April 3, 2015, posted by FotherMucker99
Not since the heyday of the late 90’s / early 2000’s has a Machine Head tour been so successful. I mean, we’re talking successful on so many levels, especially by modern standards. Because back at the turn of the millennium, it was arguably the peak of the music business, when bands still came out of nowhere, and they’d sell millions of albums. A time when every tour that went out did business that was previously unheard of. Not only that, but you could return to the same city every 3-4 months and still kill it.
Until recently, our two (2) most successful North American tours was 2000’s “Year Of The Dragon” in which we were supporting "The Burning Red." At this time we sold out shows in advance, killed it in merch, and generated some great-for-the-time paydays (though by today’s standards they are admittedly low). The second was 2012’s “Eighth Plague” tour, which from a financial standpoint commanded our then-best guarantees to-date. However the attendance's for the tour overall were slightly lower. Ironically, this tour essentially mimicked the same level of success as that “Year Of The Dragon” tour with similar attendance numbers, and even many of the same venues, with three major differences. A) The times have changed dramatically B) people no longer have the disposable income of the 2000’s, making the record / touring business a far different state and C) The level a sheer insanity at these “Evening With” shows has never been higher! These have been far and away, the best shows we have EVER done in the United States. Ever. Why? Simply because the passion from the Head Cases was SO INTENSE!!!
We owe it to our fans! The fact that we have been able to do these numbers without any support act is even more staggering. On every level I’m proud to say this tour was a success. We were able to hit markets that we hadn’t been to in a while, or ever (Mesa, Orlando, Des Moines, Edmonton, Calgary, etc.…). We had a great Canadian run with a few sell-outs in Edmonton and Calgary. We’re glad our fans responded to the “Evening With” and everything kicked ass without having to put together a tour with the “hot / cool” opening band package! 43 shows in 58 days, wow!?
Our booking agent Scott Sokol deserves a lot of credit here for hammering the idea of “An Evening With Machine Head” home. It was him and him alone that pushed for this (with some sage advice from of Kelly Kapp at Live Nation) and who felt strongest about it.
What we learned on this tour:
A) Fans want to see Machine Head in "an evening with” environment, long sets, no openers. Many folks referenced taking it into Springsteen, mix-up-sets-type territory.
B) 14 of the 43 shows Sold Out!! Scaling down a bit in some markets looked better, felt better, and made for a much better fan experience.
C) For the first time in decade we didn’t need to subsidize a U.S. tour with money from a European tour. We made money in the U.S. for the first time in a decade, AND, carrying sound & lights, a top-notch-crew, and a Patty Taylor bus!
D) Our home town San Francisco was the highest attendance, biggest payday, and best U.S. merch gross! Hell yeah Bay Area!
THE COME DOWN
And then I got home…
And I was a fucking zombie…
It took me well over 2 weeks to snap to of it, instead of my normal 3 days. Not really a depression, just shell-shocked, a tour veteran, PTSD-type shit. I kept asking myself, "How do I fit back into “normal" life…?”
Hanging out with my wife and kids, I just felt disconnected. Genevra and I fought a lot during the first week back, trying to re-adjust to each other. It happens so often we call it "the acclimation period”. Her and the kids have a defense mechanism when I go on tour, they just kind of “shut down” to me, it's so that they don’t miss me, or feel sad when I’m gone. It starts about a week before a tour, and lasts about a week after I’m back. It strange for me, cause I’m ready to be back and hang, but that’s the reaction to going away for months at a time... for years. I was getting frustrated with Zander the other day trying to get him to do his homework, and I said “dude, you're not going to do this”, and he said, “how would you know what I'd do Dad, you haven’t been here for over a year!”.
And he’s right. Since Dec 2013, I’ve been working 24/7 on the record, or on tour, or making a video, or doing promo.
I KNOW YOU
I’m not used to being recognized at home, the Bay Area is so big and sprawled out it’s easy to disappear, most of the time when I'm off-tour I won’t get recognized 'til I go to a show. I can be semi-anonymous, and I like that. Weirdly, I’ve been recognized almost every day, no matter where I am. Complete strangers coming up to me at the coffee shop, supermarket, walking down the street, at my son’s baseball game, by the dudes fixing my broken hot tub…it’s always like “are you Robb Flynn…? I was just listening to ‘Game Over’” (shows me phone) And for the first week or so, I just had no idea how to respond… or how to act… it was foreign… I was just blank.
OFF THE GRID
When I came home I went off the grid.
I didn’t look at my computer, my Instagram feed or Twitter for 2 weeks. I didn’t need to know what everybody else was doing. Truthfully, I didn’t give a fuck what anybody else was doing. I was a bit addicted to it all really. It was good to detox (or retox), especially from social media. I was finding myself going back to my Instagram feed over and over again to read the comments. Take a dump... read my Instagram feed. I was like “what the fuck am I doing!!?? Wasting my life staring at a fucking phone!! Waiting for someone's approval!??! What the fuck!!??"
So I went off the grid, 3 weeks. Felt good.
THE ROAD IS A-FUCKIN' HAR-DUH
It was a looooooong tour. 43 shows in 58 days, there was a 9 in-a-row stretch, then a 5-in-a-row stretch right after.
And that's doing NINE - 2 and 1/2 hour shows in a row!
It takes it’s toll on your body, ours is a very physical show. The last 3 shows of the tour I lost my falsetto voice (For example: the high singy bit “and I won’t pray for you" in ‘Halo’), but thankfully that only makes up about 1% of the show. My power voice and clean voice was strong til the end. It’s amazing we didn’t cancel any shows! Well… actually… we did!! We cancelled Las Vegas!!
My voice was gone after Salt Lake City, and I mean GONE. We cancelled it in the morning, even sent the entire crew at Vinyl (the venue) home and everything. The show was cancelled. But we stayed at the Hard Rock in Vegas as out bus driver had driven 12 hours and he needed sleep. And then we realized how many people had flown in from all over America to see the show (Las Vegas is such a transient city), Dave walked in at one point and said to me, “dude... some guy flew in from Boston, cause the Boston show was sold out weeks in advance…?”
People from Boston, Alaska… fuck… I had to do it... I couldn’t let our people down. We called the venue crew back in around 1:30PM, said the show was back on, (they were thrilled). I went and worked out SUPER-hard, took a nap, then I dug deep into some well of strength I didn’t even know I had... and the show went on. Sure it may have been a little rough here and there, but man, the show was bad-fucking-ass!!
We didn't talk about that 'til now.
My fam and I have normalized, Genevra and I will have a bottle of wine (or 2) most nights (The Divining Rod 2012 cab sauv is our fave) and just talk on the couch, or watch Game Of Thrones. The kids and I have re-connected, they’re listening to me again, we're throwing the baseball around a lot with baseball season and all, Z-Man is a great pitcher.
I’ve got a lot to be proud of from that tour: I worked-out almost every day, I stayed super disciplined and kept my partying down to once a week or once every 2 weeks (though when I did boy, I let LOOSE!), I warmed up for 3 hours before every show (2 hours on guitar, 2 vocal warm-ups, and stretching), I played the longest setlists of my entire life at 21 songs and 2 and 1/2 hours damn near every night. We as a band have never been tighter, sang better, been as locked in, or enjoyed each others company as much, and, we played some of the most amazing, life-affirming shows of our lives! I managed to eat vegan / vegetarian almost the whole tour, (though I devoured a few delicious rib-eyes) I didn’t get sick one time in some brutal ass winter weather (we’re talking just insane temperatures!), I was able to stay strong all the way to the end of a 58 day tour, AND…I did all that at 47 years old!!!
I’m still standin’ muthafuckers!!
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