The Peoples Front of Judea

One of the more frustrating components of working in the corporate
world is the sheer amount of paradigm shifting that doesn't happen.
Maybe it's a problem specific to the companies I've worked with over the years, but I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've been on project teams intended to "redefine the company outlook/workstation designs/process flow" that have been all full of youthful punk rock attitude because we're finally gonna bring this old dinosaur of a company into the modern age -- only to end up six months later with a severely compromised result, or the entire thing being shelved due to unexpected budget restraints or commands from on high.
"We like your creative spirit, but it doesn't really fit into the fiscal model we've arrived on for the upcoming quarter."
Look, I've never been in charge of a Fortune 500 corporation. So I certainly don't understand the kind of planning, foresight, and machinations it takes to handle the rudder of a boat that big. So in a way I accept that there's a marked difference between the things that the suits are thinking about that are five years down the line and the way the rank and file feels about working with systems and tools that are five years out of date.
But it gets frustrating after a while to be asked to participate in revolutions that
you know are eventually going to end up as nothing more than lines in the sand.
Really when you think about it, that's why you see so much corporate burnout these days. That's why you get schoolteachers who used to be CEO's. That's where hard-charging yuppies starting up cupcake stands come from. Because even if you're not pulling six figures and getting access to the company gym -- when you pull a cooked muffin out of the oven, you'll always know that it's actually done, and not doomed to six more months of R&D evaluations and risk analysis before you can eat it.
Ideally, rock and roll isn't supposed to work that way.
Rock and roll is all about the now. I've got a guitar, You have a drum set. I know some words that rhyme with Lovin' -- let's start a band!

And to be honest, sometimes it actually is like that. Sometimes all you need is the motive and the opportunity. But all too often what usually starts out as three guys at a guitar store saying, "Hell yeah, lets do this!" ends up being nothing more than endless phone calls trying to hammer out schedules and other logistical problems -- which starts to feel all too familiar after a while.

In other words -- sometimes it feels like there's really not much difference between the fiscal hesitation of the executives of my company and the too-stoned to remember that you were in charge of securing a practice space antics of many a musician I've tried to work with over the years.
Why do I bring this up?
Because heaven help me, I'm going there again.
When we last left the caped crusader, he was pondering the question of whether it was better to be in a crappy band just to have the experience of playing with other musicians, or to just walk away from the whole thing because the last time I was supposed to be in a band with this guy he screwed me over.
..Followed quickly by the announcement that the whole thing
had sorta died on the vine (again), and wasn't going to happen.
I'll give my boy credit, he's stuck to his guns about trying to find a project we can work on together -- but at the same time this will be the third time I've signed on to something with the guy, and it's hard not to sorta feel like it's gonna end up in the same pile with the other two.

The difference this time is that stoner bass player isn't the actual captain of this particular ship. That distinction belongs to the singers who brought him on board. I happen to be the "guitar player he knows" -- which is my foot in the door.
It's funny, because when he first approached me with the idea, he described them as a 3-piece "ska group."
I dig ska as much as the next guy, and even played my share of it in college with Crash Course -- but it's not usually the kind of thing that has a long shelf life in a town with an already sad excuse for a live music scene. The other thing that was weird about the whole thing was that he had apparently met these guys during one of Endo's infamous Hip-Hop open mic competitions -- a place where ska (or at least the kind of thing that I define as "ska") wouldn't really be very welcome at.

All of which made me assume that they weren't really a ska band at all -- dude was just too high to know the difference.
About a week later I got the chance to see these guys perform live, and wouldn't you know
it *puts on Horatio Cane sunglasses* Where there's smoke there's apparently well,
What you basically have are three hip-hop lookin white guys doing sorta sing-songy rap tracks to reggae sounding backing tracks. But more than that, they would flip it around a few songs later and do some rock and roll sounding stuff too. Nothing to stop the world for in it's current state -- but a lot more interesting than I was expecting it to be, and certainly filled with a lot more possibilities than what I expected to be second rate college boy stoner ska.

I met the guys about two weeks ago, and they seem pretty driven. Oddly enough, they're all from Montana -- a state I've visited a few times as a little kid, which is probably why I don't really have any recollection of it being a haven for white boy rapper dudes. How (or why) they ended up in Jacksonville I'll never know, but whatever the case --
I apparently have a jam session/practice coming up with them on Saturday.
Looks like I need to start getting serious about finding that new amplifier right meow.

Part of me knows that this could all end up going down the same doomed road as all the other messes I've tried to get mixed up in with this guy, and quietly wonders what kind of impression I'll make as I've not really jammed with anyone in any sort of serious vein for what seems like several years now -- but if I don't go for it, how will I ever find out, you know?

