March 3rd 2015
Just survived 13 hours in the air from Sydney, Australia to Santiago, Chile. I really should have slept but the plane had an amazing selection of movies. I hosted my own Martin Scorsese retrospective Film Fest at my seat. Now it’s almost one am and I’m not acclimated to the new time zone so I shall put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) ’til the Sandman comes.
When last I left you we had landed in the mythical land of New Zealand. It doubles for Middle Earth on film which gives it a whole other level of wonderment. The entire trip went by without getting a chance to see any Tolkien points of interest. One of these days I must see Hobbiton. But not on this trip.
If only New Zealand weren’t on the absolute other side of the planet we would come over a lot more often. Coming to this part of the world makes hitting Asia, New Zealand AND Australia possible all in one stretch of dates. It really is a beautiful place. The people are extremely kind and love the rock and roll.
We did two shows in New Zealand. Hamilton and Wellington. Last time we did Christchurch and Auckland. Always cool to do new places. Hamilton was the last time we did Battleground from World On Fire live. It will make it’s way back into the set but the live festivals in Australia were slightly shorter sets so some songs sat on the bench.
The airports in New Zealand are loaded with Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit paraphernalia. The Peter Jackson/Tolkien franchise has become their calling card and I, for one, love it.
The shows were amazing. Can’t wait to go back.
A wrapped car to welcome us to Wellington
Wellington felt like San Diego. Beautiful, coastal city. In a country this beautiful no wonder everyone seems so happy all the time. If only we’d had more time to see your beautiful country. Next time!
Our sound engineer, Quake, had to be left behind for medical reasons which have turned out to be fine as he is with us now but at the time was disconcerting. Scary being in the hospital in a strange land even if it is as kind as New Zealand. Glad he’s better. Glad he’s back with us.
From New Zealand we made our way to the mighty Soundwave Festival in Australia featuring such bands as Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson, Smashing Pumpkins, Steel Panther and so on and so on. A crazy amount of bands over the span of several days crisscrossing the country. It has to be logistically challenging to pull off with that many bands when it comes to flights and hotels. I can’t imagine. Luckily all I do is show up and rock.
We have a long history with Australia. One of the first things we ever did was come to Melbourne to play an MTV launch of Slash’s solo album back in April of 2010. That’s almost five years ago for those of you keeping track. It has been an ongoing love affair ever since. Australia is extremely kind to us. They greet us at the airport and a lot of them follow from town to town kinda like the UK and European audiences do. Very cool.
First up was Melbourne which is one of the cities I’m most familiar with in Oz. While sitting backstage I was immediately made aware of how immense this particular traveling festival is when Rob Halford walked into our dressing room. The METAL GOD himself. What a trip. Myles and I both exchanged that ‘I’m 14 years old right now’ glance. You never really lose that awe of your heroes. Priest, and especially Rob, was and ever shall be a God among us.
Every day before we went on stage we got to watch Manson on the stage beside ours which was always a trip. I’ll hand it to Manson he never phones in a performance. It was hot and humid and he was out there in full leather and overcoat regalia. He must have been a dehydrated disaster after those performances.
It was always an absolute pleasure to play for the great people of Melbourne. A super sweaty and intense experience I can assure you. The Dissident is a single over in that neck of the woods and Bent To Fly preceded it. The new album is very well received and the audience singing along was proof of that.
On the flight from Melbourne to Adelaide the next day I got to witness one of the most entertaining sights ever. Myles Kennedy and Marilyn Manson sitting together on the plane. Side by side. Flight buddies. What any of us would have given to be a fly on that wall. Meeting of the minds. They should make a sitcom.
Adelaide is another stunning city. My ongoing joke is that I wanna get a place in each city we are in. While in Australia it’s no joke.
I got to know Twiggy Ramirez/Jeordie White from Manson a bit on the trip. I’ve always respected the man and all the work he’s done from Manson to NIN to A Perfect Circle. We caught up here and there during the festival. It’s a weird thing that festival vibe. You look over and see guys from Godsmack or Fall Out Boy all sitting in our little cliques. Very strange.
I ran into Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy at breakfast. Just a quick hello. He was a perfectly nice guy. It seems between Pete and Jeordie I was only talking to bass players. That wasn’t my intention.
I had breakfast with Michael Starr in Adelaide at Starbucks though I know him by his given/real/street name. His band, Steel Panther, is gigantic over there. I’ve known those guys for years from the Vegas scene and it is with great pride that I get to watch these guys take it to a whole other level. I wish I could tell you that I was having breakfast with Michael Starr at a strip club at 3 in the afternoon with a bunch of strippers but it wasn’t like that at all. Quite the opposite but I wouldn’t want to spoil your perception of those guys. They are all amazing guys and are a show not to be missed.
The Adelaide Soundwave show was incredible. Got to watch some more Manson before taking the stage. As we left in a sweaty heap we watched the Slipknot guys make their way to the stage in full jumpsuits and latex masks. Made me want to pass out just looking at that. It was THAT hot. I don’t know how they do it.
From Adelaide we did two ‘Sidewave’ shows with our pals, Steel Panther. During the Soundwave Festival some of the acts will put on their own ‘Sidewave’ shows independent of the festival. For these it was just Panther and us. The first one being in Sydney.
Panther were on fire as usual. Even their soundcheck is hysterical. Satchel is an amazing guitar player. He really nails all the right metal notes and flair.
We got to play our full two hour show which is always a pleasure. This show was indoors too so no fear of this homeless vampire bursting into flames.
Then we did the very same thing all over again back in Melbourne. Getting to play Melbourne twice was awesome. Panther, of course, were incredible. I was happy to get to spend a few days with those guys as the festival itself was so impossible have any sort of social interaction.
