In this episode, we talk about the fascinating life of cruise ship musicians, busing-and-trucking with Dirty Dancing, why you shouldn’t do a multi-part audition all in one take, and much more with Ryan McCausland - Hufflepuff, former baseball enthusiast, current drummer for the Dear Evan Hansen First National Tour. Plus, will brave Captain Healey and trusty First Officer McCausland safely land a Boeing 737 at Hong Kong International Airport?
Welcome back to another episode of various artists podcasts. Today we are still in quarantine, unfortunately, and we have Ryan McCausland on the podcast. So Ryan is currently the drummer for the National Tour of Dear Evan Hansen. How are you doing, Ryan?
I’m doing great. How are you guys?
You know, stuck indoors. Nothing to report, really. How are you? Oh, I’m good, I’m thriving. Where are you based right now, right. Where are you currently stuck at home.
So currently I’m in La Quinta, California, which is about two hours outside of Los Angeles. Mm hmm. My parents moved here about three years ago and then recently they sold our place in southern New Jersey, which is where I was from. Mm hmm. So I’m hunkering out here because the only other place I have New Jersey, my grandparents live. Yeah. Traveling around the country, I thought I was actually pretty certain I might have picked up the virus.
Just being around so many different people and touring. I figured I must have it because, you know, it turns out I don’t. But to play it safe, I decided I’ll just going to my parents.
Did you get tested? I did not know. OK, yeah, I did. I think I. What’s weird guy had the virus bring me back in.
When were we in Portland, Brian? That would February, I believe.
I think I had it. I caught it in Portland because I wouldn’t be surprised. I had like a really dry cough when we got to Canada. Do you remember like during. I don’t know if you remember, but there were a few shows there where I was.
I was still doing the show, but I was like, you were really sick that there were a couple of times we were going out someplace or we were having people over and you you’d said, I’m just not feeling it. So I do remember.
Yeah, it’s certainly possible. So I was.
There was a news report that came out today that said the first case in California was actually back in February. So I kind of lines up with with when you were in Portland. And actually, I think I had it as a really. But back in Tokyo, cause my baby got super, super sick and his fever was like a hundred and three and we were all freaking out. And we took him to the hospital and he tested negative for flu. And I talked to him for like a bunch of different things. And. And at the end, you know, this was back in maybe late January and the virus was like first starting out. We weren’t really sure what was happening. And we went to the hospital and got him tested. All that and kind was a joke. I was like, you think he has Corona virus and the doctor there was like, no way. And so we went home and eventually he got better. He got a bit worse. Before he got better, though, it was really scary. And then afterward, I got super sick and I was like dry coughing and all of this stuff for like a week and a half and. I don’t think I had the flu. You know, I got the flu shot. I don’t have the flu. And it wasn’t anything that I had experienced before. Like that kind of that kind of sickness and just being that exhausted. So I don’t know. I don’t know if it was the coronavirus, but definitely strange timing now that I think about it. Right.
So I guess we were in San Diego right before Mallen. Right.
So now Sacramento.
Sacramento. Sorry. Not you. So, I mean, we were in California. So if the virus was in that area, again, it picks it up. Yeah.
And I was selfish and like went into work anyway. Prank calls by everyone. Everyone. We had a keyboard sidenote who named me in this in this video chat.
We’re on Powerful Rocketeer.
Well, when you don’t give yourself a name, I think it just assigns you an adjective.
And now is it because. No, no. Yeah. That’s because where there’s a microphone set. Right.
Full rocketeer for those who can’t see Gary. Now he’s actually wearing a broadcast headset while using another broadcast microphone.
You will all refer to be as Captain Healey.
The powerful rocketeer is here. He is. He is wildly miked. Yes.
Many anyway. So, Ryan, can you tell us a bit about your background, how you got into music and how you ascended to being the drummer of such a great national tour?
Sure. Well, so both my parents are music teachers, a bar of a community center in New Jersey where I grew up. But I didn’t actually want to be a drummer when I was younger. I actually find music like in middle school. But obviously, I wanted to be a pilot when I was younger. A pilot? Cool. Yeah. I started playing drums. I was about second grade. I just happened to be the one thing I was. I had some level of talent for my show. Good. Really at anything else. But I started playing at second grade and our stops and around the time my parents sort of encouraged me gently to start taking band classes and music classes. And the more I got into it, the more I liked it. I sort of found an identity in it. With with all the kids in high school and then decided I would start studying it in college right around the time that I figured out that I wanted to do musical theater. One of these my dad used to do when we were, you know, when I was growing up, but he would direct all of the musicals in his schools so he would do pretty much everything he did, directing the music, directing and all. That was a very big program. Your dad? Yeah. Wow.
So as he was doing these musicals where I started to fall in love with theater and, you know, eventually I started playing the shows for him as well. And that sort of led me into doing shows, middle school and then high school. And the more I the more did, the more I loved it.
Were you at your playing musicals before you were in middle school on the drums?
Yes. The first which is the first show I did, it was actually I think I was in its sixth grade and that technically would have been middle school for us.
But they they branched out our schools different. So obviously we’re still in elementary school. And I got a call from one of the instructors at our church and he said he’s a big mind. And he needed someone to just play the drums for this. This police athletically production of damn Yankees.
And I didn’t know how to read music at all. Someone was offering me money to play. And I was like, no one’s ever offered me money to play drums. So I should do this. So I went in there and I just sort of listen to the cast recording and played along with this pianist. And that was the first gig I ever did. Was this old? I think it was maybe a hundred dollars. I think so.
Like three’s a lot of money back then. It was. It’s still the currency, a lot of money that’s still made this week.
That’s really amazing. I think that means you have a talent for it for sure. I can’t imagine playing a musical in in six. What do you think you could have done, Garrett?
No, you said he must have a talent for it.
OK, maybe back then I can actually get it. People, I’ve been selling it for ages. But I just you know, I’ve spent a year trying to find a new drummer for the tour, justifiably finding my way up.
And every time I play a track out in the house.
So you played your first musical in in the sixth grade and then what happens after that?
So I guess it’s sort of a turning point. When I realized I wanted to do it professionally, my sister was obsessed with Wicked. When we were going to high school, it was like, you know, her and every other you know, every other person. Yeah. And so one her Christmas gift that year was to go up and see and get like we got tickets to see, which I mean, my mom and dad, my sister and I hadn’t I hadn’t really known that I wanted to do theater professionally, just knew that I enjoyed it. But there was a sort of this cathartic moment when I was watching the show, like at intermission, I just sort of went into the pit and it’s like, yep, that’s that’s what I want to do. That’s what I’m gonna do if I’m going to want to chase playing Broadway shows. And my mom had sort of I didn’t think she was listening to me at all. It’s because my mom, you know, I see so much stuff to my mom just off the cuff, like, how could you possibly pay attention? Right.
But she sort of like this information away. And then she my dad, once the New Jersey Music Educators Convention in New Brunswick, and that’s where she met Ben Cohen and Ben Cohen was doing. I think at that point, some he was he was playing it, but I’m not sure in what capacity. I know that he was conducting, but I’m not sure if he was the associate or not. Yeah, but but he was up. They educate the music gives convincing. And he was playing for all of the choir classes because my mom was taking all of these these different lecture classes. And after they finish, she went up to him and she told him about me. And he had your business card and said, please, you know, have me name me with any questions. You know, my boyfriend plays the drums in Spamalot. She would be a great resource, too. And that’s when I started getting in touch with Ben Cohen. It was about the time I was doing in high school and that, you know, 10 years later was what led me to. Do you have an answer that that sort of connection all those years ago?
Brian Ryan and I have like the same life.
No, I. I think we all had the same life, like.
Well, I mean, Ben was not the first person I met, but like sitting in the pit and in Wicked with Ben Cohen was like one of the moments that really inspired me to work on Broadway. And here he is again, inspiring to more people. But that’s that’s crazy how you met him in high school. Cause me and Gary didn’t meet him until well, after college, I would say. Yeah, I was a senior college. Yeah.
And you ended up reconnecting 10 years later. So what did you do in between that 10 year time? I’ve heard that you’ve been on cruise ships. We can spend some time talking about that. Yeah. What else have you done in between that time? Well, so.
So when I went into music, I was looking for some that was close to New York City. I figured I would study someplace close by. So I went to my clear and I studied classical percussion for four years. And I figured if you’re gonna do musical theater, you want to have a well-rounded sort of scope on on percussion, not just drum set.
Yeah. All the other stuff as well.
But after I graduated, I was looking for pretty much just any any sort of steady work that would get me playing every single day. And that’s when I started auditioning for ships. The problem was I’d spent four years playing just classical percussion. So I was just a dreadful trumpet player at this point. I needed all the help I could get. So it took me a couple of times to actually successfully audition to get on the ship. I think it was about a year and a half of just retreating on the drum set after after college just so I could get that stuff back. But I eventually did get onto a ship I worked for Carnival for I think about 2 two months. It was just the end contracts of someone else who was there. And then I got involved at this agency called Nine Entertainment and they put me on a real Caribbean ship and I liked it much better. Royal Caribbean.
