Tales of a Go-Nowhere Indie Band, part three

“Things can only get better” – D:Ream, “Things Can Only Get Better”

Where were we? Oh yes, I remember: no fans, no record deal, no point. That’s where we stood at the end of 2007.

Of course, it can be difficult to let go sometimes, and we weren’t willing to do so just yet. Despite having experienced a complete lack of success, we still thought highly enough of ourselves and of the music we were making to keep working at it. What that meant, as always, was locking ourselves away in our practise room.

By this point we were rehearsing in a damn-near derelict old mill located on, appropriately enough, Old Mill Street in Ancoats, and I can say with some conviction that we were dedicated. We turned up there Christmas Eve morning, planning to put a full day in, only to find that for once the place had been properly locked up. To be honest, I was relieved; I’d just finished the last of my 10pm till 8am shifts as a temp at Toys R Us. Playing music was the last thing on my mind, given that the preceding two months had been an exercise in draining every last trace of joy out of my life. 50 hour weeks working unsociable shifts will do that to a person.

Anyway, one of our biggest problems was always a complete inability to self-promote. Other bands make creating buzz seem effortless (although it should be noted that many actually hire someone to do the work for them), but we laboured at it without success. You could be writing some of the greatest songs of all time, but if no-one gets the chance to hear them that doesn’t count for anything. “If a tree falls in the woods” and all that. Naturally, this in no way deterred us from spending money we couldn’t really afford on studio time.

Early in 2008 we entered the studio for the fourth time. The previous sessions had never gone that well. The first was a rush job, and involved getting down four tracks in an epic single session just so that we’d have something to shop ourselves around with. The second was slightly more relaxed, but we still weren’t all that happy with the results. In the immediate aftermath of both, we ended up writing much better songs, meaning that the recorded material was disowned. Still, we handcrafted a small amount of CDs and managed to sell them at our gigs, meaning that somewhere in this city a few copies must still be dotted around.

Alas, third time was not the charm. If things don’t click quickly in the studio, then it soon becomes a nightmare. A late start on the first day was followed by various complications and malfunctions. I had to play my parts again, and again, and again, until they had lost all meaning. As did everyone else. We became more and more dispirited and started losing all patience with one another, and in the end were just glad when it was over, regardless of how anything sounded. Months later, after I had finally quit the band, I had a habit of bumping into the guy who had helped engineer the session, and every time he would tell me how much he hated our lead guitarist’s vocals.

In comparison, then, the fourth session was a joy. The setup for the drums was perfect, and I banged out my parts with a minimum of fuss, and then happily disengaged my brain from the boredom of the process as everyone else laid down theirs. It went very well indeed, and we came out with two songs that were of “professional” quality. We were thrilled, and felt that this time, we could definitely find a label – local or otherwise – that would want to put them out.

We were wrong.

In part four: time to call it a day.

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