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The Young Idealists
posted: 28/07/2013 by Richard Stubbs
category: Ask Lloyd
Q - I notice that the 55 date European tour is solo only. Whilst I love watching you perform solo, I miss seeing the whole band experience. With the release of your new album with a full band, is it likely that will tour again with a full band?
(Oh and here's another shout for a performance in Norwich, UK!)
A - This question is foremost in my mind these days, my agent's also, and it is very difficult to address. Short term the tour needs to be solo, the deals done for the shows were based upon my last tours and promoters simply wouldn't take a chance on offering me the substantially larger guarantees that would be needed for a band. Not that it was even discussed. Many of the deals were done before the album was even finished. That said, Standards is currently garnering more attention and acclaim than we've become used to in the last decade or so, and tickets are selling quite well. London sold out much more quickly than last time. Manchester just sold out, last time in the same venue I think we sold maybe 80%... so we are trending upwards, but realistically I think we'd need to see the UK tour sell out or almost sell out for a UK promoter to take the chance. The same applies to Europe. So I think I need to wait and see how it goes and we're doing all we can to promote the tour... Sometime around October I'll be discussing this with my agent again.
There is more - the last time I toured with a rock band it was the Negatives. That was the one and only time I have ever really enjoyed touring with a band. It is really difficult for me to want to do it if it isn't like that, and even if the music is great when there are 7 or 8 people touring together it is rarely smooth and unfortunately these days I would be the boss, and I don't relish the thought. In the 80's and 90's I would have a dedicated tour manager to deal with the band and crew. The budget would almost certainly preclude that today. We would be band, sound engineer, stage tech, lighting designer, monitor engineer (maybe), driver. We would be on a bus with gear in a trailer, and we would would be sleeping on the bus a lot of the time. When we stayed in hotels, the budget would demand that they were Ibis standard (I'm Ok with that). Even when we toured with a large budget in the 90's the hotels were awful - with a large group they can't be lovely... Apply the same logic to eating, restaurants, etc. And when one starts to budget flights for 8 rather than 2, it gets even more depressing. Loving music isn't enough. The music is 3 hours out of 24. The remaining 21 are the problem.
Then there is the question of where the band should be based. At first glance one would think that as I have a practice room in my basement right here in Massachusetts would make sense. But 90% of the concerts would be outside the US, see 'flight budget' and work permits would be needed. Thinking seriously about this, if it were to happen, I'd need to temporarily base myself somewhere in Europe - London, maybe Hamburg, maybe Stockholm. And then I'd need to find the players. Nobody who played on Standards would be available. My son might be able to play a few one offs or a run of festivals, not more than that. He has his own career to attend to. Good musicians need to be payed decently, fairly.
Which leads to where would we play? Right now the only places I know (according to my agent) we could perform at would be a London theatre, probably Shepherds Bush, and festivals. I love the idea of returning to Shepherds Bush. Festivals, well I just can't get excited about them. We would be well paid but we would be somewhere in the middle of the bill sharing the stage with bands I have not the slightest interest in. Muse would be top of the bill and that would depress me. A run of festivals would maybe make it possible to play some other cities, subsidising them in effect... so maybe they are a good idea...
I have no interest in returning to rock clubs. I enjoyed playing theatres. But rock clubs offer much better deals (that's why you see so many bands playing House of Blues and similar - you eat and drink when you watch/listen. The only income at a theatre is the ticket.). You can see where this is going...
One last thing. On the Negatives tours everyone was reasonably remunerated. Except me. I just about broke even. And my profile was much stronger then than it is now... On the bright side I still have the flight cases I bought for them.
So hopefully that's enough to information for you to see that it is not an easy question, and I don't see an easy answer, but I will continue to think about it.
Title: a band
Hi Lloyd if you come to Australia on tour and feel the need for a band to back you let me know. I can hook you up with some of the best musos in the business. I will double check with them and send you their links so you can check them out for yourself. Cheers Ric
Title: Whole live Band
I saw Midge Ure in January. What he did was have the opening band (Imaging stars) be his band they were a young band they did a excellent job.The way it worked the bands was his band & then they got exposure on his tour by opening for him. it was a way of the young band to get exposure & Midge to afford the cost to tour. i was talking to him about it I don't know if you are friends with him. If I were you I would pick his Brain about how it works he is a Nice Aproachable guy. I think he lives in Canada now.So I Hope that helps.
A compelling read.
'The music is 3 hours out of 24. The remaining 21 are the problem' sounds like a great lyrical motif.
