About 7 years ago I played in a rock and roll band called Russell Square, the name came from a place in London, aptly named… Russell Square. One our major influences was U2, lots of delay on my electric guitar, obscure lyrics about angels and religion… Two albums were put out under that name, Copacetic and Sometimes Angels sing as a warning.
The time that I spent with RS was my first foray into a full band that played originals. I had done the singer/songwriter thing and the cover band but never had I played with a group of guys who wrote and performed there own stuff, it was pretty killer! Since it was my first time there were quite a few things that I needed to learn, I had toured before, I had lived in vans before, but this… this was a totally different kind of animal.
In the past, if something broke, someone else would fix it. we had a guitar tech to do that. we had sound guys on tour with us, we had drivers, it was all taken care of. This time, if something broke (which it often did) we had to fix it ourselves. There was a Fourth of July show near San Francisco that we were supposed to play and hours before the set my strap lock on the butt of my guitar fell off… just… fell off. I had no idea what to do, I was lost, I pictured my self sitting on my amp for the entire set because my strap didn’t have anything to lock to! Luckily enough the lead singer had experienced this dilemma before and after he found a small enough dowel to fit in the hole he screwed to lock back into place, good as new, it’s still in there to this day holding the lock in place.
I honestly never would have thought of that.
But, that can be said about so many things, if we do not have someone around us who can teach us, shape us, give confidence and suggestions too, we can never really grow that much can we? That lesson I learned was less about fixing a guitar, and more about looking for guidance and advice from those around me who have traveled a similar path before.
There is an old Zen Proverb that states “It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes, but an even wiser man to learn from others.” I would take that one step further and add the word “mature” to that sentence, I believe it takes an awful lot of maturity to learn from someone else’s trials and tribulations. In my life personally this has always been a tough one, I have not been very good at taking “suggestions” very well, there is something in my nature that says “you can do this on your own, you don’t need anyone else’s opinion” which is a very comfortable thing for me to align myself with… BUT lets jump back to that show in San Fran shall we??
I was stuck, I had no clue how to move forward to make the event successful, while someone else had the exact answer that I needed to make it through, not just that show, but far far into the future (now 5 years later) all that I had to do was ask, to lower myself and not just ask… but accept help from someone wiser, with more knowledge than me. It worked out too, and in most cases if you are willing to ask for help, there is someone who is willing to offer said help, and it might just save you a bit of stress in the long run.
While that tour with the band was the last one I was on, and shortly after they disbanded to pursue other things in life I still keep in touch with the guys, there were a lot of lessons learned on that trip…
1. Transmissions are expensive to fix, but there is almost always a cheap chinese restaurant near by the repair shop.
2. It may seem like a good idea to buy dart guns at a california swap meet until you are the driver AND target.
3. Free pit bulls from walmart parking lots do more damage then you would expect when you have 2000 miles left on your trip. no matter HOW cute they are
4. Bring a long board on every tour you go on, you never know when you need to get away for half an hour and carve a sick hill in the hills of Southern California
5. When asked if you want to go on a float trip down a rough California river, make sure you have more than a $5 inner tube from Wallgreens.
I believe all of these lessons would have come much easier if we would have just asked before hand… but the Pit Bull still lives happily ever after somewhere in Washington, the van however, is dead. I still desire a long board on certain sunny days, and even though my inner tube popped twenty min before the end of the float trip, I still enjoyed it immensely, and every time I see a little kid with a dart gun I think of that stretch of I-5 coming home with a little free parking lot puppy nipping at our heals in a torn up van with a couch for a back seat.
Those were the days.
It’s been a while since we posted a “blog” so I (Jon) thought I would take a moment to share some of the “goings on” around the band lately.
If you have been to any of our shows in the last two years you have noticed a vast change in the last three months, namely our guitar player and bass player (Sean and Drew) are no longer sharing the stage with us. I won’t go into it to much detail, but everything is still good between the former members and the current. Sean needed more time to focus on other parts of his life, and Drew is getting hitched. It happens and we are happy for them.
Joining the band on bass guitar is Phillip Miller, a good friend of mine from Seattle who moved out here recently. Anna Brawner is helping with the vocals and tambourine playing. JD Raab (who used to play drums) is playing Guitar, and Joe Tafoya (from Ashtree) is beating on the drums when he can. ( we have had a couple other guys fill in when needed )
During the last year we as a band fought with our identity, which is pretty normal. I felt that one half of the band wanted to “rock” and the other half wanted something vastly different. This was one of the main reasons for reassembling the band in the way that we have. We as a band want to present a concise vision for this “thing” and we finally feel like we are all on the same page.
The original vision of the band still stands, catchy pop songs with awesome hooks and harmonies. We are just going to be introducing some new sounds, arrangements and what not as we go along. We are all pretty excited.
We are gearing up to go into the studio this summer and couldn't be more excited about the direction we are going. If you haven't already, stop by a show and say hello to the new members, they would love to get to know you all.
When we tell people we are in a band, there first question is "what kind of music do you play" or "what do you sound like" we tend to pander back and forth and try to find an artist that we like, or respect, or that THEY would know....
