In June 2003, the Brain Surgeons tried to arrange to play a series of European dates - a number of UK gigs (including Liverpool!!) plus some French shows. Guess what happened?
We UK fans bitched and moaned about the fact that BOC were going to be touring at the very same time and it would be awkward for many of us to see both. The tBS tour subsequently collapsed and so we didn't get to see the Brain Surgeons after all.
Over in France, Dominique Berard got pissed off with us UK fans and decided to take matters into his own hands. If he wanted to see the Brain Surgeons play France, he was going to have to do something about it himself....
Here is the story of my experience with the Brain Surgeons from NYC. From raising the tour to being on the road with them.
I can't remember how the idea of a French tour took place. Was it me asking Al or a UK agent preparing a UK tour and me emailing him, or Al contacting me. Can't remember.
Anyway. There was supposed to be a tour in June with lots of UK dates so I tried and book some for France and Belgium. I believe at one point there was supposed to 7 in UK and 4 on the continent.
UK dates were cancelled due to BOC touring on the same period and venues closing down. I was standing with my 4 dates when a guy who bought me two went bankrupt. So I had 1 date in Belgium, 2 days off and a date in France. The guy in France withdraw its offer without any reasons. Oh yes, it was because he is a fucking asshole completely unprofessional.
Of course flying from to NYC for a one off in Belgium made no sense so nothing happened.
I was feeling very bad for I had spend time contacting venues, sending CDRs to the press and venues etc... And my main issue was that I was feeling completely bad towards Al and his band. He had all the reasons to think I was just a french twat who was all mouth and no action.
Albert gave me a second chance and I've worked on October. I think it was June when I eventually came with about 2/3rd of the dates. I had that Loco date with Paul Di'anno. Iron Maiden is just huge in France so I thought having the Brains playing with the Beast would be good with a huge crowd. No dates in the UK though. Not my fault, not my business, not my country. Don't blame me.
I was in London this summer having a Chinese Meal with Jack "Gil Blanco" Taylor and er... what's his name oh yeah, Phil aka DesUK. They said they would come to the Loco gig but that there should be a place to meet up and have a private party. I thought it was a great idea but money was needed. Jack said he would cover the cost of that if needed. He seemed serious so I was impressed so I said yes.
The idea of a BOC TRIBUTE NIGHT with special guests came while I was asleep. It is not possible to advice a band playing two different venues in the same city on the saturday and sunday so a BOC tribute night was just perfect : probably a stronger attendance than a BRAIN SURGEONS gig on its own and the possibility for extra stuff like exhibition of BOC collectors and stuff like that.
Still had to find the venue. The House Of Live is a great venue and they were OK for that : great. They've got a wide screen, I've got videos : it was set. An hour of BOC videos on a strong PA would be terrific. And so as you may already know from various BBs, it was terrific...
In the meantime, I had been contacted by American Dog's record company to see if I would agree to raise a tour for them. They had already toured France twice and their CD is in store. Al and American Dog management were OK to play together for the tour. It would bring more people, and it did.
I've always been really pissed off reading the BS gig reviews with the usual "small audience" etc... and seeing Al in a bar in front of a few fans is just unbelievable.
That should not exist, at least not in France. And so it went differently here...
By the end of summer, everything was set. Bands, venues, contracts, equipment, van, flights, press ads.
Too good to be true I thought. I had my finger crossed (and my bottom tight must I confess).
The D day came very fast. Al and co were to arrive on saturday the 4th. American Dog on the 5th. I went to fetch the Van on Friday the 3rd so that I could take the backline : Marshall Head and cabinet, Mesa Boogie bass head and Cabinets. The DW drum kit would have to be picked up on the saturday. I live in a flat and didn't want the van and equipment to stay outside in my area so I went to park the van in my parents garden and ooops, crashed it a bit. Well shit happens.
I went to drive back home with my car. Strange stinky smoke was coming out from it. Hmm no good luck. It was friday night late and I had to fetch the Brains in the morning with no car...
