Cool Ghouls Hit The Motherlode.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
No van is perfect. Just ask Shannon & The Clams and Cool Ghouls, both of which experienced troubles with their old vans and had to find new modes of transport before playing a string of sold-out shows together earlier this month. While the Clams went the rental route, Cool Ghouls borrowed a car from their drummer's mom.
The San Francisco garage quartet didn't let car troubles steal their thunder, though, and the band's recent swing through Three Links was quite magical. With rambunctious live performances abundant, it's no wonder that, just weeks ago, the band stole our hearts once again at that show.
It helped too that, following that performance, we had the chance to ask the band about its van.
Don't worry, Alex's mom. They're keeping it really clean.
Band Name: Cool Ghouls.
Van Name: Alex's Mom's Odyssey.
Year/ Make/ Model: 2002 Honda Odyssey.
Mileage: “We've put 1,000 or so on it.”
Tell us about what you're currently touring in?
Pat Thomas (Bass): “It's a 2002 Honda Odyssey courtesy of Mrs. Fleshman.”
Ryan Wong (Guitar): “Kathy Fleshman — Alex's mom, our drummer's mom. We got a bunch of college stickers on the back.”
Pat Thomas: “Every single college her children have ever attended. We got SFSU, UC Davis, University of Chicago Mom, UCLA Mom, UCLA Bruins license plate frame, UC Hastings Law School sticker and then just UCLA. Double UCLA Mom stickers!”
Sounds like she gave birth to some educated children!
Pat Thomas: “Well, one of them can't stop going to college. Alex went to SF State, his sister went to UC Davis and his brother will not stop going to college. He went to three of those schools.”
So how long have you been riding around in this?
Pat Thomas: “Not long.”
Ryan: “What, a month?”
Pat Thomas: “We just got it for this tour. We used to have this Chevy conversion van. But it broke down on the 5 going through the Grapevine, coming home from San Diego.”
Pat McDonald (Guitar): “We had just played with La Luz.”
Pat Thomas: “It was pretty brutal.”
Pat McDonald: “But it happened after the tour, so…”
Pat Thomas: “We were on our way home from our last show.”
Pat McDonald: “It was a very considerate time for it to die on us.”
Pat Thomas: “So we kind of had to scramble, get something, because we had this big one coming up and the Fleshman's were kind enough to let us use this thing. It gets twice the gas mileage that our old one did — so that's a plus. It gets about 20.”
Ryan: “The last one used to get 9 to 10. It was bad.”
Pat Thomas: “It was terrible.”
Have you guys done anything special to the van?
Pat Thomas: “Well, it's got these automatic doors, which are a pain the ass. In 2002, there was this generation of minivans where they thought it would be really slick to have a lot of automated features and stuff, and so you cannot open the door with your hands. You have to let it do its automatic thing. It's slow as fuck and it won't open if you're not in park. So that sucks. It's got a DVD player that's broken. It's got really deep trunk so we can fit all of our amps in the back. It's a very economical tour vehicle.”
Minus that broken DVD player, how do you stay sane in this thing?
Pat Thomas: “Lately, we've been setting up a laptop in the middle, playing Curb Your Enthusiasm. We brought five seasons of it, maybe.”
Pat McDonald: “We listen to a lot of music and usually take naps in the car.”
What types of things have you been listening to?
Pat McDonald: “Anything, really.”
Pat Thomas: “Country right now. We were listening to Willie Nelson on the way here. But we like to mix it up.”
Pat McDonald: “Townes is from Fort Worth right? Townes Van Zandt is from Fort Worth, I think.”
Pat Thomas: “I don't know. Jazz. Rock. Jazz-rock. But, yeah, we'll listen to anything. If some band put out a new record, we'll totally check it out.”
In the month or so you've had this ride, has the Odyssey given you guys any issue or anything?
Ryan: “Oh yeah. About two weeks after we got it, the check engine light came on.”
Pat Thomas: “And it was having trouble starting, apparently.”
Ryan: “If we didn't bring it in when we did, what happened to our last van would have happened to this van, which is it would have overheated. It would leak fluid. It was a close call.”
What did Alex's mom think of that?
Pat Thomas: “She was surprised because she took it in before we picked it up and then they took it to the place and said everything looks good.”
Was it the same or different place?
Pat Thomas: “Different place. [She took it to a place in] Sacramento, and the place we took it was in San Francisco and they found the exact same problem that our last van had. We would have overheated on the way to our show in L.A.”
Ryan: “Which is what happened to the Clams.”
Pat: “On their first day of tour, I don't know what it was that went wrong, but they had to rent this Sprinter for the tour. You can stand up in those, and it's diesel, so that's cheaper in most part of the country. But regular around here is cheap as fuck. We've seen some $1.90-somethings. We're accustomed to $3.50.”
Is there anything else you'd like to add about Alex's Mom's Odyssey?
Pat Thomas: “It's nice. I do love it.”
Ryan: “It's been good.”