That’s right – I said ‘sesh’. When you’re a busy and seasoned musician such as myself there is simply no time to waste on a second syllable. The groupies wait for no man.
OK, so there aren’t any groupies. Nor really am I musician, seasoned or otherwise. But last night I had an opportunity to rekindle the two-piece practice evenings that have been wanting for a few months. But our drummer is back, so we gave it another go last night which is why now, at 8am the next morning I have aching legs, mild tinnitus and a sneaking suspicion that I could well be the next Dave Grohl.
We went through our standard repertoire of Foo Fighters, Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys and Drenge, interspersed by our favourite questions to each other which include: “How does that go again?” (“I’ve no idea”) “Have you heard that one?” (“No”) “Do you listen to any [insert famous band here]” (“Who?”)
We practice in the small Oxfordshire village of Chalgrove, at a rehearsal studio that from the outside looks like a neglected farmhouse. Inside though, it’s a decent setup. Where we play is right across from the control room where the manager sits, probably with his head in his hands after another screeching rendition of Everlong. It’s small, it’s sweaty but it’s been our patch for a few months now.
After playing guitar in houses for the majority of my life it’s a great feeling not having to worry about making too much noise. It sounds undeniably pretentious, but when you have the opportunity play rock music with absolutely zero concern for volume (or quality) it is thrilling. Even more so when, as someone with a fairly average voice, you find a song with a vocal range that doesn’t make you sound like the squeaky-voiced teen from The Simpsons.
Drenge – Backwaters
This is probably our tightest song to date, falling as it does under the key categories of: a band beloved by both us, guitar and drums only, fairly simple to play and with an non-stressful vocal range. I don’t possess Eoin Loveless’s grungy, threatening Northern tone, but I can just about hit the notes. For the drummer, there are entertaining fills during the instrumental choruses to get into. I find the idea of performing anything music wise when I’m under the spotlight (as in, the guy who’s singing and thereby generally watching) terrifying, but we had to play one track to actual people, it would be this one.
Black Keys – Your Touch
Even the studio version here is so raw it sounds as if someone recorded it by holding a smashed iPhone in the band’s general direction. Fortunately that’s the quality we go for as well, so this is a good fit for us. If we had to play two songs, this would come in a close second; we have it down pretty good, or at least we think we do. The beauty of early Black Keys is that it has that dusty, garage-rock-in-the-purest-sense feel to it. This song is easy to play, but with that oomphy guitar slide in the chorus, still makes you feel like a seasoned pro.
Arctic Monkeys – Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
If you had any doubts as to how much of an old bastard you are, this song is now a decade old. It’s a song that kickstarted the careers of the first band widely acknowledged to have become huge simply due to t’internet and fan sharing. That’s how old it is. For us, it really requires a bass and another guitar properly, but we make a decent fist of smashing it out as a two-piece. And no, I don’t try to sing it in a Sheffield accent.
The Foo Fighters Medley – My Hero, Monkey Wrench, All My Life, Times Like These and Everlong
That’s right, I said ‘medley’. We take 5 Foo Fighters songs and play sections of them one after the other. If Dave was dead, he’d turn over in his grave. Well he wouldn’t, because he’s all about the ROCK and even if he thought we sucked, he wouldn’t say it out loud.
We start with the beginning of My Hero, and after one verse and one chorus, go straight into the ‘Temper Temper’ section, before heading into the intro of All My Life. The latter takes an awful lot of concentration playing the muted guitar chords in groups of three and singing over it. Once that’s done it’s an extended version of Times of Like These, which is a wonderful song to play. Finally, it’s Everlong in its entirety, which ends with a Foos concert-style elongated stadium finish. Oh yeah.
Billy Talent – Devil On My Shoulder
This week we realised a shared affinity for Billy Talent, and by far our best effort was this cracker. Sadly, I can’t play the solo. I was, however, told that my vocal styling are a perfect match for Benjamin Kowalewicz’s falsetto-tinged screeching. Frankly, I don’t know I feel about that. But I’ll go with it.