Denver, Colorado, USA
July 23 2013
So much has transpired on this tour that I should be chastised for not checking in sooner. No one to chastise me but me and that’s just weird.
Did 14 hours on the steel horse (tour bus-thank the poet, Jon Bon Jovi, for that one) from St Louis to Denver and that is an incomplete trip. We are only here to break up the trip to Utah. Madness, I tell you.
Last night part of the gang went out to dinner the other part went to see the horror film, The Conjuring. I decided to stay in, order room service and check in with you lot. Being a night off if I didn’t check in more would transpire that I will report foggily on and that’s not good. I’m foggy enough as is.
I’m a big movie guy, as most of you know, but I just am not all that excited about seeing The Conjuring. I like me a horror movie but I find most modern horror films just aren’t what they are supposed to be-Scary! Sure they are gnarly but I’m just not that interested in watching people get tortured. I miss The Exorcist, The Shining, the Romero movies, the original Evil Dead etc etc. Once in a while they come up with something cool but for the most part I find myself feeling like I was on an unsatisfying roller coaster by the end credits. I hear good things about this one but I don’t know…
Today we are going to Pacific Rim which is obvious summer movie fare. Kind of a must see on the big screen kinda movie. On top of the fact that we’ll be seeing it with one of the film’s actors. A friend of ours is coming as a surprise for Slash’s birthday and since this blog won’t be posted til later today I guess I can mention at least that.
We are celebrating Slash’s birthday today. That will be fun. I don’t even remember my last birthday. Weird. The one before that we were recording Apocalyptic Love and I didn’t do a damn thing for it. We’ll make sure Slash’s is a little more memorable than that.
When last I checked in we were getting ready to do the Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing, Michigan which turned out to be a lot of fun. Our good friends the great, Canadian Monster Truck were there and literally tore the roof off the place (figuratively, of course. There’s no roof at festivals). You gotta see these guys if you haven’t. Just great meat and potatoes Rock N Roll. Very classic but very contemporary at the same time. Really an amazing band. They make me proud to be Canadian.
Sevendust were great as always. One of the true road warrior bands. Great buncha people in that camp.
The show was stellar for us. Michigan is one of the great Rock and Roll spots in America. I have bootleg shows from the 70s of KISS in Lansing. Look at what came from Michigan-from Seger to the MC5 to the Stooges to the White Stripes to Alice Cooper and even Kid Rock to Eminem. A fertile ground of music.
See you in 2014, Michigan. Thanks for the good times!
From there we made our way to the great city of Dallas, Texas to be part of Gigantour featuring a host of the loudest of the loud.
I started my day enjoying the mighty return of Jason Newsted’s new group entitled simply Newsted. Good, straight up, old school thrash metal in the vein of say…old school Metallica? I have to say, as a bass player, Jason is a big influence on me. I watched his entire set and hoped to get a chance to say hi but, alas, it was not meant to be.
Jason had Mike Mushok from Staind playing guitar who stood side stage and watched our entire set. That was cool of him. I didn’t get a chance to meet him either but I recognized him.
I watched all of Hell Yeah’s set from side stage. Vinnie Paul is still one of the best metal drummers of all time. On top of that he’s a great man and a good friend. I never need to remind myself that he is a legend. Especially around parts like Texas. He is royalty. Vinnie also stood side stage and watched our whole set.
David Draiman’s side band, Device, played after but I missed them. I was busy being entertained by Nick and JD from BLS as they recounted their favorite scenes from the hockey film, Slap Shot. Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it. Draiman of course is the lead singer from Disturbed. I hear they were great.
BLS was up next but we were distracted getting ready for our set. Quick catch up with That Metal Show’s Jim Florentine who is a great guy and it was suddenly time to go on. We had visits from Sean and Dave Ellefson from Megadeth before taking the stage. I know Dave Ellefson from his sitting in with the Sinners a few years back. He is a true gentleman and I’m really happy to see him back where he belongs-in Megadeth.
Our set was intense and sweaty. It was a quick one hour set but I still got to sing Alibi and Jungle. Slash likes to keep things heavy when we are sandwiched between BLS and Megadeth. Understandably! The Texas metal crowds are insane. What a great time.
