4 dumbass things I've done so far in music
That word is a German word about finding amusement in somebody else's cock ups, and it always surprises me that we don't have an English equivalent, as laughing at somebody else's misfortune is a pretty British thing to do (maybe because we are always the bumbling awkward pricks that the Europeans point and laugh and laugh at)!
Anyways. You live and learn. Ish, and if there's one thing that I do just as well as making an arse out of myself with my questionable musical choices, it's reflecting and over analysing said choices! Let's take a look! Here's the 4 that jumped to mind immediately. These are all faaairly general points...oh except for....
1) THAT 93 Feet East Gig for Absent Kelly.....
Absent Fucking Kelly
You know when a company has to change its name due to pretty much the entire musical network in the South of England knowing what they're all about. Nobody told me though!!!
Yes from my perspective, being asked to play a lucrative spot at a 200 capacity venue was just....y'know...cos I was good right?
Here's the thing. Paying attention? Got a pen handy? Good.
LARGE LONDON VENUES DON'T BOOK UNSIGNED ACTS FOR NO REASON!!!!
I honestly feel like I could be some sort of man of the people if I just went round with a big van and some speakers and just yelled that to all the neighbourhoods, just as the kids from the home counties are opening that email from Isabell or whatever her name was ("I came across your band on Facebook and wanted to get in touch about some possible gig slots)
Or maybe not...I kinda feel it's like a rite of passage, like a mistake you only make once, like I dunno...using Deep Heat and then going to the bathroom. That stings considerably more than a £95 hole in your wallet mind...
Anyways, my experience?? 4 people, a vast empty chasm of a room. Maybe 2 other band members at the back, plus the soundguy, possibly the rep on the door., 100% under 10 people in a 200 capacity room.
Urgh wanna know the worst, most shameful bit?? The handing over of the unsold tickets. She made me do it one by one as well like she was getting EUROS off me or something!! Each of those horrid ugly yellow tickets (TIM BROOKS + GUESTS, BE THERE AT 6.30PM!) passed back one by one as my soul died a tiny bit.
I'd say one good thing that came out of this...and I'm sure you've all had it...the Absent Kelly follow up email?? Oohhhhhh baby. There's simply nothing quite like delivering a bomb email straight back. You're asking a British person to write a complaint letter. Come on.
Oh and juuuuuuuust to be clear. They now go by Loud In London. Same crappy London gigs that mean nothing in the long run, different name. Avoid like the plague.
2) Deciding I wanted to sound like Bruce Springsteen and destroying my voice for about 18 months
Y'know....I've never really been over this!
I get asked sometimes how I sound the way I do when I sing. This is for two reasons.
a) I do have a fairly distinct gravelly voice.
b) (the much more common reason) I do not look like the sort of person who should have a gravelly singing voice.
Most people who go by option b have made a very fair judgement, owing to the fact that with the whole nasally faux posh speaking voice kinda thing...yeah.
I mean, when I fired back the question to the soundguy at Ronnie Scotts.."..I mean...what DID you expect me to sound like??" his reply was literally that scene from the Inbetweeners 2 movie where Will is singing The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face round the campfire. Cheers mate...
Alas. I'd say maybe around late 2016 until about August 2018, I could not hit high notes for shit. Techy terms like "head voice" and "belt" meant nothing. So my solution, bash my vocal chords with a chest voice shaped hammer until they played ball.
I have had 2 singing lessons in my time (of which the first I walked in and told her I wanted to sound like Dave Grohl when he sings Best of You, and she just shook her head!), and the number one bit of advice goes a little like this.
If it hurts. Don't do it.
Solid life advice to be honest.
Pretty fucking basic actually. Like sticking your hand in a bees nest..or...well...this..
I'd say literally taking your hand to your throat and forcing your larynx up whilst recording is probably a bad idea.
Go and listen below to the recording of Skyscraper on my debut EP (track number 5). That take took....2 hours maybe to just do the vocals, and I was at a stage where even breathing was difficult as my throat had swelled up so much.
Like...looking back...100% I could have done some serious damage by persisting with a preconceived notion of how I wanted my voice to sound.
So yeah. If you're planning to be a singer. Learn to sing properly.
3) Trying to become a vlogger
Thankfully nobody saw the "fruits" of my labour here, and I guess it only amounts to £40 and one Saturday wasted but....urgh
And I should say as a disclaimer here. If you vlog, and you can do it effectively, good for you! It just isn't for me.
I think you have to be a certain type of personality or have a certain....way about you to be able to pull off vlogging. It starts to become something that isn't really about the music, and more about your day to day life, and it kinda feeds into that whole fascination that people have about what other people are doing ALL THE FUCKING TIME.
Oh and when I tried to do it it was awkward as fuck, naturally.
I think my manager did this throwaway comment where he was like "..maybe try and put a vlog out or something?" but I listened, and I paid £40 for a year's subscription to Filmova (I'm too cheap for a Mac, soz), and I blocked out a whoooooole Saturday to write, film and edit the thing.
I picked a decent topic, how the film Life on the Road with David Brent is hyper relevant for musos today (and I should add, it really is!), I wrote a script, I did those lame cutaways (where the music stops and you maybe put a crickets sound effect in or something).
And then I started to put it together.
I honestly could not watch. I'm realising that I'm watching myself talking to.... myself, trying to be funny, trying to make points that were witty, informative and I can't do it. Seriously.
There's like this theory that F1 drivers don't have that "STOP!" instinct, so that when they go for a manoeuvre at like 150mph, they just....do it, rather than having their reflexes snap them out of it. I honestly think vloggers have something similar.
I reckon they've got this outer shell that just deflects them from all "fuck this is weird" and they just...do it. Regardless of whether they talk total bollocks (and quite a lot of the time...they do!)
4) Getting salty over the success of others on social media.
Social media will kill you if you let it consume you.
This is a wider point, so let me summarise with a few truths.
a) Musicians will quite often embellish things on social media (OMG HUGE NEWS AT 7PM GUYS!!!!)
b) If you get pissy about someone else selling out The Water Rats, you will just feel worse, and they will still have a sold out show at The Water Rats.
I still did it though.
Ask my manager about the early days of conversations, and it was so leaning towards the have nots of me, and the haves of others. Y'know I get the argument, "how has this person managed to get X slot at Y venue".
Y'know...it's kind of a phycological analysis of myself I guess. Maybe my own fear of failure is heightened when someone breaks through and gets something I haven't got yet, but like....short of actively hijacking their gig, there aint a lot you can do.
That would be kinda like actually shouting out during the "speak now or forever hold your piece" bit at a wedding, just let your imagination deal with that 1% of your brain that thinks..."what if....."
Like also...and you learn it more the more you do music, everything has a reason, cause and effect is a thing, butterflies, hurricanes etc etc etc.
Anyway, this final point is getting supper waffly, and I've written most of this flat out (think I did maybe 3 paragraphs on Wednesday night, the rest Friday Lunchtime, aka NOW!), so I'll leave it there!!
Point being with this......
..... wait for it..
You learn from your mistakes? Nah...more that dumbass choices are to be expected. That doesn't sound as snappy as a motivational fridge magnet but it still holds true.
Anyways kudos if you read all this! This is legitimately my first bit of music writing since I quit the reviewing job last year (I was tempted to put that on here in relation to taking on WAY too much work, but...I kinda still do so hey!), so forgive my rusty and rambly prose.
NO WAY can I promise any sort of weekly/periodic blog/update, so it'll be as n when.
Oh PS Go check out my music. Erm....HUGE NEWS COMING NEX...shit.