February 16 2015
Auckland, New Zealand
I sure managed to go a long time since last checking in. Part of that is me slacking off and part of it is sometimes just not feeling like there is a whole lot to say.
I spent the holidays with my family in Vancouver which was glorious. I spent the better part of three weeks just floating around like a vagabond drinking coffee and wandering the familiar streets meeting with friends here and there when I could. As always Vancouver has been very good to me. It will always be home. One of my many homes.
Upon returning to Las Vegas I played the first show of 2015 at Count’s Vamp’d. Another acoustic solo show which was extremely enjoyable. Emily Wilson from Vancouver opened the show and was amazing. Zachary Throne did his first solo show that night which was incredibly well received. Zach is a crazy talented individual. I’m happy to have been a part of showcasing him out as a solo artist.
I played my set to all the familiar faces of my amazing Dammed family. What an amazing lot they are. They come from all over to sing along with us and we have the best time. Well, at least I do. It’s like a big campfire sing along. Doc Ellis and the amazing Cian Coey joined me on stage along with Zach to complete the evening. I enjoy getting to play those shows so much. You write some songs and the next thing you know people are singing them back to you. It is the greatest gift anyone could give me. Thank you to all who come to these nights. You have no idea what it means to me.
The craziest thing is that the night of my solo show at Vamp’d my Co-Conspirator, Brent Fitz, went under the knife for the very same operation I had endured 4 years earlier for a detached retina. About a week before Brent had called me asking a bunch of questions about seeing a lot of odd floaters (those weird floaty things you can see in your eye sometimes) and some flashing lights. I told him he should call an eye specialist right away as those are common signs of retinal issues. He went in that day but they could find no tear in his retina and was sent home to keep an eye (pun intended) on it. Then about a week later his retina detached and he was under the knife on the spot. It seems odd that the two of us would both have the same issue but in fact retinal detachment is more common than I thought. I’d never even heard of it before it happened to me but since then I’ve met many people who’ve endured it. Carla from Butcher Babies just recovered from the very same thing.
Fitzy had to endure all the hassle I did but for not quite as long. There have been advancements since it happened to me and I guess I had a more extensive surgical procedure than he endured. It was touch and go for a bit there but he’s here with us now on the road and nothing can keep a good man down. It would have been a real drag if he couldn’t make it out here. I can’t imagine this band without him even for a stretch. It just wouldn’t be the same.
I’m happy he’s healing well and will be right as rain in no time. Send Fitzy all your love. He is one tough, Canadian son of a gun!
January proved to be a high profile time for the bass player in me. I managed to be covered by Bass Player Magazine which is always an honor AND was nominated for Best Bassplayer by Loudwire.com. I never for a second assumed I’d win. I thought I’d do ok. I was up against some heavy hitters, great players and legends. Right off the bat I couldn’t believe that I was running second to Nikki Sixx. Regardless of whatever contest pits us against one another Nikki will always be a hero of mine. So it was ultimately beyond a pleasant surprise to have won! Most of that credit goes to a loyal ‘fan base’ known as ‘Co-Conspirators’ and a loyal ‘friend base’ known as ‘the Dammed’ or ‘The Army Of The Dammed’ or ‘The Family Of The Dammed’. That one kinda sounds like the Manson family. That might be a little too scary. Either way it is the people who voted who deserve the award. You are all far too kind to me and my Co-Conspirators. We all did amazingly well in our perspective categories. It is really and truly an honor to call you guys my friends. My family. The Dammed.
During my time in Vegas pre tour rehearsals I managed to see a number of shows. I saw Tenacious D do a private event in Vegas. Slash, Fitz, Frankie and I had a blast watching the guys and then had a late night meal with Jack Black himself. He was incredibly engaging and unbelievably, naturally funny. I’ve always been a fan of the D and watching Jack go on to become a very respected and successful actor has been most enjoyable and deserving. I gained a whole new respect for Jack by his just being a regular dude with us, hanging and joking around. He was big on the hugs as we said goodbye and left him as he was swallowed by a group of tourists for photos as he tried to escape to his room.
