March 12 2013
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Oh, Vancouver. How your ghosts still haunt. I walk these oh so familiar yet unfamiliar streets and everything floods back. An entire chapter of my life. Some of the best years of my life. All those great venues now gone-The Town Pump, Richard’s On Richards, Starfish Room (originally Club Soda), Cruel Elephant, Hungry Eye…I don’t even know what venues there are anymore in ‘No Fun City’. The Biltmore maybe? Railway Club is still there. That’s comforting. I suppose there are underground clubs that I could never know about. i always love that speakeasy effect.
I moved out here in 1991. We had been playing out here a bit until the producer, Bob Rock, saw my band, The Age Of Electric, and told us he wanted to make us stars! Well, not in those words but you know…
Bob was coming off of Dr Feelgood by Motley Crue and Metallica’s Black Album. He was doing just fine. As a music nerd I knew Bob as the guitar player for the Payolas (you’ve got the eyyyyyyeeeees of a stranger) who later became Rock and Hyde. Bob had come up in the early 80s punk rock scene in Vancouver which spawned legends like DOA, the Subhumans, Pointed Sticks, Modernettes etc etc. We connected on a lot of that stuff. I learned a lot from Bob. He was very good to us.
We recorded a bunch of material together while he was bouncing back and forth from sessions with Bon Jovi. He was producing their Keep The Faith album. We were in a tiny room at the back of Little Mountain Sound where everyone had recorded-Metallica, Motley, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi…
In fact, Aerosmith was doing Get A Grip next door. Steven Tyler would burst into our studio unannounced looking for tambourines and shakers. We would stop and stare as if Steven Tyler had just burst into the room. At 2:00 in the afternoon he was Steve Tyler. No sweat pants and baseball cap for him. He looked as if he walked out of the Dude Looks A Lady Video right into our reality.
I sat on a couch showing Joe Perry one of Bob’s Gretsch White Falcon guitars that Billy Duffy from the Cult had given him. Too much to take in. Joe Perry is sitting right there. Crazy.
Those were crazy times. We recorded a bunch of songs. We shopped ‘em around but no one cared so we released 6 of those songs under the title The Ugly EP which spawned a hit in the form of Ugly. The momentum of that had us take Ugly and a second song, Untitled, and stick them on a full length self titled album through Cargo Records out of Montreal. Cargo was a punk rock label that was distributed through MCA/Universal. This led to our future relationship with Universal Canada.
We got signed to Mercury out of New York, had management out of New York, made an album called Make A Pest A Pet on Mercury’s dime, were dropped from that label before the album was released and put the album out on Universal Canada with a hit song in Remote Control.
We went gold then broke up. Genius. That was 15 years ago. Where does the time go?
I put out the Static In Stereo album and Go Time! before leaving Vancouver in late 2006 so I have a lot of history in this city. In many ways it will always be home.
It always reminds me of that great Neil Diamond line, “LA’s fine but it ain’t home, New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more.” That’s heavy stuff.
This isn’t my Vancouver anymore. So much has changed. Even now there is a cacophony of music playing outside the window. A music of whirring and crushing of a city growing. Machines grinding and grunting, building an ever expanding future for a city on the grow. There is little evidence of any recession on this side of the border.
I’m rambling already. I have, for the first time in my life, decided to take some time off. I don’t really understand the word vacation. Beaches makes me uneasy. A cabin even worse. People recommend I take a break, a proper rest, but I have no idea what that means. They tell me to relax and enjoy a break. I, again, am at a complete loss for what that means. They say, “well, what do you LIKE to do?” I say, “play music”. They look at me perplexed.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the concept of it. People with regular jobs have vacation time to get away and come back refreshed. I believe so they won’t snap and come in and shoot up the office. God knows they should never let me work in an office!
I love what I do. I really do. There is nothing in the world I’d rather be doing but I will admit I am burned out. I am fried. It seems a shameful thing to admit. An embracing of weakness but I look back on a whirlwind of achievement behind me and it feels somewhat justified.
Before hitching myself to Slash’s wagon my life was anything but complacent. The Sinners were the biggest band in Vegas. We played multiple nights a week. We made videos and cds and played charities and never stopped. Not for a minute.
