Archive for the ‘Backstage’ Category
Photographer Ben Dauchez‘s appartment, Paris 2008.
My buddy Fritz Helder, formerly from Fritz Helder and the Phantoms and now smashing everything with Azari & III, came to Paris yesterday and will be staying over for a week before heading to concerts in Germany, Italy, and Holland. Crazy times already started! Check Azari & III here
Interesting fact: it was Fritz who’d taught me one of the dance moves you see in the Slutterhouse Blues video a couple of years ago in Paris!
Wow. I don’t really know what to say.
Going back to Beirut’s Basement, one year after our live debut there, was truly sweet. I must admit I had a few apprehensions about doing this show. I actually have apprehensions every time I’m back in Beirut, because I never know what to expect. Are people going to show up? How are they going to react? The usual.
I just woke up after only 4 hours of sleep. I couldn’t sleep more because the excitement’s still there. That bittersweet taste you get when a show’s out of the way after weeks of buildup: it all happened so fast.
And you were all truly wonderful, I mean it. It was a pleasure watching and hearing you sing along – and on your own! – watching you move, dance. And all the positive vibes that were there. Not a single negative thing, not one. It was great to see familiar faces who knew the words to the songs, new faces who seemed to be enjoying it just as much.
I want to thank all the people who contributed to making this happen. Hadi and everyone at the Basement. Ziad Nawfal. Woody and George on sound. The opening band Lazzy Lung. And the beautiful people who shared the stage with me: George on electronics/voice effects, Liz on VJ-ing, and Antonio on guitar.
Finally, I can’t describe how amazing it felt to perform 3 songs with my special guest of the night, Ramy Tibi from the band Rama’s Whisper. Ramy and I had a band together exactly 10 years ago. I was a guitar player then, and he called me up one day asking me to join his band Kynslinn Tobacco… as a singer. And the rest was history. Sharing the stage with someone you know so well and with so much talent was magical, and we will most certainly do it again.
A big big thank you again to every single one of you who was there yesterday night,
All my love,
Back from Liverpool. Three wonderful nights, two wonderful days.
Our plane landed at around 10pm. Carrying a Lebanese passport, I of course had to wait an hour at the border because my “tourist visa does not allow me to perform without a special sponsor number from the festival organisers.” Fine, Mr Policeman, then why don’t you send one of your guys to follow me during my stay to make sure I don’t perform? I mean if the problem isn’t in me entering your precious country, but in me performing in it, why are you still keeping me here?
No clue. All I know is that while I was waiting in that ugly empty space of the John Lennon International Airport (how ironic is that?), I made a promise to myself to definitely quit making music – as a professional – in case I was not going to be allowed to get in and perform.
An hour later, my band mates Vincent and David finally saw me coming to meet them.
The taxi ride was weird. we drove for about 20 minutes in what looked like a ghost village. Not a single person on the street, not a single light in any house. For a second, we really started to wonder if we hadn’t taken the wrong flight to some lost village in Switzerland. Oh no wait, the Swiss wouldn’t have let me in anyway, so that’s a good sign.
The hotel we were booked at was a 7-quid taxi ride from the city center, which explains the village feel of the area. We dropped our stuff and quickly went downtown to Kazimier to meet my friend Peter Guy from http://www.getintothis.co.uk. The members of the band on stage were fully dressed in traditional very colorful African dresses, despite them being blonds with blue eyes. I don’t remember any of the songs so that’s not a good sign, though I remember they were extremely tight musicians. After that, God took the stage in the shape of one-man show Max Tundra. The guy was playing tens of instruments at the same time over a midi base running at 300 bpm, and that’s without mentioning the outfit, the moves. For a clearer idea about what that looked like, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXT7Qfae31Q&feature=related
Peter had to go back home to work and we ended up cruising around Liverpool’s city center, bar hopping, being taken to dodgy RnB clubs, Scouse veggie burger places, before ending up at Bumper, which will be our after hour meeting point for three straight nights.
We woke up the next day and I kind of felt bad about having drank as much and having stayed out this late just one night before my performance. But whatever, we had plenty of time, ran through the set one last time with David – while Vincent was finishing off his daily 14 hours of sleep, – then went downtown to meet our friend and agent Carol Watfa from Panther Music Agency who took great care of us. Nice walk around the city, noodles, sound check.
I wasn’t impressed by any of the bands performing with us that night. Good bands of course – otherwise they wouldn’t have made it to the festival anyway, but nothing too out-of-this-world. At least not to my taste.
I personally felt a bit out of place because of the setting: we were booked in Hannah’s Bar, and Slutterhouse had never performed in a bar before, nor is it what you’d consider a “bar band.” But 90% of Liverpool Sound City’s venues were bars anyway and we had to go along with that. The show went great though, Carol handled our sound perfectly, the boys did a great job, and we were only greeted with positive reviews when we were done. Some useful contacts were also made with music industry professionals who had come just to see us and offer to work together.
Needless to say, I don’t really remember the end of the night, apart from the fact that we ended up at Bumper again, and made a new friend, Garey Snider from GSpider. Back to the hotel early morning, I only got a couple of hours to sleep as I had to take an early train to Birmingham where I was meeting my record label’s director for lunch.