So I know the differences between I. Because I don’t know the cruise world at all. I’ve never I’ve never even stepped foot on a cruise. Unlike you and Garrett.
Yeah. I mean, there are probably more similarities between all of the cruise lines. But I would say the biggest thing for me was the style of music that they played at Royal. There’s a lot more there’s more jazz, a lot more Latin funk. And the I wouldn’t say that the I play some really, really great players in Carnival and some really great players. And then just some bad players in both areas as well. But I think that Royal had a little bit more diversity in terms of the sounds that they played. Right.
But what exactly were your what exactly did you do in Royal Caribbean?
Where you playing for groups like. So I was at work. I was the orchestra drummer. I’ve never been anything but the orchestra drummer for other royal or Carnival business. The difference for four wheel crebbin was I guess there was a little bit more of a big band style because they had a larger ensemble.
So what is an orchestra drummer?
Well, it’s some that’s just sort of the term they. I don’t know these advance terms. I was a show band keyboardist, but they played they used them. Thi’s them interchangeably, I guess.
I guess the the show band would sort of I guess that the show band sort of comes from the fact that you would be playing shows as well.
But a lot of the ships have done away with playing the band, playing the shows.
They just go right to tracks. We were just on rhythm section that played top 40 songs and we were called The Show Band is. See what I did when I did Carnival? The show band was still a show band and it was still the law. I spent it.
I guess Kahlili transition some cult 2.0 after right around the time I had left. And before that point, they were they were still doing like the regular, you know, everyone, including the horns, just get up on the platform and we’re all gonna play the show.
You. The difference is Carnival is that they ran the tracks while the Light Band was playing. So there was really no point for the live band to be there. And I’m not even sure that they put mikes up.
But I like to call them decorative mikes because I really like Chuck. You see, like the keyboard player and like the the power plug is just sort of sitting on the side like this build up slickness. That’s highly suspect.
I’m not sure he’s actually flanked by, my goodness on Royal Caribbean.
It was a little bit different that they ran sweetener tracks, but they did not run the full orchestra, at least at least not when when I was doing it.
Selway, the other cruise line like ran the full orchestra, not just the full orchestra.
Oh my god, I can’t sawai yet. Carnival ran carnival and everything. So I think I talked to the sound guy a carnival.
At one point time he said it was like a like a 30 70 split.
So is 30 percent live and 70 percent track.
And the battle the band was just for show and show pretty much.
You know, there was a point where I was where I was playing one show, a carnival, and I had to run out of the pit and up on to the stage where the cast members had set up this drum set and they had no idea what they were doing.
And it was just there was no there was no pedal on the kick drum because it wasn’t actually. Playing it with your foot, binding it, it was because that all the things are happening in the tracks.
That’s so awkward. It was very awkward. It was one of the things I did not like about playing the shows. A carnival.
I’ll get it. So what did you do? OK. There was no paddle. I want to know what you did.
But because there was because I was minding up there, I just sort of sat there and wave my arms around and I’d like them.
But I was not allowed at all. No, I wasn’t allowed because I couldn’t make noise because it was distracting to the dancer. I was like, I’m much for this gigas for me. I’m sitting there thinking about all of the money I spent, like studying music in college. Like, this is the most money I’ve ever been paid to do anything. And none of my training comes into play at all.
That’s all that’s actually so funny when you think about it. It’s like, just imagine like a film of yourself in slow motion or zombie. You’re not like you’re not making contact with with the drums and you’re just thinking about your future, your past, how you got here to this moment.
Also, the more impressive that you can. Yeah. Play the drums without hitting the drums. That’s really more impressive than actually playing them.
Well, if you think about it, it’s like, you know, the only the only people in the audience who would ever be watching the drummer would be other drummers. And you know how many people are out the audience that are actually gonna watch it. I mean, and then you’ve got like literally a whole row of young dance girls and in no clothing. So it’s like, yeah, you’re probably going to pay attention to the fact this guy’s air drumming on a kid that’s half lopsided.
I go missing cymbals and like it was it was it was all it was a. It was interesting. That was an interesting guy. So that was hard. So that was Carnival. That was a.
I want to say there wasn’t there wasn’t funding because there were fun things to do. A carnival. The thing I enjoyed most about Carnival was we played a soul music set with one of the singers and that used the full band. It was all a lie. There was no click. And we did that once in the month that I was there. However, just once. And it was a it was the highlight of my my short time at Carnival. But there were so I think the Synovate it is that there were there were so many great musicians, Carnival, like a lot of them, were really good and they were just not showcased at all because they’re sitting behind this veil of, you know, professional Los Angeles tracks, you know, airplane air playing along.
So you ever get sick? No, I don’t. My my mom, my dad, my sister do that. I don’t.
Did they ever visit you on the set?
No, I won’t date.
My dad visited me on the when I was playing on the floor with Royal Caribbean. He. He came and watched the show. That was the that was a show that was doing a Broadway show. When they took Mamma Mia! And they installed it onto the ship, which was which was absolutely wild. I mean, the. Because I started at Carnival, which is a moderately big ship. And then I went out to Royal Caribbean and this tiny little ship called the Legend of the Seas, which is I mean, one of the smallest fleets, the smallest they having to sleep. So it wasn’t that big. And then they moved me to the largest one they had.
And that was the largest ship in the world at the time.
But at the time, I think when I joined, it was and then they had just completed it and took the crown away as I was signing off.
So it had a central park to it and everything it didn’t like.
It had a theater that had like eighteen hundred seats, I think in it and and a water park.
I did not imagine how big these ships must be having divers.
It was very, very close to one. Yeah. Yeah.
The weird thing is like when you when you start on a smaller ship, like Gary was saying, you can’t get seasick because you seal it. You know what the smell of the ship them leaves feel. Yeah. So there was a point time when I was on the Legend of the Seas where I was playing like singsing saying, and we were hitting like just crazy, crazy waves and like terrifying and literally jumping up and down as I’m trying to play on this stage with sinks her God listening back and forth and. Yeah.
So you were in the you were in an orchestra and you also played for Mamma Mia.
Right. So same shit.
Yes. So. Okay, so what was your schedule? What exactly was your schedule?
Was actually really is it really easy? And I that’s when one of the reasons I liked it. I mean, not easy because we didn’t do a lot, but easy because it always repeated so. The the big ships, they go into Port Everglades in Florida and they just do week long cruises.
So they just go Sunday to Sun like out and then. So you always know you’re gonna be in port on the same day, but we’ll be. We would do I think on the first day it was just Monia, there was like there was no open, there was no we didn’t even do cruzeiro because there was many there wasn’t people on, there was too many crew members. So we’ll just get on the ship whenever a call was on, we’d go in and soundcheck knowing that we come out and play the show. And that was it. That was day one. Day two, I think we had a captain’s reception that we did. And then I played Miami after that, I think a couple years ago so I could be wrong. This is the general idea.
Oh, yes. This day we had Ballymena. And then after that, we had to go and play Latin, just that. And then a jazz standard set the fourth day we did a funk set. I think the only reason we wouldn’t do a funk says we had a headliner. Then we would have to forfeit that set and play the headlining show. So that was the only day that varied. The fifth day, I think, was either a day off for us or we did just a small combo set.
And that was it.
And then six that were left off, six, six, eight. We just had a Dixieland set on the boardwalk and then a small combo set. And that was it.
And, you know, repeat it there. It varies. So your worst day was probably the you had to do muslime and then two more sets after that. Yeah. Yeah. I was going to say that’s Halligan’s frosting.
Well because the only because Ballymena was the people around me were very strict about what to do with it. So you know, they insisted that if you’re gonna do that, you have to do everything. You can’t cut any songs, you’ve got to do both. Ax has been on a mission, you know, to be a one minute. Stand by. It was that was the weirdest thing was the one minute standby at the top of the shop. So I guess for some reason, the producers among me didn’t want like a crazy, kooky creature actor to just, you know, cartwheel onto the stage and be like, who didn’t think about me? I love and like. And here we go. Then duck off. And then it would sort of ruin their sort of idea what the show should be. So. Well, we had to do is the crew after would come on and we’d all be underneath the stage in the pit and he’d introduce everything, give all the announcements and then he’d walk off after introducing the show and then the conductor would hit the one minute stand by and then would just click with roll for one minute. And we have to sit there in silence for 60 seconds. And then the automated you know, the automated probably go, Hey, ladies, gentlemen, welcome to this point of Mamma Mia! They do the spandex joke. And then the clip would start started and we’d go, but that one minute stay like this.
It was the longest 20 minutes because because it’s like because the audience, they don’t hear like the props. They’re just like and get ready for mommy. And he jolts off and then the lights don’t come down. And there’s no there’s like there’s nothing. So I always just imagine sitting there like, what is this?
That what is happening? But but that was the weirdest thing. Hey, what.
What did you what did you play? Acoustic drums or electric drums for?
For mommy, it was electric. So it’s just a roll and electric kit.
OK. Didn’t you like those?
For Mullany, I did. I thought it was it was real for that kind of style. It was perfect. You know, they had like their own. Was that their own sound module that they traveled with the show to? So everything sounded pretty good for anything else in the world. I don’t write. They’re just they’re not as easy to, you know. It is not as easy to work with.
