The roadie herd is an ever evolving entity. With each tour comes new faces while once daily faces drift off on to different tours and adventures in life. Time travel ont the road is a strange progression. There are people that I see year after year and others that I re-meet after decade and pick up where we left of as if we both just gone home for the weekend. As I approach my seventeenth year touring with this band and twenty first year working with them, I have seen nearly everyone leave no one is left from when I started except for Ak and Flea. Some people leave due to the realities of no longer being alive, some have gotten confused and forgotten or failed to play their part in orchestration. Still more have allowed distraction to take them away or political rifts, power plays, incompatibilities, oversights and poor timing have towed many roadie in other directions. Above all, the same looming fact hovers over all 'roadies by trade' as it does any herd in the wilds of the tundra. "To be a part of the herd you must hunt and fend for yourself or you will be left behind to be eaten by the vultures." Translated into the realities of roadie terms this means that there is diminishing place for elder roadies and when you are too old to lift and load and move fast from city to city, a younger fierce roadie will replace you.
Unlike other jobs, roadies worldwide can typically be fired without cause, they have no medical insurance, no pension plan, no sick leave, no set hours, no overtime or anything close to a set of "acceptable treatment guidelines." Roadies for the most part are throwback from the 'days of old' or third world labor in many ways. But not all tours and not all bands operate the same and Peppers are beautiful and compassionate organization that is one of of the better to best tours one could hope to work on but still, like all tours, this tour will eventually end and spill a pile of jobless roadies out into the open roadie market. That inevitable outcome will happen to all, including myself. How prepared each roadie is to deal with that reality is up to the roadies themselves.
There are several types of roadies I have encountered in my travels. The Curious Adventurers, the Big Eyed Climbers and the Life-ers are three common ones. The Curious Adventurers are the ones that have some other skill or life alignment whom have chosen to tour for experience and growth, they may have a solid gig at home and the opportunity to take it on the road appeared or they have some sort of career training to fall back on when the tour luster fades. The Big Eyed Climbers are the dedicated roadies that follow lines of opportunity with a voracity that radiates the sensation that wherever they are, they will somehow succeed and the same tools that got them here will get them somewhere else wham the time comes. The Life-ers are the ones with perhaps nowhere else to go aside from the road or lack any other skill that they are aware of that will allow them to survive any other way. In some cases they are stowing away a nest egg for their future but all too often I see them wrapped and blinded by the cash flow and tour motion as they head toward the same inevitable outcome as an old hooker with no other skills.
My long time friend Nick the Fly has decided to take some time off of the road to rock out on his own projects. What you may not know about Nick the Fly is that he used to own a sound company, he is highly skilled at building cabinetry including the many of the Rat designs and he is extremely adept with computer skills among other things. Nick, rock out on you adventures I look forward to hanging out with him off the road when this trip ends! I will miss him but know that it is every roadie's responsibility to pursue their dreams. Rock on Nick!
Pirate Lee Vaught who is the Rat Sound crew chief on the Peppers tour will now be full time FOH tech! And here we go to do some more rock shows!
Count down to fly away date - 3 days 23 hours and 45 minutes till take-off
The getting ready to pack my bags,
Oh, and for you sound humans, I wrote a short blurb article on touring in the December 2006 issue of Sound International Magazine.
So I am doing my best to keep to clean the house in between making messes. Seems I spend my home life doing one, the other or in a horizontal position. Projects unfinished expose themselves as I peel a few layers of between-tour-sediment away from the various clustering spots and low and behold, I find some old journals. Though most of the contents consist of cringingly unreadable babble and actually unreadable hieroglyphics, a quick scan through did reveal a few pages of interest.
The was written while on Black Flag tour. "Cel" was the bass player for the band that was riding with me and we were on our way to do a show at a club called Maxwell's in Hoboken. As you can most likely tell, the truck ran into a serious 'hitch in it's get-a-long' right about the time it's wheels were no longer on the pavement. Some idiot had cut our brake lines in San Francisco after him being tossed out of the club and our brakes never worked quite right since then. Well, also it did not help that we were doing about 60 in the fast lane that was actually not a fast lane but in reality a left handed freeway off ramp, downhill into a "T" intersection in a fully and completely overloaded truck. Anyway, I am pretty sure that I could had ground the gears down and pumped the brakes up enough to force that manual steering piece of crap truck around the right hand turn when a stressing and screeching and "POW," the actual box mount to the truck snapped and over we gover. Splash goes the window and I must say that to this day I still recall that it was the strangest sensation to have your head just 6 inches await from a window view consisting of sliding asphalt.
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
For the next blast into the hand written past, I present some high resolution images of a PA design that never got built.
but due to the decision to pay rent and eat food rather than finance yet another PA from the ground up plus our in ability to locate satisfactory 8 inch drivers we ended up reconfiguring the "Brown System"
For you sound nerds out there, I thought you may get a kick out of a line array based design that was based on dual 15", dual 8", dual compression driver components that is 48 inches wide and 18 inches high designed in 1986.
