Brandon Wetherbee is the host of the podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody. 5 episodes of YMTE recorded on the ShipRocked cruise are now available for download.
“Don’t you hate your job?”
Three late 20 something’s from Manchester, England were waiting to use the Stella self pour. They struck up a conversation with me and my two friends. I think they wanted to talk to my two friends. My two friends are female. I answered the question.
“I love my job. I worked to get my job. You get to do that. We get to pick our jobs.” I forgot that we also get to pick the music we hear.
That was on day 4. Let’s roll this thing back.
It became real when the boat actually moved. It didn’t seem real when the plane tickets were booked. It didn’t seem real when the plane took off. It didn’t seem real when we landed in Miami or when we got on the boat or when we ate at the buffet. It seemed real, it sunk in, when Limp Bizkit played a song that referenced multiple Nine Inch Nails songs and the boat was moving far, far away from civilization.
It started as a bit. I received a press release about a cruise headlined by Limp Bizkit in November. My friend, co-worker and former co-host Jenn Tisdale inquired about the cruise. We were approved to cover the cruise. It became real on the boat. The boat was moving.
The first set began with promise. Everyone, band, crowd, staff, appeared to be happy with their decision to willingly board this boat. Then some of the band didn’t appear pleased. Rather than perform original material the headliners played DMX. They didn’t cover DMX, their DJ played the actual DMX recording. This was set 1. 1 of more than 50.
The buffet was still open.
Night 1 was fun. Genuinely fun. A band I liked in high school played songs I liked in high school. Then the lead singer preached about atheism and his dead dad and missing his dead dad and it got weirder. Then it was time to record.
We recorded. So far, so good. We were actually on a floating vessel. We checked the schedule for the next day and noticed a performer we genuinely like was performing at that very moment. Time to see Andrew WK.
Thank god for Andrew WK.
Andrew WK’s gear fell into the ocean. We found that out day 2. On day 1, after seeing a band that peaked 15 years ago and a band that peaked 20 years ago, we saw a band that never peaked made up of people that wanted to be there. After day 1, I was glad I was on the boat.
Day 2 included a trip to a beach in the Bahamas. Is it really the Bahamas if it’s owned by a cruise line? The piece of land is owned by the cruise line.
A very not good band played. My friends and I went as far as we possibly could on the piece of land owned by the cruise line. One of us wrote HELP in big letters in the sand. One of us threw rocks in a lagoon because that keeps people away. The very not good band reminded everyone they’re from San Francisco between every song. We ran into the guitar player later that day in an elevator. He’s from Phoenix.
Back to the boat. Back to the inescapable music. The boat piped in music from the bands on the ship throughout the PA system 24/7. There was a very good chance you’d hear Buckcherry upon leaving your room. The other bands didn’t really stand up. You knew when a Buckcherry song was on.
Thank god for Andrew WK.
Drinks were not free. In order to fully embrace the ethos of the ship, one needed to drink. Andrew WK co-hosted a drunk spelling bee on night 2. I entered because free shots are better than $10 shots. I was eliminated on a proper noun. Other men and less desirable women were also eliminated on proper nouns. The two most attractive women of the entrees happened to be in the finale. Both were nice. The other host was not nice. The other host is the main reason I have a bad taste in my mouth. More on him later.
After failing to spell the guitarist from Testament’s name correctly, my friends and I proceeded to head to a bar no one else frequented. This area became our hideaway. Sure, we had to listen to the same loop of bad songs, but that was inescapable. We were able to see people enter and leave the casino, an eye opening, sobering experience that I will never be able to forget. While in our private bar during night 2, we saw a video for Crobot. It wasn’t bad. It was actually kinda good. The band was playing a floor above us. We decided to vacate our private public bar and enter a theater that was designed for Atlantic City in 1989. Crobot was better live. They sound like a mix of The Black Crowes and Dio. After their set their guitarist told us that when they signed on to the boat Mastadon was scheduled to headline. What could have been. Oh well, 2 nights in, 2 genuinely good sets.
Day 3, day 2 on the beach, was when the irony left. It was the blue and red and white drinks. It was the overly sweet rum drinks. It was drinking the drinks in the ocean while POD played “Alive” and I intentionally fell down so I think I’m now a fully baptized Catholic who has the father, son and the holy spirit inside him. My friends and I actually were next to a father, son, mother, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend when POD played “Alive”. Entire families went on the boat.
Thank god for Andrew WK.
We saw AWK a third time in 3 days. I stand by our decision. His set was the least attended on the outdoor stage. The Sevendust acoustic set attracted over 1,000 people at midnight the night before. AWK pulled about 150. It was great. There’s a reason AwesomeCon booked him last year. The only people on the boat that went for AWK looked like they also attended AwesomeCon.
