So it's been just over a week since I arrived back in Toronto. I must say, I felt pretty good until Saturday night around 10pm (I know this because I was trying to watch the Leafs/Pens game)... then I crashed pretty hard. The next couple days were mainly sleeping, eating, naps, and snacks... one of the perks to being self-employed I guess.
So I've decided to list off some stats from the trip... in honor of GTA V being released recently... a game that I will probably play 2-3 years from now when I have time... or come down with a nasty cold/flu and I find it used for $15 (delivered) on Craiglist.
Days On Tour: 23
Total Shows: 16
Shows Nailed: 13
Shows Pretty Much Nailed: 16
Drumsticks Brought: 15 pairs (Vater - Chad Smith Funk Blasters)
Drumsticks Consumed/aka Funk Blasted: 6 pairs
Total Drum Kit Damage Acquired: 17%
Cymbals Brought: 5
Cymbals Broken: 1
Times Intro Music iPod Was Forgotten But Returned By FOH: 9
Best Crowd: Quebec City (they went nuts)
Worst Crowd: Won't name names... but it was a Canadian city
Biggest Crowd: Montreal
Best Venue: Tie between First Avenue (Minneapolis) and Metropolis (Montreal)... and House Of Blues (Atlantic City)
Worst Bathroom: The Kooler (Lloydminster)
Best Bathroom: Cowboys (Calgary) - They had a bathroom attendant!
Best Stage: House Of Blues (Atlantic City)
Best Sound System: House Of Blues (Atlantic City)
Worst Sound System: Van... as in our van.
Worst Beer Spill: Atlantic City - Our Merch Table
Best Beer Spill: Atlantic City - Might have been the same girl... about 15ft away from our merch table.
Best Venue Meal: Winnipeg (buffet!)
Distance Traveled by Car/Van: 13,813 km *based on GoogleMaps City-to-City distances
Distance Traveled by Plane: 2, 716 km
Distance Traveled by Boat: 0 km
Distance Traveled by Elevator (total): 38 floors
Distance Traveled by Escalator (total): 18 diagonal meters
Distant Traveled by Foot: 16.87 km
Times Matt Declared He Is No Longer Driving Anymore: 5
Times Trailer Hitch Jack Bottomed Out: 72
Flat Tires: 1
Tires Changed: 3
Times GPS Blamed: 37
Times GPS Blamed In Pennsylvania/New Jersey: 31
Time Spent in Hotels (Avg): 8 hrs
Longest Time Spent in a Hotel: Coquitlam 36 hrs
Shortest Time Spent in a Hotel: Calgary (Tim's House) 3.5 hrs
Best Hotel: River Rock Casino - Coquitlam
Worst Hotel: Days Inn - Place we stopped after Youngstown, ON (Day 14)
Age Of Days 'Snoretallica' Concerts Attended After Posting Blog at 3am: 3
Best Gym: Holiday Inn Express (Montreal)
Worst Gym: McDonalds (PlayPlace)
Trips to McDonalds: 12
McDondalds consumed per day: 0.52
Trips to McDonalds with the sole purpose of using WiFi: 6
Times Concerned I Might Never Have A Proper Bowel Movement Ever Again... No Reason In Particular: 14
Buffets Found: 3
Trips to Buffets: 7
Water Consumed: 42L
Red Bull Consumed: 3 cans
Chocolate Milk Consumed: 7.5L
Alcohol Beverages Consumed: 2
Salads Consumed: 4
Bananas Eaten: 5
Apples Eaten: 7
Times Ordered As Alias 'Norm': 1
Instant Oatmeal Packets Opened and Consumed: 14
Showers Taken: 19
Showers Taken per Day: 0.82
Times Teeth Brushed: 41
Times Shaved: 6
Laundry Trips: 2
Loads of Laundry: 4
Times I Changed Toilet Paper Rolls After Finding Whoever Was In There Before Me Didn't Think It Was Necessary And/Or Might Not Of Known How To Do It: 5
Times Hit Head Off Roof Of Trailer: 9
"All Nighter's" Pulled: 2
Times Slept On Floor: 4 (2 hotels, 2 venue)
Random Books Acquired From People At Hotels: 1
Stairwell Skype Dates: 2
Tour Completion: 100%
It was a great time overall... and I'm not ashamed to admit it's the biggest tour I've ever been a part of. Most of the others I'd done have been around 2 weeks, but there is a difference for sure with the extra week. As soon as you do laundry, your mindset changes from being on a trip to actually traveling. Speaking of... one of the things I'd do differently next time is not bring any white shirts/clothes... simply because it's a separate load of laundry to deal with... if you care about that kinda stuff... and it's definitely worth bringing a small thing of detergent or picking one up along the way.
Thanks to everyone who read along during the trip. The comments, feedback, and significant increase in site traffic really helped keep me motivated at 2am.
As of right now, we're waiting on more dates... figures crossed we can get a single spinning in the US and it leads to a lot more touring next year. We're all ready to go!
P.S. In case you were wondering... yes... a lot was left out. :-)
P.S.S. I was planning on posting this yesterday... but it was Halloween... and I maybe have been full of chocolate.
... 2:53am... if only you could see the breakfast area of the Super 8 I'm sitting in right now.
Oh wait... you can!
... I feel like I'm in a cottage... I have no idea where we are aside from NY state... only 4 hours from Sayreville though so hopefully the drive is easy tomorrow... 9am van call... last show tomorrow.
October 22, 2013
Big show today... Metropolis can hold over 2,000 people and if it's anything like Quebec City, it should be nuts... I'll spare you the suspense... it was pretty nuts in there. It's funny how quickly an audience can go from "into it" to "into it" over the course of about 2-3 songs. We warmed the crowd up pretty good... Pop Evil took things to the next level... but Papa Roach came out and destroyed in about 15 minutes.
I haven't seen a pit this crazy on the tour and there was tons of crowd surfing going on. The security was really cool about it though... they'd pull people down, ask them if they were ok, then direct them were to go to get back into the crowd... I also think they warned them to not go up again... but still... they were cool about it.
There's been a couple venues where the bouncers have been real dicks about it, and kicking people out of the show. As if crowd surfing is a problem in 2013.
... so I'm pretty tired right now... like vomit tired... I took a bunch of pics today so I'm just gonna dump a bunch in and talk around them.
