Gene Woolfolk has had the worst luck with vans. Just before speaking with New Times to promote the Miami debut of his band the Powder Room, he was haggling with his Athens, Georgia, mechanic over fixing his vehicle's electrical issues.
"I might just have to sort it out when I get back from the tour. I've got buddies I can rent a van from. We're not going to let this stop us; we've been planning this tour for three months."
Woolfolk made sure to get their touring van checked out after what happened to the Powder Room on their last tour. "The last van exploded in Chapel Hill. We managed to all walk away unscathed." Someone in the band thought artistically and instead of grabbing a hose, took a picture.
The van's demise ended up being the cover photo for the band's latest album, Lucky. It also provided material for the album's opening song, "Vanburner."
"The record was deeply personal. My whole life seemed like one big dumpster fire at the time. It seemed like I was constantly stepping in swamps and making it out angrier."
Lucky has a heavy grunge feel. "We always get Nirvana comparisons, but whatever. I'm into Jesus Lizard, the Melvins, shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine, and Depeche Mode and New Order. We like hardcore like Black Flag, but most of the bands I got into as a teenager were already done. Nirvana was the first band that caught my eye at 8. I had the cassette, and it was the soundtrack of my formative years."
Woolfolk grew up in Georgia. After a few years in the math-rock band Manray, he decided to form the Powder Room. "We're kind of the oddballs in Athens. Most bands are more artsy; they're not as aggressive. We're all friends here, whatever music you play, since we're all hanging out in this small college town."
Though his day jobs include making guitar pedals and being the sound man at local venues, Woolfolk says the Powder Room is his passion. He has advice for South Florida attendees who might have never heard the three-piece before.
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"Come prepared with earplugs. It gets sweaty. With the show being on Inauguration Day, it might have an odd vibe. But I think it's in the best interest of everyone to stay in a positive state of mind and get through it together."
Sound advice. Now we just have to hope the van can make it here.
The Powder Room
10:30 p.m. Friday, January 20, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; gramps.com. 305-699-2669. Admission costs $5.