Saturday, June 12, 2010

Show Day in Donington, UK

Band came offstage last night in Madrid right at 2am. Left the site around 3am, got into my room, slept 30 whole minutes, then got up, showered, and left for the airport.

On the ground in London at 9am, only to find out that the transportation company had completely screwed up our vehicles for the 3-hour drive up to Donington. Major bummer! Within an hour or so, 8 people were sent off in one vehicle, an hour later another few went, and then finally, just past noon (after sitting here for over 3 hours), the last 3 of us got in a car to make the journey. Since I’m not "show-critical" I was one of the last to leave. No complaints here, because our ride was a huge, pimped-out Mercedes sedan with reclining rear seats. Sweet! I even managed to get in a small nap on the way up.

Stopped at a services area along the way, and I broke down and had my first Starbucks of 2010. Didn't really want to, but with today's schedule, it couldn't hurt.

Got to the Download Festival site around 2:30pm, because our driver Eddie was hauling ass. I checked the speedometer a couple of times and he was doing 100mph. That big Benz felt like it was riding on glass, though.

Sure wish we had more time, because I had probably 40 friends here today, mostly crew folks, but a few band guys, too. Would have been nice to have some hang time with them.

Dave arrived late afternoon, and parked a short distance away. I got him a backstage parking pass so I don't have to haul my suitcase all over hell and half of England when we leave from here tonight to drive down to his place in Dorset.

Tonight's the last show of the year for Rage. Seven shows total over two weeks is just NOT enough. I really love this crew, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that this band should tour more. But it is what it is…

Tonight's show is also the biggest of the tour. 98,000 in attendance, which looks like this…

Here's a shot of my buddy, Andy Meyer, our FOH Engineer, just before our show...

Murph (Patrick Murphy), our Stage Manager…

Shirley (our Production Assistant) and Spragoo (Monitor Engineer)…

Slim (Tom's Guitar Tech) waiting for the band to come onstage…

Slim's nightly, end-of-show catch of Tom's guitar. Unfortunately, this one signifies the end of the tour...

After packing up my stuff, it was hugs all-around, then Dave and I jumped in his car for a 3-hour drive to Dorset. Amazingly enough, I stayed awake the whole time. Miraculous, considering I was running on 30 minutes of sleep last night…

Friday, June 11, 2010

Show Day in Madrid

What I wanted to do was stay up really late last night, so I'd sleep late this morning, which would help with the crazy stuff we've gotta do to make it to the UK for tomorrow night's show. I was up until just past 5am, but my brain flat refused to sleep in this morning, waking me right at 9am. Sheesh!

Tried to nap during the afternoon, but that wasn't working, either, dang it! Headed out to the gig about 6pm. Sounds late but Rage wasn't scheduled to play until 12:30am. No need to be there too terribly early, ya know?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Travel Day to Madrid

By the time we finally got back to the hotel at the Amsterdam airport last night, I figured out that I'd had three 30-minute naps over the course of nearly 44 hours. Talk about tired…

People have the strangest misconceptions of what being a roadie is like. They think being on the road is non-stop partying, backstage at the shows, at the hotels, and everywhere else we find ourselves in our travels. While that might sometimes be true for the bands (some bands, not all), we crew folks have work to do. Nobody's being paid to party out here. "Living the dream" for us mostly consists of a few hours of stress release on the occasional day off.

On a show day, it doesn't matter if I'm in Paris, France, or Boise, Idaho. I'm in a windowless room in a building, with little chance of even getting outside into the fresh air. But get me to that day off and I'll be out and about, enjoying bars, restaurants, and activities all over the world with my road family.

Made it to our Madrid hotel, checked in, and then headed out to the venue to load in and set up the office. The gig tomorrow is the Rock In Rio Festival (Madrid edition), and is located about 30 minutes outside of the city.

Spotted this amazing fountain on the way out of town...

After taking care of all that, back to the hotel, then off for a late-night dinner with a group of folks. We went to a tapas/paella restaurant about 2 blocks from the hotel. Food so good, make ya wanna slap yo mama, like this paella...

Looking for a good night of sleep tonight, because following the show tomorrow night will be our worst-of-tour travel experience…

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Show Day in Arnhem, Holland

Another brutal day…got 30 minutes of sleep last night at the Dublin hotel before I had to get up and head to the airport for this morning's flight into Amsterdam. Got another 30 minutes on the plane.

Landed in Amsterdam and straight away to our hotel, arriving around 9:30am. Rooms not ready, imagine that! Within 20-30 minutes, about half us got room keys. Everybody kinda buddied up, so all would have a place to hang out, even if they were waiting for their own rooms. I let Steven Douglas, our LD, crash out in my room while I met up for 4-5 other folks to eat breakfast downstairs. The breakfast is included with our rooms, but not for this morning, since we're checking in. It's for tomorrow, and they won't budge, despite our promises not to eat it tomorrow morning. Can you say 25 Euros for breakfast? Can you say $31.00 USD? It was good, but it wasn't THAT good…

Split for the gig about 12:30pm, it being almost two hours away in Arnhem. Jane's Addiction is opening tonight, a band I can't fucking stand to listen to, but my old buddy Brad Divens is doing FOH for them and hanging out with Brad is always fun.

Got back super late to the hotel following the gig, but we can sleep in a bit tonight before flying to Madrid early tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Show Day in Dublin

Show today at the O2 Arena in Dublin. Blah, blah, blah…

Another crazy night tonight with little sleep. Left the venue quite late, hope to get an hour of sleep before leaving for the airport…

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day Off in Dublin

Made it to our Dublin hotel around 4pm after an uneventful flight from the London City Airport, an airport I'd never flown into or out of before. Not sure I'd ever even heard of it. Most flights are into/out of Heathrow or Gatwick or sometimes even Stansted (another airport I've never flown to/from).

After a quick lobby chat, several of us agreed to meet in the lobby bar at 5pm for a beer, following by a drinking/dining excursion. My singular goal today was to have a few pints of Guinness at Temple Bar (the pub) in Temple Bar (the neighborhood). Temple Bar is my favorite pub here in Dublin, and Dublin is one of the few places I'll drink Guinness. It's made here, and it tastes so much better when it's fresh from the brewery instead of shipped to the US.

I was in the bar promptly at 5 (imagine that!), and Spragoo joined me a few minutes later. Took until almost 6 before all had assembled. Off we went, first stopping at Hogan's for several rounds. After about my 4th Guinness, I had to give up and switch to Buds, the Guinness being a bit heavy. What's funny is now that Anheuser-Busch is owned by a European company, you can find Bud on tap at almost every pub. Was hard as hell to find before, and even if you did find it, it was only in bottles.

Off again, this time to the Temple Bar…

Temple Bar is one of the larger pubs around, and has a cool courtyard in the center of it, with an elevated roof covering that allows plenty of fresh air IN, and cigarette smoke OUT. That's where we proceeded to camp out for the next 90 minutes or so.

Da Gang…L to R: Spragoo, Molly, Murph, Andy, Robert, Bob

Off to dinner next, at a nearby "steakhouse" I can't remember the name of. Dinner was courtesy of Sound Image, the company Spragoo works for - he's the Director of Touring there. Lots of eating, drinking and being merry before we stuffed ourselves into a taxi for the short ride back to the hotel…

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Show Day in London, UK

Rage is playing a free show in London today, at Finsbury Park. For the details on exactly WHY we're doing that, go HERE.

Jimmy Page came out, and watched from stage left, over by the monitor console…

Tom Morello with 40,000 of his London friends…

Tom and Zack…

Behind the backdrop, just before the encore…

End of the show…

About a half-dozen fellow roadies from the Bon Jovi tour came to hang out and see the show, as did my buddy Dave Clayton, whose house I'll be staying at during my 8-day UK vacation upcoming at the end of this tour.

Dave split just before the end of the show, so as to beat the crowds heading to the train station, but the Bon Jovi crowd hung out and had a few beers with us.

