Story of a Band

From time to time, I go through a period where I listen to music by bands I was in.  I have recordings from 4 of them, spanning 8 years.  That's not a lot of time, as far as would be musicians are concerned, but it left me with a decent collection of music.

I was watching NPR's Project Song earlier, which featured Chris Walla from Death Cab For Cutie and J. Robbins from Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels, Government Issue, and so on.  There was one particular bit where they are basically going around the studio, picking up random instruments to see what they can do with them.  It was clear that, no matter the instrument, they would have at least some knowledge on how to play it.

Knowing how to play a bunch of different instruments is, I would imagine, a luxury born of being able to live on making music.  I thought about how nice that must be.  It made me start wondering what my life would have been like had I stuck with music.

There was a point, during my senior year of college, when being in a band was all that really mattered to me.  I remember being at a party and hanging out with Jason and Mike, two people who I would eventually end up in a band with, talking about how we didn't care if we had to work at a gas station, as long as we could still make music.

The three of us, along with our friend Bob, formed a band called The Local Arm which, hindsight being 20/20, was kind of a bad name.  As with any band consisting of 4 guys in their 20's, The Local Arm was often a battle of egos, even if we didn't realize as such.  None of us could really sing (Jason probably had the best voice), yet that didn't stop any of us from writing songs for just that reason.

To a certain extent it was also a matter of ownership; we didn't want someone else singing a song we'd written.

The Local Arm had a weird life span.  We were basically together from the fall of '98 until the spring of '99, but later played a show in the fall of '99, and still another show winter of '01, that last show coming after we'd all moved to Atlanta.

This probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me, but I've spent the intervening 10 and a half years re-writing The Local Arm songs in my head.  All of the re-writes (and new songs, too!) are a reflection of my new musical sensibilities, which have evolved over the years.  It makes me wonder what The Local Arm would sound like, if we were still together today.  Would we have evolved as a group?

Mike is still playing music, but he's moved from post-punk emo to bluegrass.  Bob still plays music from time time, his last band being a metal band.  I have no idea if Jason ever plays music anymore.

I think we'd be a better band, if we were still together.  I think we'd be a better band if we got together again now.  It is probably the biggest "path not taken" in my life.

All that said, I wouldn't change any of it, aside from wishing there was less yelling in our songs.  Setting aside making music gave me more time and energy for my writing, which, I think, is where my heart and talent lie.

Besides, it doesn't require trying to get four people on the same page at the same time;  I can barely get myself on the same page.