05 1 / 2012
So I have this blog and so far I haven’t really been sure what I’m supposed to do with it other than post funny pictures. Also, I’ve got four followers so I guess whatever I do with it is pretty irrelevant anyway! But I did set it up for band purposes so from here on in I’m going to post stuff exclusively about Kickstart The Season :-)
And what better way to begin than at the beginning…
Back in July, Sean and I were jamming with a view to starting a a new band. We’d tried to start several bands since our previous band, The Side Street Doormats, had split up, none of which ever really got off the ground. We’d had a few songwriting jams for this one but it wasn’t really going anywhere.
Sean was already in Kickstart The Season by this stage and in August he asked me to join after they kicked their old guitarist out for not showing up to rehearsals. I said yeah, still not really expecting it to go anywhere, having had so many unsuccessful attempts at starting a band over the last few years.
Starting a band really is harder than it sounds. Finding four or five people that not only can play their instruments at least reasonably well, but have the motivation to show up to practice and gigs even when it might not suit them, as well as being able to get along well enough to enjoy the whole experience is pretty rare.
Anyway, I was out in drinking one night in August when Sean convinced me to call in sick to work to go to my first Kickstart The Season rehearsal the next day. Of course, being so drunk I could hardly stand, I said yes, with no real intention of actually going. The next day I woke up in my girlfriend’s house, feeling more than a little like death, with a message on my phone asking if I was still coming to rehearsal. One thing was clear at this stage: I was too sick to go to work. As it turned out, I wasn’t too sick to go to rehearsal, just about.
So the awkwardness of meeting three complete strangers who had let me join their band without ever having heard me play was offset by the fact that I was still drunk from the night before and, despite feeling like vomiting at several points during the rehearsal, I thought it went pretty well. I learned the one song they already had and they were nice enough to let me be in their first youtube video, even though Sean Hanlon and Kris weren’t.
About a week later, we booked our first gig. Although it might have been less stressful to develop a set before booking a gig, we decided to go book first and write songs later. Besides, the King Kong Club only required us to play three songs and Sean and I knew from our previous band that it’s usually a fun night.
With two weeks to go before the gig we wrote two new songs and rehearsed until we got them (mostly) right. Rehearsals during those two weeks were a little…heated…at times (I thought at one point Sean Hanlon was going to throw his snare drum right in Sean Hodson’s face, but it was all in good spirit…mostly…
Anyway, the night of the gig came and having not played live in two and a half years I was pretty nervous. But after all the waiting around to go on stage, by the time I got on the nerves had mostly disappeared. Now I’m not going to lie and say it was one of our best gigs (mostly because there’s video evidence to the contrary), but for our first gig, having been together as a band for two and a half weeks, we weren’t out of our dept on the night and I thought that was pretty impressive.
So although preparing for the King Kong Club gig was stressful, it did make us considerably tighter as a band than we were before. We spent the next month and a half developing our set and writing new songs. Our next gig wasn’t until October so we really worked hard at improving for this one.
The gig was at the Live and Unsigned battle of the bands in The Pint. Again, we were pretty nervous going on stage but ended up having a good night in the end. We met Alice Can’t Turn Left, a really great live band, for the first time that night. They went on straight after us and we were really blown away by how good they were. It was one of those moments when I realised how far we still had to go before we were at the standard we wanted to be at.
Around this time, we first started seriously discussing recording our debut EP. The original plan was to record a single in Manor Park in December and release it in January but when we talked it over we decided that we would be better off releasing a 3/4 track EP. Although Manor Park is a really good studio, there was no way we could afford to do 4 songs there so we decided on Trackmix in Blanchardstown instead.
We continued rehearsing and writing songs for the next month or so and the rehearsals stopped being hard work and developed into what they are currently; pretty much just hanging out time with some music thrown in for fun. Which is the way rehearsals should be really, otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll start to hate your band and maybe even kill one another.
