February 12, 2016 - 11:47pm
The lady taking care of the hotel breakfast area was nice enough to leave the room unlocked well past 9am for us... mind you we got there at 8:30am... she could tell we could use the extra time... plus we did a good job cleaning up quite a bit of what was left... we raided it "zombie apocalypse" style.
... I guess there's a skating competition going on in the area. We saw a few girls with their parents (in team jackets) pushing around luggage carts with garment bags... those jackets that have no business being in -20C weather.
We got on the conversation (a few new parents I know have joked about it), about how they hope their kids are either really good at sports or have no interest at all since it's so expensive.
I think team sports are great for kids but unfortunately some kids turn into lottery tickets/retirement plans for some parents. It's one thing to be supportive, it's another to be insisting. We related it to music but really... there isn't much money in music anymore... as people know it at least... the model has changed too much for most to recognize it as a career choice... or a retirement plan for their folks.
I'm not saying you can't make a living in music, being proof of that, but the money isn't is insane as it was 20 or even 10 years ago. It can be a living wage though... regardless how many people poke fun at the idea you do music for a living... or play in a band... a band they probably haven't even heard of.
... back to the sports thing though... I think it's a very delicate balance when it comes to support. You want people to give you the nudge when needed but not force you to stay the course. Music, like sports, is a choice... and if your heart isn't in it, it's better to walk away... and either find something else to fill the void or... I guess... carry on with a smaller heart... slightly jaded and bitter.
... but I always think things are going to work out (one way or another) in music... which creates drive.
We got on the topic of concussions and I half joke to myself about maybe hitting my head too hard when I was younger... and that is the reason I haven't "grown up" and grown out of music... the way I see music as a career at least.
... still... seeing them walk around the hotel... is the luggage cart following their daughter, or is their daughter following the luggage cart...?
... I took a lot of fruit before we left.
Today is basically a travel day... 3.5 hrs to head to Winnipeg and pick up Seb (our FOH = front of house = "sound guy") at the airport.
Gas is so much cheaper in the US... so is food.
We tried to going to some place... Culver's(??) for lunch. We walked in... I looked at the pictures of the food on the menu and my gut said no... the way I see it... if the food needs that much colour correction to look appetizing... it probably tastes awesome but will leave you feeling like garbage soon after... and I'm doing my best to eat somewhat well... since McDonald's at 2am takes you downhill fast when you're already getting barely any exercise.
We ended up at Subway... I had a craving for pickles and olives so it worked out alright.
Crossing back into Canada was easy. We have nothing to hide but we are also not complaining one bit it's been so smooth... 2/2!
Oh... just before, Tim mentioned we couldn't bring fruit back with us... again, I'd taken quite a bit from breakfast... so I consumed as much as I could to avoid having to toss it... I was pretty fruited up.
Tim brought it up to the border officer and he said fruits/vegetables are ok (aka "it don't matter"). Just a heads up if anybody needs cauliflower... let me know... I'm back the end of the month.
There was some blue sky today on the interstate... it's been grey for a while now so it was refreshing... getting to Winnipeg though... I don't know why the GPS insists on driving through it instead of around it... and by the time you realize it, it's too late. Same thing, every time we're here.
We picked up Seb and headed to the hotel.
The girl at the front desk (and I use the term girl for a reason) had a bit of an edge to her while dealing with Matt, Tim, and I. She had that "slightly bitchy older sister" vibe about her... which was fine... I thought it was funny... but she didn't think we were too funny unless it was at our expense... and once she found out we were from Toronto (Matt, always assuring people he wasn't born there), she said it (we) all makes sense now... whatever that means.
The hotel is the kinda hotel that didn't put the hotel rooms in the hotel. The girl at the front desk was laughing at us for trying to find how to get to the rooms.
"Sorry, you have to go outside to get to your rooms."
The rooms are fine though... it's actually really good to be getting to bed somewhat early tonight... although I wish I was able to sit in the lobby... I like hanging out in them... and I don't feel like I'm buggin' people who are trying to sleep.
We ended up going for dinner at a pretty good restaurant across the street... the Jets VS Bruins game was on AND it was wing night... terrible combo for my diet... Reid and I split an order of wings to pre-game our entrees... they were super good though... could've easily eaten 3lbs... $3.99/lb... dangerous!
Dinner was awesome actually... pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw, and fries.
I had a good chat with Reid and Seb on the way back and stopped by the front desk (in the hotel) to grab some more towels.
