Friday, August 03, 2007

My pal Gail, An Amazing Drummer

I shot this the last night I played with her at the High Noon last winter.
I miss playing with Gail. I miss her amazing timing, her subtle but freakin’ awesome sense of dynamics, the way she and I locked together on some of the songs we used to play before I got shoved out of the band for being too alive.
Or being an asshole, depending on who you talk to. They are almost the same thing.
Her amazing drumming made me feel like I was connected to something really, really huge, and when it was time for a solo, it felt like she was the jet turbines pushing my guitar parts into something more than just a bunch of notes to fill a space. With her behind me, I felt like my wah pedal was connected to god’s own hotline, that my amp and strings and fingers could tear down skyscrapers.
I have no idea if that translated to anybody else, but it felt like there was enough joy and savage glee in those moments to push life out of the safe and bland ordinary mode most people fall into by default.
Touching passion is a scary thing. A lot of people run away from it.
I have a great drummer now, Robin’s his own madman/savant/genius, and the new electric band goes further out into interesting places than I felt the old one ever did, with people in it who want to get out on the edge.
But for that year or two when I got to play with Gail, there was a huge mojo for me.
I have no idea what things are like now in my old band. When the long knives came out, when I was fired after five years of being Bob’s right hand tool, I did my best to move on, putting all the guitars I played in that band away, stripping back to one distortion pedal and playing totally different guitars in standard tuning, things like cheesy Les Paul copies and humbucker guitars, doing lots of feedback and distortion work.
Steering myself into the other side of the musical ditch mostly worked, although the ugly feelings still linger in a few places in my head, more than I wanted to.
I felt oddly empty and sad for months.
It was a strange winter. Starting up the acoustic project with Bess and Tim helped a lot, although I still can’t get used to having to sing and play my own songs. It’s not the role I’m used to, and to have people expect me to bring in my songs and have them actually want to play them hasn’t happened since I started playing with Bob in Tin Ceiling.
The new bands feel more vital, and like I’m no longer chained to one guy’s rather bland, one size fits all rhythm approach, or being stuck in a band where people can’t seem to step up and let things rip, or worse yet, pretend to be playing while hiding behind other members.
I felt like things were going to shit the last few months I was in Bob’s band. If a number of people in the band avoiding conflict had actually talked a few things out, I might have been able to leave on good terms.
Instead, the usual human thing happened. I got ejected from Bob Manor and the Getaway Drivers without ever having a chance to talk things over, got blamed in a series of increasingly strange emails for everything that was wrong with the band, and fired without even getting to talk it over with the band.
At that point, all the tracks I put down for the new CD were done, we did one last High Noon gig that felt like something was badly broken, and I got fired by email the next week.
Fired by email. By a guy I spent a very long time playing music with, who was one of my tribe, and somebody I felt was one of my best friends.
It sort of put the whammy on me. It’s not what I expected, nor what I would have ever thought would happen. It felt like a divorce, both liberating and terribly damaging at the same time.
But for all the ugly weirdness that came with being booted by people who could not actually face me, I am grateful for the time I got to spend playing with Gail.
She’s a fine human, a great drummer and she was honest, direct and didn’t ever bullshit me. That's something to treasure in this world full of self declared saints and sneaky shitheads.

1 comment:

M Big Mistake said...

The last two bands (only two, I guess) that I've been kicked out of:
1) One did not ever tell me I had been kicked out...just booked a gig when I was out of town and started playing with other people without ever talking to me about it. To save face and the friendship I took the bullet and let her off the hook. Years later I feel like me and the others who were left behind are not even acknowledged as having ever been in the band. And I'm rarely acknowledged at all these days.
2) The other broke up the band over email.

People are shit-heads.

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson