Monday, 06 September 2010 20:56
August 18, day off
We spent 8 hours at a mall. That's right, EIGHT hours. Granted, it's the biggest mall in North America, but uber mall or not, it's still a mall. After an hour or two, it just feels like a layover at an airport.
August 19, Vancouver, BC, Canada
I remember the last time I was here. It was dire and depressing and I couldn't believe just how bad it was. Everyone looked like an extra in Taxi Driver and Zombie Apocalypse. I hoped that this time the venue would be downtown but much to my dismay, I was right back in East Hastings, the heroin capital of Canada. Upon arrival, we saw a decrepit withering man snorting heroin from his hand and a woman shooting it on the street, as well as several drug deals. Some of The Red Chord guys thought it was amusing but there is no part of me that finds the plight of the oppressed and addicted to be entertaining. I was so disturbed by it that I couldn't finish my breakfast. We loaded in through the alley and basically hung around there all day and night. There was no backstage so I ate before the show just to have
someplace to go. The show itself was fine. I think that it was hotter than I expected. Was so glad to leave that place, especially since I have such a fondness for Seattle.
August 20, Seattle, WA
Got in late last night, cleared customs without even having to exit the vehicle. The venue is definitely not the best in terms of its location in the city but I have lots of friends to scoop me up and take to where it counts. On this day, where it counted was a vegan restaurant called the High Line. All that I can say is HOLY SHIT. Vegan Poutine, Reuben, Buffalo wings and a Philly cheese steak. I very seldom eat before I play but today was an absolute exception - some of the best vegan dining I've had all tour. I was so full that I honestly thought that I would throw up on stage. Well, not only did I not throw up, but I played really well. I'm getting quite fed up with the intro malfunction every other night, but as a band, we were good. Afterward I met up with some friends, drank champagne and listened to records. I don't want to leave.
August 21, Portland, OR
Woke up and we were there. Felt a bit hungover so I looked up a reputable pizza place then grabbed a coffee at a cool little cafe. Portland is one of those cities that I like in theory but have yet to find anything worth loving. Funny enough, the Roseland is one off the nicer venues on the tour, but one of the worst turnouts. For some reason, I just didn't have a very good show. There was nothing particularly bad about it, no real infractions to speak of, but the set just felt like it lumbered along. Sick Drummer Magazine was there filming everyone and I hate being filmed up close. It's just uncomfortable for me to play when there's a video camera looming over me,s o I think that affected my set. Not that I'm fishing for excuses but I'm not fond of situations where I feel like I'm being audited or scrutinized, call me crazy. After we played, I saw someone eating Vietnamese pho so I asked where it came from and headed out. The only food that I love almost as much as sauce, cheese and dough, is broth, vegetables and noodles. I wish that every venue had a Vietnamese street vendor. For 6 dollars, I got a massive bowl of vegetarian pho and it was everything that I hoped for. Eventually we got out of there and went to a friend's place. Krimh from Decapitated came with us because he heard that we were going to the Redwoods on our day off. It's going to be epic.
August 22, day off/drive day
We woke up, ate breakfast at a legendary local spot. I ordered the "half order" omelet and I still could only eat half of the half order. Their portions were absolutely monstrous. It was just absurd. If I collected every mound of food in the restaurant and made one colossal mound of food, I could ski off of it. I will say that it was delicious but there's far too many impoverished nations to justify eating or serving that much food. One full order of hash browns could literally feed a family in India for 3 days. After we got "airlifted" out of there, we waddled to a flea market down the road. There was an arcade game for sale so 200 dollars and one very full trailer later, Guy is the proud owner of Buck Hunter. After a number of hours driving, we finally came to the Redwoods. We practically skidded to a stop and
jumped out of the van. Krimh immediately sprawled his arms as far around the tree as he could. We spent dusk running around the forest, marveling at the awesome beauty and majesty of these giants. I only wish that we arrived a bit earlier so that we could've experienced a beautiful sunset drive along the Pacific Ocean.
August 23, San Francisco, CA
Well this is it, the final day is upon us. This is my third time playing the prestigious Fillmore and it couldn't have been a better last show. When we played, it was so much fun. Greg wore a banana yellow suit and Krimh came on stage wearing a children's Spider Man costume. Tosin sang part of "Dog Years" as one of the crew guys on the tour wore a thong. People were throwing paper plates everywhere and we actually played well too. After our set, I broke down, loaded out and hit a nearby piano bar that also served Ethiopian food. I treated myself to a vegetarian platter and a glass of Reisling. Can't think of a more perfect way to end a death metal tour than eating Ethiopian food, drinking a glass of one of my favorite wines, and listening to a piano. Then I went across the street to listen to some nice jazz and fantasized of one day being a great blues/jazz drummer that makes a living playing small lounges and pubs around town. Eventually, I wandered back to the venue, only to find that I missed out on everyone from the tour getting on stage during the last Decapitated song. Oh well. We stuck around for a while after so that the other guys could say their goodbyes. For me, I'm not big on goodbyes. I've been on the road too long to believe in them. It's not to say that I'm sick of touring, but I'm not getting any younger and uncertainties aren't becoming any less of an issue. But every time I really think of it, I can't believe how fortunate I've been to remain as healthy and as active as I have. I must thank Chris and MEINL, Ben and VIC FIRTH, Chris and AQUARIAN, as well as West and TAYE. If I didn't have such amazing companies supporting me, I really couldn't do this anymore. Also,it would be unfair to not thank my friends in The Red Chord for making me laugh at least once a day and Justin Hiltz for being an expert merch slinger. Maybe next tour I'll be out with my ambient group, Saail. Until then, I'll be looking forward to the road ahead and remembering it fondly when it becomes the road behind. Cheers.
Monday, 23 August 2010 10:08
Matt Holland - Man Must Die - July 2010 Tour Blog
Thursday 1st July
I receive my new Rock Tour kit from Yamaha late in the afternoon and spend the remainder of the day unpacking and setting it up to play. I get a shell pack of 2x22” kicks, 10”, 12” rack toms and 14”, 16” floor toms. I also got 2 hexracks to make up a 4 sided system with 8 cymbal boom stands.
The shells are lightweight Big Leaf Mahogany finished in matt black with brushed chrome hardware. I take time to set up in my rehearsal room and have a quick thrash around to make sure the hardware is set up correctly. First impression is that the toms sound really punchy, theres great projection and tone and the different sizes have distinctive notes. The hardware is of amazing build quality and is in burnished chrome which looks stunning with the brushed chrome hoops and lugs on the shells.
Saturday 3rd July
We have an early start to make the trip to the first show in Camden, London. The guys have been at a wedding the night before in Glasgow and arrive to pick me up at 6.30 am. We pack the van and have time for a quick coffee before leaving. We have a nice new Mercedes splitter van hired for the week as the old MMD yellow and green machine is sadly no more. Its a great sunny warm day which puts everyone in a high spirits. We’re out for the first time with new guitarist JJ who stepped in recently to replace Davy who helped us out on our last 2 tours and unfortunately can’t commit anymore. Due to time restrictions and JJ playing in another band we’ve only had 2 full band rehearsals with him. He played perfectly so we’re all confident. The journey goes smoothly and we arrive in North London on time and meet the other bands, The Rotted and Sworn Amongst, and tour manager Corey.
I’ve know Ben from the Rotted for a while so its good to hook up and MMD and the guys have played together numerous times when they were going under the name Gorerotted. Corey had worked with us on both the Decepitated and Machine Head tours. We load in and set up and we get a quick soundcheck. As we’re headlining most of the dates and as I’m showcasing the new kit, I brought my black Paiste cymbals. They comprise 13” hats, 14” hats, both signature, 15” visions crash, 16” signature crash, 17” and 18” 2002 crashes, 18” and 20” Novo china and 22” signature ride.
We soundcheck and it all sounds a bit rubbish, it seems the in house sound guy doesn’t know the rig very well. It doesn’t matter as we’re all hyped to be out on the road and London is always good to play. We finish up and let the other bands set up and head out to meet a couple of mates and wander round Camden. Its a pretty full on place and with it being Saturday night its extra busy and the bars are all full. We visit a couple of places but as I don’t drink before I play I don’t go crazy. Its nice to be out and about as it’s a great warm sunny evening. We head back to the Underworld and the local support are on. They are pretty good but there are only about 3 people in watching them which is as surprising as it is a shame. With the whole area being so busy, we expected the place to be a bit more full.