I look back and realize that I have released Exile On Fremont Street (which came out not long before my introduction to Planet Slash), Broken Record (the acoustic Sinners album), a Sinners Christmas, Made In Stoke (cd and dvd) and Apocalyptic Love over the past 3 years. That is an immense amount of output. Almost (ALMOST) Ginger Wildheart worthy. All the time between these releases spent on a stage somewhere. If I wasn’t on the road with Slash I was on stage in Vegas and I loved and cherished every second of those shows. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.
Now here I am trying to quiet my brain so that I may simply enjoy my time and recharge my batteries for another spin around the sun. Vancouver is where I naturally feel my soul come back to life. With my family who are the most important people in the world to me.
I have decided to take a break from the stage for a while as I have had to shift my focus to the undertaking of the Hello Cruel World project. A whole bunch of people have pre ordered it and they are essentially my bosses. I canNOT let them down. I am continually writing for it and it keeps growing and growing. Now it’s a matter of deciding what is going to be on it. I foresee a full electric record coming not far behind it though I know that we are already setting our sights on Apocalyptic Love’s follow up. You see why I have to take advantage of this time to recharge. Slash is a machine. If there was no Alter Bridge we would never come home. I am not complaining at all. He is tireless. I’ve never seen anything like it. While I’m shattered in Vancouver enjoying coffee with family he is already planning further world domination. This is why he is Slash. He is so much more than human. I’m just trying to keep up.
Quickly I wanted to say that I didn’t mention that Randy from Lamb Of God had been facing terrible charges in the Czech Republic and that we are all praying for him. Slash has been very vocal in our support of him and in fact wore a LOG shirt on stage that night. Randy is a good man and has been great to us. LOG is one of the most intense shows I have ever witnessed. Truly mind blowing. We are all hoping for the best for Randy. It is a terrible situation and we hope he will come out of this and be able to continue the ascent his career most assuredly deserves. This will turn Randy into a folk legend and his band will have a whole new level of success because of it. What a terrible thing to go through. I feel for the man and the band.
Whence last I checked in (over 2 weeks ago-shameful) we were in Oslo Norway). Such an amazing part of the world. The land of church burning satan bands. They seem to take their religion (and anti-religion) pretty seriously up there. We probably shoulda painted our faces Norwegian death metal style. That woulda been cool. Entirely too much work though, right?
The show was, of course, amazing. We don’t get to Norway nearly enough. We didn’t get to see a lot of Oslo unfortunately but it was definitely winter there. I believe I was in Norway with Faster Pussycat back in 2007. Gonna have to do some research on that…
A load of our English posse made the trip to Oslo. God bless our English crew. They travel far and wide for us. You’d think they’d get bored but they are the reason our setlist is constantly changing. Gotta keep ‘em on their toes!
The good people of Oslo make for an outstanding audience. Loud and rowdy. God bless ‘em. We had taken to opening with Ghost to keep our return audience on their toes. I generally prefer Halo more as the opener these but it’s good to change things up as much for us as our peeps.
A tremendous show looking forward to getting back and seeing more of your glorious country!
From there we were on to the Bandit Awards in Stockholm, Sweden. That was a crazy overnight drive then directly to an awards show. Talk about exhausting.
It was another amazing achievement to win ‘Best International Album’. We all went out to accept and it was an awesome experience. I have never really won an award before. Slash did all the talking as he should have as our fearless leader. Great start to an amazing night.
We did a full set at the end of the awards ceremony and it was a blast. Our good friend, Lizzy Hale, from the Grammy Award winning Halestorm! got up and sang Out Ta Get Me with us. That girl wails. Super powerful. They won a Grammy. That is so awesome.
I wore my Electric Boys shirt to represent a little Swedish rock. Love those guys. Still haven’t met Conny though we have touched base on Facebook. He was in Norway opening for the Quireboys while we were in Sweden. Bad timing.
That was a very memorable night for us. We won an award and the Conspirators did a bizarre interview with a girl who I believe thought we were Halestorm. She thought we were up for best female fronted band award. Do your research people. I ended up spinning it into the silliest interview I’ve ever been a part of. That’s a lie. All my interviews end up being pretty silly. Take what you do seriously not yourself.
