Long Island, NY emotive indie rockers THE TIN CAN COLLECTIVE checked in on IDIOTEQ earlier this year with their track by track rundown for excellent new EP “A Brief Look Back At Rising Tides”. Having released their new single “Better View Desired” in early September, the band went on a tour, doing their first US West Coast dates and eventually, having a wild great time at various shows in 10 states and on the road in between. To document their adventure, we have teamed up to give you their extended, photos filled tour diary, featuring a bunch of stories, memories of great people and bands met on the road, and more!
Going on tour in a post-pandemic world, and at a time when the music industry is completely crumbling, is a challenge to say the least. But for better or for worse, THE TIN CAN COLLECTIVE’s guitarist and vocalist John Warren has decided this is what he is supposed to do with my time on earth, with whoever decides to come with him.
“For this tour, we enlisted a booking agent and to my surprise, there were a few big holes left that I frantically tried to fill in before we left.” – admits John.
“I hadn’t been on a tour this unorganized since I was 22 years old and was hired to play drums in a band called Windup Bird out of New Paltz, NY. There were a few moments where I thought about cutting the tour short or rearranging some dates, but ultimately, we decided – come what may, we were going.”
Coast to coast. New York to California. Bust or bail. In my 2014 minivan.
This time around, the band was made up of: John Warren on guitar and vocals, Cass Kadow on drums, And newcomer JD Shamoun on bass.
During this tour, John was reminded of a few things:
- Do it to do it.
- Don’t expect anything in return, except that you get to stand up on the stage and perform.
- Make the best of it.
- Someday you’ll miss it. Even if it’s eating In-N-Out Burger at 3 AM in your sweaty clothes at a La Quinta hotel in California.
- Some people never get to leave their hometown. Do it for them.
- Do it for you.
- Do it for the people who said you couldn’t.
Words by THE TIN CAN COLLECTIVE’s John Warren
1. New Paltz, NY
Although I’m from Long Island, the sleepy college town New Paltz is largely where I cut my teeth playing music. The first band I toured with was based out of there and this is where I started playing my songs in front of people.
We were booked at a VFW hall with an improve group opening and to be honest I was a little worried. Improv is hard to do well and it doesn’t always mesh well with loud rock music. But Happenstancery was GREAT. Super funny and quick witted, and they were super nice folks. We also got to hang with our homies Grampfather, who were great as always. VFW halls are usually big echoey rooms and this was no exception. We played a good set and shook off some rust. JD’s band from New Paltz, Middle Child closed out the night.
After some late night pizza and a trip down memory lane (don’t get me started with telling stories about New Paltz), we knocked out at JD’s house. Or everyone else did.
I laid awake, caffeine pumping through my veins. On the verge of panic, I did everything I could for sleep, but sleep wouldn’t come. Morning came peeking through the window soon. We had a long road ahead of us. In the morning we loaded up the van and drove off toward Pennsylvania.
2. Pittsburgh/Irwin, PA
Long, uneventful drive through PA. At least this area is scenic, but I have done it many times in my life. Cass and I know each other very well but JD is new to the picture, so we spent most of the drive getting to know each other while JD showed me noodley guitar players I never heard of.
Brandy’s on Main is a newish venue, but a beautiful spot. Nice stage and the event staff were super friendly. We sound checked and JD’s uncle showed up. I think someone bought me a shot, knocking me uncharacteristically off my game. At least to me I felt a little on edge. The lack of sleep hung over my head, but I did my best to shake it off. We had no time to be tired, there was work to be done.
Endless Mike and Beagle Club played first and were incredible. Absolutely expert songwriting and gave me the feels. Great lyrics, great musicians and super nice folks. Endless Machine was next and BLEW ME AWAY. Great songwriting and everyone in the band played up there like they meant it. Also great people.
We stayed at JD’s uncle’s house – unsure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. JD’s uncle was a stoner with a heart of gold. Lots of weed was offered but not for the amateur user. Anything you need to light with a blow torch is over my head. We all hung out and took in the view of the city of Pittsburgh before I retired to my own room, which is a rarity on tour.
So big thanks to JD’s uncle for the hospitality. He even paid for breakfast the next day. Class act.
3. Cincinnati, OH
I’ve played a bunch of shows in Ohio through the years, and everyone keeps telling me about the nice parts. Every time I go there, I ask – is this it? Is Cincinnati nice? Will someone from Ohio show me the way?
The Comet is the best mid-sized venue. Total punk rock bar who hooked it up with a free meal before the show even started. I was particularly not having a good day since the maintenance light came on in the van 5 minutes out from the venue.
We played with a dope surf rock band called the Mimics. While we were setting up the third band asked us twice to “keep it short”. If only they knew us – we rarely overstay our welcome. Bad move to ask a touring band to wrap it up before they even play.
The set was all over the place tonight. Not in a good way. I tried to hold in my disdain so that I could nicely tell the rest of the band that we needed to do better tomorrow. I told everyone so in the morning. Bye bye Ohio. Was that the nice part?
4. Chicago, IL
We needed a bounce back after the night before. After driving through some cornfields, we arrived in Chicago. First house show and man, as much as I love Chicago, it can be a tough city to play music in.
Superkick opened the show and ripped. Awesome songwriting and it’s not so easy to nail those harmonies in a basement. Oh but they did. They gave me a weird hat with the Superkick logo that felt like a beanbag on my head but I appreciated it. Robot Civil Wars was another fun band. Great songwriting and super passionate. This show was punk AF and was what I would consider one of the better Chicago shows I’ve played.
We got some late night deep dish pizza and when we got back to the hotel, the person at the front desk told us the water was shut off. Just what you want to hear after drinking Old Style all night and sweating your ass off in a punk basement. Oh well, the show must go on.
Speaking of the show must go on, we didn’t know where or if we were playing the next day. I told everyone if we don’t get a text from the booking agent about the show that night, we weren’t going to play. We heard nothing and went to bed.
5. Omaha, NE
BAM – 8 AM – I got a message that the booking agent found a show for us late last night. Knowing full well that if a show is booked the night before, it’s likely going to suck and that we had to haul ass to even make it there, but we agreed to do it. We were not here to just to hang out.
We got in the van and flew to Omaha. The speed limit is 80 and everyone blew past us going 100. We made it to a bar filled with confused staff and bands all asking what was going on. I didn’t know.
It was us, Aulnes (French Canadian metal) and a local pop punk band. We played first and, well, it was a show. I think the sound guy liked us. I was happy to play “I Wrote This Song on Your Guitar”, which I wrote about Omaha in my youth. The pop punk band’s girlfriend’s were into it – until they went outside for a cigarette. Aulnes we fucking heavy. Great black metal band and one of nicest bands we met. With their French accents, they asked me why I was so shy on stage. Well Aulnes, there were 5 people here. The pop punk band wasn’t bad, but wore their own merch on stage and the singer shook my hand like he was running a pyramid scheme and saw me as the next sucker.
We stayed in a nice hotel around the block and Cass and JD did laundry. They overloaded the dryer and I heard an explosion at 2 AM that caused the maintenance guy to get involved. The next day we drove to scary Lexington, NE and stayed at what felt like a truck stop town. It smelled like manure and beside our hotel, there was a Walmart and some fast food. We looked up the area on the crime map and where we stayed was beet red. The hotel wasn’t bad, just directly next to a pawn shop. I tried to discreetly take a picture of a trucker by himself in the hot tub to send to my girlfriend. He definitely caught me and I feared Hot Tub Jim (as we nicknamed him) would kill me in my sleep.
6. Denver, CO
Oh what a beautiful city. Or was it just that Nebraska was just full of cow poop and sadness? We had a nice hotel with an awesome view, and we couldn’t have been happier to be in a back in a busy city. After taking a nap we had some time to galivant around before the show. I love Denver, minus the altitude. We played at D3 Arts Center. A newish venue that also doubles as an art space/skate park during the day.
