July 9 2013
Birmingham, Michigan, USA
I’m told Jack White is in our hotel. Well, not OUR hotel but the hotel we are currently staying at. Allison Mosshart from the Kills, too. A new Dead Weather chapter perhaps? Mark Wahlberg, as well, doing Transformers 4? All of this information could be completely incorrect but this is what was just put to me on my entrance of the building.
Why this motley cast of characters in Birmingham, Michigan is beyond me. Why we’re here is beyond me. I surmise there is some logistic reason as we are playing a festival in Lansing tomorrow. Why are we not in Lansing then? These are questions I cannot answer.
We visited a guitar shop earlier and were told that Brian May from Queen had popped in. What bizarre nexus of the universe is Birmingham, Michigan? Most interesting.
We are 5 shows in on the final leg of the Apocalyptic Live 2013 tour. They have each been amazing thus far. I’m trying my hardest to take in as much of the experience as possible. The final quarter of 2013 is currently unwritten though I know it will fill with more activity than I could ever imagine. I used to worry about projected down time. I have learned over time that there is no such thing.
In my last blog I didn’t get a whole lot of time to dedicate to the cd release show we did over at Vamp’d in Las Vegas June 2nd. It was such a magical night. I really cannot thank the people involved enough. The fine folks at Vamp’d made an amazing night of it. I had the Conspirators on stage, I had the Sinners on stage and I played a bunch of songs from Borrowing Trouble for the first time ever. It was a great time. The audience was amazing. We really had the best time.
The biggest love goes out to Fitzy, Frank, Doc and Cian, Zach, Rob and, of course, Mr Muscat.
I managed to forget words on stage for a Jellyfish song with the Conspirators in such an epic way that I had to actually break out my phone to google them. All in the name of Rock N Roll. At least this way we constantly prove that nothing-NOTHING-is on tape!
I’m sure that added to everyone’s memorable portion of the evening. As I mentioned on stage if I had any sort of ego that woulda been rough but I love those bumps on the road. Those make it real.
Music, or life for that matter, is not supposed to be perfect. What a boring life that would be.
After a nice ‘other kind of’ RnR in Vancouver I made my way to LA for rehearsals with the lads. The Vancouver trip also included a great deal of press which continues to this day for the promoting of Borrowing Trouble. Back to the big room at Mates Rehearsal Studio where Slash pointed to one corner of the stage and said, “I made up the riff to Slither right there.” Pretty cool.
It’s a tribute to Slash’s stamina that I underestimated him upon his arrival from South Africa. He only landed the previous day in LA and I assumed he’d be fighting some form of jet lag. He is normally impossible to keep up with and tirelessly focused at rehearsal. Jet lag has no effect on the man. This time would be no different. We rehearsed every single song we’ve ever played since this whole thing began over three years ago plus a stack of new ones to spruce up the new set. He was in Africa, half way around the world, a day ago and was still ON. I can’t keep up. This is just rehearsal. Live our show is like a Ramones show. No breaks. Maybe the odd, quick ‘thank you’ or ‘hello’ but then we are off and running. It is challenging. Athletic. I am NO athlete but I love to rock. I pay the price nightly and every morning but I can’t help myself. I bite off the biggest piece of rock I can and gladly suffer the consequences.
So off we were to start our tour in, of all places, Gibbons, Alberta, Canada. We stayed in Edmonton and made our way to the West Edmonton Mall for the first time in a long time for me. I’ve spent a lot of time in Edmonton in my day.
The show in Gibbons was great. The almighty Boonstock has been put on there for years. Godsmack was there as was a reformed Headstones. We had a killer set though not nearly long enough. Saw so many familiar faces in the crowd it seemed a shame to have to leave so quickly. I got to scream ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ to all my fellow Canadians the day before Canada Day (Canada Day Eve?) which was beyond an honor.
From there we stayed in the country and headed east to Thunder Bay, Ontario. We had been to Thunder Bay a year before and were excited to return.
Though it was Canada Day we didn’t do much to celebrate it. That said it was extremely pleasant to actually be IN Canada for it.
