866 Bloor St West
corner of Bloor and Carling
Solid breakfast! I got the "Standard" - $8
838 Bloor St West
These boys do it up right, offering local independent craft beers! Lots of it in tallboy cans, and a great selection of draught also. I had the "Inner IPA" on draught. Also recommend anything by Great Lake Brewery...mmm
They also do up some tasty snacks and meals, but i got their before closing and the kitchen was closed. Bon!
After 2 days in Berlin, TFE was off to Munich. I had a solid nap in back of the van before we stopped for lunch midway through our 6 hour drive. This pit stop was actually on top of the highway. Literally. You park, take an elevator and head up to the buffet which overlooks the high speed German highway.
Europe definitely maximizes any space possible; on the highway AND in hotel rooms. Ha
Tonight we are playing the Milla in Munich, a real dark basement club. It's definitely one of the cooler venues we've played so far in Europe.
After soundcheck we ventured across the street to a cozy Italian restaurant called Hey Luigi. Here's there's a real Italian chef! We chowed down on some delicious salads and pasta. It was really good. I recommend it.
The Milla filled up and we played to pretty much a full room, with some more friendly people singing along to the lyrics. Jon ran out into the crowd and did his anthemic trumpet blow out during Old Piano - always a crowd favorite!! I recorded the show. Upon listening to it the next day, I realized there were some discrepancies in the tempos of certain songs.
Drummer "nerd out" part:
In certain styles of music, a few bpm fluctuation in tempo won't make a drastic difference in the overall vibe of a performance. In pop music, I'm starting to realise that a slight difference in tempo makes a big difference to the overall grooves and parts of the song. Those parts are the recipe for the song and they are built upon a groove to a unique tempo which makes all those parts work together. Speeding up a groove creates a different feel and consequently could lead to different parts and/or accompaniment to the vocals. I guess this is true of all music in a way, but I bring it up because I noticed that most of the songs that night @ Milla were performed a bit on the bright side. The same parts now had a different feel due to the change in tempos. What's even more intriguing as a drummer is the connection between how a tempo feels when you play it and how it feels when you listen back to it. Clearly in this example, there was a disconnection, because I remember thinking that the songs felt settled and comfortable while I was playing. I was in control of the grooves. But then when I listened to it I felt like the grooves were a bit edgy and "on top" feeling. This is an interesting concept, something that I think all musicians struggle with. How you feel when you're playing and how the listener feels are two very different things. I could write a whole blog post just on this... Anyways, in resume I guess I could just say that every musician should record themselves. Listening back to a live performance will bring to light many things you can continue to develop.
Day 2 = Day Off!
It's almost the end of the tour, and we finally are graced one complete day off. After a good night's sleep, a morning jog and some killer coffee at Josefa, the nearby cafe, the Franklin crew headed out on some rental bikes to explore the many sights of Munich. Our first stop was the 17th century Nymphenburg Palace or "Castle of the Nymph", a Bavarian Palace just outside of the downtown core. I would say this is a must-see in Munich with the enormous green garden in the back of the property, the ducks and giant swans in the ponds, and the impressive inner ballroom of the Palace. For 6€ you can go inside and take a look, and it's well worth it.
We headed off on our bikes again into downtown to search out some more touristy sights including Marienplatz and the nearby Viktualienmarkt (huge fresh food market) as well as a few legendary Munich beer gardens. The highlight was definitely the beer garden in the English Garden. The English Garden is one of the biggest urban parks in the world with tons of trails for jogging and biking and a 7000 seat beer garden. Pas mal!! Needless to say, we popped in here for some sights and a few giant one liter beers.
Our last stop for the day was some dinner at the Augustiner Bräustuben right across the street from our hotel. This is an epic Bavarian restaurant with traditional food and draught beer. Meat, meat and more meat w potatoes and gravy. Try it! Throw a few pints on top of that and you've got yourself a recipe for sleep. Fek, bonne nuit. One last stop...Zurich.
After Berlin, Munich is probably my second favorite city in Germany. The vibe at the Milla venue, the good food, and all the touristy sights made this 2 day stop pretty great. It was definitely a great idea to rent bikes and cruise around. If bikes aren't your thing, you can hop on one of those touristy bus things for 22€, but that's not really not my vibe. It was also perfect weather when we were there making it a pretty special visit. Hope we get to go back!
What to see and do in Munich:
(traditional Bavarian restaurant with good beer)
Landsberger Str. 19, 80339 München, Germany
Westendstraße 29, 80339 München, Germany
Wanna be a tourist?...
(ancient city square)
(pretty cheap, decent hotel in downtown Munich)
Good for groups. Clean showers!
I was at the wheel of the Franklin Tour van as we arrived in Berlin Friday afternoon. We had 2 interview/performances on the agenda. The first was for berlinmusic.tv at a small studio space. In fact the space was so small that the sound technicians preferred that I don't play drums, it would be too loud. OK, cool w me! I had a coffee and chilled instead, no biggie.