Sworn Amongst are on next and play a tight set of Modern sounding Thrash. The crowd has increased a bit but not nearly enough. They still give it their all and those present get a good show. The Rotted are next and explode into their Punk/Grind /Death hybrid. They have a few people in to see them and get the crowd going. Drummer Nate doing some seriously fast blasting and double bass 16ths. He uses a kind of push/pull technique for his feet similar to Jojo Mayer, really interesting to watch.
We finally get on and play our set. It’s the longest we’ve played for a while because we’ve been supporting the last couple of tours. It’s good to get a proper workout! We open with This Day Is Black and the onstage sound is pretty non existant but we have the best crowd of the night which fires us up and Joe in turn instigates a riot... We’re straight into Gainsayer, a really tough song and one I really need to be warmed up properly for. A bit of a rest for me next with It Comes In Threes, this always gets every head banging without fail. You’d need to be brain dead not to nod along to this one when it gets going...Silent Observer from MMDs second album the Human Condition is a change of pace again then the firestorm that is the title track from No Tolerance For Imperfection which is an arm breaker for me. Back to the first album with A Lesson Once Learned which I really enjoy playing, there’s a lot of time changes and catchy melodies. We finish with the ubiquitous Kill It, Skin It, Wear It which always slays and although its a tough one to play, I always love playing it as its such a great song. So the first show a success we have a few beers to celebrate and head to our hotel in Luton, a 45 minute drive from London.
Sunday 4th July
Well rested we get breakfast with the Rotted guys and head North to Sheffield. I’ve never been here before , Its not a particularly pretty place and seems all the more desolate on a Sunday with not much happening. We load into the Corporation which has a really strange stage, about 5 feet tall and about twice as deep as it is wide. There’s no local support so we check and let Sworn Amongst set up in front to play. The venue is split into different size halls and we have to walk through the larger one to get to the dressing rooms which has possibly the stickiest floor in the world. We actually had to wipe our feet when we went outside. Sadly this was the most memorable thing from a pretty forgettable gig, playing through terrible onstage sound to a handful of people who didn’t seem that bothered to be there in the first place. Goodnight Sheffield, hope not to be back soon... We get a few beers and meet back at the hotel and sit chatting for a couple of hours.
Monday 5th July
We head for Manchester around lunchtime and have a good journey across the Pennine Hills through some stunning scenery. We get into town on time and have a quick load in and check. This is the same venue as we played on the Decapitated tour back in February though we’re not expecting the same numbers tonight. I meet up with Tony From Yamaha who I haven’t seen since we were down here with Machine Head. We talk about the new kit and about possibilities of further equipment Yamaha can help me with. We chat for ages about gigging and shows we’ve done and before long it’s gig time. The turnout is terrible, the lowest we’ve seen for some time. Manchester is such a strange place, there’s no happy medium. It’s either amazing or absolutely dire in my experience. I enjoy our set and play well, Tony gets some live shots for Yamaha to use. The rest of the guys don’t enjoy it at all, with barely a crowd to play to they find it hard to get into their stride.
Tempers are beginning to fray by loadout time, the poor crowd turnout getting to people and when Trud, the Rotted bassist drops a £2000 guitar head a shouting match ensues. We head back to the hotel shortly after and get a rest.
Tuesday 6th July
Wrexham, it turns out , isn’t far from Manchester so theres no rush to head off. We relax by the hotel carpark and have breakfast. The trip to Wrexham only takes an hour even though it’s in another country... I really should look at a map before we head out on the road, my geographical knowledge of the country I live in is terrible.
We’re playing Central Station which was another venue we played on the Decapitated tour. We’re in the smaller room tonight which is ok as theres a decent temporary stage setup and its not so big as to look empty if there’s not hundreds of people in. We check and the sound guy remarks that the Yamaha has the best sounding toms he’s heard in ages.
The same local support, Impaled Existence, are playing as last time we were here and it’s good to catch up again and regale them with stories of the MH tour. We also hook up with Ian from our new Agent company, Factory and we’re determined more than ever to give a good account of ourselves and prove we’re worthy of more tours...! The cafe in the basement of the building is set aside as a communal backstage area and the Holland/Uruguay world cup match is playing which takes up a lot of guys time during warm up. There’s a healthy turnout and all bands get a great response. We hit the stage and its a really hot show. We’d been talking before the tour that it’s nice to go out when its not freezing and winter, now some people are complaining it’s too hot. It’s a damn sight better too hot than too cold... There’s a good amount of MMD shirts at the front of the stage and a lot of lyrics getting shouted back at Joe which is really encouraging . Not far into the second song, Dan breaks a bass string. With only Alan and JJ’s guitars going through the P.A. along with vocals and Kick triggers, the bass is relying on on stage volume so when it drops out its pretty unnerving and takes some time to readjust.
True to form, Danny transforms into McGuyver and has the string changed, tuned and playing by the end of the song. We all play a blinder and really get into it along with the best crowd so far on the tour. The gig finishes with a particularly sweaty rendition of ...Kill It. And we all leave the stage on a high. We head north and stop in Chester for a short night’s sleep before the drive north for the hometown gig.
Wednesday 7th July
It always feels like we’re responsible for the crowd when we play Glasgow on any tour, like if it’s a bad turnout it’s our fault.
We get to Ivory Blacks early and wait for the promoter to open up. We set up quickly and have time to run through a new addition to the set. JJ has spent the last 2 days working on” Dead In The Water” from the “No Tolerance” album so we have the first run through during soundcheck. It sounds spot on which is surprising as we’ve never played it as a full band before. It’s a tricky song with the verses having a 4 way change in drums, straight blasting into 16th note kicks, back to blast then into gravity blast so it’s a good confidence boost that it works well and I’m at least playing tight enough for the others to follow.
I go out for food with my wife and miss the opening band and Sworn Amongst and get back in time for the Rotted’s set. There’s a decent amount of people in but for some reason nobody is reacting to the band. It’s like some zombie movie with everyone standing motionless despite Ben’s best efforts to get some participation. Unsurprisingly the band are pretty despondent when they come off.
The crowd moves up when our intro starts and finally comes alive. Again, there are a lot of MMD shirts and calls for song titles show most of the people are familiar with the last album. The Gig gets off to a ropey start when it becomes apparent that the sound guy’s return from holiday in Turkey that afternoon was too soon for him to be back at work... The monitor settings are completely off from what we soundchecked and I’m getting random rhythm guitar and Danny’s backing vocals above anything else. My triggers decide to play up and it takes the first 2 songs to decipher the cause. It turns out one of my Ekit sensors has worn a groove and is triggering on the up stroke as well as the down. Most frustrating. I try to not let it get to me but it puts a downer on the set for me. We get a pretty good reaction and Dead in the Water goes down well but I can’t pull this one back and enjoyment wise, this is the worst show of the tour.
We head out to a club later with the Sworn Amongst guys and Ben and Tim from the Rotted. Far too much Jagermeister is consumed and I agree to start a Death covers band with Jonny from Sworn Amongst..... I don’t remember a lot else about the latter half of the evening.
Thursday 8th July
With heavy hangovers we leave for Bradford early in the morning. I sleep most of the way only waking to get some overpriced junk food in a service area.
We get to Bradford and get ready to load. Its a dangerous job with a busy road to cross with the equipment but we make it without any casualties. Rio’s is a small hot venue with a small stage so for the first time all bands, including the local support will be using my kit. The local sound guy is pretty much out of his depth so souncheck takes way longer than it should and everything is put behind time. The guy who installed the P.A is called and has to come down to take over. Farcical. We eventually head out for some food and wander round a deserted Bradford. It doesn’t bode well for any kind of good turnout. When we get back the local band are still on but at least there’s a few bodies in. Sworn Amongst and the Rotted play great sets and we go on after 11 which is pretty late. There’s no drum monitor that works so I’m going by feel as far as my kicks are concerned with no triggers audible. It turns out to be a good training exercise in using my ears more and really having to concentrate.
We play a great tight set considering the restrictions and the people watching give a good response. The guys say I had a great show tonight and that my hands are particularly strong with great volume on the snare for the blasts. I think it’s probably the lack of kick in the monitors made then rely on listening to the upper kit more. I’ve been training more to hit harder and its been a factor in my playing for some time. It’s nice to get compliments and if they’re happy then so am I so I don’t mention any more. We head across to Leeds to our hotel and get some rest.
