Friday, November 24, 2006

A hard day's night

Last night I had my first rehearsal with the new singer I told you about before.

I was heading to a rehearsal studio that I hadn't been to before, not far and in theory it was about half an hour from work. Everyone knows that studios have the worst drum kits in the world, it's one of the laws of music, a bit like the one about singers being late. Drummers will also jump at the chance to not have to lug our drumkit around and we usually will use a studio kit if it exists. I'm no exception and went armed with just a snare, a load of cymbals, a bag full of sticks, my double bass pedal and some refreshments. You know, just the basics.

While strolling around Tesco at lunchtime I had bought myself a copy of the new Beatles' album "Love". Apparently it's an album of their songs that have been remixed by George Martin and his son for some special performance of Cirque du Soleil. I read that Ringo and Paul had given George Martin their blessing to do whatever he desired with their songs.

Now I've always struggled with the Beatles to be honest. I'm not one who slags them off and disagrees with the huge impact they had on modern music by any means. I think they wrote some of the best songs of all time both lyrically and musically. I also think Ringo Starr is one of the best drummers of all time. He gets a very unfair press does old Ringo. He is held in almost God like status by most drummers and that is because he was the perfect drummer for those songs.

Never complicating matters to show off, he always played for the song. Think of "Come Together" and the way his drum part compliments the melody, think of his fills on "Help". If any drummer ever wants to know how to play for a song all they need to do is listen to a Beatles album.

My problem with the Beatles is that I've always found that sixties sound very hard to listen to. Lost of treble and mid range frequencies are just not that pleasing to my ears.

Well this album is a different matter. It's a masterpiece. Every song has been remixed and brought up to date yet they all retain that classic feel. There are bits cut from one song and pasted into others but it's all the original stuff, with a fresh feel. I'm sure there are purists who will hate this body of music but that's life. I love it. It will be in my car for a long while before I change that CD.

So John, Paul, Ringo, George and BMW satellite navigation were factors in a rather enjoyable half hour to find this studio. I got to the road in question seamlessly, then promptly got lost. It was a country road packed with very expensive houses. I turned off it at one point and followed what turned out to be a dirt track. It was raining and muddy and the track was full of potholes. It was a little bit unnerving as my 5 series, with its lowered sports suspension and low profile wheels, is not exactly built for these conditions. Let's face it a BMW X5 isn't built for these things, let alone a normal 5.

All of a sudden I found myself outside a farmhouse. There were two farmhouse looking women standing in front of it with a pack of about ten thousand dogs. It was only about half an hour outside London but I felt as if I had entered a different rural zone completely. I had no choice but to get out and ask these rather scary looking women if they knew where the studio was. The darkness was both good and bad for me.

Bad because I wasn't sure exactly where they were hiding the shotguns on their person. It's a known fact that all farmer's wife types carry shotguns to shoot strangers with. Good, because at first glance they couldn't tell that I was dark skinned, which would obviously have got me shot, then they would have asked the questions.

I got out of the car and walked towards them. I was careful to avoid trampling on the dogs. They came at me from all directions. One of the women said something like "Don't mind the dogs". Yeah right, that's what they do to lull you into a false sense of security. I headed purposefully towards the women, knowing that confidence is the key to not getting shot in these situations. I think I saw a couple of the dogs caught in my wheels, I must have run them over as I pulled in, no big deal.

"Excuse me" I said in my most polite butter wouldn't melt in my mouth voice.

"Do you know where this music studio is?"

I was close enough for her to see my non white status, I had asked about a music studio, I had a London accent. I just knew my time was up. Surely the gun would be brought out, I'd see a flash of light and that would be it.

"No, I don't know of a studio around here". She replied. Her voice was so upper class that the Queen would have probably heard it and gone straight off to get some elocution lessons. She was rather polite too. She turned to her friend and they had little chinwag only to conclude that they didn't know of one around these parts.

We all had a chat and a laugh, I thanked them and turned back around and headed back to where I had started. They were, in fact, rather nice and rather polite. I am fairly sure that, at some point, after a bit of recalculation, my mind contemplated how things would have been if they had kidnapped me and used me as some kind of sex slave. I would have missed the rehearsal though, unless I could have arranged that they would wait to kidnap me after it.

You'll be surprised but there was no kidnap attempt so I drove off. Not without some effort I finally found the studio tucked between two houses, each of which was one of those supermassive English country house things, worth more than the Sultan of Brunei's toothpick collection.

These "first dates" are strange things. Various permutations of the musicians present had already played together but it was our first time as a group and we had a large list of "possible" songs but no "definites". There was the usual messing about; guitarist trying to sort his levels out, me hitting things loudly, the singer whacking out some arpeggios and the keyboardist boogie woogieing.

