Man, tonight was so hard. I really hope the fans didn’t feel it like I did tonight, because it was TOUGH. I was really struggling tonight.
Because of my background in Music Hates You and all of the other punk and hard bands I have played in, when I get a really exciting song in front of me, there’s a temptation to play it way too fast. I have been fighting my instincts to play a couple of songs at punk rock tempos this tour…. In an attempt to stop “Into You Like A Train” from running away like… well… a runaway train, I made some changes. Tonight I had a click track running in one ear so that I could keep the songs within an acceptable tempo.
BUT… apparently a couple of the click tempos felt too slow for Richard tonight, so he gave me the “pick it up” high sign, so I had to play the song AGAINST the click track in my ear, which was really weird. Imagine that if you can, playing a song while this metronome clicks away in one ear at a completely irrelevant tempo. It’s downright disorienting.
It was impossible to know after that how the song felt to the rest of the band because it feels to ME like I am rushing terribly. Additionally, one of the great things about Richard as a singer (and one of the things that makes him so distinctive) is that his phrasing is very languid and loose. He sings behind the beat. Sometimes he’s actually singing *way* behind the beat, so there’s a temptation to slow down, because it sounds like he’s saying “You’re playing too fast so I am going to sing more slowly to let you know.”
I have the rest of the band in one ear at one tempo, with Richard singing another tempo, and the click track banging out a third tempo in the other ear. I was so disoriented that I anticipated the breakdown coming back from the guitar solo in “President Gas” and played it too early. This frustrated everyone. After that, I was just struggling to hang on. There were some parts of the gig that went well, but I was mostly just losing my mind. I am probably overthinking this and making it harder for myself, but there was one point tonight where I felt like jumping off of the drum riser and running away.
I haven’t been that uncomfortable onstage since I was a kid playing my first gigs. I felt lost at sea. The rest of the band said that despite the fuckup in President Gas and a little bit of rushing on a couple of songs, it was all-in-all not so bad a gig. The fans seemed to be having a wonderful time, and I guess that’s what matters at the end of the day. Tomorrow is another show in another town and another opportunity to get it right. I really like this band. I hate to disappoint them.
We shall see.