The Tide is A Turning
To quote the great John Oliver "Welcome welcome welcome!"
Hope everyone is enjoying the leaves, pumpkins and sweatshirt weather of fall! Although I must admit it hasn't really been that chilly. The last few outdoor gigs I've been playing with the cover band I'm in, as early as last week I almost got sunburnt! Damn global warming.
So if you are reading this latest update I'm sure you noticed the new look of the website. Figured since we are almost coming up on a new year and lots of new happenings with the band, why not give it a new look? I actually really like the look of the site now and I hope you do as well.
It's amazing sometimes how much difference even a few weeks can make on a mood and outlook. If you read the last entry about HEAL turning 2 years old, I'll admit my attitude and mood on the band, upcoming album and just everything music although seemed promising on the surface, I was feeling a little bleak and uncertain on the inside.
As it happens when you get to this age bracket, the days of being young, dumb and carefree are pretty few and far between. After our last gig in August at The Fez (which we played well but response was kind of eh.....Moroccan food and metal don't really mix well I guess) the "core 4" were not able to get together and play music for almost 2 months, which even though I was lucky to be playing gigs and rehearsing with the cover band I'm in Split Decision, for my own music I was getting down and frustrated.
I remember back in my late teens and early 20's being in bands there was a time we would literally play music every single day. I'd get out of school or some crappy part time job, get picked up at my house (or even play music in my own basement of my childhood home) crack a few dozen beers, smoke something and just jam and jam and jam. Even in the POS days when I was in college, we practiced at least 2-3 week AND played gigs on the weekend missing birthdays, anniversaries, we didn't give a shit except our music and "making it".
But when you are living on nothing and have zero responsibilities you can do things like that. I remember even when I was out of college, POS went on a US tour for over a month to promote our album with ZERO support from the label and I literally walked into my job saying "well I'm leaving on tour for a month. I'll be back and if you want to take me back, great if not? Oh well...." I lived on $20 a day (if that) with three other smelly guys in a van, saw the country, slept on floors and had the time of my life.
However, when you get married, have kids, have a mortgage, bills and a "real job" those times to get together and be creative can be few and far between. With everyone having responsibilities to their families and loved ones, even to get in a room for 2 hours a week can be a big challenge. I can't complain, family always comes FIRST over playing music no matter what, but like an addict, when you don't have the thing that gets you off you can get pretty ornery.
So as it turned out, like I mentioned the band hadn't rehearsed since August, which was well over 2 months. Progress on the new album stalled since we could not even find the time to records drums and vocals (let alone pay the costs to do so) and I really started to think to myself Fuck, this is over isn't it? You start to get down on yourself thinking nobody cares and thinking why am I still doing this after 46 years? At least I am still playing covers with Split Decision and having so much fun, maybe I just do that.
But then in less than a month, all of a sudden the skies opened up and the tide turned.
I spoke to Vic, Helene and Shawn and it looked like we were finally going to be able to get in the rehearsal studio and start jamming again once I got back from England. During the time off I was chatting back and forth with Noah about the possibility of having him come in and play keyboards with us. We had reconnected after he came to see us play and even played a set when we did the acoustic show in Mahopac. I was blown away after seeing him perform I thought "he gets along and is really cool with the band, I'd love to have this guy play shows with us and I can get off the keys and just play guitar and sing"
This year I have been jumping back and forth from guitar to keys while singing and although since these are my songs, I like playing music and was really starting to get back into playing the 6 string again my initial goal with the band was I write the songs, I record the music and the CAB would play it adding their own style to the songs when we play live. As much as I love the sound and playing on HEAL and the new stuff on record, when you see us live it's almost a completely different animal .I think it's neat and gives the listener a different experience. In this YouTube, streaming time we live in I want to give people a reason to get off their I-Pad and have loud amps in the face.
Then, right around the same time out of nowhere I get a message on the band's Facebook from Benny.
Once Shawn joined the fold and we went to just the four of us after Pete left, I went to my bandmix profile and did a little update on it removing the bass need and basically saying what I've been yapping on here for months "We are a solid band of four, but are always looking to add new people to the mix". Benny had seen the page, liked the music and took the time to go to this website to contact us and expressed real interest in playing guitar. I thought "man this dude did more steps than I would have to contact me, let me respond and see what he's all about" so I sent him the links to the music.