Fitz and I went to see KISS play a corporate event which was a blast and surreal at the same time. It was at the Joint in the Hard Rock Casino where they had only recently been holding a residency. I did not get to see the residency as we were on tour in Europe at the time. It was surreal because it was a corporate event so not the usual KISS mayhem but more of a buttoned down, loose tie, office make out, tie as a headband, drunk co workers kinda party. We definitely stuck out. Always a pleasure to watch KISS though. Even at this kind of event KISS brings their A game. Pyro, FIRE FIRE FIRE!
I finally got to see Elton John and was blown away by how sharp Elton’s voice was. His piano playing was more than I expected too. I guess I didn’t expect him to be shredding like that. A really amazing show. The man is a legend. Hit after hit after hit.
Soon enough it was time for we Conspirators to make it back to the good ship Slash in North Hollywood, California. It always feels good to get back into rehearsal mode with the home team. Back when we were rehearsing for the European tour last year Slash was getting a computer rendering of himself for an action figure made at rehearsal. As an afterthought, they asked us if we wanted to get some made. Yea sure! Sounds fun. Of course! I’ve always wanted to be an action figure. To be honest they are more statues than action figures.
So we all ran out and had them done. This is why in my figure I’m wearing just whatever I was rehearsing in which happened to be a Sex Panther tee shirt. Sex Panther as in the cologne from the first Anchor Man movie. Like I said this was kind of sprung on me last minute. I just went in and got scanned in what I was wearing. Turned out great!
Well, now THOSE figures will be available to the public soon. Apparently as a set or individually. Very surreal like I said. I’m gonna have to order the set myself. They are a little eerie as the computer simply takes a rendering and prints out a figure that is a direct representation. Kinda bizarrely accurate. I’ll let y’all know when they are available and where to get ‘em.
We played Conan on TBS on February 6th 2015 and it was a blast to be back on the Warner Brothers lot. It’s always a trip to me to be standing there on such a lot. I grew up in Smallville, Canada. Hollywood TV studios may as well be Mars.
Between soundcheck (which is ridiculously early by the way) and our performance we wandered the Warner Brothers lot and eventually ended up at the Warner Brothers Museum which had a 75th anniversary of Batman exhibit. So awesome. They had actual costumes and props from all of the films from Tim Burtons Batman right up to Dark Knight Rises. Completely insane for a nerdy fan like me.
Jeff Bridges was the lead guest on Conan that night and what a trip that is. Even Slash was star struck. Jeff is beyond awesome. He is THE DUDE after all for anyone who is aware of The Big Lebowski and if you’re not you should be.
Our performance went great though it is weird enough hurrying up and waiting for a two hour show let alone hurrying up and waiting to play for four minutes. All that and it’s over in the blink of an eye. We played Bent To Fly the new single off of World On Fire. Bent To Fly has been a single in Australia for a while now but is now a single everywhere.
I got to shake Jeff Bridges’ hand and we talked briefly about guitars. I own the same model, Gibson J-45, that he was playing on the show. Lily Collins the second guest was adorable and lovely. She is Phil Collins’ daughter. How crazy is that? I spoke briefly with Andy Richter about a possible 5th season of Arrested Development. Looks promising. Hell yes!
With that we were on the punishing flight to Osaka, Japan. We hadn’t been to Japan in some time. It was good to get back. There is a great deal we could learn from the Japanese. Their kindness a respectfulness is beyond compare. They make Canadians look downright rude. The people were so friendly and warm I never wanted to leave.
