Dear Diary: March 1988
It’s that time again. Time for another stroll through the archives of a struggling musician. Today’s journal entry takes us back 25 years to March of 1988; a significant date for me, because it marked the first time I ever joined a band.
My own quest for music glory actually began on May 24, 1985 (the day I took my first legitimate guitar lesson), but it took me nearly three years to get into my first working band. As an aspiring young guitarist, there is no better time then when you join your first band. You’re young, fresh-faced and haven’t yet gotten to the point where bitching, late nights and getting screwed over by club owners is routine. Instead, all you see are Grammy awards, cameras flashing, girls as far as the eye can see, hotel rooms being demolished and your name on the marquee. Ah, to be young again!
One of the things I liked to do with my journal entries back then was pretend that I was being interviewed by some big time journalist. I’d have back and forth discussions with a phantom interviewer (Rolling Stone, MTV, Guitar World – take your pick) regarding my career, and I always liked to answer the questions as if I already had achieved some degree of success in the music business. I found that by doing these “interviews”, it gave me the inspiration to keep pushing on. What’s interesting is that I’ve since discovered (by doing my own “real” interviews) is that a lot of my guitar heroes did exactly the same thing.
My very first band was called ‘Silent Rage’; a name which I’m sure dozens of other groups had. In fact, one such band even had success with it:
Believe it or not, this was exactly what I wanted to look and sound like. If you want to see what my dream band was back then, here it is. Ok, maybe I wouldn’t have named the album “Don’t Touch Me There”, but I mean come on… what’s not to like about hair metal, guitars and hot chicks on motorcycles? It doesn’t get more rock and roll than that.
But, back to the journal entry….
I began this “interview” by asking myself whether I preferred doing cover songs as opposed to originals. This in turn made me consider the band I had just joined a few days earlier and what our possible first gig might be like.
From March, 1988
Interviewer: You say that you like playing live. Do you like doing cover tunes?
Me: To an extent. As an amateur on the club circuit, or gigging at all I would start out with an even mixture. Here’s how a typical night would go:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for coming to Joe’s Bar and Grill. For your entertainment tonight, this is a young band which has a lot of talent: Silent Rage!”
Then we’d come on. All ready to jam.
We’d start off with a good loosen up song to get everyone going: “Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. Then, we’d try something good and challenging like “Still of The Night” by Whitesnake. After that, an original or two (don’t forget to introduce them as such so people won’t go – “What the hell song is THAT?”) Tell them its original, maybe who wrote it or a little story of its origin.
Afterwards, get really going with “Here I Go Again” from Whitesnake. Then another original or two (again, introduce them as such). Take a break for 15 minutes (you should have been playing for about an hour or so by now).
Come back, do originals for the second set (maybe three). Then right back into it with a monster hit, “Crazy Train” by Ozzy. Follow it with “Photograph” by Def Leppard, some more originals and then afterwards thank everyone for coming and go out with “More Than A Feeling” by Boston and maybe (if the crowd is teeny-boppers) “Talk Dirty To Me” by Poison.
For the Boston song: try to get the audience to clap along during the chorus. In fact, try to get them involved in the show as much as possible. No, I don’t mean try to see which section is louder (save that until you’re at Stabler Arena).
Look good, do a few movements, look at your crowd and be friendly.
Above all: Rock and Roll!
One of the things I enjoyed most about reading this entry again (aside from having listed every single detail of how a show would go and my Whitesnake fetish) were my own individual song choices. I certainly had a lot to learn about what songs worked in clubs (and would find out the hard way). Having said that, you can definitely see my hair metal influence and the music that was popular at the time.
The days when the sky really was the limit!