Moments before taking off we are sitting in the van in the Econo Lodge parking lot. A guy in rattly black clothes, a black ball cap and long grey blond hair and no teeth rides up on a ten speed dirt bike. He knocks on Travis' window. Travis rolls it down.
"You need any rock seed," he asks.
"No thanks," Travis says.
"Don't hurt to ask," the man in black replies.
"Yes it does,' says Malcolm.
We have what should be a 14 hour drive from St. Pete to Springfield Virginia. But we stop so many times I am sure it will be closer to 20 hours.
Malcolm's transformation of the band is on. An hour south of the Florida boarder he is feeding us raw coconut with honey. He cuts it with a ridiculously dramatic looking knife his father gave him. Malcolm is Sylvester Stallone in First Blood. The other night he offered me raw honey to use as hair gel. The shit worked.
Travis has been on the phone most of the day. The producers of the A and E show Intervention are going to come out to a show and do a follow up.
Last night's show opened a door that has needed to be opened for a while. A little more confident in our abilities, we have our first philosophical musings of the tour.
"It's wild that I did 'The End' with The Doors before 9-11, isn't it?"
"I could see it that way," I say.
"Yeah. I guess I see it differently," Travis says, afraid that I may not agree with him. "I see musicians as prophets. I see Rick Rubin as a prophet. All the energy flows out of him, making things happen. But it's a silent story its not supposed to be told. It's supposed to be acted." Travis seems to process eighteen impulses in a matter of seconds. "I got a big mouth," he says finally.
This is one of those Travis exchanges that brims with hard wisdom, mixed and scrambled by many thoughts going on at once. In a nutshell, I agree with him. In my best moments I even aspire to the Rick Rubinesque nature he described.
"I don't think we are doing our job as artists if we are not writing the books for the next era," I say. Lofty as it sounds, we all agree, and that's good, because there is much more than paychecks and wish-fantasies of record deals happening here. Maybe we see the same, maybe we don't, but if anything is going to come together for us, it is going to require many people and many parts. As Travis said the other night onstage, "These instruments are alive."
Yes we are.