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From The Frontline - Myke Heath Blog - June 2015

Hello lovely readers of www.mikedolbear.com. Hope you are all well.

The Wounded Kings camp is all about rehearsing again for the moment. We are currently splitting ourselves between two practice schedules. One half is for the biggest gig we’ve ever played (so far). It’s been surprisingly casual considering it’s a new un-gigged version of the band but the vibe is good between the four of us and any baggage they may have previously being weighing us down is now well and truly gone. Also, I think everyone is really enjoying playing together and a make good old fashioned heavy noise.

The festival is in France and is aptly called Hellfest. The capacity in the tent we are playing is 7,500 so that’s roughly twice the amount of people I have played to in the last 22 years!! Not to mention the fact the stage is the size of a football pitch. No requests to “turn down” the cymbals from the engineer this time. We’ve got nice digs to stay in and plenty of time to setup and sound check.  You can''t ask for more than that really apart from doing it on a bit more of a regular basis. Say five times a week?

So the other half of the schedule is focused on rehearsing and writing new music for a new album being recorded in less than four weeks. When we started talking about the next album sometime earlier in the year I had a grand vision that we would be out playing the new songs by now and that they would be well played in before being recorded. I always develop better ideas once I’m on a stage rather than in a practice room. But that’s my problem really! Of course with two line-up changes over the last 12 months it kind of demolished any precious time we had to write and play new music. It’s all part of the balancing act of music, work and life in general unfortunately not to mention the long hours of personal grooming I need too! It’s a good way to keep things sharp and fresh though and it’s always a pleasure to get in the studio and create something new.

So of course that means now that my drum brain has now gone in to total overdrive. The biggest question of them all of course has plagued us drummers since the dawn of Mylar: single ply or double ply heads? I have always been a double ply man but I’m hearing different sounds in my head right now and using large drums doesn’t necessarily require added bottom end or added warmth. I use mahogany shell drums and I’m beginning to think that I’m strangling the tone a little bit and would like them to breathe a bit more. Going single ply seems like the logical thing to do. I’m quite keen on using something with a power dot on too. Seems like there are quite a lot of drummers and a few drum companies doing that at the moment. As you may remember I have settled on the issue of “hole V no hole” in the front of the bass drum head and I’m still happy with saying yes to the hole right now. I can already hear the sigh of relief from Chris the session engineer. We’ll have nothing to argue about!

Whilst on the subject of changes I’ve mentioned previously that I changed my cymbals around too. Normally I use a medium heavy ride and hats with lighter crashes. Instead I’m using a light ride with heavy crashes and heavy hi hats. I’m not totally sure where the idea came from but so far the cymbals are working out great but it still feels a little weird and I haven’t totally fallen in love with the bigger of the two crashes yet. I might go back to a lighter crash on the right hand side but I need more time to get used to it and get the muscle memory back on track as well. I might move things around a little bit too.

So moving on to a very different type of festival and a very different band I played a show with Ten Percenter at our local, yearly Exeter Respect Festival. It’s a great event and ties in with a lot of work I do as part of my regular day job. The line up of music is very eclectic but as well as the music there are a lot of local charities and community interest companies for disabled people who set up stools for the weekend and a stage for performances by people and groups with disability. It makes for a very unique and interesting event. I got to catch up with a few people and show my support for a local project called Turning Tides. The Turning Tides Project helps to give access to people labelled with “Autism” or “Learning Disability” to the arts and music and pretty much anything else in between.

I’m afraid the gig didn’t go quite as well as I hoped and I hit many of the usual bumps found when doing these types of gigs. We were given 20 minutes for change over and set up. Normally plenty of time but the band before us where large and took a very long time to get off the stage. The stage manager came up to me before I had even got my cymbals on the kit and said in a calm but stern voice “You’ve got four minutes guys”. I was already dripping with sweat and feeling a bit agitated so that was definitely not what I wanted to hear at that point and I still had to plug in the machine we use for the backing track and click.

I think we started on time but to be honest it was all a blur. As we started playing I quickly realised that the kit was on the stage with nothing underneath it to stop it sliding every which way I hit it. The stage guy then decided he would tie it down with rope to the legs of the stage but having only 20 minutes to play by the time the kit was tied down it was time to leave! Still I appreciated all his efforts. Next time I’m taking a hammer and six inch nails though.

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