Even if he wanted to, Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb couldn’t repeat himself. Just watch him sing sometime; the guy’s got two vocal mics, one distorted, one clean, and he doesn’t make up his mind which one he’ll be singing into until he’s halfway through his line. Tucson (Fire), Gelb’s latest release (credited to Giant Giant Sand), is named after his Arizona hometown. He will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.
Gelb: Everybody gets ‘em. If they’ve ever toured, they tend to occur in between 10 days and two weeks into a tour (although they technically can happen as early as three days in, too). When one member of the band gets the “bends,” we then can say they are “bent.”
When one is bent, it is always best to allow them their time of bent-a-ture; a kind of license to kill, let them fly off the handle or get lost, get slammin’ drunk, get way gone, just get it out of their system. It only lasts about 24 hours or so. If it lasts closer to two days or more, it’s not the bends. It’s something else, and you should take the appropriate steps.
The bends occur when the brain is overwhelmed with the existence in between all things. That is what tour is at its essence: a phantom-like existence between reality and something imagined. Every day another city wraps itself around you as if it slipped up from under you, which it has literally done through the rigors of too much travel. It’s a slight confusion that can get very bloated when seemingly simple things that appear to be the same back home, are instead offering up subtle hidden second meanings and, eventually, full blown culture shock. It’s a chemical deconstruction from the food stuffs you have been used to, but now have been changed up severely in molecular intake and effect.
It’s there in the surprising vertigo of not knowing which way to go when surrounded by anything but your native tongue, which never lets up, but the most impacting are those discernible differences between you and your bandmates that never usually come into play. But now these qualities have gotten proportionately amplified for some reason because your logic defense system has been compromised by all that other stuff I mentioned earlier. Now, you are raw and volatile when you eventually realize the bends are not unlike an allergic condition until the body can be immune itself to again, then any actions taken on behalf of the bent ones will be instantly forgivable and better often embraced.
Video after the jump.