Our first show was in Osaka and we started the tour with a bang! At rehearsals we had worked up three new songs for the tour. Normally we introduce one then another as the tour goes on etc but Slash loaded up that first set list with all three songs so Osaka was not only the first night of the 2015 tour it was also the first night we ever played Dirty Girl, The Dissident and Battleground live. All of which are a pleasure to play live. I have to admit I think this band is getting tighter and tighter every tour. Osaka was an amazing night. Great to be back in Japan.
The next day we was my first trip on the bullet train. Very exciting. There were many there to say goodbye to us in Osaka and many there to greet us in Tokyo. The Japanese fans are great. Some had shirts made, some had Kit Kat candy bars made of us. What a trip. So cool. I may have to get an extra suitcase to get all of this awesome stuff home!
On the bullet train we got to see Mt Fuji which was a real trip. Like I said, I came from a little town in the middle of Canada. Getting to see Mt Fuji is something I never expected in this life. I’m a lucky, lucky man.
The next night we played Shinkiba Studio Coast in Tokyo, Japan. All three new songs remained in the set as we want to get comfortable playing them in a live setting. I think these three are highlights at the moment. The whole audience sings The Dissident every night. That night was incredible and so much fun to get to say hi to friends after.
The next day the Conspirators roamed the streets of Tokyo on our day off. We took the train to Harajuku and shopped to our hearts’ delight. I picked up a jacket at a cool punk rock shop called Jim Sinn. Kinda like Trash And Vaudeville East. Very far East! We stopped at Airs video store and I picked up a bunch of awesome bootleg videos of the New York Dolls, Michael Monroe, Wildhearts and a Motley show from Montreal, Canada in 1984. I love watching these kinds of shows. They are so inspiring. Before the internet these were especially hot commodities. Now bootlegging is the norm, really.
Then it was back to work the next day but still in the great city of Tokyo. This time at Tsutaya O-East. On this night The Dissident was the only one of the new three to stay in the set but we did break out Welcome To The Jungle in a long time. Slash likes to keep things fresh night for night knowing that in a country like Japan a lot of people are traveling to all the shows. Pulling Jungle out of the air was a lot of fun. I get to sing that song and it always tears the roof off the place.
I was sad to leave Japan. The people there are always so good to us. We have come to make great friends there and they have gone out of their way to make us feel more than at home. Thank you to all who came and shared their time with us. The honor is all ours.
The following day was Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th and we were about to board a Malaysian Air flight. Wait a second! Didn’t they lose a plane or something? The only thing crazier would be boarding an Oceanic flight over the Bermuda Triangle on Friday the 13th. Regardless we reached Kuala Lumpur safe and sound. No problems there at all other than the flight being seven hours long. Ugh. 13 hours from LA to Korea then another 90 minutes to Osaka, hang for a few days then 7 hours to Kuala Lumpur then 10 hours to Auckland, New Zealand. Whew! Tell me to shut up. There is nothing bad about any of that. Especially when the destination is somewhere as awesome as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur is exotically beautiful. Those who know me know I’m what Jim Gaffigan would call ‘indoorsy’. This remains true even in places like Kuala Lumpur but that doesn’t mean for a second that I don’t appreciate its beauty. We stayed at the lovely Sunway Resort which has an amazing water park which was absolutely not enjoyed by yours truly though it looked like it might have been a great deal of fun. We wandered a mall taking in all the crazy sights that an asian mall has to offer. It was gigantic and had all the craziest amenities imaginable. I would need 5 new suitcases were I to buy all the things I wanted only to bring them home to prove they exist.
The show was outdoors in the punishing heat and humidity. The crowd was amazing and never seemed affected by any of the oppressiveness of the air around them. We were drenched with sweat from song one as if we’d jumped fully clothed into the adjacent water park. All good Rock N Roll should be sweaty says I.
