For the life of me, I can't understand why indie/punk music is not our generation's Vietnam. Let me explain: First, take every single band you've heard of and then triple it, and you might have an idea of how many small touring bands are out there. Then assume that 99 percent of these bands are traveling in vehicles older than the band members themselves. Also assume the van is overloaded with equipment, the band is more than likely in possession of drugs/alcohol, and they are always lost/late. It's absolutely amazing that there aren't more band-related accidents. Since the amount of risk that goes into being in a touring band is so staggering, traveling in a reliable/safe van is key. Enter Bandago. Created by Sharkey Laguana (guitarist for Creeper Lagoon), Bandago is the indierock Avis, offering a fleet of band-friendly tour vans. Covering all aspects of touring--cargo dividers (for equipment storage), tinted windows (for security) and Xboxes (for the boredom of driving eight hours to Boise)--the Bandago fleet might just help keep our music scene safer, or at least less bored on the ride over.

How did Bandago get started?

A couple years ago I was on a national tour and we had rented a truck from one of the corporate car rental companies. The truck broke down about 100 miles east of a little town in Nevada called Elko, and because of a series of mistakes made by the rental company, it was nine days before we were finally able to leave. After spending over a week in Elko, I started fantasizing about how great it would be to have a company that catered to bands, and what the "coolest van ever" would look like. As we left Elko on our 48-hour drive to catch up with our tour, it suddenly occurred to me that I might actually have the skills and resources to do something about this.

Is Bandago ever going to open a branch in Portland?

We are. We actually wanted to be open this year, but all of our inventory keeps getting rented out. When you look at the fact our rates are cheaper then what the big companies charge, and our vans are a heck of a lot nicer, and we spend a lot more on maintenance, those kinds of things really add up and keep us from growing as quickly as we might otherwise. We got a great team up in Portland, and we should be rolling there by next year.

Although money is always an issue for touring musicians, are you ever amazed about how bands make their van such a low priority? Especially considering the amount of time they spend in it, safety, etc.?

Amazed? No. Concerned? Yes. Safety on the road is a huge issue. Ratch Aronica, who will be heading up our Portland operation when it is up and running, can probably speak on this subject with more authority then anyone else I know. It really doesn't do you any good to save $5,000 on an old beater Ford from the '80s when a more recent model might save your life. My advice to bands would be to rent, if you can. And this isn't about promoting my company either. I would rather see a band rent from our competitors, and ride in a safe and reliable vehicle, then spend a bunch of money and time purchasing, maintaining, and insuring a vehicle that could leave them stranded, injured, or worse.