Follow along with Tim Alexander, Musik Olar AG's Serge A. Olar (in Switzerland), and Mogar's Gio Paganini (in Italy) as they tour through Europe. See a full list of clinic tour dates, times, info here.
Tim's Diary continued
After a half a snickers and a sip of coke, I went out and started the clinic tour. I sat down and they had the kit pretty much set up for me and all I had to do was adjust some things and then the curtain opened. It was a pretty large hall. Way too big for a drum clinic. They probably have a local dance night there once a month. It was in a quaint little town an hour outside of Zurich, Switzerland. I mean quaint. Could've been Mayberry. Thought I saw Andy and Opie on the corner. As I looked out into the audience I noticed lots of parents with young kids. Hmmmm. I thought it would be longhaired, bellbottomed teenagers with tool and primus shirts. I heard that sometimes people just come to events when something is happening in town. Maybe they cancelled dance night for my clinic. I hope not. It won't be as fun. Well it turns out that Switzerland offers music school to kids as part of their education and it’s paid for - part by the people and part by the government. WOW!!!! The government actually thinks that a child should learn music or art to help them become an intelligent, cultured human being. When I was young I had no idea that you could go to class, do homework, and be given pop quizzes about music and drumming. I first started listening to an 8-track of Elvis Presley Live at Madison Square Garden. I set up all the different sounding pillows on our little couch and played the whole concert from beginning to end. Small pillows for high sounds and the big cushions for deep sounds. Didn't know much about bass drums or using your feet yet. I was 8, I think. But here the government gives out pillows to all the drummers!!!! They seemed to have enjoyed it even though they sat for 3 hours longer than expected, due to my inability to read a calendar.
The clinic tour has begun. I have to say I was extremely nervous to do these. I am the kind of drummer that plays music, not flashy or exciting to watch. Everyone says I make it look so easy like I'm not even breaking a sweat. In my head I look like Tommy Lee, but when I see videos of myself, I look like I'm about to take a nap. So I was thinking everyone was going to want to see chops chops chops and I would disappoint them. But I remembered what Aaron at Tama said: "People want to see what you do." So I played with music and talked about a lot of conceptual things. Not only how I do it, but why. Its very hard to put into words, but I managed in three different languages...translated, of course. Remember: I hit things for a living.
The rest of the Switzerland clinics went well. I had Serge driving me around Switzerland, up and down and through the Swiss Alps. (The Swiss are masters of tunnels). Very beautiful. All of the people were extremely nice and helpful, but shy. No one would ask me any questions during the clinics. So I had to think fast about what to talk about. It was good training. Each day I started to put together my theories a bit better day by day. I made Serge play his band, Leech, while driving. (Check them out. Really cool stuff. He's a great drummer.) All we ate was Italian food. Every day. I loved it. Lots of Italians in Switzerland.
I kept asking Serge about the drummers from Top Secret. Google these guys. Incredible drum core. He said he knew one of them and I was trying to see if I could watch a rehearsal. Then I thought, well if I go there and meet them they might want to come to the clinic. Not a good idea anymore. (when you watch them on youtube you'll see why). Crazy good drummers.
So, I played pretty good that night. The only problem I had was my right hand freezing up because I really hadn't played in a year and a half. So I would lose my grip constantly. I made it thru my first 5 days without dropping my sticks. Yayyyy! So thank you Serge and all of the drum shops for bringing me over and buying me great dinners. I hope I can come back soon. Oh, I also was handed one of the new Swiss Army knives they have in the Swiss army. Watch out.
Off to Italy for 3 clinics. Take the hotel shuttle to the airport. Get my ticket. All is well. Go to my gate and wait. And wait. And wait. Hmmm. It’s getting really close to when my flight leaves and no boarding? I ask the lady at the gate she says yes this is the gate to Milan. Ok. I go sit back down on the floor by the wall and just above the "murmer, murmer" of all the people I hear "ein wekne jfke kmdnkrk lwnvis kdnriv Alexander." Wait. Are they calling me? I'm right in front of the gate and nothing’s happening. Something inside tells me get up and go look around for anything resembling someone with a mic saying Alexander. Sure enough. 3 gates down my plane was boarding and everyone was on but me. Wow. A new world record. I almost missed my 3rd flight in one week. I don't know what’s happening with me. Maybe too many road managers handling everything for me my whole life and all I do is wait till they say go, and I go. They sent the special bus for me and off I went down the dang runway to my plane.