A quick talk with my wife (she is fantastic - and no, I don't share her) and with my dad to see if they could help.
They did and I went to fetch the band with my wife's tiny car and my dad and his Rover to fetch their equipment.
Of course, the information desk gave me the wrong terminal number, the band landed 30 mins early so they waited for me a few minutes left with my dad who doesn't speak English. I thought Ooops doesn't look very pro Döm and the tour hasn't even started yet.
Anyway the band was tired by their flight so I guess they weren't understanding what was happening around them very much.
All three of them sat in my wife's car and we drove off to my place to have a rest. The hotel reservation starting at 12.
Deb went to sleep in my messy room (guitars, clean un-ironed clothes, CDs) we talked a bit, there were Croissants and Baguettes. Al took a rest a bit and David and I started jamming in the kitchen. Cool.
Eventually everybody jumped in the van. It was big and yellow. A Mercedes. We went to fetch the drum kit. We arrived to the venue and they did the soundcheck. Then I realized that The Brain Surgeons were in France.
Despite the jetlag thing, they were looking good and (almost) completly fresh ;) I sat on a chair and just watched them working on their installation. They did it well and surprisingly quick considering they had been flying all night without hardly any sleep.
As far as I remember, they returned to the hotel with a cab. At least Al and Deb. But I'm not sure.
Anyway we had a dinner at the venue and the show was gonna start at 11:00. I thought that I might be pushing a little bit too much. All the more considering that they were going to go for 5 gigs with no day off...
The UK fans arrived early at the venue. It was great to see them ! I didn't have time to speak much because there was work to be done.
An interview for Mazal TW, a good web TV took place prior to the show and the BOC videos were gonna start.
The interview went well. Al seemed happy. The interviewer couldn't speak english so he asked the question through a piece of paper. It was nonetheless great for that guy (Jean Paul Bellanger) is a big fan of BOC. I had sent him Beach Party and he loved it so that was the best mood for the 1st Al Bouchard interview in France since the early 80s I reckon.
The interview was taking place in the basement of the venue. In the main room, the BOC videos were playing on a strong PA, that was terrific and the audience was good, with big smiles. Entrance was free, everybody was happy. For most of the people, it was the first time they had seen the Buck Dharma Band Charity Video so that was even more cool.
I had the pleasure to introduce the band on stage for their very first appearance in Europe and they started with Dr Music.
I really liked the sound, Deb had a really good Rocker attitude on Stage, David was very good too and Albert really sucked. No he was great and I was watching them thinking "they are here and they are doing well : that's awesome". A furtive gaze at the fans was enough to see that they were all having some good times. I went to the light board and did press the nobs and pushed strange buttons. At first I didn't have a clue what I was doing and then it was worse but that was not so bad see nobody complained :) !!!
They've played a kick arse set. BOC orientated of course since it was the 1st BLUE OYSTER CULT TRIBUTE NIGHT ! Towards the end of the show, they did Godzilla and Al had a Zilla mask for his solo and he received a rave by the audience. The promotor of the club was next to me and he was happy and so were all of us.
A great success ! I wasn't expected as much in fact. I've read a lots of stuff on tBS through fans and "so-called fans". The truth is that the Brain Surgeons are good entertainers. So unless you go out to gigs to be bored, you'll have good time with the Brains, that's as simple as that.
I had never seen BOC with Albert on the drums. I'm not old enough ;) But he still has it, or probably has he got it EVEN MORE since he never stopped and still have the Flame, the love playing live.
I must admit Cities On Flame bores me when 3OC plays it. When Al does it, I just love it. I ain't gonna go into intellectual explanations for that, that is just how it is. Hey, and when they play Sinfull Love, they kick arse !
Krakatoa is my Fav track on Beach Party. I was pessimistic in hearing it played as a trio, and it was also very good.
After the show, they talked with fans for a long while, signing autographs etc...
I then drove them back to their hotel. They would have a small night since they would have to be at 10:30 at La Loco.
