Monday, May 27, 2013

Squids Travels (back in time)

As you might have guessed I have been so busy with this past tour that my blogging has had to take a back seat! Ironic that it is called Squids Travels and yet there's nothing while I am actually traveling... at least not on this past tour of Europe with Sound of Contact! Although I did journal most of the experience so I am going through pictures and words now to share some of these adventures with you after the fact.

We'll start with the CD/tour launch party in London. 

First we did some interviews (including one with Rolling Stone Germany) and a photoshoot at Classic Rock Presents Prog. 

Then we made our way over to the Gibson Room where we performed an acoustic trio SOC set for our launch party with Inside Out Music, the record label we're on. Lots of press there, family and friends including some great musicians like Steve Rothery (Marillion), Elliot Randall (Steely Dan) and more. It was a lot of fun! We played our new video "Not Coming Down". Here's the video:

At the launch party we had an SOC crop circle cake! (something you don't see everyday)

It was nice catching up with Nick Davis who mixed "Dimemensionaut". Nick has produced and/or engineered Genesis, XTC, Marillion, It Bites and many other artists. I've known him for quite awhile now and he's always been really helpful and cool. With Simon and I producing the album and having a seasoned producer/engineer mix it we really had a nice "safety net" in case we went off the deep end. Haha. It was an honor working with Nick and it was great to see him at the launch party. He loved the music video and the live performance. 

Rothers. Not only is he a great guitarist and songwriter but he's someone who really loves music and cares about musicians and bands. Can't say enough good things about Steve Rothery from Marillion. 

Speaking of awesome people from Marillion, Lucy Jordache (Marillion's manager) is one of the coolest people ever. We met her for dinner in London to talk about some interesting topics let's just say. She loves Sound of Contact and our album "Dimensionaut". Both Lucy and her assistant Stephanie Bradley have been so kind and helpful. 

Here's Graham "No Problem" Collins (our tour manager/production coordinator) talking with Matt Dorsey of SOC. Below are some more pics from the launch party. 


So, after a bit of London fun we went back to the barn to head out on our first European tour as Sound of Contact. Since we're going back in time I can tell you that it was fantastic, awesome, educational, wild, crazy, musically inspiring and full of variety... but I can offer more details than that and will in upcoming "retrospective" blog posts... Squids Travels back in time!

All photos by Andy Wright (except the crappy iPhone ones... those are by me)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fresh Squids Traveling Shall Commence!

Well, I’m at it again! Some more traveling which means more blogging and more musical adventures. This time is different though. This time I’m playing music I wrote and produced with Simon Collins and our band Sound of Contact. It’s also way more traveling than usual! We’re going to Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, Netherlands, France and more! The first 4 shows are right here in England. Fortunately no one is nervous at all since we decided to throw ourselves into the fire and play in front of thousands of Marillion fans who had never heard any of our songs before as our first gig to break the ice. All set now! If anything, after that “First Contact” gig in Montreal we were so pumped we were ready to play everyday then. So, we had to be patient to get to the May tour in Europe where we WILL be playing everyday for about 2 and a half weeks! 

Your blog host Squids ready to rock England!

So, I’m here at the Collins abode in some rural part of England. I’m not even sure exactly where I am since I DEFINITELY don’t drive here… not with the whole “other side of the road” thing. The flight over was ok. A bit long and bumpy but I’m here so I can’t complain. I just didn’t get the sleep I had planned on but fortunately I did later and I may possibly be caught up to UK time now. We went to a pub and I had fish n’ chips which was great. Got that out of the way! I plan to eat healthier than that though most of the time. But, this was a must-have. 

