Friday, June 4, 2010

When John, Paul, and George Met Ringo

Lately I've been wondering what it was like when John, Paul, and George met Ringo for the first time. I always imagined there was immediate chemistry there. Maybe they took one look at him and said "Blimey, you've got a cool name and there is no one on the planet that looks quite like you do. Let's get that Pete fellow out of here, we want you in the band." Maybe the clouds parted for a moment and a blinding ray of light shone down upon Liverpool. Maybe a majestic voice from above said, "John and Paul, my children, I have sent you a drummer. Go forth and rock."

Or maybe Ringo simply replied to a desperate want-ad he stumbled upon one night when he couldn't sleep. Maybe he went to an early performance of The Beatles, was intrigued by their music, and awkwardly left his phone number with a very drunk John Lennon. Maybe Paul McCartney flippantly promised to call him sometime in the next week. Maybe George Harrison was standing there silently, unsure of how to act when not onstage.

I've been playing in the same band for so long that, until recently, I've forgotten all about the strange process of trying to connect with other musicians. Musicians are a weird breed. We're emotional, competitive, creatively-driven creatures who often lack standard social skills and have an affinity for irresponsibility. We crave the limelight but often don't know what to do when it shines on us. Honk if you agree.

And since bands are made up of musicians, they're pretty weird things too. The relationship between bandmates is sometimes almost a cross between a dysfunctional family (minus the obligatory holiday get-togethers) and a really involved romantic relationship (minus the romance).

Anyway, I was recently cruising the musician want-ads on Craigslist (my favorite thing to do when I can't sleep) and I stumbled upon a pretty cool indie dance-rock band that needed a keyboardist. I listened to them on myspace, fell in love with their sound, and sent them an email. I emailed back and forth with them a little and ended up going out to see them perform last night.

Now, I know some of you are going to read this and think I've gone mad. "What about Original Sound Trash?!" you will ask. "What about Ryan and trash rock and making an OST album and all of that?!"

Rock bands are not exclusive creatures. Our friend Jack White shows us that it is possibly to be involved in as many as three bands at a time. Of course, it helps that the man's guitar skills are just plain sexy. But he is somehow able to musically multi-task and pour his talent into three bands.

(I'm not trying to compare myself to Jack White here - I know he's a one-of-a-kind rock sensation. But I'm just pointing out that the multiple-band thing can be done.)

And though Jack is fantastic in The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, The White Stripes seems to be his musical child. If I do end up joining another band, Original Sound Trash will still be my number one. I'm just at a point in my life where I want to make all kinds of music with all kinds of people. You know, try on the starving-musician lifestyle for size and see if it fits.

Original Sound Trash began so organically that I barely know how the whole auditioning thing works. Four years ago, I started college and was determined to play music with other people. I spent all of orientation weekend targeting boys that looked like musicians. Ryan was the only guy I talked to that didn't get all weird and think I was trying to hit on him. Instead, we just talked about our love for Simon and Garfunkel and exchanged myspace urls. We snuck into the on-campus practice rooms to jam a few days later and the rest is history. Or something like that.

Once I tried out for a Shakespearean metal band (mostly just because I was bored and wanted to shake everyone up), but other than that it's been awhile since I've tried to dive into any new music projects. So last night, I put on my indie rock attire (doesn't really matter what you wear as long as glasses with big, black, Woody Allen-style frames are involved), took some pills for a headache that had been around since Tuesday, and headed downtown in hopes of making a good impression on this new band. Took Steve along with me and got there early enough to scope out a group of people that looked like the band.

"I think that's them," I whisper to Steve.
"What?" he says. It's loud in the room and I am whispering.
"Be right back," I reply, and strut off to the bathroom. Once in the sanctuary of the ladies room, I pull out my iPhone with the intention of looking at a picture of the band online. I discover that my battery has died. I fix my hair, take a moment to read some of the fantastic bathroom graffiti, and return to the table Steve is sitting at. I ask to borrow his iPhone and use it to pull up the band's myspace page. I scroll through pictures and look at the group of people in front of me. Just as I suspected - it's them.

"Go talk to them!" Steve says.
"I will in a minute," I say. I'm bad at approaching groups of people I don't know. Remember how I said musicians don't always have the best social skills? I'm really no exception.
"Want a beer?" offers Steve. "It might make this easier."
I shake my head and remind him that I took stuff to kill a migraine before the show. He agrees that alcohol probably wouldn't be a good idea for me but goes to get a beer for himself, strategically leaving me alone to talk to the band.

I wait until they look like they aren't totally involved in a conversation and approach them. "Hey...are you guys (name of band)?" They nod. I then introduce myself as the girl who's been emailing them about playing keyboards. Fortunately, one of them remembered who I was and greeted me enthusiastically. He wore tight pants and reminded me of a less-cute Michael Cera. His phone rang in the middle of our conversation and he answered it, walking away from the table and leaving me to interview the bassist. I was not trying to interview him but he was not that talkative so I nervously launched a game of 20 questions. Michael Cera came back to the table. I wished them both a good show and went to find Steve at the bar.

And it was a good show. The music they made was catchy, danceable, and over-all something I would love to be a part of (the same could not be said about the Shakespearean metal band I tried out for once upon a time). I gave Michael Cera my phone number before I left and we agreed that we would all get together and jam sometime next week.

They weren't like "OMG WE LOVE YOU, GET PETE BEST OUT OF HERE AND BE OUR RINGO," though I didn't really expect them to be. I'm not going to get my hopes up too high, just going to see what happens.

And this just happened: Michael Cera texted me, thanking me for coming out to the show and saying he'll be in touch soon about getting together. And after a long debate about whether or not to use a text smiley face at the end of the reply or not, I texted him back saying the show was great, blah blah blah.

What will happen? Will Lauren the Keytar Master and Avoider of 9 to 5 jobs add another band into her life? Or will this simply become another amusing anecdote, residing in the same category as the Shakespearean metal band?

Staaaaay tuned!


  1. Nice post! Good luck with the band audition. :-)

  2. I am rooting for you. They would be crazy not to pick you up as their new keyboardist.

    I think you're better than the current one... ;)

  3. Aw, thanks Allison, Ryan, and Radman!
    I'll be sure to keep you guys updated with how the audition goes.

    And Allison - great playlist idea. I'll be thinking of ideas for you. Off the top of my head, I know the guy from Gnarls Barkley and the guy from The Shins have a side project together (Broken Bells), Amanda Palmer has an imaginary band with Jason Webley (Evelyn Evelyn), and Colin Maloy has a band other than The Decemberists (can't think of the name). Also, didn't Ringo play in a band with a bunch of famous musicians for awhile? And I know Paul McCartney had Wings on the side in the 70s/80s (though I'm not sure if that counts as a side project because I think he started it after The Beatles broke up).

    Okay, done rambling. :D

  4. I thought of Dave Grohl, Jack White, and I can do several people from Broken Social Scene, and other Canadian bands.

  5. Oh cool, sounds like you're going to come up with a lot of music I don't know about yet. Look forward to seeing what's on your playlist :D

  6. You had me at Shakespearean metal band. I am still trying to imagine what that could sound like.


It makes my day when YOU leave me comments. :D