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Day 191a - Nov 30 - Milan Show 2

**** Advanced Sound Nerd Speak ****

Warning! Super sound nerds only, everyone else should skip this section to avoid a brain owie.

So I covered a cool gating trick back on Day 181, now it time for a compressor technique that I find exothermally useful and is another of the secret foundations of mixing a rock show Dave Rat style. As live engineers we live in a spontaneous and real time environment, the less time we waste mucking about with stuff, the more time we have to actually focus on keeping the sound together. Described here is a method that not only will assist you in keeping the band's dynamic levels manageable, but it will also allow you to alter all your compressor thresholds without leaving the center console area. On an analog setup, this means you don't have to go to the outboard rack bend over and try and read the labeling on the knobs. On a digital console, this means that you can avoid sifting through a pile of compressor menus.

The trick is to assign each instrument type (for our purposes vocals are an instrument) to both a VCA and a subgroup. Then bus the subgroups to your L and R or matrix. For example; Take all your vocals and assign them to VCA 1 and also assign them to stereo subgroup 1 or mono subgroups 1 and 2. Then insert a pair of compressors on the vocal subgroups. This is where it gets cool. So now, since a VCA is really just a remote control for the channel faders, when you increase the vocal 'VCA' level it turns up the vocals pre-compressor causing more compression. When you raise the vocal 'group' faders it raises the post compressor vocal level, increasing volume after the compressor. If you raise the VCA while lowering the group faders then you are in effect lowering the threshold's of the compressors without changing the volume and without physically (or mentally in the case of digital boards) leaving the center of the console. Raising the group faders while lowering the VCA in effect raises the compressor thresholds resulting in reduced compression.

Follow me? Ok, so now repeat that same pattern on the guitars in stereo, bass in mono, kick and snare paired together mono, toms in stereo and cymbals in stereo and in this description you would end up with 10 subgroups (4 stereo and 2 mono) and 6 VCA's. You now have full control over pre and post compression levels on every instrument type. Further more, since you are compressing vocals as an overall stereo unit, if one person sings it may just barely compress but when all three singers sing at once, you will get more compression. This means that unlike using channel compression, with subgroup compression your overall vocal level will be more manageable. Same goes with guitars and so on. Pairing up the kick and snare and adding slight compression helps balance the two out a bit, fatten their sound and only ties up a single comp. I personally aim for equal level on kick and snare so the comp'ed pair helps dial that in.

If all that is not enough, check this out! Take your 7th VCA and assign all your inputs to it to make it an 'input master VCA' and then assign all 10 of your compressed subgroups to the 8th VCA making it an 'output master VCA'. This now is the most powerful of all as you can turn up input master VCA 7 and drive all your comps into compression while lowering output master VCA 8 to maintain a constant volume. These two master VCA faders give you the ability to change the over all dynamics of the entire mix similar to what a compressor on the Left and Right bus would do. Except this is better because each instrument group is independently compressed so the instruments are not all pushing each other down in volume.

And the reason this is so cool is that it will bring you one step closer to reaching that goal of being in total control over everything necessary without having to look away from watching what is going on and only moving your hands and remaining relaxed, happy and enjoying the thrill of the show. Hey, wait a minute, that is kind of like driving a race car.

**** End Advanced Sound Nerd Speak ****

Day 191 - Nov 30 - Milan Show 2

First things first and for all that are curious about what yesterday's mystery picture depicts, I will offer some clues. The size shown is neither far far away nor super up-close. They are inadvertent ramifications not intentional creations. They come when it is hot and linger. So we move on to...

**** Edible Curiosities of the Day ****

Some ideas are better than others and other ideas just fall into the middle ground of indecision that leaves only personal opinion as the deciding factor. The question that begs to be answered here is "Are they as tasty as they are healthy?"