Oh wait... might as well get this out of the way. Breakfast was pretty good. *Insert several paragraphs worth of details here*
Moving on. :-)
Oh I should get this out of the way too...
Matt and I grabbed lunch at a near by pub/sports bar. They had tons of TVs showing soccer... I was curious if any of the groups of 3 TVs, showing 3 different games, would show 3 different dives simultaneously... only got to 2.
So my ordering in french success rate sorta went up today... the menu was half 'n half (french/english)... so I couldn't really order in french unless I ordered something in french just for the sake of ordering something in french for the sake of improving my ordering in french success rate. Still with me? The club sandwich looked really good though and did not disappoint. I'll give myself half a point on this attempt since I did say "merci" and didn't point once.
1.5/3, 50% "ordering in french" success rate.
... actually... I'm gonna give myself 0.75 of a point because I'm still at 50%.
1.75/3, 58.3% "ordering in french" success rate.
... there we go. Steady improvement if I say so myself!
We milked our late checkout as much as we could today... then drove around the block to the venue and loaded in.
Metropolis is awesome.
I think it's arguably the best venue on the tour... arguably only because a couple people argued with me about it. I'd say Flames Central gives it a run... but as far as a rock venue goes... the setup and sight lines at Metropolis are perfect. Tons of space but still feels small enough you can really enjoy the show. Sound system is great, stage is great, load in/out area is great. It's great!
They had this loading bay elevator side stage... it looked really cool with the fog and the lights so I decided to set my drums up there while Pop Evil was line checking and took some pics.
... then Matt came over and asked me if I wanted him to grab a pic of me on the kit. I'm a pretty poorly documented human being so I said sure why not.
... and then Matt hopped on my kit... and called for a pair of sticks...
... yeah he totally just showed me up on my own kit on my own photo shoot... the nerve of this guy.
... I was laughing pretty hard actually... I snapped a ton more pics but you get the point... he was pretty into it! lol.
I was poking around stage a bit and grabbed this pic of Tony's (Papa Roach) tamb mounted on his kit. I love tambs... but his is all rusted and stuff... it's bad ass. I'd buy this at auction... for the record. (<-- no pun intended)
... moving onto the venue pics.
... yeah this place is pretty big.
Sound check went fine... I was cracking up again because Matt decided to tape off a "no guitar player" zone on the floor. He was getting annoyed Brent and Trev would bump into him/get in his way while he's singing backups.
I mean... he's got a hard enough job as it is hitting root notes on the 1's... trying to sing harmonies and dodge two dudes zippin' around on stage... stuff happens. I thought it was amazing though. I wanted one... but nobody ever really runs into me back there... hell... people don't even know I'm on stage or in the band half the time! lol.
... such an awesome crowd to play in front of. Typically you can't really see past the first few rows when you're on stage under the lights... but the pics give you a better story.
I watched a bit of Papa Roach side stage... we had to head out fairly early because of the drive... way she goes... got to see Angles at least.
... some dad guy ended up, upside down in the pit/crowd surfing. It was awesome. I tried to get a pic but it does not do it justice... it was like watching a synchronized swimmer with their legs up in the air... awesome.
... that was pretty much the day.
Crowd response was great again... still sorta shocked how good it's been considering nobody really knew who we were going into this tour. New fans every night so far... Facebook likes steadily climbing. Lots of compliments from people in the crowd and stopping by the merch table. Good times.
We headed out around 10:30pm... decided to do the boarder crossing (dude was super nice and we chatted bands for a couple minutes) asap and grab a room wherever we were by 2am. I'm so glad we found a reasonable place first try... it sucks driving around finding a place at 2am... in case you were wondering.
I gotta go to bed though.. 3:33am now... if I had my own jug of milk I'd be eating a bowl of Raisin Bran right now... it's staring at me... no wait... it's the neighbouring Frosted Flakes that are... damn you Tony...
P.S. I don't really know what this was supposed to be... probably "art" or something... but it was on the wall in the lobby/stairs at Metropolis. It's neat.
... it's like an Escher drawing... but in drum form.
P.P.S. I know I said I didn't like being in Quebec a couple days ago because it makes me feel uncomfortable (because of the language thing), but I had a blast this time. Montreal especially has such a cool vibe. I'd like to actual come back and visit sometime... when it's warmer of course. :-)
... they had oatmeal. Today was going to be a good day.
October 20, 2013
... aside from seeing a full blown, end to end rainbow... nothing too eventful on the drive to Quebec City. We woke up around 8am, went to the lobby for breakfast (did I mention they had oatmeal?), then back in the van for 9:30am.
We breezed through the border... the officer actually gave us the thumbs up once he figured out we were a band... and then it was only a couple hours drive from there.
I need to get this off my chest... I don't like being in Quebec... I feel so awkward here.
I like Quebec, I like the people from Quebec, and I really do like listening to the language. I can read french and understand it enough in conversation... but I can't write it or speak it so the communication barrier (mainly mental) makes me feel really uncomfortable.
I mumble often and speak quietly in english... so toss in my butchering of a different language into the equation... and you don't have a recipe for success.
... basically... I feel like Mr. Bean when I'm in here.
I know some french lessons would solve a lot of my problems but I'm almost 30 years old... and part of me feels like it's just punishment for my not paying attention in grade 9 french class... or whenever we started taking french in public school.
I do try to speak french when I'm here though... my main problem is I feel like I can't order food anywhere. I always end up having to point or use a number system. It's sad... but at least I try.
Anyway... new trip to Quebec... fresh start... I'm determined to not only eat today... but to order in french.. no pointing... but number system allowed. Baby steps.
So we pull into a service station just after noon. There's a St. Hubert restaurant involved and the guys decide it's a good place to grab lunch.
I'm hesitant to order anything... but I'm definitely hungry and decide to scope out the situation. At least if everyone else is ordering... I might be able to get lost in the shuffle.
... I check the menu posted above the counter... number system.
Awesome... I can do this.
I'm next in line... time comes...
"Bonjour... numero trois... please."
(I always say please... I can't help it.)
She looks at me with a blank stare... then basically mumbles 'huh?'
"... numero trois."
(I'm trying with every ounce of strength to not point at the sign.)
Same awkward stare... she motions to bring another employee over... aka the bilingual one. I'm starting to panic... everyone else has got their order and food already. I gotta say as far as fast food goes... this place is frickin' fast!
I try one more time before the other employee shows up... I'm running out of time here to salvage this attempt.
