Pictures and Stories from the land of touring.
I know everybody gets their stuff on FB anymore, but for people who still use the internet as if it’s not a revival of AOL in 1996, here’s the first of many pics to come from Spain Doesn’t Suck 2013. I’ve had an amazing 2 days here, and now it’s time for more travel, more wine, and less sleep. Because how is 4 hours not enough for 5 or 6 nights in a row? I’m happy with it at the moment, but of course that could be the wine speaking.
But not how you’d think.
This time, I put my stuff through, and (it turns out) someone grabbed my bag thinking it was theirs. It was a real pain in the ass, and I had to make a pain in the ass out of myself to make someone get it back, because I wasn’t about to let it go without a fight.
As you know, I’m on tour with Bon Jovi.
I’ve been in central Canada for a few days now, and I can tell you that it’s cold here. Calgary and Edmonton were somehow warmer (despite Edmonton being further north) than Winnipeg, which is surprisingly still covered in snow for the most part. I mean, the city is clear, but there’s old plow-piles everywhere and the trans-canada highway has snowy fields the whole way. Crazy. Or not.
Flew over the Rockies from Vancouver to Calgary with a cloudless sky, which was awesome. Photos don’t really do it justice, but I still should have taken more. Ah well.
I’ve also been home for 5 days and in Vegas for 4 since last I updated. Maybe in NYC, too. I forget when my last update was. I’m still sleeping terribly and not exercising enough, I still have bad allergies after I wake up every day, and I’m still being uncreative. Not a good combo. Let’s tackle some of those things during this leg, yeah?
banging away at my tried-and-true refrain of “OMG, I’m so tired!
I should be asleep, given that it’s 130am, but I’m somehow awake. I already put laundry in, showered and made the bed, so now I’m sitting on it, waiting for the laundry to go in the dryer and then I’ll try to sleep. We’ll see how that goes. Anyway, I wrote this update on the plane and was going to post it tomorrow, but here I am, so here it is. No pics or anything – sorry about that. Next time, I’ll give it visual aids.
So we’re in Canada, and the show is in full swing. Montreal loved us, which is always nice, and we’re setting up in Toronto for show #1 of 2 in a row. I love these days where we have a full day off and then two shows in a row in a single venue – it’s like getting spoiled. Much better than the 2-in-a-row gigs that have us doing short across-the-border runs that have the very real chance of getting fucked up.
The only bad thing about days off is that I spend a lot of money. I’m trying to be better about it, and somewhat succeeding, but unlike last tour, this time I’m much more social and inclined to go out at the beginning. There’s more to do, at least. I also can’t claim success at working out more – I’ve done a little, but not enough to call “working out.”
This is why they call it rehearsal, I guess. I’ve been trying and failing to bring in gear via traditional channels (Amazon, Newegg) and Overnight shipping, but something isn’t working, and I don’t know why. I’ve been on the phone with the credit card companies, on email with the vendors, and both teams are blaming the other. Not good.
I also tore the video line out of my confidence monitor, which is less-than exciting, to say the least. I’m hoping that the guys that I use for these things (Videotex systems) can get through with replacements where the big guys can’t. If nothing else, it could be because of the personal attention. We’ll see.
I have to order plexi, too, but at this point, I’m nervous about sending it anywhere that I might not be for more than 24 hours. I’m also not going to send it internationally, even though we’re just talking about Canada. Today, I at least take measurements for the plexi I need. We’ll see how it goes.
Anyway, no fitness dispatches from the road yet – I’m still trying to get back into roadie shape. I’m exhausted, and while the days are long, they’re not long. Not by the standards of a PA or someone who’s used to real days of labor. I’m just out of “gigging shape” as the guys say. I’ll try to get my act together tonight if it’s a shorter day today. Also, there’s a chance that I’ll book a BRANDED shoot for Thursday evening. The odds are slim, but I’m already thinking about my options for lighting.
So it’s early morning in Stuttgart and I’m not sleeping, which is dumb.
