Article about touring tips for international gigs by Michael Gallant for Disc Makers.
I was featured in the article along with Dream Theater’s keyboardist Jordan Rudess and Jon Irabagon.
“My pedal board is custom made and my power supply works with 110 and 220 volts,” says guitarist Alex Prol. “Make sure you know what type of current runs in the countries you’re visiting, and what plugs you need, and make sure that your gear is going to work.” Your local music retailer should be able to help you find the right sort of power convertor, though custom power supplies or modifications can be helpful as well. “They’re more expensive, but you get exactly what you want,” he says.
For guitarists, Prol recommends bringing extra cables and string sets and a small tool kit, so you can fix your own axe on the fly if something goes amiss. “If you’re bringing your own amp, always bring an extra set of valves,” he adds. “They break easily, especially if you take them out of an amp before you pack it up for travel, so have at least one extra kit ready.
“Insurance can be kind of tricky, but if you’re traveling with an artist who has tour support, sometimes they take care of your insurance,” says Prol. “Some of them don’t, though, so you need to ask.” The guitarist recalls one instance when he was touring with a major artist and one of his instruments was stolen after a show. “It was only then that I found out that they weren’t taking care of insurance for musicians,” he says. “Now I make sure to ask about everything up front.”
No matter how beautiful or fascinating your international musical locale may be, remember why you’re there in the first place. “You’re not on vacation,” says Prol. “People sometimes forget about that and start acting like they’re rock stars. We are rock stars through the eyes of our audiences, but you have to know that you’re working. If there are nice beaches, that can be easy to forget,” he continues, laughing, “but you can’t oversleep, you can’t be late for sound check, and you have to be on top of your game. If you’re not, you probably won’t be on the next tour.”
Read the entire article by clicking here.
The process of learning material and preparing for a new gig has always been something I truly enjoy. In this case the artist, Tom Acousti, put together a show in a really cozy theater with musicians he admired to play very well known Broadway tunes he wrote and other original songs as well and I was lucky enough to be asked to be a part of it.
Tom got together separately with each musician to go over parts and discuss ideas and then we had one rehearsal together (pic on the far left) to decide on parts, forms, etc He gave me a lot of freedom to create on top of the parts he already had – which I truly truly enjoy having.
Since we got the songs over a month before our rehearsal, I took the time to memorize everything which I always do if there’s enough time for it. Memorizing parts makes my playing a lot better, organic and more soulful. Reading at gigs creates an obstacle between the musician and the audience and that takes a lot away from the performance and connection with the audience. Of course, not always it’s possible to play a gig without reading and that’s ok.
The pic in the middle is from the actual gig and the one on the far right is my personal set list with notes. I usually don’t read these notes at the show, but makes me feel safe specially when it’s the first gig I’m playing with an artist.
Playing gigs at small venues with really small stages can be tricky as far as setting up your gear and hearing yourself and the rest of the band goes.
In this case, I recently played a gig with the Gary Douglas Band at a small venue in Brooklyn. There was no guitar amp at the venue and for that kind of stage, I brought my little but fierce Fender Princeton Reverb. Actually, there was a Marshall 4×12 cabinet with no head at the venue, but it would be way too loud for that stage and that kind of music.
So, amp problem solved with the Fender.
Then, I had to figure out a spot for it on stage. Since there was no floor monitor for me – there were only 2 (one for the artist and one for the two backup singers to share), I would use my amp as a guitar monitor facing me from a distance (not too far away though because it wouldn’t be possible anyway). But there was no mic for my little fierce amp and so, I had it placed right behind me so the audience could hear me well. In these cases, sometimes you have to choose between you or the audience hearing yourself well and I always choose the audience. The band had to mix our sound on stage and that was the only way for me to get my sound to anyone other than myself.
Something you have to watch out for in a situation like this is feedback. You have to use the very short time you get for “soundcheck” or line check to find out if you will be getting any feedback from your amp and/or pedals and make all adaptations necessary to avoid it.
Also, with the Princeton there’s so much volume the amp can take before it only adds distortion or gain to your sound. So, you have to know the limitations of your gear and if necessary, talk to your band members to keep things in a volume that won’t cover certain or most things. Some drummers – drummers specially but not only, can be a little too loud on small stages. This usually happens on rock and roll gigs when most musicians want to just rock and forget about these “little” things that end up making all the difference. : )
Recording session with Clara Lofaro, Robert L Smith and Christian Lohr for her upcoming EP in NYC.
This session took place at Robert’s home studio in NYC with me as the session player, Robert as the session engineer and the artist together. The EP’s producer – Christian Lohr was working with us via Skype from his studio in Germany. He recorded all the other instruments, but wanted a guitar player to record a few tracks.
Nowadays more and more recording sessions like this one are becoming a reality because of tools such as Skype. People can work together without being in the same physical space at the same time.
Even though I’ve done quite a few sessions like this one, I personally still like a whole lot better being in the same room as everybody else involved. Creating music and parts for me is a combination of many many things and everyone’s energy combined is definitely one of them. Makes me feel different things and play different things. But then again, there’s so many different ways to record and create and there’s really no rules. If it sounds good in the end, that’s all that matters and I gotta say this session was a lot of fun – great vibe!
I just want to welcome everyone to my website!
I’ll use this space to write about gear, touring, music in general, preparing for gigs, recording sessions, etc
I hope these post will be helpful to most of you and also hope we can all share our experiences on everything related to the music biz.
I’d like to thank you in advance for taking the time to come to this space and share your thoughts!