Reflecting Failure: Looking back at the first No Side Effects gig

Ade reflects on the happenings, stress and exhilaration of our first ever live performance

In the late evening on Friday 2nd November, Tom and I finally brought the sounds of No Side Effects into the live realm with our first ever 45 minute set to a friendly, welcoming audience at the Darkroom Espresso in Swindon. The day also marked the release of our debut album ‘Reinventing Failure’. It’s been a long journey.

The album plucks some emotional strings from the past 5 years. We’ve worked hard to create something that sounds good to us and had some really good laughs along the way.

So, around August this year, Tom convinced me that we should commit to a live date and that he had some contacts for a venue in Swindon. This, I was told, was a way to make sure we practiced together by applying a little pressure. This made sense as up to now, we’d not managed to find time for regular practice sessions to create a live set. Now, we’d have no choice but to meet up.

I’ve been reluctant to do anything live, unsure if I could overcome my fear of failing and letting everyone down. I did, however, have it down as a personal goal this year, despite my reservations. In the end, I agreed to a date and we proceeded to pencil in plenty of evenings to try to polish a performance. It was long hours of work, pushed by Tom’s drive to get it sounding right and tempered by my insecurities and doubt.

We set up all our gear in Tom’s Neon Meadow studio. I would drive up from Newbury and we’d practice in the evening and most of the following day. There was one occasion where I found it really difficult and tried to convince Tom to cancel.

The day of the gig finally arrived and we’d both booked the day off to practice and by 4pm, we decided to pack up, both generally happy with the progress but mainly because we just couldn’t practice anymore.

On the evening of the gig, we loaded up both our vehicles and drove the 30 minutes into Swindon town centre. We pulled up onto the double yellow lines outside the Darkroom Espresso coffee shop to unload the gear, at a surprisingly timely 6pm. I suffered further discussions as to why I had brought such a large, heavy keyboard.

We were welcomed by Charlie of Zero Gravity Tea Party and Will, the coffee shop owner and proceeded to set up and sound test, an activity which renders Tom unapproachable until it is finished. Our electronic smorgasbord sprawled its way across the room, a stereo jack lead at a time, leaving just enough space for Charlie’s seated grotto of candles and fairy lights.

It was the first time I met the local artists and musicians that Tom was familiar with and who made up the crowd. I was so focused on overcoming the anxiety of playing live and remembering my music that I completely overlooked that I would have to chat to a room of strangers.

I relaxed more when Charlie of Zero Gravity Tea Ceremony (ZGTC) started performing. The ambient acoustic waves interjected with intense energetic hypnotica, building on loops played from four tape decks and through a variety of ‘surfaces’. It was a great, confident and personal performance. At the end of the evening, it was suggested by Tom that Charlie’s ‘LoFi’ set provided a complimentary analogue yin to our harder, digital yang. In contrast to the ZGTC performance, we had lined up enough electronic equipment to open a PC World.

At around 9pm, I managed to stand when our time was beckoning. My knees wobbled and I had to engage my meditation practice. It’s always interesting how nerves and anxiety manifest themselves. I’ve been in many stressful situations but this was different. This was me at centre stage, performing, singing in public. Weird. Scary.

Photo by Simon Warner

The decision to open with Anti-trust was a good one. A chance to settle the nerves with a loose arrangement of sounds. The world shrinks to the instruments in front of me. We bring in the slowly building crescendos, electric guitar and the heartbeat bass-drum all collapse to an end in modulated fuzz and all falls to silence. We were encouraged by a generous reception. Tom gives a little banter as I search for the next rack of settings on the keyboard.

Photo by Swindon Sound and Light

This led, somewhat seamlessly, into In Your Brain Right Now, a complicated mix of samples, funk guitar, jazz keyboards and repeating bass and drums which, in rehearsals, provided us with plenty of blank moments. We were reticent to bring this track to the live performance as it has so many elements but it is now one of the most enjoyable to play. We worked through the 10 or so minutes of this song without major downfalls and again, finished to a little applause. (We had 2 rounds of applause, the first during one of the sound breaks within the song)

Photo by Swindon Sound and Light

The third song Outstare the Square is another mix of samples, vocal loops and repetitive bass combining the album version with an early mix which used a religious evangelist sample. This track had us in stitches when we first put it together and it was nice to hear some of the humour had transferred to the crowd, particularly when ‘… Obama plays golf’.

Photo by Swindon Sound and Light

The video clips posted by bergamasque show an introduction to the final track of our set called Dark Light. The ambient intro that we worked on for the first time on that day worked well before unleashing the relentless bass drum, soaring guitar and synths. A final descend into overdrive pedals and synth chaos brings the set to a close and a generous double round of applause.

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Three short video samples by bergamasque

The weeks of hard work paid off and the elation and relief afterwards was palpable. We had to settle and reflect for a few hours afterwards. I actually remembered the whole evening, this time my memories not being wiped by anxiety. It was a shaky start but on the other side of the evening, it felt good.

we both must say thank you, thank you and thank you for all the photos from Swindon Sound and Light which, to be honest, made us look far cooler than we are (speak for yourself {eds: Tom}) and the video clips from bergamasque which encapsulated a little of the performance and Charlie for his stellar ZGTC set, check out his music. We are also really grateful for those who came out to support us and for the Darkroom Espresso owner, Will, for allowing us to inflict our untested noise on some of his customers.

The coffee is really good here by the way.

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No Side Effects on the BBC

Yes, we know, someone else liked our music except our Mums. A big thank you to Radio Berkshire and presenter Linda Serck and her team for playing ‘Dark Light’ on the ‘Introducing’ programme this evening.

Listen to the 1 hour show by clicking this link. Dark Light is featured on our debut album to be released on 2nd August 2018. We also have a music video of the single.

