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Diary of a Drum Tech Pt. 7

Hello all. Well, well, what’s been happening you ask?


My first role has been organizing the promo tour for Annie Lennox –The Collection CD. This involved TV shows for Annie in the US and UK with a concert from St Lukes with the BBC Concert Orchestra followed by BBC Radio 2, live with Ken Bruce.

As my son Nick is now playing guitar for Sharleen Spiteri’s tour, we had a chance to check him out at Ipswich Regent just before I had to leave the UK for Japan. It is still a strange feeling watching your kids on stage but we were all very, very proud that he is doing what he loves which is half the battle in life. I still can’t bring myself to admit that he plays guitar as his first instrument, where did we go wrong? I blame his uncle, former FM guitarist Andy Barnett for diverting him away from drums. I’ll be on the Jeremy Kyle Show looking for answers to this dilemma…

Two days later I happily leave a snow covered and freezing Clacton for Terminal 5 Heathrow for the 12hr flight to Japan for the start of the Eric Clapton Tour of Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It is a fair old flight so to whoever invented the fold down bed – I love you with every ounce of my heart!

Upon arrival at Narita Airport we are met by our friend Ishi Ishitani, who takes care of production for Udo Promoters alongside the EC production. This is where it all changes for the good as I have the utmost respect for Japan which has the best service and attention to detail anywhere in the world. A truck awaits to take our luggage whilst we depart in passenger vans with suited drivers for the one hour drive to Tokyo and our luxury hotel in Roppongi. We shall be in this hotel for at least 3 weeks with FREE internet access (take note Royal Garden Hotel at £20 per day) so we get comfy.

The following day at 8am we leave for the rehearsal studios. It is a tech day where we set up and the band start the following day. All goes well and we return to the hotel and I head for a Macky D’s as I am no lover of that sushi malarkey.

We are doing two shows with Jeff Beck at the Saitama Arena where Jeff does a set, EC does a set and then they join forces for 6 songs together. Jeff’s band has that little known drummer Vinnie Colaiuta with our old EC and Sting colleague David Sancious on keys (think of that great groove from Sting ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith’). As you may well know, Vinnie is regarded by many as the best around. There doesn’t seem much that he cannot do on a kit – a joy to watch.

Our first two shows are in Osaka so we leave on the world class Bullet train for the 2.5hr journey and as usual it arrives dead on time (please note ONE Railway and no bus is involved)! Our luggage goes ahead of us and is delivered to our hotel rooms prior to our arrival. As frequent travellers to Japan we know our way around which makes it easier when staying. We head into the shopping area for food and a few purchases. I am still amazed at how many people speak English in the shops…try speaking Japanese in your local takeaway and see what happens.

We return to Tokyo for 9 nights at The Budokan which is a historic Sumo venue and where The Beatles also played in the ‘60s. Coldplay are also in our hotel but have not spotted any of their crew.

Vinne & AbeWe do not have a support act in Japan where shows start relatively early – 6pm at weekends.

Abe brought out four different snares to try out – a DW, a Ludwig Black Beauty Re-Issue, a ’91 GMS Brass 14×6.5 and a 1930’s 14 x 5 Student. We settled on the GMS and for using the Student for the blues section with brushes. The GMS is a lovely drum with a great tone and is easy to tune. We use the CS Coated Reverse Dot heads on both. An early ‘80s Pearl ‘Jupiter’ 14 x 5.5 was also tracked locally and added to the armoury.

The shows go as clockwork and, with trips to Akasaka and Shibuya for shopping, all goes to plan.

After our stint in Japan we leave for Auckland NZ which is a 9.5hr flight. We have two days off upon arrival where I take to my bed to recover from jetlag.
We leave Auckland and head for Sydney, Australia which takes 3.5hrs. This is the place to be as our hotel overlooks the harbour with a view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. We have 2 days off so it is time to sightsee, shop and take a 30 minute ferry to Manly for a mooch on the beach…I love Australia!

Our first gig is at Hunter Valley which is a 2hr drive north towards Newcastle and is open air. My son Martin will be here with The Who in March. As we leave, he will be heading over, so we’ll pass each other somewhere across Afghanistan.

It is boiling hot and can only get hotter as noon approaches. We have two support bands for this show. I may have got a touch of sunstroke as I felt ill during the show, a splitting headache and nausea.

Rod Laver ArenaThe following day we have a show at the Sydney Entertainments Centre.

We leave for Melbourne and dinner at the famous Vlado’s Restaurant is booked for a steak. A picture of Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes dining, adorns the wall above me. It is a simple menu of three choices of…steak!

Rod Laver Arena
The following day we head for the Rod Laver Arena at midday to set up backline.

The day after we leave for the UK which involves a stop-over in Singapore during the 24hr flight.

Upon my return to the UK, Nick has auditioned and joined Placebo on guitar for their forthcoming 18 month tour taking in some 40 festivals of which they are headlining many. It will keep him busy along with gigs with Sharleen. With the credit crunch or recession as I prefer to call it, a good run of work.
I decide to pay Placebo a visit during rehearsals to check it out. Nick is working with old crew colleagues of mine who will advise his parents if they see him drinking, smoking, talking to girls or swearing!

Luckily I came back from tour in time to see The South Bank Show on Will Young’s ‘Let It Go’ Tour where I had my ‘Hitchcock’ moment…blink and you’d miss it. Rehearsals were recorded in the same room where Placebo are rehearsing. A nice job I thought.

To cap my week back home I went to see The Hollies in Ipswich with Bobby Elliott on drums as he was always a huge influence on me as a kid. Local drum tutor and former Maggie Bell/Cockney Rebel drummer Paul Francis set it all up as he and Bobby are very close friends. My old mate Pete Howarth is singer for The Hollies taking over from the late Carl Wayne, so it was good to catch up. The band has had many hits and their songs and harmonies are still exceptional.

I also managed to get hold of a Hayman Gold Ingot snare for Simon Kirke for his Free kit which I shall deliver personally to him in New York whilst there in June.

It gets no better than that, although I am with The Gaddster next month so, plenty of laughs coming up!

See ya,


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