La Loco was the "Serious one". Big venue, I mean REALLY BIG venue. The Brain Surgeons advertised as such and not as "Special Guests" of a tribute nite. Four bands. Press, record companies...
They were at the venue on time, doing what they had to do (soundcheck etc...) in a professional way. I could focus on the other bands.
The Brains had 45 mins to play. And so they did. I haven't seen much of their show since there was many things to deal with. But I had time to see my light guys to ask for Green Light and Black on drummer for Godzilla and ask for Bright Light That Never Wounds for Astronomy. I think they did a great work on the lights for all the bands.
I think the show was good. Al's solo on Zilla once again being the Highlight in terms of applause. And it is true he is awesome when he takes his solo (not that he is not awesome without his mask).
Then American Dog started their gig and they are a terrific live act. Then Paul Di'anno took the stage : some Maiden Classics with a Harcore Touch and some of his new material. The audience was very happy.
I would have expected more people for that gig but 300 is still a decent crowd.
Then we had to packed all the equipment back to the van. The Brains helping my crew : really cool !
Bits of the show was filmed by a web TV so I'm currently in the process of tracking those guys to get a copy. You'll be the 1st to see it, if I ever can get that damned film.
It would have been human to have an off date but as Deb said, I am a Slave driver so monday after an about 400Km drive we arrive in Rennes in a small venue. No time to check in at the hotel. Soundcheck. The venue is a small club with really good vibes. We've been warmly welcome by the owners : Bruno and his beautiful wife.
I thought this was gonna suck I must say for everybody was tired. There was an opening act : Attitude who did well but there was about 20 people only. It was the 1st time the club was opening on a monday. Then it was The Brains turn and we were now probably around 60 or 70 so yes, it was enough to have a kick arse gig.
I believe this "small" venue is the kind of good clubs where the band is used to play in the States, they were feeling great and the crowd was responded very well. It was one of the best date of the Tour. They were on fire, especially Dave who went nuts slapping his bass and singing Il Duce like if he had no mics (that is to say loud). Al blew the roof off the venue on his solo on Zilla. And they finished their concert with a new track Dominique & Submission. How cool is that hey ? Fantastic.
Then American Dogs turn : Fantastic as well. You HAVE to check 'em out. I saw Al and Dave enjoying their show.
We fucked the curfew and ended the gig late.
Once it was over the opening act was chatting with Al to get advice on how to work their instruments etc... Al was kind enough to answer their questions and give some useful piece of advice.
Then David and I worked hard on putting the stuff back in the van. It took us a while but we did it and we were happy to drive back to the hotel.
It was a cool one. Tommy - manager of American Dog - David and I were sharing the same room. Keep cool : 3 beds. I thought there was a cow dying somewhere in the room and after enquiries I discovered that it was David Snoring like hell. I then did consider cancelling the tour.
We woke up rather early in Rennes for we had to be in Central Paris by 2 for a long interview afternoon for Al and the Dogs. We were a bit late due to slow traffic and Al gave his 1st interview from my mobile in the van.
Did you know that you have to actually call the journalist to get the interview ? Well Deb said that that's the usual thing. And that really got me started. I mean they are paid for their articles and what do they do ? They are at home and the artist call them. To cut it short, I just hate 99% of them. The questions are always the same, and they don't even pay a phone interview... I shit on them. Anyway....
We eventually arrived in a nice hotel were the interview Marathon began. While Al, Steve and Michael from AD were being interviewed we went to a boat on River Seine to set up the gear and do a quick soundcheck.
I thought it was funny to have tBS playing on a boat. Wasn't it the Beach Party Tour? Yes it was. Al arrived at the boat very shortly before getting on stage. The opening act was a funny girl trio. The audience was 75% female.
How was the BS gig ? I don't know, I was tired and I knew that after the show there was work (put the stuff back in the van and drive the guys to the hotel) and then there would be a 700KM drive early in the morning to go to Toulouse. So I went to take a couple hours sleep in the van. It was a secret gig and I guess it shall remain a secret.
