"But dude, a senior lied for you! He wanted you so bad!" - Aaquib Jaleel
Yeah, right. But the senior didn't exactly want me. He wanted a tape recorder that would play music with him and his band whenever he wanted, wherever he wanted, not caring about my consent or schedule.
It all started 4 weeks ago, and this was one of my first few experiences with college seniors. I was asked by one of the seniors (let's call him "Mophead") to play guitar for a christian retreat at college that happens every year or so, and I agreed. I met the other bandmates, discussed songs for the event and continued on with my normal life.
Cut to the Tuesday before Saturday, when the retreat was to be held. I had already been promised two days of OD (on duty) leave, and the stars were in my eyes (the joy of cutting class WITHOUT being marked absent and having to meet the HOD for a stern lecture!). I was busy derpin' around the internet, minding my own business, when another senior called. Let's call him "Dinosaur".
Now, Dinosaur wanted me to play with his band for a cultural competition in another college. Only this time, I think he said it was a show (as in, we're the "special act"), and we might get called to another college as well to do another show, and get paid 60 grand. Yeah, 60 grand for doing crappy covers of film music at a college competition. That's exactly what he said.
Now let me fill you in: Dinosaur is a drummer. And he's terrible. As in, beginner stage. Now, it's okay to be a beginner at playing music, that's how we start out, and when we remind ourselves that we were beginners, we will truly be humbled, and for the way the world treats rockstars, guess who needs a good old fashioned kick in the ego nuts?
However, the only reason why music isn't that rewarding a career option, is because, you actually have to be decent enough to play well with other bands. You don't have to be him:
But you at least have to know enough to relate with other musicians. And he was super basic, didn't know enough to collaborate, didn't know to play enough beats/rolls and what not. And I don't know how to speak Drummer either. It's a wholly different language. My communication skills with drummers are terrible. A likely convo with a drummer would go like this.
*Jam session. Drummer plays wrong*
Me: Hey, that's not how it goes!
Drummer: Sorry man. Didn't have time to listen to the song. How does it go?
Me: Er...what are you playing now?
Drummer: Ah, that's a four four with bass on the three, closed hats. What do you want me to play for the pre-chorus?
Me: *pretending to understand* Oh! Er..ah...now you were playing that "thum thum TSK thum thum thum TSK thum"...so at the pre-chorus, you play "boom da boom boom ba boom da boom boom ba boom" *flays arms around to better convey the meaning*
Drummer: Um...okay...is it this? *plays an African tribe's summoning call*
Me: No! Not a jungle beat! Something...er...somewhere in between the thum thum tsk and the boom da boom boom?
And that was their reaction. Every time.As I said, I wouldn't stand a chance. Point is, even if I did speak drummer, I wouldn't have gotten through to him. So one time he called me for another cultural competition, and I realized he wasn't good as he put himself out to be. So, I had to withstand the practice session with his off tempo beats, wrongly timed rolls, him wrongly starting/ending the song and did I mention the beats were over simplistic? If he did overplay though, it would be easy to tone him down. However, he underplayed, and so the other instruments had to compensate to make the music heavier, which is technically the drummer's job. In other words, if I entered to win, he'd be the last person I'd want to play with.
However, he was the senior, and his ego was definitely larger (Lord, don't let me have that ego when I become a senior!), meaning, he was Mike Portnoy in his own eyes while we saw him like this.
Look, I really don't want to bash anyone like that, and I'm okay with playing with someone who hasn't even seen the drums in his/her life before. However, in a band situation, as a leader, you need to be someone who cooperates with everyone and adds to the music. People should hear music, not someone awkwardly banging the drums with reckless abandon for tempos, or strumming the guitar unevenly. And he was here, thinking that all people needed was to see him behind a kit, and we'd get paid for it. Well, we didn't go for the competition, after half a day of practicing just two songs. And besides, I was already booked, so I counted that as a blessing.
And so, I told him I wasn't coming. He kept forcing me to come, saying "We're depending on you only for this", and what not. Heck, I wouldn't depend on myself even to wake up in the morning. I kept denying, he kept asking. In then end, I told him "We'll see, but mostly no." He said "Oh, okay. Bring your instrument tomorrow."
Well, needless to say, I didn't bring it. He was disappointed. I (thankfully) didn't meet him in college, so that evening, he called again to tell me to come. Then sent me a text message. Then sent four more the next morning. Then called. I told my mom to tell him I had left for college already without my guitar. Yeah, I love mom.
This is actually EXTREMELY relevant to the post.Then, that Thursday, I was minding my own business, pretending to be deeply engrossed in the EDC class, when Dinosaur walks in and says the HOD (Head of the department, for those who don't have such a person in college) wants me.
Then, me, him and two other friends of mine went to the HOD's office to show our faces, and get permission to bunk the class for his practice. The HOD granted us the entire afternoon off. And then, as soon as we're out of his office, I freak out. He gets all defensive and says things like "This is our first show", "We'll get paid for sure", "it's a professional event", "I got the OD, now you HAVE to come", and what not. I told him "We'll see." I think that phrase is my official "buy-some-time-till-you-find-a-way-to-escape" route.
