I’m sitting in the back lounge of the tour bus and have just woken up in Illinois. So what’s the first thing on the agenda? Listen to the Blues Brothers! I’m aching all over, and my right hand is cut to shreds – read on and you’ll find out why.
I don’t remember much about this place, just that I sound checked R.A.M.O.N.E.S. with Faster Pussycat, that the bar didn’t have a liquor license so you bought toothpicks at the bar, and with your toothpick you got a complimentary drink of your choice. That and the fans were great, really responsive and happy that I’m happy to prattle on about guitar with them for ages. I got to shower that day too, that was nice.
Day off in Buffalo:
This was great, my aunt lives in Toronto and has since 1999 so we don’t get to see each other very often. She drove across the border so we could spend a day together. I was running on 2 hours sleep as Chad Stewart and I were up drinking until the sun came up (surprise surprise) listening to Kiss and Butch Walker and I had to help him take care of some business that would make life difficult with the Canadian border guards. So I was wired to say the least. My aunt and I drove around and caught up as last time we’d seen each other was at her mother’s funeral so it was nice to be in a positive state of mind. Jordan, her and I went to Niagara Falls, which was breath taking, had some cocktails at the Hard Rock and then picked up Drew and went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner then just kicked back at the hotel until it was time to say goodbye and head back on the road.
The stage had a kabuki, I always dig that, and I hate setting up and packing up in front of an audience. It really takes away from the mystique. That and when people get me with “the pedal board trap” I call it. Every time I get my pedals someone sparks up a lengthy conversation, or tries to. I’m not being rude and I appreciate it, but when I’m a support act I have to clear the stage ASAP for the headliner and am usually dropping in sweat and out of breath. As I say each time “I’m really sorry but I have to get this gear off stage. I’ll be at the Merch table all night and happily sign anything, do photos and chat.” Most times I want to lay down on my back and just chill but I enjoy talking to the fans too much to not hang out. The bar staff was rad, everyone got written off at the end of the night, I remember being behind the bar and pouring shots of fireball and singing along to Motochrist with Chad. That’s about it.
Beale St. Indianapolis:
This was our first headline show in the USA! Faster Pussycat decided to take an earlier slot so we got bumped up to the headline slot. Every night they’ve been getting up and singing Homesick and Ramones songs with us and we get up during their set. So by the time we went on everyone was curious as to whom we were. Who are these Australians that Faster Pussycat are opening for?! This night solidified what has become my new staple. We start the set with Femme UFO which is more ethereal than thumping hard rock. So I put on a pair of shades and my Brando hat and just stand dead still for the whole song. Channeling Brewster from the Angels perhaps ha-ha. Then as Dreams and Nightmares kicks in I throw off the hat and shades and as Danny Nordal says “then it’s on! It’s awesome” and I do my thing doing windmills, putting the headstock of my guitar on the ground with my tremolo pedal on full depth using the vibrations from the stage to create a whole new kind of feedback, jumping around etc. Just my thing that I do. This has led to me routinely splitting my knuckles and wrist open each night, so I have to clean the blood off my white Les Paul each afternoon because when blood dries it eventually goes brown and looks like shit. During the drum and guitar solo this night also started a tour game between Ace and me. I climbed on top of the PA on my side of the stage and cut loose as Zar screams “give it up for Ronnie Simmons on lead guitar!” However this PA was not strapped down and was stacked vertically (Again – follow me on Instagram for photos @ronniesimmons) so it split in half and I thought I was going to fall. As did everyone else, Ace and Drew ran over to hold the PA. So I went pigeon toed as quickly as I could and looked back at Jordan who mouthed (don’t move!) so I was stuck up there for all of Trigger. This PA was high too, and I’m 6ft2, so I was as high as the second floor of the venue… but I pulled it off and the crowd went nuts. So in hindsight it’s hilarious. After the show fans had made us presents, photos printed out on silver paper, and one guy hugged me so hard it broke my red aviators I got in NY (sad, but hey, what can you do?). We all got photos and signed everything; I didn’t even get time to wash the blood off my hands.
Another PA for me to climb! Ha-ha! I went exploring in the arvo but couldn’t find much besides fast food joints so got a Dr. Pepper and headed back to the venue. The band on before us American Dog rocked! They reminded me of the Poor or Judge Mercy from Australia. The drummer even had a very similar style to Mick O’Shea, and the world gets smaller – it turns out they toured with Rose Tattoo and V8 Wankers in Germany. I ended up chatting to the singer for hours because I also play in a band called Autobahn Outlaw which features Steve King from Rose Tattoo and Ralf Lutz Vegas from V8 Wankers alongside my terror twin from Sydney Steve Woodward (check him out, he’s a phenomenal drummer as Welles a great friend). They gave me an American Dog patch I put on my stage vest. The show went well; we are really getting into that mechanical zone where we can read each other onstage. It’s refreshing for me seeing I learned the set in like a week and was thrown in the deep end playing my second ever show with the band in Hollywood. I love it. Ace also climbed the PA so we were even; he even jumped off to one up me. Game on motherfucker! Ha-ha!