The gig in London went off, albeit with a minor hitch, and though we managed it, I do have cause to re-focus my efforts on making my kit that much better. Of course, that means spending money, but still. Better gear is better gear. There’s also two more gigs in the offing right now, so that’s a good thing.
So I was in a plane crash. Really.
Apparently, the ground crew dude was on crack or busy texting his girlfriend or something because someone failed to notice the giant airplane right next to us. A nine-year-old girl on our flight, however, didn’t miss it, and was heard to tell her parent that we were about to hit that plane. Lo and behold, she was correct.
Needless to say, this caused some consternation on the flight deck and among the crew, and eventually led to our disembarkation and a wait of a couple hours while they drummed up some other plane and probably kept some other poor schlubs on the ground so we could go. Of course, I missed my flight from Chicago to Heathrow, but the tour travel agent is like a ninja and nothing can stop her, so she made it all better.
So I’m in London. I’m at a place called Music Bank Studios. It was probably a bullet factory during WWII or something, because it’s got that weird, ambling character of old European compounds that’s both charming and infuriating. Because of the late arrival of my flight (the flight was on time, it was the change that made me late), I had to take a cab that cost >$200. Couple that with the fact that London has no idea about bypasses or highways around things, and you had me riding from Heathrow to the studio through the center of London. Absurd.
I found myself laughing out loud in the back seat, though, because we passed like every major monument in London, and those were just the ones I recognized through my bleary-eyed haze. I mean, the Natural History museum, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, the Eye, the Fire Memorial the Tower of London complex, and then we crossed the Tower Bridge. It was too much. If only I hadn’t had Britain’s most taciturn cabbie, I could have been getting like the private tour of London monuments.
Anyway, now I’m here, and after the break, I’ve posted the bigger version of the picture here so you can see some details. I tried to grab a pic of the London skyline from here, but there’s nothing really to see. I have a couple things, but they all suck. I might eventually make an album here with random shots from tour, and if I do, you’ll get to see all my failed attempts at photography from this gig.
As Shang Tsung says: “It has begun!”
Today promises to be hot and humid, muggy and all-around July-in-Georgia weather. Scattered thunderstorms? Yeah. Humidity in the low 90’s? Yeah. I know nothing about our show except that it’s outdoors.
Anyway, yesterday I learned two things about video on the Kindle Fire. First, it’s way easier to put video on a Fire than on an iPad (shocker, right?). Rad. Second, the Kindle Fire doesn’t see .mp4 video when you boot it up into your browser. Weak. I was all set to finally catch the last Harry Potter movies on the flight yesterday, and, well, poof.
Show day today, travel day tomorrow. Back in LA in time for Bootie Beach Party and then Sunday the crazy run-up to hiking Mt. Whitney begins. Drew comes into town Sunday, and in advance of our departure Monday morning, I’ve gotta pick up some last-minute hiking shit and make my kickass trail mix. Might try to get a run in between now and then, too. We’ll see.
I made it home!
24 hours on planes and in airports from Lisbon made it happen, but despite the absurdity of security theatre, lost passports (yes, I lost my passport on the flight from Portugal to LHR) and fat guys in middle seats, I made it home anyway.
After Barcelona (which was every bit as cool as I remembered it, btw), we went up to San Sebastian. The drive wasn’t too long and we got there in plenty of time to go to the beach and get me heartily sunburned. It was hard not to be sunburned when there were so many topless girls on the beach – how do you leave? The picture on the left is one that was sent to me by one of the guys that had no qualms about taking pictures of random chicks on nude beaches (I need to be more like him) and cropped by someone with basic photoshop skills (me). What you can’t see in this picture is that I really had a good reason to be sunburned. I promise.
More nonsense about the end of the tour and what I hope the future brings after the break.
I’m in Barcelona at the moment, checking my emails and generally getting caught back up on the world since I’ve been offline the last few days. We did a 14-hour ride and an 18-hour ride separated only by a show day in Brugge (Bruges?), so I spent longer on the bus getting to and from the place than in the place itself.
