Trey Gunn 10-string Warr Guitar
Joe Mendelson 8-string Warr Guitar, Ashbory Rubber Bass
Tony Geballe Electric Guitar, 12-string Acoustic Guitar
Bob Muller Drums, Hand drums, Percussion
Trey’s diaries from the tour:
August 25, 2000 Dangerous Music Studios, New York City
It was a long New York day, yesterday. We basically just set up all of our gear and then ran errands. My rack of gear needed to be entirely taken apart and put back together in a new configuration. I got that going but it took until about 10:00pm to complete it. In between that, I ran all over this city -- getting my suitcase fixed, picking up packages at UPS and more.
These small errands would be the simplest and easy tasks in any other city, but here in New York....it is an entirely different story. Taking cabs during rush hour makes everything much slower and harder. When I arrived at UPS, way over on the West Side (we are rehearsing way over on the East Side in Bob's studio) I was met with a surprise. I found that, not only, was my power amp waiting there for me, but also Tony's new speaker cabinet. So I began to lug this giant box outside, and down the street, until I found a cab. Eventually my taxi from heaven arrived and I was off.
Did we play any music yesterday? No. Are we going to today? You bet. I can't wait. We are integrating a new player, Joe Mendelson. And we are going to smoke!
August 26, 2000 Dangerous Music Studios, New York City
Excellent day, today. Joe Mendelson, our new second Warr Guitarist, is fantastic. He has done the best job of 'doing his homework' as anyone I have ever worked with, save for Pat Mastellotto. Joe knows all the pieces inside and out. He has already internalized all of the forms and nearly all of the playing. In a matter of a few hours we have already run through 10 pieces. Do they sound good? Yes! And this is only the first day!
We have already begun to get into some of the subtleties in some of the pieces. This is amazing for a first day's work. I find my own playing still finding it's place. It's funny because my life has changed so much over the last few months. However, my playing is still in the process of catching up with me. I am looking forward to having everything completely in synch. YES!
August 27, 2000 Dangerous Music Studios, New York City
Oooow-eeeiii! We are sounding very, very good. In fact, we are sounding so good with only two days rehearsal that we run the risk of becoming complacent. Not that we are going to turn into slackers. Far from it. But, it is such a revelation to have Joe come in with all of his homework and wood-shedding done, and nail all of these pieces. And he's never even played a Warr Guitar, before about two months ago. He's a keyboardist, bassist and Pro-Tools sound designer wizard in his 'normal' life. But, as a new found Warr Guitarist, he is smoking. And, he rocks out a mean wah-wah solo, also!
We have now gone through all of our existing live repertoire and are beginning the fine tuning process. I hope to start working out some new material in the next three days, as well. I have a few ideas and so does Tony. Mostly I really want to work the rubber bass into the show.
The fine tuning involves mostly working transitions. Our transitions are a bitch. And I don't mean that lightly. If it doesn't mean that I have to cut from a searing solo directly to a funky clean riff in the space of a few milliseconds, then it means Bob has something completely insane to do. For example, in Rune Song he'll be cruising on the drum kit with the fairy sticks and the snares off. Then he has to immediately turn the snares on and flip the sticks around to the heavy end. But, this only lasts for two bars. At this point he has to drop the sticks, turn to the side and start wailing on the tabla. But, that only lasts for two bars, as well! At that point he has to magically get the sticks back into his hands, while he doing a tabla fill and crash in on a cymbal right on the next down beat. It is a complete acrobatic extravaganza, and joy to behold. You've gotta love a guy who paints himself into a corner as tight as this guy.
August 28, 2000 Dangerous Music Studios, New York City
12:30 am Tony's apartment
On the stereo: Moby "Play"
On the bookshelf: Jeanette Winterspoon "The World and Other Places"
On my skin: shirt and underwear
Another excellent day. We all spent most of the day taking care of technical details: programming and personal practice. Then we met up in the afternoon and hit it. And we hit it hard! We worked through every piece -- detailing as we went. We worked over many transitions and came up with some new parts/arrangements for a number of pieces. Namely "The Joy of Molybdenum" and "Rune Song." We also did some group work with the metronome. This was for the piece "Gate of Dreams", which is based on a terribly wicked Tony Geballe lick. He is a very sick man.
We got ourselves into a very intense jam at the end of the evening. Bob was cruising on every hand percussion instrument known to mankind. He would record a part in the echoplex and then begin playing on the drum kit over it. Joe and I got into this wild interlocking double bass part stuff. Meanwhile Tony wailed away above all of us. Sure wish we had the tape rolling. We would have had half of the next record already in the can.
August 29, 2000 Dangerous Music Studios, New York City
The end of another long day. We didn't begin until 3:00pm today, but then we didn't stop until midnight. That is a serious day of rehearsing in my book. And we are reaping the benefits in a profound way.
The most obvious thing that has happened in the last few days is that the overall standard of the band has leaped to a new level. It used to be that we were struggling so hard with simple execution (not that the playing was easy!), that we never got to the subtler elements of the material. This also meant that I, personally, never had to worry about my own playing too much. This was because we are always spending most of our limited rehearsal time with just being able to play the pieces, at all. Now the standard has been raised -- we can actually play the pieces quite well. This means that I now have to pay a lot more attention to the "how" of my playing as well and the "why."
