Tagged: backstage

Backstage conduct – the golden rules

Mike Portnoy tweeted something this morning that just made my jaw drop – are people crazy?!

“A fan “popped by” my house today. I was nice to him, but note to you all out there thinking of visiting your fav musician’s home: NOT COOL”

Some fans often forget common sense, manners or just plain respect for the artists that they admire. That is also why it’s SO crucial who you bring backstage for instance. People often ask me howcome I go to most shows alone – and that’s part of the reason. You need to be 100% sure that whoever you’re with, knows the “unwritten rules”. 

The article from Premier Guitar (below) explains it better than I ever could, and it’s so true.
Other things that they failed to mention, that should have been on the list:

1. DO NOT bother artists when they’re eating,
2. DO NOT interrupt their conversations.
3. DO NOT touch anything (on the stage, in the dressing room, the bus, pretty much any area you are invited to)

4. DO NOT ask for picks, sticks whatever (unless artist or road crew offers it as a gift, and seem to want to get it off their hands)

5. DO NOT stare at the artists or whoever you find fascinating – they get plenty of that once they get ON the stage… Keep a low profile.

I’ve seen some unbelievable behavior backstage, made me glad that I wasn’t the one who invited them.

Like one girl – never mind which band it was – was told that the band had to leave so they closed the door to the dressing room (which means “party is over – go home!”).

She pretty much pushed the tour manager aside and barged into the band’s dressing room (while they were getting undressed!) with the words: “I’m not leaving until I’ve said goodbye!”
Holy fuck. I was so ashamed on her behalf, whereas she didn’t even understand that she had screwed up BIG time.

And even if you do have backstage access and are able to enter a band’s dressing room – don’t RUN back there straight after the show. They want to unwind, talk about the show, get the adrenaline-rush down to a lower level, take a shower, whatever.. It’s their “band time”. Guests can come in LATER. Respect that.

 There’s simply a “code” that most people who have been in this business for a while automatically KNOW and follow. It’s tough to run through all these things with “newbies” who are not aware of all this stuff. And you will always be “guilty by association” if someone makes an ass of himself or herself – which makes it really delicate sometimes.

I feel bad for Mike Portnoy, what a pain in the ass…! You don’t even have to be a huge international rock star to experience fans coming over to your house, not respecting your privacy. A local singer found two girls sleeping on the stairs outside his apartment when he came home one night. A pretty spooky feeling.

Anyway…… it’s a world that not everybody gets invited to and there’s a good reason for that.
This article from PREMIER GUITAR is SPOT ON. Enjoy the read!

http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2010/Feb/15_Rules_of_Backstage_Access.aspx

 

 

This month we’re going to discuss a different type of problem—something that I’m sure most people don’t think about when they think of live music.

This month we’re going to discuss the Rules of Backstage Access. In other words: how to act, how not to act, how to keep from making a fool of yourself and how to get asked to come back again. 

This was a topic of discussion one day between Dan Boul of 65Amps, Sam Austin of Diamond Amps and myself after some lighthearted storytelling of things we’ve all witnessed backstage over the years. I know that this might seem a little strict in some places, but please remember it is all for your own good, to help you have the best backstage experience you can possibly have.

Above all, respect the fact that you are about to experience something that less than 1/10 of 1% of the world will ever experience. Do not take it for granted. You are allowed backstage because of someone the artist trusts. Every action you take will reflect on the person that got you into the show, and to assume that you can participate in any liberties they have might come across as arrogant. 

Here are the Rules of Backstage Access:

1. Show respect to those who are working. Someone on the crew has taken responsibility for you to be back there and will take the grief and abuse from coworkers when do something you shouldn’t have. 

2. No, that pass you have does not mean you can do whatever you want or go where ever you want.

3. Never knock on a tour bus door. The bus is 100% off limits unless you are explicitly invited by someone who has authority to take you there. It is our house. 

4. Dressing rooms are not for you to visit.

5. Do not assume you’ll get catering. Also that table full of donuts, water and coffee is for the local crew, not for you to take.

6. Always ask where you should stand so you’ll be out of everyone’s way. Even if it means you won’t see as well, this is someone’s workspace. Please stay out of their way so they can do their job. 

7. Do what the crew and security tell you to do—nothing more, nothing less. Don’t take any liberties with your privileges. 