I managed to walk around Brugge before the light faded, taking my time in a nice reminder of having been there before, back in High School. I’ve had plenty of reasons to think back favorably on that trip over the years, but none so frequently as this leg, where I’ve re-visited four of the towns we saw then (London, Brugge, Venice, Munich). Good stuff.
Anyway, once I’m caught up, I’ll be wandering around town at least to see the Gaudi cathedral, and maybe to walk La Rambla again. We’ll see. Bigger pic after the break.
I made it to Athens, survived the 4-shows-in-5-days nonsense and managed to spend a couple hours this morning at the top of the hill in the Acropolis. It’s small enough to wander all over and shoot photos even in a couple hours. The part of Athens that’s right around the base of the hill is really picturesque, actually, and probably worth a walk back this evening for dinner.
The obvious advantages of getting there as the place opened (temperature, crowds) were in full effect here, since it allowed me to wander around the lower grounds on the South side of the hill without feeling like I was going to die of heat exhaustion or be engulfed in crowds. No amount of postponement, however, could keep me from being pulled to the top of the hill and noticing with chagrin how little I remembered from my Humanities classes 17ish years ago. There was a time when I could have told you not only when each building was built but who designed it and particulars about each building. Sadly, that’s not true anymore.
Absurdist musings and a picture of the Parthenon after the break.
I’ve been *days* without internet. It’s been amazing and horrifying, enlightening and torturous. We’ve done 4 shows in 5 days and I’m fucking exhausted, to be totally honest. Landed in Athens this evening and have a day off tomorrow, so, barring total mental meltdown, i’ll be checking out the acropolis tomorrow and looking at all the old shit atop that most famous of Greek hills.
Pictures, naturally, to follow.
Istanbul was way cooler than I thought it would be.
Maybe it’s because I’m a guy (I heard that some of the girls on our tour dealt with sexism that would miss me entirely) and maybe it’s because I had just come from Cairo, where literally everything was either falling down or being put up and the people were pretty much unaffected by all of it, maybe it’s because Takumi had a friend who was willing to drive us around and play tourguide, or at least tour facilitator, but whatever the cause, I was impressed.
More nonsense after the break.
Anyway, the rain held off for the show yesterday, soaking the opening act, but behaving for us, both through the eternal load in and the load-out. Good stuff. Now I’m off to Scotland, where I speak some of the language. It’ll be nice, since I’ve been moping around feeling badly that I don’t speak Danish or Finnish or Norwegian. This afternoon I also will be booking my place to stay in Cairo, rounding out the necessaries for that particular trip.
I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated – the big updates somehow intimidate me and I shy away from writing them. So, in tradition long-held, I instead wait a long time, then write about something totally different.
On my day off in Munich (they didn’t fly us to Oslo early but kept us in Munich late), I spent a day in Bavaria in almost identical fashion to the way it was spent almost seventeen years ago. This time, rather than 30 irresponsible high school kids, I was with 6 other irresponsible roadies. We went (by subway, train, bus and horse-drawn carriage) to Neuschwanstein castle, the name of which I’d long forgotten, since back in 1994, we always called it Crazy Ludwig’s Castle.
On this day, however, we were visiting on the 125th anniversary of the man’s death (by mysterious circumstances – he was found dead in a lake with no water in his lungs and having had a history of strong swimming – they called it drowning anyway), which was coincidence and nothing else. I remembered the outside of the castle, not the inside, but that’s probably because they didn’t let us take pictures inside the castle either time. Dumb rule no matter where it is enforced. Makes the place forgettable.
Much more musing after the break.
I’ve been doing shows. Since last I updated, i think it’s been four, with a fifth tonight. A lot, whatever the number is. Des Moines, Atlanta, Orlando and Houston in six days, at least. My bus has been running all over the country, hither and yon, all around Robin Hood’s barn, there and back again, even.
In Des Moines I took a few more pictures for BRANDED (not on the site yet, of course, but I’ll work on it some today), which counts as the first time I’ve done a shoot on the road. Totally do-able, although without lights, it’s sort of an exercise in futility. At least it was an exercise in something, though since I’ve been entirely stagnant since I got out here on this leg. Good thing it’s short.
