Black Clouds & Salty Linings

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2009 by doseofsalt

It’s that time again!  Dream Theater are on tour and I get to write an epic blog about my day.  This year however the blog of reflection will be somewhat smaller as I have only attended one show of this tour.  The previously blogged about responsibilities are part of the reason, the other part is the previously blogged about back injury that I didn’t want to aggravate with cramped plane seats and epic long days after long days following the tour.

So here I sit, at my cosy day job the day after Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation ripped the guts out of the Brisbane Convention Centre with an epic night of prog goodness.

My day began at around 1pm with the now traditional catch up with Jordan Rudess for lunch.  For those who don’t know, I’ve been working for Jordan in a variety of capacities for around eight years or something now from running his chat room to running his website to dealing with online publicity and interview arrangements to cover art producing to whatever else needs done that I’m able to do.  In that time I’ve also had a variety of interaction with other members of Dream Theater either through my involvement with Jordan or through and doing interviews.

So I head down to the hotel that the band are staying at and hit the first hurdle. “Excuse me fine-looking reception lady of posh hotel, can I by chance call up to a room from here?” to which said fine-looking lady says “Of course you can sir, what is the room number?”.  I reply with the correct information and supply the last name of said musician, being “Rudess” to which I am responded with “Sorry that doesn’t match”.

Curse you rock star aliases! So I went with the alias he was booked under last time but to no avail.  This chick is obviously thinking I’m some sort of band fan stalker guy, so I say “That’s fine, thanks, I’ll just call his mobile”.  So I head over to the big plush seats in the lobby and dial away.  “Sorry, the Verizon Wireless customer you are calling is unavailable…”.  DAMN!

So here I sit, continuing to try and get through to Jordan’s mobile in the lobby.  From over my shoulder at the reception desk I hear the girl on the phone saying “What name was that?  Please hold…Salty?”  I turn around to find her smiling and holding the phone receiver out towards me.  Woo success!

So Mr Rudess makes his way down to the lobby and we take a stroll up the Queen Street mall to Jo Jo’s and head up for a bite to eat and a good old-fashioned catch up.  I never realised that place had so much white marble inside of it…I’m sure last time I went there (years and years ago) it didn’t look like that.  But anyway, it was really good and I was thoroughly impressed with my Spaghetti Bolognese, which it claimed in the menu was “THE BEST IN THE WORLD!”.  I’m not sure about that, but it was pretty damn good.

We sat and ate up there and watched the various types of Brisbane wandering around below and spent about two hours or so catching up and talking all things life, business, music and iPhone apps!

Actually…lets back track this 24 hours…

24 Hours Earlier…

In New Zealand, Jordan’s V-Synth rack started having some problems and playing up, so the call was put into the salt-man to see if I could source another one locally here for him to use for the rest of the tour.  So I spent the day before the show on the phone with Roland reps in New South Wales and Queensland trying to track down this piece of uber synth gear that apparently nobody anywhere stocks.  Ended up organising a demo model of the Roland V-Synth XT rack to be express shipped from Sydney to Brisbane.

So that’s the back story of what I was about to say, which was that during lunch I got a call from Brisbane Sound Group to let us know that the V-Synth had arrived and could be picked up.  A call was put into the production team and a runner was sent out to deliver the hire paperwork and such so we could take the rack.

During lunch I gave Jordan as a gift the original pencil drawing that I did for his album Notes on a Dream.  I was worried in the days before that I wouldn’t be able to find it, but I did and he was very happy that I had given it to him.

Over lunch I was lucky enough to star in one of Jordan’s famous tour videos which I have embedded below!

Jordan has uploaded a few Brisbane videos which can be seen here, here, here and here.

So on finishing lunch and making videos it was drawing close to time for sound check so we headed back towards the hotel.  Of course, a small stop off had to me made at Starbucks along the way where we encountered a Dream Theater fan whose name I believe was Aaron, but I can’t be sure…it was probably something completely NOT like Aaron.  Sorry Aaron.  If by chance you are Aaron, or the guy I’m now calling Aaron, make sure you send your photo with Jordan to the Jordan Rudess Facebook page!  This dude Aaron had mentioned that he had spotted The Pirate LaBrie floating around nearby, so who knows what sort of plundering had been going on in the Brisbane CBD that day.

