Sunday - February 22, 2015
... well... I'm home now... and trying to avoid watching the Oscars. For some reason watching any of these award shows makes me feel ill. I'm not against the hardware... it's just that if people understood how they really worked, they might think twice about the amount of value that's placed upon them.
... but anyway... I'm home now.
We left Baltimore around 8am to attempt heading back to Harrisburg. The roads were in way better condition but you could see the aftermath of yesterday's storm on the sides of the road. No real damage, just a few parked and abandoned cars. The temperature had gone up quite a bit too which helped.
The highway was pretty clear... and empty... smooth sailing back to Harrisburg which took just over an hour. Again, it was painful yesterday because we really weren't far apart... just the weather was terrible.
... arrived at the hotel around 9:30am... made a few jokes about my first trip to Baltimore but I assured Mark I'd be back! Eventually! lol...
We bro'd our farewells again and I headed up to the room... which was void of life.
I had some pretty funny first lines rehearsed in my head but they were centered around opening the door to the room. I figured they were downstairs at breakfast so I made my way back to the elevator.
... I get in and hit the first floor button.
... doors close.
... doors open.
... Adam and Dave are standing there.
"I'm so sorry guys."
That's all I could say... meanwhile they're all smiles and hugs, just happy I made it back. Kyle and AJ weren't far behind but it was more of the same... it was nice to be back... even if it was just to load the van and make the trip back to Toronto.
I bumped into a few more familiar faces from hanging out at the panels on Friday, then stopped by Nancy and Scott's room to say bye and safe trip home.
Nothing exciting on the drive back though... roads were clear, highways were quick... border crossing was smooth. Again, they seem easier to deal with if you always show them your hands and let them know you're just trying to do the right thing. Once you get familiar with their "tone" you understand that's just how they talk to people.
We arrived in Toronto around 7pm. A thought crossed my mind... aside from the snow storm, this was probably the first serious traffic we've encountered all trip. Good ol' Toronto!
In the end... aside from missing 50% of the shows and 33% of the rehearsals... I think I did a pretty job filling in as a bassist! Might not get a pass in college but definitely good enough for a conditional pass in high school!
I had a blast though all things considered... I like to travel... I like traveling with bands... and even though we were only together 10 days... you feel like a band after... you bond... and you wish you were still out.
... looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow though... I've been wondering all weekend how the studio is doing.
- Mike :-)
Friday - February 20, 2015
... can't say I got much sleep last night... sometimes I wonder if separate rooms for quiet and Snoretallica would be better. I'm not angry or anything though... I understand people gotta sleep and some people gonna snore.
... I left my laptop back at the hotel so I'm typing this on my iPhone... thought it might be smarter just in case... more on that later.
AJ woke me up around 7am. We were starving from the night before. The bar kitchen ("Kelsey's") closed at 10pm so most of us missed ordering dinner and hadn't eaten since the Bob Evan's yesterday before noon.
Buffet... $9... solid.
The oatmeal was awesome actually... sorta considered bringing a few packets with me this trip... oatmeal is my staple!
... so the plan today was to meet with my buddy Mark (singer/songwriter/fellow studio folk), head to Philadelphia to see Helmet (HELMET!!!), and then head to Baltimore to talk shop and check out his new studio.
I'd originally planned on going to Baltimore this weekend (before agreeing to the Sole Pursuit gigs) but looking at the map everything is close... 90 minute drives!.
... for the record though...
#DearBands - NEVER LEAVE THE GROUP. Don't be that guy. What I'm attempting is a high risk maneuver and should only be attempted by experienced professionals.
... funny enough after saying that, we split from the band around 12:30 today. The plan was to get picked up this aft and Kyle really wanted to check out the war museum in town. I stayed behind and checked out some of the panels... while the eta of my ride kept getting pushed back.
The first I stopped in at (just out of curiosity) was "How to record, mix, and master your own music."
These should be illegal.
