Neccessity is the mother of invention - PART
Okay..I might as well admit it to past and present
members of the band that through the years I have used
the same trick re new songs,over and over again.The
process usually begins with a band agreement on new
material - all eyes on Patrick.Naturally I rise to the
occasion everytime proclaiming loads of stunning tunes
just ready and waiting.Rehearsal and/or studio time is
set by eager if gullible musicians...cue
reality!Patrick now has about two weeks to bring
together all sorts of vague and half baked ideas and
mould them into something akin to recognisable Cold
Flame material.Yet strangely enough this pressured
situation seems to work for me which is just as
well.On the other hand,I would be the first to admit
that some ideas don't make the grade - such is life.
Songwriting for me is an opportunity to put thoughts
into words..an expression that I can relive every time
we play live.My focus is always coming from both the
heart and the mind though not always,if I am really
subtle,autobiographical.Subconsciously at least,I have
always tended to favour particular themes which
include personel issues, travel,the ageing
well as historical references betraying my grammer
school educational background.Yes,the same sort of
stuff that inspires every one else.
Like many people,songs very rarely appear in their entirety at will.Rather lyrics,riffs and ideas drift in and out and if there is a pen or tape handy I'll record for later use.Some really good things have disappeared almost as soon as they appeared due to lack of recording implements but I guess that is part of the fun.The first two thirds of a song usually click easily into place but that third verse can often be irritatingly elusive.Ideas are always tested first on either the guitar or my trusted Yamaha keyboard with its simple but effective drum machine [sorry Dave]attachment.Then it's off to whoever happens to be in the Cold Flame guitar hotseat to refine and record demos for the rest of the band.At this point it really is a case of fingers crossed as other band members do have different tastes but generally things work out much to my relief.Remember most musicians are super confident only on the surface.
This neatly flows into what happened back in Jan.1985 when Cold Flame treaded the boards for the first time. Let's face it ,it was a long time ago so you will have to forgive me if the memory box is a bit shaky.What I do remember is that we had a support band called Clasp who brought some of their mates with them and played very loud fast punk style stuff.I also recall that the place was packed ,largely with close friends and close family members and that I was absolutely petrified anchoring my right leg,shaking at approx.150 miles an hour to the stage floor throughout the performances.By the end of each gig I must have looked dark green resembling a minature version of The Incredible Hulk.Neither would I have recommended the loo after my hasty exit. Funnily enough last week checking out old tapes,I came across recordings of these very performances.Surprise suprise,they actually sounded ok...a bit raw and naive probably but nothing to be ashamed of.Check out pics from the gigs on the Gallery Archive page to view just how cute we were way back then.
It is perhaps appropriate at this point to salute Dave Conner.Without Dave's loyalty,support,enthusiasm and musical prowess,the band would never have lasted and it is a pleasure to welcome him back guesting with the band from time to time both live and in the studio..........
Neccessity is the mother of invention - PART
As Cold Flame make their trembling way towards the autumn and an eighteenth anniversary,thoughts and minds inevitably stray to those early beginnings back in late 1984 when for some inexplicable reason[probably to get over another failed relationship] I had the bottle to form my own band.I don't think anyone thought it would last,least of all me.It was more of an experiment but somehow despite everything, here we are....suprise suprise.
Neccessity is indeed the mother of all invention as they say...at least when it comes to songwriting.The guys in the band were all keen to steer clear of covers -perhaps we felt that we were not as good as all the other pub bands around,some of whom like 'Slack Alice' and 'Socrates'really could play tunes well.The'Victor Brox Blues Train' on the other hand extended covers with long sax,guitar or keyboard solos and jams.It clearly worked for all these bands but,no, we would have to be different. "Okay guys who writes songs?"It was quickly established at the band's first rehearsal together that Dave was a 'prolific' songwriter with about five or six songs that would fit our intended musical path. Neil had a couple of songs left over from his old school band days which might work whilst drummer Giles had his multi-coloured tank top knitted as always by his mother.As the band was my idea in the first place everyone looked to me to provide the rest of the material and inspiration which was strange really because I had never seen myself as even playing live in a band and getting paid for it,let alone composing songs.Still if Cold Flame was to survive and not just be a pretend thing,where rehearsals are it,I would have to start writing.There was a light at the end of the tunnel however.During 1983,Dave and I had played a few gigs together in a band called Satyr.It was really just a bunch of mates playing occasional local pubs but it was fun and probably gave me the confidence to have a go at songwriting.Three tunes spilled out of my head,perhaps there were more but anyway these three, much to my surprise were given thumbs up approval and played live.Whilst 'You and Me' was too folk orientated for Cold Flame,the other two tunes 'Inside out and Roundabout' and 'Goodnight and God bless' were blues in style and I also knew that Dave liked them..big advantage.Anyway ,it was a start and did I need it.Neil turned up at our third rehearsal in November beaming from ear to ear.The source of his merriment was quickly shared.He had got the band two gigs in Glossop.We had approx. six weeks to sort out enough material for two forty minute sets.Outwardly I'm sure I was as chuffed as everyone else.Inwardly I groaned knowing full well that the rest of the guys confidence in my songwriting abilities was on serious dodgy ground.Neccessity is the mother of invention and with a deadline to meet I sat down to ponder how to go about composing songs.
In Part 2 - my next diary entry ,I wll give you some insights into how I have gone about writing songs over the years and of course how Cold Flame fared at our first two gigs all those years ago back in Jan 1985.
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