Anyway, we left Starbucks and headed along to the hotel where I had some stuff to grab from Jordan’s hotel room, so headed up there where we proceeded to get completely distracted by checking out some more awesome iPhone music apps now that we were in a quieter environment.  So much awesome stuff.  So we jammed on some iPhone music for a little bit and then I took off to let him get ready for some serious fucking rock.

I made my way over to the Convention Centre at around 4pm and headed in to find some fans lined up already at one of the doors.  Those mothefuckers wanted some prog and they wanted it NOW!  Good to see keen as mustard Dream Theater fans.  I wandered around a bit, had a look at the merch desk and decided I was gonna grab a Dream Theater bandana and fucking totally forgot to get one.  Ah well, I’ll get someone to pick me one up at another show.  Hear that people?  Someone please get me a DT bandana from one of the other shows!  Seriously, I’ll pay you back.  [Edit – This has now been done – Thanks Sam!]

Anyway, I put a call in to Matt, the ever amazing and helpful Dream Theater Production Assistant dude to let him know the salt-man was in the house.  He came and let me in and gave me my shiny laminate VIP pass which I slung around my neck and started a hardcore chill out inside by the stage.

The band turned up shortly after and I said hi to a couple of them who spotted me hanging around.  Said hello to Robert, who is Jordan’s keyboard tech, who, like a LEGEND was rocking the shirt he was given last Australian tour.  What a champion of a bloke.  I made my way up onto the stage to hang out and kicked around keyboard world for a while.  Then it was practical joke time…

I climbed up onto the keyboard riser while Mike, who at this stage hadn’t seen me yet was fiddling around with something to his left on his kit.  I took position where Jordan would usually be, hands on KORG ready to BUST OUT THE PROG!  Mike started saying “OK so shall we play…” and looked around to find a gigantic bearded me standing where he would usually see the much smaller also bearded Jordan.  He looked…blinked…looked and exclaimed “UNCLE SALTY!!!”.  He come over and we had a quick chat and catch up and went back to drum world to get the sound check started.

Jordan, who is forever discovering new gadgets has this new camera made by Zoom called the Zoom Q3, which is more microphone than it is camera, but it’s awesome!  The camera is pretty limited, only has a 2x digital zoom which in my opinion isn’t even worth putting on it, but the microphone is brilliant.  It’s a stereo mic and does a really great job.  Jordan’s recent piano improv pieces on YouTube were done using it.  Why don’t you check one out!  So we figured a good way to test it out would be for me to bootleg a couple of songs from the show and see how they turn out.  I walked around the stage with it filming part of the sound check which was cool.

Dream Theater finished their sound check and ducked off to get some food and have some rest before they had to make a room full of musicians feel really bad about not practicing more (thanks Mikey!).  In their place come the support act for the night, but I know the draw card for some, Sweden’s Pain of Salvation!  They took the stage and did a line check and a bit of a sound check while Mike’s drum tech Jose and the sound guy threw a football the length of the venue to each other.  Mike come out to watch some of the PoS sound check and then wandered off again.  I hung around and checked out Dream Theater’s video guy’s set up, which is absolutely mind-boggling to someone who doesn’t really know what half of it is, and so complex in programming and coding that I was lost after about 5 seconds of him explaining how some new thing works to Jordan.  I have to say, very very impressive.  I wish Clint from Red Tape Pictures had been there, I’m sure he would have been in heaven.

I got a call from Jordan shortly after doors opened to let me know if I wanted to come up to the platinum ticket meet and greet to head up to the production office where I could hang out and watch that go through the motions.  I did that last tour in Melbourne.  It’s awesome seeing all the people there with their stuff, so excited to be meeting the guys and having their photo taken and their stuff signed.  I did some filming of the fans for Jordan on his iPhone and snuck in at the end of the line to get my photo with the band.  I have no idea when I’ll end up getting that, but I’ll post it as an edit to this blog when I do.  When I jumped into the middle of the band calls of “Uncle Salty!” went up again.  I’m not sure where that come from, but apparently that’s me [Edit – OK so “Uncle Salty” is an Aerosmith song – Thanks Mike (Mills)].  Then, strangely, Mike, James and John (Petrucci) proceeded to make up a plethora of nicknames for me in rapid succession that included the word “salt”.  This was strange because the exact same thing happens whenever I go into Billy Hyde Music to see Mikey.  There’s usually two or three new “salt” themed nicknames for me from different staff members.  Dream Theater’s highlights were  Sea Salt (James), Saltrinitus Monks (Petrucci) and Tyrano-salt-us Rex (Mike).  There were others but I can’t remember them all.  So I stood around and every now and then helped James sign a shirt by holding it taught for him.