Fish n' Chips (a must for a sea-going tourist such as myself)

I caught up with emails when I arrived and when I logged into Facebook I saw what happened in Boston. Like many I just don’t understand how anyone could do something like that to others. It’s so disconnected from who we really are. You think that somehow in someone’s brief window of time on Earth they thought that would be something to do in their life.... to kill innocent people… and you could wonder about all the brainwashing disillusions leading up to it that convinced them. Then, of course, there is the deep sorrow on the other side where all the people are affected by it. Seems so senseless and even hard to believe. Yet it happens sadly and every once in awhile we get this shocking sort of news to derail us. I’d like to think that someday we can get past that. But, I won’t go further into all that here. You’ve got enough of it in the news and all over the net. I’ll stay focused on the now of where I am and what I’m doing. Feel free to virtually come along with me on my travels…

Simon and I have a pile up of interviews to do. We’ve already done a bunch so far. Getting the word out about our new album “Dimensionaut”! This is so exciting. We’re adding dates to our “Dimensionaut World Tour 2013” but they’re just not public yet. “The Night of the Prog” is confirmed at the Loreley Amphitheater on July 13th in the afternoon. That’s the day Steven Wilson plays which is a Saturday. Should be a fun time! I’ve heard it’s a beautiful place to play and it’s around 6,000-7,000 people. At least some of them will have had the chance to hear the album first! We are working on touring the US in the Summer leading up to a BIG show in Chicago and a guest performance with Steve Hackett on Sept 20th and 21st with myself on keys, Simon Collins on vocals and my buddy Francis Dunnery on vocals as well. Just for a handful of old Genesis songs including of course a long one that rhymes with Uppers Eddy.  (How cryptic!)

Here are the dates of our current Sound of Contact European tour coming up soon!

Spock’s Beard, Beardfish, Sound Of Contact tour

May 3: Corporation, Sheffield, UK
May 4: The Arches, Glasgow, UK
May 5: Academy 2, Newcastle, UK
May 6: Robin 2, Bilston, UK
May 7: The Garage, London, UK
May 8: La Scene Bastille, Paris, France
May 9: Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland
May 10: Hirsch, Nürnberg, Germany
May 11: Majestic, Bratislava, Slovakia
May 12: A38, Budapest, Hungary
May 14: Szene, Vienna, Austria
May 15: Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany
May 16: Das Rind, Rüsselsheim, Germany
May 17: Zeche, Bochum, Germany
May 18: De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
May 19: Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany

Needless to say I will keep everyone posted on the US and other dates. We are planning on coming back to Europe in the Fall and might even go to Japan and do some double bill gigs with Francis Dunnery and his new prog album tour. I didn’t even tell you about that but as I said there are a lot of things that I don’t say because it’s not the right time and place (and I’m talking about The Dude here). Although he did “tweet” about it (I don’t tweet… maybe I’ll start tweeting… should I? You think? Really? Why? Ok we’ll talk about that later.). Anyway, there’s more to talk about with that in time but I can say we’re at least talking about the idea of doing some double bill gigs in various places. Sound of Contact will also double bill with other artists depending on where we are and what’s going on. We’re building up a great show and will be playing all sorts of music as we go. The main goal above all else is to have fun. You hear of some bands who can’t stand each other… and granted that is after YEARS of being together through many challenging events. So, it’s not comparing apples to apples here but I have to say this is not one of those situations. We all get along great and truly enjoy each other’s company. A sense of humor included… with a strong desire to rock! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Coming Down To Reality

Since we got back from Montreal, Sound of Contact has been quite busy. We rehearsed with drummer Ronen Gordon who is playing with us for the upcoming European tour with Spock's Beard and Beardfish. Ronen went back to LA where he lives and the four of us, Simon, myself, Matt and Wes moved on to shooting the first Sound of Contact music video (besides the video trailer that is). It's for a song called "Not Coming Down". Simon and I wrote the treatment and co-produced the video. I won't reveal too much about the song so early because we will be talking about the album and individual songs quite a bit in interviews. The fictitious main character in the story, played by Simon in the video, is going through some down and out times having difficulty coping with his rather unusual life and... well, I'll just leave it at that for now. Don't want to let the cat out of the bag! The music video tells the story like a mini movie and actually since "Dimensionaut" is a sci fi concept album we're planning to do a lot more... but of course I can't say too much too soon. I can say that it's freakin' exciting though! One of my other passions is screenwriting and all things film so this is a nice taste of that side for me.

