Greg Koch Europe Tour Blog 2013… “The Nitty and the Gritty”
As I prepare to embark on what will be somewhere in the neighborhood of my tenth band tour of Europe, I thought it might be insightful to explain how I go about things for those interested in transcontinental musical exploits. Folks often inquire as to how I books these tours, some think I’m like David Hasselhoff while many others think all I do is clinics on behalf of Fender Musical Instruments. Others like to ask a host of logistical questions about travel arrangements, gear etc. If I get in to too much detail this will be a massive tome so I’ll address these subjects in a somewhat succinct manner.
When I was signed to Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label in 2001 and released “The Grip” which was a compilation of the most guitar driven ditties culled from my first five, self-released discs, my main desire was to acquire a booking agent who could facilitate touring. However, it wasn’t until 2003 when I was signed to a Dutch label called Mascot/Provogue that was more interested in my vocal oriented music, that I finally got an agent in Europe who worked with the label to book tours. The venues have ranged from clubs, small theaters, blues festivals and music schools. The various Fender entities in Europe have been extremely cooperative over the years and have often supplemented these tours with workshops and Fender sanctioned shows where we just show up and perform. The Hal Leonard publishing company of whom I have around 14 titles with, have also participated in assisting with these tours. In the past, the band gigs through our agent have been in Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Norway and France while the Fender sanctioned shows have been in the additional locales of the UK, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Serbia, Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Finland and Iceland.
The tours have usually been in conjunction with CD releases. The first two discs on the Mascot/Provogue label “13 X 12″ (2003) “Four Days in the South” (2005)…3 on ZYX/Peppercake label “Live on the Radio” (2006) “Nation Sack” (2008) “From the Attic” (2010)…the rerelease of 1995′s “Strat’s Got Your Tongue” on Grooveyard Records (2012) and the current “Plays Well With Others” released in the summer of 2013. The personnel on these tours has included: myself on guitar and vocals, the bassists have been Tom Good, Roscoe Beck and Reggie Hamilton, drummers; John Calarco, Tom Brechtlein and Del Bennett and the additional vocals of Malford Milligan from 2006-09. The current incarnation that will be touring in Sept-Oct of 2013 will consist of my current songwriting partner John Sieger on vocals and guitar, Kurt Koenig on bass and my 18-year-old son, Dylan on the drums. Those who may think that nepotism is the only reason my son is coming need only to listen to the current CD or show up and get their face melted:-)
Logistically, my agent is also my tour manager. He rents a Mercedes Sprinter van with a cab up front that can seat around 5 and carries all the gear in the back. I have a Fender Super Reverb stashed over there and we rent drums, bass gear and additional guitar amps from our agent at a very reasonable rate. The tour manager does all the driving, helps with the gear, sells all the merch and settles with the venues. If we do Fender shows, most of the time all the back line will be provided. We never have to worry about PA which is, 99% of the time, really good. Hotels and food are provided by the venues and by-in-large, have been really good.
The airline travel restrictions over the years have changed but my current practice is to carry on a gig bag loaded with one guitar, all my cords, pedals etc. along with my messenger bag for my computer etc.. I bring one big suitcase but only pack about 10 days worth of clothes because if I need to bring any other band related items in that suitcase, it gets too heavy if I pack more clothes. Doing laundry on the road is somewhat more desirable then hauling a heavy suitcase and paying overage fee’s.
I love it when people whisper, “I guess he’s really big in Europe”. The fact is, at 6’7″ and 260lbs, I’m big anywhere I decide to show up! The fact is, I can tour in Europe playing my original music, people show up, buy CD’s and I make enough to cover all my expenses and everyone makes money. That’s not Hasselhoff big but I’ll take it!!!!
P.S. Here is the only guitar I’m bringing. It’s an American Deluxe Ash Telecaster with Ray Gerold Coils in it for Pickups. I met Ray in Germany and his pickups have a single coil and humbucker mode but they are always hum canceling.
The pedals are my Gristle King Lean overdrive and clean boost and Tiki Tongue Tremolo both made for me by buddy and pedal genius Tim Jauernig. The other is my trusty NEO Instruments Ventilator for my Leslie simulation needs!
This is my new, Fender Custom Shop, Reunion Blues gig bag. In it, are all my pedals, cords, strings, slides and snark tuners. A glorious satchel.