If you need a bassist in Europe, I would do it for free, rehearsals and gigs. You only live once...
Maybe you could also make a general call and have bands send to you videos playing 2-3 pre-selected tracks from your repertoire, then if there is enough quality pick the best band in each country to be the 'house band' for that leg of the tour in exchange of visibility (as others have proposed) - "Lloyd Cole & xxx". A bit stressing for you as you never know how they would actually play live, but you could reserve 2-3 days to intensively rehearse at the beginning of each leg for damage control purposes.
I've never seen anyone do that. A bit crooner style.
Title: Dad's Army
Oh for goodness sake!!!
Lloyd, Lloyd. I've been sitting here in my socks banging away on my guitar to the cat using those guitar tabs on the website. If you just let me have a few more weeks to practice and make sure you only play the songs I know, I could be your band!! I mean if touring with full time professionals gets to be a strain, its bound to be FAR easier and better for you with a rag tag band of well meaning fans. Your very own Dad's Army. You could be Captain Mainwaring. That would really feel like the pinnacle of a career.
Come on everyone. I'm certain loads of you are hugely talented and all huge fans and just want to help. But this is Lloyd's reputation and professional career. Top businesses can't hire staff just because they are enthusiastic or willing to work for low pay. All the more so for an artist. Even if he's never going to be as good as Muse, he still tries his best!
Title: Never say never
In reply to the last comment:
Funny that you assume that people that have volunteered are not pro musicians... Is that incompatible with being a fan? I could play the bass lines of Standards blindfolded. Actually, you'd be surprised at how 'pro' bands are sometimes put together, even for some 'major' acts. If you just want a one-off band, I'd see nothing wrong with a European band of Lloyd's musician fans that are ok with just artistic reward. A few weeks rehearsal should be ok. It's not a virtuoso jazz thing that's needed. The venue issue, logistics and financials are a different story. But many would love to hear Standards in a full band setting.
Also, I run my own company - and I can assure you that I get the best results from enthusiastic people. They always do their best, always willing to learn and change.
Lloyd will obviously do whatever he wants, we're just sharing our (sometimes extravagant) thoughts here - isn't that what a forum is for?
You made an old man unhappy now, undeservedly.
Title: Never Saying Never
I don't really agree that professional commercial enterprises work the same way as well intentioned enthusiastic collaborations. Nevertheless it was only opinion. Offence certainly wasn't intended. As you say, that's what the forum is for. Expressing our thoughts. Don't be unhappy that mine isn't yours. Perhaps you're unhappy that the world is as I describe it but would be more fun if it were like the movies and like you describe. On that I would agree.
I'm sure that an excellent show and a very fun evening could be had by almost everyone (probably not Lloyd) with a bunch of talented muso fans banging out Standards. But if he did that, how would Lloyd ever be taken seriously by proper musicians whose opinion he values and courts so enthusiastically? Like Muse?
Title: Kids today
Well, unhappiness doesn't last for long for old people. We've too much to do...
Actually, I was only sad that you felt compelled to stop the 'madness'. Maybe you fear Lloyd may take notice? And, why worry anyway? You make it look like High School Musical. I grant you the virtue of being very descriptive, and it was an intelligent reply. But, being as objective as I can given my very varied and occasionally intended biases, I shall insist: I think there's very good reasons why recruiting a band among fans is actually an excellent option.
1) LC's fans are committed - as shown by the support the last two albums received.
2) I think that probably the average age of LC fans is higher than the norm, at least higher than with Muse (I hope?). Old enough to know better. A correlation with IQ cannot be discarded - considering the intellectual properties of Lloyd's lyrics.
3) It follows that LC fans, and the musicians among them by extension, are reasonable enough to not embarrass LC in public and not even volunteer if they cannot play.
4) LC fans know his songs by heart. This saves time, even if they don't know the specific chords and phrases.
5) LC fans would play for free, or with minimal overhead.
6) There would be no ego or leadership problems as we all admire him so much.
7) Lloyd himself has shown an openness to rely on trust more than resumes. Will on lead guitar was a terrific choice for the album, and the Small Ensemble were excellent, even though (I understood) they weren't exactly session musicians.
8) Certainly all jounalists will ask about the 'fan band', which would increase visibility and also make interviews less distracting as you can always give the same answer.
Best of all, it would be an ode to middle-aged suburban musicians, and possibly minimise the number of tattoos on stage. What's not to like?
I rest my case...