Gibraltar to Tokyo…. roadmap for arena rock?

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Image-of-the-rock-of-Gibraltar

I was born and bred on the rock of Gibraltar, a UK overseas territory attached to the end of southern Spain. The 3 miles long, 426 metre high rock was first settled by the Moors in the Middle Ages and later ruled by Spain. Gibraltar was ceded to the British in 1713. There are 35 miles of tunnelling in the rock, a large part of this created by British and Canadian soldiers during WWII. A complex was created which could sustain 16,000 soldiers for 16 months, including a hospital and food store. In fact, The tunnels were so well equipped that General Dwight Eisenhower used them for the Allied Command Headquarters in 1942 to plan the allied invasion of North Africa.

Gibraltar was a great place to grow up. Being such a small place, everybody knew each other kind of thing. If I was friends with a kid, it was very likely that our dads had been friends before us. It was a safe, friendly place with very little crime and summers were special. I love to swim, but there was far more to a Gibraltarian summer than that. There was football on the beach, chilling with friends, barbecues on the beach and much more. Did I mention the beach?

I will always love Gibraltar, but opportunity is limited due to its small size, so when my family moved to the UK, my life map suddenly showed me a gazillion routes and destinations. I started writing songs before I could play any instrument, but one day I just fell in love with rock guitar. I spent several hours a day practicing on my old, beat up, Les Paul copy, and my friends and family would joke that I slept with it. Nothing funny about that, I sometimes did! I couldn’t find a singer to perform my songs, so In the end i had to start singing myself.

george-payas-bon-jovi-style-hair-yearsAfter a few years of original and cover bands, touring throughout the UK, I had a feeling of ‘Groundhog day’, as life just seemed to be the same thing repeated again and again. I thought I would try something different, maybe join someone else’s band, just try different things. This is what I refer to as the ‘No Direction’ years.

I auditioned for Spanish band, ‘Vargas Blues Band’. They were doing big shows in Spain at the time and touring the world, sharing the stage with people like BB King. If I remember correctly, the plan was to select a new singer, record an album in Memphis, Tennessee and tour with Santana.

I was 1 of 3 singers selected for a final audition in London. This is where things started to go wrong. I speak fluent Spanish, and while chatting to the band’s manager was asked to recommend a rehearsal studio. Unfortunately, i was unaware that the place I had recommended had really dropped their standards (I hadn’t been there for a few years). On audition day, my car broke down and I turned up 45 minutes late for my slot. The band was bitching about the shit sound/studio as I walked in and I knew this adventure was over.

Maybe I wasn’t destined to sing the blues, even if I can do so. I joined some local bands just doing some covers for fun and concentrated on songwriting. I also did a variety of session work in the studio. It was all really random stuff, like I provided some additional vocals on a couple of UK top 10 hits, It was euro pop crap and thats all i want to remember about that! I also did some vocal work for a celebrity’s fitness video.

After a few years of dabbling in a country rock style which saw me gain major label interest and offers to buy my songs for a big name country artist, I found my way back to rock and recorded an album called ‘Minute before last’ with short-lived band ‘Real’. The album was produced by Tony Bongiovi, Jon Bon jovi’s cousin, producer of the first Bon Jovi album as well as many other albums for legendary rock bands. This project brought me back to rock, but strangely, it was the demise of it that eventually put me on the road I am on now.

I took a break from music, cleared my head, quit smoking, got fit, wrote a lot of songs, did a lot of cover band gigs for fun, money and travel. I notched up the 20th different country that i have performed in when i visited Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, making some great friends along the way. The end of 2018 saw 2 of my songs reach the UK Songwriting Contest finals, and in 2019 so far, I am an International Songwriting Awards Rock Nominee. Hopefully i’ll be playing live in the UK, Europe, and all the way to Tokyo in the year to come. ‘Just like in the movies’ is where I’m at today, tomorrow? Who knows?

What i do know is that one of the most important cogs in a musical wheel is YOU, the listener, because you truly make it all matter.

Good or bad, I look forward to many more experiences to come on my musical journey. I hope that you will be a part of that journey. If you’d like to hear my most recent stuff, click here to listen to the new album, ‘Just like in the movies.’

Thank you for being a listener and for making the hard work worthwhile!

George

 

 

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