Living Colour was the one band on the boat I had not previously seen that made the cruise a not horrible idea. They delivered. Their night 3 set was not a trip down memory lane or cash grab. I can write this with authority. All those beach drinks wore off by nightfall. Seeing a band sober after being tipsy is not fun and Living Colour was fun.
It rained on day 4. Thank god it rained. Day 4 was our day at sea. No beach, no place to escape. A belly flop contest was scheduled for noon. A beer pong contest was scheduled for 12:30. Outdoor shows began a few hours later. Nowhere to hide. Rain changed that. God decided that the ship did not need more rock and forced massive rescheduling. Due to the storm, the outdoor stage was struck and the 24/7 music stream throughout the entire boat was edited. You would still hear the metal in the boat, but the main outdoor area was quiet for the first time in a week. We hid in plain sight.
Every band was contracted to do a meet and greet. The heavy hitters were on day 4, in a theater designed for Atlantic City in 1979. Before their contracted meet and greets, my friend and I interviewed two very nice men, one angry man and one nice person who is the dumbest rich human that I have ever met.
We spoke to Living Colour guitarist and songwriter Vernon Reid about Eric Garner, gentrification and sexism. The word ‘titties’ was used in a way that most likely was not used by anyone else on the boat.
We spoke to Buckcherry lead singer Josh Todd. 20 years sober, Todd still sings song about cocaine and saying fuck it but really loves his three kids, is an avid reader and tries to avoid red meat as much as possible.
We spoke to Zack Wylde. He appeared angry and isn’t very tall. He’s sober. Has been for 6 years. Those buckets of beer he drank while walking around the boat and on stage? Non-alcoholic. This information threw us off our game. We planned to ask him about his supporting role in the film Rockstar. Rockstar was on a loop on one of the ship’s movie channels. Other titles on a loop included Heavy Metal, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny and Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
We spoke to Fred Durst.
We witnessed the meet and greets. We watched Wes Borland smile politely. Contrary to Instagram, he seemed OK.
A cruise producer veteran told us this year posed no real problems. All of the bands were well behaved. A few years ago Ratt caused problems. Ratt has not been asked back.
Once our scheduled interviews ended we headed back outside to hear not music. This is where we met the three late 20-somethings from Manchester that paid to come on the cruise. They were having a blast. They also discovered the Stella self pour and also wanted to avoid interaction with the very nice cruise staff. Two of the gentlemen came to see Limp Bizkit, the other for Andrew WK. They do not know anything about Factory Records (label that introduced Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, etc.). That’s the difference.
My stand up friend has an excellent joke about trying to figure out what’s cool. When you’re in high school you don’t know what’s cool. Is David Bowie cool? People talk about David Bowie. He must be cool. He has to be cooler than what’s currently popular. Limp Bizkit was the popular band when I was in high school. I chose to find cool things. I found the things that I still listen to and enjoy. The three guys from Manchester did not try to find cool. They traveled thousands of miles to go on a boat to see Limp Bizkit. Their real fun was my ironic fun. One isn’t better than the other. It’s just different. For one reason or another, I placed a premium of finding music and films and books that weren’t the most popular. So why did I go on the boat?
The bands that I thought would be awful were awful. The bands I thought would be good were better than I hoped. One band I thought would be awful turned out to be pretty good. The music wasn’t an issue.
The shipmates were not bad. Sure, we didn’t have much to bond over, but that’s fine. I’m not going to mock anyone that saved up to go on this cruise. On night 1 I met a woman who brought a gnome with her because Wes Borland holds a gnome in the video for “Break Stuff”. On the last day I met a guy from Alaska who brought his real license plate to get signed by Limp Bizkit. The license plate reads BIZKIT. Both were extremely pleasant people. There is no reason to poke fun at the trinkets they brought that bring them joy.
The host and comic were awful. Horrible. This is who I loathe. This is who deserves mocking. These are the kind of males (it’s always males) that make me want to quit everything. Horribly unfunny sexist quips that make everyone that’s not a straight, single, white male uncomfortable. I’m not naming names because if you’re reading this, you would never enjoy them so why seek them out?
On a boat with 2,500 other people, 30+ bands not in my wheelhouse and enough sad stereotypes that can cause a person to get born again, I have a problem with the host and the comic. Why? It’s easy not to be a shit. It’s really easy not to say titties sincerely. It’s really easy not to mock anal. It’s really easy to not stare at a person like a blow up doll. It’s not easy to save up to go on a cruise. It’s not easy to be in a touring band.
I’m glad I went. I’ll never go again.