A brief comment on where I left off at the end of part 1.
Let’s talk for a quick second about working hard. We’re not talking about 6 hours practice everyday or anything like that (though Labrat did go pretty hard early on).
These guys were just too busy. But we’re talking about a few weeks of focused daily work. That’s all. More than a lot of people with goals to play in successful bands do – and look at what Stavulous achieved in three weeks!
While this was all going on, Stavulous explored some of the more disreputable sides of rock stardom – fake tattoos, hotel room trashing, cross dressing, underwear as outerwear and big, big hair. But they were achieving quite a bit where it was really going to count
We had some proper loud band rehearsals and apart from how amusing it was to see that group dynamics between the members of a morning crew are much the same as they are between the members of a rock band (except wittier and with less swearing) they actually did quite well.
Labrat’s right foot technique was pummellingly violent to say the least, and at least one kick drum pedal couldn’t stand the pressure and shattered, but I think his mentor Matthew had taken the sensible attitude of – the performance is in one week and it’s vaguely in time – WELL DONE!
Camilla was calmed after another session or two with Silas and could begin practising her pumping rock moves (there’s not a lot to do with your left hand when you play keyboard in a rock band).
Tash had reconciled her relationship with her Violin teacher which had soured somewhat after Labrat smashed her Violin on air, demoting her to Bass and her little solo bit before the Chorus was all sounding good.
And Stav was sounding like a singer! Which was very exciting for all of us (and thank God really).
On their very last rehearsal the day before the Ekka performance, they were doing ok and I wisely said “OK. Now on the actual day you will be coming in cold so you should take a ten minute break and then come back and practice playing it with no warm up.”
They took this very wise advice and came back after their break and managed to not play the song through once successfully. Not once. Five starts, five Labrat breakdowns. How very very exciting at this late stage…. They sensibly called it quits and invoked the famous “It will be right on the night, uh, day” attitude that has sustained many shaky stage performances in the past and off they went.
The setup on the day of the gig was the usual “Where is it meant to be?” “Bugger I forgot the X, do you have any?” “No, we’re allowed in there, truly” and “Can I have more of me in the foldback?”.
The morning crew were doing a live cross from the Ekka, and various fans arrived and received Stavulous t-shirts and autographs. Stavulous had a quick soundcheck and played through the song… and didn’t collapse in a heap (phew). The crowd warm up man did his “Now when I say the name Stavulous we’re all going to cheer… are you ready….”. And the tension built…. I’m pretty confident that it was brown trousers time for Stavulous, it must have been terrifying but they were busy working (which must have been a welcome distraction from the far more serious business of rock).
At lunchtime the IMA crew all wandered back to the B105 stage, one final check of guitar tuning… and it was time! They were announced, and the crowd cheered (it was the best attended outside broadcast they had ever done apparently), and they played and…
It was ok!
It was only ever going to be to a certain standard, but they sounded like a capable garage band.
After 3 and a half weeks of music lessons. Unbelievable.
The mix that went to air was not particularly sympathetic (which I knew it wouldn’t be… sigh…) but they sounded pretty good. Labrat played drum fills that were actually rhythmic for the first time ever, Stav loosened up in moments and sounded like a proper rock singer and no one fell over, broke a string, forgot their part or froze and it was actually pretty good.
The second time they played as an outro to their morning show was actually pretty bad… but it didn’t matter. They had proven to themselves (and to us) that with some motivation, ANYONE can play music. And play it in a very short amount of time. We were immensely excited about that and were very pleased to have been involved in a project proving it to be true. Anyone can play!
Later that month we received a slightly panicked call from Andy at B105 (he said that if I could hear ANY panic in his voice, we must be in real trouble) – Stavulous were doing a world tour of Brisbane. It had originally been conceived that Stavulous could play every hour, on the hour for 24 hours, but cooler heads prevailed (though that would have been kinda interesting and very amusing sleep deprivation wise).
The plan was Stavulous were going to do a world tour of shopping centres throughout Brisbane, playing their one song and would we like to be involved? We were happy to once again, while the promotional side of the project was doubtful in it’s impact for us, we thought it was a great social experiment and the B105 cast and crew were just fun to work with. And it was a good thing that we were involved as no one at B105 had any idea of how to run a rock band! So we helped them to organise a PA and an engineer (and thanks to Billy Hyde for sending along John as a drum tech who was a machine and a very very good drummer) then the next Friday we followed them around as Stavulous rocked the four corners of Brisbane one song at a time…
It was a very successful day, plenty of fans turned out to watch them play (just one song!) and the band had reached the stage by half way through the day where they could recover from disasters mid song (small things like Labrat forgetting how to play drums for half a verse…).
It was fascinating to watch how their playing improved as the day wore on. By the end of the day they were listening to each other – holding pauses for slightly longer than was metric (not ideal) but then crashing into the next bar very together (which sounded great!). Every time they played again they became a better band and better musicians. More and more proof that
everyone can play music.
We were VERY pleased when the day was finished but it had been fun. The whole project had been very encouraging to us as mentors, a ratings success for B105 and actually enjoyable too!
I think I should take this chance to thank everyone who was involved in the project – Andrew, Silas and Matthew from IMA, Donna, Andy, Dan and the technical crew, street crew and support staff from B105, Kevin, John and Gareth from Billy Hyde, Danny for FOH on the tour and Stavulous for not letting us down and proving us right…
EVERYONE CAN PLAY MUSIC!
In the meantime – you can play music too! We’ve proved it now. Head over to our contacts page and leave your details. Look forward to seeing you soon!