I could tell you the story about the night I slept in a bloody bed from a murder the night before(the hotel manager had simply flipped the mattress over). I could tell you about the night in Juarez when our song Muddy Jesus(the closest thing El Paso had seen to a self homage since Marty Robbins) caused us to be mobbed on a seemingly quiet night in Juarez, the mob morphing our vaguely exciting identity to a much more exciting one, Pearl Jam, over the course of a few hours. We narrowly escaped the mob before evading the head of the biggest drug cartel in Mexico, who was trying to pull us into a multi-day locked door party where we would be the “guests of honor”, of course not allowed to leave until he declared the party over. I could tell you some juicy, fucked up stories, but I would rather rest my road weary brain and simply wrap it around the 20+ years of touring haze to tell you about the most brilliant, fucked up thing I have ever done, sing in a rock and roll band.
Being in a rock and roll band is like permanently being a senior in high school waiting for college to start. An endless summer of reckless abandon, ambitious half formed plans, and the promise of something much more grand in the coming fall that never quite materializes. Short term glory buttressed by seemingly endless stretches of monotony and indecision.
I watch as my friends grow up and seemingly go through adult forming school. They adopt different, mostly more healthy, habits, and fade into a more gentle phase filled with adult conversations that seem formed and appropriate for their(our) age. Meanwhile I am stuck in endless conversations about why the Teardrop Explode matter(or don’t), why ironic dress and facial coif had its place until a couple of years ago, and other forays into the minutia of pop culture that truly should be mainstay thought for an 18 year old, but are more suspect when calling 30 year old friends “kid” and still chasing down your bartender friends for free drinks.
Being in a band is a youthful endeavor. It is amazing to look out onto a packed room filled with attractive people who believe that music can change the world. Unfortunately I believe the same thing as well? When does one get the mailer that actually explains what the ‘grown ups’ are supposed to really think? When do I get the insight that allows me to stop being so idealistic and cash in on the collective sins of our species? I’m stuck in this fountain of youth and it stinks of urine and folly. The kids are splashing around oblivious to anything but the importance of their play in the cultural waters, long fouled and drained of meaning, each waterfall smaller than the one before until the final drip is sliding out of the concrete orifice of some suburban kid with X-ray vision specs that say “Google”.
Speaking of fucked up, what is it with drummers? Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the very person that we rely on for meter and time is completely incapable of simply showing up at the same time that all other adults can? Of all of my drummers, and there have been many, I can think of only one person who was capable of actually showing up at the time he said, and he quickly got out of drumming and started trying to save the world by selling eco building products to yuppies who needed a slight hedge to hide their rabid consumerism. If I had any sense I would have bought a stopwatch years ago so I could keep a running tally of time wasted to gripe about in the golden years. I do believe in irrefutable truths. I believe that humans are inherently good and that we are all capable of change. Consequently I am repeatedly dumbfounded as our drummer saunters towards the van, elegantly smoking, and seemingly troubled by nothing, a good 30 minutes after our said departure time, as we wait outside HIS house in complete awe.
I keep waiting for this phase where I am bestowed some flowing robe of knowledge and my acolytes surround me being filled by my vast musical knowledge and discourses on integrity. I see that Willie Nelson has recently released his book the “Tao of Wille” and is being considered for Sainthood by the Catholic Church, who are willing to look past his phenomenal Marijuana consumption. Meanwhile I am stuck in this half-form, not able to speak of my rock and roll exploits lest I sound like a braggart, but considered smug and distant if I stay tightlipped when my younger friends educate me on their new cultural bounty, bounty that we pawned many years ago to lighten the load…
Excuse me, didn’t mean to sound bitter..Now ,that’s fucked up. I can’t think of anything cooler than playing in a Rock and Roll band
Did I mention heavy metal soundmen?