After having solved double booking hotel problem (Fuck you to Hotel de Belgique in Paris) everybody was in bed around 3:00. God it was late. I didn't have time to return home since I don't live in Paris so I just found a place to park the van and slept in it for 3 hours... That was the harder day from the tour. If we could survive this, then we could survive anything.
I went to fetch the bands and by 6:30 we were on the road. We stopped outside Paris for some coffees (I had a lot) and croissant. Basically everybody slept all the way Xept me of course since I was driving I thought I should stay awake and David with whom we've enjoyed watching the nice French Landscape.
Eventually we arrived at the hotel to unload our cases and we rushed to the venue to unload our equipment. Then we had to drive to the opposite part of Toulouse for a sign in at La Fnac, France biggest record company. Then back to the venue. As we drove Toulouse, we were all very surprized not to see any posters... American Dog record company had send 300 to promote the show so there might have been a problem.
We arrived at the venue. I would have loved to rest but I had to sell tickets since I was promoting the gig. I haven't seen the Brains show but I could hear it and it seemed really good.
There were a good number of BOC fans and they were all happy so that was great. As I was selling tickets, I've found the American Dog posters under a shelf. Hmmm, had the company who was supposed to stick them around try to fuck me ? Yes. And they did. After a couple of phone calls I had my money back but the harm was done : many fans didn't even know about the gig. Shit happens.
American Dog kicked arse as usual. I recall they seemed even more furious as usual : they were brilliant. We drove back to the hotel. I was moaning (as always).
Everybody went to his room (I think). David and I were sharing the same one. We enjoyed a long long talk and I was just empty. No energy at all. A vegetable. But it was OK : thursday would be our day off !!!
I woke up around 11. I had paid for breakfast but they were served only until 10. I guess I had such a shitty face than when I beg the girl at the desk for some food, she gave me some. I also noticed her nice breast as we was looking for her keys. It had already been a few days far from my wife. And Dave and I were sharing the same room. By the way, speaking about Dave, he had a throat infection or I don't know what but he was choking bad and would go to the pharmacy. But that was funny.
David show me how to play Frankenstein properly and we were playing it in the hotel: cool !
The Dogs and I went to fetch some beer in Toulouse. It should have taken 5 minutes since the shop was very close but it took more than an hour since there was a hell of a traffic jam.
Then the Brains, Steve (American Dogs' killer guitarist) and I went to central Toulouse where we had a coffee and some food around 6, then Al & Deb went to an internet café while Steve, Dave and I were having a walk in the beautiful streets of Toulouse. Then the 5 of us went to a nice restaurant. We all enjoyed the food and I must say, Deb really enjoyed the wine. The waitress was also very pretty. Red hair, white skin, dark eyes and looking shy... Goddamnit !!! as the dogs would say.
We return to the hotel charmed by our night. We've talked a lot with Dave again and eventually went to bed for some sleep.
We didn't have to wake up that early for Castres is very close from Toulouse. Castres is a strange city : very nice but it's like a race circuit: the whole town is a one way street ! We arrived at the hotel and it was gorgious. Very old and nice 3 stars hotel. At last have we had a suitable hotel :)
We went to the venue and it was great. Everybody was relaxed. We had survived Toulouse so everything after that was just holidays.
The Brains played one of their best gig (the best with Rennes I reckon). It was the first night I've been able to display their banner. It is nice. I had seen it on some pix of the band in the next but seeing the real one was something indeed. American Dog kicked arse as always, despite of monitor problems. The concert ended at 1:30. Fuck that was long and good !
Al was interviewed by a young guy from the local newspaper. Then he went to have a chat with Luke the french president of the BOC FC and his beautiful wife Estelle. She saw me and we had a quick talk. Then she has shown me her new tatooes. It had been about a week without a woman and I my throat suddenly got very dry so I ran away :o !