(I brought out the biggest gun I had.)
"... combo numero trois... s'il vous plait."
... too late. The bilingual employee had shown up to take my order... and to add insult to injury... without my knowing... I found my left arm, holding up my left hand... while it pointed at the sign.
"Allo, can I take your order please?"
"... number 3 please."
"Would you like a drink with that?"
I get my receipt, food is ready in 30 seconds... it's delicious but the loss stings.
0/1, 0% success rate
Ah well... I tried. I'll have to try again the next few days... unless I just live off gas station food for a bit... which is not a bad idea right now... ketchup chips have at least two food groups according to Dr. Denial's nutritional guidelines.
We arrived in Quebec City around 3:30pm. The venue is awesome. It reminds me of a cross between the Mod Club and Opera House in Toronto. Great sight lines, balcony, and lots of space for bands on stage and backstage. We had a dressing room too!
I'll skip ahead since the show went really well...
I wasn't sure how the crowd would react to us since Quebec'ers seem to love the heavy stuff and we're not that heavy... definitely not as heavy as Pop Evil or Papa Roach in my books... but then again all the shows I've played in Quebec over the years, the crowd will get into it. No exception tonight. I think they were already into our set halfway through the first tune.
I snapped a couple pics from my kit... tried to take a before and after.
It was hard to get a good 'after' shot because the house lights were so dark/low. They were pretty rowdy and singing along by the end of a few songs... our choruses are pretty simple that way which helps. I got lots of great shots during Pop Evil and Papa Roach though so you can see what the crowd looked like. It was rammed in there.
Yeah I run around a lot during the other sets... it's fun.
Definite highlight during Papa Roach... some poor lanky kid got picked up and forcibly... forced into crowd surfing. He was pretty scrawny... so once he was up there... he was basically screwed. The crowd was literally throwing him around... like... he was getting air. He was motioning for them to put him down but no dice. He might as well of been a beach ball.
Eventually he did make it back to his feet... and then went straight back into the pit. What a trooper. Kudos to that guy.
Merch went well after the show... took a bunch of pics... I had my disguise on (hat and hoodie) so people didn't realize I was in the band. It doesn't bother me... I'm just the backbone of everything happening on stage. *cough*
Great show though... amazing crowd. Safe to say it could be the best show/crowd of the tour... still two shows left though.
It's 3:09am... staying at a Comfort Inn... breakfast starts at 6:30am. We have tomorrow off so I might cast my vote to stay here until Wednesday The rate is good and seems like a decent hotel. Everyone just wants to sleep anyway... except McLaughlin... that dude wants to party.
P.S. Sometimes this what backstage looks like.
P.P.S. Did I mention I had oatmeal for breakfast? :-)
P.P.P.S Welcome to Quebec!
October 19, 2013
We just found a hotel 20 minutes ago maybe. The first place we tried was asking $150... second place just up the road was $115... that's more up our alley.
... oh... and it's 1000X better.
... $150... seriously. We're only going to be here for like 7 hours!
Anyway... today didn't start out great... breakfast at the... I don't even remember where we stayed last night... bottom line... breakfast was pretty weak.
Raisin Bran, Cheerios, toast, english muffins, bagels w/ cream cheese, orange juice, apple juice, tea, coffee. That was everything. I tried to fill up but pretty much everyone ended up at the McDonald's next door... which is pretty good I must say.
Pretty uneventful day... 4-5 hour drive to Burlington, VT. One of the Pop Evil crew mentioned that you have to be careful going there because you can end up on the wrong side of the water and either have to drive several more hours around it, or take a ferry across... in the back of my mind I was constantly wanting to ask if we were on the right side of the water. That's how my brain works.
... all good though... in case you were wondering.
The drive was kinda slow... felt like we drove through countryside for most of it... which isn't too bad to look at but starts to eat away at you when you just want to point Green Machine (van) in one direction and go (interstate). We ended up stuck behind a few cars that just refused to do the speed limit... and because we're on single lane roads, it's almost impossible to pass.
Matt delivered one of the best horn honk moments I've ever been witness to. It must of been over an hour following the same 4 cars, led by a small red SUV. Matt finally reached his limit... and just laid into the horn.
... you could tell he felt better after. I know I would... horn honkin' feels good. It works for all emotions... even sadness... try it... you'll feel better.
Anyway... just going through my pics from today.
... so this was a bit before the country roads but in short... everyone was staring at this couple with a mattress tied to their roof. I couldn't/didn't want to get a better picture... the girl in the passenger seat was visibly embarrassed... but it was the least aerodynamic thing I've ever seen.
If you inverted the Wright Brothers calculations... you'd get this car.
Everyone on the highway was looking... and wondering what they were thinking. Who cares what they were thinking... they'll make it home eventually... they'll probably argue about the trip home then have make up sex on their new bed. They'll be ok.
We arrived in Burlington around 3:30pm. Everyone was starving... gotta just grind through it though. In the back of your mind, at any venue, you're wondering if they'll feed the bands. When you're per diem isn't much, you stretch the money as far as you can... and free meals go a long way. I finally broke and hit the Burger King adjacent to the venue. Fast food is again, mega cheap here. Value menu FTW.
The venue (Higher Ground) was actually really awesome... the set up/layout was great for bands. Staff was pleasant and did a great job stocking all three dressing rooms (yes you heard correctly) with drinks and snacks.
I meant to take a pic of backstage tonight but... I think I did and deleted it because it was crappy. It wasn't spectacular but having your own room, with food and drinks... it's awesome. Again, it's just nice having somewhere to go that's not the venue floor or the van.
The Pop Evil crew had a bunch of family at the show as guests and they brought tons of food. They invited us and Phantom Sons (opening act) to Pop Evil's room to grab a plate. I didn't end up having any because I was full but it looked/smelled awesome.
It was a really cool vibe tonight actually because it wasn't a huge venue and there was so many friends 'n family around.
The stage was pretty tight after Pop Evil put their gear and drum riser up. I looked at the left over space and though it'll be really tight but whatever... we'll make it work.
That's when it happened... they started striking their drums.
... we're going to get to use their super awesome drum riser.
... or at least I was thinking that was the case unless they were going to strike the riser too... but that'd be kinda silly in this room.
... then it was official... we get to use the riser!
Now... a little more personal info about me. Pop Evil's riser is pretty high and I'm not a big fan of heights. Also, there's no real easy way to get up on said riser... you have to climb up it. I'm not flexible. This could be a problem. I asked their guitar tech half jokingly...
"... possible stupid question... but is there an easy way to get up there?"
"... nope... figure it out."
So now I'm basically trying to build a set of stairs... and secretly... while trying to act casual... practicing getting on and off this 4ft (I think) riser. It might not sound very high but try and climb up something that high... with very little space to stand or grab onto.
I figured it out though between a milk crate and Brent's guitar cab.
... no ripped groins or jeans.
I was hoping for the best at the beginning of our set that I wouldn't fall, break through the milk crate, knock something over... or my ass crack would hang out or something. So many possibilities! This is how my brain works.
I made it up though... it sure was bouncy up there.
... I was determined to rock it though.
The opening act was called Phantom Sons. Crowd response was good and I caught a few of their tunes. I was also keeping a close eye on their drummer who was using my kit... seeing how springy it was for him... I might have to hold back a little tonight.
... game time... intro track was on... it was go time to get up on this riser... cool-ly.
... made it.
... it actually looked higher now that there were people there. I've been trying to take pictures at the end of the set for fun but I always forget. I'm usually more focused on getting our crap off stage so we don't get yelled at. I decided to take one at the beginning tonight.
... crowd seemed pretty dead.
I'm starting to realize if you hold a camera up long enough... eventually someone will clue in you're taking a picture... and they'll rock more... and it's contagious. They'll start cheering if I wave my hand around too.
... a little blurry... but there we go. Gonna be a good night.
We played pretty well... a bit of funky stuff going on in the guitars but all good. It was fun hearing some people singing along with the tunes. The record hasn't been out in the US very long but a few people seem to be coming out to see us...and/ or just super stoked to hear we are one of the support acts since they were going to the show anyway.
There was apple pie left upstairs so... because I could... was eating pie while watching Pop Evil's set. It was awesome... pie and rock show!
We stuck around a lot later than planned to sign some stuff, take pics, and chat with people. It's sad people seem so surprised we'll take the time to chat for a bit. Obviously we can't chat with 500 people after a show... but we do our best to be accessible. So far so good at least.
... signing shirts is hard by the way... especially when you're writing is crap.
We left the venue around 1am... drove a bit... and now here I am in another hotel lobby... 3:10am.
... shower... off to bed... continental breakfast here (looks promising), then it's back in the van for 9am and off to Quebec City.
Three shows left.
P.S. I'm pretty sure I saw a little girl playing soccer in a storm trooper helmet during the drive up... she's gonna go on to do great things.
October 18, 2013
... it's 1:43am... we pulled into an Econo Lodge at 1am on the dot... and somehow it's taken us 43 minutes to check-in and make it to our room. I'm thinking we were abducted by aliens... only logical explanation here.
The day started out pretty awesome... quick shower then hit up the cafeteria one more time to grab breakfast. It was actually pretty gross... even for free. The bacon was good but the scrambled egg mass and cold dry hash browns... not so much. I filled up on fruit and chocolate milk instead for a change... well that and bacon.
Tim and I wandered... semi-romantically... along the beach and Boardwalk after breakfast. I love oceans... I can geek out over the sound and sight of waves for hours. I'd come back here as a road trip stop for sure. Even though I can't imagine casino culture being squeaky clean... there's a good vibe in the air around here... probably the ocean.
We left Atlantic City around 10am. A few notables on the drive...
... I thought this was awesome. Even though I don't drink coffee... I thought this presentation looked delicious.
This was pretty awesome too. Seriously... we are jones'n for exercise. Everyone is starting to go nuts. We're all pretty active people (... yeah I'm marking Matt on the curve here) so sitting in a van this many days without time to really do much... if people are wondering why we're going crazy on stage... we're actually just trying to get in some cardio. We're desperate.
The drive to Luzerne felt quick... I slept a bit then rode shotgun after the first shift missed the same exit like 3 times... I'm not perfect but that was killin' me. The roads are pretty tight around here so maneuvering with the trailer was a bit tricky.
Luzerne reminded me of a smaller town outside of Peterborough (my hometown). The kinda place where if you aren't from there, everyone from there stares at you as they drive by. I spotted a McDonald's on the way in so I back tracked there after we got to the venue to try and finish yesterdays blog post. They had a big "no loitering" sign on the window so I felt obligated to buy something.
McDonald's is cheap in the US. They aren't joking. I watched a guy order 4 McDoubles and a small fry.
That is craziness.
Anyway, I spent the next hour trying to assemble the post... I had to put all the pictures in and re-read/edit it... I'm so tired when I write some of these that when I read over them the next morning, or in this case, the next day... I'm pretty sure people think I drink and do a lot of drugs... I don't though... in case you're wondering. I didn't manage to finish the post at McD's... luckily I found a spot in the venue with WiFi... it was nice having WiFi at the venue again.
Pretty mellow day overall... Pop Evil actually sound checked today... probably because they were headlining. I got to chat a bit more with their crew... really nice guys... good chats.
I love learning about peoples backgrounds.. and it's always cool hearing what bands and stuff people came from. So many of us in the business are musicians at heart. There are so many different cogs in the machine though to make things happen... but we're all pushing in the same direction. Pop Evil has 5 band members and 7 crew (including driver I think). Think about that for a minute.
There were two bands before us on the bill.
Small Town Titans.
... and Governing Murphy.
Both solid... great response from the local crowd. Small Town Titans seemed to be moving a ton of merch.
#DearBands... it's a good idea to have tons of merch available these days.
I thought we played pretty darn good tonight... best of the tour so far actually. It was a bit smaller of a crowd compared to the other shows but still a fun one... especially once they loosened up a bit. I think we played a bit looser as well. We were given a slightly longer set so we tossed All I Know into the mix. I love playing that tune... again... riffs are currency in my world.
I hated having to do this (feel like such a douche) but we had jet right after Pop Evil started. It's 7 hour drive to Burlington, VT and rumor is there's serious construction... so it could be closer to 10 hours.
We drove a few hours tonight... and now here we are... and here I am... sitting up against a wall in a stairwell while everyone gets some sleep. I should probably shower tonight too... 5 guys and 1 bathroom is a shit storm of wtf in the morning.
... free breakfast here though... fingers crossed they have oatmeal.
P.S. Sometimes this is what backstage looks like... when it's filled with Small Town Titans.
P.S.S. I can't believe how short this post is.
... so we spent the night in jail.
... joking... but we did just arrive in Luzerne... and I did just find a McDonald's. :-)
October 17, 2013
… it's official… I've accepted it... I have no internet access… so I probably won't be posting this until we get to the next venue... or a McDonald's or something.
There is WiFI here but I'm having some IP address issue with my phone and laptop so it won't let me on… and the hotel here… a casino hotel… you have to pay for it. Unbelievable… I get it though… you spend time in a casino and you probably don't care about the $10 charge… problem for us is we have no idea who it's going to get charged to… we're not sure if this room is free or "free".
… it's 2:27am… Matt and I just got back from hitting some slots downstairs. I'm down $40, but still up overall thanks to my luck in Vancouver! The machines here were a lot more expensive… even though they're $0.05… you have to play max bet in order to really make it worth your while… and that's a jump from $0.02 in Vancouver. They had $0.25 machines too… I'm not there yet though.
… so this morning… it's actually really hard to remember the mornings now. It's not like we're sleeping very long so hotel stops kinda feel like food stops or pee breaks.
… oh yeah… we stayed at a Days Inn… breakfast was good… waffles and oatmeal were had. I love oatmeal for breakfast in case you didn't know. I eat it pretty much everyday… except on tour/trips where I pretty much live on bacon and eggs style breakfast. I'd probably save a lot of money if I just brought an electric kettle with me and bought some instant oatmeal and fruit… maybe next time I'll do that.
… although bacon and eggs is delicious.
I think we were back on the road for 9:30am… a little behind schedule but I had my fingers crossed we wouldn't hit any traffic. Five guys and one bathroom means it takes a while to get everyone through.
The drive was nice… even though we went through like 500 tolls, I still think the highways here are nicer… and we haven't really hit major traffic in a while… just a few bottlenecks because of construction... as long as we're moving!
One of the pee breaks turned into a 30 minute stop… we were already kinda behind schedule so I was biting my tongue. One thing I've learned… don't get on someones case if they're hungry (aka waiting for food) or if they have to take a number two (aka need to sit for a while… for the greater good). We were all waiting for Tim to get back to the van… I wasn't going to guess what was going on in that service station… when he finally came out and we saw the food bag, that answered that question.
... but it wasn't until he showed us what was in the bag until we fully understood why it was worth the wait.
... that picture is worth 1,000 words right there... or at least twelve inches of words.
... I think it was longer than a foot but bottom line… we were all in shock… but like the good kind. It was quite the sight to see. I'm not sure the pic I snapped will do it justice… but again, it was alotta dog.
I also tried to take a pic of the entrance to the parking lot/service station. I couldn't see because of the glare on my phone but I tried to get every single warning sign… there was like 11 signs or something... they sure do love their signs down here telling people what to do/not to do.
… I have to wait until tomorrow to transfer pics to this blog as well… I usually just email them to myself to get them on my laptop but no internet/WiFi means I can't! This no internet thing is really messing up my daily routine!
We arrived in Atlantic City around 3:30pm… I've never been to Vegas so I can't compare… and I haven't been to Atlantic City since I was 16-17 (hey Mom… remember that trip to Quebec I went on with a couple buddies...? well...), but I recognized a some of the buildings and the Boardwalk and stuff.
We found the hotel/House of Blues, spotted the buses, and parked… again... our van... next to the buses. I gotta say Trev and Matt and are getting pretty good at backing this trailer in so at least we look like we know what we're doing... we have that going for us at least… transportation wise.
We'd heard a lot about the building… how it's quite the trip from loading to the stage area. We had to wait 20 minutes or so for the crew to get down to help us load in… they were at lunch.
I had to pee pretty bad so I went in to try and find a washroom.
This place is a maze.
Stairs and halls… and halls…. and halls. It makes very little sense. Even at the end of the day it still seems like a bit of a labyrinth in here. I finally found a way to get to the stage, found the door to the venue… and there's a number lock on it. Frig. Luckily Brent came over soon after with the code… and we were in.
The venue is awesome. I know the pics don't do it justice… big stage, awesome layout, lots of access and proper ramps for loading gear. Tonight was gonna be good.
Bathroom was a mess but whatever.
I went back downstairs to the van and we waited a bit longer for the load-in crew to show up. Talking to the security guy there, it's a 1/4 mile to the stage to load gear.
In short though, on two luggage carts, it wasn't that bad. If we had to carry everything, it would've sucked huge… but on wheels, it's just a walk… and it's not like we couldn't use the exercise at this point. Everyone is malnourished, lacking in exercise, and sleep deprived… might as well scratch one of those things off the list today.
Papa Roach and Pop Evil were still setting up/doing sound check by the time we got our gear up to the stage… but there was something on all our minds as we passed through the halls. There was an employee/crew cafeteria…
... do we have access to that cafeteria.
… in our eyes, that place is a buffet… a magical place at this point. The loaders joked about the quality of the food… but our laughing along with them had an undertone of "… yeah but seriously as long as it doesn't give us the shits we don't care... it's free food!"
... two things off the list!
We got the word. Our passes/wristbands gave us access. We also found out we had a room (all three off the list!!!) in the hotel so we quickly ran the 1/4 mile back downstairs, grabbed our luggage, dumped our luggage, and hit that buffet… er, I mean cafeteria.
We hit that place as if we've been stuck on an island for a month. I've never been so happy to see a salad bar in my life…
... I never thought I'd be so emotional responsive towards a salad bar.
If you remember the show Pee-wee's Playhouse, where all the furniture and stuff in his house have faces and talk and stuff… that's what was going in my mind… from the salad bar, to the hot foods section, to the cutlery trays, to the soft serve machine. Everything was laughing, smiling, and welcoming. It truly was magical.
Everyone… stuffed themselves… it was awesome.
The show went well… attendance was lighter than the rest of the nights but the venue capacity was apparently 2,500 so it might have just looked that way because the place is huge. There was a really cool balcony area as well that was packed… if that wasn't open, the floor would've looked rammed for sure.
I think overall it was the best set we've played this tour. Stage sound was awesome, lots of space to move around, and the crowd response was good.
To the guy yelling at us to play something heavy… don't worry… "Angels" is early in Papa Roach's set… you'll be ok.
Speaking of… I was standing up top for a bit of Papa Roach's set tonight... again, the sound system is awesome here. I decided Angles and I have been seeing each other for a couple weeks now… things have been going really good between us. I'm pretty cautions about my hearing and always make sure I have my ear plugs in. I felt tonight was a special night though… tonight I decided I wouldn't be using any protection… and… it was better than I'd ever imagined.
… seriously… listening to them perform this song live almost everyday for a couple weeks... always a highlight of the day for me.
I shoved my ear plugs back in after the tune… and enjoyed the rest of the set from side stage.
Post show merch action was good. To the girl who spilled her beer all over our merch table… we are sorry about your loss… I also learned why K.C. and Ray don't put hardly anything down on the merch table. They are pros. I felt bad about the mess even though it wasn't our fault… stuff happens. They're just super accommodating with us so I try and make as small a footprint as possible.
… Spinal Tap moment after Pop Evil's set.
Our normal plan is to go to the merch table while Papa Roach sets up. Take care of sales, sign some shirts, set lists, tickets, cds, boobs (arms and pant legs if they are minors), take a few pics with fans, then go watch Papa Roach's set.
Tim usually takes a few minutes to get there… Tim time… but he does get there. Tonight however… Tim never showed up.
Again, Tim time, we weren't thinking much of it, until it just seemed like something was wrong. There's only 30 minutes between sets so it wasn't long until we were done.
Maybe 5 minutes before Papa Roach was on, Tim strolls over.
Us: "Where were you?"
Tim: "… I ran up to the hotel room, came back down... and I got locked out."
Us: "… so you were behind that door over there, 80ft away from the merch table while we signed a boatload of stuff and took a bunch of pictures."
Tim: "… yeah pretty much. I was banging on the door and trying the number code and trying to find someone to help me and looking for another way to get in... it's not my fault!"
Us: "Tim. You just had a Spinal Tap moment."
It was pretty funny… Tim was a little flustered… but whatever… stuff happens. This place is a maze… and again, Tim time… nobody thought to check their phones.
Oh… just before our set, Tony from Papa Roach came over and introduced himself. He was all smiles and seemed genuinely interested in saying hello. There was mention of us not being on the Orillia show but whatever. It's just a pleasure being part of this tour in general… I'm not about to complain about what we don't get when there's so much to be thankful for regarding what we do.
Besides… it's not like we're the ones selling the ticket on this tour... let's be honest here! lol.
Post show… everyone headed straight back to the cafeteria… went crazy again, and by now it was about 1am. I ate as if I wasn't going to be eating tomorrow… or the next day.
I managed to drag Matt down to the slots for an hour… we were both up a little at one point but ended up going through our "entertainment budget" for the evening pretty quickly.
It was a great day overall. These casino gigs are really different… maybe we've just been lucky but there's so many perks that help out bands in our situation. We have somewhere to go, somewhere to sleep, food, entertainment, staff is super nice… it's awesome.
I gotta get to sleep though… it's easy to find trouble here when there's a casino 7 floors down... and people recognizing you in the lobby.
Oh… you can smoke in here!? Like… in the casino area. I totally caught me off guard seeing someone smoking indoors since in Canada, you can't smoke anywhere… which I don't mind at all… gotta keep the seniors happy at their slots though I guess.
… 10am van call tomorrow morning… three hour drive to Luzerne, PA. I'd like to hit the Boardwalk tomorrow morning as well before we leave… officially gone coast to coast on this tour. Awesome.
P.S. This is a disaster.
P.S. This is a disaster.
P.S.S. I didn't get a pic of it but our room was another... single... king size... bed. A room is a room though.
P.S.S.S. Sometimes this is what backstage looks like. Fruit tray, pop, water, doritos, preztles.
P.S.S.S.S. This is probably overrun with typos and grammar issues... I apologize. I had to re-read this kinda quick. I ran out of time at the McD's... had to get to sound check. Doors are opening here soon... (6:09pm)
October 16, 2013
... 1:58am... I'm only doing this tonight because I know people are reading it... I'm wicked tired right now... which is either good for the blog... or bad for the blog.
Everyone slept through their alarm this morning. The plan was to get up around 8am and head down to breakfast for 8:30am. I heard the bathroom door slam around 8:45am. I guess my pillow fell off the bed, knocking my phone off the chair beside me and onto the floor... unplugging it... and somehow ending up under said pillow.
Bottom line... I didn't hear my alarm go off at 7:45am.
I showered before going to bed so I wasn't in a total panic... but I basically woke up, got right out of bed, and went straight downstairs to breakfast.
Breakfast... most important meal of the day!
It was decent... although I spotted the oatmeal too late... already committed to raisin bran. The "omelettes" were ok... but they put Kraft singles in them and that kinda ruined it. Eggs at these kinda things already taste a bit funky... but adding processed cheese is too much funk.
Back on the road for 10:30am.
Nothing too exciting... only highlight I can remember was wishing I had a megaphone. One of the pee stops we made had these little kids playing soccer or something on the other side of a fence/trees. Part of me wished I had a megaphone so I could yell at them (old man style) for fun. Next time... I'm bringing one... I know L&M rents them... look out kids.
We arrived in Youngstown around 4pm. The venue (Rodeo Music Hall) is pretty large... a huge boomy box. It had a massive stage as well... which is nice since the last couple shows have been a bit tight for us and Pop Evil.
Tim, in usual Tim fashion, was asking me a boatload of questions about things I had just as much idea about as he would... one of them being...
"How do we get on/off stage?"
Well... I'm assuming there are stairs on either side. It's a huge ass stage... 6ft high, maybe 50ft X 20ft... it's large. They gotta have a few sets of stairs and whatnot to get gear and people on and off it.
I saw some of the Papa Roach crew (PR Crew from now on) talking to some of the venue staff about loading gear so I wandered over and listened in.
Apparently... there's only one set of stairs.
They have a couple ramps they use to bring gear in and out. I took a quick trip backstage to see what else was going on... there are stairs everywhere... not good... well... not as bad for us because our back line can be easily carried by a person or two. Pop Evil's gear is a lot more serious. Their guitar rigs aren't light.
I went back to Tim and let him know my assumption was incorrect... and that they indeed, had built a big ass stage with only one set of stairs.
So after a bit more discussion... we were to load down the ramps, down another set of stairs, through the basement (basically), and out the side door in to the parking lot. Pop Evil got to load their gear down the ramps... through the crowd... and out the front door.
All I can say is when I saw that happening in real time... bless their crew. Everyone loves dragging gear through a crowd... even more than packing up in a parking lot... after it's just been raining pretty hard... and you aren't sure if it's going to start up again.
The show went well... solid crowd... and I think it was the best we've played in a few shows. I counted two hiccups. Everyone was sweating buckets on stage... the lights up top were cooking us while the lights on stage were blinding us. It's a horrible combo in case you were wondering.
To the photographer who was trying to get me to give him my cell phone during Papa Roach's set... I honestly had no idea what you were trying to say to me besides of "gimme your phone". I know realize what you were probably trying to say was "gimme your phone so I can give you my contact because I took a bunch of pics of you guys during your set and you might want to use some of them for personal and/or promotional purposes."
We headed out around 10:!5pm... just after Papa Roach started. They were killing it again... but we wanted to get a bit of a leg up on the drive to Atlantic City. It's 6.5 hours away... even if we do a couple hours, it'll make a big difference tomorrow... which we did... and now I'm sitting in a Days Inn lobby while the girl at the front desk is... I'm assuming... watching a horror movie... it sounds like a horror movie.
It's 2:26am... breakfast is 6:30am to 10am... they have waffle makers... I don't know much but I do know one thing... I'll be on the business end of that waffle maker in about 5 hours... back in the van for 9am.
Tomorrow nights show is supposed to be pretty good... you know it'll be good when the crew is looking forward to it.
P.S. I didn't take many pics today... and I couldn't get many decent pics inside the venue... too dark.
P.S.S. I had a salad today... it was awesome.
October 13, 2013
... we made it out of the hotel parking lot at 5:57am.
I slept most of the drive to Minneapolis today. Tim nudged me in the van to wake me up once we got close to the border... the officer there seemed pretty easy going... didn't make fun of us too long about our van and sent us on our way.
... I think we drove a couple more hours until we stopped for breakfast... breakfast at IHOP! We've been trying to hit up one for a while now but finally... we made it!
Pancakes! Pancakes with everything! Pancakes with a side of Pancakes!
... you'd think the highlight of IHOP would be the pancakes but it wasn't... it was Marvin our waiter... he was awesome.
A lanky black gentleman with a tight afro and a peppy line for every single question you could throw at him... always delivered with a straight face.
Wanna know about drinks? Marvin will fill you in. Sides? Marvin has the inside scoop. Can't decide what you want? Marvin knows what you need.... and above all that... he will tell you how many pancakes your meal comes with.
... IHOP... known for their fluffy pancakes.
The food was good... I really liked all the berry flavored syrups they have on the table. Marvin brought us out hot maple syrup but go with the berry stuff... it's all sugar anyway.
After we finished eating... Marvin kicked into high gear.
"Lemme get that outta yo' way."
As if our empty plates and dirty cutlery were mobs of people crowding our space... Marvin took care of them... he cleared the path... and every time he leaned in to take something off the table...
"Lemme get that outta yo' way."
"Lemme just get that outta yo' way fo' ya."
"Lemme get that... make some space here... get that outta the way."
I thought he was amazing. He was working hard. When I was at the cash breaking a bill for the tip, I noticed everyone there was working pretty hard. I also noticed some people were treating the employees like crap, and some were treating them as what I'd consider "normal" (aka politely). Work hard, be polite... the rest is up to everyone else.
... in short... again... Marvin was awesome.
After breakfast we were back in the van and once again en route to the legendary First Avenue.
Speaking of driving... I totally missed something yesterday. Mike Mascioli (Age Of Days - Manager) met up with us in Winnipeg to catch a couple shows and he was travelling with us today. When I came out for "bus call", he was already in the drivers' seat... ready to go. He drove the entire way today (7 hours).
It might not seem like a big deal, but it allowed everyone to sleep/pass out. Something we all very much needed... especially Matt. He does the bulk of the driving and has been a tank regarding the "grinder" work overall. These kinda jobs take their toll after a while and if you toss in something like a head cold... the grind really wears away at you.
Matt might argue he only slept a couple hours today... but being able to sit shotgun and sleep/rest most of the day while Mike drove makes a big difference. Matt looks healthier today. lol.
Thinking about it more... at this level... the balance between good/not good is very sensitive. Minor inconveniences can snowball into major problems just as a minor hand can be a huge help. I'm pretty sure Mike will read this, but seriously, thanks again for driving today... it's going to make a big difference this week (6 shows in a row) with everyone getting some rest today.
Minneapolis was pretty neat on first impression... except all the sad looking Vikings fans wandering the streets. Being a Leafs fan, it was kinda like seeing Leafs fans the last decade except in purple football jerseys.
The venue is amazing. I wish I took more pictures... especially the outside. Seems like everyone has played there. They have the names written in these silver stars on the outside of the building which is super cool.
In behind the stage they had some old set lists. There were two I had to snap pics of...
I'll be honest... I touched them.
... I had to... it's The Hives! ... and friggin' Soundgarden... well probably just Cornell now that I actually read the song titles... but still!
Show went well... crowd was awesome again. I ended up running merch a bit more tonight... I think I'll end up doing that until we have a full time merch person. It's easy for me and I enjoy it. I did sneak off during Pop Evil and Papa Roach to take some pics though.
... apparently there was a guy in a wheelchair crowd surfing during Papa Roach... I wish I had of seen that. That is definitely something to see! lol.
Pop Evil did a meet and greet/signing after Papa Roach's set and the merch area was buzzing for quite a while after the show. We are selling a ton of CD's and many of the people buying are saying they had no idea who we were before tonight... but were pleasantly surprised.
... it's awesome.
We're now back at the hotel... 2 queens tonight... big upgrade! Breakfast too!
I'm hanging out in the front lobby/lounge area... the front desk guy probably thinks I'm nuts since I'm still up click-clackin' away on my laptop at 2:30am.
... well... nuts or "important".
It was a good day though. Day off/travel day tomorrow to Flint.
Laundry is a must tomorrow. I'm out of clean shirts... although... I wonder how far I could get tomorrow just wearing track pants and a tie.
P.S. That guy's body language tells me he might have accidentally set that ginormous fire behind him. I'm tempted to sharpie in some whistling notes to make it official.
October 12, 2013
... I think I left off at sound check... which I felt like ass during.
The no sleep thing has really caught up to me. You know that feeling when you can do something easily 1,000 times and then all of a sudden your body just isn't responding? Well that was sound check. I simple felt "muscularly unresponsive".
... that being said, I was more focused on food after I'd heard we were welcome to the buffet... buffet is the magic word! The problem was it closed at 8pm and we started sound check around 7:20pm. Most of us were determined to hit up that buffet though... roast beef... veggies... salad bar... pecan pie! If only it was open now... I'd go back... after what we've been eating the past week... it was a magical place.
Overeating was a concern... but I think we all did anyway.
We hit the stage at 9pm. I forgot to mention around 3am last night I realized I'd forgotten one of my iPods in Lloydminster. I use one to play an intro song and I have a habit of not remembering to get it back from the FOH guy after I'm done packing.
Yes... we live in a time were losing an iPod is like "whatever". The tech that pretty much brought the music industry to it's knees isn't worth that much either anymore. I spent a few minutes emailing all the iPod nano ads on Kijiji close to the hotel to see if anybody wanted to sell me one cheap and deliver... no luck.
It turns out the Papa Roach crew grabbed it for me... those guys are saints... and probably wondering how we function since we're losing shit everyday. Ah well... I got a second chance with it... hopefully that's the last time I lose/forget something... especially that iPod.
The show went well... great crowd again here in Winnipeg. I played like crap... first time in a while I'd admit it... although I don't think anybody else would notice. lol. It's totally a personal thing about how you played and how you're feeling.
I've felt way off all day... not like "drunk" or anything... just uncoordinated due to lack of sleep and proper nutrition... I really wish I could keep my normal diet from home... it's so hard though with the schedule and the traveling conditions.
Pop Evil and Papa Roach were awesome again... a given at this point.
There were these gaps at the front of the stage and I thought at the beginning of the show "someone is gonna slip through there"... well... Jacoby ended up being that guy tonight. It was a scary moment since the band kept playing and he just sat there in pain.
The thought crossed my mind... he snapped his ankle or leg or something... tour is over... we all go home.
Life is funny sometimes... and shit happens.
A minute later he got up, walked it off, and finished the show. I wouldn't be surprised if he's still in pain... it looked really painful. Gotta be careful though... it's way too easy to fall off stuff when you're rocking.
It's 1:22am... I gotta get to bed... we're heading back to the US tomorrow and it's a 8-9 hour drive. We voted to sleep a bit and leave at 6am... we'll see how close we get to that!
P.S. Best thing about the room we got today is the bed... king size! Perfect for a 5-piece band.
P.S.S. I've narrowed it down to two people.
October 12, 2013
... so if you read the last post, you'd know we had to haul ass outta Lloyd(minster) last night pretty much as soon as Papa Roach hit the stage. Winnipeg was an 11 hour drive... so including stops and whatnot... we were looking at a 13-14 hour trip.
We left last night at 11:30pm, arrive at the hotel/venue here at 2pm... made pretty good time if I might add.
I was debating doing a longer post (lol... of course!) but yesterday was pretty relaxed... I think it was the first time in a while everybody in the band got some sleep. It was nice not having to rush to the venue either... although I was joking internally we'd still find a way to be late/end up rushing.
We had breakfast at the hotel, stopped by Walmart to grab a few things for out merch table, and then headed over to the venue to load in.
I like this club... The Kooler. It's definitely got an edge to it... and I think it's a strip club most of the time... but it's got a good stage and setup. Sound system could use an overhaul but more drinking equals sonic indifference.
There's a few balcony type areas and I grabbed a pic from up top. It probably looks like complete mayhem but that's what bigger (organized) stages look like. You set up in front of whoever is playing after you. Very easy system, especially when striking the stage. By the time the headliner hits the stage, it'll look nice and clean.
The show filled up pretty good... crowd response was good again. It's kind of a bummer when you have to leave a show early... unless the show sucks of course... but these shows are awesome... so I like staying til the end... you never know what might happen at real rock shows.
We packed up our merch after Papa Roach hit the stage, tossed it in the van, and were on our way... directly to McDonald's. Two bacon cheeseburgers and small fries. That's the ticket there... you get the taste... but less guilt... and probably less gut... and gut rot.
Oh I gotta say one more thing about stage/gear/packing stuff. When we're done... our gear is off stage so friggin' fast and Pop Evil is up and line-checked in 15-20 minutes.
There's no reason to pack up your gear on stage. Take it off stage, pack it somewhere else. The only thing I sorta pack on stage is my in-ears rig because if I lose anything there, I could be screwed. It's a couple cables and a mixer I just shove into my empty cymbal bag beside me. It's still quick, but that's as much as I pack up on stage.
Our gear usually ends up outside the venue near our van/loading area. We pack up there. We have it down to a science now packing/loading. Some people will argue switching up jobs keeps things fair... but it gets down to efficiency. If you do the same job every night, you'll fall into a routine and that speeds up the process and minimizes mistakes. Of course mistakes will happen from time to time... nobody is immune from nightly variables... but again, it certainly minimizes them.
Everyone packs up their own gear, and while I'm packing my drums, Trevor and Matt are loading the trailer. It's Tetris, but it works.
The same I'd say goes for every other aspect of running a band... trade off jobs when you aren't sure who's good at what, but eventually people will fall into rolls they're reliable at... hopefully.
So the drive... I rode shotgun from 11:30pm to 8am maybe? I know I passed out a couple times (probably 30 mins total) but I was aware I was asleep at least. I hit my second wind around 3am so it wasn't too bad overall.
We did stop off at a Tim Horton's that was just putting out it's "freshly baked" donuts. That was torture... I really wanted to buy a dozen, eat them, go crazy on sugar, then pass out for good... but that would've been selfish and irresponsible.
... only a large french vanilla was purchased.
During Trevor's shift driving we saw a ton of wildlife over the span of about 10 minutes... coyotes, deer, I wanna say a cow... I might have been dreaming though. There were a half dozen splattered coyotes... I'm just glad we saw everything far enough in the distance... definitely not interested in seeing anything up close... like "through the windshield again" close.
We stopped for breakfast in Neepawa...bacon and eggs... served by typecast movie grandma... she was awesome... then I switched off riding up front in the van to try and get some sleep.
We arrived at the hotel around 2pm (I called it!) and I finally took a quick nap.
I officially feel tired now though... last night was ok but I'm definitely feeling it now.
Why am I not sleeping now?
Just waiting to setup and do sound check...
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!