I’m sitting in a recording studio in Germany with one of my heavy metal idols, The Queen of Metal, Doro Pesch, and she is singing one of my songs.
The Queen of Metal… singing my song.
It was pretty amazing.
Have you ever met someone you’ve admired your whole life? Sometimes it can be a double edged sword. Fortunately, Doro is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met – she told me loads of stories from her career and how things did and didn’t work out. It was really cool.
In fact, every time I read about someone meeting her, I read exactly the same thing – how awesome she is.
And of course, hanging out in the studio with her, working on the song, hearing her take the lyrics and turn them into a song… it was breath taking. It was like being in a dream.
But… it took me a while to get there.
Many auditions. Several bands. Years of practice. I even got fired from a couple of bands – once for being too ambitious (how is that even a thing? lol) and the second time for not being good enough (fixed that with a few years of practice). I must have spent a year or so trying to find a band to join. Why did none of these bands work out? I was looking for other people to build the dream that I wanted, I was trying to find a short cut.
I used to have this attitude that “I was the lead guitarist. I’ll play the solos”. Ironically, I wasn’t good enough to justify this attitude. In retrospect… it was really arrogant. The folly of youth? The truth was… I didn’t know how to write a song. I was too scared to write a song and have the whole world tell me I sucked as a songwriting.
I mean… really scared. I nearly deleted my album after making it because I was worried that everyone would hate it!
I digress. I had this dream… of making records. But it wasn’t happening. Eventually, I realised that the only way this dream I had was going to come true, was if I busted my ass and built everything that needed to be built, myself.
I had to work, to practice, to learn the skills I needed to learn.
I couldn’t rely on others to fill in the gaps in my ability.
These bands not working out, getting fired, these were all messages, signs that I had a weak point, not just in my playing, but in my character, that I had to work on.
Have you ever found that? The world gives you what looks like an ass kicking… but really it’s a call to arms, to go take the action you need to take.
You only have two options when that happens. Roll over and die in the gutter, or take a stand – for yourself.
The thought of being in yet another band, where we rehearsed but barely did anything, no decisions ever got made, where entire practice sessions got wasted arguing about what cover song we should play, where everyone was too scared to take a real chance on themselves… I couldn’t face that.
The thought of going through that process… again… was awful.
I wanted to make records and play awesome shows. I didn’t want to mess around any more.
One band I got fired from, we got an opportunity to play a sold out show in London. About 1500-2000 people show, as a support for an internationally touring power metal band. One of the support bands had cancelled last minute and the promoter was desperate for someone to fill the slot. I had a friend that knew the promoter… I talked to my friend… and they said they would make the phone call if I wanted.
Awesome. I mean… isn’t this what every band dreams of? That opportunity that comes up to play with bigger bands, to a great audience… ?
At least… that was what I had been dreaming of.
So I call the guys in the band, tell them to take a day off work the next day, we’ll rehearse all day then play the show in the evening. To me, that made sense. I was ready to go. I wanted to get out there and play my guitar. These opportunities don’t happen every day.
Except… they weren’t. They didn’t want to do it. They didn’t want to take a day off work.
The band wasn’t ready. Maybe it was because rather than rehearse the set… the band spent the previous rehearsal arguing over a cover song. I suggested we spend rehearsals running the set over and over so we would be ready in case something came up… but apparently playing songs twice was more than enough.
Or maybe the reason the band wasn’t ready was becuase other guitar player turned up to rehearsals with a hangover from an all night cocaine binge…
In retrospect it’s easy to see this band wasn’t going anywhere. But I did really like the music, and like I said… I couldn’t write a song.
Anyway… the day after presenting this gig to the band and pushing to do it… they fired me.
What the hell.
I knew I had to be able to write my own songs rather than rely on other people. That I had to bring my own band together rather than join someone elses. But I still evaded it.
I joined a second band a few months later. After a few rehearsals, they fired me because I couldn’t keep up, my skills weren’t good enough.
I tried to find other bands to join. To be honest, most of them sucked. The bands I found that had good songs, the people (they were cool, don’t get me wrong), but I could see the band wouldn’t go far.
So I started writing my own songs. I learned how to write lyrics. I found people to collaborate with. I practiced, intensely, every day, for hours.
I reached out to people and asked questions. Asked for help. Asked to work together. Some ignored me… some said yes.
But I kept pushing, kept trying.
And eventually it lead to me being in a recording studio, in Germany, with one of my favourite musicians (and one of the most amazing people I’ve met).
So I’m confident that I did the right thing.
And I’m confident that as I keep going, and finding my own weaknesses, there is going to be more awesome experiences on the horizon.
I hope you enjoyed the story. Leave me a comment below.
If you want to hear how I did with learning to write songs, working on my playing and working with the Queen of Metal, Doro Pesch, you can check out the album that started it all here – Impetuous Desire.