"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Trying Times in the Basement

At rehearsal last night my band leader wanted to rewrite a bunch of my bass lines.

This happens every few months or so. When he first hears them, they are cooler than ice...then he completely ignores anything I new for the next 2 months, and once he starts paying attention again, asks, "dude, did you change that line?"


Then we try and rewrite bass lines on 3 or 4 tunes out of a 12 song set. So it's basically the equivalent trying to teach someone English while speaking French the whole time. I don't know of any other way to describe the feeling. But I'll play what I have been playing, he'll say, "no it's too busy/simple" and then "simply/busy it up."

So I do.

He likes it for five minutes. And then changes his mind and says, "like this." And then basically plays it exactly as I had been playing it for the last few months.

I sorta slap my forehead, sigh, and continue trying to work with him for about five minutes until he realizes it's the same. Then I hear how it needs to be funkier, but what I'm playing is to syncopated. What I'm playing is too simple, but now there's too much movement.

"Hmmmmmmm. It's just not 'black' enough." Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, and virtually all of the Motown discography are our standard, rightfully so, but sometimes it's not really what he wants. After all, we are just a bunch of white guys.

For example, on Sound Opinions this weekend, NPR's rock n' roll talk show starring Greg Kott and Jim Derogotis, the two Chicago music critics offered up their all-time unsung rock heros. One of which was James Jamerson, the man - influentially, at least - behind virtually all of the Motown bass lines recorded after 1970.

And JJ's lines were as busy as they come. Constant countermelody to the vocals, outlining the chords, as it should, but there is constant movement - understated, easy and lyrical - but always moving.

There's still the big influences of The Replacements, The Stones, Iggy Pop, and even the Stone Roses to contend with, however. We are far, FAR more than just a Motown band. What we are, however, I have no idea. And never will.

Because, in the span of 30 mintues I went from frustration, telling myself to give Rudy what he wants for the recording so he can have something concrete to teach his new bass player, to "eureka!" and finding the exact line I wanted and eager for our next rehearsal, and next show in two weeks at Subterranean on February 9.

It's those moments of discovery and musical release that keep me in this insane schedule of KatyBikeWorkMusicParty repeat. There's really no humanly way possible of balancing a schedule of two bands, a serious bike racing commitment, work, and a personal life beyond a day at a time. Of course, in 2 months, in the studio, Rudy will decide everything we came up with is no good, and I will commit suicide as we burn through dollars trying come up with new bass lines, keyboard lines, new beats to replace perfectly good imperfect ones in the relentless pursuit of perfection.

It will eventually kill me. I'll have to recognize the symptoms before it does and get the hell out. I already know I am taking way to much on to be successful in any of my many endeavors. It's just I enjoy the relationships I have built in all of them. I can't stomach the thought of telling anybody, "I'm out." But, soon there's just gonna have to be a safety valve blow.

In favor of love. For her and the bike.

Until then I'll keep looking for "eureka."

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