I made it to Italy. I could smell the pasta in the air. Stefano was there waiting for me. We get the rental car and off we go. My first night off, a travel day though, and we go to a great dinner at a fantastic place in Milan. Next day is clinic day. The guys at the drum shop had everything ready and waiting for me. They had a room designed for clinics and such. A lot of people showed up - it was packed. That made me feel pretty good. Everyone was very attentive and listening. I did my thing and actually got questions. More than the whole tour so far. It went really well. Everyone there was great and now it was dinner time. We drove to a place Stefano takes people when they come to do clinics. It’s closed. We drive around some more and don't have any luck. We find a chinese-japanese-italian - all you can eat buffet- with giant gold chandeliers with lights as strong as your local, neighborhood Walmart. Needless to say, we didn't stay too long. We grab some scraps and get out of there fast. From then on, I made sure we had food options after the clinics. Stefano gave me the Italian driving experience for the next few days. Turns out, Stefano is a great guitar player and has a band called 24 Strings. 3 guitar players, instrumental rock. It really was a great soundtrack to the crazy Italian driving they do there. That white line down the middle of the road don't mean a thing! We went to Torino, and then Florence. Both places had great crowds and really great people. Thank you guys very much. So overall, the Italian clinics went smooth, except for the Garmin gps getting us lost all the time. I think it was making it up as it goes. I think you pay extra for that feature.
Thanks to Stefano for hanging with me and taking me to great restaurants like the buffet extravaganza. Felt like home. I hope I get to go back sometime.
Well Stefano dropped me at the Florence airport and I was off to Paris. Just so you know, I did make that flight. Eric was there waiting for me. We took a cab to the train station for our 2 hour trip to Nancy. Only thing was the train doesn't leave till 4 and it was 1 when we got there. We went across the street with 80lbs of Zildjian cymbals and my luggage for a nice Parisian 3 hour lunch. 4 comes around and off we go. Heading for Nancy. The clinic was at a music school there. It was very cool. The room was awesome and sounded great. The sound of the room really affects my playing a lot. They had the drums all set up and 17 kids there to help me put on the cymbals. That was over in about 45 seconds. So they stood around and listened to me tune the kit for another 20 minutes. Sorry guys. Eric did the translating and we got a lot of questions. They managed to get me to do a solo as well. I don't feel like that is my specialty but I went for it. After 2 weeks, my playing got much better and felt comfortable. Finally, the last day of the tour and now I'm warmed up and ready to play. That’s how it goes. Everyone there was really nice and treated me great. Eric even tried to get me to write a book about all of the things I've been talking about. Maybe it will be a picture book with pop ups! I'm still thinking about it. We had a great, great dinner in Stanislas and some really nice wine. Thank you guys for taking such great care of me. You must have me back again.
So now I'm 30,000 feet above the Atlantic on a 9 hour flight to Toronto then another 5 hours to home. The guy in front of me just slammed the back of his chair into my computer not once, not twice, but 3 times, and someone sitting behind me is constantly kicking the back of my seat...while a 3 year old kid across the isle is screaming his head off and I just noticed his mother started crying into her blanket. I guess things aren't so bad...
Date: May 11th 2011
Place: Play! Drums & Percussions @ Firenze, Italy
Any better idea than ending the Italian tour in the breathtaking city of Florence? Don't think so...The Sun is shining all along the car drive from Turin, and finally the beautiful hills of Tuscany welcome Tim in his first ever performance in the city of art and literature.
Today's clinic is organised and sponsored by PLAY! DRUMS & PERCUSSIONS - not only a great drum store, but a real point of reference for drummers in the Tuscany area. The clinic itself is in a wonderful location, The Kelleplatz pub in Prato, not far from Firenze.
Needless to say that the venue is packed once again, and it's very easy to spot Primus and Tool's t-shirts among the audience. Tim takes his fans through some of the hits he recorded with Primus in early 90's ("Too Many Puppies" - watch below), Puscifer, and A Perfect Circle and then he's very happy to answer many questions from his fans.
As in the previous occasions, the time runs fast and, in a while, we realize this Italian adventure is over. But we’re still so hungry to listen to Tim! May we get another opportunity to have him back to Italy? We do hope so. But, in the meantime, we will carry great memories of the experiences and emotions we shared during these days.
So, now it is time to say goodbye and, most of all, THANK YOU! Thank you Tim for your kindness, generosity, intelligence, and unique approach to playing. In a word, thank you for your music! Thank you store owners for your great support and extremely professional approach. Thank you fans for your passion and warmth. Thank you Zildjian for...being, once again, Number 1 in the world!