Edit – Here is my hijacked Meet and Greet photo!

The rumble of Pain of Salvation started floors below us as the line was dwindling down and the guys finished off signing the last of the fans bits and pieces.  Let me take you back 23 months to the last tour.

23 months ago…

At the Melbourne Dream Theater show after show meet up I was with Mike Mills and Brad Dixon and some friends and James come out to say hi and took some photos.  Knowing that he was tired and I was no doubt going to see him again a bunch at other shows I was attending I didn’t worry about getting a photo and we both agreed “we’ll get it later”.  That never happened.  The night of the New Zealand show I sent James a message saying “Don’t forget you owe me a photo…” to which he replied “AHAHAHA I remember!  Let’s make sure we do that”.

Present day, Brisbane Convention Centre…

The platinum meet and greet finishes and the band get up to leave and James turns to me and says “Hey Sea Salt…lets get that pic now to make sure we don’t screw that up again!”.  So the below dodgy photo was taken by Matt on my iPhone.  Shit photo, but it was awesome that James remembered and we finally got it done.

It was time to go and see the awesomeness of Pain of Salvation bust out their phenomenal dark brand of prog metal.  They put on an awesome show!  Would have been nice if a few more people had been there to see them though.

After their set I headed over to the front and made my way backstage again so I could get Jordan’s camera ready to film the first song of the night and headed into the front of the barrier with the other photographers.  They kicked off with “A Nightmare To Remember” which was awesome.  I got some brilliant shots of the guys playing and the audio very rarely peaked, even that close to everything.  On reviewing it though Jordan was sad to report that it was mostly bass and double kicks…but at least they weren’t peaking!  I’m not sure if that video will turn up on his YouTube channel but you never know!  After that I headed out into the crowd to watch the show.  I took the camera back out and recorded Jordan’s keyboard solo from the sound desk…levels sat at a perfect level, so that probably sounds awesome.  The only shame was that the camera is limited, like I mentioned earlier, so JR is a tiny speck on the screen.  After that I headed forward into the crowd and stood about halfway in to film “The Mirror” and “Lie” which it was AWESOME to see played.  Lie rocked like nobodies business.

But get this…I was all over the place with this pretty awesome microphone/camera bootlegging away filming a bunch of songs.  When I finished road-testing Jordan’s camera I found my girlfriend Kylie and started watching the rest of the show.  During Whither I got out my iPhone to record a little bit of the song, knowing the audio would be disgustingly blown out, but you know, just sussing it out.  It was doing THAT that had security come over to me and tell me to cut it out.  Idiots.  I felt like getting all self-important and shoving my big shiny VIP laminate in his face but figured it wasn’t worth the potential hassle if he decided to be a prick.

So Dream Theater rocked my head off.  It was awesome and The Count of Tuscany completely blew my mind live.  Such an amazing song, and a HUGE way to finish the night.

Found Mikey who I had scored an aftershow pass for as he was instrumental in my previous day’s efforts to source Jordan a V-Synth rack.  So we zipped off with Super Matt upstairs to this lounge type area where we sat and hung out.  Jordan come out and we all had a chat and talked about the show and various things.  James come out but couldn’t stay as he had to be on a conference call from the US so said a quick goodbye and he took off.  Did the usual photo taking with Jordan to mark the occasion and made our way back through the production office where we said a brief good-bye to Mike and Rikk, Dream Theater’s tour manager, bid Jordan a fine farewell for another tour and made our way into the night.

A very long but very awesome day was had by your friendly narrator.  Spending some time with Jordan again reinforced with me that he is not only an insanely creative genius but one of the absolute most stellar human beings on the planet.

Until we meet again, Dream Theater…fare thee well.

