Thursday, 3 November 2011

VOLUME! Is BIG better or is it true that LESS is MORE?

The age old problem for musicians of all genres is VOLUME.
Can I be heard, is the volume of the parts equal so the blend is right, is too loud, is it too soft, and most importantly… will it make me go deaf?

What made me think of this was the traditional Yacht Club gig we played on Cup Day. We set up on the back deck over looking the bay, which is open and people are pretty close to us. Because it is in the afternoon and a bit more intimate, we play at a volume level to suit. We don’t need to make sure the punters at the back can hear us or can FEEL the SUB kick, because if they’re at the back.. they want to talk.

Every now and then a gig just CLICKS and all the planets align perfectly and everything just sits in the pocket and feels really good. These are the gigs you hang out for and was the case with this gig. So I started thinking about what it was that made this work.

Aside from the hopefully rare occasions that your bio-rhythms are stuffed and you just can’t get your head to co-ordinate with your fingers and you play like a total dick, not to mention a musicians pre-occupation with ‘the sound and tone’ of their instrument or equipment (another blog’s worth there) on any given night, most gigs are good. But there are the great ones where everything just sits right and is magical.

An audience, venue, management etc. can make or break a gig sometimes, but the volume can be the difference between a good gig and a great gig. Here… LESS is MORE.

Yes it IS frustrating when the granny at the table 2 metres in front of the PA complains because the acoustic set is too loud and you barely have any level on the vocals and instruments and the foldback is way louder than the Front of House. But when everything is so loud that it’s even hard to hear the foldback which is cranked at full tilt before feeding back uncontrollably, that is bordering on Weapons of Mass Destruction territory. Or at the very least, hearing damage… because you just know that at the end of the gig your ears are going to ring like crazy and all you’ll be able to handle on the drive home is ABC Classic FM as long as it is soft smooth music… forget Triple J or anything with drums!

So when the volume is wound back to the perfect level, the foldback is just right and you can hear ALL the vocal parts which means you can pitch perfectly.. bliss. Your guitar blends perfectly with the other instruments and you can wind up the volume a touch for your solo, then wind it back to sit with the rest of the guys as the song continues.. more bliss. Even light and shade starts to work when everyone isn’t competing for space. You can ease back in the song and it will change the colour of the music which changes again when you come back in at an essential point in the song. It all works beautifully when the competition for volume is removed from the mix… total bliss!

I am not saying that playing at a good volume is to become “Merv and the Magictones” orange shag pile carpeted instruments cabaret band. Just that there is the finest line between a good volume that still kicks arse and a level that turns good music into a hard to listen to wall of crappy mush.

… and it may prolong your hearing for a few more years too, which has got to be a good thing.

Rock on, and if you are aware of the Merv reference above from the Blues Brothers… “don’t you go changing”

Thursday, 22 September 2011


So you have some music swimming around in your head, some chords and a few lines of lyrics with a really cool hook line. I used to love to walk and while I stepped a beat I would imagine music of all sorts. The only thing that I was limited by was the tempo of my walking pace. I soon got over that by imagining a different beat and unlinking the song in my head from my walking beat.

The really important thing is to get it out of your head and into a recorded format.

A few steps first… write it down! Write the words, write the chord progression. One trick I use is with my smart phone, I’ll actually record myself playing the chords so it doesn’t get lost in the translation. Sometimes when you’re just doodling around on the guitar you’ll hit upon some really interesting chord shapes and progressions which aren’t immediately easy to just write down.

Once you have a bit of a structure to the song it’s easier to then actually record it. You have a better idea of the drum beat you want, the tempo, the sound etc.

Getting the music recorded…. WOW… how easy is it these days to create CD or broadcast quality music in your own lounge room or bedroom or where ever!

