« Audition For The Best Band In The World. Not. »

Tonight I went on another audition on bass. There was another nearly week long buildup before the first jam, and once again, I didn't actually have a clue what was about to be played. I had met the guitar player at his job in a guitar store, so I had at least a vague verbal description of the sound. Girl singer, two guitars, rhythm section. This time I actually looked forward to the date because after having provided my music as a reference to what I do, I got some nice responses, and it sounded like they were looking forward to this as well. At least it's a nice thing to know going in. Apparently they have had a hard time getting a bassist who will stick around or hit right notes with any degree of enthusiasm. They were to be playing in the back room of the music store where the guitar player worked, but things got changed. Now it was in the singer's living room in a house that was directly across the street from my church! And even better than that was that my church is only about two miles and some change from home!

So today, despite a raging back and shoulder ache that totally messed up my day, I loaded up the Ampeg stack and the new Music Man bass and wheeled or carried the stuff up the walk way and steps. Oh, being a bassist is so much easier when it comes to auditioning. Too many times back in 1994/5 I took my drum kit to places like this to find out that I didn't like the music and then had to carry it all out again an hour later. So now it's easier—bass guitar, amp, and in this case, two cabinets. Done. The room was a partially remodeled living room (wasn't the last audition in a partially remodeled house?) that was almost all solid wall and bare concrete floor and windows. Reflective as hell, but for the furniture and people.

The drums were there, and that is a whole lot more fun than no drums, but right away from a single opening fill and two bars or so that the drummer played, I could spot it as the Rush song Digital Man. Ah, deja vu! Drummer boy was still in the Peart/Copeland mold with too many drums for the gig (six piece) and even more cymbals, including the trademark Copeland double splash up above the front toms. And, like Peart and Copeland, the drums were way too fucking high in pitch for their sizes. Actually, it was more like the sound I had up till I joined Slaves By Trade—the sound of a drummer who likes his kit to sound good on its own (but isn't so appropriate sounding in a band context).

The guitarists were both playing acoustic through a PA. I wish one of them was on electric, and apparently he ordinarily would be. It would have added more depth to the sound, but as it was, it was nice to jump into a ready made band that had its parts, and I only had to fit in and not think about it. They were capable but not extraordinary. The chords were still fairly meat and potatoes types of songwriter chords, but they weren't adherent in most cases to obvious progressions, so bravo that. I was given a more or less effective sheet of chord changes which helped more than I ordinarily expect from such things in unfamiliar situations. I've never really used the stuff, so I get more confused than usual trying to pay attention to playing and reading even a few bits of chicken scratch.

The songs were more or less basic, but since the chords weren't bound to overwhelmingly tried and true (boring) progressions, I got into it more, spurred on by the fact that the entire band was there to sound full, even if I blew a few notes. The singer reminded me of Rebecca of Loaf, a friend of mine who has a band of roughly similar nature. Katie here had a little of a twang in her voice. Nothing too technical or acrobatic, but earnest and real sounding. She could belt some of what she was doing. The guitarists filled in some harmonies and secondary parts.

Overall, I guess the scene I was a part of tonight is one that is common in garages all over, and there wasn't anything that just said "BRILLIANT!!!" but I've been pretty convinced most amateurs won't be doing anything too terribly original, but what matters is that it's done like it matters and is satisfying for those involved. Hey, I might as well play even straight songs well. It's more than I am doing on my own, trying to make wierd avant garde stuff with odd chords and goofy changes and overlaps of rhythms. Hell, I'm not getting what I want out of that. I haven't played a show on stage with any original music since early 1997, but for some sit ins and so forth. I may as well just get a ready made gig and enjoy playing. I could see recording these guys and making something more than what they sound like now. I think from their feedback that I dug a deeper groove than some of the other players they had, and they liked some fills and chordal things I did. I'd coach them to a satisfying recording if I were in the band. Tune the drums down, lose about 2/3 of the cymbals, get some authentic ballsy electric guitar tones in there, and some other things, and it would sound a lot better. I at least felt like my contribution was welcome, and for the most part, did a lot better with the cowboy chords than I typically expect of myself. If they like me, I'd take the gig. It's no brainbuster, but I think there is enough freedom to explore and develop my own playing within the band, and to take the band to a different level.

Man, I love that Music Man bass. It just feels right to me. It has that Fendery weight and feel, but is way more articulate than my 5 string, and easier to get around on. The punch is delightful. I have the midrange I like, and it has enough boom to satisfy. I've come to find it records nicely too.

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