Trying to make sense of it all…

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We all have our road to ride or walk… Sometimes the road comes to a dead stop… Sometimes the ride does…

Kind of life affirming to get out on the bike Monday and do some miles in the Canadian wilds of the Jasper National Park. Was a little difficult to appreciate the good stuff – the views – nature – the clean air – the conscientious drivers even on a major cross country highway… Walking out under a star studded sky that night next to a salmon river it was still difficult to take it all in…

Coming upto the anniversary of the very unexpected death of one of my best friends… Bad enough… Bolt out of the blue with an unknown health issue striking… Then to find out another friend apparently committed suicide Saturday was a real shocker…

I guess I don’t have friends like a lot of other people… I work away from home a lot and don’t have many people that I regularly see week in week out, but I’m blessed in having met a lot of great people in my time and travels who I count as friends and who I can pick up with even after years in between and just be instantly comfortable with…

To lose one of those so suddenly is shocking. To lose him to his inner demons – that’s hard. Such a great guy, always a pleasure to work with and even more to hang with. Left struggling trying to understand… One of his ex’s posted she had tried to help and fix him but failed – Maybe we aren’t meant to fix or understand – but that doesn’t seem right…

I don’t have many pictures or claims of an undying friendship just the fact that you were always great company and a lovely genuine human being who I loved to work with and who was always a pleasure to bump into and shoot the breeze with. Banging on about music. Analysing culture. Hating the obscenity of the political fiasco – “thatchers bloody Britain”… I’m sorry that all the people who thought so much of you and valued your friendship so much couldn’t help defeat the demons… I’ve had dark days… Can’t begin to imagine the pain and despair you must have felt…

 RIP Fish… You are missed by all of us already… Gutted…

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Got to love the jet lag… Or not….

Have been really lax doing these occasional blogs… So guess this piccie taken last night as I wandered around in the middle of the night is quite apt…

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It’s been year’s since I have flown on one but my flight from Heathrow to Phoenix was on an iconic 747. Even better, after deciding to pay to upgrade my flight, I then got an email that as “a valued customer” I’d been bounced up another class again. Brilliant – nothing like a bed when you are on a 10+ hour flight… Actually managed a little sleep though still struggling with the jet lag two days later…

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Was wandering back to the hotel at LAX were I’m waiting with the bus for the band and crew to fly in and a British Airways Airbus 380 came in – those things are just too big! And I think the 747 still looks cooler!

Missed the Eurofighter that was scrambled to escort a passenger jet into Manchester airport a few weeks ago – I live just off the flight path there. But seen some pretty cool planes recently – highlight probably being the family trip to the RAF Cosford airshow – especially taken by all the Sepecat Jaguars parked around the site – that was a cool aircraft – and here’s a very funky paint job! Could be a model building project there…

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It’s been a rough couple of weeks – some wacky health issue that the medical bods haven’t nailed down yet, though sure they will soon enough. Seems like I’m not getting all my energy and vitamins which is leaving me a little tired. On the plus side it’s helped me get my weight down!

Managed to do a fair bit of bike riding in the last couple of months while the weather was so good and been involved in some pretty physical jobs working as a site electrician or backline tech were the weather wasn’t so nice! Saw some lovely areas like the Lake District…

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Saw some childish sights that amused me…

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And got to watch one of my drumming heroes from stage… The mighty Clem Burke from Blondie…

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And as always one of the highlights of the year was Infest. Really good edition with a great vibe and as always some stunning performances… But was thrilled to meet another of my drumming heroes… The one and only Budgie from Siouxsie and the Banshees…

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What an absolute sweet heart… Though having watched him play I really will have to burn my drum sticks and stop pretending to be a drummer!

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Not a bad way to start the day….

IMG_0646After the usual hectic South American schedule with flights, shows and very little sleep was nice to get up early and wander down Copacabana Beach in Rio De Janeiro after our last show down here. Pretty cool way to start the day… Managed to hang out for an hour or so before I headed back to the hotel…

Just happened to check on flight status and found ours had been cancelled…. So straight back into full on  TM mode to reorganise flights, get hotels for an extra night and arrange transport for tomorrow night. Kind of shot the stress levels right back up after the chilled beach wander! Maybe I should go for a job like this instead – could be fun!!!