Anyway, the cool line array wave guides were still a decade away from being developed by L'Acoustics which was the true turning point in line array feasibility. I know most of the Rat site regulars are familiar with all this but for all our new friends, if you are curious about the development of the Rat PA systems, you may way want to check out the Evolutionhttp://ratsound.com/evolution/evol1.html pages. I have not updated them in a while so it just stops about five years ago but you may find it kind of interesting.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Pondering. Air brakes are good, especially on big heavy trucks! For you non trucky mechanichy types out there, did you know that air brakes work the opposite way of the brakes in a car or small truck? In a car, you press the brakes and the brake fluid pushes these little pads to rub on either a disc or cylinder attached to your wheel. Brakes are normally 'off' and press to put them 'on.' Air brakes are normally 'on' and have big strong springs that push the pads against the cylinder and then when you start the motor, it builds up air pressure in the brake line hoses that forces the brakes to be 'off.' When you step on the brakes, it releases pressure and the brakes then go 'on.' This way if you have a leak in the system, the brakes get stuck 'on' rather than 'off.'
Ok, enough! Till we meet again in a day or two, good travels to all!
If you are reading on MySpace or the Rat Site and you have a myspace account and want to be auto notified of new posts, try this link - myspace auto-notify.
And all that web flurry mumbo jumbo aside, I have been getting many emails curious as to when I will resume and all good! It makes me really truly happy that I have so many friends that enjoy the adventures and I promise to have many a surprise still to come! On a side note, this may be worth a gander as I did a bit professional reviewing Dave Rat style a while back at a few trade shows (read " Dave Rat is giving us some filler because he is stalling")
Hey, check out Wooster Collective and scroll down the December 31st page to the "Best Christmas Wreath Ever." The "Erock" guy that made it is a well known Seattle roadie that I toured with on a Danzig tour in 1990 and then again with Pearl Jam and now he is in the Neil Young camp.
Good morning new year and I am all done pretending to be excited about last year sliding into the past. I liked last year and feel no elation in it going away. In fact, it's ending is a bit more annoying than anything else. So now I get to spend the next 3 weeks writing the wrong year and sectioning off all the little bits of paper called receipts that I have collected from around the world so I can try and figure out how much I owe in taxes. Say bye bye to what I knew and hello to new adventure. Usually that statement would bring me some sort of thrill or at least anticipation but as I ponder why it feels so inert, I realize it is having choice and freedom that makes me happy. I choose to go get coffee, I choose to orchestrate my life so I can tour as a sound engineer and I choose try and be healthy for the most part except when I choose not to to. I have no choice about whether the new year comes. It is just a chunk chunk chunk of the time machine plugging along because allegedly, two thousand years ago this Julius Caesar guy comes up with a calendar and so we have a big party to celebrate a new number at the end of the year at right about now.
So since this year start marker has been hammered into my life by the world around me, it creates a situation of before and after yet possesses no capability to alter it.
So here we are crossing into a new year that is helpless to turn the tide of the quagmire that greed promoted as fear created, they hung Sadam. They got him good and even though there were no weapons of mass destruction at least the powerful US/UK was able to attack and kill off a group of allegedly threatening people, that were guilty of attacking and killing off a group of allegedly threatening people. I am not against the death penalty, I am against hypocrisy. The liar presentation that there was some altruistic humanitarian angle or some actual imminent threat that was used to sway the naive into supporting what has no option but to fail. Violence does not make peace, no matter how you wrap it. But I do not believe in world peace, I do not hope for it nor will it ever exist. It can not exist anymore than humans will ever be successful at persuading wolves, bobcats and sharks into being vegetarians. It just aint gonna happen, and that is ok and that is beautiful. It is the balance of life, the eaters and eaten and without that life would stop. I am not against the death penalty, I am against hypocrisy. I am against deception, and though deception is part of life like a chameleon in hiding or a snake that mimics a branch to hunt, it is the challenge of unmasking the deceivers that perpetuates life for those with open eyes.
And heaviness aside look what I found!!! I came back from tour and my office was drenched in Tiki!
How much does that warm my heart! Gifts and thought and each day for over seven months now I dedicate some time to sharing my world. A group of friends that playfully call themselves the Ratketeers came up with logo
that in all of of playful absurdity, Rat made into shirts
and devised a surprise and with the help of Daniella and Julie at the Rat Shop converted my office while I was away! And more importantly, check out the new front of house theme for the US tour coming up! Thank you Ratketeers! Hmmmm, something tells me that as a sound company and a bunch of roadies, we may be breaking some new ground in the realms of the unusual. Definitely not boring at least.
I spent my New Years as I so often do attending a rock show for a change. Imagine that! This years choice was Paramount Studios
Where Rat was doing sound for several stages and DJ's including this Rat Trap 5 rig
and a V-Dosc Rig on the stage with The Killers
where I hung out with Harley who was mixing their sound
And also with Greg to the left who was FOH tech for Rat and I met up with Shaun and Karissa
For a nice transition into the new year. OK, here we go, now that we are done with the old, lets see what we can do with the new!