Losing faith in my heroes

What do you do when your heroes don’t live up to your expectations?

I was lucky enough to go to the recent Download Festival in Donington Park, and was looking forward to seeing Guns n Roses in the flesh and as close to the original lineup as they have been in years. Little did I know what a massive disappointment they would be.

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Amazingly they started pretty much on time (historically they have been well known to frequently come on hours late), and had obviously spent a lot of time and effort on the massive video screen background to entertain the crowd with (although I think this was also deployed as a distraction tool to make up for what was lacking onstage). They had set up some walkways on stage but these were barely used. The stage set looked quite empty. The keyboardist and other musician, (Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese – the first female to be in Guns n Roses who plays synthesiser (?)) were hidden from view amongst the stage walkway apparatus and set back from the crowd. It was almost as if they were less important and just there as session musicians, and divided from the 4 out front walking around (Axl, Slash, Richard Fortus (rhythm guitarist who had Izzy style hair so you almost believed another original member was present!) and Duff) as there was no real interaction with the two parties. They looked quite tired, a bit fed up and like they didn’t want to be there and couldn’t stand each other. They looked like a bunch of guys at work, doing it because they had to and not because they wanted to. I know they are touring like mad at the moment and had just flown in from Denmark and seem to be in a different country every day at the moment so they must be knackered, but I was just getting the vibe that their hearts were not in it. Axl looked like he was enjoying it the most, and they made sure to do lots of his ‘solo’ material from Chinese Democracy and give him lots of time on the piano so I suppose he was happy he had that dominance. Rarely were any member of the band in close proximity to each other and if they were it looked awkward. At some points the stage appeared empty with Slash and Duff hiding out at the extremities and Axl going backstage or behind the set frequently. Axl, Slash and Duff didn’t seem to make eye contact with each other at all or smile, and their body language seemed to suggest they didn’t want much to do with each other. Axl’s voice did waver a bit on some songs and couldn’t manage some of the high sustained stretches he used to, and his interaction with the crowd was minimal and not very effective.

I got the impression that this reunion is all about money; expensive merchandise, massive social media promo campaign, and the new appetite for destruction release which comes in a variety of different packs, boxes and combinations that can have you spending anything from £20-£350 on the reissue edition. Everything was promoted and sold as them being back to the old original GnR, but sadly there was no raw magic power or energy, no dynamic, the unit no longer had the aggressive spark they used to – they didn’t come across as a team. They didn’t come across as enjoying what they were doing or enjoying being with each other. It was quite sad really. I came away from it thinking I will just enjoy the music they made years ago and remember them how they were and what they used to stand for, because this isn’t GnR as we know it anymore, it is a tired imitation. I think a little bit of love for my heroes died that day!

I saw more fire and fight in other bands such as Inglorious and Black Stone Cherry. They had that energy and passion for what they were doing, but they also looked like they enjoyed each other’s company, worked well as a unit, and were loving what they were doing. Couldn’t have been more opposite to Guns n Roses.  I was bowled over by Inglorious, Whiskey Myers and Volbeat. They were all outstanding and definitely worth checking out if you haven’t heard of them. Whiskey Myers are like a modern Lynyrd Skynyrd:

I also really enjoyed Dragonforce, The Struts, The Temperance Movement, Thunder, Black Stone Cherry, In This Moment and Marilyn Manson (although Marilyn was a bit of  a mess and clearly off his face (!) he managed to still do all his hits).

Guns n’ Roses’ set was also not helped by us being crushed at the front after holding the spot for about 8 hours waiting for GnR to come on. We stood up all day at the main stage, which was fantastic as we had a great view but it completely murdered my backIMAG1719(I have lower back problems from previous RTA). By the time GnR came on it was so tightly packed with people I couldn’t even stretch or move a muscle without bumping someone, and was in a lot of pain –  quite a commitment to seeing my heroes by enduring all that! Everyone was pretty amicable and polite before this point,  but as soon as GnR arrived suddenly a rush of assholes came to the front, elbowing people and smoking cigarettes so close to other people they nearly burnt them (who smokes in a tightly packed crowd? Honestly! So inconsiderate!). I had a bit of a barney over this with one of the ‘fest-bitches’ (as I decided to call them after spotting so many that stuck out like sore thumbs amidst the sea of black clad rockers…Fest-Bitch definition: scantily clad super-entitled up-their-own-asses girls presumably from a wealthy background who seem to want to be at a festival just because it’s a festival and not because they give a shit about the music or are fans of any of the bands – they just want to sleep with random strangers, get drunk and high and enjoy acting like a complete twat and picking fights with random people) who pushed to the front and made things miserable for everyone around them. It is unfortunate that selfish dicks like this ruin things for other people. It became unbearable and we decided to get pulled out of the crowd by security. Overrall I can say seeing GnR was not a positive experience for me. Perhaps it has had an effect on delaying this project too, as I have fallen out of love with them a bit for the time being! I have also not had any spare time due to nursing placement and uni work, but still it has been a fair while since I’ve given it much thought and I think this experience certainly contributed.

So my Appetite for Destruction project is kind of on hold at the moment, but I’m still hoping to record It’s So Easy soon when I get a chance and start it up again, probably when my current placement is finished and when time and money allow.

On a more positive note, my WTTJ video has been finished and added to YouTube! I think the photographer/videographer/producer Jake Southern did a great job, I especially like the bit around the bridge section of the song with the cars and lights. I’m not 100% happy with how I look in it but I guess I need more practice in front of the camera and getting the angles right for me. I’m happy with how the recording turned out. Here it is:

 

Das ist alles für jetzt!

Auf Wiedersehen 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Update: It’s So Easy/WTTJ video/Download!!

Things are progressing slowly with my Appetite project. It is the end of modules period on my course before my next nursing placement starts so I’ve had exams and a group presentation to do up until now, and still have an essay to write due end of May. As a result I have had to unfortunately delay recording It’s So Easy, track 2.

I’ve been practicing it where I can, as has my other half, who is going to add a more masculine element to it by layering up his voice with mine (as per Duff/Slash/Axl on the original! Hence I think it’s permissible…but it’s my fucking project anyway so I can do what the hell I like with it really, can’t I?!). This is my favourite part of the song, and I often think it in my head about people when going about my daily business, it makes me feel better(!):

I did manage to get some time in Plymouth College of Art to record some video parts for the Welcome to the Jungle video (a colleagues brother is putting something together for his media project). Felt like a right twat moving about singing and miming and actually HATE how fat the camera makes me look, but apart from that it went OK. They’ve since recorded some other video to go in between my clips and will be putting it altogether with my Welcome to the Jungle recording over the next few weeks. Really excited to see what it turns out like and will hopefully be able to add it to my YouTube channel (if I can bear how I look and not feel compelled to rerecord it with a bag over my head!). Here’s the audio again for anyone that missed it:

https://m.soundcloud.com/lola-rose-taylor/lola-rose-cover-of-guns-n-roses-welcome-to-the-jungle

Appetite for destruction has been in the media this week as GnR are doing a deluxe reissue of it (possibly to tie in with another tour?? There have been teasing adverts with the original line-ups tattoo skulls but not sure if that really means what we think it means) …

http://www.nme.com/news/music/guns-n-roses-announce-deluxe-reissue-appetite-destruction-world-tour-2307512

I will definitely be getting hold of the new double CD version of Appetite, however sadly I cannot afford the deluxe ‘locked and loaded’ box they are also releasing…it is amazing, insane and £850…not on a student nurse salary (which is non-existent!). See link below:

https://uk.gnrmerch.com/?utm_campaign=GunsN%27Roses20180503&utm_content=UMGUK13330-561414&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email&utm_umguk

I’ve been having a bit of a GnR week this week (moreso than usual!)…I happened upon some awesome GnR guitar picks after my tuner broke (right before playing in an exam…wounder!!) and dropped in to get another one. Resisted the GnR guitar strap they had, tho only just.

