Archive for May 24th, 2012

May 24, 2012

ARE WE THERE YET?

With a three-day weekend and the unofficial start of summer ahead of us, I thought it would be fun to share some of my wackier stories about life on the road with various rock bands.  Although I’d already been making money as a live musician in and around the cities where I grew up, it wasn’t until after college that I got my first dose of being in a honest-to-goodness touring band.  It was a Los Angeles-based band called Madame Beast, formerly known as Gnarly Beast.  I guess the Madame part seemed more appropriate when the band added an attractive female singer named Leslie Lyon.

Over the course of a few years, Leslie became like the sister that I never had. And she and the rest of our band mates from Madame Beast bonded over a series of incidents that ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.  I remember the night that we had a showcase at the famous nightclub Whisky-A-Go-Go, which was a very big deal.  Shortly before we went onstage, another band member’s mother said to me, “Now remember that this is your one shot at stardom.  Don’t blow it!”  Gee, no pressure!  Needless to say, my performance that night was not my best ever.

Another time, the Madame Beast equipment truck was totaled while most of us watched helplessly from the van that was trailing it.  But no one was hurt and we were actually able to salvage all of our equipment because everything was in road cases.  The PA cabinets had a few gaping holes in them, but we were able to play the gig that night.

This trip down memory lane wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the time the Madame Beast gang was standing on the balcony of a motel somewhere in the southeast US and spotted a gigantic funnel cloud coming our way.  “Uh … Is that a tornado?  What should we do?”  Well, of course, we just stood there and stared at it.

On another occasion, an over-eager reporter followed a Madame Beast band mate into a bathroom and stood outside the stall to interview him.  Awkward. I think that was the same article that got quoted by Playboy Magazine – “Then Decker jumped on top of his organ.  It was an exciting performance by an exciting group.”

But in all fairness, it wasn’t just Madame Beast that seemed to attract odd luck.

There was an incident while I was playing with Lois Lane where a roadie drove our equipment truck into a low bridge and seared the top off.  And yet another where a roadie attached a car to the equipment truck for a long trip.  But he didn’t disengage the transmission and we ended up watching the car smoke, sputter and die from the van we were following in.

And yes, I did get lost on the way to the stage one time.  But the guitar player never did a dramatic guitar solo on the floor of the stage, only to discover that he couldn’t get back to a standing position.  Those were scenes from the rock parody “This Is Spinal Tap.”  However, life as a touring rocker wasn’t 100 percent glamorous.  When I look back at all the mishaps or near-misses, I’m just thankful that I didn’t let them deter me from following my career goals.  It was all worth it because I learned a lot  — and met a lot of interesting people along the way.

Wherever you’re headed this holiday weekend, remember that getting there is half the fun!

Today, this would be on the TV show “What Not To Wear.” At the time, we thought we looked great. From left to right, me (keyboards and back-up vocals), Roger Nemour (guitar and bass) and Leslie Lyon (lead singer), the core members of Madame Beast.