Last week saw our return from the final leg of The Mark of Cain “Songs of Third & Fifth” tour. It has been by far one of the most memorable moments I’ve had in my career.
The tour kicked off in Adelaide, to TMOC’s home crowd of adoring fans. Despite the rigorous physical & mental preparation we’d all done in the lead up, I was still blown away by the grandeur of the whole event.
The first show was incredible. Playing to a capacity crown at HQ was something I’d never really thought I’d do, having seen so many huge bands play there to similar crowds. I think we were all very happy to have the first show out of the way, and to such a good standard & crowd reaction. There were improvements to be made, but it was an excellent start.
We journeyed to Meredith, site of the Golden Plains Festival for the second date of the tour. The festival capacity was 9,000 and had been sold out for weeks. Understandably, it was easily the biggest crowd of the tour. It was also pretty unbelievable to be hanging backstage with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, how often do you get to do that?
We were glad to be playing a shorter set after HQ and the travel to the festival, plus the muggy weather was a killer. We played strong, and fierce in our 45 minutes. I’m still kicking myself for messing up one of the parts in First Time, but these things happen & it’s not about the mistake, it’s how you recover.
After a few days back home, we hopped back on a plane to Melbourne to hit the Hi-Fi bar on the friday night. This was a really good show all round, however it became *painfully* obvious that the 90 minute sets were doing serious damage to my hands. After this show, my hands were covered in blisters and cuts. Finger tape promptly became my new best & worst friend for the rest of the tour.
We hit Perth two days later. It was my first time in WA, and I really liked the city. I have no idea how people navigate it, but it’s very pretty!
Perth was one of the smaller shows on the tour, held at the Amplifier Bar. Still a capacity crowd, but a slightly smaller, more intimate room was a good experience to play with this band. I was happy to have impressed a great deal of the sceptical TMOC fans who were miffed at John Stanier’s abscene, but it struck me how receptive the fans had become in Perth. A number of fans came to me, asking for sticks, autographs and just generally wanting to express their pleasure in watching me play. I gotta say, that was pretty touching & unexpected. It was a very nice note to end the second leg on.
The final leg had us travelling to Brisbane on a Thursday, Coolangatta Friday and finishing the tour in Sydney. Unfortunately, the whole band was suffering from some form of cold or flu at this stage. Because the last leg wasn’t going to be hard enough…
We hit the Hi-Fi in Brisbane for a very similar show to Melbourne. A wonderful hire kit awaited me & I was very happy to know that it was coming to Cooly with us the next day. Especially knowing that I wouldn’t need to retune it for an hour as was standard with most of the hired drums…
Brisbane was a lovely show, but more lovely was the (almost) entire day we had to relax in sunny Coolangatta. The hotel was 100m from the venue, which was surrounded by restaurants. the only time we left was to meet with Govinda Doyle, the man who will be recording the Julia Henning album to be recorded later this year.
Cooly was a really fun show, I’d be lying if I said nothing went wrong though. Guitar dramas a-plenty and blistered hands gave us plenty of troubles all night, to a point where I honestly couldn’t feel the stick in my hands because of how much tape I had to use to cover everything. Regardless, the fans were lovely and a group waiting patiently to chat with us all and congratulate me on my efforts. I don’t think that will ever stop blowing my mind.
We wound up in Sydney the following morning, set to tackle The Metro for the last (and biggest headlining show) of the tour. Well, all the mistake we’d made in the previous shows were nowhere to be seen in the 90 minutes that followed. We played the best we had all tour to an incredibly receptive and appreciative crowd. What a way to wrap up!
A few fans found their way backstage and spent some time just chatting with us and reiterating their appreciation for everything. They really are a wonderful group of people. I’m so stoked that I’ve been given such a positive welcome from a very passionate fan-base.
A sketchy hotel-slumber in Redfern later, and the next morning we were back in Adelaide. Back to life as usual.
I’ve learned a hell of a lot from this tour. For starters, NEVER rely on the backline hire being: a) what you asked for. b) in working order. c) any way decent. I was hiring Pearl kits all tour, assuming their consistency would do the job no matter where we were. Sadly I was given kits missing tension rods (lucky I carry spares) almost-untunable heads, completely broken hardware and a bunch of other crappy qualities that have turned me off Hired Pearl kits completely.
The next thing I’ve learned is that 90 minute sets hurt. They are tiring and your hands will feel like they’ve been belt-sanded. Finger tape is a great PREVENTATIVE tool, but does little when blisters are already there. Especially when you have to layer so much tape on your hands you can no longer feel your sticks.
Another thing. Teach your girlfriend to drum tech. Granted, if she’s not with you on tour, it’s not very helpful. But, Julia tech’d for me for the last half of the tour and did an excellent job. It made my duties all that much easier and I could rest easy knowing someone capable and trustworthy was looking after my gear while I focussed on doing my job.
Lastly, things will go wrong. En-route to locations, during sound check, in between the show, during the set, after the set. Accept it. It is entirely how you react to and solve the problems that arise.
Suffice to say, The Mark of Cain are well and truly back. The tour kicked ass, the sets were brutal but fun as all hell to play. I’m stoked to be a part of it all.