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TPi_Magazine__February_2018

ROAD DIARIES DAN WOOLFIE

ROAD DIARIES DAN WOOLFIE Tour Manager & Drummer In my pre-Tour Manager days, when I was a drummer (circa 2013), my band had just finished our first night on an European support tour. It was my first ever ‘proper’ tour, one of those tours where, due to the routing, we should have had forked out for a tour bus rather than a splitter van and hotels. We roped in an ex-ambulance driver (because, well, you can’t get safer than that!) to help us drive the splitter while the rest of us took turns in the driver’s seat too. He was also coincidently a huge fan of the headliners, so on the promise of getting to see them play every night, he was more than keen to be there. Until show number 2... We’d arrived in Salzburg, Austria, and got some sleep before our drive to Geneva. After lunch we were accompanied by a whistling sound coming from the engine. We pulled over, opened the bonnet, couldn’t see anything obviously wrong. And we blew, with 200 miles to do in 4 hours. After a bit of back seat Googling, we’d figured out that the sound we were hearing was a rip in the turbo hose. “Sorted,” we thought. “Gaffa tape, we’ve got tonnes of the stuff.” We were of course, wrong. We plastered the hose with gaffa, convinced we were mechanical geniuses and were quite pleased with ourselves for the 5-or-so-miles we got before the whistling noise came back. Even louder. We located an SOS phone at the side of the road and managed to call a local mechanic. ETA unknown. We were contemplating making the call that we weren’t going to make it, and possibly opt to go to Milan in time for the next show, but by the time we’d decided to do so, the mechanic miraculously appeared. Hope soon turned into a “ah, nope!” Though, as what we witnessed (for €450 - that we definitely didn’t have) was a Swiss mechanic take off our black gaffa tape and replace it with his silver gaffa tape. Less than half a mile down the road, his more-inferior-gaffa-job-than-ours blew off and had us back on the side of the road. We asked for our money back but suddenly his English was no good. We made the call to the headliner’s Tour Manager and from what I remember, the response was “Try to get here… we’ll wait for you.” Now, try as we might, Switzerland is proper hilly. We had so much hope that everything was going to be OK while we were going downhill at a normal speed, then utter misery as we tried to get back up the next! I woke up in the back of the van around 7:30pm, our intended stage time. We still had an hour to go. There was another call. We’d now play at 8:30pm. We were all peering over the front seats and watching the miles tick away, while simultaneously screaming “FLOOR IT” at our exambulance driver, who was now having a mild heart attack in the driver’s seat. 8:25pm. We’d made it. I’ll never forget the moment where the guitarist & I, loaded with our gear, burst onto an empty stage to a full crowd of around 4,000 people. No one told us the doors had opened already! It was so frantic; I was being handed parts of my drum kit fully assembled by people I’d never met before, I could hear our FOH Engineer through my wedge “Woolfie, gimme kick, gimme kick… snare, gimme snare!” We played. And we were only 6 minutes late. I remember very little from the actual show other than it was one of the best we’ve ever played. As soon as the headliners had finished playing, we had to set off as early as we could to give our best chance making it to Milan with our broken van. Our FOH Engineer had been pretty quiet on this part of the journey, he was trying to figure out how we could fix this turbo hose if we couldn’t get the part from a Mercedes garage. We needed a solution to finish the tour. As soon as we got into the venue in Milan, he was rummaging around for a beer in the fridge. He came back out, opened the bonnet and said: “Woolfie, get me a knife and some more gaffa.” He opened the beer, necked it, chopped both ends off the can, slit it down the side, wrapped it around the turbo hose, gaffa’d both ends and shut the bonnet. Now, I know you might say it’s no good drinking on the job, but I swear, that bloody can of crappy beer got us from Milan to Madrid via Toulouse, then to Lisbon and Luxembourg before landing back in our hometown of Manchester. 3,500 miles. Full speed, zero problems. Forget the rip off mechanics, turns out gaffa tape and a desperate beer can solve all. Dan Woolfie 68

After its successful launch in 2017, Daytime TPi returns with a new home at the Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel. This is an exclusive event for all attendees of the TPi Awards 2018 dinner. The panellists will discuss current issues affecting the live event and touring industry, with encouraged audience participation, followed by an afternoon of networking. 2018 Programme: 11.00 - Registration and coffee 11.30 - The PSA AGM 12.30 - Networking lunch 14.00 - In Discussion: Training, Education and Career Development Host: PSA General Manager Andy Lenthall with special guests Backstage Academy’s Glen Rowe, Talks on Tour’s Estelle Wilkinson, Adlib’s Andy Dockerty, Clock Your Skills’ Denise Stanley 15.00 - Coffee Break 15.30 - In Discussion: Crew Welfare and Mental Health Host: TPi Editor Kelly Murray with special guests Production Manager Jim Digby, Tour Manager Andy Franks of Music Support, The Fifth Estate’s Sarah Rushton- Read and the PSA’s General Manager Andy Lenthall Demo Rooms courtesy of Sennheiser and HD Pro Audio. To register for Daytime TPi please contact Hannah Eakins: h.eakins@mondiale.co.uk