Get yourself a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) Some are free, some are not, some are easier than others to use, some integrate with internal and external sound cards or modules better than others. So here are my experiences.
I use MixCraft5 and I bought it for $90 with some extra drum loops and BeatCraft which is a drum beat creator. I bought it after using the trial version because it recognised every sound module I plugged in with no fuss. Others did not and I had to do a lot of tweaking and preference setting to get them to work. I want plug n play.. it should be THAT easy!
My friend uses and swears by Cool Edit pro because it syncs nicely with his big mother sound card with 16 in and out channels which he patches through patch panels into his big mother desk etc. etc..
I do my stuff in a little study room so I don’t have a huge setup. Or you might be in your bedroom, shed, kitchen or where ever.
MixCraft5 is like the PC version of Apple’s GarageBand and has lots of click n drag instrument loops, drum beats and virtual instruments that you can use the PC keyboard to play or plug in a USB keyboard controller.

The drum beat.. well that’s pretty straight forward, click, drag and drop into one of the tracks.

The guitars or bass are recorded via a USB sound module. These can be called guitar to USB recording links and look like this.
There is one made by Behringer for about $45 or check eBay for the same thing, probably from the same factory and for about $12 delivered. Comes with drivers if needed and some recording software as well but I didn’t like their program so looked for something else and found MixCraft.

The vocals are next and can be a little bit more tricky. There are heaps of USB microphones out there for all different prices. I bought a thing called a Lightsnake USB microphone cable which has the sound module interface built in AND has phantom power to power a condenser mic. I bought one ages ago for about $6 but they are now around $30 delivered and work best with a condenser mic which you can pick up on eBay for $45 delivered. Just remember that if you buy a condenser mic, it requires phantom power, either from the lightsnake or a mixing desk which then goes to a USB interface, again Behringer make a cheap one for this purpose, or you need an external phantom power supply which you plug the standard mic cable into then into an interface. I opted to keep it really simple.
If you want a USB keyboard to play the virtual instruments in the recording package, they range from about $60 up (I have a basic MAudio one), but you don’t have to have one at the moment. Just use your computer keyboard.

So that is my very basic set up which allows me to record what’s in my head.

Be sure to comment if you need any feedback on what you’re doing or you have an other ideas you can pass on to me.

So that’s it. Play it. Record it. Enjoy it!

Till next time,
Rock on

Monday, 8 August 2011

Originals or Covers – The Musicians dilemma

Well, you’re in for a treat today so please read to the end!
Musicians, for the best part, are creative souls and always trying different things to get the music from inside them to the outside world. We are such diverse creatures that there is an enormous range of music to suit all tastes.

Getting YOUR original music out to an audience is very hard work for most musicians unless you happen to be in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time where someone who has the POWER and likes what they hear, will put the time and money into producing and distributing your music. So even if a musician has a yearning to produce original music, doing so and making any money from it is often elusive.

Audiences are many and varied, and the ones who usually go out to the pub to spend money on drinks and have a dance usually want to hear their old favourites, and so cover bands exist to perform for such people. Make no mistake, we enjoy performing and playing covers earns us some pocket money to keep updating our gear and having some fun. Maybe not pay the mortgage for most of us, but we still get to play.

Well recording has changed radically since the day we bought our first Tascam or Fostex 4 track tape recorder which wowed and fluttered its way through numerous track bounce downs to produce a scratchy demo for your family and friends. Now we have so many computer programs that we can create studio quality recordings in our own homes. So the original song genie is now out of the bottle and with the internet can now be shared with the world!

So the treat for you all today is one of many original songs that has been penned by Pat, the front man of MADLLIPS, and is up on that amazing resource, You Tube.

Please click here to have a listen to Pat’s song – Feels Like I’m In Love.

Enjoy and until the next blog.. rock on.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Rock Musicians Apprenticeship

Playing country townsThe Rock Musicians Apprenticeship.

Doesn’t matter what walk of life you choose but everyone goes through some sort of apprenticeship when they start out. Muso’s in a rock band are no different… in fact our apprenticeship is character building, fun, demoralising, hilarious, painful, bonding, disgusting, sensational, just plain sad, healthy, unhealthy and will either make or break you in the music game.

Let me explain… the first thing that happens when you have banged together your equipment, built a band, put together a repertoire and put yourself out there via an agent or slogged around to pubs and clubs, is getting gigs. The honing of your music and performance can only be done in a LIVE situation so you need gigs. Sadly, the venues and the agencies know this so you can expect to be doing the most weird arsed gigs imaginable and often playing to a few or NO people.

