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Diary of a Drum Tech Pt. 4

Hello All… I’m back!

Konigsplatz MunichWe left off from Part 3 in Berlin, during the Eric Clapton tour, just before we travelled overnight to Munich for our Day Off. Upon arrival our hotel is right in town amongst all the shops and restaurants which makes a nice change these days as so many times we end up out of town or at airports to save money by having less expensive rooms… great if you are a plane spotter! Today is spent around the department store opposite followed by dinner and a beer.

Show day, Konigsplatz Munchen, 17th August.

Our crew call for the following day is 8.30am so that we are ready for the open air gig at Konigsplatz (Kings Place) This is in the grounds amidst beautiful museums similar to those grand buildings you find in Central London.

A pretty normal day today – just a snare head change and a bit of tuning. Some of our backline crew have returned from the Mark Knopfler tour, now that has finished so no crew soundchecks due to a severe lack of talent on the crew frontage. Not much else to report apart from rain again!

Jakob Dylan and his band are support again. We load out and head for Wiesbaden for another Day Off!

My day is spent finalising production duties for Annie Lennox as her proposed promo tour of the US & Europe has been cancelled due to her injury during her trip to Mexico. I have been busy cancelling rehearsals and crew for this period. All has been put on hold until the Spring for the CD release.

WeisbadenShowday, Kurhaus, Wiesbaden (Bowling Green), 19th August.

Another open air gig set in the grounds of historical buildings. Our bus is parked by the lake in the grounds and the band’s hotel is dead opposite the stage about 250 yards away but over the years I have perfected the art of looking busy in case I am being spied upon!

It’s another overcast day…it’s surprising how much energy the climate can add or drain from you. It is the day for tom and snare changing so it is nice and busy. I always leave the drummer to tell me when he would like new heads unless they dip or are dead.

As usual as soon as the crowd arrive it begins to rain…

We drive 4 hours overnight to Zurich.

Show day, Hallenstadion, Zurich, 20th August.

I have been here many times over the years. It was a Velodrome until recently but has undergone a major facelift to improve the seating and facilities in all departments. The cycle track has been removed and the seats rise on a draw lift enabling the trucks to drive into the arena in front of the stage. If you get run over by a bike in Zurich, blame the venue. We find that the German trucks have been delayed at the Swiss border so load in is two hours later than usual. As soon as they arrive it’s all hands on deck to make up for time. Most of the regular crew that have worked here for a number of years have been replaced by younger inexperienced crew so it’s like doing a gig at Sheffield(Hallam) University where you have to use students…willing, but are they able? Enough said!

The show goes well as usual and Jakob Dylan guests with EC’s band and sings “Crossroads” for the finale. This is where we say our goodbyes to Dylan and his band and to the German lighting and sound crews as we are off to sunny Monaco and they aint….unlucky mein freund!

Drive To Monaco.

Drive To MonacoI love the drive to Monaco as it is breathtaking on the coast road. It reminds me of the drive into my hometown of Dubrovnik, Croatia as you approach from high up in the mountains and descend you get a full view of the clear blue water, the peninsula outline and the red tile roof…beautiful!

I am up early to get it all on camera whilst the less able are glued to their bunks. Our rooms will not be ready before 2pm so we need to kill time for 3hrs and have a choice of a roadside eatery, en route, overlooking the coast or a dark underground bus park in the heart of Monaco…you were wrong… the bus park got the vote. Democracy it ain’t! Wandering around town unwashed and unshaved is not my idea of hanging around hot and trendy Monaco.

On the strike of 2pm we head for the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and it is fabulous. The band will be staying here too so I’ll have to make sure that I avoid them in case of awkward questions such as “Is breakfast on the room?”, “Can you lend me some Euros for the casino?” or even worse “How do the drums sound?”.

My room has sea views so who cares about the gig eh? Apart from 9 years in Notting Hill as a crazy mixed up kid, I have always lived on the coast… there must be something in it as I find water very calming.

This is the home of the rich and famous including Ringo and Shirley Bassey but I find it very uncomfortable with such open displays of wealth. Surely you could help so many people rather than just buying a Bentley in another colour? It reminds me of Hollywood, where it attracts the wrong sorts hoping to hit the jackpot, if you get my drift?

Through my work with Annie I am fortunate enough to meet some superb people such as Leah Blake and Alicia Keys. Their combined work in Africa is taking care of 40,000 people suffering from AIDS but also feeding their families. Talking with them backstage leaves you with the feeling that your own life is fairly futile. To me it proves how ineffective Governments have become.

Show day, Sporting Club, Monaco, 22nd August.

Monaco CentreToday is show day, the club is next door to the hotel and it is a brief stroll through the grounds in the sunshine. After breakfast on the terrace… yes, on the terrace… we depart for the venue. The best way to describe the club is that of a cabaret revue bar with tables and dinner.

