Sunday, September 5, 2010

Listen to Your Voice Within

When last we left our intrepid heroes, they had found a lead singer but were somewhat thwarted by the lad's reluctance.

Okay, so it wasn't really that big a deal.  While we hadn't planned on having a second guitarist, Jason's skills on the instrument could only be an asset to the band.  Also, while he didn't want to sing lead all of the time, he was willing to share lead vox with me and Bill, giving us three distinct singing voices in the band.  Not too shabby.

He was therefore, in.

Before I go on, however, I want to share an example that I think will shed some light on why, still to this day, I believe Jason and his voice fit the lead singer slot.  In fact, I honestly believe that, while I can't honestly say I believe in doing things for commercial appeal (gag), I have no doubt that Jason's voice is much smoother and his stage demeanor would have been much more leadsingeresque which, in the long run, might have won us a larger audience.

The evidence before the court consists of two recordings of the same Naked song, "What's the Difference?", one of my own compositions.  The first recording is from the Naked - Live at the Coffeemill of Exeter album, and features the band in an "unplugged" setup with Jason singing lead:

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The second recording is from Naked iii, and features me on lead vocal:

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Am I a horrible singer?  No, not at all. However, I still think Jason's version wins out.

Comments?  Votes?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

You Just Have to Turn Off Your Mind

A lead singer. That rarefied creature in the music universe. I hate Robert Plant. Get it?

If you've listened to the EBS mp3s I've posted, I'm sure you'll understand why Bill and I thought a lead singer would be an excellent idea. Don't get me wrong--our voices weren't bad. They were a bid rough, though, and not classic-lead-vocalistish enough. Plus, we just wanted to play our instruments and let somebody else belt it out up front.

I can't really remember how this all came together, how the connections were made. My cousin Jason Knox had been one of Bill's guitar students. We weren't exactly in regular contact, though. Nothing bad. No family feuds or anything, we were just on different tracks. Plus, he was still in high school.

However it came about, there we were in Jason's basement, going through preliminary chatter as he prepared to audition as the lead singer for this new band of ours. I had already decided that we would be called Naked ("Haha do you play naked?" gosh... never heard that one before... 9,456,234 times...). Why? Youthful idealism. I believed at the time--and still do, really--that if you are truly being a servant to your art, that you are up there on stage, naked. It's a purity thing, a tapping-into-the-undefinable thing. Coltrane said it best:

"There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we've discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more and more clearly what we are. In that way, we can give to those who listen the essence, the best of what we are. But to do that at each stage, we have to keep on cleaning the mirror." (

Okay, cosmonauts... back to Jason.

Keep in mind, I LOATHED hair metal--you know, the kind where the band members wore more make-up than their groupies... and those were some rosy-cheeked groupies. I am convinced that Cinderella, mid-career Bon Jovi, and others of that era (even my much-beloved Ozzy in the Jake E. Lee phase) single-handedly caused the hole in the ozone layer with their liberal applications of Aquanet. Jason pulled out his Epiphone acoustic guitar, started singing "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"...

...and blew us away.

The kid had a great voice. Sure, he'd need a little work, but the natural voice was there, something you can't just make happen. It has to be there.

He moved on to "Black" by Pearl Jam. I've always felt that some songs are untouchable, as far as remakes or covers go (only Bob or Jimi should do "Like A Rolling Stone"), and "Black" was on that list until Jason auditioned. I don't know what the guy was tapping into, but I heard the future in his voice.

There was only one problem. He didn't want to be the lead singer. He wanted to play guitar.