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Been some good shows with some crazy kids and lots and lots of steak and booze – mainly Caparinas but made a good effort at the Margharitas as well…

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And been some classic South American moments. Was on my bed reading in Mexico City when I realised the whole room was rocking… 6.6 earthquake… Couldn’t be bothered running downstairs so just lay there being rocked about… Kind of odd…

Maybe not so odd but on the drive to Mexico City airport apparently our driver took the wrong lane and was pulled by the police. Apparently they wanted to take the van and everyone down to the station… Our promoter persuaded them against that but there then followed a bizarre drive down some dodgy side streets before a bit of “business” and we were off again…

Flying down here kind of interesting …. According to staff Sao Paulo airport doesn’t believe in having accurate information on its notice boards… Could have gone badly wrong with wrong times and gates listed!

But flying tends to feel a little more relaxed down here – probably partly due to the fact that they don’t stress everyone out at security by making them strip to the bare minimum and freaking about any little bottle of liquid! Or maybe everyone is well behaved as they have been so confused by the signage – seen on an airport train in Mexico City – finest gibberish English!

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Made the most of our extra day by going upto see the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)… Quiet impressive and lovely views…

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And on that note Im going to pop out to the beach for a last paddle before heading over to the airport and back into the states for the last couple of weeks of this run….

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‘Jaws’…

…ruined the ocean for me! I remember reading the book and watching it as a kid. I was never too comfortable in big or deep water anyway but that was the nail in the coffin. Love being by the sea – can spend hours just listening to the waves (as I’m doing right now as I scribble this down on my hotel balcony in Cocoa Beach, FL) but being in it freaks me out. Can paddle up to knee height but thats about it and if anything unexpected brushes against my leg or feet I am convinced its something out to get me! This wasn’t helped by my trip to Australia a few years ago as down there there are a huge number of things ready to get you!

Anyway yesterday took my life in my hands and went paddling which was extremely pleasant especially after a pretty good two hour bike ride. So hot it was literally breath taking – but I do enjoy the heat and makes a nice change to go out on the bike with just shorts and short sleeves and not looking like the Michelin man – though working on my diet more might help that as well!

Total win on the hotel room here – balcony with an ocean view so finally get a night with the AC turned off and a fresh breeze blowing into the room – lovely. Even got the freshly laundered bedding from the bus drying out on the balcony – air dried in the warmth of a blowy summers evening – marvellous – shame I’ll have to put them back in the fetid atmosphere of the bus tomorrow!

Today was a great day – went to the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral with some of the gang – really interesting day – had no idea just how big the site is or how big the later rockets and space shuttle really where! Very interesting day and would recommend it to anyone who has the chance to go…

And the day finishing on a high as a pretty big storm has blown in and huge sheets and forks of lightning are illuminating the skies – very cool just sitting out on the balcony watching this awesomeness. But after a terrible nights sleep last night due to any number of interruptions (remember my comment about being a tour manager is a 24/7 job – certainly was last night!) I’m pretty much wiped out now, so going to try for an early night and then hopefully up early for a quick bike ride before we head off to our next show in Fort Lauderdale…

Still think ‘Jaws’ is an awesome film though!!!

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Notes from another car park…

I usually have mixed feeling’s about playing festival’s but todays trip into Tampa, FL has been a pretty cool day. We played early – the band had a great crowd and reception – caught up with some friends with other acts (Volbeat, Avenged Sevenfold and Nothing More) – catering was good – we even had a dressing room with a shower. Even had a TV so I spent most of the evening watching the Stanley Cup play offs. Funny watching the St Louis v Chicago game – I went to watch St Louis a couple of times years ago and thought their fans were some of the most apathetic I had ever experienced at any sporting event. That wasn’t the case tonight as they seemed to be in fine form… Until Chicago got the winning goal in overtime… Went a bit quiet then…

the gang headline usa spring 2014

Was a bit out of sorts yesterday on our day off in Savannah. Played Baltimore the night before and seemed like everyone decided to get into end of tour party mode. Was a great show and was the last show with that particular package of bands. However I couldn’t get past the fact we have another five weeks to go and I’m still in that mindset. 99% of the time really enjoy being out but it is a hard way to make a living – not the work in itself but the conditions – lack of sleep – poor diet – limited exercise opportunities – loud noise and being on call pretty much 24/7… When I do get to the end of a tour I need quite some time to decompress from the stress and hassles of life on the road so the idea of kicking back and partying didn’t seem like a good idea… Just as well I love my job!

And the last show silliness of three drum kits built into one huge daft monstrosity didn’t thrill me!

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Going home think I’m going to take a few days locked away – then again feel bad about missing the family holiday in Yorkshire this year due to this tour being extended so may well pop over to Liverpool  for Sunday Roast which is one of those meals I really miss when we are in the States. And will give me chance to play at being a good Uncle again by getting the nephews all worked up and then running away!

