Turning down gigs…

It’s been an interesting week work-wise. I got a phone-call last Tuesday from Carl Palmer, the drummer with 70s prog-rock legends, ELP, and 80s prog legends, Asia. Carl now has his own trio, which until recently Dave Marks – who I taught when he was studying at Basstech – was playing bass for. Dave left to take up a job at Basstech, and Carl had been recommended me via a few sources, aparently. Carl rang to find out if I’d be interested in joining the trio. Having been a big ELP fan in my teens (‘Pictures At An Exhibition’ got some major rotation on my record deck in the late 80s/early 90s), I was really up for meeting him and finding out more.

We met up on Thursday, to have a listen and chat about the gig – he lives pretty locally to me, and seems like a very nice bloke.

The music itself is mainly heavy rock reworkings of classical works, by the likes of Bartok, Prokofiev, Copeland etc. Most of it is at full-throttle, and while very exciting and energetic, a long way from the languid mellow stuff that I’ve spent the last five years getting good at…

So I was faced with a very odd decision – here’s a good paying high profile gig with a legendary drummer who seems like a very nice bloke, that I’m going to turn down… What?? But still I felt very comfortable with the decision. I’ve obviously been primarily a solo/duo player for some time now, but that was never tested until now due to not having been offered anything of this kind of size. Now that I have been, but am faced with the need to change my technique back to a full-on rock approach, and build up a huge amount of stamina to maintain that level of drive for almost two hours a night, I chose to stick on the path that I’ve been carving.

It’s not that I don’t want to work with other people – I’d still happily do sessions, and obviously do a fair few jazz and funk gigs with Jez Carr, Mike Haughton and our floating drum chair (which features some incredible players – Mike Sturgis, Tom Hooper, Phil Crabbe, Eddie John etc…) – but if the gig requires me to divert a lot of attention away from the path I’ve chosen, that I’d rather stick where I am.

It feels like a bit of a rite of passage. Four years ago, I’d have jumped at the chance, seeing it as a big step forward. Now, despite the obvious advantages of the gig, the distraction from what I’m doing was too great, and I’ve turned it down.

Am I nuts?

Soundtrack – Talking Heads, ‘Stop Making Sense’.

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