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Here at ACM, our tutors work in the music industry at the highest levels, so it comes as no surprise to learn that throughout much of 2016, ACM Guitar tutor, Tim Walters, has been on the road on a world tour playing guitar for the Dire Straits Experience.
Across his career, Tim has worked with a diverse range of musicians, such as Gaz Coombes (Supergrass), Irwin Sparkes (The Hoosiers), Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden), Steve White (Paul Weller, The Who), Richard Jupp (Elbow) and many more. While on the road, he took some time out to speak to us about the highs and lows of having such a hectic touring schedule.
Can you briefly describe your experience working in music?
Working in the music industry is like serving an ongoing apprenticeship. You find little niches where your skill set fits and if you work hard and do a good job, word gets out. Don’t expect things to happen overnight; love what you’re doing and gradually you’ll find a place in the industry. The more plates you can spin and the more work you can say “yes” to, the easier it is to make a living.
How did you begin working with the Dire Straits Experience and how long have you been playing with them?
I’ve been with DSE since 2014 and got the gig through Chris White (saxophonist for Dire Straits), who I’ve been lucky enough to work with on various projects over the last ten years or so. The Dire Straits Experience developed from a previous band called The Straits, and when the new format began to take shape, Chris asked if I was interested in the second guitar part.
What countries have you visited so far and what have you got coming up?
In 2016 we’ve performed in Egypt, Ukraine, Holland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Tenerife and the UK. In total a 61 date tour covering 12 countries. There are already 50 odd shows in the diary for 2017, including shows in India, Russia, Germany and lots more.
What’s been the highlight of the tour so far?
A relatively small UK gig in Milton Keynes sticks in my mind, where we got a standing ovation after the first number, but there’s been so many great audiences all over the world.
What’s been your favourite venue to play and why?
Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem was a pretty special venue, not least because Dire Straits played a historic gig there back in 1985. It was 6,000 seats, sold out and the audience were still applauding as they walked home after the show, up the hills either side of the amphitheatre.
Do you miss home? If so, how do you manage feeling homesick?
I’m married with kids, so being away from home is tough. FaceTime is a godsend!
What do you like most about being on tour?
It’s very exciting playing to big audiences and travelling to different parts of the world. All the guys in DSE are great musicians, so it’s a pleasure to get to play with them… which is a bonus.
What do you like least about being on tour?
Being away from home is hard and all the airports and tour buses can grind you down a bit.
Talk us through a normal day on tour. Do you get the chance to see the sights or be a tourist?
Making the lobby call, which can be anywhere from 6am (hell) to 5pm (heaven), is the priority. Then there’s travel to the venue and a sound check. The band is quite big (it’s a seven piece) and there are lots of acoustic instruments to check, as well as the standard rock band set-up. We have dinner, then have an hour or so to get our game faces on. The show is over two hours long and afterwards it’s usually back to the hotel for the night. Then we repeat to process the next day, travelling to the next hotel/venue. On the recent antipodean leg of the tour we did 11 flights in 15 days (two of which were 20+ hour journeys). There’s often not much time for any sightseeing, but sometimes there are exceptions. We have been lucky enough to stay in some beautiful places and are generally really well looked after. However, you have to earn every five-star hotel, by staying in ten Premier Inns.
Is working long hours/tiredness ever a problem for you on tour? If so, how do you manage it?
Obviously tiredness can be an issue. Use your downtime wisely and try to stay as rested as possible. Make sure you do something you enjoy when you have time off and keep your mind active.
Will you be visiting the UK with the show? Where can people get tickets?
Yes, there are a handful of UK shows later in 2017, including playing at The Silverstone Classic, which should be pretty awesome. Check out www.direstraitsexperience.com for details.
How long have you been teaching at ACM and what can people expect from your lessons?
I’ve been teaching at ACM since 2014, and in my lessons pupils can expect a real focus on essential elements and their real world applications. I’ve been told my lectures are a lot of fun, which is interesting, as I think I’m extremely serious in class!
Do you have any advice for people looking to study music?
Come to ACM!
If you’d like to be a student at ACM, please call our Admissions Team on 01483 500 841 or visit www.acm.ac.uk/open-days/ to book a place on an ACM Open Day today.