Thursday, June 30, 2011

Well.

I caught myself skimming over this thing this evening and realized that I haven't updated it in a good long while. There's much going on in the near future, let's get this thing back up and running.

-Mike

Friday, August 13, 2010

Asia


Lookin' all fly n' stuff in Singapore

After having a few days to decompress from the craziness that took place over the last two weeks, I still have a hard time believing it happened. It's strange to go "Oh yeah, that's right, I was playing in front of like 23 billion people in Tokyo the other night" and then sure enough, there it is on youtube. Before we left on this tour I had never been outside of the country, so needless to say I was kind of culture shocked a touch. And by a touch I mean I was in gawking tourist face mode at least 113% of the time.

I get to LAX in the afternoon and head into the international terminal to check my bag, with about a million butterflies in my stomach, as airport security is like my favorite thing in the world right next to SARS and the Twilight series. I get through security to the lounge, and here I find out two things:

1. Best Buy apparently makes giant vending machines.

*and more importantly*

2. Kanye West is somewhere in this lounge.

So pretty quick after I get there, Jeff, Nicole and Billy arrive, after being pretty well hassled by security, and I tell them Kanye is on our flight. This proves to be the most awkward/awesome thing ever, for a few reasons. The flight to Singapore is something to the tune of 19 hours, and every time I went back to the bathroom, I ended up walking past Kanye. I just got to thinking to myself, "This is probably the most hilariously undignified circumstance I could be repeatedly seeing a giant hip hop star in." Other than that, the flight was rather uneventful, a nice relaxing sleep before the craziness.

Nicole getting her first-class lounge on.

We arrive in singapore and the first thing I notice getting off the plane is that the windows are drenched in humid fog, which was just a sign of things to come. The minute we got outside the airport it was like I had stepped into sauna. Thankfully the car was like ten feet from the door, and we cruised to the hotel to catch a few hours of nap time before meeting up again to go explore. We stayed on the almost top floor of a hotel overlooking downtown Singapore, and it sort of struck me, at 6:00 A.M. from the terrace of my hotel room overlooking the city, just how ridiculously far I've come, and how truly blessed I am to do what I do. And that was even before we hit the stage.

Singapore

We decided to go out and do a little walking around a market area near the hotel, which was quite relaxing. We had lunch at this chicken rice place called Tian Tian, which is Anthony Bourdain certified good. Tasted delicious and costs next to nothing.

Tian Tian, Complete with whole chickens, head and all.


After delicious rice, we went through town looking for a decent place to get foot massages. That was kind of a trip. I have never had a massage before, let alone the crazy brand of pull-your-toe-out-of-socket deal they've got here, but it was fantastic.


Kat, Kristin and Billy having a super cool Blackberry party at the massage place.


This particular strip of tourist trap also had a couple of the best restaurant names I'd ever seen such as:
Da Dong Restaurant, Fatty Weng Group. Making it too easy.

and my personal favorite:

The Spicy Temptation Steamboat. Obviously.

Not a restaurant but still worth noting is the fact that apparently this is an issue in singapore:

DO NOT EAT. You're cool to eat the live octopus, but NO MOUSE PADS.

We get to Singfest our second day in Singapore, though Nicole, Kat and I had come the night earlier to see Lupe' Fiasco destroy the stage (which he did quite handily. When he played Kick Push I almost jump-kicked a guy.) My drum tech Brad was up on stage when we arrived, ready to get me situated. I got up on the drum riser and leaned over to him and said "I feel like I've got vertigo or something, is this riser crooked?" To which he responds "Nope, It's the whole stage." So we soundcheck on this funhouse stage, basically unable to hear anything and sweating our brains out. We wrap up and head to this rad aquarium called "Underwater World". Fun Fact: feeding manta rays is probably the fastest way to get self induced whiplash ever. Those suckers are quick, I almost jerked my shoulder out of socket when one cruised up and startled the hell out of me.

Me chillin' with a lobstery-looking critter (see bottom left).

Track forward to showtime, we hang out until midnight waiting to play, we finally get up there, and man, it was good. The crowd really hung in there, and we had an awesome time. It was still pretty darn near impossible to hear, but the fans kept the energy so high, you couldn't help but have a good time. Next stop was Tokyo.

So just to put it in perspective, this is how I imagine locals view the city of Tokyo:


This, however, is a little closer to our tourist viewpoint of Tokyo:


It was really overwhelming, the amount of amazing, totally insane culture there was to discover in Japan. Everything is extremely vibrant and colorful, and the people are wonderful. We had a few days to kick back and enjoy the city, which was excellent. Nicole and I visited a couple temples during the day, as well as the electronic district, which is super crazy, and the streets of Harijuku, which is possibly the most ridiculously overwhelming stretch of anything ever conceived. Plenty of excellent tourist gear there, I bought my dad a shirt that said "Smooth Trooper Lover's Yo Mama's Flapjacks", which last time I checked doesn't mean anything, at all. The one thing that I encountered everywhere I went was the unbelievable amount of politeness and respect shown to everyone, regardless of the situation. This of course, while amazing, can make for an interesting show experience, as was evidenced by Summer Sonic.