8. Do not approach the artist unless you’re invited. This is non-negotiable. 

9. Do not go wandering around the venue unescorted. Most places have overacheivers for security who will throw you out if you don’t have an All Access pass. (no, your V.I.P. or GUEST pass will not substitute) 

10. Please don’t ask for anything to be signed. It’s considered tacky and rude coming from a backstage guest.

11. Always ask before you start taking pictures, video or cell phone snapshots. While some artists allow cameras, I don’t know of any that like a paparazzi-type scene on the side of the stage. I know of even fewer that allow video to be taken at all, even if the performance hasn’t started. Trust me, your memories will be great!

12. No, you may not bring your friends unless they were invited as well. 

13. If you are offered alcohol, you may drink it but know your limit! Going overboard is one of the quickest ways to accomplish two things: get the person who invited you in trouble, and banish yourself from ever being a guest again.

14. Never place a drink on any piece of gear or someone’s workbox. I cannot stress this point enough. It’s considered disrespectful and may get you kicked out immediately. People make their living with this gear and you are putting it in danger by placing drinks on it. 

15. Please arrive at the time you’re asked to. Show days can be very busy and having breaks long enough to come find you aren’t very plentiful. Even though most of us have been to these venues many times before, we rarely see anything outside of the stage, loading dock and dressing room areas. It usually takes asking a few venue employees before finding one that actually knows where ‘Gate C’ is.

 

Basically, it’s a lesson in respect and courtesy. Try your best to respect the backstage area as a workplace, and remember that you are a guest. When you’re at someone’s house or business, you always treat people with the utmost respect. This is both to us. 

Now go have fun and stay out of the way!

 

SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL – MEMORIES

Only a few days before the madness begins again: Sweden Rock Festival.
Sweden Rock is HOME to me. I’ve been there every single year for the past 17 years.

I remember the first festival I went to, that was in 1994. Back then, it was a small event in the city of Karlshamn and it was only a weekend-festival. But it was nice because we didn’t really have any other hard rock festivals in Sweden back in those days.

[My pass from 1995, can’t find the one from 1994…Note that the festival used to be called “Karlshamn Rock Festival”]P1020487.jpg

Things have changed since then. They have REALLY changed. In 1994 there was no Sweden Rock Magazine and the festival was called Karlshamn Rock Festival. As far as I remember, it wasn’t a big deal to anyone back then – not like today when you have people from all over the world showing up at the camping days before the festival begins.

In 1995 I was there to talk to Black Sabbath, and had a great talk with Cozy Powell and Tony Martin at the hotel in Karlshamn (the audio file from that interview has already been published in this blog). Cozy was great, he was joking all the time and when I think about Cozy I just see a man with a big smile.

[Just my luck! The ONE photo I’ve got of Cozy and me, and of course I had to blink!]

Had dinner with Tony Martin in the hotel restaurant as fans were interrupting every five minutes. I was a huge Martin-fan, and I was really glad that he took time to talk for a while that day. It’s different asking questions for a magazine and asking questions as a fan, he took time for both and I was really grateful for that.
There was always a good vibe at the hotel those first few years. All the artists were staying there and fans usually knew about it, but it was still a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

[Tony Martin (Black Sabbath) in hotel lobby 1995]

Well, years went by and the festival just grew. I have great memories from every single year, I could probably write a book – but this is as close as it gets to being a book. :)

It went from being over just a weekend to being 3 days…to 4 days… Of course it moved from Karlshamn to “the middle of nowhere” a field in Norje Boke – Solvesborg, Blekinge, Sweden.

Nowadays it’s the biggest festival (or one of them) in Sweden, bands from all over the world know about it, fans from all over the world are coming to attend the 4 days of metal madness.

And me, well… it feels like coming home. I love Sweden Rock Festival, it’s just everything that I love:
I get to see my favorite bands over a few days, I meet friends, bands, colleagues – people I don’t usually see unless it’s Sweden Rock (photographers, record company people, management people, people working for the festival…). It’s metal in its most compact form, everything in one place. Music 24/7 – I’m in heaven.

Sure, you get tired, your feet are aching, you don’t get enough sleep, food is freaking expensive, and there are drunk assholes every here and there… but even with all that, it’s still worth it. :)

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Partying with Dio’s band at Karlshamn hotel…. not sure what year it was, but they were truly having a good time!

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I could probably pick at least one band or artist from every year 1994-2010 that I have some kind of memories from. So, there would be a lot.

One of the first things that comes to mind was the year when Rob Halford and his own band Halford headlined the festival. I had been at the hotel hanging with the band the night before. Well, I had actually been hanging in the bar alone, thinking that I couldn’t/wouldn’t disturb the guys who were sitting at a table pretty much right behind me.

