A defining moment for my passion for bagpipe music came when I started the band Pap ‘n Haggis with 3 of my school friends. I had been playing for a small town pipe band for several years in South Africa but this was mostly the dry, traditional music; nothing really made me go, ‘Wow! This is awesome!’
In my grade 10 year at school, having just returned from a relatively successful trip to the World Pipe Band Championships and seen Mark Saul playing live, I decided I wanted to do more with my music. So I got hold of Bryan who has quite a legend on the guitar and suggested we start a band. Funnily enough he had already been asked by another friend Barry, bassist, if he wanted to start a band. The final member Ed, our crazy drummer who was only just learning to play, was roped in as well and we had a band of sorts.
With no idea how to blend the sound of bagpipes with guitar we spent our first few years hacking away at whatever we could think of. It was a hell of a lot of fun but music tended to be the after thought. Our first breakthrough came when I brought a 2 line piece I had written to practice and it became our first, and only original tune, The Shitty Song. It was an amazing feeling starting to sound like a band and have dreams of being a Rockstar!
By this stage we had moved our practices out of the garage and into a church which gave us the opportunity to do some poor quality recordings. With a few covers, like Europe’s The Final Countdown, we made an effort to secure our first gig at a local pub called Cliffy’s. This was the first place that almost any band from Pietermaritzburg started. We had a power sound and a great party vibe which kept me going with my music even when the pipe band I was playing in was close to collapse due to political problems.
In what turned out to be a death knell, Bryan moved cities to continue his studies. Ed and I tried to keep the band afloat by holding auditions for new members, of which we found a great new vocalist and a new guitarist, but due to personality and ‘moral’ differences Barry left. We could no find another bassist anywhere and the band faded away.
Luckily it was at a time of another turning point, I had been voted in as Pipe Major of the Pietermaritzburg Caledonian Pipe Band and I could start pushing the band in a direction that interested me and with Ed and 2 other friends we start our drinking and The Tipsy Daisies, but those are different stories for another time!
On the video page of my website I have uploaded a video clip of the only recording we managed to get of The Shitty Song with a short video compilation of all the dumb shit we got up to when we should have been playing music. I will also be posting the bagpipe score and harmonies on my sheet music page so keep an eye out for that!