(all photos by jonpauldouglass)
Lifestyles Of The Beat And Sleepless (Murphy’s Law, The Domino And
Chaos Effects, And Other Treats)
(photo by JPWD)
I write to you from an aerial suppository lodged somewhere in between Newark and Kansas City. The band and crew alike have just returned from a multi-country stop unlike one I’ve ever experienced before, and now our grizzly frames are stuffed like sardines into a tiny regional jet-thing. We’ve just gotten word (via email) that our bus is broken down about 400 miles away from where we’re flying to be picked up from - and we have a few thousand pounds of gear with us to boot. Let us backtrack…
So this won’t be a food blog (as I’ve hinted at before, the “blog” is about to start becoming a multi-format platform of ramblings) but a memoir of sorts of some intense times.
We had just finished our “turn” of main stage slots at Mayhem (In Flames, Machine Head, and Trivium were all to do 1/3’s of the different 3 stages on the tour) when a few days before, In Flames had to leave due to a family emergency. So with that recent occurrence, MH and ourselves divvied up the IF dates - and this was our final side stage show before being all main stage shows. Raleigh, NC was our home for the day - and it had been a little bit since we’d played the side stages. Today was a hot day - one of the hottest I could remember on the tour. Our discount bus’s A.C. was half working, outside was varying from hot and dry to hot and humid, the well-done cooked porto-potty back yard, and gravel front yard were our challenging landscapes of the day.
It was quite a trek back and forth to main stage (to eat and use bathrooms and do press and all that) and this tour has been a hot one the whole time. The show ended up being fantastic - and afterwards, we had to pack our stuff to ship off to a hotel in order to fly to Germany the next early morning. We pulled up to a half-scary joint where we unloaded and headed to our rooms.
I had this peculiar hot tub thing in my concrete-walled cell.
Everyone got about 3-6 hours of sleep (the magic number of foreshadowing of the days to come) and we headed to the airport. The whole deal with this major show thing was that we were to miss 3 Mayhem shows in order to play Wacken Open Air in Wacken, Germany (the biggest metal festival in the world - we were to play direct support to Judas Priest) and a support slot to Iron Maiden at the O2 Arena.
We did our first flight, then the long one (I believe I got about 3-6 hours or so of sleep; the other dudes all couldn’t sleep) - and it’s funny - most people always say “ah man, it must be great flying in first class!” Ha. We’re always coach, back of the bus, cheapest tickets and airlines possible. My first seat that I was assigned was a non-reclining seat with a power box in front of my feet - so there was no room. I pleaded with the flight attendant and was able to get an exit row aisle for a price (airlines charge for everything nowadays… it’s a little scary they charge for exit rows - isn’t that where “able bodied” people are supposed to assist in case of emergency? I’m “able”) and then I zonked out for a bit.
Arriving in Hamburg at 7:30am, we stayed at a real decent hotel across the airport - got free breakfast and everyone napped a bit. We headed down after the short doze, and met for lobby call where they sent too few vans; once sorted - we were on our way.
Wacken is probably the nicest set up festival we have ever played. The attendance of the weekend had been ranging between 80,000 - 110,000 per day, the catering was great, the dressing rooms were well equipped and stocked, and the back stage had the nicest damn bathroom trailer I have ever seen (it had TV’s playing previous years’ performances, nice lighting, AC’d, cleaned every 15 minutes, etc). I’ve seen a lot of murder-scene-esque bathrooms in my life time - and this one was a welcoming treat.
The show was by far one of the greatest of our lives - 80,000 plus people all rocking their asses off. It went off without a hitch - it was perfect (I think we will be releasing the footage as a live DVD some day). Next was a signing…
So, I have done a lot of signings in my day - and I know what works: no direct photos with the band (if you do photos, plus signings, plus chatting with each person… what inevitably ends up happening is that 100’s of people get completely skipped due to each person’s time taking so long), and one or just a few items to sign per person. Now - I know this seems intense… but it’s far far far worse to skip 100’s of people who have been waiting for an hour to meet you… so I briefed the signing people - and did they listen? No.
It was chaos. No line, people setting up cameras while trying to greet others (and this is not the fault of the concert goer), and in the end - lots of people left out. I told this jerk running the thing “We do not want to miss anyone waiting for us - so you need to get the line in order, and tell people no pictures unfortunately due to the length of the line.” The prick didn’t give a shit - they were useless and unhelpful and I am very sorry to the people who we missed out signing for, the kids who got pushed around by bully-ass security (once they finally got off their ass to assist in helping the line move - but too little too late, my friends). I was angry. I keep my cool most of the time - but the signing Genius pulled me by my shoulder and said we needed to wrap up - I gave him a piece of my mind.
Still fuming from the signing’s unfortunate ending - we collected our things, did some other bits, ate, and prepped to leave.
Easy right? No.
Our next dickhead of the night was some cocky little-prick who ran the shuttles back to the hotel. The hotel was an hour plus away, and the festival was in the middle of nowhere - so naturally - we needed a ride. Ol’ Nice Guy told us that we missed our shuttle and there was nothing we could do (apparently we had one booked, but we missed it due to the signing running late) - our manager and I exchanged some heated words with the gentleman, and basically he told us to go F ourselves. Thankfully, our booking agent called that dudes’ boss and it got sorted after a while.
