• Team Tonic

Rediscovering Music, Friendship and the Importance of Talking

Danny and Dave from Winning at Music write about their friendship – from bandmates in the 90s to creating a community for musicians in the pandemic.


Danny and Dave

 


Dave and Danny met at school in the late ’80s. Although both were wannabe musicians in various bands, they never really gelled musically, but they got on really well. A few years later, around 1990, Danny was invited to join a band that Dave was in and this time it was different. Everything seemed to fall into place musically and the band was soon gigging regularly, going from strength to strength, eventually signing with a small indie label and touring the UK.


 

Danny


It was great, I loved what we were doing. We were a tight unit with a lot of energy and whether it was 20 people in a bar who had no idea who we were or a couple of thousand people supporting an established act, the crowd always got into what we were doing. However, something wasn't quite right with me. I started doubting myself and feeling like the weakest link, the least talented. I thought I was holding them back, that they’re better without me. This was more than a bit of self-doubt. I remember feeling useless, hopeless even, and I regularly hid in the loos before gigs full of panic and fear.


The funny thing is, while all this was going on in my head, we were pulling bigger and bigger crowds, getting good reviews in NME, larger labels were taking a genuine interest, and we had started to record our debut album. The better things got, the worse I felt. I was a mess, but I kept quiet and carried on with this super-confident frontman persona… but I wasn’t coping and I wanted out!


Around this time, our drummer quit to work as a tour manager or something, and instead of finding a replacement, I remember seizing the opportunity: “It could never be the same, we can't possibly carry on…” And so, the band ended and off I went to get a ‘proper job’ where all my problems would be left behind me, or so I thought…


I often wonder how things would have panned out had I sought help, and having recently joined a Tonic Rider Peer Support Group, I can’t help feeling my ongoing relationship with music and performing could have been very different if something like Tonic had been available back then…


 

Fast forward 25 years – pandemic, lockdown, job losses – Dave and Danny were both struggling (like a lot of people) with feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety, and then, one summer evening in 2021, Danny picked up the phone and called Dave…


 

Dave


The early nineties were the very best and very worst of times for me. Danny and I were in an awesome band, playing amazing gigs all over the country. My confidence was high and I loved being a part of a thing with my mates. We had purpose – an identity! Then my mum died of cancer. I was 21 and it changed everything. I really needed the band thing to work – not just for me, but to show my family I could do it. We made some changes, redoubled our efforts, and got to a point lots of bands could only dream of – and then it ended. I had absolutely no idea about Danny’s struggles and couldn’t understand it – we had been mates for years, but never really talked…! I wonder what would’ve happened if Danny had just talked it through with us, or if he got some outside help as you can today with the likes of Tonic.


After the split, I did a few sessions, but never had the confidence without my mates with me – and my mum’s death had had a much bigger impact on me than I realised at the time. I dabbled a bit with music over the next 25 years or so, and even got an HND in Sound Engineering, but that was it until I got a call from Danny in the summer of 2021.


We had seen each other only a handful of times over the years – both just getting on with our lives – and it was during the first couple of chats that we realised we were both dealing with similar things. It was the first time we’d really opened up and chatted properly – and it was great!


We decided that music was missing from our lives and we had to find a way of working together again. This is how we came up with the idea of Winning at Music and Musicians UK. Neither of us particularly wanted to be in a band again, but we wanted to find a way of playing and being involved in music, so we created the Musicians UK community for musicians of all abilities to help and inspire each other, collaborate and share ideas. We created Winning at Music to help raise funds – by having competitions to win great gear – and also to enable us to give something back to a cause that we care about. Spending time together and chatting about the important stuff brought it home to us just how important that is.


I’ve been playing guitar at home in my little studio on and off for a long time, but I noticed it was becoming more difficult to play some of the stuff I’d been playing for years. I put the slight loss in dexterity and control of my left hand down to rusty fingers, but a trip to the GP and a subsequent appointment with a neurologist confirmed a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease…


Put simply, Parkinson’s Disease is a condition that affects the brain. It causes problems like shaking and stiffness that get worse over time. That’s a heck of a lot to process…! It’s made me focus on the positives and how lucky I am in other areas of my life. Being able to talk to like-minded people in Musicians UK and Winning at Music is invaluable to maintain positivity and focus on enjoying life. If things get a bit much, I know there are charities like Tonic who will help me with my mental health.


 

About Danny and Dave


Danny and Dave are founding members of Winning at Music. They create original content, including guitar reviews, instructional music gear videos, live jam sessions with guest musicians, as well as competitions with music gear as prizes, which are used to help raise funds for Tonic Music for Mental Health.


They have also recently launched Musicians UK – a private Facebook group for musicians of all abilities and backgrounds to collaborate, share, educate, and inspire each other. Anyone involved in the creation of music is welcome to join at facebook.com/musiciansuk.


Danny and Dave at The Marquee Club

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