It takes time to to adjust and learn how to play them, right? Yeah, I mean that it doesn’t feel at all or.
Well, the feel is different. You’re mapping is all different too. Is there you know, they’re all very small pads so you know, and they’re they’re all the same size or they’re like there’s three different varieties of sizes where normal terms would be all kinds of different sizes. And you can’t really be of like playing jazz on an electric chair. Is rock God kind of impossible? It doesn’t really work. Right.
What’s what’s that technique called when you like? Put your drumstick around the snare drum.
Like what? Like putting down your plain brushes, like. Yeah, yeah.
You can’t do that on it on on the V drums, right.
Or can you believe it or not, you actually can. But it’s like it’s really so there is that there is a setting in one of the drums where you can you can get it to make the swish sound as you drag it across the head and it kind of works. Oh yeah. But it’s not really the same piece.
That just looks weird. So you.
Now I want you to go. You’re the guest.
There wasn’t. We never use it in Miami. So it was never like that jazzy section of El-Amin over. Yeah.
So I assume you played acoustic for the orchestra, right?
Everything else. Yeah. So I think they were in like other groups for the longest time. Royal Caribbean was either endorsed or they endorsed Yamaha. So everything was on a ship? Almost everything. Yeah. Which is great because it was what I was used to working on a Yamaha.
So standard, huh?
You know, it was for the ships for a while and then they switched you d.w like out of nowhere.
There was further drums like all their new ships now carry T.W.. But you know what I also like, you know. But you know, it’s sort of when you play on ships, just like sort of when you plant planetoid, you’re kind of just up for whatever is provided for you for not using your own. So.
Right. And and also for those of you who are listening and thinking of working on ships, you have other duties right there.
Oh, yeah. Yeah. What’s. Oh, yeah. Such as? Like I had mentioned before.
Cruzeiro. So normally I’m I honestly can’t really remember what it was like on Carnival. I only did it a handful of times. But for the royal you’re responsible for leading all of the drills when they happen for the guests.
So you know, ever since the Titanic sank and you know, the musicians are responsible for that now you’re just like, oh, okay, okay.
But honestly, the entertainment team is the people that they’re the ones that are OUTFRONT. Right. Because of the ones we’re used to playing in front. So all of the singers. But they’re the ones leading the drills. Musicians are there to back them up. Some of them are required to learn how to drive the lifeboats and how to to watch the laughs. And you go through all of this training when you get there. And it’s exhausting, especially when they ship you out to the other side of the world, because it starts immediately, because there’s all these maritime laws that say you’re not technically allowed to be on the ship unless you know how to be in charge of safety like riots, fires and being certified in crowd control and all that. Yeah. So they had to, like, get it to you as soon as possible. So, you know. So safety is a huge thing on us ships.
That is like pretty much they say that is your main job for being your your your safety first and then whatever you play with what study, whatever, like, well, we’ll run the tracks that you’re dreadful, but you need to know how to work. Fire extinguisher. I sense the whole corps.
I took the whole chorus on like how to drive a lifeboat and all the different procedures for hypothermia and things. I don’t remember it anymore. But they needed like a certain percentage. I think like 30 percent of crew had to take this specific course. And so I did it. It took months.
But but I got like certified, which would have been cool because like, I would have known how to do it and I would have got to be on one of the lifeboats if something could have happened. Sort of. It was like circular rafts. They put the crew.
And it was funny. Is that like we when we learned how to do these things, that the only thing that was difficult was going to Carnival and then going to royal? Because, you know, we do have emergency signals that go out for. Right. Yes. Yes. And and there are different calls that go out over the P.A. like alpha male, alpha bravo, Charlie, all that. They all mean something different. But when you go from when you go to Royal Caribbean or when you go to Carl to one Caribbean, they’re different. So I get it. I think Alpha was fire. Yeah, right. Alpha. Yeah.
Alpha Bravo was fire on on on Royal Caribbean. And Alpha was a medical emergency.
So this stuff should be standardized. Like why? What’s it does? There’s a medical emergency. You come running with the fire extinguisher. Every anyway. I’m sorry. I was on the other cruise last month.
I think I think at Disney they actually named them after cartoon characters. I think there’s like a quote.
For like like like Donald Duck or like poker like and. Can you imagine anything like like a serious medical emergency, like like all the ships that have Corona right now? It’s like they’re calling it like a goofy or a doney, like a a daffy duck. That’s such like it’s like I can’t imagine like a more like Elsas ofyours like that.
How ironic. Yeah, exactly. It should be for the iceberg. I said. Right. That’s so dark. So on Royal Caribbean U.
That was a biggie. All around the world kind of thing. Or was it.
Well, you saw yours. So I worked at Royal. That was actually mostly Asia and the South Pacific area. Like Australia, Asia. Where did you stop in Asia? More wrong. I’m Asian. So I did a lot of stops in Vietnam, Thailand.
Cambodia. Relisted. Went to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
So those I like south southeast.
Yeah. So I started with rock-ribbed in Singapore. That’s where that’s why I started. And then we went up to Hong Kong and we hit everything on the way back and then went all the way down to Australia.
Some of the Indonesian ports as well.
That sounds fun. So how how much time did you get to spend in all these different countries? I assume you guys know what would dock there and and you would have some time to get off the ship, right?
Yes, it varies. I think that it varies with whatever cruise you’re doing, like Royal Caribbean and Carnival. They’re pretty much, um. They want you to stay on the ship because that’s where you’re spending your money. So they don’t. Yeah, they don’t do a lot of overnight stops in these ports. They’re sort of go in there and you’re there from like 8:00 the morning to, you know, like 5:00 in the afternoon and then you’re out of there and then you have so fast. And one’s gotta be back on the ship by that point time.
But after I spent time working with Royal Caribbean for about I guess it was a year and half, they called me to work for this smaller company that I guess was a subsidiary of being called Asmara. And they’re part of something called booty cruising, which is very small ships. They hold about like eight hundred guests, maybe seven of the guests, and they can go into all of these different places, but they stay there. So they’re they’re meant to be World Cruise. And that’s the one where I saw different countries get to where we started in Hong Kong. And then I ended up in Barcelona.
He’s such a cultured boy, Ryan.
Was there a place you went to?
I think it’s a tossup between Greece or New Zealand.
Mm hmm. Interesting. I haven’t been to either of those places.
How often were you in Port Manning?
So with Royal Caribbean? I rarely did it on me. They just they just had so many crew numbers there that for entertainment, they just never I guess they think the top brass for that was that entertainment didn’t necessarily need to be on the ship because who got energy? Wow. Martin Manning, you wanna take that?
Yeah. Sorry. So no idea. So when you were going to create mikes. Yeah. Yeah. Here, I’ll bring my mike around so you can have these extra guys recording the sound of his lights.
No one’s ever no one’s called me Captain Healey. Very discounted. Okay. So when you work on a cruise ship, I can’t. This is ridiculous.
Whenever you get to a port, the they need a certain percentage of staff and crew members to stay on the ship while people are out in port. So what’s the reason for that? Just in case something happens when you’re in port, like an emergency now in case like some there’s a fire. Well, you know, because they don’t want everyone. They don’t want everyone going out because you know what? Most of the time you could go out. Yeah. Into the port unless it was a C day, which is where you spend the whole day at sea. But for me in Carnival, it was once every like three weeks I would want like one cruise out of every three or four cruises that was on Port Manning where I could not leave the ship all week. So that’s why I’m so good at quarantine now.
But yeah, basically that’s what that’s what Port Manning is see on Royal every every one got a color. So you were assigned like one of five colors. And then every port we had just alternated the color. So sometimes you could you know, sometimes you could get lucky and you could see all of the places you wanted to see. And other times you would just get hammered over and over again. And depending on the schedule. But it was never a cruise wise thing because especially with with royal going to so many different places or Asmaa going to some different places. There was no one all the cruises were different lengths and different stops in different times. You could switch people.
So that was one of the one of the benefits of making somebody friends who might work in different departments is that sometimes they didn’t have a choice. Like, you know, I knew a guy who works in the kitchen and he just never got a chance to go out and explore the ports. So if there was ever a time where, you know, I could sleep with him, he was always happy to take it because it was gonna be there either way.
They are such hard workers on those ships. So it was the coolest thing was getting to meet so many people from around the world because there aren’t actually someone from the United States working on a cruise ship is not quite as common as you think on something like. Really rare.
Yeah. Yeah. We’re kind of a minority among the crew.
So and like these these people, these, you know, people from Indonesia and Australia and the Philippines, and they they would they would talk about like having meals off, not days off, you know, like I’ll have dinner off today. And, you know, they just worked absurd hours and they had the most interesting lives. And the best part about cruise life for me was just getting to ask about their lives and learning so much. And, you know, for us, we did it to like start to help pay off our debts. And I was like friends with the security guard who is Indian. And he was like, man, once I’m done with the six months of working on the cruise ship, I can buy a house back in India. Isn’t that crazy? You could buy a house after working on a cruise ship for six, seven, eight months, because not only. And it’s because the you know, the cost of living in India is so cheap. And he was just like, he’s just so grateful. And but he had to work like it to work like fifteen hours a day. It was ridiculous. Just puts things into perspective. Yeah. Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a rant.
And I could talk about cruise ships all day. But I think we should move on to Brian’s other stuff. The touring. So how do you view. So how did you come about working on your first tour?
That was actually it was actually a really interesting story. So when it came off, Cruise might. Well, when I was cruising, I met a girl from London and we started dating pretty much the day she left. So it was always long.
Was she was the point of the passenger or was she a worker there? She was. She was she was a worker. We just just sort of an aside. There’s like a strict.
No. Like guests. You can not fraternize with the guests at all. They fired you right away. Oh, yeah, that makes sense.
It didn’t stop many musicians that I know. Right.
But it did stop me, at any rate. So I started dating one of the girls who worked in the shops. She works in. She’s go back to school in England. So we started this long distance relationship. She came to visit me in America for a couple days. I went out to England for the Christmas and visited her. But my plan was, as this relationship was getting more and more serious, was to leave ships and then try and move to England, because, you know, there was musical theater in England, like like England.
Been there a couple times. Did you know this was. I wanted to see if I could make it work.
Well, went toward the middle of my last contract, the longest since it takes its toll on our relationship. And she just ended, it sounds like. All right. Well, this kind of some this kind of changes everything, because now I could continue working shifts if I wanted to. Yeah. Or I I could try something else. And I got back to got back to America after that long contract. And I figured, well.
Let me see what else is out there, and then I got an email from Ben Cohen’s husband, Sean McDaniel, and he said, hey, do you have any interest in going on war with Kinky Boots? There is a non-equity talk going out. Which would you be interested in? Is it? Yes, definitely. Let me know. So you put me in touch with the contractor at Toyko, which is I delete that, right? Yeah. And until then, I emailed back and forth. Then I remember the date very well because it is the Fourth of July and family was visiting until he sent me a packet and I recorded the entire audition on the 4th of July just for, I think five or six hours straight, just running through it. Then I sent it back in and I waited for weeks and never heard anything.
But while I was waiting to hear back about Kinky Boots, I was in California, where I am right now visiting my parents. And I walked over to the McCallum Theater, which is about 50 minutes down the road. And I saw this sign for Kinky Boots. And right under it. Was this toward Dirty Dancing thoughts myself? I never thought Dirty Dancing would be a musical. I wound up looking online and there was a posting for a percussionist to be onstage and play for Dirty Dancing tours. And I thought, I don’t want to do that because that sounds way too similar to what Carnival was, but they just gonna run tracks and being costumed. I’m just maybe that’s not for me yet, but as I started to not the time went on and you’re back and delete them like, well, what the heck? So I e-mailed the contractor at networks and said, Hey, I’m available. One is the most flippin two sentences must have sent to a contractor. Just Hey, I am available.
I know how to order a fire extinguisher, know I’m interested, should send it back out and I completely forgot about it.
The very next day Tili throwback just said I’m very sorry we went for a different candidate. Please keep in touch. I said, great. No worries. No, it’s my Christian contractor. And I said, Hey, it’s not looking good. I’m just gonna go ahead and say. Let’s find a ship for me. And he started looking for ships and I flew back home. And as it was on the flight, I got an email from John Mesure. He says, hey, saw your e-mail for Dirty Dancing. Are you interested in this? Sure. You know, I said I don’t have access to hand rooms right now, so I can’t do an audition. He says no. Do you want the job? You don’t have to audition. It’s just. Do you want the job? Sure. This is great. Here’s the general, the general manager. He got the paperwork. And by the end of the night, it was contracted on the non-equity tour of Dirty Dancing. And that was it. I got my first. Did anyone.
Did anyone refer you to John? Did anyone talk to John Marzio about you?
No. I had no. Although looking back in my email, I had I have e-mailed John Marzio probably seven or eight times, like. Oh, right, of course. Of course. Because he’s the whenever you look on Playbill and they’re looking for people for network stories, it’s always his name attached to that side. I’ve been e-mailing him about tons of different things over the years and I never heard from him. I guess it’s one of the reasons I didn’t expect from him for Dirty Dancing, but he didn’t know I had no recommendation to send him any clips like a real or anything. I vaguely remember attaching like my YouTube channel to like the end of the email. But I didn’t send it. I don’t think he gets in a resumé or or a headshot with Shamsia like such shots as well.
So it’s like I don’t think I don’t even think I sent a headshot. I think I just said I think he was so desperate to find someone to fill that chair.
I don’t know whether someone dropped out or he was just in a bind or they weren’t planning on tournament percussion at one point. I don’t know. But Chetnik, he was just like, well, he’s he’s a male. And I think he plays percussion Sinem. I guess because it was a very weird. It was a very weird guy. I thought it was gonna to prepare something when they’re meeting or call him. Nothing. I’ve never heard John Messina’s voice. I’ve never seen him in person. The only correspondence it ever had with him was via email.
So it sounds like you haven’t had some higher profile. Yeah.
It’s like the only, like, button.
So you got you got Dirty Dancing and what was your setup there? You were percussionist.
So I was a percussion, which I was I was thrilled about, but very, very nervous because I don’t really play drums. I studied maybe two lessons. Like not like two semesters, but like two individual lessons on hand drums with someone at Montclair. And I wasn’t feeling very confident that I was gonna be able to pull this off. But we got in there and I found out there was a lot more laid back than I was expecting. I mean, it wasn’t completely nonsensical, but there was a lot of, you know, here’s a style, if you know, to put the style great.
It wasn’t there wasn’t it wasn’t like Alex Latimore dictating out every single part. There was a lot more like the framework was a lot more vague. Yeah. I wish for hand-wringers was a lot better for drumset.
I much prefer everything to be more or less dictated because there’s no guesswork.
This is the guy that says Latin play.
There’s a lot of slash notation and there was a lot of that.
Yeah, there was a lot of hey played while Marco or play you know, play a mambo. There was so much mambo. Just an absurd amount of mambo.
And you had to run up on stage at one point during the show.
Yes. And that that was interesting. So. So I had never done it before.
I was just happy to be there. The pit was the pit consisted of four guys who have done shows and tourist for ages, which they were an absolute blessing because there was also four guys who had never done it before and did not know what to expect. So it was very evenly matched between the young men and guys who were eager to do it and had no idea what they were getting into. And the guys were experiencing exactly every fertile you’re gonna jump over.
But that’s we got into it. It was didn’t go into the tech process. And originally what was supposed to happen was the band was always supposed to be on the stage. The entire band, with the exception of the two keyboard players, they were always going to be offstage. We were never supposed to be in a pit. They built these two bands towers for us to sort of ride on top of.
And I told Garrett about this before. The only the only way I can sort of describe them. It’s like if he took a giant steel tower and put it on like shopping cart wheels, like there was no track.
There was no hole. There was no guy. There was no very real. There was just no way. It was just this just at this very flat. And there was it was me on the bottom.
So there was there was wild stage left. And one on stage right now was part of stage. Right. And I was on the bottom with all this heavy percussion equipment because there was all of my stuff was acoustic. Who was pushing it? Locals and and ah, head carp and that was it.
So people who had never seen the show before, what could go wrong? Right. There’s no guiding track. It’s just like spikes in the dark upstage wing. Nobody knows what’s going on than me with acoustic instruments. Wind chimes that are like like going off every time the thing moves even a little bit like I’m sweating. It was I was I was pretty shocked. When they show me the set piece to begin with, I was like, where’s the rest? And they’re like, no, that’s it. That’s that’s it. That’s that’s what it is. So the band’s hours. So I was me. I’m onstage. Right.
So we had all acoustic on one one side and then the electric on the other side. So on stage, right. It was me on the bottom and then on the top that they had to climb a ladder where the reeds and the brass. So Patrick, our trumpet player and Mike are replaced. So they had to get all of their instruments up on top of this little square shopping cart platform tower and it had to be so rusted on hum and thrust it off at different points in the show. And then at some point Mike had to take a saxophone, climb down the tower ladder and run onto stage and costume to play with me during the dance at the the whatever scene where B.B. terrorism watermelons. Can you tell who paying attention? Oh, my God. And then on the other side, we have the drummer who was on electric drums and on the top level and then the bass system, the guitarists who were on the bottom level and then trying to imagine this like.
Linked to how to put yourself in that situation. Why have things be so approximate? You know, you can’t see the spikes in the dark and it’s like it was shopping cart wheels.
You couldn’t make it anywhere. So if you try it, it’s like really just push and pray.
To some extent, this was actually sought out and it was argued for many, many times. So what happened was so we weren’t we were non-equity Tory and we were playing in very small markets.
So we weren’t doing a lot of one nighters. I think, ah, longest one night stance was we did think like 14 or 15 cities, one nighters in a row.
I think that was right around Thanksgiving, which to me is like, I guess this is talking to other people. They like this is not normal.
So it was in our second, second or third city and our crew was about to have a mutiny. They’re like, listen, we watch and not keep loading this giant set. We were five trucks at that time, which is pretty big for one night and five tries to run a one night, only one night, it’s God.
And they said, listen, we can’t do this anymore. You’ve got to choose between having the set or having the band hours. And it was just like universally cut the band. The problem with that is, is that when you write all of the theaters and you say you can sell the pit. They sell it. They sell it first. So we’re homeless. So we have nowhere to go. So in some places where the pit was sunk in and they couldn’t sell that, we were able to use the pit. But other times we were in just a myriad of wild places. I played in a men’s restroom at one point. I played in the upstage hallway. That was the that was the most fun. I think we were in Cedar Rapids. I can’t remember. But we were all lined up in the upstage hallway, just facing the wall in front of us and all looking at our monitors. And we could even see each other next to us because we were blocked by all of the flip end and the lights and the stuff. It was it was all very, very strange.
I wish it was the weirdest place that you’ve played in, Garrett.
Me? The weirdest. Yeah.
I we any men’s bathrooms, you know, luckily went as a on Kinky Boots. Luckily since I was the associate m._d, if they had to remote anyone, not then be me. But there was. It was like me and the music director were the last to get remoted.
But there there was a time where the whole band was remoted and we were just in this like small storage room and there was just like so there are so many things that there were like costumes around.
There were like, yeah, there were boxes of like of equipment and there was like there was like a shrine that was like right behind where they set up the music director platform as there should be. Yeah. And so I felt like I felt like a wig and I put it on during the show and like Jean Jean, who is our violinist at the time, he’s now the violinist, the concertmaster at Dearman Hands.
And he was like doing a photo shoot of me during the show. And there’s like a statue of him lion that like we were like spreading around and we were like hugging it and like taking pictures with it. That’s the best I can do. But I was never really promoted to answer your question. Yeah. Has better stories than I did.
That’s funny that you mention the men’s bathroom because I’ve actually worked in the men’s bathroom before. Really?
I was doing a show at second stage and they forgot to set up a table for me.
So I actually ended up having to go work in the bathroom and I have a picture of it actually. And there was a link to that in the bio.
Yeah, that’s right.
We’ll put a link to that in the description if you want to see my. And you know, the kind of work that I did, I really only needed my laptop. But it was just kind of weird if if people came in and say why are you using your laptop in the bathroom, which was that invisible thread.
You worked on that second stage? Yeah, I did. I thought you only worked on that at the 80s.
Now, I worked on the one at second stage as well. It’s crazy. Tell me about that. Yeah. Good. Didn’t know that. Do you hate me?
Weren’t we like roommates? No. Oh, yes. I’ve got to hate me by now. You are my only roommate in New York.
But yeah, let’s let’s move on to the dear Evan Hansen talk because we are almost at an hour now. So let’s get into that tour and how you and Garrett got along together.
So when we were doing Dirty Dancing, I had we had four weeks off for Christmas. And I was like, well, I haven’t gotten in touch with Ben Conour a long time in any of these working on the show. Driven into New York. Aside from that, I really knew nothing about it. So I figured out, well, let me go for a spin. So I wrote to him and we got to talking and I said, Hey, would you mind if I came in? Watch your drummer said. Sure. So in those four weeks, I went up and met up with Ben to hike and met Jamie up on to the original trauma tour Urban. And as I’m watching Jamie play, I thought, you know, this is actually kind of a show that I feel like a good chef or, you know, like, you know, you like you’ll hear certain styles and certain things like actually feel, you know, they’re just you want to do in their shows. You feel like you’d be good for, you know. Yeah. And this is definitely what sort of both, you know. But I think they already have people to the tour I forgot about and went back to Germany, Ansan, and was chasing a myriad of other things. And eventually I remember having my teeth examined and I got one pulled out during during I promise is going somewhere. But I was I was on Dirty Dancing and I had to get a tooth extracted and it wound up being something like thirteen hundred dollars I think. Yeah. And and I was like, man, I don’t have any type of medical insurance through through Dirty Dancing whatsoever. There’s like I’m looking at all these non-equity stories, but I really need to find something that’s going to provide some medical insurance or something, you know? So I went back and I thought, well, the only connection I have to anything that’s that’s like unions or would be would be Evan Hansen. So I figured, well. So I reached out to Ben and I said, hey, you know, I imagine that you had your people already. But, you know, keep in mind, if you’re still looking and he said, oh, yeah, we’re gonna audition. And, you know, there’s. Alex is getting the packets sorted out and we’ll put you on the list. And I didn’t hear from them for a little bit. And then I reached back out to him again after a couple weeks. And he said, you have the packets have done. Get in touch with my Garen’s. I’ll give you the details. And it just happened to be at a point in time where we were going on to our last layoffs. It was after Binghamton, New York, and I was gonna drive from Binghamton back to Philly. Go to my house. Record the audition and come back out it’s 4:00 and send it out on Saturday. So it just got the packets right as we were leaving things when I came on. And it’s nothing but eat, sleep and breathe the air of an answer. And it was there. And I’m not exaggerating. Just like you pick up in the morning. I think I played from 10 to like 2:00 in the afternoon at lunch.
And I mean, that’s what you have to do when you’re playing for, you know, that top tier of people just shedding.
Yeah. But I was actually an idiot.
I am an idiot.
So I was so I was so nervous about auditioning for this that I was reading through lax guidelines on the whole audition thing. And I saw, you know, a huge emphasis on don’t doctor any notes, don’t doctor any footage or anything, just play to a click, play it right down because, you know, honest as possible. And I took that to mean for whatever reason that I shouldn’t record.
Each song separately that I should just record the entire audition and start to finish with with with just letting it roll in between. Obviously that was absurd, but I was all over it.
I think it was about about ten or eleven minutes I think. Is it? So I have her. I remember starting I built a clock in logic and then just played along to it.
But I would get all the way up to I think the last song I played was and if I made one mistake and it was just over, there’s some there’s old dead forgotten footage of me screaming and cursing and throwing the sticks somewhere, like somewhere on my hard drive as I’m trying to line this whole thing up.
But like eleven o’clock at night in the woods in South Jersey, just someone wailing on drums shed the curling sticks against the wall. I finally got the whole thing together. I went up into it to visit Ben and watch the show from Ben’s office one more time while we were there. Took a little bit more notes and then went back home, played one last audition, collected all the materials, and I think I had to leave for a flight to Montana. The next day at like seven or eight in the morning. So I think I remember playing until. Packing up the drums, sleeping for a couple hours, like driving myself to the airport and then getting on a plane and flying back out to tour. I put everything together once I got out organ, we put everything together. I sent it out to my Garen’s and I figured that was gonna be the end of it because I wasn’t really confident about the audition. It wasn’t I wasn’t feeling I thought it was the best I was gonna do, but I didn’t think it’s gonna hold up to tons of people that were auditioning for it in the city. And then a week later, I got an email from Mike Arun’s and he says, Hey, Ben and Lack really liked your videos. They want to chat with you. Are you available to Skype? And I said, sure. So we weren’t Canada at that point in time. And I was out at Banff National Park. You guys are from there with that guy. I think Garrett went there less than we were there on the tour. Oh, my. Kevin, our drummer from Dirty Dancing. Let’s go fishing. Great. Let’s go fishing. As for fishing, I’m like e-mailing Alex like more and then kind of trying to set up a time to meet the next day. Yeah. And the only time they were available to me was, I think something like seven in the morning that was like 5 a.m. my time. Yeah. For but I was so eager. It’s not his fault. It was like that’s fine. It’s good, you know. So the next morning at 5:00 in the morning, I went downstairs into the Holiday Inns office, little booth thing and set up my iPod and Skyped with black. And then.
Did they ask you how you did it all in one take?
They actually. They did mention that I thought they weren’t that black about office. I’m I’m actually kind of impressed that you did it in one take. And I’m like, I didn’t. I’m sorry. I think I think I said, I’m sorry. Yeah. There was just so because, of course, it was like, you know, like, who does that? That’s that’s that’s so unnecessarily stupid.
But that was the 50th one take.
But I thought the I thought the interview went terribly because lack mentioned to me is like this was a case that you’re very young. And like, oh, hip blew it.
It’s like as if I could have a controller for that. Yeah. It’s just like everything you said the other my life was like, oh, you’re very young. It’s like it’s over. And let me draw myself back to Starbucks and substitute teaching me to go get my time machine.
Doctor my age a little bit. But I remember that I’ll never forget how Halak signed off that video. He goes on cause him. And then I guess. I mean, I really wasn’t either. None of us really used to using Google Hangouts.
So he asked me. He’s like, so, Ryan, if we if we sign off, if you if you’d like, even if you sign off, can Ben and I still talk?
I’m like, yeah, I guess so. He’s like, okay, well, don’t do that. I are thinking, OK.
Bye bye. The thing I want to say that to me is like it was it was like, you know, there was there was very, very you. It was just very I mean, because. Yes, it’s really the the only thing I’m thinking about is, oh, my God, what are they saying about me? It’s probably not good.
So I can’t. And we’d all just hang up and you guys just call kids college.
But I’ll never forget him saying that. It’s like you leave. We’ll just still talk.
That was around that those around the end of April and a week later we were in. Schenectady Emplaced. Place in New York. I’ve been always sitting it always actually. The reason I also did it in the Holiday Inns luxurious office space was about the size of, you know, my little booth that Evan Hansen is because my roommate was also auditioning for it. And I figured at 5 a.m., the very last thing he wanted to do was listen to somebody else.
Talk about the audition that he did not get called back for, which I thought was, you know, not really sensitive.
Right. Right. So you got it.
Yeah. So that’s awesome.
And so I got an e-mail the following week from Mike Ernes and he said, hey there, these are for the book. And then I didn’t hear from Mike for like three months. And I think the thing that scared me most about that was suicide. Never looked anything like this before. I really did. Yeah. Yeah. There was a there was a lot of anxiety where I thought, oh, he must have given the terror to someone else and they offered it to me.
It’s just real or not months being like, well, I did something for my not communicate.
And it didn’t help that the guys that I was on tour with were were very interested in practical jokes.
And they would constantly say, oh, yeah, that must be like, you know, it’s happened to me many times. It’s just like you don’t hear back from the guy inside of like 24 hours. It’s definitely gonna sign me out even if they’ve hired your hands down, you know?
So let’s talk a little bit about your your drummer with your infamous drum booth.
I love I love my drum beat. OK. I love everything about it.
So you must bring that thing around.
Yeah. So actually, I learned this right before we got covered, 19 out of Salt Lake City. But The Drum, this was actually designed custom by one of our sound team who also design Hamilton as well. So the Hamilton drum is exactly the same as ours.
So we just we pretty much stole everything from Hamilton in terms of the way they they built the booth.
You know, I did something. Oh, sorry. We’re going to go. I just wanted to play it like the setup.
And just for people that don’t know, like, why we need it, why we use it and where it is situated in all of these different theaters.
Sure. So. So if people have not seen dervin Ansen on Broadway, the band is on stage. Not like you’re not like dirty dancing on stage. They’re there onstage proper. There’s a band platform. So seven of the eight musicians play visibly onstage on the band platform. It’s a bus stage, right? And then there’s a stage left. We call it the drum nest that’s hidden away behind the set. And that is where the drummer on Broadway plays. It’s a small soundproof box that’s sort of hidden behind the set.
That’s raised above where the stage left just would be if you’re familiar with how the show works well on tour. And actually, I think almost every other production, maybe London does the same way as Broadway. I’m not entirely sure, but definitely for Canada and for for our tour.
It did not make sense for us to build the nest.
So what we did instead was we we had the drums remote. So they built a traveling soundproof studio booth like box. I think the guys at Hamilton called the station. I just called box set and the box can go pretty much anywhere it can go. I think the most unique place that I think I’ve ever played was just really get to unique. I think there was one point in time where I was in a different theater.
Yes, they play slightly. They set me up. So in San Antonio, there’s there’s there’s there’s a theater complex, right. So, yeah, there’s that there’s the main stage theater, the big house. And then there is this tiny little theater. That’s right. Directly behind them. So they set me up on the center of that stage and then ran everything back into the the main stage. So I played in my own theater. And the weirdest thing about that was they pointed my my windows out toward the house.
So I was just playing on stage for this vast empty house of no.
I think there was a area. There was a day.
No, I’m not trying to offend anyone who lives in San Antonio. But there was there was a show that I wasn’t really a fan of the crowd.
I didn’t think they were very responsive. And I texted Ryan during the show and I was like, man, this crowd is worse than the crowd you’re playing for.
I said, well, and the funny thing is that what they did in that theater was they they built out scaffolding from the stage area so they could put all of the crews work desks and and and and.
Trunk’s out there.
So they had a place to be because there really is no austiΝ space in San Antonio, it’s just it’s just right up to the wall. So I got some place in the crew and then occasionally I would just duck out and see what they were up to because there’s, um, there was some downtime in the show where I would just sneak out.
So scary because there was there weren’t any there weren’t any there wasn’t any intercom.
So you can hear the show because I was. Yeah, because I had to go pack up my trunk one day. I just like I couldn’t. I was like, right. Yeah, the drum booth. I couldn’t hear the show, like trying to like empty things out.
And I just heard like like.
So my favorite places to play are they are probably the least chatur places for the sound team is where I’m either in the pit that’s covered or I’m on deck. Pretty much exactly where where Jamie would have been in New York. But just on the ground. Mm hmm. Those are my two favorite places to play. But it creates a lot of problems for us, for our stage group, because they have to navigate around me and the sound issues and they are the best place for me to be for. For anyone is it is pretty much two floors below or a different building.
Get out of the way. They put him in the dressing room sometimes.
The people are far away people as humanly possible.
People are like trying to rest and have coffee and talk. But he’s in the green room and his box and like, man, it’s kind of loud here.
Do you have an answer? It’s not a subtle show. Here.
Hey, it’s just it’s not like, you know, it be one thing if you’re playing like, you know, Oklahoma, right? Brushes 2 and for full at pop rock like wailing on, you know, this, you know, so you have to say you have Gatesville, so you have your drum set and then what do you have?
So explain what you have in terms of other equipment like your aybe on your screens. Like, what is it? How do you how do you communicate with the rest of the band? He won’t know what’s going on.
We’re just really lucky. The last 600 shows. I just play and hope. Great. I know these are basic questions. I’m sorry. As well. Cover it up for people who do.
Because a lot of people, you know, back before quarantine, people would come and watch. And some people had no idea that this is how it works. You know, a lot of people thought the drums were actually trapped because they’re there. They sound very, you know, recorded. But because I’m remote, I have a screen in front of me that shows the house pretty much when any audience member would see. And what Garrett hasn’t is his platform so that you can see what’s happening without looking at the edge. And then I have to. Conductor monitors Garrett and Michael. He’s an associate and.
And then you just have a Talk Back, Mike, so I can communicate with anyone who is wearing any idea or has hasn’t. So I can talk to Garrett gerakan, talk to me.
And the entire band is subject to listening to whatever we have to say to one another, whether they like it or not. Because I think I’m on the vocal channels. So. So they just put me in with the vocals. So they want to hear the show and the vocals. They have to hear me talking. A funny story about Broadways is that.
I am not a talker. I am as far away from. I keep silent. I don’t really talk too much.
That is completely opposite from from Jamie in New York who just holds court.
You know, I just like like just constantly chatting with Ben and Dylan and and they are just full on conversations might switch.
Yeah. We we we sometimes do, but I just don’t feel like I have much to say. Or maybe I’m not as funny or or Woody is not in the right mood.
Just trying to find a good drummer all the time. I just I’m not as much as entertaining.
Yeah, that’s pretty cool how they have all of that tech now that can basically put you in a different place and then route you back to the soundboard without any latency or anything. It’s pretty awesome actually.
And why do they why do they want it? So explain why they need it so isolated. Why the sound designer decided to do that.
So a lot of people think that the reason for keeping the drums is to is to make sure that your sound doesn’t get out to different places. But a lot it’s it’s actually a lot more through the other sound. Not to get in because there’s a lot of what’s just as much as the other sound, ambient noise not to get in. There’s so many mikes on the drum kit and they’re always they’re always pretty hot, you know? Yes. They wanted to have. Because I was moving constantly. They had no idea what was going to be onstage or in the hit or in a bathroom. Like they wanted to make sure that the space that I was playing and was always the same. Not to worry about dealing with any type of ambient noise because drums are not.
Yeah. Yeah. And I don’t remember how that show sounds in the house. But like, if you listen to the cast recording, you know, the drums really do have that really pop rock sound, you know, snare drum. There’s a lot of compression on it. And and all that. Good stuff. So, yeah, if you have that noise leak in, it’s it’s very difficult to adjust those effects to sound good. Yeah.
Yeah. They really wanted to make even, you know, the live when you go to see it live.
They wanted it to sound like the album basically. So it is designed so that the band sounds like you’re listening to an album. Just you’re all in a large theater. So. Yeah.
And then here’s here’s my other question. And this this is probably like this is one of the main things I wanted to cover. And let me preface this by saying that Ryan, Ryan and I are both hypochondriacs schlager severely.
Not only is this true. And not only that, but Ryan and I are both relentlessly hard on our selves. So sometimes I’ll get Ryan come to the conductor room at intermission and be like, I’m so sorry. I’m just playing like garbage tonight. I’m like, what do you mean? I don’t I don’t notice. I don’t.
And also, just like, well, I just messed up here and here and here. And I was like, Ryan, we’re like we didn’t we’re we’re out like Saturday of the second week of Portland. We didn’t have a day off. This is like your 16th show in a row. Sometimes it just has to be okay that you’re like playing the show and it’s not falling apart. And people are also we’re both hypochondriacs. So like basically our running joke is that our relationship is kind of like that scene and liar, liar where he’s like laying on the ground and it’s like, what is wrong with me? So we both think like we’re dying before the show. It’s I’ll be like, Ryan, he’ll come to me before the show. I’ll pick Ryan. I don’t know. I’m not feeling good. Like my stomach’s bothering me and I think I’m dying. And Ryan’s like, well, that makes two of us because my almond’s. And so here’s the question. Dear Evan Hansen is a very physical show.
It’s it’s very it’s very demanding, especially for the drummer. It’s very intense and the parts are very involved.
So how do you keep.
How how how do you keep your body like able to sustain doing this eight times a week? Because because everyone except the conductor, not none of them have a sub they can’t sub out. So they the. Band has to play this eight times a week, and it’s not we’re not doing sound of music. It’s very it’s very, very it’s very, very demanding. So what are some of your secrets? How do you how do you keep yourself in shape?
Well, I think that the. Enough is enough.
I think the first the first thing is always making sure the first thing I did was I just reanalyze everything I was dealing. So I just took a hard look at how I was playing everything, cause you can get into bad habits with technique and that’s usually the root cause of it.
Just like if you’re if you’re doing something like criminalistics too tight or if you’re slouching or if your posture is just bad in general or so, I usually start it there and then it would start going to physical therapy. And we’re lucky on this tour. I’m not entirely sure how it works with with every talk. But on this floor, we have a physical therapist that comes in and sees us on every two show day so we can make appointments online and we can go in and see the therapists and let her let her know what’s going on with their body and just checking in.
So I got through to Chicago before I finally started noticing that the show was having a toll on my body. And that’s when I started seeing physical therapists sort of doing some stretches. I started really analyzing what I was doing. And it turns out there was a lot of things. There’s like, you know, my my posture was not so great. I was gripping the sticks really tight because, you know, part of the show is playing so, so, so, so loud.
And the more I work with physical therapist, the more I started learning different things about my body and learning where the line was every night, knowing how far I could push myself, how far I could sort of let it go back before it started becoming a problem in terms of playing or in terms of people not being able to anchor.
But yeah, it was sort of a learning process because it especially when, you know, when you’re not used to doing some even either used to playing it shows a week. Every show is different. So you’re going to it’s going to ask you to do something different with your body. And I don’t think our bodies were designed to do this. You know, we’re not designed to do this repetitive type of stuff over and over and over and over again.
Yeah, I played like 10 shows a week for her around a year and a half. It was quite, quite difficult. Right.
Yeah, but definitely I mean, I see a physical therapist and just sort of doing a lot of self-reflection and making sure that you’re always keeping yourself in check and then listening to your body. You know, your your body’s very good at telling you what it doesn’t like and what it does like. I listen to my body pretty much when it comes to drumming and especially when it comes to food as well. You know, there are certain things that you know.
You can just tell when. OK. This was too far. This is it. This is not it’s not something I should be eating or doing or, you know. And likewise, you can find out something else. So. Right.
Yeah. You know, I I just want to tell the story very quickly.
So being on tour is a really incredible experience. But it’s also it’s also a bit of a sacrifice. And and everybody is victim to this. I mean, we don’t get to see our families and we don’t. We’re just kind of out there and all we have is each other. And I mean, no one tries to pretend that it’s not that hard, even though we we all love what we do and whatever.
And Ryan, the first time he went, the first time he went home, he had to he had to take a two week vacation to to rest up.
And you had to get a little minor surgery as well. You know, so. And by the end, by the time he was, you know, ready to go back or when, where were we?
I think we were in tears. I would have been North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte was right around this time.
Yeah. And you had done like you had done like 220 shows in a row. You were just like tired. Is everyone’s like exhausted at this point. We’re all just, like, shot. I only played one show a week at that time, but I was still, like, exhausted.
So the last show before Ryan goes home, it’s like I made it. I made it this straight. Yes. Go home a couple of weeks and then we’ll come back refreshed. And he goes home and and we’re all like we all miss him, but we’re like, man, you know what? It’s going to be great when he comes back. He’s gonna be a new man. He’s gonna be just like shiny and he’s just like me. He’s the sparkly lowing, not like pregnant Chloe. And he’s just gonna be like, hey, we’re looking forward to that energy because we’re all just like exhausted. Yeah, he certainly was a new man.
So we were we were living together in Tampa and that was the city he was going to come back to. And it was me, him and Dave Murgon, who our cellist and we were Dave and I had spent the first couple of days there together while we were waiting for Ryan.
And we’re like Apprehends coming back tonight. Ryan’s gonna it’s gonna be so happy. And so all of a sudden, just like the door just like opens and Ryan standing there and I to get this right. He he looks he looked like as if somebody he was outside and like a gang had come along and like started like mugging him. Like they were like they got attacked. And he was like they were like beating him up. And then Brian’s on the ground and they’re leaving. It’s like, hey, not sorry, because he’s very nice. Sorry. I don’t mean I don’t mean to bother you, but aren’t you gonna, like, take my stuff? And they’re like, ninety seemed like a nice kid. So we had all the stuff he had like this big black guy and he was just like had a cold and like he’s like guys like my ears, like my ears a whole blocked up because it’s like something happened on the trip on the plane, right?
Yeah. So high coming coming back to us for I had a a series of unfortunate events transpire, great writing, my great books, papers and they all seem to happen right in a row. So so I did go home. I went home.
I wanted to get surgery for a hernia. So when I came back, I was I was just feeding is going to be great. You know, it’s finally it’s going to be don’t worry about this anymore. So at that time, though, my parents were in the midst of selling our house. So I needed to get all of my belongings from the basement of parents house out to a storage unit so they could sell it. So after after surgery, I was like, you know what? I’m just going to I’m going to move the stuff out into the storage unit. I’m going to celebrate. I’m going to go see a baseball game with my dad. So I bought tickets to a serious game and I thought, you know what? I’ve never really caught a fly ball before. I want to see the outfield. So I got tickets right along the edge of the flower bed. And we spent the whole day in Philly just hanging around. As we’re walking around Philly, though, I am coughing like crazy. This is another thing where it’s like, I don’t know where this came from. It was just I don’t know where my head was congested. It was miserable. But I’m like, now let’s go see the game anyway. So we get to the game. Ever since they were still in batting practice at the time I got in there. So I get up there, they’re hitting like lazy fly balls, like right over top my head. And then all of a sudden this guy comes up and hits this like moon shot, like laser like line drive. And I look at it and I remember thinking to myself, that’s coming kind of close to me.
I might have a shot at catching that. And before I could think anything else, the ball was in my cheek, just slammed into, like, right right below my left eye.
And it was it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It wasn’t painful. It was just like shock. Alliterate had my glasses. And as soon as I got up, I noticed something was terribly wrong because everyone was looking at me like I was like quasi modo.
And I was like. I’m fine. And as I’m saying, I’m fine. I can feel myself swelling up. I’m like, I’m definitely not time for. I’m like, I can’t.
I’m like, I guess I should go to the infirmary. So they send me around to the infirmary and I’m thinking, I’m still a sook. I help them. Like I can still stay for the baseball game. This won’t have to ruin everything. I can still move all of my stuff out next day. It’ll be great. So I guess the infirmary and the guy looked to me like, wow, like what happened?
Did you get hit with a fly ball? And I said, yeah. He’s like, oh, you drive. That is swelling up like crazy. He’s like, have you seen yourself? Yeah. And I’m like, now it’s like, I wanted to do a couple tests for you.
So he comes over just like he’s doing all of the tests to check for a concussion and all kinds of serious injury like that. He’s like, are you seeing double? Do you have blurry vision? And I said, well, I don’t know. I dropped my glasses on because they were obliterated. So I don’t know whether I guess is blurry or not. I think it’s fine.
Based on what I remember life being like before the baseball. So that’s all I can give you. All right. We don’t have a concussion. We’ll send you what you still want to see the game.
And I’m like, yeah, my dad and I stayed for the rest of the game and I had this ice pack on my face for the rest of it. And they won, which is good. But this little kid next to me got to wave the ball, which I actually thought rightly should have been good to. You know, he didn’t. What a brat. Si, si. My DNA was on it. I figured that should belong to. No.
Jesus. What’s this red spot? Could you send. Can you send Brian, that selfie you sent me of your black eye? And can we pick up? I buy. Absolutely. I will link to that the next the next day.
I had to move all my stuff out. And this cold is getting worse. And then the following day, I had to fly out back to tour. And I’m like, how am I going to explain this? I should just get ahead of it. So I just sent out this picture to the guys in the pen. I’m just like, just say no. I am. I’m not doing so hot.
I’m fine. I got hit in the face of the baseball. So I get into this. Yeah. Saw the hernia, but got hit in the face of the baseball. I also had a head, so I ironwork flying back out. It’s or I was so ashamed.
It’s black eyed and my dad had gotten me these big giant like goggle like sunglasses sort of cover up where the bruise was so that it wasn’t horrifying children in the airport. And I’m like throwing back as much cold medicine as I can, because if anyone’s ever flown with a head cold before, you know, because it will. Because your ears can’t equalizer itself. Yeah. I get off this plane and I’ve got these giant glasses on and my face is throbbing and I’m worry about going back to work. And as we’re going up in the airplane, I can feel 180 or go in. And when you’re just stubbornly hold on. And I got this massive headache and I can’t think straight. And it’s just two hours of misery. Just. Yeah, I get off the plane and into the house. And I just like collapse because I can not get.
I’m like, man, you’ve had a tough few days.
It was it was a very rough go of it.
But thankfully, it all sort of worked out in the end.
And you got through the show, got through the show, as you always have to wait.
So what would happen is like someone got sick right before the show. Would they cancel it? Like, how can you do a show with.
