Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
July 20 2015
My intention was to have this chapter out loooong ago but when a special announcement started to present itself I decided to double dip and treat this as one big information drop. That announcement kept being pushed back and pushed back and so did these words you are reading. I’m writing now for what will be officially released Monday.
Got back to Vegas 6 days ago and it’s as hot as the Sun here. Perfect reason to stay indoors and decompress. Also necessary to work through the jet lag. Had to finish seasons of Mad Men, Bates Motel and Vikings. Once that’s out of the way the stir crazy sets in. Our pace is so fast on the road that once removed from it there is a brief moment of gratitude to not be needed for much of anything. Soon after, like a drug, you find yourself needing to be needed somewhere. Anywhere. Lobby call, bus call. 30 minutes to show time. It’s a sickness. The stage is my drug. The music, the large gathering of friends to share in the celebration, the ceremony. I am happy to take these objective steps back now and again to regroup and make returning to the stage all the more sweet. You never want to overstay your welcome. Leave them wanting more is the old show biz credo.
Everyone always comments on how hard we work. I can’t argue. We have been touring for one year as of July 9th on the World On Fire album cycle. Prior to that it has been a pattern of recording and touring and recording and touring that has gone on for over five years now. With no end in sight, by the way. During this break I currently write from SMKC will be continuing to fine polish the music that will go on to make up what I am affectionately referring to as SMKC III. There is no one more focused and driven than Slash. New music is our life blood. Slash has never been a man to rest on his laurels. There is no official plan but 2016 is largely being set aside for whatever the next chapter will be. An eventual new record followed by several more trips around the planet. The band will be six years old by then and will have covered a lot of miles in that time. By the time we come off the road from SMKC III the band will be into it’s seventh year. That’s pushing a decade. When I first started with Slash I wasn’t sure if it was going to be only a few months but here we are still writing, still playing, still growing stronger than ever. I couldn’t be happier. I am where I am meant to be.
So let’s time travel a bit. Shall we?
I last left you in one of my favorite places on the planet, Rome, Italy. What can be said about Rome that hasn’t been said by millions before? It is truly a wonderful place.
The show in Rome was in a beautiful outdoor facility. It was hot and sweaty and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
That night Starlight was added back into the set and pretty much stayed there until the end of the run. As the years have gone by the SMKC catalogue has grown so much that it’s hard to accommodate everyone and everything. There are songs I miss like Not For Me. That song always gave me goosebumps when the audience would sing that first chorus before the band kicked in. No More Heroes is also one of my favorites I miss.
For the two Italian shows our very good friends, Rival Sons, were opening for us. These guys are an amazing band. I cannot say enough good things about them. I highly recommend you check them out. We have been trying to lineup a tour together forever but hasn’t worked out. Hopefully one of these days.
From there we were off to the great city of Milan. What a truly beautiful place. It becomes redundant because I could say that about every stop along the way but Milan is a stunning sight to behold.
The show was another triumph. Rival Sons raising the bar for us before we even get to the stage. Starlight in the set list yet again. Even a little of Bad Company’s Feel Like Makin’ Love during the intro of Slither. A magical night.
From there we made our way to a place we’d always wanted to go but never had the opportunity, Croatia. Zagreb to be specific. The Conspirators walked the streets of Zagreb thinking we could cleverly blend in. We never do. Tall, long black haired dudes dressed in black doesn’t make for blending. Really beautiful place. i recommend it.
The gig was nuts. No other word for it. It’s the first time I’ve ever witnessed people standing on one another’s shoulders. We’ve played plenty of shows where girls climb on their boyfriend’s shoulders but I’d never seen them standing on shoulders like a cheerleader routine. Throughout the audience it appeared as if people were standing above the crowd. Because they were. A bizarre thing to witness.
The show was amazing. Great crowd. Really loud. Really passionate. For a long time I’d been getting letters asking us to come to Croatia. Now most of my letters are asking when we are coming back to Croatia. Hopefully soon!
Next up, Bucharest, Romania. We had played Bucharest before on the Apocalyptic Love tour in 2013. It had been too long. Great show! Great people. Bucharest is a truly beautiful place. The venue was an amazing looking, historic, open air arena. Some of these venues have to be centuries old. True history over there. Can’t wait to return.