Friday 9th July
Friday lunchtime we head south to Norwich. This is The Rotted’s home town show so we’re all looking forward to a good one. The weather is glorious and the drive down is relaxing. About 50 miles outside Norwich we come across the Rotted guys at the side of the road with their broken down van. We pull up and have to load as much essential gear into our van with all the band members. The sun is intense and there’s an infestation of tiny black flying insects which land on us and stick to the sweat on any exposed skin. Within about 15 mins we’re back on the road with considerably more equipment and 9 people squashed in. The drive is somewhat less relaxing for the remainder but at least the show will go on. Corey and the driver are left with the van to wait for a recovery team in the sweltering heat with only the insects for company.
We arrive at the venue which is a pub and we’re playing in the small sublevel backroom. It’s tiny, stiflingly hot and a bit rough but everyone’s in good spirits as its Friday night and the plan is to go for a few beers after the show. The stage is small so again everyone will be using my Yamaha. There’s a local support who play to literally nobody, its a bit of a shame. Sworn Amongst go on and a few people venture through to see them and by the end of their set there’s a good atmosphere. The Rotted are last on today as it’s their home show so we’re up next. Theres no drum monitor tonight so it’s down to feel for me again. Its been pretty good training if nothing else to play in slightly tougher conditions, it’s preparation for any problems that might occur on future tours. We get a good crowd from the off which steadily grows through the first couple of songs. It’s insanely hot and have trouble with my sticks slipping out of my grip from sweating so much. We all agree later that its the hottest show any of us has ever played. Apart from that there’s a great atmosphere and we get a good reaction. Just before Kill It... at the close of the set I pour the remainder of a water bottle over my head to cool down, this basically washes all the sweat from my head down into my eyes, blinding me. I have to get to the first guitar break to wipe my eyes clear...! Blasting at 240 bpm with your eyes closed is not recommended. Mental note not to do that again. I miss the Rotted’s set as I’m trying to cool down outside but from what I hear they have a great show. We pack up and leave the vans at the venue and head into town. Some guys go to a lapdancing club, not my scene, so a few of us head off to find a bar. We venture into a few places playing very loud, very bad music full of very drunk people who all look the same but eventually find a decent place and scoop a few pints before the nights over.
Saturday 10th July
Its another hot day as we get ready to leave Norwich for Peterborough which makes our hangovers even worse. Thankfully we have time for some breakfast and rehydration before we leave.
It’s not a long journey and we arrive early afternoon and the venue is shut. We wander round the town, get some lunch and see the sights. We get in the venue later and have a very hot set up and soundcheck. It’s apparently 31 degrees today and I’m already sweating like I’ve already played the set. Check is good and the P.A and monitors are great. I spend most of the night out by our van as it’s just too hot inside. I catch the beginning of Sworn Amongst and the end of the Rotted’s sets. Theres a respectable number in though not much movement.
We get on and have a great set from start to finish. The Sworn Amongst guys get up to sing ‘It Comes In Threes’ and Ben from the Rotted comes up to do ‘Kill It.. there’s a great atmosphere and everyone seems to love it. We unload afterwards and have a little party in the carpark just saying our goodbyes and getting group photos taken for mementos.
So overall the tour was great, the new Yamaha kit is amazing, it sounded great every night and looked badass. I personally was pretty happy with my playing and generally enjoyed the experience.
Monday, 23 August 2010 08:48
The 2010 Summer Slaughter Tour is just wrapping up this week in San Francisco, California. Mike Justian of The Red Chord has been sending us emails throughout the whole tour, documenting what he has experienced. Between Denver and Portland, Sick Drummer Magazine got photographs, short interviews and HD Video of every guy on the tour this year! Keep your eye out in October for our Free Drummer Slaughter Mini-Issue...
July 17 San Diego, CA
Well, here it is. Summer Slaughter has sprung. After a truly hellacious number of days without sleep and shows in the far reaches of the continental United States, we've finally met the tour in sunny San Diego. The first show went surprisingly well. Things seem to be relatively organized and everyone is polite and reasonably accommodating. I took plenty of time to clean and configure my drums, making sure to deduct as many unneccessary drums and cymbals from my set up as possible. There are alot of bands on this thing and most of them have monstrous drum sets. We managed to play a decent set, but the first couple of shows will always involve a certain degree of clearing cobwebs and regaining muscle memory. After the show, I ate some delicious Thai food and met up with our tour manager's unruly friends... Many wrestling matches and lemon fights later, sleep was finally an option.
July 18 Los Angeles, CA
LA can always go one of two ways; either it will be a great show or a total nightmare. Invariably, nerves are a bit high because it's usually an important show. I'm happy to report that this show wasn't a nightmare. We had a slight miscommunication in regard to our backline but no big deal. The show and the response was excellent and at one point, someone threw a purple see-through woman's shirt right at me so I promptly adorned myself in it and continued with the set. After our show, I saw a rotund young man wearing it. Saw some industry brass and champion friends and ultimately had a great night.
July 19 Tempe, AZ
I always liked Tempe. Reminds me of Phoenix on pilates. We got there early in the morning to see a friend of ours and relax before heading to the venue. Very low stress show but I think that the crowd was a bit stunned by the heat. I ate entirely too much before I played and it slowed me down a bit, which was fine because the crowd seemed to be a bit slow as well. I am starting to get my muscle memory back and overall I had a good show. Milled around afterwards and talked with John from Cephalic Carnage about how much we love Meinl cymbals.
July 20 Las Cruces, NM
This was originally supposed to be in El Paso but was moved at the last minute. We rolled in after a long drive and were immediately greeted with a copious spread of delicious Las Cruces mexican food. After we checked out the venue, we headed off to find coffee. Show was lots of fun though I feel a bit bad that we were only allowed to play a 20 minute set due to the strict curfew. In fairness, the heat was nauseating and oppressive. Had the crowd not been so zealous, it would have been a very difficult show. My left foot isn't exactly cooperating with my right foot for some reason, feels sluggish and a bit tight. I'm also having a bit of an issue with my left thumb and right shoulder. I can't stop sweating.
July 21 San Antonio, TX
Played at white rabbit more times than I can count on both hands and its always a good crowd. The show was fine but obviously it was very hot and thus cumbersome to play. Not much to say about ol' San Antone. Time to get a hotel and attempt to cool down.
July 22 Austin, TX
Music City USA, usually a good time, however this day was a bit of a burden. We were given wrong information about parking by the tour manager, there was no space for anything because we were late, and it was raining torrentially. I was so flustered after we loaded that I went for a long walk, ate some mediocre pizza and walked back. Spent some time talking with the drummer for Decapitated amidst drinking a lot of water and trying to stay limber. So far, this is appearing to be the hottest show of the tour, judging from what other bands that played were saying. Admittedly, I was a bit daunted. I am a power player, not a speed player, so playing fast music with as much power as I deliver is quite tricky when it's extremely hot. Suffice to say, the rumors were true and after three songs I didn't know where I was. My muscles were exhausted and my brain was no longer cooperating with my body. Magically, I managed to get through it and actually play a good show. Afterward I treated myself to an adult beverage and just waited to leave. I think that a long cold shower is in order.
July 23 Ft. Worth, TX
This was not a good show for me. Was hotter and more humid this than it was in Austin, total nightmare. Dropped 3 sticks and simply had no energy or technique. The crowd was great and ultimately it was a good show for The Red Chord, in spite of being a couple of close notches away from being an abortion. Luckily, there was a great team of people cooking delicious grilled food and providing plenty of really nice keg beer for everyone. Suffice to say, everyone was in a great mood and interacting with each other. I had a couple of veggie burgers and a few cups of keg beer and called it a night. Great day overall, minus my performance.
July 24 Houston, TX
It was unfathomable to imagine that any show could've been hotter and more oppressive than yesterday... but welcome to Houston. Words can't fully articulate how hot it was. As hot as the Sahara, as wet as the bayou. Somehow I managed to play really well though. I drank a lot of water, probably 3 liters, plus I stretched and warmed up a lot. I burned so many calories that I worked up an insatiable appetite. I ate some veggie/tofu stir fry and I easily could've inhaled 2 more plates. Sleep can't come fast enough.