All the bands were realllly awesome tonight (Father Help Me, Dust Honey, Knuckle Pups.) Everyone was friendly and gave passionate, unique performances. The sound was a big echoey hall but I don’t think it mattered. The band was finally locking in. Minus the last song when I was trying to tune my guitar and the altitude was literally knocking it out immediately. Cass and I stopped for booze and had our own little mini party at the hotel. The next day, the altitude sickness GOT ME. Or was it those shooters I bought at the liquor store?). Either way, I was pretty messed up. We went to breakfast and a Kurt Vonnegut themed book store but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I kept a good attitude but oh boy, was I first to call back seat / sleeping spot in the van when it was time to go.
7. Las Vegas, NV
The drive from Colorado through Utah to Vegas was crazy. Very scenic but treacherous. It hailed through the peak of the mountains. We picked a spot in between Colorado and Utah to stay the night. The desert in Utah is absolutely stunning when it’s light out, but soon the sun set and the beauty faded. It was scary. Temperatures dropped. Again the speed limit was 80 and people went 100 flying past us. 20 miles between exits with no lights. If you blew out a tire in the darkness, you could only let your imagination run wild with what could happen while you awaited a tow. I decided this was my drive. I was handed over the wheel. 7 hours. Through the mountains into somewhere in Utah. We made it. The Starbucks messed up my order 3 times and I threw out my coffee completely in the morning.
After all that nothingness, were we happy to see those blinking Vegas lights. Cass’ best friend Max was nice enough to let us unwind at their house in the afternoon. After some catching up and introductions, we had the first In-N-Out of the tour. If you’re from the west and don’t know, In-N-Out is the forbidden fruit of the east. We went to the strip early and caught the beginning of the Pride Parade.
I thought damn, Vegas is already insane – I mean, I shook the mayor’s hand and had In-N-Out, what else could I ask for? Do we even have to play tonight?
Well, this was one of my favorite shows. First of all, Double Down Saloon was punk as fuck. It’s what all the punk bars around the US wish they were. The Negative Nancy’s were incredible. Riot girl punk so good that we listened to the album in the van twice the next day.
They set a serious tone for the rest of the night. Sprockets were super fun pop punk kinda music and kept people moving. Our set felt transcendent. I played with all the might I could and I think Cass and JD followed suite. This was a new gear we found and would come to be what I expected moving forward. People started hugging me after we played and it felt like we were doing something important out there. The last band went on at 1 AM. Cass’ friend’s mom made us a hearty breakfast in the morning and we were on our way.
8. San Diego, CA
This was another super last minute one. No idea what to expect. I frantically tried to book bands from the back of the van while Cass drove us through the desert. The booker at Black Cat in San Diego was super nice and told me “Well, we had nothing going on, so something is better than nothing”. Well, I’ll take it. I found 2 acoustic acts who were great (Flower Animals and Megan Star) and 1 band who was under 21 and will forever stick out in my mind. After they cleared the room with their weird messaging, we tried hard to win back anyone still hanging out in the bar. At the end of the night, not the worst show I’ve ever played.
Why didn’t anyone tell me how expensive San Diego is? A goddamn Best Western was $250. We drove an hour somewhere in between LA and San Diego and knocked out at a very spacious hole in the wall motel. JD awoke Cass and I at 7 AM to casually take a phone call – after which we instituted a new rule – if you have a phone call longer than 2 minutes you need to go into the hallway.
Nobody broke into the van and nobody broke into the hotel so I guess this was a win.
9. Los Angeles, CA
Late night in San Diego, with an early morning LA show was a tough mix. We probably got into the hotel at 3 AM and had a load in the next day at noon. Might not sound that early but 3 people getting ready with a 2 hour drive, which quickly became 3 with traffic.
Only thing near our hotel was McDonald’s and we just missed breakfast so chicken nuggets it is. Bleary eyed, we made it to Boomtown Brewery for load in.
