June 18 2015
What a whirlwind. We have been on the road for for almost three months on this leg alone though I have to admit that it feels as though we’ve been out for much longer. These breaks between the legs of the tour barely register. The World On Fire tour started July 9th 2014 in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, USA. That means we are almost one year into the tour. That’s about how long this tour feels and I mean that in the best way possible. Sometimes it feels like all of the tours bleed into one another making it one long tour that started in 2010. Night after night we stand in front of people and play music. Really, really loud music. For really, really great people.
I wish I could go back and tell my 15 year old self that this would be my reality. I wonder if he’d ever believe me. It is my favorite thing to do and I get to do it every day. I couldn’t be more grateful than I am.
When last I joined you we were in one of my favorite cities, Stockholm, Sweden. Home of the Hellacopters, The Backyard Babies, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Entombed, Electric Boys and, of course, ABBA. Speaking of ABBA the Conspirators took in the ABBA museum after soundcheck and it is well worth the trip. If you’re ever in Stockholm check it out. It was too much fun.
That night we played at the Grona Lund, an open stage in the middle of an amusement park. Fitz and I joked that it felt like we were in the movie KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park. In that film KISS plays at an amusement park as well.
Almost every historic artist imaginable has played at Grona Lund in Stockholm from Miles Davis to The Who to The Ramones to Iggy Pop. Their wall of fame is insane. Standing on that stage while knowing all the great people who had stood there before us was an awe inspiring experience.
The show was amazing. It’s always a whole different vibe playing in broad daylight. On one of the festival shows in the US a musician from another band said that rock and roll shouldn’t happen in the day time. I disagreed. I’d seen footage and photos in my youth of so many festival shows. Castle Donington. The US Festival. Live Aid. Umm, hello…Woodstock? I think the festival experience is a very important part of Rock N Roll and the Europeans would agree with me.
This, of course, wasn’t a festival. Just a Rock N Roll show happening in broad daylight at an amusement park in front of thousands of hard rocking Swedes! Good times.
After the show I got to finally meet Conny Bloom from Electric Boys. I’ve long been an admirer and we’d been in touch for years online. Conny also served in the last version of Hanoi Rocks which I enjoyed very much as well. Conny is a gent and now officially a friend and not just the online kind.
Next up we were off to Oslo, Norway. Good Rock N Roll country up there! We got to play Unholy again that night. 30 Years To Life made an appearance. And I got to scream Welcome To The Jungle to all our Norse brethren! What a blast.
From there we boomeranged back to Sweden to play the great festival, Sweden Rock. Imagine looking over and seeing Slash, Myles Kennedy, Steve Lukather from Toto and Michael Monroe standing around telling war stories. That was my surreal view for a moment there backstage.
Michael has grown to be a great friend. It is no secret what a gigantic fan I am of his so that’s what makes it so crazy when he stands side stage watching our set. For me that’s a trip.
Our set was a blast. Our second time rocking with the Swedes in mere days.
Got to hang with Michael and his merry men who are also some of my favorite people in the world as well as being one of my favorite bands. Unfortunately they were playing after we had to drive on to our next destination so I didn’t get to sit in with the guys again. Next time!
We did get to stand side stage and watch Toto which was a trip. Some of these festivals are so diverse you get Judas Priest one day and a band like Toto the next. I like that kinda diversity. Steve Lukather is one of the greatest guitar players on the planet and he is also one of the best story tellers, too. He ended up sitting on the bus with us rapping with Slash and da boyz til we had to leave. What an honor. Steve played on Thriller, ya know?
Next up the mighty Rock Am Ring in Nuremberg, Germany. The site is next to a very historic site where Hitler made speeches. It’s a super dark sight to behold when you see it. It leaves you a little breathless.
I first did this festival back in 2010. It was amongst the first shows we did together with Slash’s then new band. It was awesome then and it is awesome now. It will be awesome the next time we do it, too.
That day Frank and I did an interview for Gibson guitars on the Gibson bus and it was the height of silliness. I don’t know why anyone would put a microphone in our faces when we are together because it just gets ridiculous but we have fun. It’s online somewhere. It’s mostly me laughing.
As a parting gift from the interview, Herman from Gibson gave me a brand new Gibson SG bass. I was floored. What an incredibly kind gesture. Herman is incredibly kind to us and I can’t thank him enough. What a genuinely kind individual.
As I mentioned above the show was insanity. I have no idea how many humans were out there but it makes you dizzy trying to take it all in.
The entire show was streamed live online. I haven’t had a chance to watch it though I very rarely watch us online. Once in a while to hear how one of the new songs is sounding. I believe the entire show exists on youtube. Let me know how it looks!
From there we were off to Rock Im Park, the sister festival of Rock Am Ring. Also in Germany with mostly the same acts from Rock Am Ring. I didn’t get to see much as the travel usually gets us to the venue just before our set and we are back on the bus traveling just after we finish. Pirate life. Germany is very good to us.
We also first did Rock Im Park back in 2010 and it’s just as breathtaking now. It is always hard to fathom that many human beings in one place at one time. An amazing experience.
Our set was super intense. It was a warm, sunny day with a bunch of our beaming and friendly German family.
Then off to Berlin where we have spent a great deal of time over the years. We played in an out and out castle called Zitadelle Spandau which had apparently become a prison at some point and was now used as a live venue. We had a blast wandering the grounds feeling like we were on the set of Game Of Thrones or something. Crazy history over there. Kind of hard to fathom for us North Americans.
On top of playing an incredible venue our opening act would be the amazing L7 which was a big thrill for all of us. I got to watch them soundcheck but didn’t get to see their set due to the distance from our dressing room area to the stage. Unfortunately the girls had to leave before we were done our set. We were looking forward to getting to hang and get a photo. Bummer but they were amazing.
Our set was a blast. What a very cool place to play. It’s not every day you get to say you are playing at a castle. These things are never lost on me. I’m always in a state of wonder of these things. What a crazy thing this life is.
Rich Jones from Michael Monroe’s band came down to say hi. The next day we wandered Berlin looking at the great sites and sights. Rich has relocated to Berlin and was a kind and generous tour guide. We, of course, made a stop at the Ramones Museum, a must see for any fan making their way to Berlin. I’ve known Rich 20 plus years. He’s a good man.
Then we made our way to the Netherlands for the legendary festival, Pinkpop which we had done a couple of times before.
We got to watch Faith No More which was amazing. I hadn’t seen them since the 90s. They all wore casual white and the stage was adorned in flowers. It was like a Sunday garden party. That image countered by their music made for a bizarre mix. It was really good to see those guys sounding as good as ever.
Our set was a blast. Another sunny day. I believe there is footage of our set online. Check it out.
Somewhere around this point Dave Grohl fell off the stage in Gothenburg and broke his leg. Even so he still returned and finished the set. Absolutely crazy. Now THAT is a testament to the power of Rock N Roll. The Foos had been on a lot of these same festivals with us but we never had the chance to connect. Unfortunately even though Dave returned to finish that set the Foos had to cancel the rest of their dates. Really a shame but hardly unexpected considering what he endured.
The Edge had fallen off the stage not that long ago in Vancouver during the first U2 show of their current tour. Yikes. Makes me nervous that my turn is coming. I have to admit I eye the edge of these stages a little more closely now. If you are on stage as much as we are the chances of falling increases. i’ve fallen on stage many, many times just not OFF a stage. That would suck.
Dave will be back in no time. He’s a trooper. Most ‘rock stars’ storm off stage because of a hang nail. Dave Grohl legitimately breaks his leg and returns to finish the set. Now THAT is impressive.
Off to Download! This is another big one for us. We appeared on the same stage as Motley Crue, who are on their farewell tour, and KISS. With Billy Idol on before us. That’s quite a day. I have been a fan of all of these artists since my childhood. That is not lost on me.
Jimmy Webb from Trash And Vaudeville in NYC came over for the festivities and he joined Frank and I in viewing the surprise set by the Darkness. Always entertaining. Justin was on fire peacocking around the stage with his new haircut. He’s actually a very tasty guitar player. It was a great way to start the day’s adventures in mud and rain.
I was bummed to have arrived too late to see the Backyard Babies play but caught up with Dregen nonetheless. I’m a huge fan of the Babies but have never had the opportunity to see them. Now that they have reformed and are on some of these festivals with us I thought we’d have the chance but not so.
Dregen is a talent and a proper rock star. Check out his solo album. One of my faves of the last couple years. Flat Tyre On A Muddy Road is a classic.
