Friday, 24 June 2011

Tales from the road: Losing a fan belt in the middle of freakin’ Nowhere

Playing in a band looks like all fun and frivolity from the front, while we play, sing and dance, making music for happy punters to dance to.
However, just have a little look at the floor along the front of the stage, then along the sides and then at the back of the equipment.
Dozens and dozens of cables are plugged in to a piece of equipment at each end. Then of course unplugged and rolled up at the end of the night.
The equipment is a carefully thought out array of power amps, mixing desks, amplifiers, lighting desks, drum machines, foldback speakers, front of house speakers, effects units, lighting rigs and it goes on and on. This stuff is set up and packed up time and time again, loaded into our vans and lugged from house to gig then back again and again and again.
So that’s the gear… let’s spend a moment on the vehicles which travel all over the place carting all the gear and us crazy muso’s.
For a long time I had a Toyota Hi Ace which we loaded up and the three MADLLIPS boys would head off to the gig.
One fateful night we played a gig at the Growling Frog golf course in Yan Yean. Great gig, but the drive home was not so great. As we’re travelling along I could hear an unusual whistling noise. Now those of you familiar with Hi Ace vans will know that the engine is tucked away under the front seat with what is laughingly called access via the middle seat that lifts up and a little side panel. The ever increasing noise was coming from under our butts and this time it wasn’t the vindaloo! The noise suddenly stopped which we thought was pretty good, until the temperature of the motor started to increase rather quickly.
We pulled over, lifted the seat to realize that we had done a fan belt. We took a moment to ascertain where we were. The middle of freakin’ nowhere with no houses, no street lighting, no passing traffic, no sign of life and now, no bloody fan belt.
Well, we’re resourceful men and this was way before “Bear Grylls” so we set about doing what “McGyver” does with a bit of pipe, a garbage bag and some gaffer tape. Problem was we didn’t need to build a hang glider. But all was not lost! We had gaffer tape (duct tape for all you American TV show watchers), guitar leads and various bits of wire. We attempted to fashion a temporary fan belt but then found we struggled to actually fit it.
Time to ring the RACV. Thank God for mobile phones! The man in the yellow van turned up about an hour later, fitted a fan belt that he told us he just resupplied the day before, charged me $185 to join up on the spot, and we continued on our way.
So we made it home at 4:30am still believing that just a few more minutes and we would have had that guitar lead fitted and singing like a top.
So the moral of the story is, make sure your RACV (or similar) membership is paid up, and ring ‘em straight away if you break down… and ALWAYS keep your sense of humour.
You will look back and laugh!
Rock on

An excited MADLLIPS fan!