Everything in moderation. Even moderation.
It’s nearing 10am and having had a night in the hotel in Chicoutimi, we’re back on the sleeper bus and heading to Quebec City.
So far the tour is good. Great in fact! I’m so happy to back on the road with the band and working the music. It does feel like early days so far, in terms of the life of this album on stage, but we’re all enjoying having new music to play and the audiences seems ecstatic so far.
Honestly speaking, it was a little rocky at the start of this tour for me. The night before I left for Canada, I sang ‘My Way’ in Sex Pistols style (already a contradiction). As much as I enjoyed attempting to wear the shoes of Sid Vicious (“I’m not vicious really. I consider myself to be kindhearted. I love my mum”) I woke up on Friday to get the plane to Toronto without a voice. Perfect; 8 hours of harsh air conditioning 30,000 high in a big metal tube and I forgot to wear a scarf when I fell asleep, so I arrived with really bad neck pains – all connected to the vocal area. Great way to start a tour. But if there’s anything that I have learnt about the voice it’s that worrying only makes it worse. It’s incredible how closely linked the voice is to the mind and the mind being so powerful; more than we give credit to.
So when I arrived at the hotel, I did all I could to chill, which is quite easy in Canada, when it’s minus 20 degrees, but also when you have one night in the luxury suit of the Germain Hotel. I take luxuries like this not for granted and with a pinch of salt as it’s not what I live for. After all, there is no luxury without love. That said, I certainly appreciated the enormous bath tub. I’m quite a tall fella and there are few bath tubs that I can lie in and be submersed by the water. I recently bought an album by Jono McCleery, There Is , which I put on during my soak and that was good medicine. I love the album and it has features with two artists I also like a lot: Fink – I became obsessed with his record ‘A Sort Of Revolution’ when I had a herniated vertebrae in my neck for two months, in November 2010. And Vashti Bunyan, whom my sister is named after and my parents were friends with and played some gigs with back in the 60′s. After that, I ordered food to the room, followed by a massage, for which I played a musician who’s music relaxes and inspires me more than anything: an indian flutist named Hariprasad Chaurasia playing traditional Indian Raga. The recording I am fixed on currently is the rag Bhimplasi (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU4Jr5H7uA8). It is a rag that is most associated and supposed to be played in the hot Indian afternoons. Unfortunately, I couldn’t order that to my room. The Germain is good, but not that good. Nonetheless, the massage helped and I slept like a demon with angels watching over me.
In the morning I had a Skype call with my saviour voice coach, James, who, frankly, can work bloody miracles; he hears all the mechanics of the voice, what’s working and what’s not. We met twice online that day and within 7 hours he brought my voice back from 10% to 70%. For me, I was taking a big chance by doing the gig – every note on the edge of epilepsy. But the show must go on! I figured that when people come to see me/us play they come because we’ve made the effort to be there in real life, and all that investment in energy on our part and their part is what makes live concerts so special. As an artist, it’s deceptively easy to put high expectations on oneself without realising. I’m learning to use what I have and do the best I can. I think Winston Churchill summed it up when he said,
“How little we should worry about anything except doing our best.”
He may have been a drunk but he had some good quotes.
Consequently, I did the show and, as much as it was a rocky mountain to climb, I certainly broke on through to the other side. It was a good test; to see what the body is really capable of when you just trust it. The next day (Sunday) I spoke again to James and he declared just how concerned he really was for me doing the show, playing my record in his car during my stage time for good will. He said he was really impressed with me for going for it and said there are few people he teaches who could pull it off like I did. It means a lot to hear those things understands my voice because at the time I was not measuring myself against anyone. I just had to do it.
Sunday night, we played in Sherbrooke at the Granada – what beautiful old venue that was. Vocally, it was still a challenge but less so this time. I had definitely crossed the most treacherous terrain. That day I misread my tour schedule and thought we had a day off on Monday (yesterday) and after the show we were all invited to a nearby bar, where we stayed until 5am, drinking, talking and laughing with folk who watched the show as well as the other band supporting us on this tour, called Current Swell. (Subsequently, they are really good guys with a similar outlook on life, and they’ve been doing a great job warming up the crowd each night. I haven’t seen their entire set yet but it’s sounding great from back stage). Our night in the bar felt much like Alice In Wonderland, with several of us ending up down the rabbit hole, but my god we had some funny moments. My favourite was walking back to the bus and tackling my tour manager, Cez, to the white ground, filling his hair with snow. It was like being 7 years old again, laughing our heads off. And don’t worry, he got his own back.
And so it was, at 2pm the following afternoon (yesterday), having arrived in Chicouimi, I had Cez waking me to say that I had interviews (one on TV) in on hour before my sound check started!! So up I got, away we went and you know what? I felt pretty good for most of the day, with a few rocky patches – nothing a little cat nap before the gig couldn’t cure. The good thing was all the band were in the same boat, some worse than others, but all with the good attitude of “right! Back to work lads!”. My voice was in better shape yet again and I couldn’t be readier to play another gig. It went well. Very well. And last night we all slept like babies. Today is the day off. I’ve chosen to make it a day of silence. It’s something worth doing every now and then but especially now. As much as I am enjoying my voice with these huskier tones, it’s not at full capacity yet, making me feel a little restrained dying the shows. Ironically though, my band tell me that they prefer my voice like that because I let the music do the talking. There’s something I be said for it I guess. I suppose that’s the lesson to learn: I put a lot of energy into writing my compositions, so sometimes it’s better I shut up and let them do the talking.
And on that note, I think I’ve probably said quite enough for one morning. I enjoyed writing this blog. I’m sure my mum will read it and worry about me looking after myself. Don’t worry mum. Everything’s in great shape. I gotto live my life fully, albeit, with a little bit o’ balance and be happy: the cure to most maladies.
“Everything in moderation, even moderation”.
I don’t remember who said that.
Perhaps it was me.