THE WINSTON CAMPAIGN - From Rags to Riches.

It's always really weird when you hear that a friend has died. It's somewhat surreal and I never really know what to say. Mike was truly an original dude, and we shared the same sense of humour and anti social tendencies. But he was a crazy smart guy, and we had a lot of good times together. One of those good times was when I invited him and Dan over to my place to drink beer and interview them for Absolute Underground. They had an insane story about how they went to Mexico to play with NOFX, and it ended up being so good we couldn't fit it all in one issue. After I heard that Mike died I looked it up and sure enough there was an unedited long version, so I'm gonna post that here, with Part 2 to follow in the next day or two. 

R.I.P. Mike Woods. 

The Winston Campaign - From Rags to Riches

I got together with Mike and Dan from The Winston Campaign and 18 beers and 3 doobies later had quite the epic story on my hands.

AU: So you two have always been in the band and you’ve had some bassist problems…

Dan: Not problems.

Mike: More like hurdles. Our first bassist was busy with theatre and burlesque, and our second bassist was pussy whipped.

Dan: Well, he had a wife.

Everyone: (Laughs)

Dan: So it’s a little different.

Mike: And then we convinced a crazy fucking techno head to join up. Our first jam I was so high on LSA, like borderline freaking out and breaking down high. I told them just to play to prevent me from scratching my skin off, and the whole time I was just thinking how I was blowing it, but turned out, he was into it.

Dan: He was a lot more into electronic music but he liked us because we were fast and he had played in some rock bands before. We wrote 20 songs with him, recorded 11 in the studio and then he took off to Florida to do a PHD in math. And now we have Hugh who I used to play in a band with called Ponderosa.

AU: How did you come up with the band name?

Mike: Dan was always going on about 1984 and wanted to use the name Winston because it’s the name of the main character in the book. One day I was sitting on the toilet literally shitting and thinking about how we could make that name work and I thought of The Winston Campaign and that was that.

AU: So what does the shit have to do with The Winston Campain?

Mike: I don’t know. I guess it was just the flexes of my fuckin’ anus that inspired some genius.

Dan: And what does it mean? Well read the book and it’s pretty easy to figure out.

Mike: It was about one man lashing out and if he tried to start a political platform things might have gone differently for him and he wouldn’t have ended up just becoming a fat fat man.

AU: Dan, why do you drum with your eyes closed?

Dan: I don’t anymore, remember? That was 5 shows ago.

Mike: You drummed the whole show with your eyes closed?

Dan: No, it just looked that way. The place between my snare and hi-hat is my happy place, it’s where I go when there is a bunch of people looking at me.

AU: What’s with that Mike guy? Why does he look like such a psycho?

Mike: umm, do you care to elaborate. What makes me look like a psycho? Everybody thinks I look like a psycho, I’m really nice though. You know I’m nice.

AU: How would you explain your vocal style?

Mike: I’m an Al Pist wanna be.

AU: Why do you play the type of music that you do?

Mike: It’s what I’m good at.

AU: So you guys went to play in Mexico with NOFX, how did you hook that one up?

Dan: We had an idea about touring Mexico in 2010 cause our friend is from there. I was over at her house one day talking about it and they ended up calling one of their friends who is a big promoter down in Monterey and told him they wanted to come down and do a show with some punk bands. And he said come on down and open for NOFX. So the husband who is on the phone says, “Dan, NOFX have you heard of that band?” And I said ‘yeah I’ve heard of those guy.’ And then he said ‘do you want to go open for them in Monterey?’ And I said, ‘yup, I mean I’ll have to ask the dudes in my band, but fuckin’ yeah. I mean yes. Ha.” So I got in touch with this character named Rob, and the emails said you’re more than welcome to come down here, just pay for your flights and we’ll take care of everything else. So we got plane tickets. We were gonna get there on Saturday night, open for NOFX on Tuesday and leave Wednesday.  Also we had a house party to play on the Friday night before we leave. We played early so we could leave early and Mike decides to stay and party. The last thing I tell him is you can’t be smelling like pussy, cocaine and whiskey when I pick you up in the morning because we’ve got to cross the border.  

Mike: Well this guy (points at me) called us out for being a bunch of fuckin’ pussies for playing and running.

AU: I didn’t call you a pussy, I called you a rock star.

Dan: And I shrugged it off casually, cause I’m not gonna stay and wreck the next day.