Super cool spot and the bands were all nice. Raised on TV were great and Cass and JD took advantage of the free beer (for once, I was the designated driver). Early show means we’re done early, which meant we had the rare early evening to ourselves. We got to go to Venice Beach and dip our feet in the Pacific. We had officially made it. Coast to coast. We had some late night In-N-Out and went swimming in the hotel pool until the staff kicked us out. God bless the La Quinta in LA.
10. Driving Days
Thus begins the weird days off driving section.
We were supposed to be playing shows all the way back but due to some unforeseen circumstances, we had nothing in between. Zilch. Nada. The rule is – if you’re not playing, you’re paying. So the next few days were not just financially exhausting, but mentally as well. Nothing like a day driving through the desert, staying at a Comfort Inn to give you an existential crisis. Highlights include the people stealing electricity from the top floor of the hotel via an extension cord out the window, plugged into a beat up pickup truck in the parking lot.
West Texas could be a whole damn chapter. I have seen mars on earth and it’s West Texas. Nothing, god damn nothing, for miles and miles and miles. Speed limit is go fuck yourself. Every town has a fast food place and a gas station and that’s it. For hundreds of miles.
I thought – well how do I give up and fly home or find a new career? Maybe I’ll sell my gear and open up a pizza place? Better than being in West Texas. I can’t listen to the Mountain Goats “All Hail West Texas” without wondering what the hell they are talking about anymore.
11. Austin/Jonestown, TX
I was personally struggling in the morning after trying to order a coffee from Dairy Queen and then letting their chicken fingers have their way with my insides. I slept in the back of van and got my bearings. We got word in the morning that our booking agent’s friend had finagled a show for us in Jonestown, TX about 20 minutes outside Austin. Again, we were not here to hang around so we jumped at the chance to fill in another day off. From there on out, I booked most of the shows so I knew they were going to be good.
At the very least this would be good practice after a few days off. The booker there kept trying to get us to join some club that was like a biker club but with guitars (his words, not mine). I politely declined via text and hoped that was the end of the invitation. About 5 minutes away from the venue, a giant SUV swerved in front of us and I slammed on the breaks, saving us from near death. THAT was close.
The venue had a big outdoor stage and a decent crowd who were already hanging out here anyway. Our mood shifted as we met new friends Masters of Unlocking, who did sick covers of video game songs. The booker again tried to get us to join his club and offered to give us tattoos after the show. We politely declined again and thanked him for the offer. We did appreciate him letting us play at the bar but that’s as far as our gratitude went.
It was a beautiful night out in Texas. I played an unreleased song solo to open the set and we played all the songs we knew how to play as a band. The bartender Tammy would open the window from inside the bar and ask “Is anyone thirsty?”. She kept the beer flowing and mysteriously didn’t have a record of our tab when it was time to go (Thanks Tammy!). Masters of Unlocking played and were incredible. Great musicians doing some cool stuff, and nice folks. Ask Matt about his mac and cheese if you meet him. We left the bar quickly after the show upon noticing a confederate flag poster inside (fuck that shit). We were happy to have made some new friends but no longer wanted to be a part of that establishment. The booker tried one more time to give us free tattoos and borderline threatened us if we didn’t stay and watch his new protege who he told was playing after us.
In the morning we had a little time to go check out Austin. It’s a really great city and is even nicer being here not during SXSW. Last time we were in town we were playing the notorious festival and were overwhelmed by the people and chaos on the streets. We had a little time off to wander around and do some touristy things during the day, which was a rarity for this tour. I loaded up on some Daniel Johnston memorabilia I couldn’t afford and some expensive Austin coffee and we were on our way to Houston, TX.
12. Houston, TX
We had been hauling ass across the US and were thrilled to only have a short 2 hour drive to get to the show. Cue Friday Houston traffic. We drove for an hour and realized the time hadn’t gone down at all. Were we going the wrong direction? No, the traffic in Houston was just that bad. The GPS took us some wild backroads and we got to see what Texas really looked like. When we finally got to Houston, we sat in some horrible traffic that may rival New York. That cool 2 hour drive turned into something around 5 and we were almost late for load in.
1810 Ojeman is a great venue and I recommend anyone in the area check it out. Nice big stage with great sound and there are plenty of people who hang out there whether there’s a show or not.
