This week I have felt like on of those circus jugglers that enters the ring and proceeds to throw a couple of innocuous balls in the air and as the act progresses various other items are thrown at him and he proceeds to keep the entire assembly airborne and buoyant in an increasing frenzy of activity!
It was supposed to be a relatively simple week here on the balcony in Durlach with a carrier bag of receipts requiring documenting and filing interspersed with various other minor demands that should have been easily batted out the ground!
As I mentioned to Mark Kelly on the phone mid week there are positives and negatives of being a solo artist working with session musicians. The positives are that the creative chemistry changes project after project allowing fresh energies and catalysts to come to bear and any rifts that get too deep can be overcome with people moving in and out to allow time and space for healing. It’s a pool of available talent that can be dipped into and occasionally refreshed with the performing core hopefully spinning in a smiley equilibrium and forming a tight knit circus troupe that fans can thrive off the energy it creates on stage and beyond. The pressures of putting up with a full time devoted unit who do fracture and usher lawyers into the breach aren’t there as there are relatively easy solutions although the options can be difficult to find sometimes. I wouldn’t quite say it’s the equivalent of being married against living together. It’s not quite a commune with open relationships between the parties concerned. Probably the best metaphor, which a dear friend put to me last week was that it’s like being in a major port where you dock after every voyage and you hope when you do post up your sailing orders that the crew come back on board and can all commit to the next trip out of harbour. The problem is that there are always other vessels in the port all looking for crews and filling empty berths of departed sailors who have jumped ship or found new adventures and prospects of treasures while your charting your next voyage. Crews still have to work while captains plan. Putting together this years voyages has proven quite a demand on everyone concerned.
Since we rolled up the last European tour it’s been quite a while in harbour for us all and apart from the UK tour after the HRH and Mexican shows the summer hasn’t given me the opportunities I’d hoped for last year. There’s a huge tour being arranged for the end of the year which already has around 4 dates in Holland, a minimum of 12 in Germany, shows in Italy, Spain, France, Scandinavia, Poland, Switzerland and elsewhere and looks like bringing in 12 weeks of work split into two sections running from October up until December. Yatta is constantly on the phone and bouncing e mails across Europe patching it all together.
As I said the negatives of not being in a full time dedicated band means that as there are no retainers people have to find other work to financially supplement what I can deliver. That means “N/A” (not available) starts to become an all too frequent entry in the calendar next to individuals names and results in quite a few blood pressure problems for those concerned while trying to book dates in fallow periods. I totally appreciate the need for others to work and have long since come to terms with the problem but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
With Gavin on duties with “Panic Room” nearly every weekend in April and Robin and Foss with studio writing and recording and other commitments as well as my own diary crammed with various “to do’s” in the first months of the year juggling reached a peak this week.
It’s taken me 4 days to get some sort of order in the chaos and has ended up with rehearsals for the brand new 2014 set destined for stages in May spread between Haddington and Leighton Buzzard across 14 days with a final 3 days immediately before the first date in Sheffield on the 2nd May at the studio to bring it all together.
The first 6 days of rehearsals are in 2 weeks time at the studio in the first week of March just before the builders hopefully move in to start work on the extension. The drills have been halted in time but the ongoing work at Torness power station in Dunbar means that all our usual dens to put band member up in are taken by contracted outside journeymen from the nuclear plant!
A day before the HRH show in Wales to brush up and before we got to Mexico are the only opportunities we have together to refresh the 2013 set list!
The next flush is going to have to be in Leighton Buzzard at a rehearsal studio in mid April where we have 10 days amongst which I have intense tour promo in London, Mark Wilkinson’s daughter’s wedding in Colchester ( with Simone over for that week), important business meetings which will mean commuting to the studio to sing the new set every day!
My own commitments in the coming months involve the Classic Rock Society Awards on the 22nd, putting the “Blind to the Beautiful” video together with David Barras and 2 days location work with my daughter Tara and others on the 24th and 25th and the Brighton acoustic performance with Foss and Robin on the 27th in February as well as compiling a whole mountain of publishing and recording copyright details in between as I have to get the entire solo catalogue up in the ether on digital formats before I launch “Blind” as the single with it’s bundle of tracks that I have to put together as well as the live downloads from the 2013 tour! . (There’s still the carrier bag of receipts!)
March has me in the aforesaid rehearsals at the studio before another German trip to sort out the new company details with Simone that will give us a dedicated German based mail order service to provide the new album and all the other merch direct to German fans which will negate all the need for credit cards and Pay Pal and make it so much easier and cheaper for a near untouched German (and European) fanbase to buy “Feast of Consequences”. We had meetings with lawyers and accountants here in Karlsruhe in the last few days to set the plans in motion and now need to address the IT elements of the set up to bring it all to bear. The German visit precedes 3 days in Naples where Mark Wilkinson and I will be picking up lifetime achievement awards at the “Rock! Artwork” exhibition from the British ambassador there. This will also involve the first interviews and promotion for the “Feast of Consequences” album in Italy and hopefully I’ll be announcing not only the festival in Rome we’ve just booked on the 5th June but also Italian dates in the Autumn that should be in place by then. The HRH festival closes the month before April opens with the Baja Pog festival from which I return and go straight into fever pitched press and promo for the UK tour and then into the next frantic rehearsal period!
In amongst all that I have to get the “Feast of Consequences” double 180 gramme vinyl edition together which is now in set up mode with production being prepped and to prepare the parts for the deluxe version of the re release of “Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors” that I want to get out in the Summer with at least another album from my back catalogue!
The tour starts on the 2nd May and finishes in Glasgow on the 18th and to be honest that period looks like being the easiest to negotiate and where I can sit back in the bus lounge and breather for a bit with only the shows to focus on in the main ! 🙂
It can all be done and done well. I just have to keep my eye on everything in the air and hope that no one throws in any porcupines, chainsaws and hand grenades!
The circus is coming to a town near you soon! Be there and every now and again take a moment and think about just how it got there!
And if you see a one armed juggler throw some Euros in his hat! 🙂