TALLINN - Audience members attending the upcoming performance by The Bays will no doubt be entering the venue with no expectations. In fact, it's impossible for them to predict what will be performed, for The Bays have staked their reputation on being an exclusively live band. As they are at pains to explain, they don't produce CDs. Nor do they rehearse. They arrive at a venue and perform whatever comes to mind.
Sounds like the formula used by thousands of under-prepared, under-funded and ill-fated indie rock bands to me. Yet somehow The Bays have managed to turn this, well, lazy and low cost approach into a marketing tool.
They're known in the U.K. as a strictly live band, and have built somewhat of a fan base on being unpredictable and unrecorded.
The U.K.-based quartet perform what sounds like club music 's beats, breaks, scratches, samples, loops and danceable rhythms. The difference is it's all live, created by keyboards, drum machines and instruments.
"Absolutely nothing is pre-planned," The Bays' bass player Chris Taylor said in a recent online interview.
"The tempo may start at about 90 beats per minute, but not always, and we often end on some drum and bass. But apart from that nothing is set at all. No keys or themes are ever predetermined even as a kind of safety net or back-up plan and this can make the bigger gigs quite nerve wracking.
"Improvising on stage is not that difficult really. It's all about listening properly and we've all been playing a long time, the difficult part is coming up with something that works in the moment."
There's nothing new about improvisation. Perhaps what sets The Bays apart is this coupled with a fiercely independent attitude toward the music industry.
They're unsigned, they sell no merchandise, and in fact encourage people to copy any recordings that have been made of their live sets. Perhaps the band has recognized a global trend that has set off alarm bells for all the major record labels 's CD sales are taking a dive, and online sales aren't making up for the loss in profit. While this is bad news for the labels and their signed artists, it means a whole world of new opportunity for independent acts. The Bays believe that people will continue to support artists, but will do so more directly, by fronting up to gigs.
"People have a better attitude now," Taylor said. "They seem to have more cash to spend on live music, because they're not spending so much on CDs. So illegal downloading is actually fuelling renewed interest in live music.
"The fact that what we're doing seems to be paving the way for an alternative to the record industry is very exiting and we're very glad if we have been an inspiration to other people but the drive comes from wanting to play good."
The four members of the band have been together for over three years now, and first came together in jam sessions at a pub in the suburb of Camberwell. Each of them had solid backgrounds in music production, either as producers or performers.
The band has performed at major festivals in the U.K., including the legendary Glastonbury. They will play in Tallinn as part of the Jazzkaar Christmas Jazz concert series. o
Rock Cafe, Tallinn
Dec. 14, 22.00
Info: 372 611 4405