Friday, 26 February 2016

Stage Fright 101

The duo of Black Belt Jones and Wiggaz seemed to be getting over quite well with audiences, so we continued to play shows together. That of course meant I had to perform double duty as I was now the lead vocalist in both outfits. I had been plagued with anxiety over replacing Mike in Wiggaz, but that was short lived. 

Mike came to us all as a group and as friends, to inform us that he would be stepping away from the band scene to focus on life and his new bride Myra. We all accepted that and gave him our best. I hated to see him go from BBJ as I felt he was a very important and instrumental part of the band. Michael was literally one of, if not the most talented player I had met yet in my journeys. As sad as it was to see him go, it was also a relief that there were no issues with Wiggaz replacing him with me before even communicating with him. That never sat right with me. I felt it was somewhat disrespectful towards him, and a bit of a dick move on Greg's part. But then again, sometimes things just happen in the heat of the moment and we have no control over them.

When music is in your blood, it is in there for life, and such was true in Mike's case as well. Shortly after disbanding us, the music bug bit him again. He began creating songs with his wife Myra, and they ended up recruiting former EBS drummer John McCuish. The trio would come to be known as "ETHER" an experimental project in the vain of the band "Ween". I don't think they took things too seriously, and they sure as hell weren't out trying to book gigs or get a record deal, but they were creating something, which is really all that is important at the end of the day. Even if it is just for ones own piece, or peace, of mind.

I was still working midnights at the gas station, and I was still writing lyrics like a mad man. I was frequently tuning into college radio stations during my shifts, and since work was slow, I made an effort to promote our bands as much as I could when the opportunity presented itself. There were a few times that radio stations invited us in for interviews but I had to decline because of work. On some occasions the guys would go without me, and they'd even call me at work and put me on air to join in. It was truly a magical time in my life.

When performing with Wiggaz, I was still wearing my Dad's old suit and the devil mask. I decided I wanted to spice things up with BBJ and bring some level of character to the band, so I started wearing an Afro wig and sunglasses. I'd been performing in front of crowds for close to 8 years now, yet I still suffered some form of "stage fright". It wasn't uncommon for me to stand sideways on stage, or even almost turn my back completely to the crowd. With my Wiggaz disguise I discovered it opened me up more, gave me more confidence, and in turn a greater stage presence. I figured if it worked for Wiggaz it should work for BBJ.

My assumptions were correct. The simple disguise gave me a new level of confidence, and the sunglasses helped me look straight into the crowd without having to make eye contact with anyone. This loosened me up tremendously, which again in turn gave me a better stage presence. I was no longer an immobile object. I was grooving and shaking my shit, much to my own surprise.

With Mike gone we also had to make some changes to the band. Pauly & Mike C. would now have to share stringed duties. We never could decide who should play what, so the guys opted to play both bass and guitar. Once we ironed everything out we had a new formula. Some songs Paul would play bass, on other songs he would play guitar. The same applied for Mike C. We had reached an agreement that worked for all of us collectively, which meant the "Kung Funk" would live on...

Black Belt Jones Interview

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