Alien Skin undressed: while my guitar noisily weeps
Spread over 3 parts and 3 blog posts, I trace my musical development from initially being disinterested in music as a child, to my obsession with bands and the passionate addiction to writing & creating music myself a few years later, through to Real Life and Alien Skin today.
Part Two: while my guitar noisily weeps
The early 1970's were a difficult time for me. After excelling in primary school for 7 years, I had to move on with my school friends to secondary education, meaning a new school, a new group of students and teachers and a lot more pressure to study and keep on top of my lessons. My natural learning abilities allowed me to remain close to the top of each class throughout primary school but in my new environment this wasn't enough. I needed to actually discipline and apply myself to my studies which were often demanding and to commit myself to structured learning. Simply put, I needed to become serious about the whole enterprise of education:)
Alas, this wasn't to be. As soon as the music bug entered my system, circa 1972/73, it conflicted quite strongly with my educational prospects. It caused worry and concern for my parents and I know it wasn't an easy time for them or myself. Perhaps I should have gone on to become that architect or town planner I initially wanted to become (after heavy brainwashing as a boy, watching 'The Brady Bunch' on TV, as Mr Mike Brady seemed to have the dream job as an architect:)
I learned guitar after seeing an advert on the back of a TV Guide. Over a period of a few weeks I received 20 'how to play guitar' lessons. With sore, bleeding finger tips learning on an old, cheap acoustic, I eventually mastered the rudimentary chords that would stay with me ever. Actually, in thinking back, and this is the brain of a 12 year old child back then, the reason I wanted to play was that it would convince my parents to buy me a sexy looking stratocaster electric guitar. Absurd, yes, but true. I knew they wouldn't just buy me an electric without me having a clue how to play it.
The story goes, they never did purchase that guitar, they were even hostile to the whole idea of me directing my energies into music rather than school work back in 1972. The story continues though and I kept up the guitar lessons and then the songwriting, which would become my driving force. To cut it short, the desire to be a musician, against all odds, won out and by the end of 1976 I had little interest in pursuing University education, although now I sometimes think it may have been a good idea. If only I had a clone of myself:)
The next few years, with school friends, I was in one or another configuration of the same rock band, playing guitar, sometimes singing, and of course writing. By 1977, when I first began work in a clerical position and was earning a salary, we were old enough to enter pubs (bars) and watch bands perform. This began the next significant push for me, wanting to get on that stage! The rehearsals were grueling and commandeered much of my time.
Being a frequent pub patron, watching and studying local bands, it was understood that we'd have to perform similar 'pub rock' if we had intentions of getting work in these places. Known bands at the time, I began imitating, were the likes of 'Thin Lizzy' 'The Babies' 'Foreigner' 'Led Zeppelin' 'Boston' and many other names that escape me at present. In retrospect, it wasn't the best musical period in my life and it certainly did not leave behind any music that I'm particularly proud of, although the friendship with my band members was cemented and we remain good friends still.
Listen to short previews of live performances from 1978. I sing both songs and play lead guitar on the second. The quality is very degraded, but you'll get an impression of what I was doing way back then.
Just as we were up and running with our rock act, punk and new-wave were stirring the air. We were beginning to become dinosaurs before we really had the opportunity to say 'hello' as a band. We went by various names 'The Jinx' 'High Ace' 'Mandarin'. The final assault was synthesizers which I initially detested. Gary Numan with 'Are Friends Electric' was my first awareness, within the pop radio world, of a significant threat to the previous order. Slowly but surely I began leaning over to the other side, leftward – ever leftward. By about 1981-82 I became extremely disillusioned with what I had been doing, up until that stage, musically.
click to read part 3: the 80s 'flip my switch, I'm electronic'
read part 1 of this series here