Mike: But I’m thinking I’m an alcoholic and gonna stay and get wasted on all this free beer.

AU: There was a lot of free beer.

Mike: So I stayed and got wasted and I’m pretty sure lesbians fed me whiskey and white wine.

AU: Sounds about right, it WAS a cross dressing party.

Mike: Probably later than 2am they said you have to get out of here cause you have to go to Mexico tomorrow. They gave me my guitar and sent me into a cab blacked out drunk with one shoe on and wearing a dress. Then I demand to get let out at Commercial and 1st and walk 12 blocks to my house. When I got out of the cab Juli told me the last thing the cab driver said was, ‘Careful, that guy might die.’

Dan: Then Juli comes home and crawls into bed while I’m restlessly trying to get an hour of sleep and I say, ‘what’s up? You seem a bit out of sorts.” And she says, “Mike got pretty drunk, don’t worry about it, but he did get out of the cab at 1st and Commercial.”

AU: That’s not that far of a walk.

Mike: It was December and I had one shoe. I’m thankful I didn’t get arrested or even mugged and beat up.

AU: No one’s gonna mug a guy wearing one shoe and a dress. You probably looked like a mad man.

Dan: So I wake up at 3:45am, pick up Hugh and then go to Mike’s. I knock and there is just nothing. Luckily the front door is open and I walk into his house and it’s pitch black, nothing is happening at all, but I hear this sound in the distance, a beeping. I walk into his room and he’s sleeping on the floor with his alarm clock going full blast and it stinks like party and whiskey in there.

AU: Are you still in the dress?

Mike: I’m in my nighttime attire sleeping on a pile of unfolded laundry and hair I’d shaved off the night before.

Dan: I have to shake him awake and he jumps and I say, ‘it’s time to go to Mexico.’ And he just lets out an incoherent scream. So I say, ‘look I’m gonna give you ten minutes to pull your shit together and you come out when you’re ready.’ I leave the room and he just stomps around making incredible hulk noises and cursing. I thought there might be something horrible going on in there, so eventually I start knocking cause it’s been ten minutes and the last thing I had heard was the sound of him banging his head against the door. So I walk into the room and he’s facing the other direction, standing there ass naked and he looks over his shoulder like he’s the Terminator and just yells, “Fuck off!” And I’m like, 'oh shit put some clothes on.'

AU: What were you thinking when you were in your room?

Mike: I was just frustrated, mainly mad at myself for not being prepared and panicking about how we had to go and just really feeling under slept and still drunk.

Dan: I was kind of prepared for him to be really fuckin’ useless and finally he has some pants on and I ask him where his bag is to which he replies, ‘I haven’t packed yet.’ Now I’m emptying his work shit out of a bag and throwing some clothes in it, making sure he has his passport and credit card and get him in the car where he instantly falls asleep. So once we get to the border I wake him up and tell him we’re crossing the border so he has to look alive. We roll up and tell the guy we’re headed to Mexico and then he asks me if I can roll down the back window. It’s an automatic so I tell Mike to open the back window and he crawls over the seat into the back to try and open the very back window. So now I'm yelling, 'no you retard the side window', and it's pretty obvious he’s still wasted.

AU: Don’t you think it would have been better to just have let him sleep through the border? What time was it?

Dan: It’s like 4 in the morning, but they ask you all kinds of questions like who are you, what do you do, what does he do? Luckily the guy let us through once Mike figured out which window he wanted rolled down. From there it was smooth sailing all the way to Monterey. After getting my bag’s checked, which was a bit weird when I’ve got 60 Winston Campaign CDs in there along with drum sticks and a drum key. The guard looks at me and says ‘musician’ and I say ‘yeah, but amateur.’ And he lets me through. On our way out of the airport we see a little Mexican guy holding a sign with our three names on it and it’s like yes! He puts us in his pimpin’ Impala with all blacked out windows cruising the streets of Monterey. We get to the motel and it’s super nice and the guy drops us off, tells us he’s gonna call his guy and come get us in 45 minutes and take us to the club because there is a DJ called Girl Talk playing and that’s the party to go to and we can drink for free. So we shower up and get ready to go, but no one arrives to pick us up.

Mike: I was the guy who was like I’m not sitting around all night, we’ve got to go rip it up! So we go to the club with minimal Spanish trying to explain to some people who can’t speak English that we’re supposed to get in for free, and finally we realize this guy who looks a bit sketchy and has been walking back and forth outside the club for the last while is the guy, Roberto. He waves us in just sayin’ party party party.

