Lightning struck my curiosity and took me over when I heard KISS blaring out of our garage in an out-of-the-way little country town in rural Australia. There was something different about the quality of the sound. It was palpable, alive and it sounded like KISS were IN MY GARAGE!
To back it up for a second, I was 10 years old at the time and just starting to get into the rock bands of the late 80's/early 90’s, like Motley Crew, Poison, Guns n’ roses, Aerosmith and ACDC. Don’t judge me, I was 10 at the time.
I’d watch these bands on TV and I started to have some fantasies of being a one of them, but it all felt so out of reach.
Musicians seemed like mythical creatures that would magically appear on the radio and on MTV out of the ether. They would project this energy, flamboyance, creativity and intensity that was somewhat otherworldly.
I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but music lit me up and went in so deep that it had a grip on me.
I didn’t choose it, it took a hold of me like nothing else in life.
So, that KISS song ‘God gave rock ‘n’ roll to you’ was massive around that time. It seemed to speak to that 10-year-old rock star in waiting by implying that music was this precious gift from on high. I agreed.
It shocked me when out of the blue, that song started blaring out of my garage. It was definitely not coming out of a sound system. We didn’t have anything that could make that kind of noise.
I was transfixed and drawn to it like a lemming to a cliff. I zombied my way over towards the garage with my eyes, ears and mouth all wide open to try and take it all in.
When I opened the door to the garage I was simultaneously over and underwhelmed.
It felt like my brain split in half and the world I knew went with it. My senses were utterly confused.
I still heard KISS but what I saw blew my mind in an unexpected way.
I saw my 14-year-old brother and two of his pimply school mates behind some cheap instruments making big noise.
What blew me away was that to my 10-year-old ears, they sounded pretty much just like the KISS I knew from my oldest brothers record collection.
My bro in the garage with his red glitter drum kit he painted himself.
This is the moment that changed me and my life forever. I thought “If these young dudes can sound like KISS, then surely I can do this”.
The out-of-reach mythology of being a musician crumbled right there in front of my eyes. It dissolved the idea that making music was only for certain kinds of ‘special’ people, like rock stars on TV.
From that moment on, I sat in on every rehearsal these guys had, every Saturday morning for a year or two. I started my nagging campaign directed at my mum, for my very own guitar. We went looking at guitar stores over the following months and I got enraptured by the possibilities.
On my 11th birthday I picked out my $150 Torch Vintage Series Stratocaster with an Eddie Van Halen copy paint job on it and a whammy bar (I still have it to this day). Nothing would ever be the same again. The musician in me had come alive and now I had my tools to get to work.
That's me, pretending to be on stage with my new guitar.
I would spend countless hours playing the same thing over and over again until it sounded like real music. I started having lessons, writing songs, singing, learning music theory, writing poetry, starting bands and making records.
Fast-forwarding to my early 20’s, I formed a band called ‘Lamplight’ with my friend Kirsty Morphett. We went on to record 1 EP and 2 albums. We released a few singles and toured Australia and Europe. I have many stories to share about our adventures, maybe I'll share those another time.
Once in Europe, I fell in love with Berlin. What a city. I moved there and toured solo across 13 countries. I did a tour of 43 cities in 43 days. I ended up on tour with Gotye, Tommy Emmanuel (my guitar hero in my teens), Clare Bowditch and had Missy Higgins as my support act for a night in Berlin.
I made a living, doing what I love the most. It makes me tear up thinking about it. I even woke myself up with laughter 2 times while I was on tour. That let me know that I was doing exactly what I was born to do. That’s called a 10-year-old boys dream coming true.
A lot sprung out of that flash point moment in that garage. I trace it all back to a Saturday morning where three teenage dudes got together to rock.
Today, playing my own music is a part of that ripple going out in space and time. Maybe it will inspire others to pick up an instrument, write something about their life and express themselves. We all know the world needs more of that honest, deep, truthful expression right about now.
I’m so grateful I have music in my life. It has saved my life many times and brought me deep and profound joy. It is a precious experience that I cannot imagine living without.
As one of my favourite philosophers once put it:
“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
That pretty much sums it up for me. My passion for music and art runs deep. Looking back I can see that my love for it was always there and waiting to be ignited.
I deeply believe in the power of music and art to transform us. This can happen by listening to a single song. Think of a song that you are grateful exists. Incredible life enhancement.
Now imagine your life without it. Ghastly... let’s not even go there.
Music has been with humans from the very start, before language. It runs deep. We need it. It’s important, valuable, enriching.
Sometimes our culture forgets, but we need to remember its transcendent role. To me it’s far more than entertainment. It’s as close as we can get to the source of life itself.
I now see my role much bigger than being a ‘rock star’. Without getting too ‘heady’ on you, I now see my life’s purpose is to create meaningful, honest, authentic music that illuminates deeper truths to help myself and listeners transcend the all too human events of loss/challenge/suffering and turn them artfully into experiences of transformation.
That’s a big ask. If I do my job properly, I’m certain I’ll leave the world better than I found it. That’s the power of music. It can heal the future.
I sincerely hope that you’ll be part of that journey with me. I want to connect with like-minded music lovers to share the voyage with.
If you’d like to hear some of the music referenced here, you can take a listen to an EP I wrote in a remote cabin in Iceland and recorded in a ballroom of a villa in Berlin.
You can also check out music with Lamplight here.
I’d really love to hear from you in the comments below:
When did you discover your love for music?
What was your first album/single purchase?
What’s your favourite band/song at the moment?
If you’re a musician, tell me what ignited you to start playing music?
Thanks for reading.
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Know yourself, be yourself.