I know what their intentions are but they get the angle wrong.
You typically get a bunch of panelists who are looking for work or trying to figure out where to even begin to start giving pointers to prohobbyists looking to save money by spending a small fortune going DIY and burning months if not years of their time before (maybe) getting a commercially viable product... in the hopes it'll get them some attention from managers, bookers, and labels.
... and that's what it was. I lasted 20 minutes. Got some good laughs out of some cringeworthy moments. The audience should really submit questions beforehand and the panelists pull them out of a hat to answer them.
I scooted over to the "Legal issues for independent artists". This was awesome. All the panelists were experienced professionals and had a lot of good advice over several topics. Good moderators are key!
The focus seemed to be dealing with band agreements.
If/When your band decides to step it up, get a band agreement in place asap!
Understand how responsibilities, expectations, and writing credit will be split up before money comes in and it will be 100X easier... it's usually a difficult and a touchy subject.
Next was the publishers panel.
There's money out there... most bands and artists don't understand how music pimps work, why they might need a good one, how they generate money, and how far down the pecking order a band is getting licensing deals (and more) without one.
I caught up with Nancy and Scott after... the managers panel was next and Nancy was taking part.
This was a great panel too! All the speakers gave out what I thought was solid advice and the moderator set the tone early holding back no punches from how bad some labels, managers, booking agents, and industry folk in general can operate.
I was really impressed with Nancy's public speaking abilities... highlight was how she responded to the moderator's "I'd have an easier time removing two ribs in an attempt to blow myself then try to get an independent band on large market mainstream radio" with "... well coming from someone who mainly deals with Christian music, it's a little different."
Laughs all around... but she made some good points... main one being niche markets have their own set of rules that can sometimes break all the "this is just how it works" rule.
Even though I was starving by this point, I'm glad I stuck around the panels all day. Lots of good people saying smart things. Good times.
My ride to Phily and Helmet (HELMET!!!) showed up around 6:30... not too far a drive, doors are at 7, first band on at 8, Helmet is probably on at 9.
The drive was smooth, we rolled in at 8:45 and managed to grab a spot on the street right in front of the club... awesome! We get inside, walk downstairs to the venue and can hear the opener finishing up... with Sam Hell... the last song on Helmet's "Betty" album... wtf?!
We get in, Helmet is on, venue is packed, and they're just finishing playing the album they're playing front to back... I knew they'd do more but... no opener... headliner on at 8pm... shows how old I am! Back in my day headliners went on at like 10:30!
I still felt like I got my monies worth though... as did the other guys. They played another 45 mins of tunes people wanted to hear... really happy they played "Broadcast Emotion" which was a tune I convinced my band to cover in grade 9.
... I mean... doing Quiet Riot and Bon Jovi is cool but Helmet has just as good of songs.
They also played "Just Another Victim" which was on the judgement Night soundtrack. An amazing soundtrack from a movie I was probably too young to be seeing when I watched it.
We hung out for a while after the show...
After the encore Page Hamilton walked up to the front of the stage, thanked the crowd again... started shaking hands... then sat down on the edge of the stage to take a picture with a fan... and then just stayed there... shaking hands, signing things, and taking pictures.
... how cool is that!
This isn't just a victory lap for Helmet/Page... this is a guy with a fan base who's still out working... probably in his 50's now.
It was still pretty early when we rolled out (that's what people call it here)... maybe 10pm. We stopped in at a Denny's where the waitress got all our orders wrong but just right enough that complaining was difficult, and back to Mark's (Baltimore) just after 1am.
The plan is to head out early since there's a snow storm warning for later in the afternoon... I'd like to catch more of the conference/panels so as much as I'd like to hang out here, it should work out better anyway.
... my thumbs are tired... I'll proof/post this once I get back to ol' Lappy. It's been a pretty awesome day.
Thursday - February 19, 2015
... it's probably been 14 years since I've played an instrument standing up... on stage.
