Hi, Billy here.
I just finished reading the auto(sort of)biography of Gun’s and Roses guitarist Slash. It didn’t take me long to plough through this chronicle of rock n roll excess. It’s a great read and reminded me of a lot of the reasons why I was (and still am) compelled to make music. I was not so much inspired by the tales of debauchery and drugs (although I’ve eaten sweet treats with nutmeg in them, to little effect and once smashed a teacup into a fire place), it was Slash’s more humble musings on his insatiable thirst for playing music to an audience that resonated with me. I enjoyed his descriptions of relentless touring, seeking the next show, the next town, the next crowd. I also liked how he never understood that touring was considered, by the industry, a mechanism for promoting an album. He just saw it as being able to get out and play live. Which was the reason to make music in the first place.
Now obviously a couple of scallywags in little ole’ New Zealand making music with two guitars, two voices and some very talented friends, hardly compares with the music or career of Slash. But we like to play music as much as he does. And, well, that’s it really.
Passion. I remember when I realised that not everyone liked music, and that some folk didn’t have a relationship with music at all. Other people had other passions; rugby, ballet, cars, breeds of small dogs, computers, gardening, films, stamp collecting, the outdoors etc. I suppose that realisation came about when I worked out that I wasn’t the center of the universe, towards the end of my teenage years – at about age 26. In a strange way this came as a bit of a relief.
I’ve come to understand that music is a shared language, with different dialects and accents. I’ve explored a few of them from sweaty rock through introspective electronica to acoustic folk/country. Which is a bit of a full circle really. In that time it’s been the passion of the music LISTENER that has amazed me most. Luckily for me there are more people happy to absorb and digest music than there are those making it. And, unlike in Slash’s heyday, the mass market/MTV/juggernaut model has lost a little of it’s … integrity. Maybe the average audiophile wised up to the fact they were being treated like foie gras. Combine that with the rise of the internet, digital distribution and social networking and it’s no wonder the major label model has shuddered under the strain to reinvent itself.
But I digress. As usual.
The point is there are lots of reasons people make music. We do it for the same reason as Slash. We love playing to a live audience.
I remember the first time I heard Guns and Roses’ album Appetite For Destruction. I was 13 or 14 and a kid called Marcus brought along a boom box to the annual school swimming sports day at the Onekawa Pools complex in Napier. We spent the whole day listening to that album. It moved me in a way that I knew I was instantly addicted to. And playing music to an audience has given me that same rush of giddy nervous excitement ever since. The cool thing is that I’ve moved on from the early days of ego and ‘look at me’ to the more humble celebration of the song – ‘listen to this‘. Which is something far more genuine to share.
Our song writing itself reflects this. We’re not about to churn out some flagrant gak so as to have something to play at our next gig. Every note and syllable, inflection and word is painstakingly laboured over. Sometimes we strike it lucky and bust out the tune without much fuss. More often than not though it’s crafted over a period of time, with the end user (ie the listener) at the forefront of our minds. What are we saying? How will this be interpreted? Do we know – if not does it matter? Is there a story? A sentiment? A song?
So, if you ever find yourself in an audience at one of our shows please take note that we – you and Betty and I are sharing in a unique experience. And if you get a little tickle of something special running up your spine then that’s great. If you’re bored to tears and wish there was a drummer and some electro clash going on – well, maybe we’re not your cup of cocoa. But thanks a lot for coming along to work it out for yourself.
Either way, buy us a drink (a nicely aged single malt scotch, neat, no ice will do fine) or at least come and say hello. Because we’re just indulging our passion in the hope that it may indulge yours.
And it’s thirsty work.
See you ’round.