or, why there’s been no new pedals for a while
Good morning everyone – I hope you’re all doing well. I thought I’d put a few words on the site about how things have been at Vein-Tap.com HQ, and also, to explain why there’s not been a single new pedal from Vein-Tap.com since before we’d even heard of this weird little virus that, at best, has cost us two whole years of proper living – and at worst, has ended life completely.
The reason I’m doing this here and not on my personal Facebook or whatever is because I know that if you’re reading this, you’ve personally felt the same thing. Musicians have always had a strange life. We get some of the best and some of the worst of life’s experiences, often at the same time. The best; we get to do what we genuinely love doing, ie, making beautiful, savage noise that expresses something inside that cannot be communicated any other way. That’s the reason movies have soundtracks; the words, characters and plots can tell you what to feel, but the music shows you how to feel it. Making music is a beautiful thing to do, and massively improves quality of life and mental health for everyone doing it.
The bad of it, at least in my opinion, is mostly financial. We chose the path of the bard and oh my are the banks going to make us suffer for it. The “why don’t you get a real job?” mentality is still with us, even in a world that deifies the composers and performers of the upper echelons. No one would dare tell Beyonce to get a real job. It seems to me that in this world you’re no one if you’re not on an above-average salary, and that’s an unlikely state of affairs for a musician. Politically I’m a moderate but there’s a terrible, small-c conservative mood these days, in which those who chose to play music are targets for denigration. “It’s your choice.” “You should have studied something that pays.” “Sucks to be you.”
And then Covid hit, and things got really bad for everyone.
When Lockdown 1 was announced, I got scared. I knew I wouldn’t be able to gig, but fine, we needed to do what we had to do to save lives. Things looked scary financially for a while but thanks to you, my (and I cannot say this enough) wonderful customers, I was able to get through the worst of it much less damaged than I thought I’d be. Then we were released – or was it semi-released? – and then Lockdown 2 was announced, then loosened, and are we having another one? My government (who, despite their constant and utter failures, still have the gall to call themselves a government) can’t tell me. All of which has left me, and I believe yourself as well, with two years of uncertainty, worry, and stress.
I was reflecting on this with my partner, who has been my rock throughout the pandemic, yesterday. We were telling each other that since things got real in March 2020, life has turned grey and we’re both waiting for the colour, in life and in ourselves, to return. You know those cartoons of those sad grey people on the conveyor belts, glued to their phones? That’s how 2020 and 2021 felt.
Making pedals has been one the core joys of my life. Ever since I, in my early twenties, soldered a footswitch to a jack socket and decided to fling red paint at the result and flog it on eBay, I’ve been hooked. Making pedals, and selling them to the brilliant people who enable me to call this a career, has put a smile on my face for over ten years, and on at least two occasions, saved me from worrying acts of despair. The story I tell people I meet who ask me about my job is that I’m never happier than when I seem angriest – shouting at the CAD program on my computer screen, yelling WELL WHY DON’T YOU WORK. Dreaming up the ideas for and designing new pedals is my very favourite part of this job. And I’ve not done one for two years, and the reason for it is simple; I’ve been too depressed.
It felt like that moment in Avengers; Endgame when the rat steps on the button that brings Ant Man back from the Quantum Realm, allowing the rest of the plot to happen. Something in my mind shifted, and though it was only tiny, it made a change, and things began to move. It wasn’t that I started feeling happy again. It’s sunny now but we were still overcast here in Plymouth until today, so it wasn’t a weather thing. What it was, weirdly, was me getting angry. Anger can be a fantastic motivator for change. I’ve been dealing with a few non-Covid related problems recently and, dickheadular though they are, they’ve given me a gift that I think the pandemic has robbed from all of us; ire. Life has been one thing after another for a long time and yesterday I got juuuuust about pissed off enough to want to do something about it. I wanted to assert my place in the world again. My name is Ben from Vein-Tap.com and I make pedals. It was time for something new.
I sat down at the designing desk with a circuit for which I’ve had a plan, but not the fire, for a while. On my PCB design software I moved one little resistor next to the one little capacitor it feeds – and everything came cascading back. 14 hours, five coffees and no breaks later, it was finished. The circuit board for Holy Era v2.0 is currently at the fabrication house, and something I’ve been promising to do for literal years is finally actually happening.
I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for and I’m sure that there’ll be quite a few slips into Covid related sadness, but still, I felt a change and I wanted to share it with yourselves, in the hope that a similar feeling makes its way across the the small corner of the world that knows me and reads these words.
Hope is a beauitful thing.