Its been a funny old year!
Yesterday I went on a musicians forum I used to frequent for the first time in about a year - its supposed to be about music, but the reality is that is primarily musicians, sometimes having a laff, sometimes not.
The blogs were virtually the same. On some of them I almost felt like checking out the date stamp as I’m sure I’d read them all before - I probably have but I couldn’t be bothered checking.
What I did do was quickly check the inbox for my account. not much in there but there was a reminder that it was around this time the experiment started to take life as a live thing.
At that time Lynn and I were playing together in another band. Or at least that was the idea, one of the others was ill and couldn’t play and we were keeping ourselves “in shape”, given we were used to playing 100+ gigs a year, both with me recording work as the experiment and together we used to invite guitarists down for a no holds barred free for all every monday.
Keith had already been released and had had a few good reviews - my favourite is here - and we were about to record the video for eating chocolate kebab with Debz helping us to look the part. It was about this time that it became obvious the other band wasn’t going to work and we were looking at the 50,000 or whatever plays on reverbnation and we thought “yeah, lets do it” and so just about a year ago we put up an advert for a guitarist and Dave answered it.
First rehearsals were a bit odd. The musical structures of the experiment are pretty basic, primeval even. A repeated motif around which a song ebbs and flows is pretty much the basis of most “roots” music - yeah, its true, we’re only playing a fucked up variant of the blues ;-) Debz had by now joined joined us a singer and wahay things started to come together.
Unlike may of the folk that we’ve played with over the years Debz and Dave are perfectly happy that we purposefully avoid having fixed structures to the songs and, other than the fixed motif (the bassline) there are no set “patterns”. We play them how we feel and so every time we play any song it is different to the last and its as much fun as it sounds - if you can cope with that and there are a lot of muso types who appear totally unable to! Of course it helps that we have this chemistry, we buzz off each other to the extent that changes in tempo, key or whatever “just work” each and everytime we play. The one thing that always amazes me is that we can also end songs together. No nods. no winks, no musical cues just bang-stop. I’ve played in so many bands where, despite hours of rehearsals, they always ended up fucking up at least one or two endings per set! Non-muso’s might not understand what an amazing thing ending together perfectly is and we just make me want to scream YEAH - in fact if you ever listen to any of our rehearsal recordings you hear a lot of that sort of thing from us all ;-)
Anyway our journey has continued throughout the year since Debz and Dave joined us. Perhaps not as quickly as we would have liked but for various reasons we have probably only rehearsed as a band less than 25 times and yet we are now gathering momentum.
We’re also starting to take the show on the road. We don’t want to do 100’s of gigs and the 5 or 6 we will have done by christmas is probably about the right pace for us. Not because we don’t like playing live, more that we want live appearances to be memorable - for us as well as the audience.
We’ve even done a cover version - yes, believe it or not I’ve probably only ever played 2 cover versions in a long and undistinguished career and, if memory serves me right our destruction of sister ray is probably the second!
The most memorable experience to date was the first full appearnance with Debz along - we had done a very short cameo spot with Debz earlier in the year and also played with just me singing but those gigs don’t really count. We were playing in Manchester and watching utterly gobsmacked as Debz realised that people who we’d never met were there to see us. Running around like a raving loon doesn’t even begin to describe her shrieking giddier than the giddiest of aunts behaviour whilst we were “enjoying” that inevitable drag between sound check and stage time.
And that’s what I guess sums up the last funny old year for me. We’ve had a brilliant time just having a laugh, meeting people and enjoying what we do simply because we can do it. Yeah, we’ve done all the shit bands do - gig, rehearse, been on radio, been gobsmacked as play counts continue to rise, been even more gobsmacked that people want to listen to us or even go out of their way to come see us. But we’re doing this on our terms and for our own reasons. None of this “I wanna be star” or even “I wanna make a living out of it” bollocks - though of course covering our all round expenses would be a bonus - we’re doing it because we can and we’ll keep on doing it until it stops being fun or we die.
Like us, don’t like us, whatever.