So I have a new band. It's called Die Like Gentlemen. I play guitar, sing, and do most of the songwriting. We're kinda like a chunkier version of Black Sabbath. You can "Like" us and listen to a few rehearsal tunes on our Facebook page while you read this, if you like.
We played our first show last Saturday at an excellent local Portland dive music venue called Plan B. We had a great turnout, played really well, and got a lot of positive feedback. It really went excellent. The most popular songs were "Covetous" and "Hidden Switch" (the latter of which discusses my tinnitus).
You may remember that I was unsuccessfully seeking a second guitarist. One of the main reasons was to have a more accomplished lead guitar for solos and such. Soloing was never my strong suit, I've always been much more of a composer. Some guitarists pick up a guitar and start soloing, I pick one up and start writing parts.
Well, we didn't want the lack of a second guitarist to stop us from gigging, so I manned up and started working specifically on my solos. I started sketching them out, trying to figure out how to play what I was hearing in my head or just sloppily improvising until I lucked upon something that didn't suck. After a couple of months I felt I had improved from "embarrassingly bad" to "could easily fool non-musicians" so it was time to put ourselves out there. Which, like I said, went excellent.
I gotta tell ya, though... The whole week leading up to the show, my anxiety about playing was pretty damn strong and all-consuming. When I was gigging constantly in New York City with Brompton's Cocktail and/or The Invincible Doctor Psyclops Invasion I didn't have near this level of anxiety. Was it from acclimation because I was playing out so often? I don't think it was just that; I remember being pretty fearless about performing when I was younger.
I remember, however, that the very first show of The Monster Project had me terrified. That was somewhat understandable: I was debuting a seven-piece band doing complicated instrumental music, and I was slightly worried about the possibility of something totally falling apart onstage. I had personally booked the venue and all the bands that evening, including the duo of Shelley Burgon and Trevor Dunn, the latter of whom is the bassist in two of my favorite all-time bands -- and here I was about to play bass onstage in front of him. I even had solo sections where everybody dropped out but me. This was all a terrifying amount of anxious pressure if you're an ego-fixated perfectionist like I am. The gig went great, though, and subsequent Monster Project shows were much less stress-inducing.
I was looser as well when playing with I Disagree, perhaps because I was just the singer, but I did notice that my baseline gig anxiety was still higher than it had been in NYC. I worried about my voice not being up to the increasing endurance and range boundaries I kept pushing. By our last gig, though, I was fairly casual.
So perhaps the cycle is just starting all over again. Hopefully in six months I'll hardly fret over Die Like Gentlemen shows at all.
Nonetheless, I spent the day in advance of our first performance willfully distracting myself with episodes of Star Trek and ER, plus a documentary on Black Sabbath's Paranoid. Anything to not think about the fact that in several hours I would be playing guitar and singing in front of 50 or more people, most of whom had never heard me sing or play before. First impressions, man. They're crucial.
But like I said, it went well. We played like fatalistic heavy metal gentlemen and acquitted ourselves admirably, especially for a first show.
Check out the tunes on Facebook and let me know what you think.
UPDATED with video!
a hidden switch is flipped
a nerve has bitten down
a permanent alarm
a static piercing sound
inverted pedal tone
instills what it destroys
can't say that you weren't warned
a warning you ignored
the cost of all that volume
is silence nevermore