Bringin’ the Thunder Down Under with Lita Ford
Australia is as cool and beautiful a place as you might imagine. The people are friendly, the country is clean, and the time zone is completely whacked out. In fact, when you take the 15-hour-plus flight there from LA, you basically skip an entire day. (We left around midnight on a Monday and got there Wednesday morning their time.) But such is life, and fortunately, I really don’t get jet-lagged when I fly. Plus, I can sleep on planes if I’m tired, so… it’s all good.
Wednesday was a day off, so I connected with my long-time bro, guitarist Brett Garsed. We took a drive out to his place (about 90 mins outside of Melbourne) and had a fantastic day catching up on all things past, present and future. We have so much history together as friends and colleagues. Always great to see family.
Thursday was a show day in Melbourne at the infamous Prince Bandroom. But first, of course, I had to catch the local gym for an afternoon pump. I would’ve grabbed a token pic or two of this health club, but I think I was still in shock from paying $25 for a day-pass to this motherfucker! And yes, the Australian dollar is pretty much neck-to-neck with the US at the moment, so that was basically $25 US for a quick one-hour workout. And therein lies the only real downside to the land of Aus: You will drop some bank there.
The show was cool, the crowd was loud, and the band played well (which, once again, was Lita, me, Marty O’Brien on bass and Mitch Perry on guitar). The Australia set ran the gamut of Lita’s career, all the way back from the beginning, though the latest record.
Particularly of note was the fact that we played a couple Runaways tunes. Lita Ford – for those living under a proverbial rock in the history of rock department – was lead guitarist for the iconic all-female 70’s band. But this is the first time Lita has ever performed any of The Runaway’s tunes live as a solo artist, and she sang the shit out of them.
It was trippy to play “Cherry Bomb” and “Black Leather” (the latter written for The Runaways by Steve Jones, and also covered by the Sex Pistols). If you would’ve told me as a young drummer back in the 70’s, at the height of The Runaway’s fame, that I would be playing “Cherry Bomb” with Lita Ford in Australia 37 years in the future, I doubt I would’ve believed you. But hey – there we were, throwin’ that shit down hard!
The interesting thing drumming-wise about these tunes is the two different sides of a punk feel you have going on. “Cherry Bomb” needs to feel more classic punk, with a bit of urgency, and a looser, garage band kind of feel. “Black Leather” needs to be sleazier, with a deeper pocket, and a little more snap to it, but still with that punk edginess. Seems like it all worked out.
Here’s a vid of “Cherry Bomb” and “Black Leather,” back-to-back, floating around YouTube right now… just to give you a vibe.
We traveled on our day off, so we got into Sydney late afternoon. It’s always a struggle for me to decide whether to engage a new city for a little adventure, or stay in my room and hit the practice pad or pull out the laptop and work on a writing project… or even go find a gym. In other words, all the shit I would be doing back home, anyway. On this night, I chose the latter.
Meanwhile, my comrades jumped out to the renowned Sydney Opera House to catch the season opening of “Vivid Sydney.” This is an annual event built around a stunning visual arts display where the Opera House and other downtown buildings become 3-D “canvases” to this breathtaking, high-powered projection imagery. Apparently, the gang pulled up exactly five minutes before it began.
Here are a couple images that our bassist Marty O’Brien grabbed on his iPhone from the evening. Ok… so I probably fucked up! I should’ve gone.
The next day I trained at the University of Sydney, right near the hotel. Facilities were decent.
Also, I had no problem finding vegan food on this trip. In addition to the usual Ultimate Meal smoothies, backstage fruit and veggie treys, and the ton of snack foods I brought with me, there were always some great vegan options to be found.
One stand-out dish came from a “natural” grocer near the hotel. This was a beluga legume salad, with some pumpkin, dried pears and caramelized onion, among other things. Killer!
The Sydney show was at a nice venue called The Factory Theater. Again, it was another warm crowd and a great time.
Afterward, I dropped by CLUB FVCK, which hosted the official aftershow get-together. Lotsa cool folks hangin’…
And finally, here are the first couple minutes of the drum solo from Sydney.
Can’t wait to head back again soon. The Australian peeps are super cool…