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When people hear of bands going on tour, obvious images spring to mind: alcohol-fuelled excess, trashed hotel rooms and of course bands self-imploding. Yesterday morning we set off on a mini-tour of Poland, so far we’re still very much together and not nursing any black eyes and our hotel in Szczecin can proudly say that it hasn’t been forced to call the police with reports of TV sets flying out of sixth-floor windows – yet! Tours can be unforgiving, exhausting but ultimately rewarding as you can have the opportunity to uncover some real gems – e.g. our concert this year in Grudziądz was not only great fun but possibly one of the most beautiful views, I’ve seen from a stage with a river behind the stage and the old city wall lit up in front.
Those who have had the opportunity to attend one of our gigs will have maybe noticed that our group, despite strictly numbering four people, always has another couple of people in tow to keep us on the straight and narrow, so while there may be four people on stage, on the road there are at least another two:
Our driver – Speedy Chris – is more than just a driver. He carries the equipment for us on stage while I feign a back injury and then helps carry the equipment off stage as I remember an important appointment that I’m running late for. Most people who know me are agreed on one thing – I am the worst passenger they know. As we drive at 30 kilometres-per-hour on a straight road with no traffic around, my right foot immediately heads for an imaginary brake pedal as I notice a potential deadly trap lurking 200 metres in the distance – a rather plump rabbit. Speedy Chris has to cope with all of this – safely getting us to our destination, with the minimum of fuss and without suffering a nervous breakdown.
When people attend a concert, they praise the group for a good performance and attack the group for a poor show, however, not many people pay much attention to the role of the soundman in all this. Our soundman, Marcin B, is responsible for the sound that goes out to the audience. When we arrive at our venue, he immediately: tests the acoustics in the place by clapping his hands furiously like a wannabe flamenco dancer; sets up the microphones to the guitars, bass, drums, vocals etc and tries to make everything sound pristine clean and coherent even when the venues would be more suitable for games of bridge rather than rock concerts. When we started playing together, we didn’t have our own regular soundman, this led to a number of difficult situations not only for us but also for the audience – e.g. no vocals being audible to the audience or even the soundmen forgetting to switch on the microphones so only the drums were heard! Having your own, regular soundman gives you the feeling of comfort on stage, we know what to expect and he does too – we know that he will make us sound good, he knows that I will have a last minute panic attack before each gig!
There is a member of our entourage who has the incredible ability to go completely unnoticed even in the most conspicuous of places – he drifts on and off stage and yet people do not see this human chameleon. This man, Michałek, is responsible for tuning our guitars, changing our guitars and has eyes and ears everywhere. When a string snaps, he is there ready to replace the rogue string, when the power goes dead, he is there to restore electricity. He is the stage equivalent to 911 – in case of emergency, call Michałek!
The most recent addition to our crew is the guy who does our visuals – Adam. For those who are tired of watching four men bound around on stage or striking poses, they can let their eyes drift onto the hypnotic, psychedelic patterns forming on the screens behind us. Our VJ provides us with this perfect backdrop – against which our bounding and posing looks far more glorious!
Predictability in life may not be conducive to creativity, however, when you’re playing a concert, having the right people to work with – as we do – enables you to focus on what really matters, giving a good performance.