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From The Frontline - Myke Heath Blog - April 2015

From The Frontline

Hello esteemed readers of www.mikedolbear.com

This month I have mostly been breaking stuff, namely two snare heads, a top hi hat cymbal and I had a very testing experience with a bass drum head fail in the middle of a gig. Just to add to the fun I''ve also had a fairly catastrophic MOT failure on my beloved wheels of steel.

It has been a constant for me that if one thing breaks then more breakages generally follow but Iím philosophical about these things and the way I see it anything that breaks can be repaired or replaced. Sadly you canít always replace the history or mojo of some things but part of the fun of getting something new is that you can start that process all over again.

So my path of destruction began on a short Wounded Kings tour of Scandinavia. Now I have to say to date itís been one of the most pleasurable touring experiences Iíve ever had Ė a hotel every night, shower in the morning, good food, good venues and most important of all great people. Every day was a total joy and even being in a tin can for seven hours a day didnít detract from it either. In all honesty the shows couldíve been better attended but to go 600 plus miles and play a show and have anybody there at all seems to me to be totally mind blowing.

Daniel the tour promoter and driver had everything spot on the whole time which really makes a big difference. You are only ever a few moments away from stepping on to the set of Spinal Tap or The Story of Anvil and its professional people like Dan that stop it from happening. Itís definitely not the band! Part of the deal for the tour is that we had hire gear so apart from guitars, cymbals and a bass drum pedal everything was borrowed and a little alien at first but we soon adjusted. The only problem is that I know that hire gear at this level is usually well used and abused and if you hit hard you need the gear to be able to take it. On the second night I blew out the snare reso but thankfully the venue had a spare and it happened right at the end of the song. Worse was to come two weeks later in Ireland.

The gig in Ireland was at a festival that happens twice a year in Limerick. Again everything was brilliant. We were extremely well looked after and the organisers of the festival were great hosts. The gear was borrowed from a mate of a mate of the promoter type thing, although I had been given the spec before hand and wasnít too disappointed. The venue was totally unlike anything I had ever seen before. Essentially itís a pub but it has four different rooms/stages and from the outside looked like nothing more than a little old Irish cottage.

The main venue had a great stage and capacity was around 500 people. We had to go on stage totally blind without a sound check or even much of a line check but we were totally up for it so it didnít matter. My heart sank a little though when I got to the kit and saw that there was a tear in the bass drum head. My immediate thought was ďI wonder if this will last the whole gig?Ē it didnít. With one and half a songs to go (bear in mind that TWK songs are all over 10 minutes in length) the bass head decided enough was enough and practically exploded around my feet. One thing Iíve learnt of the years is that whatever you do donít stop! If an arm falls off just keep going and sort it out afterwards. If you lose an eyeball find it after the show. If you make a mistake play it again so it sounds like you did it on purpose.

Ever the consummate professional I carried on until the end of the set without a bass drum and one part of me wanted to laugh and the bigger part of me just wanted to get off the stage and cry. I was really disappointed that I couldnít give the show the big finish it deserved. I had many thoughts go through my head and a recurring one was to stick my head in the bass drum and walk around on stage with it. I made my apologies to the owner of the kit and thankfully he was very understanding and didnít seem to mind at all. In the end I just limped off stage just as the replacement bass drum arrived and consoled myself with a pint of the black stuff.

As for the other breakages they thankfully happened in the rehearsal room. The hi-hats were from the 80ís and to be honest I never expected them to last forever. I do hate breaking stuff though but itís an occupational hazard and as far as I know nothing is physically indestructible when it comes to drums, especially your body and your wallet! Itís a good excuse to buy new stuff though and itís one good reason for still maintaining a day job.

Iíve begun to focus on my health a little more recently and have very quickly felt the benefits of doing a basic but regular workout along with breathing exercises and regular walking (which might be just as well seeing as I donít have a car right now!). My mountain bike is due to see a lot more action too. One major thing Iíve learnt in my day job working with people who have disabilities is that you should never take for granted what you can do with your own body and if you donít have your health you donít have a lot on a day-to-day basis. No need for Mo Farah to worry though! Iím not aiming for Olympic glory, just trying to improve myself a little bit.

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