A few days ago I asked my readers for help with coming up with a blog post idea. I wrote a different one, but one of the most popular requests was about my music. I decided that story needed to go here.
For those of you who don’t know, in addition to being a successful novelist I am also a musician, though not nearly as successful. One of my mentors said “kid, stories are in your soul, music is in your heart.” He was right. I have been singing and playing music since I was very young and over the years have picked up numerous instruments, from the saxophone to the bassoon to guitar and drums. The only thing I can’t make noise on is brass. For some reason, I just can’t make the pucker, which has been embarrassing on more than one occasion.
Something else that is embarrassing is I can’t spell “embarrassing.” Seriously, I can’t. Spell check just had to fix it three times in a row. I have had numerous concussions, one of which left me with mild brain damage that affects my ability to spell certain words. But that is a different story.
The first band I played in that was not a “school band” of some sort was in high school. We played in and placed in both the school talent show and the state “battle of the bands,” which wasn’t too shabby for a bunch of kids who could play only three songs together.
From there I played in some bands through college and my professional life, but it wasn’t until after an accident that I joined a band named Wytchcraft as the drummer, part-time singer and rhythm guitar. I know that sounds weird. It was, believe me. The guy who was the “lead singer” was more a growler than anything and he also played drums. We took turns switching places depending on the song list for the night, but I can’t just stand still and sing, during some songs I look like I’m having a seizure or something. So I dusted off my Ibanez and played rhythm guitar when I sang.
There was a night we were playing at a small live music club, one of our first, when things went awry. It started out okay, we opened with Disturbed’s Down With the Sickness then played a mish-mash of Metallica, Pantera and Mudvayne… which was not exactly well received. The highlight of the first set was probably the part where I fell off my throne (for those who don’t know, the throne is a nickname for the stool drummers sit on) laughing at a heckler, who was giving Brad (the singer) a lashing about his song choices. A girl falling off a stool into the rear stage was apparently way better than our version of Pantera’s Walk. There is a theme there, by the way. I fall off of things a lot. If you follow my Facebook page you will see that friends will often tease me about falling off of stages, chairs, stools, the hood of a wet car… I have a talent for falling with style.
We took a short break, to the relief of the audience, and went through the songs we knew. It wasn’t promising, the list amounted to a lot of the same type of songs that the audience didn’t seem to be feeling. After a few minutes, we reached the bottom of the barrel and found we all knew a bunch of 80’s hair metal songs. We hadn’t practiced them together, the band was supposed to be “edgy” and “dark” not 80s metal, but we were officially dying at one of our first gigs. Anything was worth a try, even songs we hadn’t played together before.
So… we came back out on stage and started playing. Brad sang Modern Day Cowboy by Tesla followed by Lick it Up by Kiss and we actually got applause. Then it was my turn to sing. Let me preface this by the truth: I don’t think I am a great singer. I have a low voice for a woman and I am very self-conscious about it and that can make me sing very quietly. On the other hand, I love 80’s music and performing, which has made me sing karaoke at more than a few bars around the country. I switched places with Brad, plugged in my old Ibanez and we started playing Kiss Me Deadly by Lita Ford. It started okay, even without a keyboard player. I played the keyboard chords on my guitar and sang. It went well for the first twenty-five seconds. When the drums, bass and lead guitar came in, they came in on separate beats which confused the hell out of me… and we stumbled to a stop amidst much laughing and jeering from the crowd.
This is one time I wish I could forget, it was probably the worst gig ever, but for once being a loudmouth extrovert saved me. I laughed and picked someone from the nearby audience to count us off because we clearly had no idea how to do it ourselves. He was snarky about it but he counted and we tried again. This time we got it right, and when we finished went straight into Hot For Teacher. Brad was a way better drummer than singer and the audience ate it up. On that song for the first time the audience was on our side and not making fun of us. I guess classic Van Halen can soothe even the angriest drunk.
We ended the night with songs by Cinderella, Bon Jovi and Heart, none of which we’d expected to ever play together. When we finished our time and dragged our gear off stage the manager came over and said we were the worst band he’d ever heard. But he paid us and invited us back the following weekend, as long as we promised to play “popular music.”
And that is how the band went from heavy metal to hair metal. We still played Disturbed and Pantera but mixed it with Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Lita, Heart and my personal favorite, AC/DC. Our cover of Back in Black was good enough Facebook flagged it for copyright infringement in 2013.
I left the band to pursue life in Missouri and focus on my writing career, which I am way better at, it must be said. Our CD sold maybe 25 copies, my books have sold, well… a lot more. I still love music and still look for bands to sing and play with, just to keep my hand in. I know that loving something and having a passion for it doesn’t mean you will be successful, but it doesn’t stop me from playing when I get the chance.
Copyright Skye Knizley 2016. All Rights Reserved, Do Not Share.