I personally, and all of my muso mates have done the country gig circuit (which is where the agencies send you) and we all have tons of stories to tell.. or not!.. and even though we are done with driving to the middle of BF Nowhere we carry fond memories of those times.

When you’re playing a pub in a country town, usually called the Commercial, the Railway or the Royal Hotel.. every country town has pubs with these names, the gig could be packed and fantastic or empty and demoralising. The difference is usually as simple as Johnno having his 21st birthday at the local Mechanics Hall or Jacko is getting married. Many times we have had those situations where the publican says “last week the joint was full, but it’s Davo’s birthday and the footy team lost so everyone’s at his place getting blind”

So you play to an empty room except for two bar staff and a couple of old regulars who are there every day until stumps and the old dog who sits on the doorstep. Kinda sad, but you have to push past that and realise that you’re also doing this because you LIKE to play music, not just the free beer and travelling for miles to play in the middle of nowhere.

So when the gig’s over and we’ve packed up and heading back to the room at the El Crusty Sheet 6 Star Country Stay motel or worse… the supplied hotel room upstairs in the bed with the buggered springs, musty sheets and a million mosquitoes, flies and spiders… the only place to get something to eat (if you’re lucky) is the local pizza joint. So we hoe into a Supreme, Capricciosa and Hawaiian with the slab we bought from the pub, but the best thing is that in the morning when we wake up feeling like crap, that cold left over pizza will become the staple breakfast on these country gigs and we will learn to love it.

Well, I'm not in a hurry to do it all again, but have very fond memories and many stories of mateship, music, many miles, pissed punters, no punters, excess of everything, crap beds, weird publicans, great publicans, equipment failures, country girls, sheep, electric fences, milking machines, country boys and their utes and well…   might stop now!

Rock on
Play anywhere anytime but most of all, have fun

Monday, 27 June 2011

Review - MADLLIPS are in da house!

Hi Everyone,

this blog is a review of the gig we played last Saturday for a lovely lady's birthday.. It is amazing to be playing all these 50th birthdays for people who just don't look their age at all.
Maybe the fact that they opt to have a LIVE rock band play for them gives an indication of how young they are at heart!

We play many parties, in many places, venues, function rooms, club rooms and even.... yes LOUNGE rooms.

Yep, MADLLIPS can set up in pretty compact little areas and produce a great sound and have everyone dancing the night away.

You still get a great light show with flashing lights, lasers and smoke, even if we can't get the whole lighting rig into the room... and we still have just as much fun.

The great thing is when it's so intimate is that we can dance with you, party with you laugh with you and everyone has fun.

Being wireless we can dance from room to room while we still play music.. it amazes a lot of people, but we've been doing it for a while now.

Thanks Lyn & Tony for looking after us and it was a pleasure playing for you.

Rock on and party hard..


Friday, 24 June 2011

Tales from the road: Losing a fan belt in the middle of freakin’ Nowhere

Playing in a band looks like all fun and frivolity from the front, while we play, sing and dance, making music for happy punters to dance to.
However, just have a little look at the floor along the front of the stage, then along the sides and then at the back of the equipment.
Dozens and dozens of cables are plugged in to a piece of equipment at each end. Then of course unplugged and rolled up at the end of the night.
The equipment is a carefully thought out array of power amps, mixing desks, amplifiers, lighting desks, drum machines, foldback speakers, front of house speakers, effects units, lighting rigs and it goes on and on. This stuff is set up and packed up time and time again, loaded into our vans and lugged from house to gig then back again and again and again.
So that’s the gear… let’s spend a moment on the vehicles which travel all over the place carting all the gear and us crazy muso’s.
For a long time I had a Toyota Hi Ace which we loaded up and the three MADLLIPS boys would head off to the gig.
One fateful night we played a gig at the Growling Frog golf course in Yan Yean. Great gig, but the drive home was not so great. As we’re travelling along I could hear an unusual whistling noise. Now those of you familiar with Hi Ace vans will know that the engine is tucked away under the front seat with what is laughingly called access via the middle seat that lifts up and a little side panel. The ever increasing noise was coming from under our butts and this time it wasn’t the vindaloo! The noise suddenly stopped which we thought was pretty good, until the temperature of the motor started to increase rather quickly.
We pulled over, lifted the seat to realize that we had done a fan belt. We took a moment to ascertain where we were. The middle of freakin’ nowhere with no houses, no street lighting, no passing traffic, no sign of life and now, no bloody fan belt.
Well, we’re resourceful men and this was way before “Bear Grylls” so we set about doing what “McGyver” does with a bit of pipe, a garbage bag and some gaffer tape. Problem was we didn’t need to build a hang glider. But all was not lost! We had gaffer tape (duct tape for all you American TV show watchers), guitar leads and various bits of wire. We attempted to fashion a temporary fan belt but then found we struggled to actually fit it.
Time to ring the RACV. Thank God for mobile phones! The man in the yellow van turned up about an hour later, fitted a fan belt that he told us he just resupplied the day before, charged me $185 to join up on the spot, and we continued on our way.
So we made it home at 4:30am still believing that just a few more minutes and we would have had that guitar lead fitted and singing like a top.
So the moral of the story is, make sure your RACV (or similar) membership is paid up, and ring ‘em straight away if you break down… and ALWAYS keep your sense of humour.
You will look back and laugh!
Rock on

An excited MADLLIPS fan!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


.. well short answer is NEVER,
however if you are playing a fund raiser for some really great people, the theme is  Country & Western and a lot of time has been spent setting up the venue to look like a big ‘ol barn, complete with a cow, a horse and a bucking bull… well why not.
All those years ago when the country lost its mind and bought so many copies of Billy Ray Cyrus’s single to make Achy Breaky Heart number one in the charts, we didn’t add the song to our repertoire because we wanted to maintain some musical integrity.
We capitulated only when we were doing a gig at the Lavington Sports club in Albury and the gig was going ok. However when we took a break and the DJ played that song, the dancefloor was completely full in seconds… I still shake my head with despair.
So we learnt the song… two chords, A and E with a 4 note riff. Took about 3 minutes and that includes the time to open a few stubbies, tune the guitars, plug stuff in and do the crossword because we really didn’t want to play the song, but how do you fight against mass insanity?
We played the song at a couple of gigs after with great success and more to our total delight, the song disappeared almost as fast as it had hit the charts and we couldn’t drop it from our set quickly enough.
So for our friends at Warrandyte we dusted off the hayseeds and cow shit from good ‘ol Achy Breaky Heart and played it for them while they did a line dance routine and great fun was had by everyone.
We would also like to thank Dinah for great organizing and Rolf for taking another great set of photos of the gig as well.
Rock on… and ya’ll come back now… ya hear!

Photos courtesy Rolf Meuller

Monday, 6 June 2011


MADLLIPS played a private function on Saturday night at the historic Studley Park BoatHouse in Kew. Nice old building and a bit tricky for a band to play in. They set up a dance floor for the guests for an extra $300 which left us with the option of setting up in another room which faced the dance floor or half on the dance floor which then took in that room and another room making a larger dancing area… half with dance floor and the rest with carpet.  We opted for the second and went ahead and set up amps, racks, foldback, front of house lighting tree, blacks and back drops. Did a sound check and then went and got changed into our suits for the gig.

Imagine our horror when the owner turns up and says he will not allow anyone to dance on the carpet because women’s high heels will wear it out. If anyone does dance on the carpet, he will cut the power and stop the gig… Not much room to manoeuvre with that kind of statement, and would have been SOOO good if that snippet of information was relayed before we set up. We dutifully unplugged cables, dismantled rigs and man handled speaker boxes and moved it into the other room so we had only the designated dancing area in front of us.

So there we go, starting the gig already hot and sweaty from setting up twice and half knackered as well. Luckily, the couple had a great night. And most people had lots of fun dancing and drinking. There were areas where the older people could escape the dance music and sit and chat. The finger food was ok but we have had better… and as always there was one character that had drunk way too much and demolished the table where the tea, coffee and hot water urn was set up by trying to sit on it.

Anyway, all in all a successful night if not with a shaky start

See ya at the next gig


Have you ever thought about how society changes, technology advances so quickly, tastes change, music changes even the environment is changing within our living memory?

