I'm doing my level best to spend equal time with my three youngest lads (15, 13 and 6). My eldest is now 18 and an adult (well, as adult as 18 year olds can be) and doing his own thing.
I attended a rehearsal at the Rich Bitch studios in Selly Oak just last week with Christian - his band are gigging everywhere and it was fascinating to see the level of professionalism in these lads, and their seriously hard work in getting songs right.
I sat in the studio thinking back to the times I'd been there in the early 80's, time repeating itself. What did strike me was the willingness of the kids to listen. They'd asked me to be a critical friend and help them with some structuring. Kids don't listen to you at the best of times - but these kids really, really did. I explained the way you look for space in music - I've been playing every week now for 30 years so you do get to pick up a few things. I suggested:
1. Get the bottom line right. The groove needs to be there between the drummers kick and the bass player
2. Minimal rhythm guitar when the lead guitar breaks in
3. Use of power chords / tabs on a busy riff
4. Space - rather than presenting a wall of sound, look to build up and drop down - crucial for verse / chorus differentiation
5. The build on a bridge
6. Light and shade between chorus and verse
7. Keeping it tight
It was amazing - the kids listened and the result was astonishing. I'm kicking myself I didn't take anything to record.
Rather than being the old bloke in the corner, it was awesome to see these kids want to listen and put stuff into action. The lads were just brilliant and I'm proud of them all.
I later went to a gig and saw the lads support The Orange Lights at the Barfly in Birmingham. I hadn't heard them but just knew from the looks of their stage equipment they would be good. I was wrong...... they were absolutely awesome. One of the best indie bands I've seen in ages, seriously good lyrics, all great musicians and wonderfully tight. Incredibly they displayed all the
signs and talents of 1 - 7 above. Chris is at an age where it's easy for him and his mates to disregard their parents and music has been the glue of late to cement the relationship together.
Harry, my six year old is Doctor Who mad - I love talking to him about Dr Who, playing I spy / Hangman Dr Who games with him, helping him with his spelling and suchlike. He's a great kid at a wonderful age, I wish they could all stay like that.
Last night, I grudgingly went with Jack to the golf range. I hate golf, I've had loads of lessons and just don't get it. I always end up with a bad back. Jack on the other hand is excellent at any sport and is a natural at golf. We bought a bucket of balls and I was able to tell him how to hold a driver, and impart the knowledge of the few dozen lessons I've had. Again, incredibly it worked - Jack was belting 200 yards and more as straight as a dye and I loved spending time with him.
Someone asked me earlier where I'd been as I've not been about much on the net or on the forums where I used to hang out. The answer is simple: I've been with my kids, and I'm loving it.
Without any element of corn or wish to patronise, simply look for the one thing your kids love to do. You can buy them expensive gifts and chuck money at them, but they want the most precious thing that's completely free: you.