So let me tell you a bit about the 4 days of shooting. We had been so busy rehearsing for the tour and doing the first gig in Montreal that we found ourselves being asked by the label "When will you have the music video ready?" Time to get things into high gear. Fortunately I had done a little scoring for a talented director/DP named Tim Glover who does excellent work. I knew I could pull a favor from him so he came down from Atlanta to shoot this with us. We had some great contributions from friends like Chip Walters and Hal Feldman who came through big time on so many clutch things. Hal, an old friend from college, happens to be in real estate down here in Miami and was able to find us a place to shoot the band in a field near the Homestead airport (South Miami area). Chip's friend Michelle who was hired as our make up artist was recruited as the main character's love interest in the videos. She's a beautiful person inside and out. A total pleasure to work with and be around... and it turns out she's quite talented as an actress to boot! Talk about luck! But it gets even better. We had the day booked for the shoot with the band playing in the field and we really wanted to add string players to it if we could. I asked Wells, the cellist who played on the album, if he wanted to do it but he was too busy. So, I started asking around, calling various people I've worked with or others have worked with until finally I found them! We wanted a quartet but were willing to settle on just one or two players if that's all we could get on such short notice. But, we ended up getting a Quintet! 5 players which included 2 violinists, 2 violists and 1 cellist. Now we're talking! The shoot was great. We were playing the song while airplanes were taking off. It was a little insane but what a great memory for all... and the shots Tim got with the crane were fantastic!

Day 2 was done at the SOC "HQ" apartment in North Miami. We brought in lighting crew from "Moving Pictures" in Ft Lauderdale and shot scenes with Simon acting and various cameos including one from my Dad! Yep. Dr. Jay Kerzner in the house! He was playing a doctor in the video so it wasn't much of a stretch. He's a retired Cardiologist in real life. It's ironic that Simon's dad is such a well known artist/performer/actor etc. and yet we're using my dad in our video. I think he was over the moon we asked him to do it. It actually took me awhile to convince him I wasn't kidding when I said we need him to play a doctor in the video. He said "Are you serious?" and I said "Yes!" and then he said "Really?" and I said "Yes?" and it went on back and forth until he realized I wasn't just pulling his leg... I guess that's something I would do. I didn't realize I was such a kidder! Haha. Anyway, he was great and so were his two medical assistant extras Chip and Matt! I couldn't be a medical assistant because of my long hair... would look too much like that "put the rest of the band in the video" thing which we did a tiny bit but were careful not to get too close to the cheese. I spent most of the time on the other side over the course of the shooting.

Day 3 was more scaled back with just Matt and I as the "crew" and Tim capturing scenes with Simon and Michelle. For a restaurant scene we went to our favorite local band restaurant "Oishi Thai" and they treated us like royalty so that was a good move! Some of the best catering ever. Haha.

Then we made our way over to the train tracks and this was a more difficult shoot. We had to be quick and we were. But, what blew our minds is that we were hoping to be able to shoot a train coming by or we thought we'd have to fake it in post. By chance just as we finished a train was coming and Tim shot it going by. It was so incredibly loud being that close to it and the feeling we all had was priceless. The synchronicity of it was empowering. When things flow and you feel the Universe is on your side there's nothing better. Take it when it comes!

Day 4 was one last bit to capture and it was a little tricky... for one thing we had to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and being musicians we don't get to bed until well after midnight so none of us had much sleep. Matt decided not to go so it was just Simon, myself and Tim. But we did it! We went to, of all places, Collins Avenue in Miami Beach to shoot a few scenes while the sun was coming up. When we got what we needed the three of us went to get some breakfast, we returned the equipment to Tony from Moving Pictures and then finally... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... some much needed sleep! Matt just left to go back to LA. Tim went back to Atlanta and now it's just the last two standing. Simon Collins and Squids. Of course I use the word "standing" liberally as Simon is still crashed out on the couch right now (and for once I'm letting him sleep because there's no crazy deadline today!) and I got what I consider a more than decent amount of sleep. There's still a lot to do because I also run a soundware company AND I'm doing this right now but I might just chill out a bit for the rest of the day anyway. I think I've earned it!

Monday, March 25, 2013

First contact has been made!

