Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Accidental Drum Tech - Cool Neil Peart Story

This has been kicking around for a while but is a great read. Seems that on the most recent Rush tour, Neil Peart’s drum tech Lorne Wheaton (better known at Gump) had to leave the tour due to appendicitis. SABIAN Cymbals representative Chris Stankee had the terrifying honor of filling in last second. He posted a two part report on the SABIAN Web site and it’s a heck of a read.

Some of the highlights:

I have set Neil up a couple times for rehearsal and recording sessions using what I learned from Gump on the SABIAN-sponsored S.S. Professor tour after RUSH's R30 Tour. I also filled in earlier this year when Neil was finishing rehearsals for the tour by himself, so I wasn't entirely clueless. But I had never set up the electronic kit or changed the patches through his solo. I remember in those rehearsals when Neil said, "I won't rehearse the solo. I really need Gump here for that, to change the kits in the right spots."

The lights go down and Neil runs up on stage. I remember to shine a light into the 6-inch opening where he gets into the kit and then the band kicks off. After the first song everything goes pitch black on stage. Uh Oh! I can't see him! What if he's asking for something?...The song finishes and he comes leaping off the riser looking right at me. "The snare drum head broke! Tell Dirk (Geddy Lee) to stretch it out between songs!" I dive into the riser and my radio tangles up in something. I remove the snare and pass it to Anson, then lock down the spare that was already prepared. Back to business in no time, but what are the chances of that happening to us tonight? It happens maybe once every 100 shows, Neil would tell me later. The head simply pulled out of the metal collar that holds it. What next? When the band starts into The Main Monkey Business, I lean over to Jim. "Do you hear a pigeon?" He gives me the are you nuts? look. Great. I can't hear a broken snare head and now I'm hearing pigeons. It turned out that Neil was trying to get the snare back into the correct place after I swapped it, and it made its way up against the DAUZ trigger activating a pigeon 'coo' sound every time he hit the drum. It was comical, but Neil wasn't laughing.

The second set kicks off with Far Cry. Neil and John, the pyro tech, warned me about the pyro in this song. There's a red light on at the side of the stage when it's about to happen. I cover up with a fireproof blanket, but I've got to peek. Bad idea. The pyro is a concussion bomb that sits on the back of Neil's sub monitor. I thought it was just going to be tall flames. I'm looking right at it from about five feet away when it goes off. It moves so much air that I feel my eyeballs change shape. COOL!

There are loads of great photos too. Check it all out here and here.

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