Sunday, June 25, 2006

Band Story Part II

Months before I left for college, I hastily attempted to put together a new band. Gathering a few friends we started a group that was free of some of the artistic restrictions that I found in my "ska band." Of course these restrictions were ridiculous/non-existent in reality, and we ended up spliting up a group of talented and dedicated musicians and splintered into far inferior bands. During this time I also had short stints in two other bands with musicians I had met over the years, which further dilluted the time that could be dedicated to this new group.

At this point it didn't really matter though because this band was more something to keep me busy before I went off to school and allow an outlet to release some creative energy(whatever the hell that means.) Anyways we played probably about 10-12 shows in the suburbs of Chicago, and recorded a full length album that was thrown together far too quickly; recorded on a 4 track in one of my buddy's bedrooms. Looking back on it and listening to the record, its kind of sloppy and the recording is a disaster, but there are still some good songs. It was basically me taking a stab at writing full songs without my past counterpart on second guitar and backup vocals, which proved to be a challenge, as there was definitely something missing. Before I went off to college that group disbanded making it one of my shortest lived musical projects.

When I left Illinois to go off to college in Wisconsin, I didn't know what to expect. I had pretty much planned to stop playing music once I got there, which worked out well because this was not a school for musicians. This was a college full of highly educated kids coming from moderate to very wealthy families, none of whose plans were to start a rock and roll band.

These were kids who planned on doing more "traditional" things with their lives; becoming engineers, accountants, computer programmers, health care professionals etc... There were a couple musicians that lived on the North Shore that I knew from the Chicago suburban punk scene that came to the school as well and they couldn't take it. They transferred at the end of the first semester. I personally loved it. Keg parties everywhere, very friendly people from similar backgrounds, and somewhere along the way you managed to study your ass off inbetween. There was also access to just about every concert that came through Chicago. I had no complaints.

My freshman year I was crammed into a little pie-shaped dorm room living with a country-boy from Southern Illinois. Nice enough guy, but we definitely had nothing in common. I don't think I picked up a guitar more than twice that year, but I met a number of people (as many do in college) that were heavily into music of all genres and opened me up to all kinds of music I never would have listened to in a million years. I was also introduced to a wonderful program being passed around word of mouth by college students called "Napster" giving me access to just about any artist or album you could think of.

That first year was a riot. Alot of drinking, alot of studying, and a lot of puking. I met a handful of great people that first year of school, bonding over our love of underage drinking, fake ids, and the pursuit of higher education(kind of). After a year of studying and partying, I headed back home to Illinois to take over a summer job as a cabana boy at a local country club, serving cocktails, flipping burgers, putting lime wedges into rich people's diet coke's and what have you.

Sometime during the beginning of the summer, my bandmates from our once semi successful ska band, came to me with the idea of "getting the band back together." I thought it was a great idea at the time and we started practicing again. I dusted off my songwriting skills and wrote a handful of new songs and within a month we started playing shows again. As anyone who is a musician knows, you can't practice with a group of musicians a few times and expect to sound like a professional group. We rushed into our "reunion shows" which tended to be a generally sloppy affair, but we made some old fans and friends happy and got to reminisce about the "good old days." Looking back on it, I probably wouldn't have done it again if I had the choice, but I have to admit I did enjoy playing with all those guys again.

Towards the end of the summer we had planned to head into the studio and record the 4 new songs we had put together. Due to scheduling conflicts, we ended up scrapping our studio time and in a last half assed attempt we had a good friend of mine attempt to record the songs in my parent's basement. The recording session ended up being a disaster and the rest of the band ended up walking out after we were not able to get the equipment running right. With everyone gone my buddy and I were left with an 8 track that we still had rented for the evening. Feeling like it was a waste of a recording opportunity, I pulled out an acoustic guitar and recorded two of the songs acoustic and then crafted a new song right on the spot. The new song was a total joke, something meant to make my buddies at college laugh. Little did I know what I had gotten myself into.