If You Have To – Quit and Do It On Your Own:

The Struggles of Being in a Ska Punk Band

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Do you have huge dreams, but others seem to slow you down, LET you down, or simply ‘not get it’?

I think it’s comforting to know that 90% of us have felt EXACTLY the same at one time.

I played in casual pop punk bands from ages 16 to 21. Which I never really thought would go anywhere,

Around 21, I really got into ska. I started writing ska songs.

With a dream of properly ‘making it,’ I wrote songs for about six months on my own before finding a drummer, bassist, trumpet player and sax player. Who were all great.

We got on well, and we did some great shows.

A year passed. Then the sax player wanted to ride a bicycle round the world. So he left.

We found a replacement saxophonist. A girl. A straight girl with a boyfriend. Then what happened? Our trumpet player (a girl) got with the sax player! We should have known drama was coming, really.

We got an extra trumpet player.

That makes the band member count up to six now.

Another year passed, and we played some more good shows. Every show we did seemed to end with a gig offer from someone else. We were offered a festival slot. Nothing amazing – but it was all ticking along.

Then some members changed their priorities.

A few of the brass players started playing in a ska covers band (not being in other bands was one of our rules… but I suppose, not f-ing each other was also a rule, so hey ho!),

We ended up having to cancel gigs. Some weeks, people couldn’t even turn up to practice.

Then our bassist left. A shame, as he was a founding member and a real organiser, but no biggie as my best mate is a bassist, so he joined.

Then our drummer had a practice studio built in his garden! (Very supportive parents!) Things are looking rosey…

Oh – what’s that?

2/3 of the brass players now want to leave?

Fair enough, off you pop!

Argh!

So now we’re down to me, the original drummer, the original trumpet player (who then broke up with the sax player) and my best mate on bass. This is about four years after we started. Here we go again. We found 2 new people for the brass section. We played a few gigs. What could possibly happen next?!

Our drummer moved to Canada. I’d had enough and quit. I couldn’t keep rinse and repeating, re-teaching songs, re-making friends.

I don’t know what happened to the garden practice studio.

Hopefully, another band is enjoying the greenery.

I was the singer, guitarist and songwriter in that band. Before that, I was the songwriter in a previous band.

I’ve probably written hundreds of songs. I think I burnt myself out.

And I also think I’d really fallen out of love with music in general. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit of a control freak when it came to the direction of my songs, as well.

So I hung up my guitar, got married, moved house, moved jobs.

And had two kids.

Now, we jump to 2022, maybe 10 years after that last band split up.

I started getting the urge to scratch that itch.

While my kids were babies I’d found myself playing guitar to them, playing my old songs. Some I remembered well, but the ones that I didn’t…

It really made me want to do something with them, before I forget them completely! (Or lost the ability to sing them. That happens right?!)

I dug out Logic Pro and got to work recording, all solo in my makeshift home studio.

(Blankets pinned to the walls, pillows on the floor… You know the deal!)

Guitar, bass, midi drums piano-keyed in, vocals, harmonies. Not only was I enjoying the recording process: I was enjoying writing music again, too.

I’ve started off small. My six-track EP of punk rock/ ska songs came out last week on all streaming platforms, but after that I’ve already penned out a 17-track album (five tracks done, 12 to go!)

…Followed by another 15-track album, a ten-track mini album, another mini album of songs that were written wayyyyyy back in school/college days.

And for some reason:

A nine – minute punk song.

I don’t plan to get rich or famous or even successful with it. I’m doing it 80% for me, just to unload (but obviously also 20% to see if others like what I do).

So, my advice is: Decide what you want to do in music.

And just do it.

Feel free to share your band struggles and how you got through them to where you are now 🙏🏻🥂

Links to my EP if any PUNK or SKA fans are interested in hearing my DIY efforts:

Skitchin’ – EP on Apple Music, by The Not Nows 

Spotify:

You Tube:

Website: https://www.thenotnows.co.uk/

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Virgindog
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Virgindog
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February 22, 2023 12:58 pm

Wait a minute, are you me? Aside from you playing guitar and me playing bass, it’s pretty much my story. Looking forward to hearing your stuff once I’m out of the office.

Like I always say, being in a band is like being married except there’s more people and even less sex. Well, aside from certain members of your brass section.

Great first article, Rob. Can’t wait for your next one.

Virgindog
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Virgindog
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February 22, 2023 7:19 pm
Reply to  Rob Prince

Good songs, good performances, and a great drum sound. I really like Sandy and I Don’t Want To Be In A Ska Band. My wife thinks you sound like Blink 182. I’m not sure about that but nice work!

cappiethedog
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cappiethedog
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February 23, 2023 12:22 am
Reply to  Virgindog

I second Blink 182.

I like Blink 182; it’s a compliment. But what if the original artist doesn’t like Blink 182? So I refrained from commenting. But lo and behold, voila! Somebody said it first.

Virgindog
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Virgindog
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February 23, 2023 9:04 am
Reply to  Virgindog

Hey Rob, one other thing, you may want to submit your album to Bob’s Ska Radio. http://www.bobskaradio.com

JJ Live At Leeds
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February 22, 2023 2:43 pm

Glad to hear you recovered your mojo and in a big way by the sounds of what you’ve got planned.

As someone who has never been in a band this highlights the role that luck plays in whether a band makes it. I guess there’s no telling whether your drummer is going to move to Canada, if inter band relationships are going to derail things or just how committed everyone will turn out to be. I can understand why you lost the will to carry on.

I’ll be giving The Not Nows a listen later on.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 22, 2023 7:10 pm

Your EP sounds great. I can’t believe those are midi drums. I use Ableton, but the drum kits I have seem to lack enough variety for a sense of dynamism. Maybe I need to get Logic, or at least a special drum pack on Ableton.

Or… just develop a lot more patience and create my own variations? Not gonna happen.

Welcome to tnocs!

lovethisconcept
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February 23, 2023 1:36 pm

Welcome to TNOCS! Looking forward to listening to The Not Nows!

lovethisconcept
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February 25, 2023 4:56 pm
Reply to  Rob Prince

Enjoyed your music very much. You are now marked as a favorite on Spotify, so I’ll know when you release new stuff!

thegue
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thegue
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February 24, 2023 7:11 am

I didn’t want to comment until I got to listen to The Not Nows, but:

  1. Welcome to tnocs, Rob!
  2. I love your EP – definitely the pop punk style I’ve leaned towards in the past!
  3. If you ever decide you want to become an author/screenplay writer, I am positive your band’s sordid history is worthy of a script!
mt58
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mt58
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February 24, 2023 7:03 pm

I didn’t meet @RobPrince until Wednesday of this week. I think he knocked it out of the park with this article. He fits in here like a glove!

Atta boy, Rob. We’re looking forward to what’s next.

dutchg8r
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dutchg8r
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February 27, 2023 11:54 am

Loved it!! Welcome to tnocs.com Rob, and that’s always a great story to hear – someone saying “I’m Gonna do this because it makes me happy, nothing else matters”. 🙂

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