I also purchased the Classic Rock special edition GnR Bookazine. I found it in WHSmiths after my train home was cancelled and then spent 3.5 hours on a coach reading it! There are some great pictures in there but unfortunately a lot of the articles repeat each other and there are numerous raging continuity mistakes with chunks of text missing between pages! I have complained to the editor, I expect better from Classic Rock and for £9.99!!

Oh and most exciting news ever…we’re going to Download this year!!! Guns are heading up the Saturday night, I’m so excited I can’t wait! Can’t believe I will actually get to see my heroes live and all together. AND the bonus of lots of my other favourites…Black Stone Cherry, Ozzy, Marilyn Manson (who I’ve seen multiple times before), Black Veil Brides and new likes of mine Volbeat and The Temperance Movement.

I’ve seen Axl before with the buckethead lineup years ago at a Birmingham NEC gig (was not impressed, actually left early and a little heartbroken as Axl’s voice wasn’t on form, he kept stopping the gig to have a go at security guards and they were ridiculously late on stage), seen Slash and Duff with Velvet Revolver at the PukkelPop festival in Belgium in about 2003/4 (they were AMAZING), and saw Slash with Myles Kennedy in Birmingham again about 2013/4 (OUTSTANDING…best gig I’ve ever been to).

I was actually a bit sad when GnR reunited because the Slash & Myles pairing was SO fucking good. They were like a match made in heaven and I’m a big fan of their joint work, some of which I’ve covered on YouTube I loved it so much.

I’m also a fan of Myles’ band Alter Bridge, more melodic and heavier metal than GnR, Myles’ fantastic voice and great lyrics, worth checking out if you haven’t already. Zero and Cry of Achilles are two of my favourites

Next stop…It’s So Easy

Only a quick post today as I’ve got a lot of course work on at the moment, exams/essays/group presentations etc won’t bore you with the details!

Luckily, the danilo guy on youtube I got the Welcome to the Jungle backing track from (he does amazing rock guitar covers) has also done instrumental tracks for my next two songs off the Appetite for Destruction album! I’ve asked him permission to pinch the tracks. He’s also done a Nightrain one, My Michelle and Sweet Child so that’s songs 3, 7 and 9 lined up too, which takes some of the time out of searching for decent backing tracks! Result! Love anything that saves me time and effort 😀

So will be practicing It’s So Easy on repeat for the next couple of weeks (also wondering whether to have my other half sing on it too as this one has vocals from Duff McKagan and Axl Rose and Duff’s parts are so low and masculine not sure how it will sound with just me). I use Appetite as one of my running playlists so kill two birds with one stone – get fit and rock out!! Looking to record this one in about 2 weeks when exams are over and before I start my next nursing placement as no idea what hours I will be doing then as it’s on a ward – shift work, nights etc, going to turn life upside down for a little while I imagine.

Other distractions I have been nursing outside of my nursing (!) include getting a dog last week! He’s a rescue from the Last Chance Hotel charity and he is amazing, love him to bits already and he has fit right in to our little family. His name is Corky:corky

I’ve also starting picking up my guitar a little again just strumming some chords and singing along to stuff like Lana del Rey, Pretty Reckless, Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater Revival etc it puts me in a good mood and is good for singing practice. I’m loving this Lana song (‘Love’) below, it’s not rock I know but I find her music so emotive; I identify with a lot of her lyrics and the experiences she talks about (motorbikes and the feeling it gives you in ‘Ride’ for example, as well as some dark and depressing elements such as growing up/feeling lost/bad relationships/drugs&alcohol etc). It also feels good to sing slower more bluesy feminine stuff using the deeper range to mix things up a bit – no-one sings screamy rock n roll all the time!

I’ve been listening to a few new artists on my Amazon Prime (free student membership…awesome!) app whilst at the gym (current fitness and healthy eating frenzy)  and am crazy about Inglorious and really want to cover ‘Making Me Pay’ at some point (maybe after/during the GnR project?!) as it’s amazing, shows a wide vocal range and is so much fun to sing:

My other favourite new artist I’ve discovered this week is the incredibly scottish sounding vocalist of Twin Atlantic, their track ‘Heart and Soul’ is fantastic:

Enjoy! Til next time 🙂

Welcome to the Jungle feminist video?!

As you may have guessed I have been pretty busy of late hence my absence from this blog. My nursing course, work, being away visiting family and illness have stopped anything much happening (interspersed with a few great nights out, naturally!)

I haven’t managed to get back to the studio to do a video of me singing WTTJ to add my cover to YouTube yet (I didn’t press record correctly when I was last in there like a buffoon!), however, I was unexpectedly contacted by one of my coursemates to say their brother is doing a music video project for their Plymouth College of Art media course and would like to use me and my WTTJ recording for it, interspersed with a feminist themed story with actors! This is an unbelievable stroke of luck seeing as I hadn’t yet got around to doing a video, and this will be a great experience and will be so much better than just a video of me standing there singing! It would be great to add another level to it by exploring this aspect.

wttj fem

Pic from The Rock’s recent film entitled ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ – my video will not look like this…and I will certainly not look as good as this!

The feminist angle is kind of new for me but I think it will make an interesting  new perspective on this song. It is a very masculine song and not hugely covered by women. It is raw, aggressive, gutsy…I’m happy with the attitude in mine towards the end of the track but at the start it almost sounds too light; it gets heavier as it goes on and I get into the swing of it.

I don’t think I have ever really identified as a feminist as such, I’ve just always felt that in terms of martial arts, singing, running, drinking (!) etc I could keep up with the blokes and never felt like I couldn’t or shouldn’t do something just because I am female. I hate the idea that any woman would think that they are weaker or incapable just because they are female…in fact it pisses me off as I just don’t see any reason for it. I know there are lots of cases of women being paid less than men which is ridiculous and woman kick assunacceptable. If I was in that situation I would either argue it until it was matched or go work somewhere else. I just don’t think there is anything I don’t feel able to do if I wanted to go and do it. But then I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy and have always looked up to strong female characters – like Michonne with her japanese katana in The Walking Dead, Hit Girl in the KickAss film, Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider/Wanted/Gone in 60 Seconds/Mr & Mrs Smith, Milla Jojovich in The Fifth Element, Scarlett Johanssen as Black Widow in the Marvel Franchise….to name but a few. I really look up to these examples and grew up admiring these types of characters, however strangely enough the *girl power* movement that was made so sickeningly popular by the Spice Girls when I was in my teens really pissed me off. I found it cringeworthy and slightly hypocritical (jumping around not wearing much whilst making these statements and singing

kick ass

pretty bad songs they probably didn’t write themselves/making a film that highlighted how GODDAMN air-headed they were…etc). I don’t know why I find it so grating. Maybe I think you have to actually be something or do something in order to gain recognition, regardless of if you’re male or female. I really value intelligence too so regardless of how attractive or rich you are if your brain isn’t very sharp I’m not that impressed! I think to demand or have this ‘power’ you should have achieved something, rather than just going around spouting the stupid phrase for no reason! But that’s just my opinion, like it or lump it.

TCDWADE EC129

I did comment on the misogynistic behaviour of rock n roll bands in the 70s and 80s in one of my previous posts, and women were certainly treated as objects, were used for cash and places to stay (GnR especially probably wouldn’t have survived without the multitude of soft-hearted women taking them in, housing them and feeding them!), easily disposable and quickly replaceable. Unfortunately female rockers were either shit, not popular enough, or just on the sidelines to the great male bands – they just didn’t gnr girl 2experience the mass fanatacism that bands like KISS and GnR did. You couldn’t really envision a Joan Jett Army or Stevie Nicks kicking young men out naked to run down the street in the middle of the night…! (as funny as that would be!) You don’t really hear of many female rockers snorting coke off of men’s body parts.. (think that’s Motley Crue..read ‘The Dirt’!)….maybe they did, maybe they didn’t…maybe the fact that we don’t hear about it is preserving our ‘ladylike’-ness! Would women rather maintain their reputation as pretty and ladylike, or be seen as rough, tough and one of the blokes with no appreciation of their beauty and gentility?

I think the problem with a lot of feminist arguments is deciding what to focus on as you can’t have it all..to have equal opportunities with men, be paid the same, be allowed to wear trousers (alarmingly enough this is *still* taboo in the eyes of some archaic institutions and individuals!!), but also be seen as attractive, be adored, admired, respected….I think I just want to be appreciated for being me, not for doing what I have done *because I’m a woman*. Maybe I haven’t spent enough time thinking about it. Maybe I haven’t experienced enough injustice related to it.

I have had some vulnerable moments in my life where people have tried to take advantage of me – is this because I am a woman? or is it because of how I look or what I represented to them? Luckily I got out of said situations by strangers (unfortunately situations in actual relationships is another story) but they still shocked me to my core. I always thought: “I’m nearly 6 foot tall, I do Kung Fu, I can kick people in the head – why would anyone think they could try to do that to me?” But they do and they can…perhaps this is the historically perceived view of women just being there for men’s pleasure? Women’s choice, freedom and sexual liberation are certainly fairly recent developments, and a lot of places (and/or religions) in this world still do not accept or allow these. It is amazing how many things have come out of the woodwork in recent times and the snowballing of the #MeToo campaign. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/15/me-too-founder-tarana-burke-women-sexual-assault)

I didn’t participate in this, but I admit that yes, me too, despite all my bluster I have experienced this too and it’s shit. Total shit. No-one should ever have to go through that fear and embarrassment and shame. It stays with you for years, takes a long time to process mentally and has a massive long term effect on your self-esteem.

metoo

I saw something on TV the other day about Emmeline Pankhurst, and I think we do forget the magnitude of how lucky we are to be able to vote, be independent, work, make our own choices – women’s roles are no longer to be silent baby-making creatures that live to serve their husbands and follow orders, behave and perform on demand. Perhaps I just blindly bimble along in my life without appreciating the gravitas of the choices and freedoms I have.

I feel very lucky to live in a safe secure home (I’ve had times when I haven’t had that), with a person I love who I’ve *chosen* to be with, who treats me with respect, love and kindness (I’ve had a few times when that hasn’t been the case too…far from it), our life is full of fun, laughter and *shared* interests, I’m studying a course I *chose* to do which matches my values and beliefs (however much I regret that decision from time to time!), and I work in a job I *chose* to do. I feel pretty damn lucky. I can write down my thoughts for all to see (including swearing!), I can sing and record songs that are shouty and aggressive (including swearing again!), I can ride my motorbike, get tattoos, read what I like, vote for who I like, go out when I want to, stay in when I want to, choose what I wear (however ridiculous/bizarre lol referring to recent goth bat dress purchase!), express my thoughts in any way I want…it is a long list and to think not too long ago women were not able to enjoy these freedoms.

Humbling thoughts.

suffragette

I did it!

I recorded my cover of Welcome to the Jungle last Friday!!

I did this at Chris Morris’ (of Paper Lace) Ocean Studios in Bodmin last Friday.

I thought it went well and was happy with the result. There are a couple of bits I could have improved if I went over it tonnes of times, but at the end of the day this is a private project for my enjoyment and not being used for any kind of promo, release or professional purpose. I enjoyed it, I was happy I hit the high scream bit and end shouting bit ok and liked how they came out.

jungle baby

Chris was really professional and knew what he was doing (I don’t have a clue about sound engineering) and he made it an easy pleasant experience, and also very efficient as we only did two takes and had it wrapped up in two hours.

Due to my ineptitude with technology, I failed to video it properly on my tablet so haven’t been able to turn it into a YouTube video yet, but here’s the audio track on my Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/lola-rose-taylor/lola-rose-cover-of-guns-n-roses-welcome-to-the-jungle

We  found the audio backing track on YouTube by a guy who had done all the guitar and bass parts himself and got a friend to do the drum parts. It resulted in a live sounding ‘real’ recording rather than synthesised robot-sounding kareoke track (which I was trying my best to avoid). Here’s his original video:

So that’s the first track of Appetite for Destruction down for the project, 11 left to go! Next track is ‘It’s So Easy’ which is a much lower more masculine sounding track to Welcome to the Jungle as I think Duff and maybe also Slash sing on it hence the variation, intermixed with Axl’s usual high-pitched screams.

I will be doing it all by myself, better start practising! 😀

Preparation for the first hurdle

(So, the first recording session for my Guns n Roses project is this Friday, 23/2/2018…!

It has come around quick. I am really looking forward to getting stuck in but also a little nervous as I want to do it justice.

In between uni, work, being away for family stuff and sleeping I have been trying to practice the shit out of Welcome to the Jungle. I’ve been singing in the car, the shower, along to Youtube, Songsterr and Musescore (instrumental tracks to get used to singing it independently and knowing all words, cues and ad lib bits etc) and doing some vocal tuition videos and using a book/CD for tough rock vocals that I have.

https://www.songsterr.com/a/wsa/guns-n-roses-welcome-to-the-jungle-tab-s441t0

https://musescore.com/user/11925996/scores/4184391

The musescore one has been especially helpful in figuring out THAT high note…the big ‘yeah’ scream in Welcome to the Jungle… (see first bit of video below). It’s a Db…as in the one above top C…!!! (fuck!!). How hard can it be?! (really fucking hard!!). The main problem is doing it in a strong chest voice and not slipping into pansy ass falsetto head voice too much…Falsetto is easier (especially for women) but lacks the power of the chest voice which I need to push through to get it sounding right. Axl uses a weird combo of the two which makes his voice so unique and hard to copy (and means few men can sing like him). I think it’s basically proper screaming instead of head/chest voice but coming out of the scream needs to be very controlled to cover all of those vibrato-y notes that are all over the place.

I consulted Ken Tamplin’s vocal tuition videos about this, and this one was helpful in terms of not getting scared of THAT note:

Ken Tamplin’s key things for High notes:

  • Strong Abdominal Support
  • Relaxation response between chest, neck and throat
  • Good vowel placement
  • Believing you can do the note
  • Visualising the note before you get there, and NOT thinking of that note as ‘the high note’ so you don’t choke with the apprehension.
  • Quite often you’ve already sang the note somewhere in the song before, but because the one standing alone seems to be baring it all on its own, it creates the apprehension and anxious build-up that can often mean you fudging it up!

I already use the diaphragmatic singing technique, have done for years as for some reason I’ve always been a diaphragm breather rather than a chest breather…I am indeed a lucky natural. But however lucky you are with a natural base, you can and will always benefit from practice, learning new techniques (like constipating the note as Roger Kain says…just don’t crap yourself!!), understanding how the voice works and how to get the most out of it and awareness of how to breathe properly. It is possible to stretch your range from practicing your high and low notes regularly. The tuition book and CD I use, ‘The Complete Vocal Workout: A step-by-step Guide to Tough Vocals’ by Roger Kain is fantastic in helping you do this. You end up doing a lot of silly weird sounding exercises that are best done home alone or in the car when no-one can hear you so you can properly let rip. I find if my other half’s at home I am hesitant to do the exercises at full power as a) they are very loud and b) you sound and feel like a complete tit doing them!

vocal workout

Alongside the practice I’ve been looking up how to sing like Axl, one of which brought up this mygnr forum post: http://www.mygnrforum.com/topic/215261-a-vocal-teachers-opinion-on-axls-voice-and-technique-2012/ It seems Ken Tamplin himself argues against Axl’s singing technique and doesn’t think he sings properly/does damage to his voice/uses techniques such as ‘masking’ to force his voice to do certain things etc and doesn’t seem to have much respect for him as a singer. All the GnR fans are like ‘bollocks, Axl is the best rock singer on the planet, fuck you!’.

I think Axl’s voice is truly one of a kind and few can mimic it. Ken Tamplin has covered some GnR himself, and had one of his students doing Welcome to the Jungle (which was really impressive – the female cover mentioned in a previous post). This was Ken’s offering:

He has a good strong rock voice, but for me looking it at from a tribute angle, the phrasing, emphasis and intonation is not as per the original, and not accurately Axl. So perhaps he criticises Axl so much because it is not a style he can imitate himself? Axl has quite a low register speaking voice, yet as a choir boy used to mess around with crazy high voices for a laugh, but ended up developing a stupendous nearly six-octave range. He actually has one of the biggest ranges of any singer, bigger than Mariah Carey, Prince or Steven Tyler. Here’s the proof:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/10848713/Axl-Rose-has-a-larger-vocal-range-than-Mariah-Carey.html

So he’s pretty fucking good….suck on that Ken (as Axl would say!)

axl let rip

Someone can produce a technically proficient note-for-note version but lacking the mysterious magic of Axl’s raw power/passion from his Appetite for Destruction days…he just made those songs come alive.

I think being an angry pissed-off motherfucker helps you scream like a bandshee. I have an angry paranoid ‘fuck-you’ streak I can tap into, hopefully it will help me channel Axl on Friday!

Chris Morris (of Paperlace and Ocean Studios where I am recording) has been really helpful and says he has found a decent guitar heavy backing track to record to in the original key (E flat) so I think we are good to go Friday (and not a synthesised karaoke track in sight!).

Here’s another sing like Axl link I found:

http://www.voicecouncil.com/rock-like-axl-rose-brian-johnson-and-james-hetfield/

Plus as a bonus you’ll find some great GnR articles to read on this link:

http://teamrock.com/feature/2016-04-06/guns-n-roses-the-teamrock-archives

 

 

Song 1: Welcome to the Jungle

wttj sleeve

So how did this song come about? What exactly is it about? Basically being drawn from a small nothing town out in the sticks to the seedy debauchery and bright lights of LA & Hollywood, land of opportunity….although having to be willing to get your hands dirty and engage in a bit of degradation to get there, if you ever get there at all. The jungle of LA seems to be a den of wannabes, losers, drop-outs and has-beens…drug-addicts, drunks, prostitutes and the desperate…only the lucky few get to raise their heads out of the swamp.

The idea of this environment reminds me of another GnR song (which may well be about the same thing) ‘The Garden’ on Use Your Illusion I, which talks about people being out of their heads in this ‘crazy man’s utopia’ and that ‘Only poor boys take a chance, On the garden’s song and dance’, suggesting the members of GnR had nothing left to lose but to give this a shot.

From reading Mick Wall’s  biography ‘Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns n’ Roses’ recently, I learnt about the absolute poverty and squalor the members of GnR lived in before they made it anywhere…at one point in their early days as a band they lived together in a “one-room space of around 12 feet by 12 feet that was officially designated a ‘storage area’.” It became known as “the Hell House“. “the Hell House was to suck in a lot of dark matter before it emitted the white light and heat of the Guns N’ Roses who were ready to make their first records. There are always torrid tales that surround the creation of a rock’n’roll legend (take Mr. Crowley and the sharks in baths that contributed to Led Zeppelin’s mystery! – L), but in the Hell House bad things happened, things that do not reflect well on anyone involved. It wasn’t a dwelling space at all: it had a roll-up aluminium door, no bathroom, kitchen or air conditioning…Anyone needing the toilet had to use the communal facility 50 yards up the street. It was a terrible place, one you’d only consider if you were young, broke and living day to day with some fucked-up dream in your head. Izzy described it as a ‘fucking living hell’, Slash after losing a job at a newstand which allowed him to crash at the stand’s manager’s apartment, was forced to choose between the Hell House or homelessness and even then sometimes took the latter option, sleeping in the Tower Records parking lot rather than the squalid, over-crowded nightmare that the House had become. It started off as a rehearsal space, but then ‘seedy friends’ of their connections and the ‘underbelly’ would follow them back to the Hell House. Their lives were chaotic and becoming more so, yet the chaos fired them. In the Hell House they wrote and worked up most of the songs that would appear on Appetite for Destruction..Slash had the opening chords and riff to ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. ‘That song, if anything’, Slash explained, ‘was the first real tune the band wrote together…’

gnr drunk

“The deserted alley behind the Hell House became the place to go once the clubs closed for the evening…it attracted a lot of drugs, booze, girls and other musicians. Strippers from the neighbourhood constantly came by, often bringing Quaaludes, Valium, coke or booze to share’, recounted Duff. Soon, from the early hours until day-break, hundreds of people were gathered there to party.”

It is a great read and an eye-opener into the gritty side of West Hollywood life and the book birth of Guns n Roses, I would recommend it if you’re a fan. The Hell House reminded me of a shitty derelict pub in Birmingham (The Belle Vue) I stayed in with a band I joined after my first degree (when the GnR tribute ended). It was a total party house (and complete shithole in a bad area of Birmingham called Ladywood – we’d hear gunshots regularly at night, get propositioned by local prostitutes on our way home from work, and bore witness to a dodgy drug dealing/card game venue over the road in a car mechanic business that seemed a lot more active at night). The place had a bar and pool table in the lounge which was a dream for any student house. When I invited my parents up to see the place, they walked in the front door, took one look and left! They wouldn’t visit again until I lived somewhere else and described it as ‘derelict’. We put in red lightbulbs everywhere and painted tattoo designs and flames on the walls in black paint. Ashtrays, empty beer bottles and bins overflowed everywhere. We built a stage in one room out of wooden pallets and painted them black, creating our own in-house practice room and venue. There were always more people staying there than lived there, and you’d often come downstairs to people sleeping on the pool table or on the kitchen floor, and multiple people coming out of rooms that didn’t belong to them. Weird stuff went on too, we suspected the place was haunted as loads of people had bizarre experiences and saw shapes, shadows, people who weren’t there or felt chased by something when going upstairs or along the corridor. It was freaky. Drunken nights included playing pool with hammers, hoover throwing contests over the back wall, taking the party to Edgbaston reservoir over the road and drinking and sleeping out in the rain under the stars…those were some crazy times. We all eventually got kicked out of there due to the place being a fire hazard! The landlord had put in fake fire doors and an open boiler and the fire service reckoned it could have gone up in flames at any moment! It was a proper rock n roll shithole. From there we lived in a hotel for two weeks and were basically homeless until we found a regular house-share which was pretty boring and normal and comparison – in an ordinary residential suburb of Birmingham. The rock’n’roll inevitably fizzled out, and not having an in-house practice room meant rehearsals were not as easy when you had to pay to practice and take ages setting up all your gear rather than having it sat there ready to go, so that band died a death. It was a shame really as there was a lot of talent there and we wrote some great songs together, but again people bailed out to get normal jobs and normal lifestyles.

One of the bits I read about the GnR Hell House that bothered me (as a female) was this: “Some of the women were ruthlessly exploited. If one of the band was having sex with her, another would be stealing her money…’We sold girls’, said Izzy, ‘If one of the guys was fucking a girl in our sleeping loft, we’d ransack the girl’s purse while he was doing her. We managed”. I know they were poor and living on the edge (to quote Aerosmith) but I don’t think there is any excuse for this total disrespect of women…I know some would argue that these girls knew what they were getting into when they decided to go to a place like the Hell House (a den full of drugs and rough tattooed bad boys) – they were willing to step in to the squalor just to be in with a shot of sleeping with one of the band members, but I don’t think there is any justifiable explanation for this kind of scumbag behaviour. I admit I have had a few hairy experiences myself when I was in bands and hanging out with ‘rock n roll types’; as I mentioned before it is harder for a female singer on her own to survive surrounded by men because of these sorts of situations. I think it helps if you’re 6 feet tall, wear big fuck off boots, have some kickboxing experience and can handle your drink – attributes I was lucky to have. I survived by trying to be one of the boys rather than being feminine, sharing in the heavy drinking, swearing and filthy sense of humour and not being afraid to tell someone to fuck off or just plain ‘no’ if they tried to do something I didn’t like, or get physical if necessary. I was lucky to survive some situations though, sometimes you’re stuck in places without transport to get away, or you’re waking up after a party with a massive hangover and are vulnerable, or someone tries something while you’re asleep. It is really important to look after yourself and be straight from the outset that you wont accept that kind of treatment. I think it helped that I was happy to engage in physical banter with the guys such as drunkenly roundhouse kicking each other (bruising my coccyx however was not fun!), mock fist fights, headlocks…a couple of times I smacked a guy in the face so hard in jest that part of his tooth chipped off! Not exactly proud moments, but at least men were more scared of me and knew not to fuck with me!  I think confusion arises from grey areas where women pretend to be ok and not cause a fuss about something, going along with it until it’s too late and it reaches a point of no return. It’s a really current issue after the recent events at the all-male charity fundraiser and is now going over the top (in my opinion) with getting rid of grid girls (I would personally see being a grid girl as a honour and an amazing experience! Which also seems to be what a lot of them are saying – they love it and are not exactly being forced into this glamorous arena where they are the centre of attention and being paid to show off their amazing figures!).

I think you have to be really clear from the outset what is ok and what is not. Martial arts training is also a really good idea to help you get out of situations, look after yourself, and build strength and confidence. I don’t see myself as weak for being a woman, I think I am capable of doing anything a man can do and would never let myself be exploited in this way, so sometimes I struggle with things in the news as I wonder how these women reacted when someone tried to hold their hand or touch their bottom and how it could then reach a point that was dangerous territory.

Returning to the GnR story, Mick Wall’s book says that “in December 1985 came a dark and serious incident that signalled the end of the Hell House era. a 15-year old girl named Michelle entered the rehearsal space one day..started fucking with our equipment (according to Axl), and eventually wound up running down Sunset naked, all dingy, and didn’t even know her own name…Slash reckoned she had been having sex with Axl and as the drugs and booze wore off she lost her mind and freaked out intensely. The LAPD turned up, warning the band that Axl needed to turn himself in. The band was told that the girl and her parents were pressing charges of statutory rape (a minor is considered by law as incapable of giving consent to sexual intercourse) against Axl and Slash. He and Slash quickly skipped the scene when reality – the possibility of a mandatory five-year jail sentence – hit home. They slept rough and crashed at other people’s places, keeping a low profile until things died down. Eventually the rape charges were withdrawn to a lack of hard evidence. Instead of ruining their reputation, the incident only fuelled their ‘rock n roll outlaw’ image and even played on it on a flyer saying ‘send donations to Guns N’ Roses – keep us out of jail fund’ along the bottom.” All in all, pretty shitty behaviour. It could be argued tonnes of different ways – she looked older, no-one knew she was 15, she was drinking and taking drugs so was already into that scene anyway, was Axl really the first person she’d slept with…but it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that this was wrong and should never have happened. When I was 15 I was looking up to Axl as an idol, I certainly wouldn’t have expected or accepted then that he would have behaved like this. I suppose once you’re super-famous though, it shines a light big enough to hide all these dark dingy shadows. I always knew Guns N’ Roses certainly weren’t the ‘nice boys’ of rock n roll (that place is reserved for Bon Jovi!), but I didn’t expect their behaviour to be quite this shocking in terms of disrespecting women. Rock n Roll isn’t exactly a traditionally female-friendly environment, which could account for the scant numbers of genuine female rockstars; I plan to revisit this in another post as not enough time for this today!

Returning to the first step of this project, consulting the Wiki oracle says:

The cover of AC/DC’s Whole Lotta Rosie I had to have a listen to…here’s the link, what a fantastic version! So much energy…

I’m no stranger to AC/DC myself, it seems if you can sing GnR you can have a bash at AC/DC too, must fall within the same range or something. Here’s my offering of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell recorded in early 2015. I haven’t looked at it in ages, but was pretty stoked to see it’s had nearly 12,000 views since then, how the hell did that happen?! I just saw a comment on there from 5 months ago that I hadn’t seen. It says simply

“Angus Young needs to see this. She is really good.”
Well that’s pretty nice – certainly put a smile on my face today!

