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Music is our First Love

Acoustic guitar

Essie Prosser spends time with two local musicians at very different points in their careers. Crich seems to be a haven for talented musicians. I recently chatted to two who, from an age point of view, seem to be poles apart – but, as I discovered, share common loves, ambitions and motivations.

Will Bateman

Starting out

Will is 20 years old and a dedicated musician. So dedicated that he owns eight guitars, plays in seven bands, does session music and is a full-time apprentice in music-related electronic engineering at Soundgas in Crich.

Chat to Will and his enthusiasm for all genres of music is apparent, as is his love of performing live music. However, he claims to have hated music as a child, and favoured sport instead. He was 14 when he first learnt to play guitar and now has turned most of his energy to live music performances instead of football. And you’d be hard pushed to find a busier performer.

He currently gigs most weekends as a guitarist and vocalist with seven bands, performing in the Sheffield, Derby and Chesterfield areas. The range of music he plays is eclectic, reflecting his own tastes and influences: Metal Fatigue is a Derby-based group playing classic rock, punk and indie; Swearbox donates all proceeds made from its classic rock performances to a local hospice; Local Heroes plays pop classics from the 60s to the present day, while Viaducts is Will’s two-man band playing rock and metal originals. And there’s more – 7 Day Weekend is a party covers band; and, just to throw in another variation, Will is part of a John Lennon tribute band. And then there’s the Hard Rocking Amigos, an acoustic band who appear at the Legends of Rock Yarmegeddon festival each year in Great Yarmouth, as well as locally at various pubs and real ale festivals. Phew!

Most passionate musicians will have spent time doing jobs they didn’t like and Will is no exception. He’s not always been able to work at what he loves and admits that his time spent in retail (as a shelf stacker) only inspired him to get out as soon as possible. He was fortunate to do work experience at Soundgas in Crich; after that, he attended the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies in Nottingham to study music and then went on to his current apprenticeship.

Who is his greatest influence in the music world? After a little hesitation, Will plumps for Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, who he says taught him ‘melody within metal’ – very apt for someone with such diverse tastes in music.

Rob Lee

Voice of experience

At the other end of the scale, Rob (age undisclosed) has been gigging since before Will was born and has no intention of stopping until, to quote one of his favourite artists, he is ‘knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door’!

Rob has performed in ZiPT, along with Paul, as a ‘brace’ (definitely not a duo!) for the last couple of years. They play mostly 60s and 70s pop in pubs and clubs around Derbyshire. Rob maintains that Paul is the main musical talent (at this point I should mention that Rob is one of the most modest people I’ve ever met). He sings the praises of his musician partner constantly, claiming that he merely ‘surfs on the relationship’ he has with Paul, whose performing he finds tasteful, thoughtful and technically brilliant.

But Rob was probably Paul’s inspiration way back in 1963, when Rob first learned to play guitar. Paul was a few years his junior and pestered him for lessons.

The Beatles were Rob’s own musical inspiration, but he didn’t perform professionally until 1992 when the youngster he’d previously tutored finally persuaded him to form PITZ. In 1997, the two became four with the addition of Nip on drums and Mick on bass and rhythm guitar. And so they continued, performing thousands of gigs nationwide – and having a ball – until their amicable split in 2017.

Six months later, Rob and Paul were back on the road together because they missed live performing. They’re now known as ZiPT and their repertoire includes songs by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. They tend to play more intimate venues now and made their first appearance in the Black Swan in Crich on 16 November 2019.

Between gigs, the pair are kept busy. Paul still has his recording studio in Chesterfield, the Foundry Studio. Rob, having retired from the sales industry in 1984, cleans windows in Crich, giving himself the time and flexibility to do what he loves best. When it comes to other people’s music, he rates Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and the Stones. Someone else he rates very highly is his wife, Jan, who, he says, has always been on his side and gives him 100% support.

Finally, Rob says that the only concession he’s made to age is a lighter guitar, and a stool to sit on at his gigs – otherwise nothing has changed. Rob and Paul just hope that their audiences enjoy listening to them as much as the guys enjoy performing