In the end we auditioned seven drummers. Yes, seven. Bradley wasn’t the only one to show up without confirming with Carynne first. Hey, I’m sure if I got wind of a gig I really wanted and didn’t manage to find out all the details in advance, I would’ve shown up at the drop of a hat, too.
I was perfectly content to give each of them a test run. There was an older guy who was pretty exclusively a jazz drummer at that point but who’d been in a rock band in the sixties. There was a guy who dropped Trav’s name and said he’d come in handy because he spoke Spanish—except it turned out I spoke more Spanish than he did, or at least enough to make it obvious he was bullshitting. There was a guy who chainsmoked through the whole audition. And there were two who didn’t make enough of an impression for me to tell you anything about them.
We ordered in a couple of pies for dinner and then me, Ziggy, Carynne, Chris, and Bart started comparing notes. We were gathered around the table in the break room with pizza boxes in the middle of the table and ourselves arrayed around the table in various ways. Ziggy had his ankles crossed on the empty chair next to him and a notepad in his lap that it looked like he had doodled all over.
We started talking about the most recent audition and worked backwards and basically by the time we got to talking about Marvelle and Bradley the other five had been pretty much eliminated.
“Marvelle can do the job,” Bart said. “I’d have to work with him some more before we got comfortable, but he seems like the best-equipped out of everyone.”
Ziggy, who hadn’t said very much up to that point, flipped the doodle page over and looked at what was written on the page under it. “I liked the first one best.”
Bart looked thoughtful. Nodded. “Stayed in the pocket better than I expected.”
Carynne sat up straight. “You’re not serious, are you?”
We all looked at her quite seriously, I assure you. “Why wouldn’t we be serious? Is there something about Bradley we should know? You don’t think he can hack it?”
She seemed surprised. “I didn’t think he could be that good, I mean, he only started playing the drums because Sugargum had such a hard time finding and keeping female drummers. She’s, fuck, he’s been playing maybe six months.”
“No way,” Chris said. “I don’t believe that. He was a little nervous but he was a lot smoother than you’d get from someone who just started. Like, Dar’ the thing that impressed me most was when you were trying to explain that section in ‘Do It’? And she, dammit, he was tapping out the rhythm on the high hat like it was second nature. Just a natural.”
Ziggy chewed the end of his pen. “You sure he only just started? Maybe he used to play and you don’t know?”
Carynne huffed. “Maybe. But seriously, what’s wrong with Marvelle?”
Bart barked with laughter.
“What’s so funny?” she asked him.
Bart pointed at me. “Daron doesn’t like dick-sizing.”
“I don’t?” I sat up a little straighter. “I mean, it’s kind of a necessary step, so I’m not holding it against him.”
Bart shrugged. “You looked like you didn’t appreciate it much this time around.”
“Eh.” I thought back to the guys at The Cat Club hazing me and Bart until we proved we could cut it. “If I’d wanted to cut him down to size I would’ve asked for something in like 13/8 instead of 7/4.”
“Ha, except none of us would’ve been able to do that,” Bart said.
“Pffft,” I joked. “Everyone knows some Bulgarian folk music, don’t they?”
“Okay, but seriously,” Carynne said, “we’re looking for someone who can do the job, right?”
“And you don’t think Bradley can?”
She shrugged. “I just…he’s young–”
“A year older than Daron,” Ziggy said, looking at the resume in his hand.
“So were we the first time we played in front of ten thousand people,” I pointed out.
“–and just not what we’re looking for.”
“Ah.” Ziggy twirled his pen around his fingers. “And just what are we looking for? Exactly?”
“A drummer?” Carynne turned in her chair toward him, trying to see what he was getting at.
“And what is a drummer? A human being who can hit things at the times when we want them to. Bradley seems adequate in that regard.” Ziggy raised an eyebrow.
“And as we keep saying, that’s not the only concern with any of these guys.” Carynne looked back at me. “Right? We’re not just talking about whether someone can play the parts in an album session. We’re looking for someone who can handle touring, live performance night after night, get along with everyone, all that.”
I nodded. “Yeah. But this is going to be a major production tour, fifty person entourage or something, it’s not like everyone’s got to be buddy-buddy.”
“Within the band?” Carynne pressed me.
She was right, but for some reason I had dug my heels in about this. In fact the reason might have been that she was so quickly dismissive of Bradley, and I said so. “I’m not saying Marvelle isn’t the stronger candidate, but I am asking why you’re dismissing Bradley so quickly. He was the only one who really showed me something right away.”
“It’s just that he was the first one,” Carynne said. “So he made an impression.”
“I don’t think that’s why,” I said. “Is it really just that he’s inexperienced or is he some kind of a problem child? You really seem more set against him than I expect.”
She sighed. “Okay. It’s just I worry that it’s not going to work to have someone on the team we all have to walk on eggshells around.”
“Eggshells?” Ziggy’s eyebrow got more sharply arched.
“You know, every time I fuck up and use the wrong name or pronoun it’s super uncomfortable,” she said.
And it clicked. I got it. I got why I was against Carynne being against him. I almost stood up but instead I just leaned forward. “And that’s why I want him to stay.”
“So we can all be super uncomfortable together?” She cringed slightly.
“I think we’d get used to it–” Ziggy started to say but I cut him off before I could lose the thread of my thought.
“Because that would be ditching someone for being queer. It’s not Bradley’s job to make us comfortable.”
“Of course not, that’s not what I’m saying–”
I didn’t let her finish, either. “This is what I’ve been afraid of all my life!”
I might have been kind of louder than usual at that moment. I certainly got all their attention. I repeated it more slowly, more quietly. “This. Is what I’ve been afraid of. All. My. Life. That the people I depend on for jobs or gigs or to do what I do, are going to decide my talent isn’t enough. That talent isn’t enough to overcome the fact they’re ‘uncomfortable’ with me being queer.”
That time when I said the word “uncomfortable” I had a wave of hot and cold anxiety/nausea/anger so intense it felt kind of like getting smacked in the head, making my eyes smart and my nose run instantly.
Judging from the looks on their faces, I must have looked like I was about to murder someone or keel over myself, I’m not sure.
Carynne took a deep breath. “I know, honeybunch. I didn’t mean it that way. I just…want you to think it all the way through.”
“Speaking of which,” Chris piped up, “has anyone asked Marvelle if he’s okay with…everything?”
From the silence that followed I took it that no one had.
I stood. The blood that had pounded into my ears ebbed just as quickly. “Call them both back. For tomorrow. Couple hours apart so they don’t cross paths. We’ll put them both through some more stuff and decide after.”
“Okay.” Carynne jotted something down. “And remember, maybe we end up with neither of them if they don’t cut it. Maybe we end up calling around some more.”
In other words, keep an open mind. If only it were so simple.
(Kickstarterrrr!!! Help me make the next DGC paperback book, or just get some cool swag like DGC T-shirts, guitar picks, or bumper stickers. Or even some limited edition rewards like Daron or Ziggy will write a song FOR YOU. The fundraising campaign kicks off today around 12 noon–Here’s the shortlink for sharing! http://kck.st/1RFanDN TIPS: Pledge now and you can always edit your pledge, change your mind about what rewards you want, etc… any time up until April 29th when the campaign ends. You will not be charged until then, either, so you can pledge now even if you won’t have the money until next month. Thank you all for your continued support! -ctan)