THE BLOG

I Was Three Inches From Dying on a Highway

09/16/2014 12:20 EDT | Updated 11/16/2014 05:59 EST

We were kicked off the highway somewhere just outside of Toledo. There were a lot of cops and a lot of flares. It was February, about 3:30 am. The roads were very slick and you could see the multi car pileup that had closed the interstate running south. I got out and stood on the road. It was a backyard skating rink, not a highway. We should have stopped, but we did what we always do, let the GPS recalibrate and followed it into the dark. I don't like driving straight through the night, but we had to get to San Diego in 4 days and we'd sworn we wouldn't miss a show. 

The problem with a GPS unit is that it's a computer. It provides a route informed by a navigation device that acquires your position from a satellite and references it within its map database. The route is given without concern for fatigue, weather, or safety. It provides you with the most direct route based on your current position and your desired destination. If that route happens to be an unlit two lane ice highway along a body of water, so be it. The satellites say there is a road there and that's where it directs you. 

We weren't flush with options, so we followed the map. More specifically, we listened to Jordi, the Patois speaking GPS voice we'd downloaded, and watched our avatar (which we had recently changed to resemble a burrito) glitch across the map. Jordi is funny, often charming, but also borderline abusive. He yells, "WHAT IS THIS IDIOT BUSINESS, GET BACK ON THE MOTORWAY," every time we stop to use the washroom or to get a cup of coffee. His tone, at times, is quite aggressive. I usually know if I made a wrong turn. Back off, you know? On this night however, Jordi was complacent. There was no yelling because we followed the route as he directed.

A few miles into our detour, we suddenly found ourselves sliding sideways across the highway. Our van had spun 90 degrees and we slid out of control around a corner. I soon realized that the side door of our van was perfectly framed by the oncoming lights of a transport truck. It's a very specific feeling when you know you're about to get demolished by a semi on a dark highway in Ohio. Someone in the van said "we're going to die."  The world seemed to move in slow motion. There was a body of water running parallel to the road and now, because we had spun, we were facing it. I had time to think about flooring it and taking our chances swimming in the icy water. But I quickly realized most of our equipment would likely fly around the cab of our van and decapitate a few (if not all) of us before we had a chance to swim. The world seemed to move in even slower motion. Someone said "holy fuck, we're actually going to die." 

I remembered a story Jason's uncle had told me about wrecking his motorcycle in northern Ontario. Apparently he had hit something in the road and was thrown from his bike. Instead of crashing into the pavement, he landed on the back of a black bear. They rolled together into the ditch. Both the bear and Jason's uncle were fine. I was told that the bear just ran off. One can imagine, he was probably quite startled.

The back left wheel of the van must have caught on some salt because we suddenly snapped back towards our lane. The van had righted just enough that the rest of the guys weren't in the direct line of the collision. The truck was still about to hit us, but now just over the left headlight. It was going to hit me. I imagined what it would feel like to be hit at that speed with that force. I had this image that my spine would crack like a bag of ice cubes. It was as if I could feel it. Then I felt the steering column going through my body. I thought about those Russian dashboard cameras where it looks like cars explode into confetti, like they have been put through a wood-chipper, after being hit by a truck. I wanted so badly for there to be a bear outside. I fell in love with the idea that we might all float out of the van and land on the same bear. The truck was two meters from us, I cranked the wheel and pressed the gas to the floor. I could hear the truck blasting his horn. Maybe he thought I didn't see him? I saw him. Then he hit us.

I thought I was dead. You could hear the metal scraping as the two giant bodies rubbed together. I heard a loud pop as our left side mirror exploded like someone had put a firecracker inside of it. As the truck ground its way down the side of our van I realized we had managed to slide back just enough into our own lane. The truck never slowed. He did seem to offer some sort of rear light display: flickers and break lights and all sorts of flashes. Maybe a code truck drivers use to communicate. I wonder if he said something like: "all good" or "hey, that was close." Then Jordi said, "continue down the motorway for 16 miles."

We pulled onto a side road and due to exhaustion, and the fact that our adrenaline had just redlined, we fell asleep. A young, very beautiful police officer tapped on the window to tell us we couldn't be parked where we were. For a minute I thought it was a dream. Oddly, the officer said nothing about our mangled vehicle, just that we had to move further south if we were hoping to park. A few hours later a kid opened up his fathers repair shop and screwed on a replacement mirror at no charge. Some days, you win.

We made it in time for the start of the tour and though we tried our best, we did miss one show in Calgary because we were caught behind an avalanche near Revelstoke.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the release of our (JUNO and Polaris-nominated!) album Warring, we are set to cross Canada headlining a series of intimate performances. Furthermore, for the first time, we are making "Ultra Violet" (a previously unreleased bonus track from the Warring sessions) widely available! You can purchase it HERE.

I still can't believe we've made it this far. It's been a good run.

October 04 Kingston, ON Q POP Festival @ The Underground  w/ July Talk | Tickets

October 07 Thunder Bay, ON @ Black Pirates Pub 

October 09 Regina, SK @ O'Hanlons 

October 10 Calgary, AB @ The Gateway | Tickets

October 11 Edmonton, AB UP+DT Festival @ Starlite w/ Constantines | Tickets

October 12 Edmonton, AB UP+DT Festival @ Yellowhead Brewery w/ Young Guv | Tickets

October 15 Vancouver, BC @ The Media Club

October 17 Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo's | Tickets

October 18 Winnipeg, MB @ Park Theatre | Tickets

More Dates TBA

For those interested, you can buy Warring here: http://smarturl.it/WARRING

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Juno Nominations 2014