January 31, 2017 - 1:09am
I think I can crank this out quick before I go to bed. We're off to Joplin, MO tomorrow to do radio... then there's a couple things up in the air before we head to Oklahoma City.
... nothing too exciting... but there is one thing I want to talk about. If you're in a band, you'll understand what I'm about to say.
... today I bought 36 Sharpies (markers)... for $12.
... but seriously that's a killer deal since they always seem to grow legs and wander off.... or the band has that one person that seems to absorb them or feed off them... they're always asking if someone else has one... meanwhile you've just given them like 5.
I don't even know how I got them for that price. They were on sale for 12/$6.. which is already pretty good... I can justify $20 on Sharpies to refill the supply... but it rang up on the till and the receipt made sense with how they wanted to apply the discount... so here I am... in a bathtub full of Sharpies... laughin' away.
... just laughin'.
I thought this hotel had a hot tub which I was really looking forward to... I don't get a chance to chill out very often lately but I like hot tubs... and my dream home is within walking distance to a nice hotel with a hot tub.
... it's crazy how far $6 goes at McDonald's down here... Dane and I caved and went there for dinner... within walking distance of the hotel... but we made a promise to get up and hit the gym in the morning.
... was half joking that it just works out, sleeping arrangement wise, because Dane and I are up early compared to Reid and Brendan.
... the gym was good this morning though... I'm feelin' it... unfortunately I'm feelin' the 2 McDoubles, McChicken, and side salad right now.
... I'm considering getting a US phone tomorrow... there's an AT&T and Verizon within walking distance... I have roam like home through Rogers but I need more data... we all do... except Brendan and his 26GB's... we all envy him.
P.S. For real this time... seriously, so little happened today... it was a travel day... I'm going to prep a few more emails to send in the morning but I should get to bed asap!
January 30, 2017 - 5:45pm
… Reid and Dane are live streaming in the van so I thought now was a good time to try and play catch up here… it actually eats away at me I couldn’t get these done at the end of the day… just too tired… and the sleep deprivation was affecting my ability to do the thing I’m out here trying to do… aka play the drums.
… my mind wanders when I’m tired… as I’m sure you’ve noticed on a few of these… so imagine that but on a drum kit… it’s not good.
So… yesterday… the other thing about not doing these at the end of day… it’s all a blur… and I’m not taking as many pics as usual so even skimming through those isn’t reallllllly helping.
... so… yesterday… I’ll just skip to us getting to Jackson, TN.
I’d heard a couple days before that the venue (The Empourium) had (ninja) shut down and there was an option to move the venue.
Apparently this isn’t completely uncommon in the US. I mean, venues are shutting down in Toronto but we have a decent amount of heads up.
… so yeah… try and fill the date or not.
I got the word the show could move to the American Legion.
Personally… haven’t played a legion hall type show since my teens… and it’d be a good test for us… character wise… since a year ago 3/4 of us were playing arena shows with pyro.
Also, real talk… if we didn’t take the show, we’d be driving through with no chance to make a few $’s to help with costs of travelling anyway. If you can stop and play… I generally say, stop and play.
So we arrive at the American Legion… and it’s about what I expect.
… moment of truth.
(… because you don’t always get to choose how you feel.)
Load in wasn’t for another hour but Reid quickly hopped out of the van to go look.
(… he wanted to see the PA situation… half jokingly “if” there was a PA… he’s into PA’s and lights though… he geeks out with sound techs.)
Reid comes back out, points around the side of the building to load in… I guess we’ll park near the white school bus.
5 Stories has a school bus! It’s pretty cool looking… not sure how practical on gas but we’re all sorta jealous of how it looks… blue LED’s on the inside and stuff.
We go in and the 5 Stories guys are set up and testing out the PA. Super nice guys!
… and now the reality this is a legion hall show starts setting in.
It’s a rectangular room with folding tables and easily stackable chairs around the perimeter… and a wooden patch in the middle for dancin’.
The PA is simple… and realize we probably only need to (should… can…) put vocals and maybe kick drum through it… which is fine with me.
We load in and then have a quick van meeting.
… this is a Sunday night in a rescheduled venue last minute to make this show happen…. and I see on Facebook at least one person is driving 5+ hrs to come see us.
One of the things I’d do if I had a time machine (aside from see dinosaurs) would be to see some of my favourite bands in small clubs before the they took off… so that’s where my head is at with shows like this… I can’t remember who said it but “play clubs like arenas and arenas like clubs”… I agree 100%.
… so we decided we’d do what we’ve been doing since we left hope a couple weeks ago… have people talking the next day… letting people know “they missed it”.
… and then next time we come through, aim to have 5X the amount of people out.
We quickly set up and did a sound check (playing 2nd of 3 bands)… which was good practice since I’ve been working on getting my “in-ears rig” in better shape to quickly carry on/off stage.
… we played Every Lie (MDD tune).
… we played it really well too… not that I didn’t think we would, but all things considered with the PA situation… it felt good and it sounded good.
The energy in the room instantly went up and I think everyone was pretty anxious to get this show going!
… sort of a blur up until we played… I just remember getting our gear up… Reid shot me a look when he was good to go… I hit play on our intro… and I prayed to the music Gods he wouldn't break his knees on the floor here… stages have a little give… that Legion Hall floor is solid… and Reid runs around a lot and definitely needs those 2 pieces in the middle that allow his legs to leg.
I saw a few cameras out during the set… I was hoping people were live streaming… live streaming is super cool and fantastic for bands these days. Some people complain about phones out at shows but… think about it… you’re sharing a “wish you were here” moment… and it was cool having people see our show while it’s actually going on. I’ll try and link to it here... might have to scroll down.
