If Wes Marskell, drummer for Toronto-based rock group the Darcys, seems a little haggard when he comes through Calgary, it may be because he's been through hell and back on this tour. From near-death experiences, epic van breakdowns and even having a knife pulled on him, everything has gone wrong for him and his band.
"We played in Montreal a couple months ago and they stole all our laptops and iPods, so it was a very silent tour," laments Marskell. "Then the next show after that tour, we were playing in Guelph and someone ran into the back of the bar saying that someone was stealing our fucking van and that we had to get out there right away."
For whatever reason, the Darcys are very tempting for thieves. This time, though, there was a slightly happier ending to the story.
"I come running out -- we're all running out -- and this kid has got the van started and he's got an eight-inch hunting knife in his hands," recalls Marskell. "I'm thinking 'Okay, how much do I like being in this band?' Because if he takes the van and half of our gear, there's no more band. On the other hand, I'm going to lose my life or lose one of my fingers if I approach this guy."
Ultimately, the band was very lucky. There were no lost fingers, nor was there any lost gear. They were able to continue the tour, only to have another catastrophe await them on the road.
"Luckily he backed himself into a corner and everything sorted itself out," says Marskell. "We got all our stuff. He did make off with a pair of sunglasses, but we let that slide."
While losing a pair of sunglasses isn't that bad in the grand scheme of things, Marskell and the band almost died on the way to Toronto. Driving down to Toronto in a busted van that the group had to keep started lest it finally break down permanently, they hit a patch of black ice and lost control of the vehicle.
"We spun out and fishtailed about 80 degrees and then swung back the other way," Marskell says. "Gear was getting thrown around the car and then I managed to get control of [the van]. We spun out really badly again because the road was just ice and once we finally stopped, we used the rumble strip . . . to use as grip to get up this hill."
The spin out was so bad that they were almost run off the road, prompting one of the band members to use a Tim Hortons cup as his last will and testament.
"We were stopped on the highway because we could barely get the van moving," says Marskell. "This semi slid right to us and ended up toppling over this bridge -- it was one of the worst things that I've dealt with in a long while."
Marskell says the near-death experience gave him a real perspective on the mundanities of what goes through your head when you really and truly think that you're going to die.
"In that moment you just make light of the moment," says Marskell. "I wrote this blog post trying to sum up all the funny things that went through my head instead of thinking about calling my parents and how I was going to die."
Marskell further explains the strange thoughts and emotions he had experienced when he truly believed that he was going to die on the highway.
"I got really angry that one of the guys had eaten my veggie burger that I had been saving," he laughs. "I realized that I forgot to mail a postcard to my girlfriend when I was in Halifax. All this useless stuff. Part of you can't process you going down that way, so you just kind of hope for the best and see it through to make it to your next show."