We tried so hard to keep it a secret, but Robbie pretty much figured out right away that me, Henry and Nikki were taking him to Cleveland last Wednesday for the Craig Owens show. Henry and I weren’t sure if it was going to work out at all, since it was in the middle of the week, but Nikki super slickly went behind Robbie’s back and asked his boss to give him the day off. Once that happened, Henry bought the tickets and then we tried to come up with a plausible explanation as to why we were going to Cleveland on a random Wednesday, but stupid Bandsintown alerted Robbie that Craig Owens was playing that night, so he knew. It’s a lot easier to pull one over on our gullible 9-year-old, so I sometimes forget that everyone else wouldn’t just go along with a mysterious road trip without doing some serious investigating on their end.
Robbie loves Craig Owens even more than I do, so we thought it would be the perfect birthday/Christmas gift for him. Especially when our friend Jason mentioned that he could possibly get us access to the video session that was going to filmed earlier that day in the Alternative Press office. That meant we had to leave early on Wednesday, which really set off the alarms in Robbie’s head. Nikki said he was practically bullying her into telling him what was going on.
Surprises are so delightful!
We left an hour later than originally planned because Henry is the worst. Do you know how hard it was to sit in my house waiting for Henry to come home, when there were all these awkward vibes because everything was so suspicious?
< insert boring drive to Cleveland here. >
We arrived in Cleveland sometime after 1 and Nikki woke up from a nap.
“I had a dream that I asked Craig Owens how tall he is and he said he’s 5’10”,” she said. We all agreed that we felt like he was taller than that, so Robbie quickly googled and announced that Craig is, indeed, 6’2″. I wonder if Craig ever thinks about all the rando conversations his fans probably have about him on a daily basis. I mean, even Henry has talked about Craig’s hair A LOT over the years. He’s kind of obsessed with it and will always be the first one to notice if it’s changed since the last time. His only takeaway from the D.R.U.G.S. show we saw in 2011 was that “Craig’s hair is darker.”
We had just enough time to grab coffee and a quick poke through my favorite store of all time, Flower Child:
I had just ended a conversation with the owner about how much I love her shop and how I cried real tears when I was there a month ago and it was closed, when Henry got a text from Jason that said, “Get here NOW.” Henry barked, “Let’s go!” and whisked us out of the shop, which probably looked like we were the clumsiest shoplifters EVER. I can only imagine how suspicious we looked, tearing out of a shop that we had just entered a minute before, but I was too excited to be embarrassed.
“Where are we going?” Robbie asked nervously.
“We have to meet our friend Jason real quick. I have a case of root beer for him,” Henry stuttered.
I mean, that was partially true! Jason is a true root beer connoisseur and especially likes it bottled. So Henry brought a case of root beer from the Faygo Factory for him. This is why Jason likes Henry better than me. Well, that and because Henry doesn’t bring up Jonny Craig every single time we hang out with Jason.
And Robbie knew something was about to happen. He met Jason last year when we were in town for a Chiodos show at House of Blues; Jason met us at Melt for a quick hello and Robbie remembered that he was affiliated with Alternative Press, so even though there is no signage outside of the building that houses the office, it didn’t matter.
The jig was up!
“Don’t freak out,” I whispered over my shoulder as Jason keyed us through the AP door and led us into a back room where cameras were set up and Craig Owens was sitting on a stool, strumming his guitar and warming up.
Robbie’s face looked like this pretty much the whole time: somewhere frozen between a smile and a stroke.
Jason got chairs for us and basically bent over backward to make sure we were comfortable—he is such a stand-up guy! As if he hadn’t already done enough for us, now he was trying to give us more things. We promised him that we were fine, and after reminding us to turn off our phones, he retreated back to his office, because deadlines.
I accidentally took this blurry photo as I was tucking my phone away:
Jason warned me that the chair he gave me was kind of broken, which didn’t stop me from leaning back in it, and further and further back until I realized I was falling. I caught myself before anyone noticed and made sure to lean forward for the rest of the afternoon because I didn’t want to be That Person who disrupted filming.
Ugh, that would be so typical of me!
Craig performed two songs with his friend Pete: one was a song that was so brand new, Pete was having difficulties because they literally had just written the music for it the night before. Craig said it will be released sometime in 2016 as part of his new, top secret project. TOTALLY PIQUED.
The second song was off the new Before Their Eyes album which he produced. Both song were fantastic, but that first one was a stunner. Those two songs were being filmed for Periscope, but we got to hear the first one several more times when he was asked to play it again but with a more detailed introduction other than just, “This is…a song” which is how he had originally introduced it, ha! I love Craig.
When he finished performing the songs, he walked back over to where we were sitting so that he could join his friend (NICOLE RORK who is an exceptional photographer and I was low-key fangirling when I saw her there) and come up with some facts for the 10 Things You Didn’t Know segment that he had also agreed to film.