Within days, not only did he reply to my personal e-mail (which good work man, that's some good detective work!) but he sends me a recording of him playing along to I Wish I Had You Forever. I'll admit, being the jaded musician I am I thought "fuck that takes balls and initiative" which sold me right away.
There’s nothing worse than having a band member who just sits there going through the motions acting like his presence is doing everyone a favor. My name might be on the albums and this website, but I like to treat every member like they are an equal contributing factor of the music regardless. You want to be the star? Go be one I’ll support you 100% but as Jay Mohr says on his podcasts “I’m putting my name on it” because I worked very hard and this is my own music which I take very seriously.
I will shine a light on you more than you want to if you got the goods regardless of who’s name is front and center because anyone who can put their ego aside, play their instrument well and help me with my music deserves it. It might sound ego driven, but I’ve been the guy in the background doing the work and staying out of the limelight taking no credit for many projects cause I didn’t want it. I just wanted to play my bass, do my part and contribute. Now though? Fuck that, it’s my time to show what I can do….
So since our triumphant return to Barking Dog to rehearse was coming up, I decided to throw them both to the wolves and invite them to jam/audition on the same day. Figured after a few months even the Core 4 would be rusty so it was almost like we were all going into the room on an even playing field. Sure the others have been playing these songs for a while, but what better environment to introduce new people when everyone (including myself) is sitting around going "hmmm how's that go again? What note is that?" Trust me, I've been in a few situations in my day where the band is going 100mph since they know the stuff and you are hanging on the bumper trying to figure it out because you are the new guy.
After a few handshakes and "hey, how you doing?" in the room, we finally get to make noise! I felt like I was almost naked because for the first time in the history of playing with the CAB, I literally walked in the door carrying NOTHING. No bass, no guitar, no keyboard, not even a microphone since it was already there I just gabbed the mic stand, looked around and said "Ok, here goes nothing"
Needless to say, I was shocked and dumbfounded....
Sure, we hit a few clams while we were playing. I even blanked a few times on lyrics mostly because I kept thinking to myself “holy shit, I don’t have to do anything but sing!” During a solo or break in the song I literally would walk in the other room, get a drink of water, come back and jump back in.
But next thing I know, Benny in his classic NY/Brooklyn accent is yelling “What about this Soursome? Let’s do that!” even saying “Hey, can I solo on this song?” and jumping right in with the rest of us cheering on.
Then you have Noah who not only is playing the piano better than me trying to fuddle through it while singing, he’s throwing harmonies in songs like “I talked to the devil” that I never heard in my head and on songs where there are no keys like Soursome he looks at me and says “I’ll just play mandolin on this” and it sounded awesome!
By the end of practice, just for fun we start just jamming on Roadhouse Blues by The Doors goofing around and Helene runs to her case, pulls out a friggin harmonica and starts wailinnnng.
Needless to say after practice after our usual time of hanging outside, Shawn and I chain smoking and shooting the shit with everyone by the time I got into my car to drive home I felt like I just snorted an 8 Ball I was ecstatic.
Even though I have been playing music in bands as young as 14 and have played in numerous really cool projects over the decades with some really amazing players, ever since I could remember being a little child growing up on the mean streets of Bay Ridge I would dream of fronting my own band and playing my own music. Most kids would be playing Star Wars or Army in the woods (which sure I did that too) but I would be sitting in my room, drawing logos of pretend bands and album covers saying “this would be my third record…” and playing air guitar or singing in the mirror as little as 7-8 years old to a packed crowd in my imagination.
I might of took till my mid-later 40’s, but to actually not be shielded by an instrument, standing front and center surrounded by great musicians with just a microphone saying “this is a song I wrote” and to have people react positively or even just the people in my own band responding with “wow, I really like that song” is better than any drug, liquor, cigarette or blowjob you could ever get in your life.
The past few months during the downtime I’ll be honest, I gave up hope for a bit. Bad habits creeped back in and it showed on the scale and in my personality. My rule of “no booze while practicing” turned into “I can have one or two”, the bad food I used to eat that I gave up was showing up on my plate again and it was depressing me.
By the time I got back from my trip from England, although I had an amazing time, when I got back after days of pints, Scotch Eggs, Sausage and whatnot I jumped on the scale and saw my 240lbs I’ve been maintaining for 2 years jumped up to 251lbs.
I’ve been back for two weeks now and two practices with the band I’m back down to 240lb again. nobody is going to keep me down fuckers….great things are a coming.