PopMart Archives: Pete the Greek Chat Transcript

Host Kirsten says:
Hi everyone. Pete the Greek, PopMart head rigger, is joining us live
from Sarajevo. Welcome, Pete. Let’s start with the questions.

What exactly does a rigger do?

Pete The Greek says:
Hangs things up!

Host Kirsten says:
What’s the most satisfying aspect of what you do?

Pete The Greek says:
Talking on the telephone at 3am in the morning to the rest of the
world.

DJ_Gibigiane asks:
Pete, how long does it take to rig up the stage?

Pete The Greek says:
My particular bit of it takes about 10 hours, but there’s maybe another
24 before that. The total time is probably more like 30-odd hours.

U2is ABLE asks:
What do you do in your spare time?

Pete The Greek says:
Sleep!

Host Kirsten says:
How dangerous is your job?

Pete The Greek says:
The people in Sarajevo were more pleased to see us than most other
cities in the world that you go to. In fact, we probably are special
guests, really, so you’re overprotected if anything.

Host Kirsten says:
What’s the best thing about working for U2?

Pete The Greek says:
I’ll have to think about that. Singing along with the karaoke! In fact, I’m
known as the singing rigger.

DJ_Gibigiane asks:
Pete – can you describe the differences between rigging this tour
versus the various Zoo shows?

Pete The Greek says:
This one takes longer – a lot longer, which means less times to see
the places where you’re actually doing the concert in.

Nate asks:
Do you stay at the venue when you have finished putting things up?

Pete The Greek says:
I always watch not all, but certain bits of the show – it’s a very
important reason why I’m there. Watching the end result is something I
always do.

LemonAli asks:
Have there been many logistical problems to getting the stage built in
Sarajevo?

Pete The Greek says:
Not so far, touch wood. You know, all the various government
agencies involved, the UN and all these other people have been
bending over backwards to help make this thing happen.

Aingeal asks:
Have you ever been to Sarajevo before? What did you expect of the
city? Any preconceived notions? Any surprises?

Pete The Greek says:
This is my first trip here. I didn’t know what to expect, really. We didn’t
arrive until about 4 or 5 hours ago. We just went out, had something
to eat, and walked back from the restaurant. We haven’t had much
time to be surprised – and it’s awfully late on Sunday night (3 am) to
see much.

U2isABLE asks:
What do you think about this new cyber-world we’re all living in?

Pete The Greek says:
The latest place open in Sarajevo is an internet cafe – that’s where
everyone was going after we left the restaurant. Some of the other
people took off for there since it’s the late-night spot – so that says
something about it.

DJ_Gibigiane asks:
Pete, are there any particular shows on the tour that have been
memorable, either in a positive way or a negative way?

Pete The Greek says:
I thought the London shows were really good. I’m a Londoner and I
was really proud of it as London audiences can be not the liveliest in
the world, but when they are they really go. I thought the London
shows were really special.

Aingeal asks:
Is that lemon easy to put together and take apart? Do you ever wish
they’d used something smaller, like a grape? 🙂

Pete The Greek says:
Aside from the odd time when it didn’t work, it is very easy, though
polishing it is a bit of a problem.

U2isABLE asks:
Pete, what are your thoughts about the Lemon not opening in Oslo?

Pete The Greek says:
These things are sent to try us . . .

Trash asks:
Is that arch and cocktail stick safe? It looks rather dodgy to me, a
structural engineer! (-:

Pete The Greek says:
You have a counterpart in London that was and still is very involved in
the structural integrity and some of the things you have to go through.
For example, one of the problems with doing the show in Dublin is
that stages are looked at as structures and are subject to building
engineer codes. This structure is subject to the same stringent
regulations as if it were permanent. And we wouldn’t put them up if we
thought they were dodgy.

Aingeal asks:
Pete, have there been any serious injuries on the tour thus far?

Pete The Greek says:
None that I know of. I mean, accidents do happen. Safety is always
the important consideration, but I would like to think that on this tour
we’re advanced as anybody with our safety procedures. The whole
stage build is like a construction zone – we use cranes, wear hardhats
(a new thing in the music industry) – we’re probably pioneering safety
methods on this tour that haven’t been done up to now.

U2isABLE asks:
Pete, there are a few of us out here who are concerned about David
Geyer’s well being. Rumour has it that the Miami girl fell on him in
Belfast. Is Mr. Geyer back with the band?

Pete The Greek says:
He did have to leave after that date – an old war wound flared back
up. The latest from David Herbert, who is in my room, is that he had
an operation for it and he’s recovering from it now. We miss him.

DJ_Gibigiane asks:
Pete, the olive was replaced with an inflatable. Do you know where
the original one is?

Pete The Greek says:
We’re actually back to using the original. The reason for the inflatable
is that when we start flying the gear between gigs (South America,
Japan, Australia) the olive’s too big to fit in an aircraft. We’re going to
have to use the inflatable after Christmas, so we tried it in Cologne.

Aingeal asks:
What will happen to the arches, lemons, olives and whatnot of the tour
once it has ended? And whatever happened to the squeaky nun?

Pete The Greek says:
I think all around the world there are old stage sets that have been
stored. Some of the Zoo set made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame in Cleveland but I think this one’s so big . . . maybe what we
can do as a grand finale is leave it as a permanent installation
somewhere. But most of these things get stored for awhile, and then
get pitched out. I’ll try to find out exactly what the plan is for the Pop
set. Good question.

LemonAli asks:
Pete, are there any differences in the working philosophies of local
crews in the US versus Europe, or between crews in different
European countries?

Pete The Greek says:
Well, yes, there is, because we’re actually going to a few countries on
this tour where shows of this size are very uncommon. I think the last
show in Sarajevo was the Scorpions about seven years ago. I don’t
know what to expect for tomorrow – certainly inexperience as
nothing’s been through here. New York, LA, and other big cities have
major rock shows all the time, the same with Israel. I don’t know about
Thessalonia. So, yeah, we’re pioneering European cities, whereas
most American cities are on a well-trodden path.

Aingeal asks:
What was the absolute strangest thing that has happened to you on
this tour?

Pete The Greek says:
It’s a secret. I haven’t fallen off of anything!

Aingeal asks:
Are there any female riggers or other female crew members who do
what you do?

Pete The Greek says:
Not actually on our crew at the moment, but on local crews there are
an ever increasing amount and we love it when we have female
workmates.

Aingeal asks:
How are you going to work out the stage setup at the indoor gigs, like
Toronto, Minneapolis, Detroit, etc.? Will there need to be any major
changes in height of the arch or toothpick to compromise with
stadium roof restrictions?

Pete The Greek says:
No, not in any of those venues. I mean, they’re basically a covered
stadium. The full shows go in absolutely everywhere we play. There
was some talk that Perth might not have enough room for the cocktail
stick and there’s still some talk about that, but everyone else in the
world gets to see the same thing in every venue.

U2isABLE asks:
Pete, when did you start working for U2…and who did you work for
before them?

Pete The Greek says:
The first U2 tour I did was ’92. I’ve worked with all kinds of people in
the past. I spent a good seven years with the Eurythmics on and off –
that was my main employment at that time. Siouxsie and the
Banshees and Sade in the 80s.

U2isABLE asks:
How did you get started in this business? Was it a dream of yours to
work for rock bands?

Pete The Greek says:
No, like virtually everybody else who was employed during the 70s
and 80s, it was completely by accident. People who dream about
working in the business are the 90s generation.

Salome269 asks:
Pete, what was your first reaction when you were informed of the
40-foot lemon and the whole extravagant set up?

Pete The Greek says:
You see these things on drawings and these days, the AutoCAD
gives you such a good three-dimensional drawing that you can see
the thing on paper and I knew, just like every other U2 project, that it
would happen. You can actually achieve anything if you have the right
attitude. I think the screen was the most frightening thing for me in so
much as not even one
complete unit had been built and the whole stage is based upon it. It
was only literally days before we got to Vegas when bits of it were
being completed and shipped out.

You have to start so far in advance, because the amount of tickets
you can sell is based on the size of the stage, and very important
decisions have to be made before the main feature of the show is off
the drawing board. But, it did actually all work out as designed – it’s
now even waterproofed!

DJ_Gibigiane asks:
Pete, do any of the members of U2 ever come out and ask you to
change the angle of the toothpick or other annoying things?

Pete The Greek says:
No, that’s one of the other good things about working with U2. In fact,
it’s done in rehearsals and that’s why you have a month to rehearse.
They’re really good at knowing what they want and the process of
design and logistics are combined and they have a realistic idea of
what we’re doing before we do it. It’s really too big to change at that
level. Maybe a few other departments, like wardrobe and sound get
changes, but not really the bigger elements of the show.

Aingeal asks:
Pete, how is security for the Sarajevo and Tel-Aviv shows shaping
up? I was in Belfast and very impressed at how tight they had the
place running. Are you nervous or even scared?

Pete The Greek says:
It’s something that’s been a topic of conversation recently. We all
watch the TV as much as anyone else. We’ve got a top thing behind
us and I think everybody’s security is top of the list. We’ve got Jerry
Mele to look after us as well. Uncle Jerry . . .

Salome269 asks:
Pete, do you think U2’s next show will be more extravagant, or do you
think they’ll “scale down” their next effort?

Pete The Greek says:
I hope for the latter!

DJ_Gibigiane asks:
Pete, how big of a crew do you actually supervise (tour + local)?

Pete The Greek says:
There are two rigging teams, with three guys each. There’s three guys
here today and we’ll have 8 local riggers, plus me, so that’s 12. Then,
simultaneously, the other three are headed for Greece so when I get
there, they’ll have another team of 11. The two teams leapfrog each
other – there’s three stages, two sets of rigging and me who goes to
all of the gigs.

Host Kirsten says:
Thanks so much for taking the time out to join us, Pete!

Pete The Greek says:
It was a pleasure being your guest – and thanks to everyone for
coming to ask questions!