We had a seriously busy November. First, we played another Live and Unsigned battle of the bands. This was the drunkest Kickstart The Season gig for me. There were quite a few mistakes (of which there’s unreleased video evidence), but for me it was more fun than the first two gigs and it showed me that even when, as a band, you think things went horribly, people watching hardly even notice. It was also the gig where me and Kris started our pre-gig routine of looking at each other and saying “I really don’t give a fuck what happens tonight”. After this gig, I think we really started to improve.
The week after, we supported This Rising Tide at their EP Pre-Release show in Captain America’s on Grafton Street. We’d really been looking forward to this one and it turned out to be a bit of a let down. The promoter who was supposed to be organising the whole thing showed up for ten minutes, realised it was a shambles, then left. What’s more is that he had charged This Rising Tide 250 euro for venue hire and a sound engineer even though Captain America’s is free to hire and an engineer is provided. We ended up headlining this one because This Rising Tide had to get the last bus to Galway and couldn’t stay to go on last. The other band we were playing with also left, which meant we were left without a bass amp and Sean had to use a tiny 30 watt guitar amp. To make matters worse, nothing was miced up to go through the mixing desk so our set ended up more like a rehearsal than a live performance. On the plus side we were pretty drunk and Captain America’s has a cool lighting system :-)
Next up was the recording! I was seriously excited about this because it was my first time going to a proper studio and we’d finally be able to let people hear what we sounded like. I’d read that recording isn’t as much fun as it sounds, and it really and truly isn’t! There’s a LOT of sitting around, waiting to record your parts and then doing them over and over because you mess them up so much (no? just me then?). So after two days in the studio we came out with our very first four tracks. Now we had to decide what to do with them.
We decided to hold onto the EP until we had our proper release show in February. We put one of the tracks up on our facebook for free download and then kicked the PR machine into overdrive. And by kicking the pr machine into overdrive I mean we went over to Sean’s, ate pizza and added people on facebook. I think a lot of bands overestimate how benificial it actually is for a band to have hundreds of likes on facebook. A band can have over a thousand likes, maybe only 30 of which will ever show up for a gig. Whereas another band can have 200 likes, 50 of which will show up for a gig. That’s not to say facebook likes aren’t important. But we decided to be smart about it and add people who may actually be into our music rather than going down the road of posting on those “promote your band” pages.
During the recording of the EP, we had a great night playing at the Blitz Bandslam competition in The Slaughtered Lamb in Swords. Our set really clicked into place that night and it was a considerable step up from our previous gigs. The guys organising it were even nice enough to record a video for us! Hang on in there until 2:57 to see the by now almost renowned jump
After all the excitement of November, December turned out to be a bit of a downer. Turns out that launching an EP is a lot of hard work! We were perhaps under the impression that once we got the EP recorded everything else would follow and we’d be selling out venues in no time. The ultimate low point of my time in the band so far came in Kris’ shed when Sean, Kris and I were freezing our arses off, listening to the EP through a tiny bass amp and wondering why it didn’t sound amazing, which was all a bit silly looking back on it now!
We managed to regroup after that rather depressing episode and win the Live and Unsigned battle of the bands the week after, which certainly helped our morale! We also booked our release show and decided to get one of our tracks remixed by Luc Tellier, a producer from Canada.
So…that brings me to now! I’ve had a really great first almost five months in the band, and I think we’ve done reasonably well to get to this stage within five months. Obviously there’s still a loooong way to go and a lot of work still to do, but we’re in a great position going into 2012! So to conclude I’ll say thanks to a few people (begrudgingly, because ultimately I could have done all this without them anyway ;-) ). Everyone involved in the King Kong Club for giving us our first gig! Billy at Live and Unsigned for having us in The Pint on Thursdays so often! Stu at Blitz Bandslam for a really fun night in Swords, everyone who’s come to our gigs to support us getting started up, especially Jonny and TJ from Atlantic, who showed up that night when no one else did! Everyone who’s downloaded our song or liked us on facebook and the bands who’ve been so supportive of us! And last but certainly not least, Ciara, Kris, Sean and Sean for getting drunk and playing music with me :-)