Another quandary food found on the bus was these pocket coffee's. Hmmm, it is a chocolate treat with a liquid coffee center. I am not sure who designed these things but that really does not sound like the optimum combination of ingredients to be tossing into my pocket while I work

In carrying on with the examination of diversity in edibles theme, here are few more as we head into roadie Wayno's world. Our first items are a palm full of natural snackable raw coco flanked by a split fresh vanilla bean. Both are key ingredients in making the fresh home made mint chip ice cream you see in the back ground

Though generally considered 'non-edible' our next item on the list is Gibby from the awesome band Butthole Surfers on stage singing with Mike Watt and the Missing men.

Finally, I mentioned Italian white truffles, well here I get to hold one

and if you were wondering, you too could own a gorgeous stinky white glob like this for a mere $ 420 US, I am sure you will agree that it is just chump change for a mushroom.

**** End Edible Curiosities of the Day ****

On to the bus we go after the show and overnight to Zurich Switzerland. The good news is it is not too far away. That bad news is that rumor has it that we drove off at 2 am and we will be shoved off the bus at 6 am. The pre dawn ejection always screws the day up, let's just hope the hotel is nice.

The debating whether to sleep or stay up,

Dave Rat

Day 190 - Nov 29- Milan Show 1

I have known Mike Watt perhaps for 25 years. He used to be in a band called the Minutemen that played shows with Black Flag and other SST bands that I recorded and later did PA rentals for in the early eighties. When the Minutemen's Singer/Guitar player, D. Boon, died in 1985, Watt went on to form fiREHOSE, another very cool and legendry punk era band. Anyway, good tunes and good people to be found and now Mike is here with us, awesome!

In his very Fugazi-ish manner, Mike Watt carries on the super cool, drive your own truck, book hundreds of shows a year and creates, lives and plays music in it's purest form.

He has opened for Peppers before and Peppers once again have done as Peppers so often do and have brought in a long time friend and someone they musically and personally greatly admire, as the opening artist,

**** Roadie Observation Segment ****

I know that everyone has often wondered "How do all those roadies keep themselves looking so damn good?" As you know, today's modern roadie is nothing like it's hairy predecessor known as the Hippie roadie. What you may not know is how that evolution occurred or anything about roadie grooming habits, until now that is. Seen here, in an extremely rare photo of roadie Cliff, grooming roadie Joe while both are clearly residing in the natural roadie habitat, also referred to as the gig.

**** End Roadie Observation Segment ****

It is always comforting to feel safe. I especially feel safe when I am guarded, which is why we were all so excited to see these safety monitors with machine guns at the gig. Wow, I can't even begin to tell you how much better I feel now. Whew, all good. You know, you just never know when one of those gun things will come in handy and look!, they seem to be headed towards roadie Rusty.

**** Advanced Sound Nerd Speak ****

Warning! Super sound nerds only, everyone else should skip this section to avoid a brain owie.

So I covered a cool gating trick back on Day 181, now it time for a compressor technique that I find exothermally useful and is another of the secret foundations of mixing a rock show Dave Rat style. As live engineers we live in a spontaneous and real time environment, the less time we waste mucking about with stuff, the more time we have to actually focus on keeping the sound together. Described here is a method that not only will assist you in keeping the band's dynamic levels manageable, but it will also allow you to alter all your compressor thresholds without leaving the center console area. On an analog setup, this means you don't have to go to the outboard rack bend over and try and read the labeling on the knobs. On a digital console, this means that you can avoid sifting through a pile of compressor menus.

The trick is to assign each instrument type (for our purposes vocals are an instrument) to both a VCA and a subgroup. Then bus the subgroups to your L and R or matrix. For example; Take all your vocals and assign them to VCA 1 and also assign them to stereo subgroup 1 or mono subgroups 1 and 2. Then insert a pair of compressors on the vocal subgroups. This is where it gets cool. So now, since a VCA is really just a remote control for the channel faders, when you increase the vocal 'VCA' level it turns up the vocals pre-compressor causing more compression. When you raise the vocal 'group' faders it raises the post compressor vocal level, increasing volume after the compressor. If you raise the VCA while lowering the group faders then you are in effect lowering the threshold's of the compressors without changing the volume and without physically (or mentally in the case of digital boards) leaving the center of the console. Raising the group faders while lowering the VCA in effect raises the compressor thresholds resulting in reduced compression.

