Skip to content

On the Road With June Divided.

November 13, 2011

Text by Melissa Menago, lead singer of June Divided. Top image by G.W. Miller III. Bottom image by Doug Seymour.

The car is packed, guitar is strung and false eyelashes are on. I couldn’t really ask for more as I hop into the car with my manager and the rest of my bandmates and head for the New Jersey Turnpike.

Our debut EP, The Other Side of You, was released just months ago, so our work is definitely cut out for us. We’ve been pretty successful in Philly and now we’re trying our luck in other places to spread the word. This is what brings us into northern New Jersey tonight.

We really don’t know what to expect, other than some friends we have up there who will attend. Regardless, we’re excited, in good humor and ready to rock.

If you’re wondering what a car ride with June Divided is like, here it is: the music is never predictable, the conversation could inspire or disgust you and the language could make you blush or die laughing. While on the road, I’ve seen pee in a bottle, smelled the foulest of farts, stopped at the creepiest rest stops and ate some disturbing amounts of candy. This short trip is no different.

Our more glamorous shows have been on the Warped Tour, at SXSW and at Philly’s own TLA. But as a new band, those gigs can be few and far between. Tonight’s show is at a humble little venue – complete with tacky decor, a depressing draught list and a small, less-than enthused, motley crowd standing around the bar.

We load our gear into the small “green room,” which isn’t actually green, and discover some pizza that the promoter bought for the bands. This is more of a gesture than some venues have offered us so we’re really happy campers at this point.

When it’s time for setup, it’s always the same. The sound engineer almost never shakes my hand and I get a lot of elevator eyes. I’m often assumed to be the merch girl or a girlfriend.

Whatever. Once I’m on stage, people get the picture. Being a girl in a rock band is weird like that. It hurts when people brush you off and it’s rewarding when people start to take notice. But I wish gender didn’t play a role in the way people act toward me and my band. I try not to let it bother me. What really keeps me positive are my bandmates – Chris Kissel, Keith Gill and Rich Mancinelli. They see and respect me as just another musician. That’s a big reason why I work with them (besides their amazing talents). I know I’m a lucky gal.

At shows, I never have too much time to worry about any of this stuff because the chaos of setup and sound check takes over immediately. Tonight, we play our set pretty well. It’s a challenge to win over a small crowd but by the end of our set, everyone in the room is gathered close to the stage and they seem really into us. This kind of reaction is usually what happens when we play smaller venues. That’s always a good sign.

After our set, I go to our merch table to greet the small crowd  forming to buy our CD. I speak with a few new fans and then a girl in the next band approaches me. She’s had a few to drink and tells me that she’s nervous to go on.

I remember when I used to feel that way. And just as I’m about to offer some comfort, she lowers her voice and asks, “So who put you guys together?”

I’m confused by the question and she explains, “You guys were too good. I figured you guys must be a factory band. What label put you all together? Or was it an agent? Look, I promise I won’t tell anyone. I’m just curious.”

Wow. First, I’m shocked and flattered. Then, the thought of some label putting us together seems so hilarious. I laugh and tell her that most of my bandmates and I met in college, and we found our drummer on Craigslist (true story).

She doesn’t believe me at first but eventually I convince her.

As we pack up our equipment for the night, one of our new fans approaches us. He is super excited about the band. He buys not one, but a bunch of our CDs for his friends and family. He tells us that our music has inspired him to pick up his guitar again. He asks for tickets to our next show.

Since that night, this guy has been one of our most loyal fans.

On the drive back, we accidentally hit a possum and I scream like a baby. My bandmates make a lot of fun of me. There’s some junk food, Red Bull, jokes and music. Overall, we feel good and carry on until we see the trusty Philadelphia skyline welcoming us home.

Honestly, as cool as some of our bigger gigs are, I wouldn’t have traded this show for the world.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: