Really pleased to have a deal with Best Tronics in the USA. Will shortly be getting a nice shiny new drum snake which I will use with my own mics to make sure that the drums are properly set up as often as I possibly can (some places are so small, you really don’t need mics!).
These guys’ cables are solid and the main dude we have dealt with, Brad, is super cool – so if you’re looking for great gear, check ‘em out. It’s actually something often overlooked by musicians; some guitarists for example spend tons of money on a beautiful guitar and perfect amp, but string them together with some piece of shit cable that resembles the tin can telephones we made as kids.
Apart from that, the album is taking great shape for Iron Knights and gigs are being confirmed, the first small tour due to be announced any day now. Looking forward to getting back out there with a band that I have 100% confidence in. Good stuff
Islington O2 Academy
We only got notice we were playing this show a matter of days before the gig, but it was absolutely superb. Both bands were very cool and the staff at the venue were the same – they could not have done any more to help us out in every way. The sound dude, Kostas, I recognised from The Underworld, and he gave us a perfect sound. The lights were great. Bek, the guv’nor lady and stage manager, was awesome….everything was really the best side of gigging anywhere. We even had a nice dressing room with some food and drinks.
It actually got me thinking that the UK has developed quite a negative reputation with bands when compared to the treatment you get in Europe. However, as well as last night, there are quite a few venues and promoters the length and breadth of the UK who really go above and beyond to do everything they can to help bands. They’re struggling too in the strange climate that can affect the UK metal scene of either lack of money or apathy, and when you see that they have done whatever they can to help the band put on a great show, it is always massively appreciated. Maybe it’s too easy to forget that fact sometimes.
Anyway, the show itself was only half an hour and we had a minor hiccup when Jay broke a string in the middle of the Destroyer solo (first song). Normally this wouldn’t be a major problem, but the set relied on some guitar swaps for different tunings. What this meant was that we had a few gaps between tracks as the poor bloke had to retune. It’s the band’s second show, so a good one for us as problems like that make you hatch good contingency plans….so it won’t happen again. With such a tight set length and knowing we had to be on and off in good time, I was a bit hesitant to launch into any kind of impromptu thing to cover the gaps, but now that I think about it I know what I could have done…which means I’ll be ready next time The main thing for me was that the band ripped into each song perfectly and it didn’t rattle anyone. So proud to be sharing the stage with this bunch of guys.
Nice to be back on the trusty Mapex…still loving the new layout with only one bass drum and with my 14″ tom mounted over the floor tom. So, thanks as always to my excellent endorsers: Mapex, Paiste, Wincent, Duallist, Music Shipping Company (Aquarian) and Hardcase….the ultimate combination for me \m/
It was also great to meet some old mates that I haven’t seen for a while…and meet some new ones….so all in all, a great night.
The first gig for the new Iron Knights and it was looking likely to be a cracker; a small German festival called Swordbrothers in Andernach, on the west bank of the Rhine. A great way to break the band in on stage. We got together in London the morning before the show to travel to the hotel that the über cool promoter Volker had organised for us in Andernach. Didn’t need a backline, so we crammed all the gear we were taking into Beam’s trusty wagon and hared off for Dover. No traffic jams or anything – so we were there in good time. In fact we were there in such good time that Customs took an interest in us and pulled us over. As I was piloting, it was my job to get out as they took Jamie’s overstuffed pack at random from the car and gave it a going over. The Customs lady was pretty cool even though she didn’t like heavy metal. She apparently went as far as Therapy?, winning no brownie points at all from this particular drummer. However, her trusty Customs comrade then started quoting lyrics from Motörhead at me…so I knew we were safe and sound Once they had repacked all of Jamie’s make up, night shirt, night cap and candle in its small enamel holder, we were off to hurry up and wait for the ferry.
So far so good.
And that set the pattern for the day…well, the whole weekend actually: effortless. The ferry ran on time (!) and, although our fearless vocalist claimed to suffer from seasickness and was certainly not the hardiest mariner, it was a smooth sailing with no problems at all.
We cruised throughout the day through France and Belgium (getting stuck in hideous piles of traffic shit near Brussels), hurdled the Siegfried Line near Aachen and arrived in sunny Germany. It’s always good to get back into Europe, even with seemingly suicidal autobahn warriors doing Warp Factor 10 past the Beammobile.
We stopped for vittles at a service station (excellent food at a decent price for motorway stuff) and arrived in Andernach after the hotel dude had gone to bed. However, no problem; he got up and let us in with no grumbling at all, and a grand hotel it was indeed.
Gig day began with awesome German breakfast before we convened in one of the rooms to run over the set. We had only had one rehearsal, so it gave a chance to refresh ourselves with the plan. Also gave us a chance to start writing a new track
Off to the venue. In case we were at all feeling tired Beam decided to boost the adrenaline by doing a little bit of avant-garde driving on the wrong side of the road, which the locals seemed very impressed with judging by their excitable hand waving. The venue, the Juz Club, is part of what looks like a sports complex. Great place, and we were soon in the dressing room waiting for kick off. Lord Volture were on first and then us. Everybody there, from the main man Volker, Chris and his stage guys, to the audience were absolutely fantastic so it was shaping up well. Two friends, the excellent sound duo Peter and Jarno, had offered to do our sound, but not sure if that worked out for them. Great to see them anyway, as always.
By the time we hit the stage there was a decent crowd that came in to watch us; hanging back a bit as we were totally unknown to them, but getting in to it nonetheless. After all it was about 2pm and people were still warming up. We played a short set: Destroyer, The Messenger, Bloodstorm, Jericho and two new ones. The whole thing went flawlessly. The three older tracks have been given a serious overhaul and sound fresh and new with some different spins on things; Destroyer worked great as an opener, and the two new ones went down a storm. All in all it was an absolutely ideal first show and people reacted well to it asking for CDs and info and everything. So the future looks great. I had a small problem in that I lost the strength in my right thumb, which was a little weird, but just opted for the cavemen grip and laid back on a few rolls so as not to lose my stick. Odd. Maybe a banana before the show would help (sounds strange, but the Potassium is great for gigging). Jay did a short solo which was spectacular, Jamie nailed the vocals and was excellent on stage and Beam really came to the fore with everything. The band rocked and I am 100% confident in it — and it’s been years since I was in a situation like that, so this is one particularly happy drummer The Guv’nor Anna was on hand to sort everything out for us, but it was so well run, there wasn’t much for her to do except meet people she had dealt with, make new connections and drink beer. She did have one task, however, to video the gig on Jamie’s mobile. Now…Mister Gibson is no Spielberg. In fact at rehearsal he masterfully video-taped us sitting and talking and ran out of battery when we started playing. This time he assured Anna that everything was set up and ready to go so as the gig kicked off she pressed record…got about one minute of our intro before the phone shut down due to lack of space. Ha ha! Brilliant! In fact Jamie’s phone had staunchly refused to accept that it was in Europe all trip – firmly telling him the time and weather in Dover whenever he looked at it. We expected it to break into God Save The Queen whenever it rang.
Anyway…once we were off stage we dropped our gear at the hotel, headed back to the gig and hung out all day and night. There was an upstairs balcony that was kind of backstage with free food and beer all day long…so that was that sorted! The bands were great, my particular favourite being Rebellion. In fact I was also quite blown away by Jutta Weinhold – great voice and a tight band – and Jamie was overjoyed to find out the drummer was called ‘Bubi’. My old mates Shadowkeep were there and did a grand set. Chris Allen is surely one of the most underrated guitarists in the UK.
Even the metal market was cool – a couple of tents with record store guys; the bloke from Metalizer Records so cool that he gave us a ridiculous deal on some CDs, kissed everybody for buying something, and laughed all night long (the empty JD bottle may have had something to do with that).
It was a brilliant festival and I can’t say too many good things about it. Everything was perfect.
The next day, breakfast again (Jamie appearing most impressed that breakfast, lunch and dinner had so far been, largely, meat and bread) and then we hit the road. Different route back took us through The Netherlands, but we were still early so managed an earlier sailing. This time it was quite a storm in the Channel so our Ancient Mariner vocalist had to brave seamonsters and U-boats as the ferry rocked and rolled back to England. His method of sitting in one spot in the bar worked and we didn’t get to see his dinner again. Then…Dover…whereupon Jamie’s phone told him the time and weather conditions in France (whistling La Marseilles as it did so). The wonders of technology.