Secaucus, New Jersey
September 2nd 2014
A day off in Jersey. Gotta love it. Just took myself to see Jon Favreau’s beautiful film, Chef. Great low budget affair with a lot of heart. Great cast. Favreau and John Leguizamo carry most of the film but the spicy, Sofia Vergara was ever present as well. Lots of great cameos from the likes of Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman and even Favreau’s Iron Man compatriot, Robert Downy Jr. Favreau took a big risk on hiring proven handful, Downey, for Iron Man (Favreau also directed Iron Man 2) which essentially kickstarted the whole Marvel empire film franchise that is growing to this day.
Like most people I first found Favreau in Swingers with Vince Vaughn. That movie is one of my all time faves and I’ve seen it countless times. Jon even directed the Will Ferrell gem, Elf.
It was cool to see Canadian comedian, Russell Peters have a cameo in Chef. Home team.
It’s a tiny little feel good movie with a great little message to it. Check it out.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I last checked in. We were just on our way into the country of my birth, Canada, when I last wrote. It was all too brief. Wayyyyyy too brief, in fact. I had so many people I should have seen but had to cut it all down to just my family which is far from a consolation.
The show was a blast in the only recently opened Hard Rock Casino out there in Coquitlam. Always good to dig into the two hour leviathan of a set we unleash when not under the thumb of Aerosmith.
This was the first night we did It’s So Easy which was in fact in preparation for the following night in which an old friend was going to be joining us on stage for that song. It was fun to do It’s So Easy with Myles. He had not done it before. I’ve been playing that song as long as Appetite For Destruction has been released in one form or another. On vocals, guitar or bass.
All in all I think we killed in Vancouver. It will be nice to come back and do it all over again on our own tour probably in the new year.
From there we were crossing the border for the second time in 24 hours from Vancouver, Canada to the Gorge in Washington state to meet back up with Aerosmith on the Let Rock Rule tour. The Gorge is stunning. Looks like an incredible movie set or perhaps a breathtaking visual effect by Industrial Light and Magic but no it’s all Mother nature’s doing. Amazing.
And the old friend to be joining us on stage as mentioned above? None other than the amazing, Duff McKagan of the original five. Duff is such an amazing dude. He is one of the most gracious people I know. He’s a real, genuine guy. His wife, Suzan is one of the most beautiful souls imaginable. Physically beautiful, yes, but just a glowing, warm spirit beyond the visual. They are an inspiration to behold. This love things seems really workable by their example.
Duff got up and tore the roof off the place with us doing It’s So Easy from Appetite. Anyone in the know is aware that Duff is singing the high part of the verse while Axl is singing the baritone. We had a blast. I got to play some guitar with the guys. Too much fun.
The Gorge was on my bucket list. While living in Vancouver I’d heard so much about it but never got there till Let Rock Rule. Truly worth the wait.
Aerosmith did their first show of the Let Rock Rule tour without Joey Kramer who had left the tour to have a stint put into his heart. His son, Jesse, sat in for his father and did an admirable job covering the parts. I kept thinking how weird that would be. The other guys would have known Jesse since he was a baby. I suppose it’s not unlike the Zeppelin guys playing with Jason Bonham. It was awesome to get to see the band in such unique circumstances. As always they brought it.
The next day was a travel day off in Bozeman, Montana where we got to go to the Gibson acoustic guitar factory. Jeremy took us on a tour of the whole facility seeing how the whole thing comes together. It was a Sunday so the factory was closed which made it kinda even more awesome being our own private tour. These are the kinds of things I have to remind myself not to take for granted. There was a time when this would have felt like touring Willy Wonka’s. It was a real treat and honor getting to take it all in. As an owner of multiple Gibson guitars it’s always a trip.
That night I went with Slash, Cheryl and Junior to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie as part of Junior’s early birthday celebrating. During the previews they played the new Spongebob movie trailer where lo and behold in the middle of it who should appear but Slash playing guitar on the beach. All this to the throes of Welcome To The Jungle raging on the soundtrack. Junior and I just looked at each other and started laughing. Here we are in a theater full of people sitting with the guy who is on the big screen, playing guitar on the song they are hearing and they are completely unaware. So surreal.
This is life on Planet Slash.
Cut and paste this and you’ll see for yourself-
The movie was fun. I certainly can’t imagine what anyone could expect. Everything to expect from the film is within it’s title. They are Turtles. They are teenagers. They are trained ninjas who have been mutated to human size. Rinse repeat. Green light. Junior and I had a laugh.
So then there we were in Denver, Colorado for our first indoor show of the Aerosmith shows. Everything up to that point had been some kind of outdoor, open shed except for our own shows. The setting in Denver is the Pepsi Center which is home to the Colorado Avalanche. Even though I don’t follow hockey religiously it is still a trip to see the hockey presence in the US. It has always been such a uniquely Canadian experience for me but there from the stage hangs the Canadian flag right along side Old Glory. That’s a pretty awesome sight if you ask me. I’m proud to be where I’m from and I’m proud to be where I am.
There were a few signs in the audience dedicated to yours truly which is a surreal experience I can assure you. I will never get accustomed to that. Denver seems a gazillion miles from the reality of where I grew up but it reminds me how small our planet is and how unifying the power of Rock N Roll can be! Thank you to those who showed their love.
Our set there was awesome. It’s always a blast playing in hockey arenas. They always remind me of running full tilt to stand in front of KISS or any number of other bands when I was a kid. I never take that for granted.
Joey Kramer actually came and played the encore with Aerosmith that night making him in actuality only missing 3 shows (Concord, the Gorge and Denver) in the face of such a serious situation. Though he has since bounced back in full swing I can’t imagine tampering with the heart could be a minor thing. I’m just glad to see him back and at full strength. I told him the same thing when I saw him upon his return.
In Dallas we saw Sin City: A Dame To Kill For which I had been highly anticipating. I get a little concerned when I am looking too forward to a movie. Sometimes it can’t help but disappoint. I’m not only a huge fan of the original Sin City film but I am also a huge fan of the director, Robert Rodriguez. Not to mention writer and co-director Frank Miller.
The sequel does not disappoint. Familiar faces, new faces and that classic look that I loved so much from the first film. Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Powers Booth and Rosario Dawson all return from the first one plus the addition of new arrivals Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin and even Dennis Haysbert, or as most of us know him-the All State guy.
I’m looking forward to seeing that again.
The Dallas show was awesome. Another hockey arena. Another Canadian flag hanging from the ceiling right above me. Feels like home. We had a blast.
This was Joey Kramer’s full return to the Let Rock Rule tour. It is a pleasure getting to watch the great Aerosmith night after night and we do take full advantage of that privilege. That privilege is diminishing by the day so I’m trying to get my fill.
The great city of Dallas is a pleasure to visit and play. See you in 2015!
Then off to Houston. You always forget how big Texas is until you are driving through it. It is seemingly endless. Our hotel was attached to another abandoned mall which always reminds me of Dawn Of The Dead. If you understand that reference we can hang out. Some people don’t know what the hell I’m talking about when I say that. I call those people ‘uninformed’. If you’re not hip to it I highly recommend you get down with said film. The remake is great too.
It seemed for a stretch there our hotels were all connected to malls so we found ourselves forever wandering them. We dubbed that portion the ‘Tiffany Tour’.
We played the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion, Woodlands, Texas. Was a great night. It’s been great watching World On Fire become a key part of our set right up there with Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City. That’s a good feeling.
Around this time there was a very convincing post about a 6th season of Breaking Bad which I was suspicious about but had to retweet. I thought that would be a terrible mistake as it had ended so beautifully but I’m a fan and would have welcomed those characters back with open arms. Turned out to be completely untrue so my initial take stays undisturbed. It’s ending will remain beautiful.
The other announcement was that my new hometown of Las Vegas may be getting it’s own NHL hockey team. That is very exciting. It would be great for the city of Las Vegas and great for the game of hockey. I’d love to go support whatever that team might be. Could suddenly feel very much like home. We’ll see though…
Next up was Atlanta where Steven Tyler shaved off his facial hair he’s been sporting this entire tour. I had grown so accustomed to it that it took me a second to figure out what was different about him. We run into Steven in elevators sometimes with his dogs and all and it’s never a dull moment. The man is larger than the largest life. He’s always witty and quick.
All this time before Atlanta we were excited as we had heard that some of the cast of the Walking Dead would be joining us at the show. Norman Reedus at the very least but then when it all went down they ran late and couldn’t make it to the show. Damn. That woulda been a trip. I’m so stoked for the new season I’m on pins and needles.
Atlanta was another amazing show. Hockey arena. Canadian flag. All the good stuff.
We alter our set night for night. Sometimes you’ll get Mr Brownstone. Sometimes you’ll get Halo. Sometimes you’ll get Standing In The Sun. Sometimes By The Sword. Just depends which box of chocolates of ROCK you open.
Atlants got Halo and By The Sword in amongst the rest of our set.
See you in 2015, Atlanta.
If it feels like it was high time for a headlining show you got that right. Which way to Hollywood, Florida? We got to burn down the Hard Rock for 2 hours in Hollywood East with a cast of friends who came out of the woodwork including Eddie Trunk who was hosting the night as well as introducing us before our set. Always good to hang with Mr Trunk. Stories stories stories. Laughs laughs laughs. Good times.
Matt from Trivium came out. I’d not met him before. A nicer guy there could not be. Such a great band. Looking forward to crossing paths with him again.
World On Fire family was in the house too. Producer of the album, Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette and engineer, Jef Moll were on hand for the evening’s festivities. Assistant engineer, Kevin was along as well.
Last minute addition of Out Ta Get Me from Appetite to that nighs set was imminent and we tore that one up. I threw the mic stand in a fit of rock fever that may or may not have scared the Hell out of the nice people of Hollywood East. These little voices in my head tell me to break things. In Static In Stereo we had a saying-
If it ain’t broke-break it.
We broke everything. In the Conspirators I try to keep such voices at bay but once in a while they come out and cannot be silenced. If the odd microphone or guitar need be sacrificed then so be it for the greater good of Rock N Roll.
Great show. Sorry microphone.
From there we were on to Sin City East, Atlantic City. I’ve always enjoyed AC for it’s bizarre familiarity to Las Vegas. There are casinos with the same names and everything seems familiar yet strange. Like a Bizzaro Vegas, really. I get a kick out of that.
The show was a great deal of fun. People keep telling me I look like I’m having fun up there. I’m not acting. I really am having the time of my life. You should try it some time.
Our pal, Jimmy Webb from Trash and Vaudeville came for a hang as well as fellow Canadian, Matt Wexler who will be with us for the better part of a week.
Aerosmith were devastatingly good that night. Steven is on fire. I think he really might be at the peak of his ability. This late in the game that is beyond impressive.
From there we landed where I am now-Secaucus, New Jersey. Yesterday the Conspirators took a trip into New York City, one of my favorite places on the planet. Anyone who knows me knows that.
Here’s the crazy thing. We decided to take a bus from Secausus into the Port Authority there in the heart of Manhattan. Easy enough, right? So once exiting the bus which was a fun ride with Mark Kuntz, drum tech and Matt Wexler, Canadian compatriot along for the ride we made our way out to the street right across from the New York Times building. Cool. I gotta take a picture of that. I…hang on…where? Oh boy. I left my phone on the bus.
So there was a harried panic that went on for the better part of 30 minutes while we ran from customer service to gate to attendant to other gate from bus to bus. Fitz, ever the efficient boy scout used the ‘find your phone’ app and we learned it was somewhere in the building. Then after running from floor to floor Fitz just walked onto a bus and walked right back out with my phone.
Thank you to Mark Kuntz for being the grown up there to sort that all out. Thank you to Brent Fitz for ultimately locating my damned phone. It takes a village…to find a phone left behind by an absent minded fool.
Wow. What a way to start my trip to the greatest city in the world. From total drag to utter euphoria. I was already making peace with the idea that maybe I didn’t need that damn phone anyway but in retrospect it’s always good to have it back.
With phone retrieved we ran the length of Manhattan a thousand times over as we usually do. We went to Lombardis which is apparently NYC’s oldest pizzeria. Who knew? Delicious!
Along the way we had to visit CBGB’s (I have a hard time calling it John Varvattos. Sorry, John) at 315 Bowery street. As I’ve mentioned a thousand times I played there back in the early 90s. Fitz has played there and so has Myles. It was a right of passage in those days. I never, ever thought it would close but it has been for some time now. Very surreal to walk through that store knowing what it once was. Let’s just pray the Whiskey A Go Go doesn’t turn into an Urban Outfitters someday or the Roxy a Gap. Shudder…
We got our pal, Joe Fahmy, to take some pix of us by the pole where the Ramones were posed back in the day. I do that same photo almost every time I’m there but this time it was just the Conspirators so I went home and made this.
New York City is hallowed ground for me. I only wish I’d been born 20 years earlier in Queens. Though all the original Ramones are gone they live on in my heart and this photo is a sign of my love and respect.
Hey Ho Let’s Go Forever
We went by Trash and Vaudeville and loitered for the better part of the day distracting Jimmy from his work. We are jerks. Always an utter joy to see Jimmy. The man is a glowing ball of positivity. Next time you’re in NYC go to St Marks and see Jimmy at Trash and Vaudeville. Tell him Todd Dammit sentcha. I know some of you have done that. He’s told me. I think that’s the most awesome thing ever.
So then after eating, eating and eating then drinking coffee, coffee and even more coffee we hobbled back to our little safe haven in Jersey.
Which leads us to today. I saw a movie and then joined Slash and crew on the buses for our driver, Chris’, barbecue. Funny ol’ world, innit?
And tonight? Well, none other than Eddie Trunk will be here to do a quick podcast with Slash then I believe it will be hang and talk rock time with his pal, Todd Dammit.
Speaking of music nerds (no offense, Eddie, though I think he’s more than comfortable with that handle. As am I) Ive been reading Questlove’s book, Mo’ Meta Blues and it is amazing. For those in the know Questlove, or ?uestlove, is the incredible drummer for the Roots. You would know them as Jimmy Fallon’s house band previously on Late Night now on the Tonight Show. The Roots, of course, had been around for years prior to ever being NBC employees.
I have to acquiesce to Quest’s knowledge on all things music. He leaves the likes of me and Eddie in the dust. His knowledge is sprawling, sweeping and wide spread. From rock to pop to funk to soul to hip hop and all points in between. Not only that but he was hip to rock journalists and all. I certainly was hip to the ones I was told to be hip to- Lester Bangs, Ben Fong-Torres, even a young Cameron Crowe but nothing like what Quest retained. Later on I became enamored with Chuck Klosterman when he wrote for Spin before he went on to write some of my favorite novels. I like David Fricke from Rolling Stone very much as well as Peter Travers, the movie guy. Quest makes me look like an amateur.
We met Quest and the Roots when we did Jimmy Fallon’s show when he was still at Late Night. What a trip that experience was. Frank and I saw Quest just walking down the hallway and he was super friendly and super cool. Those guys sure love Slash. Slash has sat in with them a number of times. After we played on the show Quest brought his drumsticks over and asked us to sign them for him. Frank brought them to me telling me this story. I looked at him questioningly like, ‘Seriously? Quest wants more than just Slash to sign these?’ He did so I did. That stayed with me. What an amazing guy. He loves music so much that he’s obviously been documenting every musical guest that’s been on the show. I think that’s amazing.
I highly recommend his book if you are as much of a music lover as I am. I’m an even bigger fan of Questlove and the Roots than I was because of it.
I can’t imagine how much deeper my experience of music would have been had I grown up in Philly or NYC or Detroit. Not just rock but soul, funk, R&B eventually hip hop. Growing up where I did these things just didn’t exist. I mean they did but we were largely unaware. Obviously things like Thriller opened a whole world to R&B and dance music that may not have translated prior. Michael did that as James had before him. Stevie and every other Motown artist in history were part of that.
The book has inspired me to take a closer look at those things I’m only familiar with. I’ve been on a Motown kick for a long time now so this has me digging deeper. Quest mentions an act and I Spotify it right away. It has really opened up a whole other side of things for me. That’s the exciting thing about music. That journey never really ends.
I find the news so depressing lately. There are such terrible things going on in the world. I changed my Facebook settings so it won’t just play video unless prompted. People post the most heinous things that will ruin your day if you look at them. It’s hard to remind yourself how wonderful the world can be or what limitless potential we humans can have when you watch bullies beating handicapped children or ISIS shooting defenceless people on the street or adults beating children or humans beating animals.
Kindness. Compassion. These are the things I strive for. I personally continue to strive towards things like honor, nobility. Big words with even bigger meaning.
There is no me. There is no you. There is US. The sooner we all understand that the sooner those bigs are more easily understood.
I just took a break from writing this to sit in the hotel restaurant and talk music with Eddie Trunk for about three hours. It’s not easy to just do that with anyone. When you find someone who can hang like that you make the most of it. Ed is a good man and a good friend. He will be at our show in Newark tomorrow. The conversation continues.
Why is Deep Purple not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? When they DO get inducted which members will be included?
This same discussion happened about Foreigner and Journey as well.
Plenty about KISS, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, AC/DC (the big 4).
Best singer for Rainbow? Slash prefers Graham Bonnet. Controversial answer maybe but bold.
This and more will continue tomorrow.
The Let Rock Rule tour is ending soon. I told myself it would be September before I knew it and guess what? It’s September. As soon as we are into the ‘embers (September/October/November/December-admittedly October is an ‘ober but you see my point) I am thinking towards the holidays. Flights, gifts, destinations, family…all the important things.
Life goes so fast. Yesterday it was July and we were doing our first date with Aerosmith. Actually yesterday we were just sitting down to write songs for World On Fire. No-yesterday we had just put out Apocalyptic Love. Nah-yesterday I just started playing with Slash, before it was called the Conspirators, before there was an Apocalyptic Love or even a World On Fire.
Speaking of which we are less than two weeks away from the release of said album, World On Fire. We will wrap up the Let Rock Rule tour then find ourselves back in New York City promoting the album release. Then on to Los Angeles for three club shows to promote the release of the album-the Troubadour, the Whiskey A Go Go and The Roxy. This is going to be a huge achievement for us and I say that even as we are touring with Aerosmith which is one of the grandest achievements imaginable.
Exciting times ahead, brothers and sisters. Exciting times indeed.
You are loved now pass that on.
Take my message to your brother and tell him twice.
Your loyal and humble servant