It was a beautiful, sunny day in Berlin. Locals were saying it was the first real nice weather they had had in quite sometime. Why?....cuz Franklin is in town yo!
After this little interview, we were off for a pho soup. Nothing like some good Vietnamese to reset your stomach...
After finishing up our second live performance of the day at Joiz TV (www.joiz.de), we all cracked a few beers in the parking lot and decompressed from our long day. We had put in a solid 12 hour shift at this point, we earned it!
We were staying where we had stayed on our previous trip to Berlin, the PLUS BERLIN hostel. This is a big hostel with lots of people, it's pretty clean, there's decent WIFI and it is well situated in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg area of Berlin. The Berlin Wall (East Side Gallery) and the Spree river are right next to the hostel, the underground subway and above ground trams are nearby making it easy to get anywhere. After our little party in the parking lot, we were off to our hotel...or hostel I should say.
It is quite a great perk that in Germany you can drink beers in the street. There was even a man late at night selling beers for 1€ out of a shopping cart in the street. Not bad this little concept. Everyone's chill, drinking in the street, no one gets too wasted... it's great!
I was in much need of hot shower at this point. I was very happy to be able to enjoy some decent water pressure at the PLUS BERLIN hostel. When you're five guys crammed in a room, sometimes a hot shower is your only alone time. Better make it count, tsé.
After a few glasses of some French white wine that I had purchased earlier on during the tour, we descended to the bar of the PLUS to enjoy our free shot of Tequila Sunrise. We had all been given tickets for a free shot upon our check in. In fact, everyone who stays at the PLUS gets a free shot. Perhaps this is why they call it PLUS...!?!? ha. In fact, another "plus" of the PLUS is the fact that they have a pretty decent restaurant as well. We were all originally planning on heading out for something to eat, but after being wooed into the bar by the free shot, we decided to stay and eat here. We were joined at the table by our good friends Anika from Universal music and Tine from Revolver records who have been a great help for all of our shows in Germany. On était une bonne gang, the Chardonnay was flowing (only 15€ a bottle), c'est pas mal ça. Our friends had invited some of their friends to join us, and before we knew it we were a gang of 12 drunken souls heading off into a Berlin nightclub. At this point, I must admit I was quite intoxicated. I'm not sure exactly where we ended up. We did take the subway and we did stay on the dance floor until about 5/6am. The bars don't really close in Berlin, so watch out cuz time flies when you're having fun. The only downside I can think of is that smoking is permitted in these bars, so the next day my hangover smelt like cigarettes...not a PLUS.
Although we were all feeling a bit low on energy the next morning, we were blessed by some nice sunny weather again. Before our 4pm load in, we enjoyed some serious sun time outside the Myzik & Frieden at a nearby cafe.
Our show in Berlin was really special this time around. Previously, we performed alongside Half Moon Run at the Lido, but this time we managed to sell out this 200 capacity venue to a great crowd. People knew the lyrics to a few songs, and joined in big time on the "ooohs" chanting in "Old Piano". What a treat!
The Muzik & Frieden venue quickly transformed itself into an 8 room DJ dance party. After packing up, me and tour partner Henry decided to soak in a last Berlin pilsner at the Bauhaus Bar one floor up before calling in a night. We had partied pretty hard the night before, so no need to overdo it. But it was quite impressive to suddenly find ourselves in what seemed to be a massive Berlin DJ party complex. There was music being cranked here in all different genres. One room was Blink 182, the next was Trap, Death Metal... If you want to mosh-pit it up or boogie Muzik & Frieden is a good place to do it. So do it.
Next day - bright and early 9am departure to Munich, München or Minga... how ever you choose to pronounce it. Merci Berlin! We will be back. Perhaps for some festivals in August...keep your fingers crossed!
As was the case in Amsterdam, I didn't get much time to play "Mr.Tourist" in Berlin. I had previously done the tourist thing but this time we had a bit more work to do and no official "day off". It's all good. Berlin is a very very cool place. Culture flourishes, people like to go out, buildings are covered in graffiti (but it's cool graffiti, not trashy...charming), the economy is going well, public transit is clean and quiet, and food is for the most part cheap. If you've never been, you need to go.
Decent, well priced hostel. Free shot. Good hot showers. Easy to park a giant van.
Live Music Venues:
Muzik & Frieden
Breakfast - Tante Emma
Köpenicker Str. 1, 10997 Berlin, Germany
Lots of great cafés and restaurants in the Kreuzberg area.
Today is real "tour" day. I've been woken up way before I would naturally wake, forced to shower in an extremely small shower and offered some stale cereal with warm milk. All this before 9am...not exactly ideal circumstances, but they are the current circumstances and so I have no choice to deal with them. First world problems, I know, don't worry I'm not that upset. Normally if I were to wake up and be feeling this tired I wouldn't eat anything, but when it's free and I don't really know when or what the next meal will be, I choose to fill up. Take every chance you can get, right?
