I've received quite a bit of positive feedback from people who saw the Rolling Stones Hoot Night last Friday. Danny over at Boca Tinta has a great review of the whole show and said some very kind words about my playing. I left a comment ("All those years of fearing I would be thrown out of bands because I didn’t hit hard enough have worked!") and I thought it would be cool to share why I said that. I think it's a pretty funny story.
Back in high school, my first real band (as in, we played shows and wrote original songs) started out by playing a lot of Nirvana covers. We played "Drain You," "Rape Me," "Territorial Pissings" and "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" and we even covered a Wipers tune that Nirvana covered ("D-7"). Our singer/guitarist was a huge fan of Nirvana and had a ton of rare Nirvana stuff on tape and on CD (thanks to those numerous Outcesticide bootlegs). I didn't know how far his fanaticism about Nirvana went, but I think it went pretty far.
A few months into the band, I read Michael Azerrad's Come As You Are: the Story of Nirvana. Reading it, I came to find the biggest complaint about Nirvana's drummers who weren't Dale Crover or Dave Grohl: they didn't hit the drums hard enough. Fearing I would be kicked out of the band because I didn't hit hard enough, I started hitting harder and harder. I didn't break a lot of equipment this way, but I definitely went through drumsticks faster.
Looking back on that time, that fear is really funny. Our scene of rock bands was small, so it wasn't like we had a lot of choices if we were looking for replacement members. There were plenty of available guitar players, but not a lot of available drummers or bassists. Strangely I think that's still the case where I live now. But I digress . . .
But the fear really drove me to step up in my playing. I like rocking out and for years, it was the only way I could deal with my frustrations about life. I never thought I could talk this stuff out with friends or family, so I banged away. These days, the banging away is more or less just for fun and what's best for the song. With Ashburne Glen songs, if we're rocking out, I don't want to let my bandmates down. If we're chilling out, I don't want to play too loud. I love having a wide range of dynamics. Ten years ago, it was mainly soft to loud with very little in between.
In the case of the Rolling Stones songs, I noticed how charged the choruses were when we practiced them. I think I was playing more like John Bonham than Charlie Watts, but if the song's a-rockin' I'm not going to drop the ball and cop out.
Some people want to hit something when they're mad. Hitting friends or lovers is illegal (and immoral in my book) and punching holes in walls costs you a trip to the Home Depot. So I choose to redirect my anger into something musical. I'm not as angry as I used to be and I'm not so sure I'll be devoid of anger. Here's to future pounding.