By Benedict Tatham
Backstage with The Vaccines
On Monday evening before the end of school Tristan and I were recording a song. The plan was to give it to the band The Vaccines who were headlining a three day sold out show at the Brixton O2.
I had long dreamed of doing something like this but never thought I would actually ever get round to doing it.
I’ve been writing songs since I was 15. I used to perform a lot of solo gigging, I still have a band which I love but I soon realised I wasn’t good enough to go alone. Maybe I didn’t quite have the self-belief or dedication needed, to go anywhere with it.
But I still believe I have some good songs and I thought maybe if I wasn’t going to sing them myself, then someone else might.
The problem with this industry is that it’s incredibly difficult to get your stuff out there and into the right hands.
Most demos never even see human hands and normally end up in a big pile on the floor for some spotty intern to before they all eventually get thrown in the bin.
Recently I got frustrated. I had had countless meetings with various friends, followed up on a mentor I met who said he could help me out, sent a demo to a guy who promised he would have a listen and never did.
It seems no ones got any time for some wanna be songwriter these days.
Then Mike Nicholson came in and gave a really inspirational talk. He told us all about his career and the countless times he had to go out of his comfort zone and do something crazy in order to get heard and be seen.
So feeling inspired by Mike I thought, lets do this the old school way – I’m going to hand this song to the lead singer of the vaccines myself.
I first consoled with my inside woman, Federica who had been working at the O2 for a few months and she mapped out my route exactly.
To cut a long story short I managed to blag my way in through the production door dressing room at the O2 Brixton by pretending to be bar staff.
I signed a fake register on entry and waited for the guards backs to be turned before darting up the stairs to the band dressing rooms. My heart was racing and I felt a bit delirious at this stage.
I asked this rather glamorous woman in a fir coat (who looked like a groupie) where the Vaccines dressing room was – she pointed down the corridor and with her American accent said “Two doors down, they’re all in there.”
Clutching my snowman christmas bag with the usb inside with the song on, three toffee crisps and a pack of Haribo, I walked down the corridor and entered without knocking….
There were about 25 people sitting in a square around this room having a meeting – you could have heard a pin drop. I said “I’ve got a Christmas present for the Vaccines”
They were all a bit taken a back. I think I came across as a bit of madman. But I told them why I was there, how I broke in and how I was an aspiring songwriter who had something I thought they might like.
I handed them over the package and thanked them for their time. I even got a warm smile from the lead singer Josh who then said “Cheers mate, thanks a lot.”
I’ll probably never hear from them. The recording was admittedly not the finest but it was better than nothing at all.
Nonetheless it was a fantastic feeling and it breathed a lot of life into me. Thanks to Tristan and Federica, I couldn’t have done it without your help. But now I know how I might start doing it more often!