I have never had to worry about this before with this particular band, but now I do. I am so happy with this. I love playing with these guys!
August 30, 2000 Dangerous Music Studios, New York City
Oh, a very long day. Mostly a technical day. We met at 3:00pm after hours of business. I have been searching down video equipment and camera operators for a project we are organizing on this tour. We are going to be doing a private show and filming and recording it. The clincher is that I have to organize the video end of it. Let me just say that I haven't the faintest idea what I am doing and I don't have the time or the energy to quite get it together. While at the same time: I am booking the hotels, travel arrangements, the accounting and dealing with the clubs and agent as well. However, I do have my system down and am getting a lot more efficient at it.
Even though I'm arranging the video gear rental and production for our shoot from a point of complete ignorance, I am getting a lot of help and learning bunch in the process. I have a good feeling about this. We hope to end up with a live record with either an enhanced CD, or a separate video or DVD of the performance.
So, we mostly dealt with our gear for the first several hours. By about 8:00pm we were all so fried that we took a dinner break and then came back and played through the set. I think it is fair to say that our playing after dinner was beyond saggy. But even considering how saggy we sounded, we still are miles beyond anywhere that this band has ever been before. That is a good feeling. But, it is hard to have a tough rehearsal.
So, we headed out for martinis and a laugh, around midnight. There are still a few bars around here that haven't had the rare treat of letting us sample their fine martini-man-ship. But, we are working on that.
August 31, 2000 Dangerous Music Studios, New York City
John Sinks called me from the Day's Inn in Barkyville, Pennsylvania this morning. He is driving his way out to get our gear her in New York. And then he is immediately leaving and driving out to Omaha, Nebraska for our first gig. What a guy! This man is serious.
We had a decent rehearsal today. We made some arrangement changes in "The Glove" as initiated by Joe. They were a fantastic improvement. We played down the whole the set and began to break down the gear.
Oh, how I love packing up my gear! It is such a joy to wind each cable so carefully and find just the right way to lay them into each case. To slowly lower each speaker cabinet into their respective flight case, and lock the latches. To un-plug each effect box and set them into their cases. To re-string the guitars and ease them into their soft cases and then pack these into their hardcases. These are the simple pleasures of the life of the working musician, that just can't be beat.
Tomorrow is a day off. Except for an interview, hours of phone calls and hours of e-mail. In between all of that I will try to run a few errands.
We've added another show in New Haven at "The Tune Inn" on September 17th.
September 1, 2000 Tony's apartment, New York City
It has been terribly hot here in the city. Not excruciatingly hot like it can be, but just plain hot and humid. Too hot to wear anything but shorts and sandals, in my book. However, the other day I needed to go up to my business manager's office, so I wore long pants to be a bit more presentable. By the time I got back down to the studio for rehearsal I was sweating bullets. So, I spent the rehearsal playing in my shirt and underwear. Nobody seemed to mind. I suggested we all play in our underwear, but I think that was a bit too intimate for the other guys.
Added to the heat, last night the city of New York began spraying to kill mosquitoes that 'might' be carring the West Nile Virus. This is a very controversial subject here. The reports say that the spraying is entirely harmless, however, you shouldn't be outside during it and you should bring all you pets in doors. The trucks started roving the city at 10:00pm. So, Tony closed up all the windows of his apartments before we slipped into darkness.
Tomorrow we fly to Omaha and move into serious gig mode.
September 2, 2000 Econo Lodge / Omaha, Nebraska
Well, well, well. We are in Omaha, now. Well, well, well. Here we are. Yep, that's where we are. Right here in Omaha. Omaha's in Nebraska, you know. And that's where we are.
We flew in and arrived at the airport at 5:00pm. We checked into our swanky motel pad and then set off to find some food. We settled on a Chicago pizza place. But, on the way we stumbled across tomorrow night's gig -- The Music Box. Hmmmmmm... there's no mention of us on the marquee. Hmmmmmm.... they do have the last four nights listed, including tonight's show of the "OK Girls." That's not a very good omen for a show on a Sunday night during Labor Day weekend.
Then when we were at dinner we asked the waitress if she had ever been to The Music Box. She said that she hadn't and asked us where it was. We said that it's right next door! Then we told her we were a band and wondered if she'd like to go to our show. She showed absolutely no interest whatsoever. She didn't even pretend to have an interest.
Well, that put us on a mission: we must find someone in the place that wants some free tickets to our show. So, we started asking every waitress that came by. Not one of them wanted to see our show. Not one! Wow, this is getting tough. I wonder if this is because we just don't look like musicians that these people would want to see? Or maybe there just isn't any interest in seeing live music, at all, in this town?
September 3, 2000 The Music Box / Omaha, Nebraska
It was 109 degrees, but Josh and I went for a short jog this morning, anyway. A good beginning for the day of our first show. We joked about how long we would be jogging by the time Crimson hits Toronto. (Josh will be with the KC, as well.) Musicians have these strange notions that they will take on various ambitious projects while they are tour. Rarely do these ambitions pan out. I'm sure by the time we get to Toronto with Crimson, I'll have not done any jogging for about a month. But, this morning it felt really, really good.
Tonight's show was a real success. A success for Music that is. We had a decent crowd. I was expecting about 6 people, tops, to be in the audience. In the end there were dozens and dozens! After the first piece, a group of 6 got up and left. I wished them well as they were walking out. Then I mentioned to the remaining people that we'd rather not having anyone here who doesn't really want to be here. And now we have only those who really want to be here. The audience cheered this.
The band played quite well for a first night. There were mistakes, of course, but all the playing was very honorably delivered. And, there were some magical moments. Arrakis was smoking. At that point, about 6 pieces into the set, the audience was totally 'in' with us. Completely absorbed in the music. So, I paced the piece quite slowly and it built and built and built. At one point the audience erupted in cheers. And when it ended they went completely crazy. At least, as crazy as 50 Nebraskans can be.
Sozzle was hot, too. This is such a fantastic opener. With Tony's first notes of the Saz you know immediately that something wild is about to happen. I'm still fiddling with the beginning section of this piece. I wish to bring more mayhem into the potion, but I haven't found a way to really do this without overshadowing the end section. Well, I've got 9 more gigs to learn how to accomplish this.
We had a stupendous train wreck in Hard Winds. Well, not exactly a train wreck, but more of a 'veering-off-the-edge-of-a-high-cliff' disaster. In the middle of the piece, I got off from Bob exactly one 16th note. We danced around each other throughout the whole section. First he would move to me, as I would move to him. Then we'd be off from each other again. Then I'd move to him as he moved back. It was spectacularly tense. I suspect from the audience's perspective it was very exciting. But for Bob and I, it was complete terror. This is actually the main thing that I love about playing with this band --that we can be very loose with the music and it never takes away from the excitement of the performance. There is quite a bit of joking around going on in our show -- one guy trying to throw the rest of us off. Or someone deciding to approach a section in a completely new way on the spur of the moment.Yes, life is great. Is it not?
There were a few people who were very moved by the music tonight. I could tell by speaking to them afterwards. Not only were there appreciative that we would even be playing in their town, but they truly 'got' something strong from the performance. One man said that he really 'felt' the music. That it is obvious that we are great players and that the music is very difficult to deliver, but that he felt the soul inside in the music. Hey, that one experience makes this show a success in my mind. And even if he had been the only guy who showed up at the gig.
Off to Chicago tomorrow.
September 4, 2000 Chicago, IL.
Pretty long day of travel. Actually, not that long of day, but quite fatiguing. Southwest Airlines is horrific. And landing at Chicago Mid-way airport is no party either. But, now we are here in the windy city and life is good.
September 5, 2000 Chicago, IL.
A real day off. Not that we actually needed a day off. We don't. What we need is about 20 more gigs. But, we couldn't get a gig between here and Omaha, so we are holding out and getting ready for tomorrow. How did we prepare ourselves? We had a late breakfast and then headed out to the batting cages at Wrigley Field. Good fun was had by all.. Bob, Joe and myself donned the sexy hard baseball hats and stepped up to the plates. We thought we could start out with the medium pitches, but those clocked in at over 60 miles per hour. We downgraded to the 40 miles per hour pitches and were quite happy. I can't even fathom how to handle the 90 miles pitches.
We've decided that this should be the theme of the tour -- hit every batting cage along the way between Omaha and Boston.
On our morning walk to where we ate breakfast each day we passed a doctor's office. Not just any doctor's office, but a podiatrist's office. And not just any doctor but Dr. Frank Zappa MD.. Hmmmmmm..... Could Frank have simply just checked out of his prolific musical life to pursue his real passion? I wonder?
September 6, 2000 Martyrs / Chicago, IL.
Well, it was a descent show tonight. There were some fine 'ups', but there were some sad 'downs', as well. I would say that the downs were decidedly low. And low enough to overshadow the whole performance. At least for the musicians. The thing is with musicians (at least terribly 'sensitive' ones like our delicate little selves), is that if we feel distracted or 'off' then the show feels sour. This is entirely unrelated to the quality of the show. I actually felt that we were in trouble of being bogged down at the soundcheck. We just really never quite made it up to our full speed.
That said, the audience absolutely loved the show. And they were great. I would give the band a 6 out of 10 and the audience an 8 out of 10.
Arrakis had some stunning train wrecks in it. But, somehow, no matter how badly we clam this piece, the audience still goes crazy for it. And I enjoy it regardless, as well. Rune Song was, also, quite nice. We finally got the vibe right at the beginning. We talked about this backstage before the show -- how to bring this vibe out right from the first note. In Omaha the opening of this piece was so cold and icy. Yuck, I hated it. But, tonight we got it! Warm, soft and fuzzy. Just how I like it. Once you get the beginning right, it carries throughout the piece. It was the best we have ever played this one. Joe has some very wicked lines that he plays in the end of this piece. Very nice!
