Archive | January, 2015

Tony Soprano

11 Jan

So here’s the story of how I joined the band that started my musical career…… As I mentioned in a previous blog, I was asked to audition for a band after I sang some songs in front of my geometry class. Little did I know that this meeting would be my first venture into what it must be like to be in the Mafia.

We set up a date to rehearse together—which was January 11–and I arrived at a very large house and was led up to a room that looked like a shrine for AC/DC, Metallica and Black Sabbath. Posters of these legendary bands hung from the walls and ceiling and beneath these posters was a room filled with real, authentic, rock-n-roll gear—a drum set, guitars, basses, guitar amps, bass amps and a PA system for yours truly to sing into. All of this equipment was crammed into a room barely big enough to walk through.

And in this room, I was introduced to the person who soon became my guitarist, my best friend and brother for the next 11 years of my life. For those who know of my old band, you know his name, but for now, let’s just call him “Tony Soprano” (that name will make sense further into the story).

Tony and I hit it off from the very beginning. This was his band I was walking into, it was his house I was visiting and it was my life that Tony was about to change. That day, we ran through a lot of cover songs—everything from Green Day to Pearl Jam and it was a blast! A few days later, we practiced again—this time, we ventured into actually writing music together. It was a jam session that churned out quite a few songs (not great songs, but songs nonetheless) and each one of these songs was recorded on a little four-track mixer. THIS PART IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER!

These musicians I was singing with liked me. I brought something to the table that they wanted to be a part of and vice versa. But unbeknownst to me, they already had a singer for their band. And also unbeknownst to me, that singer had no idea we were rehearsing together. He also didn’t know that his time in this band was about to come to an end.

So here’s the reason I have nicknamed my guitarist “Tony Soprano”. Tony was an amazing guitar player, but he also had a way of dealing with certain things that would have made him an incredible mafia boss as well.

At our third rehearsal together, I was asked to be in their band (which I gladly accepted) and then was told that they recently fired their last singer. This was news to me, so I asked them what happened to him and here’s the story that Tony told me that day.

After our second practice together, it was decided that I should be their new singer and their old lead singer needed to be “disposed of”, so Tony invited him to his house. This poor fellow came over, thinking him and Tony were going to go over some new songs together. So they went into his band room and Tony sat him down in front of the four-track mixer we had recorded those songs on. I wasn’t there, but to this day, I picture Tony sitting very calmly–reclined in his chair with the smirk of the devil on his face–waiting for just the right moment to break the bad news to him.

According to Tony, this singer had written a handful of new lyrics and melodies to songs they were working on and wanted to play them for him. But that never happened. Instead, Tony told him, “Before you do that, I want to play something for you.”

He then got out the tape of songs we had recorded and—I shit you not—played them for this singer without saying a word. He didn’t try to be polite or come up with a nice way of saying, “it was fun playing with you, but we’re going in a different direction”. He just hit play on the mixer and let the music we created end their relationship.  Basically, the best way to describe his actions is to say….Tony blindsided him and did it on purpose!

Like I said, I wasn’t there, but I’ve pictured it in my mind over and over. This poor guy probably had the same big dreams every musician has when they create music. He probably saw himself on stage at the Grammys one day, accepting awards with his band. Instead, he was told to listen to a tape of me singing with his band and sitting across from him was his guitarist—killing him slowly with my voice as their new singer.

Tony could have called this guy and told him he was fired and he didn’t need to come by his house ever again. Or Tony could have met him somewhere other than their rehearsal space to break the bad news. Tony also could have never put in the tapes of our jam sessions and saved this guy the humiliation of being replaced. But that wasn’t Tony’s style. Tony WANTED this guy to come over to his house, listen to the singer that was replacing him and watch his dreams die with him that day.

And keep in mind, this merciless hit wasn’t being done by a middle-aged Italian mobster in an expensive three-piece suit, this was being done by A 15 YEAR OLD BOY I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH!!!!……But it was still something straight out of The Godfather.

As I was told, the singer got real quiet and eventually said, “So I’m out of the band, aren’t I?”

Tony said yes, the singer took the news like a dead man walking, resigned as Tony’s lead singer and left his house like a whipped puppy. I often wonder how that poor fellow is holding up these days. I’m sure he doing just fine, but I also imagine there are some mental scars Tony left him with that haven’t healed. I know it must have hurt a lot, because when Tony told me the story, he seemed to relish every single moment of this guy’s heartbreak. And that is how I joined a band 20 year ago—by whacking another singer for the job.