Originally pressed in 1996 PROFANE EXISTENCE is bringing this quintessential anarcho punk masterpiece back in circulation.
In 1996 AUS-ROTTEN released their first LP “The System Works For Them” on an unsuspecting punk scene. It spread like wildfire in a pre internet era within a genre that mostly depended on tape trading. (at least is was pre internet for us penniless punks) “The System Works For Them” was the perfect mix of anger and intelligence that the scene needed at the time (and still does today). It was like a wake up call that opened the eyes and ears to many punks the world over. The messages where crystal clear and most us were hooked as soon as the beginning shouts of “Boycott” bellowed over the speakers. I don’t believe any of us ever expected their message to resonate so well within the scene, but even more surprising is how the songs are just as relevant today as on they the day they were written. Which is why PROFANE EXISTENCE has decided to repress this record. We feel that that messages that AUS-ROTTEN brought to the table are to powerful to ignore. We feel that this LP is important and therefore should be highly available and priced affordably.
PROFANE EXISTENCE has worked out every last detail of this release with the members of AUS-ROTTEN whom have been involved from step one. All tracks have been re-masted by Jay Matherson at the Jamroom studios. To be 100% honest we didn’t want to do a complete re-master of what we already considered a good recording. However when we opened the tracks on protools we noticed a few balance issues that required fixing. These fixes resulted in a tremendous upgrade to the overall quality of the tracks. We painstakingly scanned, puzzled, and photoshopped the original artwork to make sure that it was as close to authentic as it could possible be. We then went for broke by pressing in three different vinyl color combinations! Overall to say that we are pumped to release this would be an understatement, we are absolutely ecstatic to bring you this LP on PROFANE EXISTENCE!
To top this all off we worked with AUS-ROTTEN vocalist Dave Trenga on redrawing the classic “What Good Is Money, When There Is No One Left To Buy” design for a T-Shirt to concede with the albums release. This is a fresh take on an old image to create a new and original design.
Vinyl options are…
1. Standard black vinyl
2. “The Battlefield is Still Red” Bloodsplatter vinyl.
3. See through “Smoke”. – Available at SKULLFEST only
Silence are a highly active post-punk/peace-punk band from Pittsburgh, PA. “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” strives (and succeeds) to achieve the perfect balance between peace and post punk. By taking influences from The Mob, Bauhaus, Zounds, Killing Joke, Amebix, Crass, Conflict, Internal Autonomy and Joy Division SILENCE have created what can only be described a brilliant debut LP. At one moment this record is dark, heavy, and atmospheric and then the next moment it makes you want to dance and sing along. Lyrically SILENCE are much closer to the anarcho side of the previously listed influences. Lyrics focus on a variety of topics but often have a strong focus on the way punk and activist communities deal with political struggle in our current political climate.
“The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” comes with a 16 page magazine size zine containing lyrics, personal writings and song explanations. Designed, printed and assembled by the band themselves in true D.I.Y. fashion.
Silence will be having a record release show in their hometown of Pittsburgh PA at the Rock Room Friday April 22nd with SHADOW AGE and SKELETON HANDS. Then later this month SILENCE will embark on a full United States tour to support “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing”. Here is a list of dates. Be show to check in with the bands “bandcamp” or “Facebook” page for show updates.
When all that remains is a world in flames. Is that when they’ll say the wars are finally won? That wars are finally done?
They’re beating on the drums again, they’re fueling up the planes. The congressmen fall into line and sing the old refrain. In the name of peace they’ll burn the land and drop a thousand bombs.
Meanwhile we’ll just stay at home and go back to our sitcoms. It’s the same old song, we’ve heard it before. They’re beating the drums and they’re calling for war. What it’s supposed to accomplish, no one is sure But the victims are always the hungry and the poor.
Once the drums of war begin it’s hard to make them stop. The noise silences the dissidents once the bombs begin to drop. All those who call for peace will be mocked and pushed aside. In 10 years they’ll admit we were right after many thousands more have died.
Finally after many delays from the pressing plant the WARWOUND Demo’s LP “A Huge Black Cloud” is out and copies are moving fast!
Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from 3 sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND, they are a UK band formed in 82. WARWOUND recorded 3 demos in 83 before disbanding and members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form SACRILEGE. These demos never received an official release… until now! Highly influenced by DISCHARGE, WARWOUND is one of the first bands ever to take D-Beat Punk to a raw and intense level. Recently reformed in 2015, original guitarist Damian is now joined by Ian Glasper on bass and Rat Varuker on vocals. After a few gigs in the UK word is spreading fast of the relentless onslaught of a live show these veterans put on. WARWOUND have also recently hit the studio to record for the first time in over 30 years. Needless to say WARWOUND is back with a vengeance!
Yes! Finally, after what turned out to be a gigantic task of moving the PROFANE EXISTENCE distro from Minneapolis to Denver, transferring tons of data, and rebuilding the web store, we are finally set to open back up. To access the new store follow one of the many links from profaneexistence.com or access it directly at http://profaneexistence.storenvy.com
The first official PROFANE EXISTENCE title of 2015 is out and ready for order! We are proud to bring you the RIFLE DIET – “NO SOLACE”LP
Rifle Diet’s No Solace is a 12in 45 that combines the Classic Minneapolis crust sound with Swedish hardcore, D-beat and Epic crust (think somewhere between Servitude and Wolfbirgade, with hints of Tragedy and Fall of Efrafa). The beautiful cover art by Hannah Benoche sets a bleak mood for the dark music within, plus a cover of His Hero is a Gone – Chain of Command (ex-members of InDefence and Garmonbozia) This LP is a joint release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and BLOOD OF THE YOUNG RECORDS
To honor both the opening of the new store and our first release of 2015, we are giving a free copy of the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp to everyone that spends more then $50 from Monday January 12th to Monday January 19th!!! This deal is for one week only. DO NOT MISS OUT!
