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Diary of a Drum Tech Pt. 2

Firstly, I would like to thank all those that attended my tuning and teching demonstration at Drummer Live at Excel. It was my very first attempt at this malarkey and, I hope that you all learnt something from it.

View of Abe Laboriel from the rearBesides, I had time to catch up with lots of old drummer friends… Cherisse Osei, Whitey, Ian Matthews, Geoff Dugmore, Jerry Brown, Andy Newmark, Tom Meadows, Neal Wilkin

Now at the end of my week break I am heading to Stansted Airport for my flight to Dublin to resume the EC Eire & UK tour. Stansted saves me 2 hours travel as it is only an hour from home compared to my usual trudge to Heathrow.son etc.

Due to other work commitments Ian Thomas and Pino Palladino have been replaced on this leg by the superb Abe Laboriel Jr from Paul McCartney’s band and legendary bass player Willie Weeks, who was responsible for the brilliant work on Donny Hathaways’ albums amongst others as well as EC’s touring bass player including the recent Winwood/EC shows.
I have wanted to work with Abe since seeing him perform “Maybe I’m Amazed” with Macca at Madison Square Gardens, New York a while back. He not only plays like a demon but enjoys every second of performing. He is great visually too which is important and brings in a new dimension on songs. Up until now Pat Torpey of Mr Big and Michael Lee of Little Angels/Page & Plant were my top visual drummers as they had a certain style which is great to watch. They can play but also enjoy every minute of it as you can see by their broad smiles. I tested Pat Torpey each day with all of my favourite intros eg “Fireball”- Deep Purple – he could do the lot…. no problem!

Abe Laboriel's DW KitI got called to work with Abe for Sting but was not available at the time so my son Nick did it but, he who is patient WINS!

I arrive in Dublin and cab across town to the hotel ready for an early 8.00am start the following day. Abe has just finished McCartney in Kiev, Russia. Abe’s kit will not arrive until after the 1st show. We have a loan kit turning up from DW so I’ll prep it and get it as close to his kit as I can. It’s a monster – 26″ x 20″/13″x 12″/16″x 16″/18″x 16″
Abe Laboriel OutsideThe band arrive at 10am and Abe greets me with a huge grin. We make a few minor adjustments to cymbal angles and we are ready to go.Our tech day goes well and the kit is up and running ready for rehearsals start tomorrow.

I was hoping to visit my friend and drum tech to Larry Mullen Jr, Sam O’Sullivan, at the U2 studio in Dublin but due to our new schedule I am not able to, which is a shame. I will have to visit in my spare time.

Rehearsals end after 2 days. We break down the equipment and load the gear into the truck for the 4hr drive to our 1st show in Cork.

Cork was the birthplace of guitar player Rory Gallagher who was the finest, charismatic, most humble performer I have ever seen. Like EC there is not much that he could not do with his Strat. Treat yourself to his “Live In Europe.” CD. You will not be disappointed.

Paddy Fitzgerald, ex Dire Straits crew member, is running our show for the promoter. First we have breakfast followed by setting out the riser positions on stage.

Abe Laboriel from the rearAll goes well with set up and the show is introduced by EC’s friend Peter Kay. Another successful show with no incidents.

We head back to our hotel as we are set for a 6.30am depart back to Dublin by bus for our show at Malahide Castle. I awake to find as ever with all outdoor shows that it is pouring with rain, our worst dread. The drive to Dublin is the same 4hr trip and the rain is non-stop.

Upon arrival at Malahide Castle we find that the stage is soaked, so we sit it out for a while whilst we set out a new game plan. My old Lightning Seeds colleague Phay McMahon is head honcho for this show.

Abe’s DW Green & Blue Sparkle kit has arrived from the McCartney show in Kiev so we shall be using that from now on. He uses huge Paiste cymbals – 24″ & 22″ Crash, 22″ Ride and 2 x 15″ Bottom Hats paired together.

There will be 18,000 people here tonight but luckily we get a break in the weather. The show is a blinder despite the PA packing up and restarting and Abe was more than happy to see his kit.

Tomorrow we fly to Birmingham for our show in Nottingham.

Band goodbyeI awake at 6.30am to put the TV on to watch Annie Lennox on the BBC Andrew Marr Show, mainly to check that all is well. Off to Dublin Airport next where it is very windy and our flight is delayed. We finally land in Birmingham for the drive to Nottingham.

After arriving at our hotel, it is out for a swift curry with friends followed by bed.

The following day Abe decides that the snare needs changing so we do both main snare and spare between us as he does not mind rolling his sleeves up. Abe has a great style when playing, arms flying everywhere, so good to watch. Despite the bands efforts during the show, the crowd seem very impassive compared to normal.

Once we clear the stage and pack the truck we set off to London arriving at 3am in Kensington for a quick nap before returning home for a few days before Hyde Park Calling and Leeds Harewood Castle. On the way to the station by cab, I drop off a guitar tech box that I bought in the US to my son Nick in Westminster for his Sigur Ros tour and Martin flies to LA with Zak Starkey for The Who for the VH-1 awards. I have a day at home followed by rehearsals with Annie for Mandela. Drummer Jerry Brown is dropping off a snare to me at the studios for finishing, now that Tom Meadows of Duffy has tested the waters for him. It’s all go on this family firm!

We have July free before resuming in August to maraud through Europe and Iceland. More fun…more travel…more music – a perfect way of life!

I have more work with Ginger Baker coming up later this year…I’ll keep you posted.

See you then!


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