Got to see a bunch of the Butcher Babies on Soundwave though never their show. Just getting to say hi in passing. They came to our Melbourne side wave show and hung out side stage. Those guys are family.
This night was one of my favorites of the tour. We had so much fun that we broke out Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song for the encore which is always a treat.
The next day we were off to Brisbane. That morning I awoke at 5 am for no reason at all. Upon awaking I’d learned that Leonard Nimoy had passed away. I was aware he’d been taken to hospital with some kind of chest pains. It really knocked me for a loop. A few years back Fitz and I went to one of Leonard’s last speaking engagement. I was so happy I took that in. I could write a story twice as long as the one you are reading about Leonard and the effect he has had on my life but suffice it to say that his influence on me is as important as John Lennon, Gene Simmons or Joey Ramone.
I 100% believe in the ideal that Gene Roddenberry created. That in the future we will have gotten past all the foolish things that separate us-imaginary borders, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender issues, war, poverty, disease-and be one. I know many a cynic who will never believe we will achieve such a zion but I truly do. Not in my lifetime and maybe not in my children’s but I believe someday people will look back on us the way we all look back on slavery or the holocaust and wonder how we could have allowed that to happen. In a hundred years from now our reality will seem as antiquated as what a hundred years ago seems like to us now.
I love dark sci-fi about a dystopian future but I don’t really believe it. I believe that as time goes by we will grow more and more tolerant and the world will get smaller and smaller and all that divides us will fall away to unite us.
A lot of people would think I’m talking a bunch of hippy nonsense and that’s perfectly ok because I won’t be here in 100 years to prove or disprove it but my great great grandchildren will be and they will know. It is my hope anyway. I look at life with endless wonderment how could i not look at our future the same way?
Here is some wisdom from a prophet named Bill Hicks. He was a hyper intelligent comedian who died before he reached the mainstream but for those of us ‘in the know’ he was the man.
“Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace”
Now I don’t believe we are even close to ready for any of that but I believe it’s coming and when it does it is going to be by a united planet that is looking to be even further united. That’s my dream anyway. It’s easy to look at the world through eyes of subjective darkness. I choose to open mine wide with hope.
Leonard was part of that opening of my mind from the time I was a little boy. Maybe i wasn’t supposed to have read so far into the future presented to me on that show. Maybe it was just supposed to be a show about guys flying around banging green chicks. But it wasn’t. At least not for me.
Leonard lived long and he prospered. We should all be so lucky to have had a life full of such purpose and meaning and to have brought that much joy to so many people. I’m sad but thankful for the impact he has had on me.
Brisbane is another amazing Australian city. At the festival site they brought a bunch of local wildlife for us to check out. That’s one of our favorite things about getting to Brisbane is that they always bring the animals out. There was a baby crocodile and a plethora of snakes. As always Slash was happy to play with and handle the most venomous and dangerous of the lot. the man is fearless. I got to hang out with a very friendly and curious olive python who I never wanted to give back. She was beautiful.
The Brisbane show was another epic evening. I got to sing Welcome To The Jungle which was as intense as it always is. It is never lost on me how much of an honor it is to sing that song.
After the show we watched Slipknot side stage which is always insane. I don’t know how they do it. It is so hot and muggy doing the festival but those guys are out there in their full gear with fire tearing the place up. It’s mind boggling. Those guys have the most intense audience. It’s a bit of an education getting to watch those guys take it up a notch.
Then we were on our way to the final Soundwave festival show in Sydney. We had already been there with Steel Panther on a Sidewave show but now it was time to shut it all down.
I got to hang with Tyler Bates who is playing guitar for Manson at the moment. He produced the new Manson album, the Pale Emperor. Tyler is a renowned soundtrack guy for films like 300 and Guardians Of The Galaxy. He seemed surprised that i knew this but I’m that kind of attention to detail guy. It was great to get to talk to him. I’m a fan. Always good to make new friends.
The Sydney show was crazy because in the morning we were flying in from Brisbane. All the reports were that Sydney was the hottest day of the tour. Oh boy. But upon reaching Sydney it was ominously grey with foreboding cloud coverage. By the time we were in the van to the festival site the rain was pummeling down in giant sheets. Oh boy. The rain subsided a bit here and there but opened up during our show to great effect. Standing In The Sun refers to rain and Bent To Fly refers to a storm. These seemed all perfectly placed within context of the setting.
I got to bellow Welcome To The Jungle to the fine citizens of Sydney in the pissing rain which was good fun and then as quickly as it had begun it was over. It felt as though we had been in Australia for about a year and five minutes at the same time. Strange that.
Australia had been such an amazing experience. I saw more DAMMIT shirts than I had in a long time. I personally get a great deal of support down there. It’s heart warming.
Jacqui, Jaleel and Kath with the DAMMIT Australian flag. Jodie should be in there too! Flag by Jaleel
Speaking of DAMMIT shirts Agent Royale will be releasing their line of DAMMIT shirts march 4th. Keep an eye open for that. I’ve been wearing mine for a while now and everyone’s been asking where they can find one. Now you can!
All in all this has been an amazing trip. As this band turns 5 years old soon it is important to have returned to Australia to see how far we’ve come in that time. The band is bigger, better and stronger than ever and only continues to grow. 2015 is shaping up to be one of the most important of our lives.
Now here we are about to start a 4 week South American tour. While all the other Soundwave bands were making their way back to their cozy lives back home we were about to do another 4 weeks in the rowdiest, Rock N Roll corner of the world. This is gonna be awesome!
Well, it’s now 3am in Santiago so I should try and think about getting some form of shut eye. We are talking about going to see Ringo Starr’s All Star band tomorrow. That sounds super exciting. Count me IN!
Life is good. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
The biggest love to all o’ y’all
Your loyal and humble servant