Eric Singer, drummer for KISS, our good friend, came by to catch up. It had been too long. He’s a good man. Though we never got to see KISS that night it was great to catch up with Mr Singer.
The interesting thing about Download is the shanty town they build for the artist’s backstage area. It’s all trailers with different bands/artists in each one. The English rain mists and sometimes pours off and on throughout the day and you carry that Castle Donington mud on your boots for weeks afterwards.
Back in the day this festival was called Castle Donington. They’d do the Monsters Of Rock shows. When I was a kid I’d see pictures of Motley supporting Shout At The Devil there drinking Heineken beer. I’d never seen beer in green bottles before. I was a kid. I suppose I hadn’t seen too much beer nonetheless.
Randy Blythe from Lamb Of God stopped by and a more intelligent and thoughtful person you could not meet. Randy spent a month plus in a Czech Republic jail due to the death of a stage diving kid at a LOG show. He was eventually acquitted of all charges but having survived such an ordeal must have left a lasting effect. He has a book coming this summer that I’m looking forward to reading. There is a documentary covering it all that is a fascinating viewing. I highly recommend it. Through it all he remains a very warm and sharp man. I admire him a great deal. I honestly don’t know what that experience would have done to me. The idea of someone passing away at one of our shows would devastate me enough let alone being unjustly held responsible. He is a strong man.
Playing at Download is one of the truly great European festival moments. It is a major deal for UK and European rock fans. I can understand why with the lineup of acts that appear there. Our set was heavy for me. We had first appeared there in 2010 and Lemmy got up and sang Dr Alibi with us. I try very hard to find a moment to take the event in. Photographers complain that I move about too much to snap a pic but every once in a while you’ll find me surveying the entire spectacle, taking mental pictures to look back on. It was a magical night. Proof that SMKC grows every year.
Caught up with Mark Tremonti and his band of merry gentlemen there as well. Good men and a great band. Mark is a very strong singer. I am always impressed.
Also got to catch up with the girls from L7 finally. They are wonderful people. They were full of compliments about the show we did together in Berlin. I was like, ‘are you kidding? You guys were great!’ One of those moments where you are trying to one up one another with compliments. Very kind people those L7s.
Frank and I went and watched Motley Crue and got schooled on BIG ROCK SHOW 101. Fire! Fire! Fire! So much Fire! Nikki even had a flame thrower bass. Madness.
Motley is one of those bands that meant the world to me as a kid. As time goes by you put things into perspective as an adult but times like standing just behind Nikki Fucking Sixx while he tears it up in front of thousands immediately takes me back to looking at pictures of them in Circus magazine playing Castle Donington in the 80s.
Vince waved at us. Nikki peace signed us. It was awesome to be acknowledged.
And with that we were whisked back on the bus into a rainy english night. Like I said we didn’t get to see KISS but it was another successful Download in our rearview mirror.
Hello, Hamburg! Back in Germany! Man oh man do we love Germany. We just can’t seem to stay away. The interesting thing about this night was it was the first performance of the song Iris Of the Storm from World On Fire. It was the last of 17 songs on the album we had yet to perform. This band will stay on the road til 2016 and we’ve already managed to play every single song on the album live. That is quite an achievement. There is no other artist this far into his career that would even dare to do such a thing but Slash is the most daring person i know. We managed to play every single song off of Apocalyptic Love, too. Somewhere someone could compile an entire playlist of live versions of songs off of AL and WOF. I’m pretty proud of that.
It’s always a pleasure to play our full 2 hour plus set. Festivals usually call for a truncated set to fit all the bands in. A lot of the big touring bands don’t have their full stage show for the festival shows because of the restricted stage room and set time.
I had someone complain to me that we only played an hour long set once as if we had made this decision. At a festival when there are a thousand bands playing we all have to play limited sets under strict time restrictions to fit everyone on. Anyone who has seen our own shows knows that we play far beyond our allotted time every time. Some people just don’t have a clue. Think before you speak. If you wanna see us play our 2 hour set come see us outside of the festival setting.
The Hamburg show was awesome. Like I said before Germany is very good to us. This was our last appearance in Germany for a while so we had to make it a good one. Hence the addition of Iris Of The Storm.
