Issue #6....RCL Special Edition with Iron Maiden's Michael Kenney!!
RCL-Q- Michael...we are going to start off with some reminiscing. We are not sure if you are aware, but you have been seen several times on Much Music/MTV Canada handing a towel to a naked Darrell Dwarf side stage at an Iron Maiden concert at the Hammersmith in London circa 1988. This was part of the last night tour pranks which landed the drummer naked on stage. The footage was captured and aired on various KD interviews. We at RCL would like to thank you for handing that towel over. Nice of you. What was your take when you first saw Killer Dwarfs on that tour.
1.You're quite welcome. It's in my nature to see a problem and do what I can to rectify it. Though, now that I think about it, a tall, naked dwarf dancing around a miniature Stonehenge does seem appropriate...;-) My first thought of the Dwarfs has to be Russell busting out of his crate on his tricycle, tearing around the stage- the funniest thing...good band.
RCL-Q- You have been a long time tech for Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris. How many years has it been and what were you doing before you worked for Maiden? What other bands/musicians have you worked with in your career.
2. I started with Maiden in 1980, along with longtime soundman Doug Hall, on their first headline tour of the U.K., as a PA tech. During the tour, Vic Vella, who was looking after Dave Murray, badly twisted his ankle and went home. I took over the duties of teching for Dave, in addition to my PA chores. When that tour finished, I left the sound company and just took care of Dave's gear on the Kiss tour of Europe. After that, the band was going into the studio to record Killers. They didn't really need me for that, and there wasn't the money to keep me around, plus I was kind of homesick- I had never been further east than Montana before- and I went back home (LA). After a series of fateful events I found myself back in LA after being in Northern California, where I come from, just in time to receive a call from Doug wondering if I wanted to come to Minneapolis to take care of Steve, and could I do it tomorrow? That was in the midst of the Beast on the Road tour, July '82. It was only supposed to be for 3 months...So, to answer your original question, that would be coming up on 23 years I've been with Steve, though I started with the band a couple of years earlier. I did leave a couple of times for a month or three, (usually just long enough for my pictures to not be in the programs, lol) hoping to work on my own music career, but I kept getting called back. I'm rather unique in this field in that I haven't worked on the road with anyone else at this level. I put it this way- I've never had a bunk on a tour bus that wasn't Maiden's. (I did travel with the Priest crew one night when I got left behind. ;-) Before I went to England, and after I came home the first time, I was working with a major studio synth player, Michael Boddicker, who was on a lot of the big sessions in LA- Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones, Olivia Newton-John, Earth, Wind and Fire, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, lots of movies...the list goes on. Plus, I was doing some playing, engineering, I had a PA, a van and a lot of equipment. I was pretty busy. My earlier days were mostly spent playing in various bands up and down the west coast and working at several different Tower Records. It is based in Sacramento and was still a family thing back then. The late '70's at Sunset were particularly memorable.
RCL -Q- You have been known to be the 6th member of Maiden, now it would be 7th, as
3. That has been my job since '88, and still is. Steve is actually pretty low maintenance once he gets on stage- he usually only plays one bass, plus the acoustic when required, and tunes himself on stage- which is a good thing, as there have been progressively more keys on the newer albums. On the tours supporting the albums, I'm rather busy with them. When we do older material, I am less so. There really isn't any technology to take care of it without the band playing to a click track, and that's not likely to happen
Michael in concert with Iron Maiden...circa 1988!!
RCL -Q- Do you play soccer as well as the Maiden boys?
4. I don't play at all, unless you count the occasional kick about after sound check. I'm told I have a pretty powerful kick, but I'm not so sure about all that running up and down the pitch. I'm not real big into sports.
RCL -Q- You are going out on the Ozzfest tour this year with Maiden. Looking forward to that? Also, will this be a long world tour to follow up the new product.
5. I'm looking forward to getting back to work. We've been off for over a year. Festivals can be difficult. We usually have to be there really early to set it all up, sound check, then take it apart and stash it wherever we can backstage, only to have to put it all back together in a very short amount of time about 12 hours later, and hope it all works. I hear we only have 5 minutes to clear the stage on Ozzfest, and you know we won't have a small production. This festival tour is in support of the DVD, "The History of Iron Maiden, the Early Years". We're only doing songs from the first 4 albums. There will be a new album/tour to do after that, but I don't know any specifics.
