On Tour With Lemuria – Part 5

This is part 5 of my photo essay series about touring with Lemuria. The previous part can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 4. Or you can start from the beginning here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 1.

This brings us to our third and final member of Lemuria, drummer and singer Alex Kerns.

Alex Kerns Twin Peaks

Of everyone in Lemuria, Alex and I are the closest.  I’ve also known him the longest (a couple hours longer than Sheena), and was also roommates with him for a year or so.  We lived above Amy’s Place, hands down the best restaurant in Buffalo, NY.  It’s rare that I make a trip to Buffalo without going to Amy’s Place with Alex at least once.

Alex looking far away

I love Alex because we can talk about anything and hours will go by before we know it.  This lends very well for long drives or long winters stuck inside.

Alex staring in the van

One of my favorite tour stories with Alex happened at the beginning of the Fall 2011 tour.  We just had dinner at Balloon’s in Ellicottville, NY and were driving through the night to Washington DC to pick up Sheena on our way to The Fest in Gainesville, Florida.  An hour into Pennsylvania, we noticed some flashing lights in the distance ahead.

Alex sitting

At first we thought there was an accident ahead, but the lights got brighter and we didn’t approach any emergency vehicles. We slowly realized the lights were coming from the sky.  A quick Google search of local news sites informed me that we were witnessing northern lights, which obviously is very rare in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was amazing and the perfect way to kick off a six week tour.

Alex drumming

Alex is a great friend and an awesome person to tour with.  We share a love for movies and taking jokes too far. He taught me everything I know about selling merch at shows, and is always willing to lend a hand when I need it.

Alex laughing

One of the things I miss about living with Alex is his “down for whatever” attitude.  There were so many times where we’d go to a random show at the last minute or drive up to Toronto at 1am just to get veggie dogs and bubble tea. I love that about Alex, he’s always open to new experiences and new ideas.

Alex and Sheena are goofy
And he’s goofy, very very goofy. Alex can always make me laugh, which is a rare and important quality in a friend on tour.

On Tour With Lemuria photo essay series:

On Tour With Lemuria – Part 4

This is part 4 of my photo essay series about touring with Lemuria. The previous part can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 3. Or you can start from the beginning here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 1.

Part 3 of my photo essay series was about Lemuria’s bassist Max Gregor.  This post will be focused on Sheena Ozzella, guitarist and lead singer of Lemuria.

Sheena sitting

Along with Alex Kerns, Sheena is the founding member of the band.  My friendship with Sheena began a couple years before Lemuria started.  She was in several bands prior to forming Lemuria, but in my opinion none are greater than Team Chocolate.  This a sweet and catchy acoustic band she was in with Eric Ellman.  I loved them so much that I put out their only 7″ EP as the first release on my now defunct record label All Things Ordinary.

Sheena playing guitar

Sheena is a great friend on tour.  We usually have a common goal of finding the best food and coffee in each town.  We also tend to make sure the van is clean and free of trash and useless things.

Sheena intelligentsia coffee

One of my favorite memories with Sheena on tour is also one of the most terrifying.  We were driving through the Canadian Rockies from Kelowna, British Columbia to Edmonton, Alberta. We had to do this 9 hour drive overnight.  All night we were driving on winding one lane roads uphill with semi trucks barreling past us.  Once day broke, we were finally able to see the breathtakingly beautiful mountains that we had been driving on all night.  After what seemed like an eternity, we finally found a place to pull off the road and take a quick bathroom break.  I remember it being ridiculously cold (this was in December), but Sheena and I couldn’t stop admiring the mountains around us.

Sheena stare

It’s great to hang around Sheena on tour because everyone knows how much she loves sweets and candy.  Because of this, you can usually get a free cookie or cupcake if you’re nearby.  When we’re on the road, Sheena and I can usually be found in the candy aisle of the nearest gas station.

Sheena and Danny

Sheena and I may not stay in the best contact throughout the year, but when we’re in the same town or on tour we can easily jump back into being good friends. We’re almost always the first ones to be ready to go so we spend a lot of time together hanging out waiting to go to the next city, restaurant, or show.

Sheena Ozzella and Chris Moore

This fall Sheena is marrying Chris Moore and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them.  He was able to join us on tour the last time I was out with Lemuria and it was great hanging out with him.  They weren’t engaged at that point, but I could tell that it was only a matter of time.

Sheena spoon

Sheena’s goofy demeanor is one of the things I love about her the most.  She always can put a smile on my face, which is sometimes hard in the middle of a month long tour on the other side of the country.  I’ve always been thankful of that because Sheena always made my homesickness a little easier to handle.

On Tour With Lemuria photo essay series:

On Tour With Lemuria – Part 3

This is part 3 of my photo essay series about touring with Lemuria. The previous part can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 2. Or you can start from the beginning here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 1.

For those who don’t know, Lemuria consists of three members: Alex Kerns, Sheena Ozzella, and Max Gregor.  This part of my photo essay series is focused on Max.

Max Gregor ice cream cone

Max is Lemuria’s fourth bass player, but easily my favorite. I briefly met Max in Buffalo once but then got to know him better when I was living in Portland, OR and he came through when he was touring with Lemuria as tour manager (while Kyle Paton was playing bass).

Max sitting against wallMax is the person in the band I know the least, which is to be expected since i’ve known him half the time that i’ve known Alex and Sheena.  It’s also the product of having never lived in the same city as him (I was living in Portland during the times he was living in Buffalo).

