How Dating and Band-Making are Pretty Much the Same Thing
Last week Rick Pflueger, a band mate of mine in Rambler 454, got married. Congrats to he and his awesome bride, Jennifer.
Sadly, our lead singer and I were in Charleston playing for another wedding party, and writing songs for our next CD. We could not be in Ohio to celebrate with them. However, it occurred to me that dating—and then planning a big wedding—can be a whole lot like forming a band and planning a CD release concert. At least I saw the similarities.
How about you?
1. The Search. Getting the right match can be like going on a human scavenger hunt. In a band, you put up posters, submit Craig’s list ads, hang out at clubs, and talk to friends about possible matches. In dating, you may put up online ads, hang out at clubs, and talk to friends about possible matches.
2. The First Date. Within the first fifteen minutes of a date or an audition, you can tell if this is a possible match. Have you even been on a date and five minutes in, you felt like it had been an hour? You find yourself checking iPhone alerts, hoping for a national emergency that would require every citizen to return to their own homes immediately. Worse to me: when a drummer comes over for an audition and you know upon shaking his hand that it will not work. But you have to let him unload his drums, and let him talk to you about his Star Wars figurine collection for a half hour while setting up. You get to the music and he bashes out double kick metal fills to your rockabilly rhythm for another half hour. A half hour later, he announces he will only do gigs if he gets paid $300 a night and a hot chick is his roadie. You want to scream your head off, but have to politely tell him how well he did and you’ll call after all auditions are over, while hoping that he will forget how to get to your home or rehearsal space. Just like telling the date you’ll call soon, all the while hoping he/she will forget you completely. Of course, we’ve all been on the other side where the follow-up call never came, or was never returned. Maybe not you. You're perfect. Just me.
3. The Break-Up. Mutual. Ugly. Was just the time. Which CDs are mine and which are yours? When dating is over or band members split, there can be just as much drama in either case. Who keeps which friends/band members? Who gets a next significant other/new band first and makes the other jealous. How many times has one person seen an ex get married? How many times has a former band member released a CD with a new band? It can unearth a whole world of petty feelings and reactions.
4. Finding the Right One. The band Rick is in with me, Rambler 454, was pretty lucky. The three original members kind of came together on a whim, recorded eight songs in three days, and then formed a band. It was one of those lightning in a bottle bands. Rick joined us years later. There wasn’t any audition that I recall. We knew of him, he knew us. One day, there he was playing lead guitar and that was it. We sounded like we were always a four piece and can't inagine what we sounded like before him. Same with dating. Can’t explain it. One day you just say, “Hey, you’re still here. You’ve been here a while. I guess this is working out.” OK, ok, it tends to be more romantic than that. The dating part, not the band part. Usually.
5. Practice. You’ve found the right partner. I mean band member. Getting confusing here. So you practice to find the right combinations. Awkward moments in the dark. Fumbling hands. Leading each other to the perfect moment. Am I describing sex or hashing out a new song? You figure it out. Either way, lots of practice helps.
6. The Decision & Planning. You’ve made your choice to get married or record a CD. Now it is time for excitement. Or not. Invariably, one band member or half of a couple will get excited about picking out things. Church/recording studio. Wedding planner/producer. Invites/CD art. Band/Band. The ones not excited about planning it all will just say, “tell me where and when to show up.”
7. Money. A wedding or a CD recording takes cash. Lots more than you think. In either case, having a generous parent with deep pockets helps.
8. Presentation. A wedding needs flowers, the right attire, good lighting, a raised area so everyone can see the couple. A CD release needs big ass speakers, cool clothes, a rocking light show, and a big stage.
9. Opening act. Bands, you don’t want the opening act to be better than you. So pick a band not as cool as you. If they are close to being as good as you, perhaps their sound does not need to be spot on. Your soundman can help you there. Maybe they only get a small part of the stage. Ladies, you don’t want your bridesmaids looking more beautiful than you. So you stick them in the most awful bridesmaids gowns—no chance they will outshine you. Especially that one who ALWAYS got the hot guy at the bar while you were her wingman. Average opening band. Average bridesmaids. The main event looks even better.
10. The Main Event. There is gong to be something that goes wrong. Don’t sweat it. Ignore it. Perhaps nobody else noticed. Play on.
11. The After Party. This is when you get to hear how great it all was. How perfect your combination is, and how it should last forever. Revel in this moment. Who knows how long it will last?
12. The Honeymoon. CD reviews will come rolling in. Gifts will be opened. There will be clunkers. There will be terrific surprises. The glow from that one night can last a good long while.
13. The Marriage. Here is where it gets hard. Not every night will be like the wedding night. Not every show will be like the CD release party. As bright and shiny as that one event can be, it is merely a spark. How you keep that fire going is up to you. The divorce rate has nothing on the rate of band break-ups.
My friend Rick and his new wife have a whole lot going for them and I wish them a long and happy marriage. They do deserve it. By the way, does Guitar Center have a wedding registry? I’m late on sending a gift.