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“One show pops to mind that didn’t work out so well. It was the Calgary Stampede in Canada, and it was in this big rodeo circle. The Stray Cats had just hit and we made it up to Canada, and I was sick, man. They had us running around like dogs, and truth be told, we weren’t helping the situation back then – not living right and stuff – and I just felt terrible.
“My nose was running and my head was all stuffed up, so before the show I took an antihistamine to dry up. It was just like taking NyQuil – it knocked me out. But I’m thinking, ‘Oh, boy, there’s 10,000 people out there.’ I couldn’t wake up, so I started drinking coffee – and coffee and coffee and more coffee. I just knocked it back. I got up on stage and the place explodes, and I was about to shout out ‘Hellllo, Calgary!’ You know what came out? A yawn. [Laughs] The crowd just looked at me like, ‘What?...’
“Needless to say, the gig was less than stellar. We pulled it off somehow, I think. You know, you’re sweatin’ bullets up there; you took something that you thought would help, but it ended up making things worse.
“It’s weird sometimes: Some nights you think you had a great show, but for whatever reason, the audience just doesn’t respond; other times you might think, ‘I just didn’t have it tonight, whatever,’ and the audience is going crazy. A lot of times it comes down to the sound on that stage. If I can hear myself well and the room sounds good, it’s gonna be a good show. Old theatres with wood stages sound the best because I use that wood to resonate the band. But when you’re outside in the middle of a field, you’re on a piece of plastic that’s bouncing, it can sound like mud. So I like the old places – you can really work the room.”
Brian Setzer's forthcoming album, Rockabilly Riot: All Original, will be released August 12th on Surfdog Records. Stay tuned to MusicRadar for an extensive interview with Setzer about the new set.