In case anyone has ever wondered why bands are such incredibly unstable entities that tend to disintegrate at any moment without notice….
Here’s a video of the development of one of our pieces, “March for the 21st Century” that we rehearsed and performed with our new drummer.
ca. mid-September 2011
I’M SO F**KING ANNOYED!!! (CAUTION: lots of sapphire language ahead – keep the impressionable youngsters away!)
Why, oh why does Chi have to make everything so superlatively, unnecessarily fucking melodramatic and COMPLICATED???!!! For fuck’s sake!!
Ok, I feel better now. Well, not really, but anyway…..
Chi was going hysterical at me because the new drummer we were bringing on board hadn’t yet responded to the last email I sent him (dictated almost word-for-word by Chi) to arrange a rehearsal to work through some new repertoire for a major show at a big regional festival.
Well, no fucking SHIT, he hasn’t! In that first email, you only unloaded about eleven different things on him to have to unpack, sort through, and respond to (many of which were contentious and involved another person — the bassist — who he’ll have to get in touch with, sort all this out with, etc.), when the critical issues were actually only 2 (count t-w-o), i.e., set a couple dates for rehearsals and establish how much he charges for rehearsal time. And if that weren’t enough, you keep piling on more and more! At very least, give the guy a chance to catch his breath and make a simple decision…Jumped-up Jesus on skis!!!
Now instead of responding to his last email simply and just saying, ok, yeah, we’ll pay you for the rehearsal time, just please tell us what dates/times work for you ASAP and how much you charge, instead you insist that he jump through hoops A, B, C, and D, and also locate a studio near where he is so we don’t have to pay gas money, when he already couldn’t think of any studio near where he is when I asked him that same question at the farmers’ market gig two weeks ago! COME ON, GET WITH THE PROGRAM! Oh that’s right (slaps head), you can’t because you’re living in some sort of alternate reality that has nothing remotely to do with the reality the rest of us have to live with every day, like having to pay the bills, make shit work, deal with music business people in L.A., and also try to find time to breathe, eat, bathe, keep the house in at least a tolerable state of order and sanitation, etc…..
And now you’re foaming at the mouth insisting that I accost him with a pile of legal bullshit demanding that he sign a release to videotape the rehearsals (in addition to the festival performance that I already told him we were going to videotape to get a demo in this format to pitch for more work) to use for demonstration purposes to the drummer we’re going to replace him with in case things don’t work out before he’s even committed to the fucking rehearsal in the first place???!!! W-T-F??????!!!!!!!
Ok, I appreciate the blunt and absolute honesty, frugality and transparency about your intentions, but for the love of Saint Patrick, can you just PUH-LEASE, oh pretty please, be a little more temperate about it and bring this about in a sensible order so as not to terrorize and run off our new drummer before we can even get him to commit to a single rehearsal date?!!! Have you ever been called a narcissistic fucking douche by any chance?? (yeah, all the time by yours truly) Should I just put a bullet through my head and end my suffering, at least for this present lifetime?
Background and Context:
We’ve been taking an extremely conservative, cautious approach to adding other players, and as always, guess who had to do all the wheeling and dealing, negotiating, haggling, translating, communicating, etc., etc., etc.? Readers who know me will certainly know how much I “love” that sort of thing. For those who don’t, having to deal with stuff like this usually requires several days of bed rest to recover from the slamming headache and power outage it inevitably leaves me with.
Why? Well, for starters, I am not, repeat NOT a “people person”, so having to read other people’s intentions and try to figure out where they’re coming from and their respective maze of obligations and inclinations and expectations and communicative quirks is incredibly difficult for me, and when that is compounded by the duress of having another person on the other side of it demanding that everything happen instantly and perfectly while not doing a single fucking thing to facilitate the process, and in fact, making it needlessly difficult… well… maybe you get the picture.
So in addition to presenting me with an array of new hoops to have to jump through, such as negotiations, music preparation, etc., i.e., be a band leader/contractor (on the “HR” side, rather than just the administrative/PR side) instead of merely a side player, it also put me in the extremely stressful, uncomfortable and awkward position of having to be the “medium”, i.e., try to interpret and make some sort of sense of Chi’s drug-addled, half-crazed ramblings and demands, and then communicate that to the new player in a way that he could mentally process and make sense of and respond to.
At the same time, this also faced us with a strategic crisis: a mismatch between our currently extant recordings and our live performance with the new player; as well as an economic crisis: a significant gap between income and expenditures (It costs a lot of money to add another player since we have to pay for rehearsal and performance time as well as pay to rent a rehearsal studio — we’re already pushing it by doing our daily acoustic rehearsals in our house — I’m sure our neighbors absolutely adore us!), so on top of everything else, I now had to completely re-engineer our promotional materials and work out how to integrate the new trio format that is working in a substantially different style than our “traditional” duo format, which lead to having to re-jig our strategic approach, which required many hours of rewriting copy, wrangling videos and audio clips, and overhauling our entire web presence, all in the run-up to spring/summer festival booking season. And I wonder why I am so burned out and depressed by this point that I’m ready to just send up the white flag and give up on the whole damned thing.
In fact, now I’m even more overwhelmed than ever trying to focus on which direction to go since our options have just increased exponentially. Well, it only supports and expands what we are already able to do with just the two of us, which just might be a winning strategy however much it flies in the face of convention. I also need to figure out how to present this information on our website in a way that is clear and easy to understand, when I am finding it anything but.
On the plus side (there really is one!) In addition to his great contribution to our music, our new drummer is also an absolutely delightful person with wonderful, positive energy, and so his presence is immensely helpful in offsetting Chi’s constant, toxic negativity. Additionally, since he appears willing to take the initiative to book shows and invite people to come see them, I feel like I now have an ally, i.e., a partner who is working with me instead of against me. This is in stark contrast to Chi, being the utterly indolent, entitled do-nothing douche that he is, demanding that I do everything and make everything happen while abusing and shitting all over me while I attempt to do all the shit he says he wants, and then doing his best to sabotage any chance of a successful outcome to anything!
And the outcome:
Soooooooo…………..after FINALLY getting a rehearsal set up and booking time at the studio, and then going through an endless sleep-deprived nightmare of getting the music we were going to rehearse into a form that I could send to our new drummer, everything seemed to fall magically into place. The rehearsals went well, and I carved out some time to listen to the playback of the video, and was amazed. He just gets it! He listens, he plays musically and in context with the ensemble. He’s smart. He picks stuff up quickly, if not instantly. Listening to the playback of the video, I was struck not only by the additional dimension his playing adds to our music, but at how he was so quick to accurately interpret what Chi expressed that he wanted from the drums on each piece. It was amazing to see the smile that lit up Chi’s face when the drummer played something the way Chi indicated, and seeing how well they interacted together. Chi had been very concerned that he would have trouble communicating and would have to run everything through me during rehearsals and performances, but that was not the case at all!
Then again, Chi is also a drummer and a specialized rhythm player, so his guidance was very likely easy for our new drummer to understand and execute.