In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the pop rock band, Whale and the Wolf, shares one of their stories from being on the road. You can check out the story, after the break.
We were a much much younger and much much less experienced band when the following took place. That is all I will say as a disclaimer to anyone who would chock the following up to stupidity. The following should serve as a warning to anyone who plans on touring through the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the dead of winter.
It was February, and we were on a tour that would route the band on a highway stretch from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, to Vancouver. This can be done by a couple of different routes, but we, trying to make up for some lost time, decided on the faster of the two. Faster did not mean better in this case. This straight shot would take us on a four-hour journey along the Coquihalla Highway. This stretch of highway is notorious for its sporadic changes in elevation. On this particular date and time, and due to the effect of going up and down so frequently in altitude, the weather on the highway liked to hover either just above zero or just below zero degrees centigrade. Due to science, the conditions on the stretch of road fluctuated from wet surface to glare ice in a matter of minutes. Once again, a reference to our lack of experience and knowledge, we defiantly disobeyed the strict winter tire policy mandated for that stretch of highway in the winter. Cool, right? What could go wrong? Right? Well, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, we ended up almost dying. If you do a cursory Google search of the Coquihalla Highway, you are instantly subject to a buffet of grief porn in the form of highway accidents, intermixed with images that show steep cliffside roads that would give those with vertigo a date with a paper bag.
I was driving the van at the time (No trailer, thank fuck) when I felt that tiny little slip in traction that, if corrected properly, would keep us moving on our merry way. Welp, this particular steering wheel correction, resulted in the need for another opposite correction, that, by golly, resulted in several more reciprocal corrections, until inevitably, there were no steering wheel corrections left to make. Going 120Km/h, we began our full 540-degree spinnarama that would end in our front bumper plowing into the middle median that separated the twinned highway. Old Man Winter, smiling down upon us with his frozen erection, had so conveniently laid a dump of fresh snow on that stretch of road, nary a night before. Subsequently, the Mr. Plows of the world had taken that snow and piled it up all soft and pillowy on the middle median, mere hours prior. A stroke of luck had been granted our way in the form of a perfect place to pound a vehicle into a highway divider. In what was realistically a 4-second span, we spent an eternity in a spinning death machine, the windows completely whited out to the outside world. We came to a full stop. Saw the hood of the van was windshield high in a snowbank. I placed the steed in reverse, checked my mirrors for trailing traffic, backout out of our snowy den, and allowed for some passersby to stare at our shit pants grins for just a moment while we slowly began our slow cruise to the shoulder of the road to check our vehicle and our underwear. Magically and mysteriously, there wasn’t a single mark on the vehicle, nor a mark on our Hanes. The band slowly collected our thoughts, not really saying anything to one another. I took it upon myself to retire from the driver’s seat, allowing our guitarist, Brandon, to try his luck behind the wheel. I hopped in the back, and immediately and inexplicably was able to fall asleep, cause hey, almost dying makes me tired, I guess. In retrospect, we could have had about a thousand other outcomes to that crash. Cliffs to roll down, other vehicles to regrettably involve, but we somehow drove away unscathed. That night we played a piece of shit show at a venue called The Astoria, In Vancouver. It’s located on East Hastings Street. An area known for it its bouquet of back alley bathhouses, and it’s offering of vagrant over-winterers. That night a man driving a Rascal Scooter rode casually through the front doors, up to side-stage, and tried to make off with Lucas’ bass guitar during soundcheck. If not for an eagle-eyed bartender, weary to the ways of the locale, ol’ Scooty Ted would have made off with the thing, too. An exclamation point on a trip that found our green and naive band on a character-building retreat through Canada’s vast and treacherous touring grounds.
– Ryan Maier, Vocals