Don’t forget to check out these awesome links –

Jordan Rudess’ Personal YouTube Channel

The Official Jordan Rudess YouTube Channel

Jordan Rudess on Twitter

Official Jordan Rudess Website


Missing Milestones and Responsibility

Posted in General, Music on November 13, 2009 by doseofsalt

You know, it really sucks.

I hurt my back, as anyone who knows me would be aware of, and it happened at a rather shitty time.  You see, the band that I manage, Arcane, are playing their first interstate show this weekend in Melbourne and I can’t be there.

I should be there; I even have a plane ticket to GET there. But my back just hasn’t healed itself enough for me to risk on the trip.  Considering the journey starts at 6am Saturday morning, the gig is at midnight Saturday night and the return journey is 7am Sunday morning.  Practically 25 hours non-stop I think would just destroy any progress I’ve made on my “active rest” and trying to take it a bit easier on myself to let whatever I’ve done fix itself up.

It made me think to myself, if it was perhaps two or three years ago I’d be on that plane tomorrow morning 100% and would basically have said “FUCK IT” and dealt with whatever relapsed damage I did to my back when I got home.  I’d be able to just rest around the house for weeks and do fuck all.

But you see my dear readers, I have a job now. I have this responsibility that I have to take care of every day Monday to Friday every week of the year. I used to have pretty much unlimited free time to do whatever.  Pursue art work, do music industry stuff, whatever. In those times though, I was pretty much broke.

I’ve gotten myself into that cycle of really liking and appreciating the fact that every week like clockwork now I get a nice little wad of cash put into my bank account.  It’s not a spectacular amount, but it’s better than the situation I was in those two or three years ago.  I come to this office every day, do pretty much the same job over and over again and I get money for it. Responsibility is pretty awesome!

So if I had decided to just be reckless and go to Melbourne sure I’d have a hell of a time, and it’d be awesome to see Arcane play their first show down there. But I’m at a time in my life where I can’t afford to be that reckless dude because I wouldn’t be able to get in to work, which would be bad for cashflow.

And if working on the latest Toehider EP “In All Honesty” has taught me anything it’s that life has nothing to do with integrity and honesty, it’s all completely about making fuckloads of money.

I guess in all of this I could turn the blame onto the band itself.  Afterall it was whist doing work FOR the band that I hurt my back.

So yeah…I guess it’s not because of the increased responsibility I have in my life now that I’m having to miss this milestone…it’s because of Arcane.


Have an awesome show.

Long days and hurt backs

Posted in General with tags , , , , on October 29, 2009 by doseofsalt

Saturday the 24th of October was a BIG day.

Had a day of shooting video that begun at 8am and ended up driving away after wrapping at around 2:30am.  It was a huge day of standing, sitting  on busted couches, lifting, stapling, crane use, driving, walking, shopping and holding a data projector at full stretch above my head for five minutes.

At some stage in that time I just happened to over do it and, as my doctor said using the correct medical term I “stuffed my back”.  Owch.

Sunday morning I woke up and had trouble getting out of bed…was so stiff.  Later in the day I got stiffer and it become harder to move and by Sunday night I was in pain and quite immobile.

Monday morning I was suffering pretty bad.  It hurt to do anything.  I could hardly move at all and actually had to make myself a walking stick out of a length of PVC pipe and some gaff tape to be able to hobble around.  Upon discovering I couldn’t even dress myself, I was lucky enough that Kylie dropped by home and was able to dress me.  I did the uncomfortable pouring of myself into my car and the “every bump is like a hot dagger in my spine” drive to work.

Big mistake.  I couldn’t move around the office without looking like some sort of 120 year old invalid and I ended up just going home.  It seems that trek in may have actually aggravated my problem more as Monday night I was pretty much unable to even move my toes without it killing my back.

Tuesday I stayed at home to rest…but there was no relief.  I took my daily suggested allowance of Herron, Nurofen Plus and Voltarin Rapid which didn’t put a dent in the pain…so Tuesday night it was off to the doctor.

It was here he gave me the aforementioned diagnosis of a “stuffed back” and told me that I need “active rest” at home and if I went to work again this week he would “kick my teeth in”.  These are his actual words.  I love that doctor, he’s so awesome.  Anyway he prescribed me some Panadine Forte and stronger Voltarin and ordered me home for that rest.

The scary part of it all was that he said if by Friday I had no improvement I’d probably have to get a CT scan on my back, as the damage would probably have been worse than he thought.

