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.

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