Let’s hear some legends and fables from the 2012 tour and beyond from Tom Kopecek-long -time Gotye show drum tech and all-around go-to guy!
Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, etc.?-Lorraine
I’m from Melbourne Australia, I like long walks on the beach and romantic sunsets… As far as my music industry career goes, I’ve had a few varied jobs since starting in the music business. I first started at an instrument distribution company in Australia where I worked my way into an artist relations role sponsoring established and up and coming drummers with the brands that the company was selling. I then decided to go out as a freelance drum tech as well as starting a consultancy to help bands get instrument brand endorsements. Starting out in the music industry as a freelance tech you end up doing a lot of “in between tour” jobs to pay the bills.
How did you start working with Wally?-Lisa
I first met Wally at the Trackside Festival in Canberra in 2007 when I was on tour with another band. Wally was touring the Gotye project with a mini orchestra and they were struggling to get the show up and running in time. After the show I introduced myself to him and we discussed getting a proper touring set up to enable him to play festivals more efficiently. I was then contacted by his management to help with getting some endorsements with Paiste cymbals as well as a few other things and our working relationship commenced from there.
How does one become a drum tech? What exactly are your responsibilities? Are you a musician as well?-Denise
Becoming a drum tech involves being passionate about what you do, really knowing a lot about drums, tuning, maintenance and having a few contacts is definitely helpful as well. Most drum techs are obviously drummers as well.
Once the drums are set up, tuned and sound checked my main responsibilities are to ensure that the show runs smoothly and any incidents that happen during the show are fixed as quickly as possible.
My responsibilities with Gotye have varied over the years. When I started with Wally I was responsible for more than just drums. Wally toured Gotye as a one man show so between setting up the entire show, driving and advancing production for the tour I had my hands full.
When we toured Europe, Wally decided I needed to do some backing vocals and dancing too which was always fun.
What other instruments do you play?-Rosana
My main instrument is drums but I like to tinker with whatever I can get my hands on. Having a core knowledge of how all instruments work is definitely beneficial to being a stage tech. Generally in Gotye sound checks I play a lot of Wally’s parts on the MalletKat and Launch pad so he can hear how they’re sounding out front.
If you weren’t a drum tech, what would you be?-Lorraine
When I’m not touring as a drum tech I run a band merchandise company, this includes doing Gotye’s merchandise as well as many other bands. I plan on getting back on stage as a drummer in the near future as well. Opening a café is on the cards too.
Do you sing?
I love singing in the car when it’s turned up loud and I can’t hear myself sing… I am pretty tone deaf but it doesn’t stop me…
What does a typical day on tour consist of for you?-Cyndi
Generally waking up in a new city on the bus and figuring out where the showers, toilets and catering areas are. Start with some breakfast, then we unload the trucks and get everything set up on stage. Once we’re set up all the crew and techs fine tune their gear and the band comes in to sound check. During sound check we’ll address any issues that may’ve happened at the previous show as well as making sure everything sounds as good as it can as every venue has a different sound. Our front of house engineer Lachlan Carrick really excels at fine tuning the PA to suit every room we play. Once sound check is over I’m usually straight to the bus to play some PlayStation with Ben Edgar and our guitar tech Pat Meyer until dinner (It became a daily ritual) or we’d shoot some hoops. After dinner we would run through some final checks before the boys hit the stage. Once the show is over we’ll load out the show as quickly as possible. Then it’s time for a quiet beer and meet some friends and fans before hitting the bus for some sleep to wake up and do it all again the next day.
What is your favorite part of being on tour? -Christine
For me there are so many things that I love about touring. Meeting interesting, fun, talented and passionate people around the world is definitely up there as my favorite.
Touring can be the best thing in the world or the worst thing in the world depending on whom you’re touring with. I am so lucky to be able to tour with a crew and band of people that really are genuinely amazing at what they do as well being great friends as well.
Any favorite memories from the tour? Special things you did/saw?
There was one week in particular that will stay with me for the rest of my days. It was Coachella last year. In that one surreal week we played Saturday Night Live, Coachella, went number one in America and sold out some big arena shows in San Francisco and LA before finishing with the second weekend of Coachella. It was an honor to be a part of that.
What’s one of the worst/craziest mishaps that happened on the tour? Any comical moments from this tour you could share?-Lorraine
We’ve experienced varied technical difficulties during the tour but luckily none that have stopped us from completing a show.
When we played the Aria Awards a couple of years ago we were doing rehearsals in Sydney before playing a festival in Canberra and then going back up to Sydney to do the Arias. I managed to miss packing Tim’s midi station onto the truck and when we got to the festival site I had that sinking feeling that we wouldn’t be able to do the show as Tim’s equipment is very vital to the show. Luckily our friends from the band Architecture in Helsinki came to our rescue and loaned us the gear we needed to get the show up and running. I never want to experience that again…
As far as comical mishaps? All I’ll say is that it involved Ben Edgar, our video guy Dan, some wet towels and a lot of sake….
Whenever Ben Edgar is around the comical moments never stop!
Have you had any particular fan experiences that stick with you, and do you mind sharing one (or two)? -Paige, Alicia & Francesca
Meeting all the lovely Wall-Nuts and Gotyettes of course!