This is our second time in Hamburg, second time performing at the Nochtspreicher and second time staying at the Generator Hostel. We spent less than 24 hours in this city this time before departing this morning. Just enough time to reminisce about the Reeperbahn Festival last fall. Reeperbahn is the name of the music festival, but also the name of the main downtown area in Hamburg. This area is swarming with tourists, German "currywurst" sausage stands, doner shops, bars, t-shirts with Hamburg written on them and it's also close to Europe's second largest Red Light District (...uhhh non merci)
Nothing really crazy happened this time in Hamburg.
The most exciting thing happened on the way to Hamburg when we got pulled over on the side of the highway. A highway patrol officer suspected we had too much weight in the van, seeing as how the back axle was really low. True. We're six guys with suitcases and a boatload of gear. The patrol man took a quick look in the back of the van, all the while Henry explaining that we are a Canadian band and that we travel to Europe a few times a year and that this amount of gear is perfectly normal. After a few minutes of questions, the officer smiled and we were all off on our way. Good thing we got Henry! Il est bon le gros Belge!
As I mentioned earlier, I think the Generator Hostel has THE smallest shower and bathroom I've ever seen. I felt like I was in an airplane...hilarious! I couldn't even get my head under the shelf to spit in the sink while brushing my teeth. I mean who got the design contract on this one...?
Otherwise, we were well received in Hamburg. We were offered a delicious burrito dinner next to the Nochtspreicher venue before the show. It's a cool little Mexican joint called Kombüse. The staff and crew at Nochtspreicher are really nice and had a whole pile of tasty beverages and snacks backstage, gros merci!! All they need next time is a smoke machine, tsé!
We had a short, but sweet visit this time in Hamburg. It's a cool city with a happening nightlife, lots of great bars and as I mentioned, a Red Light District if you're into that kind of thing. Check out the Reeperbahn Festival in September if you're in Europe. It's quite the scene. Cheers, we're off to Berlin!
KOMBÜSE, Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 51, 20359 Hamburg, Germany
Eat some Currywurst
Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 69a, 20359 Hamburg
(conveniently located next to the main train station in Hamburg)
They got pretty good coffee, free breakfast and decent WIFI
Oh and here's a video of Foo Fighters' "The Generator":
Cologne to Haldern, Germany
Who is Tricky Ricky? Hmm...I'm not really sure. I do have a long time running gag though in which a "Rick" is a name given to someone who for the most part sucks, someone who's not being a bud, someone who fails. Perhaps I got this from watching too much Trailer Park Boys during my McGill years..? No offence to the real Ricks or Richards of the world. It's just a senseless joke. Tricky Ricky happens to be the name of the soap in the bathrooms at the hotel in Cologne. I'm sorry I just couldn't help myself. What kind of a name for soap is that anyway?... Tricky Ricky - wtf?
After a 7 hour journey from Lyon, the Franklin crew checked in at the Meininger Hotel in Cologne where we would stay for the next 3 nights. It's OK - small rooms and shitty WIFI, but I did manage to do some laundry! As usual after a long drive, I was craving a tasty beer to calm my senses. The Germans have a ton of great beers. I slipped into a nearby bar and enjoyed a few tasty weissbiers before calling it a night. I'm a big fan of IPA'S, and I find that the German wheat beers have a similar tangy-ness to them. This is like a Blanche de Chambly but WAY BETTER.
With plenty of free time the next day, we were all able to sleep and recuperate in the morning (take it when you can get it!) I took this opportunity to break a sweat and enjoy a nice jog in the nearby Hiroshima Nagasaki Park. A pretty great place to chill, walk, jog or just sit and stare at swans in the water.
It's now Easter Monday. Everything in Cologne is closed, except the local Café Fleur, next to our hotel. I enjoyed the German version of a latte, the Milchkaffee and a plate of eggs. Pas mal, this little café.
The weather here seems to change up really fast. After the rain poured down that afternoon and then a sunny break, we all took a walk and stumbled upon a Persian tandoori restaurant. No English menus here! The owner of the place was kind enough to explain most of the dishes on the menu before I settled on some lamb, eggplant and basmati rice à la Persia... delicious! I needed to walk off my dinner, so I ventured solo over to the enormous Cathedral in Cologne. This thing is massive!!! It's so tall that I almost missed it walking down the street. I wasn't looking straight up, ha!
The next morning I enjoyed another breakfast at Café Fleur before strolling around the many shops in the downtown area. If you want to do some serious shopping, Cologne is not a bad city to do it!
At 4pm we loaded in to the Stadtgarten venue. Due to a booking change-up, we actually got bumped to play in the larger venue here, instead of the 200 capacity Studio 672. This worked in our advantage, as we ended up rocking the venue with approximately 275 people in front of the stage. The tour in Germany was off to a great start!! I felt we played really well that night. And how lucky are we to play for a great crowd away from home!! Merci Köln!
To do and see in Köln
- Enjoy one of the Germans many Weissbiers. Paulaner is a pretty good one, although there are plenty more.
- Go to Hiroshima Nagasaki Park. Beautiful! Water, ducks, green plants!!
BACK WERK - Chain of snack bars around the city. Good place for cheap eats (sandwiches, pastries, coffee etc...)
