Thursday, April 30, 2009

At least I wasn't the singer.

The past few days have found me thinking about the band I inhabited back in 1994-95. It seems so surreal--nearly 15 years?!

It started earlier than that; sometime in mid-'94 I met Wodger, a bass player. We hung out, tried to jam a little. I played guitar. I knew even then that I wasn't very good. Then in November, after a few rounds of Classifieds, we hooked up with a guy--call him GC--who was forming a new band.

The lineup:
GC--lead guitar
MC--his wife--singer *cough*
Me--rhythm guitar *cough cough*
Navy Jim--drums

I'll call the drummer Navy Jim because his name's Jim, he was in the Navy. Turns out he was a better man than GC or Wodger, so I won't give him a snarkish nickname.

So we formed up, did some rehearsals, and I knew I sounded and played like crap, but I kept trying to improve. I couldn't keep up with GC's blurred fingers. He and Wodger were the creative forces, and before long we had close to a dozen songs, including a pair of covers ("All Or Nothing" by The Small Faces and "The Act We Act" by Sugar). Someone in one audience called our style "Punk, with guitar solos."

Navy Jim was a badass, and he looked like a gorilla behind those drums. Wodger and GC were excellent players, and I liked the songs they wrote (GC also penned the lyrics).

But MC...her singing was pretty bad. I've got a 15 minute video of our first gig, and I can't really say that she ever got better than that. She stayed on the note well enough, sometimes a little sharp or flat, but the problem was with her inflection and stage presence. Think of your typical singer--blues, R and B, jazz, rock, whatever--and how that person brings a song to life and defines the sound of a band in ways the instruments don't.

David Lee Roth made Van Halen. The band changed when Sammy Hagar took over.
Chris Cornell's powerful voice defined Soundgarden's sound.
Plenty of people hate Rush because they can't get past Geddy Lee's voice.

MC was our "frontman"--and she had no business being there, because her singing lacked conviction, soul, presence.

We played the Handlebar and Murphy's Lounge--a downtown dive and an outskirts country dive, respectively--as our only "regular" gigs. And all the while, I was aware of how sucky my playing was. When we started laying down tracks to cut a demo (sometime in March of '95?), I knew it was over.

Our last gig was April 1, 1995. Heh.
One week later, I got a letter from the girl I was in a long-distance relationship with. First relationship, and all that, and for the next few months I didn't think of the band or even notice that I hadn't gotten a call. It was sometime in June or July when I thought of them--and only because I had stuff of theirs and wanted to give it back.

Wodger wouldn't return my calls. For a couple of days he was "taking a nap" or "in the garage" or whatever. Guess he didn't want the hard-to-replace instruction manual I'd borrowed.

GC aswered the phone and we talked for a few minutes. He told me to keep the guitar cord I'd borrowed--but no mention of the band.

Navy Jim and I talked for a good bit longer. He's the one who told me we'd both been kicked out of the band, and he was mystified that I hadn't figured things out or given it any thought. I tried to get him to understand that I'd been preoccupied, what with the girl and getting ready to move to Tallahassee. He talked to Wodger, and while Wodger did want the manual back...he was too much of a chickenshit to man up and call me to make arrangements. Turns out he was also too much of a chickenshit to man up and call me to tell me I was out of the band, too. Griddance to him.

Threw out the manual. Still using the guitar cord.

No comments:

Post a Comment