July 25 Tallahassee, FL
This is an off day show from Summer Slaughter with us and All Shall Perish. Small club with a decent PA and a tight stage. I knew it was going to be a banger and it was. Easily the most fun show so far, played great, felt great. It was deceptively hot but the intimacy and high output from the crowd gave me the energy that I needed. All Shall Perish showed up just before we played and used our backline. Was nice to hear my Taye drums from the audience's perspective. Of course they sounded amazing. After the show, the club opened up for indie karaoke night. Part of me wished that we stayed and bummed everyone out with terrible versions of Joy Division songs but sleeping is much more gratifying.
July 26 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Venue was nice, backstage was fine, stage was great. In fact, the stage was so nice that I unwittingly expended far too much energy right away. I guess that I still pulled it off, but it didn't feel good. After, I was famished so I walked to a "Tex-Mex" restaurant and ate some terrible enchiladas. They were so bad that I literally felt insulted. It was as though they took me for some inept Midwestern tourist that would never be able to discern an enchilada from a pile of uncooked beans, lettuce and cheese, so bad that it wasn't true. Had I not eaten nothing but junk for the past couple of days, I probably woulnd't have been so outraged. Florida is still a decidedly questionable place.
July 27 Atlanta, GA
Played at the legendary Masquerade an incalculable amount of times and it's always a good time. Today was especially great because I got a box of cymbals, courtesy of Meinl. I also got to eat some truly delicious Greek food, also courtesy of Meinl. It really is an honor and a blessing to me that I have such a strong rapport with Chris and everyone at Meinl because they really do produce some of the finest cymbals and they take really great care of this old ghost. Got back from the Greek restaurant just in time to watch some of Animals As Leaders' set. For any of you that are not familiar with their drummer Navene Koperweis, get familiar, he's the best drummer on the tour. Show is looking good, energy is pouring out of the walls and when The Red Chord went on, I was about as ready as I could be. Much to my dismay, I felt very tight for the first number of songs and I ended up flubbing some parts. I got off stage, feeling like I was going to have a black out murderous rage attack, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's that when I play a bad show ,I need to wait at least 15 minutes before I really do or say anything, otherwise I will just ruin everyone's day and further disrupt people's perception of me. Once I cooled off, Chris from Meinl and his photographer Rick sent me some very heartfelt praises about my performance and it was reassuring.
Sometimes it's very disheartening to be a musician when you do a show that you construe to be a bad performance, but I guess that I wouldn't be the drummer that I am now if I was perpetually satisfied with myself. Overall, I had a really great day filled with great food, new cymbals and some champion friends, so I'll continue to emphasize the positive attributes of today... and there's bound to be plenty of tomorrows left in my lifetime.
July 28 Raleigh, NC
I woke up in a swampy puddle of sweat, which I love doing. We pulled up to the venue, which was comfortably situated in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, the club was quite cozy with its galvanized metal roof and faulty air conditioning. The illustrious backstage was quite sleek. I didn't at all find the putrid stench of rotting carpets to be offensive, nor did I mind that there was no bathroom or that it was actually a segue room for the jam spaces that were connected to the club. Monitors were awesome, especially when the guitars jumped up about 20 db in the wedges for absolutely no reason. I was at least very relieved that the stage was a hot buttery mess and playing good was virtually impossible. Overall, I think that we pulled it off and I did start climbing on the pipes above the stage in the middle of our set. I must say though that the best part about the show was that the pleasant and accommodating staff at the venue wouldn't let me eat my veggie sub at the bar. One thing that disappointed me about this wonderful experience was the lack of attractive ladies at the show since North Carolina is a super factory of beautiful women. Better luck next time... hopefully at the same awesome venue.
July 29 Philadelphia, PA
Feel totally shot. Didn't get any sleep because the roads were so bad last night that it felt like we were driving through the Romanian countryside. The TLA is a very nice venue right on South St in the thick of the bustling Philly lifestyle. Lots of space for everyone's gear, decent dressing rooms and air conditioning. Only problem is parking but luckily we found a spot just a few hundred feet away. Went to Govinda's on the other end of South St for lunch. Admittedly, the 12 block walk made my otherwise delicious vegetarian cheese steak seem like it wasn't quite worth it, especially since it sat in my stomach like a pound of lead. Suffice to say, I felt a bit sluggish on stage but played well overall. Oddly enough, my feet felt smooth and powerful, but my arms were a bit like jello. I think that part of the problem is that "Black Santa" is the third song in the set, which for me is the most demanding song in our set. I wish that we were playing it a bit later in the set as the first song of the second block. After the show, I went to an Irish pub with my friend Nick and drank a refreshing Irish cider with ice. Had some great conversation with Nick, John from Cephalic Carnage and Fred from Carnifex. Eventually I
succumbed to Lorenzo & Sons for a couple of fresh pizza slices. Nice way to cap off a really good day. Cannot wait to sleep.
July 30 Baltimore, MD
We got in a bit late. Didn't realize that 8 other bands were added. Apparently there was also an anime convention going on at the same time in downtown. Show was good but I definitely should not have eaten that giant bag of fries before we played. Mike had more problems with his gear - 3 shows in a row now. I think that he should be a bit more pro and mind his gear better but that's just my opinion. During our last couple of songs, we had a fan in a wheelchair come up on stage with us. It definitely made his night. As soon as we played, we packed up and shoved off to Boston for a chance to sleep in our own beds... except for me, I slept on my couch because there was someone sleeping in my bed.
July 31 Worcester, MA
Spent my day sitting at home, drinking coffee and feeling very uneasy. My dog was always the primary incentive to come home. Now that he's gone, my home is simply a house that almost feels more like an albatross than a comfortable place to live. After spending some bitter sweet hours at my house, I went to the show. Got there about an hour before showtime and I really must have felt the burden and stress of being home when I was on stage, because I played horribly. It was easily the worst I've played on the tour. The sound at the Palladium is always less than stellar and I can honestly say that I've never played a great show there. Even when Unearth headlined shows and fests there, it never felt very good. After we played, I felt so embarrassed that I wanted to get out of there as soon as humanly possible, which I did. I'm quite positive that it sounded infinitely better than I think, but "assuming the worst" is the curse of having such an intimate experience with your instrument. By virtue of the fact that the kit wraps around the player and ultimately provides an infrastructure, the player is forced to notice every nuance of the performance,which invariably includes every victory as well as every failure. After I left, I came home and ate at my favorite local pizza place and life got better.
August 1 New York City
Was late getting picked up but traffic wasn't too bad for a Sunday. Managed to find a parking spot a half a block from the venue. Walked in to check it out. Animals As Leaders was playing and it was like a can of sardines in there. Met with a friend and eventually got my things together for the show. I used Navene from Animals As Leaders' drum kit for this show. His kit sounded great and was easy to play, but I like my Taye drums better. Was really surprised that I played so well. Kind of expected to blow it. However, I don't think I've ever played a bad show in NYC so maybe I never will. After the show, I went out to eat with some friends. Wasn't my preferred restaurant, but the kale and roasted corn were exquisite. Staying with a friend in the East Village, since Quebec City isn't going to happen for TRC, due to our trailer getting fixed. It's amazing that the trailer is evidently more problematic than the van. I guess there's always something getting in the way of doing our jobs.
Aug 5 Cleveland, OH
Unfortunately, we had to miss our three eastern Canada shows because of a bad trailer axle, so we hoofed it 12 hours to meet back with the tour in good ol' Clevo. Home to one of the world's largest book stores, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as lots of industrial architecture. The venue is a bit of an experience that has become synonymous with the city - take that comment as you will. After we arrived, I cessed out the Middle Eastern restaurant that I always eat at - much to my dismay, it was gone. However, I found an epic burrito joint and got myself an edible football stuffed with delicious vegetables and guacamole for a mere 5 dollars. The venue was the standard sweltering heat and three days off definitely showed in our playing and performance. The Red Chord as a band was embarrassing. I as a drummer was haggard. I felt very tight and uneven and just overall lacked the finesse and control that I need in order to be on top of things. I was sweating so badly from my hands that playing just sucked. There's nothing as ungratifying as sacrificing so much to play music, only to have it be a bad performance compounded by bad playing. The good news though, is that it's not brain surgery. If someone fucks up, nobody's going to die. Doesn't negate the fact that I want to be playing my best and feeling let down when I'm not, but oh well, always tomorrow.
