The Simon Densley Blog

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Never Ending Showcase

(Posted: 08 December 2017 21:42)

Regular blog readers will be aware that on Monday we played a very important showcase to Sean (music manager to numerous household names) and Nick Tauber (record producer of numerous household name artists and records).

It was the first time the five band members had all been in the same room together since the first rehearsal with Mike but we had been rehearsing in groups of three and four since then. We set up and played through the five songs we had planned to perform for Sean and Nick. I don't know what it was about that evening but for the first time we actually sounded like a proper rock band. The songs really came together and sounded good. If nothing else we all felt we were now ready for our first gigs.

When Nick and Sean arrived we played through he same 5 songs again:

  • If You Can't Join Them Beat Them
  • History
  • Under Siege
  • Just Got My Life
  • Never

The final song we did, 'Never' was one written by an old friend of mine (Tristan) and his band "The Scapegoat" - the only one not written by me. It finished off the set nicely and being the only one of the five not already featured in some form on our website, here is the video of the actual live performance.

I think it would be fair to say the performance went rather well. They were very keen on 'History' and felt we had really good songs and were certainly very close to being ready to take to the next step. The short message from Sean the next day boiled down to the paragraph:
"Good session last night. Myself and nick keen to work out a deal quickly so we can start working before Christmas to get you ready to play in Jan and to create an audience for your shows."
We have organised to meet on Monday evening to talk through said deal...

          *          *          *          *          *

Incidentally if you want to hear The Scapegoat's version of the song 'Never' on soundcloud, here it is - this is the version I first heard and liked enough to want to do a cover of it.

Music: Nigel Cadzow, Helen Cadzow, Phil McGowan, Tristan Baker;
Lyrics: Tristan Baker

Re-working A Song

(Posted: 26 November 2017 20:20)

The second rehearsal with Mike took things to a new level. His years of experience both as a professional musician and as a music director meant he was able to make suggestions that really challenged how we had been doing things, both in terms of rehearsing and the actual songs themselves.

It started with his questioning of a G minor chord (following a G major) in the chorus of the song If You Can't (Join Them Beat Them). In his view the G should continue as a Gmaj. The Gm worked for me as it allowed a counter melody of B A# A A# and given the song had existed in it's present form for many years I was reluctant to change it for change's sake, but I was prepared to listen to his reasons - and was glad to have a pair of fresh critical ears offering me a different perspective.

He reasoned that the chorus needed to be less complex and more straight rock. I agreed that choruses in general needed to adhere to this principal however I didn't want to lose the emotional dimension that the counter melody brought to it. Mike suggested a simple riff on lead guitar that brought that emotional dimension back while allowing the Gmaj, and so, having not lost anything of great significance I was prepared to see where the idea led.

Subsequent changes that we tried included dropping the intro riff and starting with the verse chords, a halt in the middle of each verse, Paige playing the floor tom instead of hi-hats in the first half of each verse, heavier drums in the 'jazz sections' the removal of what was known as the 'quiet section' and finishing with a double chorus instead of the traditional outro.

I had to admit, the song was now sounding like a real potential hit and was glad we had indulged Mike's ideas - something I was happy to tell him over a beer afterwards.

I look forward to putting other songs to the same scrutiny - but first we need to focus on being ready to perform a bunch of songs for Nick Tauber next Monday, the legendary record producer who wants to hear us in rehearsal...

Fate Reveals An Interesting Hand

(Posted: 20 November 2017 23:05)

Two days after losing Lorne there are bunch of notifications on the Facebook page from a chap called Mike Gibbons. He appears to have liked a number of posts on the page. It was the first time someone I hadn't specifically invited to like the page had interacted with it but curiously I vaguely recognised the name.

A quick email search revealed a Mike Gibbons had viewed my BandMix ad for a new guitarist, and I realised I had viewed his page and possibly sent him a message via the BandMix website as a potential guitarist. His profile describes him as a:
"Professional session guitarist and Songwriter working in records, TV, and live performance."
He'd also sent me a quick FB message which said "Hey Simon" so I decided to make contact through messenger and pointed out that as he seemed to like what we were doing, and that we needed a guitarist, would he be interested?

What followed was a bunch of phone calls that made clear he was indeed a very good guitarist (via Youtube videos etc), an extremely experienced and knowledgeable musician who's played with numerous household names, a really nice guy and really liked my music - especially History. I went round to see him for quick jam and a beer at a local pub which turned into a great night out ending up with us playing guitar and singing at another one of the local pubs, earning us free beers! Whilst he was very busy with his professional music work and other projects he did agree to come and join us for a rehearsal.

He also took the liberty of contacting an industry friend of his, an Irish chap called Sean who had managed numerous household-name acts including Bon Jovi, David Bowie and Pink Floyd and told him he needed to listen to my work!

The next message which came through said:
"Bit of good news mate, Sean the Irish fella I was telling you about wants to meet you."
We met up the following Saturday at a restaurant in Westfield, Startford. The meeting went well and Sean introduced me to another musician he was working with, a girl called Elsa and suggested we write some songs together. He also suggested I should meet up with a record producer he works with - a chap called Nick Tauber, whose credits include Thin Lizzy, Toyah, Venom, Deep Purple, Marillion, UFO and a very long list of others. He thought Nick's rock production style would suit my music.

We met up with Nick the following Friday, the upshot being that Nick now wants to come to a rehearsal and hear us playing live.

In the meanwhile we had a rehearsal
with Mike. His experienced and professional musicianship was evident from the outset and some really good sounds and ideas came out from it.

So far so good - at least things are going in the right direction...