Arriving back in the room far later than initially intended, we got 3-6 and woke up for a 4:30 or something a.m. lobby call to fly to London.
1.5 hour flight to London after some whacky customs and - did I forget to mention that we are all lugging 1000’s of pounds of flyable gear (getting charged at each airline) to pull these shows off - we got picked up in our van to go to the hotel.
We drove to the Holiday Inn at Heathrow to check in; we lugged it all in - wrong Holiday Inn - there’s another one. Loaded back in to the van and went to the “other” Holiday Inn. After a few minutes of trying to check us in, our tour manager Brian Griffin (real name) found out there is a third Holiday Inn; by this point we were all just laughing at fate’s cruelty - piled in and went to the third Holiday Inn at Heathrow airport.
The rooms weren’t ready, so everyone laid across chairs, the floor, anything they could to grab some z’s. We slept for a couple minutes, got into our rooms, slept a couple minutes, and piled back into the vans to go to the O2. The ride to the O2 took 2 hours in London traffic - we arrived with compressed coccyx and all, deliriously fading in and out of consciousness - dropped our bags and I had to head to a guitar clinic.
The clinic was amazing. I loved it. I love to teach. I love teaching guitar, and some day I would like to get my yoga teacher’s certification. The people who attended were super nice, and I hope they all had a good time - I had a great time.
Jon Paul was on this trip to photo and document our adventures, and both he and I decided to hit one of the very few chain restaurants that I’ll eat at. We hit up Nando’s (a Portuguese style chicken “fast” food place in the U.K. and Australia and a few other places around the world) with some dear friends, for grilled chicken and fries - we felt we deserved it.
Next was soundcheck, warm up, then one of the best damn shows we’ve ever done supporting a band. Roughly 10,000 people when we started - it grew to about 15,000 or so during mid-set; and everyone we talked to said it was the best reaction they’d ever seen for a band opening up for Iron Maiden. It was intense - we came out all guns blazing… my voice during the whole day was completely shot (from singing, lack of sleep, flying, lack of sleep, playing, lack of sleep, flying, lack of sleep) and should have sucked - thankfully, the old-vocal-cords were running on all cylinders, and it was some of the best singing I feel I’ve pulled off in a while.
We came off stage, celebrated (before and after - rare occasion) with some shots and beers, grabbed delicious catering (Eat To The Beat is an amazing touring catering company) and watched Maiden from the standing area on the floor. Iron Maiden is without a doubt, one of the greatest live bands on the earth - they were unbelievable.
We hung with label, agents, band, crew, friends and had a good time. We hit up this after party thing (initially, I was completely unsure if I wanted to leave immediately after the set, or stay around due to being so groggy… the show was so damn good though - I had to… plus my wife said “Hun, sleep when you’re dead - you’re going to hang out with Iron Maiden!”) Hung out a bit, then I was crashing…
A good friend of ours, Morgan (RRInternational) got me and JP into a cab and we took the 2 hour cab back to the hotel. 3-6 hours or so of sleep… woke up so tired that I had to actually pull my eye-lids open; got ready, went to lobby call - got in the vans and headed to the airport.
Long check in, nutty airport, nutty security - got to the gate - got in the plane.
Infant next to me? Shit…
I saw JP was initially supposed to be next to me, but was upgraded to Business First - I went up to see what happened, and ya know what the nice best pal-o-mine does? Insists I take his seat. I refused a few times… then we swapped. Thank you Jon Paul. I slept the 3-6, woke up, ate decent plane food (which I never do unless I’m in this class - which is never as well), and enjoyed the trip.
Arriving in Newark, we cleared customs, had to re-check all the gear and stuff- get new tickets, head to the gate - did all that; then we showed up to the gate.
Granted this was only about 30-45 minutes ago - you can see why the tone of some of this chapter was a little heated… Brian Griffin tells us our bus is broken down.
Back track a touch.
We were initially flying into Kansas City to play an off-date with In Flames. In Flames had to leave the tour, so that cancels the show - Trivium Ent books non-refundable tickets, so we had to use those tickets, get picked up, drive to Oklahoma City for the next mayhem show (which is Tuesday; it’s Sunday today).
This bus company… every time something has gone wrong - the owner has actually told our tour manager things like: “light it on fire - I don’t care, I’m losing my ass on this company anyway” or “roll it off a cliff for all I care."
So Brian gets an email that says "Bus is broken down, it won’t be picking you up, probably can’t make it to Oklahoma.” That’s it. Our driver evaded Brian’s calls; I eventually get him on my cell - we find out that the bus broke down (since it’s a cheap, unfit-to-drive bus that we’re getting at a “steal”) and it’s immobile. Then our gate starts to board.
So that’s where we are now, my friends… what is the next chapter of our fateful story? Will our heroes make it to the next show in time? Will tempers flare so bad that we actually do try to light the bus on fire? Or ourselves? Only time will tell…