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Wednesday, June 7 2006

The show in Wilmington was most enjoyable. It was relaxed and fun. I was a little apprehensive about how we’d play, being that we hadn’t played with Jody since the CD release party last November, plus no rehearsal. But these guys are professionals and with a few run-throughs at sound check, plus a discussion of the forms during dinner, we managed to come up with something pretty decent. Imagine how it would be if we toured on a regular basis! Well, that is the plan. And hopefully by the fall, we’ll be doing just that. Plans are afoot! The people in Wilmington from the promoters and staff, to the hotel employees, to the stage crew to the audience, were all really fantastic. We were really made to feel welcome.

The logistics of putting this band on the road are much simpler than say, the Schizoid Band.

First off, we are a trio.

Second, at least at this stage in our development, we take very little in the way of equipment with us. I take a cymbal bag and my kick pedals, Tim takes his bass and that’s it. The promoters supply us with the rest of the equipment; Tim a bass amp, Jody a piano and myself a drum set. Granted it’s not the ideal situation, but being a Yamaha endorsee I always get a Yamaha drum kit and I can always rest assured that they’re going to sound good and they will always be playable.

Third, there’s only three of us. This hopefully, will make it possible to come away with a profit. The cost of hotels and travel are less expensive than a full band with a tour manager and sound engineer. The only set-back here is that Jody lives in Nashville, and we are working on changing that.

Fourth, Tim and I are what you would call “seasoned professionals”, (no, it’s not that we have salt and pepper beards), we have been on the road for decades and have encountered just about every situation imaginable, from humping our own gear and traveling in a van, to having the A Class treatment: private jets, five star hotels and never having to lift your suitcase! So we’re used to dealing with most situations. And Jody, whilst not as experienced a traveler as us, may as well be, the way he carries himself.

Compare this to the Schizoid Band. The biggest problem we have is the fact that two members live in England, one splits his time between Germany and England, one lives in New York and I live in Los Angeles. This is a very large problem for several reasons; coming up with the funds to transport the various non-resident members to London and then providing them with accommodations for several weeks of rehearsal, not to mention getting together to write and record.

Being a rock band we need to be supplied with more equipment, various synths and amps etc. Plus it’s very important to have a really good sound engineer to travel with us, one who knows the intricacies of the various songs. Instead of just three people we have a minimum of seven, (if we set up and break down ourselves), the group, plus a tour manager and the aforementioned sound engineer.
The last tour we did, which is now over two years ago, was in the US. Just eight dates. And whilst the audience that was there were extremely enthusiastic, the venues weren’t sold out and in one case, hardly attended. This was due to several factors; one being that it was at best, under promoted and the second being that, maybe there just weren’t enough people who gave a shit. I don’t know. The same thing happened when we played England. On these tours at least one member lost money.

Now having said this, I love playing with the Schizoid Band and I’m pretty sure the others do too. But unless there’s a situation were there’s a billionaire Arab oil sheik who’s a Crimson fanatic that would like to invest in putting this band on the road and also giving us the wherewithal to write and record new material, it just ain’t gonna happen, at least not in the near future. We’re simply old geezers that still love playing music and we certainly aren’t rock stars with country estates and royalties invested in apartment blocks and office buildings. We’re just trying to make an honest living doing what we love. And with most of us, just like most of you, it’s month to month.

I read some of the postings on the various websites concerning the band and also CJ3 and I wonder if some of you realize just how damn hard it is to be a musician. Well let me tell you, for the dedicated ones it is a vocation. And whilst we may luck out occasionally with something financially lucrative; most of the time it can be a day to day struggle. For example, at Projekction, Gilesfan wrote:If Ian Wallace is too busy with the Crimson Jazz Trio to play with both bands, perhaps somebody else should join (or, uh hum, re-join) 21st Century Schizoid Band? I’m not too busy to play with the Schizoid Band. The reasons are above and if after reading this you still don’t get it, than I suggest you up your medication.

When Robert Fripp originally asked me to start posting a diary on the DGM site, he told me that one of the intentions of these diaries was to demystify the musician and the musical process. Does this help?

Thursday, April 20 2006

So lets do a very brief get up to date since the last thing I posted was the musical encounter with EVH.

Between then and now I went down to Rancho Mirage to do a jazz trio gig with pianist Ed Vodika. Ed played in Earl Palmers band for about five years and needless to say Earl, who lives close by was at the show. After the show we all had dinner together. Earl, who had a stroke at the end of last year was looking happier and healthier than Ive ever seen him. And showing no ill effects whatsoever. Looking resplendent in a dark blue pinstripe suit, purple shirt and tie he regaled us with tales of yesteryear, particularly going over to Europe to fight in WW11. Also seated with us was a very distinguished black gentleman about the same age as Earl who was a fighter pilot in WW11, Korea and Vietnam. Known to us as The Colonel, he told of how, after coming back from Europe at the end of WW11, he was forced to enter the States with the black non-commissioned men instead of his fellow officers. Nice way to treat a hero, eh? Just the fact they separated the black from whites is bad enough. As my Mother frequently says, Were a rotten lot.

