Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For 'Tour Tales,' we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it's still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on 'Tour Tales.'
For the past 11 years, 37-year-old Bronx, New York native Antwan "Amadeus" Thompson has pretty much seen it all on tour as Trey Songz's music director. There's been marriage issues, robberies, and even some chicken from Detroit that almost stopped an entire show. However, outside of his first ever New Zealand shows in 2018, Songz has been pretty absent from the road since his 2017 tour in support of his album Tremaine.
"We're not moving as much as we were moving. But, when we were moving, we moving. We were doing two to three tours a year," Amadeus told REVOLT TV.
For this installment of "Tour Tales," the music director tells us how Trey Songz's abs helped save a show that "Crack Chicken" almost ruined, the brotherhood he and the singer developed, and which legends have shown Songz love.
You're 37 and Trey is 34. So, for the last 11 years, y'all pretty much grew into men on the road. Your 20s are very formidable years. Are there any moments where y'all connected like brothers?
Absolutely. So, I'm definitely a big brother figure and he's shared this sentiment with me and other people multiple times. At certain times when we were touring, I was married. So, I carried myself in a certain manner. He respected that and appreciated that I was committed and I was faithful to my wife at the time. He admired that. That's something people wouldn't know. I remember him pulling me into his dressing room, and a friend of his was there. Trey was like, 'My boy got some issues. You're big bro and got the married life. Could you help him out?'
Those are the moments that bond people on tour. Were there bonding excursions y'all went on, on tour?
I think one of our favorite things is bowling. Trey is a beast at bowling, and so are a few other band members. We do it and have fun. The go-kart racing is another thing that we do on the road. We go to the movies. Of course, the studio. If he's vibing in the studio, he'll have the whole band come, and we'll start creating music on the spot.
What was one of the most difficult shows for you to put together as a music director for Trey?
I remember we had just got off "The Blueprint 3 Tour," we flew home after being on the road for a month and a half, and then, the next day went into rehearsal for a show we had in New York. We also had to prepare for 'MTV Unplugged.' As a music director, I had to organize it. It's 'Unplugged,' so it's an acoustic vibe. I had to figure out a violinist. I brought in a horn section. I brought in a percussionist who never played his music before, so he had to figure it out. I sent him the music, so he could figure it out. We only had one rehearsal. So, the band had a rehearsal for a few hours. Trey flew in, came straight from rehearsal, and we figured it out.
A big part of Trey's appeal is he's a heartthrob. What's the craziest thing that happens at a Trey Songz show?
The funniest thing to me is what happens when he takes his shirt off and throws it in the audience (laughs). They tussle and fight. I've seen fans tussle and fight over a shirt for four or five songs. No one is letting up, no one is letting go. We've seen dudes fight with girls for the shirt. There's been times where Trey's pointed out like, 'Hey, bruh, let the girl get the shirt. What you going to do with my shirt?'
I actually have another story that no one knows. So, we're in Detroit and we're performing. Before we perform, they put us on to this chicken. It's called 'Crack Chicken.' It's called 'Crack Chicken' because whatever seasoning they use is really good and people are addicted to it. So, we're performing. I'm playing, and we're about to go into 'Neighbors Know My Name.' We start 'Neighbors Know my Name' and my stomach is rumbling (laughs).
Now, me being the music director, I have a microphone. So, Trey can hear me. The band can hear me, the lighting director can hear me, both engineers can hear me, and the tour manager can hear me. So, I'm like, 'Hey, man, I'm not feeling too good.' So, we're doing 'Neighbors Know My Name,' and we're at the end of the song. Trey is singing, slowing it down, and doing his heartthrob thing. I'm like, 'Guys, I'm going to the bathroom.' Mind you, Trey didn't hear me. He's singing and the tour manager is running me to the bathroom. The bathroom is crazy far away.
I'm in the bathroom and he's banging on the door like, 'Yo, hurry up. We trying to finish the show.' I'm like, 'Man, you have to stop talking to me because I can't focus.' So, I'm in the bathroom doing a number two. Long story short, I get back onstage. Trey turns around and gets mad at the keyboard player for extending the chords. The keyboard player can't talk to Trey, only I can. Trey turns around, the audience doesn't see that, and Trey is cursing him out. 'When I tell you to stop that shit, you stop that shit. Alright?' Then, the keyboard player points to the drums like, 'Look that way.' Trey looked over and was like, 'Oh shit.'
The fans were trying to get him to take his shirt off. But, he told them that he wasn't no stripper. He wasn't ready to take his shirt off because it wasn't that song. When he realizes I wasn't there, he turns around and goes, 'What y'all was saying about that shirt?' (laughs) He takes his shirt off and makes a moment with that shirt, and stalled the show until I came back on drums. I came back and he turns around, laughs his ass off, and we continue the show. No one has heard [of] that show (laughs).
Trey Songz's abs kept the show going, per usual. You were with Trey on his first international tours. Was there an overseas show that was a culture shock for you and Trey?
Yeah. We went to Japan, and we were performing on army bases and stuff like that. The Asian people were singing word for word and really understanding, and appreciating the songs; even down to the musicianship. At first, when we performed, we didn't know if they liked the performance because some of them sing, and some of them just stare and watch you. When we were done, someone there was like, 'No, they loved it. They just really watch you and really study what you're doing.' They were looking like zombies at some point. Another example: When you send [the Japanese organizers] the layout of how you want the stage -- because they're so into details and watch so closely -- that shit is exactly how you want it to be. Every single time, I loved that when Trey performed in Japan.
What are some other life moments you and Trey worked out on the road?
Just me being transparent, I went through a divorce. While I was going through that divorce, he was there. He was there to lend an ear. He was there for my family. While going through a divorce, I was on tour. This was, I want to say either end of 2017 or beginning of 2018. We had our conversations, and he was like, 'Everything is going to be alright. Do you need anything? Do you need time off?' I was like, 'Nah, I have to keep going.'
Was it a conscious decision to stop bringing up fans to kiss [onstage] or did it just stop happening without notice?
I think it was more of a vibe. Certain tours and certain songs allowed for a certain mood to be created. There could be two tours where every night he brought up a fan and interacted with them, and created a moment for the fan, and for the audience -- also making it a sexy moment -- as well. It's really just about the mood and the moment. You never want to force anything just because it's something cool. You want to feel things out to make sure it's the best thing to do, it's the appropriate thing to do.
So, for certain shows it doesn't fit. Or, certain venues, it might be a little challenging getting a fan onstage. It also might be an age thing. We wanted to make sure everyone was of age to get onstage and able to participate. I wouldn't say it stopped because something went wrong, or something bad happened, or he wasn't feeling it anymore.
I've coined this phrase, 'Tour Hits.' These are songs that weren't hits. But, they get big reactions on tour. What are Trey Songz's biggest "tour hits"?
Great question, man. If I can go back to like 'Store Run.' You know what I'm saying? Shit like that. We get a nice response from 'Unusual.' You'd be surprised with the reception from a lot of album cuts. Once you have that core fanbase in there rocking with you, they don't want to hear songs that are on the radio. They're in love with songs that aren't on the radio.
Trey's been in the game for over 12 years. Have you ever seen any legends in the game come up to Trey and show their respects?
Matter of fact, we toured in Australia, and Ginuwine was there. Naughty By Nature, the group Next, and Usher were there, too. We were all on that tour for two weeks together. Usher actually came and sat on the side of the stage where the monitor engineers were, and he's on video singing 'Say Ahh' on the side, rocking with us. I think after we did that particular show, Trey and Usher were escorted back to the dressing room, and then, they went into the elevator together. Usher was just like, 'Yo, that's dope, man. I'm super proud of you. That was a great set.' Also, Ginuwine saying he watched him [Trey] grow up to performing in front of 60,000 people.
Not to harp back on this, but you said Trey helped you through an emotional divorce. Is there a show you can think back to where you can say, 'Yeah, Trey really held me down while I was going through something'?
I got a perfect story for you. We were in Marseille, France. Before we went to Marseille, France; they told us, 'Listen, this city is kind of crazy. It's known for a lot of robbery, so be careful.' So, we went into it eyes and ears open. So, we get to the venue. There's fans outside. The bus parks in front. They kept saying people would steal from the venue. So, with that being said, I was like, 'Shit, I'm going to leave my computer on the tour bus' because I thought that was the safer thing to do.
So, it's later in the day. We're in catering and someone walks into the catering lounge and says, 'Hey, I left my Blackberry on the cabinet in the bus. Has anyone seen it?' In that moment, we all looked at each other and ran as fast as we could to the bus. We get to the tour bus and realize there was a small window near the driver's seat. So, they basically broke in that window, got in somehow, opened up the door and went in the tour bus. They stole my computer bag; which had my computer, my passport -- and I had hosted two shows out in London at the start of the tour. So, I had six thousand pounds in the bag. At that time, I was in the marriage. I was happy in the marriage, everything was cool. So, basically all my wedding pictures and that stuff are gone.
Now, mind you, this is during the day when this happened. The tour bus is parked right in front of the venue. Nobody seen nothing. This is crazy. Then, I had to play the show that night. One of the most difficult moments ever on tour was having to perform in front of an audience not knowing who stole my stuff. That person who stole it could have been in the audience at the show. I remember it was very emotional for me, and I actually broke down in the middle of the show. I just got up, turned around, and looked towards the back so no one could see me. But, the band members saw it.
Trey realized what was happening and stopped the show. He was like, 'An unfortunate event happened today. My musical director and drummer got some valuables stolen from him and he's taking it hard.' It was a very dope, uplifting moment. So, I had my moment. I let it out, and got back on drums and killed that show. I just left it out on the stage that night.