Sunday, November 21, 2004

Creative Differences

The big news, well, for me anyway, is what happened last Friday. The band had rehearsal and we were doing well up until I brought up 3 songs for consideration and had them put to a vote. I tried to frame what happened next as neutrally as possible in an email I sent to everyone. Here it is:

Well, these are the issues as I see them, your mileage may vary: Shawn, the only member of the band who actively scouts the A-list rooms and the band that play in them, compares our set list to theirs and finds ours lacking. He feels very strongly that we should start working on and playing "A-list" material now, if we want to be able to play A-list rooms at some point. So strongly does Shawn feel about this that when presented with three songs that are not "A-list" material that not only did he vote against them, he refused to sing them, if any of them were voted in.
Frankly, I could care less what's A-list material or not. I think the way we've been going to date has been working good for us. We all suggest a bunch of songs that each of us think might work or an audience will respond to and then we vote on them. Songs are in line to be learned if they get a majority of votes, we then learn them and see if we can actually pull them off live. If we can, great, they go on the list, if we can't, that's OK, too, we've got others waiting in the wings. We all agreed that this was probably the best way of adding songs, since everybody gets a say in what gets added. And in that time, we've learned songs that we don't play anymore, because they didn't work or we couldn't pull them off successfully, and there are songs in our set list that band members may despise A LOT!t, but they're popular or work well, so we play them every show.
Now, onto Tom: Tom hears Shawn's adamant refusal to play songs that could be potentially voted in, and perceives Shawn as hijacking the band, and subverting our song selection process. He voices his concerns, and feels so strongly about not letting a single band member subvert our democratic process, after having been promised in January that no one would try to do so again, that he quits in protest.
Exacerbating all of this, in what can be described, at best, is Tom and Shawn's antagonistic relationship. Both Shawn and Tom have a bit of a stubborn streak and rarely back down, and certainly not to each other, so regardless that both had valid points, neither of them were really listening to each other.
So, how do we resolve this? Well, it seems to me, that the best way to resolve this is for Tom to reconsider his decision to quit, since Shawn really has no intention of subverting the process, or hijacking the band, but was merely expressing his dissatisfaction and frustration in his own way. And for Shawn to commit to the selection process and to start submitting a list of "A-list" songs that we can vote on and work on, since the rest of us don't scout "A-list" bands and are obviously not recommending their material.
(If we want to get through our growing list of songs so that we constantly have new material, we may need to commit to two nights of rehearsal every week without a gig and at least one night of rehearsal every week with a gig.)
For me, this would be the ideal solution, as I don't want Tom to quit, and I think Shawn has a valid point, even if it was completely the wrong way to go about expressing it. I don't expect anyone to apologize, but there's a certain magic in this band, that would be gone, if someone left now. And, frankly, I don't know if I have the patience or the desire to get another new member up to speed.
We are at a crossroads here, gentlemen, and I don't care if Shawn and Tom never speak to each other ever again, but all of us, working together, make beautiful music together, and that should be the bottom line.
We all must be willing to commit to saving this band as it right now, in order not to lose what we have, so I expect to hear EVERYONE'S thoughts on this matter, (as there's probably some things I'm misisng or interpreting things incorrectly) and hopefully we'll just regard this matter as just another bump along our already rough journey to date.

So, I spent most of the week, wondering what I was going to do. I had mentioned to Tom when we got back together earlier this year that I was done the next time the band broke up or somebody left. Which I don't think was an unreasonable position, as whatever momentum we had been building was always horribly wrenched and we spent the next couple of months looking for a replacement and getting them up to speed. And here we were faced with another such situation, made increasingly difficult because of amount of work Tom puts into this band. He's really been the defacto manager of the band, web designer, webmaster, is primary backup and does lead on a handful of songs, plays trumpet and harmonica on others, etc. Replacing Tom was going to be a tall order, and I wasn't really sure whether I wanted to do that.
Actually, I'm still not. Sometimes, when I'm not playing to an audience, I kinda wish I wasn't involved, so that I could devote more time to my other interests that also take up a lot of time. But, then I get to a gig, and we play and I'm into it again. So, I was still unsure what I wanted to do, until I got to Shawn's place on Thursday to discuss the future of the band. I kinda knew how it was going to go, and it went as expected. Personality conflict trumps all, I'm the only one that Tom doesn't rub the wrong way, so the band decided to move on without Tom.
So, we'll see what happens from this point on, as I've decided to see this thing through to the bitter end, whenever that may be. As befits Tom's professionalism, we'll have his services for all the currently booked gigs up until we have found a suitable replacement for keyboard. The rest of the stuff Tom did will be split up between us and our new band manager. Now all that's left is to find another keyboard player/vocalist who can pick up the majority of Tom's workload. Our first audition is Nick's friend Jim, someone I went to UArts with back in the day, so we'll see how that goes.
I'm not worried about Tom, he'll find another band pretty quickly, and he's been around long enough that he won't mope about it, these things happen, and you learn to move on. And I'm pretty sure, we'll end up playing together again at some point in the future.


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