This is a conversation I’ve had with a few people over the years and sadly for some of us, just gets closer and closer.

We all get old and for some weird-arsed reason we Muso’s seem to hang onto our youth a little longer than others. Possibly because we can still do something that we did in our teens and people still like to come and see us play and have a dance to the music we produce. Maybe we can still indulge the inner child… or refuse to let it go! Each generation has its music of choice. My folks love trad Jazz, the next generation were into big band or swing, the next old time rock n roll, then came the guitar bands which is where I cut my teeth with all manner of punk, emo and epic music. After that was a vast range of disco, rap, gangsta rap, hip hop, the DJ craze and well it does go on and on. Just a quick side note, classical music stays classical and covers most generations and hopefully will for a long time to come. I personally love classical music.. perhaps not opera, but I marvel at the abilities and skill of great pianists, violin players, cellists, brass players, woodwind and the list goes on. People playing music written hundreds of years ago on instruments sometimes over a century old… just amazing… again I digress!

So what happens when people retire get older and move into retirement homes and villages? When my grandmother was in her retirement home, the entertainment was bingo and the piano in the corner was only really used to play “knees up mother brown” and “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts”

As the next generations move into the villages they’ll be taking their guitars, Marshall amps, drums, keyboards and all manner of gizmos, gadgets and pedals to make their music for their entertainment. I reckon it’s going to be a lot of fun as long as I can remember which end of the guitar I pluck and I don’t do a knee or a hip leaping off the foldback wedge to hit the final power chord!

Thankfully, there are a lot of people who still want to hear great guitar band music, so I and many other musician friends get to retain some of our distant youth by hammering out those old classic songs that still get people going today. 
So when we all move into the retirement villages the music will be quite different to the music there at the moment.
With the old adage, “…if it’s too loud you’re too old”, now we can say, “…if it’s too loud, turn down you’re hearing aid!”

Rock on

Thursday, 2 June 2011


Hi Everyone,

I have updated my automated Set Calculating spreadsheet. As I make amendments for my own use I will post them for you guys to use.

Apart from there being a "Clear Sheet" button which was a new addition, I have cleaned up the Auto conditional formatting. All that means is that there are no ugly red boxes where the play times still showed but had a red box if it was past the number of sets you were playing. Now it simply only shows the times you need to play. Anything past the number of sets you are going to play is now blank.

Pretty simple... just aesthetic really.

Enjoy and keep it LIVE


Click here to download the amended Set Sheet.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


The natural enemy of the gigging musician apart from pissed punters who fall over foldback wedges and onto the stage (oh that’s another whole story)… is STAIRS!

For those of us who are in smaller to medium sized bands and have to lug our own gear, nothing can make our hearts sink faster than being confronted with a heap of stairs when we arrive at the gig. Apart from doing a wedding and finding that the seating arrangement places all the elderlies on the table in front of the PA, including crabby old aunt Bessie and her equally cantankerous husband who thinks anything over 50 decibels is an abomination and usually starts complaining at the second song of the acoustic dinner music set. Anyway I digress…

Stairs… now some of us played the Cockpit at Essendon Airport and had to lug double 4 ways, amps, instruments, lights etc. up those stairs on the outside, and many other gigs that required the same effort. One of the funniest… thank goodness we can look back on this and laugh… is a gig we did at a restaurant up in the Dandenongs. Inside is set up like a mediaeval dining hall with balconies that run around the top and look down into the main room. They wanted the band to set up on the balcony which was a long way above the audience. The access was via a narrow winding set of wooden stairs that split at the top allowing access to either side of the balconies. With our gear, we had to set up the bass player on one side with his amp and one front of house speaker and the singer and myself with the amp racks and the other FOH speaker etc. on the other. Apart from the lug up the stairs, it was a very hard gig because of the difficulty interacting with the audience. One of the more bizarre gigs we have done.

Lifts… well they’re better but still require some managing, especially if you’re sharing it with punters or other members of the public. Stacking all the gear with a little walkway at the bottom before loading the lift to within an inch of its life and hoping the thing is still able to move. Fighting with the automatic doors is a challenge while the big metal box beeps continuously telling you “time’s up, I wanna move”. So you plonk the heaviest amp rack in the doorway and the bugger is still often able to move it.

