band craft

Is there anything more indie than hand-crafting cases to your EP?

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How about the fact that one of our band members created a font for it?

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Or that, on the insert, we thanked – by name – all of our Facebook fans?

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This was fun. Woe Pony!

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band thoughts

Being in a band is still incredibly weird to me.

I think a big portion of that is that, unlike other jobs/hobbies/obsessions, your work becomes public early on. If you’re doing it right, being in a band means performing, which means inviting other people to view the process. There is no finished draft to work toward – instead you have an elusive, undefined, moving target.

Of course, as soon as I say these things out loud, I realize how much I’m finding LIFE to be the same elusive, undefined, moving target. Band as metaphor for life? Sounds hokey, but I can’t deny it.

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Most of us are exposed to bands after they’ve made it through a refining process of sorts. The national scene is much more, “Ta da! Here is this thing we’ve created! Here are the stage personas we’ve developed! You can have these small pieces of us. Enjoy!” Now, I study performers. I watch how they move and listen to what they say and wonder how much of that is natural, how much is staged, how much is spontaneous-yet-honed-from-experience.

The local music scene is, perhaps, where one learns those boundaries?

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3 books finished in 2012: So, You Wanna Be a Rock Star?

3 books finished in 2012

Why are you reading this book?
This was a gag gift from a friend, given shortly after my debut as a rockstar. It was so short, and I was so curious/mortified by the cover promises (Intro by Eric Stefani of “No Doubt”) that I pretended I was back in high school (it was published in 1999) and hoped to learn something.

What is the first line?
A hush comes over the noisy crowd as the stage lights go down.

Describe the book in haiku form:
Angsty teenager!
You wanna be a rock star?
Don’t quit your day job.

What will you do with it now?
keep for reference
keep and loan out to friends
keep to read again & again & again
post to paperbackswap.com
x throw it away x

Anything else you’d like to say?
Not about the book. But in this photo, I am wearing a Where The Wild Things Are t-shirt, and I intentionally made my hair as unruly as it was back in high school!

That awkward story I’ve been meaning to tell you.

At our band’s first show, I had stage fright.

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Those who know me in real life probably have trouble believing this, but I have always struggled with stage fright. I’ve never let it hold me back significantly – I’ve performed my whole life, though I never went for many leads or solos in theatre or choir. There has always been, for me, a distinction between performing with an ensemble and being a distinct voice. I might be the tallest and loudest and most brightly-attired in the ensemble, and people could, in theory, be staring at me, but whenever I’m in a group, I’ve always managed to convince myself that nobody is *really* looking at me.

Yes, I realize how delusional this is, my desire to both be a performer and to have nobody looking at me.

MAYBE I’M JUST TRYING TO DANCE LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHING!

Ahem.

So we’re setting up for the show, and there is this stage, with these bright lights, and these monitors (speakers for the musicians to hear each other’s instruments) which are incredibly hot (loud), and the stage is large so everyone else in the band feels incredibly far from me. It’s nothing like playing in a circle in our rehearsal room with the flourescent lights, cracking jokes and wandering around when we’re not playing.

I try to play it cool. I casually walk up on stage, move around the instruments so they’re ready for me, chat and joke with a few bandmates, glance at the crowd, tell myself that it’s only 100 people (it was more like 300, though I didn’t know that until much later) and I can totally handle it.

I step up to the mic, feeling like I’ve somehow managed to psych myself out of this stage fright, and we hit the first notes. But as soon as I open my mouth to sing, I’m thrown out of my body. Why are those lights so bright? Why is my voice so loud? Oh crap, I’m having anxiety! But the show just started, and I MUST KEEP GOING. Don’t freak out. Just focus on the words, and singing them, and playing the instrument in front of you. WHY IS MY VOICE SO LOUD, why does it sound so weird, and can everyone else hear the way it’s shaking? Don’t focus on the shaking, or it’ll just get worse. Sing the words. Look at John. Smile. Look at Austin. Smile. Look at the crowd. Grimace? Eh, that’s good enough for now. Look at your instrument. It’s okay. You will get through this. This is NOT going to kill you. Take a deep breath.

As we progress, I’m still feeling a lot of adrenaline. I hear my voice shaking and straining more than it does during rehearsals. I’m sad that I’m unable to sound my best for all these people. I try to look out and find individual faces – people who came to see me, and who are my biggest fans no matter what – but mostly I’m just trying to hold it together. My mouth goes completely dry. My lips are sticking to my teeth, and between lyrics I’m trying to resolve that. I probably look like someone with dentures. During my one-song break, I drink some water. It doesn’t help much. I’ll just have to learn how to anunciate without any saliva. I can do this. At least, I think I probably should be able to do this.

This is seriously what was going on in my head. I was singing words I’d thankfully memorized, and trying to remember to smile and be welcoming and to not look like I wanted to run away.

I refused to give up. I wouldn’t let it get the best of me. Because THIS IS MY BAND AND I REALLY LIKE THEM ALL AND I DON’T WANT TO DISAPPOINT THEM. Also, I like our music. And one of the reasons I’m in a band is to keep challenging myself to do things that scare me. I was going to prove to myself that I was tough enough.

And I did it. Somehow, amazingly, I made it to the end. After our last note, I had no idea what to do – we’d discussed walking onto the stage, but not exiting. I knew we had no more songs to pull out for an encore, so I just picked up the glockenspiel in front of me and marched off.

I’m told the show was good, and that the crowd loved us. I still don’t remember much of it. But I’m gearing up for the next show, which will be smaller and will feel much more intimate, though I now expect some stage fright, and I’m going to tell it to shut up and let me sing.

twelfth rehearsal

Woo! Band!

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I’ve hit that place where the band activities feel comfortable – I’m not awkwardly trying to figure out what to think or how to act, but trusting my instincts. That’s refreshing. I can enjoy rehearsals and their unique mix of work and play.

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And finally, when everyone breaks out into the punk or reggae version of a song, instead of wondering why we’re wasting time with this absurdity, I’m trying to figure out how to refashion the melody to fit in. Haven’t quite figured it out yet, but at least I’m moving in that direction.

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The new song is just as catchy as it was when we learned it a few weeks ago, and I remembered more of the lyrics than John. We’ve made a few tweaks to tighten it, and I’m so excited to share it with people.

After our first show, as I was processing the experience of stage fright, I asked each of the band members why they performed, or how they viewed that part of being in a band. The best response, for me, came from Ben, who said that the show is like a gift from the band to the world, where we can share the fruit of all our labor, and where we can bring them into this whole creative process that we’ve been enjoying so thoroughly.

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Our band is REALLY enjoying ourselves. I DO want to invite you into that.