*Note*Rifle Diet are playing a record release show 1/17/15 at the Dogplex in Minneapolis with Kontrasekt, Aziza, and Fucking. To coincide with that show all orders that contain the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp will be shipped out on Monday January 12th.
The next release in the works is the new full length lp from APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – “We Don’t Need Them”.
We Don’t Need Them is the second full-length record from West Virginia punx Appalachian Terror Unit. ATU have become known throughout the years as being one of the most politically charged bands in the current punk scene. This new record is an all out attack on today’s society that takes ATU to a new level of intensity both lyrically and musically. The combination of the beautiful and thought provoking gatefold cover art designed by Stivart along with the brilliant recording and mastering job by Jay Matheson at the Jam Room take this record even further. Song subjects include the horrors of war, police brutality, destruction of the environment, rape culture, consumerism and much more. Expect a very heavy and much angrier approach from a band that has been around the block and matured their sound. Seven raging new tunes including the epic fourteen and a half minute track “We Don’t Need Them”, a song that will one day be ranked among similar greats as the SUBHUMANS “From the Cradle to the Grave” and AUS ROTTEN “And Now Back to Our Programming”.
APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – We Don’t Need Them will be pressed in the United States on PROFANE EXISTENCE & in Europe on SKULD /RUIN NATION
WARWOUND – “A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983“
Another record we are very excited about is the upcoming WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983. Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from three sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND they are a UK band formed in 82, and released 2 demos in 83. Members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form the almighty SACRILEGE. Warwound are one of the first bands to take the politics and d-beat influence from DISCHARGE and combine it with the blown out sound of CHAOS UK to achieve total destructive raw d-beat ear bleeding chaos!
WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983 will be a split release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and ORGANIZE AND ARISE.
It will be available in the spring of 2015.
Other records and projects we have in the works for 2015 …
VASTATION (pdx formally night nurse) vs WAR//PLAGUE Split EP
KRANG are a new band birthed from Chicago’s DIY punk underbelly. They play a brutally powerful brand of thrashy riff-laden crustcore and have an intense live presence. They have recently recorded for a few vinyl projects, including PE’s own 7″ singles series. Check ’em out!
Interviewed by Brian Poulin (NEGLIGENCE). All photos by Adam DeGross.
PE Who’s in the band and what does each of you do?
AUSTIN: guitars / backing vocals / song writing (synth & keyboard on 12″)
ADAM: bass / backing vocals / song writing
BRENDAN: lead vocals / lyrical content
DEVAN: drums & percussion / backing vocals
PE: What’s a brief history of the band and how did you guys form?
Austin: We started circa 2009. We had an additional guitarist: Louis C. He went on to start a blackened crust band called Welkin Dusk, based in Chicago that he plays drums & lead vocals for. We used to have an additional lead singer as well: Hannah B. Hannah was a part of our first two releases: the out of print “Onward Desolation” demo tape, and also the out of print “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″. Hannah is now the front-woman in a band called Despise, based out of Minneapolis. Our original drummer, Brett, is on the two recordings I mentioned before, as well as our “Sounds of Death” 12″. Brett now drums for a Chicago / northwest Indiana band called Asphixiate. Devan is now our permanent drummer and he will have his first appearance on the “Broken Waves” 7″, released by Profane Existence, which is coming out in June. Devan will also be on our next 12″: “Bad Moon”, which we are writing right now. I, as well as Krang, are totally stoked on Devan and really happy to have them. Devan is active outside of percussion as well with assisting in writing, assistance in lyrical content & structure, and the internet stuff. This line up has been solidified for over a year and is totally fucking Krang! It just works perfectly.
PE: You guys are based out of Chicago. What are your favorite parts of the scene there? What are your least favorite things about Chicago’s scene?
Devan: Chicago’s an interesting place. I feel like the pros and cons are often directly related to one-another. For example, the mere size of the city. There are so many people – new to here, young, old, whatever – that there is basically always something going on and a handful of solid DIY spaces at all times, regardless of whether people leave or places get busted or whatever. The downside is that the physical structure of the city makes it difficult and/or terribly time-consuming to navigate. Especially if you don’t have a car. And even if you do, parking sucks. Anyway, as a result of the city being as segregated as it is, people are often inclined to just stick to what’s going on in their neighborhood and it results in a lack of exposure or attention paid to some really cool things. It’s unfortunate. But then there are some events like the annual Black and Brown Punk Show (shout-out to Monika!) or other fest-type shows where the attendance is crazy and bullshit is minimal. It’s rad.
Austin: I used to live in CHI. I reside in northwest Indiana (NWI). It’s really close. You can compare it to how close Jersey is to NYC. The rest of the band does live in CHI. My favorite things about Chicago is the “don’t take shit” attitude that at least me and the scene we’re involved with has. We’ll kick you out if your a piece of shit human or kick your ass if we have to. I also like The Void Haus in NWI for gigs. My personal least favorite things are cliques, hype, division, etc… the things that you see in every rather large city, I suppose.
Adam: I love Chicago’s unspoken rule of everyone being down to get down when shit hits the fan and nobody lets bogus comments or derogatory gestures fly. My complaint for the longest time was how there is the same hierarchy that we all hate in daily life at a lot of the gigs. It seems like those “in crowd” wanks have come and gone though, or maybe I just don’t surround myself with such fools anymore. My main complaint, and I know I am sounding super negative, but for such a large city there is a lack of bands playing what I am into personally. There are a lot of great bands doing great things…but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am into them musically. Haha! I have a particular taste and its not being fulfilled. I usually go to shows to hang out and have a good time and just show support but its rare that I actually shit over a band that I see locally. I do really, really get down to Population though. White boy can’t dance but when I see this band I start doing shit I didn’t know I was capable of.
Brendan: Chicago is simultaneously the best & worst place to live; which I’d imagine is a critique most other big-city dwellers share. There is no shortage of great folks, bands, eats, cool nerd-haunts (comic & record collectors rejoice!), and beautiful neighborhoods/communities in which to live. The same is true for all of the awful yuppies, gold cost bourgeois, & assholes who get your friends hooked on hard drugs. A lot of the time I wish that I lived in a vast expanse of lush nature with no human presence save myself. When I’m not wishing for seclusion, I’m loving how hard of a time I have sorting out which of the 5 awesome punk shows I get to go see any given night. Chicago has everything I love & hate at once; most of the time its worth it.
PE: Musically what are you guys going for?
Devan: I’d say sincerity, first and foremost. In sound, words, and delivery. And the connections we can and have made with people based on that. My musician’s answer would be just to write the best songs we can and perform them at the highest level at all times.
Austin: I just want to stick out and be a little different sounding. I still want to have that essential formula for great punk. I personally believe we found the introduction to our sound with the “Sounds of Death” 12″. We have two formulas: triumphant, galloping crust metal and simplified, pissed off, to-the-point stuff.
Brendan: Initially we formed with the idea of writing over the top odes to crust circa late 80’s/early 90’s; stuff you could flail your overgrown dreadlocks around to. We all fell into a groove with each other over time, where we don’t really need to define what we’re gonna write before we do. We approach releases with general outlines (theme,length, format etc.), but when writing songs I’d say we aim for mean, earnest & impactful.
Adam: I think naturally all being into different types of musical backgrounds, our finished product ends up being a thing of its own, but we all have similar enough interests to where we end up with the result that we initially were trying to go for. I personally am really into trying to sound like the bands I am into. It doesn’t end up exactly that way which is good but I love when bands obsess over old school sounds/bands/records and try to make their contemporary music sound as authentic as possible whether it be tone or style or whatever. At the end of the day we are trying to sound pissed, like we worship the 80s and have our music sound anarchy as fuck!
PE: What bands inspire you the most?
Austin: I listen to EVERYTHING. I don’t know where to begin but musically, keeping personal interest aside, I think we’re inspired by 80’s UK crust and a lot of Japanese stuff as far as writing collectively. This is something me and you will have to nerd out on when we’re in Boston next. Haha!
Adam: For Krang, bands that influence the writing process for me are Masskontroll, Deathraid, Sacrilege, Hellshock, Deviated Instinct, Sodom, Axegrinder and Amebix as well as Instinct of Survival. Personally I am all over the water but my all time 2 favorite punk bands have always and will always be Discharge and the Dead Boys.
Devan: I could go on a long rant about every band I’ve ever loved and how they’ve all stuck with and influence me to this day and blah blah blah, but I’ll spare you the cost of ink and just say Sacrilege, Crude, Amebix and Discharge. That said, we are quite the eclectic bunch.
Brendan: Musically, anything running the gamut from Paintbox to Elliot Smith. I enjoy a lot of soaring Japanese hardcore with that Burning Spirits feel, 90’s screamo, early black metal & hip hop. Any band that has a way with words gets me going, but mostly I enjoy music that you can’t help but feel.
PE: What are most of your songs about? What inspires the lyrics?
Brendan: Lemme preface by saying that Discharge is rad & “The More I See…” could be the soundtrack to my daily tedium… but i think punk rock has much more potential than to rehash our dogmatic & oftentimes simplistic politics. Having been a few places where the punk scene eats itself inside out with depression, addiction, & apathy towards the struggles of those around us, I think its real important to allow ourselves to be more open in the way we express all of the things exploding in our minds. I am not blowing my own horn, or any horn for that matter, but I really enjoy taking the personal route when it comes to writing & am constantly attempting to better address the common threads that run through all of our lives. Our first wave of songs covered some of our political leanings in regards to vivisection, arms manufacturing, rape culture & the willful destruction of our Earth. The “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″ reflects on the weight of stagnation on the “politically motivated”. “Sounds of Death” is the result of an obsession with death and a years worth of hurt; friends making irreversible decisions in regards to their lives & some of us falling into those spirals ourselves. There is absolution in acceptance though & I think a glint of hope in such dark subject matter. Our upcoming 7″ deals with cycles of change in our lives, moments of mania & madness; a counterpoint to our last 7″. The songs we are writing & playing now are an extension of that, focusing on moments of change in our lives, wanderlust & really just form one big, loud, pissed love letter to the DIY community, punk rock & time spent on the road. Inspiration comes from any human I’ve met that has dared to be open, honest & shameless about it.
Devan: Passion in all its forms and extremities is what inspires us. Totally.
PE: You guys have done a few extensive tours. What’s your favorite city you guys haveplayed in? What’s your least favorite?
Austin: I love Boston. Detroit, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis) are up there too. I don’t really have a least favorite. We have had some bad experiences, though. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and not mention them. Hopefully things will be better when we return.
Devan: New Orleans is my favorite city ever, and our most recent gig in Boston totally ruled. I’d have to say, though, that many of my favorite shows have been in non-major cities. Birmingham AL was awesome, Asheville NC, Cincinatti OH, Grand Rapids MI…basically anywhere with a really tight-knit but wide-ranging DIY scene in terms of age, music, spaces, projects, etc. It’s always super encouraging to see.
