I don’t want to be the lead singer of The Freudian Sluts. I really don’t. I mean, I don’t, and of course I do. I enjoy being front and centre, and think I’m good at making a spectacle of myself. But I’m well aware that my doing so at my age might not have quite the same effect as when I was nine and twenty, say, and am further aware that my voice is weedy and my intonation iffy. But Miss Zelda Hyde, who dislikes being front and centre, has abandoned her post, and Darryll and Andrew and I are having a devil of a time finding a suitable replacement.
Back in Hollywood in decades past, you could put a Singer [or other] Wanted ad in The Recycler (sort of a pre-Internet, hard-copy eBay) and your phone would ring off the hook. In 2016, in London, you put such an ad on line, on Gumtree or Bandmix, and get someone coughing at the back of a nearly empty auditorium, or, if you prefer, crickets, or, if you prefer, radio silence. As the celebrated author Barney Hoskyns has noted, “People don’t want to be in bands anymore,” possibly because they’ve noted that all anyone wants to hear, if they can’t afford a ticket to Adele or Beyonce, is tribute bands.
Last week, we contacted 49 singers on Bandmix and heard back from five, three of whom said thanks, but no thanks. Last week we auditioned one of the other two, a 50-year-old gardener who’d many years before enjoyed singing in pubs. He was wry and gloriously personable. We all thought him a diamond geezer, as I think one says here — a good egg, a splendid egg, in fact — and were a little heartbroken when he turned out not to be a good enough singer to distract from his being overweight and ponytailed.
One cannot perform my beautiful music with a ponytail.
We auditioned a young (26) Gibraltarian whose Soundcloud site included a gorgeous, lavishly overdubbed version of an old Platters hit I loved. He was very musical, and personable, but Andrew, on bass, found him unendurably theatrical. He and Darryll, on guitar, have worked long and hard to become the cohesive triumvirate that we are, and I will not jeopardise that cohesion by adding someone to whom either of the others objects.
Last night, though, was much worse, as we were pretty sure we’d finally found our guy. He was (relatively) young — barely into his 40s! — played guitar (and dobro!) well, and liked The Byrds and The Who. His singing voice reminded me faintly of Liam Gallagher’s, which would have made it ideal for our several sarcastic numbers. He was a transplanted New Yorker, and it was difficult to get a word in when we conversed on the phone, but his recordings revealed him to play guitar (and dobro!) well, and he liked The Byrds and The Who. He turned up unprepared, and, as he tried to fake his way through three of my best-loved melodies, sounded rather less like Liam Gallagher than like Ethel Merman. He didn't sing so much as bray.
Since then, there have been two more responses on Gumtree, the problem being that it’s mostly foreigners, persons who speak (and, presumably, sing) in nearly unintelligible accents, who respond there. I work hard on my lyrics, and can’t bear the idea of their being unintelligible, though I am able to make no promises about my own delivery. Playing the drums in 9/8 while singing isn’t as easy as it sounds. All of my songs are in 4/4.