Saturday, 8 November 2008

Ali in the Jungle

Oasis shows were great, but included a lot of driving and I picked up a cold which I'm still trying to shift. The Hours played in London this week at a tiny venue which was filmed for the TV session series 'The JD Set'. Look out for me removing a cameraman from the stage as he did his very best not only to block my already limited view of the stage, but to walk into a vintage telecaster. This apparently upset the rest of the film crew who had words with me after the show. I do apologize for laughing at their 'spokesperson' who had little grasp of English but did his very best to put forward his 'Roadie W**ker' theory. I put forward my best 'F**k Off Vidiot' response. We agreed to differ and I sent him on his way with my best Terry Tibbs put down for good measure. Much Love...
Heading off to Damien Hurst place on Monday to film a new video for The Hours. Looking forward to it immensely. Then we play an acoustic show with Kasabian at the Union Chapel in London on Friday, followed by shows later in the month in Glasgow, Manchester and London.
Watching 'When We Were Kings' on TV now...

Thursday, 30 October 2008

So...following on...

Well give a man a break!
It's been a long strange exciting year, which accounts for not sharing the majority here due to time and tiredness.
I returned home at the end of August with a new job and a massive kick up the backside. I'm now a full time guitar technician, having passed on the Marillion/Racket Records baton to Frenchie who has been filling in for my absence since January. It was not a job i wanted to give up, and the past 8 years have been a dream job working for one of my favorite bands. However, the Iron Maiden chaps like what I do and want me to stay on for future tours, so i've taken the plunge into self employment and a life on the open road (from time to time...).
The Maiden touring experience was an amazing learning curve, not to mention the 34 countries, thousands of miles, irish bar reconnaissance missions and the endless hunt for kebab perfection.
Although my full time role within Marillion is at an end, I can still be found tweaking guitars and packing cds from time to time. Its also nice to be able to bow out at the same time as their new album hits the (virtual) shelves...check it out at their online home.
I'm currently sat in a Belfast hotel room waiting to start the second days work with The Hours who are supporting Oasis over two nights. They are one of the best bands i've encountered in many years, and have just expanded their line up to seven members. The new album is due shortly and i had the pleasure of spending a day in Battery Studios with them and legendary producer Flood during the sessions.
Having returned from touring I contacted my old JakDog chums Pete and Keith who twisted my arm into reforming the band. We have a new bass player and after two sessions it sounds great already. We are looking to play around my touring schedule, and with the other chaps having alternate projects this should keep everything fresh.
Everything is great at home, my family has just returned from a holiday in Turkey (without me...due to work commitments, but then again it's a change for me not to be the one flying off around the globe). I stayed with the dog in a damp Buckinghamshire.
Anyway...I'm off on a champagne supernova in a taxi.

Sunday, 30 March 2008


Arrive at sunrise after an eventful flight and drive to the hotel. A few fans are sat waiting for us in the hotel lobby, but everyone is bushed and head to bed. I look out of my window and see a large group of kids gathered for a triathalon. Ironic that i can hardly walk after the last gig and long flight. Draw the curtains and sleep...
I awake to the sound of a phone ringing. It's 5.30am and i'm being offered the job of looking after Dave for the entire tour. Some days are worth waking up for :)
The next day we head for the venue to set up, and get used to the lunatic who is looking after the pyro for this Aussie leg. I've never had to work with fireworks and flames before, and the stage is covered in them...including a large collection of gunpowder filled tubes situated about 30cm from my head. Trying to ignore this, i carry on setting up the gear ready for the band to soundcheck at 4pm. Once the band arrive they run through the pyro settings (which means setting everything off!) and do a photo session with the new walking Eddie. 
Dickie Bell (Maiden Legend) is retiring after this aussie tour, and is making the most of having two new guitar techs (myself and Justin, who is looking after Janick). This basically means catching you out when you least expect it and screaming at you for having hands in pockets. We do learn quick, but he is a master at this and gets you every bloody time.
I head back to the hotel and chat with my lovely wife on skype before attempting sleep.
I wake at 3am and sit watching a huge thunderstorm on the horizon. I spend hours trying to catch the lightning on my new camera, and take 300 pics. Two of them nail the scene. Get back to sleep at 7am for a while, before i'm needed in the lobby. The venue is the largest i've ever worked in, but feel confident even with my aching legs.  The gig is brilliant and i'm in control of everything this time. Dave is happy and plays a blinder, the fireworks catch me out a few times, I manage to avoid Bruce this time and end up on a high. Now if i can just get this sleep thing sorted out before Melbourne...

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Mumbai - India

We land in the early hours. The air is dusty but its not as hot as I'd thought it would be. We are taken on to a coach for the drive to the airport, our bags are loaded on to a truck which may never make it, in fact 99.9% of the transport looks like it may never make it to the end of the road...except for the tuk-tuks. There is a taxi rank at the airport which stretches as far as i can see. There must be 2 or 3 thousand of these tiny 3 wheelers parked up, like gods own bumper car ride, all sleeping waiting for daylight...The drivers that are on duty throughout the night sit on the corners of road junctions, or even in the middle of the road, huddled around fires in 3's or more. It's very calm and quite unlike anything I've seen before.
The hotel is great, a room to myself. I try and get some sleep as we have a production rehearsal tomorrow and I'm quite worried. This gig is a big deal and I'm not quite ready...but fuck it...head first into the void (as usual)!
I awake to find a woman outside my window in a sari doing her washing in a bucket. I try out my new camera and get some great pics. Dogs are running everywhere, cows walk amongst the cars and it's mayhem. Absolute carnage...but everyone keeps going, edging forward, finding space, turning 90 degrees into oncoming traffic, and we are in the middle of it all on a coach heading for the gig...
I had been told that the stage would be made from bamboo poles and the stage set (which every venue must supply the basic layout, and the set boys add scrims, backdrops and bridges etc) would be made from wood. I laughed and shrugged the suggestion off my broad shoulders. But the bastards were right...almost. The set was in fact made from old scaffolding planks and long nails. Very long nails. Which went through both pieces of the wooden join and kept going. The coolest thing was that it looked Egyptian even before we put the Egyptian stage scrims on it! There were local crew everywhere, hundreds of them, hammering, sweeping the dust off the stage, watching other local crew hammering who in turn would stop hammering and watch the sweepers. Then everyone would stop and watch us. Sean (my mentor and Adrian's Uber-tech) had a crowd of people sitting above him on the set watching him change strings, totally engrossed in the art of the guitar technician.
With the gear set up, the crew took to the stage with the new line up of Dark Twat. Hitting the small crowd of locals with a spirited run through of AC/DC's Highway To Hell (abridged), the fans went mild. Still...we have time to fine tune the set (see above song) in the coming weeks.
We headed back to the hotel around 7ish to order a fine curry.

Show Day
The band came down to the gig early to soundcheck (a very rare occurrence) and spent an hour getting levels sorted in the bright sunlight. When they opened the venue doors it was a strange site. There was a sea of brown faces and black hair, screaming from the moment they arrived inside totally hyped up. This lasted until the moment the house lights went down (some 6 hours later), only to be replaced by mass hysteria. Dave shook my hand, wished me luck and seconds later ran on to the stage. The cable had snagged on the wah pedal and he turned laughing at me. I ran out and freed it up, and spent the next 100 minutes on my knees trying to keep up with Dave, watching his cable, my head spinning. Fucking's Iron Maiden...and I'm on the other end of the lead! Why am i kneeling down doing my gig? I've no idea but there's no time to think of a better way right now.
I compared this moment with Marillions usual show...which did not help, as Bruce came bowling into me on the way back though the curtain. I up for this?? Another 22 shows?? Tough shit...I had agreed to do it, they had agreed to take a chance on me so I was going to give it 200%. The show finished and Dave patted me on the back. I was exhausted and spent the next two days with my legs in agony. It can only get better...surely?

Chooo Choooo...All Change!

This should have been the end of a once in a lifetime tour with one of my favorite bands from my teenage years, and back to the Racket Studios to muck in with the final phase of album 15. Only Dave Murray is happy with my work and has asked me to stay on...!  So...I'm now chilling out with the family and getting ready to hit the states in May and finish the tour sometime in August. Everything has been thrown up in the air, but change can be a beautiful thing.
Not sure if I can remember everything from the past 2 months, but I have some great pics and i'll post the best and funniest bits. Except the bit about the donkey and custard.

Monday, 24 March 2008

...before I was rudely interu...

Well my previous blog pages are playing up, and i cannot change passwords. If you want to check out older posts go here otherwise this is the new home for all bright and shiny things.