UG Story: The Life And Times Of Martin Richardson

Part five and the last part of first section of the UG story. This piece follows Martin Richardson in the attempt to find a band.

Ultimate Guitar

The difference between skill and talent is that skill is objective, while talent is subjective. These two terms are often confused. In the world of online music, people are often encouraged by their friends to think that they are very talented, even if all other people think that their artistic abilities are terrible to the point of worthless. Due to this, many people with the potential to be skilful musicians have not had the push that they require to make it. Instead, they believe that they are naturally talented, and talent does not require work to maintain.

Of course, the ability to be anonymous on the internet does not help matters. Often, somebody with a negative comment will have no impact on the musician with their abilities in question. The musician will simply consider the comment to come from a random angry person and ignore it completely, except perhaps to start an argument with said commenter. People will advertise their work on as many different websites as possible, including you tube and Ultimate-Guitar, but so many people simply refuse to listen to a single piece of either feedback or criticism that they receive. In the end, the advancement of skill grinds to a halt when people become overconfident with their talents. Good friends should never find no faults with the work of their good friends.

In the world of Ultimate-Guitar, there are two major areas where musicians might display their work. First, there is the songwriting and lyrics area, where a musician might offer lyrics, or where any user might offer poetry in verse or simply prose. Secondly, there is the riffs and recordings area, where a musician can display their music and request opinions and constructive criticism on it. When browsing through either area, one might find some works of absolute god-awful idiocy while one might also find some works of incredible skill and dedication. Unfortunately, most often the god-awful idiocy is most available, but that is true of anything where people are after criticism.

Ultimately, people can not advance if they do not think that they need to. This is perfectly true with the case of Martin Richardson. Martin was a fan of good music. His favourite artist, unfortunately, was Martin Richardson. Thankfully, he had multiple influences, including Martin Richardson and Martin Richardson. He played Bass Guitar, wrote his own material and called himself groundbreaking'. The few friends that could stand his arrogance rolled their eyes at him and nodded, humouring him and just getting him to shut up as quickly as possible. So, whenever he picked up his Bass and struggled to move across the frets smoothly, he thought that he sounded absolutely fantastic. He believed that he was skilled, when the reality was that everybody was calling him talented.

One otherwise meaningless and mediocre day, one of the many threads in the riffs and recordings area of Ultimate-Guitar finally caught Martin's eye.


Hook's was a fine enough drinking establishment for anybody. The beer was cheap, the seats were soft and the music was good. The Strokes were playing, a band which had Martin tapping his feet in time beneath the table. The girl behind the bar was cute enough to have caught his eye, though the woman was obviously strange to have turned him down. This was after buying his beer of course; he wouldn't risk his alcohol by trying to pull.

He had made arrangements to meet up with two people today who were in a band looking for members. Firstly, there was Jane Moon, whom he had seen pictures of and heard some of her acoustic work. She was cute, and she was talented, but she was more than slightly in his way. The second person was Martin's way in as he saw it. Henry Jones, the bassist of the group, had been the one that Martin had been communicating with. Martin being a bassist himself, he felt that he could put together a good band if he had Henry on a guitar instead to write songs. As far as he was concerned, Jane wouldn't be in the way for long.

The two musicians arrived twenty minutes early, which was extremely annoying as Martin was still on his first beer when they reached him and sat down nervously across from him. The two of them wore matching eager smiles, horribly similar outfits and different, though still infuriatingly boring, hairstyles. Neither of them were metal material; they didn't have the sense of style that the signed and successful had.

The two of them, side by side and equally nervous, both seemed completely incapable of starting the conversation. This made Martin sigh, but, instead of helping out, he settled into drinking his beer, taking one long extended sip and looking at them over the top of his glass. They both paused, watching him, with Henry holding his mouth open as though he had been about to say something. It was rather comical. In fact, Martin almost found himself laughing into his alcohol.

Placing his glass back on the table, Martin let a burst of laughter escape, before forcing the conversation to begin. So tell me what you're looking for, he asked of Henry. Your thread said that you were after band members, but I take it that you already have a Bassist.

We do, yes, Henry began slowly. We're looking to put together a band though, so we're willing to make a few sacrifices here and there. I can easily enough take up another instrument, or I can take over guitar and Jane can sing. There are plenty of possibilities, we just have to explore them.

Who does the major song writing? inquired Martin, once again asking Henry rather than Jane. He could see her frowning at this, but he didn't actually care all that much about it.

Erm, Henry started again, hesitating as he considered the question. Well, Jane does most of the lyrics. She has a major backlog of stuff that we've been looking at for the last few weeks. It's all pretty good stuff, I think you'll like it depending on the sort of music you're into. Then, when we get to writing the music we just write for our own instruments. Jane usually has a melody in mind that we can follow and from there we try a few things out so, you know, it's a team effort. I know you have a lot of stuff that you want to try out, and we're happy to play around and see what we can make of it.

As Henry spoke, Martin began to drift off. The man did not have a way with words. Every sentence was like a long and drawn out suicide letter. Martin caught Jane's smirk when her song writing talents were mentioned, though it was more one of confidence than arrogance. Still, he didn't like her, not one bit. His mind continued to wander, as his eyes began to do the same. He thought back to the barmaid and her breasts, then back to beer, then back to breasts again. He felt thirsty, so he would drink, but even with a half empty glass he still had every desire to go back to the bar and order a fresh beer. It was like the woman's nipples were calling out to him to just come over and rub his face in them.

Then, Martin heard Henry talking about messing around with his songs. Like hearing a drum some two hundred feet away, he felt his eyebrows draw together in confusion as Henry's voice came back into clearer focus. The idea of somebody trying to mess with Martin's work was truly ridiculous. Confident that he had heard Henry wrong, Martin came out of his happy reverie just in time to find out that he had heard it right.

Play around? he asked in complete disbelief. What do you mean, play around? What needs playing around with? My music is perfect. It's exactly how I wanted it to sound. Why would you want to go about saying something like that?

It was a moment before Henry opened his mouth to speak again, but, in that moment, Jane leapt in to cut him off. Well, when it's just one person making music then only their influences come through, don't they? she asked him civilly, though he could see that ignoring her had made her quite angry underneath. It was quite impressive, but not impressive enough. With a few people working on a piece it has the chance to evolve, she continued in the same passive aggressive tone. Ideas come together in a different way. Henry taught me that. Ideas meld and change and, because of that, the music has a chance to become really original because of the mix of influences.

But I don't want anything to change or evolve, stated Martin, as direct and to the point as he always was. I like things how they are, so I want them to stay that way. Is that so hard to understand? I'm happy, so I'll stick to what makes me happy.

Do you take the same tactic when it comes to writing songs together? Jane snapped. Henry turned to her with obvious concern, but she kept her eyes focussed on Martin. If you want to be involved then you have to realise that nobody gets to have a final say on anything. We would work together towards something which everybody is happy with. Do you actually think that you can do that? You don't seem like the sort of person who can.

Maybe you're reading me wrong. I might well be full of surprises, he returned. That might have been why I was asking about writing music. Do you think that might be it or did you forget that I asked the question.

Well this is a fun first meeting, isn't it? Henry threw in, causing the two of them to quieten and turn to him instead. He wore an unsteady smile, as though he knew that one wrong word could potentially ruin everything. I think we should probably move on and leave this behind for a bit. You two could easily argue until the cows come home and that's not going to help any of us out. We can talk song writing if we get to the point where we're writing songs. If we don't get that far then there's no real point in talking about it. So, I'm guessing you have more questions, Martin. Let's move on to one of them.

Martin continued his glare at Jane for a moment more, while she returned it equally as fiercely, but losing Henry's respect was not part of the plan, so he made a show of ceasing his aggressions first. Okay, then let's consider instruments, shall we? he asked, looking them both over with an attempt at a smile. What do you play? he said, making sure to look directly at Jane while he did so.

Of course, she happily answered first. I play the basics, she announced proudly. I have two Guitars: an Acoustic and an Electric. I have a Bass guitar, a keyboard and a flute. I'm not very good with the flute, that was more to shut my mother up. I play drums as well, but I don't aim them so I'm not exactly practiced.

