By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
A small gaggle of nervous kids approached the members of
Admiral Twin last month on the streets of Seattle. They had
obviously screwed up a great deal of courage to approach
the Tulsa band, and they were wide-eyed with awe.
"Are you in a band?" one of the girls asked cautiously.
The Admiral Twin fellows said yes, puffing with a little
The girls were particularly focused on bass player Mark
Carr, his bushy locks and constantly furrowed expression.
"You're ... Eddie Vedder?" they asked him.
There are worse things that can happen to a rock band on
the road than being mistaken for Pearl Jam.
It's an understandable error, too. Pearl Jam was playing
in Seattle the same night Tulsa's pop-rock kings Admiral
Twin once again opened for Hanson in the Emerald City.
Admiral Twin is the other Tulsa band on the Albertane Tour --
Hanson's oddly named summer trek across the continent — and
they might be having more fun than even the much-ballyhooed
"We're on a national tour playing for sold-out arenas.
Yeah, I guess we're having a good time," drummer Jarrod
Gollihare said before the band's July 8 show in Tulsa.
The fun continues — as does the development of future
business prospects. Numerous record label scouts have seen
the show at various stops, many specifically to check out
Admiral Twin. A rep from Mojo Records (Cherry Poppin'
Daddies, etc.) was hanging out with the band in Tulsa, and
scouts from Mercury — Hanson's label — were on hand for the
sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl.
The band, however, is tight-lipped about any deals going
down. "We can just say for now that stuff is happening.
We'll have some news at the end of the tour," said the
band's instrumental everyman and songwriter, Brad Becker,
in an interview this week from the tour's second stop in
In the meantime, these Tulsa players — Becker, Gollihare,
Carr and guitarist John Russell — are high on the excitement
of this incredible opportunity. Just last spring, Admiral
Twin would have surrendered a digit or two to play before
sold-out crowds of nearly 25,000 people as they did at
Washington, D.C.'s Nissan Pavilion. After their sound check
at the Mabee Center last month, they were remarking how
small the 8,000-capacity venue was.
How quickly they forget.
Granted, these giant venues are not selling out on the
strength of Admiral Twin's presense on the ticket. That's
the bittersweet dilemma of every opening act. But the
Hanson tour is a different animal for an opening band,
Admiral Twin has discovered.
"For a lot of the kids in this audience, this is their
first rock show ever," Becker said. "They're all having a
good time regardless. They're not jaded. They're open to
anything they hear, and we just feed it to them."
Surprisingly, the band isn't totally anonymous to these
first-ever huge out-of-Tulsa crowds. Several audiences — on
both coasts — have been sprinkled with Admiral Twin banners
amidst the ocean of poster-sized declarations of devotion
to Hanson. Some crowds — as the band chronicles in its tour
diary (see related story) — have even chanted Admiral Twin's
That's not the only feedback they get from new fans,
though, Becker said.
"We've been getting a ton of e-mail, too," said Becker,
also the band's webmaster, who keeps track of the band's
web page and e-mail daily from the road. "In the last month
or so, we've gotten 2,000 e-mails. The Internet is where a
lot of this started. First, some people posted on the
Hanson newsgroup that we were goign to be on the tour. Then
Hanson linked to our web page from their official page.
That got the word out to Internet-savvy Hanson people. Then
once we started playing shows, it turned it loose. We get
30 to 40 messages a day from people saying they showed up
expecting to throw food at the opening band but wound up
loving us. They say, `You guys aren't anything like Hanson,
but we loved you.' "
Aye, it's that disparity in sound that's the rub.
Admiral Twin took on that name after seven years as the
Mellowdramatic Wallflowers; the change was part of the
band's effort to distance itself from an undeserved but
nonetheless dogging image as a kiddie band. The group's
power pop is suited ideally for whatever might remain of a
college radio audience.
So why did they turn around a month after the makeover
and accept the offer — from the Hansons themselves — to be on
this tour with demographics split above and below that
college radio crowd? The short answer is another question:
who in their right mind would turn down an opening bid for
a group fresh from earning numbers as the No. 1 act in the
world? "We're not a weird niche group. We're a pop-rock
group. We've got a broader appeal than a punk-ska band or a
weird art group. This is a portion of our target audience --
the low age bracket and their parents — and it's a great
chance for us. After this tour, we hope to do some
colleges," Becker said.