 

Wiki on WTTJ continued:

Background and composition

  • Axl Rose wrote the lyrics while visiting a friend in Seattle.[5] “It’s a big city, but at the same time, it’s still a small city compared to L.A. and the things that you’re gonna learn. It seemed a lot more rural up there. I just wrote how it looked to me. If someone comes to town and they want to find something, they can find whatever they want.”[6] Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin summarises the song as “about Hollywood streets; true to life.”[7]
  • Slash describes the development of the music of “Welcome to the Jungle” in his self-titled autobiography. As the band was trying to write new material, Axl remembered a riff Slash had played while he was living in the basement of Slash’s mother’s house. He played it and the band quickly laid down the foundations for the song, as Slash continued coming up with new guitar parts for it. He credits Duff McKagan as coming up with the breakdown. Duff contradicts this in his autobiography, It’s So Easy (and other Lies), saying it was from a song called “The Fake” that he wrote in 1978 for the Vains, a punk band he was in.[8] He also said it was the first song he ever wrote, and that it was later released as a single by the band.[8] According to Slash, the song was written in approximately three hours.[9]
  • Rose claimed inspiration for the lyrics came from an encounter he and a friend had with a homeless man while they were coming out of a bus into New York.[10] Trying to put a scare into the young runaways, the man yelled at them, “You know where you are? You’re in the jungle baby; you’re gonna die!”[10][11]

More links about the song:

I think that’s enough info for today. Aside from this been doing lots of singing practice and had a message from new recording studio person who is being very helpful – so things are currently all go to start recording for the project next Friday 😀

1st recording date booked

do-you-know-where-you-are-youre-in-the-jungle-9859768

Setback #1…the local, free and convenient recording solution has fallen through – thought it was a bit too good to be true. They didn’t have the time to commit to the project and thought it would be a good idea to involve young students in it (they work in an educational facility)  – I almost laughed at the idea of me singing obscenities in an aggressive manner in front of children…er…no thanks! Apart from me feeling massively uncomfortable with that I think there must be some rule about swearing and lewd connotations in front of kids…so back to the drawing board!

I realised I have no other option than paying to use a proper recording studio. I got in touch with an old contact with a studio I met through someone I used to sing with, and I have booked in my first session there on Friday 23rd February (!!). I’ve been there before to work on one of my original songs and it has a good vocal booth set-up, plus the guy is an experienced musician (with a successful band and hit record in the 70s) and sound engineer, so the end result should be a lot higher quality than the free option would have been anyway! I’m really looking forward to it, I haven’t been in a studio or recorded for about 4 years. He also said he could help me find a decent quality backing track which is the next hurdle to overcome alongside practicing the crap out of Welcome to the Jungle for the next 2 weeks.

I’ve checked out a couple of female singers doing covers of Welcome to the Jungle on YouTube, some ok, some good, one amazing….

The amazing one is a student of the Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy (https://kentamplinvocalacademy.com/). I was really impressed by this, she has certainly made her own.

I think it is however important not to compare myself too much to these other efforts as every voice is unique and every person that approaches this massive song will do it in a slightly different way.  I will just do it to the best of my ability and try to do it justice. Knowing what a complete perfectionist I am, I will do it to death until I am happy with the result (à la Axl)! I could insert a rant here about those who criticise perfectionists, but those fuckers just ain’t worth my time…

I’ve seen Ken Tamplin videos several times on YouTube and he really seems to know what he’s talking about, as well as having a cracking rock voice himself. So I’m working my way through the ‘King of Belt’s’ teaching videos on YouTube that may help strengthen what I already have and get me through those screams and high notes comfortably!

 

 

 

 

It begins!

cropped-guns-n-roses-pistolen.jpg

So I think I’ve found a local recording site with an experienced sound person who can help me record my vocals for the project – result! Hopefully going to be touching base with them later today to tell them about what I want to do and fingers crossed get them on board for the whole project – all 12 (twelve!!) tracks.

I hope they are a classic rock lover; having a passion for it certainly helps – you can tell a mile off when the person recording you has no interest in the music and they act like it’s a chore or some kind of endurance test (like when you get a tattoo you’ve designed yourself that the tattoo artist toils away on dutifully, quietly committing it to your skin for life, yet refuses to pass a single comment on it or give your artwork any kind of feedback, making you think ‘oh shit, what have I done? does he think its rubbish’ etc…but that’s another story). It kind of ruins the atmosphere and energy when you’re trying to get your head in the ‘zone’ and getting your head round trying to ‘rock out’ in front of strangers when you already feel like a bit of a twat for daring to think you can have a bash at the greats, let alone do it in front of people! This reminds me of Tenacious D’s gig simulator scene of their funny and touching Pick of Destiny film:

Tenacious D are another band I have loved from the get-go. Their catchy cock-rock belters have fuelled many a drunken sing-along in my lifetime. They are an incredibly likeable band and pair of people. A lot of classic rock stars did seem to be characterised by the strutting asshole who took what he wanted and then threw it away (especially when it came to women – I will return to this point in a later post), so yes their musical talents were impressive but off-stage you can see how some might have come across as egotistical misogynistic wankers. I think Tenacious D did a lot for combatting the idea that you don’t have to be stunningly attractive or a size zero/drug addict skinny or plaster yourself in make-up or designer labels to be successful in music. Their voices, guitar playing, sense of humour, song-writing abilities and warmth of presence took them to stardom and caused them to be loved and admired by so many. They have so much to be proud of. I wish I had the confidence to a) be that comfortable in my own skin and b) pursue my dream without giving a fuck what people think of me (another point to be revisited – the constant discouragement of doubters, haters and jealous types you come across – I would say ESPECIALLY as a female singer – makes it a very difficult dream to sustain when it results in a lot of personal negativity for you. ‘Who do you think you are?!’, ‘Don’t give up your day job!’ Ha – no, of course not, I have bills to pay, so I wouldn’t be so stupid… but surely I can still enjoy my interest and dream on the side can’t I? Or am I not even allowed to daydream because you don’t like the fact that I’m trying to put something out there that’s outside of this boring conformist box that everyone’s supposed to fit into?…well….fuck you, I’m not going to stop doing what I love, I’ve only got one life, I want to live it!)

Talking of dreams, bizarrely straight after I wrote my last (and first ever ever) blog post, I had ‘Hold on Tight’ by ELO come up on my amazon music radio which was like a weird sign of encouragement from the gods….spooky! I like ELO but have only heard a small handful of their songs to date, definitely going to give them more of a listen. Mr. Blue Sky is a fantastic favourite of theirs (however tear-inducing as associated with a very good person who sadly died too soon). Anyway, here’s the song…love the quirky video:

Lyrics:
Hold on tight to your dream
Hold on tight to your dream
When you see your ship go sailing
When you feel your heart is breaking
Hold on tight to your dream
It’s a long time to be gone
Time just rolls on and on
When you need a shoulder to cry on
When you get so sick of trying
Hold tight to your dream
When you get so down that you can’t get up
And you want so much but you’re all out of luck
When you’re so downhearted and misunderstood
Just over and over and over you could
Accroches-toi a ton reve
Accroches-toi a ton reve
Quand tu vois ton bateau partir
Quand tu sents ton coeur se briser
Accroches-toi a ton reve
When you get so down that you can’t get up
And you

 

The lyrics really spoke to me, as yes I have been singing for over 10 years, I’ve been in several bands, I’ve done loads of gigs, I’ve done a bunch of recordings but I’ve never ‘got anywhere’ in music. I have been paid to sing many times which I suppose is a good sign  – at least I haven’t been paid to not sing!

I suppose in working covers bands this is the norm (being paid to play) as many only do it to earn a bit of extra cash out of their hobby/interest, but there is no real sense of progression or achievement for me in that. It can be fun, but only when you get on well with your bandmates. If you don’t it can be an excruciating chore, especially when you’re on stage happy and smiling pretending to like the person/s next to you when really you’d like to bash their head bloody with the nearest guitar because you’ve just had a row about who gets the longer solo or what song you’re going to learn next or the fact they haven’t turned up to practice or did turn up but hadn’t learnt any of the new material….*breathe*! ….but again getting on to other stories….no, the real sense of achievement and pride is in writing, recording and performing your own music from scratch. Over the years I have written hundreds of lyrics; books and folders of which are still cluttering my house as I don’t have the heart to throw them away in case there still lies a golden gem of a song in there somewhere (note to self – maybe should type these up someday and reduce the fire hazard). I wrote a lot of poetry growing up and this naturally progressed to songs. I’ve always been good with words. But unfortunately I never mastered an instrument, so you get stuck with being a vocalist who can’t play anything and relying on other people to write the music or play what you hum to them; it’s very restrictive.

