Monday, April 30, 2012

Tour - Day Four

Number One 
I met a guy who looked just like the band's NZ sound guy - except with the facial hair he needs!

Number Two
Phone treasure
We had a day off and after about three hours of wandering around the area of our hotel I took it easy for most of the day. BUT, one highlight was finding this video on my phone.

Number Three
To put this next one into context you need to know that my band is managed by a guy called Matt Coleman and also that our first few shows on this tour are being played at a music conference here in LA. Now - as per the norm at a conference, delegates receive a bag of "goodies" at some point during the schedule which is usually full of bollocks, despite its name. This time however, the goodie bag struck gold for those who know our manager and probably struck silver-plated for those who don't. Check out what was in here:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tour - Day Three

Number One
Heard Jennifer Lopez rehearsing right next to where we played the first show of our tour last night. That went pretty sweet too by the way...

Number Two
This menu
The waiters at this restaurant would reply to your order with "Yes, you ARE [applicable word]!"

Number Three
Bought my first slice of pizza for the US leg of the tour on Hollywood Boulevard. It was too big to take a photo of. So it isn't here. Sorry. It was amazing. Trust me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tour - Day Two

Number One
In this day's first notable event, oft-spotted Motorhead frontman Lemmy was again spotted in LA. This time by Midnight Youth at SIR Studios where they were rehearsing for upcoming shows on their current tour. Despite popping up in numerous metal-tourist accounts of visits to LA, largely due to his frequenting the infamous Rainbow Bar on Sunset Strip, Lemmy's appearance was still notable enough for Midnight Youth vocalist Jeremy Redmore to post about it on his blog that seven people read.

Number Two
Hard Rock CafeOk, back to regular prose! This was a Thursday night in LA and we started it off at the launch of the Worldwide Radio Summit that we're appearing at. The event was held at the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard(which had me singing Ryan Adams to myself in my head all night) and basically consisted of some free drinks and nibbles while some of the featured acts played in what was a horrible-sounding room. So we didn't last long there haha. Notable though!

Number Three
Once we left Hard Rock Cafe we headed down the boulevard a wee bit to what is apparently a "cool" area called Franklin Village. We met up with some friends and happened upon happy hour at 11pm at a great little bar called Birds. $2 beers and (stupidly-large) LA shots ensued while we whiled away the night till close. Everything closes up at 2am in LA so it was a good excuse for me to get to bed and rest a bit before our first show Friday. Day done.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tour - Day 1, Top 3

I've decided I'm going to write up a quick Top 3 of notable events from every day that I'm away on this "world trip" with m'band to help me remember what the hell happened. So here goes with Day 1.

Number 1 (yeah this shit is bold, underlined AND italicised it's that notable!)
I was pretty stoked about this one - we've been flying all over the place as a band for the past few years and so have built up a fair few air miles etc with Air New Zealand. I recently went up a status tier with their rewards system which gives me two free upgrades on any flight - so I decided what better time to use one than on a brand new plane and on a trip where I'd be singing for five hours the next day.
So I chanced my arm with applying for my upgrade and was told there were twice as many people applying for the seats as they had available - I wasn't optimistic.
However, at the last possible moment, on going through the boarding gate, I was told I had been upgraded. So premium economy it was for me - brand new spacey/comfy seats, good food and in the end a good sleep and easy trip.

Number 2
Stupid personal joke here but Matt (bassist) tried to run through a glass door and got a nice shiner on his forehead - in front of everyone who was hanging by the hotel pool. In our jet-lagged, dazed and slightly pissed state it was comedic gold.

Number 3
Apparently someone drove in to a power transformer in the vicinity of our hotel, so the place was out of electricity for most of the day. We were all given torches while the place was pitch black. Yeah I'm reaching, but it IS notable!

Hopefully the mood on the trip stays like this for a bit...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Still the best...

I think I've talked about this song before on ANZAC Day, but I don't mind - it's worth mentioning every year.

This is the best war-story song I've ever heard - and I love this version, not by an Irishman or Englishman, but an Australian. It makes me stop and think and remember what has gone before us and how lucky I am to live in an age of relative quiet in the world. Please do the same today.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

Monday, April 23, 2012


It seems to me that I have lived this way, the safe road, the easy road.
A road of small bumps and low rises - the views are all the same.
I see a man on a another road, far above me, criss-crossing the hillside with a contented stare, he climbs.
I watch him as he falls,
I watch him as he is jeered at by others who are coming down the road.
I watch him get up, nod and carry on.
For on his approach to the summit of this hill, the view he spies astounds him, but that's not all.
For all the beauty, passion and joy that is given to him by nature, in this view is seen by the man a sign, to carry on.
For his road has not finished
Soon its rocky, crumbling surface will bear him down the hillside into a great chasm of stark wilderness and only after this long highway has passed through the wilderness does it lead him to the lush slopes of the mountain, to its forested sides pierced with great ancient spears of oak, to its summit and the feeling that to everyone is indescribable.
On my road I watch in awe, for this road was not made to be just walked upon, for it leads nowhere, yet so close to anywhere.
This road I am on is the inspiration, for it is only by walking this road that the road of the great can be spied and the dangerous threadbare tracks that lead to it can be dared to be tread upon.
I will go, but which track will I dare? And how will I know if it's the right one?
Only one way leads to these facts and that way is within me, and you.

Sep 2000

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Being a fanboy

I recently got a taste of being on the other side of the musical stage - getting a thrill out of interacting with one of my favourite artists.

Through some avenue I can't remember I stumbled upon an online competition put on by a childhood obsession - Counting Crows.

These guys were the instigators of my love for alt-country/folk music and their albums still rank amongst my favourite singalong records.

Now, to get to the point, their competition involved recording and submitting a cover-version of any one of their songs which would then be judged by the band and ranked to find some winners.

I had pretty much taught myself to play guitar by playing along to their songs, so I thought I'd quickly record a version of one of my favourites of theirs and send it in for shits.

I didn't win the competition. BUT, I was placed in the top 5 somehow - even with my low-fi recording - and got some lovely wee personal feedback from the band.

It definitely gave me a big thrill to think they actually listened to the track and it reinforced to me how important it can be to interact with your fans - it can be a powerful experience for people.

Anyway - I thought I'd share the song I recorded for the competition here and hopefully you enjoy it as well!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Great advice from Seth Godin

I subscribe to a mailing list from a guy called Seth Godin and now and then he throws ideas at me that stick and make me think. Here are just a few of many that have done just that over the past few years, hopefully they'll stick with you too.

All artists are self-taught

Techniques and skill and even a point of view are often handed down, formally or not. It's easier to get started if you're taught, of course.

But art, the new, the ability to connect the dots and to make an impact - sooner or later, that can only come from one who creates, not from a teacher and not from a book.

Prepared to fail

"We're hoping to succeed; we're okay with failure. We just don't want to land in between."

--David Chang

He's serious. Lots of people say this, but few are willing to put themselves at risk, which destroys the likelihood of success and dramatically increases the chance of in between.

Who cares?

Unless someone does, things start to fray around the edges.

Often it's the CEO or the manager who sets a standard of caring about the details. Even better is a culture where everyone cares, and where each person reinforces that horizontally throughout the team.

You've probably been to the hotel that serves refrigerated tomatoes in January at their $20 breakfast, that doesn't answer the phone when you call the front desk, that has a shower curtain that is falling off the rack and a slightly snarky concierge. This is in sharp relief to that hotel down the street, the one that costs just the same, but gets the details right.

It's obviously not about access to capital (doing it right doesn't cost more). It's about caring enough to make an effort.

If we define good enough sufficiently low, we'll probably meet our standards. Caring involves raising that bar to the point where the team has to stretch.

Of course, the manager of the mediocre hotel that's reading this, the staff member of the mediocre restaurant that just got forwarded this note--they have a great excuse. Time's are tough, money is tight, the team wasn't hired by me, nobody else cares, I'm only going to be doing this gig for a year, our customers are jerks... who cares?

Caring, it turns out, is a competitive advantage, and one that takes effort, not money.

Like most things that are worth doing, it's not easy at first and the one who cares isn't going to get a standing ovation from those that are merely phoning it in. I think it's this lack of early positive feedback that makes caring in service businesses so rare.

Which is precisely what makes it valuable.

Everyone and no one

Two things are always not true:

Everyone likes this.

No one likes this.


If you try to please everyone, the few you don't delight will either ruin your day or ruin your sense of what sort of product you should make.

And if you believe the critic who insists that no one is going to like what you made, you will walk away from a useful niche.

One other thing: Sometimes it's easy to confuse, "the small cadre of people I want to impress because my ego demands that this 'in' group is important," with "everyone." They're not the same.

Lost in a digital world

Allison Miller, aged 14, sends and receives 27,000 text messages a month. Hey, that's only about sixty an hour, every hour she's awake.

Some say that the problem of our age is that continuous partial attention, this never ending non-stop distraction, addles the brain and prevents us from being productive. Not quite.

The danger is not distraction, the danger is the ability to hide.

Constant inputs and unlimited potential distractions allow us to avoid the lizard, they give the resistance a perfect tool. Everywhere to run, everywhere to hide.

The advantage of being cornered with nowhere to turn is that it leaves you face to face with the lizard brain, unable to stall or avoid the real work.

I've become a big fan of tools like Freedom, which effortlessly permit you to turn off the noise. An hour after you haven't kept up with the world, you may or may not have work product to show as a result. If you don't, you've just called your bluff, haven't you? And if you do, then you've discovered how powerful confronting the fear (by turning off the noise) can be.

Ten years ago, no one was lost in this world. You had to play dungeons and dragons in a storm pipe to do that. Now there are millions and millions of us busy polishing our connections, reaching out, reacting, responding and hiding. What happens to your productivity (and your fear) when you turn it off for a while?

Insurgents and incumbents

Incumbents compromise to please the committee and bend over backwards to defend the status quo.

Insurgents have the ability to work without a committee and to destroy the status quo.

The game is stacked in favor of the insurgents, except--

They're under pressure from boards, investors and neighbors to act like incumbents.

It takes guts to be an insurgent, and even though the asymmetrical nature of challenging the status quo is in their favor, often we find we're short on guts. ... and then the incumbents prevail.