Only a couple of months ago we did a gig in Mornington where we were confronted with a really long escalator. Well it turned out to be great fun as one of us was at the top to get the gear off and a couple at the bottom. We had to place the gear carefully on a step so it wouldn’t topple back down so the item would be placed then you had to run back the wrong way to get off before you were taken too far.

So if you don’t have roadies and you’re confronted with stairs, I really feel for you. Sadly many venues have not been designed with the muso’s in mind. In fact I reckon that many have been designed to make our life very much harder… Anyone who has played the Hotel Sofitel will know what I mean. Why you have to lug gear up lifts then half a mile and through service corridors and kitchens amazes me.

Anyway, that’s my vent. I guess I’ll still have to suck it up if I want to play. If you’re booking a band, let ‘em know that there are stairs so they can get there a little earlier, and don’t be surprised if they add a few bucks to the price. They have spent extra time and worked extra hard just to perform for you.

Rock on and keep music LIVE.

Sunday, 29 May 2011


Sometimes when a band plays, we have as part of our contract a thing called a RIDER.

You have probably read all those stories of touring artists who want a bowl of MnM’s with all the blue ones removed.. (what, they’re the best ones!) or a dressing room constructed and painted pink, or 2 dozen specially folded towels and bottled water flown in from the foothills of Nepal, platters of cold meats and salads and the entourage of chefs and nutritionists who must only cook vegetarian, gluten free, kabal friendly food etc. etc. etc….
Well the average Aussie rock band rider consisted of a slab of cold VB and a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels, Beam and a chilled Vodka for good measure.

Sadly this led to the downfall of many a good band and good musician.

I remember... god knows how… I was in a band where we rehearsed during closed times at a restaurant in Bendigo where we had a residency. The owner told us NOT to touch anything behind the bar but we could help ourselves to the port barrel that sat on the bar. Thus started my love of port and that barrel was easily drained at each rehearsal. Not so good on the liver and I would suggest that the music being played probably didn’t sound as good as we thought at the time.

However we did survive and various bands later we find that some venue owners are very gun shy when it comes to giving the band a beer or two at a gig. We find these days that we don’t get a tub full of grog and ice in the band room, but most venues will provide tap beer for free. But there are some venues who refuse point blank to provide free grog to the band because of those who went before us and made total dicks of themselves. It is an industry that pretty much revolves around alcohol and the sale and consumption of copious amounts of the stuff. Some young bands get caught up in the cycle and spoil it for the rest, but I can’t be too judgmental because there were times when I started out and I pushed the limits too.

However to survive in the industry, you can’t be doing that stuff continually because you will crash and burn, physically and musically.

Just a tip from someone with 40 years in the industry... (damn did I say that out loud!!)... you CAN have a heap of fun without being pissed. That way the only way you can make a dick of yourself is playing a dodgy note or two, instead of playing a heap of crap and thinking you still sound good!

Keep music LIVE

Thursday, 26 May 2011


A fellow muso sent this to me and it is a little insight into the world of the gigging muso.
I laughed a lot and then cried, 'cos it happens ALL the time...  hope you enjoy it too.

When requesting a song from the band, just say "play my song", or "it goes something like this", then hum a few bars. We have a chip implanted in our heads with an unlimited database with the favourite tunes of every patron who ever walked into a bar, and all songs ever recorded, so feel free to be vague, we love the challenge.
If we do not remember exactly what tune you want, we're only kidding. Bands know every song ever recorded, so keep humming. Hum harder if need be… it helps jog the memory.
If a band tells you they don't know a song you want to hear, they either forgot that they know the tune or are just putting you on. Try singing a few words for the band. Any words.
If one member halfway knows part of a chorus, the rest of the band will instantly learn the entire song by osmosis. Knowing this, if the band still claims to not know your song, it helps to just keep requesting the same song every time there is a break per set, followed by the phrases, "AW COME ON!" and "YOU SUCK!" Exaggerated hand gestures expressing disapproval from the dance floor are a big help as well, such as thumbs down, or your middle finger. Put-downs are the best way to jog a band's memory. This instantly promotes you to the status of "Personal Friend Of The Band."
Entertainers are notorious fakers and jokesters and never really prepare for their shows. They simply walk on stage with no prior thought to what they will do once they arrive. An entertainer's job is SO easy, even a monkey could do it, so don't let them off the hook easily. Your request is all that matters.
If a metal band had played at the club a few weeks ago, the next band that follows will automatically know every metal tune the previous band ever played, even if the current band is a country or blues band. It's the law. Feel free to yell "AC DC or SLAYER!!" to a band that plays strictly originals or jazz for example. Conversely, Deadheads may yell for Grateful Dead tunes at a dance or metal band.