I was here doing production duties for Ringo a few years ago for the Red Cross for an event that was attended by Prince Rainier and the Monaco Royal Family. Despite desperate pleas from Princess Caroline I decided that living in the Royal Palace was not for me!

I have a double who works on the crew here…it’s eerie but luckily for him he looks like me! Even I did a double take!

All the guests here are not poor and as John Lennon once said “just rattle your jewellery”. Apart from the rattling, they throw roses onto the stage to show their appreciation. We set up backstage on a huge rolling stage that slides forward when the support band are finished.

Show day, Sporting Club, Monaco, 23rd August.

Same again today. Nothing new to report. After our show we load our gear onto the truck ready for the return trip to England.

Upon my return to the UK I take two days off before venturing into my shop where I have numerous repair jobs and photography to do in listing my new kits and snares. We have recording session rentals going in and out plus a film hire. I have a gorgeous 26″ 1940’s Radio King set in Blue Marine Pearl ready to list in my Hire Section.

Monte Carlo Bay HotelShow day, EC at Floridita, 100 Wardour Street, Soho 9th September.

A bit of history here as this is the site of the original Marquee Club. Neighbours in the good ole days were the offices of The Who above Henrit’s Drum Store, where a young (then hairy) Mike Dolbear wore out Bob’s counter with his rudiments!

In those days if you played the Marquee you had made it…most dreamed of it followed by playing the Hammersmith Odeon before Wembley Arena…now you make it, thankfully, without needing to!

I am staying in the Soho Hotel which is first class and has The Ship pub at the end of its entrance. I last set foot in The Ship in ’79 when I had a pint with guitarist Phil Collen then of ‘Girl’ now with ‘Def Leppard’ on my way to see ‘720’ at the Marquee.

My brother in law Andy Barnett of ‘FM’ was guitarist with ‘720’ which included Dave “Bucket” Colwell now of ‘Bad Company’. Andy played with ‘Girl ‘at various times and former vocalist Phil Lewis is with ‘LA Guns’. If someone had the time to do a band family tree you’ll find the same five musicians in every band over the years as with crew!

The gig is a low key fundraiser for the Countryside Alliance as EC is a shooting and fishing man. There is not a bit of the old club left. The old dressing rooms were dark, dank, typically painted in black and covered in graffiti from memory and situated directly behind the front wall of the club. I gave it a wide berth during the punk days due to the spitting malarkey. The club moved around to Charing Cross Road after this period during the time Billy Gaff owned it. As club owners never lift the gear in and out they always choose premises with stairs to the stage area. WHY?? Someone PLEASE tell me?

My last gig in the Marquee, Charing Cross Rd was with Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden) and Skin in ’94.

Due to the lack of stage width we have to decrease our equipment to fit and the show goes without incident. I turned up with just my DW drumkey and no flightcase with me. Chancy, but it worked!

My rant for this month:

It's A Tough LifeAfter travelling and working through Europe with, as I have stated before, intelligent, polite, English speaking, hard working Europeans with common sense, do I return to the UK to find that after our show tonight, the staff are re-setting the tables in the club thereby blocking our direct exit to the lift to get our PA & backline gear out? As soon as you tell one person another moron puts something else in the way with the excuse of “We want to get home too.” “By *@*% ambulance” I respond. Give us ten minutes and we’ll be out of your way…short-sighted mugs!

Less haste, more speed is how it works!!

Before I go here are my secrets to a great life on the road:

1. Try not to be a rock’n’roll hero. You were not put on this planet to save live music. Pay for your downloads and it will save itself.

2. Love what you do as you are a long time doing it. If you despise your job and do it for money only, it shines through.

3. Do not chase money. Become competent at your job and negotiating. It will chase you.

4. Be open minded, polite and respect anyone who is physically and mentally able to work for a living. There are enough wasters about.

Guys

5. Be a team player, not a loner.

6. Don’t be a bully. Leave your insecurities at home.

7. If you give your word, honour it.

8. Never believe that you make a difference to a band, unless doing charity work. If you are not there someone else will be. That’s life.

9. Don’t try and steal my gigs!

10. Have a love of travel and different cultures. Don’t be small minded as we have a lot to learn from other countries.

11. Take time away from work – 6 months on the road each year is enough. Trim your lifestyle to suit or you will burn out. There is more to life than money.

12. Let others judge your capabilities. You are employed for both your skills and personality and they have to match. If you have the personality of a fish you’ll be in trouble!

13. Start a pension fund for me!

I shall be spending valuable time now putting together kits for recording and films until my next tour between various Annie Lennox solo shows including Peace One Day at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 21st September. Check my site soon for some exquisite kits & snares that I have acquired during my trips abroad.

Adios,

Yard.

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