Megadeth took the stage and had a jam session with Slash, Zakk, Newsted, Draiman and Vinnie doing Cold Sweat by Thin Lizzy. It was an epic thing to witness. Made me happy to be able to enjoy that as intimately as I did.
Afterward we had a great hang with Vinny and the Hell Yeah guys. Those guys live hard and big. God bless ‘em.
Thanks for such a great time, Texas. See you in ’14!
Next up was our own, full, 2 hour show in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the Joint in the Hard Rock Casino. Oddly familiar considering how much time I’ve spent in the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.
Our pals, Hillbilly Herald, opened and always do a great job of riling the crowd up.
It’s always nice to do the full 2 hour plus show. You get the full arc, the full dynamic of that size of a show. The highs, the lows. Entirely too much fun. The Tulsa crowd was amazing.
Thank you, Tulsa. See you next year!
Next up was Gilford, New Hampshire with the mighty Def Leppard. I really had no idea what to expect from Def Leppard. I’d last seen them when I was but a lad during their Pyromania tour. That is a looooong time ago. About 30 years, in fact. Jesus. Wow. That’s crazy. They were, of course, awesome back then. They were the hot new kids on the block. Skinny, young, full of energy. Rick still had 2 arms and Steve Clarke was still alive. The ‘new’ guy, Phil Collen, had just taken over for, original guitar player, Pete Willis. Their High And Dry record was a fave of my friends and I. Like a lost AC/DC album. Mutt Lange took these young upstarts and turned them into a well oiled machine. By the time they got to Pyromania they were reinventing the wheel completely. I really believe that that record opened the doors in a big way for 80s metal. Suddenly metal was on the radio. Clearly they have made their mark and continue to work and deliver.
That said, they had been off my grid for some time. When the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas announced Def Leppard as their new residency I didn’t know what to think. They had had Motley and Axl’s band do it previously and now Def Leppard. I was taken aback by the amount of excitement surrounding their arrival. Awesome to see people excited about their arrival. I never saw their performance there but from all reports it was a giant success.
So I went into this show with no expectations whatsoever. I had nothing but respect for the guys and what they’d achieved. Immediately I was shocked how forthcoming and friendly they were. Rick Allen was the first to come say hello and a nicer fella he couldn’t have been. Joe Elliot, at 6’3″, at least, is a big, boisterous personality and immediately makes you feel you are round the pub with lads having a laugh. They made such a point to make sure we were comfortable and that is never usually the case when you are opening for someone. Of course, it helps when Slash is the guitar player in your band. Joe had gone off to South Africa with Slash and Myles recently to play some shows so they all have a great friendship going on.
I spoke with Phil Collen and Joe about how in their Vegas show they opened for themselves. They called themselves Dead Flat Birds and played deep Def Leppard cuts which I’d like to have seen. I asked if they were good to their opening act and they jokingly told of how they gave the opening act little stage room and limited lights. Funny stuff.
Our set was great. We played a limited set which was quick and to the point. I got to scream Welcome To The Jungle which was especially fun to yell it at the people who didn’t feel like standing. I think I did a pretty good job of scaring them to their feet.
Watching Def Leppard were very inspiring. They were rock solid, tight as hell and high energy. I was knocked out at how professional they were yet it didn’t have that ‘going through the motions’ thing you see in highly rehearsed acts. I have to admit they made a renewed fan out of me. I hope I’m still half as good as them in 10 years!
So then we were off to lovely Bethlehem, PA. Lovely little quaint place. A lot of our New York and Jersey friends came out to visit including the great Eddie Trunk. It’s amazing to see Eddie’s rise to fame. A guy who loves music so much he gets into radio then some stuff at VH1 and now he has a world renowned show in That Metal Show which is a show that basically shows what me and my friends have been doing for years. Sitting around talking about music. This is why Eddie and I get along so well. We can sit and talk rock for hours. Fitz is in there too. Eddie is an amazing guy and a great supporter of music. He just texted me moments ago to let me know he received his copy of Borrowing Trouble and will listen to it soon. Hopefully he enjoys it.
Bethlehem was another full 2 hour show with Hillbilly Herald opening. An epic evening which found Far And Away making an appearance in the set. Slash is good at knowing what to add and what to take out based on when we were recently in the area and what we played last time.