Back to Luxembourg! We have been playing Luxembourg since 2010 and it’s always a great live stop. Two plus hours of Rock N Roll. We had friends come in from France and as far away as Japan. Lux was a particularly special show.
June 20 2015
Somewhere in France
I usually try and write these things in one sitting but every now and again I get sidetracked by life and have to finish as I go along. I have decided to not post until after today’s show at Hellfest as then this block of shows will be over with into a day off…somewhere…
Just back from breakfast with Mikkey Dee from Motorhead. We drove in overnight from Graspop in Belgium and are now in France for today’s performance at Hellfest. Roll off the bus with little sleep and head into the restaurant to over fuel on coffee. Who should show up but Mikkey. Motorhead just played last night at Hellfest. Mikkey is one of the best dudes in rock. In fact all three members of Motorhead are complete gentlemen. Innocent bystanders might think otherwise based on the music they play but Phil, Lem and Mikkey are all great dudes. Very thoughtful and not a ‘rock star’ ego in the bunch. When they talk to you they talk to you. They are listening to what you say and engaging. Lessons to learn for any aspiring musician. Never lose track of where your feet tread. On the ground. You are above no one.
Mikkey plays drums in the one of the most important bands in the world but is the most salt of the Earth dude imaginable. An honest to goodness pleasure to hang with.
Last night we played at Graspop in Belgium. It’s actually called Graspop Metal Meeting which is an indication of the kind of music featured there. The entire show was filmed and is already online. In fact, I just posted in on Twitter. Enjoy.
The funny thing was that Neil Diamond and his touring entourage were staying at our hotel. I never saw him but I assume he wasn’t playing at the ‘Metal Meeting’. Neil is the king. I gotta see him once before he retires.
The day was fun at Graspop. Got to hang out with old friends and make new ones. Got to hang with the guys from Dead Dasies, a supergroup of sorts featuring old friends and new. Caught up with John Corabi, their singer. You might remember him from the Vince Neil-less Motley Crue album from the 90s that featured Hooligans Holiday. He also played in Union with Bruce Kulick from KISS and some kid named Brent Fitz. John is a character and a great story teller. He has a great, classic voice.
I caught up with old friend, Dizzy Reed, from Slash’s old band. Diz is a great dude. We’ve jammed together many, many times and he’s a good man.
Tommy Cluefestos from Ozzy/Sabbath was on drums and got to say hi to him. Great drummer. Good dude. We toured with Ozzy back in the day.
Bassist Marco Mendoza from a number of great things including the most recent version of Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake and Black Star Riders is also a member. He’s such a good dude. A great talent, too.
I got to meet Richard Fortus one of the guitar players from Axl’s GNR. He’s a great guitar player and a great guy. Richard is one talented dude.
Eric Singer from KISS stopped by again as they were headlining. Eric is a good friend but if you read this regularly you already know that.
The show was awesome. It was a little windy and chilly but that just puts a spring in your step to keep warm. We all wore black leather like the Ramones. I was pretty proud of that.
Our set was all too brief but epic nonetheless. Tommy Thanyer from KISS was side stage watching a good chunk of our set. Tommy is a great guy.
As we wind down into the last few weeks of this run I feel more invigorated than I should. I’m usually worn to a nub by now but I feel better than ever. I have a couple of hours to chill before we take our bus out to the Hellfest grounds so I’ll finish this up tonight or maybe tomorrow.
Next stop-Hell. France, Population : Gazillions
June 21 2015
Well, that was fun!
Just got to Milan for a quiet day off before making our way to Rome. I love Italy. It was one of the first places I fell in love with when I first came to Europe back in ’06. Been back many, many times since and it never loses its luster.
Yesterday we appeared at Hellfest in France. Last time we were there Slash was also appearing with Ozzy for his Ozzy and friends show while Tony Iommi was sick. Ozzy’s band plus Zakk, Slash and Geezer. Was a good time.
This time was an amazing time, too. When we arrived Fitz and I ran for the stage. Ace Frehley had just started and we wanted to see as much as we could. As anyone knows I am a well invested soldier in the KISS Army and Ace is pretty high on my list of heroes. His set was great. Loaded with classics including Shock Me featuring his smoking guitar! It was absolute Rock N Roll heaven for me. Later in the day I got to meet Chris Wyse who is playing bass for Ace. In recent years Chris was playing bass for the Cult, another fave of mine. Caught up with Ace drummer, Scott Coogan who is a Vegas resident these days and a great guy.