Aug 6 Cincinnati, OH
We were quite late to arrive, which is something that always bothers me. Luckily, it didn't make too much of a difference. The venue was roughly at half capacity and the crowd was a bit tired. All Shall Perish was doing some grilling and I was urging everyone on the tour that is any kind of gear zealot to check out the very well regarded Mike's Music. Mike's is such a definitive oasis of obscure, vintage and classic gear that I make sure to have at least 100 dollars of expendable income when I go, otherwise I simply won't bother torturing myself. Sure enough, I found a great vintage keyboard at a steal. Thank you Mike's Music, you're one of the best music stores in America and unquestionably the best thing about Cincinnati. So with that bit of good fortune, my spirits were immediately lifted, despite an incompetent local sound crew and a rather bitchy loading crew. I understand that it's a big tour and a long day for the same money, but that is everyone's situation on the tour. I'm certainly not fond of 10 band festival tours being held in venues that are designed to facilitate 4 band bills. I don't like stewing around a parking lot for several hours or walking backstage only to find that there's no space to put my bag. I especially hate the fact that there's a shortage of water everyday and almost every drive is at least 7 hours. Luckily, I can say with complete confidence that none of the bands on this tour are pulling power moves or being blatantly inconsiderate. Overall, this show was great. We played great, we sounded great and the venue was actually quite comfortable on stage, which was a very welcome change that clearly showed in my playing. After, we got out of there and ate some atrocious pizza, which is apparently the best pizza place in Cincinnati. Perhaps Mike's Music should serve fresh slices and become my favorite place in America.
Aug 7 Detroit, MI
The legendary Harpo's venue, situated in a legendary part of Detroit, known for being extremely dangerous.I n fact, it is such a bad area of the city that there are armed security guards patrolling the parking lot. The venue itself is very unique and unusual. The stage is literally 7 feet high and in the middle of the room there's a disco dance floor. As if that wasn't interesting enough, they also foster some of Detroit's finest local talent. For this show, there was an additional 6 or so bands that played and they were all perfect. By perfect, I mean that they were the most terrible bands I've ever seen, but in the most perfect way. After all, it is possible to be perfectly bad, just as it's possible to be perfectly good. The show seemed to lumber along and by the time we played, I was just tired. We set up, lights went down, followed by a roar and a chant from the crowd. I think that we played fine, but nothing special. As soon as we finished, I ran to the pizza place before it got dark, since walking anywhere in that neighborhood after dark is not an option, broke down
and ate. We left as soon as we could. Was good to play but after a long day it was great to leave.
Aug 8 Milwaukee, WI
Played at this venue a few times. Shows are always good but the neighborhood is just a bit unsettling. Right across the street, there's a hotel where Jeffery Dahmer allegedly stored the remains of some of his victims. What I really like about this venue is that it has some of the nicest, most relaxing dressing rooms I've seen. It's rumored that the rooms underwent a massive makeover, as stipulated in a performance contract from Prince. Didn't really do too much but wait to play so I felt really sluggish by the time we went on. However, I managed to play really strong, probably played harder for this show than any other. Felt great to clobber my kit, even if it wasn't the tightest. After, we packed up and went straight to Chicago to get a hotel and relax. Got in to the city around midnight so Greg, our merch guy Justin, and I headed to the legendary Pizzeria Due for a late night bite of sheer bliss. I simply could not stop eating, which wasn't so blissful by the time I got back to the hotel.
Aug 9 Chicago, IL
Woke up in pain from my delicious but very intense Pizzeria Due experience last night. Load in was at 9am so I walked over to the venue from the hotel to check things out. Loaded in and went to get breakfast, then walked around a bit. House Of Blues is right in downtown so there's no shortage of great architecture and amazing food. I must admit though, I basically only ate at Due. When it was time to play, I felt like a gelatinous blob. Fortunately,the crowd was very lack luster, so I didn't feel too bad about being a bit sluggish. After, I met with a friend and had dinner at... you guessed it... Pizzeria Due. Wandered back to the venue to check out a bit of Decapitated. It was great to see the crowd come alive and give them a much deserved great show. After that, I took John from Cephalic to Due, went back to the venue, then back to Due. I've felt better.
Aug 10 Minneapolis, MN
Slept terribly, woke feeling awful as a result. Got to the venue early. This city is kind of weird because it's basically set up like a bad airport. Loaded in, had soup for lunch, played a decent show, ate Thai for dinner with a friend, loaded out and left. Yup.
August 11 Indianapolis, IN
We got into the vicinity early enough to have breakfast and take a relaxed attitude towards getting to the venue, especially since the venue itself is without question the worst venue of the tour. Luckily, I had a friend that stole me and took me downtown for a few hours. When I got back, I apprehensively stepped in and felt like I just opened the door to an oven. Suffice to say, I was a bit nervous to play since I was stuffed with fries and a veggie burger. However, I ended up playing really great because I paced myself and took it easy for "Demoralizer" and "bone needle". I definitely felt like I was going to throw up in my mouth during the last song, but all went well. After, I treated myself to a delicious shake at Steak'n'Shake and went to bed.
August 12 Kansas City, MO
This was an off date show that Carnifex was gracious enough to let us jump on with only 24 hours notice. It was a good day for me because I had lunch at a delicious Indian buffet. Was great to pig out on some truly good food for a change, though I probably didn't need to eat as much as I did. Unfortunately, I felt quite sluggish for the rest of the day. The show was really good but it was painfully hot and stuffy on stage - that, coupled with being packed full of tofu marsala, dal maharani, aloo gobi, naan, etc. During Carnifex, there was a sleek 6' blonde woman in high heels and a go-go dress going absolutely ballistic for their set. It definitely made my night to see this pseudo runway model flipping out and head banging to some brutal death metal band, since I'm such a huge advocate of undercutting expectations and pretenses.
August 13 Denver, CO
For once, we were the first band at the venue. Turns out that one of the buses had broken down but I had my own concerns. The venue wasn't open and I was in dire need of a bathroom so I trekked down a few streets and eventually came to a coffee shop and killed 2 birds with 1 proverbial stone. Eventually the venue opened up. Nice place. After I loaded in, I headed off on foot to one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in the world, the mighty Watercoarse Foods. Once again, I ate way too much but the walk did a good job of pacifying the tremors in my stomach. When I got back to the venue, the buses had just arrived and all was back on track. This was a good show with a packed house and a receptive crowd. Normally, I really struggle to maintain my stamina for shows in Denver because of the high altitude but I played really well, strong and sturdy. After we played, everyone except for myself went to a baseball game down the street. I opted to stay behind and have a few adult beverages since there was a bar conveniently attached to the backstage. I made conversation with the bartender and probably drank much more than I should have... I'm not the rock 'n 'roller I used to be. I ended my night with an epic burrito from a local institution called Illegal Pete's and slipped into a very satisfying coma.
August 14 Salt Lake City, UT
In the rare occasions that I play in SLC, there is always trouble, perhaps due in part to the oppressive nature of a religion that appears to oversaturate the city. Personally, I like the landscape of SLC and once again we were early so we walked around a farmer's market and had lunch as we waited for the club to open. When I got back, there was chaos; too many bands and simply not enough space. The stage manager and tour manager were not much help and subsequently I opted to just set up out side and walk my stuff to the stage once it was time to play. The crowd was pouring energy for every band so I was excited to play. Before we hit the stage, we decided to dress up as Tosin from Animals As Leaders, since Tosin is without question the most dapper man on tour... Even more so than me. In fact, the other guys in the band borrowed some of my clothes to complete their "Tosin" outfits. The only annoyance was that I forgot my stick bag in Denver so I borrowed some Vic Firth Steve Gadd signature sticks. I have to say, they felt great. I use Vic Firth Extreme 5Bs and I really like them for their diversity, but those Steve Gadds practically played themselves. The only issue I have with them is the lacquered finish, which I find to be cumbersome when my hands begin to sweat. Luckily I borrowed some sticks with the Vic Firth brand grip tape and that solved the problem. The stage was actually fairly comfortable and certainly having 2 utility fans pointing at me helps a lot. After the show, we were all invited to the Baroness/Deftones show up the street but I really didn't need to hear more loud music, even though Abe Cunningham is one of my favorite drummers. Instead, I ate at a Tex-Mex restaurant and it sucked. I felt so full after I ate that I ended up taking a nap before we left. Woke an hour later to some dude knocking on the window to tell me how great I was and that was my cue to wake up, load out and move on. SLC is a much nicer place to play when the fans aren't smuggling machetes into the shows and moshing with them.
