Brigade offer Suffolk artists advice at masterclass

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James and Will, Brigade, Sophie Hargraves and Rogues Cradle
Image caption,
James and Will from Brigade, Sophie Hargraves and Rogues Cradle

Aspiring musicians in Suffolk have been receiving advice from members of rock band Brigade as part of a Suffolk Soundwaves masterclass.

Will Simpson and James Plant hosted two sessions at Framlingham College, talking about the highs and lows of their career.

Kesgrave band Rogues Cradle played in front of the duo and received valuable feedback.

"We've learned a lot and picked up a lot of good tips," said Jamie Bellamy.

Jamie sings and plays rhythm guitar for four-piece Rogues Cradle, whose members are 15 and 16-years-old.

They said they were impressed by how much Will and James have achieved with Brigade, from releasing two albums, headlining large venues and touring with Biffy Clyro.

"It's good knowing that they started out being a bunch of young Suffolk guys like us, and because they kept trying they've managed to make a successful career," said Tom Rumbellow, lead guitarist.

Will, a former pupil of Framlingham College, reflected on a couple of turning points in Brigade's career.

The first was a gig in London where the majority of the audience were label representatives, eager to see whether Brigade could live up to the hype surrounding them.

Will recalled how sound problems led to a loss in confidence and ultimately resulted in the major labels walking away from the band.

Yet Brigade overcame this, found an indie label who believed in them, Mighty Atom, and went from strength to strength.

Everything was on the up until 2008 when Will lost his voice mid gig and Brigade were forced to take a year off.

People power

Now without a label and facing an industry which is still trying to deal with the decline of physical sales, the band decided to embrace a new business model for their third album.

Image caption,
Rogues Cradle received expert feedback from Will and James from Brigade

Pledge Music gives bands a platform to seek funding from fans.

Various items are given in return for the money, ranging from a download of the finished album to drum sticks, artwork and even the chance to sing backing vocals on the record.

"The barrier between fans and artists has been completely squashed," said Will. "This whole thing has given people the chance to be involved with a record from day one.

"They feel like they've contributed to it being made, which has not happened before."

The class was an eye opener for Jamie from Rogues Cradle.

"They've told us many ways of helping to break from small time gigs to the big time, and people getting to know your music," he said.

"It was interesting hearing that major labels aren't the big thing. You can be successful and promote your music without them."


Sophie Hargraves is the project manager for Suffolk Soundwaves, which is run by Suffolk Coastal District Council and funded by Suffolk County Council.

"Soundwaves is about inspiring youngsters who write and play their own music and want to make it in the music world," said Sophie.

"Throughout the year we're going to be introducing more musicians from the industry to come and speak to the youngsters - it's an opportunity that isn't always available to them, to be able to speak to people that have actually been there and done it."

Will and James listened to the artists' cds and watched them perform live, before offering some feedback.

"It's a pleasure to see really good raw talent at such an young age," said Will.

"We didn't get Brigade going properly until I was 23, and these guys (Rogues Circle) are only 16.

"They're recording their own songs with their own equipment, by themselves so it's exciting to see the potential and to think where they could be by the time they reach the age I was starting out."

But Will was quick to admit that how ever much advice young artists receive, they'll eventually only learn from their own experience.

"However much someone can tell you not to do something, you will probably make the same mistakes again," he said.

"People have just got to get out there and go for it, but at the back of their mind they might be 'I'm sure some guy told me that we shouldn't do it that way'."

Suffolk Soundwaves will be holding more masterclass events in 2011. They are also hosting the Ultimate Band Contest, with heats on 26 February, 19 March and 2 April.

Head to the Suffolk Soundwaves website for full details.

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