I’m currently sitting in my isle seat on the flight back from LAX to Sydney Airport, with not long to go until we land. I am sitting here now with my breakfast eaten and having a look at what in flight music Virgin Australia has to offer. It’s been great quashing my feelings of homesickness (pun intended) hearing the Divinyls ‘Desperate’ album, as well as Cold Chisel, The Angels, and I’m currently listening to the Hoodoo Gurus track ‘Good Times’ which couldn’t be more appropriate for having to bid the USA farewell.

It was a teary goodbye to Vicky Hamilton at LAX airport, but as the words are being sung into my ear as I type this “You came back to me, and everything’s like it used to be, all the good times we had, we’ll have again.” Now will begin the countdown until I can get back on to US shores and catch up with Vicky, Ace, Jen, Drew, Danny, Chad, Critter and Taime (not to mention all the amazing friends I met living in Hollywood and on the road).

South Barrington Illinois –
This night I reached my limit, since I landed in Hollywood in February (having only played one show with the band) I was getting my head around things. Defining boundaries, as it seems there were no consequences and limits on things. We were at a party on the rooftop of the London Hotel on Sunset for Gordan Ramsay and I walked over to the bar and asked “what can I have” and the bartender replied “anything you want”. So I handed him the biggest wine glass I could find and asked “can you fill this with your finest whiskey?” and he did. Later in the night I collapsed backwards over a couch making a giant scene and taking out half the furniture. When I apologised the next morning to everyone I was told “you’re a rockstar, it’s your job to do that”. In Australia when I’ve done things like that in the past I’ve been socially crucified. My point is it was all down hill from there… until this night. That’s it, I’m not drinking. I had a sober night. The sound guy may as well have been mentally handicapped and tone deaf. So I was furious with him but you can’t ever voice it, the man at the desk is god. Those faders determine everything for my skinny ass up on that stage. We got through the show and two fans asked me to sign their guitars, I’d never done that before so I was really happy about that. After load out I crashed out like a light.

Oglesby Illionois –
I woke up feeling like a million bucks! I had so much energy, we all went to see the new Evil Dead movie as a group as it was on the horizon we’d be leaving soon and no one wanted to accept it. The family was about to be divided. The movie was fun, I’d never been to an American cinema before so that was cool. I was wearing my long sleeve striped shirt a, beanie and sunnies Danny had given me and I looked like a cartoon burglar which everyone thought was hilarious. So I got a photo and posted it on my Instagram “I have come to burgle your cats!” which I thought was hilarious because people always post photos of their cats on the internet which I still do not understand (but hey, there’s a lot about me I’m sure everyone doesn’t understand!). The show was in a small bar which the room filled, before we went on some fan had got into the backstage room… which was more a kitchen above the bar. Announcing “I’m a single mom, I like to smoke pot” about a million bloody times. Ace and I locked each other in another room to get away from her and just play guitar, she was driving us nuts, I think they let her stay just to get her pot. I’m a non pot smoker so I couldn’t have cared. The show was great, a tiny stage but I had so much energy just gave it my all and then Faster got up played after us then it was merch. time. We all ended up singing along to Mott the Hoople songs at the bar while the bar owner put a photo of us up on the wall next to John Corabi and our signed drum head. Then Ace announced to the room “Ronnie Simmons ever body! The biggest dick in Sydney Australia! I don’t mean his penis, I mean he’s actually the biggest dick!” which has been an ongoing joke of the whole tour, everyone seems to want to discuss the size of my member. I won’t go into that but there’s a funny radio interview we did in Akron Ohio for “Maximum Threshold” out there on the internet that goes into detail about it. I’m sure you’ll be highly disappointed haha… nah, the interview is actually pretty funny. After load out we got back on the UFO and shot the shit ’til we all crashed out and faced the inevitable that no one wanted to face – the last day of the tour.

Chicago – final show of the tour for The Art:
There was an odd vibe in the air, everyone knew we’d soon have to say goodbye but didn’t want to admit it. The bus pulled in to the venue at about 11am however there was no load in until 6pm. So everyone scattered with time to kill. All of the Art and Jen, Ace, Drew and Danny started walking towards what we were told was downtown and saw a bar with a rotating old motorcycle (Indian or Harley, I’m not sure, it was quite destroyed) with a skeleton riding it. So we all said “this is our kind of place” and headed in. We were greeted by a cheery afro american bartender with dreadlocks and a Pantera tattoo who served us all a round of drinks. I went for the usual, whiskey on the rocks, Azaria ordered a bloody mary cocktail which ironically had salami meat, a pepper and an olive skewered floating in it. He is the only one who doesn’t eat meat. So I took care of it as he could choose something more appropriate. So i asked the bartender to make it as spicy as he possibly could then dropped my Makers Mark into it. After everyone was done we decided to go exploring, I wanted to get a pair of Blues Brothers sunnies in Chicago (which I’m giving to my younger bro when I get home) so we headed into town then in a blur next thing you know Drew, Jen, Ace and I are at a tattoo shop getting tattooed. Drew and Jen got ‘I’m Homesick. I’m sick of being home…’, Ace got ‘Gimme back my rock n’ roll’ added to his Homesick tattoo and I got LOVE tattooed right above FIRE on my left knuckles (because ‘I love playing with fiiiiire’). Then we headed back to the venue for load in. Watched the support bands, the first band were younger with a hyper active attractive russian blonde singer, who after their show quit the band and then there was a giant drama. These guys were younger so I then found myself counselling some distraught musicians. The following band Black Actress kicked ass, they gave me their record and I’m really keen to listen to it when I get home.
Now as a last show of tour tradition, we were told we were going to be pranked. There was a lot of build up… So before our last song started didgeridoo came over the PA speakers… that was it? Haha they had no idea what was in store for them. During the heart felt ballad ‘House Of Pain’ Azaria got up in a Faster Pussycat bikini and announced “this song is the reason I became a stripper’ and danced onstage, then during Bathroom Wall and Pretty fucked up I got up in my Australian Flag board shorts, wearing an American flag I picked up at Wal Mart as a cape and plugged in and played both songs (which I’d learned) which they could not see coming, dancing around, pulling stupid faces. What a great way to end the the night… but not yet. It gets better….

