Well, the first show of the tour is behind us, thankfully. But let me back up…
We have new band members, Robert and Johnny, and we have a bunch of new material as well… a few new covers and some new originals from a batch of new material that Mike and I are writing. And we have some new crew members, new stage gear, new lighting stuff…. lots of new new new!
There was quite a bit of preparation for this tour… two sets of rehearsals, one for a week and one about ten days long. We had to learn all the new material plus bring the new guys up to speed, but not only that, we wanted to revamp some of the older material and bring it into the new… hmmmm… direction? Attitude? Philosophy?
And all of that went very well. Johnny and Robert learned a LOT of songs! And we did a lot of arranging and figuring stuff out. There are a TON of lyrics I had to learn! And remember!
Anyway, our first night went very very well. It was a nerve-wracking day however. The first day of the tour will always have it’s glitches. With all of the technology we use, combined with having new crew members and new gear, well, needless to say things ran behind schedule. And as a result sound check started very late and we didn’t have much time. It was Johnny and Robert’s first time using in-ear monitors and it’s just time consuming to set those up.
With regular monitors, you really just fill in the sound that’s missing from your proximity on the stage. So normally I can hear the other instruments pretty well, so I just supplement the sound by adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And then a LOT of vocals.
But in-ears shut out the ambient sound of the room, pretty much completely, so that everything you need to hear has to be put into them. There are huge advantages to this, as you have total control over the overall volume. For vocals especially this is a great thing! I can hear pitch very well but more than that I can hear how much “grit” I’m putting into my vocal. I can control the tone of my voice to a very great degree. And the clarity of everything is improved greatly. I can hear all these nuances in peoples’ playing that would normally get lost in the mush.
But clarity is a double-edged sword especially for the guitar. Normally when I play, the amp is down by my legs and the sound blows right by me. And when I solo, I’ll even take a few steps away from the amp because I like to hear the guitar in the room.
But with the in-ears, it’s like my face is directly in front of my amp. I hear everything. Way. Too. Clearly.
Ah, I’m getting lost in the technical stuff. Back to reality.
The new material is awesome! It rocks in a way none of the other material ever has. And the new guys are very rhythmic players on top of being very attentive and responsive. The resulting sound is sparse, yet full. It breathes. The space between the notes becomes as important as the notes themselves. Time becomes amorphous yet the pulse throbs steadily.
On top of that, Craig has greatly expanded his pallet of sounds. Combine that with the sounds Robert gets, and Johnny also has an electronic pad for generating sounds…. Sometimes I can’t tell who’s making what sound! Not that it matters!
Ok, enough for today. Next time I’ll dig into the new material some more.