OK, so either I’m getting old and just have to accept that some of the things I used to be able to do without a second thought, I can’t now OR… well there isn’t an OR, that must be just it. The kind of stuff that if you went to your doctor feeling a bit worn out and then explained your recent activities, you can imagine the look of disapproval on his face. The fact is if you actually break down what an average day on the road consists of, then it all makes a little more sense. Usually a combination of loads of driving, loading and lifting, performing, eating and drinking, more loading and lifting, more driving, sleeping wherever and whenever etc. Now that’s all fine, but here lies the problem: it is usually in the wrong order.
If you were an athlete and you went for a run, your routine would be fairly well thought out. First you’d eat all the right stuff to fuel you up properly and drink plenty of fluids, then after an hour and a half or so you’d start to warm up by stretching etc and getting your muscles loosened up. Then, you’d pop off on your little run taking with you a drink to keep you hydrated. Afterwards, you’d warm down by stretching again and then put on some warm clothes pretty much straight away. Fairly soon after that you’d eat lots of carbs to stock up on energy again and you’d drink loads and loads of water. Now if you did this in the wrong order, you would burn out pretty quickly and likely cause yourself an injury. Ahaa !!!!
Now normally on tour we try and get it as close to the ideal as we can but of course on this tour, it’s a little harder as we are the opening act. I suppose the main difference is it all happens a lot quicker. We arrive at the venue and load in but we sound check last. Now in an ideal world a sound check should be pretty straightforward and once set up and switched on should take a mere ten minutes or so. Unfortunately, this is where things invariably get eventful. Surely a PA system and sound crew are there to basically make what the band do louder… i.e. we as a band provide the sound and then they put microphones in front of us to make it loud enough for you to hear!!?.
Robin’s road crew are quite particular… and rightly so too. They want the sound to be as good as possible for the audience and so when they arrive at venues and half the PA is missing and there are no monitors whatsoever – they are gong to do something about it. Of course this takes time and so until it’s right we hang around until they’ve finished. For the support band this usually means chucking all the gear on stage about 20 minutes before your performance, switching on, trying to get some kind of monitoring so you can hear yourself, maybe getting some nice blasts of squealing feedback from the monitor guy who has wired his desk up back to front (while the audience is coming in)…..tuning up and then going for it only to have the monitor guy screaming ONE TWO ONE TWO down a mic that he has inadvertently channelled through to your in-ear monitor during the first song!….then rushing all the gear off stage again to make way for the main band. That was Saturday’s gig in Glasgow anyway. Sometimes it is much better as in last night at Norwich where the venue guys were brilliant… but sometimes it’s errr… not so good!
The prospect of playing Newcastle’s Carling Academy was brilliant. So, Friday came and there we were. The sound check went according to plan as did the gig which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately it was the events that followed straight after that left us all a bit miffed. We were told to get our gear straight off by the venue people and were instructed to load off the front of the five-foot high stage. We thought they were taking it down to the dressing room area so we could pack everything away in cases etc. Oh no. They were loading it straight onto the street outside the venue. So down I came to see a big line of drums and guitars lined up along the path! The next twenty-five minutes had us scrambling about trying to get everything in cases before anything got damaged. It was probably this and a combination of not getting chance to wrap up warm that led to my injury of the week. My shoulder decided to give way and so the next morning had me booked into the local osteopath clinic!
After an uncomfortable nights sleep I made my way for my 10am appointment. After an hour of.. err… whatever you call it…..I was told that my spine is out of alignment, my thingy neck muscle is knackered and that my back is pretty much not looking good. Great. The advice is rest, no lifting, no driving and no rocking. Yeah right!!
So off we travel to Glasgow with Rich taking the wheel and me in the back complaining!!! It was on arrival at this gig that we realised we were in for a heavy night. Please refer to paragraph four for more details.
So there you have it. Maybe that’s why Keith Richards looks the way he does.!? Uhhh? Oh, sorry…. no that’s not right is it?
Anyway… the moral of this rant?? Well maybe it’s time to start looking after myself a little better. I mean I do but short of warming up for ten minutes prior to humping any gear and having a rider consisting of pumpkin seeds, umba gumba Eau der mineral, Chinese herbs and a personal crew of ten on the road with us…. It looks like we’ll be carrying on as we know it. Oh, and maybe I’ll dig out the yellow pages and find a local osteopath…. And the advice I’ll get? Stop, NOW!
Tell next week!!
Ahhh… a day off! How nice, and just when I think I have time to catch up on some much needed rest, my body decides that I shouldn’t be sleeping at all at this time of the day and insists I stay awake – typical!
Oh well, so I log on instead and then suddenly realise that’s its… err… quite a while since I scribed anything!! Now, not feeling quite the full ticket today, I’ll just have to rely on good old-fashioned memory to update you.
So, first there was the tour of Germany. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic experience doing all the touring over the past few years with the Caravan and then the double header tour but after a while I think we were all ready to go off again and do our own thing. In fact I’ve been with Jo and Spoons for two years now and this was actually the first time we had toured on our own outside the UK. Yes, we had a lot of fun. Joined by our German tour manager Florian, it didn’t take long before he was refusing to drive, instead wanting to sit in the back of the bus, drink Typhoo and watch Father Ted….. I mean the guy was hooked from the first episode! So for the most part our German companion was talking in a German-Irish dialect and calling us all Eejits!!
