Monday - January 26, 2015
… late flight back to Toronto. It's crazy how much quicker the flight is (or maybe just feels) from Calgary > Toronto. Neither flight there or back had TV's on the plane… I don't watch a lot of TV but it sucks without them. I can watch that map and plane channel for hours… it's still better than Desert Bus, for any of you hardcore gamers out there.
I'll be honest… I thought about a bit in the air… what's worse… the situation and having to return early… or what the drive would've been like to do the last show… half joking here… but seriously the drives are rough… they can be fun but laughs don't fill the gas tank… well… unless you're a comedian… and you convert those laughs into a paycheck… or you actually laugh gas... you know what I mean.
So… like usual, there's a bunch left out… but overall the trip was pretty fun. It's always nice to get out playing since so much of my work week is spent dealing with what's on the other side of the glass.
The highlight for me is still having those errant guitar tracks the first night (Winnipeg). One of those situations where you don't know how you'll react unless it happens… and I laughed pretty hard on the inside… oops. lol.
Hopefully we can get some new tunes and tours going soon… there's a few in the works… being in a band is spinning plates in a house of cards.
P.S. Just a reminder, it was 12C+ in Calgary, and now it's like -12C in Toronto.
P.P.S. I will make my hockey game tomorrow though… go ALL CAPS.
P.P.P.S So it's now Wednesday night... we lost 4-2 last night... the other team has probably the best player in our division and they're debatably the worst team... not much you can do when they win 4-2 and their superstar goes home with 3G and 1A. He's a nice guy too which makes him that much more hateable!
P.P.P.P.S I would've posted these last two sooner but like a dummy I stopped by work as soon as I got home and left my charger there... then decided I needed a day away from my laptop... once I ran out of battery.
P.P.P.P.P.S If you're curious about my finger (WARNING... it doesn't look good!)... click here.
If not, click here.
P.P.P.P.P.P.S One last time for good measure...
Friday - January 23, 2015
… I just want to sleep! It's 1:40am and to say there's still a party going on in this hotel/casino would be an understatement… party animals like myself know when to shut it down though… especially now that I've eaten dinner.
Speaking of eating… again... the nice thing about casino gigs are the comps… usually rooms, sometimes food and rooms. Here we've got the food and rooms. So breakfast was an awesome buffet… really looking forward to getting up tomorrow and doing that again. They have oatmeal!! That's my staple at home.
I'll admit, I spent most of the day laying in bed… nodding off here and there. After those two monster drives my back is still loving the feeling of being horizontal… I'm lying down right now… it's awesome!
So the venue at the casino is called The Venue I'm pretty sure… it's a giant "tent-like" structure where you have to walk outside the casino to enter.
It's pretty huge.
I think it'd comfortably fit 2,500 people. Sales were decent and even at 2/3's full it was still pretty busy.
We were direct support today and it was an early show. Soundcheck was at 4pm. I was a little concerned about the slap coming from the back of the building from the stage/speakers. Once on stage it sounded fine though… sounded great actually.
One thing I will remind people though… well more people in bands than just random people who… well maybe they can find some way to apply this to their own life… during our soundcheck we spend most of the time making sure our monitors have decent levels/mixes.
It's really annoying when you come back to what you spent time setting up and things have changed… but unless it's REALLY screwed up… just roll with it. That's what today is! I felt my levels were pretty wonky once we actually did our set… a couple of the other guys said the same.
I have my own mixer beside me so I can make adjustments, but a couple other guys had similar issues.
… I'm fairly certain Dane's mic wasn't on at all during our set. He was checking it at the beginning of our set and nothing was coming out… sorta made for an awkward start to the set… things felt good though once we got a few bars into the first tune.
The set felt really solid tonight actually… it was another 30 minute set so we didn't leave much time between songs to try and do 7. (We have 40mins tomorrow so it'll be a little more relaxed).
I saw a fight during Buckcherry's set! I don't really know what happened but of course they play a ballad and two dudes decide to get into a shoving match.