Directly after Ace I ran to the other stage to finally get to see the Backyard Babies. It was only something like their fifth show since reforming after a five year hiatus. The band sounded great. Super tight and broke out all the classics I love. I got to meet Johan the bass player later in the day. Got to say a quick hello to Dregen again. Always a pleasure. I’m a fan.
Our set was mental. In many ways it felt like the biggest festival audience of the tour but I could be wrong. They all seem mind alteringly huge. There is footage of our set on youtube. They had amazing cameras on cranes sweeping over the audience and in close to us which makes for some impressive shots. Check it out.
After our set I got to say hello to a lot of friends and fiends also appearing. The Conspirators spent a considerable amount of time with That Metal Show’s Don Jamieson, who is a good friend. He eventually ended up on our bus hanging out and if we hadn’t paid attention he’d be here in Milan with us. Lucky for him he bailed before our ship sailed (yes, I’m aware that rhymed). Hellfest was an epic blast.
Our Live At The Roxy DVD/Blu-Ray/CD/Vinyl is out everywhere. I don’t even have a copy yet but I’ve managed to sign a few since their release. Yet another great achievement I am proud of.
Also the SMKC ‘action’ figures from Staramba have been released individually or as a set. It’s a very strange thing to have a figure of myself available out there. I’m the guy that has Johnny Ramone, Lemmy, Iggy Pop and Johnny Rotten jamming together on his dresser in action figure form. Strange times, brothers and sister. Strange and exciting times.
Hope you enjoy the new music and toys we’ve release for you. Those are two of the things I love most!
There. Now I’m all caught up. I can finally have this posted.
Still much to talk about. A few days ago a guy walked into Emanuel AME Church in Charlestown, South Carolina and killed nine people. The fact that he was white and they were black is abhorrent. It is the 21st century and we are still dealing with these people trying to turn the clock back. We have come so far as a society yet in the last couple of years there have been continuing events of blatant racism that make me embarrassed to be a human being. I do not share one shred of these small minded ideals. To live with hate is to live in fear. People think hate makes them stronger but it doesn’t. It gives the power to whatever it is you are bafflingly afraid of.
It’s 2015 people. It is the 21st century. The future is now. We live in a time spinning forward faster than any other time in history. You may cling to your forgotten, flawed and ancient ideals but the rest of us are moving forward. You will be left behind. Eventually there will be none of you left. There will be the enlightened, the open minded, the open hearted.
Choose a path that unites us. Avoid paths that divide us. They will lead you nowhere.
Racism is an embarrassing, antiquated trait to have. Almost a trait to be pitied rather than feared. What was missing from one’s life that they chose this ideal? Love your children. Fill them full of wonder and ambition. If you do not they get lost. They have anger and sadness that leads them in the wrong directions. Venting hatred on kind people who had every intention of having lunch with family after church. Now they are gone. For what? For the misdirected anger of a very lost soul. Such a shame.
Jim Carrey had a great quote in a speech he recently gave. He said, “Beware the unloved or they will eventually hurt themselves. Or me” Or you for that matter. I think that is a very heavy thing. The unloved. Such a sad thing to think about. You hope that the unloved could find some fulfillment elsewhere but it is such a deep-seated issue that no one can know how it will manifest itself. There should be no unloved.
Someday these things will be a thing of the past. Extreme measures need to take place first. Things that a lot of people are not prepared to sacrifice but I think baby steps towards a bigger goal is important. That goal is peace.
Jon Stewart said it best. We live in fear of Al-Qaeda and Isis yet how can we feel safe at home? We need to do whatever it takes to take care of one another. We should not be afraid of one another especially in our schools or churches.
I find it all very sad and my heart goes out to the families of the victims of the shootings on what should have just been another quiet Sunday in that historic church. Deeply sad.
That’s all I have to say. So much good to look for in this world. Keep your mind and heart open.
I’m off to enjoy a day wandering Milan with brother Fitz. As it has been since 2010 and it ever shall be.
Today is Father’s Day back home. Spoil your Dad today. In fact spoil everyone you care about today. In fact spoil everyone you care about every day. Live. Love. Laugh.
Happy Father’s Day!
Keep your minds and hearts open.
Your loyal and humble servant,