August 15 day off in Montana
One of the best days off I've had on tour. Clean air, great breakfast, trails in the forest, lakes, fires, milk shakes and lots of quality hang time. If my dinner wasn't so disgusting it would've been one of the best days ever.
August 16 Calgary, AB, Canada
Cleared customs as easily as ordering a pizza. No fines or fees or taxes to pay. Upon crossing the border, we hit the first Tim Horton's that we could find and it was as good as ever. Got in to the city a couple of hours later and loaded in. The club is small but I suspect that it will be a fun show and I was right. Crowd was a bit sparse though very excited. I played really well but as a band we kind of sucked. My feet and hands were getting along great for a welcome change. Played with a lot of zeal too, just felt great overall. After,I found a falafel restaurant and completely stuffed myself. We drove to Edmonton to get a hotel for a couple of days.
August 17 Edmonton, AB, Canada
Last time I was here was with Unearth and the show did not end well. At any rate,Edmonton is a nice city with some interesting architecture - most notably is the rather whimsically designed art museum. After we loaded in, I walked a respectable distance to a field with what appeared to be 4 glass pyramids and when I got there, it was completely fenced off, so I walked back.Felt like an eternity was spent waiting to play and kind of felt like I was out of gas when we finally did. I flubbed a lot of parts and just didn't play that strongly. I guess that it was an OK show, simply because the crowd was really feeling it. Sadly, I was not. Once I was packed up, I walked to a restaurant and ate a delicious meal alone. I suppose that it's often considered unusual and even a bit taboo to eat alone, but I quite enjoy it. Now it's time to get some sleep and prepare for the barren 15 hour drive day.
Monday, 19 April 2010 14:20
Hey Sick Drummer Magazine Readers! Bill Fore from Mutiny Within here with my weekly blog update.
I'm still struggling with the weekly part; on tour, you guys understand. Anyway, AJ spilled his entire fuckin’ iced tea on my shoes, pants, and laptop case. Was furious; in fact, it ruined my morning fact. I didn't even wanna eat the rest of my chicken nuggets I was so upset and it takes a lot for big Bill to not want his nuggets. But it's a new day, and I’m sure there's plenty of time for me to get angry at something else. My rage embarrasses AJ, or as I like to call him, 'Papa Jacobs.’ His fatherly instincts come out when I cause a scene.
Anyway, tour's sick. Sonata's great. They are talented dudes. Powerglove always puts on a show, and I love ‘Starbursts.’ The crowds are finally getting a feel for who we are and are really motivating us to put on a sick show each night. Having an album out for this tour is an obvious plus; rather than people mouthing made-up lyrics to the melody of our songs, they're now only mouthing half made-up lyrics to the melody of our songs, which brings a tear to my penis. They get an “A” for effort. Hopefully within the next few tours, Dark Tranquility and Soilwork, the crowds will continue to grow and show support for us like they've been doing all along.
Check back next Monday, tentatively, for week two of Big Bill’s blog and see what else is pissing me off; it'll be a long list. Peace be with you - Bill
Monday, 05 April 2010 12:07
Plymouth: We begin our journey and drive overnight from Edinburgh to the first show in Plymouth. We arrive early afternoon and get help loading in from the local crew. The Pavilions is a huge complex attached to a large leisure and shopping centre. The main hall is huge and the stage, P.A and machine head’s backline, which has travelled with the tour through Europe, is already set up.
We set up our gear on the main floor and try to acclimate ourselves to the size of the place. We don’t have a dressing room or catering for the night so there’s a feeling of being the new kids at school, so we sit and wait to be told what to do. We watch Machine Head soundcheck and get to see what the P.A can do, it’s a loud piece of kit and they sound great.
The stage is split and Bleeding Through and Hatebreed’s backdrops are hung up halfway forward. We set up back line and have a linecheck and quick soundcheck. The touring crew are super professional and do a great job whilst treating us well.
We have our own backline with us and I’m using my Pearl Masters BRX with 10”, 12” racks, 14” and 16” floors and 2x 22x18” kicks with my Masters Maple 14”x6.5 snare. I recently bought Nick Barker’s Black Masterworks kit with all black Paiste cymbals from his Dimmu Borgir days . As this is the biggest thing we have ever done I decided to bring along a set of the Paistes to make a good visual impression. I’m using 13” and 14”Signature heavy hi-hats, 15” 2002 crash, 17” Signature power crash, 18” 2002 crash, 18” and 20” 2002 Novo Chinas and a 22” Signature Power Ride. All in Black with white logos, very tasty!
There’s little time from setting up to the doors opening and we are due to play 15 minutes after. Shortly before we go on we meet Robb Flynn and have a brief chat where he tells us that the band are really excited to have us along. This really gets our mood up and we psyche ourselves to play.
We don’t expect to play to much of a crowd being so early so it’s a huge shock when we walk on to a great cheer from nearly 1000 people! As soon as our intro kicks in the crowd are into it. Our set is only 20 minutes so we get time for 4 songs; This Day Is Black, It Comes In Threes, No Tolerance For Imperfection and Kill It, Skin it, Wear it. Robb from Machine Head watches the whole thing from the monitor desk and seems to really dig it. We play really well considering we’re all pretty nervous and by the end of the set when Joe calls to see everyone’s hands in the air all I can see is a sea of hands right back to the sound desk. There must be over 2000 people in when we finish up who give us the biggest cheer we’ve ever had...
We get loaded off super quick and packed straight up and loaded our van, again with the help of the local crew. It’s pretty frantic so it takes a while for us all to get together and have a beer and chat about the set. We’re all pretty shellshocked simply from the sheer scale of the stage, crowd and great reaction.
We miss most of Bleeding Through’s set as we’re loading out though you can hear they get a great reception. I head out front to watch some of Hatebreed’s set and they really have the crowd going.
All the band watch Machine Head’s set from the upper balcony and from the start the whole place kicks off. It’s possibly the loudest show I’ve ever been to, even at the back off the hall the bass was shaking my entire body. Dave Mclain’s Yamaha kit sounded monstrous and the oak 16” and 18” floor toms were like bombs going off. They put on an amazing show and the crowd react accordingly.
After the set we arrange to stay over at the house of the local crew, he is working load out but suggests we head to a local bar for an aftershow party. We go along to find we are the only band from the show but still get a free bottle of Jack Daniels which tops of a long but successful day nicely....
Newport: With slightly sore heads we get a big breakfast and head north to Wales and Newport. The venue is in another leisure centre complete with public swimming pool and gym. It’s a bit weird seeing the merch getting put up in the foyer next to school kids lining up for a swim..!
The stage is set up again and we load in and set up off stage. It’s a similar setup to Plymouth but quite a bit smaller. The manager complains of low ticket sales, Us and the guys from Bleeding Through have a laugh when we hear 1500 denotes a low turnout!
Today a few things have been said and MH’s manager has arranged a dressing room and catering which helps us out greatly.
As I’m setting up, Dave from Machine Head introduced himself and we get a good chat. We talk mainly about the tour so far and about his new Yamaha kit. He seems really happy with it and I make a mental note to ask for a go before the tour finishes! He also has a Yamaha electric kit which gets set up in their dressing room to warm up on, I feel a bit jealous with my little practice pad...
Robb also stops by for more of a chat and talks about our album and how much he likes it and goes into guitar tones with Alan and Davy at which point I lose interest...
We play to less people than the previous night but there’s still a good few hundred in. Again we play really well and we feel a lot less daunted. The crowd are really good again and we get good cheers and pits.
After we play, we hear that Bozz, the tour manager has asked that we play the two Irish dates in Dublin and Belfast. Even paying our ferry ticket for us. Needless to say, we’re ecstatic.
I don’t see any other band’s set tonight and stay and relax in our dressing room after a long shower.
We find accommodation form some helpful people after hanging a sign at our merch station and head into the welsh hills for the night, looking forward to the big one in Brixton tomorrow...
London: So the biggest show of the tour is only 3 dates in... With much anticipation we roll into South London and arrive at the legendary Brixton Academy.