Neumarkt Galerie Köln, Krebsgasse 4-6, 50667 Köln
Rathenaupl. 1, 50674 Köln
Killer espresso based drinks and espresso machine showroom. Real deal coffee culture.
Kolumbastraße 8, 50667 Köln
Other cool bars:
(Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to check them out)
- Die hängenden gärten Von ehrenfeld
- Scheues reh
Day 10 of the tour - off to Haldern
Haldern is a small farm town about a 1.5hr drive from Cologne. It's a great little town with a few restaurants, a bakery, a few hotels and shops, and tons of nice brick houses. In the middle of town is the Haldern Pop Bar, a 100 person capacity venue where the locals flock to hear some new music. Over the past 25 years, this little farm town has brewed up a pretty cool music scene, due to locals Stefan Reichmann and his team who began organizing the Haldern Pop festival. The festival has grown immensely over the years and has included some other Montreal bands including Patrick Watson, The Besnard Lakes, as well some US artists like Father John Misty. We met Stefan and his crew last fall when we played the Kaltern Pop Festival, which they also help organize.
Perhaps due to some sugary German wine I had indulged upon the previous evening, I was feeling a bit woozy and unable to focus today. I had to get away, my body was craving some exercise. I'm glad we were able to get the soundcheck out of the way rather quickly, so I could slip on my Nike's and hit the streets. A solid 30 minute run around this little town and a hot shower and I was reset, ready to rip the gig.
Tonight we would also have the luxury of being served a home cooked German schnitzel dinner, complete with potatoes, coleslaw, gravy and veggies!! What a feast!! I was so hungry that I forget to take a picture for you, but damn it was good! This and an espresso and I was ready for the 1's and 2's.
The show was a "smasher" as Jon would say. The place was packed right to the stage with people of all ages. It got hot and sweaty real fast!
Haldern is a bit off the beaten path if you're visiting Germany, but if you're into seeing some good music and hanging with some locals, look up the show listings at the Haldern Pop Bar and book yourself a room at the Doppeladler Hotel and Restaurant. Good times!
I'm happy to be back in Germany! Land of unlimited speed on the highways, good beers and schnitzel! If this band is gonna be coming back here every once in a while, I'm really gonna have to try and learn the language. At this point, all the street names sound the same and I can barely get by trying to translate items on a menu. But the good thing about not being able to speak the language is that you get a little more interaction with the staff in various establishments as you need them to basically explain every item. A bit of a pain in the ass for them, but then you tell them you're from Canada and they always seem to be happy to help. Nice!!
Cologne is a cool city, not the most charming one in Germany, but a good time and lots of historical buildings ready for you and your selfies.
Haldern - a gem! I wouldn't have gone here other than to play some music, but I felt lucky to have contributed to the vibe in this little music scene. The second sweatiest gig so far of the tour here, one to remember!
Part 1 - Paris
It's the end of Day 5 of the tour and we have arrived in Paris at our little loft in the 11e arrondissement. Food is on the agenda. Où aller manger?? That's the question, always the question. Henry-François, our fearless manager/tour manager/bus driver/bandgear/photographer/part-time lighting technician gets word from his old school buddy Nico that the "Pause Café" in the 11e is a good spot for food and drinks. Off we go.
Some say Paris is boring, and that the people are cold. That may be true. Perhaps it's just one perspective. But I find the personalities of the staff in most cafés and restaurants kind of hilarious and charming. The workers in these establishments generally want to keep things simple. Order something quickly, don't change your mind and don't ask for separate bills. Got it?
The architecture in Paris is kinda cool too. The layout of the city, the fact that there is a little brasserie/cafe on every corner. The fact that most of these restaurants serve up variations on pretty much the same thing (meats and cheese and veggies all cooked in lotsa butter) is pretty great. You never have to walk very far to find an espresso or some flank steak. Tsé Genre!?
So we're off to eat at Pause Café. I treat myself to a little glass of bubbly and enjoy the evening special - "Joue de porc" with some nice veggies. Nothing too crazy, but a nice simple meal.
The remaining hours of the night were spent watching the rest of the band bet away their perdiem money. I'm not much of a poker player. Off to bed, merci.
The next morning I got myself a decent "Café crème" and almond croissant nearby before heading over to Le Pop Up du Label, our venue for tonight's show. It's a cool venue/bar restaurant that apparently gets pretty bumpin' on the weekends. It's now Friday March 25th and ya, we're about to rock it pretty hard here au Pop Up. The venue is on the street level with a pretty tight stage plopped into the corner. In the opposite corner, I discovered a photo booth marked "FREE" on top. Naturally I gravitate towards it, and proceed to take many selfies.