I managed also to get a couple of flights booked yesterday (two out of the five I need to book), and that was fine, but I was really aiming for three, with four as the outside goal. I seem to have lost my mojo for the flight finding that I did the other day, because not only couldn’t I find the same times, I couldn’t even remember what airline they were on. Yeesh. Anyway, I’ll try that again today, now that I’ve caught up on JVS work today. Still have some PCW work to get through and bills, though both of those will have to wait ’till the next town (Memphis?), because my time is almost exhausted here.
I haven’t written a hotel review in awhile, so here’s one for you.
The Sheraton New Orleans hotel has fascinating elevators with no floor buttons, but air conditioners that don’t condition and all-flat-sheet bed construction. Overall, that makes for a sad matt. Don’t read any further unless you really want to read a hotel review. Seriously.
Canada has no government, apparently. You’d never know, though ’cause no one is running in the streets, the police are still out in force, and everything seems pretty much normal. Canada is so polite.
So in the 2 weeks since my last update, a lot has happened. Figures, right? I’ve had weird internet access, as well as generally more to do than I usually have. This leg of the tour has been very Matt-friendly with its venues, with the East Coast, Vegas and a week off in Chicago, where I spent a lot of time with Stephanie and a lot of time writing.
There’s plenty to tell, and I’ll probably post a few pictures, so I’ll put a bunch of crap after the break.
There comes a time when the dirt under your fingernails becomes as much a part of you as the nail itself, and when you notice that’s become the case, it’s time for a shower.
The bus’ engine rumbles beneath them as they hurtle down the nighttime highway in search of another destination, another sold-out arena, another truck-tip, another load-in, another day in the life of a roadie. Some of the guys drink beer. One drinks red wine, one white. Two and a half men is on the flat-screen, playing in a marathon from someone’s collection, now moved to the PS3. There’s a huge bouquet of flowers that one of the girls rescued from a dressing room after the band had left; the eucalyptus makes the bus smell a little fresher.
Two days, two shows, two cities then a half a day to rest and recover, then two more days and two more shows in two more cities. As that cycle draws to a close, a roadie can’t doubt what he does for a living, can’t delude himself into thinking that it’s glamorous or exciting or really anything but exhausting and repetitive. And dirty. The cases, the cables, they get so dirty and gleefully transfer their soot, their grime to hands, shoulders, forearms, which do their best to spread the love to pants legs, faces and necks. Repeated washings are part of the ritual, and the showers in the various locker rooms seem inviting until you start to wonder how you’ll hang up the towel or where your toiletries will go, or why you left your shower shoes in the bus. Then you wonder what the hell a grown man is doing owning shower shoes in the first place.
The night stretches on and the inside of the coffin-like bunk is a haven away from all men and all halves, from flowers quickly wilting, from beer bottles and snack temptations. Before you drift off, you hope that somehow this 150-mile ride will take 12 hours and that you’ll sleep through all of it, and that when you arrive, you’ll somehow be clean.
Today starts the madness of doing the 2-in-a-rows. This morning was the last time I’ll fell well-rested for a week or so, which is going to wreak havoc on my senses and on my complexion. Gross. Regardless, NYC, DC and Boston have all been pretty good to me, at least in terms of seeing friends & family I love. The shows have been going well, too.
PCW purchased a new Mac last Thursday – it’s time to start looking into new (and available) prompter rigs. Can HDMI deliver signal over 150′ cables? 200? 100? How is that impacted by couplers? Do they even make couplers? What about L-brackets? What do I do about different resolutions for different monitors? I’d guess you’d have to get identical monitors for every kit, which is fine, too, but something that we don’t do now, exactly. that’d be better anyway.
Today has been a tough day, personally – I’m feeling very disconnected and far away, so it’s been hard to get myself balanced and on point to be creative. And I was going to write a great treatment for the Naked Ninja boobsploitation flick today, too. Ah well. There’s always tomorrow.
At least until there isn’t, right?