Seemingly aware that she was done, Henry immediately jumped in to add his own list. Up until about three weeks ago I wasn't very musically minded, he admitted as though it was a difficult thing to say. Martin had noticed this rather easily as Henry did not seem even remotely in tune with the world of music. The man had had the nerve to suggest that Martin's work wasn't perfect, which was proof enough really. He would be an easy enough man to convince. I used to just have a Bass, but I didn't really play it, continued Henry. I've played it a lot more recently, and done a bit of Guitar too thanks to Jane. Mostly I've just sort of coding things on my PC at home. Well, and at work. Work's a bit boring. I get a lot of time to myself, so I put some programs on my work PC and I program drums and rhythm fills and stuff there. I'm still getting familiar with it. Iyou are listening to me, right?

Oh yeah, every word, Martin lied easily. In fact, his mind had been with the breasts of the barmaid once again. Completely oblivious to what he had just been told, Martin simply decided to get on with answering his own question. I only play Bass, he stated. I'm dedicated to my instrument. I always feel as though people who play lots of different things don't spend enough time studying their own. I mean, how long does it take to learn Guitar theory and then learn Bass theory? It must take ages.

Briefly, everything went quiet. Jane was suddenly smiling very widely and Martin had absolutely no idea why. Turning towards Henry only rewarded him with a look of absolute confusion. For a second, Henry tapped Jane on the shoulder, but she simply shook his head at him and this seemed to satisfy. Despite the completely different expressions, they were still both looking at him as though he was absolutely insane. He opened his mouth to ask them about it, but, for once, he simply could not find the words that he was looking for.

We'll book a practice room and give you a try, Henry said slowly. We just want to see what you can do and if you know your theory. I'm thinking that we should talk about when to do it right now. Also, it might be worth brushing up on your theory a bit, you know, just in case.

Martin felt his face contract from the insult.


Martin had wanted to begin making music only two days later, but both Henry and Jane typically worked weekdays, so Martin had to wait almost an entire week before he had the chance to see them again. He shrugged off the comment on theory as easily as he shrugged off most of what they had said. He didn't find them particularly interesting company, but it was an easy way into a band and that was an easy way into the musical community. Ultimate-Guitar had a lot of open windows, but not a lot of open doors.

After spending a good amount of his time writing up his own work so that Henry and Jane would be able to play it exactly as it was, Martin had glanced over the tabs that Henry had given him, then put them down somewhere and forgotten where they were. It had been mostly intentional, but not entirely. Nevertheless, he wasn't about to go looking for something that he was happy to have lost. The rest of the week had been spent working on new material that he might wow them with.

It was a Friday night at seven o' clock when Martin next wandered down to Hook's. Henry and Jane had already agreed to meet him there, though they would both be I work uniform. The idea of seeing Jane in a work skirt was quite an entertaining one to him. Martin had decided to be late purely by virtue that they had been early previously. He would give them time to buy their first glasses of alcohol and then he would appear and drag them upstairs where such things were not allowed. It would serve them right for not allowing him his beer the first time.

When he arrived he saw the two of them huddled in a corner, close together and whispering to each other. For a moment they looked as though they might be a little more difficult to break apart than he had originally thought, but Martin was dedicated to the task at hand. There would be no women in his band.

They stopped almost straight away as soon as Martin sat down across from them. That made it quite obvious that they had been talking about him, but, as if it hadn't been enough, they moved away from each other ever so slightly, looking extremely guilty. They had bothered to buy drinks, but they must have been early again; their glasses were empty. This infuriated Martin far more than he should, but he held on to his annoyance tightly, letting it fester and expand in his stomach.

Do you want a drink first or should we head up? Henry asked with a plain and likely forced smile. We're booked from seven but if you want to eat up a few minutes getting a bit of beer down you then that's fine. We can just look at the work you've brought for us while you do.

No, I think we should go upstairs and get started, answered Martin. The sooner we start practicing the sooner we'll be ready for the big time, right?