So we setup, soundchecked and proceeded upstairs at the Pop Up to a little table where we were served up some home made lasagna, salad, un petit vin rouge. Very nice! This is another thing that I really enjoy about touring Europe - the occasional home cooked meal, provided by the venue. Of course, the obvious perk is you save some coin, but it's also generally a tasty treat. And this was. Just judging by this lasagna, ya I would recommend some drinks and dinner here. The other meals they served up that night looked pretty good too. It's an open kitchen design, with a bar in the back and a few small tables. This place kinda reminded me of a kicked up Casa Del Popolo vibe. This bar/venue is in the 12th arrondissement, where it seems more and more establishments are setting up in this more "American" style layout. I enjoy the Parisian corner brasserie/restaurant vibe with the terrace etc... but this place is a cool alternative. Go!
I think the rest of my TFE crew members would agree that we went on to play our best show of the tour so far. In my 1st blog post I mentioned that the sound of the room plays a big part of how we feel onstage. Well the sound in this room and onstage was great, allowing us to have a bit more fun this time.
You can check out a nice review of the show here:
Some photos of the show here:
If I could nerd out on gear for a minute here, I would say that D&B PA systems are the best. Le Pop Up has a nice D&B kit set up here. Our restless soundman Adam may have had only 16 inputs to work with on a little Soundcraft board, but the crowd was bumpin' and we all enjoyed the sound that night. German designed audio products!! C'est bon ça.
Ah yes, I should also mention I took a brief stroll before the gig to explore the neighbourhood, to better digest my lasagna dinner. I found myself walking around the Gare de Lyon, where I was approached by some prostitutes. Uh, non merci. Up the street is the statue of Bastille which a nice sight to see. The opera house is also nearby. I'm sure an evening at the opera would be great...next time.
Later on that night we were invited by the French Indie label Naïve to an after party at the Lipstick bar in the Pigalle district. This is pretty much the big dress-up-go-out-andgetwasted part of Paris. People on the corner trying to convince you to go to strip clubs, donair restaurants, the usual. Lipstick was crammed that night with a nice mixed crowd of 30-40 yr old go getters.
They serve up some pretty tasty €10-15 cocktails, but if you want a cheap €3.50 pint, well they got that too. And shooters served up in some cute mini jars...nice touch! We concluded the evening at a standard Donair joint. Where exactly that was, I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure it was close to the SEXODROME.
Part 2 - Lyon
Yesterday we hit the road for Lyon (on typical Franklin "running late but not stressed" time). In the comfort of our enormous Mercedes Sprinter Van, I reversed the seat in front of me, spread out and caught up on some zzzs.
Upon arrival into Lyon, we nearly burnt out the clutch on our trusty Mercedes van climbing the slope of the city to the venue. Little did we know we were about to play at the smallest venue I think I've ever seen - Kraspek Myzik, a tiny bar/venue stuck in the hill of Lyon. We were greeted with all the drinks you can handle and a nice chicken, ratatouille dinner. Again, a nice home cooked meal provided by the venue. Bonus!
Well if we thought that the stage in Paris was small, we were wrong. This stage was small!! Me, Martin and Ken managed to setup our gear within the confines of the stage, whereas Jon had no choice but to set himself up literally amongst the audience. It got hot and sweaty as we plowed through our set, definitely the sweatiest one so far.
I would have loved to venture off to see some other bars in Lyon, but the beer was flowing at just the right price at Kraspek (...$0.00) so we stayed here until the end of the night.
- - -
Fast forward 8 hours....
This morning our objective was to get to Cologne, Germany before sundown, but first....Easter Sunday Brunch!! Upon recommendation from Marion (another one of Henry-François' local friends) we were off to chow down at Butcher. As the name would suggest, it's a Steak House/Burger place. But on Sundays they serve a great brunch, and some fine coffee too. Not a lot of options, just the brunch plate for brunch-ers, but it's got pretty much anything you would want to have for brunch (poached egg, homemade sausages, bacon, pancakes...damn!) Ya the coffee was so good here that I had to order another double espresso. You should too!
After a brief jaunt along the Rhone River, we all hopped back in the van, and were off to Germany. À la prochaine!
(if you're in and around the 11th arrondissement)
41 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France
Le Pop Up du Label (Good Food and Live Bands/DJs)
14 Rue Abel, 75012 Paris, France
Lipstick bar (Pigalle district)
5 Rue Frochot, 75009 Paris, France
If you can afford it, get some D&B speakers!
Need a big tour van?:
These guys rent a whole fleet of tour vans for bands. Nice guys too!
Steak and Burger house.
30 Rue Lanterne, 69001 Lyon
Mr. Tom peanut bar is a pretty solid choice for a snack bar. A nice blend of salty and sweet with a crunchy, caramel-y thing going on. Mmm
Just walk along the Rhone River, it's beautiful.
I'm not sure exactly how many times I've been to Paris, but it's always beautiful. Sure the people are a bit depressed or grumpy or whatever, but the food is good and the wine is cheap. And it's old. Older than Canada anyway, so I mean for a musician/tourist like me = always a good time. I will be back because eventhough I've been to Paris many times already, there are still a lot of things I haven't seen and wines I haven't tried.
Lyon - also very beautiful. With the main downtown area that longs the Rhone River, it's really quite scenic. I wish I had more than 12 hours in this city, I would have explored more. The Sunday morning market vibe was great.