... queen sassy pants seemed to be in a better mood now when I asked her for more towels... although her sass flared up when she asked how many and I said 3... as if 3 is just a dumb ass number of towels for someone to ask for.
I asked her name (no name tag... or maybe her name tag is in the desk drawer... considering this is the type of place that didn't put the hotel rooms in the hotel) and thanked her by name. She then asked where we're playing in town.
... I looked over at the TV on the wall showing the Bruins Vs Jets game.
"Oh, uh... MTS Centre..."
She was caught off guard and I'd known what'd I'd done... but I thought it was pretty funny. The timing was too good.
She asked the band name and said she thinks she's heard of us... I'm going to assume she hasn't since she said she "thinks she has".
I said we're out with Disturbed and Saint Asonia (who she has heard of)... she said that sounds like a pretty awesome tour to be on... good luck and have fun!
... I assured her we certainly aren't doing it for the money... it is pretty fun though...
Pretty low key at the hotel tonight though. A bit more post-mortem on the show last night but mainly just enjoying sweatpants, TV, and convo.
... and now Snoretallica.
Aiming to be at the venue for 1-2pm tomorrow... hopefully the van starts... it's friggin' cold outside.
... got to wear my legit adult winter boots to dinner though... glad I brought them!
February 11, 2016 - 12:51am
... so after posting yesterday's blog... I took a quick shower and then raided the hotel breakfast... at 6:15am. I thought I could rope Dane into going with me but alas, I was by my lonesome, eating waffles and watching CNN.
... I slept like a baby afterwards though until 10am.
We had some good convo going on in the hotel this morning... we were killing time until going to the venue but we also had a nervous/anxiousness to our vibe.
Age of Days hasn't really been on stage in a year (not that we're concerned)... but you're curious what the hiccups will be and how much rust needs to get knocked off... and considering the venue is called "Fargo Civic Center" and it's close to sold out... that's where the anxiousness comes from... nobody wants to go on stage and suck in front of 12 people, or 1,200... although if you suck in front of 1,200 people... you learn to stop sucking a lot quicker... or quit.
The venue is super close to the hotel... we were told to be there at 2pm... we showed up at 1:45pm and scouted the venue.
... yeah it looks like a basketball arena... too small for hockey. It's still big though.
Saint Asonia was just beginning to set up... I've seen them headline in Toronto so I knew what to expect.
... yup... they sound pretty thick.
... people can say what they want about Adam Gontier but he walked on stage and killed it... off the bus in soundcheck.
I say it all the time... with singers... you have the tone, or you don't... it's harsh but true... it's a thing that can't be taught... you just learn how to control the gift you've been given... or smoked your vocal chords upon.
It was very hurry up and wait... and we're all nervous to make sure the crew in the building like us... and to let us know whatever we should be doing (or not doing!) to make their lives easier.
... 3 major things I find make these situations go smoothly:
1) Never assume. If you don't know, ask. Even if it's a stupid question, I just say "sorry, possible stupid question..." and ask. Assuming is how you get yelled at.
2) Don't go over your set time. If you're supposed to be on 7-7:30, then that is your set time. Going over 1-2 minutes can ruin your relationship with the stage/production/tour manager... and that's a basement couch you don't want to sleep on.
3) Common sense and common courtesy. Sounds simple right? Idiots fail this test first chance they get... and when you're an opening band, you are not equal to the headliner or anybody above you... and that's ok! It's their show, it's their ticket. It's their fans. You're along for the ride... or less. Introduce yourself and ask them what they want you do to. Don't worry, they'll let you know about your rider, food, soundcheck time, etc. They will tell you... I promise!
Soundcheck went well... my drums were pretty cold from being in the trailer the last 36hrs... well my rental drums... all the hardware had frost on it.
Yes, I rent a kit when I can... why? Because I don't want my main kit bouncing around in a van/trailer for 70 hrs the next three weeks... or to have to drag it all into the hotel room every night... and also because 90% of drums sound the same once mic'd up and through a PA.
Argue you all you want but once you've tuned up the kit, the tone comes from the player. I can confidently say this because a) I've mic'd up a lot of kits the past 10+ years and b) I've listened to multiple people play my kit during several shows and have noticed the difference. A few years ago I had a FOH guy come up to me and tell me my kit sounded completely different (better) when I was playing it... and it was now official in his mind that there's only so much he can do on his end... the source/player can make a huge difference.
... so we finished our soundcheck but forgot to check this intro/walk-on thing I made.