Felt super good about how we played and was happy the guys felt the same.
We packed up and then I hung out at merch for the remainder of the evening. Several people stopped by to say “good job” and put a deposit down on a signed CD… since I had to find the guys.
After the show was great though… people picked up some cd’s and shirts… took pics… we signed a bunch of stuff.
… I’m not saying last-last night (Clarksville) was a bust… but financially, even a show with 30 people in attendance can provide enough for what we’re out trying to do. Quality over quantity… and everyone in attendance last night (Jackson) wanted to be there… opposed to last-last night (Clarksville) where we had trouble getting fists in the air… and it can mess with you mentally.
… so despite it being a smaller show in certain ways… it was a fantastic evening for us to help bounce back morale wise.
… that being said…. this was our 5th show in a row… and I’m a little bummed we aren’t playing tonight… although I’m sure Reid’s voice could use the rest… as he and Dane are singing songs… live streaming on Facebook.
… 40 mins until we make it to the hotel. We need to do laundry BAD and… probably hang out at the pool. Tomorrow we’re off to Joplin to do radio… we won a poll there a few weeks ago “4 O'Clock Fights) so it’s pretty awesome we can actually stop by!
I might do another blog post tonight… but we’ll see… nothing too exciting today… maybe I’ll get loopy and tell a story at 5am… talk about how I bought 36 Sharpies for $12 today.
- Mike :-)
P.S. I tried the #2 setting on my beard trimmer... twice a year I think it'll be a good idea... and I always regret it half-a-face in.
January 29, 2017 - 2:42pm
… so I meant to do this in the morning… I woke up around 9am to grab hotel breakfast (aka oatmeal) and handle some emails. We got some good news and some urgent news… next thing I knew it was 11:30am (1pm checkout) so I thought going to the pool for 30 minutes sounded like a better idea.
… gotta live a little… can’t work all the time.
… well… “all” all the time.
… I pretty much feel like I work all the time… but it’s for a good cause!
So the good news… since we arrived in the US our socials have been very active… and since Three Days Grace gave us a shoutout on their Facebook page, it’s only picked up more… and still picking up!
… and that was still after Octane put us in Test Drive and then Accelerator.
These are all good things.
… the next on our list of “things that’d be very cool” was to get on Octane Big ‘Uns countdown… scrolling through my Facebook notifications this morning, I saw it.
One of the things about what we’re doing so far is accepting… “there are no independent bands on those charts.”
… and there aren’t really.
… so to see us at #15 on that chart… behind bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Starlet, Ghost, Chevelle, and Metallica… I was ear to ear grinning… and now wondering how do I share this on our socials… and how long until Reid sees it and tells me… lol.
It’s awesome though… the response has been great for the music and the band…. and even though it feels sometimes you reach out to people and don’t get a response… just keep at it… keep doing you... keep making it better… everyday, make whatever you’re doing better… general maintenance included!
… now that I’m thinking about it... what I’m noticing is a lot of bands either rest on small victories, when they should’ve already moved onto their next task… or they expect big moves to happen sooner.
… "one week you’re in a van, next week you’re headlining shows in a bus" type of thing.
… it doesn’t work like that... and if it does... you'll wish it hadn't when the wave is over.
It’s about constant and consistent steps forward… and even if you take a few steps back (or just feel like they’re steps back), you realize they’ll have added up to forward to momentum.
… Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks comes to mind.
That’s what it’s like being in a band that’s made it a career choice… it’s not always graceful, but it’s what gets you moving forward.
We’re all pretty stoked though about it… #15 on the Sirius XM Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown… and if you can guess what our next goal in mind is...
… we’ll see.
So yesterday… driving through the night in order to make the show yesterday caught up to us… which is why I went to sleep without posting.
… I gotta sleep a bit more… either in the van or at venues along with hotel.
The rest of the drive to Clarksville was easier… the promoter wanted us there for 1:30pm… we had it pushed back to 3pm… I kept looking at the GPS as we were leaving the hotel (5 hr stay!) and couldn’t do the time math… wasn’t that tired… but… TIME ZONE CHANGE!!
We gained an hour.
So instead of being 30 mins late, we were now 30 mins early.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter but if you’re trying to be professional, you do your best to be places on time… and for shows, sometimes it’s an early load in so the techs/crew have time to grab dinner before the show.
… which totally makes sense.
We arrived at a giant silver barn looking structure that is The Warehouse.
… was sorta expecting someone to have a bus… just so used to seeing buses from Age Of Days tours for headliners… but there was a van and trailer that turned out to be Kissing Candace’s.
We hopped out of our van, shook hands, made friends… apparently A Killer’s Confession (headliner) wasn’t there yet.
… maybe traffic or bus problems.
We loaded in and I set up off to the side… apparently 6 bands total tonight...
… I understand promoters try and throw a bunch of bands on shows to help get people out… reality is, they often don’t bring people out… unless they’re asked to sell tickets in order to play... which does get people out but has it's own catch(es).
… 6 bands is too many bands on any evening. Luckily there was tons of space side stage for gear… seriously, 6 drum kits in there… and still space to walk around… but with 6 bands, and 15 minute change overs… that’s an hour of change over… for an evening that’s (responsibly) 5hrs long.
(… yes, I’m old and think headliners should be done by midnight. *cough*)
The bands were decent and super nice at least…and I should also mention this show was a late add for us and from the sounds of it, AKC.
It was pretty cold in there so we all had our coats on most of the afternoon… we heard from the “backup sound guy” to just load our amps/cabs up in order and we’ll backline everyone that way, then put drums up for each band.
… ok cool… I’m ready to go… so I sat down on the couch and dozed off.
… this is the new plan. If I have time to sleep… sleep I will!