Afterwards was one of those marathon after show hangs with so many good people to say hello to. I am always shattered after a show so people probably think I’m tipsy. I don’t know any other way than to give 110 % and in doing so I’m usually a disaster after. I pull it together enough to say hello then I am off to the bus to veg out to a movie. Those party days are behind me. The party for me is on the stage. It always has been.
That was an amazing show. Always good to see Eddie and his assistant Katy. Great great people. Make me miss NYC. Hope to be back there sometime for vacay!
Then we found ourselves back in the orbit of our new friends, Def Leppard. This time I got to say a quick hello to Vivian Campbell who replaced the dearly departed Steve Clarke. Steve was my fave with the low slung Les Paul. Viv has been the ‘new guy’ for about 20 years or so. Viv is going through a tough time facing health stuff but you’d never know it. He seems strong as an ox. I’m pulling for him. I hope everything turns out great.
I had a great conversation with Joe Elliot about his side project he and Phil had with Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodsmany, who were David Bowie’s Spiders From Mars back in the day. Joe took my address right then and there and has since emailed me about sending me all the cds they did together. What a gent. I mean he’s true to his word. “I’ll send em to ya” and sure enough that’s just what he did. This is what I mean by what amazing guys they are. They were super complementary about our show and Myles and I singing together. The Def Leppard guys are no slouches themselves. They have no vocals on tape and everyone knows those Def Leppard harmonies are huge. They are all really great singers. Anyway enough of my gushing.
Our set was a blast. Jimmy Webb from New York City’s greatest store, Trash and Vaudeville, came out for the day and rocked out with us. He’s more rockstar than I’ll ever be.
Our set was another short but sweet one. We tore the lid off the place and then Def Leppard tore the place to the ground. It was an amazing night. I hope this won’t be the last time we cross paths. The only one I did not meet was Rick Savage.
I have to admit it was weird playing our show and looking over and seeing Rick Allen, Phil Collen and Joe Elliot watching us. I mean I remember those faces from the earliest days of MTV. Crazy. Great buncha dudes.
This is truly growing into an epic affair isn’t it. I never mean for these to turn into War And Peace. It’s my belief that people should read more. I will only date a reader. And not of, like, Cosmo or something…
What an interesting mix of acts on our next bill in Walker, Minnesota. Bachman and Turner (I don’t know what they did with the Overdrive) and Blue Oyster Cult. Wow. I never got to see either band but that woulda been a blast from the past. We didn’t even go on until 11 at night which is late for a festival. We played into the wee hours tearing up that vast Minnesota sky. Great crowd. Really great show.
Next up was probably the biggest show of the tour for us because we would be back on the same stage as KISS again. We hadn’t been on the same stage as them since Germany and Spain in 2010. This was gonna be a fun day.
Gene Simmons’ tech, Jason, took me around and showed me all Gene’s gear. Got to see all his Punisher basses included the chromed out one as well as the Axe basses included an all gold one. Always a thrill for me to get to walk around the play field of the Gods. Got me some guitar picks and got out of the way. Thanks a lot, Jason. That was a real trip!
I watched Hell Yeah again in the punishing sun. Those guys killed it. Always good to watch the great Vinny Paul play!
We were up next and played another half show for us which was a blast. It’s always interesting taking the stage while the sun is still up. Puts a whole new perspective on things. By the time our set was done the sun was gone and the stage was set for an evening of rock. We had a blast. Good, sweaty rock n roll fun!
I can’t tell you what a trip it is to look over and see Gene and Paul watching you play. That blew my mind. I have to admit I dug a little deeper just for their pleasure. Eric was very kind about me singing lead vocals. He’s always been encouraging that way. I actually think he’s a great singer too. For a lifelong KISS fan this is a big deal.
While Megadeth played we were visited by the great Doc McGhee. He is currently KISS’ manager but over the years he has managed everyone. He brought to the world groups like Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. He has seen and done it all. He is an exceptionally gracious man and said, ‘come get your picture with the guys’ and so we did. Frank, who was raised a lifelong Alice Cooper fan, had never had a KISS photo. I rectified that. The funny thing was we were just hanging out and then just landed in line with everyone. It had been such a mad day that I hadn’t been able to catch up with Eric too much so we said a quick hello while we were doing a photo. Paul was shirtless and Gene fist bumped us. Tommy came over after and made a point to say hello. Tommy is a really great guy too. I could nerd out with him about how much me and my friends loved Black And Blue back in the day. What a great time.
