May 14 2013
Las Vegas, Nevada
Though I had intended to write a mid point blog I figured I’d wait til all four shows were under my belt before committing pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?)
I refuse to once again go to the tired, age old jet lag topic but suffice it to say I am living like a vampire that feeds on infomercials and tossing with a side order of turning which is fine as I had a DVR full of fun to catch up on. Bates Motel, Game Of Thrones, Mad Men…they may not make music for me anymore but, God bless ‘em, they continue to fill my time with television and film.
That’s all out of the way. Old team ‘Couch and TV’ conquered and now back to the real world. To be fair I hit the ground running. Upon my return it was straight to finalizing album cover art and listening to masters of Borrowing Trouble. I guess I am productive in my lack of productivity. Mostly it’s about re-acclimatizing to zero gravity again.
A day in stasis now back to ‘the grind’. There is no grind in my grind.
The big news at the moment is after much talk and consideration I have decided to do a proper cd release show for Borrowing Trouble on June 2nd at Vamp’d in Las Vegas. It will be a predominantly intimate acoustic affair with appearances by many friends to kick off the release. A giant motivator to do a show was I have decided to donate proceeds from the admission fee to the Greg Verdusco Memorial Fund. Greg was a dear friend and Borrowing Trouble is dedicated to him. It is he who told me to get off my ass and do it.
The cruel reality of the bills incurred while trying to save his life, though ultimately unsuccessful, weighs heavy on his family and I want to do my part. Though this won’t be an actual charity/benefit show per se I have decided that for the cost of a beverage hopefully my friends could help me take away some of that heavy load from his lovely wife and family.
I’ve been a nondrinker for some time. Does $5 get you a drink these days? Either way hopefully enough people will help us out with that to make a bit of a dent.
What a bitter reality that is. You fight and fight and throw money at such a nasty disease and you lose. You lose the person you care about forever. Then you lose again when the bills come in burying you in grief and debt. I hope, should anything like this happen to me, I can look to the people I care about for help. I miss Greg every day. There will be further memorial shows and events in the future. Proper ones but this is just me doing what I can. Eventually there will be a release of the EP he was working on before he got sick. His band, Bloody Villains, were rad and never got their chance. As things quiet down a bit with Slash I’ll get to that project later in the year. I’m both excited and sad to do it but it’s something I just have to do.
But more about that later…
I can’t tell you what a happy family the Conspirators are. Actually I can. Getting together for rehearsals in North Hollywood is like going to summer camp. Actually I hate camping. It’s not like camping at all. It’s like gathering up your friends to go see Star Trek:Into Darkness, which I’ll be doing 3 days from now. No it’s not like that really either.
Actually it’s a lot like getting together with people you really care about and playing music. Because it is exactly that. A year of Apocalyptic achievements is winding down and the follow up chapters are beginning. The album, Apocalyptic Love, has officially been out one year. March/April also signified three years I’ve been sailing under the command of a man named Slash. It feels like 3 months and 30 years at the same time. I have been around the world more times than I can count. I have lived extreme experience after extreme experience day in day out.
I have been on Leno, Conan, Kimmel, Fallon, Ellen. I’ve played with Alice Cooper, Lemmy, Adam Levine, Michael Monroe, Ginger Wildheart and countless others. I have made friends the world round. There are couches on every corner of the earth I can crash on now. I am truly blessed.
The last time we went to Asia we got rerouted from Japan due to the tsunami that caused such terrible devastation. A lot of people think we are cursed due to tsunamis, meteors, bombings that seem to follow us from country to country but the reality is when you tour as frequently as we do the law of averages says you’ll catch up with the best and the worst.
So last time we played Osaka but had to cancel Tokyo. I had still not been to Tokyo. How could this be? Frank had been. The new guy. But not me. What up?
The previous trip to Asia I was laid up with a missing eye (see blogs circa 2010). This time I was gonna see Tokyo, Dammit!
But first Manila! Not only was it my first time in the Philippines it was also Slash’s. Strangely Frank had been there once before. I think he may have been one of the only in our party to have been there previously.
Manila was extraordinarily beautiful. Bustling and alive. The people are so warm and kind. We got to see only a little of Manila. That first day after flying is a doozy. I’m usually a mess.
The flight was relatively painless. Just watched a bunch of movies. I probably should have slept but that never occurred to me.
