So for those of you who know me well, you will know that music has been a part of my life for a long time. As a teenager music took over my life at about the age of 14. The purchase of albums, singles etc was my hobby. My biggest delight on on a weekly basis (almost daily) was wandering into Cathedral Square in Christchurch to catch the bus home, and on the way stopping in at Echo Records to browse, listen to stuff, and when I had the means, purchase. I went on the typical path from extremely pop (Duran Duran, Howard Jones), through to more alternative music as my tastes developed (Bauhaus, The Smiths). I find myself now as a middle aged man (yes I have said it) enjoying such a wide spectrum of music because of all the journeys I went on as a teenager.
Yet through all this, although I did sing for myself and was pretty confident I had an ok voice, I never made the step into bands. In many ways this was because I was kinda a shy kid and also because I just never fell in with “that crowd”. There was, is and has always been a yearning to preform and sing, but for years this has played second fiddle to other things in my life.
When I moved to Auckland around seven years ago, I met up with a work based acquaintance who would later become a good friend. She was a singer and at her encouragement I decided to take some vocal lessons and just find out how good I could sing. I can still remember that first lesson. I was extremely nervous and as we chose what song I would work on, I was floundering. We chose Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amour and those first weeks hitting the high notes was a real challenge. This is a great yard stick for me, as I now sing it with ease without any warming up.
This led to singing for a few years in various vestiges of an acappella group, which was fantastic for my voice and ear. However, I was never truly at home there as I prefer to be a lead singer. When it was time for that journey to end, I started going to voice lessons with Caitlin Smith (one of the best choices I have ever made). Caitlin immediately challenged me on other levels. She challenged me to become a song writer as well as a singer. Also, in truth, it was a lot harder to coast with her on my case. My song writing still has a way to go, but the time I spent working with her, truly made me a better singer.
One of the best experiences with her, was when I entered, and was chosen to appear on Stars in Their Eyes as Phil Collins. I was nervous as hell when I told her and asked her to work on the song with me. I thought that in all honesty she would laugh me out of the room and refuse to be involved. Instead, she immediately supported me and took me along on the journey which saw me delivering what I think was one of my best vocal performances. Phil hits some high notes and again I found myself going from not being able to get there, to knowing how to get there. Also, she challenged me to to analyse the song and how he sang it. Something which I would have been a lot more casual about, without her.
The past couple of years, I have focused on other things, with a rather hectic work life, getting married, buying a new house and just generally not finding time or inclination for singing. Also, I realised it was time to stop doing vocal lessons as I was not even sure why I was doing them. I had not been able to find people to sing with. Despite several attempts I could not find that right combination. In many ways I had decided it was NEVER going to happen.
Well that was until last October anyway, when out of the blue I got an email from a guy who had found an advert I had placed on The Rock Shop website in 2007. He was asking me if I wanted to still sing with a band and gave this great description of 3 guys in their 40′s who got together on a Sunday and played. A couple of email exchanges later, and a meet up with Al (the guy who had emailed me), and I found myself (nervous as hell again) arriving at a strangers house to have a practice with 3 guys. CLICK, it all fell into place for me over the next 2 hours. Our personalities seemed to fit, our musical tastes seemed to fit, and quite frankly we seemed to have a good time.
I still pinch myself when I play with these guys, all of them very talented musicians who have been playing for years. They take songs and just make them sound great, and I feel blessed to be able to sing with them. Also, I have begun playing percussion with the band, something which I would never have anticipated. I am loving it, it seems to come naturally and it gives me a feeling of really contributing to the band musically and not just being the singer.
Now with two gigs under our belts, a name (The Comfy Chairs) and working on a spin off one night only trio for a wedding comprised of Malcolm the keyboardist from The Comfy Chairs, Nick my brother in law and me, I feel like music is all over my life. It is a wonderful feeling quite frankly and I am getting so much stimulation from the interactions and opportunities I am pretty bloody happy.
It looks like my 40′s are going to be very strong musically and I like that.