Well, they say that all good things come to an end, and so it has come to be with my main preoccupation outside family and work, BAiT; the band with whom I have played for over ten years.
We have had a bad few last months, initially triggered by issues with getting a full-time lead vocalist. Declan stepped in and initially seemed perfect for the role, but geography and time-constraints got in the way and so that came to an end, albeit with the positive result that the covers band, Kill Clouseau, was born.
Another contributing factor was that we lost our regular rehearsal place when Nick’s ceiling collapsed at home and meant that we stopped rehearsing and writing together, or at least meeting regularly. External factors filled in the time usually given over to BAiT and so it became more difficult to all meet up.
Finally, there has been increasing pressure within the band to go in different directions. For me, the band existed as an artistic outlet for original songwriting and recording, plus occasional gigs, but nothing more. Two of us within the band had absolutely no desire to pursue the goal of making a living out of it, but did it for the love of it.
For my part, my involvement in original music is absolutely to play music I want to play and not to be dictated to by what is hip, cool, or will bring in the most punters. In my own eyes it is not a business, but an art. I want to play music that I (or the band) writes in the context of complete artistic freedom. That doesn’t mean pretentious and inaccessible music, but simply what comes organically from within the band. When you start trying to change a band to write to an agenda, you break it in my eyes. A band should happily live or die commercially by its music and we do live in interesting times musically speaking, when crooners rub shoulders with girl-bands.
Additionally, my own preference is for melodic rock with progressive leanings. Queen is probably as close as you get to this. I don’t mean that you should copy Queen, but that their whole method of working was one which I like.
To me, an album should not comprise 12 variations of the same song, but a collection of different musical ideas. Queen did it on pretty much all of their albums, particularly their ‘classic’ albums, where hard, furious rock coexists with operetta, 1920s music, ukulele, folk and progressive music. Wow! Not only that, but all the members of Queen wrote hits for the band. Then there’s the small matter of that group, The Beatles, who did similar, sometimes even effectively doing solo work with string quartets (Eleanor Rigby) on a band album. Again, they all contributed songs.
I’m tired of hearing ‘you’d be better off doing pop songs’. There are thousands of bands out there doing that. I don’t want to jump on the cool indie band-wagon, where image dominates, and the same applies to the tired clichés of the modern punk crowd (yawn) and the ‘heavier-than-thou’ crowd. I hear these bands all the time in rehearsal rooms and frankly, it’s all the same tired old crap.
BAiT had great potential as a band. It was always true to its own music and never bought into the latest scene, thank God. Music should be timeless, and I think that we achieved that in BAiT. I’m sad to see it come to an end, but I’d rather ‘leave on a high’ than go out on a damp squib, and I think that the last three songs we recorded were the most free we’ve ever been as a band, as they came out of full band jam sessions. We still have some work to do to finish these, but they will be a great swan song.
I’ll have a rest from the original band scene now and concentrate of my own solo stuff and on becoming a better classical guitar player. When I’m ready, I’ll keep an eye out for people of a similar mindset who want to play music for music’s sake, ideally with slightly progressive rock type leanings, and with no other agenda.