My introduction to the Glasgow gigging scene differs from most, I was never in a high school band with friends. My upbringing in a small village led to me being only one of a few in my school that listened to anything considered remotely heavy. Even at that, I was the only one interested the more obscure side of metal such as Periphery and Sikth.
My taste of music back then was rather specific and I wasn’t one to generally listen to anything new, which was reflected in the fact I couldn’t just go to a random gig for the sake of it to see a band I never heard of. Going to a gig had to be a pre-organized event and was essentially a day out. I can remember trying to get the last few hours of school off to ‘go to the doctors’ when in fact I was off to Download.
That festival was probably a key point for me, one of my friends wanted to go see Neck Deep, a band I had previously turned my nose at as they ‘wasn’t metal enough’. But in the end, seeing them at Download was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
The bands I listened to remained pretty similar up until when I moved up to Glasgow for uni. The ability to just walk to a gig seemed amazing to me, and I think in my first year I went to about 20 gigs in the space of about 8 months. My experience of playing with other musicians at that point had only consisted of guitar lessons at school and band camp, so it’s safe to say I wasn’t good even after nearly 7 years of playing. My first ‘proper’ experience of playing and improvising with musicians I’d never met and in styles I never played before was the band society at uni, and for the first few months felt horribly out my comfort zone.
Slowly I got more used to it, and it’s from this point where the musical progress to come in the next three years vastly surpasses the progress from the 8 years before. One of my friends I knew from band camp messaged me out of the blue asking if I was interested in joining a band, who were looking for a guitarist who played a 7 string guitar. I was sent a demo and tried to learn it by ear – something that I’d never done before as I had only learned by tabs.
My first gig with Withdrones was certainly an experience, I can remember standing almost perfectly still trying to make sure I didn’t mess up what I was playing, rather than enjoy myself and more importantly make the audience think I was enjoying myself. I soon realised, unless you're Tosin Abasi, people don’t really care what you’re playing, it’s about how you present yourself on stage and create energy. This of course comes with time and practise, getting more comfortable with playing in front of audiences and of course getting more confident with being able to play your parts without having to think.
The message – No one is good straight away. Don’t be afraid to step out your comfort zone and try something new, be it listen to a new genre or learn a new song – it’s where you’re most likely to learn and thus grow as a musician. Put yourself out there.
Jack Randall is the guitarist for Withdrones, up and coming Glasgow based Alternative Metal act. Jack's also a prominent member of the Strathclyde Union Band Society and has a firm grasp on a number of different instruments.
You can check out Withdrones on:
Facebook: Withdrones | Facebook
And on streaming services: @withdrones | Linktree