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Fourth gig: Regent Hall – London (UK)

Playing in London is always a special thing for me. I love London. Great city, great people. But this one goes in the books as a very strange day…
What a day it was!! I had it all sort out. Weeks before this gig, al was arranged. The local people in London knew what to do, where where in a day before with all our gear. What can go wrong? Remember last year? Miss our flight, no sound check, no power until 5 minutes before the concert, etc…. I made sure that this time, all would go smooth, easy and on time!
So the local sound company would arrive at 08:00 am to build up sound and lights. We would enter the venue around 10:00 to buildup our gear, and do a good and long sound check. Have lunch, and after lunch do a full band rehearsal, as it has been 1,5 weeks since the last gig in Germany.
Alco and Wilco (FOH & monitoring) took the van with our gear to the venue, and saw that there was no PA build up. So Wilco informed us to take it slow. And then around 10:00 we got the phone call… The sound company arrived with a small van with only the lights around 09:30 (1,5 to late!!). And the big truck was still in a traffic jam.. and would not arrive at the venue for 1,5 hours or so. So the truck arrived around 11:15 (more than 3 hours to late). When we arrived, only the trussing and a few lights where build up. No sign of any PA yet… And they where slow…. man I was irritated. So I had a chat with the leader of the group to speed it up, and they tried, I guess.
Unfortunately, due to a double booking of the venue, we had to clear the hall between 12:00 and 14:00, because there was a meeting. So you can imagen that with the sound being so late, and missing two hours in the middle, my whole schedule was thorn apart.
So we all went out for lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant, Masala zone. When we came back, (around 15:15) we started building our gear and instruments. So finally around 16:30 we started the first sound check, only 5,5 hours to late according to my schedule. But, all went well, but we had a real big sound problem. The venue was a church with soooo much natural reverb, that there was almost no definition tin the sound. But Alco, our FOH sound tech, did a great job! He managed to make something out of it, and it was great!
The concert itself was great. With mixed feelings I played through the set. I totally loved it! But it was the last one of the mini-tour and that is always a bit sad, because it is soooo great to be on tour. during tours, I know that this is why I live! 😉 I am really glad that we did those 4 concerts, and I am looking forward to the coming tour. Coming tour? Well, wishful thinking maybe… hehehe. Who knows!
For me there are now three weeks left until my holiday, and after that I will start working on my own prog-project. I will keep you informed about this. Also I will start producing the new CD of Daniel Fries, and will start with the drumtracks very soon.
Okay, It was sooo great to meet you all and to have some chats. I hope to see you all soon again on some tour or something.
Well, one thing I did not mention, somewhere this summer we will start editing the soundtracks of the DVD recording we did in Zoetermeer. Stay tuned!! I’ll make a ‘dvd-diary’ of it!
cya all!!

Day off in London

It is early in the morning now, I cannot sleep anymore. So I try to type, without waking Jessica. Yesterday we arrived in London around 09:00 am. We had a good flight, and all went well. It was really nice to have the day off, and walk through the city. As our hotel was near Paddington Station, everything was so close by. Just bought a day-ticket of the tube, and off we go!
The first thing I did was directly go to the official Apple Store. Man, what a great shop, and it is huge!! As an Apple fan, it is truly amazing to be in a real Apple store, owned by Apple itself. A real candy-store for big boys… hehehe As you can see in the movie, I had fun!
After the Apple Store, we went to Piccadilly Circus, the Tower Bridge and a lot of other places. Of course we stopped at Starbucks for some nice coffee and walked through the city.
At the end of the day we had diner at this great and trendy Indian restaurant. A real treat! If you are around London and you like Indian food you really should visit them! They are located in the Soho-area and called Masalla Zone.
So it was a nice day of relaxing and having fun!
Ready to rock now!!
Cya tonight!!

Questions answered

I have some time now to answer some of your questions:
Can you say something about how you prepare yourself before the band gets together. Did you just play along Neals cd’s or did you get the original drum-tracks? Or are any of the drum-parts written down?
– I got the music from Neal on CD or through email. Just the audio that is. No written parts or what so ever, just the music on CD or MP3. Then I would listen to it a lot, and start transcribing the drumparts. I found that when I transcribed a song, it is 80% in my head already. This is for me the best way to memorise a song.
Are you trying to stay close to MP’s technique and style or can you really do your own thing with it?
– With the music of Neal, Mike’s drumparts are quite essential for the feel of the song. They are almost part of the composition. If you analyse his drumparts closely, you see that they are part of the bigger picture, and that it is very musical. So I try to stay as close to his parts as possible. Of-course I am not Mike, and also his roots are different. Especially with the double bass playing. Mike played double bass since he was a kid. I just started to play them for 5 years now. I take the freedom to play the fills a bit my way: if a Portnoy-fill is to much of a challenge, I’ll might change it a bit. But the rhythms and grooves, I try to play them as they are. Neal gives me total freedom in my drumparts, as long as it serves the song, and gives the same energy.
How did you and the band prepare? Where there a lot of rehearsals with or without Neal?
– When Neal and I agreed on the setlist, I informed the band about the songs. As the bandleader I had to oversee that everybody was learning the songs correctly, so we came together a few times in the month before the tour, and jammed together, and played through our parts. Quite difficult when the leading man is not there. You miss the leadvocals, his keys, and his guitar-parts. And because Paul is from the UK, during those pre-rehearsals we did not have any guitarparts. It was just Jessica, Henk, Wilco and myself. The last weekend before Neal arrived, Paul came over, and we rehearsed two days with the band. Then a week later, Paul came on monday. That day was just setting up, soundchecking etc. Tuesday we rehearsed with Paul. And on the wednesday (one day before the first gig) when Neal arrived, we started rehearsing with the full band . So we all had some preparation time in advance, but the real full-band rehearsing took place in 1,5 day.
Can you tell us a bit more about your drumkit you use on this tour?
– Sure thing! The kit I use during this tour is a Tama Starclassic Bubinga in Violet Sparkle. Tama provided this kit for this tour only. My new Tama drumkit did not arrive in time, so they lent me this amazing drumkit. But as they did not have a 8″ tom at hand, they lent me this black one (maple). It is a great drumkit, with a very deep and dark sound. This actual kit has been used by Harvy Mason and Rodney Holmes during clinics in Holland.
I mounted the kit on my DrumFrame, that puts the whole kit in a 30 degrees angle upwards. It looks very cool, but it is also therapeutic. Due to a back injury years ago, I cannot play long on a normal drumstool, so this DrumFrame is THA BOMB! It is designed so that your balance point is not only your lower back, but your whole back. Thanks to this invention of Bob Gatzen, I can play for day’s without pain.
My cymbals are a mixture of Sabian and Zildjian cymbals (and for this tour I lent an Istanbul Rock Crash from Ruben, my drumtech).
Is there a second leg of this tour coming?
– Well, who knows. We are looking into the possibilities of touring some more. As soon as there is more news about this, I’ll put it online. If you have some suggestions of great venues, don’t hesitate to mention! 😉
If you have more questions, feel free to post them here, and I’ll try to answer them!
Hope to see you in London!


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