I caught the Lone Ranger the day before our show which was fun. The show was really great for us. We’d only played about 75 minutes at Boonstock. Now we could play the full 2 hours. We played Let It Roll by Velvet Revolver for the first time ever as well as We Will Roam from Apocalyptic Love. Let It Roll has not been performed live since VR broke up back in 08. The only place you’re gonna hear songs like that is at a Conspirators show. The exciting thing about playing We Will Roam is that it was the only song on Apocalyptic Love not performed live. We even performed the two bonus songs live-Carolina and Crazy Life. I can’t think of any other artist that’s been around as long as Slash that is performing every single song on his new album. Granted we don’t play all 13 songs in one night but we could. We Will Roam sounds awesome live if I don’t say so myself. Myles and I sing the shit out of it. Myles did such a great job on the lyrics to that song. It’s essentially about us. About those of us living life on the road
And still we roam now forevermore
Tread the night on steel and stone
And still we roam
Never asking more
Where we are will be our home
That really speaks to me. Myles is an immense talent. He really is.
Thunder Bay was an amazing show. I love the auditorium there. Great room. We also played the Immigrant Song by Zeppelin for the first time ever as an encore. We just jammed it out at soundcheck and added it to the list. It’s been in the encore every night since.
I got to scream out my mini set of Dr Alibi and Jungle. I was happy!
From there we caught up with our bus after flying from Edmonton to Thunder Bay. Now we would tread the night on steel and stone to Chicago. One of my favorite cities ever.
Sleeping on a bus is a bizarre thing. I imagine back in the day a guy could sleep quite soundly after a buncha beers like pirates on a ship after some rum. But dead sober it really is like riding a ship through a hurricane while scrunched into a coffin like pod. I used to detest them. I’m too big for comfort in them. I’m not normally claustrophobic but they were unpleasant initially. I’ve grown accustomed to them now though I don’t think I sleep soundly on them. I always feel like going right back to bed upon reaching our destination.
Don’t listen to any of this. I rode happily in a van for years and years. To complain about tour buses with satellite tv and wifi is inexcusable. To be fair I’m not really complaining. Just illustrating life of eternal camping on the road. A bus is much preferable to having to be in an airport every day. Trust me!
In Chicago Slash, Cheryl, Jr and I went to see World War Z which was a blast. I have been running down my list of movies to see this summer. I’ll go through them in more depth later.
It was the 4th of July and the streets were lousy with humans. I came out of an apocalyptic film with people running wild in the streets only to find myself surrounded by people running wild in the streets. I immediately called back the survival training from the film ‘Zombieland’. ‘Double Tap!’. If you’ve seen Zombieland you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t you should. It’s a blast. The Bill Murray scene alone is worth it.
As it turns out the people running the streets of Chicago were not zombies but just people celebrating the anniversary of the country’s independence. Either way I was prepared.
It was most amusing to watch people stop and stare at Slash and then shake it off with a ‘nah, can’t be’ expression. Slash always looks like Slash. He casually walked the crowded streets completely unaffected.
Upon returning to our hotel we were met by Twiggy from Marilyn Manson. They were playing the following night at the Rivera Theater which we’ve played a number of times. It was good to meet him. I’ve been a long supporter of Manson. Much of my thoughts these days would end up being inflammatory to his fans but I have to say that I wish there were someone around Manson himself that could set him straight. He is visibly not in good shape. He’s coked out of his mind all the time. He is, by all reports, unpleasant to work with. It’s really a shame because I think he had a really brilliant mind and probably still does.
There was a time when i thought he put on one of the best shows in the world. I’d first seem him on the AntiChrist Superstar tour and no one was doing shows like that at that time. Not in the rock world anyway. You have to remember this was the very self conscious 90s. It was uncool to take oneself too seriously.
I had his back through Mechanical Animals, a bit of a misstep with Holywood, then got me back with the Golden Age of Grotesque but lost me after that.
His band was great. I liked all the players. Every time they came around there was someone new in the band. John 5 was a welcome addition. Losing Twiggy was a big one but the Golden Age album was strong. After that it became as I had expected it would. Like Alice Cooper. It was not about the band anymore. It was about the man.
I love Alice Cooper but my favorite chapter is and always will be the original band-Buxton, Smith, Dunaway and Bruce. They were a band then. You knew each member. Once it became Alice the solo artist it didn’t matter as much who was behind him.
The same thing occurred with Manson. By the time I’d first seen them they had already burned through a few members including Daisy Berkowitz who was pretty key. There was a brief period of a fill in guitar player named Zim Zum before settling on the lineup of Manson, Twiggy, John 5, Pogo and Ginger Fish. Then Twiggy was replaced by Tim Skold who went by Tim Tim. He had played in a band called Shotgun Messiah back in the day. After that I completely lost track of who was or wasn’t there. Twiggy came back but I don’t know who else is there. Twiggy plays guitar now rather than bass. I know he had played a lot of guitar on the records anyway.
I saw Twiggy, or Jeordie as he was known then as he switched back to his birth name, with Trent and Nine Inch Nails. That was a great version of NIN though I still love the Downward Spiral lineup best.
In a funny twist of irony last year Manson was on the road with Rob Zombie. Zombie has John 5 and Ginger Fish in his band, both ex of Manson. I’m sure that must have been interesting. From what I’ve heard he didn’t treat those guys all that great but that’s just what I heard. What the hell do I know?
I just wish someone could show Manson that there’s nothing cool or dangerous about being a bloated, drunken coke head. If you want to impress put all that focus into your music again. into your art. Into your audience. I say this with the utmost respect for him as one of the most important artists of his time.
Probably the most dangerous thing he could do today is show up in tee shirt and jeans and just play music. I love a show. I really do but music first, everything else second. Second-the show. Bloated drunken cokeheadness should be waaaayyyy down the list. In fact there’s no room on the list for that. There’s nothing cool about putting on a subpar show. Nothing cool at all.
I know Manson would just scoff at someone like me saying any of this but it’s from a genuinely good place that I say it.
That said, Twiggy was drinking a pineapple juice in the bar with friends. He seems like he’s got it together and takes his gig seriously. Take what you do seriously just never take yourself too seriously.
Then again, who am I to judge? If Manson is happy then he can do what he likes. I just miss the Manson that when he opened his mouth all the parents and higher ups were shocked by his intelligence and thoughtfulness. It was the most shocking thing about him.
Now it’s all rock cliché tits and blow job talk. Your better than that, sir. Can a reality show be far behind? I’m hoping there will be a U Turn back to reason at some point.
In the end I have supported him by buying all the albums along the way. There are moments of brilliance in there. I’m sure I’ll buy the next one too. I’m a fan.
Well, never intended for that to be an open letter to Marilyn Manson. He’s gonna totally kick my ass. Oh well. John 5 is a great dude. Amazing talent. He’s doing soundtracks and albums with Rob. He’s doing great things. Good for him.
I saw Rob’s last movie and it was ok. Lords Of Salem. I’m a fan and have loved his work. That one was a bit of a misstep, I think. It seemed more of a personal piece and I can appreciate that as an ‘artist’ myself. I plan to see it again and maybe I’ll get more out of it then. Had some great Polanski moments to it. I hear his next film is gonna be a hockey one. Cool.
Wow. I am really meandering here. Apologies…
After a day of some fave sightseeing in Chicago at Chicago Music Exchange(amazing guitar shop), Piece (Rick Neilsen from Cheap Trick’s pizza joint) we made our way to Naperville, Illinois for our set at the yearly festival Ribfest. We come crashing into these festivals just in time to play and then are whisked away. The show itself was amazing. We busted out Let It Roll again and the Immigrant Song of the newest songs added. As an amusing oversight we missed doing Standing In The Sun earlier in the set and so stuck it at the top of the encore creating a 3 song encore.
Then some quick hellogoodbyes (which is what you say to someone you haven’t seen in a while-you see them briefly then you are gone again) then off to Chicago for the night before driving to Peoria the next day.
*As I write this I just got a text from Frank saying he just ran into Mark Wahlberg in the lobby of the hotel. A polite exchange of nods. Myles was in Rockstar with Wahlberg. Maybe we can get him to come sing some Steel Dragon hits with us. “Stand Up And Shouuuuut!!!”
Peoria introduced yet another new song to the set. I have to hand it to Slash he likes to make sure people are getting something new all the time. We are constantly talking about songs to add. I would love to add some Use Your Illusions songs. Maybe in 2014.
For the Peoria show we added a great song Shine from the Snakepit album, Ain’t Life Grand. As far as I know this song has not been performed live since 2001.
Peoria was awesome. It saw the return of our friends, Hillbilly Herald opening for us this leg. These guys have an amazing work ethic and consistently deliver a high energy show with catchy as shit songs. Jimmy is a great front man. He looks like Charles Manson and sings like Bon Scott. Good fun.
Peoria rocked. Another example of how Slash is constantly looking to play places we have not before. I expect 2014 to be very interesting.
Our return to Boston’s mighty House Of Blues was as momentous as ever. Boston is one of the great American cities though I never seem to get enough time to hang out there. This was a big night for us as Joey Kramer from Aerosmith was there to watch. We never got a chance to say hi but he was up there on the side rocking out. I’d met him back in 2010 when we played with Aerosmith at Download in England. That was a big day for me.
Boston audiences are some of the rowdiest in the US. A lot of energy going on out there. It was a huge show. It was crazy hot. The hottest one of the tour so far. We were all completely spent by the end of it.
After the show we managed to hang out with some people out by the bus and they were extraordinary. They had come from all over, had seen us multiple times and were full of love. It was a truly energizing experience to re-meet all these people and to hear how much positivity we had brought to their lives. If they only knew how much they had brought to ours. Hopefully they read this so they can know how much they have brought to mine!
Can’t wait to get back to Boston.
So now here we are in Birmingham, Michigan. We play a festival in Lansing. I know Sevendust is going to be there. They’re cool dudes. Beyond that I’m not sure who else is playing. Either way I’m good to go!
Since my last blog the Stanley Cup playoffs have come and gone. My cousin, Sheldon Brookbank, and his team the Chicago Blackhawks won the Cup in Boston. It was a manor thing for all of us. He comes from the same tiny town in Saskatchewan as my family. We are a very close family and I couldn’t be more proud of him. There is no greater accomplishment for a Canadian than that. Winning the Cup would equal winning a thousand Grammys. If they bring the cup to Saskatchewan I’m going to see it!
It’s been the biggest movie going summer I’ve experienced in a looooong time. I know I’ve rambled about what I’ve seen thus far so I’ll try not to get too long winded.
I finally got to see Man Of Steel. In fact I’ve seen it 3 times now. I’m a big multi viewer. Still need to see Star Trek-Into Darkness again. Here’s the thing with Superman. I’ve really come to think that Superman is such a big character that it’s always going to be about the character regardless of who plays him. Iron Man works so well because of Robert Downey Jr. I don’t think anybody else could make that character work nearly as well as he can. Robert is bigger than Iron Man. Superman will always be bigger than any actor who plays him.
That said, the impossibly handsome, Henry Cavill, did a tremendous job embodying the last son of Krypton. It may be heresy to say but even as a boy I remember thinking that Superman was supposed to be bigger than Christopher Reeves. Of course Chris will always be the definitive Superman for all of us but Henry Cavill is anything but small. He’s as big as the comic book representation of Superman brought to life.
I like that they used his Dark Knight-esque handle, Man Of Steel. Very Christopher Nolan. Where Nolan is big on subtlety and mood Zack Snyder, who directed Man Of Steel is much more heavy handed. I have heard that the ending sequence alone would have caused somewhere in the area of 700 billion dollars worth of damage to the city of Metropolis. Thank God it’s a fictional city. There has been a lot of attention paid to this which can only be countered with the fact that there is no such place as Metropolis or Smallville. It is unsettling to watch buildings fall wondering if it’s a Sunday and everyone is off work. Otherwise I don’t want to estimate how high of a casualty count this would have caused.
I think there was some clever work done here with the mythology of Superman. A lot of which that has been explored on Smallville for the past 10 years. Man Of Steel is much more of a sci fi story than any previous incarnation which I suppose makes sense as he is from another planet. He is an alien living among us. His costume is some kind of regular Kryptonian uniform. I suppose we can accept that explanation. All of this seems as acceptable as it can be within the realms of our suspended disbelief.
He comes from another planet. Our sun and our atmosphere makes him able to do amazing things. Sure. Why not?
I even accept the complete 180 to have Lois Lane know that Clark Kent IS Superman right from the beginning. This immediately does away the whole disguise consisting of a pair of eye glasses. Never very convincing. It does change a lot of the tone of the Superman mythos but I’m accepting of that.