I found something new happening tonight. It was within the first third of the show. I felt the space around the stage expanding. As if I was becoming more aware of the distances between each of us. I felt this calling from the Music. A sort of calling to come out and play with us. Come on boys, let's play! More of this tomorrow, I hope.
September 7, 2000 Shank Hall / Milwaukee, WI
A good solid show, last night. It was a painfully small crowd, I must admit. I don't mind playing to small houses. I've done it before as have all musicians in all phases of their careers. But, for some reason last night the middle-of-the-week-after-labor-day-Milwaukee-small-crowd really pinched me. We went out for Thai food and when I came in and saw how few people were there, my heart sunk. Well, I can only hope that they get something from the performance.
And did they. I think it was one of our better shows. We still have a long way to go with band. If we can only find the time to do a tour of about 30 or 40 shows, then we will become completely amazing. We have been talking about this a lot. How to tighten up all the music and make the performance really soar? And it seems to always come down to: we need to play a ton of gigs. It is as simple as that.
We also need to write a whole new repertoire of material. now, that Joe is definitely the fourth member of our team, I can hear all the very cool things that we should be playing. He brings in a whole new dimension of interaction that we need to develop. More time, please. Can I get a deluxe order of more time?
I was working with the connecting of opposites during the show tonight: the audience/the musician, the material/the performance, the sound/the music, the personalities/the essences, the expectations/the reality. It seems that all of these things that often pull and push, towards and against each other can be brought together into one whole. And this can happen during the performance. I ask myself "Self, what is my role in this?"
My hands hurt. I thought it was from the batting cages the other night. But I'm sure, now, that it is from the load outs the last two nights. We have a lot of gear and I am pretty much the first guy packed up. That means that I am one of the first available to help load the truck. I have been enjoying the exercise and physical challenge of hoisting the gear, but now my hands hurt.
September 8, 2000 Ramada Inn, downtown Detroit, MI
On our drive from Milwaukee to Detroit two things happened of consequence. One was passing the Bong Recreation Center. The other was that we were in a car crash. I was driving (and, No, I wasn't on the cellphone at the time!) and we were coming into Chicago on the freeway. We were heading towards a big turnoff for another freeway. Some cars started to slow down ahead of us and I slowed down too. The car in front of me slid into the car in front of him. I braked sharply and might have even avoided running into him, but another car slammed into the back of me. A four car pile up in the end. We pulled off to the side of the road and assess our damage.
Fortunately, no one was hurt. And there wasn't much damage to the cars either. Our van was pretty much fine except for a crumpled bumper in the back. Our front end was unscratched. Unfortunately it took over two hours to deal with the whole State Trooper part of the encounter. It took them about an hour to get to us. It turned out that they was another really bad wreck just behind us. So the police ended up working at that spot, instead of coming down to where we were. Once that was sorted out then they came down to deal with us.
It took another hour for him to write out our report. Meanwhile our day of driving to Detroit was getting to be a longer and longer project. By the time we were able to leave we were stuck in rush hour traffic in Chicago. Oh well.... At least we don't have a show tonight. I look forward to the rest. Especially my hands, which are really beginning to hurt a lot. I think they need a good rest.
This hotel is amazing. I have never seen anything like it. When we arrived there were streams of people coming and going through the huge, vaulted ceiling lobby. And there were two different types of music blaring through out the building -- a funk band was playing somewhere and there was some kind of techno-dance music screaming out, as well. There seem to be at least three groups streaming through the lobby. One was a group of people who were in a wedding party. They were all dolly up in sexy long dresses and suits. Then there was a group of Goth folks with black, black and more black on. Occasional a tall guy wearing a black dress and black eye shadow would saunter through. And then there was the third group -- the people who were actually trying to get a room in this hotel. Of which we were one, and having a very hard time at the counter! It took about 30 minutes to get checked in, because of all the chaos.
I expected the worse from our room. And I wasn't disappointed. When Josh and I got there, the smell was truly something. I immediately pulled out my fine Japanese sandalwood incense. Ahhhhh.... do I feel life entering back into the world? Hey, check it out.... we have a suite...... two whole rooms! But, then I moved closer over to the couch. Hmmmmmmm....... the cushions were so soiled that my plan was to turn them over. Oh, bad call. Please don't turn them over. They are already on the cleanest side. The bathroom floor was wet from condensation, so that you couldn't really even stand at the toilet without having your legs slowly drift apart from each other. There was this kind of slippery slime collected there that constantly worked against the universal force of gravity, sending your feet outward in various horizontal directions.
The rug was terrifyingly flat with iron burn marks in several places. Since we were going to be staying here two nights (Oh, Joy of Joys!), I arranged my stuff to come, to a large degree, out of my suitcase. This also gave me the ability to lock up any and everything in my suit case while we were out. In doing all this arranging I realized that there was a gigantic desk with locking file drawers in the room. Hmmmmmm....... I wonder what's in those drawers. Wow! They were totally filled with garbage. And one of them had a whole cantaloupe in it! A rotting cantaloupe, right there in the drawer! This is becoming fantastic!