Seeing how Wally’s music and personality touches many people’s lives is a wonderful thing. We have been really honored to meet and hang out with some great people. There were some lovely ladies that we met in Atlanta who decided to road trip to Miami and then onto Orlando to see the show and hang out with us. The Orlando show was also special with none other then Barry Harrell having his name chanted by the crowd after Wal played the Somebodies YouTube remix that he starred in on the big screen. I could see how touched
he was and it was a great moment to be a part of.
The basketball hoop: Do you normally tour with something like that or was it just because this tour was so extensive? And who in the band/crew has the best moves on the court?-Cris
Wally has definitely got the skills to pay the bills.
Before undertaking a 5 or 6 month stint on the road we decided we needed to stay in shape. Wal and I had been shooting some hoops at a local primary school near his home in Melbourne before the tour started when we decided it would be a good idea to get a portable basketball hoop. The crew weren’t too happy loading and unloading it daily but whatever helps you stay in shape and keep sane on the road. Wally donated it to a local youth center in Austin at the end of the US tour.
We then got a table tennis table for the European tour which was also donated to a worthy cause at the end!
Soooo, the rubber chicken. What’s up with that? Who was the official rubber chicken wrangler?-Lorraine
Yeah the rubber chicken! I bought a rubber chicken one day and decided that the drum kit needed a mascot, it wasn’t long before he made his way into the set. First Michael decided to use him as a drum stick when playing the 2 Box pads during “The only thing I know” and then Wally found one that made noises and the rest was history. On our last trip to Japan Wally bought a giant rubber chicken which I’m sure will be making an appearance the next time we tour. All rubber chickens take up residence in the “honky horn” road case. It quite fun seeing the local crew’s puzzled faces when we’re packing them into a road case.
What’s the one part of your job that you dislike and why? -Denise
Constantly being on the move definitely becomes more difficult when you do a long tour. It becomes a blur of airports, buses, venues and languages and it can wear thin when you get tired. It’s one of those first world problems though and when you think about what you could be doing to earn money instead you snap out of it pretty quickly.
What was your favorite venue you’ve visited with a band you were working with?-Verena
Radio City Hall was definitely a highlight. My favorite venue in the world though is the Forum in Melbourne. It’s just a breath-taking venue. We were lucky enough to do 4 shows there when Making Mirrors launched in Australia.
In which country did you drink the best wine?-Mireille
I would have to say Australia. I’m not a big wine connoisseur but the wines from the Yarra Valley in Victoria and also the Barossa region in South Australia are superb! Although being from Melbourne I tend to head to Adelaide when coming back to Australia from a long tour. It’s a great place to decompress, drink some nice wine and I get to hang out with some good mates there.
What was the best meal you had on the whole tour? And what’s the cooking situation on the tour bus? Is there any sort of kitchen?-Danae
The shows are catered so the only cooking that gets done on the bus is cereal or a sandwich in the wee hours of the morning. The last meal I had on the Australian tour was pretty amazing. It was a giant steak and vegetables. I think it was more the symbol that the longest tour I’d been a part of was coming to an end.
What’s the one thing you miss the most when you’re out on the road?-Cris
Other than my friends and family back home it’s definitely cooking. I love to cook and for the past 2 years there’s been more catering and hotel buffets then I’d care to remember.
What do you like to do in your spare time/ when you aren’t on tour?
I love playing golf and fishing with my mates back home. It’s the one thing I really look forward to when coming back to Australia. Since the Making Mirrors tour finished I moved to Los Angeles and have had a lot of spare time, which has been spent hiking, cooking, spending time with my beautiful girlfriend and making plans for my next career move.
What other musicians do you work with when you’re not globetrotting with Gotye?-Christine
In the past I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many great Australian and international artists before Gotye became my main focus. Bands such as The Presets, Karnivool, The Rapture and Mick Fleetwood’s Blues Band have been some of my favorites.
Since starting my merch company though I’ve only stuck with Gotye as my main touring gig.
Who is your favorite artist/band ?-Lisa & Cyndi
I can never say that any one particular artist/band is my favorite but right now I’m very excited about a new project that I’m sure you’ll hear soon called Lo Fang. Matthew Hemerlein who is the artist behind the music is an amazing talent. His album was produced by Francois Tetaz so you know it’s gonna sparkle!
When I’m on tour I listen to a lot of Pink Floyd, Mars Volta, Steel Panther and Group Love.
Aside from Wally, any other favorite drummers? -April
Again I don’t have a favorite but I like different drummers for different reasons. For an all out attack on your ears I love hearing Dave Elitch play. He is an amazing player who plays with a lot of power and technical precision. For groove and feel I really like Michael Barker who used to play with John Butler Trio, his musicality on drums is second to none.
Other drummers that have inspired me over the years are Danny Carey, Jon Theodore, Dave Abbruzzese and Dave Grohl.
What advice would you give to a beginning drummer ?-Vero
Practice! Then practice some more and when you think you know it all, go back and practice.
Now that you live in L.A. what will you miss most about Australia?
Apart from family and friends it’s definitely the coffee!
Which Muppet is your favorite and which one would you want to be?-April
I like Rowlf the dog he’s got great piano chops! He seems like a pretty down to earth kind of guy too. I’d be happy to be anyone in the Electric Mayhem. That band is tight….
You are invited for dinner by The Wall-Nuts. What would you like us to cook for you?-Francesca
Anything with seafood in it! And thank you for the invitation!