Tuesday 3 July 2012

Don't Start a Band

Lots of people aspire to play in a band, I already do and I know exactly what it's like. There are several elements of it that I was never expecting and that I hate:

  • The lifting and carrying. I take about 200kg of gear to every show that we play, it has to be carried into the van, from the van to the stage, from the stage back to the van and from the van back to the house.
  • The sweat. I usually come off stage running with sweat. In the early days I used to wear nice clothes to make a good impression. Now I wear clothes that I don't mind getting ruined.
  • The practice. Playing the guitar at home is now just another chore like washing up and ironing. If I've got time to sit down with a guitar, then I'll either do exercises to keep the speed and strength in my fingers, or I'll play songs that I have to learn or practice. I never sit down and play for the pleasure of it.
  • The adrenaline. Imagine that you get home by 1.00 in the morning (which is a nice early night), after all the excitement and exercise you don't stand a chance of getting to sleep for at least another hour or two (I watch documentaries on BBC4 and drink).
  • The risk. Yes playing to a dancefloor full of people enjoying themselves is a wonderful experience. Getting up and playing badly, playing to an empty room, or playing to people who don't want to listen is horrific, and you have to keep smiling and playing for a couple of hours.
  • The drunken cocks in the crowd. There's usually someone who want to grab a mic, or an instrument, or who thinks it will somehow improve the show if they get on stage. Invariably they're wrong.
  • The "experts". Very often you'll be accosted by someone after the show who will tell you in great detail how much better he could have played/sung/engineered/lit the evening. They almost always start with the words "I'm in a band" and the best reply at that point, to take the wind out of their sails is "Where were you playing tonight?"
  • The money. Yes I get paid more than I spend on diesel and guitar strings. But when you take into account all the gear that we've all had to buy, we're losing money hand over fist.
  • The complete lack of glamour and luxury. Even if it looks great from the front, everywhere I've ever played has been a shithole.
That's not to mention the time spent on logistics, hawking for gigs, and negotiating with venues; or how badly most of the venues and clients treat working musicians. It's just really really hard work.

It's also the most fun I've ever had, it's the best thing in my life, and I love it. Not just the music and the excitement, but the camaraderie, friendship, support and esprit-de-corps.

Richard "that which we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly" B

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