... our monitors tech took my "intro iPod" over to his station, plugged it in, hit play, and I think most people in the venue pee'd (or worse) themselves a little.
... the subs work!
... it was pretty loud!
... like... the loudest.
... 20 minute story short... it was patched in wrong and... almost blew the system.... and that would've been a bad start.
... it got sorted though... it's pretty cool hearing a piece of audio on a system that large... curious to hear something I've recorded (music/song wise) through it.
... finish sound check... it's dinner time... there was catering.
I just wanted to eat piles of meatloaf and mashed potatoes... but I knew my limit... and my limit wasn't anywhere near how much I wanted to actually eat... It was now 6:30pm and I hadn't really eaten since 6:30am.
Finish dinner, and anxiously pace around our dressing room... which is like locker room... which I'm cool with. I'd typically be at hockey Wednesday nights so this is sorta close... except it's 5 on 2,000+ (I think)
... 9 minutes to stage time.
I head down to stage right... the rest of the guys follow.
... 1 minute to stage time. We put our fists in the middle and decide to go throw down... it's good to be back.
... intro music cues.
... I walk on stage.
... I forgot how dark darkness is when you're in the dark and everything is dark black.
I have 3 things to do:
1) not trip over anything
2) plug in my iPod (which was charging) for my click tracks
... 1 was fine... but I could NOT find the cable for my iPod anywhere... black cable... in the dark... not good! I hear the intro music about to wrap up... I make a game time decision... I can either delay and awkwardly get it plugged in once the house lights come on... or put my inears in, and just go for it
... my gut said I'd be fine.
We rolled the first two tunes without the click and it was fine... we/I rehearse all the time with it so I know the feel... so does everyone else too so it's easier to lock in. That being said, I couldn't hear much on stage... it's a big stage so Reid being so far to the left of me... without him in my monitor, I can't hear him at all... and he was just barely in my monitors.
We have a break after the 2nd song so I plugged things in and we're back to normal.
... holy smokes do the songs feel slow... which means my adrenalin is running things right now... which I hate the feeling of... but another reason why I love playing to a click... sometimes it's slow, sometimes it's fast... but I know it's always right!
The set went well though... we had a spot we wanted to try and snap a pic of the crowd so I grabbed my phone and took a couple. Good times... great crowd!
Off stage we went through our usual motions where everyone is riding high on the fun of being on stage but also apologizing for little mistakes.
... I think you should allow yourself 3-5 minor mistakes only you'd notice... any major train wreck (or bed shitting) stuff should be addressed the next day... in short, enjoy the evening since it's too easy to beat yourself up when there's nothing you can do about it RIGHT NOW.
I packed up (we had tons of stage hands and I didn't know what to do with them) and went over to merch... which was busy. Selling CD's, signing stuff, and taking pics with (new) fans.
I missed all of Saint Asonia's set but made sure to catch all of Disturbed's. I had to see it... the stage setup looked pretty nuts... the lighting is top notch!
They didn't disappoint.
This is a great tour to be on. We're very grateful and I hope we're able to maintain any momentum we gain the next few weeks. We all want to play... and I hope we can count to 3 and jump.
... music is a choice.
There is a Perkin's beside the hotel... there's also a McDonald's... we went with Perkin's... although it took forever to get our food, it was a good chance to chat about the show and have that "come down" period. There were a few people there who recognized us and asked for guitar picks and more or less, to sit down at the table with us... which is a little awkward. I'll make sure to carry picks from now on.
... pretty tired though... and we don't have to leave til 12pm tomorrow to drive to Winnipeg. I miss wifi and I miss my normal data plan.
Reid and I are sitting in the 2nd floor lounge area with our laptops... and cherry coke... because as Reid pointed out... there's no Cherry Coke in Winnipeg after all!
... you don't have to twist my arm about that.
January 12, 2016 - 4:45pm
... sometimes you wake up at 4am thinking "today isn't going to go as planned."
I got a call yesterday evening from Matt (Age Of Days - bassist) and I could tell right away something was wrong.
Me: "Hey, how's it goin'?"
Matt: "Hey Mike, not good... not good at all."
I knew Tim had been sick but I didn't realize he was this sick.
We were scheduled to fly out to Calgary today... should've been at the airport a while ago and should've been in the air right now.
Age of Days was booked to open up for Theory Of A Deadman on their 15 year anniversary acoustic tour out in western Canada. Something we got wind was a possibility in the fall and something we were all looking forward to.
