Bands have always been an interesting endeavour for me. However, I have never been drunk with the delusions that musicians in bands often get; the chance of making money in a band is very slim, especially if you want it to support you. For this reason, bands have always been something to forward my musical skill, have fun with and develop ideas with. Of course, that isn’t to say I never wanted to take things further; I would still put the work in to take things as far as they would go but I think the realisation about how things really work should be central.
It seems that most of the time bands never work out because there are just too many people involved. Without the threat of pulling income away, people shy away from accountability. Also, with bands being non-earners for extended periods, people will always put their money earners first, along with their security. People will also tell you all about how much they are looking forward to being creative and working with a band but when it comes down to action, the rest of their lives influence them more and all of a sudden they are constantly taking the inferior easy option and/or being unreliable. All fair enough really, we all need to eat and have roofs over our heads!
Anyway, for these reasons I have actually started work on a new project, which will go ahead at a leisurely pace but will be an exploration of basic sound and creativity harnessed with myself as a boundary. I plan to write and perform everything myself, using my own acoustic instruments all recorded in my own space with my own equipment, each instrument having only one role. For example, if I layered three or four guitar parts, it could sound luscious but if a group of musicians visited my flat without their own instruments it would be impossible to play, as I only have one acoustic guitar. I have actually talked out against people setting themselves creative boundaries before and it’s a little controversial but I still stand by those sentiments. It’s all about context in my opinion: Using only specific tools really does help, but why limit your ideas..?
These ideals are really at the forefront of my thinking at the moment, as can be seen with my project, Secret Soundtrack. Minimal tweaking, using what you have, not over complicating things and using natural ambiences. This is all just to see (or prove) what can be done without getting all excited about the myriad of technologies available. Musicians often want to use all the latest kit (influenced by marketing, no doubt) to give themselves a great sound but my experiences in recording have proved time and again that natural is best. For example, your living room will not sound as good as Studio 2 at Abbey Road, but it will have it’s own personality and flavour which you shouldn’t be ashamed of or scared to use. If you do use it, don’t do this under the premise that it is inferior, work with it’s natural personality to produce something different. Tinkering too much will easily destroy the integrity, and therefore communication of the output as your aim will be to ape. Also, you do need to improve something that is just different (and therefore not inferior – embrace what you have). So, to be creative, you need yourself, your ideas and whatever is around you. Of course, it won’t sound like Abbey Road but that’s only an issue if that has been specifically requested by somebody paying for your food and shelter…
If you like the ideas in this post, you may also want to read an earlier post: ‘Working With What’s Natural’.