Foreword by Shane O’Brien, Recording and Performing Artist:
“What follows is a copy of an article written by Freelance Journalist Edward Lapple which came about as a result from a Q & A session conducted at my studio in San Pedro, California. The interview was published in a recent issue of Barefoot Music News, dated March 2010.
Ed Lapple is a first rate Journalist and film industry director with an arm long list of credentials. Among Mr. Lapple’s many accolades are his being the honored recipient of 6 Emmy Awards in his life’s body of work in the film industry.
I personally thought the questions he asked of me our interview session were insightful and thoughtfully geared towards his readers to enjoy and upon my viewing his piece, also benefit from perhaps. Ed knew the best place to catch “Shane_free and easy” would be on my own turf. I don’t do interviews very often, mostly because past experience has taught me how Generic these situations tend to be. Twenty five years ago, I might have been just aglow with finding myself living the life of the interviewed artist. In retrospect though, I can comfortably say that those generic interviews of those long past years were for the most part not that informative for up and coming interested Musicians/Artists.
Ed nailed it with questions that were from an informed interviewer. Very much planned and exposing at times. Many of Ed’s questions lead me to expose some my more personal musical insights of which I know never made it past the cutting room floor. With good reason I might add.
All in all, I thought this to be a valuable little insight of what has been going on in the year 2010 in the life of Shane O’Brien”, and knew that this piece I would proudly share on my own site for my fans, familly and friends to read through…
By Edward Lapple
The day the camera and video crew from barefootnews magazine came by
I hope that you have had the time to view the Shane O’Brien interview, http://barefootmusicnews.com/blog6.php/2010/03/25/bfmn-exclusive-interview-with-shane-o-brien-the-genuine-one-part-two#more198, Shane’s a great guy and he is the epitome of a working, local musician. One of the concepts that Shane touched on was, what he referred to as a, “Silent Sideman”. The important information, that he shared with us, deserves some major elaboration. Why? Because the material that was covered in 180 seconds, in our interview, could mean the difference between a successful music career, for you, or dozens of bitter disappointments when your opportunities don’t work out.
Many of you play in bands and you don’t have to deal with sidemen very often, but, this information is very handy when evaluating the contributions of other band members. Do you solo folks think that band life is easy? A band can drag you through an emotional wringer and leave you burnt out and unhappy. Band practice can cause emotional confrontations, communication issues, financial problems, marital and family problems, job issues and, you know the rest. These problems usually occur before you’ve even start playing music. All right, show of hands, how many of you have had the band break up right after the business cards arrived? Also, when the drummer leaves, he always seems to own the PA, right?
There are a lot of musicians that don’t join bands; they don’t need to earn a pay day blowing out cover tunes at the local pub. But they are passionate about their musical careers and their songs. When these people perform they need to assemble a band to back them up. You can do this by asking your friends to come and play with you, but I don’t recommend it. If it’s your showcase and your future that’s on the line, you want control; you want people that you can count on. Most musicians go the route of hiring sidemen to back them up. The sideman comes to a few rehearsals and then plays the gig or the recording date and then they are gone. They get paid every time they come and play. In essence they are your employees.
Of course, you could also look at them as hired gunslingers, and as of their entire ilk, they may be a might impetuous, they might quickly draw upon discovering a half measure rest that can be filled by one of their tasty licks. Here is where you have to take control and that may be difficult in a practice session. Musician’s have egos that sometimes can hardly squeeze through the door. When a rehearsal turns into; “The Clash of the Giant Egos”, it is just wasted time.
What is a sideman’s job? Simple, they are there to enhance your music and its presentation. When they show up at rehearsal, they should already have learned the songs. The rehearsal is for organizing, not learning your part. To quote Shane, “Never bury the messenger… understand what the lyrics are saying… if you understand what he’s saying you’ll understand better what your part, in the orchestra, will be. What your role is. You need to understand what the message of the song is. If you don’t you will never deliver your part appropriately.” Take those words to heart, because that’s what you want from your sidemen.
In his book, “The Kid Stays in the Picture”, Robert Evans says, “Background makes foreground.” Always remember that one, because it is so true. Evans talks about attending a party and twenty people compliment him on his tie. When he gets home he runs the tie into his shredder. Why? Because, “Background makes foreground.” The tie is supposed to make him look good; he’s not there to make the tie look good. Just because some quick and cool licks can be crammed into pauses in your vocal, don’t allow them to be there unless they embellish your song. Remember, “Background makes foreground”, and, “Never bury the messenger.”
I hope that you don’t think that after you’ve hired these players, that I don’t want them to play. I want them to fill your song with power, layers, orchestral depth, but it should never call attention to their particular performance… Again, I’m going to go with Shane’s description, “if he instantly stopped playing in the middle of the song there would be a big hole there. Everybody who’s a non-musician would say, “Wow, what’s missing, something went away.” That’s a “Silent Sideman.”
You follow the above rules and you get the chance to perform at some local venue. Mr. Big is going to be there and he can set your career in motion. He sees your act, says, “Gosh, Golly and Gee”, and you go on to be a star. You were just lucky, right? Right!
Here’s another old bromide, that I love, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” This is important stuff. When the opportunity presents itself, you can get lucky if you are prepared.
Understand, “Silent Sidemen”, and that, “Background makes foreground.” Be prepared to present your music in the very best way that you can. Then you will be ready for your lucky break.