Squids here. Happy to report that Sound of Contact's first show is complete and it went really well! The whole band is thrilled about it. The reception from the audience was nothing short of astounding considering not a single one of them had previously heard any of the songs apart from "In The Difference Engine" which is the instrumental music you hear in our video trailer on the SOC Youtube channel. We closed with that one and people were actually cheering in the beginning which means they recognized it and were excited which to me is kind of funny. Usually you'd get that for your catchiest pop song but here's this dark instrumental which is the only thing we've released publicly and that was our "hit"! Haha. We added a BIG ending to it that's not on the album which is a massive drum fill courtesy of Mr. Collins and a fat Mellotron choir Major chord from me with a dive bomb guitar from Wes and it was a real tip of the hat to all that is prog... not the least of which being Genesis. Someone even shouted "Los Endos!!!!!" and believe me had we rehearsed Los Endos we would have done it!!!! Haha.

(Photo courtesy of Jordan DeGuise)

But, of course, it wasn't about doing any covers. This was a very genuine heartfelt presentation of our own music. These are songs that either Simon and I wrote together from ideas we brought in or we wrote together with our collaborators on the album including Matt Dorsey (who played bass in the live show) and Kelly Nordstrom who was our other guitarist/bassist/co-writer in the studio. John Wesley and Jonathan Schang joined us to help flesh these songs out live and this being our first gig playing in front of close to 3,000 people it really was an epic experience. Members of Marillion watched the show and said they loved it too. Just hanging around at sound check made Simon a bigger fan of Marillion. Steve Hogarth is such a power performer and the whole band is just so melodic and musical. We all agreed that it was a good combination of styles for a show... Sound of Contact opening for Marillion. Maybe we'll do more again in the future whenever that may be. I hope so. We had such a great time and so did everyone there. We are beyond grateful that they invited us along to share the Marillion Weekend experience with them and their incredible fans.

Me with Wes and Matt from Sound of Contact and Steve Hogarth of Marillion

Sound of Contact's Set List for March 24th, 2013 L 'Olympia Theater, Montreal

Cosmic Distance Ladder
Pale Blue Dot
Remote View
Not Coming Down
Closer To You
Omega Point
Möbius Slip Part 1: In The Difference Engine

Sunday, March 24, 2013

One of those days...

One of THOSE days...

... when you're going to be playing certain songs off your album for the first time in front of thousands of people! But, actually I'm singing "one of those days" in my head because Marillion played "Drilling Holes" off of their album "Marbles" last night as well as a suite of songs from "Clutching at Straws" which really brought back memories of a misplaced chi... (woops I almost went into full Squids pun mode... but Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws were among the albums I was listening to back when they came out)... they played a lot of great music last night but most significantly they played their entire "Brave" album. The show went really well! The band seemed pretty darn happy backstage and I'll tell you the energy in the theater was spectacular. People were absolutely loving it and that's great to see. So cool to be there in the audience when it happens but it's also interesting to see as a band and musician yourself because you take note: "This is the sort of crowd reaction you want!" People singing along and even taking over sections of songs from Steve Hogarth without him needing to say the typical "Come on I can't hear you!" thing. Oh he could he hear them alright! The audience was loud, clear and even sang quite well on top... almost like a choir. I wouldn't be surprised if it was filled with musicians. We should be so lucky to do our own shows that have these sort of qualities to them. But it's certainly an inspiration to do our first show in a venue like the L 'Olympia Theater with this fantastic audience. Needless to say we're really looking forward to it! Today is the day! It's a big one!

Mark Kelly's keyboard rig

Backstage talking to Marillion's keyboardist Mark Kelly

With Wes and Steve Rothery (Guitarist for Marillion)

After the show some of us went backstage to meet the band. I had an "iRig present" for Steve Rothery, Marillion's guitarist who is responsible for bringing Sound of Contact into the fold here. He's the one who suggested to the band and management that SOC be added to this gig and we're so grateful for that. I've worked with him a few times over the internet but this was the first time we've met in person. He's such a nice guy. So was Mark Kelly. I didn't get a chance to talk to Steve Hogarth but you could tell he was very personable and cool. These are all great people doing what they love and I respect that. They have made so much music over the years and to be able to pull from such a vast catalog in a live show is something earned that is absolutely priceless. I hope we have 10+ Sound of Contact albums to do the same... but I have to say I am thrilled even to have just one and to be performing songs from it tonight! One step at a time El Squidsarino. (He said to himself in a Big Lebowski sort of way). 

