Letters Home – Notes From The Road 004

Friday, 29 October 2010

[Editor's Note: Most fans think that the life of a touring band is a strange existence, and they're right – but not always in the way they might think. Sure – there are strange scenes and moments to experience, but sometimes touring can be a more personal journey. In Alain Johannes' case, he's already been around the world as the bassist in Queens Of The Stone Age and as the guitarist in Eleven – but his current tour through South America is a different excursion entirely. This time, Johannes is touring in support of his debut solo LP Spark and, not just that, he's currently touring South America; where the guitarist has not been since childhood. It's an exciting time for Johannes that only he could capture best so Ground Control has offered him the platform to share it. The following is an account of Johannes' journey and his raw impressions of it in his own words.]

Letters Home – Notes From The Road With Alain Johannes, Part Four of Four.

So excited to see family and friends in Buenos Aires. The city has a very European feel. The steaks and wine are legendary and I intend to partake of the legend. At the hotel I wait for Alfredo and Alfredito to meet me. I haven't seen my stepfather in over ten years and never met my stepbrother. We hang for a bit in my room happy and hugging then make our way to a fantastic meal around the corner with the Queens and crew.

Run into Mariano and his buddies on the way back and stay up drinking wine and chatting at the hotel bar.

Next day is the Pepsi music festival. They forgot to slot me in earlier so I get a 20 minute set right before Queens and Rage which is perfect because it's jam packed and it's night and I get full lights and side screens courtesy of Dan The Man.

 Very warm reception and almost instantly after I get off stage Queens starts and the crowd is off…singing along, clapping, squirming and dancing. What a party! What a musical audience!

The Queens stay in Buenos Aires for 2 days off and I head back to Santiago. Uncle Peter picks me up from the airport and we head straight to the rock station RadioSonar for a fantastic interview with Alfredo Lewin – one of the earliest and staunchest supporters of Eleven. It's an easy flowing conversation except for my Spanish which I don't get to speak much but I manage by sheer will and ingenuity when the vocabulary fails me. I play a couple songs from Spark and afterwards do a short interview and take photos with Peter which appear in the national paper the next day.

RadioSonar is giving away tickets to the free show on Friday midnight at Rock Y Guitarras and they tell me there's an overwhelming demand for them. Wow – I had no idea I had so many supporters. It feels good.
 I am so thankful to Alfredo Lewin and people like Juan Luis from mundoeleven who have been turning people on to Eleven for years.

Back at Peter's house I do a great video interview with Gonzalo and play some tunes. I'm a bit nervous and extremely excited because my father Danny whom I'd never met is coming to the house with one of my brothers. They arrive at the very end of the interview and we sit down in the living room and it's surprising how easy and natural it feels. Danny is a musician and singer who came up in the "Nueva Ola" with my Mom and Uncle Peter. We have an amazing time eating and drinking and getting to know each other.

The next day I run around do a photo shoot for a book about Chilean rock musicians and get picked up by Acsa and Paola to head over to the club.

I arrive and meet the owners and staff. Really cool vibe there. There's a Faith No More cover band called "Please No More" playing after me and they're soundchecking and sound great. It's so cool how warm everyone is and what a welcoming feeling I get everywhere I go.

Before going on stage I meet a lot of musicians and fans who are really appreciative of Eleven and my musical output all these years. The little room behind the stage gets quite stuffed and as midnight approaches I prepare myself for quite an experience.

When I hit the stage there's 500 people cheering and as I begin singing "Endless Eyes" they all sing along and clap cool rhythms. I'm overcome with emotion and somehow hold it together through songs from Spark, Desert Sessions and Eleven.

What a ride…I come out for an encore and I play "Hanging Tree" and I say thank you for the incredible experience.

I stay for a while meeting people and get a ride back to Peter's. Totally exhausted.
 The next day Danny picks me up with his wife and we check out a beautiful hill overlooking Santiago.

We then head over to his house where I meet the rest of the beautiful family. We hang for almost 12 hours and every second is precious. Great Asado and wine and Pisco. Jokes, stories and music. I play a few tunes. Danny whips out the harmonica and then later plays a great medley on the piano and sings with passion and a beautiful tone.

It feels so good to finally connect the dots and find the last piece of the puzzle. I am thankful.

This is Part Four of Alain Johannes' Four-part South American tour journal. Click here for Part One, click here for Part Two and click here for Part Three.

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