The Formative Years
Over the past few years I have been busy. On top of working for a living I have managed to achieve a modicum of success with my band ONEYEOPEN. We played an eclectic mix of rock, blues and folk music that was predominantly original material.
Despite many obvious Spinal Tap-isms (such as swapping bass players five times, drummers twice, graphic ego-slicers and amps that went all the way up to 11!), we strove as a unit to achieve as much as humanly possible, without compromising our morals, depending on nepotism or “selling out”, as the man says.
This involved a lot of hard work individually and collectively as we were not just writing and performing our music, we were designing our own artwork for packaging and promotional materials, managing ourselves and organising summer tours around Wales.
In 2006 we had become proficient enough at performing to glean various paying gigs in local bars, clubs and biker rallies. The money we made from these gigs was set aside to pay for the recording of our first demo.
At the end of the year we went to a local studio called Giant Wafer in Llanbadarn Fynydd. The owner, Ed Lewis, helped us to produce a professionally recorded album of our own material. Myself and the drummer then set about designing a cover for the album and a picture for the disk. After a few weeks recording and few more months in production we printed 200 copies of the CD and it’s packaging materials and set about constructing each unit by hand. This involved physically cropping the inlay and back covers with a guillotine and took a few nights of dedicated, livingroom production line toil.
We then set about promoting the album locally. We had several local shops in our hometown selling copies which were advertised with wall posters and flyers. We made an arrangement with Tom’s Records in Hay-on-Wye to take several copies on sale or return and had a similar arrangement with Fuse Records in Newtown, Powys.
The album was released at a launch party held by a local non-profit organisation called The Mid Wales Music Scene. We advertised the album lauch heavily on the web via facebook and myspace as well as local press coverage of the event.
We sold a lot of CD’s locally and set aside 75 to take on the road with us to sell at live performances throughout the summer of 2007, which included various Welsh music festivals such as Re-Play Wales in Bangor and The Workhouse Festival in Llanfyllin.
Over the next few years we would play over 150 dates all over Wales and occasionally we would venture into the south of England playing in Reading and eventually in 2009 three dates in central London, one of which was listed in the NME.
By always working as a team and using all our creative energy and skills, we took ourselves on an exciting adventure. It was very hard work for all involved, but without hard work, you’ll get nothing, right?
With modern-day advancements in digital technologies and networking websites, our generation has been empowered with the equipment to reach a potentially massive audience. I have managed to use my limited knowledge of desktop publishing and design, to create content that promotes my ‘product’ as well as providing its own artistic catharsis.
Working with the web and programs like Photoshop are creative in themselves and in my humble opinion, they are the new artist’s palette. If you embrace these tools and use them as such to help realise your creativity and imagination, it is possible to achieve more than you might have initially allowed yourself to believe.
In 2009 I went to work for my friend, who had started his own business designing and building websites. I was trained by my friend in basic web building using Dreamweaver and Photoshop CS3. By studying commands and structure in HTML and CSS as well as some basic pointers, it did not take too long to get to a level where I was becoming competent at designing and creating static websites.
I used the skills I’d learned in my day job to create a website for the band.
Although my knowledge of web building and design are relatively limited, I was able with the help of my mentor, to create a static site that was a little different. I used hand crafted elements by scanning images and placing them on top of one another using the Z index.
The process is pretty simple once explained although the task was arduous and time-consuming. I have always believed that nothing worth doing is easy and one gets much more satisfaction from the end result, having strived and put in the extra mile.
Unfortunately, the site still remains in a beta version. It has yet to be completed and launched on its own domain. You can see the beta version here. There is no music posted on it yet, and there are several tweaks to be made but you can get the general idea, I’m sure.
As I have a very limited knowledge of dynamic web authoring with PHP code and Flash programs, I still have a LOT to learn about all this stuff, but hey, that’s a major part of the reason I am here in Lampeter!
Thanks for reading this post. If you are a fellow student and would like to discuss any of these techniques or if I can help anyone in any way to further their own skills in these areas, then by all means contact me and I would be glad to help in any way I can.
The more we share ideas, creativity and encourage one another, the more we will garner from the next three years.
“Keep on rockin’ in the free world!” ~ Neil Young