So, we went out to dinner in Greektown and then came back to the hotel. We were talking to one of the woman at the reception who told us about two clubs in the hotel. What? There are two clubs in this hotel, as well? I have to see this. So we went around to the one of them where there was a band playing called 'Wound'. Hmmmmmmm.......I don't think so. Not tonight. And then we went back up to reception where we talked our way into getting free passes to the other club.
We were led back through some secret passage way on the third floor of the hotel into this wild Gothic club. It was called City Club and is, apparently, the oldest club in Detroit, clocking in at somewhere between 18 and 23 years depending who you talk to. We were led through these dark hallways passing all sorts of Goth creatures of the night until we found the front entrance. They marked our hands and checked us for weapons(Yikes!), and then we were in.
I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this. I don't think I would necessarily need to go back again, although I suppose I might. But, I really enjoyed it. Everyone was unbelievably friendly. The guy who showed us in kept coming around and checking to see if we were OK. And whenever I would accidentally bump into some huge and tough looking guy with tattoos and metal bits hanging from all parts of his body, they was always so apologetic and polite.
We got a drink and wandered around until we found the dance floor. It was this huge room about 30 feet high. And it was right in the middle of our hotel, with the music cranking and the people grooving.
When we first walked in they were playing the opening track from the latest Nine Inch Nails record. I have to say the music really impressed me here in this context. It was largely, heavy industrial disco music with a four on the floor bass drum pounding away. I'm certainly not new to this music, but it has never made too much sense to me as a real listening experience. However, in this context it really worked. There were even a few pieces that had a really strong feeling emanating from them -- not just a context for moving your body to. And it was clear that everyone felt these pieces differently, for the dance floor would fill up whenever one of them came on. These particular pieces (and I can remember hearing three of them) all had these simple chord progressions in them, that really worked.
I got in trouble in the club tonight. I have this very small little light on my key chain. It is a blue led light and it unbelievably bright. I was flashing it across the dance floor to Bob who has the same one, but in white. As I was doing it I had this feeling that maybe I shouldn't. like they might be some obscure reason why this isn't allowed. But, I kept on until, low and behold, the bouncer came up to me. I realized that he probably thought that I was shooting a laser around the room. So I apologized and said that is was only a little blue led light and that I wouldn't do it again. He pulled out his keys and he had the exact same light. He said that he knew what it was and that I had to go check it at the front. I pleaded with him to let me keep it. "I won't flash it again. I swear!" But to no avail. I had to check it.
Anyway, it was fun to be in a place where we very clearly didn't belong, but was accepting enough to have us.
September 9, 2000 The Magic Stick / Detroit, MI
A very good show tonight. The band was great and the audience was awesome. There is just something about a Detroit audience. They always ask for a power show and they always draw one out of you. I can remember very clearly playing here with King Crimson at the Majestic Theater and being amazed by them. And when ProjeKCt Two played here the direction of the band totally changed courses. We were a kind of light, even silly-ish, loungy space-jam band. But here in Detroit, the audience pulled us forward into a powerful and terrifying monster of a group.
Tonight was no exception. I sensed that this was the night to take some new chances, and we did. Arrakis found some new power and we played with it. I changed a few arrangements with this on the fly, shouting out a few things to the guys. It started out faster then we normally do it, which was great. In fact it was perfect. But, when the first round of melodies came in I started sweating: "Damn, this is fast. I better hold on tight."
I rearranged the set tonight, and that was a big help to the show, as well. Kaffaljidhma as our final closer hasn't been working at all the last few gigs. So, I moved it into the set at slot three, and put Rune Song in the last position. Rune is great for this IF........if we get the beginning right. Which now we do. It's a wonderful piece that builds through four major sections with a strong, and immediate shift in tempo in the middle. Plus the orchestration keeps getting bigger and bigger throughout, until the final section kicks in with the full drum kit and the double running guitar lines.
One of the other changes that we have been wanting in the set was to break up the Glove/Tehlikeli/Brief Encounter section of the show. These three pieces have a very flowing and improvised structure to them. Which is great, but having three of them right next to each other, within the context of a show with material that is most through-composed (meaning very tightly written and arranged) has become too much of a stretch of the attention. What I mean is that it is too easy for the attention to wander through this section. Not the band, but the audience. This segment came right near the end of the show, so by then we already 'have' the audience. But, we could lose them here so I made a change.
This change was to bring The Glove up early into the set, as well. So Kaffaljidhma hits at number three and The Glove hits at number five. We are still closing with The Joy of Molybdenum which works great there. I have a plan for a very different set from this. VERY different! I'll see if I can work it up for the Rochester show.
When we finished Brief Encounter the audience gave us a standing ovation. What? A standing ovation in the middle of the set? Yes indeedy. A bunch of folks who were sitting down got up from their chairs, came right up to the front of the stage, and went all out for us. I almost called it the end of the show right there. I suppose I should have because they thought it was the end and we only had two more pieces to go. But, we didn't want to stop. So we didn't.
