I play with the best guys. It’s one of those areas of life where I’ve been truly blessed.
Bands are just relationships, friendships hopefully, but in some cases they fall into other categories that are more transactional: “business relationship” or “access to my next social/professional circle” or “I’m sleeping with you so okay” or “you guys suck but you play weekends so okay” or “you’re my drug dealer so okay” etc. etc. In other words, any situation you can potentially find yourself in as a human being, there’s a good chance that a band is lurking right around the corner waiting to nab you on circumstantial evidence.
I’ve been in some of these other situations, but the vast majority of my musical collaborations have been based around playing with people who I liked. Most of the good decisions I’ve made as a band member/bandleader came after I figured out this dynamic. In other words, they’ve happened after I understood the variety of motivations for the “being in a band” transaction from different types of musician-y characters. There’s a long list of these types, and they deserve their own blog...but I’ll save that for another time. Suffice to say that I’ve weeded my way through most of them.
When I started Explone it was a nerve-wracking experience. I’d never been a bandleader before. I’d never had to deal with all these fucking musicians and their fucking hang ups and their fucking drug addictions and their fucking personality disorders in real time, as the guy who owned the van, and the P.A., and the lease on the rehearsal space. It’s funny now, but at the time it seemed a daunting responsibility. Most of all, I didn't want to get stuck dealing with any weirdos. You know what I mean: the people who respond to a Craigslist ad, and right away you know there’s just something wrong with them...and yet you feel obligated to meet them for a cup of coffee just to hear their detailed account of why your music fits their current astrological profile and personal religious rebirth. Or something.
Anyway, I didn’t have go through any of those headaches with Explone. Thanks to Josh Williams and John Merkel, our band got off the ground with nothing but good friends in the fold. That lineup was awesome while it lasted, but life changes and people move on. By the time Merkel left and I had to look for a new bassist, a couple of years had passed and I was more confident in myself...right up until the moment I wrote that first Craigslist ad. In that moment, all my insecurity and irrational fear came rushing back. Here come the weirdos.
Fortunately the first weirdo who responded was Scott Andrew. We didn’t know each other, but we had some mutual friends. We were fans of many of the same bands (Minneapolis punk rockers and Canadian prog rockers). Scott is himself an accomplished and outstanding singer-songwriter, and he gave me a compelling sales pitch on his bass playing abilities: he had never played bass in a band before, but he just bought a bass and was looking for an amp. And he liked our music. (Hard to say no to credentials like that.) Also, the bass he had just purchased was a Peavey T-40, an instrument of ungodly weight, hailing from the late 1970’s, one which I knew well and begrudgingly admired as perhaps the least “classic” of all the classic bass guitars of that era. Anyone who actively sought out a T-40 was a person of discerning taste and not to be taken lightly.
Fifteen minutes into our first rehearsal, it was clear that Scott was not only an excellent bass player, but also a worthy foil to all the nerdy humor I could come up with. He recognized every single Rush riff I pulled out, and even knew some of them better than I did. So he was in.
Fast forward a couple of years and you can hear Scott’s outstanding bass work on the last two Explone albums, accompanied by his excellent backing vocals. You can also see his work as a video director and producer here, and here. All of the guys who have been/are in the band have made great contributions, but probably no one has been more instrumental (see what I did there?) than Scott. He really glues everything together.
This October everyone went away on separate vacations. Scott went to the UK for a month, for a bit of work and a bit of touring the countryside with his super-crafty and awesome wife Megan. While I enjoyed my own vacation immensely, going for more than a month without a gig or rehearsal has proven to be a bigger drought than I was ready for. Practicing scales in my living room works to a degree, but I really miss getting in front of the amps and drums, being loud and working up a good sweat. So I’m counting the days until Scott comes home, which fortunately is a single-digit number at this point.
We picked up a show on November 15th at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle. THis will be our last scheduled show of 2013, so unless something unforeseen happens this will be it for the year. It’s a great venue and a great night, and we’re very much looking forward to playing with our friends Will Wakefield & the Congress Hotel. Doors are at 8:00 and Explone plays at 9:00. Hope to see you there.
PS: I singled Scott out in this post, but I should mention the great admiration and thanks I have for all the people who have been part of Explone, past and present: Kyle, Nelson, Greg Garcia, John Merkel and Josh Williams (both times). All are outstanding gentlemen and fine human beings.
EXPLONE is a Seattle-based rock band that refuses to acknowledge the irrelevancy of electric guitar in modern music. We won't stop believing. We still love Cheap Trick, Queen, Hüsker Dü, Nada Surf and the Pixies. Conservative Christians can have our Judas Priest records when they pry them from our cold, dead fingers.