Brendan: I’ll echo the others in saying that NOLA, Asheville, Cincy, Birmingham, Boston & Baltimore all kick ass. I’m usually super appreciative of all the towns we’ve been lucky enough to play in, though of course we’ve played in towns that seemed to embrace the anti-PC attitude/sense of humor that I am so fucking sick of. Some cities are really 50/50 because you’ll either play an amazing show with bad-ass folks & have the time of your life, or you might end up wanting to eviscerate some fuckhead who only listens to GG Allin & doesn’t get why a confederate flag hanging at a show space might ruffle some feathers.
Austin: We as a band aren’t about making sure we are politically correct all the time, but we definitely are hellbent on showing one another respect and are willing to give respect back to those who are legit. No single city is bad. Like I said before, sometimes there are some bad experiences. Fuckheads are everywhere.
Adam: Yes, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Boston, but most of all NOLA and Minneapolis. New Orleans and Minneapolis…no other city can live up to the debauchery that is expected to happen when we arrive in these two places. We need a week of recovery after being in either place for just a day. Also I love playing Madison a lot. Fuck, I love touring. So many amazing friends are being missed right now as we speak.
PE: What are some of your favorite bands you guys have played with?
Lord Krang: Scum from Detroit, Appalachian Terror Unit, Antisect, In Defense, Nu-kle-ar Blast Suntan, Kontrasekt, Cognitive Dissonance, The Skuds, Coelacanth, WrathCobra, Wartorn, Negligence, In Ruins, and definitely D-Clone; but honestly, it’s great to play with anyone and everyone who aren’t assholes and give a shit about “punk rock”.
PE: What are some of your favorite local bands from Chicago?
Lord Krang: Asphyxiate, Decay After Death (Decay A.D.), Cemetery (RIP), Culo, Die Time, Slag, Escalofrio, Sex Bunker (RIP), Birth Deformities, Gas Rag, Welkin Dusk, Daylight Robbery, Dirty Surgeon Insurgency, The Breathing Light, La Armada, Black September, Kontaminat, Ooze, Tensions, The Busy Sugnals, Population, More that we’re forgetting to mention….
PE: What does the future hold for Krang?
Devan: As Austin mentioned earlier, we have our “Broken Waves” 7″ being released in June, at which point we’ll be doing a small tour with Coelacanth. Also, as previously stated, we are well along in the writing process for our next full-length LP. Look for us around the Mid-west this summer and keep up-to-date and get in touch via the following:
crustardpunx[AT]gmail.com – krangcrustards.bandcamp.com – krangcrustards.blogspot.com
Austin: More touring, more albums, more blood spit nights, more everything! We’ll do a more extensive tour when the new LP comes out.
Brendan: “Bad Moon” 12″ – Skull Fest – Split(s?) – Self-Destruction With A Gusto
Lord Krang: Record labels that are interested in helping us with our next 12″ (which is more than half way written) get in touch with us!!! It will be even more galloping, pist, and triumphant than our still available “Sounds of Death” 12″!
“And me, yes I, do I want to burn? / Is there something I can learn? / Do I need a business man to promote my angle? / Can I resist the carrots that fame and fortune dangle?” – CRASS
Woke up again around 8 am this morning and felt pretty dang good about it as well. I got my things together at a more relaxed pace than usual, partly because I wanted to enjoy the morning and partly because I wanted to give Zach and Dan a chance to pack up in time if they were still interested in riding down to Lincoln City together. I went over to check on them to see if they were thinking of heading out soon, and immediately knew the answer when I saw that their camp was still almost fully constructed, haha. They said they’d probably catch up to me in Lincoln City, the next major town over and that I should just head out if I’m ready. We were the last two groups left at the camp, everyone having left a few minutes before I had woken up. The idea of being the last person here by myself while everyone else moved on was an extremely depressing thought, so I decided to press on. I wished both of them luck on the first hill of the day, which was literally just outside the park grounds according to our maps, and headed out of the park.
I rode past the ranger station and took a right onto the bypass I took out here that runs as an alternate to Highway 101. The air was heavy with mist this morning, not quite raining, but not dry either, so I put on my rain jacket but stayed in my shorts. I’ve never been a pants guy, and I like to feel my legs unencumbered by heavy fabric as often as possible. This proved fruitful as I was immediately sweating profusely within minutes of climbing the cape, and only would have eventually ripped off my rain pants out of anger and discomfort. This hill is as bad, if not worse, than what the map warned me it would be, and first thing right out of the park did not make it any easier. A few miles up the cape I pass one of the groups from our camp the night before, I greet them with a good morning and push on. Not 10 minutes later I pass the second group from our camp, and then as I finally near the summit about a half hour later I pass the third and final group. At the risk of sounding like a bike jock, it was refreshing to be passing these lycra clad, professional looking bike tourists on my 35 year old Schwinn strapped with heavily worn panniers. I guess I can be a bit competitive sometimes, but mostly it’s just about showing folks it’s not the money (or in this case, the gear) that gets you up the mountain. It takes heart, and unfortunately a lot of rich fools don’t have that. Punks in the front!
After passing the summit I descended into a long valley, guarded by tall trees on either side, and quickly built up speed on this chewed up old road. All at once I came soaring out of the woods as the tree line abruptly ended on either side of me, and the view opened up to sand dunes that stretched over the horizon in all directions. Out of the sand dunes grew a sparse forest of Doug Firs, trunks buried under several feet of earth, creating an extremely odd effect, almost like something out of a science fiction film. I immediately blurt out “WOOOWWWWW” as I come sailing down the hill as I’m just so overwhelmed by what I’m seeing and can’t contain my reaction. If a bear saw me fly past in this moment I’m sure he would have been extremely confused as to what was going on, who I was talking to, and how I was moving so quickly. I am so freaking lucky to live on this planet I thought to myself. And it’s true, I really am lucky. For all the things life has thrown at me there are many things I am so thankful to have seen and experienced, this being one of them.
