LA – Wednesday 28th September 2016
Whitfield Crane from Ugly Kid Joe said to me earlier ‘Everything in your life, everything that’s ever happened to you, has led up to this moment’.
So how did this small-town Yorkshire lad end up in Robert Trujillo from Metallica’s summer house, where I am sitting now, with a broken laptop on my knees, to rehearse with double-platinum rock surf dudes Ugly Kid Joe?
It’s a long story.
We finished up with the Sisters in Chile on Saturday (it’s Wednesday now). I flew first thing Sunday, on two hours’ sleep, necked a couple of sleeping pills on the flights, arrived in LA at 9pm where Whit, ever-positive and personable UKJ frontman picked me up, and we started rehearsals on Monday at 4pm. No rest for the wicked, and tomorrow we will fly to London, where a connecting flight will take us to Glasgow for a night of sleep, and start the tour in Bonny Scotland.
The Sisters tour ended on a high note with a packed gig at the legendary ‘Blondie’ club, which was populated by 99.9% amazing up-for-it Chileans, and one single bell-end who thought he was in Motley Crue, and ended up attacking some innocent kid on the front row for having the audacity to be standing in the front row, while the several security guards merrily looked the other way. I can’t see that happen in front of me without wanting to stand up for the kid, so I ditch my guitar (putting a fuck-off dent in the previously pristine side) and pull the kid out of the melee. His face is a mess and suddenly the security guards are interested. This venue got some bad press recently as Johnny Rotten got a glass to the face the other week during a PiL gig, ending up with stitches, so you’d think they’d employ some decent security staff. The mood backstage before the encore was muted, as I think a couple of people in and around seemed to think I had been chucking my weight around or trying to be some kind of hero. Fuck that, I will always stand up to bullies no matter whether I am on a stage or on a bus. Andrew and I always have a policy of looking out for the audience in the face of adversity (or rubbish security) and we see everything from the stage. What seems to some is playful moshpit fun might be smashing the glasses of the girl on the barrier in front of you. Some people need to realise they are no longer a nine-stone 15 year old at a Prodigy gig.
Anyway, where were we… the tour finished well and we had a good night despite the impending doom of my approximate five hours… no four hours… actually it’s three hours… well will two hours do? amount of sleep before my lift to the airport.
On arrival in LA, I am picked up by the ineffable and ever-positive Whit Crane from Ugly Kid Joe, who takes us to Whole Foods to stock up on food and drink for the next few days. I am determined to put a halt to the constant eating which seemed to take place in South America, but it seems that the world (and my will power) conspires against me in LA, probably the world’s hardest place to diet.
I met the Ugly Kid Joe guys in 2013 when I got a call from my old mucker Toad, who tour manages and looks after the Sisters on the road. He needed a guitar tech very quickly for a tour which featured Skid Row and UKJ, and in my other life that’s something that I do to keep the cashflow going between actually playing. I like doing it because it keeps you in that world of music and gigs and touring, which is a world I’m pretty keen on. I instantly fell in with the UKJ lot, who were a bunch of piss-taking, fun-loving lads, the likes of whom I am generally pretty fond of. The other crew guys were great too and we became fast friends. Afterwards, singer Whit and I kept in touch, and when I heard that Sonny Mayo (a brilliant bloke) couldn’t do the 2016 tour, I put myself forward, being the naturally shy and retiring type. Whit was into it, I did some demos, had some Skype jams with Klaus Eichstadt the guitar player, and suddenly I was in.
One of the reasons I was keen to do it is because it’s just out of my comfort zone. There are a bunch of lead parts and I’m even doing some (shudder) solos. I’ve worked hard on it though, and think I can do a good job.
The first rehearsal wasn’t without its hiccups, but I’d done my homework and I’ve got my brilliant new Kemper Profiling Amp with me, which means I can sound good. Sonny has lent me his guitar – a posh PRS – proving his brilliance and reasserting Whit’s claim that the band, current and ex-members alike, are all just one big stupid family (his words, not mine). That’s something I’m always keen to get into. I don’t want to play with people who are doing it for the money, or the girls (ha!), or the prestige (ha ha!). I want to make music with people who are like-minded, doing it for the buzz, doing it for the brother-and-sisterhood, and having FUN.
That’s why we like gigs, isn’t it? Fun.
So here I am, in one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever been in, in an amazing neighbourhood in California, fondly thinking about gigs we did when we were 15 in pubs in Goole and Hull that we’d lied about our ages to get into, wondering what might be coming next. All this playing for other people is a brilliant learning and building experience, and at the same time I can’t wait to get my teeth into finishing my upcoming solo stuff. We did a video the other week which I want to put online soon. We’re also talking about doing a little one-off Eureka Machines gig. Being busy is what I like to be!!
Wicked blog Chris. It really sounds like you are having a brilliant time doing what you love can’t fault you. i’ve played in a lot of bands over the years and the only thing that i never got fed-up with was gigging. Long may you live the good life.
Good for you for wading in to save the lad in the crowd- security is fucking abyssmal most places, one way or another, and it’s not about being a hero is it?> it’s about fair play and having a backbone.Nice one.
looking forward to nov. good luck with it all