Thursday, 26 August 2010

I'm stil here

Hi all,

I trust that everybody is enjoying their summer holidays, albeit the wettest August since goodness knows when if you happen to reside in the UK.

As previously mentioned we have musically closed down for a few months and so there is very little to report, apart from an impending wedding tomorrow evening. As this is in a tiny Devonshire village and down a country lane that you would be hard pushed to ride a bike down I think I might have some interesting tales to tell come Saturday.

However; I just wanted to assure all of you who kindly read my scribblings that I have not given up, but that I was giving my brain a bit of a rest (and at my age I need that from time to time).

We will speak again VERY soon


Thursday, 5 August 2010

Is it loud enough for you?

Our guitarist, Aaron, suffers from noisy neighbours.

For years it has been the connoisseurs of Rock that have been tarred with the brush of excessive volume when in reality it is those that like the more commercial drum & bass, R&B and dare I say it ‘pop’ that tend to create the most consternation late at night.

It would appear that if your taste is of a more ‘youth’ orientated persuasion then it is not only acceptable but almost obligatory to shake the street with abnormal levels of hi fidelity bass at 3am in the morning and damn those that have to get up for work in the morning.

Now I am not one to criticise volume, after all when my girlfriend (now my wife) would arrive at my parent’s house to meet me she would have to wait until a song I was listening to ended before hammering for all she was worth on the front door to get my attention. However; it was only ever during day light hours and the thought of getting Rhianna or Beyonce rattling my fillings and frightening the cat at some ungodly hour does annoy me somewhat (mind you, it could just be that I am getting old and grumpy)

Sadly Aaron is learning an extremely valuable lesson about life……some people are just plain selfish.

That being said I have probably got to hold my hands up to being involved in permanently damaging many ear drums over the years.

I have been playing in bands since my teens and several of them have been unnaturally loud. My first professional band, Amaziah, was so loud that I would be unable to hear anything above a high pitched whistle (tinnitus) until the following morning, and we were BEHIND the PA. The sight of teenagers actually sticking their heads in the PA’s bass speakers haunts me to this day.

To be fair, I have rarely had any control on how loud we have been as this is normally always the job of the sound man and I swear that several of them in the bands employ have been totally deaf to begin with.

For sure, at several well known venues in my home town of Bristol the in-house engineers are famously as deaf as a barn door and any complaints regarding sound quality or level quite literally falls on deaf ears. The band being presented at any one time can only pray that the engineer hasn’t killed any sense of vibration with ale that night and that they might at least end up being distinguishable as a band as opposed to an airliner taking off in a hurricane through a mountain of empty coke cans.

My family accuse me of acquired deafness, something my mother states I inherited from my father (probably as a strategy for tuning out unwanted nagging I suspect); however it is probably more likely that I have blown the top end of my hearing clean away with years of excessive volume.

So a few years back inspired by my failing eye sight due to the advancement of years, I determined not to go the same way as many famous rockers who rendered themselves in need of hearing aids before their time was due as being short sighted is pain enough without adding ‘deaf as a stick’ to it for laughs.

So I went out and invested in a set of acoustic ear plugs.

The idea is that it reduces the level of the volume without actually filtering out the quality of the sound. This is of course total bunkum as the sound you are left with is that of having stuffed a pair of old socks into your ear holes.

The draw back is that I nearly always forget to put them in during the sound check and as the gig kicks off I suddenly find that my finely crafted on stage mix is being ‘sock filtered’.

The only other thing sadly is having lost the volume you also lose much of the oomph that makes up a good rock & roll set. Many is a night when our sound to me has been flat and lacking spark, when in fact it has been crisp and soundly smacking the audience around their chops like an audible slap in the face.

However; years have taught me that lying in bed on the night of a gig with that high pitched whistle keeping me awake far more affectively than any drum & bass obsessed neighbour is not something I want to continue, especially long after I have become too old to play.

Bono suffers badly for this very reason as does Pete Townsend and he states that it is threatening to finish his career .

So for now I shall continue stuffing the socks (sorry I mean the acoustic ear plugs) into my lug holes and continue to yell….”Is it loud enough?” because sadly for me, it’s not.