As I begin my climb out of the valley several miles later, I find it increasingly more difficult to pedal and begin to feel every little groove and bump in the road as I’m coasting along. At first I think it’s the road itself that’s just rough, but as I look at my back tire I realize I’m losing air. It was probably punctured earlier in the day or last night and is now slowly leaking. Fuck. First flat of the trip. Thankfully I’m prepared, as I brought along the appropriate tools and some extra tubes I bought at Kenton Cycle Repair, so I remove my bags and get to work. I flip my bike, remove my wheel, let the remaining air out of the tube, and run my tire lever across the side of the wheel to pop the tire off. It comes off in a snap, and I give it a look for a few minutes to make sure there aren’t any gaping holes in the rubber. It looks good, so I rifle through my pannier to get out an extra tube and toss the popped one back into my bag. For future reference, old tubes are great for making bungee chords, bracelets and many other things since they’re so durable. Soon after I begin work on my back tire, an Australian guy I’ve never seen before comes riding up and let’s out a long, drawn out “BUMMERRRRR” when he sees what I’m up to. He then asks if I need to borrow an extra tube or a pump, but I thank him and tell him I’ve got it covered. He then wishes me luck, throws a “have fun!” over his shoulder and is off on his way. After another 10 minutes or so I get everything set up properly, pump up my tire with the handpump I brought and put my bags back on. The handpump is pretty cheap so I don’t get my tire as inflated as I’d like, but this is good enough for now. Feeling satisfied and accomplished I continue on.
After a long while of cycling through some incredibly beautiful forests, and almost taking some wrong turns here and there thanks tomany confusing signs, I roll through Pacific City. This town is quickly proving to be one of my favorites on the coast so far, as it’s a tiny little surfing community with massive rock formations just off shore. Hulking monoliths loom in the morning haze, as it was still very damp at this point in the day, creating an extremely ominous and awe-inspiring sight. Surfers unpack their surfboards down on the shore and zip up their wetsuits in preparation for what looks like a pretty awesome swell. I intended on stopping to take a photograph of the beach, but the haze was so thick that any photo I could have taken would just turn out to look like a wall of grey fog. I scratched the idea and continued on, making another mental note as this is a town that I would love to revisit again sometime soon.
A short ride brought me to the southern edge of Pacific City, still maneuvering on a series of scenic roads parallel to Highway 101 that my map and all the “coastal bike route” signs advised me to take. Arriving on the last stretch of road before connecting again with 101 I’m stopped at a bridge by a construction flagger. He tells me that unfortunately the road is being repaved and torn up pretty badly for the next several miles. He added that he let a couple cyclists go past about an hour ago and they biked a few miles up the road only to be turned around and sent back. They then had to ride back into Pacific City to take a detour that adds about 6 miles to the days route. I was soaked all the way through, and I probably looked pretty pathetic, because he then told me to stand under a tree on the side of the bridge while he radios the construction crew. He says something inaudible into his walkie-talkie, and gets a crackled response back that was amazingly even more difficult to understand than the initial question. He waves me back over to where he’s standing and tells me that they’re going to allow me to squeeze through the bulldozers on my bike to save me some time. It would be dangerous and the road was rough, but that it was doable if I was willing to risk it. I said I definitely would and thanked him profusely as he sent me on my way with a huge smile; followed by a “have a great trip!”. There’s has to be a reason as to why people in this part of the state are so nice, and I think I’ll attribute it to the fact that they live in such a beautiful place.
I bike for about a 1/4 mile on the extremely rough road which is stripped all the way down to the gravel, thankfully the dirt was packed heavily enough that I could still ride on it without my wheels sinking in. It was slow going because of all the massive potholes and patches of gravel, but I made progress regardless. After a short period of time I look up and see that a pilot car is driving down the road and intercepts me in a dramatic fashion. At first I think he’s going to stop me and turn me away, but instead he busts a u-turn once I reach him and he begins to escort me up the hill with his lights flashing and his “PILOT CAR – FOLLOW ME” sign welcoming me on the back of his SUV. I couldn’t believe it! They sent down this pilot car meant for other motor vehicles to lead me safely through this road construction! Pretty soon we start passing bulldozers, steamrollers and other massive machines; all of the workers smiling at me, waving, giving me a thumbs up and wishing me luck on my day’s ride. Everybody seems so happy and excited and all at once I feel like an astronaut coming home from space and being driven in a ticker tape parade in the back of a convertible. I wave back in a diplomatic fashion and shout “thanks!” more times than I can remember with what must have been a very toothy smile; all the while stifling laughter as best I could.
Eventually we get to a section of road that’s just pure sand, so I hop off my bike and jog alongside the pilot car to keep up with. The pilot car slams on his breaks so abruptly that I almost run straight into the bumper. He then rolled down his window and tells me that we can take our time as I’m the only person he’s escorting for now. As I walk alongside the car he asks me where I’m from and where I’m going, seeming genuinely interested in why I was motivated to bike such a long distance by myself. I chat with him until we get to a rideable section of the road and I jump back on my bike. Soon the gravel eases off and gives way to a single paved lane, and eventually that spills out to the end of the construction zone where a huge number of cars has piled up. I wave to the pilot car and yell a final thank you as loud as I can, and smirk at the puzzled faces I pass who sit staring at me, mouths agape . Yeah, they sent that car down just for me. Deal with it.
