Andrew Booker 2007-04-01 23:11:17
Can't remember when exactly, probably around May 2006, my thoughts were, I know, I'll do a monthly improvisation gig! I won't have to rehearse, it'll be a doddle, we can all just turn up and play, then go home and forget about it until next month.
Ho, what a nitwit I would have been to have dismissed this project as something so trivial. True, we don't rehearse for Improvizone gigs. Historically not true, even, I did several trial sessions with future Improvizone people, going back to 2005. But just because we don't rehearse now, there are plenty of other things to keep me busy between the gigs.
For entirely my own benefit, here is my list of things that need doing between one gig an the next, roughly in order. Some of these take a few minutes, I just need to make sure I do them. Some take days and days and days...
Make rough mixes of previous gig recording
I go through the whole gig recording and get a quick mix of all the pieces from each lineup. This is only even possible because of hard disk recording, thanks to which rough mixes don't have to be done in real time. I can rough-mix two hours of music in a matter of minutes, then gradually listen to and assess the whole lot over the next few weeks.
Final mixdown and track posting
I choose some good bits out of the recordings and do presentable mixes of them for posting with some witty remarks if I can think of any. Dull remarks, most of the time. I'm not massively worried about getting perfect audio here, I'm more interested in the items working as standalone pieces of music. Even so, it can take an hour or so to get a good mix, excluding listening to it on the mp3 player.
Write-up of the previous gig, or other blog posts
It's always good to make a few notes on what went well and what didn't. I can try and correct what didn't go well. And I can get complacent about what did go well, so that I screw it up next time. Listening back to the recording is a big help.
Sweet-talk the venue into having us back for a couple more months
Unless we get a really huge crowd, in which case this process kind of works the other way round, I always want to make sure the venue are happy with the whole thing. I can't enjoy a gig there if they are not, and I don't want to submit advance gig listings if I'm not certain we're going to be playing.
Organise the players for the next gig
Not quite as trivial as it sounds. First I have to find them. Then I need a pretty good idea of what they're like as players, because unlike Big Brother, you can't just throw any six people together and expect a good gig. So I try and group people together who I think will complement each other. Then I need to make sure they are committed to playing. It's easy to see Improvizone as a casual kind of gig that doesn't depend on a special configuration of people in the way that a normal band does, and so players sometimes feel slightly less of a need to commit to it than they might otherwise. Yes I'll definitely do it. Then, three days before the gig, sorry, I can't do it any more. Now, this isn't a disaster. So long as I get a bass player and some other people from somewhere, we can do the gig. But it's time-consuming if I to have to be phoning round for replacements at the last minute. It's also nice if people who are playing can bring a few friends to watch, and that's much harder if I only asked them to play two days before.
Electronic listings, news and advertising for the next gig
All the time I'm looking for new sites to spread our name around. For lots of publications you can submit listings online, either with a nice form to fill in, or via email. When exactly I do this depends on the publication. The deadline for The Wire
, for example, is such that immediately after one gig I have to submit the listing for the gig two months in advance, because The Wire comes out at the end of the month, and we're at the end of the month. That means, immediately after one gig, I have to make sure the venue have us booked in for the next two.
Paper-based advertising for the next gig
Posters in music shops etc. I haven't done anything like this yet except put a few up in the venue. I need to put posters in other places as well. Imbibe is not well known outside of its immediate clientele, which is a pity because everybody who goes there really likes it. So far I've avoided paying for any advertising space, with the exception of GoogleAds just for fun. There's also the option of getting some people to hand out fliers.
Imbibe have a projector and a screen conveniently located exactly behind where we play. Visuals would turn us into a bit more of a spectacle. As you can see, we play in the corner without even any lights on us. If the venue isn't very busy, in some ways it's better we don't look too much like a gig, however, eventually we have to grow bigger if we're to survive, at which point visuals will help. I might have a bit of fun with making a noddy visuals DVD myself, but most likely we can farm this out to anyone who wants to get involved (mail me
if you do).
Note maps, drum patches and effects
This is where I develop some sort of clue as to what I'm going to do at the next gig. When you play electronic instruments, if you want any variety at all in what you play, you have to push buttons. Hours of pushing buttons, setting new stuff up. Hopefully once I've got my notemaps sorted, I won't have to spend too much more time on them, but I like at least to plan which one's I'm going to use at the next gig, so that we're not playing in the same key at the same speed the whole time. The recordings make it pretty obvious when I haven't done my homework one month to the next. It's when I'm playing exactly the same thing.
Practising the drums
Or I waste away into jelly. Also, in drum practising I can play what I want. Fills, rudiments, control-building feet exercises, a whole different story to Improvizone, in which I try and play what I should be playing. It's taken me 20 years to be reasonably happy with playing simple stuff that works, instead of playing complicated stuff that doesn't work, but shows off the fact that I've been practising.
Development and maintenance on the site
There are always new features I need or want to add, like the CD shop
and my new notemaps stuff, which I still haven't got working yet. And listening to the last gig, boy
, do I need to get those working. Coming soon are hopefully also a comments area for the shop CDs and a proper gig calendar with downloads from the ones that have happened.
See, it's a lot.
Depending on the calendar there are either four or five weeks between gigs, which means I have to cover one of those eleven items approximately every three days. Except, because I don't do this for a living, I don't have whole days to do this stuff. I have maybe three hours a day, tops. And I have just got to stop going to bed at 1:30am.
And there's other stuff too.
- Sending CD purchases. Or, standing in the queue in the Post Office
- Answering emails
- Shopping for new gear
- Building leads
- Producing Improvizone CDs (hopefully the second release will be a duo with me and David Cross).
Good thing there's some terrific live music coming out of it all!