Monday, 31 October 2011

Promise & Terror Part 2: Europe 2011 Part 1

Everything in this blog is true.
Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Along the way you'll hear stories about music, giant spiders, cops, the army, aliens, sea-monsters, escaped convicts and some very good friends. If you were with us on the journey - you'll probably be included somewhere in this blog!
The authorities have tried to keep it all a secret, so feel free to follow it, link it and share it.
The world must know the truth!
Wednesday 14th September:
Guitar - check!
Passport - check!

I heard police sirens and a scream from outside.
I looked out of the window. Explosions. Fires. Broken glass.

Blaze was standing on top of a pile of burning cars - headbanging and shouting 'FREEDOM'

Then ...
"This is the cops! Drop your weapons and come out with your hands up! - This tour must not go on! It's too heavy!"
Blaze kept the cops at bay, while I threw my guitar into the vehicle.
Blaze floored the gas, and we peeled-out in the general direction of Dover - pursued by police cars, helicopters & heavy artillery.

We rolled down the windows and blasted Kiss Alive 2 to block out the sound of gunfire.
We gave the cops the finger, and drove headfirst into a storm.

120 miles later ...
We hit Dover and came out blasting.
We hijacked the ferry & pointed it in the general direction of Dunkerque.
'So long, coppers! See you on the other side'
We sailed across a sea of burning gasoline. These were dangerous waters, but we survived.

US warships strafed us with .50-calibre heavy guns. Russian MiG-35's brought down a firestorm on our heads, and a Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side.
Everybody was trying to stop this tour!

We collected all the gas and guns we could lay our hands on, and headed in the general direction of Belgium - and then the mayhem really started.

We got to the rendezvous point in good time.
We dug in, camouflaged the vehicle and waited for Nasty Nick Meganck to arrive.

Nick knows the score. He turned up disguised as a world class bass player - ready to unleash violent thunder at any time.
Nick has scary hidden powers. Nick digs cats and Gauloises. Nick is as cold as ice and hotter than hell.
I've seen him decapitate a man with a razor sharp bass solo.

We dodged bullets and headed for a saloon in town to grab a few drinks while we waited for our man to arrive.
The train screeched into the platform at the stroke of midnight. Everything was eerily silent, and we didn't know if our cover was blown.
Then we heard it. Footsteps in the dark.
Shit! We were exposed, and miles from home.

A figure stepped out of the fog. Claudio Tirincanti. Drinking gasoline and smoking cigarettes.
A booze-fuelled, one man war machine. Ready to play drums and go out fighting.
Claudio looked serious. Claudio uses dynamite as drum-sticks, and always keeps a gun under his pillow.

We got back to base and waited in the dark for what felt like hours ....
A coyote called somewhere in the distance, and we knew something was about to happen.
The clock ticked over to 3 am, and we saw the Belgian army advancing over the hill.

A massive blast lit up the sky, and the whole place was bathed in fire and fuel. That was our signal.

The air was filled with the sound of engines, and Freaky Franky Ledoux rolled up in the vehicle screaming for battle. He was dressed like Rambo, with a hunting knife clenched between his teeth, and carrying the scalps of 100 men on his belt.

Franky can kill a man with one finger. Franky eats cars and bleeds whiskey.

A hatch opened up in the vehicle, and the place went stone-cold silent.
A shadow blocked out the moon and people ran for cover.
Sexy Steve Delou appeared. Bare chested, holding a baseball bat and drinking La Chouffe from a skull.
Steve was in no mood for playing games. He took one look around and declared war!

He started swinging, and batted the advancing troops bruised and bloody.
Steve round-housed bus stop windows, and glass-blasted the Belgian army while we piled into the vehicle.
Nick took down whole buildings with bullets and bass, and Franky floored the gas.
Claudio torched up sticks of dynamite from his cigarette, while I threw fireworks and hand grenades out of the window.
Steve jumped in through the hatch like Spiderman, and Blaze fired pistols in both hands and howled at the moon!

Franky burned rubber, and the army ate smoke.
They disappeared in the rearview mirror as we headbanged away into the distance.

We had a rendezvous with some very bad hombres at De Verlichte Geest, Roeselare!
The first gig of the tour.

We rolled up outside the venue nice and early, but they were one step ahead of us.
Who WERE these dudes?
Kill-crazy swordsmen stood ready to fight or die on the deck of a phantom dragon-ship floating on an unholy sea of fog....
The rest of our posse - the mighty MESSENGER from Germany.

