Monday, August 26, 2013

Returning to a Great Past Time

One of the benefits of getting off the road (my current project notwithstanding) is that I now have time to get back into music.  Even better, I'm back into it with my lifelong friend Stuart.  Stu and I used to sit around in school drawing album covers and planning intergalactic tours; and this was before either of us even owned an instrument.  I wrote about my previous band exploits with Stuart in these articles:

Once it was clear that I would be getting off the road, I ran ads on Craigslist and BandMix looking for like minded musicians.  My ad was long winded, but it addressed all the bullshit musicians deal with then attempting to connect and seek that elusive musical synergy with other players.  The ad did the trick and I hooked up with a couple of guitarists/vocalists who shared my appreciation for old school 80's hard know, hair band stuff.  I met up with these guys and we clicked from the start.  They had a couple of bass players in mind to complete the lineup.  Of course, I had one of my own.  In a few weeks, their bassists fell off the list for one reason or another so I proposed Stuart and after one jam session with the guys, he was in.

We've spent a month or two putting together sets of the music we like and never outgrew.  The last band I was in was heavily blues based and I spent hours on end playing a shuffle on the drums.  This music is much different and contrary to popular belief, is more complex and syncopated when playing it than I remember it being while simply listening to it.  I've had to rethink my playing considerably.  The term "Hair Band" really doesn't do the genre justice.  But I digress.  We've included some pre-80's Led Zeppelin ("Ramble On", "Thank You", and "Hey Hey What Can I Do") into our sets.  After all, Zeppelin is timeless and although the music can be deceptively complex, the synergy when you pull it off is fantastic; absolutely worth the effort.

Our first gig was (in my mind) a disaster.  We played a restaurant/bar in Rowlett and because the number of tunes on our set list was still lacking, we opened up for another band.  I've opened for plenty of acts over the years; no problem there.  But at this gig, I had to play another drummer's kit, which is similar to wearing someone else's underwear.  It was an electronic kit and the band had to play through the other band's PA system.  Electronic drums are no big deal.  I used to own a set.  Other peoples' PA is no issue.  It's just that most of the time, the other people know how to operate their PA and are open to supporting the other bands playing before them or at least allowing them to make necessary changes.  The leader of this other band (who shall remain nameless) was an asshole with a chip on his shoulder.  We pulled the gig off, but I couldn't hear my own drums and the band couldn't hear each other.  We learned a lesson about which terms to accept when negotiating a gig and an even more valuable one about which bands with whom we will share a booking.  The good news is we packed the place with our friends and the manager told us after that they had never had a crowd like that since their grand opening.  I tried to feel sympathy for the other band when the place emptied out after our set, but their leader was such a dick, I couldn't bring myself to.

We played our second gig last weekend and we did so using our own PA, lights, and my drums.  The event was a private party with a friendly crowd, although none of our own friends who know us well.  Still, it was a great show.  We had a few miscues, but only we sensed them and the crowd loved our set.  We're playing tunes that other bands aren't and even through the listeners may have never owned the CD or albums, they seem to genuinely get into the stuff we do.  The band is continuing to broaden our set list and we get tighter every time we get together.  Will it last?  Who knows?  These are the easiest going guys I've played with an a long time, so the attitudes are in line with mine.  We all have real lives and none of us aspire to be rock stars.

Needless to say, I'm excited to be playing again and especially about playing with Stu.  I've set up a practice kit in my man cave where we rehearse, so I can keep my working drums packed, saving significant packing, setup, and tear down time and effort. I even have a few cool drum toys in mind which I'm sure I'll be able to convince myself I can't live without.  Stu and I no longer aspire to intergalactic touring, but we both probably still have a few album cover ideas in our heads.


Drunken Fan