Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sunday 12th Feb

It's been over a week since my last update and that's because there hasn't really been much to report. Actually, one really good thing is my tuning has returned to normal. My left ear and right ear are in tune. It's something I've always taken for granted in the past, but I won't from now on. I did a hearing test a few days ago and my hearing is normal up to around 1 KHz. After that it drops sharply to nothing. Not great but so much better than no hearing. The biggest challenge I face will be playing live gigs because I am still very sensitive to loud noise. It makes the tinnitus much worse and can be physically painful at levels I found comfortable prior to the SSHL. Fortunately, Marillion don't have any gigs until June when we are touring the USA and Canada. That's over four months away and I'm hoping that my sensitivity to loud noise will decrease. These days when we perform at gigs we all wear in-ear monitors to hear what's going on during the show. Prior to the invention of these systems every band used monitoring systems that consisted of individual floor speakers for each band member. In the case of Marillion we had2 each for stereo and Ian had the equivalent of a huge PA system positioned behind his drum kit. The overall effect of this was a sonic arms race where we got louder and louder in an effort to hear ourselves better over the noise coming from the rest of the stage. In the immortal words of Ian Gillan, we tried to make "Everything louder than everything else" In-ear monitors block out a lot of external sound so they don't have to be as loud to be heard. Also, as there are less speakers on stage the overall noise level is much less to begin with. Of course, certain things can’t be quieter. A drum kit is a noisy piece of equipment and drummers like to bash fuck out of their kit. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Guitarists need loud amplifiers to excite the strings on their guitars. This creates a feedback loop causing the notes to sustain longer than they would naturally. Essential if you want that Steve Rothery sound. My aim when we next go out on tour will be to position myself as far as possible away from Steve R and Ian while still being on the same stage, so expect to see a change to our usual positions. It's about time we had a different look anyway.

Some of you may be aware that I am also playing keys with DeeExpus, and we have a new album "King of Number 33" out now on Racket Records and in the shops on Edel Music next month (shameless plug over)There are 3 UK shows planned for April and one in the USA in May. I have decided to not do these gigs with the band. I'm very concerned that because DeeExpus don't use in-ear monitors and the stages will be a lot smaller compared to the Marillion gigs that overall sound levels will be unmanageable for me. Also, in order to prepare properly for these gigs I would need to start rehearsals with DeeExpus soon. I suspect that sound levels in rehearsals will be similar to the onstage levels. I'd like to leave it for a few more months before exposing my ears to that sort of punishment.

I really enjoyed working on "King of Number 33"and have no intention of quitting the band. I'm looking forward to starting work with Andy (Ditchfield) on the follow up at some point and sincerely hope that I will be able to join the band onstage at some future date. I will have a better idea of when that might be after a few more months have passed and hopefully my sensitivity to loud noise and tinnitus has reduced further. Also, how it goes with Marillion in the USA will give me a better idea of what’s possible.

I'm still waiting for the follow up MRI scan. Despite chasing the consultant and the hospital I'm still without an appointment. Clearly going private doesn’t guarantee immunity from waiting lists or incompetence. I'm not the worrying sort but I would like to put the possibility that my hearing loss was caused by something abnormal in my brain behind me.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Wednesday 1st Feb

I started running a few days ago after a long break. Marathons can really put you off running. Also, I was having trouble with my knees whenever I ran so I've been running in these odd looking shoes called Vibram Five Fingers. Angie calls them my monkey feet. They help you run properly which avoids impact stress to the knees. This morning I ran down by the river. It was cold but really enjoyable. We started at 11am in the studio. I was feeling done in by 5:30 and asked Mike if it was OK to have a break. My ears combined with much less sleep than I'm used to are taking their toll. The music is progressing and sounding really good so no complaints there. I got my scan results back. The consultant said that my inner ear and related nerves all looked fine but there was something else he was concerned about. It may be something or nothing but I would need a different type of scan to be sure it was nothing and not something. I hope it's nothing. Some people have expressed concern that we may have to cancel some gigs. Please don't worry about that. Our first gig is months away and my rate of recovery has been great up until now. This time last week I was stone deaf in my left ear. Today, I couldn't answer the phone with my left ear but I'm sure I could do a gig tomorrow if I had to. I'm in bed early and I've taken a Nytol to help me sleep. I hate taking anything to aid sleep because it's a slippery slope but it's been a week now since I've had a decent nights sleep and i need one.