We got our first shot at Tokyo on the Mountain Stage in the Makuhari Messe in Chiba. Biggest crowd I've ever played bar none. It was unbelievable how many people were in this building, it looked like it went on forever. Which made it all the more interesting when, following their applause, they would be absolutely silent. It's a really ridiculous feeling to be sitting up in front of a giant crowd that isn't making any sound at all. That said, that show was one of my all time faves, I'm never going to forget how incredible it felt to walk off the stage after playing that show.

The next day we hopped the bullet train to Osaka, which was super awesome, I couldn't believe how quick we got moving. We drove from the station to the festival grounds, which were really beautiful. We hung out, ate some sushi, and warmed up until it was time to take the stage. Good show, a little weird hearing Jay-Z super loud during the entire set, but it was overall a cool show, even if we were choking on generator fumes for a large portion of it. We stayed a night in Osaka before jetting back over to Tokyo for two more shows at Studio Coast.

Studio Coast

The shows here were awesome, by the end of the show each night the band was on fire. At one point there was people coming over the barrier so fast and often, it was like a people waterfall. The energy was electric, the crowd was wild, and we had an absolute blast.

Stage view of the Studio Coast ceiling.

The crowd during Ling Toshite Sigure, our support for night 2

Brad and I getting our bro-faces on at soundcheck.

Following the show, we went to karaoke with Kat, Kristin, Nicole, and a few other friends, which initially, sounded like a terrible idea to me, but quickly became one of the most awesome moments of tour. We channeled our inner Zach De La Rocha and let our light shine down like never before. After that we returned to the hotel to rest up for our trip to Seoul.

Anything I thought I knew about humidity was quickly obliterated the minute we stepped in to Korea. We didn't do a terribly huge amount of exploring in Seoul, except for a really nice visit to a temple across the way.



Nicole getting all spiritual/rocking a sweet teal fanny pack.

After a few days of hanging out, we drove to the Jamsil Gymnasium for the show that evening. This show would very quickly become the most awesome experience of my entire life. The crowd was absolutely insane. They were loud, they jumped all over the place, they knew the words to every song and sang the entire time. It was explosive, rowdy, and the fans really came to have a great time. When we got back to the hotel after dinner a number of them were waiting for us, and they were all gracious and excited, it made us feel like champions. It was the perfect end to Asia. Our next stop is Mexico City tomorrow night, and then from there we come back for our west coast tour, which I am super excited for, I cant wait to see what it has in store for us.

I'll leave you this time with a picture of a sign I took in Tokyo of something we found that is 100% a real thing. A real, beautiful, totally hilarious thing. See you guys on the road. :)

-Mike



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wrapping up the first leg


Be Afraid.

We wrapped up the first leg of the tour 2 nights ago in Chicago, at what I can only say was
one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I don't have the proper words to describe
how incredible this last month has been. As I write this from my hotel in L.A., I'm basically
blind, deaf, exhausted and post heatstroke, but even still, it was awesome.

View from my bunk, featuring tour guru Janet.

After Forecastle, we headed to Baltimore to play The Ram's Head Live, which was one of the weirdest rooms I've ever played it, it's basically four balconies high. We tried to go up on the high balcony at one point during the show to watch Bad City, but we were turned away because we didn't have bracelets. We had our all access laminates, and were literally signing autographs in front of the security personnel, but because we didn't have paper bracelets, we couldn't get up. So that was kinda lame. The show was great, we could barely hear anything on stage, but the energy was great, and Baltimore is probably now one of my favorite cities. It was in Baltimore where Nicole and I went to "Paddle the Dragon." Namely, this dragon:


So that was cool. Next stop was Virginia. Yet another beautiful city. We stayed in the Jefferson Hotel, which is a beautiful place, and also pretty much the Haunted Mansion. The first thing you see in the lobby is a giant statue of Thomas Jefferson glaring. Thomas Jefferson is also surrounded by alligators. Extremely welcoming. Nicole and I went and walked through the VCU campus nearby and grabbed some delicious diner food before walking back to the hotel to swim and then go back out for Ethiopian food with the guys from Kill Hannah. The next day I walked the same way to pick up some Chipotle before heading to the NorVa, and I saw the most hilariously awesome thing in the park. I didn't have my camera which was really upsetting. I saw a big group of VCU kids LARPing. For those of you who don't know what that is, google it, and you'll know why I was so excited.