Haven’t done much riding in the last few days but did manage a little jog on the tread mill at the last day off hotel. As usual there wasn’t anywhere pleasant to run close to the hotel and hate running in built up areas – too much stopping and starting so the treadmill was better than nothing. Forgot to take my iPod in so put the TV on searching for some mind numbing visuals – ‘Pacific Rim’ fitted the bill – truly appalling film!

Not a good looking plane but still want to see it in action so I may have to try a new airshow this year…

http://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive/f35-lightning-ii-jet-to-make-maiden-british-flight-17042014

And in other news, what with the whole Ukrainian situation and other potential flash points around the globe, stories like this make me wonder if we are slipping back into another (hopefully in worst case scenario ) cold war…

http://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive/defending-the-air-25042014

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But on a lighter note – I know I occasionally overdo it but I don’t think I have ever been in quite this bad a state!

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27161833

After a big session I usually just have to check my phone and emails to make sure I didn’t say or write anything stupid – not check which city or country I’m in!

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King of the Hill…

…. I swear I have just lived through an episode! Easter Sunday and we stopped near our drivers home town in deepest darkest Indiana so he could see his wife and kids. We were all invited over for a BBQ and spent a very cool afternoon in the sun scoffing steak and burgers and a couple of brewski’s. Seemed like everyone from the neighbourhood was in the back yard and a couple of them were just like characters from King of the Hill – even had the propane grill! Great people and great afternoon…

Nice end to the day – did a lot of paperwork in the morning, got checked into our shower rooms early and managed to get a couple of hours on the bike. Only downer was puncturing a couple of times – but on the upside nice that people stopped to ask if I was ok.

We were in Madison, WI yesterday – really like that town. Definitely one of those places that I think I could happily live in. Was odd as had been chatting with some people earlier in the week about the pros and cons of the states – as with everywhere good and bad points  but Madison does seem like a very cool town – bike paths and cyclists everywhere, great downtown bar and restaurant scene – even found some proper cheese!

Travel day a couple of weeks ago – driving from Tucson AZ to Abilene TX and decided we should stop in Roswell NM to look for aliens and hang out… Didn’t make it to the museum as I was doing paperwork… Then went out and fully intended to leave after eating and two pints (of Alien Amber!)… However waitress totally misunderstood the request for “another round of wings” and brought out another round of drinks… Would be rude to return them them so had to drink them! Still was vaguely sensible and had a glass of water with each pint so left with a nice buzz but without the hangover!

On the other hand have realised that Nashville is very dangerous at least for me on days off! We have had two on his trip and both have ended in an incoherent drunken mess. Second time through we hooked up with an old friend from the UK who suggested we head to midtown instead of down town… Unfortunately first bar we hit was in middle of happy hour but that was ok as they had a great shandy on draft which was a bit cheaper. Second bar was in happy hour mode as well – but they did 2 4 1 which was a bit of a surprise… Things got a bit fuzzy very quickly… Don’t remember leaving the bar… staggering back to the hotel… or putting my laundry in the dryer back at the hotel… Perhaps time to tone it down a bit…

Main down side to that days activities was not making it out on the bike… Often a bit of a gamble riding on tour… Not managed too much this tour but done some nice (if short!) rides…

555 looking good!!!

Sacramento was great for riding – found a great path – being the weekend and sunny it was busy and enough ladies out riding or jogging to make it quite pleasant viewing. Managed to tag onto a chap on a time trial bike and hang on until he slowed down towards the end of his ride. Nice camaraderie amongst most bike riders – was touched that this guy was really concerned I had enough “fuel” to get back!

Provo UT on another travel day was a bit of a fail… had planned to do something called the “Alpine Loop”. Headed out in a light drizzle and in a totally rookie move didn’t dress correctly… As I headed up the canyon it got colder and colder and the rain got heavier and heavier until it was more like sleet. Once I had lost all feeling in my fingers and toes I decided I really should turn back… had to neck a boiling hot tea when I got back to the bus to try and thaw out a little… Pretty brutal day…

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Anaheim day off was kind of cool – got out on the Santa Ana River path (well they call it a river – whenever I have been there it’s a dried up storm channel!) which took me out to the coast and Long Beach… Rode all the way up Huntington Beach. Realised that the pier there is the one from the shoot out scene in “Falling Down” (great film), I think the storm channel (or Santa Ana river??!!) is where the truck and motor bike scene from “Terminator 2″ was shot (not a bad film) and that Angel Stadium that I passed at the start of the ride is featured in “Naked Gun” (very funny film!).