The band spoke about the 'encore dance' last night. I really hate the encore thing. I mean, sometimes it is really great. Because you've played your whole show, you're warmed up, and then you get to go back out again and get a fresh new shot. Plus the audience pulls you forward, sometimes to something completely new and exciting. But often, it feels forced and silly to me. Like a dumb, old dance that no one can quite get away from, but no one can remember why it exists anymore. So, we just mosey our way through it again and again. Joe said that what we need is a whole new paradigm for the encore. That doing encores is so very "19th Century". And he is right! What could this new paradigm be? No encores? That can give the impression of being arrogant. I don't know why, because if you've already played a great show how can you ruin that by packing up your gear and leaving? I mean, we have to stop sometime. Why not just stop when you've played everything you have to play? Not do the little dance. And then go home.
Yes, why not?
The local paper (The Detroit Weekly) ran my picture with the caption "Speedball with Bind Pig. September 9th. Ahh yeah. Speedball, Easy Action, Bantam Rooster and The Lucky Stiffs. Ahhh yeah."
September 11, 2000 Milestones / Rochester, NY
A very appreciate audience tonight. The band, actually, didn't play that well. I would say that it was my most 'off' night. However, there were some fantastic 'up' moments. Not all of us agree, but I thought Arrakis was pretty smoking. Even though we were struggling with keeping the energy up for this one, I felt that audience wanting more and more. So, I persevered with this piece and kept sending us further and further into it. Normally I wouldn't take it out quite as long we did tonight, but hey... why not go for it?
Rune Song was hot as well. And while we struggled with some sound problems (all of us had some technical faults with our gear) we pulled through some sticky moments with real conviction. What this band really needs is a lot of gigs. After about 60 more shows we would start to get really, really good!
September 12, 2000 The Iron Horse / Northampton, MA
A long and tiring day. More than six hours of driving, a three hour sound check and then a gig. A very good gig, actually, Well, to be honest, not one of our best gigs. In fact, probably my own worst for this tour. But, still quite good. The audience was great. Actually, all of these audiences have been great. This has been more than a treat for us. It has been a blessing.
Without a great audience we are completely fucked. There is no purpose within the music without this. I find that every night, some aspect of the music goes further and deeper because of the ears that are hearing it.
One of the high points for us, tonight, was Hard Winds. We have been fiddling with the middle section for the last few shows, and finally got it right this evening. It had a wonderful building quality. A growing, expanding flow to it. Very nice.
Another high point was Kaffaljidhma. While it's not one of our stronger pieces, it still has a killer funky-ness to it that no other piece comes close to. It plays much better earlier in the set. Bob slowed it down some and it got just that much more greasier.
I got a good two hour chunk of accounting done in the van today. What a drag this is, to have to be spending so much time doing the tour books. But, at least they are getting done. I still have plenty of bills left to pay to keep this going. I should be able to get to this within the next few days.
We will be playing at the Knitting Factory in New York City on Thursday and then we'll do a private concert on Friday. The idea is to set-up in Bob's studio and record and film the show for a small audience. That way we get the best of both worlds -- a good performance vibe with an audience and a very high quality recording from the studio. Plus a film of the event. Who can say no to that?
September 14, 2000 The Knitting Factory / New York City
A excellent and rocking night. The crowd was very, very good. They pushed us to the edge, and them some. We were a bit nervous going on-stage. New York isn't the easiest town to play. Mostly, because the standards are so high. People here have seen and heard everything here. They have been VERY exposed. But, we pulled off an great show.
I wouldn't say that our playing was flawless. In fact there were some wonderful, and new, clams. But, the overall energy level carried us farther then we have ever gone before.
I was very happy that the material is fairly well programmed into my memory, tonight. Not my mental memory as much as my body and emotional memory. The body memory being the part that continues to send my fingers to the right spot whether my brain wanders or not. The emotional part being where the sounds of the music are stored. If my attention starts to wander I can often just simply 'hear' the line of the melodies as they unfold. This generally gets me back into the moment of the Music.
Joe and I were discussing the situation with making mistakes in a performance, after the show. We both agreed that, now that the band has learned the music to a large degree, that we are avoiding some of the glaring mistakes. However, also due to the fact that we know the music quite well now, the possibility of making stupid mistakes is now available to us. We think we can trust ourselves to go to sleep on the job. But, we can't.
I found some choke spots appearing in the show, tonight. One was in Kaffaljidhma in the transition line from the G section going in the C section. I can't remember exactly what the line is supposed to be anymore. I need to check it with Tony at the next soundcheck. But, tonight I could feel this point coming from the beginning of the piece. The sweat was forming on the inside of my brow as this line got closer and closer. Until finally..... Boom... I was right on it and lost.
The second one is the final line of the B flat melody on the second section of Rune Song. This was a choke spot for me on the last tour. It only lasted for the first few shows and then I finally got through it. Tonight, I felt it returning. It is the same with the Kaffal line -- I would start sweating as it got closer and closer, until finally I was there and the fear became justified because I would have blown it. This is a terribly exposed section for me -- there is no hiding from the mistake. I try not to react at all. Just a personal form of bemusement emanates out from me, and I move onward. I'm quite experienced with not getting hung up on my performance failures. However, these choke bits are a tough challenge. No amount of rehearsal can help you. You simply have to work through it on-stage with all eyes and ears upon you. It seems to be the only remedy.
