glenatron: (Iris)
[personal profile] glenatron
When I was sixteen, four of us went around to our friend's house. He had a drum kit and we had guitars and a keyboard, so we shut ourselves in his room and started playing together. As far as I can remember we mostly played Enter Sandman by Metallica, maybe a Levellers song and we made up a riff of our own. It was, I daresay, somewhere close to the worst possible sound. I had never felt so unbelievably cool as I did right then. I was in a band. The next few weeks I did every job I could persuade my parents to pay me for, sold some belongings - including selling my nice guitar to my brother, if I recall correctly - and bought myself a bass and amp. One of our guitarists was substantially better than me, the other was probably not as good, it seemed natural that I would be the bass player. Our friend with the keyboard, which was not of absolute utility, became the singer by default.

Now, I'm not going to say that the Way Out Exits were the best band in history, but I can definitely say that we believed ourselves to be the best band in history. Our singer was seldom entirely in key, the rest of us were seldom in time and our drummer was incredibly good and kind of kept everything together musically. Inexplicably we never achieved the fame that we felt we deserved, but until we went off to university that band was core to my identity and the closest I have ever been to cool.

In the intervening twenty four years, I have almost always been in a band of one kind or another. As far as I can tell The Patient Wild is the eighth band I've played live with. I have written songs and worked with autocratic songwriters. Recorded an album that you can still find in the bargain bin if you are super lucky ( or still on Amazon aparently ) and probably played somewhere between one and two hundred gigs. It's been pretty cool.

This weekend we recorded a final set of songs with The Patient Wild. The best band I have been in by a broad margin and ( with the exception of those heady early days ) probably the most fun. We're a little older, musically confident and we know how to be a band. I am playing lead guitar and appropriately enough I'm playing that nice guitar I sold to my brother way back at the start. It is a real pleasure to play with this team, but there are babies and more on the way, our drummer is moving to Cardiff and we have barely played in the last year. This weekend was our chance to get the songs that we care about most, our latest and best, recorded for posterity and for us. We did an amazing job in terms of getting everything down in a very limited time and I'm super-impressed with everyone's performances. Listening back to the vocal takes it sounded pretty great even ahead of mixing. We won't hear the final product for a while, but I think it's going to be something special.

And you know what? I think that's it for me with bands. I've had a great time, but I don't need it any more. I'm too old to care about being on the scene, schmoozing promoters or struggling to play a gig every night that god sends in order to get on the bill for better shows. This is part of the reason that music is a young person's game. Also having skirted the edges of the music industry, I wouldn't want to get any further into it. Even if it wasn't dying under the weight of the idea that music can and should be free, even if every band wasn't desperately struggling to get their voice heard among the tens of thousands of others, the industry itself is cruel and seems inordinately packed with terrible people. It is an engine that runs on crushed dreams, trying to sail a boat across a lake that has almost totally dried up.

I'll still play music- I enjoy writing and composing, writing and arranging for the podcast is a real pleasure and I have no doubt that Stu and I will collaborate for a long time, but unless some extraordinary offers show up I doubt we'll be taking it live again. We've done that. We were good, sometimes excellent, occasionally spellbinding, but in time playing to the band's partners, two other bands and a promoter on a Tuesday night in Basingstoke? I think I've done that enough for now.

July 2017

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