Saturday, March 19, 2011

Join The Band!

For the last few months, every Friday, Lou has come over to my house to play some music. It started with him playing bass and me playing drums and slowly shifted to him playing bass and me playing guitar while the drum machine on his amp kept the beat.

It started out as just goofy fun as you can see from some of the old LouTube videos I posted.

But once I moved over to playing guitar it seemed like I was now "in a band." Or, more appropriately, I was in Lou's band. Which meant I played Lou's songs and Lou's songs only.

As far as learning someone else's songs I always look at it as a challenge. It makes me realize how far I've come since I started playing guitar that I can play along with someone's original song. But, that being said, it would be nice to have the chords, notes, or maybe an arrangement to the song, even.

But, with Lou, it's, "watch my hands, listen to the music, and just figure it out."

So that I've even been able to play along with the songs as well as I have amazes me. That they sound halfway decent is incredible. He tells me to do what I feel but if I add an extra note or chord into the mix I am immediately, "doing it wrong." So, sometimes I continue to do it wrong just to bug him. And it sounds good to me.

So, I am in Lou's band now, figuring out his songs on my own with not much help from him, very little leeway in how I play, and, when I brought up the idea last week to sit down with a drum machine and actually get the arrangement of each song down so we would know on each beat where the song was going I was shot down. He simply told me, with how he plays, he will never play the same song the same way twice. Not even his own songs. Yet, I'm still expected to figure out where he is going and when he is making changes. I can now understand why none of his songs I have ever heard him play live with anyone never had a decent ending. It's because no one knew when the song was ending except Lou. And, if he likes the way a song sounds, he'll just keep playing.

The plans I heard last week for the band were some sort of idea about us dressing as fighter pilots and mimicking the Blue Angels, with the name of the band Lou's Angels. Well, it is a better name than the one he came up with the week before, The Courteous Assholes.

Because Lou has a friend who he used to play drums with a few years ago who has since moved to New York, Lou's plan is for us to go to New York for a weekend, hook up with this guy, and play open mike's in the Big Apple. Because, you know, that's so much easier than playing somewhere locally.

And the newest quirk Lou has taken to is taping over the logos on his guitar pedals and amplifiers. He says he isn't being paid to endorse anyone and until someone pays him to do so he won't advertise their gear.

With most creative friends I spend time with I go away from the experience feeling charged up and ready to do work. With Lou I just feel like taking a nap. It's utterly exhausting. Maybe he's a psychic vampire feeding off of my creativity. Who knows?

Even today, when I told him I didn't have time to "practice" for four hours, he asked if he could come over and pick up his recorder he had lent me that had a few files on it of us playing. I told him sure and, of course, he showed up with his amp ready to play. How could I not find even an hour to play some songs, he wondered? To him playing music and guitar is a break. Well, it's not so much a break when it feels like work and you're trying to follow a man who isn't sure where he's going. I finally had to kick him out so I could get some work done.

I feel bad because he is a friend and all but Lou is definitely a person who, if you give him an inch, he'll take your life. I've told him I didn't want to play live with him and have actually quit the band at least three times but he keeps showing up and because I am nice and like playing guitar, I keep playing in the spare bedroom with him.

And the worst part is, to me, the songs sounds good and have potential. But, after last week where the idea of moving ahead, arranging the songs to a drum beat, and really making them tight, fell on deaf ears I'm wondering if I'm just wasting my time.

I wonder if the time I spend each week with Lou might be better served working on the music for OilCan Drive. At least I'd be having fun and I'd have some forward motion. And I might not feel so exhausted and beaten up afterward.

But, here is a clip of Lou and I playing from last week. Him on bass and singing, me on guitar, and the amplifier keeping the drum beat.

So, OilCan Drive or Lou's Angels. Let me know what you think.

If you can't see the file above the original file can be found HERE.


rob! said...

I think we all know the answer to this.

Sean Tiffany said...

I have a feeling this will go over about as well as when you tell a girlfriend, "I think I'd like to see other people..."