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Still not a fan of LA but generally whenever we do shows there the actual venues and staff are very very cool but I lose at least three days of my life for every one LA show – amazing how draining one show can be! We played at the “legendary” Roxy for the bands cd release party and was a pretty cool show – trying to get into the “legendary” Rainbow next door after the show wasn’t quite so cool!

Day off in Pensacola was really cool – got shower rooms in a hotel on the water front, could even BBQ in the hotel garden, had good friends come over to visit and best of all the weather was great…

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Met some great people on this trip and as the tour has been extended hoping to meet more! The addition of shows might be good for the bank balance (and the bands career!) but it means I’m going to miss the family holiday which was booked months ago… Was quite looking forward to that… Life just gets in the way sometimes!

Pointless bus conversations! What is the grimmest, darkest Vietnam war film? This started as we were watching “Full Metal Jacket” – we all agreed that we had missed the best bit – the first half which is deeply disturbing before we even get to any combat scenes! But then opinion was divided as to wether “Apocolypse Now” or “Platoon”  is the more messed up film!

However, they are all way better than “U571″ which I had the misfortune to watch a couple of days ago – what a total load of garbage… You want a classic Naval war film? Nothing will ever match the grimness of “The Cruel Sea” and film makers should learn to stop trying…

See some odd things on the road… This just looks wrong to me…

This just looks wrong to me!

 

This was kind of amusing… Having a military base in a Fort Humbug doesn’t sound right!

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This amused me as well and seems fitting on 20th April… Enjoy!!!

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Anyway… Need to pack up the office and hang around waiting for the 0600 bus call… The glamour just never ends…

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Best laid plans….

… travel day – driving from Tucson AZ to Abilene TX and decided we should stop in Roswell NM to look for aliens and hang out… Didn’t make it to the museum as I was doing paperwork… Then went out and fully intended to leave after eating and two pints (of Alien Amber!)… However waitress totally misunderstood the request for “another round of wings” and brought out another round of drinks… Would be rude to return them them so had to drink them! Still was vaguely sensible and had a glass of water with each pint so now I have a nice buzz but shouldn’t get the hangover!

Main down side to todays activities was not making it out on the bike… Often a bit of a gamble riding on tour… Not managed too much this tour but been pretty good so far…

Sacramento was great for riding – found a great path – being the weekend and sunny it was busy, but enough ladies out riding or jogging to make it quite pleasant viewing. Managed to tag onto a chap on a time trial bike and managed to hang on until he slowed down towards the end of his ride. Nice camaraderie amongst most bike riders – was touched that this guy was really concerned I had enough “fuel” to get back!

Provo UT on another travel day was a bit of a fail… had planned to do something called the “Alpine Loop”. Headed out in a light drizzle and in a totally rookie move didn’t dress correctly… As I headed up the canyon it got colder and colder and the rain got heavier and heavier until it was more like sleet. Once I had lost all feeling in my fingers and toes I decided I really should turn back… had to neck a boiling hot tea when I got back to the bus to try and thaw out a little… Pretty brutal day…

Anaheim day off was kind of cool – got out on the Santa Ana River path (well they call it a river – whenever I have been there it’s a dried up storm channel!) which took me out to the coast and Long Beach… Rode all the way up Huntington Beach. Realised that the pier there is the one from the shoot out scene in “Falling Down” (great film), I think the storm channel (or Santa Ana river??!!) is where the truck and motor bike scene from Terminator 2 was shot (not a bad film) and that Angel Stadium that I passed at the start of the ride is featured in Naked Gun (very funny film!).

Still not a fan of LA but generally whenever we do shows there the actual venues and staff are very very cool but I lose at least three days of my life for every one LA show – amazing how draining one show can be! We played at the “legendary” Roxy the other night and was a pretty cool show – trying to get into the “legendary” Rainbow next door after the show wasn’t quite so cool!

Met some great people on this trip and as the tour has been extended hoping to meet more! The addition of shows might be good for the bank balance (and the bands career!) but it means I’m going to miss the family holiday which was booked months ago… Was quite looking forward to that… Life just gets in the way sometimes!

Pointless bus conversations! What is the grimmest, darkest Vietnam war film? This started as we were watching “Full Metal Jacket” – we all agreed that we had missed the best bit – the first half which is deeply disturbing before we even get to any combat scenes! But then opinion was divided as to wether “Apocolypse Now” or “Platoon”  is the more messed up film!

However, they are all way better than “U571″ which I had the misfortune to watch a couple of days ago – what a total load of garbage… You want a classic Naval war film? Nothing will ever match the grimness of “The Cruel Sea” and film makers should learn to stop trying…

Anyway… Need to pack up the office and hang around waiting for the 0400 bus call… The glamour just never ends…

 

 

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