A few miles later I found myself back on the 101 heading south once again, and after an hour I approach another “coastal bike route” sign pointing me down a side road to the left. It’s a beaten up old road that’s just labeled as “Old Hwy 101”, but I decide to trust these signs as they’ve never given me reason to otherwise up till this point. I don’t see any indication of this turn off on my map, but after looking at the hill that lay directly ahead of me on my original route I decide to head in this alternate direction. It takes me about an hour and a half before I start to feel like maybe this wasn’t such a good decision, and I realize it’s too late to make any reasonable alterations. I hadn’t seen any sign indicating how far I was from anything or where I was since I had got on this road, and this steady climb that is increasingly becoming more and more steep with every mile is not instilling me with much faith that I’m heading the right way. Pretty soon I put the few houses that are on this road behind me and I find myself once again in yet another State Forest climbing a massive hill. At this point I feel nearly hysterical in my suspicions that I just biked who knows how many miles in the wrong direction and that I’ll have to backtrack all the way to where I turned off the main 101 and waste hours of my time. I hop off my bike briefly to check my ipod, as I thought I remembered it had a compass in it somewhere. I had no idea if it would actually work without internet access, but as I studied it and walked in circles it seemed to keep consistent in telling me that I was in fact heading roughly south-ish. I hopped back on my bike and slowly began sauntering up this hill again, realizing I must have climbed at least 1,000 feet at this point. My frustration then manifesting itself into a shouting of curses out into the woods “FUCK. I’M FUCKING LOST. WHERE THE FUCK AM I. THIS SUCKS. DAMN IT.” for a good 10 minutes. Just as soon as I ceased my shouting I spotted a truck full of firewood coming around a bend up ahead. I hopped off my bike and waved my arms to signal I wanted him to stop. He pulls up and both him and the dog riding shotgun in the truck cab peer out at me. I ask if this is the correct way to get to Lincoln City. He assures me that it is, and then proceeds to give a very detailed and unnecessary history of “old highway 101” and that when they built the new freeway over the mountain that it wasn’t as scenic as this road is. After patiently hearing him out I thanked him and continued on, graciously accepting his good news. Graciously enough that I listened to the whole story I deemed as “information that will never prove useful over the course of my life”. But hey, I’m a storyteller as well, and chances are you’ll place this journal in that same category.
When that stressful section of highway behind me, I eventually reach Lincoln City. It is a welcoming sight; a pleasant vision on the horizon. I’ve played shows out here a few years back and I have a lot of good memories from that time. This is also home to my favorite skate park in the entire world, so for you skaters out there be sure to take note of that. I rolled up to the first coffee shop I see in town, called “Beach Town Coffee”, and order a soy chai after a series of questions to figure out if the chai mix was in fact vegan. The young woman behind the counter remarked at how sweaty I was with a laugh, and then asked me where I biked from. I told her Portland and she went on to give a series of excited “good for you!”s and “You should be proud, man!”. Dang, people here are so friendly! I then find a table in the corner and send out my routine “I’m not dead” emails and relax with my tea while I catch my breath and try to stem the heavy sweat that’s pouring out of me. After catching up on correspondence, I stand to pack my things and leave when the owner of the café comes over to say hello. At first I’m a bit taken aback since he didn’t look too friendly when I first came in, but he asks to see my map so I take it out and show him. He points to a small section of Highway 101 just south of town and tells me there’s an alternate route through the cape that actually takes me under the Highway and saves me from biking up a huge and extremely dangerous hill. Apparently all the local people who commute by bicycle know to avoid it and encourage others to do the same. He then, like the barista, started to shower me with overly encouraging “you should be proud!”s and told me I’m a good guy for doing this trip and making it happen on my own. I would have never known about this alternate route if I hadn’t chatted with this guy, so I keep a mental note to try and converse with folks in towns to pick up other helpful tips like this one. Plus, it’s so easy to talk to people out here, on account of them being so nice.
I weighed my options here in town for how I wanted to spend my time and money. I had 2 options here, which were either to stop at a repair shop and get my back wheel trued, or eat to thai food at a place on the other end of town that I found online. I could only really afford one, so I decided that since my back wheel wasn’t rubbing on my brake and affecting my riding at all that I’d treat myself to a hot meal. I biked over and locked up my bike to a fence just outside the window of where I chose to sit. I ravenously ate a plate of phad thai with tofu and a thai iced tea with coconut milk; the combination of those two things being closest to heaven that anyone can ever get (it not being real place after all). While I was enjoying my food I took notice of a group of punk-ish looking kids getting out of a street racing car in front of the restaurant. There were 6 of them, and all at once their conversation stopped as they turned to my bike and started to check out my spoke cards. I have two spoke cards in my front wheel from the Red and Black Café back in Portland, which is an all vegan, worker owned and run coffee shop. The spoke cards are a picture of Bruce Springsteen with a circle A on the back of his denim jacket, and text that reads “the only Boss we listen to”. They all started giggling and got on their knees to check it out, which was fine. What was not fine was when a woman with dreads pulled one of the cards out of my spokes, stood up and started to walk away with it. All at once I saw RED. Immediately I dropped my food, stomped out the door and confronted all six of them.
“Hey, are you stealing my spoke card?”
“Uhhhh.. well… no I was just trying to read what it says”
“That’s bullshit cause you were walking off with it. Even if you were just trying to read it I don’t know any of y’all and you’re out here touching my bike, which is not ok.”
“Geeze, well… sorry.”
“Just don’t touch people’s bikes. People tend to be sensitive about being robbed, you know.”
I snatched my card back and watched all six of them trudge off. I momentarily felt like a dick about it, but then I remembered “wait, no, they were about to steal my shit and then tried to make ME feel guilty about it.” C’mon punks, get your shit together. There are better people out there to steal from, after all.
After I finished most of my wonderful meal, and pack up the rest of it for later, I thank the proprietor and go to unlock my bike out front. As I started to get everything in order I was forced to bend over in an awkward fashion to unlock the frame from the wooden fence. As I’m leaning over I hear two women walk behind me in the midst of a conversation, and I felt something solidly brush up against my ass. Furious, and thinking “what fucking now” I spin around expecting it to be one of them who touched me, “what the fuck is it this town all of a sudden?!?”. To my surprise and embarrassment I realize that neither of them touched me, but what brushed up against me was the curious nose of a gigantic great dane who awkward lumbered past. After I faced him he then proceeded to lick my arm in his goofy way while the two women coaxed him along and apologized. I let out a small laugh and gave him an ear scratch before he sauntered off. What a day this is shaping up to be.
A short time later I roll through Lincoln Beach, just south of Lincoln City, and realize I need to fill up my water and decide I could use some fruit as well. Eating fresh fruit on this trip is the most enjoyable I can ever remember having it. Every time I stop and eat a nectarine or a peach it’s like the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. I ride through the parking lot of a small strip mall and stop at a market to get my supplies. As I’m exiting the building a guy with cut off jean shorts sitting against the wall a few feet from my bike looks over at me. He’s next to what I assume is his hand-painted Volkswagen bus. I say hello to him and he then offers me some swedish fish he’s enjoying. I’m pretty sure those are vegan, but I don’t know because I’m not a huge candy fan [pause for dramatic gasp], and I’m not what some would call a “junk-food vegan” [pause for boos], but mostly just the thought of eating candy in the middle of my ride today does not sound like a good idea [pause for ‘that sounds reasonable’]. I thank him and decline, and we both dip into the conversation people out here seem to have a lot that I’ll refer to as “where you going and where you been”. A few moments later a group of burly guys all dressed in hot pink shorts walk out of the market and they all pile into the bus together. He then wishes me well on my trip and as they’re leaving the parking lot he lets out an epic wolf howl and throws a fist up in the air for me as they tear off. I throw one back and think “yeah, I still got it! “. As I’m lashing up my bike to continue on my way, a dude on a child-sized Schwinn with a banana seat and ape-hanger bars rolls right up to me and starts chatting. “Fuck, if I stop and talk to everyone I’m never going to get to California.” I’ve been told I look approachable, the reasons for which are beyond me. There are times when I hate that I look friendly and think “oh please don’t stop and talk to me”; this being one of those cases. He’s wearing one of those cabbie style hats and a shirt from a bar that says “I went Balls Out at Grass Land”, complete with a drawing of a tiger laying on his back, splayed, displaying his garbage for all the world to see. “How do you have the guts to leave the house wearing that?” I think. He starts in right away with the “where you going, where you been” routine and when I mention I just came down from Tillamook he starts to sniff the air. “Well, I can’t smell it!” he says with a laugh. That sentiment I can agree with, at least. Then he continues on by saying how excited he is for tourist season to be here, and that he knows the REAL reason as to why I’m out on the coast this time of year, with a not-so-sly wink. I consciously don’t ask him what he’s talking about, so he continues on anyway by talking about all the “female German tourists” out here, and that they always come in TWOS, if I know what he means *wink wink*. I start to think that he has a very specific story he wants me to ask about, and I am not taking this idiot’s bait. “Cool, thanks. Have a good day” which really means “fuck off, man. leave me alone”. I managed to escape out onto the highway before another sketchy word could be uttered.
Soon enough I reach the turnoff for the route called “Otter Crest Loop”, which is what the owner of that cafe was telling me about. I hang a slight right to follow the signs and head through a small neighborhood and eventually underneath an overpass for the 101. The uphill climb is daunting, but at one point when I catch a glimpse of the 101 and how much higher it takes you I silently thank that man profusely for sharing this information with me. I even have my own little bike lane on this road, and the only car lane has shrunk to a single lane that I have yet to see a car on. I’m all alone on this little road the entire time, which is a welcome break from the heavy traffic on the highway today. Plus this little loop mostly follows the cliff side, and the views here are spectacular. Again I find myself gasping out loud as I turn corners and catch views of the dramatic and massive rock formations just offshore, as well as the turbulent surf slamming into the rocks 100 feet below me. What a world we live in!
I finally reach the pinnacle of this hill and find myself in a parking lot, but as to what it’s a parking lot for I have no idea. All of a sudden I hear a voice yelling at me in a southern accent: “Hey! Hey you!”. I look over and an elderly man is crossing the parking lot on foot and heads in my direction. “Go check out the view from that building! It’s amazing!”. “Uh, ok!” I respond and bike through the parking lot past him and find a tiny building called “The Cape Foulweather Lookout”. I leave my bike teetering against a bench in the grass out front and walk in. There were a bunch of park rangers hanging out and chatting inside, and they all fell silent as soon as I walked through the threshold. “Oh, uh, some guy just told me to come in and check out the view…” One of them immediately pipes up “yeah, absolutely! it’s right there if you want to give it a look”. I walk through the gift shop into a small backroom and gaze out the window, and I am definitely not disappointed that I took that southern fellas advice and stopped here. The view shows the cliff dropping away just past the property line of the house and opens up to yet another picturesque view of Oregon’s rugged coastline. After getting my fill, I grab a couple postcards for friends from the giftshop and as I’m paying the cashier tells me that I’m lucky, that they were only about 2 minutes away from closing before I came in. I say I hope I didn’t hold her up and she said that it was perfect timing on my part. As I’m leaving the building a group of people walked down the steps toward the entrance, and to their dismay the door slams shut behind me just as I left. Another baffled look from strangers and another moment of feeling special!
I learned from the postcards I bought that this building is over 75 years old and that during WWII it was used as a lookout for enemy ships and subs. It also, amazingly, survived the countless storms that battered this coast since 1937. One of the postcards was an old black and white photo of the lookout with a zeppelin flying past in the background. Apparently there’s a hanger for blimps and zeppelins just north of here in Tillamook where these used to fly out of and were used as scouts during the war. I’m a bit of a history nerd I suppose so I find this extremely interesting. You probably don’t though, so moving on!
After reaching the end of the Otter Crest Loop, I rolled into Beverly Beach State Park later that evening, it being my home for the night. I saw no sign of the Seattle guys all day and wondered if they were already here when I coasted down the hill past the ranger station. I eventually find the hiker/biker area, even though it’s not clearly marked on the park map, and it seemed to be just a grassy field with a barbecue pit in the middle. I didn’t think this could be the place, but I decided to hang around and rest here regardless if it was or not. There was only one other person there when I arrive, a guy in the corner of the camp with his tent tucked away in the trees. I set my tent up just on the edge of a strip of forest which looked like it could have been filmed for an epic scene in Lord of the Rings. I referred to it silently as “hobbit’s hollow” as I set up my camp. Eventually the guy from the corner came over to chat with me and I greeted him. He was an older guy named Larry, possibly in his 60’s, biking down the coast solo, like me. He told me he was a gold prospector by profession, and that he was going down to Coo’s Bay to find his fortune. He said he knew where all the gold was and was going to head down there and make his millions. Then he followed up with that by telling me he’d been at this campsite for 3 days. Wait, you know where gold is, and you’re hanging out at this campsite doing nothing for 3 days. Why aren’t you down there digging it all up, getting rich and then coming back here after you make your money? Why wait?. I realized though that trying to analyze this would be like rationalizing the irrational, as much as I’d like to think otherwise there is not much left in the world to prospect and dig up in search of a fortune lying in wait. I ended my conversation with him on the pretense of “dinner” and went back to my tent. Shortly afterward all of the groups from the last campground rode in at a staggered pace, looking ragged. I found out a lot of them didn’t know about this secret Otter Crest Loop that spared you at least an hour of biking and a lot of effort as well. Among the people coming in were the Seattle guys, Zach and Dan. I jested that they didn’t catch me and I hadn’t seen them all day, but it turned out Zach got a flat right out of the park and had to stop and change his tube. I said that was a bummer and we caught up about how our days went. They mentioned that when they get to Coo’s Bay they’re going to rent quads to ride around out on the oregon sand dunes. Quads, we agreed, was another thing that we all collectively made fun of until we all actually tried one, and realized “wow, this actually really, really fun”.
Eventually I got up and decided to take a look around the park, since this state park borders the ocean just like the one from last night. I walked down a path past the visitors center and through another section of campground, and it brought me to a tunnel with a small stream leading under the Highway 101 bridge and out onto the sand. The stream was heavily choked with massive pieces of driftwood, some of them even tree-sized. I went for a short walk along the sand, but the fog began to roll in thick and fast, and soon I couldn’t see more than 10 feet ahead of me while I aimlessly wandered down the huge stretch of sand. I decided I wasn’t in the mood to get lost on a strange beach, so I ended up heading back in the general direction I came from and eventually found the tunnel again back into camp.
On the walk back to my tent I had lyrics for a new song pop into my head, and I wrote them down in my ipod. I used my imagination to try and envision what the guitar parts would sound like as well, and I tried to write this out, but all I ended up writing were things like “bum da dum daaaah, browwww” and decided that future me would read it and be like “what the fuck was I thinking?”. I finished the lyrics in about 5 minutes and decided I’d work the rest out later when I got home.
I arrived back at camp, grabbed my backpack and then walked down from the hiker/biker site on a snaked and steep path to the showers. Once again I had what seemed like the greatest, most fulfilling shower of my life, and I tried my best not to exclaim “oh, yeaaaaaaah” (akin to the kool-aid guy) when I was in there. At this campground the showers are all in their own private and individual rooms, and as I was showering I heard some kids causing a ruckus right outside my door. I thought for a minute that they were just playing tag or something, but as I left the shower I noticed that they had written on the ground with an old piece of charcoal from a fire pit. The message that they left me read: “Hi Mr. Taco”. My immediate reaction was: “how do they know I love tacos?” and was followed by severe confusion. Later, as I walked back to my camp, I saw a little boy in the road writing another message in charcoal and then sprinting off upon finishing. As I arrived I saw that this message read: “you stink mr. taco”. I laughed and continued on up the path to my tent. If this last message was truly about me I have no rebuttal, I do stink, and often. Punx!
After an unceremonious goodnight to folks I climbed into my tent and prepared my bedding. Another day down, and several more to go. It’s finally starting to feel like I’m making real progress on my ride, and I’m thankful I’m not feeling it in my knees yet. Common complaints I hear from friends of mine who have done bike tours almost always mention some sort of joint pain, particularly in their knees. My final wish for the day, though, is to encourage you to start prepping for your own bike tour, if only for a weekend trip. It’s an experience unlike any other, and I’m willing to bet you won’t look back on your life later and be like “Wow, I really regret riding my bike through all those beautiful places”. There are so many amazing things to be seen out in the world, and I maintain that those things are better seen from bicycles. Goodnight my friends.