Maybe I should write a novel…

OK, if work doesn’t pick up soon, this blog thing could get out of hand in a hurry. Let’s be honest: this is for my amusement. I can’t imagine too many people giving this more than a cursory glance. Heck, I’ve only got 5 friends so far. So I guess it doesn’t matter how much I write. It’s not like I’m gonna take the MySpace servers down.

The second audition.

After another handful of uninspiring e-mails, I got another one of interest. This time from a fellow putting together an all-new original project, incorporating lighting, costumes, the whole 9 yards. Interesting. He was a little vague, not wanting to reveal too much at this point. Paranoid, perhaps, but I can understand. So, we set up an audition.

I meet him and a couple other guys at their rehearsal space. It’s not clear whether these people are part of the project, friends, cleaning crew or what. We go inside to the cleanest rehearsal space I’ve ever seen. Two large bottles of Purel hand sanitizer are available at the door; they each dispense a large handful on their way through. Weird. As I set up, we chat a bit more, and it turns out that one of the guys and I have a few mutual acquaintences in the industry. It never hurts to have an extra connection.

So we begin the audition. He aks me to play something. I look at him with slight puzzlement. He says to just play something. So I proceed to play Full Moon, one of the Snark tracks I had been working on recently. It’s in a rotating time signature, so to the casual listener getting only the bass line, it probably sounds like a mess. But there are a couple amusing little turns that made them all chuckle. Whatever, I thought, this is weird. He then asks me to play a simple groove. So I start playing some dumb little thing in E, mostly just the root. I go for maybe 32 bars before he stops me. Then he asks me to play along with a recording. Finally, I thought, I’ll play something that actually means something.

Nope. This was a finished recording of a song that he had done several years earlier. By finished, I mean it already had a fairly prominent bass line. Whatever. I try to play something that aligns with the existing line but also interject a bit of myself in there. Problem is, I’m having trouble finding the key of the song. When it finishes, I ask. He replies that he doesn’t remember, at which point one of the other guys states his belief that they sped the song up in post, thus rendering it in an unspecified key. Whatever.

Then, he asks me to play the song AGAIN! I end up playing through this A half-flat dual-bass song two more times. That was it for the audition. We chatted a little more as I packed up my things. He seemed to like the way things went and expressed an interest in a follow-up audition. He was trying to do ensemble auditions, looking for a group that worked together. Cool. I can appreciate that logic. And as weird as this audition was, I was curious to see where this might lead. We went ahead and scheduled something for a couple days later, and I left, feeling pretty good that I had an audition go this well this early in the process.

By the time I drove home, maybe 20 minutes later, he had sent me an e-mail thanking me for coming out, but expressing that he didn’t feel there was a future for us in the music industry.

WTF?

I was starting to seriously lose interest in a new original project.

The Haze

Yes, I’m in that afternoon haze. A few minutes of work, a little juice smoothie for lunch, and now… nothing. Too late in the day to really start a new project, too early to start thinking about leaving.

So I thought I’d write more, but I’m still searching for a subject. I suppose I could write about my recent experiences auditioning for a new band. That could be fun.

I should probably begin with a little background. As I outlined in my last post, I’m essentially without a band. Over the last few years, I’ve played with quite a few different bands, most falling pretty solidly in that generic singer/songwriter category. Not that they all sucked or anything, I’m just saying, it was a bit of a rut. After three in a row got swollen heads and started screwing over their bands, I decided I’d had enough. I want out of that world. On top of it all, I was in the middle of two weddings, so I didn’t try real hard to keep it all together.

Once the dust settled from my wedding (at least somewhat) I started giving some serious thought to what I wanted to do next. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of options in this town. [Side note: for such a large city with a strong history in music, Minneapolis is kinda hurting these days.] I could go the artisitc route: a bunch of disillusioned musicians trying to create something new for an audience of their roommates, spouses & neighbors. That could be fun for a while, but if I wanted to go pure art, I’d set up a studio and work on my own material. Wait, that is what I want to do, but I have no budget right now. Soon, my precious… soon. I could go jobber… sit in wherever I can, play anything that gets thrown my way abnd make a few bucks. That would actually be pretty cool for a while, but the fact is I’m not very good at that sort of thing. Maybe if I had a lot more time to practice. I could find the “next big thing” band. You know, the original band that just knows they’re gonna make it any day and then we’re all set. That would be cool… if any of them were any good. Hell, there are a couple new ones advertising every day. But, no, I’m not interested in propping anyone up.

Wow, am I full of myself! Anyway, to continue…

That leaves the cover band option. Some call it selling out, but there are a lot of positives there. First, you get paid. We could definitely use a few more dollars coming in every month. Second, you deal almost entirely with professionals. THAT would be a refreshing change. Third, egos are at least somewhat limited by the fact that no one’s writing any of the material. Fourth, I could really sharpen up my chops. Finally, as a friend of mine pointed out recently, if it doesn’t work out, you find a replacement and leave. It’s not like you’re in the band for your artistic contribution.

I’ve been a little worried that I’m justifying taking the easy way out to myself. But really, I think that’s the right place for me to be at this point. If the money starts flowing in the right direction for a while, I can get that studio going in the basement of the home we’re talking about buying, and I can finally get to work on what I want to do. All that singer/songwriter crap was someone else’s material, too, and it’s a safe bet none of them were going to give me any credit for my part in it.

