Theatre director Peter Brook tells a story about the night before his first time as a young director; he made a paper theatre, cut-out figures and props, working out every move in advance. When he arrived at the theatre the next day, he took one look at the stage, the actors and realised that it was going to be very different.
A band is like that.
You can mix all the ingredients, think you know what songs you will play, what you will sound like; then you start to rehearse and realise these people are going to bring things you had not imagined, develop in ways you did not dream of.
ABOUT THEM SHOES was such a band.
We worked hard in those early days to build a ‘core’ repertoire, one which would give everyone structure but allow for freedom within it. Chris, our ‘sixth member’ will, I am sure, know exactly how many gigs we played, how many songs we learned, how many we discarded in rehearsal; all I recall is a joyous experience every gig with these guys, feeling able to sing with variety of expression because I could trust them to be there to catch me if I fell. As in all good bands, we pushed each other to be better, though not in a competitive way. I recall exchanges of looks, astonishment at what another band member had come up with.
Matt, Andy, Will, Gen; SHOES was both easy and monstrous to play with. Easy in that I was never on tenterhooks as to whether we would scrape through something: Monstrous in the ‘big’ sound we achieved and the standard we reached.
You were much better than any plans I could have made for what the band would be.