See you next time!
Click here for video of Tim playing "Too Many Puppies."
Date: May 10th 2011
Place: Ringo Music @ Torino, Italy
Today's clinic is hosted by another well known drum store in Northern Italy: Ringo Music. This is a very special week for Marco, who's running this store for almost a decade now, as he's expanding the original facility located near the centre of the city thus giving drummers in Turin twice as many drums and cymbals to see and play! What a dream for every drummer!
Tim is in good shape (any doubt?!) and treats almost a hundred fans to their favourite Primus and Puscifer tunes, like "Here Comes The Bastards," "My Name Is Mud," and "Va... Mine," and then it's Q&A time so the guys can finally ask their fave drummer to unveil secrets about technique, his career, the recording process of the songs they've just heard, etc...
There's an urban legend saying that Tim recorded some A perfect Circle songs in a garage in LA using Tommy Lee's kit...did you know? If you want to ask Tim if it's true or not make sure not to miss his last clinic tomorrow!
There's time for another bunch of songs, and then Tim can wrap up another great clinic. After the well deserved standing ovation, Tim is available again to meet fans and sign stuff...Thanks Tim, your fans will never forget!
Thanks Ringo Music, it was a lot of fun today, but it's now time to go to bed (it's 1,30am...)!
For video highlights of the clinic, go here.
Date: May 9th 2011
Place: Percussion Village @ Milano, Italy
Percussion Village is a very beautiful store, the environment is so clean and inspiring as drummers and percussionists in Milan are looking for. The owners, Gianfranco and Fabrizio, really did a great job in creating such a paradise in the heart of the city!
Tim gets into the store in perfect time at 5pm, together with Stefano (A/R Manager of Mogar Music, the Zildjian distributor), and starts setting up his Tama Starclassic Maple drumkit inside the soundproof auditorium inside the store. The cymbals Tim will be using during the Italian clinics are (from left to right):
8” A Custom Splash
13” K/Z Hi-hats (with Z Custom on top and K on the bottom)
16” A Custom Crash
9 ½” Zil-Bel
10” A Custom Splash
17” A Custom Crash
20” A Custom Ride
13” K/Z Hi-hats (with Z Custom on top and K on the bottom) - auxiliary
18” Oriental China Trash
Right after sound check Tim is available for some interviews and then...he experiences the real “Italian way” to start a clinic: enjoying some typical food and drinks in the store’s patio! When the clinic starts, the auditorium is packed with excited drummers, teachers (our endorsee Roberto Gualdi is also in the crowd) and Primus fans, and everyone is looking forward hearing Tim’s playing.
Tim gets the audience through some highlights of his career, explaining how he came up with some arrangements or drum pattern, what he meant to express with certain fills, and is very open to answer even the more technical questions!
Thanks Tim for the great performance in Milan! Thanks Percussion Village for having such nice person and great player! See you tomorrow in Turin
Date: May 7th 2011
Place: Drummer Wettbewerb @ Altishofen / Switzerland
After the clinic in Basel, we went to Zofingen to spend the night there. So the next day it was just a 15 minutes drive to the biggest drum festival in Switzerland: The 'Schweizer Drummer - und Percussionisten Wettbewerb' in the small village of Altishofen.
This event is just amazing, this year it featured 360 young drummers from all over Switzerland. There were even some drummers from Austria, France, Germany, and even 1 drummer from Poland...what a drive!?! Anyway, it was stunning what all these young drummers showed off, a big hand to them as they have played their best to attract the audience as well as us!
We could set up the drums at 3:00 pm in the afternoon, and at 5:00 pm we could have a nice and loud soundcheck. Showtime was at 9:30 pm so we took off to attend the meet & greet of the festival. As well as we had enough time to visit one of the best restaurants in the area to get some real good food...mmmmhhhh....
At 9:30 pm Tim started his performance. He went through some Primus songs - "My Name Is Mud," "Jerry Was A Race Car Drive," and "Mr. Know It All." Followed by Puscifer's "Va... Mine" and "Queen B" as well as "The Hollow" from A Perfect Circle.
After a long day the audience really liked Tim's performance and got him back on stage to do an encore! Tim went on to the signing session for another 30 minutes because there were a lot of kids waiting to get an autograph.
We would like to thank everybody at the Drummer Wettbewerb, especially Sepp and Heinz Glanzmann who organised a great and impressing event! It was the 18th edition so we hope that you will go on for at least another two years so we will be able to celebrate!
