Happy New Year!
It's been a while since I logged my journeys out on the road. I have a lot to be thankful for in this new year, an I'm very happy that 2017 is off to a fresh start with this tour in Australia.
Just as the tour was getting underway though I was hit with some bad news back home. On the morning of Jan 12th I got a message saying that my friend and guitarist Tom Eliosoff had passed away in his apartment from a drug overdose. I remember reading the message in the baggage lineup at the Melbourne airport, shocked with disbelief. What?!? I was shaking. Tom was the telecaster shredding, blazing front man in my band "East West Project", a hilarious character and a truly loving guy. I knew Tom had some problems with substance abuse, but I never thought it would get to this. The East West Project band that we had together hadn't played a show since the summer of 2015 and I hadn't really heard from Tom since then. All of us in the band are busy sidemen, so I'm sure we just finished our last show and everyone went on with their lives thinking another gig would come up, or that we would run into each other somewhere. Well that never happened. It's a sad and bizarre reality to think that I'll never get to play that music with him ever again. Tom was a gifted musician. He played his heart out every time, and I'll never forget him.
If you have never the music that me and Tom recorded, check it out:
It is now Jan 17th, exactly 10 days after we have left the freezing landscape of Montreal for the full blown summer heat here in Australia. We have completed the first 3 shows of the tour, where we performed in opening slots for Half Moon Run. We had a day off to recuperate from our 24 hour travel time from Montreal before this first gig in Brisbane, which for me was essential. The 360 degree time change, 50 degree increase in temperature, blazing sun, airplane food and lack of sleep had me on the verge of a cold. Only today do I really feel like I've become accustomed to the huge change of traveling this far. Thanks vitamin C.
So, Brisbane is a super clean, modern city. Didn't see a lot of hippies here. Lots of cute families, middle aged joggers in fresh Nike's and the occasional Asian tourist taking a selfie in front of one of their many bridges. Pretty funky town though. The S shaped river that runs through it, although brown-ish in color, makes walking the city all that more interesting, especially when crossing from South bank over to downtown led us into the botanical garden next to the university where a few giant Bunyan Fig trees reigned (photo above). Aside from a casual walk one afternoon and a quick dip in the public pool (more like a kid-friendly Club Med vibe) complete with a Sandy beach, I didn't do any of the "must do's" in Brisbane. Apparently there is a Koala sanctuary not far which would have been cool to see, but the Koalas will have to wait 'til next time.
alright, back why I'm on the other side of the planet.... THE MUSIC:
One of the many challenges of being the opening act is that you often get little or no time to soundcheck. This was a challenge at all three of our opening act slots with HMR, and we were definitely up for it. On this first gig, by the time we had everything setup and plugged in, we had only 15 minutes to get comfortable with the sound before doors opened at 8. Downbeat @ 8:25! We had a quick run-through, the I had an instant coffee (Moccona brand here...not bad...) and then back on stage to perform our new songs to the "Ozzies". Franklin's 2nd album "Blue Ceilings" was just released earlier this month in Oz (Feb 24 for the rest of the world) and so this is our first stretch of gigs playing the new record. A bit nervous, a bit frazzled by the last minute foggy stage sound, but the 7 song gig went well and the crowd was great, attentive and enthusiastic.
You can pre-order and get 2 songs off the new album here:
After Brisbane, we flew to Melbourne for another 10 minute soundcheck, 10 minute break and then DOWNBEAT! This second show felt more under control. The sound was better and the onstage crew was much more helpful. Attitude goes a long way, tsé! I was kinda laughing backstage with Jon before we went on as the urgent soundcheck really puts you in a tense vibe. Then when the downbeat comes, playing music is the easy part and all the tension that has built up over the day gets out. In this case I think it made for a better show.
Saturday night's show in Sydney featured another opening band before us, Betty & Oswald. I didn't have much time to check out their set, although these guys (and girl) were sporting some pretty hipster outfits and I could hear some pretty hipster sounds coming up into the backstage area...Mac Demarco anyone...? We had a 9 song set this time, which allowed for a bit more room to breath and a chance to get the crowd warmed up for HMR. We were performing at the Metro Theatre which is a great venue in Sydney. The angled floor allows everyone in the place with a decent view of the show and the sound out front is great. It was really fun to watch HMR rip through their set from up on the balcony, and not squished amongst 700 other people. A special night! Thanks to Half Moon Run for having us on this tour!
Here's a few pics from our show:
HMR onstage in Sydney (below)
For the last 5 days, the Franklin crew and I have been getting some R&R in a suburb of Sydney called Cronella. It's about a 30 minute drive south of the city. We're lucky to have some free accomodations here, complete with a kitchen, skateboards, studio to jam in, and a pool to keep cool in. Not too much has been happening besides taking it easy on the beach, drinking "Goon" or locally made boxed wine (20$ for 2x4Litres!), and hanging with the locals... oh, and a few hours of practice here and there too.
That's all she wrote for now folks! One more day off at the beach and then back on the road, next stop Geelong.