Once we got started it was blindingly good. I think it's safe to say that it was resounding success all round. They were a nice bunch of people and we made some sweet music. A lot of Basement Jaxx, some Mas Que Nada, some Scissor Sisters and some brilliantly mellow reggae songs like "No, no, no". Good things will come from this I am sure. We've got a gig lined up in January, a fairly high profile affair, and things look rosy.

The thing is, I just love to play. Whether it's with idiots or nice people who are good players, like last night, I just enjoy it.

Have good weekend all!



drac said...

Wait. Basement Jaxx? Really? I thought that was all synth stuff.

Are you telling me, R, that you can do the intro to Red Alert on a drum kit? *looks stunned*

Also, out of curiosity where does Phil Collins stack in your drummers hall of fame? I probably mean the Genesis era more than the solo stuff.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Hey drac. I think most of the Basement Jaxx studio stuff is done on drum machnes and synths but it can be replicated. I don't know Red Alert I'm afriad, the songs we did last night were Broken Dreams and Do your thing, I'm no Basement Jaxx afficionado. Ohil Collins is one of those drummers that I admire and rate but I just don't like. I've never been a Genesis fan and his solo stuff I find even worse. He's a brilliant drummer and highly regarded but I just don't like his "feel".

Theena said...

I agree with your thoughts on the Beatles and high treble frequencies. But wasn't that typical of their early years though?

I've found that the sound changed dramatically starting from Rubber Soul.

Ringo - hehehe...yep, he was perfect for the Beatles, but I've never been a fan. Nice guy apparently.

As far as Phil Collins goes, he was asked to play drums for Led Zeppelin during the Live 8 1985 performance. Now if you heard any Zeppelin you will know that any drummer who plays for them better be good to step into the massive shoes of the amazing John Bonham.

Indyana said...

yeah! the beatles sound was so clanky wasn't it? I'm not sure how many people would agree,but your description seemed so accurate.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

theena - I guess we wouldn't know how much of that was because of commercial aspects though, I wouldn't have said Phil collins was similar in style to JB at all. I was reading an interview with Jason Bonham, his son only the other day. If Zep reformed now then Mr Grohl would be my perfect choice

Nazreen said...

The only band I recognise in this post is the Beatles. I
must have owned all their LP's from a Hard Days Night, Double Red, Double Blue, Rubber Soul, Magical Mystical Tour, ect., to the god of all: THE WHITE ALBUM.

Itching to lay my hands on a copy of "LOVE"

Who are Basement Jaxx? Scissor Sisters, Mas Que Nada?

Theena said...

R - Yeah, what I meant was Phil Collins is good enough to be drumming for Led Zeppelin although his style doesn't stand up well against JB.

Nazreen - Get Love. Tis gorgeous. Favourite is White album eh? I can't decided between Sgt Pepper, Rubber Soul and Let It Be.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Naz - I'll send you a CD with some samples. Get Love definitely, Theena's right.

Theena - I agree with you, just don't like him really.

nazsansoni said...

Theena - Sgt Pepper, Rubber Soul, Let It Be are absolute classics! But, The White Album
was/is so clever. I was shocked when I first heard it.
Absolutely brilliant.

R - Thanks. and will get love. from amazon.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Naz - If only it was that easy! ;)

drac said...

Beatles trivia!

First look at this Youtube video for Free As A Bird:
video on Youtube

Now, figure out the video clip references - most of them are Beatles songs, some of them are downright obscure.

I got maybe ummm... 10 of these and I completely suck at this stuff. See if you can do better :)

(answers here)

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Drac, I'll check it out thanks.

Naz - Scissor Sisters did "Take your Mama out tonight" Mas Que Nada is the name of a song, I'm sure you'd recognise it, an old grooving latin song, often used in adverts, by Sergio Mendes (sp??)

Anonymous said...

R, you crack me up :)

i'm one of those purists, especially when it comes to the beatles, but am certainly looking forward to trying love myself. must get friend to bring.

well handled on the eats shoots n leaves btw :)

when do we get to hear u play? u jammed some while here last yes? but i missed it.. oh, or was that just at r n b? slippery memory..

and i take it begging wont speed up any revelations on the RA number eh? resisting googling, but perhaps not for long! :)


Rhythmic Diaspora said...

mala - I might give you a prize anyway, dependds how much begging you'll do! I need that email address for you though.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

mala - yes, jammed with Flame for a few songs in The Library one night. Either let me have your email add and I can email songs to you, or ask Electra.

R ;)