I play bass in a covers band in Melbourne and we have our first gig this weekend. It’s been seven months of toiling in the rehearsal studio every Wednesday night to get here and, frankly, it’s amazing we’ve made it this far.
We’ve got a crap load of talent among our six members who are as diverse as they are capable, and who range in age from 23 through to me – more than double that.
We’ve survived the departure of two lead singers, as well as the manager/impresario who started it all, and nearly lost our drummer.
We’ve battled despondency and disillusionment in our direction, availability issues, the frustration of slow rehearsals, differences of opinion and the prospect of never recouping the not inconsiderable amount of money we’re dribbled into the project. (One mate, who’s played live music for 30 years, described band projects as golf – a hobby you sink money into without hope of adequate compensation.)
We’ve managed the expectations of our friends and families as well as ourselves, slowly realising it takes a lot more than six week’s rehearsal to polish up 50 songs before hitting the overcrowded Melbourne cover band scene.
But here we are – two dress rehearsals away from our first gig as a support band to a local rock outfit in a room that might hold 30. And we’re excited – it’s the payoff for all that work.
On a personal level, I’ve bought and replaced a lot of gear getting what we need for the band, as well as cranked up bass lessons to hone my technique to match it with the truly amazing musicians I call band mates.
I’ve wrestled the anxiety of wondering if I’ve got what it takes and agonised over not getting something just right, but after seven months I can safely say I’m a vastly improved bass player.
I’ve also given my girlfriend the shits working on stuff unplugged on the couch – she loves music, but not me clanking away next to her while she’s trying to watch Netflix. Fair enough. What that highlighted was a need for balance at home – it’s one thing to throw yourself headlong into a project at the expense of all else, but another to make sure that the support network around you remains supportive!
My uncle mastered field archery when he turned 50 and become the national champion. He was already a world class musician and taught art to the ladies and lairds of Scotland near Inverness, so he was a bit of an overachiever.
To become an expert in archery, he told me he would sit on the couch with a coat hanger for hours, plucking the wire as he would the bow string to perfect the arrow release. That cost him a marriage.
I’m not that ambitious. I just want to play music in a band and make a few bucks on the side doing it. I don’t want to play stadiums but I want our project to stand out from the masses, as does the rest of the group.
In this blog I’ll post about the gigs, the music, the business, the gear and the people. I hope you find inspiration to have a crack.