Back to Liverpool for a memorable Friday night with the band and Carol. Throughout the night got to hang out in many different places and ran into old friends like Peter Guy, the official Sound City photographer Mark McNulty, and our dear Becky Ayres; new friends like Garey, Pamela, David, Rylan, Laura, Jess, and many others; and got to watch many great bands including my festival favorites: Fly With Vampires from Liverpool. We then moved to different clubs and I remember starting to complain because I wanted a club that played Lady Gaga rather than Bloc Party, and we eventually ended up at Bumper, once again.
Our flight was very early in the morning so we partied until dawn, went to the hotel to grab our things and headed to the airport with one thing in mind: sleep; but there was a 10-12 year olds football team on the same flight.
Rainy Paris today as I sat down to write this short review about our Liverpool journey. We absolutely loved the city and its extremely friendly and funny people, and can’t wait to go back sometime soon.
And so we’re scheduled to perform at Liverpool Sound City festival on Thursday night. It’s going to be on the first floor of Hannah’s Bar and Slutterhouse will take the stage at 11h30 pm.
Slutterhouse’s lineup for this one will be the good old Vincent Vargas on the machines, our new band mate and friend David Regnault (from Bodysnatcher) on bass guitar, and me.
Also, our wonderful friend and agent Carol Watfa from Panther Music Agency will be part of the Slutterhouse crew for PR and sound engineering consultancy.
We are supposed to fly on Wednesday night so there should be no problem with waking up on time – I remind you that I’ve already missed a flight to Dubai Sound City last November, and a Eurostar train to London last March. However, the Liverpool airport has been closed down for the past 24 hours because of Icelandic volcano. It seems like whatever happens, Slutterhouse getting to a concert on time will always take the form of some sort of achievement after a rough struggle. And a fair amount of stress. I must admit that I like the idea.
Scousers, see you in a couple of days hopefully!
Our new bass player David, from the band Bodysnatcher
I got caught with an extremely mean tonsillitis – the kind with the heavy white chunks of white stuff at the back of your throat, all over the back of your throat? Not a very nice sight, and not exactly what you’d call a nice feel either. And that happened exactly one week after our London show – which means that it had been lurking there for a couple of days before. So despite the constant pain and fever and the week spent in bed, let’s call it a relief, or a good timing at least.
My vocal therapist advices to sing carefully with a pharyngitis (what I have now), but not to sing at all with a laryngitis. But when the doctor took a deep look inside my mouth he suggested I should even restrain myself from speaking. I stuck to my moderate relativist principles and chose the path in between: speak carefully, but not sing at all.
Can’t wait to get back in shape, I miss rehearsals.
“[...] A more common type of sore throat that accompanies a cold is pharyngitis. This means the infection has made a home in the throat just above the larynx. Your throat will be irritated and dry just behind the tongue. The muscles that make up the walls of the throat are so sensitive, an infected area the size of a pinhead will feel more like a gold ball.
You are able to sing in this condition, but you should be careful not to disturb the irritated area. Most singers use the muscles of the throat too much, and pharyngitis will make you very aware of it. If you’re smart you’ll use this opportunity to develop your ability to sing without that additional support. The bottom line is this type of sore throat doesn’t have to dampen your style. [...]
It’s not a good idea to use the type of sprays that numb the throat or drink syrup-type liquors. You need to remain sensitive to the irritation to know if you’re causing damage. “
- Mark Baxter, The Rock N’ Roll Singer Survival Manual, pp.92/93.
After missing my flight to Dubai last November while we were scheduled to play at the Dubai Sound City festival, I managed to miss my Eurostar this morning while we’re scheduled to play in London tonight!
Luckily, the flight to Dubai I had booked was 2 days prior to the gig so getting another flight the next day wasn’t a problem. Today again, I managed to get on the next Eurostar train an hour after the one I missed and I just got to London on time.
As if I was in need of more stress!
Slutterhouse on stage is no longer a duo.
Last december, Nabil and I decided that the Slutterhouse live experience should be completely different from the one we have in the studio. We have come to realise that during our Dubai Sound City shows, having noticed that it was very difficult for us to keep the show up to the music on big stages. We also happened to watch some extremely exciting electronic pop bands like Dan Black and We Have Band whom we were sharing the stage with, and their live lineups gave us many interesting ideas about where we could take Slutterhouse next.
Those of you who were at the last gig we did in Beirut last December were surprised by the absence of Nabil. Instead, they saw two extra-musicians/techs George Zouein and Nader Mansour on stage with me; that was only a first step into experimenting how would Slutterhouse look and sound best. This concert lead to a lot of questions from many people about Slutterhouse’s future in terms of lineup, band members, Nabil’s implication, etc.
And the answer is very simple. Slutterhouse is Rabih Salloum and Nabil Saliba, there is no other way around that. We are still writing music together and exchanging samples, demos, and ideas that we shall put down together during our next studio sessions in Beirut for the next album.
However, Slutterhouse’s live shows have developed into something rawer, more energetic, and definitely more exciting.
Today, the Slutterhouse live lineup is Vincent Vargas on synths/machines, Louis de Leusse on bass guitar, Anthony Abi Nader on drums, and me.
The band looks and sounds great live and I can honestly tell you I have never enjoyed being in a band as much as now. Rehearsals have been making me so happy I can’t wait to experience what the live gigs will be like with these new Slutterboys.
Londoners, see you on Tuesday!