Most of the advice I have received from people much wiser than me is that I need to know what I want before embarking on a project. This is true. It is true in the broader sense i.e. you must have a general idea of where you want to go and how to arrive there.
With the advent of the internet it has been much easier to flesh out your general aspirations. There’s tonnes of advice out there on how to start a band, what gear to buy and how to run your band’s page. But as is our nature, we rarely seek out advice before starting out a project. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes said that we are not much better than flies in that, each individual thinks it is the crème de la crème of the species. And I must admit that in my arrogance, I have sometimes wondered why some bands haven’t succeeded because back then I was theorising and observing and I was not in actual practice.
When we formed ‘The Seeds of Datura’, our guitarist “Sultan Rauf” asked all of us a question. What are your goals, why are you doing music? Everyone was quick to belt out smart and mostly righteous answers. Grand ideas about touring, general statements about releasing music and vague aspersions about killing it live on stage.
Luckily, nature hasn’t left us unequipped, even when we fail to seek advice there is one principle that bends our efforts to the right paths. That great principle is failure.
Failure improves our abilities to conquer the world’s problems. We know better and so we become better. It is out of many failed relationships that we know the qualities to look for in a spouse. It is from many failed experiments that a scientist achieves success. it is something to aspire to, even as one aspires to success.
During the last seven months I have failed on more occasions than I can count. I remember the first time we went recording. I thought things would fall into place. I never factored in things like fatigue, breathing, and singing with passion or the mindset of the producer. Similarly while performing live, as a band we have had many pitfalls. There were times that we were frustrated by shows starting late and poor sound. But I am grateful for all these failures because now I have a clearer picture of what I want. Now I can answer Rauf’s question better.
I definitely don’t want to play a show that is poorly produced and I say this with the utmost respect and understanding. Sometimes things don’t fall in place and you have to work with what you have. But the fact remains that sound is still crucial to a great show. There are other aspects like time and people management which influence greatly the morale of the audience.
Having encountered a lot of dishonesty, I can now say that I want to work with people who are transparent in their dealings.
As a long term goal, I have also seen the benefit of having our own studio as a band. This will give us more control of our material and the time we choose to put work into it.
Failure has also put more meaning behind the concept of ‘rehearsal and practice’. A good live performance will depend on what has been rehearsed. That means that nothing can be left to chance. Every aspect has to be ironed out in the practice room whether its stage choreography, the vibe of the song and the passion you put into it. You have to simulate all that in the practice room if it is going to come to bear on stage.
Going forward I also know that I need to be more cheerful and greatful. Some of the little success we encountered last year was because of the benevolence of good people who supported our cause. When you are experiencing hardship it is difficult to be greatful. But gratefulness brightens the day and begets more good fortune.
Finally I must say that, one thing I hope for is that out of the mistakes that your band makes, that you become the better out of it. It would not be a miss to say that I am looking forward to more failure in this scene.
And so you will come to the realization that you must fail, in order that you may succeed.