Summer Festivals 2011

I hadn't worked with the Blaze Band since January 2010, but by April 2011 there had been some changes within the band, and the chance came along to play some shows; this time in Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Lithuania.
Soon after that, I met Claudio Tirincanti, Steve Deleu and Nick Maganck in Birmingham for some rehearsals for the first show.
None of us had met before, but Claudio had been playing drums with Blaze for the past year at that point.
Nick and Steve had been in various bands in Belgium over the years, but none of us had ever played together.
Belgium (De Verlichte Geest) and Saarbangers Metal Festival in Germany were on consecutive nights, and then three weeks later we played the Muskelrock outdoor festival in Sweden.
There was then 8 weeks until we played the Roko Naktys Festival festival in Lithuania, which was definitely worth the wait.

Here's THE CLANSMAN once again - this time from Roko Naktys Festival, Lithuania.

Glasgow: Rock Radio Birthday Party, 2010

January 2010
The Bermudez boys had once again fallen afoul of visa issues just ahead of the first part of the Promise & Terror world tour.
From what I remember, the band wanted to start the tour with a performance at the Glasgow Rock Radio Birthday Party which was coming up fast.
The visas were due to be ready after Glasgow - but before the tour, so myself and Luke Appleton were asked to come back on guitar and bass duties respectively.

We had all played together at the show in Birmingham NEC with SAXON just a few months earlier, so it wasn't such a stretch to get together for the Glasgow show at short notice.
Once again - Paul & Jan's place was the place where we met to get the set down a couple of days early, and then we were Scotland bound for the show.

The setlist:
The Man Who Would Not Die
Smile Back At Death
The Launch
Watching The Night Sky
Kill And Destroy
The Clansman
Man On The Edge
Voices From The Past

A short, fast set from start to finish, but one that was going to deliver broken necks and big hangovers!
There was a big party after the show, which went on until the wee small hours.
Something that was evident to me the next day when I couldn't actually get into the vehicle to come home, due to some heavy duty party-induced throwing-up right outside the hotel.
Sorry folks!

Here's some footage from the set.

The party sold out the Glasgow Garage, and the place was truly banging from start to finish.
Chicago superstars MADINA LAKE were headlining the show, and they were nice guys to get along with.
I'm way too old to be hip, but they did an absolutely killer job at firing the place up.
As wickedly tight as hell, and with more energy than I've seen live in a very long time.
A good way to spend a Friday night!

Birmingham NEC: Hellfire Festival

It was weird playing at the Birmingham NEC.
It's absolutely massive. The car-parks are so big, we got lost trying to find the access doors.

My first real rock show was seeing KISS at the Birmingham NEC as a kid, and since then I've seen some of the best shows ever at that venue, so playing there was very surreal.
Megadeth (Rust In Peace tour 91)
Slayer (Decade Of Aggression 91)
Pantera (with Megadeth in 92)
Aerosmith (Pump tour 1989)
Sabbath, Maiden, AC/DC and a lot more over the years.

Both Nick and David Bermudez were having visa problems this time, so it was my first show standing in for Nick on Guitar. Luke Appleton was taking care of bass duties.
SAXON were headlining the festival, so it was good to catch up with them again.

The setlist: (although not necessarily in this order)
The Man Who Would Not Die
Smile Back At Death
The Launch
Kill And Destroy
The Clansman
Man On The Edge
Voices From The Past

The Music Live 2009 show was also happening at the NEC, and I admit that my favorite part of the day was getting to meet and chat with one of my favorite guitarists in the world - Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy.

The stage-management was quite funky, and never where you expected to find them, so we didn't know what was going on from one minute to the next.
Our on-stage time was anywhere between 3pm and 9pm, so we hung out and waited for something to happen.
Eventually, we got our stage-time, and I seem to remember that there was a bit of a breakdown in communication in regard to the backline, but it worked in our favor in the end.
They had a pile of spare Marshall 4x12s just lying around backstage, so Jay and I 'borrowed' as many of them as we could for the show.

My mum and dad turned up for the show too, and I could see them waving throughout the set, which was very cool indeed!
Definitely a surreal experience, but one I'll remember for a very long time!

The Tour That Will Not Die: February 2009

February 2009

An unexpected phone call from Larry!
Something along the lines of 'we've got a bit of a problem - how would you feel about 3 weeks on tour in Europe'
I was working on the soundtrack for a feature film, so it was probably not the best time to drop everything and go out on tour for a month.
The film which was scheduled to go to the Cannes Festival in May, and because of the way it was made - there was still some footage to be shot, and lots to do.

Well what would YOU do . . . ?
Goodbye guitar. Hello bass - at least for the next month.

Larry and I were in a band together previously, and we both left at about the same time.
He became the drummer for Blaze, and I went off in my own direction doing film stuff.
I knew the rest of the Blaze guys at that time through going to see Larry at some of the shows, and I was aware that they had all worked their arses off on THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT DIE album (still one of the best metal albums of the last ten years) - and also that they had just a few days until their European tour was due to start.

Evidently, Dave Bermudez had had some immediate visa problems, which was bad news, because he wasn't going to be able to join the rest of the band on the road until March 10th - which was halfway through the tour.

This was around the 20th February, and the tour was due to start in Italy on the 25th.
There was still 4 or 5 days until the tour started.

Writing about this almost three years later is a bit strange.
I can't remember that much about many of the shows, but I can remember most of the stuff in between, but there are plenty of gaps.

Everything went by pretty fast.
I had about 3 days to practice the songs at home, and then we had a day and a half all together at the beautiful country farm (owned by the awesome & legendary Paul & Jan) to go through the full set with the songs in order.
This was the very first time I'd ever met Paul & Jan, and they're two of the kindest and best people you could ever wish to know. I've seen them plenty of times since, and they're the best.

The setlist:
The Man Who Would Not Die
Smile Back At Death
The Clansman
The Launch
Leap Of Faith
Lord Of The Flies
Kill And Destroy
The Edge Of Darkness
Voices From The Past
Crack In The System
Born As A Stranger
Man On The Edge

The shows:
25/02: Pisa - (Borderline)
26/02: Turin - (Il Peocio)
27/02: Milan - (Legend 54)
28/02: Pescara - (Rock House)
01/03: Macerata - (Teatro Italia)
03/03: Maddaloni - (New Dream)
04/03: Salerno - (Mermaids Tavern)
05/03: Roccaforzata - (Go West Saloon)
06/03: Rome - (Stazione Birra)
07/03: Cremona - (Midin Bar)
08/03: Chambery - (Brasserie Du Mont Blanc)
09/03: Worblaufen - (Tibis / Downstairs)
11/03: Verviers - (Spirit Of 66)

First stop: Pisa, Italy.
We arrived at Pisa airport, and met Bob the tour bus-driver right outside, on a double-decker, 14 bunk tour bus. Fantastic!
Bob was an interesting character. He was certainly enthusiastic when it came to filth and foulness.
On that tour, I was christened both 'Deputy Dave' and 'Dirty Dave' by Blaze. That last nickname has stuck with me ever since, however I couldn't even get close to some of the filthy ideas bouncing around in Bob's head - and usually coming out of his mouth.
He must have practiced for years. He was a good man though.
Francesco (the tour manager at that time) and Bob shared the driving.
I remember Francesco did a lot of daytime driving and Bob usually did the night drives.
They always got us to the next venue on time, although I do remember Francesco crashing the bus into a car in a city centre somewhere in Italy.

Pretty soon, the respective members of the band had claimed their territory for the following week, and strangely enough - we were off to a hotel to get some sleep for the afternoon before the mayhem commenced that night.

At some point during the first day, we collected international ace sound-man & all-round master audio technician, Gabri Rapali - and also the support band for the Italian dates - Ibridoma. A very good bunch of dudes who kept a tidy ship.
The bus had two chill-out areas - upstairs and down. Ibridoma hung out downstairs during the day, and we hung out on the top deck. Always handy for getting to your bunk in a hurry, but not so good for navigating your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

A weird thing about touring on a bus is that you never really see any of the towns or cities you play at.
You go to sleep at some point, and usually wake up outside the venue, which is where you stay for the rest of the day. Then you play the show, and head off on the journey to the next town or city in the middle of the night. It's surreal. Your day gets completely turned upside-down, and normality goes out of the window.

The Bunks.
On first impressions, the bunks looked a little bit like black coffins with a bit more headroom, and curtains across the side instead of lids.
I have to admit though - they were the most comfortable bunks ever, and provided a perfect hideaway from everything else.
Everybody needs some privacy and solitude, especially when there are 14 people on a bus for weeks on end.
I took about 60 movies on my laptop, so I would hide in my bunk with headphones on, close the curtains and catch some personal space that way. It was perfect, and it gave me perfect excuse to soak up horror movies every day!

Tour food and hospitality.
I have to say that the generosity and hospitality of venues in Europe is fantastic in comparison to a lot of venues in the UK.
In Europe, the food is often fresh and home-cooked by the people who own the venue - or often by their parents. I can only remember one occasion in Italy where they ordered out for food. Every night there was something good.
France was all home cooked and beautiful. Switzerland was regional food, and I remember they put out bowls of Swiss chocolate and fruit.

The venues - from what I can remember...
Pisa - The Borderline: It was a high stage in an excellent big bar with good tables and wicked coffee!
The bar was beautiful, the sound was great and the people were cool. All good!
I remember Blaze told the audience that I'd learned the whole set in just 1 hour.
They thought it was cool, so we just left it at that.

Turin - Il Peocio: This place I remember very well.
The walls are adorned with records, and there's half of a car sticking out of one of the walls.
The stage was way low to the ground and on eye level with the audience, which is always cool.
Tony (the boss) was a good man and a particularly accommodating fellow.
He gave us free access to the whole place, and took great care of us all day.
Afterwards, he let us chill out with food and beers for hours. That was a very cool night indeed.
Milan - Legend 54: I don't remember so much about this one, but I do remember we arrived at the venue, and there was nobody there to let us in for a few hours.
The room was BIG, and the place had a garden out at the front.

Pescara - Rock House: This was the missing link! I've been trying to remember the Rock House for the last couple of days, and it's just come flooding back.

It was a slick set-up, like a 2 or 3 floor youth-club type venue with a good stage and a nice live room. The dressing rooms were adorned with band stickers, and some of the most sophisticated and creative anatomical graffiti I have ever seen.
Even Bob couldn't have thought up some of these ideas.
The Rock House was a nice place to play, with a lift to take the equipment up and down too!
Super cool!

Macerata - Teatro Italia: This place was amazing! It was a very old cinema and theatre.
We played on a wide cinema stage with huge red velvet curtains and all.
Very bizarre indeed. The place was full of projectors and statues, and perfectly clean.
Macerata was beautiful, but there weren't so many people out and about on a Sunday night.
We were staying at a villa overnight somewhere way outside Macerata - with real beds and everything!
It was my birthday too, so Bob kindly arranged a cake and some party goodies. Very cool indeed.
Maddaloni - New Dream: I think this was right by the sea front, but apart from that, I can't recall too much about it at all. It was an open fronted bar on street level if memory serves me correctly.
The stage was scary, and I remember some treacherous steps upto stage level.

Salerno - Mermaids Tavern:

Ah, The Mermaid's Tavern was very cool indeed.
The stage was tiny, and we blew the power out once or twice, but it was a solid good gig, and the audience were absolutely crazy.
The stage was floor-level, so we were eye-to-eye with people rocking out and going nuts.
The bar in the Mermaid's Tavern sold Guinness too, which rated very highly with Larry and me.

Roccaforzata - Go West Saloon: This was one of my favorite parts of the whole tour.
The venue was actually more like a restaurant than a music joint. There were tables and chairs all around the room, with a small stage at the front.
Of course we assumed they were going to move the tables out of the way when the music started, but they didn't.
The food was a high point, and was probably the best Italian food I've ever eaten to this day. Unbelievably awesome cooking, all made by the owner's mother. Incredible.
The doors opened while we were still eating, and Ibridoma took off to start their show while we finished our food.

At some point, Jay and Larry went out for a look at how things were going, and came back looking quite puzzled.
Ibridoma had started just fine, and the room was totally full of people - but they were all happily sitting at their tables, and eating food like in any other restaurant.

When we went on - it was exactly the same. The diners went absolutely crazy, and started screaming and cheering, - and then got right on with the next course, while the staff waited on the tables.
What an amazing vibe though! Definitely the happiest show in Italy.

Rome - Stazione Birra: A big live brewery with a restaurant, and also a slick and stylish live venue in Rome.
Millions of bands big and small have played Stazione Birra, and it's easy to see why.
The place is like a labyrinth of staircases and archways.
The stage was beautiful, and the room probably held 1500 people. Maybe more.

