From left to right: Tom Collier (guitar), Matt Lovett (drums), Ben Connor (vocals), Josh Gray (bass+vocals).
This is a post that I promised I would write and – when I can – I keep my promises. Last night, DeathStar Disco performed in Exeter’s Battle of the Bands first heat and since it is the band that has as its lead singer and drummer/backing vocalist both of my best friends in the entire world, I thought I’d devote a day’s blog post to them and their work.
To begin with, I just want to give you a bit of the band’s context in my own life, as this blog is my story, before paying my homage to them.
Matt and Ben have been in a band together before while we were at school, one with some of our other friends called Dry Ryser and I suppose, this aspect of my story begins with that band, in fact and then when we all moved to Devon, I transferred my feelings and anxieties to DeathStar Disco.
I am very musical. I have come to realise in my last year of school and at university that I have a gift for knowing how music is supposed to sound and how to get every drop of feeling and emotion out of the manuscript and into the real music. Nevertheless, when Dry Ryser was performing in and around Chigwell, I was not so circumspect. I felt incredibly alienated and unwanted by my closest friends.
Anyhow, that just gives you the canvas for the picture that I painted with DeathStar Disco later on at university. As my mental conditions worsened, so did the sensations of abandonment and resentment. The same feelings can be applied to how I view university-affiliated societies and people who are well enough to stride out into the world and attend socials and sit on committees and just be reliable enough to get value for money from the membership fees!
During my first and first second year, I was able to be on committee for the university’s Disney Society. I was its Musical Director and was lucky enough to be re-elected. As you can imagine, it was not the most serious of societies or the most difficult music to impart to a small ensemble of mixed talent singers, thus it was the ideal pastime for me. I did not always manage to make it to the rehearsals as I couldn’t always stomach the idea of walking out my front door and it was a series of quickly constructed lies that kept me my place on committee and allowed me to maintain some kind of presence in the university’s musical societies.
Gradually, this became impossible to maintain and the friends I had managed to acquire through the society were being let down so constantly and so much by my deceptions and actions that I eventually – in my bleakest hour – just could not stomach showing my face at the informal sing-a-longs or the choir rehearsals, which ended up just being called off and then rescheduled and then when I lost heart again, called off once more. I just barricaded myself in my flat last year before eventually calling the year off at university and going home to father and my best friend, who was also the President of Disney Society, went to Canada unable to understand why I had so suddenly and without so much as a word cut her out of my life.
It is always told to new students at university that they should try and get into university life and societies and groups, but what if the consequences of doing so lead to more stress and other students’ studies being affected? I know that I caused my former best friend to miss lectures and skip necessary reading because I had to all-of-a-sudden drop out of a commitment, so I don’t know that the Guild and the general line of the university is so universal, if you will pardon the phrase. I know the point is to help people make new friends with like-minded people and not end up depressed and sitting at home alone like I do every night, but sometimes the pressure of being required somewhere is just enough to send you over the final bridge and then there’s no ledge to grab onto and stop yourself from hitting the water with a slap.
My past experiences in university societies aside, I miss my best friends. I know we have to grow and learn new experiences and skills and find new friends, but just because it is the two of them, I feel left out and left behind. It has always been one of my greatest fears that one day they would forget about me and completely move on, which is one of the reasons I changed my university choice from Nottingham to Exeter. Just the fact that whenever we are together all they talk of is things to do with the band and all the fun stuff the band is up to makes me fret. I enjoy worrying and I’m good at it so it is one of my preferred pastimes. Worrying about my two best friends is always at the top of my list of things to worry about.
After the Disney Society debacle, I have made my peace as much as it can be made with my best friends’ involvement with DeathStar Disco, especially as I see how much joy it gives both of them and whatever happiness they feel, I have some share in it. It is their sadness and pain that I find intolerable and affects me as much as – if not more, as we have seen in some cases than – them. I would not have them feel guilty about sharing their musical talents with the world and among themselves for it is not their fault at all that I feel this way, it is my own and I never want to be a person who makes people apologise for their passions. They have never given me any reason to resent the band for taking more of their time away from me and once I hear them perform together, the enjoyment and feeling that comes through their music is staggering.
The music they manage to produce is a wonder to me. I know they are all very talented musicians, but talented musicians do not always come together in success. The songs written mostly by the three instrumentalists are witty and memorable (“Everyone Hates You (Including Me)” is my favourite of their oeuvre, particularly when done acoustically as it is in the Youtube video below).
“When I first saw you I thought that you were a bore, two lips but nothing to say. You’re so damn demanding with no understanding of people…”
~ “Everyone Hates You (Including Me)
My final words to DeathStar Disco are an apology. I am sorry I could not attend Battle of the Bands at Timepiece last night to vote for you, but I hope you did well, as I know you deserve to win. I hope this post on this little blog of mine gets you some publicity which is all I can give at this point but keep singing, keep playing, keep drumming and everything you want will be on the next horizon. I’m not going to go on, otherwise I’ll end up sounding like Del Boy (“One day you’ll be millionaires” and the like!) so I’m praying in the early hours of this morning that you get through to the finals and win your much-deserved recording contract so I can listen to you when I’m feeling low because everyone loves you…including me!