I'm at CenterStaging studios in Burbank, CA, laying down on a stage deck & keeping myself amused while Miguel plays his song 'Pussy is Mine' at full volume just to my left and a crew of our production engineer friends control stage lights that erupt & fade with epileptic intensity from all angles. We are preparing for the start of this fall's 'Would You Like A Tour?' featuring Drake and Miguel, and safe to say it's a Production with a capital 'P'. It's dope though, we love doing this stuff, we love doing it huge, we love rehearsing it incessantly to be huge and then getting to the stage and going even bigger.
Even being here at CenterStage is an arrival unto itself. This place is hallowed ground. I used to come here for auditions and terrible little TV shows I was on that you'll never see (all legit reasons to be anywhere, but not quite the 'belonging' that you feel when you aren't auditioning anymore and the show you are on doesn't suck). I would walk down the halls listening to the spillover of whatever world class bands were tucked away in it's catacombs, yearning for the day when I could skip around as casually as they did, not worried IF I was gonna get the gig or if this show was my ONE shot to make it (note: in my experience you very rarely get only one shot. Life is full of little turning points, don't trip about the temporary & fleeting nature of them). I remember one of my first times at CenterStaging, I don't recall what I was auditioning for, but I remember the hallway, where all the expectant musicians were lined up, unsure wether to upkeep the charade of competitive coldness or to bond and brother up with a bunch of other dudes who all had everything in common with one another. And the hall was particularly cramped that day because all of Nine Inch Nails stage props were lying about: jagged trees and industrial lighting, barbed wire and rows of huge road cases that used to be filled with whatever huge soundsystem Trent's voice was bellowing through around the corner. I didn't get the gig, but I remember thinking one day I'll be back and I won't be worrying about proving myself.
I've been back many times since, most often to visit the showroom of the guitar manufacturers whom I work with & love (Paul Reed Smith: www.prsguitars.com), or to rehearse with Will.I.Am, play for the voice, visit Usher's band when they are in town rehearsing, and to make some waves with my brother Miguel. Each of those was a little arrival, and while I don't feel as if the work is done, I feel better about where my place is in it all. The other small arrival was meeting our new stage manager, Yeti Ward. I knew I recognized this dude when we shook hands and he handed me a box of strings and picks he had brought for me (still not sure how he knew what size and brand I play). It wasn't until a day or 2 into rehearsal that I realized he was the same Yeti I had seen on all the behind the scenes 311 tour videos when I was a kid (my favorite band growing up, btw, next to Rage Against the Machine). He was there for all of the early shit and has since toured with and tech'd for Foo Fighters, Limp Bizkit, R. Kelly, heck he's been behind so many incredible shows since first growing up with 311, and now he's behind our show and hands me my guitars probably much the same way he handed Timothy J. Mahoney his all those years. He will go on to have Tim leave me a good luck voicemail on the first night of tour. Now there's a little arrival for sure...I'm down for the unity.