Human touch

By BOB GULLA  |  June 19, 2007

What frame of mind do you have to be in to approach a gig every night? Is it difficult to get to that head space?
My frame of mind is constant. Is there an opposite of stage fright? If so, I have that. Tonight I’ll be performing at the Henry Fonda Theater in LA and it has a capacity of 1400. That will probably be the biggest crowd so far, and it’s a very comfortable size. I’ll probably be a bit nervous for the “Rock the Bells” shows, but maybe not. Depends if I feel like my legs are sexy or not.

What have you learned lately about what it takes to put on a good show?
You have to stay aware of the energy in the crowd and work with the moment. You can’t perform as if no one else is in the room. The people are a part of the show. And I’m not talking about doing some cliché call-response stuff in order to keep the crowd involved. I’m talking about feeling their energy out and working with it to bring everyone along for the ride. Or take them down with the ship. Whichever you decide is best at the moment. It’s essential to stay spiritually limber. It’s not wise to step into a show with an unchangeable concrete plan. A bad show is when someone pats me on the shoulder and says, “That was a pretty good show, man. I had a good time.” A good show is when the people approach you after a show with a frozen look on their face and say something completely out of the ordinary. That’s good stuff.

Anything funny happen on the road?
A few outrageous things have happened so far. What could sound like bad times were actually good times. Drunk people need to travel with sober friends who can take them aside when they’re being especially stupid. Like in Chapel Hill, North Carolina there was a guy in the crowd who insisted on yelling about KFC. I said, “OK, OK! KFC! I got it! You done now?” After I was done with my next song he was still yelling about how good KFC is. And then he was yelling about how he is Polish and how he is poor, because he’s Polish. But here he was in a $20 show, wearing nice fratboy clothes and drinking enough $8 drinks to get drunk. So once it was clear that he didn’t intend on shutting up I reached down and knocked the drink out of his hand. That prompted him to jump on stage at which point I launched him back into the crowd by his face. The crowd went bananas.
A personal highlight for me was when we passed by a waterfall and decided to jump in the water on some spontaneous shit. This was a treat because our air conditioning doesn’t work. Driving seven hours through the Arizona desert while it’s 109 degrees outside is as fun as it sounds. Oh, and completely losing our brakes while on the highway was a lot of fun too. Yes, the van I purchased has proven to be a complete lemon.

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