My friends were thinking of agreeing with him and getting out at the last minute, him being senior and all. I felt that wasn't right. You know, at least tell him you can't come. He seriously can't argue with that, right? Well, no. You see, after a terrible jam session, he thinks he has a "solid band" now, and his band will even accompany him to the moon if he's booked there. In short, I'm his guitar playing monkey. When he wants the guitarist, I have to do it, irrespective of what my schedule or consent at the time he wants me.
*Insert guitar monkey outrage picture here.*I told him to ask Mophead's friend (Let's call him Parle G) to let me go for his practice, knowing G would surely refuse him. During the lunch break, Dinosaur meets me and says we have practice in the last two periods. I asked him whether Parle G was okay with it. He said G agreed to letting me practice (even though I had to be at G's practice)!
Just in case you didn't know...Things were looking real shabby for me: this crazy fellow wants me in his band, while the band that wanted me a month ago was now okay with me going with him even though I had to practice with them. Things seemed very fishy now. Then, around the end of the lunch break, Mophead's friend (let's call him: Shortstop!) was waiting outside my class.
Me: Hey! What exactly is happening!
Shortstop: Yeah, that's exactly what I wanted to ask you, what is happening!?
Me: Er, what?
Shortstop: Yeah, that senior, Dinosaur (He said Dino's real name, just in case you were wondering). He said you agreed to coming for his practice session!
Another guitar monkey outrage!Me: Wait, what?!
Shortstop: He told Parle G you were okay with not attending our practice session and attending his instead!
Me: No way! I never agreed to him! I mean, look, I brought chord sheets and the songs we had to practice on my phone! And I normally never bring my phone to college!
Shortstop: Hmm...something's not right.
*That's when it hit me*
Me: Dude! He's two-timing us! He's lying to both of us so that we agree to his plan!
Shortstop: Oh man. Now what do we do? I mean, he's my senior also.
Me: Relax, I'll take care of this.
*That's when images of him calling me in the next period, and me refusing him right in front of everyone, and also adding a joke about him to send him off came to mind. But being the good christian I was, I (sadly) had to forego that plan*
I seethed with anger. How could anyone do this? Was he that cheap? That apathetic for whether I was available? I just decided to wait till he came.
Then, at the 6th period, he came.
"Hello, ma'am, this boy is going to play at one culturals tomorrow ma'am, so the HOD gave OD, ma'am, full day, ma'am! Today and tomorrow ma'am."
And so I went. I followed him until we were out of sight of my class, and then I stopped.
"I'm not coming. Shortstop told me everything."
"I'm not coming. Shortstop told me everything!"
"Oh, okay. Practice is in the auditorium."
*Yeah, he's terrible at English, too.*
"Hey! How could you lie to them! No one agreed to me coming! I can't come for your practice and all!"
And that's when Barney the friendly dinosaur became Godzilla.
He got really angry and said he didn't want to see me again, and ordered me to go back to my class, and never come back. I happily agreed.
After that period, Shortstop came to call me for practice. Just before that, it seems Dinosaur invaded their practice session and railed at them for taking away his guitarist. Er...I don't know what to say to that. I mean, it wasn't like, "Come on, let's form a band, Dinosaur!" I mean, we only had one session of playing together, and it was terrible. And he, oblivious to the fact that he needs more practice to be a good drummer, is now a band leader for some reason, and has the power to call his juniors to play music for him.
Well, a few things I'd like to point out here:
1. I said no!
And he pretended I said yes.
2. He clearly was using me.
Basically, musicians were created as people, not tape recorders. I get more than slightly offed by the "rockstar" comments I get from friends because it's like they expect me to have the big hair, leather pants, shirtless, glam metal 80's rocker look or something.
Rock in its purest form.And it's also because, we are people at heart. If you read the tabloid sleaze columns and what not, you notice that rockstars, music icons and popular musicians are the worst people you see. I realize I was made to be a person, not a guitarist. Meaning, I play guitar, yes, but I'm a person. Which means I have a personality I must develop, and I can't expect people to just like me just because I know how to hold an E major 7 suspended 2 on a guitar. And I also have choices. As in, I choose not to play when I don't really think it's right for me to get in a band where I don't want to play, like a regular person who thinks sushi is not to his taste and decides to fry his fish instead. Dino however wanted a guitarist, and actually expected that I'd readily give it all up for playing crappy covers of film music with him. So yeah, remember kids, don't expect people to just do whatever you want them to do whenever you want it. That's narcissism, objectification, and plain douchebaggery all rolled up in one Dinosaur-shaped package.
You're playing with OTHER PEOPLE. They are narcissistic, intolerant, and judgmental. They will NOT spare you if you don't play right. At least in a normal scenario.
4. Be tolerant of lack of talent.
But do not spare narcissism. I know some awesome musicians, and some terrible ones. The thing that separates the men from the boys, apart from talent, is in most cases, the more talented ones are more humble than those who are just starting out. And if they were proud at the beginning, they realized their fault and became humble at some point in time. Same case with me. I started out terrible and was proud of it. Now, I'm better than I was 2 years ago, and feel my playing is crap.
I just don't understand them. The "sense of entitlement" they have towards juniors. Maybe someday when I'm a senior I might figure this out.
Anyway, my sob story ends here. Video time!
#1 Keba Jeremiah again! This time a cover of "Age" by Lianne La Havas, sung by Harshitha Krishnan.
Anyway, I've finally wanted to do this (especially the terrible nicknames part), and now, it seems Dinosaur is troubling my friends these days to make a band. He hasn't even approached me.