RCL -Q- We at RCL hear you have been doing a fair amount of clubbing and jamming in the Hollywood circle on your down time. What instruments do you play and do you have your own band happening for fun or serious?
6.This is the most time I have spent in LA in quite some time, and I've been having fun playing around. I started playing with a band alternately known as Happening Harry and the Haptones (happeningharry.com), or the Nine Inch Chili Pumpkins. I've always considered myself a utility man, and I'm equipped for just about anything. I live near one of the clubs, and I'd get these calls: "We have a bass player, but no bass/ got a guitar amp handy?/ the drummer didn't know he was supposed to bring cymbals...". So, I'd end up there with whatever gear I brought that night, eventually sitting in. That has lead to a fairly steady position as one of the guitarists, something I haven't done a lot of in quite awhile, though I have also played bass, keys and even had to be the drummer a couple of nights. We play twice a week: Sundays at the Cat Club, Wednesdays at the Joint, and the band has quite a revolving cast of characters, including people from WASP, Guns and Roses, Type O Negative, the Murderdolls, Goo Goo Dolls, the Rembrandts, DLR, Billy Sheehan, C.C. DeVille...Nicko has even been in on a few. I've also done a couple of gigs as a 'special guest' on keys with a female tribute,"the Iron Maidens" (theironmaidens.com). They are excellent players, and we have a good time. We even did '7th Son...' When I go up to Northern Cal, I do some gigs playing keys with my buddy's country band, Due West. I haven't done much with my own music in quite awhile. Crews have never been very partial to techs playing music for fun, and after being on the road so much for so long, I kind of feel like I'm starting over again, albeit, a bit more advanced...
RCL -Q- What is your favorite gear to rock with such as amplification and axes. Any new gear you have seen and liked on the scene?
7. [The following is probably just for gear heads...you did ask!] As I mentioned, I have a load of gear. I've always had a thing for Marshalls, as many do. I met Clapton at the Fillmore with Cream when I was just turned 14, the first time I had ever seen one. I asked him how he got THAT sound. He said something like, "The amps have something to do with that, but they're rather expensive, I doubt you can afford one." I showed him! lol...I have, jeez, I'm not even sure- a couple of the tall purple Hendrix reissue stacks, 4 of the 30th ann. blue/brass limited stacks, plus 2 more of the combo stacks, a 35th ann. white 50w half stack, a silver jubilee, a stack and a combo of 50w JCM 800's (my own factory custom color- blue w/ baby blue grill- there are some floating around, and I had some stolen, but if you ever see one, it was made for me. ;-). There's also a couple of Sound Citys, a white ltd. Laney, an old AC-30 stack (w/ tall 4x12), various
Bass techs Michael Kenney & Michael Berger with Harry & Jimmy Bain's axe's. Michael B out with Purple now.
RCL -Q- You reside in California. You have spent a fair amount of time in the UK working with Iron Maiden. What is the major difference musically and politically in the UK compared to North America that you have observed over the years? What is your favorite country to tour in?
8. Big questions...over the years, I have seen such changes in the UK. When I first got here, it was so different to what I knew. With globalization, which is a definite reality, differences are becoming less and less. With the net and satellite TV, everyone has access to the same info at the same time. There seems to be a McDonald's on every other street corner, and Starbuck's is catching up. I'm seeing the same all over, Wal-Marts in Turkey... (I'm sure I saw one there, or was it a Tesco's? Big superstore, either way...you get the idea.) Musically, there isn't really the club scene in England where a musician can make a living with cover bands the way you can in the States. Also, their situation with the dole was such that the government kind of subsidized poor musicians, giving them the opportunity to follow their hearts. I think that may have changed some. Politically, you don't even want to get me started. I am not overly proud to be an American these days. I love my country, but it has become something that I feel we have no control over. I hope I'm wrong. There is a view of things from Europe that many Americans don't see. Favorite country? There is no answer for that, or too many... some places that are bit behind in production values can still be amazing places to be. Wherever you are is someone's home. There is something to be said for most places...and there are beautiful ladies everywhere. :-)
RCL -Q- What is the major difference if any, in Road Crew rules such as unions etc in the UK. Are tour buses different than North America these days, or is the standard Van Hool and Prevost everywhere now in Europe. Not all our readers have your tour experience Mr Kenney.
