The Comfortable Box
When I was in my early teens, I always dreamt about taking the stage while pulling off crazy guitar solos and executing perfectly timed head bangs.
I grew up listening to Punk Rock songs by Blink182, Greenday and Slick Shoes. Back then, those dudes were everything I idolised to become like; long hair, tattoos and incredible showmanship. (Achievement Unlocked!)
I started my music career as a guitar salesman and ventured into being a guitar instructor full time. Back in 2010, a friend of mine couldn’t participate in a live performance with Rebecca and I was called upon as a substitute to perform with her at a well established pub, as a second guitar player. Our relationship as fellow musicians grew along with the chemistry we had. Eventually, she brought me into the gig scene. I will always be thankful for that.
As a teacher and the “little grasshopper” of several well known guitar players in Singapore, I honoured my craft and practiced everyday. Sometimes I would spend the whole day just sitting in my room and strumming away. The jobs were good opportunities for me to apply all that I have learnt in a live situation. That was the ultimate pairing.
Sadly, all good things come to an end.
I took things for granted.
Back then I had a full time job and performing was something I did to earn the extra income. There were times I failed to deliver and my bandmates suffered as most of them were full time musicians and performing was their only source of income.
Ironically, the tables turned and I lost my full time job due to an unfortunate event which led me to perform fulltime. I began taking the job seriously and it was never never easy.
Here’s why: (With all due Respect)
Playing radio friendly covers do not necessarily require you to have a bag of superb tricks or an astounding certificate from the world’s renowned schools.
Don’t get me wrong. Yes, most of the songs from the early 70s and 80s were rather tricky and needed you to have a certain level of accuracy and skill.
However, the cover bands have a choice of either following the exact replica or lowering the difficulty level by playing it differently with easier chords, chordal movements or slowing it down to compensate for the fast runs.
At the end of the day, only a handful of us are actually musicians. The Rest?
You do the math.
Now this is where it butchered me.
In the early stages, I trained myself to be different.
I wanted to replicate covers and add a touch of my own. ( A pinch of salt )
Why would you do that? You are not getting paid extra for putting in so much effort!
A question I get asked most of the time ( And If I had a dime for every…… hahaha )
Come on man! If every band is covering a similar repertoire of songs, how does one stand out?
“ Let’s just say a famous singer or band walks down a stretch of pubs and every band is covering his or her or their songs, playing it the exact same way, would they stop and stare?
I’m afraid not.” — Something I always tell my students -
To stand out, one must know when or where to add in the special flavour which allows the song to maintain it’s originality and at the same time, a little tease. (POKE the bear but don’t kill it)
Now, this will require that special bag of skill, which unfortunately, many don’t have.
We are too busy juggling 2 or more jobs, making ends meet, too comfortable playing within our safety boxes and above it all,
Why drive an extra mile when your destination is just around the corner?
Why drive an extra mile when petrol prices are so damn expensive?
I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I decided to go out on my own.