“Did it sound OK, guys?” he asked us, and we were all like, “HHHHHHHNNNNNNNGGGGGGHHHHH YES.”
OK, Henry was way calmer than that.
I don’t want to give anything else away since these video segments haven’t been posted on Alternative Press’s website yet, but I just have to say that Craig is ridiculously interesting, multi-faceted, and extremely intelligent. Listening to him answer questions was riveting. All the behind-the-scenes minutiae was actually fascinating and I’m so humbled that we got to take it all in.
After about an hour of filming, he walked over to us and held out his hand.
“Hi, I’m Craig,” he said with a friendly smile and not the forced kind that Henry always adopts.
I’m sure internally, we were all like, “WE KNOWWW OMG!” but I feel like we kept it together and somehow managed to introduce ourselves without causing a nose bleed or biting off our tongues. He asked us how the drive from Pittsburgh was and Henry gave his stock answer, “Fine. Fine” while I blurted out, “BORING” and I think Robbie was just giggling at this point. Thankfully, Nikki was there to break the ice by telling Craig about her recent dream about him and his height.
“Yeah, I’m pretty tall!” he laughed. “Actually, all of the Chiodos guys are like, over 6 feet tall,” he added, and we were all like, “Oh wow,” with batted eyelashes and flirty giggles because CRAIG OWENS.
Somehow I was able to muster the courage and enough of my voice to thank Craig for allowing us to sit in on that. Thank you, Craig Owens, for being a true gentleman and so gracious to your fans.
(I love that there’s a Cure issue two above Robbie’s head in this picture!)
Before walking out to the parking lot with us to get the root beer, Jason asked again if we needed anything. “Any magazines? Anything at all? No, you’re good?” he asked, and we assured him that he had already done so much for us. Seriously, thank you Santa Pettigrew!
We were about to leave when Craig passed us in the parking lot. Thank god Nikki had the good sense to ask him if we could take his picture with Robbie. He very jovially agreed, at which point we all just stood there.
“Erin, take the picture,” Henry hissed. SORRY! I was in a Craig Owens daydream bubble. Henry’s burly tone snapped me out of it and I was somehow able to take the picture without fumbling for my phone.
We told him we’d see him later that night, and with a big smile, he said, “I hope you’re wearing your singalong pants!” I laughed along with everyone else, but I couldn’t help but feel a tiny pull of paranoia.
“Do you think he said that on purpose?!” Nikki whispered on the way back to the car, knowing that Craig and I had a…disagreement on Twitter four years ago because I wrote a bitchy blog post about how I went to his solo show and he let the audience sing most of his songs while he just stood there and held out his microphone. Look, my cat had just died and I was really emotionally fragile OK?! Nothing could have made me happy on that night.
But this particular night was about to be so much better. And we determined later that he probably didn’t mean anything by his singalong pants remark, thank god!
Afterward, we had about 90 minutes to kill before the actual show. We drove to Coventry in search of food, since none of us had eaten anything since breakfast, not like it mattered, because it probably would have gotten puked up anyway. (I mean, except Henry’s. Nothing fazes Henry.)
Big Fun is next to Tommy’s, so we popped over at dinner, hoping to find some toys to buy for the show. Anyone who brought a new toy or stuffed animal to the show got a meet and greet wristband. Even though we already had our time with him that afternoon, we wanted to do our part in helping out underprivileged children. Except Henry. He was like, “I don’t need no meet n greet bracelet, fuck off!”
Saul Berenson is big fun.
We wound up just going to a nearby Target, where I bought Candy Land, and Nikki bought a Mr. Potato Head and an exorbitantly-priced stuffed pony, which Robbie picked out with complete disregard to the price tag.
“Oh wow, that sucks,” I said when she told us how much it ended up costing her. “Mine was on sale for $4.”
“Mine was on sale for $4!” Nikki mimicked, and we all laughed. But then we all agreed that it was nice to do something charitable but Henry wouldn’t know what that’s like.
Doors to the Grog Shop weren’t open, so we stood in line where I thought about all the things I should have said to Craig.
Things I Wish I Had Said To Craig:
- OMG I’m super stoked for the new Hotel Books that you produced!
- I love Lomo Prieta too! I saw them open for Pianos Become the Teeth last spring and they blew my mind!
- [SOMETHING ABOUT JONNY CRAIG!!!!]
- Do you like Artifex Pereo????
- What is your stance on the whole Blue Swan music movement and would you ever consider working with any of the bands in that genre?????
- WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOREIGN HORROR MOVIE!?!?
- And in response to his ironic Juggalo tattoo inside his lip: HENRY WORKS IN A FAYGO FACTORY!