Attendance was a little light… but doors were early… 7pm… we weren’t on 'til 9:45pm, so we had time wander around for a bit.
… the opening bands were pretty heavy.
… like… a lot heavier than us.
I’d listened to AKC and KC before agreeing to take the show (would’ve been an off-day otherwise), but these opening bands were heavy.
I’ve been here many times before so I don’t worry… but a lot of bands out there freak out a little thinking they need to match “the heavy”… or magically become “heavier”.
The trick and I guess, reality… if you’re a pro band, you should be able to match your audience’s expectations/energy, but at the core, I think your show is your show. If you have good songs, even if someone doesn’t like them, or you, or the style of music… there’s a lot of people who will at least acknowledge when a bands is “good”… or played well... and hopefully entertaining.
I should also mention… if you haven’t checked out A Killer’s Confession or Kissing Candace… you maybe should… it’ll help put things into context.
… because the opening acts were HEAVIER than them.
… ok… our time to set up and do our thing.
We were finally into the 30min set we’d actually rehearsed prior to learning about some headliner (60min) sets.
The sound was good… stage was great… I thought we played really well.
…. crowd was tough though.
There was applause but it was difficult for Reid to get them to engage in some of our crowd response moments… which is fine… play Toronto enough, and you get used to people simply staring at you with their arms crossed… to only unfold them to clap or use their smartphone.
… 9/10 times it’s ok though… if people really don’t like you, you’ll know.
… this was just a bit quieter than what we’ve been use to so far.
… I will say the highlight was hearing a guy half yell in his buddies ear… “I thought this was a metal show??”
… and it was! We were just the mellowest metal band at the metal band ball…. and if anything, we made AKC and KC sound that much heavier.
Not saying I don’t think we can sound heavy… we’re just a different kind of heavy. :-) <— emoticons, not metal... I know.
We got compliments from both KC and AKC after our set though… that meant a lot… like, one of the bands wears masks and is “covered in blood and fluid stains”… meanwhile the headliner’s kit is “covered in blood splatter”… you know... metal.
… we rank in (probably literally at this point) as unshowered and I have chippy nail polish.
It was good though… after merch we had a post show powwow in the parking lot.
High on the list was “did they like us?” and “were we heavy enough?”
I say we have a lot of energy in our set… and that translates… and I think we have good songs… so even if someone isn’t wild about our brand of “heavy”… they’ll be entertained.
It was good though… I think it was good.
… and like all the shows so far… it wasn’t long until a few people came up and let us know they drove a while to see us.
I was pushing to run over to Arby’s (coming back asap obviously)… I was starving by this point… but we ended up sticking around and the promoter got us a pizza from the kitchen.
… that’ll do.
Again, attendance was light so doing the math... and we were a late addition to a show thrown together late… so I considered that pizza as payment…. and merch sales were looking like $0.
… all that being said, AKC and KC had pretty sweet merch setups… and they have way more overhead that us so they need those merch sales too.
… a tide can lower all ships as well.
(We ended up selling 1 CD as I was packing up our merch... better late than never!)
Everyone put on a solid performance still though… and that’s what you do… you create a moment for this in attendance to… as always… have people telling people the next day “you missed it.”
We said our goodbyes… not sure anybody noticed… the promoter and staff seemed pretty into the “punch strength game”… pretty entertaining actually.
We need food… I was ok from the pizza but the guys were still hungry.
… Wendy’s… McDonald’s… Taco Bell.
(… damn democracy and peer pressure.)
I’ll admit Taco Bell hot sauce reminds me of a lot of good times in high school... but it’s not high on my list right now… and drive-thru Taco Bell is even lower.
… but they do that Doritos Taco Bell shell thing… so I figure now is as good a time as ever to cross that off my bucket list.
… note to self... re-evaluate bucket list items.
In bed by 2:30am I think… somehow it got that late, that fast. I’ve accepted we’re in bed between 2-4am on this trip… something to keep in mind driving after shows or hotels in general.
Now that we’re all caught up… I’ll go back to staring into the void as we roll down highway 44 towards Jackson… just saw a sign… 44 miles.
- Mike :-)
January 28, 10:09 am, 2017
I only have 10 minutes to do this so I'm taking a risk and writing it right in the website... I've lost a lot of LOoooOoOOooonnnnng blogs that way unfortunately... but whatever... gotta live on the edge right?
So I'll sorta work my way backwards... since I just woke up 10 minutes ago... and when I wake up... yesterday becomes a blur.
We arrived at the hotel at 5am and "bus call" is 10:30am. We're playing in Clarksville tonight and it's a 7hr drive... which you can't really do in one shot when you're a band of 4 with no crew and basically 1 driver... so (if it's safe) it's best to break it up, quick sleep, then do the rest in the morning.
I was hoping we'd have to be at the venue a little later since we're opening... like 4-5pm... but we were originally asked to be there at 1:30pm.
... got it pushed back to 3pm... which is definitely better than nothing. We all grumble about these kind of short hotel stays, but it's mainly for the driver (Brendan) to get a rest.
It's a team though... I nodded off a few times last night... I just all of a sudden realize I'm asleep.
It's tough... especially after playing a show... and trying to get out of there as soon as you can, without disrespecting anybody... especially the headliners/our new tour mates Another Lost Year.
We grabbed McDonald's after the show for a quick meal / anything to eat at 1am that's fast and "affordable".
... I forgot what they consider a medium size drink.
... I was hoping coke would keep me awake but... it's just a silly size for "medium"... the caffeine works for a bit.
Overall a smooth drive... we ended up listening to Les Claypool side projects near the end... an awesome and not awesome combination when you're tired and it's 4am.