The Bon Jovi crew folks…From L to R: dude, Sooner, dude, Monkey, dude, Abby.

Among the Bon Jovi folks was my dear friend Abby Franklin. I've known the Abbster for 10 years now. We've toured together several times in that period. She cracks me up, and is always, always in a good mood.

Here's a shot from 2007 during another tour, when we went on a whale-watching expedition in Iceland…

Things wound down pretty late, and off we all went to get a good night's rest. Tomorrow, Dublin!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Travel Day to London

Ugh! This tour sucks! Got all of 40 minutes sleep before I had to get up to go to the airport this morning for our flight to London. Gonna be a long, long, day…

The Koln airport was off the hook! It wasn't an airport with shops, it was a mall with planes. Every store and shop in the place was open when we got there at 6:15am. Never in my life have I seen a full-service grocery store in an airport. WTF? "Honey, on your way back from Berlin, could you pick up a liter of milk?" lol… Seriously, who shops for groceries at the airport???

AND…they had a sex toy shop there, too. Dildo, anyone?

German folks have no shame in their game when it comes to sex. Plenty of sex shops, prostitution and whatnot all over the country. They are probably more sex-obsessed than any other country I've toured in. You can even get Travel Pussy in the men's room at the airport, whatever the hell that is, lol…

On the ground in London, and off to the hotel for a bit, then over to the venue to load in for tomorrow's show, which is a free show to the public. More details on that in tomorrow's post.

Set up offices, dressing rooms, etc., then back to the hotel. Met up with Molly in the lobby, then we met up with some folks in one of the hotel bars. We walked in at like 10:02 and they wouldn't serve us food, even though they'd just taken orders from the other 4 people at our table 5 minutes ago. I slapped back a beer and left to go across the street to Marks & Spencer to get a sandwich and a packet of crisps, which I brought back to the bar and proceeded to share with Molly while the others ate their dinners. Beers, beers, and more beers later, up to my room to get a good night of sleep. That 40 minutes from last night was brutal…

Friday, June 4, 2010

Show Day in Nuerburg, Germany

Not a bad night's sleep, considering it's our one and only night on an overnight bus ride during this tour. We'll be flying city-to-city for the rest of this run, which is gonna be a big pain in the ass.

I woke up about 10km from the festival site. Today's show is at the Rock Am Ring Festival, with about 80,000 kids in attendance, just like yesterday. Slash and Jay-Z are both playing on our stage today, and I hope to see a few minutes of each set. My buddy Bobby Schneck plays guitar in Slash's band – hope to get some hang time with him at some point.

Got the office set up, and headed over to the Rage compound to grab a shower. On the way over, who do I run into but Herman The German, my old friend. I met Herman 9 years ago on my first tour accounting gig. I was with Slipknot, who were headlining the Pledge Of Allegiance Tour in 2001. He was doing security for the German band Rammstein, who were also on that tour. We later worked together for System Of A Down, and he's spent the last 3-4 years with Three Doors Down. So these days, he's become the Artist Rep for Gibson Guitars here in Germany and is here at the festival to meet all the musicians. He's got a big ol' showroom by the dressing room compound to show all the latest Gibson and Epiphone guitars and basses and whatnot to them.

Hang out with Herman for about half an hour getting caught up. Miss the guy. Before he got into touring, he owned a gym in Mannheim, and was a professional wrestler. I mean, he's a BIG DUDE! You can see him HERE.

Later on, I got to hang out with Bobby and get caught up with his world. Met a couple of the other guys in Slash's band, they're all nice kids.

Watched a few songs of Slash's set, but never saw Jay-Z. Busy doing other stuff. Plus, I'd seen him last year when he opened a few shows for Coldplay, who I was working for.

A few shots from today…

Andy, Slim and Mike (drum tech, guitar tech, monitor engineer) just before our set.