After partying with all the fans, support bands and Faster Pussycat, making the most of our last hours on the road it was the inevitable “Wheels up!” and we were on the bus and on the road… except for one thing was wrong… “Where’s Jordan?” Jordan later explained he had asked Drew and Xristian when the bus would leave to drop us at the airport, Xristian told him 4am so off Jordan went, planning to return at 4am. Tensions on the bus were rising “members on the bus were furious that we had left a man behind, I must add Xristian didn’t say anything at this point. Which I still find perplexing. Finally we called Pablo, a fan and friend of the band who followed us on our entire tour, instructing him to go find Jordan. He found him! So we were dropped at Chicago airport and everyone hugged and bid each other farewell, it was ‘goodnight but not goodbye’ as I put it, Europe is on the horizon. Finally Jordan turned up to the airport in a state I had never seen him before. I was hammered, but in comparison to him I was as sober as a judge. I had to walk him to a bathroom as he was trying to urinate on the pot plants right next to airport security. He finally collapsed in a heap on our luggage, then looked up to me and said “can you do me a massive favour big doggy? Can you get me some H2O?”. So I covered him in jackets while Azaria and KJ were outside as Zar had a smoke and went to a Starbucks and brought him water. Until we finally got through airport security. I got myself the strongest and spiciest bloody mary I could at an airport bar as it was now something like 5am and I was sobering up and in a fowl mood because I hate nothing more than going through airport security. Yeah I’m tattooed, so the fuck what? Anyway… so yeah we boarded and landed at LAX to meet Vicky who picked us up and it was a pleasure seeing her again. It had been so long! We were straight into a meeting at Kill City Jeans on Melrose who have endorsed the band, (Drew you’re a legend!) to discuss how the tour had gone and what we can do to further the band and then to pick up some luggage we’d left back at our pad in Larchmont we spent a month living in before the tour. I asked how long we had until we flew back to Sydney and we had an hour and a half. So I ran out in search of presents to bring home for my family and friends. I ended up in a tattoo studio getting something that had been on my agenda since I landed in Hollywood. An LA tattoo, I got ‘The Longest Time’ – Billy Joel lyrics, on an anchor only my back left shoulder (just like Hank Moody from one of my favourite shows Californication). I ran from the tattoo shop to find Vicky and Jordan waiting for me at MCafe on Melrose, waiting for Zar and KJ. They arrived, we raced to LAX, had a teary farewell with Vicky and then before I knew it we were on the plane home. I popped 2 valium, had a glass of white wine and now here I sit.

If this was an essay (which many of my latest entries may feel like, reading.) I guess this would be the conclusion. I’ve learned that no matter how well I think I know myself, there are always new people in the world to be met that can teach me things I didn’t realise about myself, along side a reality that sometimes gut feelings are more important than anything. I left a lot of negativity behind me (at the present time and in the past for years leading up) when I first got on the plane to head to Hollywood for the first time 3 months back and now it all just seems like a distant memory, insignificant in comparison to the wide world and great unknown out there. Sometimes you can be right and everyone around you telling you that you are wrong are simply dick heads.
If there’s any thing to be gained from reading this (aside from I’m hoping slight amusement and entertainment) it’s (as cliche and trite as it may sound) follow your heart and the feeling in your sack. Have fun, and if you’re not having fun – get the fuck out.

I’m going to be told to turn off my electronic equipment shortly and are looking forward to seeing my family, fighting off the post tour depression by partying with my team wolf crew at home, hitting the road with Buckcherry and my new good friend Richie Ramone for their Aussie tour, then playing ANZ stadium Sydney supporting Aerosmith and Van Halen at the first Stone Music Festival. Stay tuned for a video for ‘Home Sick’ too.

See you next tour,  thanks for reading my ramblings and don’t let rock and roll die in a retirement home, let it go out with electrocution and passionate aggressive execution!

– Ronnie Simmons
www.followtheart.com
www.ronniesimmons.com.au
@ronniesimmons

Written by Catherine Powell