Hello and welcome. I’ve never written a web log before (I’m assuming thats the full name for “blog”) but I thought it might be fun to talk about the development of the band from the start. Our band (as you have probably already gathered) is called Hollywood Sound. Myself (Alastair- Guitar & Vocals) and my girlfriend Olivia (Bass Guitar & Vocals) have been writing some songs in our (spare) bedroom for the past 6 months. We used to be in an electro band called Chairman Meow (I think we’re probably still on unearthed if you do a search) with our good friend Tim Whaites on drum pads but after a while you get so sick of every man and his dog picking up some synthesisers and making an electro band.
Things that annoyed me about the music we were writing:
- Backing tracks and a laptop on stage- this was a major pain in the rectum. I hate seeing laptops on stage, you never know if the whole thing is just being mimed or not- I wouldn’t put it past some people. It also made me feel very stressed, since you never knew whether tonight was the night that the computer just wouldn’t boot up, or worse yet crashed in the middle of a song. As it happened, we only had percussion and a couple of extra synth lines running as backing tracks (drums, guitar and main synths were played live) but if you accidently missed a bar it would throw the whole band out for the rest of the song and fall into a giant shambles. Not cool.
- There was very little space for improvisation- You’re tied to those backing tracks. No extra fills on drums, no space for an extended solo or an extra round of chorus if you felt like it.
- I was sick to death of four to the floor beats (you know; kick, snare, kick, snare and repeat for 3 minutes) which seem to be the only ones that work well with that style of music. I take every chance I can get to write in different time signatures like 6/8, 5/4 and 7/8 now, with interesting drum beats being a major part of the music.
- It didn’t feel REAL- I like being able to pick up a guitar and play without having to wait 4 minutes for the computer to boot up, going into the software and loading up the synthesisers etc. I like jamming with real musicians.
So that’s how Hollywood Sound came about. I wanted to write real music that had a very live ethos. Basically, if we can’t play it live- it doesn’t get recorded. Simplicity is very important, not only from a performance point of view, but also from a creative point of view. If you give yourself less options with instruments (1 guitar, 1 bass, 1 drum kit) rather than 1000 presets on a synthesiser or drum machine you spend more time writing good melodies and chord progressions than trawling through a million presets in a menu. I read Keith Richard’s autobiography and the one thing that really stuck with me was him saying that a good song will sound just as good played solo on an acoustic guitar as it does with a full band. Thanks for the advice Keith, you’ve opened my eyes.