Fun fact about venues in Virginia: they apparently all have hot tubs in the dressing room. We got to the National and Kat and Nicole almost lost their minds. We thought having a pool table was pretty cool too. The NorVa was twice as crazy, we had our own basketball court and ping pong table, where I demolished this guy:

My awesome drum tech Brad, being bummed that I smoked him at Ping Pong.

Next stop was North and South Carolina. In North Carolina I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Ludwig drum factory in Monroe. It was mind melting, they still use 60's/70's machinery to make their drums, and the process is truly amazing to watch. Going step by step through the building of the shells to the finishing of the wood, it's more science, math and engineering than I could've imagined. That night we played the Fillmore in Charlotte, what a great crowd. It was an awesome, awesome show.

The next night was Charleston, I'd been excited about this stop on the tour for a while. We pulled into the club and as soon as we arrived we knew this place was gonna be a toasty one. It wasn't til I saw Kill Hannah's drummer paul wringing his shirt out behind the venue that I knew just how ridiculous it was gonna be. We played an awesome show, between slamming entire bottles of water in 30 second intervals just to keep it together. It was a great time, and Charleston is a beautiful place. The most exciting thing about our trip through Charleston, however, was this:

Friggin' Delicious.

Jeff had been prepping us the entire tour for our first visit to a Waffle House, and we were
all extremely excited. However, none of us were prepared for just how delicious these
waffles were going to be. To summarize, I was served incredible waffles by a guy with dreadlocks whose
name was, ironically, "Dread", and then went to sleep and woke up in Orlando. What a good night.

The Myth, The Man, The Legend: Jeff Schroeder, 3:00 A.M. Waffle Champion.

The Next day we arrived in Orlando, where we enjoyed a beautiful poolside cabana before going to Disneyworld for the day. We went to the Animal Kingdom during the day and the Magic Kingdom in the evening. I got absolutely soaked on the river ride at Animal Kingdom, it poured rain on top of the standard soaking, I looked pretty darn ridiculous.

Awesome, Wet Socks.

After our relaxing day in Disney, we played the House of Blues in Orlando, which was awesome. Bad City's vocalist Josh came down with something that screwed up his throat, but it didn't seem to phase him at all as they came out white hot as always. At soundcheck, a guy in the back yelled up to the stage in a heavy jersey-ish accent "HEY, WHO'S THE KID ON THE DRUMS?" Billy responded by telling them I was Vinnie Appice's son, and the guy freaked out and just started pacing and "NO WAY, NO WAY."

Our other two Florida shows were equally fantastic, it's just really generally relaxing in Florida. I mean how can you not be relaxed when this is the view from your hotel:

SO RELAXED!!!!!!!!

Hanging out with Bad City at Czar's in Tampa.

We spent a great day in Nashville, enjoying the shops and getting dinner at this nice little
restaurant near the hotel. Nicole and I went and saw Inception, which the guys from KH and BC
said was a total brain bender. Tip: when you're tour tired and jet lagged, it's about 400 times
harder to comprehend that movie. I had to go back to the hotel and watch a bunch of
Squidbillies just to calm my brain back down.

Nicole being a Cool Cat. GET IT?!?!?!?!?!? HA!

All the relaxation in the world, however, could not have prepared us for our show in Knoxville. Fun Fact: Knoxville looks nothing like you would assume, it actually looks a little more like this:

A temperate day in scenic Knoxville.

All jokes aside though, it was so damn hot none of us could believe we were going to try and play a show. There were a couple of moments I was about to just fall off the back of my throne and pass out. The A.C. in the venue was broken as well, so it was a sweatfest. That being said, easily one of the best audiences of the tour. We had an awesome time playing for you, and we were amazed how energetic you were in the heat. Kudos to you, Hellville, Tennessee.

We then drove to Pittsburgh, which was the longest drive of the whole tour. I got my ass kicked by the heat, and felt a little under the weather, so I went to sleep and woke up when we hit a truck stop outside pittsburgh. Coincidentally, it was also probably the set of deliverance. I was pleased when we drove far enough away to stop hearing banjos. (Speaking of Banjos, the picture at the top is from Gruhn's guitar shop in Nashville, amazing guitars.) I had no idea how pretty Pittsburgh is, though Kat's summary of the city cracked me up. She said it was "Muggy", but not the humid kind, more like the "get mugged" kind. We drove up to venue and soundchecked, and then Nicole and I found a Cupcake place that was open and I got my brownie on. The venue was really cool, it was an old converted church, had a cool, eery feeling to it.

The next day we rolled into New York City, which I was really excited about. I had a photo shoot that day for Drum! magazine, and then from there went to an amazing dinner at Blue Hill Restaurant with Kat, where she worked when she lived in NYC. The next day was busy busy busy as we drove from interview to interview, and then played one of the best shows of my life at Terminal 5. It was unreal! The crowd was fantastic and the bands played amazingly. The only bummer was that it was the last night with our amazing friends in Bad City. They lit the place up with one of the best shows that venue will ever see, they were on fire. Those guys are going to conquer the world, Nicole and I joked about how if they knew how totally crazy about those guys the whole band is, they'd be totally creeped out. If they come to your town, see them, it's an experience. We got back to the hotel and got about .000047 minutes of sleep before getting to the airport to travel to Chicago. We went to the studio to round up gear for the evening, and then drove over to the Metro.