We put all the stuff in the van. By that time in the tour, Al had become the official "pack the van guy". In Rennes, it took David and I an hour to fit every bags in the van. And we were really proud of ourselves. It would take 30 mins to Al and he would do it better than us. So he was awarded the right to do that every night. Isn't that very kind from us... We didn't know how Al could do that especially after having a gig but we didn't want to know : he could do it so that was enough for us.
Basically the biggest part of the work was done by David and Al with the help of Keith, American Dog's drummer (By the way, why is he hitting his drumkit so hard I don't know but I ain't gonna mess with the guy about that !).
Every night I was helping around with the gear but I might have been looking for the light cases I must say :)
We drove back to the hotel. Al and Deb went to their room (they had a great one, much better than ours with Dave which was already good. What can we do ? They are stars... But yet did they really need that king size bed? Arrrgh, I don't wanna know).
The Dogs, Dave and I went out for Castres by night is really beautiful and even if it was late, Montpellier - our next gig - was not too far so I though : let's enjoy it ! And so we did.
Dave and I return to our room through the night entrance. Dogs didn't know about that night entrance so they had to climb and get in by a window.
In the morning, we woke up too late for the breakfast. Damn. I've talk with the receptionnist who was not a very pretty girl but I couldn't help having "bad" thoughts in my mind. Eventually we were offered a fantastic lunch buffet for an unbelivable 5 Euros !!! God, I had a lot of food.
Then we jumped in the van and went for a quick drive to Montpellier. Well quick was what I thought but there were just roads in the mountain so with our Packed Yellow Cheese bus, I wouldn't speed.
We were late and the promotor of Montpellier was starting to freak out. No problem, we were now a great pro team and we would raise all our gear and banners within a blink.
We did the soundcheck and went to a restaurant with a girl working with the promotor. We were all gazing at her (except Deb as far as I remember) for she had a black tee that would let us see her back and she had no bra (see pic... I don't tell you who took the pictures for it is someone who had his wife on tour with us and thus, I don't went to create any problems). I was really scared one of us would do a bad move but we were all gentlemen. Well, we were all too tired in fact.
Then show time. The Brains as usual started with Dr Music. That song has never been a favourite of mine but I've got to say that live with the BS, I liked it. They've also played St Vitus one which Al used my cowbell. That song is already great but with the cowbell, it is even better, and I'm talking seriously. They also played a killer Sinful Love. I think that's the BOC song they really master most and hell it is better than the album version. I reckon the rest of the show was good since I haven't got any other particular memories.
Then I remember I was watching American Dog and Dave and Al were enjoying the show as well. You must check them that trio for Columbus, they are really good. I've got their records and they are OK but live, the band is just perfect. What a trio and what a show !
Then we've been to the hotel and what a hotel ! It was like a big mexican thing with swimming pool etc... The rooms were not that good but who cared ? We would all have slept on the floor anyway. There was a private party and since we don't understand what "Private" means. David, American Dog and I went to check it out. No single women had quickly underline the Dogs. Men dressed like women had I noticed. Was there a problem with me or what ? No, it was the idea of the party, so there were guys in pink all around us wondering who we were.
Some of us had a few vodkas and god knows what. I didn't have any drinks for the whole tour basically for I wouldn't have been able to work. Too bad. Next time maybe.
We went to bed and slept very well.
In the morning. I had my breakfast with Al. Today was the last gig day. The atmosphere was strange. We had been rushing for 8 days and eventually getting into a kind of rhythm in which everybody knew what to do without asking anybody. It had become a kind of routine, but a positive one. We were a good team : from driving to setting the gear up, do a killer show an then back to the hotel : we were killers !
We took the road again and drove to Lyon. We arrived at the Rail Theatre on time. The venue is just great. Perfect for the bill. Moreover there were two local bands so even more people to party. The bands did the soundcheck and everything went perfectly. Except the light that were a bit weak but well, it was not a big problem.
It was the biggest attendance of the tour after La Loco. TBS delivered a strong set. David did took a great lead on Niagara Falls, Deb was looking wild like a kind of punk trash betty boop on dope if you get the picture, and Al was great as usual. The set was over too soon. It had been very fast. The band would have love to stay longer but being professionals and nice, they had a 45 min slot, they play 45mins.