Follow me? Ok, so now repeat that same pattern on the guitars in stereo, bass in mono, kick and snare paired together mono, toms in stereo and cymbals in stereo and in this description you would end up with 10 subgroups (4 stereo and 2 mono) and 6 VCA's. You now have full control over pre and post compression levels on every instrument type. Further more, since you are compressing vocals as an overall stereo unit, if one person sings it may just barely compress but when all three singers sing at once, you will get more compression. This means that unlike using channel compression, with subgroup compression your overall vocal level will be more manageable. Same goes with guitars and so on. Pairing up the kick and snare and adding slight compression helps balance the two out a bit, fatten their sound and only ties up a single comp. I personally aim for equal level on kick and snare so the comp'ed pair helps dial that in.

If all that is not enough, check this out! Take your 7th VCA and assign all your inputs to it to make it an 'input master VCA' and then assign all 10 of your compressed subgroups to the 8th VCA making it an 'output master VCA'. This now is the most powerful of all as you can turn up input master VCA 7 and drive all your comps into compression while lowering output master VCA 8 to maintain a constant volume. These two master VCA faders give you the ability to change the over all dynamics of the entire mix similar to what a compressor on the Left and Right bus would do. Except this is better because each instrument group is independently compressed so the instruments are not all pushing each other down in volume.

And the reason this is so cool is that it will bring you one step closer to reaching that goal of being in total control over everything necessary without having to look away from watching what is going on and only moving your hands and remaining relaxed, happy and enjoying the thrill of the show. Hey, wait a minute, that is kind of like driving a race car.

**** End Advanced Sound Nerd Speak ****

Sound Nerds who followed the last section, feel free to skip this part as it is for our non sound nerdery friends.

**** Non Sound Nerd Speak ****

Here is a little guessing game, can anyone guess what this is;

**** End Non Sound Nerd Speak ****

The excited to tell you many secrets,

Dave Rat

Day 189 - Day Off - Milan

My two favorite food countries on earth, so far, are Italy and Mexico. No disrespect to the other countries intended and many fine foods abound the planet but darnit, the food here is so good! One of the key aspects of attaining world class food quality is having to have the ultimate selection of the finest of fine. For those of you out there who have an affinity for the hard salami, check out this sausage party!

And may as well pick up a little cheese as well,

Oh boy look! What kind of kid doesn't dream of getting a christmas basket with a hoof sticking out?,

And while we are on the subject of kids and cute little things, check out this adorable little snack,

Why mess around with Playboy Bunnies when you can take home a real bunny? Check out those cute little that bunny booty's! Yummy?

So, like I was saying, the food here is truly awesome, though depending on your eating habits, you may have to be a bit careful not to bite into a culinary landmine, as there are some adventurous eaters here. Most importantly after and before and during those delicious meals, do not forget to indulge in an endless string of the little micro coffee's

that I am pretty sure they invented them here. I love that this entire country seems to radiate an appreciation for all things pleasurable. Fast cars, fine food, fashion and runway models to name a few. Possibly one could say it is to an excess, maybe to a point where finding hardworking focused local roadie crews is a bit of a challenge between their mid day wine, coffee and cigarette breaks, maybe there is close to anarchy on nearly every road as driving in lanes and staying off sidewalks are just recommendations.

but finding a great coffee and an awesome meal is never more than a block away. Whether the shop is actually open is another story. Plus, right now it is truffle season and from here come the best of the best, the Italian White Truffle. Though they are stinky little buggers they are also intoxicatingly desirable to those that enjoy them. I have acquired the taste for them and taste them I did on pasta at an amazing restaurant called Torre del Mangia (Stop # 37 on the Dave Rat tour of Europe).

Guess what we are going to do tomorrow. We are going to do a rock show!!! Hurray!

