Here’s a question for you, can you remember the first ever song you played on an instrument? Or maybe the first album that really inspired you?
Well I had yet another nostalgic week when I was turning out some cupboards at home and came across these:
Which are the first ever music books I bought when I was a teenager and I’ve not seen them for a good 10 years or so and they brought back lots of memories.
When I first started out gigging and writing my own music these three albums meant everything to me: Oasis, Definatly Maybe; Radiohead, The Bends; and Alanis Moresette, Jagged Little Pill.
Most of the chord shapes I play on guitar today come from these three books and the albums themselves were such a massive inspiration to me.
I’ve often spoken about my first few years learning guitar and getting into recording. I was 16 and living in a mobile home and my first real recording set-up consisted of a Fostex four-track cassette recorder and a rather crappy vocal mic that had a wired-in jack lead (like those horrible mics you get with Karaoke machines). Instrumentation wise I had a beaten up drum kit that I found in a skip, a Kay Rickenbacker copy bass, a Yamaha keyboard and an Encore Les Paul copy electric guitar. Back in those days I used to play without a top E string and just used five strings. It’s funny because there’s many chords I play now where I leave the top string open, and it’s from the days when I thought it would be a good idea not to have it at all lol.
Recording drums was always a bit of a challenge, as when I had the kit set up the only way to get behind it was by going out the front door and clambering through a side window. I came across my Fostex a little while ago and there’s a few comedy moments where I hit the record button and you hear me running out the door and climbing through the window – thankfully I don’t have to endure that anymore!
I’m so very grateful for the amount of time I used to spend practising. I had a pretty fixed rehearsal regime that lasted around seven hours a day, and most nights I’d either be out gigging or having band practise. Everyday I’d do bass, drums, guitar, keys and vocals and had a set practise list for each one. It’s funny seeing people’s reactions when I tell them how often I use to play music. They always ask me ‘didn’t you ever go out? Or have a life outside of music?’ And I guess the answer is no, I didn’t have a life. I was a musical junkie and completely cool with that.
It’s really cool when I meet teenagers or young people now who are just starting out their own adventure into the world of music. I have to say that period of my life was by far the most exciting and rewarding. Everything was new and inspiring. I was like a musical sponge – I just wanted to watch and soak up everything I heard, then go home, grab a guitar and sit there until I could play it. I had a dream, and at that time it never felt as though it was very far away because I was completely naïve and had no idea what the music businesswas all about. But I guess it’s like that saying my Mother has often said to me…’where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise’.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore what I do. It’s the bestest thing in the whole wide world. But as with the real world you experience set backs and blows that make you not quite as open as you once were. I’m certainly a lot wiser these days in many ways, but my enthusiasm back then was unstoppable and I’m so very grateful for all time I spent practising away. And if the internet had been around I would have been spending hours watching music vids on Youtube. Mind you, I’m actually very glad that Youtube, HD camcorders and the internet weren’t around back then – I’d die if anyone uploaded my first few gigs, as they were pretty awful!