When an entertainer leans over to hear you better, grab his or her head in both hands and yell directly in their ear, whilst holding their head securely so they cannot pull away. This will be taken as an invitation to a friendly and playful game of tug of war between their head and your hands.
Don't give up! Hang on until the singer or guitar player submits. Drummers are often safe from this fun game since they usually sit in the back, protected by the guitar players.
Keyboard players are protected by their instrument, and only play the game when tricked into coming out from behind their keyboards. Though difficult to get them to play, it's not impossible, so keep trying. They are especially vulnerable during the break between songs.

The best time to discuss anything with the band in any meaningful way is at the middle of the song when all members are singing at the same time (such as a multi harmony part). Our hearing is so advanced that we can pick out your tiny voice from the megawatt wall of sound blasting all around us.
Musicians are expert lip readers too. If a musician does not reply to your question or comment during a tune, it's because they didn't get a good look at your mouth in order to read your lips.
Simply continue to scream your request and be sure to over emphasize the words with your lips. This helps immensely. Don't be fooled.
Singers have the innate ability to answer questions and sing at the same time while guitarists love the multi-skilling challenge of discussing your needs midway through complex solos. If the musicians do not answer your questions immediately, regardless of how stupid the question may seem, it's because they are purposely ignoring you. If this happens, immediately cop an attitude. We love this.

If you inform the band that you are a singer, the band will appreciate your help with the next few tunes, or however long you can remain standing on stage. Just pretend you're in a Karaoke bar. Simply feel free to walk up on stage and join in. By the way, the drunker you are the better you sound, and the louder you should sing.
If by chance you fall off stage, be sure to crawl back up and attempt to sing harmony. Keep in mind that nothing assists the band more than outrageous dancing, third and fourth part harmonies, or a tambourine played out of tempo. Try the cowbell. They love the challenge. The band always needs the help and will take this as a compliment.

Remember to allow enough time to make it from the stage to the bathroom in case of an emergency. On stage accidents are bad form. The band will carry on.

As a last resort, wait until the band takes a break and then get on stage and start playing their instruments. They love this. Even if you are ejected from the club, you can rest assured in the fact that you have successfully completed your audition. The band will call you immediately the following day to offer you a position.
See you at the next gig – The Band

Gigs.. where do they come from?

Well as musicians we would love them to just drop from the sky, but sadly that’s not the case. Sure sometimes the odd one or two do literally drop out of who knows where, but usually we have to work for them and if you want to gig regularly.. you gotta work pretty damn hard to get them.

If you’re the next big thing, gigs are going to be vast and many and you’ll be knocking ‘em back.. sadly I’ve never experienced that and most of us haven’t. However that being said, virtually ALL of our MADLLIPS gigs come via word of mouth or a punter who experienced one of our gigs personally. So we’ve gotta be doing something right for a bunch of geriatric muso’s.

Any hooo, there are lots of avenues to get your name and product out to people these days. Websites, Facebook, You Tube, My Space, MP3 distributors and so on.. even the old business cards are all helpful in getting your name out there. Regardless of your type of music, there is an enormous audience that has a very diverse musical appetite. Whether you make some dollars, lots of dollars or no dollars will depend on how marketable your music is.
That being said, we all play for different reasons. Some for fun, some for fame and fortune, some for the chicks.. oops, how sexist is that!.. some for the social intercourse whether it be with female, male or other is entirely up to all consenting and legal parties.. whew..  some for the artistic and creative outlet, some for the rider, some ‘cos there’s nothing on TV and some simply because they can.

