Steve Shalaty Immolation/Vader Tour Blog - Day 15, 16
Day 15 - "The Big One" San Francisco, California:
It's a beautiful day when I get off the bus and walk inside the club. I am instantly horrified as I inspect the stage. 3 tiers of glam metal glory. The drum riser is isolated far atop the ridiculous mountain and set well above and behind everything else on the stage. I've never seen a more ridiculous set up. We load in and set up the kit, tune it and wipe it down. Now the wait begins.
This morning I talked to Ian at Sick Drummer Magazine and he informed me that they would be taking video of Paul and Alex too. I congratulate them both when I see them and wish them luck. All the drummers on this tour deserve to be seen and I'm totally stoked at this oppurtunity. The question now is when and how much do I practice today. My natural tendency would be to jam all day so I decide to only play in bursts. No more than 20-25 minutes at a time. After warming up I do my sound check. Everything feels and sounds OK, but Mike the soundman is having a bad time and kind of melts down. He tells us everything is going to sound like shit. Great. There is no one I trust more than Mike on the soundboard so I just concentrate on my end of the deal.
I received a text from the Sick Drummer videographer during soundcheck, so I go down to meet him. Anton is super cool and we hit it off right away. We go inside to set up and I intruduce him to Alex. Its time to feed so I excuse myself and go grub down. When I get back Pathology is finishing up so I jump in and get the drumsets switched out. When Alex is set I give him a goodluck handshake and tell him to tear it up. He and the boys shred as usual as I stand with Anton and watch. I can tell Anton is impressed and I'm very happy for Alex. I help tear the kit down and set up for Abigail Williams. A little more warm up backstage during A.W's set leaves me feeling nice and loose. Paul is primed and flying at 260 on the pad as we wait for our turn.
After a few minutes we go out to prep the kit. Piotr from Vader comes over to reprimand Paul for not prepping the kit earlier. Haha. Paul rolls his eyes and helps me finish up. There is about 3 inches of riser to step on in front of the kit and I'm just hanging in space 15 feet above the stage.switching cymbals. Paul is ready to go and I wish him luck before going backstage for final preparation.
I must admit I am getting nervous. Tonight can not turn into another Milwaukee experience. Ken has loaned me his Axis double pedal to help me warm up and as soon as I hear Vader fire up, I start playing. Paul's playing has been very impressive lately and once again his control and power are evident. I take a minute to shake my limbs out and give Paul the horns. He seems to be having a good time and Vader is just ripping!
The rest of my warm up flys by. Here we go. I go out on the edge of the riser again to swap cymbals and talk to Paul. He admits a few mistakes but is happy overall. If I can get away with a few mistakes I'll be overjoyed!
"The Purge" starts and I can't quite make out the kick drums. I try to hang in the pocket and be steady and it seems to work out, but I feel like I may have lost track of the kicks in a few spots. No time to adjust now as "Majesty and Decay" comes right in. I try to relax a little and groove on this one. The kicks are still faint but I will have to wait to fix them. After the song ends I look to Mikey behind the board but he isn't looking my way. Grrr. I realize I am being video taped so I can't flail around like an idiot for attention and Ross is calling out the title of the next tune so here we go again. I get a little centered during the next two songs and finally get the kicks and Bill's guitar boosted in the monitors afterward. I finish out the rest of the songs with these settings and end up having a semi decent set. Before we start the last song however, I realize my snare strainer is turned off. For the entire last song I had myself thinking that the snare had been off for the whole set. Disaster! The whole set with a stupid tenor tom tom for a snare! No! Luckily Anton assured me that this was not the case before I destroyed anything and made a fool of myself. Well, I don't exactly feel like I set the world on fire with my performance but I tried. Time will tell when the footage is reviewed and I look forward to seeing peoples reactions to all the drummers' performances tonight.
Thanks to Anton and Ian at Sick Drummer Magazine for making tonight's three ring drummer circus possible! Cheers gentlemen!
Day 16 - West Hollywood, California:
Its always kind of stimulating to wake up in L.A.. For an Ohioan the sights are strange and exotic. Then they look kind of silly and after lunch you see that everything is just fake or faking. Still "The Whisky" is a legendary rock bar and one I've never played so I'm pretty excited to check it out. The place looks cool and very intimate with a small and short drum riser. A relief after yesterdays nosebleed riser.