France your are charming.
À la prochaine.
Welcome back to Rise and Find. It is now day 5 of the current Franklin Electric eurotour. We have just arrived safely in Paris at our little loft where we will be for the next 2 nights. Last time we were in Paris we stayed at this same apartment. Last time Paris was a very different place. We arrived in Paris last Nov 13 just as the attacks on Paris were taking place. In fact, we drove right by one of the cafés that had been blown up. It was a very bizarre, uneasy feeling.
The same uneasy feeling came over me 2 days ago. After our first show in London, we woke up to bad news coming out of the TV set. Bombs were going off again in Europe, this time in Brussels.
The news was hard to digest as I crammed cereal and coffee in my face as (in semi-typical Franklin fashion) we were running late for our 8am departure to the next gig. The morning prior the vibe in this little hostel kitchen was much different. There was a charming Turkish woman working in the kitchen. She danced around the kitchen as Salsa music cranked out of her HP laptop on YouTube, wiping the counters and refilling cereal boxes etc... On the other side of the room, the same television set that would broadcast the terrible news the following morning was now broadcasting the Jeremy Kyle show. Who is Jeremy Kyle?? He's pretty much the British Jerry Springer.
Here check out this crazy episode:
So one morning the TV is blasting me with a mother and her daughter who think that broadcasting their lack of love for eachother is a good idea, and the next day another group of people who are in dire need of love are walking into an airport and blowing people away. Is there anything more saddening than to hear about people killing others? What's crazy is also the feeling that this era of terrorism is something that will most likely be present throughout my entire life. Let's be honest...it's on. If these terrorists want to take our western freedom away, well they are slowly doing it. If only we could counterattack with LOVE. As the Beatles would say "All you need is love"
After finishing our complimentary breakfast, we were off to Amsterdam! Please allow to change up the vibe here. Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in Europe. Why?
- Beautiful architecture
- Beautiful people riding bikes
- It's not a major city crowded with traffic, noise, bulldozers and cranes. Bikes rule. C'est bon ça.
After our 7 hour drive, we arrived mid afternoon to Studio Le Roy in Amsterdam to record a few songs for 2 metre sessions -
I enjoyed the vibe of the studio. Everything was patched and ready to roll as soon as we arrived. It's always nice when a studio is setup and patched when you arrive. Save time, and get to the reason you're there - The Music! We performed 6 songs back to back, mostly all in one take, packed up and bounced out to get some dinner. At this point we were starving!!!
Conveniently located next to eachother on Kerkstraat are the restaurant Portugalia and the Dolphins Coffeeshop. I think we hit 2 birds with one stone here. After a delicious plate of Pork and Clams, some killer garlic bread and some Sagres beers at Portugalia, the gang headed next door and into the basement of The Dolphins Coffeeshop to see what the Netherlands had to offer. Not bad! This is a great coffeshop in Amsterdam. Pretty chill vibe, Afghan style couches in the basement where tobacco is tolerated (only cannabis on the top floor), delicious cappuccinos, mint tea, good tunes...and the staff are attentive and enthusiastic to tell you all about whichever smoke you choose to indulge in. Some other Coffeeshops can be intense, almost intimidating in their way of greeting you, asking for ID even if you look 40 with Metallica cranking as 3 dudes stare down your passport, genre. But The Dolphins is a great one. Go there! Get some TESLA POWER.
The next morning I had the pleasure of waking up, brewing myself up an instant Nescafé espresso in my hotel room and hitting the pool! I love swimming. Swimming on tour...not always something you can get to enjoy. So when I stay at a hotel that has a pool, for sure gonna hit that up in the morning.
Today we play the Paradiso in Amsterdam, but before we do we have about 5 interviews to do. Kind of intense, one after another. As Jon is the songwriter of the band, he naturally fields most interviews, but I do get my chance to pipe in every once in a while. After a few interviews, we performed some acoustic songs for Online Zubbculture Magazine. "Unsatisfied", Show Me The Quiet Air", and a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" were performed. These videos should be available soon on their site zubb.nl One of the video crew members, George, suggested a great beer joint "Café Gollem" which I hit up later for some IPAs!!
The show at Paradiso was a success. The upstairs hall was about 3/4 full with approx 110 people checking out our sound. It was cool to see some people singing the lyrics to the songs, especially in this foreign city. This venue is a pleasure to play. The crew on lights and sound there are really on point too which makes the whole night roll smooth, not to mention sound and look great. I must say that my shiny Pearl drums looked pretty sweet on that stage! Ha! Not only that, but the Paradiso peeps respect our rider too, so we get some good snacks backstage and a few tasty beverages! Pas mal quoi.