Tour games continue! Another big PA, Ace refused to let me upstage him so we were both building stairs with road cases on each side of the stage to climb up there ha-ha. I’ve always had a soft spot for hair metal but by this point of the tour I was hair metaled out, I loaded the jukebox full of Billy Joel, Elton John and Eminem with KJ and Danny and signed the last CDs we had left. We’ve sold out of pretty much everything we have, it’s great! We knocked out an interview then it was show time. The venue was full, like you couldn’t get another person in there with a shoe horn. Into it we went, there were faces in the crowd from other cities too which was surprising. People are following us around the country, it’s so cool. Climbing this PA was fun too, got some cool shots, we realized if I cut out in the 1st verse of trigger it gives me time to get down and not steal all the lime light from KJ. During Faster Pussycat’s set I was getting some drinks for them and I saw a beautiful girl sitting all by herself at the bar so I just went over to say hi. I usually do the rounds of the room to say hi to everyone and thank them for coming, we got chatting and she turned out to also be a guitarist, really cool chick. Then Jen came over and pulled me aside “she’s 15, her dads here and I just talked him out of wanting to kill you.” I had no idea; she conversed like an adult and looked older. So before getting back to the side of stage I said to her “you got to understand, I’m not too good with girls dads and you have guns in your country” she replied “oh he has one on him” he came up, shook my hand and did that “I’m watching you” look. Dodged a bullet there, thanks Jen! When she’s older I’m sure that girl will go on to break many a heart. Ace climbed the PA during their last song and we were now even… Almost. I ended getting so drunk celebrating a great show I woke up completely dressed in my bunk the next morning… With all my clothes on backwards. How the fuck that happened is beyond me.
Detroit rock city!!! The first thing I noticed was there was a tattoo shop connected to the venue. The second was that there was a really big PA with a frame for lights that could easily hold my weight. Game on! Ace and I got our “I’m homesick… I’m sick of being home.” Tattoos. To symbolize for myself playing on my first recording with the band and also it’s the general feeling between everyone. This bus has become a household on wheels, a big crazy family. We only have 3 more shows before we have to cut the tour short to support Richie Ramone and Buckcherry’s Australian tour and then open for Aerosmith at a new Australian festival being put on by Mark Spillane called Stone Music Festival, featuring acts as well as Van Halen and Billy Joel. It’s exciting but a big part of me is going to be sad to say goodbye to this bus and Faster Pussycat. I can tell I am going to have a massive come down when I get home and I’m not looking forward to that feeling. Luckily I’m coming home to some loving friends and family who I’ve missed but that’s the life I’ve chosen. It’s bitter sweet. We played next door to Obie Trice so it was so Detroit… Half rappers half Kiss fanatic rockers. One of the support bands Hazard Head were really cool, their drummer Taylor Greenshields is a champ! I wish I could say the same about the band that played right before us who’s name I can’t remember but first things first they broke my aviators (another fucking pair) with their gear, just stacked it on top of all my things that I’d set aside for when I went on, then their bass player, some Nikki Sixx wannabe, spent the whole set throwing ice at us then Drew and Jordan got into a fight with him. I ignored him and just kept doing my thing, I’m onstage so I’m winning and grinning, whatever. So during the solo I climbed the scaffolding and got on the PA, and of course I underestimated my height and couldn’t stand up because I was touching the ceiling. So I sat down with my feet hanging over the edge and just went for it, playing one handed and with my teeth and I forgot to cut out during the first verse of Trigger so got stuck up there for the whole song! I’ve been playing a new game with people taking photos in the crowd; I wait until the flash is just about the go off then pull the silliest face I can. I think it’s pretty funny. So yeah, at the end I threw my guitar to Drew who caught it like a champ and then jumped down (yes jumped) and finished our set. Faster were on fire, they played Non Stop To Nowhere, I love that song. There was someone selling roses so I bought 3, gave one to Jen, then one to Xristian and one to Danny when we got up onstage for Pretty Fucked Up. Ace didn’t climb the PA, so I won that round. After we hung out and everyone was groovy, so many Kiss fans who wanted photos with my tats. I love the motor city. Keen to come back!
That leads to now. Sitting in the back of the bus in Illinois listening to the blues and aching all over from all my nightly stage antics. The PA here touches the ceiling so I can’t climb anything tonight. Lame. My knees will probably appreciate it but eh, I’m enjoying the rush of being that high and seeing people’s faces when they look up in shock. Load in is coming so I got to run. See ya!