New Album Trailer

The day is almost here where you can get on with your lives and no longer have to cope with the perpetual, nagging numbness of a massive musical chasm. Until then, you’ll have to make do with the following trailer for the No Side Effects debut album ‘Reinventing Failure’, coming very soon.


 

New Single ‘Final Forecast’

 

Final Forecast Single Cover V04

The latest creative offering to the world of musical and visual entertainment from No Side Effects is available today. Why not overcome your total indifference and have a listen, what do you have to lose? You can even add this to your endless music collection for FREE, if you are moved to do so.

Firstly, have a listen and/or download

 

Secondly, enjoy the music video

 

Alternatively you can stream though soundcloud

This track features an ambient mix of live drums, electronic keyboard and a great guitar solo from Tom. This is one of Ade’s favourite tracks off the new album ‘Reinventing Failure’. We hope you enjoy.

New tune ‘Dark Light’ released plus our first Music Video!!!

Tom 1 - DL Video

We are really pleased to release our brand new single Dark Light which will feature on our upcoming album. We also found time in our busy wildlife schedules to record our very first music video.

Ade 1 - DL VideoLantern Still DL - Video

Both Tom and Ade feature in the video trying to pretend to look serious while they are blinded by strobe lights and attempt to throw themselves down some staircases.

Watch the video here:

Dark Light is one of Tom and Ade’s favourite songs and Tom has gone as far as saying that it his is favourite song he has ever recorded. So it just had to be a single, didn’t it?

The B-Side includes a demo version of an album track called ‘Turn Right and You Have Reached Your Death’. This demo was recorded by Tom while in a cottage in Norfolk and was referenced in his recent blog about solitude.

Download both tracks for free from our music store (and the other two singles):

 

Please do join in the black and white fun on our Facebook page where we are posting images of black and white objects.

https://www.facebook.com/No-Side-Effects-1377458802530315/?ref=hl

Black Dice

Recording and exhausting – Remembering the development of ‘In Your Brain Right Now’

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Tom recalls the development of No Side Effect’s new song ‘In Your Brain Right Now’


It is Spring 2014. I have just moved house from Newbury to Swindon. I feel a haze of tiredness most days because of a very intense conservation project I am working on and trying to unpack into our new home. It’s the weekend. I’ve just returned from leading a wildlife walk and I am exhausted, but the sun is shining and everything feels tranquil.

Adrian is standing on the drive as I arrive home in the car. He has a purposefulness in his eyes that I haven’t seen before. He’s arrived at my house so we can work on a new song.

He sent me a demo of this new song the week before. The demo was titled ‘A New Conversation’ and it was based around a sample of a Sam Harris lecture titled ‘Death and the Present Moment’. I’d never heard of the guy. When I first played the demo I wasn’t sure whether I was comfortable with it. I was worried we would end up sounding too much like Public Service Broadcasting.

Adrian and I go up to my little recording studio and I play through some of the guitar riffs I have been messing around with and Ade is pretty firm on which ones he likes. This song means a lot to him, I can tell. He sets himself up at the recording desk and tells me to start playing the guitar.

I play the guitar with complete freedom. Ade has control over the recording process so I don’t need to worry about doing it myself for the first time in years. I just dive into the repeating drum beats beneath Sam’s voice. I play for about two hours. Sweat is pouring off me and I feel a new type of exhaustion. Ade gives me a thumb’s up to tell me he is satisfied with my guitaring. I let out a sigh of relief and drop my bulky electric guitar to the floor.

In Your Brain Right Now CD Cover V02

‘Do you want to do some drums now?’ Ade asks.

I look at the drum kit in the corner, wondering where I can find the energy.

‘Give me second’ I say and I go downstairs to get a drink and wipe away some of the sweat.

‘How are you getting on?’ asks Ruth.

‘I think he’s trying to kill me.’ I say.

‘You could always have a break’ she says.

I consider it for a moment, maybe just stopping for the day, I have done quite a lot of stuff for one day. The wildlife walk seems like a distant memory.

‘No, I’m good, I’m good.’

I go back upstairs and leap onto the drums. Ade is still at the computer. There is a serenity about him, but an excitement beneath it all. You can almost see this song being created through his neural pathways.

‘Shall we do some more?’ he asks.

I re-adjust my posture and give him a nod. As the song starts I manage to find a beat that doesn’t really feel like it should make any sense, but I stick with it and I become lost in the drum kit. I don’t really have arms anymore, I just have drum sticks. I look to one side and Adrian has a camera. He’s leaning towards the drum kit taking pictures. It distracts me for a second, but I keep on the beat. I can feel the walls of the world opening up and I am not too sure what is happening. I have become Adrian’s instrument. He is somehow playing me.

I have played the drums for about an hour when Adrian gives me the thumbs up with a big smile. It’s done, it’s over. I feel my back crack as I get up from the drum stool. The room is warm and thick with sweat. I open the windows and doors and I stand for a while, panting, taking off my shirt and towelling myself down.

Adrian listens back to a few sections and he looks incredibly satisfied. He has a quick coffee and packs up his stuff and leaves the house. I stand at the doorway trying to understand what just happened. I think someone just dragged some music out of my chest.

The next time I hear the song it is nearly in its final form and we have renamed it ‘In Your Brain Right Now’ and I can’t remember playing a lot of the things I play. I hear elements of jazz in the song, which originally sounded more like a slow burning Underworld track and I don’t understand where these influences have come from. How the hell have we started playing jazz? I discuss this later with Ade and I discover that his Nan use to play jazz records to him when he was a kid.

Adrian also doesn’t fully understand where some of the influences came from, which leads me to conclude that this is the most No Side Effects song that we have recorded. It seems to transcend the two people that made it.



 

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