By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Dillinger Four and Atmosphere kicked off the year by sharing the stage at First Avenue's staff party last January--and, surprisingly, nobody got naked. Since then, D4's St. Patrick Costello and Atmosphere's Slug have crisscrossed the world on separate DIY tours. We asked the local punk bassist and punk-ass rapper to recount stories from the road and other 2002 highlights.
CITY PAGES: Got any good anecdotes?
SLUG: I don't even know what an anecdote is. I thought it was like, "Oh man, it burns when I pee. I gotta go get an anecdote."
ST. PATRICK COSTELLO: My most memorable moment this year would be traveling around the country and writing messages to Atmosphere on their tour posters.
SLUG: Yeah, everywhere I went, there was "D4 loves Uptown Jesus" in the bathroom or in the bar. And there were always three kids that came up to me and went, "We just saw Dillinger Four, do you know those guys?"
CITY PAGES: Didn't Dillinger Four play a squat in Switzerland with a pool?
COSTELLO: That was really cool. It was this mansion that this American built, and he'd have diplomats come for dinner and stuff. It looked all Sound of Music. But somewhere along the line he went bankrupt and just packed up and left. So these people squatted and put on shows. The cool thing was that it was right next door to the mansion where Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. This dude, who I couldn't even really talk to because he only spoke French, he was like, "I am to take you to the mansion. You see for the monster!" And we got pretty loaded and he took me over there. We had to walk a half-mile through the woods. It was really stormy, and I got really terrified.
Another thing was we had no idea that we had a genuine following in England. The first show we played was in London, and we would have been happy if we drew a hundred. And this place, the Underworld, was damn near sold out. It was more like 600 to 700 people. And I remember we played "OK FM DOA" first, and people jumped on the stage right out the gate, singing along to everything. I was dumbfounded.
And then after the show everybody came up and was like, "Do you know Atmosphere?" [laughs] We heard about Atmosphere everywhere. We heard about Har Mar Superstar everywhere. Some people bring up Mason Jennings. Some people bring up American Head Charge.
SLUG: Yeah, Har Mar, you, and Mason Jennings.
COSTELLO: We're always hanging out in this hot tub.
CITY PAGES: How did you two become friends?
COSTELLO: [Through Lifter Puller singer] Craig Finn. Sean, didn't you take him to a rave or something? That's what he told me. He said "Dude, have you ever heard of Atmosphere?" He told me some story about how you got him high out of his mind and took him to a rave or something. It was like the best night of his life.
SLUG: I don't remember taking him to a rave. I've been to two, and I played at both of them. We played one out in Woodbury or some shit, and one in St. Paul near downtown.
COSTELLO: That's the one where I met you, because I remember I had this really cool pacifier in my mouth. And my glowsticks were huge.
SLUG: Your glowstick is still huge. Give yourself credit.
COSTELLO: [laughs] I got one of those little Irish glowsticks.
CITY PAGES: Sean, I saw your DJ, Mr. Dibbs, throw up on your shirt at First Avenue. Is there a story behind that?
SLUG: When we went to Japan, they took us from the airport to the venue. We started walking around and it was this huge rap festival. They had rappers from around the country that they brought over there for this. And after about a half-hour people would start to realize who we were: "Atmosphere!" "Mr. Dibbs!" They would start coming up to us going, "Mr. Dibbs!" [makes a gagging motion, finger in mouth].
CITY PAGES:: I didn't realize Dibbs did a lot of vomiting on the road.
SLUG: He made a DVD and a videotape called Scratchapuncture. You know when all the DJs were making these videotapes for kids to learn how to scratch? Well, Dibbs made one where there's barely any scratching in it. It just had tons of fights and throwing up and people eating human shit.
COSTELLO: That's the stuff people always bring up. Because we get that too: "Are you going to take your pants off tonight?" They ask in advance. We'll be like, "Yeah, during the fifth song." Actually that was the highlight of this year, when you and I had that vomit contest in that Laundromat. I suppose that wasn't a show, though.
SLUG: He won. He threw up first.
ELLO: When we played at the Troubadour in L.A., that was the show where Avril Lavigne showed up. And this was when she had the hit single or whatever. But we didn't know who she was because we weren't listening to the radio.
I just remember the security guard coming up and saying, "Ms. Avril Lavigne is here, and she'd like to know if she can come in." And we're like, "April who?" Then we had to drive from L.A. right back to Minneapolis the next day, and it was then that we had the radio on, and we were like, "Oh!" We had no idea. We wouldn't let her in the dressing room. She was too young to drink, anyway.
SLUG: On Halloween in Montreal, some girl drew a soul patch on herself and came to the show and said to me: "Who am I?"
COSTELLO: Actually, we just got e-mailed photos of some guy who went as me for Halloween. He walked around with his pants halfway down his butt and wrote, "How much art can you take?" on his chest. He shaved this Mr. T haircut that I had on the West Coast. Everybody was like, "Yeah, he really looked a lot like you."
I was looking at him like, "Goddamn, I am a fat, ugly motherfucker if I look like this dude."
SLUG: I was in Oklahoma City going back to the hotel after the bar, carrying a six-pack of Corona that I took home with me. And I had to take the Coronas out of a cooler full of ice. And they gave me a six-pack case to put it all in. So I guess by the time we got back to the hotel, the wet beer from the cooler water dissolved the bottom of the cardboard. But I didn't realize this.
