When it was just me and Chris and Bart there, the Hangar seemed extra vast.
We left our instruments and sat down together in the break room. “I have a confession to make,” I said. “I haven’t had a single brain cell to put towards this pretty much since we recorded that demo with Trav.”
“Just a reminder: you’re the singer,” Bart said, in a deadpan way that made me and Chris both crack up a bit.
I plowed ahead. “I kind of think we should listen back to what we had and try to narrow down what we want to work on. It’s only a thirty minute set. I feel like we should be able to figure out thirty minutes of music that I can survive.”
Chris grimaced. “The biggest problem is that every song is built around the guitar part. What the rest of us do is window dressing.”
Including the singing, probably. I honestly didn’t remember. I remembered doing the recording but I didn’t remember a single song at that moment.
“I’ve got the demo tape in my bag,” Bart said, already standing up to get it.
The playback equipment was all in the upstairs soundroom, so we moved up there.
I ended up lying on my back on a throw rug that usually had a drum kit on it, listening. The demo was 45 minutes long, and then there was another half hour or so of outtakes on the flip side of the cassette. Right. Bits and pieces of memories of the recording, most of it done in one intense night, came back to me. Yeah, we did that. I’d forgotten. I know it sounds weird to say, but I’d forgotten.
I didn’t sit up until Bart got up and switched it off. “I hate my voice but man, Jordan really made me sound good.”
“You do not hate your voice. You hate listening to your voice, which is different,” Bart said. Which was one hundred percent true. The two of them joined me sitting on the rug. “Well, what do you think?”
“I think we made some really excellent, really interesting music,” I said. “I think there’s nothing else like it on the radio. I really like it.”
Bart was taking no prisoners, though. “But?”
But that’s probably why Artie has no idea what the fuck to do with us. And neither did any of the other record execs who’d heard the demo. I had to push that to the back of my mind, though.
“How much of it do you think you can do?” Chris asked.
I took a deep breath. “Possibly none of it.”
“Shit,” they both said.
I nodded. “There are sections of some songs that I can work out, I’m sure. But, wow.” They were complex, multi-layered songs, with time signature changes and mood shifts and a lot of multi-tracking. “It was going to be a challenge to adapt for live music to begin with, even if I had all my fingers working at their peak.”
It felt impossible.
“Is it too late to write something new?” Chris asked.
“Or to switch gears,” Bart suggested: “Pull Colin in and do the punk soundtrack stuff instead?”
“Now that’s an idea,” I said. Except we didn’t own that music. And there was the human element there too. “Colin’s only played that one live show and might not be ready to get up in front of tens of thousands of people, especially with minimal rehearsal.”
“When does he get here?” Chris asked.
“Tomorrow. The whole crew comes online tomorrow.” I cracked my knuckles one at a time. “But that is the other thing that has been in the back of my mind.”
“Oh?” Bart looked a little apprehensive about what I might say.
“Listening to these tracks, like I said, I’m not even sure how we’d do some of them even if I was healthy. Unless we pulled in another guitarist.”
“Didn’t you say it was too late to hire someone else?”
“To find someone and get them to learn Ziggy’s whole catalog, yes. But for thirty minutes of half-improvised alt-prog? It’s not too late to see if Flip wants to put his Guitar Craft training to some use.” I didn’t want to put Flip on the spot, either, but between Flip and Colin, Flip at least had a modicum of chops. Tempting as it was to just scream my head off in a half hour of punk rage every night–sounded kind of cathartic, didn’t it?–there were questions about the rights to that material and whether it was weird to perform as a fake band and whether the movie people would even want us to. They’d been okay with a one-off fundraising gig in a small local venue. They might feel differently about us taking our fake band on the road. “Obviously we’d need to talk to him before figuring that out.”
Which led to me calling Flip from the warehouse phone which didn’t have long distance service so I had to use my calling card. I got his voice mail and told him to page me ASAP but I didn’t want to leave a rambly message that would freak him out.
Okay, not that Flip ever freaked out. But I didn’t want to push it.
And then while I was at the phone I called Jordan’s loft, and miraculously reached him.
“Daron, what can I do for you?”
“Talk me down off this ledge,” I said.
“Not a literal ledge, right?”
“Oh jeez, no, and shit, I really did not mean to make a reference to suicide.” I looked at my scarred hand. “I’d be in a panic about this opening set except that I’m so medicated I can’t physically experience panic. These songs… this opportunity…Trav…” I was too medicated to speak in full sentences.
“Gotcha,” he said. “You know that material was always going to be a challenge to adapt live.”
Those were almost my exact words/thoughts. “Yeah.”
“Solution to problem number two might be the solution to problem number one,” he said. I had no idea what he was talking about, and he didn’t elaborate. Instead he said, “Why don’t the three of you get your asses over here. In fact, meet me at the studio.”
“That’s where all your tapes still are.”
It didn’t sound like it, but that was as close to panic as I’d come yet: “I’m not a mime.”
“You won’t have to be, either. I’ll show you what I have in mind when you get here. You have to trust me on this.”
“Okay.” I put my faith in Jordan and felt calmer already. So this was why people had faith in a benevolent god. If you can just stop worrying, and put it on someone else, life’s a lot easier to deal with sometimes.
(Sorry I’m posting late today! I don’t have Carynne reminding me what day of the week it is while I’m on the road… -ctan)