Date: May 6th 2011
Place: Musik Hug AG @ Basel / Switzerland
From Brig we moved on to Basel. And yes, back on the train again with the car in Goppenstein. At the other end we arrived in Kandersteg and crossed the Berner Oberland. We passed by Spiez and the capital of Bern and arrived in Basel after a 2-hour ride.
The clinic started at 7:00 pm and Tim started it off with "Here Comes The Bastards" from Primus, followed by A Perfect Circles "The Hollow." He moved on Puscifer's "Va.... Mine" and "Undertaker." Today the crowd was smaller but they went strong in asking questions so the Q&A part was very interesting and fun for everybody.
Tim went on and played another two tracks from Primus: "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" and "Mr. Knot It All." To finish the clinic he played another track from Puscifer, "Queen B," and "Too Many Puppies" from Primus.
Again, after the clinic Tim was available to sign posters and a lot of drumheads, sponsered by Musik Hug - thank you very much!!!
We ended the night in a nice little Italian Restaurant with some fantastic pasta...A big thank to Marco and Manuel from Musik Hug, well done!
Date: May 5th 2011
Place: Aula Regionalschulhaus @ Brig / Switzerland
After a quiet, long drive, we arrived in the city of Brig. On our drive we passed by stunning landscapes and famous places in Switzerland. We drove by Einsiedeln, made a stop in Flüelen at the Vierwaldstättersee to take some nice pictures. Then we saw the famous church of Wassen and passed by Andermatt on our way to Realp where we went on the train with our car! After 15 minutes on the train, we arrived in the Canton of Wallis. Another 30 minutes and finally we hit Brig!
The clinic started at 7:00 pm and Tim started it off with "Here Comes The Bastards" from Primus, followed by A Perfect Circle's "The Hollow." He moved on to Puscifer's "Va.... Mine" and "Undertaker."
As the crowd was more into listening and watching Tim play, the Q&A part was not too long. So he moved on to play another two tunes from Primus - "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" and "Mr. Knot It All." To finish the clinic he played another track from Puscifer, "Queen B" and "Too Many Puppies" from Primus. The crowd really liked his clinic and gave him a big round of applause at the end.
After the clinic, Tim went to sign posters, drumheads, cymbals, and went on with talking to the people. Again the clinic was very well organised and we need to thank Dieti from Dum 4 Fun for making this possible. Further, we would like to thank Deborah for taking pictures and Rolf, Roger, and Reini for their help!
Pictures have been added to the slide show.
Until next time...
Date: May 4th 2011
Place: Gemeindesaal @ Grüsch / Switerland
After a short, but beautiful drive we arrived in the small town of Grüsch, at the east end of Switzerland. Already at the venue were approximately 20 young drummers who helped us to set up the drumset! Thank you guys, this was very funny as well as helpful, my back really enjoyed it.
We had another 2 hours until the clinic started so we took a short walk around town. What a nice little town with very old buildings and an ice-cold, but crystal-clear, river – just amazing!
Today we were ON TIME!!! The clinic started at 7:00 pm and Tim hit it off with "Here Comes The Bastards" from Primus. He explained about the ideas he wanted to put into that song as well as the differences of bands like Primus and Puscifer. The next few songs played were a Puscifer block with "Queen B," "Va...Mine," and "Undertaker." Then the Q&A part started and there were many questions!!! A big THANK YOU to Stefan who translated all the questions as well as Tim’s answers - great job!
The clinic ended with another two songs from "Mr. Knowitall" and "My Name Is Mud." Of course, Tim hit the signing table again and signed a lot of posters, albums, and more.
A great clinic with a very good crowd as well as a top organization. We need to thank Jackson and Susan from The Drum Corner, Dieter from Musikschule Prättigau and of course all the drum students who helped us.
Check the slide show for photos of the event.
Date: May 3rd, 2011
Place: Kupfentreff @ Kaltbrunn / Switzerland
What a start to this clinic tour all over Switzerland! The timing was very tight because of cancelled flights the day before. Then, Tim was scheduled to land 4:00 pm Swiss time, but due to flight delays he could not catch the connection flight in London to Zürich...he finally made it to Zürich, just 4 hours later...
So we needed to postpone the clinic from the original time of 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. We really have to give a big THANK YOU to the crowd who was really patient and understanding!!! Musik Shop Linth and Musik Olar AG were kind enough to offer free drinks to keep the crowd happy.
Anyway, we needed to do some improvisation so Dave Meier, a local drum teacher, jumped in and played a few tunes. The crowd really appreciated it so he was 'forced' to do an encore - thank you Dave!