We park right outside the loadin area and have a quick, easy get in with the help of local crew.
The holding area is directly inside and only metres from the back of the stage so we get set up next to Hatebreed and Bleeding Through’s gear and go find our dressing room. We get a small but comfortable dressing room which has a window overlooking the side entrance to the venue. I’m particularly impressed by the fact we have a mirror with spotlights surrounding it and I have a Marilyn Monroe moment getting ready.
Brixton is a maze of corridors backstage so we use the few hours before doors to explore and take in the history of the place. Everywhere are photos of artists who have played there before over the years. We tour the building and check out the main arena as MH are soundchecking where they impress us with some Scottish insults they’ve picked up. Most of which cannot be repeated here...
With it being London, the majority of press and promotion is taking place today. All the singers of the bands are doing a interview for Scuzz TV and at Robb’s request Joe is included after not initially being down to do it. Joe doesn’t say much, it’s all a bit daunting for him, first TV interview and surrounded by vocalists he’s respected for years. He does a good job though and Robb is really supportive. Just hope people can understand what he’s saying...
I’ve been talking with Yamaha about an endorsement deal and the A&R rep is here to see Dave McClain. She has some spare time so we sit in catering with a cup of tea and have a chat. I tell her the story of getting this tour and the bands plans for the rest of the year and we discuss what deal I will get. Watch this space...
With an hour before doors open theres a queue round the building making a lot of noise, even the rain isn’t putting them off before. We have the dressing room window open and drop a couple of beers down to the people below. We’re right next door to MH and they have their practice setup ready and are jamming some songs. It must be great to be able to have a full rehearsal before playing live.
Show time and we go on to a fairly decent crowd which grows constantly as we play. The set is tight and although theres some nerves because of the scale of the show we all enjoy it and go down well. By the time we play ‘Kill It...’ with the extended intro we wrote for this tour, the place is basically full.
There’s a feeling of relief knowing we played the show we’d all been looking forward to so well and the beer flows in the dressing room. A few friends have shown up and come back to our room and have a bit of a party,.
We watch a bit of the other bands sets and everyone is on fire tonight. The gravity of the show making everyone play out of their skin.
There’s an aftershow party in the vip bar tonight so we wait for that. There’s so much press in that the MH guys are so busy after their set and they take a long time to get ready. They basically come through for a meet and greet with a few autograph hunters although Robb and Phil spend some time chatting with us. There’s a 2 day gap on the tour after London so Robb is up for drinking so he heads off with his wife to party. Hatebreed are playing in Barcelona the following day and have already left to start their journey. We’ve arranged accommodation at a friends house just outside London so say our goodbyes and head off in search of a bed.
We have the run of my friend Alex’s house while he’s away on honeymoon. Very trusting to let 6 guys use your house for a weekend... He has a practice studio in his garden so the plan is to spend the down time rehearsing for the next dates. I reality the time is spent sleeping, watching DVDs and playing darts in the local pub...
Birmingham: We make the relatively short trip from Aldershot to Birmingham to the O2. Its strange but good to get back to the same venue we kicked off the last tour with Decapitated only 3 weeks earlier, only this time we’re in the biggest not the smallest hall.
We’re back sharing a room with Bleeding Through again and it’s good to hang with them again. We do the usual routine of setting up front of house and waiting. Today we get a quick line check after we setup which is a great bonus. We run through ‘This Day Is Black’ and get a good feel of the onstage sound. We play not long after and the set goes well. There are even a few guys from the last tour here down the front shouting the words when we play ‘Kill IT...’ and we spot a few MMD shirts in the crowd.
We meet up with Scott Atkins who recorded our last album with who managed to catch the last 2 songs of the set. He’s pretty complimentary on our playing which anyone who has recorded with him will know is not a big part of his vocabulary. We’re going to get a sign to put above his studio door saying ‘ Yeah, another couple of takes, you can get it tighter...’.
We also meet the guys from Napalm Death who we have a good chat with and I talk with Nick Barker who I haven’t seen since I bought his Pearl Masterworks Dimmu Borgir kit. It’s like he was checking up on a child he hadn’t seen for a while. I assured him that she’s in good hands.
We don’t see much of the MH guys after the show and we have the floor of someones room to sleep on so we head off as soon as our merch is counted to get a decent sleep.
Leeds: After an unremarkable night in suburban Birmingham we rise early and head northeast to Leeds. The weather is even colder than it has been and there’s snow falling when we hit the motorway. We arrive at the Academy in Leeds in beautiful sunny weather but it’s barely above freezing.
We do the loadin quickly, more to warm up than anything and head to catering to get a warm drink. Theres nothing else to do so we set up our gear and decamp to the dressing room which is basically a broom cupboard already containing various members of Bleeding Through. The guys head into leeds to kill some time so I spend most of the afternoon chatting with Derek from BT discussing Drums, jobs and his impending addition to his family. He won’t be part of the tour when it goes to Japan and Australia as his wife will be due his second child. They have a stand in who they’ve never met before. I wished I’d known them earlier, I would have loved to have helped out.
We play an enjoyable, tight set and get a good reception tonight. The stage is slightly smaller so we feel more confined but this is what we’re used to playing like, we thrive off each others energy. There’s a few faces in from our Rio’s show from the last tour and when we speak to them afterwards, the general thought is that we’re playing even better every time we come back.
We watch the rest of the show from the balcony which is closed to the public so have a great view. The pit is particularly violent tonight for all the bands and we spend as much time watching people destroy each other as much as the bands.
Our accommodation for the night falls through right as we’re ready to leave which leaves us with the prospect of paying for hotel rooms. Purely by chance I speak to some people outside the venue and one of their friends worked at Rio’s at the Decapitated gig. He offers us his room to sleep in proving the legend; be nice to everyone you meet, you never know when you’ll need a favour.
Glasgow: Homeward bound. We leave early to get up the road in time for load in. Everyone’s psyched to be going back to play to our home crowd. Robb and the MH guys all love Glasgow as one of their favourite crowds. We get up early which allows guitarist Alan time to go and finalise the MOT on our van. We’ve had to hire a splitter for the first half of the tour when ours failed it’s test the day before we left for Plymouth. Alan arrives with our old van and Simon our tour manager drops off the hire one and all stress is dissolved.
The first impression of the Academy is that it’s Freezing. The whole building, and it’s huge, is like a fridge. We get a tiny dressing room up 4 flights of back stairs which has no hot water in the taps. The small catering room in the basement is the only place that you can be without a jacket so I stay there as long as I can drinking tea. All the other guys had been dropped at their respective houses and got showered and fed so I spent the afternoon fixing a broken hi hat clutch.
Because of ridiculous local management we can’t even get backstage passes for our wives and girlfriends so we don’t even get to see them til after doors open.
The vibe is pretty flat when we play. Maybe because it’s so damn cold, or because there’s security actually in the crowd stopping the kids pitting. We play pretty well and there’s a ton of our friends and fans in the crowd really making an effort but I just come off stage not feeling like I just played to 2000 people.
There’s a day off in the tour after tonight and some of the guys have arranged to take the MH guys out for a drink in town afterwards to celebrate MMD guitarist Alan’s birthday . Unfortunately my day off will be spent working a 14 hour shift so I drive back home to Edinburgh and get a few hours sleep, leaving the guys to party.
Newcastle: So after a not so restful day off we head down to Newcastle. We’re back in our trusty old Yellow and Green machine and in good spirits despite a couple of good hangovers. Things have been running far too smoothly for a MMD tour so true to form, the van fails to start after a fuel stop half way to Newcastle. It seems the starter motor has gone so we have to bump start it. This will be come a regular part of daily life for us in the coming days...
Because of our technical problem we are running a little late to get to the venue. This really means less hanging around for us so we quickly load in and set up out front. We get our meal and watch MH soundcheck. Bozz the tour manager and MH sound man is really cranking the PA, it’s possibly the loudest I’ve heard it. I’d polished my cymbals when I set up and 2 mins into a song, there’s plaster dust covering them. This is from the ceiling... The heads on my toms are flexing by at least an inch and Matt from Hatebreed’s kit which is set up next to mine actually ‘walks’ 3 feet across the floor! This is crazy volume. Word goes round that it hit 140 db.
Backstage is pretty small from the venue being a converted cinema and all dressing rooms are close together. We share with the Bleeding Through guys again. I really enjoy the set tonight and play pretty well to a great crowd. The others seem to have monitor problems and this throws them a bit and they can’t get into it.
After our set I meet my dad at the bar who has come to check us out tonight and have a few beers and watch the rest of the show. At the end of the night while we wait for merch counting we hang out backstage where my dad befriends Hatebreed and ends up chatting to them about Philosophy or something, much to the amusement of the MMD guys...
As we get ready to leave we get a look inside MH’s tour bus with Adam from the band. It’s like a travelling hotel, immaculate inside, all blonde wood panelling and leather. There’s an image of a fire on the LCD screens and even the noise of a fire crackling playing through the speakers...! Strangely they decline our offer of a look inside our Puke Yellow, non-starting van....
We stay at my dad’s flat in Sunderland, just south of Newcastle which gives us a slight start on our journey to Manchester the next day.
Manchester: We stop for a big breakfast before leaving rainy Sunderland and head south west to Manchester. The rain doesn’t ease for the whole journey and is falling steadily when we arrive. There’s a few fans waiting by the back door, some had been at the Newcastle show and speak to us about how much they enjoyed our set which is really encouraging. We load in side stage and get led through the huge backstage area through a maze of corridors to a big dressing room. The Apollo is massive, the second biggest on the tour after Brixton for capacity.
Dave from MH is doing a meet and greet at a local music shop arranged by Yamaha, the reps and A&R guys are there and invite me along but it’s right at the time we’re due to set up and line check.
Despite the bad weather, spirits are high today and with it being the last date on UK mainland everyone wants to make it a good one. We spend most of the afternoon in the dressing room together having a laugh. We get slightly more time after linecheck than usual so get chance for a small rehearsal and run through a couple of songs which helps get us psyched.
We play a good tight set and everyone enjoys it along with the crowd. There’s a good number in by the end of our set. Luckily the rain has stopped by the time we break down and pack up as we have to do it outside the back door of the venue. After loading the van, we get catering and watch the show. I meet up with Felicity and Tony from Yamaha, who disappointingly didn’t make it back in time to see our set, and head to the uppermost balcony to watch MH with them. We watch the first half then head to side stage to watch the rest.. All the bands are there for the end of the set as Robb has organised a photo shoot for everyone to be taken onstage. We all pile on after ‘Davidian’ and pose for our shot with the crowd behind us. It turns out to be a great picture and Fiaz the tour photographer presents us all with our own printed copy later which everyone signs.
With the tour moving to Ireland in two days the breakdown is quicker tonight and the backline trucks are already being loaded as we get out. It’s pretty comical trying to push start our van between three huge trucks. We’ve arranged accommodation tonight with a guy who’s DJ ing at an after show party so we head to the club for that. We meet up with the Yamaha guys again and the party is actually pretty lame so we head into the next room of the club and get drunk, dance to pop music and meet some amazing people.
The atmosphere of the day and the show made it pretty special today, definitely my day of the tour. We head back to our guy’s flat and I fall asleep with a smile on my face...
Newcastle (Revisited): There’s a gap day in the tour before the Irish dates but we already arranged to play a Cancer charity all day Death Metal show in Newcastle so it means another early start with a slightly sore head and a drive back north.
The show has already started by the time we arrive so we get our gear into the venue and get some food. We play at around 8.30, third from the top of the bill. The place is pretty compact and the stage cramped but maybe because there’s a lot less pressure than the Bigger shows we’ve done we play an amazing set. It’s good to do a few more songs than we have been playing. Overall it’s a good show and most importantly , Paul, the organiser made a good amount of money for Cancer Research.
Dublin: So we leave the Newcastle show and need to make the drive overnight to Stranraer to catch the 5.30am ferry to Belfast. We’re without our tour manager, Simon, who had another tour to work on. Things are a lot quieter without him, he was probably the funniest guy on the tour, definitely the most flatulent... Not to mention his hard work driving, setting up our merch, doing our lights and generally helping as much as possible.
The road is pretty bad so we don’t get a lot of sleep on the journey and we only just make it in time to catch our ferry. We set sail at dawn and I get a couple of hours sleep on a bench. When we arrive in Belfast, we head to pick up a friend who will be helping out for the two shows. We stop at his house and get another couple of hours sleep before making the trip down to Dublin.
The venue in Dublin is a real old style Theatre. There’s a really steep three tier balcony and the stage actually slopes forward which is quite strange to play on. It’s good to see the crew again and we’re back sharing with Bleeding Through. The cold weather and lack of sleep feel like they’re taking their toll and I can feel the start of a cold.
We have some fans in Dublin and the crowd really get going even as we walk on. We get a great reception, the best of the tour, and there’s a chant of ‘Man Must Die!’ when we finish. I personally play absolutely terribly which is a shame as the crowd is so good. My feet just aren’t working properly for the whole set. It puts me on a downer for the rest of the night. Nothing noteworthy happens for the rest of the show.
We decide to head back up to Belfast that night to stay with our friend’s girlfriend. We hit the motorway with the intention of finding a service station to refuel. Little do we know that for reasons unknown there are no services on Irish motorways... So we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere , in the middle of the night, running out of fuel. Online checks bring no results for fuel stations so we turn off to the nearest village which turns out to be deserted. We park up ready to sleep there for the night in the van. Luckily we spot an old guy walking his dog and ask for help. He clearly thinks he’s going to get dragged onto the van and murdered but gives us directions to the next village which has a 24hour fuel station. So, back on the road and fully fuelled, we arrive late in Belfast and get some much needed sleep. It’s not been the best of days...
Belfast: Last day of the tour and I’m determined not to let my cold spoil the show and exorcise the bad show demons from Dublin. It’s a really great sunny day and we head out for breakfast and find a guy who has a spare part for Alan’s guitar which broke lastnight. The venue is a huge hall which seems to be some kind of church building with a massive pipe organ behind the stage and religious murals on the walls. It’s obviously been recently renovated as the dressing room area is immaculate. Everyone is chilled today and looking forward to going home, the other bands have been on the road for nearly 2 months now.
Time runs over slightly and we have to rush to setup and check. We’re on shortly after and play a blinder, the crowd are great and Robb and the MH guys watch from side stage. We get Fiaz the Photographer up to sing the chorus to ‘Kill It...’ which he loves.
We’re all really amped to have a good show for the last one and end the tour on a high. We watch the rest of the show and Joe and Alan get up at the end of MH’s set and sing the end of ‘Davidian’ with Robb doing his best impersonation of Joe shouting ‘ Git In the fuckin’ circle pit’ in a Glasweigian accent!
We all hang in MH’s dressing room and have drinks after the show with Robb pouring ‘Goldies’, a pint of half and half Grey Goose vodka and Coke. After a few of them things got a bit cloudy...
We all said our farewells and got a lot of photos together and left them for the last time.
We stay at the same flat and head to the port to get the ferry home in the morning. We get texts from Robb saying how happy he was that we did the tour and we’ll have to do it again. We get home tired but satisfied. It was the biggest experience any of us have had and it’s really opened our eyes to how bigger tours work. We played to around 15,000 people over the tour so hopefully there’s at least a few of them now Man Must Die Converts....
That's all for now... Matt Holland
Sunday, 28 March 2010 10:40
Hannes Grossmann of Obscura Tour Blog for Sick Drummer Magazine - This is the last of the blogs from Mr. Grossmann while on the American Defloration Tour with The Black Dahlia Murder, Augury and HateSphere.
March 13th - Lawrence/KS, The Bottleneck
Boring. So much travelling really is not much fun, evn if you have something to do. And it's Kansas, which means grass and corn. There is nothing. We arrived pretty late but early enough to enjoy the dogfood they were serving next door in that Mexican restaurant. The show wasn't overwhelming but still pretty good. I could have played better, but after 9 hours drive your back is kinda stiff.
March 14th - Des Moines/IA, House of Bricks
So this is the place where the guys of Slipknot live. Pretty depressing live they must have. I mean, I live in Nuremberg, a city which yet was in the middles ages the epicentre of culture and trade. Des Moines is maybe the centre of Iowa. The show was pretty early, but we had a good crowd. Nice people live in Des Moines. It could be worse though. Could be Allentown, PA. So all in all a good concert, and I had the best homemade shrimps ever. So thumbs up!