A little over a month ago, my track “Sixish” came out. It’s one of the first tracks to use jazz elements and drum and bass elements like it does, although it’s kind of masked in a digital jamband atmosphere. But I don’t want to write about the track. I’m not the type to talk about my work, and frankly people who are should probably spend more time on their music. All I have to say about the track is, well, in the track itself, and it’s strong enough to stand on its own. There are, however, things I do want to tell you about that led to the track’s creation.
Seven years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. The band I was apart of in high school was over. I had an impressive resume, but I didn’t get into the music schools I wanted to because of my grades. Apparently, grades are, in fact, more important than your playing or portfolio.
I hope that, you, the reader, understand how hard I worked to do well in college after doing poorly in high school and that even if you’re rejected by idiots like I was, there is nothing that will ever stop you from accomplishing what you want. What some letter says written by some anonymous jerk who never met you doesn’t have anything to do with the truth. It never has and never will. I was never the type to let other people dictate what I can and cannot do in my life and I hope I inspire you and remind you that you can strive for the life you deserve no matter what.
Now that’s out of the way, I thought it was time for a change. I wanted new musical experiences and so I went to the same place everyone else goes when you want something new: Craigslist. I sent tons of emails and eventually got a badly formatted, all lowercase, was-he-drunk-when-he-wrote-this kind of email along the lines of “sounds legit dude come over tomorrow in stapleton [address] at 4:30 good to hear your tunes bro [cellphone number].”
I drove my prehistoric, no-AC ’91 Honda in a dry heat in rush hour an hour away from my parents’ house to Stapleton. It was so freaking hot when I finally got there I was covered in sweat and utterly exhausted.
Getting to Stapleton that first time was one of the times in my life I truly felt afraid. I was nervous about the audition, sure. Like everyone else, I also get a little anxious any time I have to meet someone new, and I had no idea what I was about to get into since the email didn’t have much in the way of specifics. That’s not even half of what I was afraid of, though.
The area at the time was mostly halfway houses and warehouses that all looked the same. All the traffic around me was semi-trucks going extremely fast around tight corners, with guys that had neck tattoos screaming at my Honda that barely had enough power to haul my keyboard amp and me. I parked to try to call the dude I was supposed to meet. My phone overheated due to the sauna on wheels I drove, and I just had to wait it out in the shade for a little while. A few of the many hostile drug addicts walking around the neighborhood surrounded my car like vultures and caught a glimpse of the keyboard amp and knew that there was something valuable in there. A few of them started yelling things to get my attention, so they had an excuse to come see me.
It didn’t take much for me to drive around the block. I had to make a call, and you know, I do deserver an Oscar for my brilliant acting job that covered up how nervous I was I’ll never forget the first time I saw the drummer on that day out of hell. Finding him was such a relief. I felt like the Jews finding water in the desert for the first time.
I rolled up to another warehouse to find him standing near a door stenciled “FIRE EX IT.” He was a dude with a violet wook trucker hat covered in pins, stunning brown eyes, curly earrings, goatee, graffiti tee shirt, a half-whiskey half-coke Polar Pop, and held a pot pipe and smoked his cigarette at the same time. I immediately thought “well, what did you really expect from a Craigslist ad that said ‘420 friendly,’ Joe,” and went up to meet him.
He lead me to our little rehearsal room. God, I miss that room. We rehearsed in a very small room with black, cloth walls lit with faux candles. The air conditioning didn’t work and it reeked of body odor, palo santo, weed, and beer. We played for four, five, even six hours at a time in that space. That room was part of one of the craziest, most fun periods of my life.
That first day, we played for two hours without talking. He said, “good work, come back next week.” I replied, “sure thing,” loaded up, and drove another hour back home. We said all of ten words over two conversations that first day. When you have a real musical connection, you don’t need to talk that much.
“Sixish” captures the four-hour jams we had in that little room. I created a track that captured the simple, elegant melodies our guitarist played, the bassline our awesome bassist laid down, and of course the amazing drumming I was lucky enough to hear. I wanted most of all to capture the vibe of what it was like to play and jam out for hours and hours and hours and distill it to some of our finest moments together.