been through a bit of a shit phase recently. By the time our van broke down in NY, I thought I might lose my sanity. I am a devout Christian and I believe in God’s goodness. I believe in His saving grace and love for all of humanity. I believe in all of these things in the good times and in the bad, but there are certainly days in which I wonder why things happen the way they do. I know that I (along with my beloved friends in Lehnen) are lucky and beyond blessed. Look at Japan right now. Think of the thousands of people dying daily due to preventable causes. Look at the pointless wars being waged, the drug abuse, or the sex-trafficking. There are so many things I, thankfully, have not fallen subject to. I do not know why these things happen. The questions I ask God on a daily basis are not always immediately answered. Some never. Still, I’ve learned that we all have a choice in finding fulfillment. It’s not just about being grateful on days in which all goes according to our desires. I’m starting to see that so much of life is about finding and reminding yourself of things that are beautiful when all else seems hopeless. Hope is everywhere you choose to see it.

This brings us up to where I am right now; sitting at a gas station somewhere in Louisiana. About an hour ago our van unexpectedly ran out of fuel on the highway. Josef and Joel managed to flag down a friendly southerner by the name of James who drives Joel to the nearest gas station and back. We all thank him profusely for his help and apologize for inconveniencing him. He tells us that he might end up being late for dinner, but that his wife will surely understand. “She would’ve done the same thing”, he tells us. His kindness is genuine and for the first time in what seems like forever, I am moved.


Dienstag, 1. März 2011

Josef is drunk.

Lawrence, Kansas- a place that initially looked like something out of a horror film- turned out to be charming and full of friendly people. After spending WAY too much time in Starbucks, we went to SuperTarget, got some swim-trunks, and went swimming at the Lawrence Aquatic Center. It was good to get some exercise in (or if you’re Josef- to fall off of a 3 meter diving board…), but we really just went there to shower. After a thorough wash, we got dressed, ate at Subway, and drove to the venue- the Jackpot Music Hall.

Well, we got there about 5 hours early, so Joel caught up on his sleep in the van while Marty, Josef, and I continued to maintain our (loose, but nonetheless) alcohol regiment with a couple of beers. Just as a side note: Beer and touring just go hand in hand. It doesn’t make you an alcoholic. “That’s just the way of the road, buddy”, as Ray from Trailer Park Boys would say. Anyway, after spending many hours waiting, it turned out that one of the bands we were supposed to play with weren’t able to make it to the show. Still- Elevator Action showed up shortly after 8, so we began gearing up for the night. Elevator Action is a group of young musicians who (like us) are approaching pop music from a more experimental angle. Watching them play was very enjoyable. We played our regular set after them, and talked about all things music for several hours. The show itself was fun, but rather poorly attended. I guess playing a concert on the night of the Oscars Ceremony isn’t exactly the best idea, but those who were there with us had fun nonetheless. We went back to the band’s house, watched some Metalocalypse and called it a night. The next day (after E.A.'s singer showed us a priceless poster of his....)

we walked around downtown Lawrence visiting an incredible Burger restaurant (The Burger Stand- if you’re ever in Lawrence, get yourself a Kobe Burger with Truffle Fries. Your arteries will hate you for it, but not your taste-buds), a local record store (one I was particular fond of because the owners have a cute cat that runs around the shop), and a T-Shirt printshop for which Elevator Action’s drummer works. We eventually shook hands with our generous hosts, said our farewells, and headed out to Glenwood, Iowa where Joel’s grandmother waited for us patiently.

After a short three-hour drive, we arrived in Glenwood (population of 4,000 people). Joel’s grandmother has to be one of the sweetest people in the world. Her house is small with a narrow staircase leading up to two small bedrooms where the four of us eventually spread out and prepared for sleep. The walls in every room are covered with family portraits, paintings, and stereotypical, “middle of America” decorations.

Standing in her home feels like being in a movie in which the main character is a young college student visiting their extended family for Thanksgiving or Christmas for the first time. There is a warmth filling the house that can only be described as love. She set out milk and cookies for all of us and hugged us goodnight. We each took to our rooms, watched a movie or an episode of a TV show on our laptops, and eventually fell asleep.

We woke up, ate breakfast, and listened to stories about Joel’s family. His grandmother received several phone calls from relatives expressing excitement over meeting us. She gave us a tour of the house including the basement, which she set up as a safe-haven of sorts in case of tornado threats. One could tell how much she enjoyed having us around. Again- a woman whose heart and home is clearly filled with love.

After a lovely lunch with Joel's grandmother and her siblings, we drove up to Ames, IA for our next show. We arrived and were notified by Laura (our booking agent, close friend, and Mom) that one of the other bands would be at a cafe nearby if we wanted to meet up with them. We didn't have any other plans, so we made our way over there. We weren't sure if they were actually in the cafe or not, but eventually Josef decided that the only other group of young guys who looked exhausted must be the crew we were looking for. So, we shook hands with the boys from Walking Oceans and it hit off immediately. This was a trend that seemed to evolve throughout the rest of the night. Again, discussions about music, equipment, and touring ensued as we all geared up for a short and intimate show at the Ames Progressive. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say we were both very fond of each other's music and live performances. We marveled at each other's performances, bought each other's merch, traded numbers, and wished we had more time to pound a few beers together. Unfortunately, that wasn't in the cards, but (as it turns out) they will also be in Austin for SXSW, so the farewell wasn't quite as disappointing as we'd thought it might be. Below is a video of Walking Oceans destroying. Notice the incredible light rig their drummer built for

This pretty much brings us up to speed. We are currently in Minneapolis with our dear, dear friends, John and Katie, waiting to play at The Cause tonight. It's beyond ass-cold in this city. It sucks. (to get a taste of how much it sucks, view the 2 second clip of Josef below. Yes, it's Josef and not a homeless person.) Anyway.... The shows leading up to today have been fun and worthwhile. Still, the things I remember the most so far are the small moments in which everything seems to come into focus; moments in which I am reminded of what life is all about. Joel’s grandmother said it best: “We all only have one day when you think about it. Live it like it’s your last and you’ll be fine.”