Tuesday, 31 May 2011


The natural enemy of the gigging musician apart from pissed punters who fall over foldback wedges and onto the stage (oh that’s another whole story)… is STAIRS!

For those of us who are in smaller to medium sized bands and have to lug our own gear, nothing can make our hearts sink faster than being confronted with a heap of stairs when we arrive at the gig. Apart from doing a wedding and finding that the seating arrangement places all the elderlies on the table in front of the PA, including crabby old aunt Bessie and her equally cantankerous husband who thinks anything over 50 decibels is an abomination and usually starts complaining at the second song of the acoustic dinner music set. Anyway I digress…

Stairs… now some of us played the Cockpit at Essendon Airport and had to lug double 4 ways, amps, instruments, lights etc. up those stairs on the outside, and many other gigs that required the same effort. One of the funniest… thank goodness we can look back on this and laugh… is a gig we did at a restaurant up in the Dandenongs. Inside is set up like a mediaeval dining hall with balconies that run around the top and look down into the main room. They wanted the band to set up on the balcony which was a long way above the audience. The access was via a narrow winding set of wooden stairs that split at the top allowing access to either side of the balconies. With our gear, we had to set up the bass player on one side with his amp and one front of house speaker and the singer and myself with the amp racks and the other FOH speaker etc. on the other. Apart from the lug up the stairs, it was a very hard gig because of the difficulty interacting with the audience. One of the more bizarre gigs we have done.

Lifts… well they’re better but still require some managing, especially if you’re sharing it with punters or other members of the public. Stacking all the gear with a little walkway at the bottom before loading the lift to within an inch of its life and hoping the thing is still able to move. Fighting with the automatic doors is a challenge while the big metal box beeps continuously telling you “time’s up, I wanna move”. So you plonk the heaviest amp rack in the doorway and the bugger is still often able to move it.

Only a couple of months ago we did a gig in Mornington where we were confronted with a really long escalator. Well it turned out to be great fun as one of us was at the top to get the gear off and a couple at the bottom. We had to place the gear carefully on a step so it wouldn’t topple back down so the item would be placed then you had to run back the wrong way to get off before you were taken too far.

So if you don’t have roadies and you’re confronted with stairs, I really feel for you. Sadly many venues have not been designed with the muso’s in mind. In fact I reckon that many have been designed to make our life very much harder… Anyone who has played the Hotel Sofitel will know what I mean. Why you have to lug gear up lifts then half a mile and through service corridors and kitchens amazes me.

Anyway, that’s my vent. I guess I’ll still have to suck it up if I want to play. If you’re booking a band, let ‘em know that there are stairs so they can get there a little earlier, and don’t be surprised if they add a few bucks to the price. They have spent extra time and worked extra hard just to perform for you.

Rock on and keep music LIVE.


Sunday, 29 May 2011


Sometimes when a band plays, we have as part of our contract a thing called a RIDER.

You have probably read all those stories of touring artists who want a bowl of MnM’s with all the blue ones removed.. (what, they’re the best ones!) or a dressing room constructed and painted pink, or 2 dozen specially folded towels and bottled water flown in from the foothills of Nepal, platters of cold meats and salads and the entourage of chefs and nutritionists who must only cook vegetarian, gluten free, kabal friendly food etc. etc. etc….
Well the average Aussie rock band rider consisted of a slab of cold VB and a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels, Beam and a chilled Vodka for good measure.

Sadly this led to the downfall of many a good band and good musician.

I remember... god knows how… I was in a band where we rehearsed during closed times at a restaurant in Bendigo where we had a residency. The owner told us NOT to touch anything behind the bar but we could help ourselves to the port barrel that sat on the bar. Thus started my love of port and that barrel was easily drained at each rehearsal. Not so good on the liver and I would suggest that the music being played probably didn’t sound as good as we thought at the time.

However we did survive and various bands later we find that some venue owners are very gun shy when it comes to giving the band a beer or two at a gig. We find these days that we don’t get a tub full of grog and ice in the band room, but most venues will provide tap beer for free. But there are some venues who refuse point blank to provide free grog to the band because of those who went before us and made total dicks of themselves. It is an industry that pretty much revolves around alcohol and the sale and consumption of copious amounts of the stuff. Some young bands get caught up in the cycle and spoil it for the rest, but I can’t be too judgmental because there were times when I started out and I pushed the limits too.

However to survive in the industry, you can’t be doing that stuff continually because you will crash and burn, physically and musically.

Just a tip from someone with 40 years in the industry... (damn did I say that out loud!!)... you CAN have a heap of fun without being pissed. That way the only way you can make a dick of yourself is playing a dodgy note or two, instead of playing a heap of crap and thinking you still sound good!

Keep music LIVE


Thursday, 26 May 2011


A fellow muso sent this to me and it is a little insight into the world of the gigging muso.
I laughed a lot and then cried, 'cos it happens ALL the time...  hope you enjoy it too.

When requesting a song from the band, just say "play my song", or "it goes something like this", then hum a few bars. We have a chip implanted in our heads with an unlimited database with the favourite tunes of every patron who ever walked into a bar, and all songs ever recorded, so feel free to be vague, we love the challenge.
If we do not remember exactly what tune you want, we're only kidding. Bands know every song ever recorded, so keep humming. Hum harder if need be… it helps jog the memory.
If a band tells you they don't know a song you want to hear, they either forgot that they know the tune or are just putting you on. Try singing a few words for the band. Any words.
If one member halfway knows part of a chorus, the rest of the band will instantly learn the entire song by osmosis. Knowing this, if the band still claims to not know your song, it helps to just keep requesting the same song every time there is a break per set, followed by the phrases, "AW COME ON!" and "YOU SUCK!" Exaggerated hand gestures expressing disapproval from the dance floor are a big help as well, such as thumbs down, or your middle finger. Put-downs are the best way to jog a band's memory. This instantly promotes you to the status of "Personal Friend Of The Band."
Entertainers are notorious fakers and jokesters and never really prepare for their shows. They simply walk on stage with no prior thought to what they will do once they arrive. An entertainer's job is SO easy, even a monkey could do it, so don't let them off the hook easily. Your request is all that matters.
If a metal band had played at the club a few weeks ago, the next band that follows will automatically know every metal tune the previous band ever played, even if the current band is a country or blues band. It's the law. Feel free to yell "AC DC or SLAYER!!" to a band that plays strictly originals or jazz for example. Conversely, Deadheads may yell for Grateful Dead tunes at a dance or metal band.

When an entertainer leans over to hear you better, grab his or her head in both hands and yell directly in their ear, whilst holding their head securely so they cannot pull away. This will be taken as an invitation to a friendly and playful game of tug of war between their head and your hands.
Don't give up! Hang on until the singer or guitar player submits. Drummers are often safe from this fun game since they usually sit in the back, protected by the guitar players.
Keyboard players are protected by their instrument, and only play the game when tricked into coming out from behind their keyboards. Though difficult to get them to play, it's not impossible, so keep trying. They are especially vulnerable during the break between songs.

The best time to discuss anything with the band in any meaningful way is at the middle of the song when all members are singing at the same time (such as a multi harmony part). Our hearing is so advanced that we can pick out your tiny voice from the megawatt wall of sound blasting all around us.
Musicians are expert lip readers too. If a musician does not reply to your question or comment during a tune, it's because they didn't get a good look at your mouth in order to read your lips.
Simply continue to scream your request and be sure to over emphasize the words with your lips. This helps immensely. Don't be fooled.
Singers have the innate ability to answer questions and sing at the same time while guitarists love the multi-skilling challenge of discussing your needs midway through complex solos. If the musicians do not answer your questions immediately, regardless of how stupid the question may seem, it's because they are purposely ignoring you. If this happens, immediately cop an attitude. We love this.

If you inform the band that you are a singer, the band will appreciate your help with the next few tunes, or however long you can remain standing on stage. Just pretend you're in a Karaoke bar. Simply feel free to walk up on stage and join in. By the way, the drunker you are the better you sound, and the louder you should sing.
If by chance you fall off stage, be sure to crawl back up and attempt to sing harmony. Keep in mind that nothing assists the band more than outrageous dancing, third and fourth part harmonies, or a tambourine played out of tempo. Try the cowbell. They love the challenge. The band always needs the help and will take this as a compliment.

Remember to allow enough time to make it from the stage to the bathroom in case of an emergency. On stage accidents are bad form. The band will carry on.

As a last resort, wait until the band takes a break and then get on stage and start playing their instruments. They love this. Even if you are ejected from the club, you can rest assured in the fact that you have successfully completed your audition. The band will call you immediately the following day to offer you a position.
See you at the next gig – The Bandhttp://www.madllips.com

Gigs.. where do they come from?

Well as musicians we would love them to just drop from the sky, but sadly that’s not the case. Sure sometimes the odd one or two do literally drop out of who knows where, but usually we have to work for them and if you want to gig regularly.. you gotta work pretty damn hard to get them.

If you’re the next big thing, gigs are going to be vast and many and you’ll be knocking ‘em back.. sadly I’ve never experienced that and most of us haven’t. However that being said, virtually ALL of our MADLLIPS gigs come via word of mouth or a punter who experienced one of our gigs personally. So we’ve gotta be doing something right for a bunch of geriatric muso’s.

