Comedian Chris Rock takes a selfie every time he gets pulled over by the cops. Oh…if only I could go back in time and do the same.
SHORT DOGS GROW: BREAUX BRIDGE, LOUISIANA
First time we got pulled over on tour was on our way to New Orleans. We had just crossed over into Louisiana with Tom at the wheel and I remember Tom saying “If we keep this pace up, we’ll be in New Orleans before it gets dark!”. Seconds later we were pulled over. The officer got Tom out of the van and into the squad car. We followed in the van to the station where Tom was locked in a cell. For speeding. We were driving the 64 Ford Econoline. To be fair, I can’t think we were going much over the speed limit, because that van, loaded with band and gear, couldn’t go much over the speed limit. The bail was something like $200. No way we had that on hand, so Greg had his mother wire the money. After posting bail, Greg asked for a receipt. The officer wouldn’t give him one. Greg’s mom said she was going to call the Breaux Bridge, Louisiana station and bitch the officer out for busting broke poor kids. I think she was going to call the Mayor too. Now we know where Greg got it from, although I highly doubt Silver ever bricked any ATMs.
CAMELTOE: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Catherine, guitar player in Cameltoe, had a sweet Dodge Swinger that we used in our video for song “Take a Wild Ride”. But at some point the Swinger got too expensive to repair (I think) and she had to sell it. After that she had some questionable cars. My favorite was a dark grey car that she called the Stealth Bomber. It was from Canada, procured by her husband from a family member or friend. The car couldn’t be registered in the U.S. without paying some crazy tax or fixing the emissions. Catherine took the license plate off and drove without registration or insurance. Might as well go all the way. For a while she flew under the radar- I don’t think she even got any parking tickets when parking illegally…..as there was no plate ( NO PARKING TICKETS IN SAN FRANCISCO!! Not likely to ever be replicated). One night on the way back to our studio after a gig, driving down 3rd Street , she got pulled over. She was panicking somewhat and Emile was telling her to stay calm- all they could do was tow the car. The officer looked in the car with his flashlight, saw me in the back with guitars and amps, and asked what the deal was with the musical equipment.
“We’re in a band” Catherine said. ‘We just played a gig at The Bottom of the Hill.”
The officer seemed excited. “You’re in a band?” he asked. “Do you know Metallica?”
Catherine hesitated only briefly. “Yes, we know Metallica.” And then handed him her license, and said something like she hadn’t had a chance to register the car yet.
The officer went back to his squad car and got on his radio. I heard him say into the radio “I just pulled over these girls who are in a band and they know Metallica!”
He came back a minute later and gave her the license back. “Say hi to Metallica for me” and let us go. No moving violation, no lack of insurance fix it ticket, no impound for an unregistered vehicle.
“Yep” Catherine said “The Stealth Bomber strikes again, flying under the radar of even the SFPD.”
Thank you, Metallica. Who we never have met.
CAMELTOE: DALLAS, TEXAS
We played a gig in Dallas, and I told our drummer Joe at the start of the gig that I wasn’t gonna drink tonight because I’d be getting pulled over later. Joe wanted to know why I was getting pulled over. “This is Texas, Joe. That’s what they do here.”
After the gig we had to drive to Denton- an hour or so away, and where we had a place to stay. I was keeping a close eye on the speed and making sure I signaled every time I switched lanes. I told Joe to keep an eye out for the cops. He pretty much laughed at me, until…..
(Siren noise) I got pulled over. I asked the officer “What did I do?” Seriously, I was perplexed.
“You don’t have a light above your license plate. I don’t know what ya’ll do in California, but in Texas you have to have a light over your license plate.” Luckily he let me off with a warning.
Joe was shaking his head in disbelief. I said, “This is Texas, Joe. Don’t mess with Texas. ”
HELLFIRE CHOIR: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Eric and I flew up to Seattle after work for Friday night gig. We had a beer at SFO before getting on the plane. We picked up a rental car at SeaTac, and drove to the gig. Shelley and Michelle had driven up with the gear earlier. I had looked up the address of the club, a place we hadn’t played before. Eric and I seemed to be driving for a long time, but SeaTac is south of Seattle so I figured we’d have to go some distance. Finally we get to the club, and it’s a little bar out in the sticks. Not many people around. Eric called Shelley, and we figured out that the stick bar and the rock club had the same name. We were now about an hour away from where we needed to be. And we were only 30 mins from our set time.
I pulled out of the stick club parking lot. Eric had Shelley on the phone- she was navigating with him. People at the rock club were helping her with directions. The fans were in on the game. Minutes later, we get pulled over. I can hear Eric narrating the experience to Shelley and the fans. “Ok we’re heading south now on (some street). Ok, there’s some sirens behind us. Oh shit we’re being pulled over….”
The officer asked me if I’d been drinking. I looked at Eric and then back to him. “I had a beer on the plane. But that was a little while ago.” Actually it was before the plane, it had to have been about 4 hours previous, but I started to panic because I wasn’t sure if that was enough time for the blood alcohol to clear. The officer had me get out of the car. I walked the line. I touched my nose. I was praying he wouldn’t ask me to do the alphabet backwards because I can barely do it the right way. Meanwhile Eric is still narrating to everyone at the club. “She’s walking….ok, yeah, she’s doing pretty well. Now she’s touching her nose with her ring finger…..” Finally the officer had me blow into a breathalyzer. “She just blew…we’re waiting for the results………” The officer came back and said I blew under the limit so I could go. “She passed!! We’re free!!! (crowd roars)”. The officer said when I pulled out of the lot, my lights weren’t on, so he had to pull me over. I switched the lights on, and we (safely) hightailed it to the club. The club pushed the set times a little so we could play. Everyone in the club congratulated me on passing the test when I arrived.
I later learned that 90% of people driving without their lights on at night are intoxicated. Watch out for them.
HELLFIRE CHOIR: STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO
Driving from Colorado Springs to Steamboat Springs, Shelley was at the wheel when it started to snow. Of course I was freaking out, and luckily we got pulled over for SPEEDING. After the cop gave us the ticket, Michelle took over. A harrowing drive through the whited-out Rabbit Ear Pass ensued, but I was somewhat relaxed with Michelle behind the wheel. We made it into town and Michelle stopped at a stop sign. The car behind us couldn’t stop and plowed into us, bashing in the rear door. No one was hurt. The next day we wheeled our rented gear back to the music shop from the rear parking lot so they wouldn’t see the gear had been in a car that had been in an accident. It all seemed pretty funny until we took the rented van back to the airport rental place. The rental agents took a look and told us that we were the lucky ones- one of their rentals had driven off the mountain in the storm the day before and all four passengers had died.
COOKIE MONGOLOID: SAN FRANCISCO
Exited 280 onto Monterey, shortly thereafter the siren went off. I really had no idea what I’d done. It was probably around 2 in the morning and I was going home after a gig. The officer came up to the window.
“Coming home from a gig?” he asked.
“Yes sir” and a pause. “How did you know?”
“I looked in the back of your truck and saw your guitar in there. Metal band?”
I laughed. “yeah, it’s a heavy metal tribute to Sesame Street.”
He said he thought metal when he saw the guitar case because I had “hit it a little hard coming off the freeway”. He told me to slow down a little, and let me off without a ticket.
I didn’t even get a chance to tell him that I know Metallica.