Tuesday, February 26, 2008
2 week edition!
So last Tuesday was rough. But it didn't start out that way.
We arrived, and everyone was in a good mood, and we were sounding great right off the bat. But then we moved into rougher waters....Plastic Roses.
I get an idea in my head, a way that I'd like a song to sound...actually, a color.
I see a color in my head, which I suppose sounds ludicrous, but ac olor all the same, and then I try to find a way to express that to the band so they can paint it. (I love a metaphor)
On a side note, colors are very important to me. They affect my mood in a huge way, so much so that each season I spend at least 2 hours picking a new screen saver because if it's shitty, my mood will be, too. And ask anyone who went to college with me and remembers the bloody cavern that was my dorm room- everything I owned was red. Red sheets, towels, clothes, pens, knick knacks. I LOVED red (still do). Then my friend James, the costume designer told me:
"Sweetie, red isn't the best color on you- makes you sallow. Let's see some lovely blues".
However, here we are now, I'm wearing red when I can, and Plastic Roses is not it. It's a sort of faded pink with browned edges, like an old carnation pressed between the pages of a yearbook. It's musty, it's rusty, but it still makes you smile. (Yeah- don't you wish you were in my band and had to decipher THAT?)
I'm struggling with a way to make that musical, and I can tell Joe wants to hold me under water until the bubbles stop. Finally I say "Aha! I know! OK, here's a musical parallel to the feel that I want. Maggie May."
I am delighted. I look around, and I see general distress. Joe says "That's just boring strumming!".
Jake says, "Hey, what do you think of this?" He begins to play the song double time, ala Tom Petty, and I snarl at him. We finally decide to move on, because everyone is getting fed up. But it's unfortunate; the mood was so good, and I feel that I've ruined it by being too demanding.
But I have to- I finally have a solid idea of what I want these songs to sound like, feel like, smell like, and damn it, I'm like a dog with a bone now, don't you dare try to take it from me.
We move onto another song, and we're all recovering a little from the previous one, when Joe stops to ask a question. While he is asking, Jake starts banging (Jake's ALWAYS banging), but tonight I lose my temper, and yell "JAKE!" in the microphone. He stops, and I turn back to Joe. We sort out what he was saying, and I hear Jake say "Everyone else is allowed to work out their parts- when I do it, I get yelled at!". I turn to him and say "That's because you always are working out your parts when SOMEBODY ELSE IS TALKING!!!!"
He sulks. I sigh. Remington adjusts the laptop and Joe tweaks his tuning.
It ain't always fun. It ain't always glamorous. But it's rock n' roll.
Working Part ll
So after last week's snippy VK rehearsal, I felt guilty the entire week, and resolved that this week would be better. Not that I would expect less, but perhaps I could smile more while I expected it:).
We arrived and Joe was already there, leaning against the doorway. Rem and I have decided he's Magick (yes- with a K...it's his own adjective) because every week we get there and wait for Jake to open the gate and somehow Joe is already inside and mostly set up. We get in and start hooking up the PA (Jake has it down to a science...he's really a very clever little devil), and we discuss our NAMM adventures.
This was Rem's first foray into NAMM, and he was great. Asked pertinent questions, was as patient as could be dealing with Sick VK ( my infection was still hanging on over the weekend- PAIN......) Joe was working his JDS Magick, he walked out of there with God knows how much stuff that people seemed to just give to him, and Jake stayed out of trouble this year. I put in a visit to EMD Music, the kind folks who sponsor my guitar, and overall, it was successful. The only thing that chapped my hide was that I was too sick to go down Friday, and Joe said
"Hey, I almost called you Friday- I walked in and ran right into Nuno."
"Son. of a BITCH!"
I love Nuno. Extreme is releasing a new record this year and it's about the best damn news I've heard since they broke up. And I make no apologies for it, so don't judge me. Extreme is the soundtrack of my teen years. I discovered hair metal with "Decadence Dance". I danced at the prom to "More than Words". I took my old boyfriend back to "Stop the World" (OK, not my most brilliant moment, but it wasn't Nuno's fault). And I got engaged the first time with "Unconditionally" in my head. So who knows what this new record will bring. Sigh.
OK, I'm back. Anywho, NAMM was a modest success, and we start talking about recording, which we are doing very soon. Our 3 favorite songs finally committed to digital brilliance, and that's all Jake needs to hear. He becomes very serious with the click, and Joe is doing something important looking with his Son of Hyde box ( I have no IDEA what it does), and Rem is adjusting mics abut the room so that we can have some good practice tracks to work on.
"It's business- it's business time!" ( Insert Flight of the Conchords guitar)
We start with Mess LIke You, and play it over and over, working kinks here and there. I am amazed at the enthusiasm that these guys are putting into my song, that came into being because my guitar teacher wanted me to practice keeping my wrist loose, so I was sitting around doing muted strumming and suddenly....
But that's songwriting; it's a mercurial craft, at least for me. I don't sit down in the same chair at the same time every day and say, "OK, now I'm going to write." That works for some people; I'm just not one of them. I work very organically; the songs comes when it comes, and it's done when it's done. It's a moment in time, a snapshot, as Rem observed, of an emotion.
(But I can't seem to stick to the rehearsal tonight! I hope you all don't mind. I keep waxing contemplative; I shall try to stay on task.)
Jake is a champ; I don't think I've ever seen him so intent. He says he's had an epiphany; that he feels he hasn't really been fitting INTO the musical soundscape this year, and he's ready to do it now.
"I don't think I really even understood what it was to have a 'SOUND'- and we do now!"
We all agree- it is a very cool thing- it's like finally seeing the Matrix:)
We move on to the other 2 songs ( You thought I was going to tell you, didn't you? HAHAHAHA!!!! What kind of a surprise would that be?) and work them to exhaustion; we are all happy, and I say "I was feeling so guilty all week; I thought you were all mad at me because I was such a fascist last Tuesday." They all look at me, puzzled. Joe says "What?"
And this is when I have the realization that I've had a few times, but need to keep reminding myself of, that these are GUYS. They don't get all bent out of shape when someone yells, or they are criticized, and even if they do, they get over it pretty quickly. All that other histrionic nonsense?- That's what I do.
We take a break, and then return to work Drives on By and Dust Between the Dirt until we can't go anymore- so we pack up the PA and roll by midnight.
Rem and I decide it was a thoroughly productive night- it wasn't flashy, or dramatic, or stereotypically "rock and roll", but just good 'ol fashioned WORK, that left everyone exhausted and satisfied.
I'll take it.:)