Welcome to my blog! And my first blog post!
While I work internally on music and project responsibilities, I decided the world needed to read my insights, so we added this blog section where I can post my random thoughts.
For my first post, I decided to answer the question that comes up on occasion: “why is your band called the DAVE Paris Group?” This is usually followed by comments that “Barbe sings, why isn’t the band named after her?” Nobody’s ever said to my face that the band should be a democracy, and not named after one specific person, but I’m sure it’s been thought and/or said behind my back. Ironically, nobody within the band has ever said this, not even one of the many drummers I’ve had in the band history, which I find a little odd, actually. Nobody’s cared that it’s been “my” band, and everyone has been content with my name on the billing. But God bless these band members, as they understand my vision and the hierarchy that exists.
So to answer this question, we first need a bit of history of the evolution of the Dave Paris Group:
Back in the olden days, Barbe & I had a few bands together. We started out as a duo that added musicians and became a full band called Holy Countdown. This band eventually changed direction and sound and members and became Dark Spectacle. When this band dissolved, Barbe sort of took a break playing music, and I started writing songs I’d never had a chance to write. I took out riffs and ideas I’d had for instrumental music and began writing and recording these songs as rough demos using digital recording. I wrote and recorded a bunch of songs that became part of my setlists over the years, but they were rough recordings that I programmed and played all the instruments on.
With these rough demos, I began circulating these songs. I gave them away to friends and those in the industry that I knew and respected and sought some feedback. These people would comment on these recordings as if they were a real band. I’d get compliments on my drummer’s fills and playing even though it was a machine I had programmed. They would mention the sound of the bassist even though I had programmed or played the bass myself. People would mention how the songs should be performed live and make comments on how I was or should interact with my “band”. Even though these were crude recordings using digital plug-ins, they sounded like a live band had recorded them, and people seemed to perceive it as music that was performing live.
During this time I had also met some other musicians who came and went. Every time I would ask Barbe if she would want to join me with these musicians in forming a band, she would say “no”. I offered her several opportunities to sing and/or play various instruments in these groups, and she wasn’t interested. Eventually, a couple of musicians and I set out to put together a group that would include my instrumental music, and it would be the Dave Paris Group, at least sometimes. We planned on another musician who would sing but wouldn’t play in the band all the time, and when he was with us we would go by another name. It was decided we’d start out working on my songs and the DPG angle of the band first since that’s what we already had for starting resources; songs written and musicians to play them. We were set to start off with this project group, and the bassist flaked out. I mentioned the bassist not showing to Barbe, casually offered her the slot, and she actually agreed to be part of it.
Now that I actually had Barbe, I also had a singer in the band. We also had old material she’d sang on. However, she stated she didn’t want to sing, just play bass. Now I had a singer but not a singer. So we worked on my instrumental songs. At the time I wasn’t really sure how long Barbe would even WANT to be in the band, and I had nothing going on, so I wasn’t really sure that instrumental guitar music could even get a gig.
Then I got a gig. Actually, two gigs.
I got an offer to play two shows in one day, as they both just sort of came about through friends who contacted me. I’d just started with my band, barely had any songs worked up, and now had two shows to get ready for.
We began working on a set consisting of some of my newly written instrumentals, with a couple songs Barbe and I wrote and performed in our previous band, and a few cover tunes. Barbe reluctantly agreed to sing on these songs, and we started working hard. The drummer quit shortly before the shows, actually a week before the shows, and I pulled in another player we’d worked with before who learned the songs. We played the shows to tiny crowds, and afterwards I had a bassist/singer, and no drummer, and no other prospects for shows.
But I sought out another drummer, and I found one. And I carried on. I found gigs where people would book my quirky instrumental guitar music where my wife and I sang a little, and we played festivals and clubs and such. I found places to solicit my music and get some exposure, and I got shows from that.
The band wasn’t “just about my guitar playing”, as we had vocal songs, and everyone soloed. I demanded more out of Barbe by having her play percussion and keyboards as well, and she wanted more recognition as a singer as we went on. I encouraged others to write songs and bring in music ideas, but never really got much from that.
I had made jokes that “since I was doing everything in the band, I may as well name it after me”, and there’s some truth to that. Aside from the glamorous elements of soloing and writing the songs, I was the one handling all booking and promotion, funding the band and even paying members out of my own pocket to do shows, setting up practice times and doing the bookings, doing everything web-oriented including the website and social media, and pretty much every other element to keep the band moving.
This isn’t a bad thing, as the members are content with their roles. I’ve had drummer’s leave because they lost interest in performing, no longer shared the vision of the music or maybe didn’t understand it to begin with, and Barbe seems to stay for the continual challenges and creativity within our partnership, maybe; honestly, I don’t know why she stays most of the time, but she always delivers.
So my thing was, I constantly kept thinking this project would end, and I constantly kept doing things to keep it going. Others stayed on because they believed it would, and they constantly helped me keep it alive.
There’s also the other things: I didn’t want to name the band “The Rolling Stones” or something and find out there was another band out there by the same name. And with the possibility of people coming in and out of the band (aside from drummers), I didn’t want it to be just a name that was a shadow of itself. The Foo Fighters are a band, but everybody knows it’s all about Dave Grohl. Megadeth has carried on through the decades as a “band” but Dave Mustaine has been the only consistent member. Classic bands like Journey and Styx are criticized for carrying on with new members while the founding member maintains the band sound and brand.
Overall, Barbe is a great team player and doesn’t seek the limelight. She has her own identity and demand and fans, but isn’t as interested in the high-profile responsibilities of being in a band. These include the public relations and promotional aspects that include putting your face everywhere. This relationship works and has kept the band going since our September 2006 debut.
Interestingly enough, I’ve recently taken classes on Leadership and Management. Whether a band or a business, it is the leader who conveys their vision, finds the right people to carry out the mission, motivates and strengthens their team, and absorbs the most risk. Believe it or not, musical acts need leaders, even if those roles are shared or rotated. So this is my role, and this is how my band became the Dave Paris Group.