Peter McVeigh – Life of a Musician #1

by / November 19, 2012

Hi everyone. Peter McVeigh here… I’ve been asked by the guys at CB to write a few blogs/diaries on what it’s like being a musician and generally just giving an insight into what I get up to on a frequent basis.

A Little bit about myself;
I’ve been a full time musician for about 3 years now (part-time for 11 years), which doesn’t mean I have one specific job. After a very average academic adventure, I attended university to study computer programming and later dropped out. I headed on over to work in call centers & administration for the next 3 years. At 20 I decided, “nope, this working malarkey isn’t for me”. I had never been given the opportunity to study music in school due to lack of numbers, but played guitar and sang in a band in school. I applied for a course in Belfast Metropolitan College to study a Music Practice National Diploma and later went on to study Music Technology in Queens University. I’m now a lecturer in Music & Music Technology in Belfast Metropolitan College.

The above shows the paper trail I was on to gain qualifications, but the most useful thing about spending 5 years studying, was the amount of spare time I had to be able to work as a musician, go to band practices, meet new people, work on other peoples projects and spend hours mixing and producing. The amount of first-hand experience I had has really benefited me as a musician & as an engineer.

My Jobs as a musician are;

Singer/Songwriter
Lecturer
Producer
Arranger
Mixing Engineer
Cover Artist

The funny thing is, the thing that I consider myself most important in defining who I am (singer/songwriter) is the only job that actually costs me money to do. If I’m very lucky, I break even. I’m not the type of person to sugar coat things, as I’m sure my students will agree. I used to be very anti-covergigs etc … but i soon realised I’d much rather generate money from singing a 2-hour set than working an 8 hour shift in a supermarket or call centre to support my career. The trick is to not get to blindsided by the money and make sure you do invest it into recording or artwork etc…

So after that long winded introduction: Today 9th of Aug 2012

Summer time is downtime for me in terms of lecturing. I have about 2 months off and spend that time working in bars and pubs as well as doing summer festivals & gigs around Ireland. I also try to line up a rough Idea of what the year is gonna hold in terms of gigs & events for my original music career.

I’m on a few mailing lists for labels & music licensing companies, so I get a list of emails discussing what type of songs labels are looking for, for their current / future artists. This month has been very dejecting in terms of writing, as every brief that has come through has said “Needs to sound like maroon 5”. I’ve read 8 pages so far and I’d say 75% of the briefs are saying that. No risks taken anymore… no wonder the industry is in such a shit state.

I have just been emailed to confirm we’re playing a side stage at Tennents Vital this year on the 22nd Aug (Florence & The Machine Night) and are also playing Stendhal Festival on the 18th Aug, which I’m really looking forward to, so today we’re having a band practice. Having been in a few bands I’ve learnt a lot in terms with dealing with other musicians and the egos that can float about, but to be honest this band is probably the first band I’ve been in that everyone just says it as it is and it’s never about the individual its simply about trying to convey the song in the best possible light.

My band consists of some very talented musicians;

Chris Geehan – @hyperduckchris
Dan Byrne McCullough – @hyperduckdan
Kevin Carville – @hyperduckkev
Thomas Camblin – @tcamblin

You should check these guys out, Thomas is a fantastic drummer and general musician with a proper love for all things pop he’s also quite a nice fella. The other guys also share a love for all genres, but also work in their own company called Hyperduck, which is a sound studio for computer games. They’re part of a new release on Xbox 360 called ‘Dust’, where they created all the sound effects and music as well as mixing and editing all the dialogue for the game. I think Chris has done a Behind the Job interview on Chordblossom, so check it out!

This year so far & beyond;

So far this year, you might have heard a few tracks on your daytime radio stations such as Cool FM, Citybeat, BBC or Spirit FM down south. We’ve been very lucky in being picked up by those stations. Though to be totally honest the ‘Lights EP’ was released a year before that and couldn’t make a ripple in a pond. No one really took it on board, but I decided that I thought the songs were worth trying again and didn’t want to just let the EP fall into the mass void on the Internet. I actually randomly had a chat with Olga Kay from Cool FM’s the Z and she basically asked me to send her a copy of the CD. From there we went straight onto the Cool FM playlist for a month and a half and also spread onto other stations. If we can continue to get coverage the way we did with the 1st EP we’ll be doing well. That’s the challenge, but we’ll try to extend the plays out to mainland and more southern stations. Emma Fitzpatrick has also passed some good opportunities my way & the guys at ATL have also been straight up in their help in promoting my tunes, so a big thanks to all of those guys.

I have also spent a few days down south, writing with a band called The Fallen Drakes. I’m pretty sure these guys are going to be a massive success and they are working with some top class producers, so all is looking well for them. You should check those guys out before they achieve world domination. (currently growing a huge fan base) https://www.facebook.com/thefallendrakes

And finally I’m off to California. As a musician when you say you’re off to a country people think “wow off to meet a label?” or “off to tour”. I’m going to California for one of my best friends weddings as a best man. Whilst out there I’m taking the opportunity to play a few shows and network a bit. I’ve been setting these things up for a few weeks now. There is this romantic idea that you’ve made it when you’re touring or when you’re getting called to meetings. To be honest if touring isn’t costing you money, for me that’s close to having “made it”. When this passion is self sustaining and you don’t need to dip into your bank balance, you’re doing very well.

So I’m thinking for this first piece I’ve just given you an introduction to who I am and currently what’s on my plate. There are some unannounced plans, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be hearing about us a bit more in the coming months. I think I’ll be doing another 2 or 3 pieces which will be focused more on what’s been happening. I’ll give you a guided tour of the Tennents Vital day with some photos and I think I’ll be giving you a wee run down of my California trip.

I’ll also do a little piece on the process we’re going through before our next EP. I’m really enjoying the writing process for the new one, it’s a much more band involved EP and it’s sounding exceptionally epic. Last time round we made the EP massive then had to try to recreate that live (which I think we have done). This time round, we’re a band, we have the songs live now and it’s going to be a challenge trying to capture that and make it a cohesive piece of work.

I’ve been a musician for around 11 years now as a songwriter & I really only feel like my career is starting now, I look forward to seeing ya’s about!

Peter McVeigh

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