The very full and over-coffee'd,

Dave Rat

Day 188 - Stuttgart Show

Day 188 - Nov 27 - Stuttgart Show

**** Pondering's ****

Rats! I totally spaced something about yesterday's gig. The place is called Festhalle and though it has been home to many awesome rock shows over the years, it also has a much darker past. See if you can spot any similarities in the two photos below,

Humans can be unbelievable stupid as clarity in hindsight so often reveals. Majority populations of whole countries sometimes run full bore into a direction that is nothing but a really bad idea. It happens over and over again throughout history and one could easily look at our world today and spot plenty of bad ideas in full swing. How cool would it be if someone made a 'bad idea detector' and we could just meter the concept and if it reads negative go "hmmm, says here that this is a really bad idea, maybe we should re think the plan." Oh wait, I guess we have two tools that do that already and they are called common sense and logic. Unfortunately those two tools are bit too complex for the masses to conceptualize and instead large groups of mindless minds often follow the alternate method known as "follow the biggest asshole like a bunch of idiot sheep."

My first reaction to the Festhalle was negative based on my knowledge of it's past but it did not feel negative. Quite the opposite, the grandiose, beautiful and majestic building built in 1909 was unique and curious and complex. So I pondered, as I so often do and what I came up with was it feels like an artificial reef now filled with life and sound and colors that was once powerful warship, now sunken and helplessly over run with the opposite of a bad idea.

**** End Pondering's ****

I would like to announce a breakthrough in touring roadie bloggery! I am sure y'all are astutely aware of touring rule number one; 'always carry your tour laminate' which also includes not losing it. Rule number one of blogging, Dave Rat style, is 'never go anywhere without a camera.' So looky at what I made,

With the camera in my pocket and the laminate hanging out with the bus key, I not only have my laminate and camera but I also have the added benefit of reducing the likelihood of donating either of them to the ether world.

**** Issue of the Day ****

The issue of the day is actually a derivative of a mathematical equation that I am very familiar with from past experience.

Water + Cell phone = Bad

Last time when my cell tried to commit suicide by jumping in the lake, I fetched it very quickly in hopes it would survive the 2 second rule. You know like when you drop food on the floor, if you fetch it up super quick, it is still edible. Well, it did not do so well and I think with camera's and water it may be the .0000001 second rule, anyway, this time it was different. You see, me, my cell and Chad were at a bar having a drink and my cell was 'allegedly' the designated driver. Unbeknownst to me though, my cell phone decided to have a little drink after all, hence the corollary to the formula is,

Beer + Cell phone = Bad

Luckily I was able to catch it drinking rather quickly and it only had a small sip. Not enough to destroy it completely but clearly plenty enough to give it a lasting hangover. The main issue is that

"my cll phn no longr will typ th lttr btwn D and F and th numbrs two and svn, nor th last lttr of th alphabt and th first lttr of th propr splling of kwick ar also not working."

**** End Issue of the Day/Week/Month? ****

The place we played is pretty much a squashed version of a Euro Hockey squared off arena. Straight forward stuff and I don't mind the acoustics in these places at all.

And finally, lets all pile inside my bus bunk, come on in!

Th doing my bst to liv my lif whil avoiding bad idas,

Dav Rat

Day 187 - Nov 26 - Frankfurt Show Day

**** Random Pondering ****

In my rambling travels I occasionally stumble in to a thought or observation that fills me with great annoyance. Usually, if I ponder it long enough I can unravel the essence of the imbalance causing the ripple. My most current mental puzzle came while reading a series of comments about an artist heart felt creative work on a message board. The seemingly endless stream of scathing negativity peppered with occasional "I don't care what you say, I love it/them." I felt this fury inside me increasing as I know full well that the comments were a mixture of senseless babble and mindlessly shooting of opinion-pellets. Useless opinions, spoken with fierceness and conviction, demeaning stabs as if somehow the spitting spite in a public area at 'people that following their life dream' elevates spitter them above the person whose back they spat upon. I realized that what bothered me is not the opinions, as I fully feel that humans are justified to form and speak their opinion, but what is missing the credibility quotient and the requirement that the opinionated accept public rebuttal to their statements. What is the credibility level of someone verbally attacking while remaining anonymous? The words of an insecure and jealous couch potato sits along side a bright eyed energetic dreamer following their passion, both are regarded by the onlooker with little to differentiate other than the knowing that the humans that tend to be most forcibly vocal about their opinions also tend be the most confused.