… yelling leads to shoving, shoving leads to fighting… and fighting leads to 4 large security personnel holding you down with their knees in your back… and then kicked out of the tent.
You can imagine what they look like too… it was one of those "of course you're that guy" type moments.
The venue filled our entire rider tonight I'm pretty sure… same with The Wild! who we were sharing a backstage space with.
… I'm sure you can do the math after I type this next bit.. but our full rider, plus not having to drive tonight because we have accommodations within walking distance of the venue… means people are making good use of what's on the rider… and the Grey Goose didn't last too long tonight.
Good times though… it was nice to see Buckcherry's set in full, plus they only had an hour tonight. It's a pro and con that these shows start and end early. My guess is they want to get people back into the casino… drinking or drunk… to spend some money.
Can't blame them though…the amount of money I see people dropping in machines… I haven't gambled anything (yet) by the way.
I think we left the venue around 11:40pm. We just missed the dinner buffet… but I was starving so I was sorta nudging people to make our way back to the hotel rooms to dump off our stuff, and then go find food.
There ain't much to eat this time of time… or at least things we can use our credit towards.
The one restaurant that was open though was the one with the hockey rink… and there was a men's league game going on! Trip worth it!
There was a 20 minute wait but I like to think the hostess pushed us up because we are "in a band".
It was probably 1am by the time we sat down to eat… I'm starving… I haven't eaten since breakfast at 9:30am. Sorta my fault but I did good this morning and wasn't too hungry until a song into our set.
Buffalo Chicken sandwich and a salad… I'm trying to be healthy! … as much as I really wanted fries and ketchup.
After we'd eaten, a fair number of fans or people from the show kept asking us for pictures and wanted to chat. Even the staff were asking to get pictures.
I kept joking with Dane that people don't even have any idea who we are… Dane looks like a rockstar most of the time though so that's what does it.
Dress for the job you want!
… the job I want right now is "sleep study participant".
Short drive to Calgary tomorrow… 3-4 hrs I think
… we'll see how many of us make the 11am call go head out… my money is on 25% of us.
P.S. Watched a ton of Food Network the last couple days... food is awesome.
Thursday - January 22, 2015
… I've been waiting for this day to come… playing a strip club again!
… joking… it's 3:42am and we're checked into the hotel in Edmonton. We got in around 2am but Matt and I ended up walking around the hotel/casino for a bit… then I decided to catch up on some emails before getting to this… I think I've been up since 8am.
The day started out good… had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel… they had quite a bit available... had one of those waffle stations there... with a woman (arguably 35 w/ young kids OR 14 with two younger siblings) making (attempting) a waffle.
I'll be honest… I just assume when things aren't working right, that they are broken… it rarely crosses my mind if the thing isn't simply "on".
So she was making a waffle but it wasn't turning out too good. She ended up scraping it out of the machine, covering it in syrup, and calling it a day.
I went to make mine after and figured something was wrong… or that it was just broken. I mean… the thing was pretty hot… it's just that the timer wasn't working.
Then the guy behind me, somewhat impatiently suggested the machine probably needed to be turned on.
So the on switch was flicked and the road to better waffles was soon to be paved…
… or so I thought.
This thing took a while to heat up. I mean… it was 9am… breakfast started at 6am… why wasn't the machine on and LEFT on? Other hotels, that's the case.
So another horrible attempt at a waffle was made… this one was much more edible though… ended up pawning half of it off on Matt… he didn't seem to have a problem with it.
I made a comment to the guy behind me in the waffle line… asked him if he was the "resident waffle expert" and he shot back a smile that was half "yeah bud" and "I will punch you if you're being a smart-ass"… with a dash of "… don't take this from me… this waffle means a lot to me."
Tim had the same trouble with the machine apparently.
… he tried to hide it but the truth poured out once I shared my story… you see, the thing is the instructions for said waffle maker is placed off to the side… when they should be above the machine… since you're killing time looking around when you finally find the instructions posted and realize you probably missed some steps.
