Friday, May 21, 2010

Old Empire

Old Empire:

This may or may not come as a surprise but the events that have transpired over the past day or so have really left a bad taste in my mouth.
At first I didn't know how to feel. Confused, I suppose.
Bits of information via text while working.
Taking a closer look at the last few months in my head.

For those of you who don't want to read through all of this, this is my letter of resignation.

I feel like I'm throwing all of you under the bus, and I guess in a way I am.
For this I'm sorry.
My time in Old Empire was wonderful for the most part. It was everything that I wanted from being in a band and more. I got stage experience. I became eons better at the piano from when I started playing with you all. I got to record with Dave at his amazing studio.
Above all else in this band, I was able to play with some of the best musicians in the city.

So why am I leaving?

First of all I feel that now would be better than later. The band is at a transition period since Danny is being replaced.
The last time we tried this everything seemed off, but I went along because it was necessary.
When Josh was filling in the sound as a band was more sloppy. The feel in the room was awkward.
It wasn't because of Josh, or his playing, it was because it was all foreign. I knew we could stick it out but it would take a few months for us to get back to a familiar feel and a decent sound. We'd have to put things on hold as a band and start over.
I was willing to do that last time because I felt I could stand behind the decision of switching drummers.
Danny was at an all time low. His attitude toward the band was completely negative. He did not like playing with us nor would he take critiques/suggestions regarding his playing.

So when Gabe told me we would have to have another talk with Danny I didn't understand why. Since his return to the band, I felt he was not in the least acting the way he was before. Gabe said he was pulling the same shit as last time, and I informed him I couldn't stand behind him in that decision.
I felt we were all playing to our best ability.
As a band we were all giving it our all, and if everyone is giving their all, then there should be no issue.
Does that make sense to everyone else?

Last I checked we were in a band. A group of creative minds trying to work together for one sound and everyone has a part. I see reason to worry if one part is stepping on another part, but not if everyone is playing what they think is best. If everyone is giving their all, which I think we were, there should be no issue. And if there was an issue, it would be one that is easily fixable.
We've had too many excellent moments at practice for me to not think we weren't going in the right direction. When Gabe says something like, "This is coming together perfect." - or - "This is so much cooler than I thought it was going to be" how can we point the finger in one of six directions and say, this needs to change. We're all working together to make something new.

Earlier that morning, before any of the shit hit the fan, Danny was asking me if I knew what was going on. (Because I was left in the dark on all this, I had no prior knowledge of another drummer, or even that anyone was thinking of a change in the band - No one asked my opinion) Danny said the band was acting weird, and he had a feeling he was getting kicked out. I said, "I don't think so." "Send out an E-mail if you're worried." "I don't think that some other drummer making comments about our songs on facebook means you're out of the band."

A few hours later, right after Gabe was trying to convince me via text that Danny's attitude and poor playing is leading toward a band talk, Danny tells me he's out of the band.

Then all the pieces started fitting together.
The reason we have no shows booked.
The reason Gabe won't take shows Danny is trying to book.
Why this confusing string of text messages that have no validity lead to Danny's exit.

All of this was premeditated and my vote didn't count.
Not only did my vote not count, I wasn't even privileged enough to know what we were voting on.

I was fed a line of shit in hopes that I would eat it up and keep on keepin' on.

And it was only after I hear from Danny that he's out, I get another odd text talking about a drummer.
An attempt to cover up tracks.
The oops moment.

I can understand if I was left out because I'm living with Danny. He's my old friend. I could have told him before our last show, and he could have quit early. Keeping me out of the loop for the sake of the band... But our last show was two Thursdays ago, and 6 days later, all the events transpired. Seems to me to be plenty of time to put me in the loop. It's not like we have anything planned in the near future.

Back in July when I had my first talks with Gabe about joining the band he described it as a democracy. Said the band worked together to make the sound they have. He even told me I could bring some of my songs to the table, which I wasn't comfortable doing.
Gabe basically said he writes the bare bones and everyone else fills in the blood, and organs, and skin, and hair.
Sometimes the band worked like this.
But a lot of times, if the band didn't play what was initially in Gabe's head, the song needed to change. We'd play through it a few times with everyone getting a feel, and soon little changes would start coming out. "Change this fill" - "Play a hook here, but play it like this." - "Solo needs to be shorter, and maybe it should be lower on the neck"- etc.

This band was not a democracy. And though it took me a few months to fully understand, everyone knows it's Gabe's band, and his decision is final. You get a vote only if you agree with Gabe's opinion. If not, then too bad.

I'm not saying this is a bad way to run a band, but it's not what I signed up for initially and it's not what I want anymore. This is Gabe's project and always has been. Tom's not writing the songs, so it would be weird if he ran the band. I'm not paying for studio time, so it wouldn't make sense for me to try and make changes to songs, band members, etc.

At some point everyone in OE gets that we're just backing Gabe. That we have enough faith in him and his songwriting to take us where we want to be musically. If one of our musical ideas passes song inspection, it feels good because we made the grade. If not, oh well because it's not our band.

Everything that has transpired has made me loose faith.
What's to stop another keyboard player from taking my spot in the night?
Some handsome, classically trained pianist who loves 60's surf pop, instead of the self taught, fumbling, indie-folk-crap loving, piano plunking me. I could see that switch happening in a minute because it's better for the band.

How can one have any stability in a group when everyone [minus songwriter] is expendable. When there always might be a better fit around the corner, lurking in a coke sniffing cover band.

There is more, but I'm tired of writing.

I just wanted to tell everyone how I felt as opposed to just talking it through with Gabe.
I always thought we were all of equal importance and what we did was worth something.

[And I know that it seems like I'm dogging you Gabe, but someone has to be the bad guy in this situation. And in all honesty the bad guy could be me for up and leaving, but I couldn't admit to me being at fault here. I mean, what did I do?
This is not to say that I'm mad at you though. I understand your decision. You are the one who has to make the hard decisions, and none of us can make them for you. You are the leader, and I really hope that you can rebuild this project bigger and better than before.]

As for the new record, I give you permission to use any of the stuff I've recorded on it, though I don't think Danny feels the same.
Let me know if there is anything you guys need from me in the future, aside from playing in Old Empire.

It's been fun.