Were you would you would find a way? Yeah. Thanks in part, to be perfectly honest. There was this ever a time we’d ever really come close? Yeah, there was was a time where we we might have lost an motiveless file and once like the last bit of a show, now we might just start without without one of the guitarists.
At one point in time there might have been a technical issue, but for the most part, most most of our rhythm section guys.
I think we’ve always been there. Even if we were sick, there was only one time, I think, when we had a really bad sickness with violin.
But yeah, I mean, if we had if we had an emergency, we just had to, you know, depending on how long we had. You know, sometimes if there was a big emergency and it was, you know, like a death in the family and it could be planned, they could fly someone down from New York as soon as possible and they could cover the air. But if you get hit by a bus at half hour, they just do the show with no drums.
We’d have to figure out how we really would. I mean, sometimes sometimes, you know, like when when our violinist had to had to duck out after act one because she was feeling so sick. We spent intermission. I was just talking to her violist. Being like, hey, what can you cover? I’ll I’ll see if I can jump in. If there’s something you can’t cover that’s important. It’s just like I think I can cover all the important stuff. And she did. She did it beautifully. And same with the guitar players, like a folk guitarist. If a guitarist goes down and that almost happened in turn, I think I forget where, but our guitarist had like a flu or something. Corona. Yeah. Both of our guitarists can play both books now and which I’m thankful that we started doing that. They started switching books every every week a couple of times. So now if one of them goes down, they can kind of jump back and forth and and do whatever. So we always have to find a way because it’s very unlikely that they’re going to cancel a show. Right. Players that’s down drums. I would be extremely nervous about episode. So scary. That would be the one, right? If Ryan went down, that would be the worst possible thing. You had to pull up some drum samples and just I I just don’t feel it down a word. That’s the one. I wouldn’t know what we would do. Like even even if I. I mean, I think we obviously need early on. But even if our bassist went down, I mean, we could I have a left hand play some lower notes, something, you know, but drums, it’s like, well, I think that the saving grace for for us in terms of crushing drums is that at the very least, 90 percent of the shows click.
So at the very least, we could we could find a way to hold everything together without that sort of percussive backing. But yeah, I think when it’s what it is, it’s one of those things where it’s like the. Sometimes I’ve heard of toys pulling in locals sometimes. Yeah, I think that would be the thing to do. But I think show man the problem with this show. It would be a very it’s not an overly complex book to play. It’s difficult in some in some areas. It’s it’s definitely challenging. But is it’s not a show that’s really sight readable. It’s just too much technological things you have to be on the ball with.
Yeah, that’s true. Yeah.
I mean, I do want to say it’s impossible, but it is very, very difficult. And depending on where you were like if you were in Philadelphia or if you were in Boston, where they have like a huge thriving music scene, you might be able to find someone is familiar enough with the show that can can play through it, even if it’s not perfect. But if you go out to like, you know, the Midwest and they’ve never heard of the show before, they don’t know any music from it. You know, like it is very, very difficult to say.
I don’t know if. Would probably avoid doing that. You probably do like an acoustic version of the show. I just hope. I just hope. I hope that never happens. Yeah, let’s hope that never happens. Yeah.
All right. Well, it’s been like an hour and a half to two hours now. I think this might be the longest one so far.
Oh, OK. I’m OK with it. Yeah. Right.
You think is really good for the record was cut out.
You know, all that stuff that I said that I said everything that you said. Let’s just keep Garrett.
It’s just my audio. And for the record, Ryan, what’s your favorite Hogwarts house?
Oh, oh, easily. Easily. Hufflepuff. Always, always, always representing the badgers.
I was I was I was worried something had changed since we’ve been apart for so long now after I’m wearing my Hufflepuff.
Actually be able to see it. I still don’t know the differences between the house. All you need to know is Hufflepuff is the good one. Oh, yeah. And the other, nothing else matters. I read all the books.
I’ve seen all the movies. I still don’t really understand what happens in Harry Potter. It also ends together for me.
That’s OK. But if there’s one thing you can take from them is that half of all lovable matter and nothing else does how awful pups look for pups.
What cupful puffs of formatter rule a rule link to Pottermore. In the end, the Hufflepuff page of Pottermore in the bio. What the heck is Pottermore or whatever? I’ll send you a link to like some YouTube videos of people explaining why helpful posts are the best house.
Cool. All right, Ryan, do you have any Web site? Twitter accounts? Instagram, Tinder, etc. to plug?
Final thoughts? Usually self derogatory because that’s what you do.
I have a I have an Internet presence for sure. Have of websites. Just my name dot com.
My my secretary. That’s called. And why. And my my my Instagram are y a-n m_f_c_c_ a U s L.A. Indeed.com.
Yes. What the heck. My name dot com is actually a web site too. All right. So that would’ve been a lot easier, you know? Yeah.
Any any final thoughts? Is there anything that you’d like? Came here and you like. I want to say this on the show. Give me that opportunity now.
Well, the only thing the only thing I would just play is if we did not quickly tell the story of Garrett landing a plane because. I. What is this? So very quickly. When we were in Atlanta, there is a Delta Aviation Museum. I don’t know if anyone knows about this, but there is. It’s the only place, I think, in the world that has a public 737 simulator like the violence. That’s awesome. So I found this. Like I told you before, I wanted to be a pilot running. So I was at a flight, some nerd, some like I want to do this. And I wrote Free Shots of Garroted and Matt Brown. It’s hard to plant. And I said, would you guys want to do this with me? And they said, Yeah. So we went to the Delta Museum and each of us took turns. We each had 20 minutes inside the simulator with an instructor and they gave us each opportunity to take off and land. And then we would rotate and each of us would have a different jobs. So I I took off from Philly and landed in Philly just because it’s it’s my home airport. I think Matt took off from San Francisco and landed in New York and then Garrett took off right where I need to.
I need to clarify something, because you will you will not tell this part of the story because you’re too humble to do that. So Ryan was the first who was the first captain, first captain Intergraph in Philly. We had in Philly and there were zero complications. The pilot, the instructor, just like Ryan, landed this plane. The instructor, like, didn’t have to say anything, really. And he just looked over at a screen with the statistics.
And you were just like, yeah, remarkable. I want to fly the makeable. It was the smoothest. It was like a an actual pilot couldn’t have done better if this was what. This is not true. But, you know, this is the expectation that was Ryan set for this instructor for the other two.
OK. I should also say that if you happen to find my scrim, there is videos, each of us landing the plane as well. So you can check us out for yourself because I would not be lying. Gareth’s landing was by far my favorite. Decided to land in Hong Kong.
Also, I. My hometown. I was thinking of you, Brian.
So. So what they do. So this guy sets up a scenario and he puts us on the approach, which is why it was it was easy enough for me because he just sort of line you up already and just had to make sure you didn’t steer too far. Of course. So. They lined up Garratt with Hong-Kong and basically he was just talking Dacic. All right, so you want to make sure you keep their wings nice and level as we’re approaching. He pulls back on the throttle and are slowly going down and we’re just navigating ever so gently to the left of the runway.
And I’m looking at Gareth’s not moving at all. And unlike like you only see like it’s like it’s like them steering you into the iceberg. So it’s like, hey, Garrett, maybe you. So the instructor finally goes right there. You want to say you want to make a little bit more to the right. A little more to the right. So Jericho’s a little bit to the right landing a little bit like a little bit. Yeah. Yeah. So the instructor keeps saying no more to the right. More to the right. One of the right. Finally, Garratt wildly swings the stick and we go too far. He goes, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Back in the car, goes wildly back to the left. And now we’re just way off course. All right. At this point, just level out are getting really close to the ground. And as we’re coming closer and closer and closer, it’s becoming clear that is no longer evenings for the runway. It’s just a name.
It’s a grant committing a terrorist attack on my home country.
I didn’t know that’s what would happen going in. Sorry.
So we get close to the ground. There’s I think that they do like a countdown to how many seats you are. It was like we had like a like 50, 40. And then boom. And the crazy thing about the simulator is that when you hit the ground, the entire thing shakes. It’s crazy. It’s like actually being in a plane to some extent. Yeah. It was my favorite landing, that bee that I’ve ever seen. It was it was beautiful. We’re a good team, but I’m so glad it got to be there.
My dad, the flight instructor, say after you landed the plane, you know, a camera, I think you said, well, these were on the ground.
I think that was the general consensus.
We like Captain Healy and trusty First Officer McCausland like to treat it as we were in grave danger and we saved many potential lives.
It was it was a harrowing tale, too. Yes. Truth be told, it was many lives were secretively saved.
We should go to that place, some Dega and test out this flight simulator.
I am highly, highly recognized when when social distancing is up.
Just look up the Delta Flight Museum and check it out. That is a really, really, really cool experience. I definitely recommend it.
Thank you for telling that story. Right.
And thank you for being there. Oh, awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much for having me, guys. I really this has been so much. I never I don’t get to do this ever.
Ryan. You go beyond your own podcasts, your own podcast. I can’t wait to hear it.
Me, too. I’m a committed regret.
All of the things I said and think, oh, my God, they’re going to listen to Bryan has completely edited you out. I’m going to auto tune it. Is good. All right. Thanks, Brian. Thanks, Brian.
Thanks so much. Good night. See you soon.