… just saying.
I think I was back in bed by 10am... hanging out watching cartoons... rock and roll!
Our late check out was 1pm… sort of sucky since we had nowhere to go except the venue… knowing sound check was realistically at 5-6pm (we opened) and our set was at 9:30… this was going to be a serious day of hurry up and wait.
We decided to go find some lunch… tour rule I'd like to remind people of… "eat what you can see". We could see Wendy's, which just happened to have a Subway beside it so the guys went to grab a burger while I met up to them with a sub.
Lunch was good today… it's a different vibe being 4 instead of 5 but it was a good bonding experience. We talk about how shows/rehearsals go but today at lunch felt like the first time where it was a team.... where you're just hanging out... not at work.
All things considered, even with the two monster drives, it's a pretty short and basic tour at the end of the day… the times when you're eating together, hanging out at the hotel, sitting in the van, etc, these are the times where the real team building occurs.
Again… 23 1/2 hrs you aren't on stage… and you only sleep so much.
Back to the venue… sound check… hang out in a little upper area… sorta acting as a band room, sharing with The Wild!
We had almost 2hrs to kill so I did a mental rehearsal to pass the time… where I put my click track in my ears and visualize playing the set. I didn't feel super good during sound check so sometimes this helps.
… yes I can play the entire set against the click in my brain.
… I fell asleep 3 times though I think…it's surprisingly relaxing!
The set went well… crowd wasn't huge but apparently Buckcherry comes through pretty often… and word is the oil prices have affected the city quite a bit… which I could understand.
… but anyway, crowd was still good… it's always awesome having people up front singing along. That makes it worth it.
Afterwards while packing up my kit I was quickly reminded the venue is a strip club 7 days a week… all the girls were polite and understanding of my drum stuff scattered in the hallway… curious how they dress in the summer though if that's how they're dressing in the winter.
We didn't stick around too long after… it's only 2.5hrs to Edmonton and we had rooms here already… decided to take advantage of that… plus we have insane amounts of food buyouts/vouchers here.
Apparently there was a few fights during Buckcherry's set we missed… it's too bad, we had some PRIME seats for all the antics that apparently went on… ah well… I'm sure we'll be through Lloydminster again.
I like casinos… said it before, and I'll say it again… can't say I got the itch though when Matt and I were walking around. I'm sure I'll throw $20 in (high roller, I know!) here or Calgary, but I should get to bed… there's a pool here too I'd like to hit tomorrow… not to mention breakfast… gotta start chipping away at these food vouchers.
... oh... we all caved and went to McDonald's after the show tonight... Dane and I found crayons.
P.S. There's a hockey rink in the casino!!!
Tuesday - January 20, 2015
… buffet breakfast… buffet dinner… 15hr knee destroying drive is forgiven!
Alarm went off at 8am to hit up the breakfast buffet here… it was pretty good actually… f*n awesome for $6! All the usual suspects except I didn't feel like stuffing myself as if it was an olympic sport to get my money's worth.
… straight back to bed for me for a few hours while the guys ran some errands. It was nice to have some quiet time… people are usually talking and doing stuff which is cool… but you need to find spots to just enjoy some silence.
… and sleep.
We headed over to the venue for 2pm to load in. We knew (better) there'd be nothing to do for a few hours… Buckcherry was sound checking when we got there… just like the good old days! It was more about getting our gear out of the trailer to warm up... especially the drums. It's about -15C here... we'll bring our guitars in but the hardware was pretty chilly when I opened up the bag!
We've probably done 20 shows with Buckcherry now but it never gets old watching them… especially the guitarist… both are just wicked players.
Today they were jamming on classic rock tunes for fun… basically playing as much as they could of whoever started the riff… sorta like a game. Good times.
That's a band! I still don't like jamming but it's fun to watch guys like that jam!
