Some downtime to catch a breather at home and reflect on everything that’s been happening since the beginning of 2012, which has been a whirlwind to say the least. Not sure I’ve ever collected more frequent flyer miles – South America, Europe twice, various dates around Canada and the States, and even a cruise! – than during the first half of 1012 and more is yet to come.
Well, I knew things were gonna be crazy for 2012 because I had headlining shows booked with Riot, Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos, and Sebastian Bach for the first 5 months of the year. I actually circled the date, May 14th, as the date that I could finally relax. And, damn, it feels good!
Of course, it’s great to be busy, but I was pretty concerned (and worried) with making sure I learned (and had all the material memorized) for the different bands that I would be performing with for the next few months. Fates Warning – is always a challenge. I always need a couple weeks prior to the tour dates to make sure I have all the FW stuff in order. And with Arch/Matheos, I had a lot of work to do with re-learning the material from ‘Sympathetic Resonance’ (none of which had been performed live before!) plus the 6 songs from the first 3 FW albums I’d never had to learn previously because we pretty much stick with the Alder era songs when we tour.
But going back January…. Riot was originally only scheduled to perform on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal cruise, but we thought it would be a good idea to add a couple warmup shows beforehand to make it all happen financially and to get band ready for the cruise. But then Mark (Reale) became seriously ill and had to go to hospital while we were rehearsing and getting ready in San Antonio. Should we cancel or go on as planned? – We were torn but made the decision to play anyway because the shows were just around the corner and a lot of people had been looking forward to seeing the ‘Thundersteel’ line-up back together on stage. But I gotta say – it was very weird playing a Riot show without Mark – and, frankly, it’s not something I care to do again (although it was nice to have Mark‘s old guitar partner, Rick Ventura, sit in with us at the New York show). From there we headed down to Miami to board the 70,000 Tons Of Metal cruise where the news reached us that Mark had passed away. Terrible, terrible but sadly not totally unexpected news as we were aware that Mark was fighting for his life when we left. Rest in peace, my friend – it was an honor sharing part of my musical journey with you.
After all the emotions of 70,000 Tons Of Metal I was home for only a couple days before heading out with Sebastian Bach for a couple weeks of dates in the U.S. and Canada. Of course, I’ve been working with Sebastian for several years now but I always need to make sure to get a couple days of individual rehearsal before heading out on the road. I need to have a certain energy and stamina to play the Bach set
By mid-February I started to reacquaint myself with the Fates Warning material and worked out a few other songs from the catalog the guys wanted to perform. I also began tackling what would be the biggest task – learning all that Arch/Matheos material! I knew I was going to have limited time after the March Fates dates so I needed to get a headstart on the A/M stuff. The 3+ weeks of March dates with Fates in Europe were awesome though and made up for all the grind at home. It was seriously the best time I’ve ever had with the FW guys! We even played a few countries I’d never been before, including Slovakia and Slovenia…. and this time (as opposed to my first time to Russia with Sebastian), I was able to do some sightseeing. Red Square in Moscow is truly impressive – go to my Facebook page for photos from the tour (and check out the 2-camera shoot of ‘One’ from the Milk Club show!).
I got back in late March which meant I had a couple of weeks before heading to South America with Sebastian. And, of course, at this time I jumped right back into Arch/Matheos world because I would only have 4 days after the Sebastian gigs before heading to Germany for the A/M headlining show at the Keep It True festival. I’ve been to South America with Sebastian a few times now and it’s always a rush to play down there because the fans are so into it. We did 5 shows in Chile, Argentina and Brazil (ironically, Fates played a show with Queensryche in Sao Paulo the exact same night I played there with Sebastian as well, with Mike Portnoy filling in for me!) . I wish everyone could experience a South American rock audience in the flesh just once – pure craziness! Gracias amigos, for making us feel like the proverbial kings of the world!
On to the finale: the Arch/Matheos headlining shows at KIT and Hartford, CT! These were very special to John Arch and Fates because John hadn’t performed on stage in some 25 years and the band had never been to Europe with him. He was nervous and so were we because we’d only have 3 rehearsals together before the first show. Talk about a trapeze act! I’m happy to say we pulled it off without any major hiccups but what a trip that whole KIT experience was! We did an autograph session a couple hours before the show and fans were nervously shaking (!) as they asked for John‘s autograph as if they were meeting the Dalai Lama or something! But still – that couldn’t prepare me for what I would witness during the show a couple hours later. Over the past few years playing with Sebastian Bach, on occasion, I’ve seen a few girls crying emotionally in the audience, but with Arch/Matheos it was dudes weeping out of sheer joy in the first few rows! These fans are so passionate about the early FW material with John. It was difficult to take it all in and not get too distracted behind the kit at the same time. Guys had their faces buried in their hands as we played ‘Guardian’, ‘Exodus’, ‘The Apparition’, and a few others…. Wow!
The Hartford show a week later was excellent as well (although no weeping men as far as I could tell ;-)). We played to a good sized, very receptive crowd at the Webster Theater. Fans had flown in from all over the U.S. for this special occasion, and, of course, it was a great homecoming, for John especially, since the whole Fates saga began in this very area almost 30 years ago. Hopefully, we’ll do more A/M shows but if this was it, we definitely came, saw and conquered with these 2 shows. Many thanks to all that came out and made these events truly memorable. A week later I was out with Sebastian again for a weekend run around the Midwest – no rest of the wicked as they say!
If this was a little long-winded I apologize – probably won’t do it again for another 6 months or so. I’m still enjoying a few more days off here in SA before it’s back to Europe with Sebastian for the beginning of summer festival season. Got Download, Sweden Rock, Gods Of Metal, Graspop, Hellfest and a bunch of other stuff (see the Tour section for dates!) waiting for us. I’ll see you there!
Bobby Jarzombek (w/ Sebastian Bach) European tour dates:
June 07 – Sweden Rock – Sölvesborg, SWE
June 08 – Knust – Hamburg, GER
June 10 – Download – Donington Park, UK
June 12 – Spring & Airbrake – Belfast, UK
June 13 – The Garage – Glasgow, UK
June 14 – Islington Academy – London, UK
June 16 – Hellfest – Clisson, FRA
June 17 – Jimmy Jazz – Vitoria-Gasteiz, SPA
June 19 – Sala Caracol – Madrid, SPA
June 20 – Sala Bikini – Barcelona, SPA
June 22 – Gods Of Metal – Milan, ITA
June 23 – Earshakerdays – Basel, SWI
June 24 – Graspop Metal Meeting – Dessel, BEL
June 25 – Melkweg – Amsterdam, HOL