The Missoulian 02/19/2004
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34 days. 32 shows. 30 Cities. 19 states. Three days in the studio. Two countries. One day off.

Be they fools or superhumans, the International Playboys are embarking on what has to be one of the most ambitious band tours in the history of rock and roll.

After a tour kick-off concert last night (Feb. 18) at the Ritz in Missoula, these five local rockers head west to Spokane for a show tonight.

Then it's up to Vancouver, for a Friday gig Š then to Bellingham, Wash., for a Saturday show Š and on and on and on - down the West Coast to San Diego, east to Texas, northeast through Ohio and Michigan, and then back toward Missoula.

If all goes as scheduled, they'll be back in town, nursing the world's biggest hangover, by March 21.

"When I book a tour, I just don't see much reason to have a day off," shrugs Colin Hickey, the band's lead singer and booking manager. "We make enough money to pay for gas and one meal a day, and we always find places to stay at people's houses. It's a blast."

Let's think about this for a minute. Night after night, Colin will be closing down this or that bar, screeching his lungs out and flailing around on stage like a chimp with his fur on fire, sweating profusely in his trademark dress-pants and tie, drinking free whiskey and breathing second-hand smoke.

And day after day, he and his bandmates will have to wake up and drive themselves a few hundred miles to the next gig.

"We have a big 15-seater Chevy van Š an old retired Air Force van, so we can do 75 on the highway," says Hickey. "We make sure there's always one sober driver."

Nevertheless, under such circumstances, one can imagine that things have a way of not going as planned.

At the very least, Colin's clothes are probably gonna smell like a humid day at the Rainbow gathering by the time the tour's over.

"I'm bringing two pairs of pants, two nice black shirts, five ties, five throw-away white Wal-Mart T-shirts, and 25 pairs of socks," says Hickey. "I usually wear one pair a day, then leave them at the house where we're staying.

"Even so, it definitely gets smelly in the van."

Wish them luck; they'll probably need it. Or, check in on their Web site, at www.theinternationalplayboys.com, where Colin will be posting a tour diary from the road.

Joe Nickell- Missoulian