Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

All the best of the season to one and all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Band On The Run

So you’re in a band. You’ve spent years of hard work getting where you are.

6 years ago you formed the band hosting a few shambolic gigs at school and mates birthday parties. Slowly but surely you practice and practice until your covers start sounding like the songs they actually are. Eventually after 18 months you get a booking by a local pub to entertain the drunken revellers that aren’t outside smoking. After a year of this you’re getting more confident, you start to introduce some songs you’ve written yourself.

Now you’re at the point where you can book small hall somewhere and do your own gig – people actually paying to come and see you. Word spreads, first 50 odd people come, the following gig you’re almost into three figures. It’s been three long hard years of loading and unloading transit vans, practising in a cold garage somewhere and scraping together the pennies to buy that 2nd hand amplifier.

The hall gigs pay off and you just about have enough money to book a local studio to record an EP. You start whoring this at your gigs which are now attracting more people. The content has moved from 90% covers to 50%. Heck you even brave an acapella section that gets you much applause.

This journey has taken 4 or so years by this point. Perhaps you’ve had a falling out, one band member leaving after a row, perhaps changing your name once. You can’t remember the last time you got to bed before 4am on a Friday or Saturday but you don’t care it’s your music, your passionate about it.

Finally you attract a small bit of press attention. NME writes two or three lines about a recent local bands festival you played at, you didn’t even know they were there but they say you stole the show.

After 5 long years a man approaches you after a gig, he’s seen the NME report, he wants to sign you to his small record label. You go for it and before you know it your EP hits iTunes. Your gigs are starting to attract more people and you’re actually starting to make some money. After a while a larger record company signs you. They want you to support one of their smaller bands – someone like Pigeon Detectives or Scouting For Girls on tour.

On the back of this tour a single is released – people actually buy it – you enter the charts, it’s only at number 47 but you’re getting there. Another year passes and following Radio 1 play, more tour supporting, perhaps someone bigger like the Feeling you’ve hit the top 20. It’s taken 6 long hard years you’ve honed your sound, you have fans and momentum is growing.

The record company wants you to record a Xmas single – really push for it. You do, it’s hugely popular, mass sales and radio airplay. You tune into the chart show to hear if you’re Xmas number one and what happens? You’re pipped at the post my some twat who 6 months ago was a till operator in McDonalds. Did he spend 6 years working long and hard? Did he write his own stuff and endlessly practice with no professional help? Does he truly appreciate the work needed to get anywhere in the music industry? Nope he just won a shitty TV karaoke contest hosted by Simon ‘I love myself’ Cowell. It’s not even his own song and to be honest he’s still fairly shit anyway.

This is why the X Factor has to stop. Manufactured music is great – I love pop it serves a purpose, it brings fun to music but it shouldn’t dominate the real talent, the real bands who’ve worked long and hard to get where they are. Think of all the shit that has polluted the charts like a pop Chernobyl thanks to ITV in recent years. Cheeky Girls, Hear’Say, Gareth Gates, One True Voice, G4, Michelle McManus – it’s all samey bland wank.

It’s also interesting to note that the only people to have succeeded long term are those that cast off the karaoke shackles of X-Factor/Pop Idol and recorded their own stuff – namely Will Young and Girls Aloud.

Please, please, please British record buying public see sense. X Factor is preventing true home grown talent getting the airtime and chart success it deserves. The UK is home to many, many great bands that don’t need Cowell’s smug nod of approval to get anywhere.

Give them a chance to shine and banish the likes of Leon and Rhydian to the bargain bin.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snap Unhappy

Do you like my photos from Take That? I’m very happy with how they came out. Sadly though the ones on this blog are pretty much the only ones I could take. You see despite front row seats and some excellent angles for snapping I was only allowed tosneak these few shots.

By law if a private property doesn’t want you taking photos they’re entitled to refuse permission. That’s understandable but when that private property is a 20,000 seater arena it’s a bit dumb.

I can understand they want to stop people taking professional photos/video of the bands performing without the bands express permission for a number of reasons. They want to protect the bands brand & image and they also want to prevent people making a profit from the band and their fans without permission.
However when it’s plainly obvious it’s just a fan taking a quick snap with a cheap digital camera – a snap to capture a happy memory for the future with no intention of selling that image on then what really is the problem?

When I went to see Take That the security on my block was on a mission to prevent all imaging. The minute he saw your viewfinder light up he steamed over and had a quiet word in your ear. What made it really annoying was that over in the next block dozens of people were snapping away and their security man was letting them.

If there’s a no photo policy in place it should be one rule for all. All over the O2 arena flashes were firing by the dozen a second but that didn’t matter. Nope our security had his orders and that was that.
If I’d had a huge telephoto lens then again it’d be perfectly understandable but no, I just had my mobile phone camera and my cheap Sony Cybershot camera.
Still when he was busy telling off others in the crowd I managed to get a few shots and I’m really happy with them, it’s just a shame I couldn’t have taken a few more

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sounds Right

Well into party season now and despite my post on Dec 1st sounding concerns at the current state of my gigs I’m pleased to say I’ve had my best events in months. Everyone is really up for it and it’s been a joys to get people partying again. Question is what has changed? Is it something I’m doing different? Is it the fact that it’s cold so smokers don’t want to stay outside? Is it just the Xmas effect in that everyone WANTS to party?

Who said Djing was easy…

P.S. Happy birthday mum!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Most Beautiful Time Of The Year

It’s that time again, yes it’s Xmas Party season and that means dusting down my festive CDs and another 3 weeks of belting out the cheesy party anthems. Last year was my best Xmas season as a DJ. I don’t know what it was but every night (bar the first which had some faulty CD players) was brilliant – great atmosphere and great people. So you probably expect me to be looking forward to me next few weeks of gigs with delight.

You’d be wrong.

I don’t know what it is but since the summer my DJ gigs have been wank. Can you lose your touch? I just can’t seem to get an atmosphere going, not that there’s ever any atmosphere to build on it would seem these days. Every one just seems so miserable.

Don’t get me wrong not all the parties have been like wakes – there have been handfuls of people on the D-Floor each night but it has been months since I had the floor packed.

I have a theory, aside from the obvious that I’ve just ‘lost it’. July 1st was the smoking ban – it’s since then that things seem to have stagnated. Could it be that smokers also tend to be the ‘party animals’? It’s damned hard to get a party going when half the guests are outside. Also I’ve noticed that those outside do seem to be laughing, joking and having fun while the non-smokers inside seem to sit around quite quietly.

I’m not a smoker and I agree with the ban but I can now understand the concerns of the entertainment industry. Of course there’s also the current concerns with the economy and mortgages – people do seem to be tightening their belts.

Anyway, the simple fact is this can’t go on. It really does feel like people aren’t enjoyng themselves anymore and of course as I DJ I hate that – I feel responsible. Xmas is going to be a testing time for me, if I can’t get the parties started then in 2008 perhaps it’s best if I don’t DJ parties at all…