9. I don't really encounter rules too often, but for big union places like Madison Square Garden. Mostly, it's just about getting it done with as little aggravation as possible. The important rules are to be on time, get along and do your job. It is getting more business-like, with contracts, liability insurance and such... As for busses, I don't pay much attention to the makes of them as much what they have done with them. A pet peeve of mine is not building enough storage in. Everybody on the bus has as least one bag they want in the bus. In the past, we have had very full busses (18 on a double decker in Europe), and there is just no place for bags on many of them. This time we have two dedicated bag bunks (if we don't have a double driver). We're riding on Beat the Street Setras- very nice busses. I'm happy. ;-) Dave, the driver informs me that K Setras are the Mercedes 'Rolls-Royce' busses. I noticed at Rockamring in Germany that there were a lot of them there.
Click on pic for blow up!!
You are a bass tech for the most part. Do work with other instruments as well?
10. As I said, I think of myself as a utility man- whatever needs to be done, whether it be teching or playing- though I've never done any lighting. I tech bass because I work for Steve, and look after my own keys. I take care of all of the guys in the studio and in rehearsal a lot of the time- the guitar techs come in for the first day, then the last week before a tour- except for drums. I used to do that also, but it required too much time. Charlie's in for that, and Peter Clark before him. A lot of my studio duty is as the caterer! I did do Waddy's guitars for awhile recently, and look after myself, whatever I'm playing...
RCL -Q- Where does Michael Kenney see himself in the distant future and when does your tour schedule start up again.
11. I started writing this while I was home before the tour, but after a few weeks of rehearsals in England in May, we are now a month or so into it- so far Czech, Poland, Austria, Germany (Rockamring/impark), Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, France, Belgium, Norway and back in Germany at the moment . We continue through northern Europe and Scandinavia 'til mid-July, then to the States for Ozzfest, or at least most of it. We have to cut short to come back to England for the Reading and Leeds festivals and one in Dublin. I'm meant to be home early Sept. I hear the album will start next year, so I'll have a bit more time at home before being busy most of next year. I really should start doing more with my own stuff. I owe it to myself- to what end, I'm not sure...just to do it, I think, and see what happens. If I hadn't been on the road all of this time, I think I would possibly be producing now. I also like the idea of teaching. I was quite the student, and I have always said that I owe that kid a PhD before I die- anybody giving out life credits? I have talked to Cal State University @ Chico about the possibility. I have a little dome house in the hills up that way. I'm sure some of my future involves that. People keep telling me I should go into a rental business, put some of my gear to work for me. I tend to take things as they come...
RCL -Q- It has been a pleasure talking with you Michael. This is your chance to plug your projects, websites, Tours, other bands or business's you would like to mention.
Crew pic from Iceland 2005!! Click on image for blow up!!
12. I would like to take the opportunity to give proper due to my colleagues at arms. No man is a crew, and there are a LOT of people that make Iron Maiden happen. I present to you this tour's version of the infamous Killer Krew: Ian Day has been the tour manager for the last few tours; everybody seems to know Dayo...he gets around. Steve Gadd, Nicko's tech for a long time, graduated to asst. tour manager (he also does a lot of TM work). He was the drummer of the band 'Charlie'. Dicky Bell has been at the forefront of Maiden's production, in one form or another, than longer than any of us care to remember. We've got him back out on the road as PM for the first time in years. [I'm not sure who I feel sorrier for- us or him. ;-)] Legendary...("Get your hands out of your pockets!") Rebecca Storey, who was with Bjork for 12 years (! I bet that's an interesting gig.), is our new production assistant. She has to put up with Dicky Bell. (You tell 'im, mum!) Bill Conte is back with us this year as stage manager. He had a run with us in the 90's in a number of guises: rigger, lampy, props... Doug Hall, the front of house sound man, and I came to England together to work for the sound company that first put us with Maiden (Muscle Music). He has been there for every gig since 1980, more than I can say. I believe the quality he works at is some to do with why Maiden is where they are. He has also been doing Deep Purple, Testament and others. Mike Hackman is our system engineer of a few years. He keeps the EAW's in line... Steve 'Gonzo' Smith has been our monitor man since '90something. Other times, he's UB40's FOH guy. Top bloke! (and good bass player/singer in his own right, not that he does it much these days.) When he first arrived, Steve Harris came over and said, "He's done this before."
