Aaaaannnd…… they’re off again. It was like we had never left – like the eight months apart had never happened. I walked into the rehearsal room and there was our gear, set up in the familiar way, and our crew (welcome a couple of new faces to the team) tweaking settings, repairing cables, dialing in the monitors. Honestly, it felt like the next gig on last year’s tour! After a few hugs and hand shakes, I disappeared into Jimbo’s corner (Jimbo is my guitar tech) to go over what guitars I would bring on this short run of October dates, and what needed to be done. This time around, I have a few of the production models of my Gibson signature Les Paul coming out with me, along with some of my favorites from last years tour.
I have to admit I am like the proverbial pig rolling around in dark, smelly stuff, when it comes to equipment. I love to get everything as close to perfection as possible. Making lists of what guitars are in what tunings with what pickups, figuring out how to get the rack fx and switching system to be the most efficient. Tweaking the dials on the Marshall heads to get it just so. Even though this run is a short one, getting stuck into full band rehearsals is like a breath of fresh air to me. And that tells me I’m still ok to play rock and roll. I believe that the moment that joy, that burst of energy starts to disappear, you should start to rethink what you’re doing. Rock n roll is only authentic if you feel it – so how can you give a good show, sound good, transmit emotion, provide entertainment if you’re not excited to be there? I still get the rush so I figure I’m doing ok.
There’s a really good vibe between the members of this band – over the years I’ve been in many working outfits, as well as watching my friends and peers closely in their own bands. Very rarely does it happen that five or six individuals can work (and live) in such close proximity and still retain the amount of creative respect, work ethic and basic human decency that is required to play music for a living. But everyone in the room has these qualities in spades. It really is 50% of the job – being able to communicate, not taking things personally, going that extra mile to try ideas or help someone out with a part (or have the open mindedness to BE helped with a part!) and actually wanting to play it again. And again. What sets a song apart is the process of breaking it down and working on individual instruments, so that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. I love to work like this, and this band have that ability.
The songs sound great. A few moments of….’how the fuck does that bit go??’…. but other than that, the muscle memory kicks in, and the Billy Idol hits roll out of us with ease. We quickly start working up a couple of brand new tracks. And that’s where I really start to feel good. The two tracks we are working up were written by Billy, Steve and myself and to hear them come to life, morph and grow into fully fledged live tracks is just amazing. Derek throws in some awesome keyboard stuff, McG rolls the low end along nicely…… and having Jeremy provide real drums, with real fills, and real energy – the two tracks feel really good. So we turn to the winning Generation X song, Love Like Fire, (we ran a Twitter competition to choose which Gen X cut we’d add to the set) and also to an older Billy Idol track from the Rebel Yell album, Do Not Stand In The Shadows. Running all this new material fires us up.
All too soon, the rehearsals will have run their course, we’ll be tight, loud and rockin’ and we’ll set off up north for the first show. The bus will arrive at the rehearsal room and everyone will load up, pick the bunks, hide their stashes of power bars/granola/candy (hahaha!!!) and the next time we’ll see that is when it meets us at the airport up there. I’m excited to get out on the stage and do this, and happy that (for a little while at least) you guys can join in the fun with us all. You can expect a couple more diaries from me as we make our way through the West Coast shows – as always it’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to give you an inside look into the machine. A glimpse into our world while we’re out there. And the dubious pleasure of experiencing the occasionally whacky and weird way my brain works! Social observations and strange opinions usually sit right next to rock n roll in my brain – and that’s just the way I like it. As usual, all photographs are by our very own Charles Jischke and you can check out his site BY CLICKING HERE. See you at a show soon.