Vixen Of The Violin: The Anna Phoebe Column (No. 9)
Anna Phoebe’s life gets increasingly hectic – but she still manages to fit in Roxy Music rehearsals, two gigs, a trip to see Kiss and a dinner party… Click here to read Anna’s previous columns.
What a week! Four days of solid Roxy Music rehearsals, solo band rehearsals and gig, a gig with Jurojin, a radio show on TotalRock, a dinner party for friends, photo shoot and interview for Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine, a house party for 50 guests and a trip to see Kiss at Wembley.
Sitting on the tube on my way to Roxy Music rehearsals. Almost done a full week of rehearsals – each day, for almost seven hours. So much fun. Was absolutely nervous before the first day – felt like the first day at school, arriving at the studio with my suitcase full of effects pedals and leads, my two violins and a folder of sheet music.
Although exhausting, it is musically the most rewarding band I’ve played with – the ample rehearsal time is spent not only playing the music, but delving into a sonic world in a way I never experienced before.
Most bands I’ve played for it’s been a case of ‘plug in and go’ – where my role as ‘a violinist’ is limited to playing the notes and running around the stage performing them, rather than building any kind of sound effects. In previous bands I’ve played for, the time I’m dedicating to developing sounds with the violin has only really been reserved for the guitar players. With Roxy, there is so much to take in and so many decisions to be made about how things are played and how they sound. On Saturday, the musical director and I spent a good six-and-a-half hours programming keyboard/organ sounds for four songs!
Much of this attention to detail stems from the fact we are trying to replicate the album sounds as closely as possible. This would be easier if the sounds didn’t stem from random genius moments, played on instruments in the 70s and 80s which don’t actually exist anymore (or still do , but are far too old and unreliable to take out on tour).
Most notable are the sounds Brian Eno created on the old synths, and the specific organ sounds Eddie Jobson got. On top of this, there are some tracks where the whole track has then been treated with a variety of effects, making absolute replication pretty much impossible! Anyway, it’s a steep learning curve which is challenging and using up brain cells I never knew I had!
Phil Manzanera joined the rehearsals towards the end of the week - again, his guitar playing is so different to other guitarists I’ve played with – I guess mainly because the musical style is different. Suddenly the whole sound of the band changed. I kept looking over at his fingers, which didn’t seem like they were moving much. But there were all these intricate soundscapes coming from his amp. Incredible stuff!
From intricate sonics to complete over-the-top everything – Kiss at Wembley Arena was more of a physical and visual bombardment! Travelling with 17 trucks of lights, explosives, flying lifts, costumes and platform boots, they put on an amazing show which lasted for around two hours.
My sister, a friend and I had a great time dancing the entire time, giggling at Gene Simmons’ ever-present tongue and Paul Stanley’s incessant bum-wiggling. We were standing behind the sound and lighting desk, and directly behind what must have been Gene Simmons’ ’wife’. She was a voluptuous, full-bodied, full-lipped pouting blonde beauty wearing enough bling to redirect and shoot the lasers directly back onto the stage. .She kept standing up and giving a royal wave to the adoring middle-aged male fans who fumbled excitedly to get the cameras out of their pockets every time she looked their way. Hilarious.
Right. Time to get off the tube at the next station and get to work!
‘Til next week!
Inspiration Track For The Week:
Kiss Rock And Roll All Nite