Both bands were excellent and I felt like tonight we were really digging into our new song “Better View Desired”. Somewhere along the line, I also started trying to spin my guitar around every night. This was the first time I did it on stage where it looked like I knew what I was doing (rather than just close my eyes and throw it). I was hoping if people didn’t like our music, they would at least like our on-stage antics and we’d become some sort of Harlem Globetrotters of music. We sold a bunch of stuff and ended up getting paid nicely.
13. New Orleans, LA
We love New Orleans, but it can be a tough city to play in. Lots of jazz music and partying, not a lot of time for original music. I feel like every time we play here, I have to have a talk with the band (and myself) to wait until we are done playing to party. It’s also strangely expensive for a city that has so much crime. That being said, New Orleans is wild and always an experience. We checked into our roach motel and noticed the bathroom door didn’t close. Nice, that’s fun. It was the only thing we could afford and it was 10 minutes away from the show. We pulled up uncharacteristically late for soundcheck at one of the best venues in the country, Gasa Gasa. We were lucky enough to find a spot directly in front of the venue and frantically loaded onto the stage for a quick sound check.
Gasa Gasa seems like they actually give a shit about the bands that play there and go out of their way to take care of them. Lots of great bands have played here throughout the years and signed their name in the green room. We played with the band Ethanol Merman, who were super punk and had some great songs (though they made me wish I had my ear plugs). I also realized I left the keyboard stand in Texas. Oh well! We didn’t have time to eat so we slam dunked some pizza and watched the end of Ethanol Merman’s set.
Back at the hotel, we decided it wasn’t safe to leave the gear in the van so we carried everything into the hotel room. So not only did the door to the bathroom not close but now we had every piece of gear we owned piled up in a tiny room, plus an air mattress on the floor. The next morning, we found a great breakfast spot in the Garden District and got some beignets for the road. So long New Orleans.
14. Athens, GA
Everyone plays in Atlanta, but Athens is where it’s at. A little off the beaten path, Athens is full of musicians and people who actually give a shit about music. Home to the 40 Watt Club and Neutral Milk Hotel, it is mostly a college town. We have played there a few times over the years and it’s always been a special place.
Flicker bar is the best. Very cool decorations. Friendly staff. Great sound. I knew all the bands would be good but wasn’t sure how the turn out would be since it was a Monday. I forgot there is something magical about this town. By the time the punk band The Tightness started playing the room was full. They sounded like Long Island punk and I later learned one of the members toured in another band that opened for Long Island’s seminal punk band Latterman. Strong songwriting and meaningful choruses. Super fun set for us that night. I hadn’t missed a guitar spin since Vegas. I wish every show could be like Athens. Everyone was in a band and cared about the scene. Convince the Kid were incredible too. Really cool synth rock and roll and the singer had a roto tom solo during one of the songs. I didn’t even seem to mind that I got hit with a drum stick standing in the front row. We earned our late night Waffle House that night.
15. Charlotte, NC
It kind of hit me how much touring I had been doing. An hour outside NC, I realized this is the 3rd time I had played in NC in 6 months. I’m not exactly sure what that meant but I had been pounding the pavement quite a bit. No time for sentimentality.
We loaded into the Milestone, which could basically be a punk rock museum. The Bad Brains, Nirvana, REM, Against Me, The Ramones had all played here and signed the wall.
The other bands here were super friendly and I had a good feeling about the show before we even started. We had begun to really find our grove around this time. We decided to kind of reverse the set and open with the song we usually close with and weirdly that kind of cemented us. We came charging in hard with “Calamity Jane” as an opener and closed with “Suburban Jungle”, extending the ending. What else can I say about The Milestone? Hard core. Awesome sound on the stage. Super nice folks. There’s something in the walls of that place and if you don’t have a good show there, it might actually be on you.