So we set up to sound check around 5:30pm… to be honest, I think I was more nervous to sound check then actually play tonight. Considering this was our first show this year (and we only played one show last year)… there are all these little things you need to get back into the groove of… and setting up on stage is one of those things.
… and I have a lot of things to deal with on stage.
It went well though… Live Out Loud… and half of Bombs Away if we feel the need… the usual.
One thing that isn't the usual, we're doing this tour with one guitar player. Brent couldn't make the trip and Trevor and (Mike) Diesel couldn't make it out because of their own bands. So we decided to just roll with Dane… throw a few rhythm tracks under solos (in the tracks) and see how it goes as a 4-piece.
… yeah that's right we run tracks. Funny story…
So tonight during our set, which was a bit rushed getting set up on stage (we were on 2nd and The Wild! went over time a little... good band though!)… I forgot to grab some water… yeah we're our own techs/roadies too! I grabbed one of Matt's but wanted to replace it... figured during a guitar change was a good time.
We finished Justify, I took out my in-ears and went side stage to grab a couple more waters. I went back to the kit, put my in-ears in and was like "why the hell is Dane playing the riff… he knows better!"… one of my pet peeves is when people play riffs of songs, between songs, before the actual song… and I started hearing the riff for Ready To Go…
I'm actually quite pissed at him right now… then I look over and realize he ain't playing it… then I'm all "shit… that's me playing guitar! My tone is awesome!!!"
Dane and I look at each other and laugh. I hit pause... yeah I forgot to hit pause on my iPod before I got up… let's chalk it up to rust!
The best part about it though was the guy in the audience who yelled out "BUSTED!!!"
… dude… we have congas going on in Justify… we have a string section going on in Live Out Loud… we run a few tracks as hair and makeup, not a crutch… lots of bands run tracks… and incase you couldn't tell, we don't have a conga player or string section on stage with us and nobody seems to care too much... and it sounds great!
… i'm sure some people would've been horrified… I thought it was pretty hilarious.
Overall we all felt the set went well. A couple hiccups but we felt good... and definitely fun to get on stage in general.
Packed up, watched Buckcherry's set, and now we're back at the hotel watching School Of Rock.
… we got a wicked fruit tray… that's our "1,000 brown M&M's" on the rider… never really expect it but when it's there… it's awesome. The Wild! were all "we got pizza!!! we never get pizza!! Nobody ever even looks at our rider!!!" The staff at The Oak did an awesome job with the bands tonight.
Long drive to Lloydminster tomorrow… but at least we have tomorrow night off so there's no real rush.
... meanwhile... 7am buffet it is in a few hours.
P.S. We got our rider food AND dinner buffet at the hotel/venue. Had turkey and all the fixin's for dinner… then took an epic nap!
P.P.S. Here's the water slide none of us got to slide on today… I know. Le sigh.
January 19, 2015
… well… my alarm went off at 5:30am… we loaded up and were on the road by 7am… finally arrived in Winnipeg at 12:30am… now (2:51 am) I'm sitting in an awkwardly long room at the end of our hotel hallway.
If you're doing the math, the drive sucked today… just long… and although the vehicle we're travelling in (Hummer w/ trailer) looks pretty badass… I can't say it's built for comfort if you're in the backseat. It does tow and ride pretty smooth though.
… I think I had 2-3 out of body experiences today because my knees were hurting so bad.
I forget how much I fidget at work. I'm constantly moving around… which I consider a good thing if you're working on music… having to basically sit still, not being able to stretch out for close to 15hrs (yes we made some stops for gas and food) but mostly you feel like you're sitting at a desk… with no work to do to pass the time.
… I still enjoy the change of scenery though... studio life has been non-stop for over a year I'd say.
We made a quick stop in Regina to drop off some rentals we had for rehearsal. I swapped out a cymbal I'd rented… noticed it was cracked yesterday and knew it'd be f*d if I attempted to use it all week.
