Band Life, part 3

I know that I’ve said it before but I think it’s worth mentioning again. The hardest part of having a band is finding people who are willing to hitch their wagon to your dream. It doesn’t help that I consider myself to be shy. Social interaction can be a tough thing sometimes and it has only gotten harder as time has gone by. Sure, I live in the Big Apple where you can find someone holding a guitar case at pretty much every train station. But that doesn’t mean you can just walk up and talk to them. NYC can be a quite exclusionary place sometimes. New Yorkers aren’t known for talking to strangers. But it’s been known to happen.

Back in my imperfect teenhood, I tried to find some bandmates outside my usual circles. My girlfriend at the time came up with the idea of a sign. Not the type that you put up on bulletin boards. I mean one of those big white pieces of poster board that you would use for a handmade protest sign or a grade school science fair. What would come next was a pair of teenagers holding a large handwritten sign inside a train station in Greenwich Village trying to get people to come over and find out about joining a band. This did not work. We got a lot of odd looks and the occasional person did walk over and talk with us, but it was mostly a bust. Still back when I was younger, it seemed much easier to find musicians to work with. When I was in Junior High, I was bound to have some friends with nothing better to do and an iota of musical talent or at least ownership of an instrument. High school worked much the same way. College was probably even easier because you’d just find music majors or you would just go to the floor where the music department was and ta-da. But then I got older and got a real job… with lawyers. And that’s about the point where the well started to run dry. I haven’t found a lot of people who spent their time passing the bar while playing bass in their spare time.

I eventually moved my hunt for band members to the internet. Most of my efforts in the past have been through putting up an ad on craigslist. The results have been a mixed bag. In one ad, I used the word “quirky”. I got a reply from a guy who started his e-mail without a hello or anything like that. He started by saying I’m down, if by ‘quirky’, you don’t mean ‘twee’ and then went on a rant about some band he saw over the weekend that sucked because they sounded like Beat Happening. One reply started by saying my ad was truly the worst one they had ever read, but was still wanted to know if we could play together. But on most occasions, it was a perfectly fine person, who I just didn’t meld with. Though looking back at some of these replies I had received, I wonder if Niveous circa 2006-08 was just too damn picky. But in the middle of all that, back in 2007, came one of my most interesting experiences with the internet ad. Though it wasn’t me putting out an ad, this was one of the rare times in which I responded.  

MySpace was an interesting website. I say it that way because Justin Timberlake’s resurrection project really hasn’t bore fruit yet. One thing I found interesting is the way people manipulated the site. Promotion was such a big aspect of the site that it was fun to see how bands (or the people they paid) advertised themselves. I was surprised when I stumbled across one page where a woman had turned the page into her own style of classified ad. Her stage name was Lucidia. Where as most MySpace pages were mostly annoyances (nothing like opening a profile and getting bombarded with 1-bad animated graphics, 2-the bad graphics your “friends” put on the wall, 3-a godawful song that played automatically at sonic boom amplitude), I thought Lucidia’s was clever. So I responded.

We ended up clicking. We had shared music tastes (like Rasputina). We both had gone through our share of previous band mishaps. But most of all, we got along well which with any band is priority one in my book. What came next was a whirlwind of activity. We recruited fellow Songfighter and mad genius Luke Henley and then went hunting for a bassist. Somehow that led us back to classified ads. I may have mentioned all those guitarists in New York earlier. The absolute opposite can be said for bassists. We ended up just going with Luke’s girlfriend in the end, who didn’t know how to play bass but was around at the time and willing to play.

We had a band and were full of excitement. Soon, the band had a name (Killed by Spiders) and a logo and a MySpace page and a domain and…

But we had never gotten together to play.

And we never did.

By the time we got our acts together and were ready to actually make some music, Luke had moved away. Instead of going back to the drawing board, Lucidia and I called it quits and Killed by Spiders was over before it happened. So, after an experience like that, why would I consider trying out the ad route again. I may have lost out on a band but I gained a friend. Since then, Lucidia and I have seen shows together. She’s come to my parties. We’ve had lunches where we’ve talked about finally making music together. And who knows, that may happen. Even if it doesn’t, I still feel like something great came out of the whole musician ad experience. So, I’m off to make a new ad and I’ll try not to be twee.

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