I bought a DVD the other day. I got a message from an old friend that a band we used to love had just re-released an old film of theirs. I say re-released…. but really it was originally just a VHS tape that they sold to members of their fan club. It has now finally been issued on DVD – I would say “warts and all” but that really wouldn’t adequately describe the appalling quality. Seriously, this is proper bad!!! Ha ha! In fact some of it looks worse than the studio videos I’ve been posting here recently.
But of course, there is a reason for the poor presentation. We’re talking about a ‘for-the-fans’ tape assembled from hours of footage shot by the band themselves on VHS. Come on… we’re talking a medium that some people reading this will never have heard of. But anyway… I now have this band’s “larking about” on DVD – and also, I have it signed by every member of the band… in SILVER PEN!!! Ha ha! It’s funny how silly little things like that take you back to the early days of falling for music. The days of being a fanboy! I’m saying to people… “Look, I’ve got Blaze’s signature!”… to shrugs of complete indifference. Well, nevermind.. music is, after all, a very personal cause. Always has been, always will be.
So I press play. The PS3 chugs for a moment deciding in what aspect ratio to play these visuals that look like they’ve been scraped from a bucket in the depths of someone’s vision of hell. Chug, whirl… click click click.
And then we have it. Enthusiastic, but often childish, attempts at humour mixed with astoundingly powerful and gregarious heavy metal. You see… this is what I would call a Rockumentary… but we’ve got a film here with all the finesse of a dismembered stoat. However, it’s bullish, full of life, full of energy and most importantly, full of JOY! …The video tapings of a band documenting their lives because they truly believe EVERYONE must want to watch just how COOL they are. The video tapings of a band revelling in how ‘easy’ music is… how ‘fun’ music can be… and how ‘flippant’ the lifestyle should seem. This is a DVD of a VHS tape made by a band before they were forced to realise just how TOUGH the real word is. The faces of a band smiling in the moments before it is all torn apart. We, as viewers now, know what is coming… and in a way that makes it better. The joy seems more real. I’m not saying that anything tragic happened in the aftermath of the footage on the DVD. It was just the usual story of a band that split up… perhaps never fulfilling their promise. The story of untold treasures and the allure of bright, Hollywood lights! Ha ha!
I made similar videos at about the same time as the videos on this DVD. I was in a band at the time myself. We were no great shakes… in fact we were positively awful. But nevertheless we likewise revelled in stupidity and gross-out humour. We would film silly little comedy sketches and record silly little novelty songs. And we were full of joy. Watching my signed DVD brought the memories of those days flooding back. The exuberance of youth. The feeling that you could take on the world because not only did you know EVERYTHING, but you really were BETTER than EVERYONE!!! Ha ha! We were pioneers. Rebels. Bandits. Our by-numbers cod rock songs were world beaters. How could we not succeed?!? We were young Gods! Ha ha!
My band from those heady days never achieved anything. It was just the first in a long line of stepping-stones that I had to precariously saunter across to become the ego I am today! Ha ha! And what an ego!!! Every artist probably has a string of similar ‘failed’ bands in his closet. That’s life. Rarely are you the finished article on your first attempt! The band on the DVD will have their own thoughts when they look back at their younger selves. For them there will be a slightly different slant. They played gigs with Alice Cooper – we’re not talking the Plymouth Cooperage here! Ha ha. (although saying that they actually pretty much were the definition of a pub rock band. Pints in the air!!!). They will have nostalgia and the thoughts of what might have been “if things had worked out differently”. I don’t have any of the videos I filmed at the same stage in my career. Maybe they’re in a box somewhere… maybe they’ve been burned by the credibility elves. It doesn’t matter. The point is that it is sometimes good to just bask in the feelings you had before you realised how depressing the real world can sometimes be. The real world can often be such a savage place – full of incidents striding towards the ultimate purpose of making your dreams difficult to fulfill.
Well… that crappy DVD VHS BETA TAPE BLAH BLAH BLAH has, in its bluster and bravado, reminded me of what music can be. It can be stupid. It can be silly. It can be extravagant and mind-blowing. It can be epic. And it is okay if it fails. For every failure there is a shining, all singing glimmer of something special. All those old adages of aiming high so that even if you don’t hit a star you may just hit the headlight of a Stealth bomber (or something like that… I forget how it goes). Everything sounds cliché. This post is a living breathing cliché. And yet that is what we all need sometimes. A cliché.
I am using this joy de vivre to fuel the next song I am working on. I don’t know if any of you remember… but I once wrote about wanting to write an epic song. A song of sheer gusto. A song of contempt for rules. A song of cinematic bombast. Well my friends… this next song will hopefully be the explosion of sound that is needed to live up to those words. I know how to play by the rules. But I also understand that sometimes rules don’t matter. It’s not even as if “rules are there to be broken”. I just think sometimes you have to write from the heart. And if a Bohemian Rhapsody is accidentally spilled forth then champagne glasses at the ready. If all you get is Jive Bunny then so be it. We can but try.
I end this garbled and unfocused post with one more sentence. Thanks to the band that blew the hearing in my right ear!