We are not alone (something Close Encounters about this shot! haha)

So, today is March 24th and I'm up early. Despite Rothery making me a few creative colorful drinks I'm surprisingly up without the slightest hangover. Not very rock n' roll of me but I'm so used to dealing with Europe for the upcoming tour and album release that I've gotten used to waking up early (temporarily anyway). Later on today we have a sound check. Gotta make sure that all the rented gear arrives and everything works... fingers and tentacles crossed! We test drive it and then do the real thing at 8pm! It's only a 45 minute set so we're not doing the whole album (which is over 73 minutes btw) but we are doing highlights and it'll be interesting because there's only ONE song in it that anyone has heard before... and that's only if they've been to our Youtube page

Monday, March 18, 2013

Greg Lake and Squids

Greg Lake and I at rehearsals (wearing my Tarkus shirt that Keith gave me!)

Yesterday, for the first time, I met Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He was rehearsing for his one man show gigs where he performs songs from his solo career as well as from his days with King Crimson and ELP. I was called in to help program sounds and explain how the Nord Stage keyboard works. My friend Erik Norlander who plays keys with Asia FJP had put me in touch with guitar tech Andre Cholmondeley who I happened to have met previously at a Steven Wilson concert in Orlando. Small world! Andre asked me to come to Greg's rehearsals and help them. It was Sound of Contact's day off so fortunately I had a little bit of time to do something fun like that! 

I used to program keys and/or do custom sampling for tours as one of my sources of income. Today I do it more as a favor trade or just gratis because I want to. For a living I do it on a grander scale through my company Sonic Reality which supplies sounds to thousands of musicians all over the world. But over the years I've done interesting direct custom sounds for many performing artists like Genesis, Madonna, Barbara Streisand, Crowded House, Tom Waits, Ringo Starr, The Who, Rolling Stones, Beyonce, Pearl Jam and others including Keith Emerson and ELP! I told Greg I helped create the Fanfare sound for Keith which they used in their most recent EL and ELP shows. He had no idea. He was really surprised! It's not like we're in LA or England. This is South Florida so what are the chances that there'd be someone here coming to help him with his keyboard that has worked with Keith? Then, if you consider what the chances are that the same person happened to have provided string sounds for the factory Nord Sample Library and could dial up with certainty which sounds would work best... it was a fun synchronistic situation to be in! He was so happy to hear all that and we immediately hit it off. 

Got treated to a private performance from Greg

We talked about a bunch of things including the possibility of me playing with him or working together at some point in the future. The idea of working together was his and of course in my mind I was thinking "Hmmmm. Keith and I are pals. Uncle Greg is my new buddy... now if they'd only let me co-produce a new ELP album..." Haha! That's how I think. I didn't say anything of that nature of course. I could see me sitting in with him on some gigs or doing a stint of duo or full band live shows perhaps down the line and/or at least him guesting on one of my Sonic Elements productions. Maybe I'd even play some keys on his next album if/when he does one. But, the lofty idea of them even DOING another ELP album let alone me being involved on that level... well, if you don't dream it doesn't happen that's all I can say. If you DO dream and it doesn't happen there's no harm in that either! Dream away I say. As long as you keep it to yourself and don't blog about it. WOOPS!!!! Haha. Nah, come on. You have to know these are the kinds of things I would be thinking. Surely by now you know I think big! If they were open to a creative and objective younger generation co-producer, I'm confident I could help them make a new classic... something that is up to the standard of quality songwriting, sounds and performances that they themselves set in the 70's. [Just to be clear, there's no actual talk of an ELP album - this is just me talking in Squids fantasyland! Although Keith did say in my interviews with him that he'd be open to it.]

