The great northern tour 2015: part 4

7:30am lobby call and I’ve had a decent  sleep. Our driver Wojtek was kind and insisted I take the double bed while he sleeps on the couch, you just can’t refuse an offer like that and my acheing body needs it too.

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Downstairs I meet Brett, Alex and Wojtek at the band but we are missing Tim and Otto, they’re late for the lobby call. I know that Otto has been out partying with Devesh from Skyharbor last night and I suspect he hasn’t yet had any sleep. I was right, 20 minutes later we are on our way and the two are in trouble for sleeping through their alarms.

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Alex and I wait for about 10 minutes while this old mate counts, counts and recounts his change at the counter.

Today we head for Wroclaw, playing a club called Liverpool. Wroclaw is a nice place, it looks even better today as the sun is out and shining. Our driver says its very hot today (top of 16 degrees). Maybe time to bust out the shorts and tee shirts?

Wojtek takes us to the shopping center for lunch, we eat at an Italian food place and its pretty delicious. It’s his hometown so he is pretty keen to drop us at the venue then go hang out with his girlfriend so we head off to club Liverpool.

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Dog, dog, dog…

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Lunch, lunch, lunch…

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Wroclaw. Outside the venue.

The venue is underground and its god a heap of character and vibe but at the same time its pokey and small. The owner reckons it can hold 400 people but it looks like anything over 300 would be shoulder to shoulder. The mixing desk is in a really weird spot raised up in a cage where you need to crawl into and kneel otherwise you hit your head on the roof. Because of the low ceiling the whole club has all these weird nooks and crannys.

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Backstage is pretty creepy too. It’s a dungeon of tunnels and passageways underground and feels like it used to be some kind of factory or bomb shelter.

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Creepy.

The show begins with Skyharbor up first but there are already technical difficulties with the sound system. Our sound engineers find that the whole left side of the PA is considerably softer than the right and we have to crank another 10db into that side just to get it sounding a bit more balanced. Halfway into the set it sounds like a speaker has dislodged on the left channel. The show presses ahead anyway.

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Skyharbor.

A tough night and a tough load-out through a cramped backstage, we are all looking forward to getting some sleep. We are staying at an Ibis hotel which is pretty comfy, the lobby call isnt until 11am so we all finally get a good night’s sleep.

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Too much party make Otto sleepy.

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The great northern tour 2015: part 3

It’s an early morning lobby call of 6am and we start the day in the freezing cold before the sun has risen.  The promoter had put us up in “band apartments” which generally refers to anywhere between run down shitty squat-like house to brand new luxury apartments, its kind of weird that the range of accommodation throughout any given tour can range so much but last night’s place was somewhere in the middle.

The heating doesn’t work, the shower kind of works, but slightly luke-warm is the best I can get. It doesn’t matter too much anyway as we are only resting our heads for 3 to 4 hours before we have to drive to Poland.

We will need to get the rest of our sleep in the van, I feel bad for Wojtek who has to drive for 5 hours. Tim I do not feel sorry for. Tim has this ability to sleep anywhere, anytime, in any awkward position. He’s one of those guys who can just tilt his head back and doze off in a matter of minutes and I’m incredibly jealous as I’m the opposite.

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Sleepy Tim attacked by vampires.

My whole body aches from last night’s show, I know the other guys are in pain too. The first few days of a tour always hurt bad. Nothing really prepares your body completely for our energetic live show and the hauling of heavy equipment around and the only remedy is to just keep playing shows. After a while your brain just gets used to every part of your body being sore and you mentally block out the pain.

I shouldn’t really complain though right? I mean what other job in the world pays you to drink beer, do exercise and perform music all over the world?

We soon arrive in Warsaw. We always have a good run in Warsaw and we have worked with the promoters many times before. They are good guys and look after us well, tonight is no different. We’ve just been told that the show has sold out completely and to expect a very packed room. There’s 5 bands on the line-up too making things extra tight and tricky with all the extra muso gear to navigate around throughout the night.

We hear that there is a laundromat at the nearby shopping center so we grab our few dirty clothes and all head down to try and do a load of washing. After walking around the whole shopping center like dickheads with our bags of clothes it’s now apparent that this laundry doesn’t exist. Oh well, worth a try.

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There’s always weird random stuff on the walls backstage

It’s showtime and all the bands perform well. We play a much better show this tine around compared to the previous night, as do Skyharbor and especially Tides from Nebula. Being their home town show, the crowd is absolutely frothing for them.

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We hang out with our Polish friend Marta briefly before retiring to our apartments. There are 3 apartments for our band to share and they are pretty nice inside compared to last night. I get paired up with Wojtek, he kindly offers me the master bedroom and takes the sofa bed. I’m so exhausted I have no trouble falling asleep and it’s lights-out.

