I have spent the first half of June in the United States – once again in Seattle, a city I really love. I was there to play with TROOT, the epic progressive rock orchestra lead by American pianist Tim Root, and to play shows with EchoTest.
I did write about TROOT before – you might have listened to the record, too… it is some of the most complex material I have played in my whole life. A couple of years has passed since we recorded the songs, so I went through a phase of re-learning all the parts before reconvening with the band in Seattle. It was interesting – it was the end of May and I was visiting my girlfriend Chiara in Brussels (more on that later). I didn’t have a bass with me, so I borrowed a four string fretless from a friend – not the ideal choice, since I had recorded all the parts on a beautiful five string, fretted Lakland. Hence, the feel on the fretless was very different. Then, I used a different bass at the gig (again, one I had to borrow). We had four or five days of band practice prior to the show, which were very intense. I was trying out some new solutions and making adjustments until the very last minute. Tim also suggested some variations.
The live debut of TROOT took place at the Seaprog Festival at the Columbia City Theater. I liked the venue a lot, even though TROOT is a large ensamble, resulting in physical space being a bit of an issue, and the sound on stage was also difficult for me. I was hiding in the back, in between the drums and one of the guitar amps. Both very loud (I’m not complaining – it’s the way it has to be for this gig). I had decent volume from the bass amp, but not enough for my standards. Plus, the amp mysteriously stopped working during my favourite part in Dance Elena, until the very end of the song. Many thoughts crossed my mind. I was afraid that the bass amp had died and that I had to go direct or something. Luckily, it’s a band with two bass players (as usual, Julie Slick shares bass duties with me) and enough brilliant musicians to fill up space. The bass amp came back to life just in time for the third piece in the set – a very demanding one for me (Axe for the Frozen Sea Within), but after the accident, I lost some of the focus and presence in the music. We made it though, and still felt pretty happy about the show. The audience gave us a standing ovation.
The day of the EchoTest show (we played at the same festival) I enjoyed a much better sound on stage. I have to say, it was one of our best gigs to date. We decided to change the setlist a bit and open with the song Daughter of Ocean, the title-track from our new album (and by the way: read this new interview with Julie on Bass Magazine, where she talks at lenght about Daughter). Also, we added Supercell (a track we rarely play) as an encore, and invited fellow trootians Beth Fleenor (clarinet) and Bill Horist (guitar) to add their magic. Our friend Anthony Garone (from Make Weird Music) filmed the whole set with 4k cameras. You can find the concert on YouTube. As you can see, we had a blast. Again, many thanks to the Seaprog people for having us, and to all of you who came out to see us play.
In other news, I have a new release available for my Bandcamp subscribers. It’s an audience recording of a live show performed on January 31st 2015 at The Spectrum in New York City. This is from the final night of a small tour I did with Julie Slick, Tim Motzer and Pat Mastelotto in the dead of snowy winter. It’s an interesting live set as you can hear different arrangements of some of the EchoTest material, bass-solo versions of Days of Summertime and The Drift and thundering renditions of a couple of King Crimson classics (including Indiscipline in Italian!). More exclusive releases are forthcoming. Consider subscribing HERE.
On a more personal note, I’m in Brussels at the moment, looking for an apartment. The time has come to move out of Italy, at least for a while. Brussels is a nice place, a multicultural environment: something I greatly enjoy. I look forward to learn more about the city, and to connect with the music scene here. I’d say it will be a good excuse to learn French (I can’t guarantee about Flemish…). Also, I like the fact that I will be closer to other beautiful places: London isn’t too far away, Paris too, and Germany. Well, The Netherlands, of course. Me and Chiara spent this last weekend in Nijmegen, to see King Crimson perform. It was her first time seeing the band, and she really liked it. As usual, it was very nice to catch up with Pat Mastelotto and Tony Levin. I still have to pinch myself when it happens. Lovely people. We went out for coffee the morning after the concert, it was a beautiful sunny day. Tony took a picture of me and Chiara in Grote Markt, the main square. Good times…
I will have more news to report soon, I hope.
In the meantime, stay safe and well.