The call finished up and I waited... one way or another for confirmation.
... wandering around the house, mentally continuing to pack while the lady and housemate continued bringing up the topic of my flying out to start an awesome tour tomorrow... cracking jokes about the weather and shenanigans that would ensue for the next 20-ish days.
... meanwhile in the back of my mind I'm sort of stunned... thinking it might not actually be happening now.
... I joke (half joke) often that I don't count any chickens before they hatch. Not to be pessimistic, but nothing is happening until it's happening... and I said it several times leading up... but I assume it's (95%) happening once flights are booked.
That flight confirmation email is what puts my mind at least... makes things "Facebook official."
...but I woke up at 4am this morning and realized it was a thing... this tour is 99.9% no longer happening with Age Of Days... which sorta messes up the schedule for most of us in music...
It's a weird thing to bring up and I don't want to compare it to other great disappointments people experience (that are supposed to be "for sure"), but once you start telling people you have something awesome you're looking forward to, they (if you're surrounded by good people) start feeling excited too!
... plus everyone wants to be a rockstar!
That's a way cooler job.
... but most don't understand what it's like when things in music fall through... which is probably a major reason why so many people who are doing things, don't tell everyone everything they're doing... and the people who announcing things all the time (or announce future announcements constantly) probably don't have much going on... since so many things in the music industry fall through or don't go as planned.
Announcing major plans in the music industry is almost a calculated risk.
... and it's hard to explain to your friends and family what the implications of these things can mean.
... the planning, the rehearsals, the prep, the run of (perhaps tour specific) merch, the acoustic EP that was supposed to compliment this acoustic run... your reputation... sometimes it's hard to salvage all or any of that work... sometimes you just have to cut your losses. These are business decisions.
... and if you work in music full time, you're often booking things several months out, so when something falls through, you're sorta stuck/scrambling to fill the schedule... and time lost is time you don't get back... not to mention lost income. Music is an expensive career choice.
... one of the main reasons so many musicians can't stomach the idea of going both feet in... there's no guarantee of a paycheque... even if you finish the job!
... but if you want to be a musician, or in the arts in general... you care less about the money... that carries over from being a teenager. Sometimes you're doing alright and sometimes you're broke... but most importantly you're waking up doing what you want to do... what you chose... what you love or at least working towards it... and I think that's one of the secrets of happiness.
I'll admit, right now I don't want to be sitting on my couch, next to the loaner cat, listening to Tame Impala, thinking I should vacuum after I finish writing/posting this, thinking I'm glad I got the winter tires put on the car yesterday (it's officially winter in Toronto)... I wanted to be sitting semi-comfortably in a plane, listening to Massive Attack (ritual), playing Plants vs Zombies on my iPhone 5s, checking the progress on the little plane on the flight map channel on the tiny screen in the headrest in front of me... wondering if it's warmer in Calgary... and how many memories would come from the next 3 weeks.
... and the late nights and early mornings I'd spend writing about my travels.
... first world problems, I know.
... but that's not in the cards right now unless something magical happens... and this is not Dec 24th.
I still believe most things happen for a reason so I've been laughing it off most of the day... still disappointing though... we're all really disappointed... but it's not the first time and won't be the last I'm sure... again not being pessimistic. I know what I signed up for... I'm committed to music... regardless which side of the glass.
Today has felt like a long day... but 13hrs later I have a couple projects lined up and can sleep a little better tonight.
As far as I know the Disturbed tour is still a go... and we'll come out swingin'. Age Of Days has a lot of plans for 2016... just a gentle reminder to start the year... you can't predict the weather, and you can't take your health for granted.
Onwards and upwards!
P.S. Adult winter boots! +1
Yup... so I went and saw Helmet again. If you've been following along at all, you'll know I missed most of the show I went to see in Philadelphia... a trip loosely planned before the Toronto date opened up.
When I heard it was at Lee's Palace (1/4 the size of the place in Philly).... $25 to see a band you grew up on playing a small club... yes please!
I'll try to keep this short... I saw Trail Of Dead last year doing a similar tour... playing one of their "classic" (fan favorite) albums front to back. I meant to write about it... so good... for fans and the bands.
People can say albums are dead... which I agree in some respects... but I feel like the problem is not enough thought went into full albums as full albums for a while.
My generation was probably one of the last to actually listen to an album start to finish. Why? Partly because we were lazy... but I think a big factor was how much crap you needed to carry if you wanted to listen to music on the go... we just listened to what was our walkman or discman.