The show was good... a little bitter sweet... we had no idea the venue was set to close in a few weeks.
... like so many in Toronto, it sounds like condos are eating up the real estate.
We played well... and it was nice seeing people in Never Say Die shirts and singing along in the front... already.
Great stage, great venue, out front sounded great... I don't mean to call anybody out but we all had similar comments about the guy working monitors (aka sound on stage).
The monitor beside me was just puking bass... I looked over several times so I could motion him to turn it down... not so much for me, but for the actual monitor... it's not good for it. The other guys looked over at him as well to turn things up/down.
... and there he was... praying behind the console... a soft glow on his face.
... if I had his number I would've texted him... then maybe he would've got it.
See... the thing is... if you're doing monitors, it's supposed to be a bonus because you have someone able to help out with the sound on stage in real time... not just a prop console.
We all have enough experience that we can roll with it... one of my pet peeves is when people right after complain they "couldn't hear anything on stage"... sure... that's most shows up to a certain point though... you can argue it affects your show... but really, it's minor. After a while, you listen for certain things and you just play to that.
I play to my click and lead vocal.
I practice the entire set to just click and our tracks... not full songs... I know how the songs go.
Pick a couple things as your guide, then it gets down to how well you've prepared yourself.
... I thought we still played well though... really well actually... personally (as in myself) much better than last night (Fayetteville).
Oh... we were on second so we had to quickly set up drums and sound check.
I get set up... sit down.
... no sticks... no stick bag???
I know it's somewhere... but dark stage and red stick bag should be easy to find.
Experience told me to break up my sticks into 2 places just incase.
So I grabbed them... as in two pairs... and got to work.
This might not seem like a big deal, but I leave my sticks facing up in the bag... now I can't... and I refuse to put the spare/safety on my kick drum... they always roll off... so if I drop/break a stick... people are gonna notice.
Things were fine though and of course, after, behind the back curtain where my hardware case was... stick bag.
Opening band (Skipper The Lion) was pretty good... we were a little concerned what type of show this was going to be as they were dressed like common alternative bands in tight pants and plaid long sleeve shirts... we ware black.
We didn't arrive in our stage clothes and were a little late but there's Dane and I making chitchat with them as we strip down to our undies in the green room, semi-frantically getting changed into our stage clothes.
... again... been asked many times... "are you guys political activists or some kind of band?"
We joke we're a metal band.
... anyway, they had a great set and seemed to enjoy ours as well.
Another Lost was great.
The musicianship aside, the stage banter / crowd interaction is what sets pro bands apart.
Until you're a legit A+ headliner, you're always trying to "win the crowd"... you do this between songs. #realtalk
It's their hometown and the venue (I think) they played their first show at is closing so there's lots to talk about... but you just get drawn in when people are so comfortable on stage cracking jokes and making small talk with the audience between songs.
Space between songs is ok... don't fear the space... if you're fronting a band... this is your place to shine.
Last thing I'll mention from the day... post office... I think I was in there for 40 minutes... which sorta messed up our schedule... but we keep getting orders and I keep needing to get them in the mail. The US ones were quick but the one we had to send overseas... so much clickin' and clackin' on the keyboard... might have to rethink our mailing strategy... too hard on show days... even though we only had a 3.5hr drive.
... speaking of... it's 10:35am and I don't hear anybody.
P.S. Not proofreading... gotta go!!
P.P.S. This isn't all for me... I grabbed food for everyone... the staff didn't question my actions. #TeamWork
January 27, 3:56 am, 2017
... hopefully in bed by 5am... which isn't too bad considering I was up at 9am.
Based on how I feel right now... I need to let everyone know that I'm going to do my very best to keep this daily blog going.
I need sleep though...
The next few weeks are looking pretty busy (5-6 shows a week), plus drives... I'm just not sure I'll be able to keep up with the daily entries.
Playing is one thing... but also handling logistics, merch, and tour managing... it's becoming too much to juggle all that and not feel like I'm going to crash... I passed out a few times in the van today... despite having a great nights sleep (all things considered), it's nice being able to nap when you feel like it...
... I'm struggling to stay awake right now and tonight we were done at a reasonable hour!
... days are also becoming a blur... the way I notice is I can't keep straight what's around the hotel(s). The days feel really long... even thinking about the hotel this morning and the hotel this evening... aside from the name being different...
So about today.... short (3.5 hrs) travel day!
Speaking of... I thought it was a really nice drive today... went through the mountains... just wicked views out the window. Some guys weren't a fan of how high we were, some of the curves on the road, and thinking about the possibility of going through the guardrail and off a cliff.
... well... just don't think of that!! lol.
Made it to the venue on time (6:30pm)... but apparently felt late. All 4 other bands (and their van and trailers) were already there.
I was a bit surprised there was 5 bands on the bill tonight... but part of me knows what that means... show runs behind schedule... we go on super late... and most likely to nobody since the bands go home.
... this is a week night... not a weekend.
... that being said, the bands were all pretty good and we only went on 20 minutes late.
I'm skipping a lot because I keep zoning out on the lobby couch... and I'm afraid I'll fall asleep here... it's a pretty comfy couch....
... I really hope I open our hotel room door and the guys are asleep... they stay up late, but lord knows I'd be in bed 20 mins after arriving here if I could.
... but I can't... I have other things I'd like to/need to do tonight but I'm going to try and do them in route to the venue if necessary.
... yeah... I think I'll go to bed and do it in the morning... unbelievably tired right now... sorry gang!
I will say this... we loved the venue (@TheDrunkHorsePub) and hope to make it back in 4-6 months... and hopefully pack the place!
Other bands on the bill were solid. We were a little envious of their gear... but we all know, don't bring anything precious on the tour... things get lost, things go missing... plus we simply don't have that kinda space without a trailer.