Henry and Jane both looked at him with an expression of confusion. I don't think ten minutes is really going to matter that much. It will still take a long time, a lot of practice and, chances are, another member. I mean, if Henry switches to guitar so we've got two guitarists then we're still missing a drummer unless I go down to drums and that kind of makes it harder to sing. I'm not exactly Phil Collins here. No matter what happens it's still going to take us a long time and a lot of practice sessions.

If you're no good then that's true, stated Martin with a smug smirk in Jane's direction. Maybe with your last band it took you ages to get off the ground, but I'm a serious musician. My songs aren't simple but they're not that hard to pick up. If you put in the effort then you can be playing as good as I do in no time. Of course, by then I will have spent my time getting even better, so you might never reach the point I'm at, but as long as you keep trying I won't take the piss out of you too badly. I'll just do it enough to make sure you keep trying hard, otherwise you won't be able to play what I write for you.

That's a nice long brag you did there, Jane responded. I only picked up a few things from it though. Let's start simple, I think. You talked about your own music non-stop, so what about ours? How did you get along with it?

Well, you know, it was all so simple, Martin began. He ignored the obvious sigh that Henry let out at his words, but he kept his eyes on Jane's as she rolled them. I just didn't think that they were really fitting with the sort of music I play. What's the point of learning things if they don't fit your style? They didn't really have any style anyway, not like my stuff.

I like how you've pretty much decided that every piece of music that Henry or I have ever written doesn't fit with the sort of thing that you want to do, announced Jane with quite a broad smile. Why she was so happy was quite beyond Martin. See, the thing is, we're looking to make a band here, not be your backing, so you'd best go home and put in some bloody work, hadn't you?

Something from the Pit of Martin's stomach began to roar it's fury. You can't speak to me like that, he growled at her. I looked at your music and I didn't really like it. You're not my mother, you can't tell me to do something and expect me to do it.

So you lied about even trying then? Jane inquired, almost as though she was closing a trap on him. I'm glad I'm not your mother, I feel sorry for her just for having you around, let alone the pain that your fat head must have caused her when you were born.

Will you stop throwing insults at me? Martin countered. He could feel his anger rising, but that had led him into many dangerous situations in the past, so he tried his best to keep it down. Unfortunately, he had already near shouted at Jane, causing a returning look of aggression from both her and Henry. Martin was silent for a moment, making a show of taking deep breaths to calm himself down, though, in reality, he had willed the anger back down into his stomach straight away. I haven't had that much time, he lied. It took me quite a bit of time putting my work into tabs, so it's not like I intentionally ignored everything that you gave me. I did look things over first, but that's not the same as learning it through and through, is it? I'm not a full-time musician, I have other things to do so I just do the best I can, right?

Fine, but there's no need to jump down our throats when you're not explaining yourself properly, said Henry, who was not the one that Martin had expected to hear from. He sighed again. Just take your time and work on things slowly. Right, so you've got tabs about your stuff, which we've been learning, but you haven't really learnt any of our music. That's alright, we'll go up and we can walk you through some of our easier stuff. I know you don't like it, but I think it's important that we at least play around and see how you handle things.

I guess that's alright, said Martin easily and quietly, though he really had no intention of putting in a particularly large amount of effort. He would falter and stumble, then play one of his prepared riffs so that both of them began to drool and they moved on to far better music. By that, of course, he meant his own work. I'm happy to try anything that you think would help us work together. If we're going to be making music then we need to find out if we can do things well, right?

Right, Henry stated with a nod. He looked towards Jane briefly as though he was waiting for acknowledgement, but she didn't turn to him. Instead, she continued to look at Martin, watching his movements and motions. Anyway, I guess we should get started, he continued. Have you got the tabs?

There was a pause while Martin hesitated. Of course, he did not have the tabs that he had been given. He had been completely unable to find them before he came out, but that was mostly because he hadn't bothered to look. Before coming out he had simply played his Bass, as he usually did at this time of a night. As he considered his options, he watched Henry's face drop, while Jane simply looked him over with pure disbelief.

He opened his mouth, hoping a lie would come readily to his lips, but Jane cut him straight off. You're a cock, Martin, she said with a laugh.