The point is how awesome most of the people who work in Long & McQuade are. I told the guy I picked it up in Toronto, noticed it was cracked, and wanted to swap it out. He said "good catch" and took me over to the rental section to look through what they had.
Of course music stores have their share of jaded and bitter musicians who fill out the roster… but for the most part L&M employees seem pretty helpful.
… I love how I'm sitting in my pajamas in this weirdo lobby/hall place right now of the hotel… barefoot.
So this hotel… we're at a casino (I'm not checking just in case… that it's actually a casino) or something. We get to the venue/hotel and Matt and Tim go in to check in… and in true Spinal Tap fashion, our rooms are not ready… in fact, Matt's reservations aren't on file… the one he has the confirmation for on his phone that he's showing the front desk.
… figures… after a 15hr drive.
So the front desk arranged rooms at a hotel just down the street… apparently nicer (seems to be the cases so far) so we're not complaining. Bottom line, we're in rooms and no longer in the seated position… well I am in this chair but you know what I mean.
I think I have about 300ft of leg room right now... huge difference!
Breakfast buffet is at 7am… I'll be honest… I'm pretty excited to wake up in 5hrs (well 4 hrs now) to go crazy on that buffet... then go back to sleep!
… also really looking forward to getting the first show of the year under our belt tomorrow… rehearsals were sounding and feeling pretty good on Sunday. Good times.
P.S. My nail looks pretty bad. I tried taking a picture but my iPhone wouldn't focus.
P.P.S. I don't think there's a waterside at this hotel… sorta disappointed that might not happen now.
P.P.P.S. WE HAVE INTERNET AGAIN!!!
P.P.P.P.S. I totally forgot about this... we drove past this guy today... the COOOL BUS!!! It was hard to take a picture on the highway but the driver looked like Charles Manson with dreadlocks. So coool that bus was... so coool.
Sunday - January 18, 2015
… I know I technically could use the data on my iPhone to post this… but I can wait until we get to the hotel in Winnipeg tomorrow… why? Because I'm that kinda guy.
Today was pretty easy… slept in til 10am (noon Toronto time) which felt pretty good. I'm actually surprised I slept that long… it's very rare. It's 12:12am right now and we're planning on hitting the road by 6am. Some people would be freaking about having to get up so early… I'm smiling right now… sorta excited about living on a 24hr schedule the next few days.
I'm going to set my alarm and take a nap until 5:40am.
… right… so today was simply rehearsing for the tour. Please note I said rehearsal and not practice. I believe practice is what you should work on in your solo time… that way you bring everything necessary to the band, and rehearse what you're going to do during the show... together.
#DearBands - Don't just run your set and pretend you're practicing with a purpose. Figure out what goes on in and around the songs in the set. The devil is in the details, especially when it comes to playing live. Let mistakes and hiccups happen and figure out how to correct them (or simply deal with them) next time around. Most importantly, police yourself!
We ran the set about 6 times today. I won't lie… I'm pretty sore. I don't usually play drums that long. In the studio I get lots of breaks around tracking… generally only play a song 3-4 times when I'm tracking then have an hour or 2 before changing tunes. This was straight at it today… for a good chunk of the day.
It's sounding pretty good to me though… and I'm pretty tough of bands… especially my own stuff.
There's a bit of a surprise involved too with these shows… I'll save sharing that until Tuesday night…
My nail hasn't completely fallen off yet in case you were wondering. I showed the guys today and I'm pretty sure Matt left the room because he thought he was going to be sick.
It's pretty gross looking… but I wouldn't expect blood that's been sitting between a finger and a nail for 6 weeks to look any different.
When we were packing up the gear tonight I had The Sole Pursuit record I just finished producing/mixing. It took about 30 seconds for someone to ask what I was listening to after they came down.
It passed the test.
Often I play stuff I think its good around people and see what they do… will they stop talking? Will they talk over it…? Maybe they'll ask what it is… maybe like it, maybe hate it. Worst way they can comment is to be indifferent… aka talk over it.
