Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Today Is the 2nd Day of the Rest of Your Life

For a few weeks I've been loading my iPod with old school postpunk, stuff like J Church, Jawbreaker, Naked Raygun, Samiam and fIREHOSE. Totally duding out. These are all records I "grew up" on, records I was listening to in high school and especially the first year of college. I don't ever get to know a record that well anymore--every word, every riff, every drum fill, start to finish. That must be part of the reason those records get me so fired up, even when I don't always relate to every song like I used to.

It's the music I was listening to when I first formed a band. This was in college, and way before I learned anything about electronics. I played drums and we couldn't find a singer. So I heaped together wires and adaptors on the kitchen table in my apartment, plugging a battered microphone and my CD walkman into cassette deck to make a primitive karaoke machine. I'd record myself singing over different albums, try to figure out what my voice was like, whom I could easily imitate. A few attempts were successful, some of them hurt. Our neighbor knocked gingerly on the door and said she was about to call the police because she thought I was being murdered. I played the tapes for my roommate, the guitarist. We were excited. I sounded punk enough.

I had played drums throughout high school, though I never had a band back then. All my friends did. They had been playing together since Day One, and there was no way to crack into the lineup. I decided to attend the University of Wisconsin basically to start my own. I had a childhood friend, the aforementioned guitarist, who was a year ahead and already going there. Later, he taught me how to play the guitar and we got a different drummer.

He taught me intervals. A fifth--"power chord." A third--"sad power chord." It was years before I knew how to play a minor chord, much less in a minor key. When I quit his band our new drummer William left with me and we formed Rainer Maria.

I think those albums helped me get my mind around set list building for the final Rainer Maria shows, the last of which was just two days ago. At soundcheck one of my bandmates said they were playing a couple of the songs as a sort of compromise, maybe implying they didn't make as much sense now as when we wrote them. Pop music changes fuckin' fast, but that perspective still surprised me.

I remember the crazy excitement I felt the first time William and I went down into the basement together and strung a couple of little parts together into a song. We barely knew how to play anything, but my face ached from grinning.

I felt that kind of excitement the day our bass player Caithlin decided to try and sing for the first time, just the two of us downstairs. She was so self-conscious that we had to turn my amp up all the way so she could raise her voice without fear of anyone hearing. We had no idea she would come to front our band, or how awe-inspiring her voice could be.

It's been a long time, but despite the sore throat, muscle aches, and emotional exhaustion of those last shows, despite the cold I've caught and the crushing finality of what we've just done, I can feel that excitement again at the prospect of this new start. Shit, well, OK--I can't feel it at all. But I can hear it calling to me from way off, every time I put my headphones on.


At 12:02 PM, Blogger mo said...

I'm so happy for you, Kyle.

I'm crying but I'm happy for you.

I love you,


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