... so I get a text from AJ (The Sole Pursuit) a couple weeks ago... told me Chad (bassist) couldn't do the shows and if I wanted to (half jokingly) come play bass for a couple US dates they had coming up.
"... for f#&$ sakes."
... that's actually what I wrote them back... I thought it was funny and I knew it'd make them laugh.
... speaking of funny... funny enough this all went alongside a trip I was already planning to the US. I told Kyle and AJ to keep asking around but if they're stuck, I'll do what I can to shuffle around the schedule... Wednesday morning I found myself at Long & McQuade looking for an appropriate bass for the gig.
I'll be honest... it's been forever since I've had to stand and play an instrument... I mean... I play guitar all the time in the studio... but sitting vs standing... your wrist just does this... weird... so uncomfortable... it's better if I shorten the strap... but now... I look like that guy.
... playing drums is so much easier.
Long story short... 9 days and 2 rehearsals later, here I am in Harrisburg, PA, playing bass guitar for The Sole Pursuit for 2 shows at the Millenium Music Conference.
(... because I totally had time in my schedule to learn 10 songs on an instrument I can't stand and play!)
... it was for a good cause though! The guys are planning to get their P2 visas this year and tour as much as possible. I don't think they mind having me tag along just for piece of mind though... especially calming some nerves at the border... which went pretty smoothly.
#DearBands - Show people you've done your homework and trying (that thing that sometimes takes time, effort, and money) and they might not give you a hard time.
The drive was around 7hrs... plus 1.5hrs at the border... plus lunch. We left Toronto at 8am, arrived here at 7pm... I slept most of it though which was nice... it's been a long couple days to say the least...
So tonight we played the hotel bar of where the conference is taking place.
As soon as we walked in all I could think was "ok great, we're playing a Kelsey's." Not much will get you more stoked to play your first vertical show in 14 years than knowing people are eating chicken pot pie and wondering when you're going to start playing some Third Eye Blind covers or something.
I rehearsed the set again by myself in the hotel room... got my gear on... headed down at 8:45pm for our 9pm set.
It's funny what happens to your body during "game time". You can practice and practice, having fun, playing things perfectly... but your body is somewhat relaxed under those conditions. You change the conditions and you change the variable that makes the biggest difference... in my opinion. Studios and rehearsal spaces are very controlled.
The show went well though... I hit a boatload of wrong notes (maybe 3-4/song) but I don't think many people noticed.
I wished I'd had moved around more on stage... but again... different conditions from the stages I've played the last few years... it felt like a Kelsey's... a small stage and I didn't want to get in anybody's way... that's my excuse at least.
I found myself looking at the frets a lot too... which I don't/didn't really do in rehearsal... either of them.
Kyle (singer/guitarist/band leader) seemed pretty happy with the show. We all sorta need to police ourselves but at the end of the day someone needs to give the band a thumbs up or down after shows... can't all be up, can't all be down... but he gave thumbs up. We got through it... started strong and ended strong... looking forward to the next one now... it's addictive.
... it was nice finishing a set without "swamp ass" too.
Highlight of the day though was meeting Nancy Matthews... Scarlet White's manager (EOS Artist Management) and sponsor for my O-1 Visa. There are so many people these days you only know through texts, emails, skype meetings and phone calls where it's nice to finally meet them in person!
I emailed Nancy last week that my Visa had been approved and that it was looking like I was heading to Harrisburg to do a couple shows and finally confirm some meetings. She immediately called me to ask if it was the MMC we were playing... her and Scott (Husband) would be there... she's speaking on one of the panels!
... small world sometimes.
We all hung out after the set... had a few drinks and some good laughs... good times.
... just got word... it's looking like I'm officially off to Philadelphia tomorrow to see Helmet. I'm super stoked about that... stoked enough I feel the use of the word "stoked" is appropriate.
The guys (The Sole Pursuit) are doing an acoustic set tomorrow but it's full band again on Saturday.
- Mike :-)
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!