Hello fine readers. Welcome back to the Zone. I have had a very busy summer. I think I hit approximately 24 cities in the USA for my summer tour - the most successful one to date. Of course, I had to buy a few goodies for Brainworks studio when I returned home. I purchased a Korg DTR 1000 rack tuner (no home studio should be without a tuner) and a pair of Yamaha NS10m speakers with a switching system. The Yamies were a little hard to find since they are now discontinued. Man, they sure sound different than my Tannoy's!
I wanted to talk about life on the road this summer. I was asked to sub in for one of the guitar players in 3 Doors Down for their tour with Nickleback, Puddle of Mudd, 12 Stones and Thornley. I was the "understudy" if you will. The tour started in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 29 and ended up in Jackson, Mississippi on July 31st.
The first thing was that contracts had to be negotiated between the National Guitar Workshop and 3 Doors Management since I unfortunately had to cancel one month worth of seminars for the NGW. I apologize to all for not being present for those seminars. Next was learning the material. I was teaching in Los Angeles while I was learning the songs. It was tough because all my buds were going out every night... and kept coaxing me to come out, but I stood my ground to learn the 14 songs. I had about 5 days to learn them. The songs themselves were not hard to learn, but I wanted to be exact with all of the picking patterns and strum patterns, and really wanted to remember the name of the song. This is the most important thing, I found out. While learning them, I would constantly say the name of the song so I could associate them together. More on this later.
Once all that hoop-law was done, it was time to meet the band and find my place on the tour bus. Fortunately one of my good buddies plays drums in the band, so it was relatively easy to fit in.
The bus was great; we each had our own "condo" bunk. That is a pretty big bunk with your own TV and DVD player. The bus had a front lounge with all the fixings. The middle area was the sleeping area, and the back was another lounge for whatever you want. The bus was stocked with whatever you want. Anything...
I knew that there would not be any rehearsals. I would only have a chance at sound check to blow through a few of the songs... if there even was a sound check.
Chris was the coolest guy to hang with. The first day, we just sat back stage and jammed a little. Then I proceeded to play the songs down for him and with him. That was cool enough. It was hard for both of us without the lyrics, but I was prepared for that since I practiced all the songs from memory just with myself playing them. There were a few areas that I had to fix, but not too many.
Todd and myself doing a little jam before show time.
The normal schedule would be to wake up around one or two in the afternoon from a long bus ride from the previous gig and hit the bathroom. You were not allowed to go #2 on the bus. Talk about bowel training! I would usually scope out the venue, see where production was and also the dressing rooms and guitar/bass/drum warm-up rooms. Then we would hit catering for some lunch.
After that, sound check would be anywhere from 3-5 PM depending on the show. Many days there was no sound check whatsoever and I would hit the gym with Daniel and Doug (bass player from Puddle of Mudd) that was about 1-1/2 hours of intense sweating. Back for a shower and then practice for a few hours.
Dinner would be up around 7:00. Show time around 9:45 and rolling on the bus again by two in the morning. This was pretty much the schedule. Some days there was more practicing and jamming, other days were a day off, where there could be up to 8 hours of personal practice. or no practice whatsoever and just hanging out having a great time.
Little practice with Captain Kirk in the guitar dressing room (nice mobile rig Kirk!)
Day off at Cedar Point with the boys:
View from the stage:
One strange thing I had to get used to at sound checks was the use of in-ear monitors. All of the boys had custom moulds made from their own ears. I used some generic things that would not stay in that well. That was not the main problem. Both guitar players used isolation cabs (2x12 closed cabs with an internal microphone) that you could not hear. The only guitar sound on stage was through your in-ears. So if they fell out, you can't hear a damn thing you are playing. I am used to feeling my spine blown away from the cabs firing at my back, but that was not the case. It took a little to get used to but... what the hell.
Chris's switching system was quite simple. It was just an A/B switch for clean and dirty. Some of his guitars had the piezo system on it that would work from a switch on the guitar.
Chris's guitar world (my mom was out to the show that day):
When I sat in for Matt at sound check a few times, he had a totally different system. I looked down and there was just a wah-wah. I asked the guitar tech Paul where all the switches were. He said that he controls them. That was pretty freaking weird for me. I was used to stomping my own pedals. But, I have to say; it was pretty awesome to have someone change your sound while you just play. Hmmmmmmm...
Back stage with Daniel, Dad and myself:
Back to knowing the name of the songs. At one sound check Brad called out the name of a song that was new to me that I had just learned about one day earlier (new song added) and I almost messed it up - if it were not for my handy cheat sheet that I put on the floor in front of me that had just the intros to all the songs. Once I had the intro I was OK. Whew!
I was sad when it all ended, but realized what opportunities lie out on the road. I was amazed with the way the whole thing works, and the coolness of all people out there. I did not meet one messed up person.
May the tone be with you.
David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released seven solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.
His 2007 CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.