Worlds collide when a touring crew must play nice & labor with a film crew. The two mind sets just don’t get one another. When you mesh us with them, it becomes us against them. Rock against film.
Touring with a rock band, for the most part, is a military operation of utter efficiency…. an incredible spectacle to behold. We fast track life & do it all to the very extreme. We move 23 trucks, 17 tour buses & 110 people around the country overnight. Setting up an entire show in one day to perform, tear it down and move to the next city, duplicating it all over again. Touring life provides a definitive beginning, middle & end to each day. Directly opposite of that is the film crew. The level of inefficiency is shameful. Months of planning go into executing a 4 minute music video. Those four minutes of video you watch on MTV can take two or more, 18 hour days of filming and weeks of editing before you see a finished product. Hurry up and wait is the filming way! We drag the artists out of bed, at hours they normally never witness while on tour. To then be found at 8 am on a back lot of a studio, waiting to perform in their own music video. Where scads of people can be found, running around the set and the busyness of it all is pretense. Only a handful of people take the decisions and execute them. The rest of us, rock stars included, hurry up & wait to hear “That’s a wrap!”
We are all guilty of it. We’re so busy and consumed with our lives, we lose perspective. Flights delayed. Middle seats instead of aisles. Very little time, if any, in the cities we fly thousands of miles to, to perform in. Laundry service screws up or worse yet – they lose our clothes.
The comforts of home turf are stripped from us, especially in 3rd world countries. Language barriers, requests lost in translation, yet here I sit in one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Posh, well-appointed, modern - all comforts accommodated, right in the middle of a city of 21 million people in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Forty percent of the population live in shanty towns and here I am amongst deluxe bedding, hardwood floors, running water and air conditioning. My lofty view from the 18th floor certainly puts things in perspective. Across the way is an office a building and a few floors above I see a helicopter land on the roof, presumably to transport an executive. I am here with a famous band. And directly below us both is a shanty town. Kids running bare foot in garbage covered streets, dogs scavenge for food and women hang their just washed yet still dirty clothes from fencing and along the dirt covered walls of their home. Pollution is intense & visually fills the air. Hierarchy will always be there, where do you want to stand?
I am certain I complained at least once today over something insignificant. This goes for all of us. No more whining about coach class seats. Cease all complaints that the next installment of per diem is two days away. No more bitching about difficult border crossings. Surrender all sulking to the fact cell phone reception is crap. Stop being huffy that the internet is slow; we’re in a field for crap sakes! And no more crabby fault –finding in a 10am lobby call to head to the venue.
We lead a very charmed life and from where I stand at this moment, I am fully aware of how lucky I am. Accede to the fact….. you are as well.
Flight itinerary? Check.
Sleeping tablets? Check.
Ipod with new episodes of CSI? Check.
Brain? Left that somewhere, maybe TSA confiscated it.
My ass is ready to go. In fact, I’ve plenty of time during the commute to squeeze in a Starbucks stop for a grande triple shot dry cappuccino. I treat my brother to a mocha frap, so it’s how I can convince him to derail our journey to the big bad airport. The airport that transports his sister to all corners of the globe. But madness ensues in route to the airport. Normally, the drive is less than 40 minutes; today over 2 hours. The traffic was heinous and unexplained. I live in god’s waiting room for crap sake, there is NO traffic in St. Pete, Florida. In fact, I can navigate my way quicker to LAX from North Hollywood than what we endured today. Bless my brother, driving on curbs, finding the weakest link in traffic for us to cut off - driving safely, like a mad man to the airport. As stressful as it is to know I’m on the last flight out tonight, in order to catch my connecting flight to Santiago, Chile - it’s still a game and I intend to win.
With less than a hour before the flight takes off, I drop my bags, collect my boarding pass and sail thru security. I’ve made it!!!! Now, I can have the cappuccino that shite traffic cheated me out of. But before I do, I discover that not only am I no longer tardy but now my f*king flight is delayed……. for over an hour. I laugh out loud, smile then, as if on cue my phone rings. The singer & fiancee are now placed on a later flight, out of NYC, due to mechanical issues & are now routed thru Peru. The tour mangler and security thug must re-route their flight out of Miami to meet up with them so they don’t fly by themselves. And the rest of my crew & band (16 people) aren’t flying out of Dallas due to do mechanical failure & have to wait for a new plane to be brought in - so a night in a crap Dallas hotel for them. And one crew member has gone missing. He hasn’t boarded any of his flights and is not answering his phone. I am pissing myself laughing at this point because out of a touring party of 23, only two of us fly on our original flight tonight. Once all flights are re-routed, I am now on my way to Santiago. The flight was a breeze and I arrived on time. After we landed a myriad of text messages flood my sidekick.
The crew is on the plane - hooray!
Manager & security dudes on their flight - yippie!
Lighting designer? Still MIA.
Artist & fiancee….. they missed their rescheduled flight because they somehow failed to get to the gate on time.
Might it be, that people just don’t pay attention or do I spend too much of my own diligence to the details? How often are you asked a stupid question? Ok, let me re-phrase since there are no stupid questions just oodles of inquisitive idiots. Hourly, the production manager, tour manager and myself are asked questions by our inquisitive crew and our sweet little rock stars. And one must diplomatically respond to such perplexing questions, such as;
Question: What time do we check out of the hotel?
Answer: Same time as yesterday and the day before. In fact, its been the same check out time for the last 4 weeks. Read your day sheet!!!
Question: Do I need to bring my passport with me to Europe?
Answer: Yes you do.
Answer in my head: Yes, you need your bloody passport you halfwit!
Question: Which frequent flier card can I use?
Answer: We’re on a private jet, you cannot collect frequent flier miles.
Question: Starbucks doesn’t have ice tea, what should I do?
Answer: Do they have tea bags? Yes. Do they have hot water? Yes. Do they have ice cubes? Yes. Okay then, they have ice tea.
Question: Where’s the dressing room?
Answer: Your standing in it.
Now, keep in mind we are asked such daft questions on a repeated basis, it becomes the norm. It still infuriates you but you’re use to it and come to expect them. A day without the inquest for the obvious can cause one to worry. At times, it’s truly like Spinal Tap out here. And if you haven’t seen the film - for goodness sake, please go rent it.
P.S. The title of this blog was inspired by my friend David. In fact, you should check out his book “Perfect I’m not.” It’s a New York Times Best seller for a reason other than he’s a rad dude and I am very happy to know him.