Madam and The Ants. That was in December. Of 2012.
A lot has happened since then. Births, deaths, illness, catastrophe. Dubstep. Lorde. Thurston and Kim breaking up.
I fumble for the light switch, and as it snaps on, I feel like I was just here. The cheap industrial carpet is still disintegrating into curly strings, and sprinkled with segments of guitar strings, broken picks, and bent beer caps.
Our PA is still there. A few minutes of searching behind piles of gear yields my mic stand. Ha! Hard to believe the gear hasn't been thrown out or broken.
I reach into my bag and pull out my Shure SM-58 Beta microphone. This was the mic I bought myself when I first started to get serious about singing. I've had it for almost 25 years.
Still here. Still working.
I find bags of coiled cables. Definitely ours. A backpack with cables and a tuning pedal. Is this ours? Hmm. Not sure. Some of this stuff...I just don't know. Maybe?
I clear some space and think about where everyone is going to set up. I plug in the PA and start tuning the EQ for the room. I never have enough time to do this.
Dante arrives next. He sees the drum kit of the band we share the room with set up and says "that's not going to work for me." He sets up his kit. I point at his Rototoms. "You should play those." He says "Are those mine?" Yeah. I saved them. Rototoms were very cool for a while, then super-uncool for even longer. But like a lot of things with a similar trajectory, I expect them to make a Halley's Comet-style return any day now. I also have 9 cowbells of his in my recording studio.
The rest of the gang rolls in, one of them stepping out of a black Lincoln Towncar. Hiatus has been good to some of us, I guess.
They've all forgotten stuff. Straps. Picks. Cables. Batteries. Songs. Keys. We start 40 minutes later than planned, after lots of fumbling around. Tuning. Spilling beer. Catching up. Hugging. "It's been too long."
We play the traditional set opener, "Baby Space". It's not too terrible, and like a camera being pulled slowly into focus, by halfway through the second verse, most of the band has mostly remembered how this one goes and it starts to sound like music.
The rest of the songs materialize in similar fashion. As I call the titles, everyone gets a look on their face like they were hoping the teacher wouldn't ask them to hand in their homework. But as Dante counts off each one or plays the drum intros, memory kicks in. The terror, confusion, and embarrassment give way to big smiles when things go right and laughs and winces when we hit the wrong notes.
Foxxx Trottt yells out the chords, or at least shortcuts and cheats like "this one is mostly D. There's a lot of D in this song." I am pretty sure (but not certain) that at least one of the guitar players knows which chord is D.
We play our big hits. We avoid the tricky tunes tonight. Gotta walk before you run. But really, at this point, I don't even care how it sounds. There's time for that later.
Yeah, you know, I miss the fame and fortune sometimes, and the fancy hotel rooms and groupies and all that. But I also remember how dismal it all seemed when we weren't having fun, and how quickly all of that faded. The good parts were the result of playing with my friends, and when we stopped that -- when we stopped playing and started treating it like WORK, and when we stopped being friends and started being business associates or colleagues or whatever -- that's when it all fell apart.
I look around the rehearsal room. I see my friends. My BAND. They're smiling. They're laughing. We're having fun. We're playing music. We're together.
I look at the mic in front of me and I think "Still here. Still working."
PS we're looking for gigs. And I'm gonna write a new song or two.