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, N├╝rnberg, 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, R├╝sselsheim, 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!