Monday, December 05, 2011
another end of tour.
"A good roadie knows his whole job is to make someone else look good, keep someone else safe, help someone else do what they were put here to do. A good roadie stays out of the spotlight. If he's doing his job right, you don't even know he's there. Once in a while he might step on stage just to fix a problem, to set something right. But then before you even realize he was there or what he did, he's gone." - Eddie Riggs
So Eddie Riggs may be a fictional character from a video game about being the worlds best roadie and traveling to another dimension where he saves heavy metal from glam and emo.... but he is right.
When asked, I say that I am a guitar tech. Even further, in the organization for which I work we often joke that I am the life tech. Being a guitar tech is about so much more than just making sure the gear is set up and the guitars are in tune. Paraphrased, it's about knowing what your player needs before they even know they need it. Obviously that's a pretty daunting goal that isn't often attainable. Instead of having clairvoyant powers, you just pay really really close attention to detail. Make sure the everything is always exactly as it should be. Set lists, pics, sticks, water, towels, capo, harmonica, tambourine, knobs, switches. They must always be in precisely placed. If your boss goes to grab something and it isn't there then they look like a bumbling fool in front of the crowd.... and it's your fault. If the keyboard is on the wrong patch, it the guitar is tuned wrong, if the water spills, if a mic stand starts to sag... all of this happened because you didn't take in to consideration that it could.
But sometimes accidents happen. No one is perfect. Maybe you did forget something... or maybe your artist did something. Sometimes problems arise and you have to instantly react. The frustrating part is that this problem has to be fixed in the middle of a live show. The band can't just stop playing so you can come out there and address the situation in a cool and calm state. You have to instantly assess and remedy. What is the most streamlined way to get things back in order? Cross your fingers, run out on the stage and try not to be a distraction. All while making sure that you are back in your world in time to regroup for any changes that were scheduled during the set.
So yeah, that, and the obvious other duties, covers the stage and the very true quote from our video game hero. I think there is more though. Being a great tech isn't only about the stage and the gear. Being a great tech is about the player. Life tech is a funny word we have come up with but I think guitar-ist tech is a bit more accurate. Another funny one I heard recently, Rock and Roll Butler. You see, you can't just stop taking care of your boss when the show is over. You've gotta be there for them all the time. Just like the list of things that have to be in place on the stage... you end up building a list of things that are part of their life. You memorize everything. What their suit case looks like, which wallet is theirs, phone, computer, hat, watch, socks, books, camera. Everything. You remember their favorite Starbucks drink or Wendy's combo #. This might seem like too much... I know. But the true job description of a great tech is to make the artist's life as easy and seamless as it can be.Spoil them. Make sure they have a hard time living day to day with out you... without getting in the way. Don't leave your computer on the dressing room table... in case they need to put theirs there. Don't take up too much space in the junk bunk... in case they need that area for something later. Get their suit cases out to the bus so they can walk freely thru the crowd to the bus. Let them know if their fly is down. Don't stop just because the show is over.
This has been me. This has been my life for 95 days. Right now, I am sitting in the last airport I will be in all year. Alone. I have nothing at all to concern me aside from getting home. The place where I am Bryan. The place where Everything is in its precise spot because that's where I want it. The place where I can put my stuff where ever I want. Home. A place for me.
I have the best job in the world. I enjoy it non stop. I love taking care of people. It serves my neurosis quite well. I love the people I work with and for. I am so happy that I got to be there this year, this tour, making sure they were comfortable. It makes me very happy. But I could never hide how excited I am to be switching back over from Guitar-ist Tech to Me Tech.
To everyone who helped make the past 95 days so special, thank you.