Death of a Giant
I've been around bands for several years, starting out as a singer/song writer, then later on working my way around the rehearsal room trying out rhythm guitarist and bass player, before finally realising that hitting things hard and hiding at the back of the stage was for me. I can remember being a prolific poetry writer from the age of 10, desperately trying to get a handle on my busy, turmoil filled mind through writing down my feelings and softening them through the process of rhyme - so when I finally picked up an acoustic guitar in my late 20's, turning one of my poems into a song (through the miracle of the C and G open chords) I was hooked and wanted more. The Stone Roses were still my artist of choice, and I had recently found the funkadelic wanderings of Mr Kiedis and the Chili Peppers.....life was good and the music was great.
Why do I mention this? because for me these were the golden years, listening to great artists and aspiring to join them in that hard to attain nirvana like state that was "being signed to a record label". I mean - no cares, doing what you love and sticking a flying V to 'the man', rocking the world AND being paid for it.... this is a musicians pornography!
The reality though of starting or joining a band is different to the sugar coated dream you may have in those early golden years. Joining a band can be stressful, walking into a room full of strangers with little or no knowledge of them as people is tough, then trying to win them over with your musical thoughts on their tracks can be a hard slog. Luckily all my bands have been great people who I easily gelled with, but you hear horror stories all the time. Then there’s the cost and time factors....rehearsals usually cost, and I've lost count of what’s flown out of my wallet over the years, suffice to say it wouldn’t be cheap if I sat down and worked it all out. Summer rehearsals when time and sunshine is plentiful are great, idyllic even, but add some rain, winter evenings and unheated rehearsal space and it can feel like musical torture. Booking gigs is a labyrinth....What areas to play in? can we all make it? can we sell tickets? where’s that venue? is the promoter reliable or just another low grade faceless Facebook jockey trying to coin in on your showmanship? what gear do we need? headline or support?.... though I'd like to say I have a strategy the music business is on its knees, we are adrift in a sea of talent with no land in sight, desperately clinging to any atoll where we can put a show on to further ourselves and get our sound 'out there'. Music moguls and A&R guys are few and far between, add that to a media saturated society where anyone in the world can be a promoter, artist, manager or event organiser just through a few clicks on a well-placed social media site makes this a turbulent sea to navigate and not something for the faint hearted or ill advised band to fair alone.....as with the open sea, there are always sharks about, some seen and avoided easily, some lying in wait for you in the dark abyss, only too keen to part you with your hard earned pocket change.
Ok too many naval themes but you get the idea. So what’s the purpose of my blog? why the title? death of a giant? do I mean as in the music industry?....sure I do, the old scene is dead, whispered in tales of old band groupies or captured as songs sung by old roadies, maybe scribed on the walls of historic venues, but where it has fallen there is now a large void waiting to be filled!
The currently signed artists are locked in that tied down, ever moving showbiz world – ageing and recycling popular tracks in an attempt to capture a new sound - nothing (decent or new) is getting through due to limitations in musical manpower and frugal times - coupled with the birth of the tyrants who are running talent shows, pre fabricating bands, sounds and even trending stories and events to sell records. the seams are bursting with unsigned talent who, like me and the other Hellbound Rebels, sit editing images, making logos, booking gigs, scouring media and securing slots for radio or festivals, dedicating more time to the band image than our own Facebook profile, desperately trying to secure those elusive paid gigs and support band friendships made along the way. I think the tide is turning, I think people are slowly realising that new technology is to be embraced, there’s a whiff of revolution in the air and plenty of working class musical soldiers like me standing on the front line ready to air our views over heavy driven riffs and thumping drums......sure the old musical giant that had endless energy and bottomless pockets is dead, but that just creates a void or vacum for another more modern giant that will encompass all technological advances made and embrace what’s new to stand in its place. FM radio is dying, Internet radio is the new king, we no longer speak, we tweet, our angst and feelings are spread worldwide with a single mouse click… but that’s nothing to be ashamed of…..this only provides more avenues to explore when spreading our musical musings.
This isn’t a cautionary tale, merely some wandering thoughts of an unsigned musician in a kick ass, working class band. If nothing else, it felt cathartic to write, I hope it reads well and has other muso’s nodding in agreement. For all the negativity in this blog I still wouldn’t change anything I have done or am planning to do musically, if nothing else it’s a fantastic distraction for desk ponies like myself who are ridden by the man daily, and a great way of working out that working class, stuck on life’s treadmill stress that we all feel from time to time.
If you fancy wrapping your ears around some punky vocal led hard rockin tunes then please check out my band......were proud to say that if you type "Hellbound Rebels" into Google......our limited (yet hard earned) fame will be plastered all over your browser.....or catch us at a gig.....we'll swap battle stories, see you on the road!
Steve Erskine - Drummer @ Hellbound Rebels
Listen to Hellbound Rebels here - http://www.facebook.com/HellboundRebels
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