Sunday, 26 November 2017

Re-working A Song

The second rehearsal with Mike took things to a new level. His years of experience both as a professional musician and as a music director meant he was able to make suggestions that really challenged how we had been doing things, both in terms of rehearsing and the actual songs themselves.

It started with his questioning of a G minor chord (following a G major) in the chorus of the song If You Can't (Join Them Beat Them). In his view the G should continue as a Gmaj. The Gm worked for me as it allowed a counter melody of B A# A A# and given the song had existed in it's present form for many years I was reluctant to change it for change's sake, but I was prepared to listen to his reasons - and was glad to have a pair of fresh critical ears offering me a different perspective.

He reasoned that the chorus needed to be less complex and more straight rock. I agreed that choruses in general needed to adhere to this principal however I didn't want to lose the emotional dimension that the counter melody brought to it. Mike suggested a simple riff on lead guitar that brought that emotional dimension back while allowing the Gmaj, and so, having not lost anything of great significance I was prepared to see where the idea led.

Subsequent changes that we tried included dropping the intro riff and starting with the verse chords, a halt in the middle of each verse, Paige playing the floor tom instead of hi-hats in the first half of each verse, heavier drums in the 'jazz sections' the removal of what was known as the 'quiet section' and finishing with a double chorus instead of the traditional outro.

I had to admit, the song was now sounding like a real potential hit and was glad we had indulged Mike's ideas - something I was happy to tell him over a beer afterwards.

I look forward to putting other songs to the same scrutiny - but first we need to focus on being ready to perform a bunch of songs for Nick Tauber next Monday, the legendary record producer who wants to hear us in rehearsal...

Monday, 20 November 2017

Fate Reveals An Interesting Hand

Two days after losing Lorne there are bunch of notifications on the Facebook page from a chap called Mike Gibbons. He appears to have liked a number of posts on the page. It was the first time someone I hadn't specifically invited to like the page had interacted with it but curiously I vaguely recognised the name.

A quick email search revealed a Mike Gibbons had viewed my BandMix ad for a new guitarist, and I realised I had viewed his page and possibly sent him a message via the BandMix website as a potential guitarist. His profile describes him as a:
"Professional session guitarist and Songwriter working in records, TV, and live performance."
He'd also sent me a quick FB message which said "Hey Simon" so I decided to make contact through messenger and pointed out that as he seemed to like what we were doing, and that we needed a guitarist, would he be interested?

What followed was a bunch of phone calls that made clear he was indeed a very good guitarist (via Youtube videos etc), an extremely experienced and knowledgeable musician who's played with numerous household names, a really nice guy and really liked my music - especially History. I went round to see him for quick jam and a beer at a local pub which turned into a great night out ending up with us playing guitar and singing at another one of the local pubs, earning us free beers! Whilst he was very busy with his professional music work and other projects he did agree to come and join us for a rehearsal.

He also took the liberty of contacting an industry friend of his, an Irish chap called Sean who had managed numerous household-name acts including Bon Jovi, David Bowie and Pink Floyd and told him he needed to listen to my work!

The next message which came through said:
"Bit of good news mate, Sean the Irish fella I was telling you about wants to meet you."
We met up the following Saturday at a restaurant in Westfield, Startford. The meeting went well and Sean introduced me to another musician he was working with, a girl called Elsa and suggested we write some songs together. He also suggested I should meet up with a record producer he works with - a chap called Nick Tauber, whose credits include Thin Lizzy, Toyah, Venom, Deep Purple, Marillion, UFO and a very long list of others. He thought Nick's rock production style would suit my music.

We met up with Nick the following Friday, the upshot being that Nick now wants to come to a rehearsal and hear us playing live.

The first rehearsal with Mike nearly didn't happen. He couldn't get up to London from Rochester where he lives. And I had no way to go and pick him up and then get to the rehearsal on time. And then as the final fateful icing on the cake, I was asked at work to take the car and go and pick something up - from - you guessed - it Rochester! I brought Mike back with me and we made the rehearsal. His experienced and professional musicianship was evident from the outset and some really good sounds and new ideas were brewing.

Had a tweak from the chap upstairs brought this all together? Not sure, but at least things seem to be going in the right direction...