Aren’t we productive this month with blog number three for you all? To be honest this month has been crazy busy and we’ve got a lot of promo to do with a tour and a new EP out. Pile on top of that at least 30 shows in the next twelve weeks, five new songs to learn and a number of EHIC’s to sort out and you have yourself one artistically administrative headache.
Well, it’s been yet another busy month with an average of a gig per three days – add to that a practice AND secret live show per week with new cajonist Peachy and you have six tired hands and three tired voices. Particular favourites have included 2000 Trees, The Fairview Convention (a now well-established Cheltenham classic) and the inaugural Gloucester Food & Drink Festival. We’ve also been doing a bit of cheeky busking on the side to keep us well lubed ahead of tour, which is now only 10 days away…
THE SILLY BAND
Looking back on these shows one thought does occur ahead of our tour, which is that we’re rather blessed to be a silly covers band that gets to play great slots at these fab events. With that, however, comes a concern. With such a rich and diverse music scene in Cheltenham – aren’t we just stealing these plum slots from ‘original’ bands? Is someone who writes their own material not more ‘deserving’ of a slot than us?
I don’t know the answer to this, but we must be doing something right as promoters keep booking us. In our quasi-defence I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say we are probably one of the hardest working bands in the county. There are some real prolific performers in our town who do justice to the art of performance (as well as some who really don’t, it’s not all roses you know!) but it’s not like we’re your standard guitar driven four-piece with a gig a month in the books…
The weird thing about being the silly band is that we are in the odd position of straddling a number of angles as performers. To people who like music, I think we’re probably a welcome novelty – hopefully the love and care with which we treat our interpretations of songs comes across and despite it not being our ‘own’ material we can possible claim ownership to some extent. After all, such well known songs belong to everyone don’t they? To a musician I hope we come across as a band that genuinely love music. A true music-mind will not discriminate against the value of a performance, it is the nature of the relationship between band and audience that creates an atmosphere. We could write our own material about losing girlfriends, being men and drinking but would anyone actually give a shit?
Again – I don’t know the answer to this, but I do know that there is enough post-teen, pre-professional angst harboured by the unwilling worker-bees of the future who are not ready to quite accept they’ll never “make it”. The same bands who are currently circling the drain of obscurity in towns all over the UK but just don’t know it yet. We have no objective other than to keep playing shows and enjoying ourselves so it’s good we’ll never have to make this compromise.
If anything, we are original and I wouldn’t have thought anyone could claim otherwise. Like you, I’ve heard countless bands and ‘singer-songwriters’ tell me through ambiguously one-word titled songs in questionable two-part harmonies about how their relationship has failed – or indeed how their particular brand of romanticism will be the salvation of a wistfully obscure lover’s soul.
With us – it’s a totally different experience. What we want is for people to enjoy the songs we enjoy and just have a laugh. Nothing sinister, no hidden agenda and (thank goodness) no half-formed and irrelevant opinion about how you can fix your heart. I think a common theme for new music is you get something you’ve never heard before, which – handily for us – turns out that people like! Good luck finding a skiffle band (we’re one of a handful operating in the UK at the moment) and even better luck finding a ska-skiffle-lounge-jazz 80s & 90s band that encore with Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. Google agrees with us too:
SEARCH: “Indie 4 piece” = 3,280,000 results
SEARCH: “Skiffle 3 piece” = 181,000 results
SEARCH: “Ska-skiffle-lounge-jazz 80s & 90s band that encore with Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” – 196 results
And despite statistics always lying, none of this really matters anyway. We’re a ‘band’, no matter how you choose to interpret this. If how we do things is different from those around us, even better.
Which leads me onto the bit I’ve been so keen to write for some time. A few words about our manager for almost 18 months: “Le Shark”
Now. You’ve probably seen him fleetingly in our videos – or even caught him hanging around with a free pint in his hands at one of our shows, but in the Thrill Collins onstage thanks, he never gets a mention.
He is, of course, critical to the Thrill and we love him to death. When he was initially approached, we did so by asking him if he knew someone who would be happy handling the Thrill Collins’ bookings and enquiries as the band simply didn’t have time. Immediately a pound sign lit up one ocular cavity, shortly followed by confusing Euro sign in the other…
Up to this point Thrill had been playing gigs for friends and performing fortnightly in “The Place” (or now “Lace” as it’s known) in Cheltenham, learning their trade as performers.
Fast forward 18 months and we’re about to head out on our second European tour, fourth trip abroad, almost 200 shows later with an entire fully formed mini-business taking care of everything from mic stands to spending money.
How does he earn his chips then? Firstly, if you’ve not looked after Thrill for an evening – you might not know what is involved. Putting the man (and booze) management of the actual night aside, there are things like travel, accommodation, food, spare strings, towels, Kinder surprises, stage plans, kit reqs, fee negotiation amongst numerous other variables that have to be considered for every gig…
Multiply that by 100 shows a year and that’s a lot of work – for anyone. Don’t worry yourself though as Le Shark gets one of the most generous percentages a manager has ever been afforded – not that we begrudge him a single penny! He also likes to get into the ‘band mindset’ as well and is normally as boozy as we are at any given point of a show. Like the documentary maker who can’t help but become involved with his subject (See “Man Bites Dog”) these grey areas and lines are crossed with hilarious regularity.
Telling you he gets a good percentage (and a better helping of booze) is probably not the most seemingly obvious thanks, but he very much feels like part of the band to us – and always will. We hope it’s the same for him! After all, if you’re too drunk to get into a taxi to your accommodation, he’s always there. If you need someone to collect monies from Hartford CT gangster men, he’s always there. If you need someone to drive a 30ft Roadbear like a mini-Metro, he’s always there. If you wake up in Germany in a flat you don’t recognise… well – you get the point don’t you?
We’re just glad he’s our manager, and not yours.