Brring brring!! – a few personal thoughts for those who care to read them.

5pm, 10th August, Afroba, Reading.

Dan here – it’s high time for my two penn’orth I believe. Here are my present musings on the band:

I’m very pleased to have two relatively solid gigs under our belt now. We’ve done pretty well to get this together since January, and it’s always alarming to how quickly something like this can take over your social life – before you know it you are spending more time with other members of your group than anyone else! My personal recollection of the gigs so far is the usual mix of enjoyment/self-loathing/aspiration created by ourselves and the other bands on the bill. Frankly, I would have thought I’d have grown out of this by now, but it never seems to diminish. I have no doubt that Waz and Sharon will establish themselves as charismatic front ‘persons’, once they relax a bit and let their personalities come through. Here’s what we’ve achieved so far:

- Two gigs with four more dates already booked and some in Caledonia!

- A more than decent website (cheers Andrew!)

- Photo shoots and artistic collaborations with friends

- A full set of our own material

- Starting to carve out a sense of identity

- Our own pub (sort of…)

Realistically, we’ve reached a point where you could expect a small band to get, given a bit of time, but no further. Without wanting to bite off more than we can chew, I think it’s time to raise the bar… at least a foot! As I’ve discussed with Thom today, to what extent I’ll be able to contribute to the band before I leave the country next March is unsure. I hope that I can add as much as possible between now and then.

When you think of being a musician, being in a band or doing something creative in any sense I believe you are aiming to emote in the same way that you may have felt when you listen to a favourite record, experience an amazing art work or witness a thrilling sports game, in other words elated, joyous, moved etc. The distance between fulfilling this yearning and what impact you actually have on yourselves and others when you start out is, not to put too fine a point on it, vast.

It’s easy to convince yourself that this lofty ambition is unrealistic or beyond the pale. When I was younger and first started playing an instrument, I was probably more ambitious in respect to music (as I think is the case with many people) than I am now. Whether this was youthful naivety, cynicism that comes with maturity (!) or some sort of natural dulling (god forbid), I can only guess. I think I look at this band in an ostensibly less pretentious way, than I might have done if I was 18. I think now you don’t necessarily need to reach even a smallish audience in order to effect people. I’m happy to write music for myself and friends, rather than to play at winning a fan base or attracting artist and repertoire bods to gigs. If the band picks up pace maybe that sort of drive will return naturally, but I don’t think so. It occurs to me that I have far more intense personal moments listening to recorded music by myself than I do at live gigs; that’s what I aspire to.

That brings me neatly onto our intention to start recording some tracks for ‘public consumption’. Whilst the others in the band are eager to have a tangible product in their hands, I would rather wait and make sure we have something we are delighted with and will want to play at home because we genuinely love it. If we’re going to get it done this side of Christmas, I’ll probably have to compromise a fair bit on this, however. Thom will post something when we are planning to record something if anyone is interested.

One of the things which will take us away from being an easily ‘pigeon-hole-able’ indie pop act, which is what I see us as at the moment, is if we can make that most of the musical diversity within the group. There is an undoubted scope of taste within the group, so we can start mining that. I would get bored very easily if we remain too musically conservative. Please see the request for a tabla player below. Another useful feature of the group is the mixture of levels of experience (of being in bands/playing live), for some of the band the Pleasure Unit gig was their first experience of playing to an audience. I anticipate that this should keep the ideas fresh and enthusiasm levels up. A number of friends have suggested with could do with a bit more light and shade in the music they’ve heard, so we are planning to work on that.

The band currently has three song writers: Waz, Thom and I. Ideally we would like everyone to compose and collaborate, because that’s when you truly have a band. We certainly have a great level of dialogue: for most of the week there is an all-day email conversation concerning mainly logistical plans. It would be great if we could discuss the substance of the music through that medium more often. It makes the whole thing a living, breathing entity. At the moment the different songwriters mean that the lyrics are somewhat disparate. They might need a little more coherence overall, but anything that adds variety is good. I’d like to incorporate a little more political essence into them, but I don’t want to hi-jack the band. Personally I am enjoying the step up and out from behind the drum kit immensely – being ‘just a drummer’ is a bit frustrating. I’m enjoying playing the drums more as a consequence, anyway.

It may continue to be a challenge to swap instruments as we do in a live setting, but I love the idea of it. Sharing and learning from each other should be a major theme of the band. If I had my way I’d get the audience to join in the gig, but I suspect this might be a bit hippy-ish for the rest of the band’s taste…

Finally, from securing our gigs to the formation of the band in the first instance, we owe debt of thanks to the Bowlie website (www.bowlie.com). We’ve enjoyed a decent crowd for both the gigs we’ve played, and had valued support from other bands/people we know and like. Hats off to skipper, David Kitchen, and all who sail aboard her!

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