September 15, 2000 Dangerous Music Studio / New York City
We did a private filming and recording today. We have 24 guests of which 12 were drawn from people who had written in to my web-site. It was a great audience and one of the guests drove all the way from Ohio to be there! they were very quite and very attentive.
The band had quite a struggle with tonight's performance. Mostly because of the technical details involved in recording and filming the show. We got a late start and the engineer, Chris Muth, got called away in the afternoon because of some kind of Bon Jovi situation that only he could remedy.
We ended up starting later then we had planned, and we were very tired. But that said, the show was pretty hot. I hope we get a live record out of it, but we'll see when we listen back to the tapes after a few months.
I got a wonderful comment from one of Bob's friends after this gig. He referred to me as "The Casual Master of the Universe."
September 16, 2000 Orion Sound Studios / Baltimore, MD
Being a musician is truly an amazing thing. No matter how tough things are, no matter how tired or sick you feel, no matter if even your whole life is completely falling apart around you -- when you step on stage and began to play, the wonder of the world comes alive. It is such a rare and amazing thing to be able to play music. And even more amazing to have receptive ears egging you on.
This is what an Orion Studios gig is like -- very receptive ears and lots of energy ready to rock out. The crowd tonight was very quiet during the music and very loud in between. They were so appreciative. There isn't much more that you could ask for. A good solid show.
Things got so wild during The Glove, that Joe found himself jumping off of the drum riser and landing right on the chord change. Yeah!
Both of my choke spots in Kaffal and Rune continue to evade me. I think I better do some prep work tomorrow after soundcheck to see if I can help things along. I've only got two gigs left to iron this out.
September 17, 2000 The Tune Inn / New Haven, CT
A very good gig. When we showed up at the venue we had a bit of an 'discussion' about where to play. Originally we were scheduled to play in the small room next to the bar. But, because of our big stage set-up, the thought came up to play in the big room. However, we were concerned about it sounding very good on the big stage because the PA wasn't even close to being up for it. Plus, we had to pay an extra $250 production fee to use the big room. We went round around for about a half and hour before we settle on the small room.
It was a very good call. We did the gig without a PA system at all -- just using our own speakers. It was great. Firstly, we rocked out like we never have before. There was this, almost, punk rock energy coming from the band. We played around with the music a lot -- teasing each other and egging each other on to further and further levels. Sometimes these levels were made up of changing the arrangements on the fly. Sometimes they were prodding a specific player to greater intensity. Other times it was simply a matter of going deeper and deeper into newer levels of our general silliness. The audience was loving it and cheered us on.
Arrakis was very wild tonight. Bob and Joe took the first 4 minutes just on their own. Then, later into the piece, I shouted for Joe to take a solo while I cut to bass. He pumped on his whammy pedal and did a high solo just for the dogs in the house. Very, very hot.
Brief Encounter has always been a winner in our show, and tonight was no exception. This piece begins with Tony-of-the-12-string playing a very open and spacious solo, while Bob and Joe slowly bring in the rhythm. Then I take over the solo and we end with a wild and heavy groove.
Something very significant happened within the show tonight. Because we weren't using a PA, it was critical for each us to project our sounds individually. What I discovered is that generally our sound is based around Bob. Because he is so loud on-stage, we just kind of 'fill in' around him with our own sounds. But tonight, we had to project around and in front of him to even be heard at all. What a strange thing to realize that we have been using him as a crutch to hold ourselves together. Tonight I felt myself driving the sound. Or Joe, or Tony. Fascinating.
September 18, 2000 House of Blues / Boston, MA -- the last gig of The Trey Gunn Band Fall 2000 Tour
Tonight was a last show. Our last show of this year. Strange feelings emerge. It feels like a fresh new beginning -- we have new player, Joe Mendelson; everyone's playing has gone to a new level, especially Tony's; and we are receiving fantastic critical and fan acclaim from these shows. It also feels like the end of something, to me. Like something new is about to happen and I don't know what it is. To a certain degree some, if not much, of the music that we have been playing has served it's function and will no longer be useful to us as we move forward. Many of these pieces were composed in the studio with no specific performance aspects considered. And they certainly were not written with this particular combination of players considered. This combines with other on-going internal processes to work us up to something new.
I feel myself on the edge of a new world, musically and personally. It's as if I have stepped over something (perhaps, just myself) and am now finding my new footing. It seems a time to evaluate everything and see what works and what doesn't. In terms of music it is quite tricky. I am a professional musician -- I pay my bills by playing music. What a precarious situation to be in. Music is such a flighty thing in terms of economy. It always seem to guide me towards worlds where no monetary reward exists. Or more exactly: where very little, and very uncertain monetary gain exists -- I always get by, but it is never, ever certain that I will.