But what I really hate is this nagging feeling I have that's like: OK, I need to have my game shined up and ready to go in three days -- but that's still three days where the phone can ring and I'll find out it's all out the window again.
Right now, (for understandable reasons) I'm sort of on the pessimist side
of that equation -- and to be honest, it's got me dragging my feet a little bit.
All of which makes me realize that as easy as it is to point my finger at the burnout bass player who has pulled this act before, I'm not totally blameless in this situation either. It's the difference in waiting for the pretty girl at the bar to come talk to you versus stepping to her and introducing yourself.

Sure stoner boy's got better connections and opportunities to meet people than I do, but it's not like I don't have a voice here at all. It's not like I couldn't call those wiggers on the phone and see if they're really serious or not about making this thing happen or not.

What it comes down to, I guess is that I don't like catching myself in these situations where I can sort of see myself bracing for the impact instead of trying to jump out of the way of the oncoming hit. I understand that when you get burned a few times it's only natural to sort of expect the worst, but it's not really what I'd call a winning game plan, either.

Sometimes I worry that I've resigned myself to certain things. Certainly I have responsibilities and obligations that are more important than trying to get some band going, but is that really an excuse for just letting it slip away because the two things might come into occasional conflict?
I think not.
I like that my son thinks I'm funny. I love that he wants me to be proud of him. But there's more to fatherhood (and life in general, for that matter) than cheerleading and bedtime stories. There's setting an example, showing what can happen when you're willing to take chances and go for the things you want, even if you're not always sure it's gonna work out in the end.
So yeah, I'm gonna take another shot at it.
..I mean hey, it's gotta work out one of these times, right?

[Listening to:  Deastro - "Parallelogram" ]


polkatronixx said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
polkatronixx said…
What I'm hearing is this: Is it better to be in a crappy band you don't like or in no band at all. (Or however you phrased it initially).

I'm not saying you don't have legitimate reasons for thinking this guy might flake out on you (again), but I figure you'd be a lot more "motivated" if you really cared a lot about what these guys are doing.

Sure, you want to play guitar with people. But you're only SO excited about the prospect of playing with THESE people.

On the one hand, maybe you ought to try and get your attitude about the whole thing "in check" and conjure up a little enthusiasm. Or you could just continue to play it cool and see how it goes. If it ends up sucking, you can always walk away, richer (somehow) for the experience.

My advice would be to try to be a bit enthusiastic, but temper that somewhat. Try to look at it as a great (or maybe just "novel") opportunity. It might lead nowhere. Or it might lead somewhere new or unexpected. Once you get out there, you may just end up connecting with other people you really want to play with.

Good luck, and keep us posted. I'm very curious about this band, based on your description. And, with the exception of a few things you've posted here, I'm not sure I've heard you play since the infamous Groove Puppies (sp?) gig at Einstein's!

Hex said…
Polkatron -- You bring up a lot of good points. Part of what I was wanting to write about here was the frustration I was having over the sense of pessimism that's sort of seeped into my feelings about this lately.

I mean honestly, the situation IS sort of different this time around. It's not just a bunch of talk, there's an actual jam session happening in an actual place. And the guys we're working with are gigging pretty regularly (currently they're working with backing tracks). So the positives are pretty clear.

And yet I'm still having a hard time shaking past history with the one guy, and the music is a little different on the demo CD than it was when I saw them live.

Perhaps I didn't do a clear enough job of explaining it -- but that live gig I saw them at was great. I texted a few people about how excited I was. The singers had a real edge when they were in front of a crowd, and I was really digging it.

Obviously studio recordings and live gigs are different, but I guess what it comes down to is that until I get knee-deep into it, I won't really know which one is Memorex and which one is the real band, you know?

What I do know is that I'm gonna be there Saturday, doing my best to make it happen.
polkatronixx said…
Cool. Sounds potentially promising. I hope it goes well. Try not to blow them out of the room with your searing fretwork!
Monster said…
Throw your mitts on and pull a muffin outta that oven.

I take it back, that metaphor has far too much smut potential to spend here.

So, uhm, go for it!

Seriously, you're a leg up because you can get to this place after some self analysis. You don't have a problem at all, what you have is a set of reasonable expectations. Not one thing in the world wrong with that.

(PS - the last link in the post didnah work for me, so I am missing out on the clever off-site insight you intended to impart.)
Bef said…
at first reading I was like dude why are you writing all this...if you are going to do it you will do it...

I felt like you were trying to convince yourself cause deep down inside you really don't want to do this...

then your comment here makes it sound like you are kinda hyped about it...

if it does no harm to you or your son and doesn't take away from you or your son then go for it...

good luck!
Hex said…
Polkatron II -- I'm hoping to make a good impression.

Monster -- Fixed the link (sorta).

I'm all about going for it, but with kids and a job and whatever -- jumping into something that's potentially a waste of time feels differently than it did before all that happened.

Bef -- Sometimes I fall prey to paralysis by over-analysis. But at the same time it's one of those deals where you really want to start off on the right foot, and I'm not 100% convinced (so far) that this is it.