dinsdag 25 mei 2010

The Fat Lady Sang

Wow, here I am at home, looking back at an amazing tour with awesome music and incredible people. The last show in Manchester was just great! The guys were playing like it was the last gig of their life...

The Merch boot was very busy and I think I sold almost every shirt I had. The orange ones were sold out very quickly, the black album cover shirts as well, and the shirts with the faces in all sizes except S.

In retrospect my extra order was perfect. I am so glad to have sold almost everything. Selling out is nice, as long as it is the last gig of the tour ;) And apart from that I also found the time to make some onstage footage of Mike teaching the audience the Family Guy theme, the Boba Fett moment and the Stranger in Your Soul mayhem! Hopefully it will be featured on the upcoming dvd!

After the show it felt so unreal: the tour was over! No more getting out of bed at 11.00u / 12.00u, watching movies until 5.00u in the morning, after-gig-food, closing every day with 3,5 hours of great progrock, etc. etc. So many inside jokes we used can not be used again ;) well, not soon...

After the gig we were all summoned on stage by Mike, I happened to be filming anyway so I filmed everyone of the crew (except Sebastian who manned the merch stand on his own! Preventing all leftovers to be stolen haha, a true hero!) getting on stage receiving cheers and applause from the great Manchester audience...

Daniel took care of filming me as well (that's why he has the camera on the picture above) and I also took some shots later of the two front rows. Awesome ending of an awesome show! He later gave me his new album and signed it for me. It is a great album by the way! Very different than what I expected, I think Daniel is a contemporary, proggy Jeff Buckley. Anyway check that album out: Pain of Salvation: Road Salt One.

After the show we all got into the bus (very crowded) and drove to the hotel where most of the guys left the bus. There we said goodbye, hugged and wished each other well... kind of like a family. Actually it is really special to be working with 15 guys, AND living with them, without EVER having a discussion or fight... just to show that these are very nice guys!

After the hotel only Jens, Marillion's light guy, Pete, Collin, Max and me were left. So we drove to Marillion's studio where we dropped off Pete, I slept for two hours, then drove to London to drop off Jens, I stayed awake with him, then we drove to the ferry in Dover, I slept until we were at the ferry, then we drove to Ede and I slept until we were 30 minutes away. So that was quite a night, 3 shifts of a couple of hours sleep...

but today is tuesday, I'm at work, back to Hoshino where I do sales and marketing for TAMA, Ibanez and some other music brands. I came to work to find out that one of our endorsers (Paul Grey, bass player for Slipknot) died this weekend which is very sad)

But yeah, the tour was great, and I was very surprised to find out that people all over europe were reading this blog. Just great, thanks for letting me know and thanks for all the compliments!

Or as they say: the show isn't over till the fat lady sings!

zaterdag 22 mei 2010

Last notes

So there I am, the last gig will be tonight in Manchester. Time flew by, somehow the first week felt pretty busy and then you keep thinking: wow we're gonna do this three weeks! But then suddenly the second week flies by and you're already in the last week. Oh well, that's probably very common... anyway I had a great time.

After last post the Swiss gig went very well, they made us very very good food (I have started to understand people that talk about food all the time :) so that compensated the fact that we had to use Swiss Francs! Argh! I am so glad we have the Euro now, imagine I would have to change currency in every country! That would be a nightmare.

After Switzerland we drove to Paris. Getting to the venue was pretty tough for Chris, our brilliant bus driver. Often we sit in the front part of the bus (1st floor) thinking like: "oh no! He's never gonna make this sharp bend/tight alley/low tunnel" but Chris always does. Driving to Paris we must have destroyed our antenna driving through a very low tunnel. Daniel and me were expecting to have a London-like tourist bus after entering that tunnel but we kept our roof which was nice... such a nasty thing to wake up without one, lol...

The venue in the capital of France never bothered to arrange an elevator so we had to get all our stuff (dont mind the merch, think about a huge drum hardware case or heavy Lesley organ) up 80 steps. And to make our day we had nasty showers, no dinner and one crew room that was constantly used for interviews.

Neal just told me that he never has interviews while touring solo, they probably are afraid Neal might talk about God, but now he's touring with TA they suddenly wanna talk to him. It's weird, ah well, they'll find out how Neal came up with this Whirlwind theme... lol

I went to see a little of the Champs Elysees together with Sebastian and we had a great time. It's just nice not to have to see anything but just being able to stroll around without any plans... or it's just us haha. The Audience in Paris was wonderful, very different from the much much calmer Lyon crowd.

