It's been a while since I've written a blog. It seems to be that way lately. I have every intention of writing at least once a week but things take over. Life takes over. I worry about missing the next thing because I'm stuck at my laptop writing the about the last thing. Every once in a while though things slow down and I can shuffle all the thoughts bouncing around my head into some sort of order and get a blog written. I'm not sure if anyone reads them, but as I've said before it's cathartic. So I'll keep doing it. As er...often as I can!
This week boys and girls, I want to talk to you about my other passion in life, besides photography, which I do bang on about and for anyone I put to sleep, I apologise. No photography talk in this one. This one is about music (that's the other passion).
What a lot of you reading may know is I'm a drummer. I have the long hair, the slightly mental temperament, and the tinnitus. What a lot, or even all of you may not know, is I'm also a Saxophonist.
Since February of this year I've been fortunate enough to be involved in something pretty special. A band called Frontline. I'm the drummer. There was no place for a Saxophone!
I'm not going to sit here and tell you it's been an easy road. It hasn't. There's been a lot of 'settling in' with each other. The frontman/rhythm guitarist - Mr. Allan Robb - and I do have some previous musical history (sidetone: we're also family). I mention this because we were already used to each others ways. Allan has a particular style of play that while sounds great, is an absolute nightmare to try and synch with. Took me a long time and I'm still prone to difficulties even now. Eight years after we played our first notes together.
Let's face it. Life can be a pain in the arse. It can be an unholy struggle and it can get you down and kick you while you're on the floor. But in the studio, once you close that door, the troubles and trials, stresses and strains, worries and weariness of life fall away. They just don't exist and for a few sacred hours you're among friends, doing what you love, and stuff the outside world. We'll deal with you tomorrow, because right now is our time. So leave your baggage at the door.
Since it's inception in February, all four members of Frontline (Allan, myself, second rhythm guitarist Kiel Miller, and Bassist Dave Davies) have all worked really hard to 'gel'. To lock in with each other and get onto each others wavelengths.
Initially there were problems. Differences of opinion, and a meeting of different styles and ideas did cause a little friction at the beginning.
As the drummer I have a unique perspective on how the dynamics have changed. I sit there watching. There's an ebb and flow that maybe the others have noticed, maybe not. I have though, and things are definitely changing.
One thing I do think helped us all kind of fall into step with each other is that there were already some songs there for us to learn together. Songs from a previous venture Allan and I were involved in.
So we had that time to work on those tracks while we all found our feet with each other. For a while we played them straight. As written all that time ago. Then we began to feel comfortable around each other. Any awareness began to fall away. So much so that we began to put our own little flavours in, and those songs were given a new lease of life. We had a solid base to begin working from. To my mind it worked really well.
So well in fact that by the time this blog is published, we’ll have begun recording our first demo. Not of the updated tracks, but new stuff. Our stuff. Frontline!
There’s something special about it. Getting into a room with three other people and a bunch of instruments. Bringing together all that talent and beginning to weave a song together. Putting notes and beats together to lay a foundation for words that will (hopefully) stick in peoples heads and make them feel something. Whether it’s sad, chilled, or so pumped up and happy their head might explode. Making it all fit and flow together. That’s the magic. That’s exactly the right word to use: magic. Because it is magic.
Conjuring something from silence. Creating it from nothing. Nurturing it, bringing it to life, giving it a power all of its own. Ok, I might be waxing lyrical but that’s how it feels. At least to me. When you get it right, when it clicks, you don't just play a song, the song takes over and plays you. You get lost in it, you're not just sat behind a drum kit hitting it with sticks, or holding a guitar plucking the strings. As corny as it sounds you're dancing. And there’s not much that can top the feeling of dancing your way through a brand new song for the very first time.
It’s not easy to explain and I guess not so easy to understand. You may be reading this thinking ‘yep, he’s finally flipped’ or ‘have you been sniffing the laundry softener again Dave?’ but trust me, finishing a song you’ve helped create is a special moment. Those last few beats as you approach the outro, the energy, the tension, the desire not to trip up in the last few seconds is intense, and it gets me every time!
However, playing through a new song is one thing. Hearing it played back after being recorded, mixed and professionally produced is something else entirely, and I don't have the facility to explain how amazing that feels, but it’s better than any drug out there.
So long may this continue, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be blogging from a tour bus, backstage at Wembley, or even a private jet. A dream needs chasing. And we’re chasing it hard!