It was nice they noticed and complimented the songs and production. Everyone in the group has been doing music a long time… so it means a little more coming from them.
I should get to sleep… get this nap going… I have a date with my 2007 iPod tomorrow and a book.
P.S. The guy at Long & McQuade tried to convince me I didn't need cases for the rental kit… said they didn't normally give them out with the mid-level kits. I assured him the cases weren't for me but for them… these drums are going to spend close to 40 hrs bouncing around in a trailer the next 10 days.
I'm sure in an alternate universe I didn't get cases… and those drums are a mess.
P.P.S. There's a water slide at hotel tomorrow. Once Dane found out he was pretty sad he didn't pack swim gear. I've known Dane a long time… and I'm sure he was born with a solution to that problem.
P.P.P.S I haven't even McDonalds yet… nobody has. We've ordered pizza twice though.
Saturday - January 17, 2015
… well… another tour means another tour blog.
I don't think these will be as long as the others but like usual, I'll try and touch on the highlights… and food… and lowlights… like the crappy start I had this morning… I've been awake since 3am (Toronto)… it's 11pm (Calgary) but my laptop is mocking me by saying it's 1am (Toronto time).
Little story... about 6 weeks ago I was hit in the fingertips with a hockey puck. The pain and annoyance it caused was up there with paper cuts and splinters… except X100. I had that grey, spaced out, fuzzy vision feeling after it happened… I tried to play another shift then decided I should go back to the dressing room for a minute. The puck had jammed my nail back into my finger and blood was pooling behind it.
Again, it hurt like crap.
I've kept an eye on the injury, my nail turned black over the past few weeks. Many sources have said my nail would eventually fall off, or should I say, almost rip off… anyway, today was that day… conveniently happening while going through airport security… which is already unnecessarily stressful and unpleasant enough.
Minutes before that my backpack zipper broke. I'm not a light packer on trips. I find it hard to pack light as a drummer but I tend to grab odds and ends just before I head out the door.
So now I'm trying to carry my cymbal bag, carry on suitcase (personal in ears/monitor rig), and my broken backpack… with a fingernail wanting to finish ripping off.
The flight to Calgary from Toronto was decent. I passed out a couple times which made the 4 hour flight go by quickly… mind you we were in the plane almost an hour before we took off.. de-icing… but WestJet did bump us up to "Plus" (so we could all sit together I guess) which was nice… but they had no TVs on the plane which kinda sucked. I'll admit, I do love watching that map channel… and the news.
Once we got to Calgary we ran errands picking up our trailer, gear rentals, and odds and ends such as a new drum carpet.
For the drummers out there… just go to Home Depot and get them to cut it for you (cut a rug! lol). Something 6X4 should be fine and will come in at under $30.
If you're out tour, I highly recommend getting a rug with your kit mapped out/marked on it. If by chance you have people helping you move your kit on/off the stage, that drum rug is the map to put the puzzle together!
Don't be cheap.
So we set up in Tim's basement and started rehearsing… our plan was to set up, then grab some food/naps but we just sorta start jamming out the tunes.
Truth is we're all pretty happy to be playing… and that's coming from someone who really doesn't care much for jamming.
We ran the set for a while, took a pizza/movie break, then went back downstairs to rehearse a bit more.
… I wonder if the neighbours can hear us… then again I don't really care too much... it seems like a pretty boring suburb so at least they'll have something to talk about if they can hear us.
We have the day off tomorrow as well to rehearse (and relax), then we leave early Monday to head to Winnipeg. It's the same place we played with Papa Roach so it should be good.
They have a pool… I have my swim shorts.
P.S. Props to the guy on the plane behind me for letting those man-tears flow at the end of whatever movie he was watching on his iPad.
P.P.S. There's no Wifi at Tim's so perhaps I'll get creative tomorrow to post this.
P.P.P.S. I fixed my backpack zipper in the car today… it can be done!
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!