I read some reviews complaining about the origin story. How it wasn’t necessary. Everyone knows Superman’s origin. I think that is the incorrect way to think. In order to reintroduce Superman you have to start right at the beginning. Go back and look at how sublimely well done Batman Begins was done. Nolan knew what he was doing and it set everything up. Batman is a much easier tale to tell than Superman because Bruce Wayne is a man who just happens to have an unlimited amount of money.
The Dark Knight films took liberties with Batman’s mythos as well. The Joker didn’t wear makeup. He looked like that due to an accident. Ra’s Al Ghul was some kind of black magic dude. Bane could pump himself up to unrealistic proportions. But all the changes Nolan made worked within the restrictions of making it believable. Well, as believable as possible.
Superman is a tougher sell from the get go because of all he can do. I think the introduction of Zod from the first film was a good choice. If Snyder is smart all of this sets up the next film. The destruction of Metropolis and Zod’s attack in the first place is all on account of their being a Kal-El living on Earth.
The fact that Superman killed Zod at the end is a debate between fans though I am told that this is to be Superman’s step towards not killing. Batman was the same way. Most superheroes are. Death is something to avoid.
All in all I enjoyed the film. I wouldn’t say it was 100% but I’m happy that it did well enough to warrant a sequel and if they do that correctly they can create a healthy franchise and maybe even spin that Justice League film.
Word on the street is they will be rebooting Batman next. That makes me mildly nervous. We’ll see.
I enjoyed the Lone Ranger. I’ve been hearing some bad reviews but I don’t know what these critics expect from a big popcorn flick about a guy in a mask in the wild west. I loved the tv show when I was a kid. Like Johnny Depp I always gravitated to Tonto. Johnny totally revamped Tonto’s appearance which I dug a lot. His look is based on an amazing painting called I Am Crow by Kirby Sattler. I thought it was quite striking.
Johnny plays it with all the quirkiness of his best roles. I’m a sucker for westerns. I love horses. I have Cherokee blood in my veins just like Mr Depp. There have been complaints that he shouldn’t have been playing a Native American but they forget that he’s got native blood. I saw Tonto as a hero, not as an empty sidekick. I hope that native people will see the good in the character Johnny created.
If you go to it for some light fun and popcorn you will enjoy. I don’t know who goes to these kinds of movies expecting their life changed. Me I love going to the movies. It’s amongst my favorite things to do.
I’ve seen This Is The End which is amazing. Iron Man 3 was great, not the best of the three but, hey, we love Downey. Star Trek-Into Darkness is fantastic. JJ will be missed on the next one but I truly believe he is a welcome addition to the Star Wars franchise. Mark my words.
I saw The Heat tonight with the gang. Melissa McCarthy is the funniest woman on the planet. It was alright. Not my choice of films to see. I was shooting to see Lone Ranger again.
From Michigan we make our way south to Texas where we will be playing with Megadeth and Hell Yeah. That’s going to be a most Metal day! Fun Fun Fun
We will be winding up this epic journey known as Apocalyptic Love soon. After that anything is possible. There may be another Las Vegas show in September to kick off the fall. We will have vinyl by then and I will do my best to make it as big an event as the last one. From there I am still toying with the idea of touring across Canada. We’ll see.
I know that Slash will have the Conspirators in writing mode while Myles takes Alter Bridge around the world. Before you know it 2013 is going to be over. I don’t like thinking that way but I know this tour will be over by August. August is filled with all kinds of duties to promote Borrowing Trouble then it will suddenly be September-autumn-the fall. Suddenly we will be in the back quarter. Crazy how fast life goes.
Enjoy every single day of it, brothers and sisters.
I, again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your patience waiting for your copy of Borrowing Trouble and Near Life Experience. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and it has really been inspiring. Every one of you that has written kind things about the recordings have really made the whole thing feel so worth all the work put into it. I cannot thank you enough. I promise you the hard copies will be in your hands soon. I only hope you enjoy them.
Well, I hope to see you somewhere on the Apocalyptic Live trail. If not come to Vegas in September to Borrow some Trouble. Or maybe in the fall somewhere in Canada.
Until then live every day letting those you care about know that you do.
Take one more step towards that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
And never let the bastards drag you down.
Your loyal and humble servant