Meanwhile our orange album cover shirts were completely sold out, just like to black album cover... so all we could sell were the shirts with the faces of the band members. We never sold as much as we did in Paris!

After getting all our stuff downstairs and making our way through some loyal fans that waited hours to get another glimpse of Neal, Roine, Pete or Mike we loaded up the bus and finally went to Holland. Hurrah!

I was in 013, Tilburg (Holland) right during the us leg of the TA tour cause I work for Hoshino Benelux which distributes Zildjian and Zildjian organized a Steve Gadd Clinic in 013. That was a great night and I got to drive with Steve on his tourbus from Feedback Rotterdam (a store where he did some signing) to 013 in Tilburg. So that compared with the awesome facilities of the venue made me really feel at home. I must say the highlight of the Tilburg gig was the shower haha... I felt reborn!

After being sold out for nearly three months it was no surprise that it was very very crowded during the concert. I met some friends right before the concert started and watched a bit of the show with them. Wilco, Elisa and Henk (from Neal's Dutch band) were also there so that was pretty cool. It felt like a match in your own stadium (or in Dutch: thuiswedstrijd) haha.

Then came the worst night of our tour: 2 hours of sleep, arriving at the border control in Calais, getting on the ferry (watching Anchorman as we waited) having very early breakfast and sleeping another two hours until we arrived at the venue in London. The Shephards Bush is a great looking venue but it has a sort of maze of halls... that compared with my lack of orientation made me walk around looking for the merch booth/dressing room all day long.

Somehow the venue didn't allow for us to sell merch, so we had to let two other people do that. Sounds like we had an easy day but trust me, it wasn't cheap. But I got to watch the first half of the concert from the first balcony having a great view. During the second half I was working with Todd and Sebastian on all kinds of merch administration. Earlier that day I went with Sebastian to see Picadilly Circus and just walk around a bit, the weather was unbritishly warm I can tell you!

And then... there we are in Manchester, I had a good night and a good shower so I feel able to talk to people again ;) Still I'm here in an empty crew room typing a blog, but that's just for you all!

The last gig must be special, I'm looking forward to any pranks and weird stuff. I heard the drum and guitar tech from Dream Theater (they both joined this tour as well) talk about that they actually did a whole scene from Star Wars at one of the ending gigs of a Dream Theater tour. Without the band knowing about it! haha, it should be on youtube!

allright, lets get the merch booth ready, for the last time!

thanks for all the feedback I got from you during the concerts, really cool to find out how many people are reading my blog!



dinsdag 18 mei 2010

Party in Milan

Ok, I love Milan!

We had our last day off 2 days ago in Milan. So after arriving with our mobile home bus we quickly got showered and put on our finest clothes to hit the Fashion City. Roine, Sebastian, Daniel and me headed to the center of town only to find out we were in another soccer city. When we went to Madrid the UEFA Cup final was just being won by Atletico Madrid, now Inter Milan just won the Championship of Italy, so more honking cars and banner waving fans all over the place. But we loved it. And apart from that the weather was a steady +21 celcius so that was great. Sebastian and me bought new sun glasses, Daniel got his Inter Milan shirt (I tried to get him to buy a Sneijder shirt but he bought the Eto'o one) and we found a great place to eat Indian!

We found out later that Neal, Todd and some more guys had dinner at the exact same place and left just half an hour before we arrived! Of all the restaurants in such a big city... How weird is that!?

The gig yesterday in Milan was just fantastic. I really thought The Whirlwind was very emotional. The music just grabbed me and I felt something special. Every time I almost got tears in my eyes, but then someone would come to my stand to ask how much the t-shirts cost... I still cannot stand people that go to buy merch during the concert! But well, that's just me...

I was thinking about a thing that Mike used to do during Dream Theater gigs: he would throw a stick to some guy backstage and that guy would throw it back and Mike would continue to play. Very cool to see, IF it actually works ;) Otherwise Mike pulls his sad face and everyone still thinks it's great.

Just 30 minutes after thinking about this (Duel With The Devil just ended) during the applause Mike looked around and saw me at the merch booth. He waved, I put two thumbs up and suddenly he threw a stick at me! It was a reasonable distance and somewhere halfway in the air the stick left the lit area so I could hardly see it... the stick flew right over my head and ended up behind me. Actually it got stuck in a barred window behind me, so I pulled it out and threw it back. The stick made a nice flight and ended up right in Mike's right hand. The crowd went nuts and then I realized how nasty it would have been if I messed up! But I didn't hurrah! It was great! I sure hope someone filmed it, I would love to see it back!

Ok, I'm gonna eat. We're in Pratteln, Switzerland now and I'm looking forward to the gig.

GOOD NEWS: I just had a phone call from the merch company: they are able to ship me more orange shirts to Tilburg. I AM SO GLAD!

zaterdag 15 mei 2010

Mission from Fett

During the recording sessions for The Whirlwind the guys from the band wrote a theme that they called Boba Fett because it reminded Mike of a sort of star wars tune. Since then he's been trying to get the theme on the album, but they never found a good spot for it. So now during the live tour they found a place near the end of The Whirlwind (at the end of Is It Really Happening) where they could give Boba Fett his place. I shot some nice footage of the band discussing where they should put it and playing it. That might end up on the live dvd I hope :)

I know Mike had a Ringo Starr figure on his drumkit last tour so I 'figured' that we should buy one as a surprise for Mike. When Todd, Sebastian and me had some time off in Barcelona (yesterday) we found a store with lots of Spawn miniatures so I asked if they had a Boba Fett. And guess what? They had a Bubble Head Boba Fett! It looks very funny with its over sized head and it is really perfect. As you can imagine Mike was very happy with it and he points happily to his Boba every time the theme gets played.

Barcelona was wonderful by the way. I went with Todd, Roine, Sebastian and Daniel and we had lots of fun in the beautiful centre, walking on Las Ramblas towards the harbor. I have to come back there!

Now the show is on in Lyon, and it's just too quiet at the merch booth... yesterday in Barcelona we sold lots of orange shirts again so now we are kind of out of those things! :( I had some phone calls with the printer but it's such a colorful design that they need the big printing machine for it and that thing broke down so they have delays and cannot get me the shirts before Tilburg... but I need those shirts there in large quantities! Dutch people love orange, especially this summer with the soccer championships. But well, they'll have to buy black I guess...

tomorrow we have a day off in Milan, where we get to a nice hotel. We check in in the morning so we have one more night in the bus and then a comfy hotel bed :)

vrijdag 14 mei 2010

The Road to Madrid

(may 11, 2010)

Last night after the excellent gig in Luxembourg we started our big drive to Madrid. Since the third driver needed a bed and the first driver asked me if he could sleep in my bed I've been sleeping in another bunk. A normal one where I can absolutely not stretch my legs. Man that's such a drag. So I didn't sleep really well...

now we just started driving again after a dinner break at the Autogrill in Spain. I think we just passed the Spanish border so we should be somewhere near San Sebastian. When we entered the Autogrill we looked around at the dinner options but we were all really disappointed with the (lack of) options. Most stuff was already lying there for ages so we didn't dare to try all of it. To make things worse their frying pan broke down so we couldn't even order the safe fries (patatas). I ended up with a sort of barbecue sandwich and joined Pete and Daniel at a nice seat near the window where we could see the starting Spanish hillside and I think we could see a little part of the ocean. Really nice. Daniel bought a steak for 13,50... euro! That's like 50 dollar (I keep bullying Todd with his currency / US dollars, especially since he still calls all prices in “dollar” or “bucks”). Still it tasted not very well considering the amount of steak Daniel still had left when we went on our way.

By now I have already watched three movies last night and this morning: Burn After Reading, Dark Matter (if that is what it's called) and Bad Boys 2. I must say I enjoyed the last one the best, it's just what you can expect from it. Burn After Reading is really weird and not very funny, exciting or anything else. Then it suddenly is over and you realized you've just wasted 2 hours of your life, haha... ah well... I was wasted yesterday anyway.

Collin, Neal, Rich and Todd have gone by plane to Spain so the bus is a little emptier, which is nice. We are missing Collin so it's a big disorganized bunch... haha, well, not really, Max is taking Collin's place so he tells us when we should get back in the bus and stuff like that. Being a tour manager is probably not easy (as you can read on: http://blog.collinleijenaar.com).

Now I think I'm gonna try and get some sleep so I can wake up in Madrid and enjoy this only night in a hotel! I heard Collin say it's gonna be a five star hotel so that's pretty sweet. I hope I can get free internet and upload this blog.

--- a little while later ---
(image a deep sounding male voice narrating the next text)

While our friends from Transatlantic continued their travel they forgot something important. Someone actually. At the last stop you could buy all kinds of stuff at the store that was with the Autogrill. That's not a problem ofcourse, after legally buying the stuff he wanted one of our friends heard the alarm at the exit still going off. The people from the store fixed it and our friend could continue. Only to find out that he was later than the agreed time of 18.30 so the bus had just left! Max, the interim tour manager, did a head count and such but somehow one person was forgotten. To make things more painful: our friends only realized this after continuing their drive to Madrid for another hour and a half. Commotion all over, as one could expect. After calling his wife, who called the wife of Roine who called Collin, Collin called Max who told the group: “we left Daniel at the last stop!”

(end of narrating voice)

So yeah that was kind of something. We all exchanged our wisdom of how things should have gone: we should have done a real head count, if Collin was with us this wouldn't have happened, if the alarm didn't went off about Daniel's newly bought stuff, if he would have brought his cell phone, etc. Truth is these things happen. “All you can do is deal with it.” (Dream Theater - Repentance, at the end, you remember?) So the smartest thing to do was that Daniel would catch a cab and drive to our position, because if the tour bus would have to turn around, drive back to Daniel and then turn around again and drive to Madrid we would lose too much time. Also bus drivers these days are very strictly bound to a certain amount of hours they can drive. It's all being monitored so we might get stuck right before Madrid because our drivers didn't have any hours left and needed rest. Pete, Max and me decided it would be wise to watch another movie so we watched The Shawshank Redemption, 300, Shoot 'em Up and Daniel came to join us for the start of The Boondock Saints. Which we couldn't finish because we stopped at the MacDonalds in the middle of the night. It still was open, haha! So we went with like 8 guys to the MacDrive and ordered all kinds of stuff. The guy that helped us had pants with “I'm loving it” on it which Mike thought was very funny. Daniel liked his shirt better, though, on which it said: “Hamburger University”. After some English and Spanish we found out he wouldn't sell his shirt, unfortunately. So we drove the last hour to our hotel and thats where I am right now. In my room of the Westin Palace hotel in Madrid. It's a five star hotel and it looks really really nice.

Ok, I'm off to downtown with Sebastian (Roine's son)!

A Dios,


maandag 10 mei 2010

Hebrews weren't crazy!

Well I gotta say the 6 day workweek is a great idea. We've been on tour non-stop for 7 days and suddenly the entire crew is wasted today! Pff, I'm not really tired but just the incarnation of ineffectiveness. Despite all that the band is now playing The Whirlwind in the ROCKHALL in Luxembourg... it's like a small Heineken Music Hall in Luxembourg. Really really good sound and a very professional and nice venue.

Funny that people here speak like 4 languages: English, German, French and some say Luxembourgish... so I'm really practicing my European languages. Although when I suddenly say 25 in French to a French speaking person (I bet you are saying vingt cinq in your head now ;) they are confused... probably because of my sheer diversity, lol!

Tonight we're driving from Luxembourg to Madrid, Spain in one drive! We use three professional drivers who take shifts and drive us there in 22 hours. So tomorrow night I'll sleep in a nice hotel(!) in Madrid. Too bad my girl friend won't be there :( For the long drive Sebastian and me are already preparing a tight schedule of movies and Family Guy episodes to watch. This is gonna be fun!

More and more people come up to me and say: "Are you Ruben? I am following your blog!" Which is really cool! I'm glad you all read this! Actually all of you are reading this, that's a nice score ;)

A Dios!

zondag 9 mei 2010

Eau de Cologne

So with all merch set at my beatiful booth in Cologne it's time for me to get back to writing a blog.

We arrived in Berlin yesterday morning to find out the Columbia Club is actually very small... so small that Collin decided that Mike should have his kit in the normal fashion (kick drum facing the audience). Mike didn't really like this so in the intermission (after a fabulous version of The Whirlwind) the crew changed it all back to the 'normal' Transatlantic setup which is with the drumkit right at the front with Mike's left side facing the audience (ah well, check the pictures)...

The funny thing with doing the same show over and over is that even I can make the same jokes over and over again... like when people ask me if they can buy something after the concert I say: "yes or during the break, after the first song" real fans will understand, lol, others don't really get it, but wel... they will...

(break because the doors in Cologne open and people are running to the stage to get their position right in front of Neal, Mike or Roine... Most of them have been waiting for hours and hours already, now they'll stand here for more than 3 hours listening to the world's best prog.

I just met a lot of friends here, it's awesome. Javier from Spain, which I will meet in his hometown was here so I left my business just to give him a hug, he's such a nice guy, just out of this world! And some friends from Germany and Holland. It's kind of a mix between Dutch and German fans here since Cologne is just 2 hours from the Dutch border.