"Early Ray LaMontagne meets Wilco circa 'yankee foxtrot hotel' meets Ryan Adams 'heartbreaker'???"
We in The Whicker and Pine love music, there are artists that we love to listen too, I named a couple of them above, and for the most part, our iTunes libraries are quite similar... well, except for Drew... no one really knows what that guy listens to....
Musical influence is a hard thing to nail down, but what is harder still, is explaining "what we sound like" honestly, I have no idea. I have always tried to draw comparisons for myself and invariably, someone else comes up with something totally different.... I, as a singer, cringe when they say Jack Johnson, beam with pride when they say Amos Lee, look at the person perplexed when they say the Goo Goo Dolls... you get the idea.
These days, the question tends to go unanswered, or at the very least, we send them to our website for them to decide for themselves. To be honest that is probably one of the best thing about this digital age... someone can watch our videos in what ever format they choose, right on their iPhone! This, in turn, allows them to find out for themselves! Which brings me to my point, I promise there is a point, and it's not just to see how many ellipses can be put in one post...
Media!!!!! it is this bands prerogative to share our music in as many (targeted) formats as possible, we are cooking up some cool ideas for sharing our new songs with you, ways that will allow you to enjoy our own special brand of "indie folk melancholipop" from the comfort of you own home/office/dorm room/bus ride to work/etc... all the while enticing you to our live shows :)
We will expect dancing.
You may be asked to bring your own tambourine.
You will be enticed to engage in some gang vocals at various times.
and, as always, clapping and stomping is appreciated.
We may not be the next Mumford and sons, but we can promise you a good time, one that you wont be ashamed to tell you friends and family about... well, for the most part, sometimes Jon says inappropriate things from the stage, and occasionally Sean's jokes leave a funny taste in your mouth, but, after all that's why God gave us Whiskey.
Indie Folk Melancholipop, I like it.
When I was 10 years old, I was at the library looking through CDs. I did this often. It was in Lincoln, NE. I found a copy of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album cover caught my eye. If you're not familiar with the cover of Sgt. Pepper's, then clearly you have stumbled across the wrong blog.
It is now many, many years later, and I am the lead guitar/Rhodes/Harmonica/MacBook Pro player in the Whicker and Pine. I was asked to post a blog entry this week. Plumbing the depths of my intellect for content is less glamorous than you might hope. Rock n' roll is really the only thing I know much about. I have come to terms with this fact, and joined one hell of a rock band to prove it.
People are often surprise when I tell them that checking out a Beatles record from the library is to this day the most influential moment of my life. I suppose modern musicians are expected to have a hipper story filled with unexpected nights at CBGB watching cool bands no one's heard of blow my mind and light my soul on fire. Instead, I found a Beatles record at the library in Lincoln, NE. I learned every lyric before I returned it a week later. I felt mildly uncomfortable during the end of "Lovely Rita." I thought "A Day in the Life" was the single greatest musical composition I had ever heard, although at age 10 I feel my opinions may have been underdeveloped. I now consider it the number 2 greatest composition.
The greatest record I've ever listened to in my life was created by my friend Allen. He is in a band called Anita/Exira. I am one of the shamefully fortunate few who have a copy of Anita/Exira's self-titled on 130-gram vinyl. The first time I listened to the record, I sat in silence for nearly an hour when it was done. It was the most beautiful, simple, aching, and brilliant composition I'd ever heard. If I ever quit music, it will be because I've excepted the fact that I will never make something as good as Anita/Exira. And I will be okay with this fact.
At this point, I've written somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 words about myself. Even as a rock and roll guitar player I know this is a lot to expect you to read.
Please come to the next W&P show. We are a very good band of very good men working very, very hard to make music that makes us happy. We also believe it will make you happy. It's also your best shot of hearing my Sgt.Pepper's story in person. It's much more exciting that way.
I love broadway. I love sputnik and the goodwill, indyink and the hi-dive. Though I have only been in Denver a year, I have seen quite a few good shows at the hi-dive, Damien Jurado, Kay Kay and his weathered underground, Lizzie Huffman, Rocky Votolato... whats funny, is that last night was my first time seeing a Denver band at the hi-dive. I went at the behest of a Seattle friend who manages quite a few nationwide acts. She has just sign a local Denver group... The Lumineers. My first induction into The Lumineers fan club was at Moes Barbeque when they opened for Seattle friends The Head and the Heart late last year, while I enjoyed THATH's set, it fell flat in comparison to the rowdy anxious folk that The Lumineers brought to the stage that night. Over the past year, numerous sleepy, flat folk bands has sprouted up across the country... but when TheLumi's took the stage (both at moes, and at the hi-dive last night) there is a change, that perception is throw away, it's okay to feel the electricity that is prevalent in the room, it's okay if people don't think your cool that you dance along and sing the (catchy as hell) choruses, or grin with the lead singers witty turn of phrases ("it takes a man to fall in love, it takes a woman to make him compromise") their shows ebb and flow with a natural feeling that is rare in this genre, and I love it. I am proud to say I am a part of the Denver music scene, it must be the mountain air, because the music is just damn good.