Again The Dissident was the only remaining new song in the set to make room for such numbers as 30 Years To Life or Wicked Stone. We are currently playing 14 of the 17 songs live from World On Fire. The only three we haven’t played live yet are Iris Of The Storm, Safari Inn and The Unholy all of which I assure you will find their way into the set before the end of 2015. Slash is one of the only heritage artists with the balls to play every song from his latest album live. Most play the new single then cherry pick all the hits. Slash expects our audience to be invested in the ENTIRE catalog and I think that is extremely courageous. One of the many things I respect about the man.
The Kuala Lumpur show was intense. Hot, sweaty and heavy. I had a blast though I always have a blast. I missed Kuala Lumpur the first time because I was laid up, or more laid down, with a detached retina. I’m very happy I got to see it this time. I look forward to returning one day.
With that we found ourselves on a plane to Auckland, New Zealand. Every time I’m in New Zealand I want to go to the sights from the Lord Of The Rings movies but there simply isn’t enough time. It’s a bit of a bummer. It would be so awesome to see. One of these times hopefully!
So after a day of sight seeing a bit I sit in my room a tap tap tapping on my lap top for you. Speaking of which I am finally starting to formulate the release of two books coming later this year and early next. Volume one will be 2010-2013 and Volume two will be 2013-2016. They will be comprised of blogs since the very beginning of my time here with Brother Slash. It should be noted that as of next month Slash and I will have been playing together for five years. Slash, Myles, Fitz and I as a cohesive unit for five whole years. That’s a long time. By the time we come off the World On Fire Tour that will be close to six years. SIX YEARS! That’s mental.
So I’m going through old blogs enjoying the ride as much as if I hadn’t written them myself. A lot has happened in all that time. Detached retinas, gold records, losing friends, recording Apocalyptic Love as well as World On Fire, releasing my solo album, Borrowing Trouble along with it’s sister EP, Near Life Experience and the list goes on and on. When I started writing these I had no intention of doing much with them. Just ‘The Ramblings Of The Mentally Ill’ I called them. Now I’d like to compile as much as I can with rare pictures and memorabilia from the tours and recording sessions etc to share with all of you.
It’s working title is Todd Dammit’s DIARY OF A DAM MAN (see how clever that is? It’s like Diary Of A Mad Man except Mad is backwards) Volume I:2010-2013 and Volume II:2013-2016. I’m excited about that. Gonna try and have the first one ready by Christmas. We’ll see. God knows I’ve been trying to get this off the ground for years. This will probably be handled as a campaign with Pledge Music so you guys can be as involved as possible. We are going to be looking for pictures of yourselves with me and in your Dammit wear. Stay tuned.
Speaking of Dammitwear we are co-releasing a very limited run of the one of a kind Bat-Dammit-Devil In You shirt you have seen me wear courtesy of a partnership with Agent Royale on March 4th 2015. I will keep you posted on all the links etc as that gets closer. Exciting times on Planet Dammit.
Also coming soon is the first line of DaRnit wear. My friends always tell me that they wanna give their kids Dammit shirts but their kids can’t wear them to school so the DaRnit line was born. We are starting with baby onesies. These things always start as a laugh and then the next thing you know they are real. Life is so fun that way. Down the line there will be bigger children’s DaRnit shirts available. We figured we should start at the beginning.
Also coming in 2015 will be the rerelease of my 2004 solo album Go Time! with unreleased material from those recording sessions over ten years ago including an awesome cover of the Billy Squire song The Stroke. Probably this summer GO TIME! COMPLETE will be released with a CD Rerelease party at Count’s Vamp’d. Still in the formative stages. I’m super excited about that. Stay tuned for all this information.
2015 is shaping up to be an amazing year. I hope you all can find some inspiration in all of these crazy things I get myself wrapped up in. I figure I only get one go round and I wanna do as much as possible. I envy the Hindu. They get multiple go rounds.
Alright, my pretties. Thanks for being there for me, for us. Thank you for the votes. Thank you for your voices, ears and eyes. New Zealand, Australia, South America-see you very soon! The rest of the world we are coming! Be prepared!
Your loyal and humble servant,