16. Richmond, VA
We were relieved to have most of the long drives behind us, and this was again supposed to be a cool 2.5 to 3 hours. At one point, I slammed on the breaks and swerved out of the way, narrowly missing a deer. It was as close to hitting a deer without actually hitting a deer as you could come. We immediately pulled over and caught our breath. Is everyone okay? Well what else could we do? Onward to Richmond.
Charger Port opened the show with some dynamic drummer who was super friendly.
There were a ton of people at this show and the venue didn’t seem prepared for a rock show. We had to move a few tables out of the way for the owners so we didn’t wreck anything.
We played a pretty raucous set. I tried to spin my guitar and it smashed into a light on the first song. I think the people at the venue weren’t happy about that. I played the guitar solo in “Better View Desired” with a beer bottle, Cass started doing some sort of drum solo into the beginning of “In Is Out” that blew me away. Afterward I was like “You should do THAT every night!”. I tried one last guitar flip at the end of the set and this time my guitar went into my head and not all the way around. I also cut my hand.
People seemed to like us despite my stage antics.
Saturn Death Cult closed out the show. They were amazing. They all dressed up in jumpsuits and fake killed someone in the middle of the set to sacrifice them to the death cult. Super fucking heavy music and super fun live show. Go see them whether you are on the bill or not. They rip. After the show, we went to GWAR Bar down the street. Richmond is fun.
17. Washington, DC
Last few times we played in DC, the shows have been amazing. We are happy to say we made some friends in the area. The Southern Ocean are an awesome 90s emo-esque band from the area. Super nice folks and excellent musicians. Pink House is a rowdy 3 piece and besides being strong songwriters are also great human beings.
We played upstairs from a bar in what looked like someone’s attic. Awesome venue, cool vibes but boy carrying our gear up a huge flight of stairs is a tough way to start a show.
The Southern Ocean killed it as always. Beautiful harmonies and some cool guitar playing. Careless Odds played next. Never met them but they were super punk and brought some big energy to the show. We played another set where I felt locked in. Cass dug into her drum solo at the beginning of “In Is Out” again and melted a few faces. It felt good. DC always knows how to party. Pink House brought me back to seeing Bomb the Music Industry in my youth. They had a lot of gear malfunctioning mid-song, but it didn’t matter. They told stories and had some hilarious stage banter. The bass player told some story about accidentally lighting his bed on fire while we tried to help the singer/guitar player troubleshoot his pedal board. They closed with the Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)”, which was the perfect way to end the night.
18. Philadelphia, PA
Boy do I love Philly. We had some time to do cool tourist stuff for once. We went to the Rocky statue and got cheesesteaks. We even found a cat cafe where you could pay to hang out with cats. Not a bad way to spend the day. I wish we could hang at a cat cafe in every town.
Nothing like a Philly basement show to wrap up the tour. Opening band was great and the basement started filling up. Some people seemed a little more interested in partying than actually seeing the bands play but I suppose DIY can be weird sometimes. Plus, the Phillies were in the playoffs and some people were really excited about that. Last time we played here, it was the first show of the tour and we were all over the place. It felt good to come back and plant our flag in the ground.\
19. Queens, NY
It felt so good to be back on LI. Cass came back to my apartment and we had a few hours to rest up, charge our phones, and get ready for the last show. My girlfriend and I got pizza and we watched a few minutes of the Yankee game before we had to take a deep breath and do the thing one last time. So glad to have all homies on the bill. Pin Cushion, Sugarskull Piledriver, Hotel Iris, Brian Kish’s Lounge Pants. All solid bands and all super human beings.
I was little withdrawn that night, trying to save my energy for our last show. I was so relieved to see some friendly faces. We played super late and thankfully people stuck around. I did my final guitar flip despite the low ceiling. I gave my last bit of energy I had to the end of “Suburban Jungle” and was psyched when we were greeted with a “One More Song” chant. After taking a breath (and nearly taking a knee), we closed out the show with a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End”. It felt so good to be home. There is nothing like New York. It is a tough city but people appreciate when you put on a show.
We did it.
Grateful to the band and everyone who supported us. It was a rough road but hey, nothing good comes easy.
Let’s do it again soon.
– John, The Tin Can Collective