A shot from the drum riser:

Slim getting ready:

The show from up top:

Show over:

After the show, 2-hour drive to Koln (Cologne), into rooms for a couple hours of sleep, then we'll be leaving at 6am to go to the airport to fly to London.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Show Day in Nurnberg, Germany

First show of our little tour today, headlining the Rock Im Park Festival here in Nurnburg. Our production office is so far away from the stage (half-mile or so), that I never even went to the stage. Didn't see the show, couldn't even hear the show, lol…

After packing up and loading out the office, we took off on the bus for tomorrow's show at the Nurburgring…

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Production Day in Germany

Made it to Frankfurt a little early, but one of the runways was closed for some reason, which caused us to be put in a holding pattern for about 30 minutes. No big deal, really, because we had people coming in on various flights over the next few hours. Once everyone lands and collects bags, we'll all take off on the crew bus for Nuremberg, Germany, where the Rock Im Park Festival is held.

Breezed through immigrations, and headed to baggage claim, where I'd spend the next 90 minutes. Yup, no luggage for me. Pisser! No luggage for Shirley, our Production Assistant, either.

Waited and waited and waited, then headed to the counter to do the paperwork. Funny thing, though, there was a BROWN bag about the size of my BLACK bag that, like mine, had bright yellow handle wraps on both handles. Hmmm…could it be that some moron took my bag because he was groggy and couldn't tell brown from black at this time of the morning? Why else would this bag be sitting here instead of with its rightful owner?

Thankfully, his luggage tag yielded a bit of info – his name, address, and most importantly, his phone number. The super-duper American Airlines guy called the number, but got voice mail in Sunnyvale, CA, where the dude lived. Within 15 minutes, though, someone called back and gave Mr. AA guy the dude's hotel info. Even better, the hotel was less than an hour away. Next, Mr. AA guy coordinated the return of my bag with the hotel's concierge.

And lucky me, my bag arrived about an hour later, just 15 minutes before we rolled away on our bus to make the two-hour drive to Nurnburg. I had a backpack with a few days of clothing and some mini-toiletries in it, so I could have gotten by, but being a moving target (moving city-to-city daily) makes it harder to have your luggage forwarded. Damn glad to get it back.

Next problem was an overturned truck on the autobahn, which turned our 2-hour drive into a 5.5-hour drive. Meaning there would be no chance to go by the hotel for showers/naps, etc. Bummer!

Straight to the Rock Im Park festival site to load in for tomorrow's show. I had the usual crap to do – set up the office, build a few Excel files, advance a few final items, etc. The band showed up and soundchecked around 7:30.

Finally got back to the hotel at midnight. Totally exhausted, but I still went down to the lobby bar and had a couple of Beck's drafts. Tasty stuff, indeed. No one else on the crew came down, so I chatted with the dude tending bar. They closed at 1am, at which point I grabbed one to go and headed to my room. After a bit of emails and web-surfing, I finally crashed out about 3am.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Travel Day to Germany

Today started easy enough. My girlfriend Karen picked me up about 8:30 to head out to the airport. I had a 10:35 flight from Raleigh to Dallas, then a flight from there to Frankfurt, Germany. Kinda weird that I wasn't flying Raleigh to London to Frankfurt, but I suppose they wanted to keep the crew together for the long flight overseas.

This was the first time in many years I had to leave a girlfriend behind to go to work (gee, can you tell I haven't dated anyone in a while?), and I gotta say, I was a little wigged out about it. I'll be coping, and I guess she'll be coping, too.

The flight to Dallas was fine. I was in First Class. Read my hometown newspaper and was there in a flash. Hung out for an hour before any other crew folks started showing up, and by then, it was pretty much time to board for Germany.

I was in Business Class for the long haul, a ten-hour-and-forty-minute flight. Due to the fact that it was in the air on time at 2:40pm, it didn't really make sense for me to go to sleep, considering we'd be landing at 7:30am in Germany, which was 1:30am back home in Raleigh, not long after I'd typically go to sleep.

I watched a movie called "The Book Of Eli" and enjoyed it. Watched a few TV shows, and read a couple of newspapers. Even managed to take a nap for nearly an hour, which is sure to come in handy later…