... think about that for a second. How many tapes or CD's did you want to carry? You just listened to the same album(s), (maybe 2-3) on repeat until you got sick of it... then swapped it out.
Eventually we started making mix tapes/CD's but for the majority, you happily listened to what was in the player... but then that changed in my teens (late 90's)... we could not only skip to the songs we wanted to hear... we could download them... randomly... then the legendary iPod came about...
I'm a little off topic I know... but it ties into these types of tours.
Even though everyone knew what song was coming up next, everyone was into it. These are tours for core fans. We don't always need hits... we wanted to share the experience of hearing a "classic" (to us) album performed live.
I'm sure the band is a little sick of playing it now but they find ways to have fun with it. They find ways to recreate the tones and production on the album, and present it to the audience.
... and financially, every ticket sold is probably the equivalent of an album sold.
Helmet still played a bunch of "other hits" in a second set but the applause after they played Sam Hell (final song on Betty) was probably a big part of what keeps bands like them going.
Appreciation from the fans... true appreciation... everyone on the same side... celebrating an album that's now 20 years old.
I care a lot about the tunes going on an album or EP (and their order) for this reason. The band should want to play them all live... and they should all work live, as the band, in it's purest/rawest form.
Albums aren't dead... they just got screwed up for a while... too much filler around what people were trying to sell. If you want people to listen to more of your music, you have to give them more music worth listening to. Simple.
I encourage bands to go out and try playing their EP's and albums start to finish before recording... if anything it'll help them realize how much quality material it takes to fill up 45 minutes... and how the audience feels about the song selection.
... you'll spend less time recording too... I guarantee it!
So this post hasn't really been much about Helmet now that I think about it... they were entertaining though... hard to find a band with 20+ years experience playing all over the world who isn't.
Just in case any bands out there still haven't got the message... the show starts the minute you arrive and doesn't end until you pull away from the venue. How you treat the venue staff before the show, and how you treat the fans after the show.
A fair amount had left before the very end... 2 hrs of Helmet is a lot of Helmet... that and maybe the crowd was a little older... lots of glasses, grey hair, bald spots, and mid-life guts in attendance... but just like in Philly, the show ended with Page Hamilton, 54 years old, leaning over the edge of the stage to shake hands with those still upfront... before crouching down for pictures and to chat.
Who knows how long he stays after the show talking to fans... I doubt it's simply an ego boost... he's a smart dude... and you can tell by the way he carries himself on stage he's a humble dude... probably knows there'll be a day when he's forced to stop...
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 :-)
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...
Sunday - January 25, 2015
… so I probably didn't know if Red Deer was today or tomorrow because it's not actually happening… which is probably why nobody was talking about it.
I'll be honest… I get most of show info from the Facebook page… and/or my Mom. I've said it before…
Mom + iPad > NSA.
Breakfast at Ricky's… and by breakfast I mean 1pm… I think this was the latest we've all slept in since the trip started… I was up fairly late doing the last blog but I'll assure you… Snoretallica concert was in full effect last night… to the point I had my earbuds in and tunes on to fall asleep.
… I won't tell you what I was listening to though… it'll ruin my street cred!
… side note… the amount of people who complain about earbuds not fitting or hurting their ears is insane. We've come along way with how they sound and fit/feel… they're totally practical compared to big bulky headphones and at $30/pair they're pretty disposable.
I'm saying all this because I feel asleep, on my side, with earbuds in, on low volume… you can't do that with over the top headphones... well unless you want to ruin your neck... and your headphones.
… expensive headphones playing MP3's… unbelievable… because of course we can hear the difference… no… you're hearing the EQ curve of the headphones... and you spent $200+ on said headphones.
… anyway… it was nice to sleep in.
… so same waitress and table at Ricky's… I think we even sat in the same spots… I even ordered the exact same thing… Groundhog Day for her.
… I'll be honest… today was a bit of an odd vibe… a couple pieces of news came in over the trip and another bit of "life happening" happened yesterday… but all things considered, we discussed the repercussions of having to miss the show in Saskatoon and fly home a bit early.
… I mean… I could always just add more to the tracks...
Some decisions are tough to make at the time but in hindsight, they're no-brainers.
People, places, and things… in that order.
I'm calling this now though… we'll probably be cancelling on the Saskatoon show for "unforeseen circumstances" or something… the "upper/lower body injury" of the entertainment world. I'm sure people will understand though…
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.
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!