Ian 'Squid' Walsh is Gonzo's slave (;-), and generally incredibly handy guy. Besides looking after monitor world, doing support monitors if needed, wiring the stage for power and mic lines, etc., he watches Bruce (and others), does bass changes for me when I'm playing, even techs me in a pinch...thanks, Squid! The back line lads are vets from the last couple of tours, 'big' Sean Brady and Andy Ball, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray's techs, respectively, and new guys Charlie Charlesworth and Kevin Papworth are looking after Nicko Mcbrain and Janick Gers. They all have a lot under their belts....recently, all but Andy have been the 'Lost Prophets' assault squad for world domination. A serious cast of characters, as are all... Big Sean keeps me grounded as to what this job is. Andy shows me how it can be. Charlie walks even faster than me when I'm in a hurry; incredible determination to job at hand, and has the evil eye ;-). (AC/DC!!). If Kev keeps having so much fun we're gonna have to start charging him admission. Paul Stratford, the Prince of Darkness, big man- and not just in size- Ashley Groom (also an ace bass player) and climbing Irish Phil Stewart are the set team. They are busy chaps. Ash has a special function... Martin Brennan has been our lighting designer since Virtual XI. He wasn't able to do the first part of this tour, so Paul 'PK' Kell (Jethro Tull for 20 years) was at the spot. Martin has rejoined us. Welcome back! The lampy crew on this festival run is Steve Hall and Bill (Frosty) Frostman. Steve has become a regular (though there's not much regular about him ;-), and we know Frosty from before, as well. Daniel Ivory-Castile is our pyro guy this tour. I don't expect his kids think this is as cool as the Tweenies. ;-) Dale Easom is the new security man. Nice guy- I don't think I want to piss him off... Peter Lokrantz is out this time strictly for his Swedish massage expertise. He has also been part of our security team over many years
past...aka- the mad Swede (his words.) Natasha de Sampayo is our wonderful wardrobe lady of the last few years- can anyone actually smile that much? :-) Willie Whitelow, our very Scottish swag man from Bravado merchandising this tour; it's rumoured that language he speaks is English. ;-) We know him well. Johnny Burke is our IT guy, photographer, videographer, all things mac, no dairy products please; used to be with Def Leppard...Ollie Davis-Gardner- intern pro tools guy. 18, first time out. Steve Harris' daughter's boyfriend. (Oh boy, is he in trouble. ;-) Hard worker, good kid, does his job and more. When we pick up our own sound and lights, ML and Neg Earth supply them. Noise boys are our old boffin friend, head of security and Jonno Dunlop . N/E sends Richard Armstrong, Bob Batty ("Eeehhh-xxcellent!"), 'Goat' Hayden Corps and Luke Radin. They often get holidays while we are off doing festivals...For the beginning of the tour we had caterers Collette Shryane, Natalie Parkinson, Kais D'Arragi and Gemma Hammond from Eat to the Beat. Now that we're mostly doing festivals we use local. Our main bus drivers are Dave Good and Michael Prackweiser. Like I said, nice busses, good driving (no pun intended). Other drivers (sound/lights/catering and doubles) have been Rick Brammell, Trevor McCudden, Sven Schendel, Hans Schneider, Michael Dean (Big Clive) [my middle name is Dean!], Lucas Speckbacher...The freight arm of our transport division is made up of Kevin Barnes (Barney), Craig Jones (Rooster), Robert Brinkmann (Flip), Rachel Shadwick, Dave Ooms, Hendrik De Graff and no doubt a few others from Trans Am Trucking and Pieter Smits. From the Sanctuary office, Dave Pattenden joins us most weekends to liase for management (video production), as does Val Janes (marketing/publicity) on occasion. Johnnie Allen is our minister of procurement for all things gear related and other... he knows everybody, and is invaluable. Thanks for all of your assistance,
Johnnie- it is much appreciated! (no pic, sorry...). Peter DeVroom and Jackie DaCosta handle the money (ie., pay us!); they come out to visit sometimes (minus their usual business attire). Ralph Hutchings is our warehouse guy/white van man. When we're gearing up, you can count on Ralph to be traipsing all over England, getting equipment from A to B, then on to C, taking stuff back to A, except for the stuff that has to go to D...;-) He toured with Sean on Fields of the Nephilim in '88. I think the Maiden crew has always been one of the most highly regarded in touring, and I am honoured to be a part of it. This version is one of the best ever. It's a big show, and we can get it onstage at a festival in short order- a well-oiled (! ;-) machine. We are friends and have a lot of fun. Support acts thank us. ;-)
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