Q & A.

I have decided to add this page as a sort of bonus for things which may not be covered on the main pages. If you would like any other questions answered or have any queries in general about bookings etc… please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me through the ‘contact’ page – many thanks.

Q: How far would / do you travel to do a gig?
A: In 2001 I got a phone call asking me to go to Bahrain in the Middle East to do a week of bookings, so I guess you could say ‘pretty far’. I suppose realistically I wouldn’t have any major issues with anything up to 70 or 80 miles from home. As long as it was well organised.

Q: Do you do weddings?
A: I’m asked this a lot and the honest answer is ‘very seldom’. I know plenty of bands who do them, and some indeed may charge 20 – 30% extra claiming it to be a corporate-type event. This isn’t how I operate. Speciality function bands and DJ’s have sprung up greatly over the last few years – they’re specialised in what they do (or they should be), I prefer to leave it to them. Saying that, if the people have come and heard me a few times, and really feel I would suit their day then ‘of course’ – it’s work.

Q: How do you remember all the words of the songs?
A: Sometimes I don’t!! I actually try not to think of the words when I’m singing, and rather just let them flow naturally. I suppose the more you sing the songs in a venue they begin to become ingrained into your subconscious. I don’t like to use lyric sheets when I’m singing so knowing the words is a pretty important part of what I do. By far perhaps the most embarrassing thing is forgetting the words of a song ‘you’ve’ actually written!!

Q: Are you actually playing on stage or is it not just all recorded?
A: Sadly, no matter what I do, this is something I am ‘told’ rather than asked a few times a month. I used to get very defensive and quite insulted until I realised just how many bands ‘aren’t’ actually playing live, so it’s no wonder people expect every band to be doing the same.
Being a keyboard player it will obviously happen more than with a guitarist – probably because people think you just press a button on a keyboard and away it goes on it’s own. This is true to an extent, but it’s also knowing ‘what’ buttons to press and in which order – especially the long black and white ones.
In studio terms, many of the songs I do will consist of anything up to 40 tracks; as the keyboard I gig with can’t cope with this much information, I will bounce down the base and maybe the drums onto an md as an mp3 file and then build the sound around it on the keyboards – on stage – live.
At any one time I’m also working with up to 12 sliders for volume, effects / reverbs, dmx lighting and patch pads to give as big a sound and stage effect as possible. Nearly forgot – I’ve to remember the words & sing too!
It’s just weird when I’m on guitar and doing less than a quarter of what it takes with the keyboards, that I’ve never been ‘told’ I’m miming or whatever. Human nature I guess.

Q: Which do you prefer, Guitar or Keyboards?
A: I love them both. I don’t play guitar out very much as it’s more my ‘go to’ instrument for initial song writing ideas and recording.
The gigs where I’ve used guitar are mostly connected with my own material and not covers – plus I’m no Eric Clapton. I love the guitar for it’s purity however. You can’t hide behind a guitar quite as easily as you can a keyboard; and for me, this means the lyrics of my songs get a bit more of a free reign and come to the forefront if you like. I think guitars, especially acoustics, just do something magical to the right song. ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ by Gordon Lightfoot springs to mind – unbelievably beautiful song.
My synths on the other hand are my workhorses – my weapons of choice for mad creation. I’ve probably done thousands of gigs with them over the years, so they’ll always be my ‘first love’ as to what I do musically – both on stage and in the studio.

Q: How many songs would you need to know before doing a gig?
A: It depends a great deal on the venue and type of gig it is.
Open mic nights and original music venues (which I’m delighted to see are on the rise) generally don’t last as long as the ‘cover’ gigs; so obviously the shorter the time on stage, the less songs needed to fill the time. An important factor to note with doing original material is that you’ll have less time to sell yourself – unless of course you’ve brought a crowd of your fans.
An average bar or club gig will usually run for two or three hours with a break in the middle; whereas an originals slot may only run for 30 / 45 minutes to an hour. Keeping in mind that a song will last 3 – 4 minutes, you can begin to work out how many you will need. Always remember the breaks between songs depending on how much you want to banter with the audience – it all adds up.
If you’re just starting out it’s most likely that you won’t know what sort of crowd go to a particular venue, so having plenty of back-up songs will help you alter the show to suit.
I would say 35+ songs is a safe starting point and build from there. The most important aspect is to know the songs inside and out – and it goes without saying… ‘do them well’.

Q: Why don’t you have an originals band for your song writing – or do you?
A: I don’t have a band for any of my music at the moment; with no immediate plans on having one for some time yet.
There are several reasons for this, with the main one being that I’m getting more and more into production rather than performing these days.
I’ve worked in a few bands over the years, and although it’s a sad reality, many people are still scared to listen to new things or go see an original outfit today. Obviously if the band are well known or selling well it will benefit them to gig/tour; but for the average song writing band it’s a hard slog – often with little to no reward for the effort they put in.
As with any job, it largely boils down to ‘staff’ – or in this case, fellow band members; getting the right people with the right attitudes & chemistry to bring the music to the people.
I’ve literally heard and seen countless riffs occur in bands due to differences of opinion or lack of interest – perhaps another band member’s interests lie elsewhere. It’s probably the biggest challenge to get like-minded people who do what they do well and don’t mind putting the efforts in for what can initially seem like your just chasing your tail.
At the moment my music is changing all the time. Maybe when I finally decide what sort of music I want to show in a live context, I’ll put something together. Until then, I’m pretty happy and content where I am.

Q: I want to hold a function, how much should a good band ideally charge?
A: Prices vary from band-to-band; but a ‘good band’ should ideally be in demand to begin with.
If a band can offer you any night you want; can’t tell you where or want you to come and see them play (if they actually do play anywhere), or are asking for what strikes you as an extortionate fee then alarm bells should start ringing.
The majority of bars and people I know today get to hear and see the band they may want to book. When I was in England, the competition was so fierce that I would often say to a bar if they didn’t like what they saw then I wouldn’t charge anything. It was risky, but it worked. I will add that these were mainly just the bars I really wanted to play. I also knew many bars that would probably try anything for a ‘free’ night.
Generally speaking; with so many various bands out there at the moment – each charging their own individual price, you should never be afraid to ask as many questions as possible, or better still, go see them doing what they do if possible.
From a band’s point of view, again every venue will generally have a ball-park figure for what they pay their acts. I still find it deplorable that many ‘original’ venues expect you to play for nothing, or even charge you for the privilege. This said, it’s also an especially difficult time for bars, clubs – in fact ‘everyone’ at the moment, so don’t necessarily be expecting what you feel you’re truly worth. It can take years to build up relationships with bar/club owners and over time – to prove your worth.