The fact is, gigging live and in front of real people is nerve wracking, exhilarating and really what it’s all about. Personally for me, I just love it and will do it until the alzheimer’s completely takes over and I can’t remember what the hell a guitar is anyway, but I digress…

Get your arse out there any way you can. Open mic sessions, parties for friends, hound the venues until they give you a gig, get your bio’s and demo’s out to agencies and be prepared to travel to start with. Don’t be scared of the apprenticeship. Some of our fondest and funniest memories are from when we played in distant country towns and staying at the Aussie equivalent of the Bates Motel in the middle of BF Nowhere. Get out there and enjoy the journey. Learn to enjoy cold pizza for breakfast and take it easy on the rider (the free grog some venues provide), but more on that another time.

Rock on

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Musicians Tools :0

Hi everyone, I suspect that being a BRAND NEW blog that the sindication of this isn't going out to dozens of countries, or people, or.. well you know what I mean.

Today I'm talking about simple things.. the tools at the disposal of the musician. Thought I'd get the process above the belt!!

Apart from the obvious amps, guitars, keyboards, mics, lights, leads etc etc... the working musician will ponder a problem at virtually every gig.

What time do we start, how long do we play, when do we finish, when do we take a break and how long are the breaks?

I created a little spreadsheet years ago to calculate ALL that and more. If you are a gigging muso, you will find this little tool invaluable. Over the years I have added extra fields so I can keep track of important information from the gig. Stuff like, who the agency was, how much the commission was (automatically calculated too), what distance we travelled, any extra outgoings like PA etc. then finally what the final split up of what was left actually goes to us.. the muso's.

I have added a link to the sheet which you are free to download for private use.. don't go stealing my idea and selling it to others please. There are still a couple of kinks I will iron out when I get a chance.

Here are a couple of screen shots of the sheet. I usually save the completed sheet with the date and gig info so I can electronically file it and refer to at a later date. Particularly if some calls and says "You played for my friend Johnno last September and I would like to book you. How much will it cost?" You can quickly check the details of that gig, how much you charged, how long you played, if it was from an agency and you may need to refer them back to the originating agency etc.

Anyway, I hope it is helpful. If it is please leave some comments.

Until next time.. rock on

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Bowie Gig

MADLLIPS have been playing the Beaumaris RSL one Friday a month for the last couple of years. It's a fun gig but not the usual rock n roll gig for a guitar rock band.

We have a number of familiar faces that come to see us play there and we are grateful for the support.

We play from 7:30pm to 11:30pm and play 4 x 35 minute sets with the first one an acoustic set.
Pat our intrepid lead singer has been penning a few originals which we slip in every now and then to appreciative audiences.

Of course we have a couple of fans who nearly always want us to play "Living next door to Alice"... Alice, Alice.. who the f*%k is Alice!!  We usually accomodate them.. after all, that's what we get paid for!

So the moral of this story is, a gig is a gig is a gig. You have to perform is if you will never play again. You never know who is in the audience, even if there was only one person there... it could be someone who matters.. even if it isn't... it actually really is!  Get it!

Get the DATE right.. right!

Hey everyone,

the universe works in weird and wonderful ways.

I created a little spreadsheet that calculates the times we play and have breaks at gigs (stay tuned for more on this) and at the last Bowie gig on the 20th May I added the date of our next gig there. I rarely announce the next date and we have been playing there each month for a couple of years now. Anyway, I figured people often ask and I should know the date on the spot!

So when I announced the date and Sandy the bargirl came running up to tell me that wasn't the date on the already printed flyers... we had a problem!

So a couple of days later, all is sorted and instead of the 17th of June, MADLLIPS are playing the Beaumaris RSL on Friday the 24th June  Kind of the nightmare I don't want to have is turn up to a gig when another band is booked or worse... not turn up at all!!

Rock on and remember, LIVE Music is the BEST Music!

Back to the website ->

MADLLIPS ~ our first blog

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to our first blog. What we'll be doing is giving tips with anything musical, reviews of our gigs with some pics of the fun we have, reviews of gear we come accross or use and play, and a little insight into the world of a gigging cover band.

Come back often and check out our blog and our website. We do this because we love to play, we love music and we love to share what we do.

Thanks for reading and talk soon.