Lightning Strikes At 16

It all started at sweet 16! Well not so sweet in my case I guess.. More like a scruffy rebellious kid who loved music and loved playing guitar as loud as possible. Me and my ragtag bunch of friends didn’t quite fit in with the cool kids or sporty kids or even the brainy ones – we were the ones obsessed with music and we looked up to the rockstars of the time. On TV we’d watch them on stage effortlessly peel off riff after riff and all the while looking damn cool in the process. We were lucky if we could even play some of the riffs let alone be cool while doing it! Chances are we were hunched over the instrument with ourmost idiotic looking ‘concentration face’ frowning away while sloppily running through a riff that had made our jaws drop when we first heard it.. But it sure didn’t stop us trying. We would meet up at our drummer’s house and jam to the simplest songs from our favourite bands, practising away in the hope we’d perform them some day.

We got our wish one night when we turned up to birthday party in this dive of a bar The Riverton Hotel. The band playing onstage was a bunch of older kids that we knew and were quite a friendly lot. They had played half their set and came off stage for a break. I wandered over to the stage to gaze at their expensive instruments. After a minute or so my drooling was interrupted by the voice of my very eager friend who blurted out “Quick! They said we could jump up and play 1 song before they come back on!” At once my stomach knotted with fear but my heart also suddenly beat faster with excitement! Sure we had practised some songs, but would I freeze under the pressure of having an audience? It was probably lucky that I didn’t have too much time to think about things. I hurriedly jumped up on stage, and picked up this awesome but unfamiliar instrument and launched into the song we had hastily chosen. And is if by magic, sound came out of my guitar although it felt like I was not even playing it due to how nervous I was and how fast my mind was racing. After a few seconds I realised: I’m doing this!! We didn’t even have a singer, but that didn’t stop us. Onlookers started singing the words to the song, and it was like the biggest compliment I could get! I was giving my first performance and getting my first taste of what it felt like to be a rockstar!

Later that same year, I went to check out a gig at Curtin University. The band was Def FX, and they had come over from Sydney for a few shows. As they started to play something struck me right away as being different to anything I’d heard before – They had super loud metal guitars, but *SHOCK HORROR* they had no drummer on stage! They had dance beats that they rocked out to, and not only that they had keyboard effects more akin to dance music than rock. They had a female singer who could scream and mosh with the best of them but could also sing sweetly when the song required it. I had found my favourite kind of music! At that stage I had no idea how I was going to do it – I didn’t even own a keyboard or a computer that could handle a sample without exploding. I had not even written a song that had any structure to it by that point. But I knew something right away after hearing it – this was the kind of music I just HAD to make!

And to this very day in every song I write, I try to capture the magic and excitement that 16 year old kid experienced that blew his mind and changed his life. So when you the listener hears my song and really digs it, it is the greatest feeling to me as I know I have in some small way transported you to that gig at Curtin University – and I am right back on that stage at the Riverton Hotel playing my guitar and grinning from ear to ear as people in the crowd sing back to me in appreciation.

I look forward to many more sometimes hard, sometimes ugly, always worthwhile experiences along this musical journey. Here’s to hoping that you are part of that journey. Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter!