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