What’s so funny about drumming? Everything, if you’re on tour with a comedian.
Elie Bertrand spent two years on the road with Quebecois actor/funnyman, Stephane Rousseau. For a drummer, this is definitely not your typical gig. Read on to find out what an average day on tour looked like for Elie, as well as how she once laughed so loudly during a performance that she actually had to step offstage.
Stephane is an extremely talented actor, comedian and singer, among so many other things. We toured all over French Canada and French Europe. It was the best!
This gig was awesome because we not only played music, but everyone played a role in the show. All the technicians and the two musicians had speaking lines. In short, the show is a story roughly based on Stephane’s love life – from talking about the mother of his son (a character based on two of his former partners), to getting through single life.
It was very interesting to do. It took me way out of my comfort zone. You know how it is…being on stage is one thing, but speaking in a mic is another dimension. I personally hate it! At clinics I just wanna die when it’s time to say “hey”. I am super shy.
Sometimes we were playing to create atmospheres. Other times it was comical songs, and sometimes it was effects and such.
There were five original songs and a lot of ambient sounds/background music. The songs all had very funny lyrics, of course. The effect sounds were mostly triggered from an SPD-SX sampling pad, and some were ambient drums used more as a percussion setup.
The songs were a collaboration between William Croft – the other musician on the tour, an amazing keyboard player – and Stephane. I believe there was also a DJ who contributed at the beginning. I wasn’t there from the beginning; I hopped on the tour halfway through.
Princess tour galore, right here! I’d wake up just before the end of breakfast time at the hotel and go for a run to visit the city we were in. Then breakfast. Then ‘tourism party’! We never had a soundcheck before 6 pm, which gave me so much time to explore. We would be done soundcheck by 6:17. Then we would have dinner. The show would go from 8:30 pm to 10:10 pm, and then we would go out and have a drink. Sometimes the event managers would take us out to some party, a fancy club, to their winery to try out whatever they made…it was amazing.
Will (keyboardist) and I mostly traveled in the same vehicle as Stephane, so if we had some driving to do during the day, we would always leave later than the techs. On travel days, I would run twice: once in the morning, and once when we got to the next city.
The Canadian leg of the tour was a bit less fancy because most of the dates were close enough to home. So we would go back home instead of to the fancy parties. It has its own perks. I slept in my own bed and got to do my thing before shows.
This tour was absolutely epic. I still cannot believe this was paid for! I was on vacay for two years!
I got the gig because they needed to have a female drummer to fit the show’s storyline. The first drummer was Emmanuelle Caplette. I was one of four to try out, and I scored!
My solo was my favorite part because in the show, it comes at a time when Steph is being a little cocky. He would jam on the djembe and challenge me to “do better”. Then I would bust out some chops. People always loved that part, and obviously I loved it too because it was basically 30 seconds of putting me on a pedestal…haha!
To stay focused. I have ADHD! The show was around 100 minutes long with 35 minutes of music. There were two 15-minute blocks where we just waited quietly on stage. I would get lost in my mind during these minutes, and I’d always have to call myself back to earth to be on cue. Honestly, that was super challenging for me.
Well, anyone who knows me knows that I am the easiest person to make laugh, and I have such a weird laugh! It’s embarrassing. I laughed during the show at first. As time goes on, you know the jokes so you don’t laugh, but Stephane is amazing at improv. So he would sometimes insert some inside jokes for the team, and I would laugh each time.
But this one time – I think we were a bit overtired, I don’t know – I laughed so much I was sweating and crying. It made absolutely no sense. I could not stop. We almost had to pause the show because I was laughing so much that no one could focus. Even the crowd was laughing because my laugh is so ridiculous. I walked out for a second because my makeup was running and I had to make myself stop.
Hiding behind her trademark smile is a wealth of experience and versatility honed by years of performing around the world. Whether she’s traveling the planet with Canada’s biggest stars, rocking out while opening for Motley Crüe, appearing at international drum festivals or beaming to the camera on HBO boxing, Elie heightens any musical situation with warmth and elegance and transmits her joy to each and every member of the audience.
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