A Day in the Life of Touring

June 10th, Wake up in Montreal, one of my favorite cities in the world.
Walk into the Metropolis, one of the best venues in Canada. Franky and Mikko from Apocalyptica are on stage. I chill at the top of the balcony and watch them do some staging.

Franky and I hit a 4 mile run together along the Saint-Lawrence river talking all the way about our music industry views, shared passion for writing and had a heart to heart about life, death and second chances. We then sprint through the streets of Montreal’s China Town up hills and through intersections back to the tour bus.

I find a quiet spot to do some yoga at the top of Metropolis Theatre while my band starts staging and sound checking. I join them shortly after for a nice long sound check. Hungry. Cale and I share a much needed apple and banana on stage for brunch.

Find another quiet area, this time outside near a vacant building to finish my yoga. Tear into a can of sardines and wash it down with a bottle of water. Allen Kovac, the head of my label calls and we chat for 30 min as I dip into a park and stand under a small tree. Birds and squirrels are all around me. After the call I rescue some local french kid’s soccer ball from a low roof. They thank me and I say “Il n’y a pas de quoi!” trying to impress them with my broken french.

Shower. Meet and greet on the bus. Cool girls that are all about the music. Awesome!
Warmups. Dress for the show. Dressing room for 1 hour lockdown. Paavo from Apoc comes in to wish us a good show completely naked. Full frontal Paavo!
I have a good chat with Perttu just before we go on and tell him how much I enjoyed joining them on stage for a few of the shows.
Spirits are great today in this really large shared dressing room.

Show time. Hit the stage. The lower level is packed and some young guys in the front know all of the words to the new songs! I assume the balcony is closed until the house lights come up and I realize it’s packed too. I get the entire house singing “Lève Toi” at the top of their lungs! (The french translation of Rise Up.)
It’s one of the best shows of the tour. Singing seems effortless.
Merch signing. Spot the wonderful faces of my close Montreal friends waiting at the back of the merch line. Take them down for a quick dressing room beer. Bang off a short impromptu interview. Off to ‘Front of House” where we watch 2 Apoc songs.
They surprise me with birthday reservations at Joe Beef, one of the best restaurants in Canada, arguably one of the best on the continent.

Hail a cab. Table for 4 on the patio. It pours rain like it did when I was a kid on the porch roof of my grandparent’s cottage. We sip wine and share bites. One of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time. Unreal. There’s barely time to catch up properly, but we have many nice words about our personal journeys since we were last together in Paris at Christmas.

Flag another cab. Laugh a lot on the way back. All the bands and crews is out by the busses. We sip wine from the bottle in the street and pass the bottle around.
Back down to the dressing room where we pop the corks off 3 bottles of bubbles with Aocalyptica and the two crews. We have an amazing group cheer and ‘End of Tour’ photo.
Run the girls back to a cab on Saint Catherine’s. Cale, Jeffy and I sneak over to the ‘must see’ metal bar next door for one quick beer. Craft. Yum. Back to the busses where we say our good-byes.
Eikka stops me outside and we have a nice moment together where he shares some words of wisdom.
Hugs. Bed. Border.
Headlining show tonight.
In the middle of 12 shows in a row.

Sex Drugs and Habanero Hot Sauce

It took almost 2 years to perfect. You may have heard about my love of the habanero pepper and my small (very small) hot sauce operation in Vancouver. (Can you call, shopping in local markets, cooking and bottling a few dozen per year an operation?)
I’ve spent the last couple of years testing the recipe on family and friends and a few willing people in the music industry. It’s burnt a few tongues and egos along the way, but when I bump into people that have tried it they always seem to want more!

So here it is! I’ve been able to produce a few of these big ass (750ml) bottles of the stuff.
If you live in Canada and want to get one, shoot me a message and I’ll let you know how.


Anthony’s Restaurants Burger Review, Sea Tac Airport Seattle

I know that expecting an amazing burger at an airport is a little optimistic to say the least, but this place looks great. The staff are attentive and busy, in a very good way for an airport bar. In fact, if it wasn’t for the constant Alaska airline planes taking off just outside the window, I wouldn’t feel like I’m at an airport right now at all. Pretty good thing.
I’ve just tried the Pike’s Place IPA and its off the hook! A nice hoppy beer to make ME a little more hoppy while waiting for my flight to Chicago.

After checking out the menu, I ask my bartender “how’s the burger?”  He says “it’s really good” and I take his word for it.  What a great opportunity to put this place to the test on “Jonny’s Search For America’s Best Burger“.
I ask if they can cook it medium as opposed to well done and the bartender responds “probably not” but gives me a sense that he’ll try. I also ask for all of the condiments to come ‘on the side’ save for a little mayo.
The burger comes, and looks amazing! Beef and cheese are spilling out of the edges of this classically wrapped sandwich.
I’m a little disappointed to find all of the condiments arrive on the burger. This thing is loaded with pickles, lettuce, onion, mayo and ketchup. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these things, but that’s not quite what we discussed. I’m cool with it though, I mean, how hard is it to scrape these things to the side myself and imagine it came the way I asked for it?

Well, 3 minutes later, I find myself piling the condiments back on. This burger sucks!  WAAYY too much bun! This thing tastes like 90% wonder bread! The beef is acceptable, cheese, ummm didn’t really taste it.  Over cooked beef  = very disappointing. Hmmmm sorry Anthony.

Your burger gets 1  out of 5 beers. And  the 1 is only for the checkered wax paper presentation and fries.  (Oh, and the friendly service)

I guess airports are not the best place for burgers. Although the staff has been friendly and the ambiance great for flight waiting, the Wendy’s across from me in the food court looks like it might have been a better choice!

Moderne Burger Review, Vancouver

After traveling America in search of America’s Best Burger this year, it was nice to spend a little time at home and put a local establishment to the test.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with a good friend at Moderne Burger in Vancouver. (He’s a “regular” and raves about the place)

As soon as you swing the door open into the restaurant, it becomes very obvious that you are in a special place. An extreme passion for retro-decor and attention to detail are evident everywhere. At first glance, you might think the owner put a lot of effort into making this place look like a 50s diner, but upon further inspection you realize THIS IS a 50′s diner! Everything in the place is legit and has been carefully restored to give you a true new/old experience. Needless to say, the stage has been nicely set for an intense burger experience.

The staff here, is unique and you instantly get the sense that they are personally invested in the experience. We are greeted by none other than the owner Peter, who’s friendly and knowledgeable demeanor makes for an educated culinary experience. I’ve been fortunate to have been on a few private winery tours, and there is definitely something amazing about sipping a glass of reserve after being educated on the grape and it’s path from the dirt to the glass. The same happens here with Peter’s knowledge of beef and the burger, right down to suggestions on the best way to hold the sandwich and how to create a “fry tray” to set the burger on and not waste any drippings. The hospitality doesn’t stop there as Mike (the ex-boxer cook) takes orders from across the room and throws out polite verbal jabs and punches disguised as wise cracks and infectious chuckles. Peter’s wife Catherine also stops in and extends a warm welcome. This is a family.

Let’s get down to it.
The burger arrives perfectly presented. I am salivating as I snap a few pre-first bite pics. I sink my teeth in and… WOW! Everything works extremely well in this bite. The cheddar, the bacon, a slight smokiness from the BBQ sauce and above all… the beef! There is something amazing about the beef at Moderne Burger. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s “all steer”. Maybe it’s the fact that the quality is so high that there is no need to use a binder like soy or bread crumbs. Maybe it’s the fact that Peter takes such pride and knowledge in his preparation that you can taste the love… I’m not exactly sure, but I can tell you this beef is outstanding!! I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like it. Simply delicious as are the fries which incidentally have a story and unique cooking method that make them an original taste experience as well. (The dipping sauce that comes with the fries is also amazing and I will swap that in on the burger instead of the BBQ sauce on my next visit)
I think the best way to describe Moderne Burger is simply: A uniquely high quality burger experience.

Moderne Burger get’s my highest rating to date!  4 and 1/2 beers out of 5.
The burger itself and the complete experience are not to be missed if you’re in the Vancouver area.

Two things I would like to see from Moderne Burger in the future are:
1. Choice of bun.
I felt the bun (which was perfect for the diner experience and tasted amazing) is probably the right choice for this burger on your first visit. But coming back as a repeat customer I would like to chose from perhaps 3 options. A brioche, a very thin sesame and the original. Just a thought to let that beef quality shine through even further.
2. Liquor license.
As much as my shaved ice diet coke suited this meal, I prefer to have a choice of suds to wash down my breakfast. (Hey, sometimes you gotta have a burger like this for your first meal of the day!) Would be nice to see a selection of local brews on tap.

Thank you to Peter, Catherine and Mike for an amazing experience. I can’t wait for my next Moderne Burger!
You can find Modern Burger under the neon sign at 2507 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC or on the web at www.moderneburger.com

Burger Bar Review, Las Vegas

Shortly after playing the amazingly successful Rock Vegas Festival I had the opportunity to put a local burger joint to the test in “Jonny’s Search For America’s Best Burger”.

The contender: Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Burger for breakfast? Sure! It won’t be the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

But first things first – a round of Guinness for a band that really shouldn’t be out of bed yet after the shows we’ve just played, but we have a rehearsal space booked and we’re all really looking forward to getting there to work on some new music.

The atmosphere at the Burger Bar could use some help. It seems like they’re trying to pull off half diner, half pub and not really hitting the mark on either. The music = horrible. This is Vegas, so I expect the worst, but the canned dance-a-tronic music being pumped through this place is nearly unbearable. It’s at times like these that great service can really make you forget about the bad music and lack of ambiance, but unfortunately Burger Bar falls short again. Rushed/uninterested service at a snail’s pace. So far, things are not going too well. I order my burger with a positive attitude in anticipation for something great… And the burger does not let me down.

The meat is tasty and cooked perfectly to medium rare. The cheese and bacon are also perfectly melted and cooked and the flavors of each are incredible. I left the bun, sauce and condiments up to the chef and was pleasantly surprised. He chose an onion bun and to serve sliced avocado on the side – interesting. The bun was a little distracting for my taste buds to handle with all of these other amazing flavors – I will steer clear in the future. The avocado looked very lonely and I was intrigued by the chef’s choice to add this as an optional condiment. So, I stuffed in some green layers on the second half of my burger and it was pretty damn good! Definitely complimented the other flavors and brought out an undeniable extra creaminess to this “breakfast burger” – good call chef!

The beef was really the highlight – very flavorful and cooked perfectly. The only disadvantage was simply too much. I encounter this mistake often in burger paradise. Sometimes thicker/bigger is not better. For the perfect burger I believe you need a balance – there must be an ideal “beef to bun to topping” ratio so that all of the flavors come together into perfect burger harmony. This one, unfortunately simply had too much beef. (If you want to know the answer to “Where’s the beef” well, it quite possibly might be at Burger Bar)

I give Burger Bar  out of 5 beers.

The beef was really great, but the balance and the overall experience was a disappointment.

Thank you to all who made great suggestions in the Rock Vegas Fest Burger Contest. The next time I am in town I will be sampling more burgers based on your recommendations.

Until next time… keep grilling it and killin it!

Jonny Hetherington

Search For America’s Best Burger Zombie Burger Review, Des Moines

Touring in support of Vices And Virtues  has taken me all over the good old US of A, so I’ve had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into an amazing variety of one of the things America does best – the hamburger.
Welcome to “Jonny’s Search for America’s Best Burger”.
I’ll be posting my reviews here and launching special contests like this one in Vegas at the end of September:

Rock Vegas Fest Contest
Win a pair of passes to Rock Vegas Fest and a chance to chow down with Art of Dying frontman Jonny Hetherington if you can tell him where to find the best burger in Vegas as he launches “Jonny’s Search For America’s Best Burger”

I’ve found some little gems on the road already. Here’s my first review from the famous Zombie Burger in Des Moines, Iowa.

Zombie Burger Review
Day off from tour in Des Moines, what better thing to do than hit up Zombie Burger for the first time. This comes highly recommended from our crew, as they have been many times and rave about it.
It was an amazingly warm summer day so we crashed the street side patio. Our server was on point and didn’t put up with any of our shit. When it came my turn to order I asked her for a simple cheese burger prepared exactly the way the chef wanted.
The beer selection was pretty good, and after trying a couple of the local favorites I switched back to coors light – trust me, it was that hot.

The Burger:
I really loved everything about this burger – sometimes the “keep it simple stupid” rule works. (just ask Gene Simmons)
The beef on this thing was amazing (i have a feeling it was not lean) as was the cheddar cheese – 2 slices of each melting in-betweeen the patties and 2 strips of smokey bacon.
The best and most original part was the sesame seed bun – it really flattened out once you picked the burger up, which was a good thing. It supported the burger without being too ‘bready’ or taking over the flavor experience. Simple juicy and mouthwatering burger goodness. There was a ton of drippings in the bottom of my basket for dipping which I highly suggest.

Zombie Burger gets out of 5 beers from me.
Solid as shit! The half point penalty is only because I felt the beef could have been cooked a touch more rare. (cooked a touch more rare – does that even make sense?) I can’t wait to see how it holds up on Jonny’s Search for America’s Best Burger!

Execution Lunch

If I had to pick my “execution dinner” it would have to be filet mignon, but if the execution got delayed an extra day and I had time to sneak in a “last lunch” this would be it. Simple and straight forward – baguette, cheese, fresh fruit and a bottle of wine. When I’m at home writing on break from tour I could eat this almost everyday, but I try to keep it under twice a week. ;) Since this lunch fell after dark I threw in a bocconcini, tomato and fresh basil salad. Crack a little sea salt and pepper and drizzle with extra virgin and balsamic – off the hook! Dip the last crust of bread in the bottom of that plate and soak up the goodness!

Teriyaki Tuna Tower

Good to be off tour for a few days and be near my grill!
Check this out.

I just made this up as I went along.
Slice a potato into think slices and grill on the BBQ. Throw a cast iron pan in there with a little olive oil to start them before transferring to the grill to get the lines.
Blanch some green beans in water for a couple of minutes.
In another pan start some garlic in olive oil. Add soy sauce, a little brown sugar and a squeeze of lemon and add the beans for a minute or two. Sear the tuna cube on all 6 sides in the cast iron pan on the Q. And there you have it. Grilled potato on the bottom with green beans and tuna. I through a few green onions in with the beans too. Drizzle the teriyaki and sprinkle on some sesame seeds.
Squeeze of lemon and your good to go.
Pretty amazing with white wine or cold beer.

I get my guy at the butcher shop to cut my tuna for me, it’s hard to find the right piece per cut. Thanks George!

Tuscany Lunch

I can’t get over the fabulous wines, cheeses and meats available in Italy.
If there was one theme for my trip it was definitely wine (it doesn’t hurt to be hanging with a couple of wine experts either)! We visited an amazing winery in the Tuscan hills called Brancaia. I learned so much on this excursion that I’m pondering growing my own grapes and giving wine making a shot. I doubt that will happen, but the inspiration is unavoidable.
This picture was taken at the villa and was an unforgettable little poolside lunch. We saved the Brancaia wine for dinner but did include their amazing olive oil.

Mmmmmm. All I can say is my next trip to Italy can’t come fast enough.

Marinara Meat Ball Sliders

The trick to sliders in my opinion is presenting the patty as a traditional meat ball rather than a flattened burger patty. The more spherical shape allows the center to stay more rare, so when you put the top bun on and give it that initial “squish”, the juices just come flowing out. You can have a lot of fun with toppings and sauces, but I find the best rule of thumb is to keep it simple. this is marinara sauce (from scratch), shaved grana padano and a few baby basil leaves.
Squish and enjoy as the sauce runs down your hands… you might want to have quite a few napkins on hand.