Hi, everyone. I’m John Clardy from the band Tera Melos. We recently finished a European tour that had us playing fifty-nine shows in sixty days, from as far west as Galway, Ireland, and Porto, Portugal to the easternmost point of the tour, in Ufa, Russia.
One of the greatest things about touring is getting to see all the many places in the world where music can take you. I’d played all over North America and toured Japan, South Korea, and China. On this last tour, I finally got to play throughout a large portion of Europe.
The downside of touring as a drummer is rental gear. I’m not the tallest guy, and I prefer to sit low and still be over the kit in the style of a jazz drummer, which isn’t easy to achieve with most drum companies’ hardware. The things I use the most at home in the States are the low or short models of snare stands and thrones, and most of my other stands have been chopped down with pipe cutters.
You can’t feasibly carry heavy items like hardware abroad, and with the way airline baggage fees are, I couldn’t even afford to bring my own snare on this trip—just cymbals, sticks, and my kick pedal. So I was left at the mercy of rental gear. Having to sacrifice elements of comfort in your setup sometimes results in cramps, soreness, or even injury.
Right before this tour, I finally started doing Bikram yoga, which is a ninety-minute yoga session done in a room heated to 104 degrees. My friend Liam Wilson of the Dillinger Escape Plan had been recommending this to me for years, and after finally trying it I understand what all the praise was for. It really loosens up tight muscles and joints, and you feel very energized from the increased circulation in your system. So on this tour, I started doing several Bikram postures as part of my warmup before our set, whenever there was time and space to do so. I’ve found that the half moon, awkward, eagle, triangle, standing separate-leg head-to-knee tree, and toe-stand poses are the most effective and easiest to do before a show. I should add that if you’re not so flexible and the room you’re doing the poses in isn’t warm, then use caution so that you don’t injure yourself. But doing these along with proper nose breathing can really help loosen your body and focus your mind. I definitely notice that I feel much more comfortable in a shorter amount of time if I get through at least some of these postures, in addition to drumming on a pad or seat.
It goes back to the saying “sound body, sound mind,” which rings very true with music, especially when playing physically and mentally demanding music like Tera Melos’. If your body is loose and ready to play, then you aren’t having to think so much and can do more with less mental and physical effort. It’s especially useful for sections where we’re doing improv. I feel like my third eye/subconscious can come through and express things that might not have been there if I were fatigued and stressed.
So that’s it for my first entry. Keep your ears and mind open.
For more on John Clardy and Tera Melos, go to teramelosmusic.com. http://www.teramelosmusic.com