I'll leave it on this... even though I thought we played well (as a band), I didn't think I played very well personally. Reid was asking me what I thought of the show... he could tell my mind was somewhere else afterwards.
It's nothing about anybody else, and there were no glaring hiccups on my end... it's just a personal thing... you know when you're on it, and you now when your mind is wandering and/or you don't feel great. lol.
I think that's the main thing though. Reid could tell I was thinking something... but truth is, I just didn't feel like I played very well... nothing major, just something person. I'll nail it tomorrow!
Ok... I need to get to sleep... hopefully we're' in a better spot in the summer and we can travel with not only a van/trailer, but hopefully (maybe) we have a tour manager/FOH (front of house aka sound person)... or at least a few more pieces of the puzzle together. It's a lot of work... but I/we signed up for it!
... this couch is comfy... I'm 90 degrees away from being asleep.
P.S. I had to re-read/edit this in the morning... it's 9:08am... it was a mess with typos... I usually don't care that much but... this was pretty bas. lol. Alright.. back to sleep for an hour then down to the ol' business center. We have a bunch more cds we need to get in the mail today!
January 26, 2017 - 3:53am
Going to be a shorter post... need to get as much sleep as I can tonight... 4-5 hr drive tomorrow.
Beautiful day in Staunton, VA to start the day. Had a 3ish hour drive to Beckley. Seems like a bit of a blur but I think it was mainly driving... driving and talking... and working. There are 4 of us in the van and we have started taking on some responsibilities.
Reid is focusing on reaching out radio stations/program directors, Dane is searching whatever we need, Brendan is driving, and I'm doing socials and graphics... all this while rolling down the highway at 65MPH.
Heard Octane was playing 'Like A Nightmare' a few more times as well... several people have mentioned it including people at the show tonight... not complaining... pretty stoked actually.
Made it to Beckley and went to Bob Evan's for lunch... ham and cheese sandwich w/ a garden salad.
(... doing alright eating wise so far!)
The hotel is right beside the Bob Evan's so I had time to have a power nap before heading to the venue.
... I can't say much about Muncheez... except it was pretty relaxed.
Yup... pretty chill in there.
So, similar to the first show, we hopped on a weekly "open mic" show where we were a featured guest. They brought couple local bands out as well... seemed pretty young but they sounded good and looked liked they had a great time!
... we were all pretty excited to play... been a lot of days off it feels like... sorta because it was.. but we also started an intense part of the schedule tomorrow... 5-6 shows a week for the next couple weeks.
... felt really good in soundcheck so I knew tonight would be a good show. Some rooms just make the drums "feel" better. If you play drums, you know what I"m talking about.
... too many highlights... really... but a couple... they had WWE on the TV and I caught myself watching it and zoning out... at one point a random guy came up on stage and tapped me on the shoulder to throw me the horns... I had no idea what was going on but he scared the crap out of me.
... the second... remember when Reid bought a new guitar? Well... it had an accident tonight at the end of the set and the headstock broke... so he took a couple more swings are it and that was that. Still, $65 well spent in my books... hopefully someone got it on camera!
We had to wait until a couple more people doing open mic were done before we could strike our gear. In hindsight... we should've struck the drums before going to merch. Merch did awesome but now ti's 3:42am.
Finally loaded out at 2am, said our goodbyes to a few more people and venue staff.
... good times.
Not that I forgot but huge THANK YOU to everyone who drove multiple hours to see us. You rock.... seriously... you rock and the world needs more people like you. We haven't hit a major low yet, but again, the response so far has been awesome... 3 shows in... can't wait to hit 30.
We hit the gas station on the way back to the hotel since we were all starving.
... gas station dinner... ham and cheese sandwich.
Quick shower... quicker blog and I think it's bed time.
... things really start tomorrow... there's a long drive in there too.. 8 hrs or something over the weekend... we'll see how that goes.
January 25, 2017 - 12:05am
I have a confession...
... I took the pen.
I discovered we had a similar but not the same pen in our hotel room... so I took it down to the business center, and swapped it out. I think Dane was with me when I did and I think he knows me well enough to not question it.
There are a lot of things that can appear similar but don't feel the same. If you play an instrument... you understand... 10 guitars that are "the same" but certain ones just feel better... same with (I Am Canadian) hockey sticks... there can be 20 on the rack... I'll pick up every single one and put the ones that feel good off to the side.
... anyways... it wasn't about the guilt of taking the pen, it was the guilt of someone in the business center not having a pen if they needed... meanwhile in the room, the cleaning staff would replace it.
... this is how my brain works.
I got the pen though.
... although, I think I traded my gym shoes for it... or at least I think that's what happened. #karma
We were up at 6am to do radio in Harrisonburg/92.1 WTPA for 10am. It was a few hours drive but a big part of this tour is being able to stop in at stations to chat and pass our record along.
We made it there in record time (no pun intended) to find the radio station was run out of a house... like, the rooms had been converted... it was pretty cool!
We met with Bob Waters, he put the album on and we chatted about the past, present, and future of Never Say Die.
Some of these are quicker and/or unnecessarily longer than other, but getting up at 6am, driving 3hrs, then chatting for 10-15mins about your music in a legit radio station is totally worth it. Both sides get it, but also both sides want to support each other. There were plaques and posters from bands like Halestorm and Disturbed on the walls so there's some common ground to chat about... and good company to be in!
Does this mean you'll get spins? Not necessarily... there's still a lot of things that play into whether you might get a feature or an add... but regardless... you want to try to get some ears on your music... and they hear a lot of great music... but even then, I think they want to give a helping hand to bands and artists they like and feel deserve it.
