Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Walking to the sound of my favourite TUNE... Part 2

This is the second part of the story about the band I played in. In this part we start playing gigs and gain the praise of our friends. The military causes an unwelcome interruption, before we join up in Oslo and continue our quest to be the band that we felt music needed.

I remember the first time we played together. Not as a band, this was before we even decided to form a band. Lars and Arngeir suggested Espen and I join them for a weekend at Arngeir's house. They lived in this big, old, beautiful house outside a small village in Norway. Arngeir had been playing a lot with his brothers through his childhood, and hence they had a lot of equipment which we could use. We basically spent two days just playing together (sometimes in the nude) and make some simple, rough recordings with the help of Arngeir's brothers. Good times.

When Rubens Araba, and eventually Tune was formed, it was exhilarating. Finally I was playing in a proper rock band with my mates! And I discovered that I could write songs. The initial idea had been that everyone would contribute to the song writing and bring songs and ideas into the group. Some of our first songs were written this way. But whenever I wrote a song I tended to do all the bits on my own. I decided what the chords would be, the melody, the guitar, the bass line, and everything. It was as if I had this piece of music that I wanted my mates to help me perform. Lars obviously had a better voice than me which made my songs far better. Espen also had a couple ideas for songs and so had Lars. But eventually I became the main songwriter of the band.

We started playing these concerts which the music and drama department of our college put on once a month. We quickly got our friends' recognition which is inestimable in the vulnerable beginnings of a band.  I loved every moment of it. Soon we started playing gigs outside of school as well. Not very often, but time and again there would be an event or gig on that invited amateur bands to play. This is something which I still to this day think is far too rare in Norway in general. But we were relishing every chance we got to play. Although my internal Noel Gallagher'esque ego was not enjoying being just one band on the list of so many other bands. My mind was fixated on the grandiose idea of having a mass following of fans and be able to fill vast venues and even stadiums. But shyness and humility tends to put reality-accepting tethers on such ideas.

After finishing music college, both me and my brother had to do an obligatory spell in the military. I ended up in the King's guard which was based in Oslo, were both Lars and Arngeir also had moved to study. I did one year of military service and moved in with Lars. Espen, always the more pragmatic one, continued his military career for another six months before we nagged him to become a civilian and join us in Oslo so we could get the band started again. We were in the capital of Norway, the metropolis where we would finally get discovered by the big record companies! At least my ego told me so. How deluded.

We got a rehearsal room in a party venue/pub of an MC club, which was handy concerning security of our equipment. We rehearsed some new and better songs and set out to get some gigs. Oslo had a limited number of bars that would allow completely new amateur bands to play, providing they got enough people to come and watch. I say "allow", but in reality we had to pay. Most venues seem to work by this policy: We had to use the resident PA (sound) system and for that we had to pay, about £100. It was up to us and get as many of our friends to come, and we decided ourselves if we wanted to take an entry fee which we would be allowed to keep ourselves. .But it rarely covered the bill for the PA system. Ridiculous. Such an antagonistic attitude towards new bands! If we played a venue we would most likely recognise all the faces in there, unless they were friends of whichever band we split the gig with (a split gig would provide more people and potential fans). Other people turned in the door, no one could be bothered listening to some amateur band which music they probably didn't like either. I can't say I think of Oslo as a very warm place socially speaking. This wasn't going to be easy. Turns out I was right.

Espen was studying sound engineering at this school which specialised in music, drama, engineering, and everything else related to entertainment. They had a studio which they let the students use for free. This gave us the opportunity to do our first proper studio recordings! Having a demo meant it would be easier to get gigs and also attention from record companies and producers. We recorded three songs on which Espen did all the mixing, with minimal studio mixing experience. Lars Andreas, a friend of Arngeir who was already a semi-professional musician, provided keys on the songs which made them sound so much richer and well-produced. Lars knew this other musician who recommended a producer/studio technician fresh out of the LIPA academy in Liverpool called Jonas Kroon. He mastered the tracks making them sound even bigger and better. Tune was finally proper band with gig experience and now a demo!

And this is what I leave you with for now: I actually found a website for amateur bands on which we posted our songs and where you can still listen to two of the tracks. When I listen to these song (I haven't heard them in years) my body literally starts to tremble. It's hard to explain how euphoric and emotional I get when I hear those songs and think back to those days. I know I'm making it sound like it was ages ago when in reality it's about five years, but somehow it feels very distant. I cannot possibly explain to you how important these songs are to me, simply because of the memories I associate with them. I hope you enjoy them.

Tune's first gig in Oslo!

The poster I made with pictures from our first gig which we subsequently used as a promo poster for all our gigs and cover on our first EP.

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