**** End Random Pondering ****

For this European leg we are using the Rat PA system that we left over here last time we were in Europe. While Peppers were in the States, Pearl Jam used it and now we have it back with a few small changes. The most significant difference is that the side clusters are now L'Acoustics Kudo's rather than the L'Acoustics V-Dosc/dV-Dosc. I am good either way but the Kudo system is more versatile and is faster to set up and pack up. Here you can see six of the ten per side we are carrying.

Another change made on this run is that we are running a cleaner stage by eliminating all wiring crossing front to back. Here we can see Dave Lee enjoying some relaxation while running John's pedal cables.

Since it has been a while since I have posted a band shot, here is pretty much what it looks like from the pirate ship

The forgot to be funny today,

Dave Rat

Day 186 - Nov 25 - Day off in Frankfurt

How about some holiday cheer in a German village? And if my home state governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger can refer to places like San Diego and and San Francisco as "towns and villages in cowleeforneeeah," I guess Frankfurt can definitely qualify as village, even if there are five million humans running around in the general area. So, for a change, Scott and I set on about the town to adventure and see what we find. Village? What a silly notion

Deciding what type of food to eat was tough. Hey Scott, what kind of food should we eat in Frankfurt? Well, even though we forgot to eat hamburgers in Hamburg, it looks like Frankfurters in Frankfurt is a go

More importantly though, if you are ever out this way, they make something called Gluhwien

Red wine, served warm, cinnamon spiced and I highly recommend it in anything less than high quantities, unless you like waking with a headache the size of Texas or so I was fortunately warned by Scott. Mmmmm, yumm! So we ate, drank and shopped

for useful items

That could come in handy. Another fun thing to do if you ever are out here is to avoid parking illegally. They don't mess around. This truck pulled up along side a 'mis-parked' car and we spotted it just getting airborne. By the time I got my camera out and snapped the pic it was on the truck and a few seconds later it was gone, truck and all.

**** Roadie Card Series #1, Card #3, Dave Lee ****

My goal for now is to present the 'Serious Six' consisting of roadies Scott, Dave Lee, Tracy, Chris Warren, Lyssa B and me. Hand selected by seniority which for some strange reason seems to also parallel the high eccentricity levels as well. I am not really sure if Peppers collect eccentrics or create them but either way, here is our next lovable roadie seen here studying the ways of modern pirating

And of course no good trading card comes without stats

Funny stuff? I think maybe I should print some up. Ha ha, I still have more surprises in store, not sure what they all are yet but some I do!

**** End Roadie Card Series #1, Card #3, Dave Lee ****

The loving Euroland,

Dave Rat

IHYIMHAMYL!

Day 185 - Nov 24 - Hamburg Show

**** Extra! Extra! ****

In effort to keep boring, at bay. I bring you the first world wide launch of something, I know most of the humans wake up in the morning missing, their minds, wondering why, another day has passed, yet unfulfilled, till now what has was, only dreamed, enters reality. Yes, you guessed it, today is none other than the world wide micro-launch of something you have never known that you were missing, ladies and gentlemen and the bulk of you whom are neither, welcome please ...Roadie Cards!

First, in a blitz of shameless self roadie promotion I present my very own self depicted in Roadie Card format

And the reverse

Next we have the Honorable Lampi Scott

And on the reverse please notice the icons in the corners indicate the roadie's gig, the white glove refers to his minimal physical work load

More roadie cars to come and soon you can collect and trade your favorite roadie's!

Do ya like 'em? Should I continue onward with the Roadie Card Project? Curious to read your comments and let me know!

**** End Extra Extra ****

So new tour leg brings new things. We got new bus.

For all ye lovers of land ships, feast yer eyes upon these Euro style road schooners

And our own ship will build to strike terror into the hearts of that gaze upon us

While the captains gather and in preparation for for battle

As we do as all roadie pirates must do and gaze about for booty

The loving new adventures,

Dave Rat - Aaarhg!