From there we were off to the great city of Copenhagen, Denmark. On our day off I went to a museum with Slash. There was a limited amount of dinosaur stuff which was the purpose of our visit but it was great nonetheless. People have no idea how knowledgeable Slash is about this stuff. He honestly could host his own show on Animal Planet. He is way informed on reptiles and dinosaurs and a host of other animal related stuff. Not to mention his unlimited wisdom in music. It’s quite staggering. He speaks with great knowledge and research that mostly comes from just a great love for nature. The way i’m too well informed about nerdy sci fi stuff. It’s impressive.
The show in Copenhagen was again staggering. We had been there in 2010 as some of the earliest shows of the band. The venue sizes continue to grow as does the intensity of our audience. What a blast!
Back in Germany. This time beautiful Bremen. I kept asking about the significance of the fairy tale ‘the Bremen Town Musician’. No one knew what I was talking about. I’ll have to google that later. I guess on February 25th 2013 WE are the Bremen Town Musicians!
Bremen is another beautiful city. Most definitely winter! Very familiar to the Canadian winters I’d grown up with so far be it from me to complain.
We have been to Germany many times but mostly Berlin. It was nice to get outside of the big city. We still haven’t done places like Hamburg yet. What up with that?
Bremen rocked. The people were great. Good rowdy German people. Gotta love em! We’ll be back!
Apparently The Netherlands and Holland are the same place unless someone can better explain this to me as we found ourselves next in Tilburg, Netherlands (Holland?). My good friends from TK France had been along for some shows and they are the best. I finally met Youp from TK Holland and he reminded me of myself. He’s a teenager with rock and roll in his eyes. Good thing I got to know him now so I can hit him up to be on HIS guest list someday!
My bro, Steve Conte, from Michael Monroe’s band and, of course, the New York Dolls came down as he lives not far from Tilburg. Scored a copy of his cd, Steve Conte and the Crazy Truth. Amazing. Really inspiring. He has a pledge campaign coming soon. Stay tuned!
That show was a lot of fun. Always a pleasure to play someplace you’ve never played before. They have these cookies there that are some kind of waffle with some kind of syrup in them that are like crack. I can’t stop eating them whenever they are in sight!
Great times. Hope to be back next year!
From there we finally found ourselves in the UK. Our booster club could finally stop traveling…well, they would be traveling shorter distances now anyway.
Nottingham was one of the first places I made friends back in 2007 when I came over with Brent Muscat and his bastardized version of the Taime light Faster Pussycat. Those people are still in my life-Paula, Rob, Craig…When we left back then I was never sure I’d ever be back to England let alone Nottingham and now here we are in England more than Vegas it seems.
We spent our night off going to the self proclaimed ‘oldest pub in Europe’. Right outside the castle walls sits Ye Old Trip To Jerusalem. A quaint place where people have been drinking since the beginning of time. Fascinating. Of course, I had been there before with the above friends when first I found myself in Notts. A good night of Chery Hall and the Conspirators with our rowdy friends. A pub that closes at 10? Ok… From there we found ourselves in an English casino which was hauntingly familiar to Vegas. Kinda bizarre.
When first I played Notts I was in the little room at Rock City (one of England’s most legendary rock bars) with FP. Now we were playing it’s biggest venue, Capital FM Arena. Pretty surreal. I will never take for granted the size of venues we get to play. I have been in the amazing position to watch this thing grow since 2010 and it has been an awe inspiring sight.
Afterwards I got to catch up with Victoria and Rich from Ginger Wildheart’s band as well as their amazing manager, Gav. Always amazing to see them. We had such a good time. I love those people dearly.
What an amazing night. It was a very special night for me. One I won’t soon forget.
Off to Blackpool which was another great night. Maybe rowdier than the previous night. It’s always fun to step out of the usual stops and play places we haven’t. They sure seem to appreciate it. We had a blast. Friends from all over came out for both shows and beyond in England. Our after show get togethers get bigger and bigger every time. A growing and ever expanding family!!! Like I said it’s been amazing coming to a place where you don’t know anyone and then knowing everyone!
