Guitarist Adam Goldsmith has got involved with our Tour Day In The Life articles and given us an insight into the week running up to the live Saturday broadcast of The Voice.
The process, from a band point of view, leading up to the live show on a Saturday, begins on the Monday before. The week mostly consists of people (who shall, in the interest of job security, remain nameless) being late, catering ( at least two desserts per meal), early mornings, late nights, all occasionally interspersed with playing music with some truly incredible musicians.
The musicians in question, for this bout of live shows were Steve Sidwell, our musical director, Paul Turner on bass, Ralph Salmins on drums and Richard Cottle on keyboards and programming. This is all ably held together by our engineer and general digital genius Lester Salmins ( Ralph’s son) and Richard Sidwell, who translates our ramblings into musical PDF scores for our iPads.
If you want to find out more about any of them, google them, I can’t say any more here as their CV’s would literally break my computer as I write this.
Monday – Band Only
Band only rehearsals, starting about 10 am, at Pinewood studios in Buckinghamshire. These mostly consist of trimming down songs to the two minutes and ten second remit of the show format, finding the correct key for the artist in question, and getting a rough ‘sketch’ together… (keyboard and guitar sounds, where the verses and choruses go, tempo, keys, intros, outros etc)
Tuesday – Rehearsal with Artists and Coaches
This is where the artists, coaches and film crew are now involved, and it is what you see on the TV as rehearsal days. For most of us this is the longest and hardest day, as you want to be able to give each artist the attention and energy they deserve, whether they are the first in at 9 am or the last, possibly somewhere near midnight, after a long day and some Pizza Express and a couple of bottles of Peroni…hic…
The artists sometimes want to do the songs pretty much like the original, which creates the least work for us, or sometimes the opposite happens… ‘I’d really like to try ‘Like a Virgin’ as a death metal waltz, can you guys do that in the next thirty seconds?’. This is the most common scenario and results in the band working with the coach and artist to come up with something they are happy with, and the BBC timekeepers deem acceptable.
Each of the coaches has their own style and level of input when working with the band and artist, which you can pretty much tell from the show, and they all bring something cool which we may well not have thought of on our own. They are all great in different ways, although I do find in especially interesting to watch Will work. It becomes obvious really quickly why he’s such a successful producer and all round creative guy. Tom and Danny are two of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet, as well as great musicians, and Jessie always brings great vocal tips and arrangement ideas to the rehearsal.
Wednesday – Guitar Only
Little old me in the studio with Lester recording guitar overdubs running on the ‘Pro Tools’ computer system. Usually on pop records there are several layers of guitars on the original, which obviously with only one live guitar player, there is a need to put ‘on track’ to run concurrently with the live band. There are also any extra keyboards, strings or crazy effects added at this stage.
Thursday – Day Off!
Day off for me, dog walking, nappy changing, washing up etc etc…..( Lester, Steve and Richard still hard at work in the studio, haha!)
Friday – Main Studio Rehearsals
Today we move into the main studio, which you see on the finished programme. We run all the songs a few times, there may be quite a few last min key changes or song edits. This, in my opinion is where the session musician really earns his or her money, as you have to be able to play any style in a given key with a moments notice, and get it 100% right all the time in the face of 13hr days, hot studios, cameras, lights and very few breaks. From my point of view, my trusty guitar tech, Adrian Dessent, helps with maintaining all my equipment in the correct tunings and a host of other technical things which make this all possible, and I couldn’t do it without him.
Saturday – ‘The Voice’ Live Show
Everyone is involved now, from Holly and Reggie, through lighting, cameras, producers, directors, riggers, dancers and of course the coaches and artists. The unsung heroes of the whole production, the ‘runners’ who look after everyone’s needs and whims, deserve a mention here, as without them the whole process would collapse very quickly ( no, I said TWO sugars!!) We have a dress run in the morning, which features everything you see on the show, including all exact timings, any pyrotechnics (my eyebrows have suffered a few near misses at this stage) dance routines and autocue rehearsals. For the band we then have a couple of hours off while the audience are seated, which we use to indulge in a ‘court of Henry VIII’ style feast, and then it’s time for the live show. For me there’s nothing quite like the buzz of live TV, as you really can’t get anything wrong at all and everything happens seemingly at lightning speed. In this area of TV you do get the pleasure of working with some of the most pro people you will ever come across in all departments, which is a genuine pleasure. As for the rest of it, you can see it on the tele, and by the time you’ve put the kettle on after, the band will undoubtedly be in The Black Horse in Fulmer for a post match de brief.