On Thursday the 30th of March M and I went to the Staples Center to watch the Lakers lose to San Antonio. We drove to Studio City and took the Metro to downtown. It only took us thirty minutes to get there. If wed driven at that time of night it would have taken two to three times as long. My friend and former drum tech., Chris Hoover Rankin gave us the tickets. He now works as a Staples Center crew member. We had great seats, close to the court were we could indulge in celebrity spotting. Margie likes to celebrity spot. We were sat on the same row as Della Reese, a few seats further down, we saw Jack Nicholson, Penny Marshall, John McEnroe, Cuba Gooding Jr., Dyan Cannon, two of the birds from Desperate Homewreckers, Randy Jackson, I forget the rest. During the National Anthem, one of the gentlemen behind us went bub bub ba bum after the bit that goes, and the rockets red glare, cracking me and M up. As the game progressed we got to talking to him and his friend. I noticed he was wearing a jacket with the Oscar logo on it. I asked him what he did with the Oscars. He told me he was the producer. And he is. Gil Cates. He and his friend were very nice and they shared their peanuts with us.

Id been having a few twinges in a tooth and soon I was in agony. An appointment was made with the dentist who upon examination made another appointment for a root canal. On April 5th after a week of white, searing-hot agonizing, excruciating, mind-numbing, debilitating, Homeland Security-type pain I had the canal put in and after another three days was feeling somewhat better. Still, the drugs were good. Tomorrow I go for a crown fitting.

The day after the root canal I joined Fred Gruber, Neal Peart, Jim Keltner and Joey Herredia at Catalinas to see Roy Haynes play. He is still one of the most amazing drummers Ive ever seen. The last time I saw him play was about two years ago. Mel Collins and I went while we were in LA rehearsing with the Schizoids. He looks and plays like hes in his thirties. Hes eighty-one. We hung out with him between shows and after the last show took him back to his hotel. This is a man who played with Charlie Parker in the forties and is still at the top of his game. Gives us youngsters some hope!

Last Sunday we went to dinner at Peter and Mutsy Erskines house. They live in Santa Monica. Peter just changed from Yamaha to DW. I tried to persuade him to let me have his Yamaha red sparkle drum kit but to no avail. I thought it would be appropriate to use with CJ3. So Joe Testa at Yamaha has told me to come up with a finish I would like and theyll put together a kit for me. So right now Im looking for various finishes. Crimson pearl? Crimson oyster pearl? Crimson satin? Ideas?

Speaking of CJ3, we just spent the last two days in the studio recording ideas for the next album. Jeff Neben our new manager came down to give us a heads up on the future. Jeff also manages the Yellow Jackets and is a great guy. Were planning to go out later this year and Im excited at the prospect of taking this band on the road.

Sunday, March 19 2006

I arrived at Sound City around 5pm for a 6pm start. It had been a while since Id recorded here. In fact the last time I could remember was doing some stuff with Graham Nash for the soundtrack of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And that was way back in the last century! This place has some history. In the corner was the grand piano that had had a special hutch type of contraption built over and around it for recording Elton John. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recorded many of their albums here. Smells Like Teen Spirit was tracked here. George Harrison, Johnny Cash, NIN and apparently the guys from South Park and the list goes on. The main studio is big, a great room for recording drums. Extra drums had been dropped off by my cartage guys at Drum Paradise along with the kit Id brought and with lots of help I was ready to go at six.

After playing the song down along with the track a few times, we started to make changes in feel and concept. At around 7:30pm, Eddie called and decided he wanted to come down and play too. So food was brought in while his gear was assembled. He arrived at around 9pm and that changed everything.

Id met Eddie once briefly in the mid-eighties. I didnt know if hed remember me but he knew who I was, in fact he told me later that he and his brother were very influenced by the early KC stuff. This doesnt surprise me. Although prog rock is generally put down by most of the present day rock media, (just look how many prog rock bands are in the Rock Hall of Fame), many of the hard rock and heavy metals musicians Ive talked with cite early prog as a big influence, and particularly King Crimson. Its nice to be appreciated.