What magical night. The crowd was amazing, the bands played great, and the cause was such a good one, it was fantastic that we got to help. I will never forget our 1979 singalong, it was one of the most vivid moments I've ever experienced, and a fantastic way to wrap up what has been an unreal month. We had such a great experience this whole month, it was sad that we had to part ways with our great friends in Kill Hannah, those guys are truly phenomenal human beings, and an amazing band to boot. All in all, what an amazing time.

I'll leave you guys with this video, we fly out to Singapore on Monday, cant wait to get this show back on the road!

-Mike

video

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wrapping up week 1



Playing Forecastle, easily the craziest thing ever.

So we've been on the road now for about a week, and I have to say I'm having the greatest time of my life. The crowd's have been unreal. I haven't actually ever seen crowd surfing, but every night, we were treated to the most rowdy, incredible audiences I've ever seen.

Grand Rapids was unreal. The crowd was going bonkers the whole show, apparently a couple guys got thrown out for pissing on people. I mean listen, I'm not condoning it, I'm just saying that if that's not rock n' roll, I don't know what is. It's electric, the feeling that comes from playing a show like that. A fan that came out that night had come to the show like a week after having brain surgery, it was amazing. From Grand Rapids we came back into Ohio for another night in Columbus, with yet another crazy crowd. It was wild!

Our dressing room in Columbus, Ohio

From there we left for Louisville for the Forecastle festival. I'd never been to Louisville
before, and I have to say it's easily one of the prettiest cities I've ever been to. Our hotel was
super cool, it was over a museum with a lot of cool art in the lobby (which at first was really
confusing, imagine you're jumping off a bus at three in the morning to get into your hotel and
instead you walk into an art museum). My favorite part was these guys:

There were a bunch of these little plastic penguins throughout the hotel, and you just moved them around wherever you wanted. Jeff ended up taking one into his room at one point. I thought it was hilarious. We also got a chance to go by the Louisville slugger museum and stand in front of the world's tallest baseball bat.


After meandering around Louisville for the day, we went to the waterfront for the festival. I was getting super antsy, this being my first festival and all. We got there in time to watch DEVO and catch a bit of We Were Promised Jetpacks before we had to come back to our dressing room. It was our Front of House guy's birthday, so we all had a cake and sang for him before the show, which calmed my nerves for a second. Then it was time to head out.


It was unreal, there were so many people you couldn't even see them all. It was a bit of a
weird adjustment because with no sound check, you don't know what you're going to hear when
you get out there. Between the lights, the shower of glowsticks and the paper lanterns flying in the air during
Tonight, Tonight, It was the most crazy, vivid moment of my entire musical life. We had an amazing
time, I was so amped up after the show I could barely sleep.

Now we're into our second week, I'll have more pics/audio from the tour soon!

-Mike

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cleveland



Me and Mr. Huxtable at the Ohio Airport

Hey guys. Sorry I haven't updated this sucker yet. I didn't get many pictures from yesterday's show at the House of Blues, but there will definitely be video and pictures from the road soon.

We landed in cleveland a few mornings ago, I'd never been to Ohio before, I had no idea how insanely humid it is out here. We rode from the airport out to the venue so we could do a little tech rehearsal and get some final things tuned and ready before our show the next day. Rehearsing under the lights is definitely a shock to the system, I could barely see my hands in front of my face sometimes.

We got there the next afternoon, got to meet the guys from Kill Hannah and Bad City (awesome guys, both bands) and rehearse a bit before we opened the doors to the sound check party, which went great. It's a nice way to warm up, and we really enjoyed getting the chance to play the new songs for people. We hung out a bit in the dressing rooms watching the world cup game until Bad City went on. To anyone who hasn't heard or seen this band play, do yourself a favor and check them out now. They were by far one of the tightest, truly rock n' roll bands I've ever had the privilege of seeing. After an awesome electro-rock set by Kill Hannah, we took the stage. It was really overwhelming initially, the amount of people in the room, my adrenaline went through the roof. I feel like we went out and played a pretty good set, I was having one of the best times I've ever had. A huge thanks to everyone who came out.

Things are going really well so far, we arrived Grand Rapids this morning. See everybody tomorrow night at the Orbit Room!

-Mike

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Blawhgh

Thought it would be cool to start a little blog. And so I did.

I'm gonna try and keep this thing updated with pics/video/other jazz from the tour, studio, etc.

Hope you dig it.

-Mike