"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Late Model Humans




I quit the band. You might like Late Model Humans, if you go in for that sort of thing. We’re like Linus’s pumpkin patch, sincere. Every member of the band genuinely loves music and that comes through in the playing. It was one of the great experiences of my life playing in this band and the amount of joy it brought me is immeasurable. But in the end it was like the end of any relationship: once the decision is made to move on it’s very hard to smile and play nice. I just wanted to leave and put it behind me.

We played together in one form or another for more than half my life. By the end we were up to four songwriters and we all took our craft seriously. We fed off each other as writers so that even though we each had a distinct songwriting style we managed a fairly cohesive sound with our arrangements, common influences, harmonies and instrumentation.

A relationship between two people, even the best, can be hard sometimes, and a relationship between five people pulling in different directions is almost impossible. It’s a small miracle that we lasted as long as we did.

Before I cashed in my chips we were able to get into the recording studio one last time and put together a final batch of songs. When I was younger I loved going into the studio, probably because I felt like I was doing something professional with my dreams. But this time around it became painfully clear that we were decidedly not trying to do anything professional. Not that we weren’t trying to do something good. You can judge the validity of the experiment for yourself. Music is a very personal thing and for anyone whose tastes run in our direction we might be a new source of pleasure.

Things end. That’s part of life. They can end pretty or they can end ugly. The can be amicable or argumentative. Usually, it’s some of both. But once they end there’s a certain beauty to their finality - to know that you can let go of any little grudges and annoyances and remember what got things started in the first place.

Like any good relationship we were more than the sum of our parts. There were moments when we were all playing together and everything fell into place, each of our parts locking into the others’, when I felt like I was riding a wild horse. There was an uncontrollable energy under us and it was a hell of a ride.

The blessing and the curse of the band was our camaraderie. In the end it overshadowed the music. We were having so much fun that it took me a while to realize that our priorities were not in sync, that some of us were having successful hobbies while others were having failed careers. That's just the sort of thing that causes tension. And that feeling of failure can really sting.

So, like I said, I quit the band.

Tomorrow: The Leap of Faith