When he did actually do some work, he was of course highly efficient (!!) and took to driving a right hand drive vehicle straight away. Any attempts to drive too fast were quickly curbed by pointing towards the polite notice on the speedometer: ‘80mph MAX or the boss kicks your arse”.
Fast-forward two weeks and the itinerary sees us driving from Leicester to Austria in a day. Now not quite realising how far this actually was, it is not something we will be doing again in a rush! That first night we arrived at the town for next nights gig. I think I surfaced somewhere around 2pm the next day!! From then on we had it easy for a couple of days playing one night in Austria and then two more in Switzerland before a couple of days off. Looking at the routing, the next gig was in Holland…. and what should fall almost exactly half way to Holland? Our friend Thomas’ Winery in Germany. Of course we made the most of it and stopped off for some wine tasting. Now this is where I think we got it a bit wrong. We actually did the tasting at the end of the night. By this point we had already been there since early afternoon and had lost count of how many bottles we’d gone through. So there we were… staggering around as Thomas explained the finer points of how they make the wine and why it tastes the way it does. Funny, but I can’t remember a lot of it!!
Next stop was Holland where we stayed with some more friends and carried on the eating and drinking relaxation regime that we seem to have adopted as a band. Next we rocked out at a couple of cool festivals before heading back to Blighty for a couple of days off before the tour we’ve all been looking forward to.
So, to the first gig opening for Robin Trower. Not really sure what to expect, we play to the capacity crowd and get an amazing reaction throughout the set. Coming off stage I mingle and stand in the crowd to check out the main man. It was whilst I was here that I encountered probably the strangest and difficult to comprehend woman who, with her husband took up around five minutes of my time with the following:
“Hi, can you do something about the sound? It’s not right.
“Errr… OK, well it’s not really my place to say, I’m just the support band… maybe you could nip over and have a word with the engineer at the desk”
“Well you’re one of them aren’t you, can’t you go and sort it out? It needs changing – too much reverb”
“Well anyway, we thought your bit was really good, looks like you had fun….but all that guitar stuff you were doing (smiles and shakes head).. best to leave that to Clapton and Hendrix isn’t it really (husband nods in agreement)?”
“Sorry, say that again?”
“Well, it’s a bit old fashioned isn’t it, all those solos - very 70’s. I mean there’s a handful of guys who can do it but unless you’re one of them, best to steer clear really love. It just seems like you put in all those solos for the sake of it and lets face it, you’re not really on that level are you? Everything else you did though was great but maybe you should leave the Clapton and Hendrix stuff to Clapton and Hendrix. Anyway, we’d love to hear more”
Suffice to say that I would like those five minutes of my life back. Fortunately the rest of the crowd were great as was Mr Trower who at 63 years of age can still play that geetar!! The next three gigs were also filled to the rafters with yet more wicked crowds: Really attentive. You see opening up to someone else’s audience, you’re never quite sure how the audience will be. Well, so far it seems to be going rather well – we’ve shifted bucket loads of albums and apart from the odd nutter here and there (more in a moment) the response from the people we’ve played to has been incredible.
Now to round off this weeks Blog, I’ll leave you with another from the ‘nutters corner’! I think maybe one day I’ll write a book on the colourful characters we meet on the road but until then, I’ll just keep writing Blogs
LOCATION: One of the last four gigs.
SCENARIO: Security man comes backstage to warn me about an extremely annoying man waiting for me who claims to be from EMI and wanting to sign me on the spot. Now this rings a bell, as I am sure I have encountered this person before, some 12 months ago. Anyway, I go out and head for the merchandise table only to be stopped in my tracks by said man. Yes, it’s him again alright.
“Aynsley, can I have a minute….you didn’t email me…don’t you want the deal with EMI then? This is your big break…… I’ve done all the prep work…. They’re just waiting for the phone call…… Why didn’t you email me?”
“Sorry mate, I didn’t get an email… maybe you could send it again”
“Well I sent it…. Facebook.”
“I’m not on facebook”
Ohh…… are you sure?…well I sent it anyway, give me your personal email then”
“Sorry mate, just send it to myspace or to the website… either way it’ll get to me… if I get a mail I’ll do something about it”
“Well they’re waiting for you to get in touch, the deal is waiting for you… just need to send ‘em a demo. I know all the guys that run the big festivals aswell, like I said before… can get you on any of them… they’re all my friends, just takes a phone call……..
…. And so it went on…. Pretty much the same as 12 months previous. Now allow me to shed some light here. I am not averse to people wanting to help, far from it – I really appreciate anyone who believes in what I do try and help me get onto the next level. Unfortunately though I have been doing this long enough to know if someone is genuine or just spouting complete bollocks at me! Lets just say that in this case it was most definitely the latter. If EMI did want to sign me, then they certainly wouldn’t send this guy to a gig!
So there you go! I’ll try and update you after each bunch of gigs and who knows…. I might even be able to introduce you to more from ‘Aynsley’s colourful characters of the road’. So till next time, tatty bye ;0)