Hey, you can't say stuff like that, Martin said loudly, all of his anger rushing back towards the surface. In his annoyance, he turned towards Henry before he continued, excluding Jane from the conversation. Are you going to let her say that to me? he asked furiously.

Well, Martin, Henry began reluctantly, I would say something, but she's right. You are a cock. You write cock tunes with your cock Bass and your cock face. You're a cock. It wasn't too great meeting you, but you're out. Sorry, man.

Unable to find words, Martin simply let his mouth hang open for a moment as he let the words sink in. Then, his anger peaking, he pushed off the table and got to his feet quickly, feeling venom coming to the tip of his lips. Unfortunately, Jane beat him to it: If you're thinking about stealing our music, don't bother. We hold the copyrights for everything.

His words dying on his lips, Martin turned with a growl and marched away, dragging his Bass Guitar behind him.


Hugh, put the drum sticks down! his teacher yelled across the room.

Unfortunately for the forty year old balding teacher, Hugh could barely hear him over the sound of his own ruthless attacking of the toms and snare in front of him. He had grown bored of the foot pedals quickly enough when he realised how terrible he was at using them, but the cymbals still held some mystique that made him tease himself by waiting to hit them.

What?! Hugh shouted back at the teacher through the continual banging of stick on skin. The teacher rolled his eyes, then marched forwards menacingly and grabbed hold of Hugh's drum sticks in the middle of their use.

What are you doing? the teacher asked loudly, his ears likely buzzing as much as Hugh's were. I very distinctly told you not to touch anything while I went to get my paperwork. You're here for Guitar lessons, not drum lessons.

Well, you're boring, answered Hugh simply. You keep talking about paperwork and stuff. I have a Guitar and my dad said that I have to get lessons so I stop making horrible noises. I don't think I'm that bad.

I haven't heard you play yet, the teacher responded. I'm hoping that perhaps you can get away from my drums and get on to that. Can you please put the drum sticks down so that we can get on with it? You only have an hour in my house you know.

Hugh glared at this friend of his Father's, but relinquished the drum sticks anyway. He hadn't wanted to take Guitar lessons; it was an annoyance that his Father had thrown on him because of his dislike of everything that Hugh played. This teacher was classically trained, so this was, of course, his teaching plan for Hugh would be the same. Hugh actually just wanted to play whatever was available. Curiously, he had actually found himself enjoying Muse lately.

What are you going to teach me first? asked Hugh as he stood up from the small stool behind the drums. I'm not really into classical music. I like rock music. Do you have anything like that?

I appreciate real music, Hugh, the teacher answered, looking down through his glasses at the numerous papers in his hands. Besides, that's not generally how we learn things here. We'll start with the basics of playing your instrument. We need you to know what notes you're playing and how to read sheet music after all.

Hugh frowned. I can read tab, he announced proudly. I'm not really interested in reading sheet music. Like I said, I don't really do classical stuff.

Well you don't get a choice in this, you're not paying, the teacher replied sarcastically. Now get your guitar out of the case, I want to see what you know so far. Remember, Rock music doesn't impress me, so give me something classical.

Hugh swallowed his annoyance and went to work.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The writing wasn't terribly correct, grammatically, but the plot and content were excellent!
    the humanity
    thanks again Col. brilliant. a bit different than what I would have gone for, but good. a good reminder for many UGers. I among many others, forget to keep my head out of my butt sometimes. unlike Martin though I have the skill to back it up.
    That teacher is great, he's everything Hugh needs. And Although Jane is right and Martin horribly wrong, she does seem like a bit of an elitist fu ck.
    FretboardToAsh wrote:, who rated this as 1 star?
    There's always one.
    I love how quickly Jane figured out how full of himself Martin is.
    though they would both be I work uniform.
    , anyways your introductions remind me of John Steinbeck's writing
    Only stories where I seriously find myself laughing out loud. Great satirical stuff, I always look forward to the intros.
    "Remember, Rock music doesnt impress me, so give me something classical. It would be fun if Hugh played Iron Mans riff and then said "there you have, a heavy metal classic" xD