Anyway, back to present day reality here... haha. This turned out to be a great unexpected Sunday afternoon event! Greg proceeded to tell me how he put his latest one man show together and the reasoning behind picking various songs. It was almost like an interview and I was tempted to say "Wait, this is awesome. You mind if I capture this on video so everyone can hear this????" but it was the first time we met and I didn't want to freak him out by putting a camera in his face. It was going to just be one of those private rock history moments that you feel you are truly a "lucky man" to hear and see. (will you please forgive me for the obvious overdone pun? Thanks! It had to be done.) He grabbed the guitar and started performing different Crimson and ELP songs for me and then we talked about them afterward! It was a real trip. I loved how he was like a big kid excited about the show he put together and all of the elements. I respect that. Keith is the same way. That's how I am as well and I realized how important that is. Rock n' roll never grows up!

His voice sounded great! Unmistakably "Greg Lake". It's wild to be talking to him and then all of a sudden he starts singing and it's a vocal character you grew up listening to just coming out live right there in front of you. I've never seen him perform live before but I've always loved his voice. Wish I could go see the actual show. They invited me to go on the cruise! But, I've got other Squids to fry. So many cool things happening at once and at light speed. I love it. All in all it was a great time though and something I thought would make for a good "Squids Travels" adventure. Hope you enjoy this eventful rock n' roll stuff. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Counting to Marillion

Just a week left of rehearsals before Sound of Contact plays its first show in front of thousands of people at the Marillion Weekend in Montreal. So far everything has been going great! Simon got an endorsement with DDRUM and Felix DeLuna of the company came through with shining stars on everything Si needed kit-wise and more.

Simon Collins and his new DDRUM kit! 

Matt Dorsey recently did an artist endorsement deal with Spector basses. He's loving his new 5 string that he's taking out on tour with Sound of Contact. I have a bunch of friends who use Spector. Billy Sherwood, formerly producer and member of the band Yes, not only has one of Chris Squire's Rickenbacker basses but a massive collection of cool Spectors... and of course we'll be sampling them as well for Sonic Reality! 

The empire strikes bass! Matt Dorsey with his Spector in front of a Miami Industrial Imperial Walker Looking Thing.

We did our first band photo shoot this past week of the SOC live line up. We have another one or two scheduled this coming week. I'm working on coordinating lots of photos and hopefully video as well of our performance at the Marillion Weekend. It has to at least be documented! What a way to start! We're so excited. It's sounding powerful in rehearsals. Wes is known for being a "big" guitar player in terms of covering a lot of sonic territory and converting multiple guitar parts off of albums into a cohesive single guitarist's live performance. He's had to do that a lot with Porcupine Tree and Fish. I'm also what Wes calls a "big keyboard player", meaning that it's not just ambient sounds in the background but rather a more prominent character element in the music. There are a lot of dynamics from ambient to full on aggressive, almost guitar-like, keys. Plus a little pretentious prog thrown in for good measure... ie. Mellotrons and analog synth leads! Haha. The Tony Banks/Richard Wright/Rick Wakeman/Keith Emerson side! Muahahahahaha. Keyboards shall rule once again!!!!!!! (woops sorry I got a little too excited there for a second). 

Me surrounded by keys (where I like to be)

One thing I did yesterday which was a wise move I think is consolidate my rig down from 3 keyboards to 2. Just to have a more portable keyboard set up for these initial opening act gigs. At least in terms of what I bring WITH me. If we can rent another keyboard wherever I am that's cool and if not then I can make it work with just the two now without sacrificing much if anything. Normally if we were headlining I'd have 2 Nord Stages, 1 Nord Wave, 1 Yamaha Motif XF and maybe one additional smaller keyboard controller connected to my MacBook Air running SampleTank with Sonic Reality sounds. Depending on the tour or venue a vintage Hammond B3 organ or Wurlitzer 200 electric piano or CP70 electric grand piano would be quite welcome. I just don't want to make enemies with any roadies! ;)  

One thing that's great about ALL of the keyboards I mentioned above is that they have something called "Flash Ram" which means that a keyboard player can load in samples (in my case I own a sampling company and have a LOT of samples I like to use) and the cool thing about "flash" is that it STAYS in memory even when you turn it off and back on again. This is GREAT for live because if the power goes out or anything happens you're back up and running FAST!!!!! No wait time to load up the samples. 

So long bottom 88 weighted keyboard. Gonna miss you! Hope I can rent you some time. 