Chronicle of a dream: The Admiral Twin tour diary
© Tulsa World
Admiral Twin joined the Hanson summer tour when it came
ashore June 20 for a show in Montreal. Since then, these
Tulsa popsters have been opening sold-out arenas across the
North American continent for the teeny-bop trio.
They've been keeping a tour diary all summer long. A
long version, plus complete information about the band, is
available on the band's web site
(http://www.admiraltwin.com/). Here are some excerpts from
the band's chronicle of star-struck shows, credit-card
capers and barricade-busting:
Montreal (June 21)
Wow! What a great feeling, walking on
stage in front of 12,000 screaming people. It seemed like
we went over very well. Nobody threw anything hard or
pointy at us. Our eardrums exploded the first time the
crowd yelled and we're all now legally deaf.
Toronto (June 24)
The fun never stops on the Albertane
Tour. Last night's show at the Molson Amphitheater was
crazy. Sold-out (16,000 seats), the venue roared like an
army of screaming cheetahs when we took the stage.
Unfortunately, the crowd shrieked all through the Hanson
show as well, making misery for the sound technicians.
Anyone attending further shows be warned: earplugs are a
prerequisite. Last night also revealed a marked increase in
people that either recognized us or had signs for us. We
don't mind being underdogs, but it's gratifying to not be
totally anonymous to the crowds. Fans are good.
Toronto itself is pretty crazy. Very multicultural. The
first day we were there, Iran beat the United States in
soccer. Nothing but a tiny blip on our mental radar, but
those crazy Iranians were hootin' and hollerin' and
ululating up and down the streets, honking their horns,
driving cars while cradling huge Iranian flags on poles out
their windows. Back and forth. Honking. Waving flags.
Ululating. More honking. Up and down. This went on pretty
much all day. Well, hey, I guess it's not every day you get
to beat the Great Satan in soccer.
Boston (June 27)
Tonight was the Great Woods
Amphitheater show. 19,900 people, or so we've heard. All in
all a good show but it was so hot that “Dancing on the
Sun'' (one of our songs) took on a whole new meaning to us.
The crowd looked pretty sweaty by the end of the night as
well. Brad tried to convince the Hansons to hire a
helicopter with a water cannon to come spray the audience.
No luck. We hope the heat doesn't get any worse in D.C. and
Atlanta but our hopes are most probably in vain. By Atlanta
our stage attire will have probably downsized from our
black wool suits to simple loin-cloths. Just kidding.
Detroit (June 30)
Last night we played Pine Knob near
Detroit. The venue was sized and shaped not unlike
Toronto's. Both seat 16,000 people. Tomorrow's show in D.C.
should be close to 25,000. Paltry numbers.
We're trying to get out there and meet [the fans].
Sometimes before the show, sometimes after. Security people
get scared, though, and think we're starting riots. In
Toronto, the guard kept saying, “It's not funny! Can you
go away? These girls are ...'' He was drowned out by
shrieks from a group of girls that was pressing up against
the barricade on a bridge, wanting autographs. He was
clearly scared. How bizarre. You wake up one day and
suddenly people want to meet you and so, of course, it
becomes impossible. Life is funny like that.
D.C. (June 30-July 2)
Incredible. Nissan Pavilion was by
far the best show yet. The crowd was insanely loud, full of
Admiral Twin posters and very excited to hear us. They
stood up while we played. They jumped up and down. They
clapped and yelled. They even chanted, “Admiral! Admiral!
Admiral!'' as we were leaving the stage. Of course, after a
few seconds they switched to “Hanson! Hanson! Hanson!''
but that's OK, too.
Tonight we ate dinner with Ozzy Osbourne's daughters
and Zac and Taylor. Rumor has it the daughters paid an
exorbitant sum for a backstage pass to the show at some
auction. MTV was there to interview them and the Hansons.
Tulsa (July 8-11)
It's a real trip to observe the
“fringe'' behavior that those boys [Hanson] bring out in
people. Especially the younger members of the fairer sex.
Unfortunately, Tulsa is languishing in the grip of a fierce
and fiery heatwave. Talk about nasty. Hot and humid are the
words of the day, and the only relief from the heat comes
with rain, which only further incites the humidity. Yuck.
Also, Brad had to go back to his day job for a day or two.