Speaking of movies do yourself a favor and watch Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary. Very inspiring. It’s guys like Dave and Jack White that keep me inspired. Not many people think of it but when you see old footage of Nirvana take a second and try and objectively imagine that the drummer in that band would go on to be one of the most successful songwriter/frontmen in rock. What if Kurt never died? Would Dave have ever felt the need to take his own chances? I think he would have. I think he’d have to. The funny thing is that even as good a songwriter/frontman as he is I think he’s one of the greatest drummers in rock history. I can’t wait to hear the new Queens Of The Stone Age album for many reasons including Dave’s drumming. When Dave sat in with us at the Golden Gods Awards a few years back he was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Not a shred of awareness of who he is or what he has accomplished. He is truly inspiring and Sound City is just as inspiring. Who knew Rick Springfield was so bad ass? Secret admission-I did…
But I digress
One of the coolest things imaginable is that the show we played in Manila was in the very same arena where Muhammed Ali fought Joe Frazier. That fight was dubbed the Thrilla In Manila by Ali. Ali is another hero of mine. Though I have a ginormous list of musicians on that list I have to admit that people like Ali, Bruce Lee and Evel Kneivel would also have to be noted on that list. As a boy these men were more than just mere men. I believe they still are.
To this day I’m not really a big boxing fan but I was very naturally drawn to the personality known as Muhammed Ali. He was big and bright and really a giant among men. His skillful use of the English language he’d throw around like ninja stars. His tongue as sharp as a samurai sword.
And here we stood where that legendary fight had occurred. I’ve watched the documentary many times. This is as much a reason as any other to feel blessed to be in Manila.
The show in Manila was amazing. The crowd was hungry and receptive. We had ourselves a blast. We wanted our first time there to be memorable and I truly believe it was.
One of the biggest topics of conversation was the fact that Journey’s current singer, Arnel Pineda, was from Manila. What a fascinating story that is. Found on youtube. He truly is a wonder. I’ve seen him live and he is astounding. I’ve never seen anything like it. His voice truly embodies the void left by Steve Perry.
Lo and behold there was Arnel. Seeing how he was the only artist of note I was aware of from Manila it seemed fitting that he should be there. And what an amazing guy. He was so full of joy and light. For him to compliment my voice after spitting venom at the fine people of Manila with Welcome To The Jungle was far too kind.
Great dude and deserves every bit of treasure this journey (pun intended?) brings him.
Next up was Shanghai, China. Though we had been to Hong Kong before we had never been to Shanghai. That’s all very confusing the Hong Kong/China thing. That will take some googling to make sense of how that all works. I know there was British reign going on and now it’s Chinese but they have their own currency. It’s very confusing but fascinating.
Shanghai was beautiful. We went to a Buddhist temple which was breathtaking. The monks were chanting and I couldn’t help inserting The Ramone’s Sedated into their chants.
Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated…
Think about it. I think that would make a good chant.
We wandered the streets of the city and really got a good feel for a very, VERY fast moving city. Lots and lots of humans. For some reason everyone was trying to sell us laser pointers and skate wheels to put on our shoes. Silly westerners will buy anything I guess.
Our poor crew had been dealing with crazy power issues while in Asia. Power is different all over the world. We had amps blowing up and shutting down but they persevered and the show went on without a hitch.
Another killer show to a crowd we had never played to before. That was two for two.
Can’t wait to return to Shanghai. What an amazing city. Looked like Metropolis and Gotham all at the same time.
From there we were off to Seoul, Korea. We had spent five days in Seoul last time at the very same hotel and venue when we were evacuated out of Japan during the tsunami. We knew the hotel well as well as the mall that it was attached to.
We took a family trip to Iron Man 3 while in Seoul which was a lot of fun. Was it the best of the 3? No but it was great. You have to remind yourself that Iron Man wasn’t really one of the standout characters in the Marvel universe. I mean he’s up there but he’s no Spiderman or Hulk. Not even Wolverine really. But now he’s the MAN. That can be mostly attributed to the performance of Robert Downey Jr. Keeping in mind that when Robert took on the role his star in Hollywood was a little worse for wear. To his credit he knows that the franchise breathed a whole new life into his career which had been largely beaten by his own demons. Thankfully those are behind him. Downey is one of the greats of his generation making a superhero movie not just a superhero movie.
I mean they’ve gotten smart over the years attaching good actors to these films to give them cred.
The Dark Knight franchise (DC, i know) threw nothing but good actors at theirs-Bale, Oldman, Caine, Freeman, Ledger…
Captain America-Hugo Weaving
Spiderman-Willem Defoe, Alfred Molina
Tying them all together, the amazing Sam Jackson.
The list goes on. I suppose the kick off of Iron Man with Downey, Gwynnie and Jeff Bridges was a heavy hitter. What a great movie that was. Not to mention one of my faves, Jon Favreau, behind the camera.