Then we all stood side stage and went to school as KISS took the stage. I stood there with all of Megadeth and the Conspirators and watched how it’s done. Pyro like crazy in the first song, Psycho Circus. Now THAT is a Rock N Roll show. The guys sounded tighter than they had in recent years and Paul sounded strong. I’m a fan for life. Life long card carrying member of the KISS Army. We could only watch the first 4 songs and BANG we are back on the steel horse. Miss me some KISS.
Another big night-the 26th anniversary of Appetite For Destruction. We celebrated last night in St Louis. Now St Louis is a big part of GNR history in and of itself, of course. There was the notorious riot there on the Use Your Illusions tour. In 2013 rather than cutting Rocket Queen short (and storming off stage) we choose to play it twice as long as it’s recorded length. That’s how we do it. Less talk, more rock. 2 hours plus of all music, no bs. No drum solo, no bass solo, no extended raps, yes there is an extended guitar solo in Rocket Queen but when the guitar player in your band is one of the greatest living guitarists that should be a prerequisite!
Last night’s show was one of the best of the tour. St Louis was a hungry Rock audience. One of the best in America. We really had a blast. An amazing time. I am nursing a Rock N Roll hangover today. I do not know my limits at all.
Thank you, St Louis. See you in 2014!
Somewhere along the way Miss Janette from Todd Kerns USA brought me a book with pictures from all my friends around the world with kind little messages. It is hard to express how much this means to me. It wasn’t that long ago most of these familiar faces and names were strangers and now we are intertwined on this crazy journey called life. My biggest love to all of you. There is still so much ahead!
So now here we are. Denver, Colorado. In stasis between two worlds. We shall spend the day celebrating Slash’s birthday. I’m glad we get to share it with him. Its a nice way to wrap up this tour.
Only two shows left now. Park City, Utah and ending, fittingly, in Las Vegas. Of course in classic form I won’t be able to celebrate too heavily our end of tour as I will be flying to Vancouver early the next morning for my brother, Ryan’s wedding. Ryan, co-writer of some of my faves like Blow Up Doll and No Reply, is finally taking the plunge. I’m happy for him.
The Vegas show will be streaming online. Stay tuned via Facebook and twitter for further info on that. It’s going to be a huge night for us. The final show of 2013. The final tour of the Apocalyptic Love/Live Tour.
So when next I check in the Apocalyptic Love/Live Tour 2012/2013 will have come to a close. Another chapter behind us. Myles will be back on Planet Alter Bridge and I’ll be on Planet Borrowing Trouble. Slash will be on Planet Nothing Left To Fear, his horror film which I am looking forward to attending the premiere of. Fitz has a drum clinic tour coming up and Frank…I’m not sure what Frank has but I’m sure he has something.
It has been such an amazing experience. It seems as though Apocalyptic Love has been out so much longer than just over a year. In so many ways it seems as though we’ve been on the road straight since 2010. When I was home I was playing with the Sinners so I was totally non stop. I had to slow it down as of 2013. A man has to know his limits. I still don’t know mine.
I have no immediate plans after the tour and that’s how I see fit to keep it. I will spend the first bit in Canada with my family as I always do. In the meantime all the Borrowing Trouble orders will be fulfilled and it will be officially available everywhere. It has weighed heavy on me not getting the Borrowing Trouble orders sent before now. But now with the tour soon behind me all focus can fall to that.
I do intend to do some kind of support for Borrowing Trouble. I’m in no hurry to do so just yet. I plan to enjoy the one thing I’ve never known how to and that is take some time off. At least time from touring. It is good to get some perspective. I plan to spend that ‘down’ time preparing all of these blogs into a book. My plan is to have it encompass the past 3 years. It will lead right up until the making of the next Conspirators album. The new book would begin there with the beginning of that next chapter.
I have lived several lives since joining Slash on his wild adventures and I have documented most of those lives here in this blog. We’ll see. I’ve always got so much going on but the book is something I’ve always wanted to do.
At any rate. I’ve rambled entirely enough. Though this door closes windows are opening everywhere!
Thank you for being a part of this journey with me!