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Fresh Pick

Behind The Scenes: Tour Manager Bobby Healy

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Written and Photographed by: Kristina-Marie Ross

My first ever gig was in Glasgow- I was thirteen years old, and dying to see Fall Out Boy. Back then they played in a popular venue, we called it The Carling Academy- but since then it’s name has been changed, it’s reputation has been changed and my hairstyle has most definitely been changed. Some people have been going to gigs for a lot longer than nine years- but me, that’s how long I’ve been going. The glitz, the glamorisation and the excitement of seeing your favourite band onstage live in the flesh are all part of the process. But as regular as negligence comes, we sometimes need reminding of the details which go hand in hand with live performances. The preparation that takes place and the people who are a part of it. What do you remember about your first gig? Probably a lot. What do you remember about the people who worked at your last gig, that weren’t onstage playing music? Probably not much. 

We hope to show you by means of a series of interviews, a little about the work that goes on behind music and who is responsible for bringing your favourite musicians to the limelight of the stage. 

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At 28 years of age, Bobby has tour managed Swim Deep, Wolf Alice, Tribes and Mumford and Sons to name a few (And by few, I mean a few). He is currently on tour with Gengahr on their support with Circa Waves’ sold out UK string of shows. 

I met Bobby early in March, at Edinburgh’s backstreet Voodoo Rooms. We were introduced thanks to the existence of middle man musician, Max Jury. With me being the journalist and Bobby being Max’s tour manager. It was by means of two musically inclined business paths that we met via professionally awkward emails and kept in touch less awkwardly after.

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On Thursday afternoon, we met in Glasgow’s Lucky 7 Canteen. Perhaps the most beautiful day of the year so far, with jackets left at home and flat whites ordered promptly, we began our conversation on what it takes to be a tour manager.   

How long have you been tour managing? 

Um, on and off for seven years. 

Seven years?

Yeah, when I moved to London was the first time I did it. 

So you’re not from London?

Nah, I’m from Essex! 

I thought you were from Camden? 

No, well I live in Camden. I basically used to go back and forth to Camden for like, all of my life. But then my cousin moved to London when he was like eighteen, and then I moved like six or seven years later. And then on my twenty-first birthday, it was like “It’s official. I live here now”. I was lucky enough to move into a house full of people who were promoters or bands- and all that sort of stuff. Then my friend Jay, who was a friend of mine from back home, he was known as Jay Jay Pistolet. Who’s now known as Justin Hayward Young, singer of The Vaccines.  

No way! 

Yeah! So essentially, me and him in my mum’s Ford Fiesta driving around and he would do solo stuff. We were doing support tours for like, Katie Melua. The only reason I started doing it was because out of all of my friends, I was the only one that could drive!  

Is he a nice guy?

 Yeah! Justin’s the best, man. He’s a great guy. He used to live in the house that I lived in. So yeah, he was the first guy that I did. And then I sort of got asked to do other people. I had no idea what I was doing the first time.  

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What were you doing before that?

Before I moved to London, I was doing band photography. Taking photos of bands because I wanted to be involved with music, or like live music- and I didn’t know how else to do it. I thought if I’m not in a band then I’ll take their photos. But then that didn’t really work out just ’cause I’m too lazy. 

Yeah but photography is hard to get into.

The thing is there’s so many other people doing it, unless you’ve got like a crazy good eye. 

Yeah, there’s too many photographers out there. I tried that.  

There’s always that one guy who’s like, amazing at it and does really really well. And then there’s everybody else. 

Do you remember having a first day? 

I remember my first day, it was in Newcastle. It was with Justin and we were supporting Katie Melua. He was playing at this huge arena place, and I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t really do anything, we were just kind of like told what to do. But that was like- I remember just sort of doing it thinking like “Wow, this is really fun that I get to drive around and just not sit at home” So yeah- I get paid to do it, which is nice. 

So what’s a day in the life of your job? What does it entail?

So when I’m on tour, a day of the life is- You’re the last one to bed and you’re always the first one to wake up. Usually if you’ve got a band, you have to wake them all up. Then it’s a case of jumping in the car, driving for several hours, getting to the venue for about 3 O’Clock, loading all the equipment in, setting everything up, sound checks, a lot of the time after sound check there’ll be press you need to do, then it’s a case of getting people in and out for interviews… Then dinner time! Then you do the show, and everyone gets really drunk and goes to bed. 

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 And then the same thing happens the next day?

Only you have more of a hangover!

Do the bands that you manage indicate the kind of music you listen to? 

Not really. Well, sometimes. There’s one band who I actually- I’ve never really gone for a job, I’ve only been approached to do things. The only band that I ever went and approached is a band called Wolf Alice. They put their first song out, ‘Leaving You’, on like SoundCloud and I heard it on a blog- I was like “Wow, that’s amazing” and then, so I emailed them and just said I wanted to be involved. I did like, the first six months I worked for them, I just worked for free. Just ’cause I loved it. And now, that was like two years ago? They’re doing good. They all live in Camden as well which is why I wanted to get in touch with them. It’s kind of weird because we’ll all go on like a big two month tour and I’ll see them every single day and sleep in the same beds with them- Then, when we get home, we all hang out together all the time. So that’s pretty nice.  

So it’s just like working with your friends.

Yeah, exactly. They’re all amazing guys …and girl.

What’s the best part about your job?

Travelling. 

Really?

Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s hard to be away from home, but when you’re in Barcelona and it’s a gorgeous sunny day and you’ve got a day off- It’s hard to be annoyed. It’s not the worst thing. Or when you’re going to Benicassim, or driving through the French Alps and thinking “Wow, this is amazing” and you get to go like, skiing and stuff. That’s the best part- or asides from travelling, all of the bands that I’ve worked for, I stand at the side of the stage watching the show. And I get nervous before like, every single show.  

Why do you get nervous? 

Because I want it to go well for them. So once it goes well, once they’re happy I feel this enormous sense of pride and I’m so pleased for them that it’s gone well and they’re all happy and yeah- It’s amazing. Tour life, you’re like in this little bubble and it’s not the real world. To live in this bubble with just you and these other people, so it is like a proper team thing. It’s nice when everything goes well. 

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 The remainder of our conversation trailed off and into the importance of breakfast, and why people who skip breakfast are stupid (Stupid.) Fast forward a few hours into the evening and Bobby and I were found standing by the side of the stage. I couldn’t help but look over to watch and notice Bobby’s anticipation moments before Gengahr began. In between the manic of roadies trying to fix technical issues and the wave of fans who lined the front of the barrier like they had waited outside the venue door since 2pm that afternoon, Bobby seemed to express an intense concentration on nothing but the band. It’s strange to think this is a person who watches the same set every night for whichever amount of consecutive weeks- and still doesn’t seem to allude any sense of boredom or monotony. And as soon as the set is successfully accomplished, Bobby’s once statuary position is now never the same place twice. Towels, equipment, boxes, wires, cymbals, doors, the van; These are all the things I associated with him in the fifteen minutes of blur straight after the set. The organizational skills were exact and prompt, managing a team of people in a place he only worked in every few months and still finding time in the manic process to come back, put his hand on my head and assure me with the words “You haven’t been forgotten about” Before running back to the van of organized chaos once again. 

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It wasn’t long before there was nothing left backstage but a few boxes that didn’t belong to Gengahr. It was almost like Bobby could play a very good game of giant Tetris.  

We often attend gigs and we don’t really appreciate the people who run around backstage. We probably on some level understand their importance and strong place in the events we enjoy. But we don’t truly understand just how detrimental a musician would be without them. What would have happened to Justin Hayward-Young if Bobby couldn’t drive? What would have happened to Justin Hayward-Young if Bobby didn’t want to help him and drive? Musicians find a way through anything, this is something we’re aware of. But is it crazy to think that bands such as The Vaccines, Wolf Alice and Gengahr may not be where they are now if it weren’t for the people who helped them in the beginning? The person who worked for free on many occasions just to be involved in the music he loves, in a position where he wasn’t with income? Of course not. A band isn’t just a concoction of the musicians, it’s a concoction of passion. Just because someone didn’t write the songs, doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the reasons it’s available to you now.  

Thanks Bobby; For finding, sharing and driving some of Britain’s best music around Europe for us all to enjoy- And also for that cranberry juice you bought me. 

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Yamir- Chicago, IL / Managua, Nicaragua

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Latin Pop- Reggaeton- Hip Hop

Yamir means so much to us at Fresh Independence. His story is inspiring as he brings life and dedication to all he does. The music industry is tough, especially as an independent artist, but there is a place for everyone. Show your support, feel the latin passion, and experience the Music in your veins. We cannot get enough of that, Party Love.’ 

Home is where your story begins, please tell us about yours. 

I began in the streets of one of the poorest and most dangerous barrios of Managua, rapping and singing reggaeton.  I was raised by my mother, grandmother, and aunts but my mother had to leave the country for many years to study medicine and help better our lives.  There wasn’t a very bright future for other kids from my barrio, many of my childhood friends got mixed up with drugs and alcohol.  And while I was not a saint back then, I was still able to distance myself from all of that and fight for something bigger in life. 

Tell us a little about your musical history in Nicaragua.

Over 10 years ago I started rapping, mostly with friends. But little by little, I started writing my own songs and finding people who could record my demos.  After a few years, I had the opportunity to form the urban pop group “Myla Vox” with other musicians in Managua – I added the urban-rap element to our sound.  With patience and hard work, we became quite successful with our music, having 5 consecutive songs become radio hits and being able to play shows for thousands of fans.  We even had the amazing opportunity to open for artists such as Pitbull and Wisin & Yandel.  Myla Vox reached somewhat of a “celebrity status” in our own country and helped develop the idea of having “loyal fans”, something that was not seen before in Nicaragua.  

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(Above) “Kukra hill” is an indigenous community on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua where Spanish is not the first language, they speak Miskito– but when I went to Atlantic Coast with Myla Vox, these little girls knew me and my music! It was very special moment.

What is the song writing process like for you?

Songwriting for me is very liberating, it gives me a great sense of relief and allows me to find myself but at the same time let my imagination run and invent a totally new story.  Generally, I start out recording a basic melody, usually with my cell phone (hahaha) and then once I can sit down and think things out, I work on the song structure and lyrics. 

Self-Titled Debut EP, ‘Yamir’ Available Now

Shout out to your favourite bands or artists at the moment from both of your home countries. 

Saludos a Carlos Mejia Godoy! He is a folkloric songwriter who, along with his family, has created a huge appreciation for Nicaragua’s folk music amongst our people.  I also really dig Malos Habitos and Milly Majuc, they both have a great sound. 

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Jenni Alpert – Los Angeles, CA

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Do what you love, love what you do and enjoy every minute of it. Bringing soulful songs and lyrics from the heart Jenni Alpert is living proof that  dreams are made possible if you try. Always the best part of what we do, discovering new music and good people behind it. 

Fresh Independence

“I write songs and I sing them from the deepest part of my existence and I hope they connect with the deepest part of yours.”

- Jenni Alpert

 Name: Jenni Alpert

Where are you writing this: At the moment, I am writing this from my West Coast Home located in Los Angeles, CA.

  

 Home is where your story begins, please tell us about yours

For the first three and a half years of my life I was in the foster care system in Los Angeles County where the fate of my future was being determined for me. It was in one of those homes that I first discovered music and the piano and I believe a very important part of how I have come to be my self and become an artist both musically and artistically spooking (I paint and take photos as well as write and record music with equal fervor). I would say that those early years shaped my ability to be committed to growth, resilient to change, and free spirited impassioned by creativity, freedom, and honesty.  I started composing music and writing songs by the time I was ten, picked up a guitar at 14, and continued to develop my skills in musicianship, songwriting, and performance at UCLA under the wing of Kenny Burrell and his then newly founded four year Jazz program. Since then, I have recorded and released 6 independent albums, 1 vinyl record with a team of people out of Italy, toured and performed worldwide in over 14 countries, have had a few songs placed in TV shows such as Castle and CSI Miami, and continue to pen songs and perform them in US cities often as I can.   

 

 How did music find you

The second I was introduced to a piano at the age of almost 3, music and I became fast life long friends.

 

 Best describe your musical style

Eclectic soulful jazzy pop singer songwriter 

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What is the song writing process like for you

When I am constructing songs, I feel that I myself am an instrument in the process where music and lyric tend to unfold simultaneously. I make efforts to stay present, open, and aware enough to sense that a song is about to develop, and I often feel that I myself am a witness to the creation. In listening to all types of music, especially world music for education and inspiration, this maintains my writing skills.

 

 Tell us about the inspiration behind your album ‘Take It All’

Take It All was a conglomeration of songs partly co-written partly self penned over the course of a six month period when I was going through a cathartic personal growth spurt. The songs were like moments of healing for me, discovering meanings of relationships, coming of age, healing, and shedding parts of ourselves that we wish to outgrow while discovering the wonders of love in the world. It was recorded mostly live over the course of a three day period with producer Mikal Blue and polished over another week or so with overdubs from some of my favorite session musicians. Take It All was me exploring my pop side of songwriting and I am very proud of that body of work.  

 

 Which are your favorite lyrics thus far and tell us the story behind them

Most all of them.

 

 Such rich history, what was it like recording at Sun Studios in Memphis

Amazing every moment. Google and I became fast friends that day. My most excited moment was standing on the x where Elvis sang wondering if the acoustic in the room were the same as back then. It was a very special opportunity to get to record there and experience working with Matt Ross-Spang. 

 

 Shout out to your favorite band or artist at the moment

I don’t pick favorites in this category for I love songs and to many to single one out, so for all you songwriters out there…. keep em comin!  

 

What does a lazy Sunday look like to you

Not lazy. Probably like any other Monday in London. 

 

 The greatest book ever written is…

The one with the least amount of pages? Just kidding. I love to read and haven’t picked a favorite, but I notice that I am inspired by true stories. 

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 My all time favorite movie is…

Tough call between: The Big Lebowski, As Good As It Gets, Buffalo 66, and The Notebook  

 

 Aside from communication, while on the road what is the one thing you can not live without

Coffee and humor

 

Jenni Alpert is hosting a dinner party!

      Album on replay

Nick Drake – Pink Moon      

 Menu

Skirt Steak, collard greens, sweet corn, corn bread with honey, a large dark green salad with goat cheese, fresh strawberries, red onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and dark chocolate peanut butter bars for dessert.  

 4 people past or present on the guestlist that would make for stimulating conversation

Steve Jobs, Einstein, Marie Curie, and Lou Adler. 

Which game would you play

Taboo – hands down. 

 

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 Your most memorable musical moment thus far

I choose to live in the moment as often as I can so any opportunity to perform and connect with music listeners is really what I consider memorable. 

  

 The prettiest thing I have ever seen…

Sunsets over the ocean 

 

 Being a young woman in a sometimes plastic world do you feel a sense of responsibility or example for the girls coming behind you

Be honest, have integrity, learn yourself, observe others, and never compromise your values to get ahead anywhere. Do your best and be realistic and as you build it, it ill become. 

 

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 Your dream marquee would read…

Let them all think you are nuts, yet while they are distracted, create the best damn peanut butter known to man. – Peanut Butter, the best thing since sliced bread. 

 

One quote or piece of advice that always goes with you

“The way I see it, if you want a rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain” #Dolly Parton 

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 True Love is…

The willingness to listen, be patient, give forgiveness, and have understanding even if another’s point of view isn’t clear yet with the ability and willingness to take care of one’s self.  

 

 What can we look forward to with Jenni Alpert over the coming year

A batch of fresh honest self penned soulful songs recorded on a new album with a tour in Europe to boot. 

JENNI ALPERT

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Devin Cuddy – Toronto, Ontario

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Thriving deep in the heart of the east coast music scene, Toronto is the place Devon Cuddy calls home. His roots run deep within the industry, with influences like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earl and James Booker, he is making his own mark with a blues sound that fills you up with goodness and keeps you coming back for more. Get to know Canada’s own Devin Cuddy Band.

Name: Devin Cuddy
Age:27
Where are you writing this: In the van on the way to a show

 Home is where your story begins please tell us about yours.

I was born and raised in Toronto and its been a good home to me, no plans to leave. Right now I live at the Cameron House in the apartments above the bar, great community feeling up there.
Its also a great spot to meet great artists of all sorts.

 Best describe your musical style.
 
We draw mostly from country and New Orleans Blues. Its been a challenge to blend the 2 into a cohesive sound and genre, the battle continues. Artists I like (love!) include Professor Longhair, James Booker, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark.

 When did you ‘know’ music was going to be such a big part of your life?

When I started enjoying piano lessons around 15. I was not however, sold on being a performer, that came later around 22 or so, when I started playing shows. I first started at the Cameron House playing solo and it started from that.

 What would you like us to know about the album ‘Kitchen Knife’?
 
Its a continuation of our sound and my song writing style. The record has a bit more stuff on it then the last, Organ, wurlitzer, lots more percussion and more guitars. I think our style is a little more realised and I’m hoping that will come across to the listener.

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How have you grown musically since you started performing?

I think I’ve developed more confidence in my playing and singing. The more you perform the more it comes together, songwriting gets stronger and the band starts to sound pretty hot.

 Tell us about the creative process in the making of your new video ‘Kitchen Knife’.

We had done a show with the regent park school of music choir and really liked them and the sounds it added so we asked them if they would do a live video. It was really fun and they do great work at RPSM, music education for everyone is very important.

What is the best piece of advice your father has given to you as a musician?

Always be nice, its now our band motto.

 Shout out to your favorite band or artist at the moment.
 
Timber Timbre has been playing in my ears a lot these days.

 When not making music what might we find you doing?
 
I really like playing hockey. Probably my favourite pastime. You’ll find me at the odd Jays game too.

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Something your fans would be surprised to learn about you.
 
I was a trumpet player for 7 years in the middle school and high school symphonic bands. I thought for a while that I would be a trumpet player but it wasn’t in the cards.

 The greatest book ever written is…
 
Well I don’t know if its the greatest but I really liked In Cold Blood.

 My all time favorite movie is…
 
Annie Hall, watched it twice in a row the first time I saw it.

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 Your dream marquee would read…
 
Randy Newman featuring the Devin Cuddy Band

 Your most memorable musical moment thus far…

Backing up Fred Penner at a party, a guy I watched a lot as a child. Wonderful musician and guy, we were giddy.

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Devin Cuddy Band is hosting a dinner party!

      Whats on the menu?

Classic italian, salad, pasta, meat.

       Which album is on replay?

Oscar Peterson live in Stratford. Fantastic live record.

       Guests past or present that would make for stimulating conversation.

I think I’d want Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, that would be an interesting meal.

       When things get dull, how would you breathe life back into the party.

Jameson

 Aside from communication what is the one thing you can not live without on the road?

A pillow for the van, very key item.

 

What is the glue that holds Devin Cuddy Band together?

Zach Sutton the drummer and old style Pilsner

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 Is there one quote or piece of advice that always goes with you?

I don’t really carry around a phrase that I live by but one that I use a lot is always be nice.

 True love is…
 
Hard to find, but out there, its a journey not a destination.

 

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 What can we look forward to with Devin Cuddy Band over the coming year?

We’ll be touring our record as far and wide as it will take us.

DEVIN CUDDY . COM

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