The Rockula Update- Scary Cherry Bang Bangs heads with Rockula resulting in an explosion

A few months ago, I was approached by Lezlie of Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs to see if I would play drums for them
They had been tennants at my rehearsal space for a while and eventually I produced a background video for their live show
Ayo had quit and they were looking to take the band in a different direction
They wanted to flesh out their live show with backing tracks as well as video
I had shown them videos of PyroPlasticFlow and they asked if I could facilitate them going multi-media
I saw this as an opportunity to stretch those compromise muscles and this was going to be a compromise on one of my biggest predjudices
Being in a female fronted band

Here’s a joke I’ve been telling forever-
What’s the upside of being in a female fronted rock band?
You don’t have to worry about how you look in the band photo because you’re always  in the background

Once I agreed to Join the band, I had to learn the material and that would bring me to my next compromise, which was playing drum parts according to someone else’s opinion
In my entire lifetime, I have been in very few situations where I had to learn the material of a previous drummer
Even then, I was given the luxury of playing it my way
I try to play things as close to the original as possible but my style is very diffent than most drummers
I’m not saying I’m better than most drummers, I’m saying that very few people have my unique set of characteristics so I end up with a very distinctive style
For the most part, I have never bothered to compromise because I didn’t have to (or want to)
This new situation would prove to be a very hard fought lesson on compromise and it would come from the most unlikely source

Learning the songs would have been a lot easier if I had not just stepped into a band that was in total dissaray
I had approximately 3 months to learn the material and then facilitate a live show complete with video and backing tracks
Not only that, but I had a Necro Tonz show as well as a PyroPlasticFlow show coming up in Oct/Nov
The material itself was a collection of very familiar rock stylings
I had learned the structures and signature parts but soon encountered problems that slowed me down
The first was that I was given a large number of tracks with many duplicate titles in various forms of completion
I had doubts about how to approach each song and was not given a difinitive version of each track for a while
The next was that various members were scheduled in advance to be out of town which meant I would have large portions of those three months where I could not practive with the whole band
None of this was really anyone’s fault, it’s that so many other things were in the works that there was a lot of mis-comunication
This was causing my anxiety to grow steadily
Playing the material was not too difficult with Mario and Meatpie (Tony had a pre-scheduled lengthy vacation) but things became complicated mostly between Lezlie and I

As I have said before, I’m pretty much used to being un-challenged on my drum parts and I have become reluctant to compromise when I feel that I am playing what is best for me to play in that situation
If what I want to play isn’t what you want me to play then you need to find someone else
I decided that I wasn’t going to behave that way this time and instead, I would sacrifice my ego in order to make progress
The person who had the most to say about my drumming was Lezlie and she wasn’t prepared to take “because that’s the part I want to play” for an answer
Rehearsals were a lot more tense and adversarial for me when she was involved because we would disagree on parts, which were mostly transitions and punctuations than with basic beats
Our disagreements were causing me a lot of frustration but I tried to look for ways to communicate with her rather than just having the other side concede
It became apparent that Lezlie and I were going to have to work on the songs by ourselves
We’d cue a song up on the PA and I would play along to the tracks, then she would raise her hand when she had an issue
I figured it would remove a lot of guesswork and I would be able to get on with it quicker
My other issue was making my points in ways that related to her point of view
The more I interacted with her the more I gathered that she thinks more like a performer
Therefore, the drums needed to provide support for her lyrics which are more like lines in her performance
We ended up either winning our individual point or writing a drum part somewhere in-between
This is how I discovered that she has a natural sense of time and has the potential to play the drums (competantly at the least and pretty damn good if she sticks with it)
She would either play a simple version of what she wanted or vocalized the parts
After several of those sessions, I had a clear set of guidelines for the songs
During this same period, we were also butting heads on a different issue
My idea was to learn  the set list of our first show but she wanted me to learn every song
I had argued several times that it was unreasonable to learn all of the material if I wasn’t going to play certain songs for the next gig
She wouldn’t budge
This made me resentful and defensive and fed my anxiety
All the while, I kept reminding myself that this was the best opportunity I have had in a while and I had better not screw it up just because I can’t have my way
I begrudgingly learned the whole set of songs and prepared for rehearsal with the full band now that they were all in town
Things took a while at first because I had a lot of things to remember that were a result of compromise and I wasn’t  used to giving any effort to those types of things
Writing notes helped
We eventually got to the point where we could play with a metronome and I enjoyed subjecting the whole band to the click
If I was going to have to hear this constant pinging in my ears for the rest of my time in this band then they were gonna have to at least suffer through a couple of weeks of it pumped through the PA

Once we decided on a set list, we started assembling backing tracks from their studio sessions
After that, we went through the process of synching and adjusting levels but it all went fairly quickly and easily
Things accelerated right away and we were soon rehearsing the full set with backing tracks
But the next gig was approaching quickly
I was comfortable with my playing about a week and a half before the gig
We were pretty tight on the backing tracks and I had an hour long video for background projection
There were a couple of  full rehearsals and then we were going to do the show

The show was at Lola’s in Fort Worth and there was a decent turnout
I had plenty of time to set up the video, my drum kit, warm up and stretch
It only takes one slight ripple in my setup to cause total havok on the entire gig
This ripple came in the form of my cymbal rack twisting while we were carrying it onstage
It totally threw my cymbals out of whack which resulted in a lot of adjusting between songs as well as some busted nuckles
Not only that, but I hadn’t run the cable for my ear monitors correctly and I eventually figured that I needed to tuck it into my pocket
I spent the first 3 songs of the set unable to move my head because I was sitting on the ear monitor cable
Any head or neck movement resulted in the earbuds being pulled out so I had to play stiff until I could get it handled
Once I figured that out, I had only one other issue and that was the fact that I could not hear Lezlie at all
The backing tracks were so loud in the monitors (because we asked for them that way) and it totally drowned out the vocals
I managed to make it through the entire set not hearing anything that was coming out of her mouth with only one obvious mistake

Enough of my critical talk
I nailed that fucking show
There were moments when I would barely notice the click track even though I had it up fairly high in my ear monitors
It was as if I was absorbing the click instead of hearing it
This gives me an enormous boost of confidence because I made very few playing mistakes
Most of the issues were external and can be addressed quite easily
The Zune player worked perfectly as well
I watched the video I took of the show and felt pretty damn good about my performance

Things are only going to get better with this band and I feel like I can affect great change upon them
There is a real future in front of me that I have not seen in quite a while

Coming Soon- Scary Cherry graduates from a Zune to Ableton Live
We have a great many concepts that we will be exploring in the very near future
My role is not only to play drums but to make Scary Cherry a 21st Century Band
We fully intend to push some boundaries regarding what is acceptable for a rock band to do (or not do)
You can keep your current definitions or you can explore new ones with us
Either way, we’re head that way, so you might as well tag along to see how this whole thing plays out

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