Wednesday went by much the same as Tuesday.  Towards the afternoon I thought it started feeling a bit better, but I wasn’t sure if that was from healing or because I’d been downing painkillers all day.  So I went to bed hopeful.

Here I am on Thursday night.  My back still hurts but I’m way way more mobile than I have been and the pain is considerably less than it was yesterday.  So I think it may be on the mend, which is good.  I had been stressing pretty bad that I had REALLY fucked something in my back, which it seems now I most likely haven’t.  Whew.

So in my ideal world, tomorrow I will be a bit better and by the end of the weekend I’ll be set to head back to work on Monday.  Here’s hoping!  Now I can start dreading the amount of work I’ll have piled up when I go back 😦

Moral of the story?  Hurt backs suck mega balls.

Technology that just works.

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2009 by doseofsalt

So recently I was in the market for a new video camera.  For years and years I had sworn that I’d avoid anything that records to harddisc or flash memory purely because to me, tape was god.

Anyway, like God, I soon realised that it really wasn’t for me and I needed to change because capturing from tape sucks, takes ages and if the tape gets fucked, the footage gets fucked.  So fuck that.

So I was looking around at various options, and I didn’t want to really sink a whole load of cash into a camera, because in all honesty I probably won’t really use it all that much outside of filming Arcane shows and other little bits of bullshit to waste time.

I decided to go the flash memory camera route.  SD cards are cheap as anything these days and go up to stupid amounts of space, so I figured I’d go with that.  There were a couple of cameras I was looking at, each had their pros and cons and I was to-ing and fro-ing between them for ages.  There was the JVC which was supposed to be pretty great, but the menu system and control just SHITTED me to no end, and there was the Panasonic which had familar menus (have 2 other Panasonic video cameras), but wasn’t supposed to be a spectacular low light performer.

I decided that I’d go with the Panasonic, because it was a brand I knew and could trust, and while low-light would be important for what I’d be filming (bands), it’s not like I’d be shooting for professional release quality BluRay or anything.  I was just looking for pure unadulterated standard def glory.

So the Panasonic was it.  Took SD cards which I have an abundance of and all was great…I’d deal with any low light issues as they arose.

So I head down to my friendly JB HiFi and look at said Panasonic camera in the cabinet.  But my eyes, they did wander.  Up and down the cabinet I looked…past the JVC with their horrible “laser touch” navigation system…to a Sony .

“Sony?!” I asked myself.  “Why the HELL would you want to get a Sony?  Sure they make awesome cameras…but dude…Memory Stick?  What the sweet fuck is that shit?  The only other thing you have that takes Memory Stick is your PSP that you never ever ever ever play.  Eyes off the Sony and back on the Panasonic damn it!”

So I look at the Panasonic again…and my eyes drift back up to the Sony and the little note on it’s price tag that says “4gb internal memory”.  This gets my attention. “A puny 4GB?!  Is that all?!” I ask myself.  “You wouldn’t fit much on that you tool!” I say.  But then I look back at the Panasonic which has a grand total of zero GB internal memory.  Some has got to be better than none right?

So my mind is torn in two directions.  If I was Wang…that bottle just wouldn’t slice in half.  I’d have to rely on Jack’s reflexes to catch it.  No horse shit.

The attractive sales girl comes over and I ask if I can have a look at one of the cameras.  She says “Sure thing, big boy, you can have a look at any of my cans.”.  I had to correct her “No no, I said cameras…can I look at a camera.”.  She blushed and got the key out.  OK so that totally never happened, but she did open the cabinet and I pulled out…THE SONY!  Holy crap what was I doing?  I had extensively researched the JVC and the Panasonic so that I could be sure I was getting a camera that would best suit me and my needs and compliment my other technology!  Why was the Sony in my hands?!

I turned it on…it gave a delightful little chirp.  I panned and tilted around the store, scoping DVDs and TVs and other customers.  I zoomed.  I explored the menus, all of which were operated via touchscreen on the LCD panel.  “Jolly gosh” I said to myself, and my sultry and seductive sales girl sidekick.  “This camera is quite snazzy and fun to use!”.  Inside I was screaming at myself “PUT IT DOWN YOU FOOL!  PANASONIC ALL THE WAY!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

The voice in my head was telling me truths I didn’t want to have to think about.  “What if Sony do some strange things with the files it saves…what if the codecs are bizarre and make it impossible to edit without re-encoding first…what if they use some proprietory Sony file format…remember you read about that somewhere?”.  These things were all valid points that one would usually research at length before making a purchase.

