AFL football season is back and it it got me thinking about last year and the live TV performance I was fortunate to be a part of last season. Fortunate not only to be a part of a music project with great local Perth singer song writer Luke McPharlin, but also to have made it to Channel 9 Melbourne in the first place. Just about everyone feels the nerves and stress. Well I always have. Since playing a “Tom Dooley” trumpet and drum duet with my brother Carlo when I was ten at the “talent showcase”, to this very day. Yep I’m crapping myself up there. Music performance stress is a powerful thing. I’m sure you could find a million ideas out there how to overcome it and control it. I think its mostly linked to and is a function of your personality. Ultimately though if you can get a handle on it, I think it makes you a better performer. You gotta be well prepared too. Your instrument, your gear set up.
Playing live on TV is a huge rush and heap of fun, especially if you get to actually perform live. So far we’ve (Stellas Kitchen) been able to mostly perform live which is what we always want to do. A lot of the time the stations will want you to play your song Britney style and mime along to it. Sometimes you might not have a choice which kinda sucks. Should I get the call up to play half time at the Superbowl, I don’t think I’d knock that back if I had to mime. Muse are the masters of this situation. Faced with having to mime on Italian TV Matt (lead singer) & Dominic (drummer) switched instruments. And it was hilarious.
So we thought we’d follow suit and have a bit of fun with a live TV performance too. We could sing our vocals live but we had to have a backing track for the rest of the performance. So, Jon (lead guitarist) was now our drummer; and Carlo (drummer) learnt lead guitar Matrix style back stage and was now lead guitarist. Having to sing, Daniel and myself chose the slightly more sensible options. Daniel playing a custom Stellacaster air guitar. I took all the strings off my bass. For those who know us we got to at least sing live and give them something different and a bit funny about the performance setup to laugh at.
This is the same song we did a lot more seriously acoustically and was at bit more stressful to perform. In saying that, strangely I had no nerves at all for this one. I think maybe the tranny act preparing backstage distracted me enough.
Playing Luke’s song in Melbourne live in on the Channel Nine Footy Show was the fourth time I’ve played on live TV and the first time nationally. Live on the Channel 9 AFL footy show across Australia. At the airport we got the run around trying to load our guitars onto the plane and missed our flight to Melbourne. I don’t think I’ve been more anxious in my life, waiting and hoping to get on the next available flight to Melbourne. We made it to the studios with literally 10 mins to spare before sound check. Throughout all this calamity and commotion, Jon our lead guitarist barely said a word, he was cool and calm. It was like he knew everything would work out. He must have, because I don’t know how anyone could have been so at peace with the situation.
I think this is part of what makes him a good musician too and if he is nervous, you sure as hell don’t see it. Watch him through all these performances if you want to see how to play calmly and in control of the situation. You create a lot of the tension and worry about playing in your own mind. Which leads to mistakes. I’d often fall into this trap and get caught up making errors. This would send me into this mind funk bad attitude spiral and I’d think I’d played a totally shit gig.
Over time gigging you soon learn that anything can happen. Drums exploding, cymbals falling over cutting ya leads, crazies in the front rows, epic equipment failure. I think what I’ve learnt mostly is to set yourself up with the right attitude to take on stage; one which is of gratitude. Just to be up there doing it. I was just so grateful to have made it to Melbourne on time that I think just forgot to be nervous. And with mistakes, okay you might blow a few notes; so 10 notes what out of 500 you played tonight? That’s pretty good!