An overnight drive and we found ourselves in lovely Sofia, Bulgaria. Yet another beautiful location. It’s a shame we really don’t get to see more of these places but seeing their smiling faces from the stage is better than anything else I could imagine. We also played Sofia on the Apocalyptic Love tour back in 2013 so it was high time we returned.
Yet another brilliant show. They were loud!
Our next show was on Canada Day (Canada’s Independence Day) July 1st in Hungary. This was one of those eclectic Eruo festivals with a interesting mix of acts. That day we headlined our stage followed by the DJ David Guetta playing set into the wee hours. Brent Fitz hung a Canadian flag from his drums to commemorate Canada Day. It remained there ’til the end of the tour. That show was streamed over the internet as a lot of the festival shows we did were. Some of these will appear somewhere like the Palladia channel down the road, I’m sure. Keep a look out. The show was an amazing experience.
Even though the show had to be shortened due to the festival lineup Starlight remained in the set. I mentioned before how people sometimes complain about us only playing 90 minutes sometimes at festivals but this is merely to accommodate all the acts in one day on a large festival before curfew is called. I appreciate their passion though. Wish we could play two hours every time.
In Austria we played yet another castle. You would think by now that wouldn’t be weird but it’s weird. Never expected in my life to ever play a proper castle. It is called the Burg Clam. Google that. It’s amazing.
One of the coolest things about doing the gig was getting to play with the Black Star Riders. The Black Star Riders evolved out of the reformed Thin Lizzy put together by original member Scott Gorham. It features our friend, Damon Johnson from the amazing Brother Cane. Damon served with the Alice Cooper camp for years. He’s a super talented and amazing man. Also on board Ricky Warwick from The Almighty bringing the Irish flavor, Jimmy Degrasso on drums from Alice Cooper, Megadeth, the list goes on, Robby Crane on bass from Ratt and Vince Neil. Of course, original Lizzy guitarist, Scott Gorham is present and he is a proper legend! Great band. Highly recommended.
Anybody who knows me knows that I always have a black bass with a mirror pick guard in tribute to the late great Phil Lynott. So I am a fan.
After getting schooled watching the Riders play we took the stage on a hot Austrian night. The show was epic and one of the longest of the tour. Some of the Riders were side stage watching which always make you take it up a notch. Don’t wanna look like a chump in front of professionals. This is to the benefit of the audience. Makes everyone play at their best. Also makes for a very memorable night.
Off to Switzerland where we celebrated the 4th of July. Geneva to be more specific. We had never played Geneva before but it was a true blast. By this point in the tour there was a very definite heat wave that followed us from here on out. Certain places don’t seem as air conditioning friendly as others in Europe and that venue was one of them. From this point on ’til the end of the tour we were a sweaty disaster. A lot of our friends came from France for this one to join in with the festivities. We had a great time.
From there we would return to Nice, France where we had played some five years before opening for the great AC/DC. That was an amazing experience. Guess what the air conditioning situation was like in Nice? You got it. No air conditioning. Another hot, hot show. I kinda like those though. You’re pretty much sweating before you even get on stage so by the time the first song stars you are drenched. The audience is drenched too though so it all makes sense.
For many stops along the way I was given custom made DAMMIT shirts with the colors of the local flag. Austria, France, Italy, Spain. It is a true honor to receive these. Five years ago I hadn’t even been to some of these countries and now I get to fly their individual colors. A true honor, indeed.
The venue in Nice was a beautiful outdoor facility near the beach. Definitely an exotic setting. The crowd was amazing and very close.
Next up was Spain. We hadn’t been to Spain in far too long. I have no idea why. First up was the beautiful city of Madrid. We hadn’t been in Madrid since 2011. That’s even before Apocalyptic Love. We can’t allow that kind of lapse to happen again. The crowd was killing it. They sang every word. Another hot and sweaty show. We will definitely not be taking so long to return.
From there we went to the stunning Barcelona. We had never done Barcelona before. This is one place in particular that I regretted not getting to see more of. We had driven in overnight and upon waking up it was immediately time to get to the venue. With that there is no time for sightseeing. I did manage to see my favorite sight of any and every city and that was watching a crowd of people have a great time from the stage. I hope this is only our first trip to Barcelona. Next time I’m getting out and seeing more. The show was incredible.
The next day during our trip to the final stop of the World On Fire European Summer Tour 2015 I realized something important. That day, July 9th, was the one year anniversary of the World On Fire tour. We did a warm up show in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire before connecting with Aerosmith in Jones Beach, New York for the Let Rock Rule tour. That tour was a career highlight for all of us. Since then we have been around the world a few times. I’m told at this point we have done 95 shows since July 9 2014. That’s a lot. A year into the tour and still a long way to go. This tour will take us right til the end of You wait and see. Bring it on I say.
And then there we were at our final destination. End of the line. The Musilac Festival in Aix-les-Baines, France. We played a truncated set for our final show which was a weird way to end but very satisfying. This was another eclectic mix of artists. Gojira played but we missed them. Woulda been cool to see them.
It was a great way to end the tour. Great crowd under the great, open, French country sky.
And from there we began our long journey home knowing we were a year into a very successful tour having completed the very important leg of European summer dates playing plenty of places we either had never played before or hadn’t in a long time. We went home the successful conquerors knowing we had accomplished all we had set out to do and then some.
And so now I have been home the better part of a week decompressing and convalescing. In a few days we will head to Los Angeles to celebrate Slash’s 50th birthday and then we will hunker down somewhere and continue writing songs together for the eventual SMKC III to be released sometime in 2016. This machine keeps moving forward. Exciting times indeed.
Now we finally get to the reason I have taken so long to finish this chapter. By now you are probably aware that my old band from Canada, The Age Of Electric, will be playing our first show in 17 years at the Marquee in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on August 29th. I had to wait til that was officially announced before releasing this blog otherwise i’d have blown the big surprise. This is something I never really knew could ever happen but here we are. The big question is ‘why now?’ and the answer is ‘why not?’ No one had really asked before. I assume when a band hasn’t performed in a long time you write them off but then someone asked and we collectively said ‘yea, that sounds like fun’
All original members for the first time in almost two decades. It is going to be actual time traveling. We are really looking forward to it. Hopefully you can join us. It is going to be downright historic.
The band formed 26 years ago in 1989. That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? That’s a loooong time ago. Probably before some of you were born.
We released 1 indie cassette as Electric before adding The Age Of onto the front and releasing yet another indie cassette then 3 cds. In 1998 we had a gold album under our belt as well as a Juno (like a Canadian Grammy) nomination for best new artist. Best new artist for a band that had been together 9 years. We didn’t win it. I don’t remember who did. I don’t think anyone else does either.
It’s going to be a very special night as my brother, John, and I haven’t played together since 2002 in any full capacity. Damn time flies. That’s 13 years ago. Jesus.
The other two members of the band are brothers too. I’ve known Kurt Dahle, the drummer, for 30 years and his younger brother, Ryan, about the same.
A lot of history there. Basically family, really. To be sure this is a very special event for all involved.
And opening will be my best friend, Reed Shimozawa’s band, Zuckerbaby, who opened for The Age Of Electric back in 1998 on the Make A Pest A Pet tour at our peak. Reed is co-writer/producer of half the tracks on Go Time! and my partner in the as yet to be released TKO project. Again-family.
Not to be missed, brothers and sisters. See you there.
And that, for now, is, as they say, that. There is a great many things going on in the world right now that I wish I could extrapolate on but let me just say that 4 marines were shot to death by what appears to be an extremist. My heart goes out to their families. When those who are meant to protect us are not safe on home soil it is all the more unsettling. These are young men with so much to live for. Truly heartbreaking. I only hope someday this kind of thing will be a thing of the past. It feels like every time I write one of these there’s a new tragedy to comment on. I pray next time I do there will be some peace.
Alright, I gotta go do some shopping for Slash’s birthday. What the Hell do you get the guy who’s got it all? Another black tee shirt? Hey, that always puts a smile on my face.
Keep on with the free world rocking’!
Your loyal and humble servant,