Monday, October 29, 2007

More days, please

I seem to have misplaced those extra three or four days that I’m sure fall between Friday and Saturday for the month of November.

With clients of various stripe breathing down my neck about deadlines and rehearsals required for the upcoming two gigs, November’s looking like an oddly truncated month. Still, after hauling the gear back and re-constructing the keyboard setup in the studio for daily run-throughs of the set following the weekend’s rehearsals, the musical side shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Keeping up appearances with the clients is another cauldron of haddock, however. Nowadays, I have three freelancers who are starting to take on some of the workload from the biggest of my clients (much Flash programming of healthcare-related stuff). So, as long as I can crank them up to speed and ensure reliable results handed back through to the client, I can spare the time for the musical stuff without worrying about deadlines being missed and the like because I’m spending a month sat behind a pile of keyboards in the run-up to the gigs.

The other thing this has all given me is a fresh view on my patchy time in the music business, especially whether I still have any hankerings to try it all out again “one more time”. Have I become boring and un-“rock and roll” because I’ve become a businessman? Does working in healthcare and making corporate films mean I’ve sold my soul to The Man? Am I jealous of those bands from the time I bounced around on the Marquee stage that have managed to carry on and not head out into the real world for gainful employment? (Err, that would be a resounding no...)

Hmmm... Looking back at most of the time in bands (aside from actually performing at good gigs), I was penniless, malnourished and (if we’re honest here) more than slightly deluded. Even when LaHost were a going concern (mid-late 80s) we were always going to be an insanely tough sell: neo-progressive rock in a climate of post-New Wave electronica and Wham’s assault on the charts with incredibly catchy pop tunes. Which would you invest in (as long as you have a functioning brain stem) to turn a profit, or at least not haemorrhage money?

Post-justification or not, I like my life now. I get to play music pretty much when I want, write it purely for commercial reward or just plain enjoyment and not for some la-la land dream of a record deal. I don’t drive a completely shit car any more, and I can afford almost all of the toys I always wanted when I was a starving, penniless hack singer back in the day. I wish all of the other people that are still in there all the best, but it’s just not for me any more.

Life has its ups and downs, but there’s plenty more contentment on offer these days. When it comes to choosing how to spend my life, I’ll take that over being in a band every time. And you can quote all this to me if you turn up to the gigs - I’ll still stand by it, however much fun the two nights are. ;-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Normal Service

Like there’s ever been anything remotely like normal service around here, I must say...

I’m off to the Netherlands for the first break in quite some time, even though I’m taking a bunch of work with me and my trusty ol’ beaten-up Powerbook so I can do some work while all my Dutch mates run around after some telly people.

It was while doing a photographic job a few years back that I seemingly made about twenty instant (and very good) friends at a sci-fi convention in Scheveningen in the Netherlands.
Fact fans: Scheveningen is a Dutch shibboleth. During World War Two, the natives could identify foreigners by their foolhardy attempts to stagger through the pronunciation, often swallowing their own tongues. Apparently, at this time (and for reasons which will forever remain shrouded in mystery) the Germans stole every single bicycle in the country. Ask any Dutchman. Or woman.
Anyway, a dear friend of mine is an actor who was once in the sort of show that has a currency at these events and, as he was going to be there, doing the photography seemed like it would be a jolly trip somewhere new. My brother and his then girlfriend (now wife) came along and we had an absolute blast. So much so that, when it came time for brother David’s bachelor party, we immediately headed for the same hotel (the Bilderberg) and spent a thoroughly fabulous, low-key weekend shooting zombies in the arcade, playing air-hockey and being gigantic children at the seaside. Only with more money. ;-)

This weekend sees the very last event organised by the Utopia crowd and the “old guard” are getting together to see it out in style. As an honorary, English-speaking, stumble-through-some-Dutch part of the crew, I’ll muck in where necessary, probably from my vantage point of a deeply convivial bar... I will undoubtedly be surrounded by the full spectrum of fandom, from boggle-eyed fruit-loops through to those who, with humour and good grace, share a deep love of some terrific shows.

Oh, and there’ll be some people off the telly too.