At 9:00 pm, Tim finally arrived in Kaltbrunn after probably one of his toughest journies ever. A short check of the drums and he hit the stage!
He went trough a couple of Primus songs like "Here Comes The Bastard" and "My Name Is Mud," followed by Puscifer's "Va...Mine" and a great drum solo. Then a Q&A section started with questions about technique, practice, and some background information about Tim. After the clinic, Tim signed cymbals, heads, and posters and was available for pictures.
A big thank to the crew of Musik Shop Linth in Kaltbrunn: Ruth, Peter, Werner, Dave & Dave, Gabi, and Robin. As well as to Dinu 'Gango' Hunziker, the crazy driver who made it possible for Tim to arrive safely in Kaltbrunn.
Check the slide show for photos of the event.
Date: May 2nd 2011
Place: Somewhere between Vancouver and Zürich
Left for my drum clinic Europe tour flight on Monday got a call from my drum rep on the way. "the guy in Zurich said you werent on the flight, you were suppose to be on the Sunday flight." oh sh*t!!!!!
Went running from airline to airline to find the next plane out. My tickets were now no good. So had to buy a new ticket to Switzerland. Never done that before. Had to be in Zurich by 4:30pm tuesday or else they will cancel the first clinic. Waited 4 hours then the plane was delayed an hour. Got on the plane and sat for 40 min more. Waiting on a pilot to show up. I guess the Canadians fly when they feel like it. Finally get in the air. 9 hours to London. "I'll have the microwaved chicken with the cold corn kernels and a side of hard bread please." Then spent the next few hours working on what i was going to talk about on the clinic tour. Fell asleep in the last row where the seats dont recline. Last thing i heard before passing out was "is there a medical doctor on board?" 7 words you dont want to hear on a flight. Wake up to just an hour left on the flight. "cool, I'm going to make it." Land and have 15 min to get to next plane. Had to Run Lola Run from one side of heathrow to the other. Had to be at least 37 miles.
It felt like it. Took 18 minutes to get to the gate. Covered in sweat and stinking now from 9 hours in a plane then a 37 mile jog, I hear them yelling "Zurich?" I yell "yes" while running down the conveyor belt. "Zurich?" "yessss." Did they not hear me? I see the plane at the gate. I'll make it. "Sorry the doors are shut, we can't let you on."
"But you knew our plane was late..." I guess the Swiss Air pilot had had it with the slow ass Canadian Air pilots attitude and complete disregard for other pilots time and schedules. "Sorry." My first Europe drum clinic tour and I don't even show up. The ticket agent and I begin our long journey back to the ticket desks. I guess they don't have phones at this airport. When we get to the counter she calls and gets me on the next flight to Zurich at 5:00. Great I'm already an hour late and I'm not even in the right country yet. 3 hours to kill.
So I enjoy a white bread, airport club sandwich and wait it out. It's boarding now. Long line in the jetway and I'm resting against the wall waiting. I guess that means I'm not in line anymore so an old German woman walks right in front of me and stands there as if I'm not there. Ok. Who cares at this point. Not like we are going anywhere and I'm on the jetway so I'm definitely getting on the plane. Get to my seat and the old lady is growling German at someone for touching her jacket in the overhead compartment. I have a window seat and 2 lady's are sitting in the other 2 seats. So I thought that it would be easier to see if they want to just move over and I'll take the isle. So they don't have to get up. One gets up and the other takes the window seat and left me the middle. Smart girls. I don't care it's only 1:10 min flight. Arriving in Zurich!!!! Finally. I'll find my guy and rush to the place and get it started. A really nice guy is there to meet me.
His name is Martin but they call him dino. ??? Cool. "so how long to drive to the clinic?". "about 50 minutes". Sh*t. Another hour in a car winding thru country roads. I'm told that they had the local drum teacher doing some drumming till I made it there. Great, looks like it's all good. After about 30 or 40 minutes of racing thru snaking roads into the country outside of Zurich, I start to feel something.
This drive better end soon because I think I'm going to throw up club sandwich all over this car. More roundabouts and more roundabouts and I'm starting to think I'm going to start my first clinic off with a windshield full of airport food. He says he's never been here before and is racing to each roundabout and looking at all the signs as we pass by them. One hand on the phone, one hand one the stick, one hand on the wheel. We are almost there. He sees the right street and whips onto it. Down the street there's someone waving. I made it. I stink, I'm car sick, I get out but I feel like I'm still spinning. We run into the backstage. I eat half a snickers and a sip of coke, grab my sticks and head out.