I started learning keyboard when I got my first one for Christmas age 6:

IMAG1329Excuse cringe-worthy pinkness…I hate pink! I started learning guitar at primary school, probably around age 7 or 8. But I’m still a fairly basic player confined to chords and finger picking. A very brave move was setting up my YouTube account and doing covers singing and playing acoustic guitar on some and keyboard on others, as I don’t consider myself an accomplished player in either instrument, but I wanted to try and do my own accompaniment, as just sitting there singing along to backing tracks didn’t seem right, apart from being embarrassing and feeling like a tit, it didn’t seem ‘enough’, so I just wanted to give it a go. This is the first one I ever did (5 years ago!):

There are so many that don’t consider singers to be ‘proper’ musicians unless they play an instrument. And being a female singer that doesn’t play gets you even more flak. Its like you’re not good enough to play an instrument and sing because you’re a woman. When actually it’s just because I never committed the time to it. I locked myself in my room reading books and writing poetry when I was a teenager, whereas I know some lock themselves away for hours a day playing guitar and hence they get really good. Again, I never had the patience required to go over and over those scales until your fingers bleed. I suppose with singing I could just naturally do it, I didn’t have to learn to do it. It improved with practice, and I had a bunch of classical singing lessons around the time I was in the Guns n Roses tribute band at uni which taught me a few things, but I never grew up doing grades or being in a choir or school shows like some do. I was never known as being a singer at school and I certainly wasn’t a confident enough person to get involved in school shows. It came out much later, more as an expression of rebellion. Singing rock songs, especially the more typically masculine rock songs, simply summed up how I felt when nothing else around did.

After getting over the hurdle of playing and singing covers on YouTube, I started writing some of my own songs (lyrics AND guitar parts this time) and started playing guitar in public….one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, and one of the easiest things to fuck up. I was petrified in the build-up to going on stage. I always suffered from crippling nerves before going on as I’m a naturally shy self-conscious person, but this was worsened by now playing AND singing, when I knew I was not a great guitar player. I kept trying, I did a circuit of open mic nights over and over again, I did some solo gigs, I did some busking…but it never got any easier. It became quite an ordeal to go through to play live.

I recorded an EP of my own songs from this time in 2013 called Dark Places and there 268x0wwas a sense of achievement having a physical printed copy of a CD I had written, sung and played guitar on. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dark-places-ep/603372684 But it wasn’t professionally recorded, it wasn’t with a full band so sounded a bit sparse, and was so much more folky singer-songwriter style than I had ever intended to be. I was always a rocker. Yet my own stuff was this dark, melancholic alternative folk music! It was however quite a therapeutic experience too, a lot of the songs were quite personal about certain experiences in my life. Others were emotional and dark stories set either in a point in history or in a particular setting such as jail. I have a fascination with all things dark, gothic and supernatural and perhaps this is why my own music ended up down this road. I would like to build on it in the future, rock it up more and bring to life some of the songs I’ve written about supernatural creatures, myths and legends…my next project perhaps! Despite my niggles with the EP, it was a start. I’d never recorded my own songs before and I had a bash at it. I have received some really positive messages about it on the NumberOneMusic site https://www.numberonemusic.com/lolarosetaylor, with people asking me when I’m going to put more of my songs up,as they want to hear more, which is so nice and really uplifting to hear.

For this project I am just going to do one song at a time to start with so I can really focus on getting each one as good as I can. I’m going to do the album in order, so track number one is…Welcome to the Jungle! Fucking fantastic song! I’ve sung this one hundreds of times live with bands and at karaoke. I’m a big fan of it, so looking forward to this one. It’s a tight breath song to get in all your ‘Sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-knees!’ so it’s a good job I’ve had a lot of practice with it otherwise this one alone would be a right mission. If you haven’t seen the video, you must watch it now. It perfectly displays the confrontational don’t give-a-fuck raw energy of the original Guns n Roses line-up and kicks off the Appetite for Destruction album with a bang. The hair, the leather (I mean, how tight are those trousers?!), the wild unique characters and the vibe of a dangerous yet sexy band you can’t take your eyes off:

With the recording, I am limited in how I am going to be able to do this as I don’t have pots of money lying around to indulge my hobby. The major limitation of currently being a nursing student means money is basically non-existent at present. So I’m not exactly going to be paying thousands hiring some big-shot studio to record my vocals project. But anyway I’m an amateur enthusiast, not a rockstar so I’m sure you’ll let me off. I will try my best with the resources I have available! I wish I had the convenience of a home studio, but it would be pointless as I have the sound engineering skills of a hippo and I find trying to understand how to operate recording software/mixing and mastering etc like reading Japanese. I will leave it to someone who knows what they’re doing!

In the past when I’ve had recording sessions you’re always super aware that time is money, and you try squeezing 4 or 5 tracks into a half day session. Always a big mistake as your throat inevitably drys out, gets hoarse and starts cracking and your recordings don’t end up as impressive as they would have been in the first few takes, yet you still keep pushing it to get the tracks down and stay within your time/not spend any more money! I also have a tendency to rush as I don’t have the most patience in the world and just want to get it done and move on. Recording can be such a pain-staking process! I know the last one I recorded for a collaboration project I thought was sounding good, but the sound engineer kept saying one high note just wasn’t right and we did it again, and again, and again. I hated that song and the whole experience. Unsurprisingly it did not get finished!

Right, so I better stop waffling now and contact the sound engineer. Then start sourcing the backing tracks I am going to sing to (yes I am just singing on these as this is purely a vocal project). The backing tracks need to be good quality and pretty much the original track minus Axl’s voice so I may need to buy them. I’m not having some artificial karaoke synthesizer version, that would sound shit! I have heard recently that there is some software you can use to just remove the vocals from any song and just leave you with the clean instrumental track, but I don’t know much about it yet, this will require some research. Until next time.

 

 

My GnR history & Project Idea

I have had a passion for Guns n’ Roses since I first set eyes on them. I was 15 years old, shut up in my room watching TV late at night, when this music video collection of the top 10 rock bands comes up. It was the first time I had experienced any of the great rockers. This was about 1999, so in terms of the GnR timeline I came to it pretty late (their debut Appetite for Destruction came out in 1987 and the Use Your Illusion double whammy in 1991), but I had the feeling of someone who had just discovered a whole new world. I was awestruck. The raw energy, fire and attitude in their eyes and their performance just blew me away. Axl Rose’s massive vocal range and snake-hips had caught my attention like a punch in the face. He looked like the most confident person I’d ever seen. You could imagine him looking down the barrel of someone’s gun and still be telling them to go fuck themselves – he was that self-assured. And Slash’s aloof devil-may-care appearance, amazing atmospheric guitar solos, that hat, the cigarette just hanging out of the corner of his mouth; both were rock n roll sex gods that just bailed out of Hades, a teenage girl’s dream.

axl slash

I have no doubt that Guns n Roses added fuel to the fire of my already rebellious spirit (much to the regret of my long-suffering parents), but it was this band that encouraged me to find my voice. Starting to sing is a risky business. Especially in a non-musical, non-rock loving family who liked peace and quiet. Singing practice in my room often resulted in several bangs on the door to ‘shut up’, ‘keep the noise down’, and ‘it sounds like you’re killing a cat in there’. Not exactly confidence building. It was hard to figure out if I could actually sing. At school the few music lessons I went to were overrun by musical showboat types and there was no rock n roll. It felt like a nasty alienated disease that no-one wanted around. And that made it all the more attractive.

