Unfortunately, the group will be without the services of bassist and co-founder Chris Wagner, who's going to have to stay behind because of tours past. "Chris is in so much crushing debt," laments vocalist Justin Petosa. "He unfortunately was the owner of two vans that died on tour, so between that and other debt, he can't make this trip, which is terrible. No one wants to go more than him, and obviously we'd like him to go, but, you know, he doesn't want his own burden to interfere with the progress that we're trying to make."
Stepping up to the plate to fill in for Wagner is band buddy Sean MacDonald, who has performed this favor for the Revolvers in the past. Still, it was Wagner who started the band with Petosa and guitarist Mike Alexander back in 1996. "I've known Mike since we were 12 years old," Petosa says. "We used to ride bikes and vandalize stuff when we were growing up, so we'd known each other for a long time already and went to all the same shows. Mike had served time in The Breakups, and then he went out to California. When California got the best of him, he came back and called me up and asked if I wanted to start a band."
After accepting the offer, the pair soon dragged Wagner into the fold. Finding a drummer, or at least one to stick it out for the long haul, has been more of a challenge for the Revolvers, who are currently on their fourth percussionist. "All the drummers have been cool guys and good drummers. It's just been a musical conflict or a personality conflict or something. Me and Mike are hard to deal with, I guess," Petosa declares in jest. "Mike and I will argue with each other much more violently than with anybody else, but when you've known somebody since you were 12 years old, you don't have to waste a whole lot of time putting things politely or beating around the bush. If you think something sucks, you can tell them that it sucks and they'll know that it's not a personal insult."
Drummer number four, Jeff Beatty, was familiar with the bickering, having overheard the group's interactions from above the practice space in his basement. He also learned the songs through these eavesdropping sessions, so Petosa says he quickly fit in with the band, solidifying the revolving door behind the drum kit and allowing the Revolvers to concentrate on new material instead of personnel changes. "Right now, the band is more musically collaborative four ways than it's ever been," Petosa says.
It will be some time before such collaborations result in a sequel to Locket Love. Among the Revolvers' current priorities: getting www.revolversonline.com up and running, practicing for their last big local show before the tour (with The Gadjits at El Torreon on October 21), and preparing for life on the road. Unlike most groups preparing for their first extensive road trip, the Revolvers won't have to worry about securing reputable clubs and getting booked in a consistent geographical direction; its established tour mates, Nashville, Tennessee's The Teen Idols, are bearing that burden. "They're a real band, so they've got a booking agent and all those sorts of things," Petosa says half-mockingly, adding that the Revolvers try to keep the bulk of the shows all-ages. "I've seen the itinerary and some of the names of the clubs, and they're real clubs. They're recognizable places."
Such was not always the case on a previous tour. "Nothing's ever going to be worse than a show where this guy set it up in a garage that was next to his coffee shop," Petosa recalls about a gig in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "It was called Pablo's, in case any touring band ever sees that name, and so he sets it up for us and some friends of ours from South Carolina called Self, not the major label Self but a different band. Anyway, we pull in and it's winter, it's horrible, and he sets up the PA in this freezing garage and no one is there. He says, 'I don't know why no one's here; I made a flier.' And that was true. In fact, he'd made two fliers. Two copies of the flier, and he hung them both up in the coffee shop."
The two bands soldiered on, set up, and played despite the noticeable lack of an audience. "No one was there but him, and when we started playing, he left and went next door. So we played to the other band, and they played to us. After you've done that, it's hard to say that a show really sucks."
Such is a philosophy that Petosa has been following, passed down to him by another sage musician. "I'm always hopeful; that's my thing. You know in The Blues Brothers, where they play the first show and it's all fucked up and Jake says, 'The next gig is going to be dynamite. Huge. You'll see.' Well, that's me," he says, also drawing inspiration from a songwriter with whom he'll be playing on Thursday night, Jets to Brazil (and formerly Jawbreaker) frontman Blake Schwarzenbach. "There's that great lyric from the last Jawbreaker record that goes expect the best, accept the worst. There are worse words to live by."