Max and Matt Ebert of Joyce Manor

I would love to know Max better, so on tour is pretty much the only time I get to spend quality time with him.  It almost always ends up being me and him as the ones up front for long drives through the night. We have spent many of these sleepless nights talking about music or listening to episodes of Ongoing History of New Music. While we both probably wish we were sleeping, we always make the most out of those nights.

Max writing

One of my favorite memories from a late night drive with Max is actually the last time.  We were driving from our last show of tour in Phoenix non-stop through Arizona and New Mexico so Max could get home to Austin, TX.  There was a section of the drive that we were in the middle of the desert and the stars were brighter than either of us have ever seen. At first Max tried looking at them without crashing but then decided to stop for a minute so we could take it all in.

Max Gregor record shopping

I tried taking a photo of the sky but it just didn’t do it justice.  It was truly one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen and I’m so glad I got to share that moment with Max.

Max is also the reason why I was able to work at a music fest since he is the Production Manager for Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas. If you want to experience one of the best music festivals, I highly recommend going to Fun Fun Fun Fest because it’s not just a clever name.  What other music festival has a taco canon?

I’ll leave you with a photo of Max lounging on a beach in San Diego with his Fun Fun Fun Fest fanny pack.

Max on the beach

On Tour With Lemuria photo essay series:

On Tour With Lemuria – Part 2

This is part 2 of my photo essay series about touring with Lemuria. Part 1 can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 1, Part 3 can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 3.

When you think of the vital things that are needed for tour, what comes to mind? Guitar, bass, drums, amps, and van are probably the first things, right?  Aside from the van, I’d argue that cellphones are more important than any equipment. In a pinch, equipment can be borrowed from other bands.  We use cellphones on tour for so many things: alarms, capturing memories, communication, directions, distractions, etc…

Sheena fish face

I never had the pleasure to tour with a band in the pre-cellphone age but I imagine it would have been much more inconvenient.  There would be no way to let the promoter know you were stuck in traffic and going to be 2 hours late to the show.  There was no GPS to fall back on when you needed to guide the streets of Seattle. There was no access to the internet to look up ridiculous videos for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you like it or not, cellphones have become a vital tool for tour.  When we’re in the middle of a 12 hour drive, our cellphones distract us from it so we can avoid killing each other.  When someone gets “Holiday Road” by Lindsay Buckingham stuck in their head, we can instantly look it up on Youtube and play it. When we get to a city and want to find a good coffee shop, it is our savior.

Sheena and Alex phone

While cellphones do a lot of good on tour, they can also be negative.  When everyone is glued to their cellphones, keeping in touch with people on Facebook and text messages instead of spending time with each other, you begin to question ‘why are we on tour?’ There were some points on Lemuria tour that we had to instate a “no cellphones at dinner” rule because we all realized we collectively were spending too much time on our phones.

Max and Sheena phone
Overall, I think cellphones are a good and necessary thing in life and tour. They are an incredibly powerful tool, but as Uncle Ben Parker said “With great power comes great responsibility”.  It’s important that we’re mindful of the extent of our cellphone usage.  It would be a shame to miss the passing mountains of Colorado or giant cacti in Arizona because we were reading our Facebook feed. I know that FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing but, if I had to choose, I would always favor what’s happening in front of me and leave the social networks for later.

Alex Lemuria door

I hope this post doesn’t come off as me hating cellphones, because that is the farthest thing from the truth. I got my iPhone 6 the day it came out last year and ordered two new cases for it yesterday (I couldn’t decide between them). Also despite my camera being very portable, I tend to take a lot more photos on my phone. Like many people, my phone has become a vital part of my daily life.

Sheena and Alex Hollywood sign

I (sadly) probably spend a good 8 hours a day using my phone.  Part of this post was reflecting on cellphones’ role on tour, but it also was introspective. I’m trying to be more mindful of my cellphone use when I am around other people and in social situations.

On Tour With Lemuria photo essay series:

On Tour With Lemuria – Part 1

This is part 1 of my photo essay series about touring with Lemuria. Part 2 can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 2.

It’s pretty special when you have the chance to tour the country multiple times with one of your favorite bands.  It’s also pretty special when said band consists of three great friends of yours.  My history with Lemuria goes back almost 10 years, but some of the fondest memories have come in the last four when I joined them on tour several times.

Lemuria group picture

The great thing about Sheena, Alex, and Max is that we can go months without talking or seeing each other at times, but the moment i’m back in the van with them, it’s like no time has passed.

Lemuria water bottle

While there are many great times on tour, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there is also a lot of downtime.  Before shows, after shows, in the van, at gas stations, etc…  Some might find it boring, but it’s just another part of tour.  There’s nothing like being in deep thought in a van with some of the best people in the middle of a nine hour drive.

Sheena and Max
Max and SheenaI am very grateful and feel very privileged that I have been able to see a good chunk of the US and Canada thanks to Lemuria.  While I definitely worked hard on tour (selling merch and loading/unloading gear), I know they could get many people to tour with them and I always feel lucky that they continue to bring me along.

Lemuria set listMy current job doesn’t afford me the freedom I used to have when I was doing freelance web design, so I know there is a good chance I won’t ever go on tour with Lemuria again.  While a part of me is extremely sadden by this, I know I have a lifetime of photos and memories of all the places i’ve seen, things i’ve done, and people i’ve been thanks to going on tour.

Sheena reading by the van

1-2-3-4 Go Records sign

I literally have 1,000’s of photos from touring with Lemuria that i’m going to start posting here so check back often.  If you are interested in a print of any of the photos you see, shoot me at email: derekneuland@gmail.com.

Alex and Sheena in San Diego

On Tour With Lemuria photo essay series: