Thursday, 15 March 2012

'IN THE NAME OF REINVENTION'


So you've got the band, settled on a name, rehearsed a 'tight' set, now for the gigs...  the rock 'n' roll dream is hard work when you're starting out but the truth is there's a sense of excitement and optimism, the feeling this really could be it! Doubling up as roadies, dragging equipment across town and then performing, trying to get a free drink out of the promoter, wondering where all your fans are and getting paid tuppence on a school night in any small venue anywhere in the world seems like a thankless task when you're bottom of the bill and you may have travelled miles in the pouring rain to get there. Gigging is one way of building up a fan base and gaining some attention from the countless reviewers and blogs out there, but then there's also the route of the studio band. This still involves forming bonds with fellow band mates and learning to get along. Not wishing to put a dampner on things but the enevitable fall out sometimes seems part and parcel of the deal, getting over artistic differences and the disastrous girlfriend/boyfriend swapping mix ups, this is traditionaly where things can mess up, keeping a band ticking over seems to a breeding ground for all sorts of conflict and misunderstanding's. (Count these moments as research and possible material for future songs.) And actually that's part of the adventure in a sense. As with any artistic medium of self expression elements of life's little drama's are unavoidable and infact necessary if you want to develop anything of substance.

The writing is on the wall, or rather it's in a song, a recorded moment, the moment you've been waiting for, planning for, putting all your energy into. You may have been practising guitar since you were two years old, singing, writing and performing since you were five but that doesn't necessarily guarantee fame and fortune will come knocking at your door. Being in a band is no easy thing, firstly you've got to find the right line-up. This can take years, perhaps you all met at school so you're learning as you go along. Once you've found some er, reasonably reliable members and got the sound you want the key point in the situation is that people really, really like you, relate and buy your stuff. After the initial splash, things die down, being flavor of the month can be more of a hinderance in the long term, we're all grabbing on to the next big thing happy in the knowledge our little discoveries are getting the recognition they deserve. But after all the hoo ha has died down if you've hit the right spot at the right time you'll be moving onto the next level, a single, an album and a support slot with your fave heroes on a grand tour. Generally if you find yourself on an eternal pub/club circuit above and beyond 2 years it's presumed you've missed the windows of golden opportunity, the A & R's aren't biting, the labels aren't signing and the press have lost interest, but on the plus side you've gained cult status with loyal followers and actually have got time to really hone your sound, image and continue exploring your music whether you evolve into a new set up or continue under your initial moniker. 

It's at this stage you may be well thinking of a reinvention, a name change and a new line up. Bowie did it in the late 60's and reinvented himself from hippie David Jones and became glamster Ziggy Stardust. Infact, now I'm thinking of it Rod the mod Stewart of The Small Faces became an instant mainstream star when he went solo. Even if you don't change your name there's no reason to move into different styles of music when planning your next album. Ballads, who said ballads? Bryan Ferry has,  Bjork, Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop all have dabbled in an eclectic mix of genr√© bending. 

In the last few years we've seen a great shift of young bands evolve into fully fledged bona fide stars, they've come from a so called underground scene that grew across the UK.  The Horrors, a huge success story are into third album, whilst O Children, S.C.U.M., Factory Floor, Bo Ningen are either debuting albums or preparing for various tours and festivals over the coming Summer season and beyond. So what about the ones disbanded. Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump suddenly decided to call it quits when it seemed they were tipped for the top, they cited various reasons for the split saying, 'Knowing who your friends are definitely keeps your bullshit detectors working. It's also really important not to take yourself too seriously 100 % of the time. Once you stop enjoying making music with your band mates, its game over. Be honest with yourself and just have the time of your life!'. Neils Children became quite cultish, but decided enough was enough, Drop Five is the next phase in lead singer John Lingers vision, he reveals,  'I feel that the reasons for forming a band are different with each one, but I'd like to assume that a common reason is for the love of music. When we started Neils Children in 1999 we were 3 young kids from the suburbs who were removed enough from the London band scene (such as it was at the time) to create a unique sound of our own. The fomative stages of the band band weren't difficult; we were so passionate about what we did that we felt we had a right to be playing what we did.' He goes on to add, 'Eventually, last year to be excact, Brandon [Jacobs] and myself decided to call the end to Neils Children mainly due to the fact that we felt we had done all we had to offer, and secondly because we felt it constrictive to the vision we wanted to pursue.' He further explains the ethos and passion for music making, 'We formed our new group, The Drop Five, with long term friends/relations Bonnie and Paul from Electricity In Our Homes and my DJ pal Eli. We want to put some passion and soul back into British pop music, and for those questioning the progression please understand that, like anything, people need to move forward and it is the drive for progression that moves people through life.'

'There were only four months between the last Black Wire show and Lord Auch's debut. Having kept Danny from Black Wire on drums and only adding Liam Wade on guitar it was easy to get things moving fast. Such was the turn-over of bands during Black Wire's 5 years, it really felt like this needed to be the case. The race to release more material before you are deleted from musical history. Fortunately we we did a deal with Young and Lost club immediately after our debut show and my paranoia could take a breather. The 'ex-Black Wire' leg-up helped fight our corner enormously during the release of our first single. in the press, on the radio and even helped bend the ears of a few promoters; although the low fee's took a while to re-adjust to! Throughout the release of our second single the association started to annoy a little and when we released our E.P. '...to the Shithouse' (my proudest moment!) became quite depressing. Our Debut Album 'Goat Song Rave' came out in 2011, 4 years since Black Wire split up.' 
Out of Black Wire came Lord Auch, Simon MaCabe explains, 'After a period of very little going on, Black Wire were experiencing a second wind when I made my decision to leave. We had a 2nd album written and a European tour with the Klaxons on the cards. We'd also recently moved to London and everything seemed a lot easier. Gig offers were rolling in and the fee's were the best we'd ever had. Personally though I was not so optimistic. When writing a song for Black Wire the focus was on the listener and all my latest demo's were very personal and essentially I wanted to sing them.' That seemed the turning point...
Spin off projects also abound, what do you do when you're not touring or recording. Farris from The Horrors has come up with Cats Eyes, his band mates Rhys Webb and Thom Furse created analogue synth project Spider And The Flies.  Brandon Jacobs from Drop Five continues his endevours with Good Night And I Wish, a personal project he embraced whilst being in Neils Children. Others go on the experimental remix route... tackling and exploring others peoples music with a blue print of their own.

It must seem disheartening when things don't quite go according to plan or when you you see your mates bands suddenly taking off. But it really doesn't matter if things don't happen quite as rapidly a you first imagined, infact allowing things to take their course and develop is also a bonus, personally I really do believe if you want something enough it will happen. 

Words Princess Julia


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