In the end it was a karaoke bar and a few drinks at about age 17 where I first sang Guns n Roses songs in public. And it turned out people thought I was pretty good. Plus they found it surprising that a teenage girl could sing what were seen as very strong ‘male’ rock songs. I would do GnR, AC/DC, Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi, Free, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bad Company.

I got out of my home town in the south-east of England to study in the midlands and loved the plethora or rock and metal bars and clubs, gigs, and a tonne of people looking to form bands or looking for singers. I stepped in with one covers band whose male lead singer couldn’t quite manage to get through Paradise City.

I think the beauty of Axl’s voice has always been that it combines the strengths and ranges of both male and female and has such a unique tone that makes it so difficult to imitate. His voice is unique, no-one had ever heard a voice like it – and arguably, we haven’t since. I believe the reason young people keep ‘discovering’ and getting hooked on this now ‘classic’ rock band (that makes me feel old!) is the uniqueness of their sound and THAT voice.

After helping out in that first covers band in about 2003/4, I formed a student Guns n Roses tribute band fronted by myself (I became Lola Rose and dyed my hair flame red…which actually went bright orange on first attempt – hideous!) and we did several gigs around midlands rock bars. We had a brief flirtation with a tribute act agency who got us gigs in Wales and Scotland.IMAG1326

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Unfortunately it became a real struggle holding the band together as everyone had different commitments with courses, girlfriends (who just loved their bfs being in a band with a female singer…!!), and generally just being students who wanted to have fun, get drunk and not really take anything too seriously. I wanted to push it, I wanted to work hard at it and get somewhere. The potential was there and I loved it. I loved being on stage despite my shyness (I was a quiet anxious introvert with low self-esteem), I loved performing Guns n Roses songs and loved people appreciating that I could sing. I was mentioning our band on a GnR forum site about tribute bands, and was lucky enough to start chatting to the lead singer of the UK’s biggest GnR tribute act, Guns 2 Roses. He liked what he heard and said he was looking for someone to step in for a gig in Scarborough with his G2R band as he was double-booked. I agreed and got to play a gig with them, which was an amazing experience for a young student to have. Especially as a female – to go and do a mini road trip alone with a bunch of rock n roll blokes I had never met before and then perform Guns n Roses with them…it was like a dream, I loved it!

It was hard work with my own band trying to push people into learning songs, practicing and gigging, constantly trying to book new gigs, organising transport of people and gear, designing and printing posters and leaflets to advertise gigs, advertising online, selling tickets, recruiting new members when people bailed out and just trying to keep the ball rolling (alongside an academic course which did suffer to be honest). We once had to play a disastrous gig last minute minus bassist as he broke his wrist drunken skateboarding, and other times had to recruit a drummer last minute when our usual one couldn’t make a gig we had committed to long before. Drink and drugs also raised their ugly heads as they so often do in bands. The problems with playing at being rockstars! I shake my head now but we did have some fun, some wild times and had a stab at recording which was great experience. We had great potential. Our Slash was a shit-hot prog metal guitarist with bucketloads of talent and has, I am glad to say, continued to play in serious original metal bands. With the GnR tribute, unfortunately courses would end, everyone lived in different parts of the country and things fizzled out. I’m sad to say the pressures of having to get jobs and become part of normal society overcame most of us.

When I finished my course I answered an online band advert and auditioned and moved to a big city to live with them in a disused pub ‘band house’. We did a few covers (mainly 70s: Led Zeppelin/Cream/Jimi Hendrix) but the main purpose was writing our own blues-rock style stuff, rehearsing constantly (we built a stage and practice room in the house and hosted many a wild party…), gigging and producing an originals EP. We did this alongside working shit jobs doing bar work and waiting, but then again commitments waned, the revolving door of band members started, and people filtered off to start proper jobs and proper lives instead of being rock n roll party animals.

I got a normal office job. I still went through a few bands and auditions but nothing really grabbed me or had the camaraderie or excitement of my earliest ones and it eventually died a death for me. I would sing at home and at karaoke when I was out but it was very much put on the back burner. I kept my passion alive singing in the shower or the car and listening to Planet Rock.

I hated office work. I re-trained in counsellling skills and went into a job caring for elderly people and volunteering as a child counsellor. I loved feeling like I was useful to other people and helping them live their lives. It felt like a purpose and I felt like a career in health & social care was starting.

This came to a halt and I had to start from scratch again after moving several counties to the furthest South West part of England.

During this time I was missing music so much and started singing and playing guitar with a folk group, then set up a YouTube account (https://www.youtube.com/user/LolaRoseMusic1) and started putting covers videos on there, sang in a rock duo, eventually wrote some of my own songs, did an originals EP and lent my voice to some collaboration work, then joined a rock covers band again for a bit until that fell apart due to asshole bandmates. I want to note here that there are a few difficult issues you come across when you’re a female singer in a male rock band.

There are so many rock covers bands out there full of dodgy old men still desperately trying to play the rock star, act cool, get the girls or obtain a much-needed ego boost. It’s really off-putting to female singers. If you’re there in your elder years doing it for the love of music and playing, go for it, enjoy it. If you’re doing it in a sad desperate attempt to hang on to your youth and pull women, or use it as an excuse to take drugs or drink yourself into thinking you’re a rock star…fuck off, loser! Avoid. Avoid. Avoid!

After that horror-show experience I understandably put band stuff out of my mind for a while. I’ve been working in care for the last few years and seen so many circumstances where people’s mental health was not receiving the right care and attention so I made a decision to train to be a mental health nurse. I started this in September 2016 and it is still ongoing. I’ve got about 18 months left til I finish. And I’m now missing music again!

THE IDEA:

I was driving to a 12 hour shift at the hospital recently at 6.45am, singing along to some GnR in my car (one of my favourite places to let rip as no-one can hear me!), and I thought about my YouTube account that I haven’t really contributed to recently (I think it’s been about a year. I just checked and my last video was posted 2 YEARS AGO!), and how much I always wanted to record some Guns n Roses songs properly. Then I thought about how much I love every song on the Appetite for Destruction album. Cue brainwave: – how about I set myself the challenge of covering EVERY song on the album and doing a YouTube video for each one? As the nursing course makes me too busy to join a band or gig again for the time being, I could do it all online, maybe record on average one song a month and write about the project in a blog? I could give myself a year to complete it. I would be doing something I loved, indulging my love of GnR and singing, making myself feel better (as I get down in the dumps when I’m not doing anything musical), and actually work towards achieving something in the area I love!

So this is the plan:

  • One year
  • One iconic album
  • 12 songs
  • 12 YouTube videos of  Guns n Roses covers by a FEMALE and BRITISH rock singer
  • One blog about this challenge

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