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gary gibson
Posted on Sunday, July 25, 2004 - 10:10 am:   

Okay, here's one I've been wanting to ask for a long time. I know that I am far - *far* - from being the only one involved in the genre who wasted time in hopeless bands (I play guitar). I know that in my case, those experiences rarely, if ever, transcended a general Spinal Tap-esque soup of demented horror and outright lunacy perpetrated by people whose desire for fame and fortune far, far outstripped either their willingness to actually do anything or whatever meagre scraps of talent might have been lurking within them.

I can't be the only one who's stood in some greasy rehearsal room with fingers numb from cold, an amp that persists in crackling loudly, and a purported 'singer' who'd much rather outline what they're going to do when they're famous than ever actually, say, sing. Badly. The kind of situation where you might find yourself wondering (as I so vividly recall) hey, I wonder if this is all a waste of time and maybe I should try and be a writer, like I always wanted.

Thought - if you've ever watched Pop Idol, you might actually have some idea of the kind of idiots I'm talking about.

Share your pain.
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neilw
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 05:12 am:   

Not sure I really have a lot to add in the pain stakes on this one, Gary. You know my musical history (and present) anyway, and the present certainly is very unpainful - rehearsals are democratic, fun (but hard work), and completely unsullied by dreams of fame and fortune (well at our age, with our looks, if you were an A&R guy, would you?)

The band I was in in my teens was fairly equitable too, although we did spend an inordinate amount of rehearsal time in a disused piggery in the wilds of the Lanarkshire countryside. In the worst of the winter it was 2 pairs of fingerless gloves and breaks every 20 mins to cluster round the one bar heater. Ah, happy days.


neil
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gary gibson
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 10:16 am:   

Happy days? Fuck off, I want misery. Misery! Gah!

One of the reasons I asked the question, to be briefly (very briefly) serious, is that music and literature share the twin aims of artistic achievement, except that music can also bring - when you're young - high peer approval. That's not to say writing doesn't necessarily bring peer approval, but success in that particular arena tends to come a little later in life for most of us.

When you look back, it's obvious there's a shared interest between writing and music, as much within sf as anywhere else. Lucius Shepard was in a band, John Shirley writes for Blue Oyster Cult, also Lewis Shiner, Michael Moorcock with the Hawkwind connection, etc. Except that unlike writing which is almost entirely a solitary pursuit, music is far more frequently an experience shared amongst several people often with wildly divergent tastes, ability, desire to succeed, and so forth.

Personally - and you'll know this, Neil, since I've mentioned it enough times - I had something of a personal epiphany while in a rehearsal room: why waste my time relying on the lunatic whims of a bunch of near-strangers when I can go home, write a goddam story in peace, and submit it without anyone else to worry about but an editor? And given that there is now a burgeoning mini-industry dedicated not only to the excesses of '80's bands such as Motley Crue but to the failed aspirations and retrospectively hilarious dreams of those who failed to make it beyond a freezing cold barn of a rehearsal area hired at exorbitant costs, the similar experiences of those whom I call my fellow writers are surely a resource which could reap rich rewards in their massed tales of woe and, even, delight.
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 02:21 am:   

Happy days or misery? Tales of woe or delight? Fuck, I can't remember most of the rehearsals during my brief stint as singer (HA HA HA HA HA... singer... me... still makes me laugh) in a band of big plans and little talent. (Actually the guitarist and drummer could play but my negative ability more than compensated for any capacity to make pleasant-sounding noise on their parts). All I remember is the fug of blue smoke and the hiss of beer cans opening.

But in terms of artistic aspiration, maybe it's the whole *shared amongst several people* thing that attracts an otherwise lone nut scribbler like myself to music as an add-on to writing (apart from the obvious fringe benefits). You lose total personal control and have to navigate the minefield of musical antipathies ("Fucking Franz Ferdinand are fucking shite."), but when it comes together (on the very odd occassion when it does) it's more than the sum of the parts, and only one of those parts is you.

So there's a question for ya. If musicians are notorious (in rock, certainly) for being egoistic, attention-seeking prima donnas, are writers actually even worse, like the singers who wander off drunk before the gig and don't come back, the guitarist twiddling away at his twenty-minute jazz oddysey?...

Sorta: "Screw you guys, I'm going solo."?
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gary gibson
Posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 03:31 am:   

Yes.

But at the same time, it's more than that too. Writing for me was the only way I was ever going to get anything done. On my own, I could get somewhere. In the context of a band, I was going precisely nowhere, because I spent years in the company of people who shared the common trait of being unreliable. Put it this way, imagine how hard it would be to be a writer if you had to rely on other writers to get your work done. "I've done my chapter, where's yours?" "Sorry, couldn't be arsed." End of writing career.
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gary gibson
Posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 03:34 am:   

By the way, Al, as I recall, your grunting, whooping, grovelling noises sounded perfectly adequate when you were singing. Particularly the grunting and whooping.
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 04:44 am:   

Grunting and whooping are two of my key skills, actually. I'm thinking of putting them on my CV in fact, along with grinning chimp impersonations.

OT... true enough. But I could never really point fingers, being in the "unreliable" camp myself. "So how's learning the guitar going, Al?" "Um... eh... look, it's the Goodyear Blimp!"

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