Road Journal | Jake Owen Guitarist, Derek Williams, Behind the Scenes on the Conan O’Brien Show

Road Journal | Jake Owen Guitarist, Derek Williams, Behind the Scenes on the Conan O’Brien Show

7:17 a.m. Ah it’s a brisk October morning in Los Angeles. Studio City is strangely quiet in the early morning- almost like a suburban neighborhood. I usually stay in this part of town when I’m in L.A., and it seems like nothing starts to happen around here until 11 a.m. or so. Our lobby call was 7:15 a.m., which is my 3:00 a.m. (according to my sleep schedule), so I’m hoping to grab a nap at some point today, I’ve strategically packed a set of ear plugs, anticipating a noisy green room. At 7:20 a.m. our drivers pull up in two Mercedes vans, we pile gear and our personal suitcases in, and speed down the 101 toward Conan’s studio at the Warner Studios lot- and by speed down the 101, I mean at roughly 18mph along with 2,000,000 other racing rats.8:13 a.m. The band just had an intervention to get me out of the Brookstone Zero Gravity massage chair, which just gave me an incredible 15 minute full-body massage.We arrived about 15 minutes ago, and we loaded our bags into the green room. Our green room is killer. There’s an X Box 360, and a handful of boutique-y guitar amps and pedalboards!


Outside of our green room is the “Greener Room,” which is laid out like a modern, but cozy, living room: Couches, massage chairs, a kitchen. All of the couches are oriented toward a big flat screen television, hung on the wall. Definitely looking forward to watching Conan on that later today. 9:00 a.m. We just finished setting up our gear. I brought my ganjo, pedals, and patch cables, and they’ve backlined an amp for me. We requested about 8 amps in total, ranging from a Mesa Lonestar, a Dual Rectifier, a Matchless DC30, a Vox AC30, and as many Morgans as they can find. We had requested so many to make sure that we’re covered. You never know about backline amps- they are abused on a daily basis, and you never know if you’re going to get something broken. I’m using the 40 watt Morgan today- it has a sort of “master” volume, so I’ll be able to keep the volume down.After I get set up and tuned up, I explore the studio. I notice Conan’s personal Vox AC30 amp near his desk. I decide to go snap a few shots of his settings and mic placement and of Jimmy Vivino’s pedalboard 11:00 a.m. We just ran the rehearsal. Standard run through. We start by passing around instruments in our in-ear monitor mix. Next we run the song, Days of Gold. The first two times we play it, I’m focused on my monitor mix. The next two times, I’m performing and watching what the cameras are shooting- that way I can make sure I’m “playing to the camera”. What I mean by that is to make sure that my body is oriented in the direction of the camera.



So, we wrap and I’m hungry. I was just handed a meal ticket, so me and the guys are walking across Warner Studios to find the employee cafeteria. 2:30 p.m. I just woke up from one of the most glorious naps ever. I slept in the massage chair in the greener room for about an hour and a half. At one point, I woke up and all of our band and crew were piled on the couches and chairs napping. It was like a grown man nursery. I woke up for a split second at the giggles of the interns when they had spotted us all piled up like toddlers. And by the way, lunch was delicious. I had the Ahi Tuna Taco plate with rice and beans. The cafeteria reminds me of the ones we had in college- there was a salad bar in the middle surrounded by a food court of regional restaurant stations- a pasta bar, a taco stand, a deli, and a few others. The workers were surprisingly cheery and helpful- no angry lunch ladies. So, now I sit in the green room while Jake rocks through the orange mini stack and Dave’s Les Paul Studio. Led Zeppelin, Edie Brickell, and Pearl Jam are on the riff playlist.


4:30 p.m. The Greener Room has filled with entourages while the guests are in their dressing rooms, or hair and makeup. I plop on a couch with a throw pillow for lumbar support and watch the opening theme and credits on the big screen. I’m excited. I feel like I should be doing something productive, but sometimes to do nothing creates a sense of calm.5:00 p.m. Walking back into the studio from a phone call with my fiancé. I hear a loud crashing sound from down the hall. A large industrial broom bounces off the floor. Conan leaps across the hallway from behind the curtains and launches a popcorn bucket toward one of his crew members. He’s laughing hysterically at his own pre-show pranks on the staff. The Basic Cable Band start the intro theme, and Conan stands upright and tugs his suit jacket lapels to straighten his suit. The show begins. We watch from the green room.


5:39 p.m. We wrap the show, and it totally kicked ass! The thrill of being in front of millions of people (and kick ass family and friends), doing what you love to do- it’s priceless. My brohams killed it. It feels like going into battle with Navy Seals at your left and right. These guys are literally the best at what we do.I go around and thank everyone in the crew and cast for their hard work and for having us on the show. They made our day truly luxurious. They are the best group of people you can work with on a show like this. Joe and I snap some promo shots. We gotta show the love to our endorsers. Joe asks me my thoughts on the 40 watt Morgan…We load back into our Mercedes limo van and head to the hotel…I hear rumors about a sushi dinner.9:00 p.m. Me and the boys ate some delicious sushi and now gather around the television in our bus. We get to see the show early, because our bus has satellite television, which picks up a feed from New York City- don’t ask me why- and the show airs at 11:00 p.m. in New York. We crank it and enjoy. I recommend you to do the same…