And yet, I have to follow. I have to. So, now I am following. Wherever it may go. When we were deep into the King Crimson ProjeKCts we used to say that the music would lead us and we would follow. If someone was playing a solo and the melody lead them out into strange new keys and places, they would just hop on board and follow -- WHEREVER it leads. Even if it went somewhere completely strange and foreign. Even if it took you somewhere where the other guys weren't going. And even it it took you somewhere new every two bars. You just followed right along. Now I am finding my whole musical world moving somewhere.
Where it is going, I'm not sure. Yet, again I return to my work as a professional musician. I play a specific instrument with a certain groups of musicians (with my own group, with King Crimson, in all it's particular variations, and with Fripp in all of our known and unknown permutations.) Where I have been sitting as a musician for the last seven to ten years has been amazing. Even phenomenal, at times! I am so fortunate and blessed to be able to play with the players that I have. And to be able to play the music that has been given to me.
And yet, I feel something new coming. What leads me to this? What holds me back? Does my on-going work build a bridge or a prison for me? Is there something specific in my work that has been hiding that is the true door to step through? What do I build on and what do I let go of? What do I wish for, as a musician, beyond any professional (or even personal) aspirations? The questions come and come and come... And they seem to boil down to: What do I really love about Music? And where is this Love leading me? Me -- not anyone else. Not what I think anyone would like to hear from me. Not what anyone else would see for me. But, what do I, myself, see and hear?
These are not small questions. They are HUGE questions. And they are questions that a professional musician probably shouldn't be asking. Because if you don't sell a ticket, you don't eat. Most all of the really succesful musicians I know seem to balance these questions with the other side: what do people want to hear? Or more exactly: what do I think people will buy? And many of the succesful pros that I know have long forgotten how to even ask themselves the question: what do I want to hear? and, where does my personal love of music lie? This is very sad, to me. But, perhaps necessary in some strange way that I can't see. We do live a very bizzare and diverse world. Perhaps everyone has their own corner to hold up, in their own way.
Well, my corner is in transition. I've gone through a lot of changes as a musician during my time on this planet. But, right now is a big one.
Tonight's gig was, yet again, a rocking show. It was our eleventh and final show of this tour. Sad, sad, sad. We have finally hit our groove and now we're done. Boooo hoooo...... Some things within the player have just now settled in. The arrangements are clearly marked in our soft little brains. The 'sound' of the group has become quite clear to us and available for us to tap into. The form of the show as a whole has found it's place. The improvs are smoking. The interplay between the players is at an all time high. Everyone can play the notes with relative ease, now. And we have phenomenal working team with the addition of Josh Roberts, as front of house engineer, and John Sinks as monitor engineer and all around hustler.
Basically it is time for us to move to a whole new level. A level where the playing of the notes becomes secondary and the broader playing of the Music emerges. What this means for me, at least as a beginning, is the playing of the audience. I have just gotten to where I can make my hands do all the right things at the right time. And now it is time to go inside the audience and play what is inside there.
I have experienced this only a few times in my life -- where I find myself playing the music that lies inside another person. One of these times was a small, private performance in a house in Eugene, OR. This was, about, 12 years ago. I was playing acoustic guitar and Stick on this particular evening. Something happened when I had the acoustic guitar under my fingers. There was a woman sitting on the floor in front of me. I didn't know her. I had seen her around town occasionally (I had lived in Eugene for many years), but I had never spoken to her. And I have never seen her since that night. But, somehow I found myself playing the Music that was sitting inside of her. I knew it and I suspect that she did, too. Certainly something happened to her that night that she was aware of. Since I've never talked to her, I haven't the faintest idea what her experience was. But, something powerful happened.
There was nothing personal about it. I didn't feel anything about, or towards, her personally. She was just sitting there and I began to play. She opened and I opened. I began to play and this came out. I wouldn't say that there was a deep connection between us. I wouldn't even say that there was a connection between us at all. At least beyond this one experience. But, this Music came from inside of her -- and not me.
In my book this is the real shit. And this is where I want to go.
As I sit here writing this, I suddenly feel a terrible loss at this being last show of this tour. For I feel that just now.... just this minute... something exciting is possible with this band that hasn't existing before. Ah well.... life is such a tricky little bugger, idn't it? We have completed this tour and must move on to our next bit of work.
And Yes! Tonight was good. Very good. Very, very good. It was a rocking audience. I kept hearing this one guy shouting: "Rock us out, Trey!" Uhhhh... well, alright.... if that's what you want.... your wish is my command.
And now, my world shifts. I have been on the road with this project for the last month. As of tomorrow I will enter firmly into the world of King Crimson. I have not as much as even one day's break between the two worlds. (We still have to drive all the gear back down to New York City, and I have to deal with all the accounting today, as well.) Talk about insanity. I am going from one very heavy project to the only thing that could be heavier then this: King Crimson. Will Trey survive this madness? Will he collapse from fatigue? Will he rise to new heighths? Will hearts be broken? Will the archvillians come to rule the world. Or will order be fully restored and all will live in peace? Stay tuned for more.....