I’m getting ahead of myself. This was all a slow realization that come to me as I went through a few auditions.

I started by placing an ad on CraigsList. It’s just starting to pick up steam here locally, and it’s free. I also monitored the ads in City Pages, our “local” branch of the Village Voice, because the true professionals would buy an ad, and that’s really the best place to be. I figured if things weren’t going well, I could spring a few bucks and place an ad, but I’ll start with the free stuff.

Sure enough, my e-mail started dinging away. I had made a vow both to my readers and myself that I would reply to everyone. I should have made a vow that I would reply to everyone that gave some indication that they were smarter than a bottle of Windex.

Call me anal, call me obsessive, but bad grammar bugs me. I’m not a perfectionist, I understand there is some flexibility, particularly on e-mail, but you need to at least be in the neighborhood of correct.

I also should have made a vow to only reply to those people who seemed to have actually read the ad. I’ll refrain from filling this space with giant swaths of copy/paste goodness, but suffice it to say I got quite a few offers that missed the mark.

Finally, I got an e-mail from a guy that sounded promising. We traded a couple e-mails and set up a time to get together, run a few tunes, see what happens. I showed up with my gear in hand to find that we would be playing in his living room with what seemed to 136 cats and dogs. In reality, there were only 2 or 3, but there was half an inch of fur on everything. OK, I thought, just because I don’t like pets is no reason to give this guy a hard time. So, we chat for a few minutes and get set up. Seemed like a nice guy. Then his buddy shows up with a couple hand drums. Cool. Seemed like a nice guy. Then we started to play a couple tunes.

OK, I already said that I’m full of myself. Anybody that I auditioned with who ends up reading this, please know that I’m already aware of that. But I’ve been playing a long time. I’ve been in some damn good bands, I’ve played some damn good shows. I have standards.

Where was I? Oh yes… then we started to play a couple tunes. It was pretty bad. I thought, hey, maybe it’s just going to take a little while to warm up, settle into a groove. No. Not so much. I hung out for a bit, just to really give them every benefit of the doubt. It really wasn’t going to improve.

Up next… my big solo audition.

Hmmm… coincidence?

Look… Under The Pink came out 12 years ago tomorrow. On my birthday, even. And that just happened to be on my iTunes when I started typing. Yes, it’s these brilliant little insights that are gonna make my blog so darned fascinating.

As you can see from the convenient MySpace smiley face, my mood is bored. Bored bored bored. I’m making a personal commitment not to use this space to bitch about my job. So, I’m going to get it out right now: my job sucks. During a typical 8-hour day, I work about 3. The rest of my time is spent trying to look busy so the Queen B doesn’t rip my head off. Then, about 10 minutes before quitting time, I get some stupid project and a request to stay late to finish it. After 5 days of this, I then get some stupid project and a request to work over the weekend. The real kicker is that I actually like the work; I just can’t stand the politics and mismanagement.

Hence, I may do a fair bit of writing which reflects my sour mood. But I’m not going to bring work into this anymore.

On to happier topics…

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 35. I’m really not too concerned with aging or the number or anything like that. It is a bit surprising, though… I have no idea how 35 years went by. Once again, I can honestly say that the past year was a great year and better than the one before.

Hey, I got an idea: how about a nice “retrospective” episode? I’ve got the time.

On a personal level, this was a great year for me. I got engaged in April, married in September. Not a day has gone by since that I’m not completely overwhelmed by how lucky I am to have Kim in my life. I don’t want this space to become overly sappy or a public disclosure of our personal lives, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I also managed to overcome a couple personal demons. One was nicotine, in which I have not indulged since April. That was surprisingly easy; it was just the right time to stop.

The other was Clovis, the band I played with for what, 4 years? 5? It was a great band with a lot of potential. I got to play some amazing shows in front of a lot of people. We made a record which I believe will stand up for years. But ultimately, the sociopathic tendencies of our lead singer were too much to bear. Officially, the band is still together. I just told Johnny exactly how I felt and he hasn’t spoken to me (or apparently, the rest of the band) since. He’s far too passive to actually fire me or break up the band. Long story short (too late) it’s sad that the band is ending, because we could have been great, but it just wasn’t worth the headache anymore.

On the down side, my other band, Snark, is all but finished. We’e been playing together for even longer… 6 years, maybe? I’m so bad with the passage of time. We’re about 2/3 of the way through a new record, which is roughly where we’ve been with it for 6 months. Our lead singer just had a baby. So, a fair chunk of the past year was spent with her pregnant, which tends to slow things down.

To be fair, though, Snark has been a part-time sort of thing for a while now. It will also probably never offically end… we’ll just keep having longer and logner periods between rehearsals.

Well, what do you know? I haven’t even been at work for 3 hours yet, and there’s something to do. I’ll have to wrap things up for now.

First blog entry

OK, I’ve started a couple different blogs in different places, but haven’t really kept up with them at all. I think I may let those others die and focus on this one. It seems that MySpace is the place to be these days, and I’m such a slave to the trends.

So, this is essentially a useless entry. But now there’s one. Which puts the pressure on to make the second one more interesting. We’ll see how that turns out.