Updated: Apr 10, 2021
It was the best of times... it was the worst of times... I don’t think Charles Dickens was writing about his experience in a heavy rock band when he wrote this but who knows?
Rehearsals and song writing are two of the cornerstones of the junior rock star journey for bands at any level and for me personally these two things perfectly summed up the yin and yang of my own modest escapades. The creation of a new song is just the best thing. It’s an amazing journey that can take you by surprise and give you hope. It can fill you with pride or can disappoint you like you’ve never been disappointed before.
Jealously guarded ideas from home are tentatively shared with the group as rejection at this stage would kill the inspiration stone dead. Like a camp fire with a tiny glowing ember we would breathe air into this new born baby and like expectant parents we would all get excited at the prospect of this wonderful new arrival.
Sometimes the creativity flowed like a river and the song burst out into the room brave and strong, ready for its new life as part of the band. Sometimes it needed to be teased gently, manipulated massaged and moulded until it started to take on a shape we could all get on board with. As the singer I was simply an observer and occasional commentator at this point in the songs life but I was already planning my own input into the next stage.
Vocal lines and lyrics are what I do.
I pride myself in my lyrics and regardless of how many people ever hear them or actually take the time to listen to the words I write, the same amount of effort and care goes into each and every song I contribute to. There will always be a story and there will always be a meaning and I do it for myself and no one else. If you look closely at the lyrics I write you will find a window into the deepest recesses of my life and my mind... a daunting proposition for those who know me well.
In the analogue days of the eighties and nineties the writing of songs was intrinsically linked to the rehearsal room. In the absence of today’s technology remote song writing and the sharing and development of ideas was a dream bands could only aspire to regardless of stature or success.
You really had to be there and this my friends was the yang to my yin.
I’ve been in a lot of rehearsal rooms in my time. Some of them were state of the art and bloody expensive. Most were absolute shitholes with the emphasis on shit.
Without stereotyping all rehearsal rooms they did seem to be a “type”. Usually in an old warehouse or building that looked like it was about to fall down around you I often imagined the walls collapsing in once the Marshall Amps were cranked up to eleven and we would be left exposed for all to see on a sea of rubble still thrashing out a song.
They were always in the wrong part of town. I had my car stolen three times from one place. The band I was in at the time then moved to another even less salubrious establishment where I insisted they all carried my motor bike up two flights of stairs and actually into our room because I refused to leave it outside. To be fair, the hookers said they would look after it but I always worried they would all be engaged at the same time leaving my bike to the local scrotes.
Gone Savage have frequented a number of these places and one that sticks in my mind could have doubled as the set of a low budget slasher movie. Long dark corridors that seemed to lead nowhere and empty rooms like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, the place terrified me. I wasn’t that keen on what went on inside these godawful places either.
I always felt aggrieved that I had to turn up at the same time and stay as long as the rest of the band.
Let me explain.
As the singer, I walk in, get a microphone out of a bag, plug it in and that’s me ready. I then stand by ( usually freezing my nuts off ) while guitarists tinker and tune, drummers set up endless stands and turn weird drum tuning keys on the side of toms before rhythmically hitting one drum over and over for what seems like hours.
Fingers must be warmed, strings tightened and changed, bass pedals reminiscent of the bridge of the star ship Enterprise endlessly stamped on and tested... blah blah blah .. you get the idea.
Finally we are ready to play something and one bright spark says let’s go through the set two or three times. Why don’t I just sandpaper my whole throat then? Have YOU tried belting out rock songs for over three hours?
So I do the set once then go back to my familiar nut freezing activities while they go through it again instrumentally. After a third run through the hour long dismantling of equipment begins and I put my microphone back in its bag.
Don’t forget to write some lyrics for those three new songs is the cry as we leave the rehearsal at midnight.
Homework as well... it’s just not fair being a singer !