In Waves' Beginnings and the Tampa Food-Tour (featuring Jon Paul Douglass and his photography)
Jon Paul Douglass is the man responsible for the gorgeous artwork on Trivium's In Waves. A while back, Trivium had a huge chunk of time home and I had just moved into the same building as JP - at that time, we'd go be gym-rats together, talking films, art, video games, and some of the draft ideas I had flowing for "the next Trivium album." We'd review some of my lyrical ideas, song titles, and themes on the cardio machines… head back to my place and play Call Of Duty Nazi Zombies for hours… eat dinner prepared by my wife or his girlfriend… then by night (when the girls had girls' nights) we'd watch films by directors like Lynch, Von Trier, Nolan, and other legends. JP's the one who introduced me to all those directors. There may have been a vaporizer present at times…
Could you say Willdug (as I call him since he has four first names: Jon Paul William Douglass) is responsible for showing me the path to what would become my inspiration for what inspired the latest Trivium album? God yes. I remember the film and night that changed it all for me… the visual display that showed me that Film-art is something of a reality (before this point, I did not get Blue Velvet - it made me mad the first time I saw it)...
Antichrist. Empire Szechuan. Pencil sharpener machine (code for the ol' vapor-boy).
So there we were, at another plane of existence to say the least - chomping down on some of Central Florida's finest greasy-spoon, potentially MSG-full, NYC-style Chinese delivery service (the only delivery spot I think that would even deliver to our building) and the film begun. Not unlike the first time hearing metal for the first time with Metallica's Black Album, my cherry was burst (not from Willdug mind you…). I won't give away any plot or anything - but I'll say the film changed me. It taught me of a new source of inspiration that would eventually spiral into the creation of In Waves.
That film was the gateway drug that led me into wanting - needing more. We'd watch more of JP's picks, I'd get notes and lists of what to watch and just absorb this new medium I'd been completely unaware of until then. We started coming up with the fact that… maybe the new Trivium album should have the similarity to the frightening vision of the desolate nature-world of Antichrist - let's… "let things take their time" (as Danny Jones - artist extraordinaire who worked In Waves with JP - would say) and do it differently. The wheels were in motion now - our brains knew where the record needed to go - where the vision had to be. The most iconically important chapter of JP and I's eventually creation of the In Waves "world" was the trip to Bell, Florida. A creepy nature-realm where only Baptist churches and gas stations pepper the woods' dirt roads that eventually only led to more woods and dirt roads. It was at that spot where we created the early vision photos and videos and concepts of the world that became the Trivium record. The stories of Bell are for another day though…
So yeah. Needless to say, we're buds.
JP used to live in Tampa, and one day decided to take me on a man-trip/ food-tour of his old stompin' grounds. Our first stop was the Taco Bus, for Tampa's take on the traditional taco (the only real way to have a taco). I guess the spot started off initially as just a bus, but it is now a bus covered by an overhang, with an attached building. A bus/ food truck needing to expand is always a good thing. Double-layered tortilla, cilantro, onion, lime, meat. Rice and beans with queso fresco accompanied. That day, the Taco Bus was truly great. It was hard not to order the entire menu - but the plan was to eat at as many spots in a day as possible. We drive to our next spot.
First Choice BBQ is tucked away in the corner of a strip mall (Florida has lots of strip malls). The inside is old and warm. Office park-style ceilings, fluorescent lighting, newspaper ads under the table glass.. no frills, baby. You order at a counter that looks like a mall food-court in a mall that's… maybe been around for a long time… The chopped pork and sauce, served with more sauce on top with hamburger buns was some damn good BBQ. It's always the unassuming spots that wow you.
Next, it was a small drive to the downtown area - with a Thai Tea for the road from a spot next to a head shop. Mema's Alaskan Tacos is in the area somewhere near the State Theater (a venue Trivium is quite familiar with). The Alaskan taco is a fried, crispy tortilla-shell with fish and cabbage and other bits tucked inside. The crunch of the taco shell went fantastically with the soft fish within. My introduction to the Alaskan Taco was a pleasant one.
The Bricks is a restaurant/ bar/ coffee shop owned by the people who own/ owned the skate park Jon Paul used to tear up on his board. Really great priced, casual bites here - with an alright drink selection. The only bummer of this place:
I ask the waitress politely, "What beer do you recommend between this one… and this one?"
"I don't drink." My emotionless server responds.
I respond "Oh… alright, um… I'll take a Sierra then."
Planning my meal... "Between this sandwich and this one… which do you think is the best?"
The answer: "Uh… I don't eat meat."
"Oh… okay. Sorry about that… I'll have this one then." My reply.
She then scribbles it down and walks away.
Alright. I get it. If you don't drink and don't eat meat… awesome for you - but if you work at a restaurant, at least be semi-aware of how to recommend or help guide patrons to a decision that may make their night. Have beliefs and opinions on people that eat meat and drink? Don't work at a freaking place that serves either. Go sell lettuce at a lettuce bar. Let's not be rude here… I've been to plenty of restaurants with fully knowledgable servers who are vegetarian or sober who can at least get the lowdown from the chef or other servers - without shoving their belief system down your throat with a judging look and/ or comment. Didn't Anthony Bourdain say that there is a direct correlation between the sense of humor of a person and their meat intake? Yeah… there - it was true.
The food? Real good. Simple, unpretentious (the food in this case), and at a price-point that I was quite impressed with (I felt a venue like this one could have charged a bit more - but thankfully didn't).
On our walk back to the parking garage, Willdug pointed out some of the old spots he would frequent back in the day… dancin' up a storm and raging (in his own special raging sort of way). It was a great insight into seeing the place where a dear friend sorta grew up. We drove back pleasantly full and buzzed and called it a day.