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    Stephen Butler
    Stephen Butler
    Participant
    Post count: 23

    Dear Guy:

    I’m always curious about the little details of things, such as how you rehearse.

    Do you spend a lot of time waving your arm in the air and mouthing “Sorry!” to the others, because you’ve cocked up so massively that you cannot possibly carry on with that tune?
    Do you rehearse one song until it’s so absolutely perfect that you couldn’t put a cigarette paper between it (if we smoked, which of course we don’t), or perhaps do you rehearse until fed up, do another and then come back to it?
    Do you still rehearse stuff like “Telegraph Road”? (I cannot imagine that you would, but you might.)
    Do you have to spend ages crawling around the floor looking for the correct lead for your “damper” pedal, or even the pedal itself, which has now slipped so far from you the bassist could use it?
    How does a typical rehearsal go? Do you start with an old favourite, just to warm up, and then start a particularly tricky one?
    How long do rehearsals last? Do you knock it on the head after 3 hours and nip off down the pub?
    Are rehearsals planned out in advance, like what song is to be rehearsed on what day? Or perhaps you all turn up and go, “Er…”
    *All of these questions (and admittedly there are a lot) are based upon my own experiences playing keyboards in bands. On one particular occasion, I looked over from my keyboard rig only to witness my guitarist texting his girlfriend! In the middle of a song! Needless to say, I stopped the song there and then, and flipped. That’s when it becomes difficult to be motivated. And that, my friends, is perhaps the reason why great musicians are great musicians, because they can power through such soul-destroying, life force-sapping moments and still maintain the motivation to carry on playing.

    P.S. I’m still learning what you can do on this forum, like italicising

    and

    quoting yourself or others.

    What fun. Cheers!

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • JulioJulio
    Participant
    Post count: 36

    I´m also curious about rehearsing, specially when it comes to songs that had been played in so many tours… like, let´s say, Romeo and Juliet, So Far Away… My guess is that probably rehearse it once is more than enough just to make clear that everybody remember it, and you can focus in the new songs, or in songs that are going to be re-arranged, am I wrong?
    May I ask about, let´s sy, percentages? During rehearsals time, how much do the band spend on new songs, old songs, rearrangements, tea? 😉
    We always see the final result, but the road that leds to that final result (the show) is interesting as well.

    Stephen ButlerStephen Butler
    Participant
    Post count: 23

    Hi Gary:

    Just to disagree on one tiny point: no band is ever too good to rehearse. Even stuff which is familiar to millions (…?) should always be rehearsed, even if it’s just a quickie to refresh one’s mind. You’d be surprised what can catch you out. The point is not whether a band rehearses or not, it’s how they do it.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

    Gary WhitsGary Whits
    Participant
    Post count: 13

    They don’t need to rehearse. They’re too good already

    NathalieNathalie
    Participant
    Post count: 8

    Yeah, you do ramble on a bit 🙂 but it was interesting nonetheless. Thanks for your reply.

    Stephen ButlerStephen Butler
    Participant
    Post count: 23

    Yes, I always remember reading about the lengthy DS rehearsal periods – am I right in recalling there was something like a three-week rehearsal period just for the 1988 Nelson Mandela show (plus the rehearsal gigs, of course)? If it was my band, as I described to Nathalie, I doubt if we’d have got three hours in.

    Stephen

    Stephen ButlerStephen Butler
    Participant
    Post count: 23

    Hello Nathalie:

    I’m not currently ‘in’ a band at the moment; at least not a live one. Been in several dead ones ha ha ha ha…zzzzz. No, but seriously, currently lack of physical ability prevents me from schlepping my huge KRONOS around the world on tour. I say ‘around the world,’ what I really mean is as far as Tewkesbury and back.

    But I was playing live up until around five years ago, in a band where my brother Julian wrote all the songs. There were five of us – my brother on lead vocals & rhythm guitar, me on keyboards, a guitarist (our text-mad friend), a bassist and drummer. Our music mixed Yes with Supergrass – it was fast and energetic, but my dear brother likes to mix & match keys and time signatures. When we write together, I try to stop all that nonsense.

    So, picture the scene: my brother presents us with a new song. The rest of us look at each other in disbelief and fear; how the hell are we going to manage that 7/4 play-out at the end with the rising scale motif from E major, the last 2 bars being 4/4 each, finishing on a C major 7th. Answer? We ignore it for now and play the easy part, the two verses and choruses. Julian plays it to us, the rest of the band (even the drummer) write the chords down on a bit of paper. I don’t; I prefer to close my eyes and listen. It usually only takes me a couple of goes before I’ve got it mostly under my thumb (Huzzah! A Rolling Stones reference!) and fingers. Incidentally, as a side issue, does anyone else have this problem? I cannot play when I look down at my hands. Close my eyes or look the other way and I’m fine. Can’t understand that.

    Rehearsals usually lasted about three hours, and we would typically get through maybe three or four songs. Julian never once asked me what I was doing on the keyboards; I don’t think he even knew what sound I was trying to recreate on any of the songs. He was lucky in that I strive for perfection; this is why I don’t play now. If there is any chance that I am going to funk things up, I don’t play. So, the pain medication I take leads me to tremble quite a lot in the arm department, and it’s quite impossible to guarantee the right notes in the right order at the right time. I took with me a lot of Coke (the sweet drink in the red tin, of course) for I am an addict.

    We never, as far as I can recall, had ‘section’ rehearsals, it was always the full band together. Everyone was working at the time, and there simply wasn’t the time.
    Now, if bands had all the time in the world, I would insist on sectional rehearsals: bass & drums, guitars and keyboards, and separate rehearsals for vocals / backing vocals. Then bring the lot together. And my brother should have had more of an idea what he wanted in terms of sound. In addition, he should have sent us the songs before the rehearsal so that we could all be familiar with them before the rehearsal even started. I was always getting frustrated at that, not to mention at people who were texting mid-song. I just went nuts at that.

    I would love to one day be in a band who takes the same, what I like to think of as ‘professional’, approach to rehearsing as I do. I was always seen as the bad-tempered, ‘strict dad’ type of figure in the band, but I reckon if everybody knows their stuff, you are more likely to have fun in rehearsals.

    I think the most common thing I write on many forums is ‘sorry I have rambled on a bit,’ but I hope this gives you an insight as to how we rehearsed at the arse end of the music business. Our final gig was our best, at London’s Clapham Grand, back in 2010, that was an incredible night. I had to be helped on an off stage, but it was worth it.

    Cheers!

    NathalieNathalie
    Participant
    Post count: 8

    Would also be interesting to hear about how other bands go about it, non pros included. How do you rehease Stephen?

    In my VERY amateur- trio, we start with a song we all know well to warm up and leave the more tricky ones for later. And since you ask, no, we don’t rehearse Telegraph Road.
    As for texting during songs, I would also flip if I caught my guitarist texting his girlfriend during a song (not least because he is my husband)

    Dr. FletchDr. Fletch
    Keymaster
    Post count: 65

    Yes, a lot of questions there Stephen, I’m sure texting during rehearsals happens a lot but you were quite right to flip. You have to really want it to have it and in bands, no matter how big, many fall by the wayside at the first sign of hardship. It can be should destroying keeping a band motivated. That has never changed. Our rehearsals are pretty well structured but there is still a lot of tea. These days we try not to over-rehearse…so our rehearsal periods have gotten shorter. (we used to rehearse for months on end in the DS days) I suppose that’s a reflection on the respect we all have for each other in the band and we never take our position for granted.
    G

    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Dr. Fletch Dr. Fletch.
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