He calls it “work.'' The word vaguely rings a bell with
the rest of the band. It sounds like something we were
trying to forget.
The Tulsa crowd was markedly different from the other
crowds so far. For starters, it was a sit-down kind of
crowd. Even during the Hanson's set, the crowd sat and
watched. They seemed attentive and appreciative, but
perhaps slightly less fanatical. Chalk it up to
familiarity, maybe. The Mabee Center also confiscated all
the signs and banners that they saw, and it was quite dark
inside anyway, so it was hard to see if any of the crowd
was familiar with us or our music. We're wondering what
kind of response we'll get in L.A. There's supposed to be
movie stars at the show. Maybe someone needs an
up-and-coming young band for their next directorial
Los Angeles (July 11-13)
L.A. is a very interesting
place. You've got the ocean, the mountains, the highways,
and just way too many people running around looking for
trouble. Luckily, they somehow missed us and we had a very
nice time in the City of Angels. We've been here before, so
we knew what to expect.
The show at the Hollywood Bowl was sold out. L.A.
luminaries there included Gus Van Sant, Jenny McCarthy and
David Hasselhoff. Yup, we talked to him about “Knight
Rider.'' Really. Unfortunately, since there was a third
band playing before us, we only got to play 15 minutes. The
crowd seemed to like us, though. The next day, we toured
Media Ventures, met Hans Zimmer (a famous composer) and
drove up Pacific Coast Highway 1 to San Francisco. By the
time we finally found our hotel, it was almost 3 a.m.
Denver (July 16-18)
Ah, Red Rocks! For those of you
who've never been, it's as beautiful as you'd think. We're
following in the footsteps of U2 and the Beatles. Not bad
company. Unfortunately, we arrived late, and it was a
somewhat stressful day, all told. Some of us got lost
driving back to the hotel. Those darn roads are all dark
and twisty around there.
The crowd at Red Rocks was wonderful. They were quite
attentive and receptive. They jumped up and down. They had
banners. One difference there that we appreciated was that
most of the general admission rows were close to the front.
That meant that the front rows were packed out and excited
to be there. A few people got a little too excited and made
a golden calf to worship so we smote them. Whoa. It must be
late at night. Time for bed ...
Seattle (July 19-21)
Next stop on the tour was Seattle,
the Fertile Crescent of coffeehouses, grunge music and evil
software empires. We saw the Space Needle (and the fuzzy
Sneedle mascot), rode the monorail, explored the
fish-scented Pike Street Market and found the Admiral Twin
movie theater. It's just called the Admiral Theater now.
Too bad for them. That evening, we dined in sumptious
splendor at a quaint little local bistro called Denny's.
We're really expanding our horizons. The audience at
the Key Arena was the best yet. We were back up to our
seven song set and the crowd didn't seem to mind. After 30
minutes of screaming, jumping, clapping, and even blowing
kisses, we said goodnight. Some of the audience members
were doing those things as well.
Milwaukee and Detroit (July 23-29)
After Seattle, we
made a quick trek back home. It was an overnight flight, so
we left the Key Arena and took a taxi straight to the
airport. John, who's nervous enough about flying,
particularly enjoyed the choice of "Titannic" as the
in-flight movie. Why not just show "Airport '77"?
For the first two legs of the tour, we flew from city to
city. Now we're driving. Because of the drive, we didn't
get to see much of Milwaukee, but we enjoyed what we saw.
There was both a German fest and a Death Metal fest.
Luckily the crowds didn't mingle. Our only previous
knowledge of Milwaukee involved breweries and Laverne and
Shirley. We learned that Mr. Whipple was from Green Bay and
that this is the 70-year anniversary of Charmin so Mr.
Whipple is going to start encouraging people to squeeze the
Charmin. It's about dang time.
Now, on to Detroit. There were lots of people there who
have previously posted on our newsgroup and corresponded
with us via email. They seemed excited to see us and we
always like putting faces to names. We shook a lot of hands
and signed stuff until carpal tunnel set in. After the
show, we had one of those moments that you never forget.
Behind the venue there were hundreds of people lined up
hoping for a glimpse of Hanson as they left. Isaac came out
to the tour bus and we looked on in amazement as an
avalanche of people crashed the barricades and swept past
the the security guards. Ike ran. Then people started
looking around and recognized us so we prudently decided to
step back inside. It's always an adventure.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.