So ya, speaking of tasty beverages... I led us off into the night post gig in search of some beers at the Cafe Gollem. With half of our crew getting a bit sidetracked by food, I ended up grabbing a few beers at Gollem solo. I mean, I had to go! George had recommended it, said it was some of the best places in Amsterdam to get some tasty local micro brews. And tasty micro brews they were. I told the barman that I enjoy citrus-y, hoppy IPAs and I would like to try something local. He had just the beer to satisfy! He explained that although Holland actually has more breweries than Belgium, Belgium produces more quantity of beer. Interesting little fact. And so, I was served up a Belgian made IPA with some fresh citra hops. Although the beer was made in Belgium, it's made specifically for Gollem. Can't remember the name of it, but damn it was tasty. Next up was another Belgian, this time a double IPA called "Extase"...and yes, the name says it all. Très bon! So after 2 delicious beers, great chit chat with some locals and free WIFI, I was off to meet the rest of the TFE crew members. But before...a snack!
The snack that was about to go down is something unique to Amsterdam. I mean, what I ate and the way in which the food was presented to me was like nothing I've seen elsewhere. You could honestly say it's a stoner/drunk trap. Basically "FEBO" restaurant is a walk in restaurant on the main strip of Amsterdam which serves up semi-fresh greasy food. The thing that makes it a bit crazy is the fact that there are no waiters or staff, besides the cooks in the back. The food is displayed through small glass doors (about 100 in all) and all you have to do is slip money in the slot next to the door, push the button and pull out your tasty little snack. What a concept! ... and I know I was drunk, but it's actually pretty delicious. I did sort of semi regret the three cheeseburgers the next morning though. But they were just so tempting, staring at me through the glass window. I couldn't resist. I suggest you check it out.
The next piece of food I was to consume would be from Bagels and Beans, a Danish chain of breakfast restaurants offering up some fair trade Panama coffee, local "sustainable" smoked salmon and some killer bagels. Go there too. Get the "Lazy" breakfast combo.
Shortly after this, I was at the wheel of our enormous van heading for Paris. Roll it up and roll out!
Amsterdam thank you! You are beautiful. I didn't get in too much sight seeing this time, but I did get a solid 45 Mins between soundcheck and the gig to wander the downtown and snap some pics. It wasn't the full meal deal, but I got in what I could while I could, checked out some local suggestions and played some music. Sometimes I get the feeling of disappointment that I don't take in enough of the cities that were in. You do your best and that's all you can do.
As Dean would say: When you're on tour you got to take every chance you can get.
WHAT TO CHECK OUT IN AMSTERDAM
- Paradiso (for great local and international touring bands)
- Café Gollem (Raamsteeg 4)
Kerkstraat 35, 1017 GB Amsterdam
Leidsestraat 94, 1017 PE Amsterdam
Bagels and Beans (good lunch and breakfast)
The Dolphins Coffeeshop
Kerkstraat 39, 1017 GB Amsterdam
Don't go to this Coffeeshop:
Leidseplein 15, 1017 PS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Bastion Hotel Amsterdam Airport
We stay at this hotel next to the airport for a number of reasons. Ofcourse it would be way cooler to stay downtown Amsterdam and party the night away, but it's a little expensive and hard logistically for 6 dudes with a van full of gear.
This hotel is about 20 mins to downtown by car, and easily accessible by public transit. But it's only $80 CAN (www.bookings.com)per night per room which is way cheaper than anything we could possibly find in the city. And...there's easy parking, a pool, steam room, gym...I don't think you get this at your Airbnb downtown. Which leads me to my final tip.. Always ALWAYS bring a bathing suit when travelling. You never know!
March 22, 2015
Welcome to Rise and Find!
(my first attempt at a blog...)
Throughout these posts, I plan to share with you my experiences on the road as a touring musician. This will most likely include thoughts and tips about drumming, food, lodging, bars, coffee, maximize my sleep time and just simply continuing to improve and be happy in life.
"Welcome back to Franklin / Reflections on London, England"
Let's start back at the beginning-ish...
As most of you know already, I am pretty busy these days playing drums with the Montreal folk/pop band The Franklin Electric. 6 years ago, the initial formation of the group began performing in little bars in Montreal, led by Jon Matte. We soon after recorded the debut album. Shortly after the release of the album, the band was getting busier and busier, and so was my sideman career, plus I was recording and producing my own solo album with my group "East West Project". As much as I thought I could try and keep a balance with all these projects on my plate, I had to make the hard decision to leave the band in 2012. I'll admit, not an easy decision. Fast forward to summer 2015... The day before my 30th birthday, Jon called me to offer me back the gig. The current drummer, Liam Killen, announced he was leaving a few weeks before the next European tour. OK sure!
BTW - go check out Liam's new project with guitarist Nicolas Ferron "Les Passagers" it's dope
The decision was a no-brainer. The offer to have a second chance in the band and travel the world was just what I wanted to do.
The rising success of the band has brought us already twice to Europe and across Australia since the fall of 2015. I feel very lucky to be travelling and playing great music with a great group of guys. This is pretty much my dream come true, ever since rocking out to No Doubt and Dave Matthews band records when I was 13 years old.
So here we are now - embarking on another tour of Europe, this time for 17 days. And this time, we're headlining! Kinda freaky, as you never really know how many people are gonna show up to see you play, especially in a foreign market. We've had the luxury of playing for big crowds in Europe before, last time was when we were opening up for our Montreal pals Half Moon Run. Now we're making a go of it.