I just remembered this moving story Daniel Gildenlow told me when we were driving to Berlin (somewhere around 2.00 or 3.00 in the middle of the night we tend to meet in the tour bus, lol). Anyway he said when he walked out of the venue to the tourbus in Poland a girl followed him and held a small speech in Swedish. Actually she learned Swedish for two years just to be able to thank him for his music. Which saved her life, she said. I guess by listening to Pain of Salvation (Daniel's band) she didn't commit suicide. Daniel was very touched by it but he just didn't know what to answer her... which I can completely understand, what should you say? "wow, eh thank you, I guess" anyway that's just another story to show how powerful music can be to some people.

May 9
I just got at the last venue of our tour in Germany: Longhorn in Stuttgart. We were greeted by some happy guys from the venue who waved around beer and yelled: Zaufen! Which means like 'to drink a little more than one should'. My translation proved right as one of the guys who planned to clean the stairs or something fell down them (they only had 5 steps) and lost all his cleaning water. "I am wet. I go take shower" were his eloquent words. Anyway I got behind my laptop and just wanted to report my shortest night of this tour: I went to bed at 6 am and slept till 9.30 am. And I even feel rested haha. Daniel, Rich, Jerry and me watched Fight Club which we started around 3 I guess but it lasted forever man! That movie takes long. But we were bound to Fight Club rule 1: You never quit before the end. So we didn't...

Ok I gotta go set up my merch booth :)


donderdag 6 mei 2010

The Road To Poland

So there we are in Poland... we were warned that the roads in Poland can be pretty bad. I should have noticed since we always drive at night to the next place. So last night I guess we drove to Poland but I didn't notice anything :) Maybe because I was with Neal and Rich till very late while they were singing songs with Neal on his new baby guitar he bought for like 30 euro. Perfect for on the road!

This morning I was woken by Collin saying: “I need you downstairs, now!” So after realizing where, who and why I was I put on some clothes (Mirjam please dont think they were the same ones I wore last day) who just happened to be near my bed and rushed downstairs, got out of the bus and stepped into Poland. And, as you can expect, a dozen Polish people stared at me, and at my crazy hair. Hopefully the 'just-out-of-bed-look' has just gained popularity in Poland.

After loading out all the merch and setting up with Todd, Max and Sebastian (Roine's son) we had a very good dinner. They had some pasta with spinach and something like french cheese (brie) which I am now officially fan of, haha, do they sell t-shirts with that on it?

When the doors opened our merch booth was crowded straight away and it's funny to see the difference between German and Polish people... Polish people wait for their turn, speak a little or no English and are really really direct. It's so funny because compared to Americans we Dutch dudes are very direct but luckily Polish people are worse, haha, but I love it. Where in the states I would say (would cause I didn't go, aargh!) “hello, how can I help you?” but here I just nod my head or say: “WHAT?” and they tell me: “eh, t-shirt!” so I ask: “Which one?” and they point it out. Very masculine and very effective haha

So I'm typing during the first half of the concert again and it's almost over so I better organize my table and Zloty (Polish money)... I'll be back!

woensdag 5 mei 2010

Beat the street

Well I finally have some time off! Hurrah... I'm sitting in Hamburg in the 'Markthalle' a pretty nice venue which can hold like 1200 people and it seems its almost sold out, which you can clearly experience by the temperature! Man these Germans are steaming haha...

Sales go really well and as expected we sell a lot of orange shirts. Which, especially today, makes me really proud because it's liberation day in Holland. Then we all wear orange as a reference to our royal family which family name is 'van Oranje'. Anyway, my job is to sell so that's what I'm doing :)

Life on the road is just great. I love the dynamic of it... one moment you're folding t-shirts in the sun, one moment you're trying to figure out exactly what food the venue has provided (today there was the best Broccoli and Pees I have ever had! No, seriously how do they do that... I mean after all it's still vegetables... anyway) and one other moment you get caught in your underwear by Mike Portnoy while you're trying to sqeeze yourself in your tiny bed, which is at floor level: "haha fancy seeing you in your underwear". I didn't tell him it was actually a very trendy Zeeman boxer I got from my girlfriend! I also didn't tell him she once gave me a sleeve for my pillow (how in the world should I know the english term for that?) with a romantic poem and pink hearts... (hey it's all I got to remember her)... naaa! I won't tell anybody.

Well the first part of the concert is nearly over and during the break people are dying to get a Transatlantic shirt or cd so I better be ready!

stay classy! (anchorman reference ;)