Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Bands

It's been a strange month for the bands. SSW hasn't seemed to be able to all gather in a room together much, and we'll end up having gone at least a month without a rehearsal by the time our Oct 7th show comes along (we'll likely squeeze in a rehearsal the night before). We've been pretty steady weekly gatherers for a year and a half or so, so this has been unusual.

All the auditions and almost auditions and pick up bands that put me down culminated in my unexpectedly joining TD. And now, a month into that, I think I'm starting to settle in. I still feel like I'm on loose sand my footing isn't firm. I know I should be patient with myself and not expect to learn 19+ songs without some time and effort...but it is frustrating to progress slowly. There's also the learning to speak and interact with two new musicians (and human beings). You would think that a language that is both written and audible would be easy to communicate (music I mean)...but everyone speaks it a little differently. When one person says "note" they really mean "beat" and subtle little things like that. And non-drummers have their own words for parts of the drum set. And I'm still building my musicial toolbox. "play a shuffle" means one thing to me...something else entirely to someone else. Nevermind that it can mean different things in different contexts. Plus add in all the nervous "I want to get what I want but I don't want to alienate this person I just met" stuff...and the usual tension of creativity and ownership and wanting approval in bands...AND the fact that people tend to react to me like a cat who's ears are always flat to its head (and me, the cat, unawares)...and, well, I'm uneasy and exhausted. I THINK things are going well...but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm totally reading everything wrong. I've read things wrong so many times in the past that it's starting not to even surprise me when there's a sudden problem. All I can do is keep practicing and try to be personable in my own way.

There were a few CJ rehearsals skipped this month too, but when we assembled last night I was overwhelmed with the love I have for this project. It's fun and it comes so easily. We're picking up new songs now like they are nothing. There's behind the scenes work that goes into that (each of us learning our parts on our own), but when we come together songs seem to come together quickly. It's really a joy. I want to remember this...because things in life always seem to change eventually. This was a nice time in life, music, and friendship...and I am glad for it.

A final thought on bands and people...I find it strange when you get edged out of a project for whatever reason for someone in the project to say "you've got three other bands, what do you care?" A band is an interaction between human beings. It's always difficult when you feel cast aside by another human being, whether or not you have other good things in your life. I don't understand why people who are fragile and complain about lack of communication from others never seem to value other's fragility or recognize their own lack of communication. I'm not really mad about any of it, but it does sting a bit...and makes me less empathetic to complaints of mistreatment from this corner. Humans are flawed and some flaws I have to accept in others who I have some use for in my life...but so often I feel like I'm the only one who sees these little ironies. I also feel like I am constantly nailed to the wall for the quirks in my personality and the social "mistakes" that I make...but others are allowed to be quirky and screw up and never seem to lose social status. I really do not understand why this is. Maybe they lose things that I'm not privvy to...but it's hard to see where.

More and more in my life though, I realize all I can do is be myself and learn to cope with the fallout when who I am conflicts with others. By this I don't mean "damn everybody else" I just mean that it's nearly impossible for me to predict and correct for the things that seem to get me in trouble sometimes...and so spending too much energy fretting about it doesn't really get me anywhere.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adopting a New Baby

Last Saturday I bought a drum kit for $150 off of Craigslist. I'm still marginally conflicted about the purchase. I have this thing about making the most out of cheap stuff. I've been looking for just such a deal.

The kit is a Pulse standard set: 12, 13, 16, 22 w/ 14 steel snare. The hardware and cymbals are total crap as was expected, though the cymbals honestly aren't as bad as I'd expected. The hardware is possibly worse than expected though. The kit is about a year old and bought on the internet for a 12 year old who never got into it because "it was too loud." Well that is certainly true. Ear plugs are my best friend these days.

The kit is essentially the new version of the kit that I already own...though my kit has already gone through the upgrading of hardware, cymbals, and heads. I've not upgraded far mind you...but far enough to get along.

I wanted a second kit for two reasons. First to possibly have one kit to leave set up for practice and one to leave packed up that I'd only use for shows. Essentially this would eliminate one take down and set up cycle for every show. Less wear on both my back and my hardware. This option doesn't really become viable until I have at least two sets of functioning hardware, though.

The second reason is to have a kit that can go live somewhere else if I'm ever in a band that practices somewhere besides my house and that doesn't have a kit on site. Perhaps too much planning ahead. And that two would require another set of hardware...and probably cymbals too in order to make it truly convienent.

I toy too with getting a THIRD kit to have in Indiana...but that's probably excessive. Thought this doesn't mean it won't happen some day.

I thought the acquisition of the new kit would make me happy...but it has kind of made me sad, cause it makes me think of the things that I need to upgrade and replace. And this leads me to wonder if I should just get a second set of intermediate level hardware...or replace the hardware that I have with the next step up and recycle the intermediate stuff to the other kit. I'm leaning this way, because I seem headed towards needing to replace that stuff anyway. Screws just don't hold. I don't know what real mashers do. I'm pretty easy on the stuff and it all shifts. Maybe mashers have to buy better quality stuff.

But then I the better quality stuff THAT much better. I really don't know how to tell. I mean cheap stuff is obvious to a point. But it is hard to know where the balance of quality versus cost hits the level. I'd pay $150 for a crash stand if I knew it would last ten years instead of two. But otherwise, it's hard to not just buy the $75 stand instead and put up with it when it starts to fail.

I suppose this is the age-old question of consumerism.

I'm happy with the shells, though. And honestly, when you buy drums, unless they are a complete used kit, you usually buy the shells separate from the hardware and cymbals anyway. So essentially what I got was a really good deal on shells that I can live with (normally they'd be $300 or I got them half off).

I just don't ever think I'm gonna be able to justify buying expensive, higher quality stuff. I don't think it is in me. I hope that doesn't super restrict how far I can get in this game. I don't care about posturing...I just wonder if the equipment will limit my abilities at some point. I know that is true to a point...but there's probably also a limit to that effect.

Anyway...I just gotta take my time and fill out the second kit as I can. Keep an eye out for good deals on decent cymbals and not settle for buying crap new (repeat after me...I will NOT buy ZBT, ZHT, PST, etc cymbals). Look for sales and deals on hardware and add pieces slowly over time to mitigate the financial impact.


Another result of all of this kit stuff...I think I'm starting to lean towards a leaner setup. Baby sitting Pant's kit for the last six months or so taught me that less can be enough.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Drain, 3rd Rehearsal

I think I'm starting to get the hang of the tunes. Plenty yet to learn and refine, but feeling more comfortable.