Any hooo, there are lots of avenues to get your name and product out to people these days. Websites, Facebook, You Tube, My Space, MP3 distributors and so on.. even the old business cards are all helpful in getting your name out there. Regardless of your type of music, there is an enormous audience that has a very diverse musical appetite. Whether you make some dollars, lots of dollars or no dollars will depend on how marketable your music is.
That being said, we all play for different reasons. Some for fun, some for fame and fortune, some for the chicks.. oops, how sexist is that!.. some for the social intercourse whether it be with female, male or other is entirely up to all consenting and legal parties.. whew..  some for the artistic and creative outlet, some for the rider, some ‘cos there’s nothing on TV and some simply because they can.

The fact is, gigging live and in front of real people is nerve wracking, exhilarating and really what it’s all about. Personally for me, I just love it and will do it until the alzheimer’s completely takes over and I can’t remember what the hell a guitar is anyway, but I digress…

Get your arse out there any way you can. Open mic sessions, parties for friends, hound the venues until they give you a gig, get your bio’s and demo’s out to agencies and be prepared to travel to start with. Don’t be scared of the apprenticeship. Some of our fondest and funniest memories are from when we played in distant country towns and staying at the Aussie equivalent of the Bates Motel in the middle of BF Nowhere. Get out there and enjoy the journey. Learn to enjoy cold pizza for breakfast and take it easy on the rider (the free grog some venues provide), but more on that another time.

Rock on


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Musicians Tools :0

Hi everyone, I suspect that being a BRAND NEW blog that the sindication of this isn't going out to dozens of countries, or people, or.. well you know what I mean.

Today I'm talking about simple things.. the tools at the disposal of the musician. Thought I'd get the process above the belt!!

Apart from the obvious amps, guitars, keyboards, mics, lights, leads etc etc... the working musician will ponder a problem at virtually every gig.

What time do we start, how long do we play, when do we finish, when do we take a break and how long are the breaks?

I created a little spreadsheet years ago to calculate ALL that and more. If you are a gigging muso, you will find this little tool invaluable. Over the years I have added extra fields so I can keep track of important information from the gig. Stuff like, who the agency was, how much the commission was (automatically calculated too), what distance we travelled, any extra outgoings like PA etc. then finally what the final split up of what was left actually goes to us.. the muso's.

I have added a link to the sheet which you are free to download for private use.. don't go stealing my idea and selling it to others please. There are still a couple of kinks I will iron out when I get a chance.

Here are a couple of screen shots of the sheet. I usually save the completed sheet with the date and gig info so I can electronically file it and refer to at a later date. Particularly if some calls and says "You played for my friend Johnno last September and I would like to book you. How much will it cost?" You can quickly check the details of that gig, how much you charged, how long you played, if it was from an agency and you may need to refer them back to the originating agency etc.

Anyway, I hope it is helpful. If it is please leave some comments.

Until next time.. rock on

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Bowie Gig

MADLLIPS have been playing the Beaumaris RSL one Friday a month for the last couple of years. It's a fun gig but not the usual rock n roll gig for a guitar rock band.

We have a number of familiar faces that come to see us play there and we are grateful for the support.

We play from 7:30pm to 11:30pm and play 4 x 35 minute sets with the first one an acoustic set.
Pat our intrepid lead singer has been penning a few originals which we slip in every now and then to appreciative audiences.

Of course we have a couple of fans who nearly always want us to play "Living next door to Alice"... Alice, Alice.. who the f*%k is Alice!!  We usually accomodate them.. after all, that's what we get paid for!

So the moral of this story is, a gig is a gig is a gig. You have to perform is if you will never play again. You never know who is in the audience, even if there was only one person there... it could be someone who matters.. even if it isn't... it actually really is!  Get it!


Get the DATE right.. right!

Hey everyone,

the universe works in weird and wonderful ways.

I created a little spreadsheet that calculates the times we play and have breaks at gigs (stay tuned for more on this) and at the last Bowie gig on the 20th May I added the date of our next gig there. I rarely announce the next date and we have been playing there each month for a couple of years now. Anyway, I figured people often ask and I should know the date on the spot!

So when I announced the date and Sandy the bargirl came running up to tell me that wasn't the date on the already printed flyers... we had a problem!

So a couple of days later, all is sorted and instead of the 17th of June, MADLLIPS are playing the Beaumaris RSL on Friday the 24th June  Kind of the nightmare I don't want to have is turn up to a gig when another band is booked or worse... not turn up at all!!

Rock on and remember, LIVE Music is the BEST Music!

Back to the website -> http://www.madllips.com/

MADLLIPS ~ our first blog

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to our first blog. What we'll be doing is giving tips with anything musical, reviews of our gigs with some pics of the fun we have, reviews of gear we come accross or use and play, and a little insight into the world of a gigging cover band.

Come back often and check out our blog and our website. We do this because we love to play, we love music and we love to share what we do.

Thanks for reading and talk soon.