NE-HI Are Worthy of Hanging With Mike Myers

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Courtesy of Bryan Allen Lamb

The road is not a pretty place. Tour Is Hell collects your favorite bands' war stories, some of which make Cormac McCarthy look like Dr. Seuss. Today, we get in the van with James Weir of Chicago four-piece NE-HI, who delivered sophomore album Offers via Grand Jury earlier this year, a collection of garage-y guitar anthems appropriate for aficionados of Kiwi guitar-punk and early R.E.M. alike.

What album can everyone agree on in the van? What’s the most divisive?
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours. Hands down. James Corden would appreciate our sing-alongs. Nothing is too divisive, but I've been putting on a lot of jazz lately, and I wouldn't say it's been well-received. They call it "the Coward's Ska."

What’s the strangest gig you’ve ever played?
The punk house in Little Rock, Ark., "where the mosquitoes were so abundant, you thought you were in the Amazon." That was pretty strange.

Tell us about your biggest onstage clusterfuck.
Our Chicago album release show when everyone came onstage for the last song. I was physically pinned to the back wall and my cable got unplugged four times. It was great, though!

Describe your craziest afterparty.
Last year in New York, we played a gig in Manhattan and went out to a bar in the Lower East Side afterwards. Mike Myers sat down next to us and ended up hanging out all night. We are big Austin Powers fans, so that was a highlight. [Laughs]

Courtesy of Bryan Allen Lamb

How do you deal with going days or even weeks without a shower?
A tolerance for the bad smells is mandatory.

Be it an accident, crazy fan or place to crash, what’s your scariest experience on the road?
We drove through a blizzard in Iowa a few winters back that we somehow managed to escape harm-free. So many semis had crashed that it looked like the scene in [The Empire Strikes Back] when the Rebels are fighting the Empire on Hoth and all the AT-STs are down.

What’s your universal must-go restaurant or road stop?
Sheetz. Greatest gas station in America. Love you, Sheetz!

Who drives the most and least, and why?
That responsibility is divided up pretty liberally. Everyone enjoys driving the van. It'd be impossible to not enjoy the maneuverability of our beautiful 1998 Chevy Express.

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without sleep?
Two to three days.

How do you try to stay healthy on the road?
We have a football in the van that often comes out in the parking lots of motels, gas stations. Long-distance passes, sprints, tackling — football keeps us fit.

How do you amuse yourself on long stretches with nothing to do?
We've gotten really into podcasts over the last year. S-Town, Jalen and Jacoby, U Talkin' U2 to Me. Listening to those, plus many more, saves us on those long drives.

What do you argue about the most?
Who can bench-press the most.

Filed Under: NE HI, Tour Is Hell
Categories: Columns
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