A MASSIVE shout out to Humanism. I needed to get that in at the top. They're the reason why this guest blog is being written at all. They're an ambient/alternative four-piece band from Whitley Bay who got in touch and asked if I wanted to support them at the O2 Academy in Newcastle to which I responded in a matter of minutes (seconds) with a big YES!!!!!!!!! I don't want to make assumptions and say I know what you're thinking... but I know what you're thinking. Firstly, they're awesome, and secondly, I've done a couple of gigs with them already and it really works. Get over it.
A date for the gig was confirmed almost straight away and it was time to rally the troops; Oscar (drums) and my DJ (who shall, for this piece, remain totally nameless. In fact, no. Let's call him "Z") were available. I also contacted James, a keys player, to bring another musical element to the table for my drum and bass track Hold On. With five rehearsals booked, Oscar and I completed the first three on our own. Not part of the plan but Z had decided to stop answering my calls and texts. He decided to stop responding to my Facebook messages. He decided to ignore my Instagram comments. From a distance, I could totally understand why anyone would think that this behaviour has some elements of stalking to it. I'd "imagine" it's how a VERY CLINGY guy would chase a girl who he liked but obviously he didn't get the memo that maybe this girl wasn't interested. Z had vanished.
By the end of the third rehearsal, I was a worried man. Sleepless nights? Check. Drawing up plan b, c, d, e and f during the early hours? Check. So with ten days left before the gig, I reluctantly put out an SOS. You never want to appear to others like you're not prepared but swallowing my pride was the order of the day and Z was oblivious to the problems he was causing. Soundcloud weirdly didn't throw up many results so I took to Facebook, I contacted Generator (a North-East based music development agency) and I headed to my contacts list (for the 500 millionth time) on my phone to see if I could call in any IOU's. At this point, I was starting to notice that my voice had gotten slightly higher due to the panic, and I was talking like Scrufizzer when he raps at 100mph.
Despite a healthy amount of people coming forward, no one person fitted the bill. It was now exactly a week before the gig and I remember very distinctly sitting in my car in a multi-storey car park in Newcastle. Stressing. The FXKK. OUT. Like. Not just a little bit. We're talking on the verge of a breakdown levels of stressing.
Lo and behold, via Twitter, I found Spectra (you flipping legend) who put me onto a guy called Hadoshrooms (a Street Fighter master and Dubstep DJ) who, in the week of the gig, agreed to step in. Now, have you ever really really really needed to go to the toilet and you hold it in for ages, you're then able to go, but even after you've gone, you still feel like you need to go? No? Well, whatever. That happens to me a LOT. Why am I telling you this? Because even after he'd stepped in, my brain had got so used to the stress that I remained in this frantic state right up until the gig. Perfect (*Street Fighter voice*. Pun very much intended).
Oscar, Hadoshrooms, and myself did rehearsal number four and then rehearsal number five with James on keys, and I remember saying out loud, "I think I'm actually going to cry here guys". Overwhelmed by how it had all come together. Two days later was the gig and although most of the panic had disappeared, the 48 hour period leading up to a gig is always a time when I try to completely forget that I have a gig. Rid myself of any unnecessary pressure. Cleanse my mind (Wooooosahhhh).
All of the above, in this instance, was nothing more than theory. I went out to Newcastle to promote with my sign (and I quote) "for about an hour" the night before the gig to create some further interest. I get an overwhelming feeling of guilt when passing up on opportunities to promote so I thought I'd stay out until 1am and then head home. Except I was still out promoting at 3am, so I headed back to my car, did some random snaps for Snapchat and headed out of town. Having filled up my car, I decided to turn back around, head back across the Tyne Bridge and began promoting at another venue until 5am. By this time I was WIDE AWAKE and it was fully light outside. I was so far away from plan A that I was about half way through the alphabet by the time I got home. Not ideal. No. Self inflicted. Yes. Sorry not sorry. (Ok. A little bit sorry).
The thing is I take performing very seriously. I'm on the streets of Newcastle most weekends rapping for people and handing out flyers but that's me in accapella mode. I want people to come and see a SHOW. So when Z disappeared, I WAS NOT just turning up with a PA CD. No No Nooooo (Dawn Penn voice).
Soundcheck, done, pre-gig scran, done, and then it was time. On reflection, my set went waaaaaaaaay better than I could have ever imagined. The emergency meetings with Oscar to discuss our options, the reluctance to pull out, the voices in my head telling me to sleep, the never say die attitude; it was all worth it. Every second. The reaction to each track. Hearing people shout back my lyrics. This is what it's about.
I've learnt lots of things from this experience. This wasn't a journey. The preparation was like a car crash but in slow motion. What I put myself through just to make thirty minutes of live music happen totally astounded me. I'm proud of myself and proud of the guys who were involved in my set but from this gig, building a small empire must be the name of the game now. To reach a stage whereby people come to you because they've been told that YOU are the guy in your town/city. I'm slowly getting there. I think I'm just impatient. If you believe in yourself and have the passion and drive to succeed, then others will gravitate towards that and want to be part of what you're doing. This is the mission, everyday. Do things and things will happen. Note to self boyo.
You can find ABSORB over at www.absorbonline.com
A big thank you to Blue Cheese Clothing. Find them over at http://bluecheeseclothing.bigcartel.com
WORDS: ABSORB [@thisisABSORB]