9:00am and we have word that Brian is loose upon the world again. Yes!
Though it took him a taxi cab, a plane flight and four train connections to make it to the gig by 6:00pm. Doors were at 7:00pm so we had one hour with our boy for re-aquaintancing, quick sound check and boy-band dark humoring.
A quick meal and suddenly The Security Project was onstage again. The first of 19 shows for this tour.
I have had a ton of apprehension and even trepidation about this tour. Since my last shows with King Crimson in 2003 I have not done any touring for longer than 2 weeks at a stretch. And I like it like that. This is to be five weeks away from home. A home that I like. Full of life with my son, all of my friends, my studio, work with my coaching clients, being at the dojo almost daily...everything that supports my life. And here I am cutting myself off from all of that to drive across Northern Europe in the winter. On a tour that has quite a bit of precariousness surrounding it. And I mean the general “can musicians even survive on the road – financially, physically and psychologically” precariousness.
So, the show. Very hard for me to have any sense of how the show was. I was struggling to just maintain myself with the parts. It is quite a bit of music (2 hours or so.) With many complicated, technical challenges. Firstly the music isn't often structured in a normal way. And by normal I mean the forms of each piece often take surprising turns. Sometimes the chorus is three times, sometimes it is four. Sometimes there is an extra two beats, sometimes an extra three. Sometimes the drummer feels inspired and things take a new twist. Of course, I have played some very complicated music in my time. But this music doesn't sound complex. It flows beautifully like a song should – with it's scaffolding hidden underneath the paint. Which makes it more deceptive.
Then there are the technical challenges with the equipment. I am using many different sounds and have to do a ton of switching to make sure that every sound happens exactly when it should. I have also done some deep programming with my gear. I am using the Fractal Axe guitar processor now. And I am using it to quite serious depth. For the techno-geeks out there I'll go into some detail.
I am using a single Fractal Axe unit for both sides of my instrument – the guitar side and the bass side simultaneously. I can run two separate signals path inside the unit and do some incredible things. But I have to be careful to not max out the CPU. Additionally I am running an external pedal that is on a loop. So, I am pretty much using all the ins and outs.
A small example of one of the things I am doing with the Fractal:
Bass side: runs through a compressor, a volume pedal, an amp, a cabinet and a phasor
Top side: runs through two different compressors, an amp, a cabinet, a split in the signal of which half of it goes out to the external pedal (EH Microsynth) and back in again, three different eq's in the chain, a mixer to bring it all together, two different delays running in parallel and a reverb. Then I have three expression pedals for the top side. One for the volume, which comes after the amp. One that crossfades the external pedal in and out. And one that crossfades from one delay to the other. This pedal also changes about 5 parameters on each delay so that I can being playing and throw anything I am doing into infinite repeat and back out again.
And all of this with only hitting the CPU at 87%.
Oh, and it sounds fooochking amazing!
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OK, back to the un-techno-land.
All this to say that I was so pre-occupied with delivering the parts that I had no sense of the show as a whole. Which, to be blunt, totally bums me out. If I am not holding a sense of the whole show, then I feel like I am not doing my real work. But, I am just not to that point yet. Too many things to get under my belt first.
What seems to happen to me when I get bummed out about this kind of thing is to fall into a small pit. Then I have to fight the psycho-demons of “What The Fuck I Am Doing Here?” Once that succubus takes hold he is hard to cast out. He begins tossing out more traps, each one increasingly more clever than the last. “Is this really what you left home for?” “Is this really how you should be using your energy” “Is this really what you have spent nearly 50 years prepping for?”
My secret is two-fold. And I can't say it always works. But I try.
Firstly I don't listen.
Secondly, I listen but don't respond. I just say to myself “Yes, this is Trey doing this kind of Trey-thing that Trey can do.” And just get on with playing the music. I try to see the context as a simply part of the work of being a musician. Just the same as doing finger and hand calisthenics or practicing particular moves at the dojo. These challenges are a kind of anti-matter force that you work with to get some juice going.
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Scott said the show sounded great. And it certainly looked amazing. Our lighting guy, Alec, is doing amazing work. Fantastic lights, plus video projection for each piece.
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We decided to stay in the bus for the night. Not a great call as the temperature fell and we froze during the night.
BTW, this is a full on bus tour. This means we drive overnight after each show and sleep on the bus. It isn't horrible – we each have our own sleeping bunks. But it isn't great. The bunks are like small coffins. For a guy as tall as me there is only about 3 to 4 extra inches to work with. Waking up with serious kinks on your body is par for the course.
Onward to Germany.
Shots from tonight's show by Eric Debuiijn
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