I once tried out for a band that was intriguing to me.
Part of this intrigue was related to their style in terms of look and the other was due to the willingness to incorporate many different styles and instruments into their music. It reminded me a lot of a Victorian influenced The Tea Party (band I love from Canada). Because of these two elements and my personal style and love of more diverse influenced music, I pursued the spot aggressively despite being active with my own band.
This was to turn out to be a really good and bad thing for me on a personal level. I have not really talked about it until now. I will not go into names and places because it is really quite irrelevant at this point. So why am I even sharing this? Well, I hold grudges, grudges are not very healthy so I reckon I am doing this to try to let go of it here. I also want to practice writing, which I feel I am not so very good at so I want to do that too.
I contacted the representative of the band to ascertain what was expected in terms of money, time, look and all the rest. Being a person who under the proper circumstances provide financial backing and project management, it is important to understand what will be required of me in terms of time and monetary commitment. It was interesting to me that the band appeared to not require any monetary commitment and in fact, I would be paid for my time and efforts. This was exciting but not a priority for me. What was more of a priority was that I was not required to give up any of myself. What does that mean? The way I look, how I play, being myself and being accepted for who I am and my ability to play great bass lines. The bands answer to all of this was yes at the time, I was excited!
I had quite a bit of trepidation because I felt extremely guilty about trying out for an additional band other than the one I was in. I decided however that this could be a good fit and experience for me so I moved forward with the “audition phase”. I was given access to the bands MP3 archive and given three songs to learn and was given a little over two days to learn the tunes. This is no easy task for me since I am really a self-taught player, which means it usually takes me some time to get ready, it was crunch time in a big way. I spent every waking hour until my fingers ached on learning the songs and was able to ask a member questions which was a big help to me.
The day arrived and I dressed for the part and brought my basses. I was nervous! I had been listening to the band for a while and did not have a bunch of time to prepare so I was in state of real anxiety. They made me feel at home and we proceeded to chat and get to know each other. We set the gear up and began to play. Despite my nervousness, I played the songs well. We ran through them a few times and after completion, I was told that I played the most upbeat of the tunes to the same level of energy as the original member who recorded it. This excited me and gave me some hope. After the “audition”, I asked about when decisions were to be made. The leader of the band said to be fair all folks who wanted to try out would be given the opportunity so it may take a few weeks to a month to make the final decision. This sucked but I thought was cool of them to let all comers give it a go.
In the meantime, I discovered that the band was playing a large show that I could go and attend. I was excited for this and came to see their performance and show my support. At the show everyone was really nice to me and the band leader told me he wanted us over for a BBQ not long after the gig. The show was great, I loved it and I admit that I was feeling very good about my chances since I felt I did well with my playing and I “fit in” with the group. A few days after the show I was e-mailed and the leader of the band said. You had two days to learn the songs and you did great. Would you be willing to come do a show with us to try each other out? I was really floored and happy to be able to do this. I felt that showing that I could learn the set and perform it live was what would earn me the spot. I enthusiastically agreed and began working on the set, which amounted to 12-14 songs. We worked out our first full rehearsal which was a week or two out. I worked on the set during all of my free time to be ready. A few days before the rehearsal I was e-mailed asking if I was cool with letting a few guys use my gear so they could audition too since they were on the list and after we would rehearse for the show. Naturally, I said yes and that it was not an issue.
They day of rehearsal I packed up and headed to the space. This was to be the first full rehearsal with the whole band. I was nervous and excited. Two other bassists were on hand to try out as well as a person doing photos and video and another person who I did not know. I played first upon request of the leader to help everyone get comfortable. We played a song or two and then the next person played on my rig. He was good and made me a bit nervous as he ran through the three songs that were pre-determined. The next person played and he was not the best bassist but was friends with the band and a real nice person. After the process was complete, I thought we were going to practice the set for the show as I was told previously. What happened next was a talk about our availability in terms of practices and travel and what would be expected as a member and so on. Once that was done, we were told we could go. I was confused. Instead of talking about it, I packed up my gear and loaded out. I spoke with one of the members that I was really quite fond of personally and musically and he asked how I felt. I said I was less comfortable this time around and let it be. I went home and frankly was a bit downtrodden.
I shared with my wife how I felt and how weird the whole thing had turned out that day. I felt that I still had a good chance because I was good and nailed the songs, had the gear, could travel, had money to help if needed and all that. I heard nothing for a few days. I then received a mail from the fellow who I did not know who was there at the “rehearsal”. He explained that he was sorry I did not get the spot and asked me to join his band. I was floored so I emailed the bandleader. He responded stating that I was a great bass player but I was too Goth\Industrial for the band who were going for a different look. He insisted that the band wanted to be friends with me and he hoped that there were no hard feelings. I wanted to not be hurt but I was for multiple reasons. For one, as an alternative person who has always felt out of place my entire life because I wasn’t the right religion, had money, nice school clothes, I was immediately transported back to where I felt like the little boy who was treated badly because I was different…. Again… Secondly, I had just spent weeks of my time working for all my free hours on a set which I was never going to be given the chance to perform or play outside my practice space. I was hurt and I felt very disrespected.
I tried not to let it get to me and a week or so after I received an invitation to a bbq at the bandleaders house. I really struggled with this but I did not want to be a sore loser and we decided to go and bring my bass and so on for a backyard jam. We got there, it was a great gathering, many nice people, and the food was not too bad. We played some music and I felt better about the situation even though I was still hurt by the fact that I was not allowed in because of how I look. I spent some time talking with one of the members and the conversation really cemented in me the fact that he was one of the nicest most talented people I have ever met. I was feeling a fair amount of regret that I would not get the opportunity to play with him in the band. I also talked to the new bassist and found him to be a nice guy and I liked him a lot. I admit that I was jealous because I really felt that I am and continue to be a far superior bassist in terms of performance and ability. I then spent some time speaking with the bandleader just prior to our leaving for home. This is when it went south and I became angry. He must have been slightly tipsy because I learned a few things that I probably did not need to know. First, I was told that this was a fan appreciation bbq and that did not settle well with me. I thought that they wanted to be friends with me and although I was not in, I wanted the same. The second thing that really got me upset was that I learned that the show that I attended many weeks prior was to be the first show with the new bassist who was hired. This show that I attended was just after my first try out. A few days after this show I was asked to do a show with them to try out which lead to the rehearsal debacle and me not getting the spot.
By taking all this in I had unfortunately learned that not long after my first audition it was decided that I was not the person for the band. The band leader knew he wasn’t going to give me the spot prior to asking me to learn their set, spend weeks practicing, coming to a “rehearsal” that turned out to be an audition for other people one of which got the spot many weeks prior. I was lead to believe I had a chance and had my valuable time wasted for no good reason. Talk about feeling about as low as you can get.
I have held on to this for quite a long time and there is more interactions after that that got me to a point where I can’t stand to listen to the band or hear about the leader because of my experiences with him. The sad thing is that my experience is not unique in interacting with this person and others have experienced just as bad if not worse than I have. It saddens me because I felt that deep down this person probably is neat but even more insecure than almost anyone I know, including myself. Part of the mystery of why I have held onto this for so long is my difficulty in accepting rejection and the feeling of being used.
I still haven’t accepted it.