American Dog took the stage and it was a blast. Since that was the last gig of the tour I felt like doing a little joke so I've put the Zilla mask and came on stage to give them some beer. I was just glad to wear the Zilla mask but hell, you can't see much with that !
David and Al were in the audience, enjoying the show and signing autographs.
Once the show was over, we had to do the ven loading for the last time. I was in a strange mood (like usual), moaning a bit that David, Al and I had been doing most of the packing up van job. I can be a dickhead sometimes ;) Anyway we went back to the hotel. David and I were in the same room and could hear what was happening in the room next to ours. A musicians was with a girl. Do you think that after 8 days he would have shared ? Hell he hasn't... And you call that Rock'n'Roll ? Well that's the way it goes :)
David and I popped in in Al & Deb's room where they were chatting with Tommy, American Dogs' manager. I wanted to smoke so we went out in order not to annoy anybody. It was already late and monday was gonna be difficult since I was to drive them back to Paris and give back the Drums to a rental place and the rest of the backline to another one. We have a "quick" chat with David and went to bed while some American Dogs went out to have some drinks. I believe it was about 3 o'clock. Departure was set for 8 or so.
We all had a strange face in the morning. Going from dark grey to pale white. Our human colours were gone. Some of us had breakfast. I've stuffed myself to death in order to be able to drive and off we went.
As we were on the motorway I got scared. I was about to put my warning signals for there were strange noises in the engine. I discovered it was the snoring of the guys so I didn't have to work on the car.
We arrived safe. The Dogs to their Hotel and the Brains in my Flat while I went to bring the drums back. I eventually got home and we went for a nice dinner with the Brains.
Deb is very confortable in good Restaurant. Especially with wine. Al did had some snails. David tried one. Next time they will have frog legs. It was a very enjoyable meal where we've been able to speak about other stuff than music. Very entertaining and interesting.
We went back to my flat were we had some good strong Metaxxa and we watch extracts from Castres and Lyons gig. The Brains records al their show so that there are always some good stuff to watch on TV.
After a quick night of sleep (4 hours or so) we packed the car and drove off to the airport. Al insisted that we should leave early and so we did. He couldn't have been wiser since the road was just a gigantic traffic jam. We called the airport to say "wait for us". Had we arrived 2 mins later then the Brains would still be in France :).
A quick hug and they went their way and I went back to my car to go in order to fetch the Dogs. I haven't been able to drive away from the airport since their was a bomb alert but that's another story. The party with the Brain Surgeons ended at CDG airport on the 13th of october.
They are now in the States. If you live there, go and check them out. If you don't have a good time, I will refund you...
Just pay for my plane ticket.
Very Special Thanks to: Albert "This way ! I'm 100% sure" Bouchard, Deborah "Prisonner of The Venue" Frost, David "Throat infection" Hirshberg, Michael "Lick my dirty Baaaaalls" Hannon, Steve "Real Fast Stevie" Theado, Keith "Snare" Pickens, Tommy "Panini" Floyd and Brent aka "Eeeeeeeeeeevil".
Special Thanks: Yvan et Philippe au House Of Live, Monica et tout le monde à La Loco, Bruno et Nadia au Mondo Bizarro, Thierry et sa sister @ le Studio 34, Marc & Thierry & Martial et tout le monde au Bolegason, le cuisinier de l'hôtel à Castres ! Luke@Church Of The Cult, ralph at macdigital
A big hug to: my "Grosse Prod' Enoooomre" crew for their tremendous work @ la Loco : Do Desclaux : sound / J-Souille "La Fripouille" Light (auto)/ Fredo Merrat : Chief Light / Ludo Gindre : everything that others can't do. Merci.
Very beaucoup Thanks: THE FANS !!!! C.U NEXT YEAR ! Oh, thanks to Albert for letting us share some of his photos!!
[ 28 October 2003 ]