... and what we're doing sounds sorta crazy on paper... new band, release a record 3 months later, then head out on tour for 2+ months.
... we're making a statement though... bold actions and big risks... we came down here to grind it out and support our music... building the wings on the way down.
Bob complimented us on the hustle.
I'm glad we made it... mad props to Brendan for forcing himself to sleep in order to get the drive done.
We went to Jimmy John's for lunch... sandwiches/subs are $5.. we don't have these in Canada.
I'm in love.
You order, they make it, and almost before you finish paying, it's ready... no picking additional toppings or waiting for your number to be called... you have a sammy in your hands before you know it.
... so in love.
Hotel's in Staunton, PA to help break up the drive... I passed out a couple times the rest of the way... I really hate falling asleep in the passenger seat... it's a pet peeve of mine... your job should be to be a second set of eyes for the driver... my eyes were too heavy though... and I'd realize I'm asleep after it's too late.
About half way through the second leg of the drive, I realized I didn't remember packing my gym shoes... and odds are if I didn't grab them, nobody else did.
On all the trips I'd brought them, this was THE FIRST time I'd actually used them. My guess is they got knocked under the foot of the bed... and missed on the dummy check... since I didn't check under the beds.
... way she goes.
For bands out there, one of the things I do, is keep moving "our" things towards the exit when we're packing up... that way things don't get left behind. It's one thing to take care of your own stuff, but in the chaos, try to be that second set of eyes. It's always better someone asked "who moved my..." opposed to "Did anybody see my..."
Anyway, I made peace with it quick... again... don't bring anything on tour you aren't prepared to lose, destroy, or have leave you.
Godspeed gym shoes... I hope you find yourself in a donations big... you are in good shape... while I am not.
We hung out at the hotel for a bit working our socials... discovered we were added to a new poll for a station in Minnesota... if we win, we're put into rotation so we went into beast mode to get our numbers up... we started at 1.27% or something... went out for dinner at 60%.
... it's a blessing and curse having competitive people in a band... the blessing is when we work as a team... the curse is when we challenge other over stupid things... like running up a hill.
There's a mall across the street and looks like I might find some gym shoes there... I'm determined to spend at least 30 mins in a gym on off days... and I'm determined to return home in better shape than I left for a change.
Made it into the mall just before they were closing the doors/gate.
... it was quite a search for men's running shoes.
... found some... salesman tried to upsell me a little but I settled on a pair of black and red Nike's for $50... or so I thought... he rang them up and I saw $41 come up.
(... start the car.)
Then the question came...
"... so are you guys in a band or something?"
We definitely look like we're in a band.
I will say, of all the years with Age Of Days, we were never asked as much if we were in a band as we have in a week... then again, maybe it's because Age Of Days usually had access passes/laminates on.
Yeah we're in a band.
... there was the other time we were asked if we were "political activists" but that was more funny than anything... because we totally look like it when we're in our stage clothes... dress code... black/grey.
So post shoe buying... we were trying to decide between Clown and Applebee's. I just wanted a salad and something quick in order to hit the gym before they closed.
It's funny how much you can talk about not wanting to go to McDondald's as you're walking to McDonalds... it was closer though... and we haven't really been yet on this trip... aside "awesome Walmart parking lot day."
... 2 double cheeseburgers, and salad. $5
Made it back to the hotel and gym in time... I sorta like the gym because I can listen to music, audiobook, or watch youtube game reviews for a bit. So far it's where I can "not work" for an hour.
I'm now sitting in yet another hotel lobby... finishing my day... bed by 1am.
Oh! I should mention incase you're wondering... YES! Yes we do intend on playing shows on this tour.
There was a hiccup at the beginning and ALY (Another Lost Year) requested to push back the start date a week. Being Canadians, we had to cross on the 18th so booking found a couple short notice dates.
Is it expensive for us to be out without any shows? In short, yes... but we're out for a while anyway... so it's the same as if we played some horrible shows to nobody... you just don't have the knock to your ego or get to (at least) practice.
I don't mind... mainly because looking at the schedule, we're pretty much "go, go, go" the next 3 weeks.
... and that's where stories come from.
- Mike :-)
P.S. Oatmeal again for breakfast.
P.P.S Dane wanted to do other things at McDonald's.. but we compromised on this... he was allowed to wear this McWreath for the duration of one burger... or 45 seconds... whatever came sooner. We love you Dane.
January 23, 2017 - 10:01pm
It's 10pm!!! ... and I'm sitting down to write this on an uncomfortably high table in another hotel lobby.
Just got the the mastering back from The Sole Pursuit album I produced last year... so far I'm only 3 tracks in but it's soundin' pretty *boss.
Gonna get sidetracked for a second... but when I saw the email notification pop up this evening... it really sunk in I've changed gears.
I love making records... well I have a love/hate relationship with making records because as they say "art is never finished, only abandoned".
Early on, it was really difficult for me to finishing things... since I'd always go to bed thinking it could be better... which it very well could be... but if your intention is to always finish it tomorrow, it never gets finished... and eventually you pick at it so much it becomes infected.
Long story short, when it came time for mix, the guys in The Sole Pursuit brought up the idea of opening things up to some outside mixers... which I was totally cool with! The names they brought up... F&@% YEAH! I was curious what they might do with the tracking... since we all thought it was soundin' pretty *boss so far.
Some people might feel threatened but I was curious how my work would stack up against some decent names with awesome credits.
They made it clear they still wanted me to mix a draft of the album (which I still would've anyway just for peace of mind... and my sanity... since I had an idea of how I wanted the album to sound based on our pre-pro discussions and references.
I hustled to get the Pro Tool sessions prepped/cleaned up (something I typically do while I'm (pre)mixing... and then realized how close the deadline was for me... but I was determined to make sure the outside mixer and my mixes (draft of the album) would show up at the same time.
It was a lot of late nights getting things ready and the same thing getting the mixes together. You'd think a couple weeks is a long time to mix 12 songs but time flies once you start getting into the details... and chasing ideas you have in your head.
Right up until the end, I pulled a couple all-nighters to get things together... the very last day even, it just worked out (I mix at home) my housemate was away... and I mix pretty loud in the final stages, to make sure it "moves air".
... I love hearing great stuff LOUD!
... plus I hear different frequencies (or at least I think I do) when I have stuff at a comfortably loud volume.
So my deadline I think was June 1st... and I missed it by a couple hours... but I remember thinking... this is the best I can do... I uploaded it for the guys... and I went to bed.
... I knew I'd feel good about it in the morning... in the the creative industry... real talk for a moment... you know when you've tried your best because you know whatever it is you're sending out into the world contains a piece of you. You want to see it do well... you want other people to like it... but you love it and you hope other people love it too.
... and you know when you've phoned it in because you don't make the effort to hear how it's doing... it's just out in the world... it's just "there"... and you're onto the next one... often looking forward to one you REALLY want to do your best on.
... and I think this is why people new to creative industries are so sensitive about feedback and criticism... they try their best and feel it's good... and they become attached to it... and regardless if it's good or not they want other people to like it.... early on, it's typically not that great though... but they need feedback in order to get better.
... which is another reason I think the older you get, and the better you get, the more particular you want to be about the projects you take on. If you just get paid... you don't get that "thing" from it that brings joy... you want meaningful work... hell... I still get asked what I do for a living after telling people what I do for a living.
(... almost through this album... still sounding boss!)
... I think it was the next day I heard back from the guys about the album... they loved it... they loved it a lot.
I've said it before, you don't get to choose how you feel but I was ear-to-ear grinning on my back porch... I'd done my best AND they loved it.
It was painful waiting this long for it to go to mastering since (real talk) it's not done until it's in the packaging in my world... even then, sometimes people pry the lid back off and mess around with it further.
So all that... it sunk in this evening that I might not be making records for a while... in fact, the weeks leading up I decided to refer a few projects to other producer/mixers... knowing I won't be around... and even if it bites me in the ass when I get back, I didn't want to have studio gigs lined up when I get back because... my focus is on the band and our focus is to play a lot this year... sometimes it's best to build the wings on the way down... failure isn't an option.
(... I put phaser fx on the drums!!! Forgot... brings me joy. *tear*)
In business they call it a pivot when your model and priority changes... but it's still weird thinking I don't really plan on making any records in the near future... not that I don't want to... but if things work out on the band front....
... and things seem to be going pretty good right now.
It's fitting I'm listening to this right now... I dove right into making this record when I got home from the Disturbed tour last year... and it consumed me for a couple months. It's giving me some closure on what I sorta feel like is a chapter of my life... 10+ years of helping bands make records.
... almost done listening through and only a couple notes... awesome.
(... time delayed pitch shifted vocal throw!! ... sounds expensive. *tear*)
Sorry if this seems like I'm going nowhere which this... just sharing my thoughts as I listen through in real time... 2 songs left!
Even the last project I handed off.... it was difficult since in my head I knew where I could get it sonically... if I just had more time... but I made peace it was in good hands and made peace with the idea that I had to abandon it.
... the people I work with deserve my best.
(... 1 song left.)
I'm confident this album will finish strong... I guess I should talk about the day... well...
... woke up at 9am... went back to the "office" aka business center... finished off the YouTube uploads of [Destroy + Rebuild] and got them uploaded (meant to have them up on the 20th but... busy as F lately). We went to Denny's... I had oatmeal... drove to another hotel... did more work online/emails... did laundry with Dane while Reid and Brendan went to Manhattan for a couple meetings... went to the gym for an hour... got cleaned up and back to work.
... join a band they said... see the world they said... it'll be fun they said!
So far so good.
Up at 6am tomorrow to go do radio in... Harrisburg I think... Reid set it up... I'm just looking forward to hotel breakfast (no dinner) and making our way closer to the next show... feels like forever!
Ok... the album is done... I give it solid 9.7/10... mainly knocked off some points because I'm biased.
Bed time for me.
- Mike :-)
P.S *Boss = Good
P.P.S I devised a plan to take the pen.
P.P.P.S. We were added to Octane Accelerator... which sounds like "regular rotation".. from the sounds of it... fingers crossed we make it into their Big 'Uns Countdown... asking a lot but we'll see!
January 22, 2017 - 11:21pm
I just wrote something with THE best hotel pen I've ever written something with. I felt my penmanship go up at least 5 pts with it.
For the record, I believe it's wrong to take something that isn't yours... but my God... this pen... I think it was destined for more than a hotel business center.
... I'll see if it's still here in the morning... if it is... it might fall into my bag just before we checkout and drive off.
So... it's SUPER early tonight... I'm not falling asleep looking across the room for the first time since we started the trip. I'm also wanting to get this done earlier because I have some video stuff to do... and I haven't use Final Cut Pro X in a while... and sometimes I'm kinda slow getting my chops back...
So today... everyone slept in... which is good... I also noticed that you notice the size of a queen size bed and a double bed a lot more when you're goin' halfsies with your bandmate. I'm generally the last to go to bed so I grab the (side of the) bed closest to the door... which is also the best place for the first person to "turn in for the night".
I don't move much when I sleep... I disrupt the sheets so little, I can almost make the bed as I get out of bed. Other people... not so much.... no so much at all.