Eddie likes to play. And boy, can he play! We played the song over and over until almost two in the morning when we finally called it quits. By this time I was exhausted, but this old geezer was damned if hed give in first! Me and Eddie bonded. He talked about music, how he loved the stuff we were doing in the early seventies and how he thought that a lot of those guys didnt like him very much, (I declared otherwise). He talked about his life and how hard it was to be Eddie Van Halen the rock star when he just wanted to be known as a good musician. We discussed various techniques and he showed me his pick which is made of copper and steel and is quite heavy, very unusual, much different than the tortoise shell or plastic ones. He talked about many other things, some that are personal and not to be repeated. And I had fun playing and hanging with him. He really is one of the great guitarists.

Saturday, March 18 2006

I was lying on the couch in the early afternoon when the phone rang. It was Pat Leonard wanting to know if I could do a session. And could I do it now! It seemed that Pat was in the final mixing stages of recording an album with Dutch singer Ilse de Lange, when Eddie Van Halen stopped by to listen and asked if he could play on a song. Seems that this changed the whole feel of the track from Fleetwood Mac to hard rock. Pat decided that heavier rock drums were needed, hence the phone call.

I packed my drums into the car and M and I headed out to glorious Burbank. Because this was a mixing studio they were not set up for recording drums, so various mic pres and snakes etc. were sent out for and after a few hours we were ready to record. This was soon abandoned as the sound and conditions were deemed unacceptable. And so Sound City in Van Nuys was booked for the next evening.

Friday, March 17 2006

Tim came over Friday night and we celebrated Saint Mastelottos day by drinking Irish Car Bombs.

Thursday, March 16 2006

With the tracks completed, Nigel took his entire system to his Mac expert chum and they proceeded to trouble shoot just what was wrong with his computer. Apparently nothing. All the files loaded perfectly and Nigel was a happy camper. Until he got home.

After setting up his computer he found he couldnt load anything from his hard drive. The upshot of this whole thing was that he had twothats two faulty firewire ports. What are the odds of that? Now theyve been replaced and since then everything in the garden is lovely, except of course, for the fact that human error lost the World Championship to faulty technology. See? I said this game was rigged!

Wednesday, March 15 2006

The Replay

After discussing the problems on the phone, we decided to complete the recording of all the songs as I had the complete set of audio files on my computer and it would be just a matter of trying to figure out what the problem was.

Nigel arrived and we proceeded to record the rest of the drum tracks which lo and behold was successful.
Human Error 0 Technology 1

The songs themselves were a lot of fun to play and I really enjoyed working with Nigel. Some of the titles Funky Jones, Insomnia Mama, Mucho Banana and Nuts may give you an idea of how delightfully off-the-wall his stuff is. He actually asked me to do something that no one has ever asked before. He needed a 21 second drum solo which was to be called In The Nuts because it would be played over a scene of someone getting beaten up in the bathroom. I played the solo and after listening Nigel said, Its too good. Could you make it worse? I found myself confronted with having to play badly. It was quite a challenge but I think I succeeded, at least somewhat and as the ProTools engineer said to the singer that sucked, come on in.

Game. Set and Matchor so we thought.

Tuesday, March 14 2006

Nigel arrived in the morning of Day Two to continue our one-day session with his new hard drive. Unfortunately, Nigel who is new to ProTools, had only downloaded the sessions onto the drive and not the audio files.
Human Error 1 Technology 0

A trip to Nigels house was undertaken to download the audio files and the ensuing journey back was broken up with a spot of lunch. Due to the time taken going from Sherman Oaks to Korea Town and back, a large chunk of the day was already gone so we only managed to record 3 or 4 tracks of drums. These were uploaded to the Nigels new hard drive which he subsequently took back to his place only to find he couldnt download all of the files to his computer.
Match abandoned due to foul weather

Saturday, March 11 2006

Saturday March 11, 2006

Sometimes we musicians in this modern day and age go through periods of technological madness. The road to hell is paved with bad technologyand human error. So it was this Saturday starting with a call from Mathias saying he couldnt find the power supply to his keyboard. Rather than spend the best part of the morning getting my kit and bodily parts together, M and I spent it calling round looking for very rare power supplies. That, and a visit to the Guitar Center for some cables and mic stands. It turns out the power supply was non-existent apart from special order and it wasnt special enough to get it by 4pm that afternoon. Human Error 1-Technology 0.

Plan B was to call my friend Don Adey at SIR to rent another keyboard. Mathias and his friend picked it up and we all convened, along with Tim for soundcheck at the La Ve Lee jazz club in Studio City. Mathias discovered that the sustain pedal didnt work and neither did his own one. Human Error 1-Technology 1.

We had to call Don who said he would drop a replacement keyboard round before the show. After soundcheck Margie, Mathias and I stayed at the club for a bite to eat before I went back to the house to shower and change, (I only live round the corner). Oh, and did I mention that on the coldest night so far in LA, that the heating system in the club was broken? Human Error 1-Technology 2.

Yes I know, it never gets really cold in LA, but believe you me, it was getting down to the upper thirties and musicians need warm hands to play their instruments. So before we went back to the club, M borrowed a space heater from our friend and neighbor, Charlie.

Upon arriving at the club, I plugged in the heater and pointed it at Mathias who needed it the most, even though he is Finnish.

Tim turned up around 8:30 and around 8:45 we hit the stage. About thirty seconds into the first number, (Red), the stage power went off. Human Error 1-Technology 3.

The fuse was fixed and we started again. The power went off again! Human Error 1-Technology 4.

And again. Human Error 1-Technology 5.

Somebody, I think it may have been Penston, suggested turning the space heater off.
That did the trick. Human Error 2-Technology 5.

Seems that it was Human Error, (mine), all along folks. The game was rigged! Human Error should have won 5-2! Thats why I think video replay needs to be introduced into the modern game.

With all the stuff that had gone down, I felt that I personally didnt have a very good night and at the end of the second show I needed thirty-two martinis to calm my shattered nerves. But Ive listened to the recording of the show since and was pleasantly surprised to discover it sounded pretty good. I guess you just never know. But my whole reason for playing is to enjoy it and although I did enjoy some bits, this just wasnt my night.

Sunday March 12, 2006

Sunday morning M and I re-packed the car to make a little space for Hagi in the back. We put a couple of blankets down so hed be nice and comfy and around 1pm, the three of us set off for the gig in San Diego. The drive down was quite pleasant, particularly as Margie drove, although she did choose the 405. Human Error 1-Freeway 0.

The only disruption occurred around San Onofre when Hagi smelled and saw the ocean and was visibly disturbed and upset because he couldnt understand why we didnt immediately drive down to the beach so he could swim in the pleasantly warm, radioactive ocean. For those of you dont know, there is a big nuclear power plant there. Or as George Bush would say, nuculer power pants.

Upon arriving in San Diego, we drove round to Chuck Perrins house to pick up the key to Dizzys, where we were going to play that evening. Chuck runs the establishment. He has a very nice house close to the beach surrounded by an incredible cactus garden which Hagi immediately pissed on. Embarrassing both M and I, though he didnt seem to mind. Hagi 1-Cactus 0.

The show went very well, although we did have to battle with the echo-y sound due to it being in a converted warehouse. But Mathias got to play a real piano and we were well taken care of by Chuck and we look forward to going back in the fall.

Monday March 13, 2006

Although Human Error had only played Technology just two days before, it seemed they also had to play each other in a Cup game which was to start today and go on through Wednesday.

I had been introduced by my friend Clive Gregson to Nigel Dick who is probably the most prodigious video director of all time. Check him out folks! Hes currently writing and directing an independent comedy movie call Callback and had asked me to put drums on 8 or 9 of the movies songs. We were supposed to spend today doing that and Nigel arrived in the morning with his hard drive containing the songs. Nigel originally a PC person was persuaded by some well-meaning and helpful friend to go Mac for his ProTools. What was it Fripp said about helpful people? Anyhow, my PC would not recognize his hard drive which was built exclusively for Mac. Human Error 1-Technology 0.

Fortunately, I had suggested that he should put the tracks on CD in case of just such an occurrence and we were able to at least work on a couple of the songs. Goal disallowed due to off-side.

Nigel went off later in the afternoon and bought another hard drive that could be read by both Mac and PC.

Friday, March 3 2006

March as is said, comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. The latter to the delight of many Scotsmen. And we here in Southern California are being well and truly lioned. Buckets of rain, some of it in actual buckets, pounding our windows as we speak. Not that you could hear much, due to the noise of the rainy buckets as trees shake violently back andoh, it just stopped. Well no matter. Im sure it will start again soon.

So whats been going on then?

Well, I bought a new piece of furniture for my studio. Its a recording desk to put all my equipment on. I got rid of the one I had, gave it to my friend Brian Chatton. It was too big for my little studio and the new one is much more compact giving me tons more room in which to work. Now I can install the indoor swimming pool, bowling alley and helipad. Of course Ill have to make the windows bigger so the helicopters can get in and out for landing and take-off. But thatll have to wait til next week. Lets not be ridiculous and try to get it all done in one day!

CJ3 rehearsed this week and we have two more rehearsals next week for the gigs at the weekend. And Ive spent most of this afternoon finally getting round to upgrading to Pro Tools 7. They dont make it easy. Even the easy things are difficult. All those codes and numbers. But compared to even ten years ago, its amazing what one can accomplish at home. As the Pro Tools engineer said to the singer, It sucks! Come on in!

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