Two amazing nights in England, a country that has always been good to us and had adopted us very early on. We ended up dragging half the country with us to our next destination-Dublin!
Oddly Dublin has become very familiar. We have been a few times and we know the Temple Bar area has become a common haunt. Dublin is one of the truly great cities of the world. I love it there. As always I wish we had just a little more time to see, live and breathe it. We enjoyed some delicious food and a good hang. We were in Dublin for 3 whole days. The longest stay we’d had anywhere in a loooooong time.
The first show was insane. One for our book of legends. Partly because of the amazing Dublin audience, partly because I think we put on a pretty damned good show, but a lot of the credit goes to the magical appearance of one, Charile Sheen. We had been hearing murmurs and rumors of Charlie’s impending arrival for much of the European run yet he never seemed to materialize. Suddenly there he was! Walking on stage, microphone in hand, introducing the band. The crowd went bananas. They were probably as confused as the rest of us.
Was he there for anything else? Nope. Just came to rock out for a night. These are the kinds of things you get to do when you’re Charlie Sheen. Rock show in Dublin? Hell yea! Flying from LAX to Dublin is no biggie.
Oh, to be Charlie. One can’t imagine what that must be like. He certainly is LIVING his life. I think I’m perfectly fine with the way I’m living mine but I admire is zest for it.
So Charlie stole the show with his intro and then continued to steal
the show rocking out in the booth right above Frank and I. And I mean
ROCK OUT! There were two shows that night- 1. Slash featuring Myles
Kennedy and The Conspirators And 2. Hollywood mega celeb/actor/professional madman-Charlie F*#king Sheen!
It was funny to look out at the audience every now and then and see them looking up at Charlie as if he were part of the show. He was like the Pope up in that pulpit if the Pope was in rapturous euphoria to the throes of Rocket Queen. Like I said-he LIVES it!
After the show we got to hang with Charlie a little. He is a passionate cat and when he looks at you his eyes have reached down and got a vice grip on your soul! He’s not looking at you, he’s looking into you.
It’s unfortunate that all his recent behavior is what he carries with him now. He is a gifted actor. Watch Wall Street and Platoon now and tell me different.
He’s Charlie Sheen. If he chooses to live at a gazillion miles an hour then so be it. What’s stopping him? I kinda admire him for that. Not for me but he’s allowed to do whatever he wants. Money in the bank, bills are paid, kids are provided for. LIVE. I get it.
The second night may not have had Charlie Sheen (he was gone as mysteriously as he arrived-like Batman) but it was no less magical. In many ways I felt it was the better night. Maybe because it was the last we’d see of Europe/UK until 2014. Typing that out just now made it seem all the more real. How very strange. We are around so much and then just gone. Oh well. It shall make our return all the more momentous!
That second night was a special one. We poured heart and soul into it knowing that this was the last we’d be seeing of not only Dublin but all who’d traveled from all over Europe to be with us one last time. It was a major night. Our after show was a lot of fare thee wells and see you soons. I feel very fortunate to have made so many new friends from every corner of the world these recent years. I am a very rich man indeed.
Early (and I mean EARLY) the next morning we were on a plane to Newark, New Jersey. I have little recollection of it. Then on from Newark to Vegas. I guess I watched Argo somewhere in there. I thought it was great but I don’t know if it was Oscar worthy. Great none the less. I also caught part of Life Of Pi which was amazing. Never got to finish it. Still need to.
I spent the night in Vegas and then I was off to Vancouver where I’ve been in an orgy of rest and food like a Roman emperor, albeit a boring one.
Soon I return to finish the Hello Cruel World project then head to Asia with Slash and friends. We are doing some exciting places including the Philippines which is very exciting.
Ya never know. That may not be the last time we go out this year…
Ya never know…
Do us a favor and head over to the Todd Kerns Pledgemusic Page and throw us a little support. This has been very exciting and will continue to be. Plus it’s for an amazing cause. The album will be out in just a few months and I’m excited for all of y’all to hear it!
There are some awesome things to pick up on there including wardrobe from the ‘You’re A Lie’ video and a bunch more. I can’t thank you enough.
Well, back to family and food! I’ll be back in rock mode before ya know it!
Your loyal and humble servant