So I'm just walking, carrying it, and we're staying at this nice hotel. I'm walking through the lobby, and I turn the corner and I start making my way to the elevators, and all of a sudden I feel one of the bottles go through the bottom of the six pack.Ptchsshhhh! Glass and beer all over the floor of this nice hotel.
So I go, "Fuck, I better start walking faster." And in one arm I got a humidifier that we'd just bought at Wal-Mart on the way back to the hotel, because my throat had been fucking with me, and in the other this six-pack--now a five-pack. All of a sudden I'm getting close to the elevator and another one falls through. Ptchsshhhh! So I quicken my pace, like, "Man, I'm gonna lose all my beers! If I get in the elevator, at least it's carpeted and the beers won't break!"
All of sudden I hear: "Hey! Stop!"
I turn around and look, and it's this little, fat, Flintstone-looking cop. And he's starting to run down the hall towards me. And I've got about 30 yards before he reaches me, right? And I'm just like, "Ah, fuck!" And I start walking faster to get away from him, to get in the elevator. I'm drunk.
Another one falls. Ptchsshhhh! And right before the elevator, I lost all the beers. They all crashed to the floor.
The cop is screaming at me. I get in the elevator, and I'm pushing the door to shut it, 'cause if I get the door to shut, he's not gonna get me. I'm gonna get to whatever floor I'm going to, and it's over.
Fucking cop comes running. And he tries to stop in front of the elevator and put his hand out. But he slips in the beer and falls right off his feet onto his back, hits his fucking head. And I see all that, and then I see him slide past my field of vision.
So now I'm like, "Fuck, this dude fell in glass and beer," so I get out of the elevator to go deal with this. I'm not gonna be the dick, I'm gonna help him up.
Well, he didn't need help. He gets up, covered in beer and shit, grabs me, throws me against the wall, and my humidifier goes crashing to the floor.
He's got me like this, and here comes [Atmosphere friends] J-Bird and Murs, and everybody's kind of just going, "What do we do? The cop's arresting Sean."
The cop's saying, "Why are you breaking beer?"
And all I could say was, "I wanted to drink those beers, man. You think I brought those here to be a dick? I brought those to get drunk, man."
They let me go when the other cop came. But the guy was so embarrassed. He wanted to kill me. It was a very anti-drug tour, though.
COSTELLO: Another weird thing you just made me think of: We played this show in Scotland. It was really weird because we got the itinerary of what we were doing in England. I don't know that much about the geography of England, but I knew enough, thanks to the movie Quadrophenia, to know that Brighton's on the southernmost point of England.
And the very next day we were playing this place called Haddington, Scotland. And I just remember looking at it and going, "This doesn't make any sense: Why the hell are we driving the entire length of England in 24 hours?"
Our buddy Sean Tyler, from Rough Trade, who booked the tour, was like, "Well, I'll tell you, this kid had e-mailed us for two years saying, 'You gotta come play Scotland.'" And [the kid] had thrown out crazy shit, like, "I'll fly you here."
You just kind of write it off because you get weird e-mails like that, anyway. But apparently he had tracked down Tyler, and he had thrown out some amount that he would pay us, and Sean was like, "Look, there's just no way we can fit it in. They're not here for that long."
And every time Tyler would e-mail him and tell him "no," the guy would write back with some higher number. It eventually reached this amount of money that was just stupid. Like, I wouldn't pay it to see tomorrow.
So Tyler was just like, "I went ahead and took it. It's doable."
So we ended up having this thing where we played Brighton. We literally had an hour to hang out with people and then we had to jump in this van and drive all night. And we got into Haddington at noon the next day or whatever.
What we found out was, this kid--he's not really a kid, he's probably 23--wasn't a promoter at all. Which is fine; we're used to that. But what he had done is that Scotland has this thing where it's a kind of "youth help" deal. You can apply to get money to do things that are supposedly going to help youth. So he applied for money saying he wanted to promote a show that would get kids to play musical instruments, to get them off the street. So they gave him all this crazy money. It was at this community center. And he'd built this stage. We told him he didn't have to do all that, and he's like, in his Scottish accent: "That doesn't matter, I've got the money!"
We showed up and it was a Scottish village, it wasn't a city by any means. But the posters were everywhere. And people knew who we were before we got there, because everybody knew about him applying for the money and getting the money. So we showed up. Man, his dad drove up in a hatchback filled to the roof with beer. There were like three moms who had made the craziest spread ever. It was seriously like an Old Country Buffet in this community center. We were on tour with our friends the Tone from England and they were like, "God, I've never seen anything like this in my life." And then newspapers showed up to take pictures of us with him.
So we do the show, and it was great. It was weird, everyone [had come], from these punks that had come down from Edinburgh, [to] these little kids in Korn shirts. And then there'd be these 60- or 70-year-old people who came just because it's this event in this town.
Afterwards we hung out and had a great time walking around and drinking with all these lunatics from the town. And later on, we found out the thing was such a big success that they chose this guy as the example of what the youth of Scotland should be: You know, get things done, apply for money. He got invited to go to this castle and meet the royal family from England. It's totally funny.
I made a joke to him at one point. We were there and I was like, "Man, this place rules. Everybody's funny, everybody's cool, everybody's nice. I ought to come and live here."
And his dad totally took it literally, and he e-mailed me maybe three months ago. His dad, who works at a brewery there, was like, "You know, if you need a job, we can get you one."