It’s now 2 weeks since finishing the Circus of Horrors tour, and what an experience it was. The final 5 shows were spent in Jersey, which, with the beautiful weather was the perfect way to end a 5 month/100 show run. The people and island were lovely and spirits within the cast were at an understandable high as we could all smell our own homes, beds and a welcome break on the horizon.
With 5 performances at the Jersey Opera House this was also the most shows we’d performed in any one venue since spending a week at the Globe in Blackpool Pleasure Beach at the very beginning of the tour. The best part about this meant just one load-in, leaving us plenty of time to enjoy Jersey.
Our accommodation needs a mention also. With no Travelodge (I’m sure they’ll infect the island soon enough) we stayed at the Jersey Activity Centre hostel. First impressions were that it perfectly captured that ‘haunted old school’ vibe all holiday destinations strive for; based on the echoey halls and that we were the only people staying there. I’m sure it’ll be busier come June/July! To add to this, it transpired after a day or so this was also the site of major controversy a few years ago, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/jersey/7260625.stm – oops! Ironically, it was also used as the set for the police station in Bergerac, silver lining’s and all that!
The final shows went by without any problem – just a few practical jokes here and there (band solos included). Before we knew it, we were finishing up the final load out, heading back to the hostel for a few hours, saying our goodbyes then heading back home by various means. Living so close to Portsmouth and with my drums to unload from the truck, I was one of the few who went back on the 9 hour ferry crossing. For the record, freight ferry journeys are a LOT more enjoyable than passenger ferries thanks to the free meals, tea, and guaranteed cabin!
Before I’d even returned home I had begun preparing for the post tour blues. Apart from a break over Christmas, and 6 days off halfway through the second leg I’ve been in an all-encompassing tour bubble since October 22nd, 2011. While the monotony of doing the same thing every day had of course started to drive everyone insane (see previous entries), there is a definite feeling of security knowing what you’re going to be doing everyday, and knowing that you get to play drums in a big show with a top band every night. Not to mention the weekly cheque to keep the bank balance happy! Suddenly finding yourself with all the free time you want (and don’t want) can be a daunting experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been great to properly unpack my suitcase and catch up on Football Manager, but having had a taste of a high profile gig I want more! In that respect it’s very similar to working on cruise ships, which for me took a long time to re-adjust to normal life after coming home.
I’ve purposely had a break from drums for two weeks (apart from gigs I’d been booked on), but now, for the first time in a long while I’ve got a serious urge to get some practice in. As mentioned in an earlier blog, there wasn’t much opportunity to play/practice during the down time on the tour, so I’ve got 5 months worth of ideas to work on, as well as lot’s of areas I want to improve after listening to recordings of the show. Two drum related things I have done since coming back, and that I feel worth mentioning…
Cleaning cymbals and drums: As anyone on the tour who’d listen to me will testify – my drums were FILTHY! 5 months of daily load-ins/load-outs, pyro, fireworks and such had left my drums and cymbals coated in a layer of pure dirt. This gets smeared onto sticks and skins as well, so lesson learnt there! I did quickly learn that wiping them with water is actually more than enough to clean this dirt off; having used Groove Juice at first I took the logo’s off some of my smaller cymbals – quite annoying for an anal-retentive gear-phobe like me.
The first gig back: Having played pretty much the same thing for 100 shows it was a shock to the system to come back and play a function set. Here were songs that I’d played hundreds of times, but felt totally alien to me for no apparent reason. I’ll put that down as a one-off…or at least hope that’s what it is! I don’t think it’s possible to forget how to play “I’m A Believer”! The words of Todd Sucherman in his fantastic ‘Methods and Mechanics 2’ DVD rang very true for me, however. We were performing directly opposite one of the theatre’s I’d played at with the Circus of Horrors only a month or so ago, but I really didn’t care, as long as I was making a living playing the drums.
This will be the last blog to specifically talk about the Circus of Horrors, so to anyone in the cast reading this, it’s been a pleasure (truck pushing aside!). There’ll be some new videos being uploaded this week as my productivity increases, so please check them out. Now it’s time to look forward to a busy summer gigging season and checking out the London music scene!