But one of them recognized me from a few months back when I had been at a meet-and-greet thing and invited me to come and sit at their table. They were wild, the manager left his credit card and asked them to pay for his drink because he needed to get some sleep. Needless to say, that credit card ended up being used for more than just ONE drink…! :)

In the morning, I saw said manager in the lobby, upset because he had missed the shuttle that drives artists and crew to the festival site. The next shuttle was due in about an hour and he needed to get to the festival area asap. I just told him that I was driving down there anyway so he was welcome to join me if he didn’t mind riding in the small Renault that I had back then. He had no problem with that, so off we went. 

Man, that man could TALK! He went on and on about everything that had to do with Rob and I thought to myself that if I had been one of those sensation-seeking journalists, that would have been perfect! However, what’s off the record IS off the record as far as I’m concerned. I guess my morals won’t get me far in this business. Others are willing to cash in on anything, as long as they are exposing others.

[Rob Halford, backstage about an hour before he hit the stage with HALFORD, 2002]

 When we got to the festival, he wanted me to take him all the way to Rob’s dressing-room. I told him I couldn’t go there because I didn’t have a car pass. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this!” he said.

Sure enough, when we got to the first gate, the security guy stopped the car and I opened the window. Halford’s manager leaned over me and looked at the guy going: “Do you know who I am? I am Rob Halford’s manager. She is taking me to the dressing rooms, okay?”

The guy didn’t question anything – he just nodded and opened the gate. It was like Open Sesame all the way through, and next thing I know, I’m parked right outside Rob’s dressing room…

Manager walks off, comes back with a laminate that he gives me. I was welcome to walk around freely. When I checked, I saw that he gave me the best pass you can get – the artist pass. Works everywhere. I could have walked up on stage if I wanted to.

Then there was the year that Sebastian Bach was supposed to play. Those of you who know me, also know that Sebastian is an old friend. That year, I had Kevin from Jon Oliva’s Pain visiting me and since he and Baz are both from Canada, pretty much from around the same area, I figured they would probably hit it off. Either they would become great friends or they would hate eachother’s guts. I wasn’t sure which, but we drove to the festival early that morning to make it on time.

While we were still on the motorway I get a text from my friend at the production office, who informed me that Sebastian had cancelled. He was stuck at the airport, wouldn’t make it on time. So… this is a pass for a meeting that never happened. I had met Baz a few years before when he played Sweden Rock, but this was such a bummer…. another “classic” Sweden Rock memory.

I guess I could go on and on…. there is a lot more... I’m sure there will be more stories here whenever I take a walk down Memory Lane again.
But for now, all I can say is that I can’t wait to see all those great bands – and meet new and old friends for a Rock’n’roll Extravaganza de Luxe!

Almost time for GRASPOP 2011!

Got my invitation to the Graspop Metal Meeting 2011 (Belgium) today. 
I had a wonderful time at that festival last year. It is one of the most well organized festivals I’ve ever attended, everything was like a breeze compared to many other places.

I got lost backstage the first day, had no idea where I was, just a bunch of trucks everywhere and I needed to get to one of the stages to see the band that was playing since I was supposed to write a review. I got help from two guys who were working in one of the backstage bars who escorted me all the way out to the area I was trying to find. Talk about service! :)

The crew knew what they were doing, were well informed, happy to help, the schedule was right on time, even for the signings and other things. The backstage area was nice and clean, easy to find your way around, no MUD (like for instance at Sweden Rock or Sonisphere) because it’s built up like an old western village with wooden floors to walk on.

Well equipped portakabins with air conditioning and cooler filled with cold soda and beer. Fantastic catering food, great selection of foods and drinks, and a nice, positive atmosphere altogether. Even the toilets were fresh, something that I’ve learned never to count on at festivals.
So I’m looking forward to attending it this year.

Last year I was there with Jon Oliva’s Pain. The band was very popular in Belgium, got invited two years in a row, went from festival tent to festival main stage.

Sadly, that was most likely the last time. Guitarist Matt LaPorte died in his sleep only a few days ago, leaving many in shock and grief. Who knows what the future holds for Jon and the band.

This year will host bands such as Whitesnake, Ozzy, Firewind, Judas Priest, Scorpions and more. A great lineup.

JON OLIVA’S PAIN @ Graspop 2010 (started filming from the stage, then realized it wasn’t a good angle…)

SLASH GRASPOP 2010 (view from the side of the stage, a few of us from the JOP-camp went up there to watch Slash do his thing):

Slash @ Graspop 2010 (stage view)

View from the general festival area and merchandise-area:

GRASPOP 2010 – BACKSTAGE AREA:

 

GRASPOP 2010 – with Jon Oliva’s Pain (also known as JOP):