Years ago I had a funny experience that made me LOVE flash ram so much. I was playing with an artist named Kevin Gilbert and we were doing a promotional gig at Tower Records on Sunset Blvd in LA (now sadly gone). Rosanna Arquette, who starred in Kevin's Toy Matinee video "Ballad of Jenny Ledge" was there in the audience and I met her for the first time. (She's also the "Rosanna" Toto was talking about by the way... little rock trivia for you! Plus she lent Kevin the Rael jacket we used when we played The Lamb. Peter Gabriel gave one of the Rael jackets to her when he went out with her so it was the real thing... more parenthesis trivia). Anyway we started playing in the middle of the store when the power went out. I don't think they had enough juice to supply a rock band or something. It came back on quickly but I had to reload all of my samples into the Kurzweil K2000 I was using and had to miss an entire song. Then it happened again! I was scrambling to get all my sounds together in my set up when I looked up only to see Rosanna laughing! Not sure anyone else really noticed but she knew exactly what was going on. Kind of embarrassing... but also bizarre and funny too. Made for a good LA Squidstory. Haha. After that though I used to carry around a heavy UPS (uninterruptible power supply) until FLASH ram became more popular. Now do you understand why I like it so much? 

So both the Nords and the Yamaha Motif XF have flash ram and that means I can load my own custom samples into them and it's like they were built-in to the machine. Great for live. Technically I have more room to do larger sounds and more sounds on the computer which I usually have with me as well. But, I like to make my set up very hands on because I'm spontaneous and like to do things a little differently each night and adapt to what I'm hearing. If I need to get more aggressive I'll reach for the "overdrive" knob. If I want to get more ambient I'll tap a delay in and increase the reverb. I control it all with knobs and pedals in real time. I'm a very "interactive" keyboard player. In this case since I wrote the parts I'm playing I know where it's appropriate to stay true to the original and where it's good to embellish. 

Go Wes young man! John Wesley and Chip Walters at another EPIC sushi session

Wes brought his friend Chip along to hang, help out and be just a positive force of good things beyond expectation. He did so many cool things to help this past week that Simon and I actually stopped the press to add him in the thank yous on the album. Here we are at yet another post rehearsal sushifest. If they let me order foggeetttaboutit. I know how to order. There's an art to it! JUST the right amount of food. It can be expensive but I go for the quality dishes that are worth it. Overpaying for an average meal sucks. But if it's toro tuna sashimi like this pic above? You're living large. Enjoy it! 

Sound of Contact live band rehearsing while Simon rests his voice

Getting back to the band. It's sounding fantastic! Wes is such a cool guitar player. He really dials in some great sounds and plays tasteful well thought out parts. Matt Dorsey is nailing it on the bass and backing vocals. He's actually doing some that I would normally do so I can concentrate a bit more on the sounds and parts of the live reproduction. I'm 3rd backing vocalist in the band and Wes would be 4th even though he's incredible on vocals and 2nd to Steven Wilson when they perform in Porcupine Tree. The only reason he's 4th is because he's got enough on his plate learning and coming up with his guitar parts on an album he didn't play on. He also doesn't know the rather complex lyrics as well as Matt and I do since we co-wrote the songs with Simon on the record and both sang back up on the album as well. There's one song toward the end of the set where Simon, Matt and I sing harmonies almost the whole way through and it sounds so cool! 

Simon and Jonathan are sounding great on drums.  Originally Simon was going to sing and drum for practically the entire set and we did that in rehearsals for a few days. I was amazed at how well he was able to play complex drum parts and sing! He can really pull that off and it's very cool too... reminds me of his dad Phil back in the early Genesis days singing into that gooseneck mic hanging down above his kit. But, since Simon liked Schang's playing so much he gave him more drumming to do so he could come out front more and engage the audience singing lead. Good to have options though! Simon still plays the two instrumentals we're doing in the set. 

Alright that's me catching you up on things. I thought I'd be able to blog everyday but it's so crazy busy that I'll have to just fit it in when I can. Got some cool new developments in the works and we ARE starting to shoot video of the rehearsals as well so we'll share some clips soon of that. Working on band t-shirts and a marillion other things... :)