Now we have a TV show on it’s way. The Agents Of SHIELD featuring…Agent Coulson? Ok…
I don’t know if DC will ever be able to pull up the muster to turn the Justice League into the monster that is the Avengers.
Truth be told I’m a DC man. I love Marvel. Don’t get me wrong. I’m on board. I’m just a sucker for the classics. If you would have told me 20 years ago that not only would there be a movie version of Thor, the thunder god from Asgard, but that it would be hugely successful I woulda said you were nuts. In fact I would never have thought Iron Man would have been green lit for the big screen. At the time I don’t think it would not have been inaccurate to think Iron Man had the same chance as DC’s Green Lantern. I was wrong. A lot of that credit goes to the charisma and chops of one Robert Downey Jr. That and an obviously resourceful team that saw it realized.
But again I digress…
There was certainly much more to Seoul than the adventures of the current flagship of the Marvel universe.
Great food and good times to be had for our second trip to the great city of Seoul.
The Seoul show saw the rare appearance of the bonus track Crazy Life in the set. We also played the not often performed Promise from Slash’s first solo album. Chris Cornell sang that one. I believe we did it on the Stoke dvd.
It was surreal to stay at the same hotel and play the same venue. A bit of a flashback. The crowd was amazing and again the people are so kind. This stay was not nearly long enough.
From there we were off to the land of metal. A little place called Ozzfest. This time housed in the great city of Tokyo, Japan. The mayor of Ozzfest is Ozzy Osbourne. He was there with his hot new combo Black Sabbath, albeit on a different night from us. We were on Deftones, Slipknot day.
Tokyo is fascinating. So big. So fast. The people are awesome. Everyone looks fantastic. Extremely well put together. Made me feel my full potential of the homeless vampire.
Every stop in Asia people wanted their picture with me. Not because they give a damn who I am, I don’t think, I just think I’m tall and unusual looking to them. FIne by me.
The stay in Tokyo was not nearly long enough and I regret not doing more but as usual sightseeing is only a small fraction of why I am on the road.
The number one reason is to bring the rock to the fine people of the world. So that’s what we did.
We played half our regular show. We are normally on stage for two hours but Ozzfest could only afford us one. That’s fine we came out swinging. Still kept your Dammit mini two song set in there too.
The audience was huuuuuge. It was an indoor festival so that was a little unusual but it totally rocked. That audience was voracious! Amazing show.
I hope someday to be able to play the Budokan in Japan. That’s a legendary spot.
We got to hang with my old friends Steel Panther. They are really wonderful guys and I’m so proud of how far they’ve taken their wacky antics. Good for them. The sky is the limit.
We had members of Tool hanging out and of course Chino from the Deftones whom we’d met in South America last year. Great guy. Amazing band.
So that, as they say, was that. Such a brief run but such a blast. Some of the greatest audiences in the world are over there. Some of the greatest music enthusiasts on the planet. I am honored to have been able to share it with everyone there and can’t wait to return. Until then we’ll be thinking of y’all!
So the Conspirators book will soon be put back on the shelf for a little while while Slash releases his movie, Myles fires up the mighty Alter Bridge and I give birth to a baby named Borrowing Trouble.
I’m not sure that everyone understands that it’s a bit different from what I normally do. It’s a more acoustic based recording that I really tried to make as intimate an experience as possible for both myself and the listener.
I hand wrote my name and the album title on the cd cover because I want it to be very personal.
A friend of mine told me a story once of how Jim Morrison would print up like a hundred books, at his own expense, of his poetry and give them out to his friends. I always liked that idea. And though it could be argued that Jim was no Byron or Shelley then again I am no Jim Morrison.
I have been lucky enough to have had the support of some amazing people. All the pages around the world that carry my name mean the world to me. This record is so much more of a selective piece for the people who have been supporting me for many years and for those who have just come on board.
Borrowing Trouble is the beginning of what I foresee to be a very productive chapter. You never know what lies ahead. Create new opportunities and see what happens. I’m excited about the journey.
The Conspirators will take one last run around the Sun in July hitting destinations all over the US and a couple in Canada. Can’t wait. It will be great to see you all one last time before we scurry off in different directions.
Until then I hope to see you June 2nd at Vamp’d. I’ll be there with my guitar in hand ready to sing you some songs and tell you some lies. They are very entertaining lies, I assure you.
Perhaps we’ll get a chance to do this same thing in other cities. That’s up to the cosmos now.
Star Trek:Into Darkness this weekend. Oh My God! Summertime is the best time to be a nerd!
Live every week like it’s Shark Week
Your loyal and humble servant,