I'm not complaining... just a little insight... anybody in a band that's toured knows this is a funny (Spinal Tap) reality of band touring life... sleeping arrangements and accommodations.
... anyway... by the time I got into bed last night... I think I had enough space to get most of my body on the bed... I'm a side sleeper so I accepted there was a 47% chance of rolling off the bed... into a space beside the bed just wide enough for me to get stuck... or a 48% chance rolling the other way and... nobody talks about it because nothing ever happened.
Seriously though... it's pretty common for people to get punched, kicked, headbutted, etc accidentally while asleep. We keep tabs...
Anyway... I'm sure people love hearing about this... speaking of the hotel room... we've been here for 2 days and it's a disaster. lol. It'll be fine when we leave but it's pretty messed up with clothes, instruments and 2 recording rigs.
... yup... 2.
So we finally got up and out the door for breakfast around 1pm... IHOP again... Reid ordered "all you can eat pancakes"... that was amazing.
We stopped in at Guitar Center... they weren't joking... Guitar Center sure sounds like Guitar Center. It's everyone playing everything all the time... basically one of my versions of heaven/hell. It's laughably bad... and the kids in the drum section... amazing... just bangin' away... the guy working seemed to give zero f's. I'm all for people playing instruments but it's a mess. There was a little girl rippin' on a distorted electric guitar which made me smile though... the sooner kids are introduced to distortion, the better!
Oh... remember how the van is super packed? Reid bought another guitar.
Couldn't tell him no though... I actually told him he should buy it. lol.
Some people look to me as the voice of reason... but there are times I think I surprise them with my answers and logic.
"Hey Mike, I think I might buy this..."
"Yes... yes I think you should."
Sometimes you just have to do what brings you joy... that guitar brought Reid joy... I also believe you should do what makes you feel "less bad" and I think leaving that guitar behind would've made Reid feel bad.
... besides... we've cleared out a bit of space by selling merch... we can make room. :-)
Back to the hotel around 4pm and I hung out working in the business center for a couple hours.
I must say... considering a main part of this hotel is a conference center... its business lounge is sorta the worst so far... it's nice but not as much "stuff"... just a couple computers and a REALLY slow laser printer.
Dane messaged me the guys were going to hit the pool so I packed up and headed there.
(... forgot to pack my flipflops.)
Hung out in the pool/hot tub for a bit, had a mini band meeting.
We're all really excited about this year... yeah we're only 2 shows in and there'll be lots of opportunity to implode on the road over the next couple months... but the difference between the first and 2nd show... we've all played a ton of shows and I'm excited to see us (together as Never Say Die) at 10... and 20.... and 50 shows.
It sorta sunk in today that we're sorta homeless/nomadic for a while... part of me wishes I brought even less stuff to worry about packing.
... I might dump a few things... or "donate".
... or maybe we need a tour bus.
We left for dinner around 8pm... the parking attendant outside told me earlier if we had to leave with the van this aft to tell the guy working this evening that he said it was alright to put the cones out to hold the spot in front of the hotel.
I called a couple days ago to double check the parking situation. You HAVE to watch where you put your van/gear. All it takes is one time to park in the wrong spot and everything is bad news. I pleaded our case and was polite... and when we finally arrived, the guy at the front desk remembered me, as did the parking attendant, and we got our spot on front... marked with cones.
The parking attendant this evening wasn't interested in hearing about our arrangement... he insisted that's not how they do things around here.
We went back and forth a little on the problem and solutions... I was nice about it though and he eventually caved, partially to get my stupid smiling ass to shut up. We told him we were heading out to dinner and asked him if he wanted us to get him anything.
"Can I get to go home??" He reply half jokingly... but it had a pretty sad undertone.
I truly believe he wanted to go home... for whatever reason...
That being said... he was pretty aggressive and we could've easily got into a shouting match about a stupid (but incredibly safe and useful) parking spot out front of the hotel... I'm not about that though. Sometimes people want to bait you into an argument simply because they're upset... but often it has nothing to do with the actual situation.
He was primed to pull rank on someone asking/telling him what to do... meanwhile he could've been primed another day positively and been in a good mood to listen and help someone out if he could.
"I hear ya... we're all away from home the next couple months." lol.
His body language changed and he walked over by the cones to put them out after we drove away.
Again... if someone is upset, and you did nothing wrong... I don't think there's a reason to be upset with them too... it's usually always something else... you're just in that space at that time... so try to listen to them.
Dinner was good... I needed a salad... too much pizza the last few days... sorta sick of bacon and eggs already too.
On the way out I figured to grab the parking attendant something... he didn't seem interested in a coffee... but who can turn down hot chocolate! (... am I right??)
Handed it to him when we got back and he seemed surprised but thankful. We chatted about music and bands briefly and I think he apologized in his own way for earlier. #winwin
... and now I'm back in the business center putting some more CD's together to mail out tomorrow and... still need to get on that video stuff.
Off to Manhattan tomorrow then we'll start making our way towards Beckley, WV.
If... if I can get up early enough tomorrow, I'll hit the gym before we go.
... diet starts tomorrow.
P.S. Somehow it's 2:01am and I'm just finishing this now.
... gym Gods... stop laughing at me.
January 22, 2017 - 1:52am
,P.S. Thought about it this morning... just wanted to say huge props to people who go support live music ... alone. It means a lot to bands when someone shows up by themselves just to see/meet a band. I went to a lot of shows solo especially early on trying to find bands to work with me. I'll be honest... it's tough... majority didn't seem to really care... I mean, you reach out and compliment them and sometimes you get a crappy 2 word response like "Thanks man!", if any response at all.
Wanted to let those who come out to the shows solo, we see you and we really appreciate you coming out. It's quality over quantity but you help add to both.
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!