First show of the tour was last night in London, England at The Waiting Room. It's a tight basement venue with a skinny stage crammed in the back corner. Initially, the place smelled like bleach, but as the place filled up and opener Annie Lee played the first set, the place heated up and got nice and sweaty. I'd say, this first show was a success. We crammed 60 people in a basement club on a Monday in London and as far I could tell, we played well and people were digging it.
The last time we were in London, we were opening for Half Moon Run. I can't remember the ins and outs of that day really, but I do know that we didn't have much time for sight seeing. I'm happy that this time I got to see more of London. We arrived direct to London from Montreal the day before our show, had some time to rest and try and defer jetlag. I was able to stay up for a few hours, but couldn't escape the afternoon power nap in order to complete the day in good spirits. Before eventually passing out at 4pm, we took in some of the Sunday afternoon markets including the Flower Market and famous Brick Lane.
The flower market was great. Nothing better to lift your spirits on a grey Sunday afternoon in London than to see hundreds of people walking around with flowers in their arms. Come to think of it, I probably should have bought some to spruce up our hostel room. Six dudes all sleeping in the same room together gets pretty smelly...
So after walking the crowded street of the flower market, we ventured down to brick lane. Picture the "Ventes de Trottoirs" on Mont Royal street in Montreal x 2, this is Brick Lane. Food vendors, vintage clothing shops, musicians busking...good times! We spent most of our time venturing around Shoreditch which is full of cool bars and restaurants. Sunday night we hit up Busapa for some Thai food and The Old Blue Last pub for a pretty solid IPA before bed.
Monday morning was off for the band, so I decided to go solo and venture off into the city. A 30 min walk brought me to London bridge. From the bridge you have a pretty stellar view of downtown, the HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge, next to London Tower. These are all pretty packed with tourists, but a walk along the water is always a good idea!
Cheap eats of the day: £3 sandwich, chip & drink combo from Sainsbury's grocery. Pretty solid deal considering how expensive London is and how weak the Canadian dollar is at the moment. Save the perdiems, eat a sandwich on a bench!
Looking for a free bathroom in downtown London? Hit up the Royal Exchange building, next to the bank of England. It's a rather impressive White House looking building full of expensive designer watch shops and over priced lattés. It made me feel kind of Royal for a minute. And I just hate trying to find a bathroom in a busy city, so if you don't feel like paying 50 pence for a piss, let the well-dressed door man let you in here. Not a bad way to conclude my sight seeing this time in London.
I can't say I had fish and chips in London, but I did enjoy a classic meat pie with a pint after soundcheck at The Three Crowns for £10 (Monday Night Special). 175 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 0LH
Having the special at a restaurant is always pretty much a safe bet which can save you some coin. Genre.
To conclude this inaugural blog post, I gotta do a shout out to the amazing team at Pearl Drums and Algam distribution in France for sending me a great sounding (and looking!!) instrument to play on. Big thanks!
People ask me "isn't it boring playing the same music night after night?".
My answer is no.
Part of the reality/challenge (and the fun!) of touring and playing music night after night is the fact that you're playing in different sounding rooms. Last night was not exactly an easy room to play in in terms of sound (low ceilings, one big tile wall on one side). Soundcheck was rough with the snare and cymbals just blowing way too much sound into the room. After a few adjustments, I realized that I just had no choice but to play softer than normal. Even if my energy towards a song might be super intense and I want to hit hard, sometimes I have to consciously hold back, relax and try to focus that energy into listening more attentively to the song, the dynamics and making sure the vocals and all the elements are getting across to the audience. If you playing big venues, usually you can get away with bashing a bit more and a good soundman will be able to handle the dynamics properly. When I'm in these different situations night after night, having a great sounding kit makes adapting to the music easy and much more fun. Sure I'm playing the same song, perhaps the same drum fill, but I'm probably not playing it exactly the same way physically every night. Drums are a physical instrument. How you move affects how you sound, and how you sound affects the emotion the audience responds to. So instead of being frustrated that I can't bash my beautiful drum kit, I choose to look at every gig as a chance to adapt to the sound, get deeper in the music, sound better and have fun! You should to.
-£3 sandwich, chip & drink combo from Sainsbury's grocery.
- The Three Crowns. 175 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 0LH
- The Dictionary Hostel in Shoreditch (10-20 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8DA, United Kingdom)
this is a cheap place to stay for a band (€20 per person roughly) and you can usually get an entire private room if you are a crew of 4 or 6.
The Old Blue Last pub
(38 Great Eastern St
Shoreditch EC2A 3ES)
- Free piss at the Royal Exchange Building.
- Don't leave your tour van unattended in the drop off area at Heathrow Airport. Our tour manager left our van there while he came in to pick us up. After 20 mins three police cars were there, dogs searching the van etc... Perhaps because we had French plates on the van we looked more suspicious..? Anyway, don't do that! haha