The PA was immense, and with Gabri behind the wheel - everything was going to be cool.
An immense evening, and we got plenty of time afterwards to hang out, and enjoy everyone's company.
Cremona - Midian Bar: The last show in Italy was at Midian Bar, which was definitely my kind of place.
A horror themed pub / bar, with coffin tables, skulls on the bar, cobwebs, candlesticks and a world of cool stuff to see.
The stage was small and intimate, but man it was an awesome gig. The place turned into a metal riot right away. An extremely fine way to say farewell to Italy.

At this point, we said goodbye to our tour compadres 'Ibridoma' - and hello to 'Rain' - who were the next support band for the rest of the tour.
Chambery - Brasserie Du Mont Blanc: Goodbye Italy and hello France!
This place was incredible.
Right at the foot of the alps, and in a brewery. What more could anyone ask for!
The local brew was bright green, and as strong as hell.
We were staying outside the venue that night, so it gave us plenty of time to drink as much green beer as we could before we had to leave.
This was the first time I met Agnes and Laurence. Dames magnifiques who took great care of us while we were on French soil.
That set was a blast, and everyone was in a fine mood. Dynamite.
The stay in France was short lived, but we got the chance to go into town with Agnes and Laurence for coffee before we left. Another good memory.
Goodbye France, and hello Switzerland!
Worblaufen - Tibis / Downstairs: Now this place was very different. It was down the slope of a big hill, and underground.
Barbecue burners outside, and a big bar with 3 sides, but getting the gear up and down all the steps was a bitch.
The stage was again floor level, and that was one of the hottest gigs I've ever played before or since. Utterly boiling hot. I think we all lost some weight during that set.
Afterwards there was much partying with the folks who came to see the show.
I remember there were some games machines there, one of which was a boxing game with a punchbag that the player would throw punches at HARD.
The drummer from Rain (all of whom were big dudes) swung a devilish punch - missed the bag completely, and caught me clean in the face.
I only had one more gig to play before Dave Bermudez was to rejoin the tour, and I remember that Blaze told the guy who owned the venue that it was my birthday so that they mixed up something special on the bar. Special indeed!
'Possibly' because of that drink - and maybe a few others, I left my bag at the venue. Unfortunately I didn't realize that until we were 9 hours & 700 kilometers away in Belgium.
My wallet was in there, my tuner, all my money was in there, my iPod - and everything else small and expensive. Heavy!
When I got back to the UK 3 days later, Andreas (the guy who owned the venue) had found my bag on the floor, and couriered it back to me in England. Everything was there - I'd left about 70 Euros just in the top of the bag and it was still right there. Incredible.
Amazing place with amazing people. Generally amazing!

Verviers - Spirit Of 66: This was my last show of the tour, and the venue was very cool.
This was also my first encounter with the legendary Franky Ledoux - and also Blaze's good lady, Eline.
The set went down nicely, and it was a good end to my unexpected tour with Blaze, Larry, Jay and Nico.

It's strange how quickly you get used to odd situations, and how fast you begin to get comfortable.
Even with a busload of stinky dudes, and living on a bus in a bunk which measures about 170 cm x .80 cm x 80 cm - it was still sad to leave the tour and go home to television and a kitchen and showers and a big bed, and all the home comforts we get used to.
As much as you want to go home - you really miss being a part of it.

Album - 2012

Since 2006, I have written 5 original scores for the FILM4 FrightFest in London, which have all been a mixture of strange eclectic music - from rock to cinematic sound design.
Fast, slow, rock, exploratory, operatic, bizarre and everything in between.

Over the last couple of years, I've been storing away ideas for a more conceptual album of my own - hopefully with a view to take it out as a live set at some point.
It was supposed to happen in 2010, but everything started to get very busy with other musical commitments, so I had to put the album on the back-burner until the time was right.

I have completed the soundtracks for two feature films this year.
Each film is a great learning curve, and I try to absorb as much as possible from the entire process.
The sound design is as important as the music itself, and you can build incredible dynamic layers into musical sections.

The album is coming together and beginning to take shape, and the pieces are sounding very dramatic.
Part sci-fi, part drama, part fantasy with everything from big solos to full-scale cinematic sections & operatic vocals - it's all coming to life!

I am now halfway through the writing stages, and I'm pleased to say that it should be finished and ready to go early 2012.
Demos and a promo video coming soon!