Dan: We walk in and there is like 2000 Mexicans fuckin’ raging. At first I was wondering where the DJ was and quickly realized that everyone was looking at us and we were on the stage with about 80 people dancing around the DJ. It was surreal to think this was where we were going to play in a couple days, because the venue was unreal. 

Mike: I had to piss really bad, so I jumped down into the crowd with the help of the security guard and then fought my way through two thousand drunk yuppie Mexicans to go take a piss. But when I make my way back the same security guard that helped me down won’t help me back up. I get Hugh’s attention by throwing a glass at him, but he can’t do anything, so I just said ‘fuck you’ to him a bunch of times and the same with Dan. I said fuck it and went outside and eventually someone let me back in because he was really fuckin’ nice.

Dan: We met back up with Mike on stage and the show ends. It’s 1:30am but they’re two hours ahead, so it’s feeling like perfect drinking time to us. So we tried to go downstairs to the bar, but they are just trying to sweep people out. Once again we just get let in because we’re having trouble communicating and the bouncers just wave us through. That happened a lot for us. So now we’re ordering beers which come in a super big gulp cup, and it’s $1.50 for two beers and cheap whiskey too, so we get wasted until the bar is empty. We finally meet back up with Roberto and we’ve basically only exchanged 3 sentences since meeting him and now we’re partying hard. Me and him pulled down some huge white barricade and throw it onto the ground in the middle of the club, just being super drunk and the staff keep coming up to us wondering what’s going on until they see that it’s Roberto and he’s all, ‘get the fuck out of here!’ Then the jagermeister shots start up, then we’re chugging it straight from the bottle until it’s empty and he hurls the bottle against the wall all wasted. We’re turbo drunk and we ask him if we can smoke some weed, he’s all for it, and takes us back stage again up to the green rooms. Of course we go into the ‘Girl Talk’ backstage room and there’s nobody back there. But it’s a super nice room with giant table, couches, mirrored walls and a fridge full of beer. Roberto tells me to put on some music so I break out my Ipod and ask him if he wants to hear our new record, he does, so I put it on. The first thing he does is goes over to the stereo and cranks the volume as high as it goes. Then he pulls a bong out of a huge china vase, hands it to Hugh, and then just smashes the vase against the wall. Next he grabs a chair and smashes it on the ground. We ask him what he’s doing and he yells, ‘this is all my fuckin’ shit, lets fuckin’ destroy it!’ We were like what?

Mike: Then he picks up another chair and throws it into a picture frame, then says to me, ‘you have to help do this.’ And I ask him if he’s serious, and he is. So I pick up a chair and whip it really hard into the same picture frame that he just broke and then I go over to Hugh and we’re both agreeing that this is really fucked up.

Dan: But I’m fully committed. Me and Roberto are destroying chairs, and then we took a granite table and flipped it over. It shattered everywhere.

Mike: I just hear laughter over my shoulder and turn around to see Dan and Roberto flipping this giant table over and this marble table top just smashing all over the place…

Dan: Granite, it was fuckin’ granite. Anybody who says it was marble is full of shit.

Mike: Or ignorant, which is my excuse. Now I’m thinking there is no stopping this and I say fuck it, and throw the chair into the picture frame a couple more times and shit is getting fucked up. Hugh’s just taking pictures, and something is just not sitting right with me so I leave the room and there’s a girl sitting right outside the door just minding her own business and I told her I didn’t think what was going on inside of that room should be happening and I told her to look. She opens the door and sees Roberto looking up at her all dumbfounded with a chair in one hand and Dan’s got a table leg in his hand and the room is full of fucked up shit.

Dan: She sees shattered glass, shattered wood and shattered granite in all directions, and Roberto is whatever. The girl leaves and the next time the door swings open 7 giant Mexican bouncers with bulletproof vests storm in...

...TO BE CONTINUED        


  1. Thanks for putting this up. Mike was an awesome brother to me. Growing up with him was such an insane blast. I remember when we sat together and he told me this story for the first time many months ago, and me listening in a state of awe at the legendary scope of the tale.

    It's hard to sum up in words what a great brother Michael was and what me meant to me.

    Thanks again for the post. I'll be reading it often.

    ~Chris Woods


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