Being a band leader

Apr 7, 2016

A blog post is supposed to be about updating fans on what is happening, but at the minute all our time has been in the studio and other than a few concerts we haven’t been gigging much. So, until our blogs from the road enthral you with giggles, I’m giving out my thoughts on being the leader of a band.
This is the time of the year when we are all separate. Touring can be intense and we love it but it is good to take time out from each other, this doesn’t mean we don’t get on, it’s just our way of doing things and between family and work during the recording process you need balance. Nick and I had a conversation last year about how we felt coming back off tour, we felt disjointed, like we didn’t belong, a very weird feeling that I found myself sitting in our old G-bus for hours on end just remembering the ups and downs of tour. It was something that stuck with me and we still discuss how it affects us. Nick has been my little brother, my most loyal friend, my shoulder to cry on, my bitchfest lol, he has been the only constant in a mad music world and long may it continue.

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You see, to know why I love my band members so much I have to take you back to the days when Nick and I lived each day as if it were the band’s last (he has been with me 4 years now). We just couldn’t find the right members or they didn’t fit with us or even worse we were left stranded by some who just walked away. Other than our dear buddy Michael McKinney (bass in 2014/15) people kept leaving to the point, people started commenting on posts saying “wonder why all your members leave you”. This did hurt at the time for me as I was giving my all and just expected the same in return. In order to be successful you have to suffer for your music and I think those who didn’t fit expected more than I could give financially, or they just couldn’t see my vision.
Every band has to go through this I guess, but I did feel at one point, there was no hope as Northern Ireland is such a small place so everyone knows someone. The day before one of our 2015 tour dates I was ready to give music up completely and go back to 9-5 when we were left not able to fill 2 gigs with a band member walking. This cost me thousands as a business woman as I had to honour money lost. When you hear a band leader being spoken of, you think rock’n’roller, you don’t think business, but music is just that, A BUSINESS and I have to deal with that side of it as well as the creative. I have done it all myself so I take it more personally. I think that’s why I am so crazy most of the time, it takes something to take the edge off the seriousness haha. I found it really hard to lead by example, I’m scatter brained, loose interest easily if it isn’t music and hate numbers. Being an up standing member of the business community just frightens me, having mayhem within the band set up just made it harder.

Then it happened, I didn’t know it then but I was about to inherit an amazing drummer and equally crazy person in Peter our new drummer. I remember crying to Nick in desperation saying “I can’t do this anymore, what more can we do” and he replied “I’m the same, I don’t know anymore Kaz”. Little did we know that after an email sent by fluke to Peter from management at his advert on Bandmix, that he was about to become such an amazing addition. On meeting with him, he said up front “I have other commitments, I will see what I can do”, in his Slovakian, 10 years in Northern Ireland broken english lol. He was full of passion, full of life and instantly I felt a connection, I felt a spirit that I could tap into and that excited my creative mind. After a few rehearsals Pete joined us and we have never looked back. Pete doesn’t know it but he saved my soul when he joined, for I had all but lost faith in finding a kindred spirit.

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Towards the end of 2015 I knew that Michael (bass) was going to leave us, he had so much faith, love and dedication to us as a band, his heart was so big, just like the mountain of the man he was but his own family needed him more and we said a sad goodbye to him and wished him well. Soon after, Pete then mentioned his brother Janny and I met with him and saw the opposite of Pete, a very calm, thinking bass player who’s words to me over coffee were “I’m shaking like a leaf meeting you” haha bless him, I knew then this would be our new bass player, his humility sold it and holy moly what a rhythm section, and so it should as they have been playing since childhood. Something was beginning to change, I now had a whole new sound starting to come through and the future was set or was it?

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As a band leader I always look on how we progress as a unit, what can I do that’s better, don’t we all. So I wanted to try out backing singers and added my polkadot girls. In the end I had to look at committments on both ends, one of my girls was fast becoming a lead singer on her own and wanted to do other things and one had a full time job and a mortgage so probably couldnt commit to tours. What a dilemma, I wanted a backing singer now that I had tried it. In the end it worked out that Dee offered a three year committment to the band & my other singer was moving on to experiment on her own, so it sorted itself. Miss Dee then became the fifth and final member of the new KHB. Dee had never really taken on something this big, the mention of tours, recording, just overwhelming for her as she joined towards the end of 2015, but she has taken it in her stride so far.

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I always believe if it’s meant to be it won’t pass you by, but I did struggle that time and now as I look at what we have become as KHB and I am very proud to be a band leader, friend, sister, mama, guide, example to all my band mates. They are what is now MY SOUND and I hope when you hear our new album you will enjoy our creation as a unit and family, we are ready to tour, ready to move to the next level and we are tighter than a pair of leather jeans on a stick insect haha!

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In closing, I would like to dedicate this blog post to Michael McKinney (photo below)
I have never met anyone as patient, loving, courteous and giving in all my days. I miss him dearly and I hope he knows how big of a part he played in our journey, I hope he knows how much he gave us as a band, and as a friend. A giant of a man in stature but an even bigger heart. I hope you look on now and see that you contributed to what KHB has become. We love you buddy, shine on and spread your wings big man.

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Yours in music…..
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