Since 2013 I have been the bass player and backing singer in a Rock/Pop/Blues band called The Ask. We formed the band as a 5 piece with my son and his best mate included in the line-up. We gigged locally, wrote our own material, also played covers and developed into a tight unit. In 2015 the lead singer went off to University and so we needed to make some changes in the set-up.
We auditioned various singers and always felt that the dynamic would change too significantly. During this period I was stepping into the lead role for rehearsal just so we could continue to practice. We are fortunate that one of our guitarists records everything that we play so we can always listen back to see how things are going. It became apparent that my vocals were not up to the same standard as the playing of the band and was detracting from the quality of our sound.
What to do………………Initially we continued looking for a singer and then by chance one of those was a singing teacher (turns out rock was not her first choice so they did not want to join in the end). So I started taking singing lessons.
The transformation was quite dramatic in a very short space of time. The other band members noticed in just a few weeks the change in power, control and confidence. It was clear this would be a long journey but we now had a plan and a way forward to continue as a band.
So does the story end there? Well the singer doesn’t just sing do they!
The other thing we noticed (we videoed ourselves to see how we performed) was that as a band there was a lack of performance; engagement with the audience; the person interacting with the crowd was missing. As the lead signer I needed to up my game and with one of the guitarists, who was singing backing by this stage, we started to develop a bit of banter and chat between some of the songs.
Stage craft is still something that we are getting to grips with and developing slowly, the more we gig the better it becomes. At least we found a way to stick together and make the band work.
So, how am I finding the transition to front man?
To be honest I try not to think about it. When I do catch myself thinking ‘I am at the front of a band, about to start singing in front of all these strangers’ I wonder what the hell I have got myself into and can’t believe I am doing it. I am a very quiet and reserved person and am never going to be a rock god but hopefully I can entertain and people will enjoy listening to our music. What I have found is that the nerves before a gig tend to be more than before and the post-gig confidence and self-belief drops off much quicker between gigs than it used to when I was hiding in the background.
My wife often asks why I do this if I get nervous before a gig. Well it is a great feeling once we start playing and we get super feedback from the audience that makes it all worthwhile. The feeling you get playing in a band (especially when it includes your son) cant be matched in my opinion, so I will keep on keeping on and hopefully continue to improve and develop as a front man. Besides, it is by doing things outside your comfort zone that you can feel truly alive.
Next time: Should we go out as an acoustic duo?