So, things have been a bit different in my life within the world of the Bilge Pumps for the past couple of years. I took it upon myself a while back to learn the bass. Well, technically, I challenged the entire band to learn a new instrument, but I was the only one to follow through with it. I always thought the group could use a bass to make our music sound "fuller", so I bought myself a relatively cheap 4-string and got to work... letting it sit in my home office for a while.
Finally, I got tired of staring at it all the time and feeling guilty about the whole thing (not to mention the shame of Sharkbait playing it on a track on "The Idiodyssey" because I wasn't good enough) , so I started noodling around and looking to get better. Then there was the matter of putting in the amount of time necessary to actually learn a new instrument, which, if anyone has tried, is not a simple matter... unless you're just a natural... which, of course, I'm not. I needed to figure out a way to make myself presentable on the damned thing, so I had the idea of hooking up with a friend of mine from my office, Rich Eberlen, who is not only a guitar virtuoso, but is also a fan of free lunches! He was willing to sit down with me every week or two for some free Raising Cane's and an hour of music lessons/riffing. He still is, luckily for me.
Now, it didn't end up being the usual style of lessons of learning notes and scales and whatnot. I tend to be pretty task oriented, so I picked out a couple of songs I thought I could play bass on in shows and we started working on getting me to acceptably play those. This didn't take too long as there were not many songs I'd identified as being bass friendly as I played drum on most songs already. However, two or three songs is not enough to justify taking the bass to a gig. It's a big instrument and takes up a lot of space, so if I wasn't going to play it on more than a couple songs, it wouldn't be worth taking along.
So I started working on ideas I'd had in my head for a long while that had been recorded by me singing a melody and some lyric snippets into my phone whenever the inspiration struck. Some of these Rich would help me get out of my head and into the form of a decent chord progression on guitar and some of them I would work out on the bass and present to everyone later. We, the band, also started taking lyrics that Dave/Harvey had written and started putting some melodies to those and resurrecting them from the grave of my notebook. Gradually, these started taking shape in the form of new Bilge Pumps songs or rapidly re-worked old songs.
One extra thing that helped me get more into the musical mindset was the summer of 2014 when I had to learn how to play a dozen or so songs on guitar in about two months for our trip to California. Sharkbait was unavailable and Jack the Rum Runner hadn't joined the band yet, so it was all up to me. I managed to fake my way through the shows enough that most non-musicians hopefully didn't notice my mediocre guitar skills. However, having that extra knowledge of chord progression and a bit more immersion into musical theory helped some of these new songs percolate in my brain.
One thing the Bilge Pumps have missed for a while is a dose of inspiration for new music. We would get it in fits and bursts over the years, but it never really felt organic, it felt forced. Recently, though, it's been a fun time as we each contribute our own ways to getting new melodies, lyrics, arrangements, and rhythms into cohesive songs. The inspiration bug that bit me has spread to the rest of the group and more and more songs are starting to pop out of the woodwork. Even John Crow has chimed in and he was solidly in the "I'm just here for the performance" camp!
We're in the middle of making a new album now and we have seven original songs already recorded or scheduled to be recorded on it with more to come. The thing I like about these is that they are solid songs, not just songs to include because we wrote them, but fun ones we think the audience will dig.
I look forward to sharing the new stuff with our audiences as we tweak the performances to get them down and to share a bit more of ourselves with everyone. It's a fun time to be a Bilge Pump.
Because it's all for me blog. Me jolly jolly blog.