Tuesday, January 26, 2010

There Are But Four Paces

A week after the Halloween show, we convened at Tom's place to play. When I came into the practice-room, I noticed that the red drumset was gone (Brandon had taken it home); there were a few loose drums flung into one corner of the practice-room. They were Winter's; some old, black Ludwig drums that had seen happier days.

As Winter and Tom were plugging in and tuning up, I forgot about the organ, sat in a chair and began to sort the loose drums out and seeing what we had; two snares, a floor tom, a kick-drum with no pedal, and a rack-tom attached to the kick. The better snare of the two was held up by two old music-stand bases, kind of a makeshift snare stand. There were also a few old cymbals leaning in the corner, two of them with massive holes on the outer edges.

Next thing I know, I'm sitting there with drumsticks in my hands, playing the snare with my left hand, and hitting the bass drum (lying on the floor, face down) with my right. I joined Tom and Winter in some songs they were trying out, and damned if it didn't sound good! And that situation is what we built on that November.

At the next practice, our friend Lincoln joined us as second guitarist, using one of Winter's spare guitars (which never kept in tune). We began to get serious about this lineup's sound, so we got our hands on a kick-drum pedal, and we found the remnant of a cymbal stand; the only usable cymbal was one of those marching band crash cymbals, but I began to use it like a crash-ride, alternating how hard I hit it for riding and crashing. We tarted up an old hi-hat stand with the other two cymbals; it sounded a little messy, but it passed for a hi-hat in practice. Better than using my tambourine for a hi-hat!

The Yardbirds' BBC Sessions collection had just come out, and I brought a tape of it for the other guys to check out. Next thing I know, Winter and Tom are learning a bunch of songs from it by day, and we're playing them later that evening. Being influenced by Bill Bruford and Bobby Caldwell, I began to play with a lot of drive and sharp timekeeping, and Winter was yearning to play them that much faster, so we did. No wonder we were called The Pace!

We also began recording some of the songs we knew into Tom's Yamaha 4-track recorder, mostly as demos to shop around to prospective venues in and around town. We recorded the instruments through the Peavey PA head, which had the reverb up a little too much, but the recordings sounded good for being homemade. I played all the drums, tambourine, and even the organ for "I'm Talking About You". For a short while, there was a harpsichord upstairs in one of the banquet rooms, and I recorded two harpsichord tracks for a potential cover of "For Your Love", but we never used it, and Winter never cared for that song, anyway.

Lincoln was soon to be getting his hands on a Gibson SG Junior, which was going to be much better than the beat-up Fender Strat that refused to stay in tune. I noticed my snare drum had a rip in the bottom head, so one evening, I showed up early with a small roll of tape to remedy that. I took the drum apart and put a piece of tape over that rip, but then I didn't want the top skin to rip on me, so I put a few strips of tape on the underside of the top head. When I got the drum back together and tightened the strainer as far as it would go, I ended up with a very sharp and loud snare sound. It sounded amazing! Then again, we all did together--hard, loud and fast. After practice was over, I would get home after midnight, and my ears would be still ringing.

At the beginning of December, Tom gave me a call one evening to tell me that we had a show happening for us on New Year's Eve (as an opening act) at the Central Tavern on 6th Avenue. We immediately compiled a setlist, and began to practice how many songs we would play within a 45-minute time frame, timing ourselves. We ended up with sixteen songs.

No comments: