Tuesday, December 12, 2006

map of july (part 2)

Once we had some original material to play with, it grew increasingly evident that we needed a drummer. By this time we had room for one, as I had cleared most of the rest of my stuff out of the small back room of my tiny apartment. I slept on the couch in the living room. The band had nearly half of my apartment, although this was still a cramped room measuring maybe eight feet square.

Casting my line at work, I got a nibble from a co-worker named Nathan, who agreed to come out and hear the band, maybe play along some, before making up his mind. Nathan was primarily a guitarist, but expressed interest in playing something percussive.

He showed up with his guitar, and we all started to play some of the covers and original songs we had been working on. Nathan was an angry sort of music nerd, the kind of guy who would declare that all punk music was actually country, and attack you personally if you disagreed. It shouldn't have been much of a surprise, then, when he started saying things like: "You guys should never play that song again" (on our version of "Cry, Baby, Cry" by the Beatles) or "Ian should not even be allowed to hold a slide guitar. You guys should take that thing away from him" (on an original song, later recorded for our first album with Ian's slide work intact).

Perhaps more jarring than his comments was his rehearsal method. He'd plug in a long cable and wander around as the song progressed, often leaving the room entirely. I'd catch a glimpse of him standing with his back to me in my living room. Often, when he wandered about like this his playing did, too. I don't have any real recollection of him playing drums or percussion.

He wasn't a bad guitarist. At one rehearsal, I can recall asking Ian if he could play something "Nathanish" over a part of a song. The normally fuzzy and friendly Ian responded with: "Oh, you want me to leave the room and play something only marginally related to what you guys are doing?"

Not surprisingly, the time soon came to fire Nathan. Ian, Marc and I stayed after rehearsal to talk about it. We debated some, but the die was already cast, and eventually it was decided that I should call him at home and tell him the news.

When he answered the phone, it was clear that I had woken him.

"Nathan, we've been talking," I began. I was thinking about how inauspicious it was to have to fire someone before ever having a stable line-up. I was also thinking about how I was the only band member who was going to have to see Nathan the following morning at work. "It's just not going to work out."

"OK," Nathan replied impatiently. "Anything else?"

That bastard was cold.

The good thing that came out of the Nathan period was our name. We had elected to try out a couple of our songs at an open mike at Fitzgerald's, a folk/rock bar in Berwyn. Ian knew some people there who would listen with appraising ears and give us some feedback.

We decided we needed a name before taking the stage, and from a long list of awful names, we selected map of july, based on my inability to recall the word "calendar" during a conversation, and the fact that Ian, Marc and myself were all born in July. We thought it sounded cool and a little mysterious. A resolution was made to never reveal the origin of the name, as it made us look silly.

We, of course, were sure that they were going to offer us a gig right then and there. They told us instead that we weren't very tight, and to come back when we were. They were almost certainly correct. We had a long way to go as a band.


Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah . . . I'd forgotten my irritation with that guy. He may have had a point about my slide guitar at that time. I'm sure it sounded hellishly shrillish and off pitch, usually at the same time.

Didn't a misnaming of the a map as a calendar occur on the same road trip to see Over The Rhine that birthed the band?


Anonymous said...

Hey Hey!

The bits about Ian and Nathan have me bursting...

If I'd only known more about earlier band experiences I might have had more confidence in the band.

And the name origin... To think how long I waited as a "satelite member" (weren't we official...) to learn the great secret of the band...

basest said...

as i recall...the map thing was unrelated to that trip. The long, strange road trip that spawned many comic moments including "i'm an old dog!", "i'm just over here, whittling", "i only have but one patty" (was that the same trip?) and "don't you know that I can't read!" was later on, when maht was fully indoctrinated.

Nikki Neurotic said...

I really hate people like this. If I were you, I'd have fired him by hitting him over the head with his guitar.

The Moon Topples said...

Ian: basest is correct about the road trip you mention coming later, although "I ain't got but one patty" was from a Stuckey's in Kansas before the band was founded. The map/calendar thing was about a year earlier, during filming for "The Blank Page."

Anon: You need to pony up and claim a name, buddy. Hard to claim anonymity when you begin every comment with "Hey, hey."

basest: indoctrinated?

Silver: Peace and love, baby. Peace and love.

Anonymous said...

Hey Hey!

Yeh, I know... Been meaning to...