“We just returned from our 15th trip to China,” says Scott Stephens of Liquid Blue, the first San Diego band to sign with a Chinese record label (Shanghai Audio and Video). “Some of us are hell-bent on trying anything unique to whatever part of the world we’re in. In Hangzhou, a couple of us thought the trays of cooked insects displayed by street vendors didn’t look too bad. So, we had a nice meal of scorpions, beetles, and centipedes. After they’re fried up and spiced, they taste pretty good.”
Testing the local wares isn’t limited to food. “If the stuff is illegal in the U.S. but legal in the country we’re visiting, even better. We often perform mildly intoxicated.”
Among Stephens’s favorite high times, “Chewing coca leaves in Peru and then trekking up to Machu Picchu, smoking opium in the Middle East far removed from any Western authorities, sipping kava in Fiji with the locals, drinking the mate [tea] in Argentina, drinking real absinthe in Czech Republic nightclubs, and doing ’shrooms in Amsterdam and tripping all over the city on roller skates.”
Wait, roller skates? “After partaking of the local mind-altering substances, I typically roller skate all over the city with the band wandering behind me on foot. I keep the skates with me everywhere we go. In 90 percent of countries, I can go into malls, restaurants, and bars with nobody hassling me. During this last trip to China, I kept the skates on during every show.”
Stephens says his overseas observations have given him an informed perspective on America’s “war on drugs.” “In Peru, the natives chew coca leaves daily with seemingly no ill effects. Coca leaves aid digestion, and the effect of the coca is milder than street cocaine. Everyone who visits Machu Picchu is given coca tea or coca leaves to chew, which helps with altitude sickness. Opium has been used for centuries, and its safest application comes when used closest to its natural form. The best example for legalization of drugs is Amsterdam. You’d be hard pressed to find any drug addicts roaming the streets.”
Scott Stephens and Liquid Blue appear at Anthology on Sunday, December 7.