The Revolving Door

(Posted: 31 October 2017 21:46)

With Lorne now playing lead guitar the ad for another bass player was answered reasonably quickly. A few possibles were whittled down to one chap who I went to visit. Marcel was obviously a good bass player. He had a music degree for which he had studied bass guitar however my experience was that this didn't always mean a great musician.

Marcel tended to specialise in funk and soul but was just as able to thump out a straight rock bass line. Crucially he really got the groove of both History and Slave To You and was able to really make them rock like the original recordings did. Yes he was actually good.

For a short while there it seemed we finally had our five piece line up but nothing ever quite goes to plan. Within days of Marcel joining the band Lorne had taken on a day job sorting out a restaurant who's head chef had just walked out (Lorne happens also to be a top chef) and in an email to me he wrote:
"In terms of band I don’t think I am going to be able to commit to it anymore as my role here as head chef is getting bigger every week (including developing the menus for the other three partner courses and introduction of night Golf!)"
So we lost Lorne just as we'd gained Marcel.

It was sad to lose Lorne who had been a great person to have around and a pretty decent musician too. However it was better to lose him and find a replacement now before we'd started gigging than after taking on serious commitments that we needed to stand by.

So it was back to advertising for a lead guitarist again, and for me to try to cover for it in the meanwhile.

A Wasted Talent

(Posted: 14 October 2017 18:07)

Part of the process of marketing a new band is getting a website together, writing the bios etc. This has caused me to look back at some of the previous work I did.

A while back I produced an album for a chap called Brad Walker. Years later he played keys on some of my stuff and helped me produce a bunch of my own songs. I recently found myself dusting off and listening back to this album of his that we did together.

Brad Walker's Album, The Man Enclosed is a Smaller Gift
What stands out now is that this album has stood the test of time. I thought it sounded absolutely great at the time. We were so proud of it but on hearing it again so many years later, I really think we put together an absolute giant of a record.

At the time we managed to get quite a lot of airplay on a bunch of radio stations in Europe. We made album of the week on a few stations scattered around the UK but being an independent release we didn't have the resources or expertise to push it to the next step.

We only pressed 500 copies of the album and most of those were distributed to radio stations, the band, family and friends, a few record companies and a few other people in the music industry.

I find it astonishing that record companies weren't breaking down the door to sign this guy, but they weren't. Despite his obvious talent, a great record and the brilliant response from the small corner of the broadcasting industry we had managed to reach, silence from the people who could take it further. How good do you have to be?

A few tracks have been put on on Youtube now. They are probably the only place you can now listen to this any of this masterpiece. The song that most radio stations picked up on first was the opening track, "Song For Ankie", however the title track, "The Man Enclosed is a Smaller Gift" was always my favourite. Possibly because it had 9 guitar tracks on it - and I played 5 of them!

I have not spoken with Brad in a while. I understand he's had some tough times and is now working as an artist and painter in Melbourne.

Website Launched

(Posted: 08 October 2017 16:38)

The Simon Densley Music website
For a while we've been using this blog site as our temporary official website but no more! Our proper website launches today. (Cue appropriate fanfare).

No more reluctance to give out the website address. We now have a site that proudly shows people who we are and what we are about. Result!

There are details up upcoming gigs as well as information about the band and music, videos/images etc - everything you could want from a band website.

Pay it a visit if you haven't already...

There is still information about Simon and the band on this blog but the more detailed stuff will always be found on the main site.

Adding a String

(Posted: 03 October 2017 14:27)

The most recent ads for a lead guitarist turned up nothing. The one guy I went to see who was easily up to the task didn't show up at the first rehearsal and then when I phoned him said he couldn't commit due to his day job.

Lorne however, them offered himself. "I was always a shredder first", he said, "I moved to bass for McCree but would enjoy playing lead guitar again." He is a good enough musician and a decent enough guy that his assurance that he can play the necessary parts is good enough for me.

Knowing Lorne can play either part does make finding the fifth member easier given I can take on a bass player or lead guitarist. I decide to advertise primarily for another bass player. We really need someone who can learn the parts and be up to speed in a few weeks - at least with half a dozen songs, because that's when we're planning to start playing gigs. The first responses have started to roll in...

Meanwhile Lorne should be dusting of his six string and putting his 5 string to one side...

Disappointing News

(Posted: 28 August 2017 14:05)

We'd been rehearsing up for a few more weeks now and I felt it was time for the next step. It was time to make a video of a live performance to show potential venues what we would look and sound like on stage.

I organised to take two video cameras into the studio for Monday's rehearsal. I'd booked an extra large room and we would all face the camera as if facing an audience and 'perform' to the camera. Everyone was fired up and ready, down to making sure they would be wearing 'stage gear'.

Nicola on GuitarThe on the Saturday morning, two days before the shoot, a bombshell email came through. Nicola's personal circumstances had changed and she could no longer be part of the band. I was deeply upset and effected by the news. As well as being a great guitar player and someone I had grown to really like, I knew that Nicola would look absolutely great on stage and in the video. I was not only a guitarist down but had to decide what to do about the video shoot two days later.

Communication with Nicola was difficult as she was now embedded in darkest West Wales with no phone signal. I tried to persuade her to change her mind via email, with offers to help with her current situation but it didn't make any difference. There was nothing I could really do to help and she just couldn't do it.

Shot from the live video of Simon Densley and bandDisappointed but with commitments pending I made the decision that we would have to shoot the video as a four piece with me taking on all guitar duties. It was not ideal but it was the best we could do under the circumstances.

There was a bit of a cloud over the rehearsal. Nicola's decision had taken us all by surprise and we were all feeling a bit down. However as had been planned, we spent the final hour filming our performance of two songs: Just Got My Life and If You Can't join Them Beat Them. The performance sounded fairly good and once I had edited the various camera angles into finished videos, they both looked pretty good too.