We blew the doors off the Worcester Centrum. I really think that pushing everyone to do “Baker Street” had heightened the whole band’s cohesion. Or maybe it was just that after a day off everyone was fresh and well-rested. Whatever it was, we were on fire.
Remo and I played an improv section in the middle of “Widowmaker” that was shit-hot. I mean, it had been good at all the previous shows, but it was so good we actually went twice as many bars as usual, and the whole band was on their toes so it was easy to do.
Since we were staying over, and there were a lot of family and friends from this area, we had a party back at the hotel.
It was during this, after he’d had a few, that Remo finally admitted to a wee bit of discomfort. “I think maybe we better stick to the set tonight. Tomorrow, I mean.”
“No more surprises,I promise,” I said. “We didn’t practice another stealth song.”
“No no, I mean let’s not overdo it with going off script.”
We were sharing a bottle of Maker’s, sitting side by side on a couch in a somewhat cramped hotel suite but no one seemed to mind that. And I was thinking: But isn’t that the whole point of live performance? And of the blues milieu? Genre? Whatever the fuck French word I’m trying to remember? Jamming is part of the script.
But what I said was, “Okay.”
He poured another finger for himself and for me then set the bottle back on the coffee table in front of us. “Do you know what I mean? Let’s not overdo it.”
“The fact you’re saying it makes me think… that you think… that we already did. Overdo it.”
“You know that rendition we did tonight of ‘Widowmaker’ was the best you and I’ve played, right?” I really felt that way, too. It was like some of the magic moments we had playing together in his living room or on his back deck or wherever the hell else we had been over the years. A beach in Australia. A musical instrument store in Japan. “The best.”
“I know. And I don’t think we overdid it. But I could see how we might if we don’t rein it in a little. If you don’t rein it in a little.”
I knocked back the whiskey and enjoyed the burn and then the numbness as it went down. “Okay.”
Remo nodded. “Besides, I always knew I was going to have to sharpen my chops to keep up with you. Fuck, I’ve had ten years to practice, you’d think I’d be further ahead by now.” He knocked his own whiskey back and then held the glass in his hand. “And to think you’re just going to keep getting better.”
“And so are you,” I said, knocking my shoulder against his. Was Remo feeling insecure? That really didn’t seem like him.
I asked Flip about this later when we were back in our room. “I can’t figure Remo out.”
We were lying on our separate beds, with the TV on but not really watching it. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, he basically put me in charge of the musicians because, he says, he wants to elevate the level of the whole show. So I go out and elevate the level of the whole show, and now he’s a little freaked. I think. It’s hard to tell.”
Flip rocked his head back and forth as if it was a Magic Eight Ball and he was trying to get an answer to come up. “Remo Cutler is a control freak,” is what came out.
“And having a kid has just made him into even more of one.”
Control freak seemed like a pretty strong word. “I think of him as a laid back kind of guy.”
“Who happens to do things like micromanage his touring arrangements, crew hiring, et cetera?”
“That isn’t being a control freak. That’s being smart. And you feel less helpless on the road if you know what’s going on.”
“Daron, seriously. You asked. Remo, I love him, he’s the best, and I’d work for him in a heartbeat, but he’s a micromanager. He wants to know what’s going on with every last detail. And you come breezing into his world with your improvisational attitude about everything and of course it freaks him out.”
“Wait, what do you mean ‘improvisational attitude about everything’?” I turned down the volume on the TV to make sure I was hearing him right. “Don’t you feel like Nomad is a jam band? And should be? And I really haven’t noticed the micromanaging.”
“Are you kidding? This is the guy who wanted you to play with a guitar pick instead of your fingernails.”
“Oh, right.” I’d forgotten about that.
“And this is the thing I’ve been trying to tell you, Daron. Nomad is only a jam band when you’re around.”
“Okay, well, I’ve never been around them when I’m not around, you know? So how would I know?”
“Well, I’ll tell you, musically they’re a lot more ‘by the book’ when you’re not here. Sometimes Remo plays the same solo note for note, night after night.”
“So? Everyone does that. I do that.”
“Look, you asked. Nomad is a different band when you’re here. A better band, if you ask me, but nobody asks me.” He shrugged. “If I were Remo, I’d lock you to that mic stand.”
I half-laughed. “He tried. He knows I won’t sign anything long term.”
“Wait, what? You’re saying you don’t want a long term gig with this group? You told me in Japan you’d waited your whole life to go on tour with them.”
“I did. And here I am on tour with them. That’s not the same thing as…making Nomad my whole career.” I sighed. “Once upon a time I would have. When I was fifteen I would have thought of nothing else. But I’m not that kid anymore.”
“Ahhh. I see. I have it all backwards. I assumed the only reason you weren’t actually married to this band was that Remo was stringing you along. Okay. That makes more sense.”
We lapsed into silence then, and I was thinking that in my own head it still didn’t really make sense, but at least maybe I was getting there…?
(Reminder: Come back Thursday for the first of our summer fan posts!)
Yep, he’s insecure. Yep, he’s regretting giving you control. It doesn’t matter that you’re making the band better; the band is his baby, and he doesn’t like that you’re showing him how (in his view) he’s failing it.
You’ve gotta get your own band again, D. Because you don’t, and can’t, stay obediently in someone’s shadow. Don’t sit around and wait for Z to be freed from his contract — he never will be because he likes the money too much. If he gets loose from this set of assholes, he’ll sign on with another set of assholes. The only way you’ll get him back in a band with you is for you guys to decide to start your own label, I think.
This. Though it tears me up to think it. I miss M3 and want Ziggy to be a part of your band, D, but I don’t know that it’s going to happen. At least not any time soon. It’s hard to imagine you with a different singer, but you and Bart and Chris need to be out there doing what you do…
I think Flip’s overstating the case but you’re right I need to do something. I just don’t know what, yet.
Of all people Daron should understand and recognize how Remo feels about loss of control of the band. I suspect he had no idea what it would entail. Daron, on the other hand, knew what it would entail and shut down Ziggy’s band control games.
I think Daron considers Remo forcing him to take over highly different from Ziggy trying to take over. It doesn’t even occur to him there’s any similarity.
A control freak with a small child. Well, either he’ll get more relaxed or Remo and his kid are in for a rough time of it.
Or kid’s mother will be leaving, with kid, fairly soon, because if he’s a control freak with his kid and his band, you think he’s going to be any less so with a spouse?
I’m unclear on which of them is more of a control freak, actually, Remo or Melissa. That is a can of worms I don’t want to get into
So Remo is worried that everyone will get used to that level of improv excellence and then when Daron goes, the band will fall flat. And he’s already cutting future tour dates on top of that. Sounds like Remo has lost the fire and isn’t okay with that. 🙁
Babies do tend to refocus; and so does age and competition.
Remo is definitely suddenly re-examining all his priorities, for sure.
Sharing control… sometimes it’s hard and creates strive… like when Ziggy wanted more creative control… and Daron you were not always comfortable with sharing – and you’re not a control freak or micro-manager.
I miss M3… there MUST be a way… some singers and guitarist just belong together!
I kind of think I am a control freak actually. Especially when it feels like something is trying to take that control away. But music is always collaborative–you always have stuff coming at you in real time that you didn’t expect and you have to adapt. That’s part of the deal.
“Some singers and guitarist belong together.” Yes yes yes!!! I so want it to all work out but it seems so damn impossible…
Unless Daron decides to work FOR Ziggy…which screams disaster…
Uh oh, I sense trouble in paradise.
And look at baby Michael Hutchence! Awwww.
Makes you wonder why Daron and Carynne were slavering over him a year ago.
He’s seven or eight years older than me! I ain’t slavering over “baby” anything.
“Okay, well, I’ve never been around them when I’m not around, you know?” LOL
I SPEAK ONLY TRUTH