Monsters of Rock!!!
Imagine: Over 30 different bands, thousands of music lovers, a big-ass ship with four different venues, and the Atlantic Ocean. That summarizes what the Monsters of Rock Cruise is all about.
Now, combine that with a little jet lag, an ambitious schedule, and a high school reunion vibe, and that would tell you a little more about my personal experience.
The Infinite Throw-Down
The day before the ship sailed, me and the Alcatrazz boys had just completed a short tour of Japan and endured a “leisurely” 24-hour travel day from Osaka to Ft. Lauderdale. And as I was scheduled to play with three different bands – Alcatrazz, Lita Ford, and Nelson – I basically jumped aboard and went right to work.
The high school reunion part of the equation was about seeing so many of my compadres from the old days. Damn! Time warp central. And so good to catch up with old friends. I have a ton of history with so many of these folks; crossing paths back in the day on various tours, festivals, record dates, promo events, etc. and now, I see them in a hallway, or popping out of an elevator, or down at the cafeteria. Super cool. (And of course, I’m so bad about taking pictures… I’m sure there are a bunch out there of me with various other band members.) Here’s one I happened to catch floating around, taken after the second Alcatrazz show:
Once we all got settled in, it was time for a quick, makeshift “rehearsal” with Lita and the gang. It wasn’t a real rehearsal… just a quick get-together in someone’s cabin, going over the set at a low volume. Michael Lardie (Great White, Night Ranger) was going to join us on keyboards for a couple tunes, so we needed to walk through the arrangements.
A couple hours later, we were hittin’ onstage at the main theater. Played a nice set to a warm crowd. Lita on guitars and vocs, Mitch Perry on guitar and Marty O’Brien on bass.
Here’s a behind-the-drums shot of the theater at soundcheck:
Next up was a theater show with Alcatrazz at noon the next day (Sunday). Always nice to “thrash it” with Graham and the boys. (With Howie Simon on guitar and Tim Luce on bass.)
Monday was double-duty, starting with Nelson. This was the first time that this exact configuration had played together, so we did a quick run-through in Matthew’s room, again, just kind of talking through the tunes. So the first time we all played together was at the actual show at 5:30. The brothers always sound great, and the twin guitar attack of Howie Simon and Joel Hoekstra was bad-ass. I thought the band played well.
At midnight on Monday, it was time for Alcatrazz again, this time in one of the ship’s clubs called the Zebra Room. Had a great time in the smaller venue. It was also somewhat of a merging of past, present and future when the Nelson Bros joined us onstage for “Since You’ve Been Gone,” as Lita watched the set from the side of the stage. My various worlds had collided… Trippy!
Tuesday night, we wrapped up the festivities with Lita on the stage on the outside deck. Another nice hit…
Unfortunately, this shot – taken from the deck of my cabin – was about as close as I could get to the actual Bahamas this time.
I had a pretty full plate, mentally, so there just didn’t seem to be much spare time on this run. I currently have four complete shows in my head: Lita Ford, Nelson, Alcatrazz and Stu Hamm, with both Stu and Alcatrazz being deceptively intricate, for different reasons. And with the Japan run I had just done with Alcatrazz, we had added a handful of new tunes, so the “hard-drive” was getting kinda full.
In fact, I made a couple bonehead mistakes during the first two shows, and while I doubt many noticed, it really troubled me. (Yes, I’m one of these guys who goes back to the hotel room after a show and fixates on any errors I might have made, agonizing over that shit!) So between shows, I was spending extra time focusing on the next show at hand, immersing myself in the music and going over any arrangement notes.
Things went well, but I know I can make improvements on my capacity to memorize large batches of music. After all, I have been doing this a long-ass time now, and I don’t drink or smoke weed, so I really have no excuse NOT to go in there and slay this shit.
Additionally, of course, there’s the training. It’s an ongoing pursuit to keep the mind and body strong. And while the gym on this boat was pretty scaled down, I tried to jump in there each day between shows or rehearsal and hit the weights or do some cardio.
Food-wise, the cafeteria salad bar was my salvation (along with the one to two Ultimate Meal Smoothies I had each day). If you add enough beans and maybe some nuts and seeds to a large salad, it really becomes a complete meal.
Each salad is like a piece of artwork to me. (Yes, I’m serious.) And yes, I often take a pic of my salads!
And if you’re really curious about the options, here’s a video tour of the salad bar on the boat:
Fans, Friends and Finite Space
Artists and audience were more or less intermingled, with your personal cabin or backstage areas being the only artist-exclusive spaces.
But this was no big deal. People were really gracious. I signed a ton of shit and took a bunch of pics with folks. Also did some reminiscing about past shows they would talk about. Great times…
Look forward to the next one!