Metalhead Dave Brons fell in love with IONA and Celtic Rock

In 1992 Dave Brons was in the middle of studying for his final exams. He picked up a guitar and started to play. Then he saw Steve Vai play on TV. He was blown away and he wanted to have equivalent skills. He had to work all Saturday for his dad to earn the £5 he needed for the guitar lessons. He stopped after thirteen lessons, but he was already practicing three or four hours a day. After one year playing Steve Vai’s ‘For the love of God’ (which he had worked out by ear) he auditioned for Music College.

The first time Dave saw IONA was in at the Greenbelt Festival 1992. Dave told: “That was a life changing moment. I was in the crowd with 10.000 people and the music just transported me like nothing I’d ever heard before. Those days I was a serious metal-head but I fell in love with IONA and Celtic Rock.”

In his teens and twenties, he played in several metal and cover bands. He also did a few tours to the Far East as a hired guitar player.

It started with a memory stick

Since his teens, Dave (Brons) is a mega fan of Dave Bainbridge’s band IONA. He visited many IONA gigs. He met, and had a brief talk with his idol twice. In 2012 Dave said to John Biglands (the drummer in his band): “After the ‘Another Realm’ gig, I’ll have a chat with Dave Bainbridge. I’ll hand him a memory stick and I’ll ask him to play on my very first album.”

John thought it was not even worth trying, but Dave Brons had nothing to lose. He also reached the Top 10 for an international guitar competition called Guitar Idol. This gave him the encouragement he needed to get Dave Bainbridge involved. So, he handed the memory stick with the songs ‘Voyager’ and ‘Star’.

Within a few days Dave Bainbridge replied with a yes. Thus, the career of Dave Brons started with a memory stick. Dave complements: “And a life time of daydreaming.”

That was the beginning of ‘Based on a true story’, it exceeded all his expectations. He crowdfunded it for £6000 which was a record for UK crowdfunded guitar albums. It sold really well and had lots of really good reviews.

Dave learned that the most important thing is to create music and finish the album, no matter what. A lot of people start working on things and give up on them.

Dave Brons released ‘Based on a true story’ in 2015.  It’s really is a fabulous debut, with Troy Donockley as one of the guest musicians. To me, it is still one of the best instrumental albums ever.

But there was more: Dave Brons used to daydream of playing IONA songs on stage with Dave Bainbridge. That dream came true with the GB3 tour. That was, of course, with both Dave’s and Paul Bielatowicz. Dave Brons remembers: “Playing IONA songs was honestly an experience I’ll never forget. I looked at John Biglands, he was smiling ear to ear. Then I looked across at Dave Bainbridge who was also grinning back at me. I wasn’t dreaming, I was living the dream!”

A little later Dave Bainbridge asked his namesake to join his band Celestial Fire.

Not all those who wander are lost

In January (2020), Dave released his second album ‘Not all those who are wander are lost’. This album is inspired by Tolkien. ‘Lord of the rings’ works very well with Celtic influences. But the main reason is that Dave has been a Tolkien fan ever since he first read them, when he was 12 years old.

About the process of composing Dave said: “I sit down and simply write music. A lot of it doesn’t make the albums. I just try to write music for the fun of it, in any style with no restrictions.  I always imagine a scene from a film, and imagine what would the audience be seeing in their mind’s eye when they hear my music.  In that respect, writing this album provided both a challenge and an opportunity. The opportunity was that it allowed me to narrow down the writing to a story arc, and helped me know which compositions wouldn’t work.

The challenge was that the story is really epic and I would have to write a variety of songs that really take the listener on a journey throughout the album.  I think I had to hold my compositions lightly, as I probably threw out more than I kept.”

In 2018 I had a lovely chat with Dave (Brons) at Prog Dreams Festival. I remember his enthusiasm and passion, when he spoke about ‘the upcoming album’. It was a long and slowl process. Good work takes tons of time. I asked Dave why it took so long.

He answered: “The album ended up having fourteen songs and is over an hour in length. I can only write two days a week because I need to spend the rest of the week doing things that immediately pay the bills!  So, I write and record the demos on Monday and Tuesday, and take them to rehearsal on Thursday. Often at rehearsal, we threw out entire sections which meant that I’d have to try to re-write sections and re-record them. This meant it took a long time to refine the songs. Besides that, I wrote out (by hand) all the parts for the horns, flutes, violins etc. I’m a perfectionist and didn’t want to stop until I felt the music really told the story in the way I wanted. Nobody writes a novel as quick as a newspaper article. This album is meant to be like a novel: something that is multilayered, so people will return to it again and again.”

Plans for 2020

When I had this interview with Dave, Corona was not that bad in Eurpore. I asked him for his plans for 2020. He told me that he started writing his third album. Meanwhile, he tries to promote ‘Not all those who are wander are lost’.

He also likes to write some songs for his dad to play on cello with him on classical guitar. He realizes that his parents won’t be around forever. And his sons Kai (12) and Jaiden (9) will ‘soon’ be leaving home, so Dave wants to make the most of his time with them. 

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