Paul and I set up my Orions. My poor drum kit. As i pull the drums from their cases every day I wince at the new nicks and gouges in the candylike finish. The front bass drum hoops look like battering rams with jagged tooth mark scars, some down to the wood. She still sounds good with a little tweaking of the toms and I wipe her down as best I can for now.
Sound check was A-Okay. My feet felt good and fast. One of those times you feel like maybe there's hope. Ha. I cruise around a bit after soundcheck b.s.ing with the other bands. There are 2 opening bands tonight one from Denver and one from L.A. so I've got a lot of time before I play. I set up my practice pad upstairs in a corner. There is drum equipment spread all over the club between 2 floors and I'm crammed in amongst stands and cases doing my thing and talking to Alex and Ken. This guy comes up and asks us if we can move down some more so he can set up more tables. We show him that there is no more room. He gives me this douchey look and asks me what band I'm in. My right arm is doing that twitch that happens when I should be punching someone. Instead of grabbing him by his fat throat I grab my practice pad and head up to the dressing room. See ya! Time for some drama free drumming. Paul soon joins me and we start running a variation of the Derek Roddy drill we did in Seattle. This gets us through the first 2 bands and its time for Pathology.
This will be Pathology's last night on the tour. Suffice to say that the rigors of doing a death metal van tour weigh heavier on some than on others. It's no picnic for anyone but without a cohesive line up its nearly impossible. They say goodbye with an aggressive set and some slanderous humor from James who is in rare form despite the circumstances.
Lecherous are up next so we wrangle Alex's kit onto the stage. I return to the backstage area where I run into Ross who tells me that the venue is taking 30% of the merch sales. Combine this with making the opening bands pay to play and you have one sleazy scumbag show promoter. Who, just happens to be the douche that I nearly strangled earlier. The picture is becoming clearer. I am also told by a few fans that tomorrows show in Santa Anna is much cheaper and after seeing the abuse and power trip harrassment of the fans by the retarded security I wonder why anyone would come to a show at this venue at all.
When L.N. are done mowing down the meager crowd we start bringing Ken's kit down from upstairs. This is no easy task as the kit is in chunks. Carrying half a rack down a spiraling staircase is no fun but we get it done quickly and efficiently and Ken is ready to go in no time. Now that we're on the west coast Abigail Williams seems to have a fuller following and the fans all crowd to the front for a dose of darkness.
I head outside for some air and run into the Pathology camp who are getting ready to leave for the last time. I say gooddbye and good luck to my new friends Oscar, Dave and Tim. Apparently they are leaving James with Abigail Williams for some reason so I have a little extra time with the big man before he catches his flight.
Its time for me to start getting my act together so I excuse myself and head to the bus. The rest of Immo. is here and the set list is discussed a bit while I snack on some PBJ. On my way back in I see the security patting people down and yanking kids around by their arms. Then they get all tough when the kid complains. Bullshit.
When I get backstage Paul is finishing his warm up. I head down to help Ken off stage and prep the kit for Vader. Paul arrives soon after and once he is situated and happily blasting away, I make my way back upstairs to warm up. It is an uninspired exercise at best. I can't stop thinking about the scumbag promoter and his goons. I slip down for Vader's last song. Paul usually gets nuts with the blast tempos on this song and tonight is no different. I have tried to tell Paul that if he just takes it down a little bit that no one will know the difference and it will be easier to control and nail the parts. There is no reason to play everything as fast as you are physically able to play them every night. Paul is young and I believe that this is the natural way of things so I don't preach to him. Every drummer will discover their own truths eventually.
I try to take my own advice tonight and relax. The set feels good. I don't even look at the crowd, just play my parts as cleanly and smoothly as possible. Before I know it we're closing out the set and its time to leave "The Whisky Biscuit" behind. Good riddance. I am looking forward to returning to The Galaxy Theatre tomorrow where many of tonight's fans will be back for another dose of Death Metal. Farewell to my brothers in Pathology. I'm sure we will meet again soon.