I don’t know what happened next because I’m pretty sure I blacked out in the store.  I awoke in my car to find that I had bought a Sony Handicam. “Quick, go back inside and exchange it!” I told myself.  But I felt that to be on the safe side, seeing as I was sure I had just passed out, I thought I probably shouldn’t get up out of my car right away.  I decided to investigate what I had purchased in my state of unconciousness.

Turns out what I bought was a fucking brilliant little camera!  It came with a 16GB Memory Card Pro Duo or whatever they are.

I took it with me to the Arcane/HOSN album launch on Saturday night to film Arcane’s set and it performed just amazingly for what it is.  A cheap little flash memory camcorder.  Low light picture turned out great, the mic didn’t blow out from the intense loudness that the in-house sound guy somehow thought Arcane needed.  It did it’s job absolutely amazingly.

“AH HA! But what about the file format?” I hear you say.  Well…it records to mpg.  Which I can drag directly into my editing software, which works a breeze with absolutely no problems.

It was a purchase that could have ended so very horribly.  No research on it, the complete opposite of what I planned to get.  Yet it works brilliantly.

Thanks, Sony!

Toehider – Metaltarsus art

Posted in Art, Music with tags , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by doseofsalt

Something I love is when I do some artwork, like it, eventually decide I hate it and abandon it, then even though I know it’s a lost cause I do some tweaking, and I end up LOVING it!

That’s what happened with this EP artwork.  I did this original digital painting and worked myself into hating it.  I then decided to make a joke of it and make the EP a total tongue in cheek project and use this –

Then in the dying hours of our self imposed deadline of the 12th of each month to get the EPs out by I decided to revisit my original idea…made a few changes and BAM!  It struck me as being a completely different picture and really worth keeping!  So at the last minute we decided to go with the original, now tweaked artwork.

Which I present here –

Super double plus fun artwork in the end, after passing through a phase of being the target of my utmost direct HATRED!

You can check out the October offering the 12 EPs in 12 Months project at


It’s like Platoon…only with random things and an iPhone.

Posted in General on October 12, 2009 by doseofsalt

OK so 3:30-itis struck today at work so I decided to have some fun and play out a war epic in and around my cubicle with the random shit that’s scattered along the divider and my desk.

I had so much fun with it I decided I’d re-post it here!

Part 1

Hold your positions men. We storm the cubicle at dawn!


Part 2

Stapler! You’re on recon!


Part 3

Eraser, thimblette, melted thimblette…you take positions in the outskirts!


Part 4

Watch out for change mines!


Part 5

PostIt notes…you cover the rear!


Part 6

Keep an eye on that tank down the ridge.



Daft Punk – Interstella 5555

Posted in Music with tags , , on October 11, 2009 by doseofsalt

I’ve been a fan of Daft Punk’s album “Discovery” pretty much since it come out in the early 2000s and for many many years had it on cassette in my car.  I don’t own it on CD though, but will remedy that before too long.

Anyway I remember seeing the videos for the first few songs off of it one night on Rage I think and was just amazed by the amount of effort that had been put into them.  They played them back to back so it seemed like a little short film spanning 3 or 4 songs.   They were all Japanese animation and very futuristic.  The story played out as a pop group from outer space was kidnapped by an evil earth music baron and re-manufactured to be a mind controlled earth based pop band.

It was some time ago now that I discovered that the whole album was actually turned into a full length Japanese animated film with each song being a chapter of the movie.  I finally got around to getting it on DVD a couple of weeks ago and have just finished watching it for the first time.

WOW.  So amazingly cool.  The animation is awesome and not over saturated with 3D animation cut aways which usually drives me crazy.  The story is like I mentioned from the first few songs, but as it goes on it’s discovered that this evil music baron is some super powered villain set to conquer the universe with some giant apparatus he’s built covered in gold records.  Doesn’t make sense?  Of course not!  But who gives a fuck?  It’s awesome.

I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to check out something different.

Here’s the trailer!