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My digs for the night.

I set my alarm clock for 7am, this will give me a good 4 hours sleep. Adios!

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The great northern tour 2015: part 2

Last night we drove to Leipzig. Its a pretty cool East German town and our accommodation is really beautiful. Its actually quite luxurious compared to the many places that venue promoters generally put you up in. There’s a nice kitchen too so we go shopping to cook ourselves a meal. I offer to cook brekky.

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Not bad…

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Breakfast

Off to do some shopping for last minute supplies. Its freezing cold here and I need to buy a beanie to keep my head warm. There’s lots of funny German stuff around that give us giggles along the way.

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Finga’ lickin’ gute fahrt

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LEGO stores!

We also go check out the cathedral where J.S.Bach composed some of his music and where his tomb is. There’s a Bach museum here and lots of old music stuff, which is rad.

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Bach’s tomb

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Brutal.

It’s our first show day and the first day we will meet the rest of the tour party. For the first 5 weeks we are playing a triple headliner bill with two other bands; Skyharbor and Tides from Nebula. Both bands are awesome and so we are excited to meet them.

We meet up and load into the venue, the venue Conne Island is really cool, its a nice size venue for our genre of music. Hopefully the other venues on the tour will be similar.

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Hound.

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Me and Devesh from Skyharbor.

Our performance wasn’t all the best but that was expected from the first show of the tour. Usually it takes 4 or 5 shows until you start to really hit your stride and nail the sets. The other bands say they have a similar experience. Overall the show was decent but we know it will improve a lot over the next few days.

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Good merch. Good Bier.

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The great northern tour 2015: part 1

This year my band sleepmakeswaves is on a massive tour across multiple continents playing 55 or so shows during March, April, May and June. This blog hopes to capture some of my experiences and let my girlfriend, friends, family and whoever get a peek into what its like being on the road in a touring band.

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Thats me. Apparently my tongue is abnormally long.

Before the tour there is a lot of preparation involved and literally thousands of emails sent between band members, promoters, booking agents, managers, press, hotels, drivers, backline companies, music suppliers, merchandise manufacturers and multiple record labels we work with.

A lot of it is being done by our tour manager / sound engineer Mr Brett Tollis and our band manager Mike Solo.
I’m responsible for making sure a lot of our music gear and supplies are being sorted out and that we have the right equipment to take on the road. Since we are taking 9 long distance flights on this tour its important we reduce the weight of our luggage where we can as this can literally lead to savings of tens of thousands in excess baggage fees.

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57 sets of guitar strings.

Day 1:
Everything is packed, we all say our goodbyes to loved ones back home in Sydney and Brett sends taxis to pick us up from our houses. It’s hard for me to say goodbye to my girlfriend Julie because I’m going to miss her a lot. Its nice that we live in an age where communication over the net is pretty convenient but even then, it’s hard being apart.

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Thats Julie studying on my bed with our cat Pusheen.

I get to the airport and meet the other guys, we’ve done a baggage count and we’re missing a guitar. Instantly I know it was me who forgot one of the backup guitars my bandmate Otto uses, it’s sitting at home in storage and there’s no time to rush back and grab it. I feel like such an idiot, oops sorry Otto! Luckily we can get by without it.

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Sydney Airport

That’s 17 check-in items and 8 personal bags that we take with us everywhere we go around the world, I think we travel fairly light compared so some others but its still a lot of stuff to travel with.

We are flying to Amsterdam via Kuala Lumpur so that’s two flights with a 4 hour stopover. The first flight is really great, no screaming babies and good seats.

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Thats me and Tim enjoying the Malaysian Airlines flight.

We get to KLIA and head to a restaurant at the airport called Old Malay Kopitiam. I get chicken rice, it’s pretty good. Alex enjoys his Laksa.we all get lychee and iced milo drinks. Tim being the adventurous type gets a coca cola.

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Milo Ais (iced milo) and Laksa

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Tim prefers cola.

The next leg of the flight to Amsterdam is a bit longer. Usually we are put on a new airbus A380 double decker plane but for some reason this time its an old 777 from the 90’s. I dont think the internals have been updated (or cleaned) since ’94. The flight sucks, we are in the worst row of seats on the while plane, its the row at the back where the seat number configuration changes from 5 to 4 and so our seats don’t line up with the TV screens on the chairs in front, actually my seat is the only one on the plane that has no TV screen at all…. great. Plus we dont have proper tray tables, we get those ones in the arms that are half the size instead. The seats are dirty and uncomfortable, something sharp is digging into Alex’s back and so I donate my pillow and blankets to him.

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My centre view, all flight.

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Otto is upset.

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Cool TV screen bro.

I have trouble sleeping on flights, 2 beers and 3 Valium’s later I manage to get 2 hours of sleep, I think…

For some reason when booking our flights they put all of us down for Indian curry on every meal. I dont know if someone at Malaysian Airlines was trolling us that day but EVERY meal was Indian curry. So 4 curries later I dont think we could stomach another curry for the final breakfast meal.

We arrive at Amsterdam and are pretty happy to get off that flight.

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Happy to be off the plane at last.

We meet our Polish driver Wojtek and load our gear into his tour van. We had Wojtek as our driver on our first Euro tour and we are happy to have him back in the team again. We were surprised he agreed to have us on board again because last tour we broke him, he said it was the hardest tour he had ever driven in his life. Let’s hope this one is a little easier!

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My view for most of this tour will look like this.

Onwards to Leipzig Germany!

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Displaying CDs on your wall

At IKEA you can buy deep set photo frames, these are fairly inexpensive and are the perfect size for displaying CDs.

Attached to the wall using 3M picture strips but you could also use double sided picture tape or traditional hooks or stubs too.

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Photo frames from IKEA

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sleepmakeswaves gear updates

Updated…

Amps (for club shows):

  • Fender Deville (mk1) 4×10 with Jensen MOD series speakers.
  • Fender Twin Reverb ’65 RI with Jensen speakers
  • Fender Super Bassman Head
  • Fender Super Bassman 8×10 NEO or 6×10 NEO cabs

Amps (for festival/arena shows):

  • Fender Deville (mk1) 4×10
  • Fender Twin Reverb ’65 RI
  • Fender Twin Silverfaces
  • Fender Twin Blackface (where available)
  • Fender Super Bassman Head
  • Fender Super Bassman 8×10 NEO or 6×10 NEO cabs
  • Ampeg SVT VR / Ampeg SVT 8×10 cab

Otto’s effects chain:

  • Fulltone OCD v1.4
  • Ibanez TS9 Tubescreamer
  • Eventide Time Factor
  • BOSS DD-3 delay
  • T-Rex Room-Mate reverb
  • BOSS TU-2 tuner
  • Powered by CIOKS DC8
  • Case: Diago Showman

Kid’s effects chain:

  • Micro POG
  • Fulltone OCD v1.4
  • Line6 DL4 delay
  • BOSS TU-2 tuner
  • Powered by T-Rex Fuel Tank Classic
  • Case: Diago Showman

Alex’s effects chain:

  • Diamond Bass Compressor
  • Darkglass Electronics Microtubes B3K
  • EH Small Clone
  • Eventide Time Factor
  • BOSS TU-2 tuner
  • Powered by Voodoo Labs Pedal Power
  • Case: Diago Gigman

Synth rig:

  • Macbook Pro 13″ for Ableton Live 9
  • Various sound cards (Presonus, Native Instruments, MOTU, AVID)
  • Korg and NORD keyboards
  • Various 5-channel mixers (for drummer)
  • Various Midi pad controllers
  • Mackie DL1608 for iPad controlled stage mixing
  • Shure P2R wireless monitoring (for guitarists)
  • Shure and EMA in-ear monitors
  • Cases: Diago Tourman

Drums:

  • Pearl Masters 1 rack, 2 floor
  • Zildjian Cymbals
  • Vic Firth sticks

Guitars:

  • Alex – Musicman/Sterling R35
  • Alex – Fender Jazz Bass (5-string)
  • Kid – 2012 custom baritone #1 (girlcat)
  • Kid – 2012 custom baritone #2 (rats)
  • Kid – 2012 custom SC (drop-D)
  • Kid – Fender Telecaster Deluxe (USA)
  • Otto – Gibson Les Paul Standard (USA)
  • Otto – 2012 custom baritone #1 (girlcat)
  • Backup – Fender Baritone Special (Japan)

What we have our eyes on:
Electric Guitar Company custom baritones. Fan-fret basses. Lighter equipment.

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Recycle those band shirts!

Every now and then I buy a shirt at a gig to support the artist, unfortunately over time the shirts shrink or stretch through wear and tear (or more like my body shrinks and stretches) and they don’t fit any more. I would hate to throw out these shirts especially because they are mostly from local bands I’ve had some kind of history with, either as a punter or by sharing the stage.

So to keep those memories alive, I’ve cut up the designs and made them into canvas pieces to put up on a wall.  It’s pretty darn easy to do, all you need is to buy blank canvases or frames from a place like Lindcraft, Spotlight or The Reject Shop, they cost about $4 each.  Then cut up the shirt with scissors and use a stapler to attach them to the canvas. To mount them on the wall I use 3M Command picture hanging strips so that there’s no drilling involved.

Put your old shirts up on your wall

Bonza mate.

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