EIGHT DAYS A WEEK.

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MY GUIDE TO ROCKIN' AND COPYWRITING
[posted 10.23.2002]

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Ever wonder what it’s like to front a local Chicago rock band? You could go buy a Silvertone, move to Chicago, contact the Mutiny and find out, or you could take the easy way out and live vicariously through our in-house rockstar/copywriter, Black Bryson.

WEDNESDAY. DAY ONE.

Here’s me in my goldenrod, end of day Wednesday, imagining life around the proverbial water cooler the next morning:

Employee 1: So you were sick yesterday?
Employee 2: Yeah
Employee 1: What with?
Employee 2: An all-consuming hatred of everything. A bad case of the fuckyous. And a headache. Figured it would be best to stay home.
Employee 1: Good call.
Employee 2: You’re fired.

Not so funny, really. And not what you might expect from someone whose life is actually good at the moment.

My band has a gig in less than a week. On Tuesday we’re playing Beat Kitchen with the Nouns and the Industry. This is what the three of us in my band have been waiting for. Unless you’re independently wealthy and well connected, gigs in the city don’t just fall in your lap. For young bands there’s this whole grueling process of promo kits and bio writing and mass mailings and waiting and waiting and waiting for a callback from someone you’ve never met, giving you the go-ahead for weekday rock and roll. Because everyone in my band has another career and just does this for fun, we haven’t been diligent about the Whole Grueling Process and haven’t played a gig in about five months. We’re still not diligent about it — we booked the Beat Kitchen show through an email correspondence — but we do have a gig. And so for the moment all of us are thrilled.

But it’s hard to be thrilled when you’re sick and overwhelmed. Not feeling so much like a rock star or a writer today but as someone who is just plain tired and doesn’t want to be anything but asleep. I love my band, I love our songs and I want to do everything I can to get people to hear us, but today I can’t do much.

Woke up miserable this morning. Stayed in bed sick until the very last minute, and in spite of having used up all my sick days didn’t think twice about picking up the phone.

Spent the day doing absolutely nothing arnold jackson-related. Worked on my novel a little, played with my cat, wasted time on the Internet and paced around my apartment slightly agonizing about various slight things.

I just ate leftover pasta at nine o’clock at night. I have yet to take a shower today, and I don’t think I can fit it into my schedule. At ten o’clock it’s a Simpsons rerun, at ten-thirty bed. Behold the sordid life of a gigging musician. Rock and fucking roll.

My drummer comes back from L.A. tomorrow. We’re set to rehearse for the first time in two weeks. I’ll be Black Bryson then. But in the meantime I’ll be in bed.

THURSDAY. DAY TWO.

Spent the first eight hours of my day at my rock and roll day job. Wasn’t Lou Reed a copywriter too? No? Oh. Must have been G.G. Allin. Or Belinda Carlisle. Or someone.

Got the proofs for the CD from this place up in Milwaukee. Our “producer” had them delivered to my office because no one’s ever in my apartment during the day and my neighbors are either non-existent or likely shady. Commandeered the office fax machine to fax my approval and felt like I was somehow stickin’ it to the Man. Ironic soundtrack in my head was Career Opportunities by the Clash, you know. That plays a lot here in the office.

Fell asleep on the train and ended up in Union Station. Fortunately wasn’t late for our only full arnold jackson rehearsal before the big show.

This rehearsal was a bit nerve-racking, because we hadn’t played in two weeks and we have a paying gig in five days. Fortunately it wasn’t all that bad.

We sounded like we always do, with a few minor snafus. We were playing a little fast, but no one seemed to notice. Granted, “no one” is our two-member audience — the drummer’s girlfriend and her visiting sister, but still….

We likely annoyed my neighbors and definitely drank Old Style for the full 45 minutes. Think we sounded pretty good. Afterward I played everyone a cut off of a Temptations record I just got — Papa Was a Rolling Stone, live in Japan. Complete with hot wah guitar and bouncing hi hat. We all pretended like we were dancing, and hoped the audience Tuesday would be as generous.

FRIDAY. DAY THREE.

Here’s me dragging the whole damn day. Went out after practice Thursday night to the Empty Bottle to see this cool band the Platonics, and then to Club Foot, and didn’t get in until around two or so. Woke up at 6:30 a.m. and somehow made it to work.

Considering that I was working on about four hours of sleep, and was supposed to go out that night, it just might have been the longest day in creation. Certainly longer than that drop of water eroding a mountain business. For sure.

Tonight I was supposed to have a date with the cute girl I went to the Bottle with last night, but we were both pretty tired and rescheduled for the next day.

Before going to bed I talked to a friend of mine in San Francisco and checked my rockstar email. Yes, this is the life of a rock star.

It sounds something like this:

Rock and roll [duhn duhn] hoochie-koo. Everybody! Rock. And. Roll. Hoochie koo-oo…

SATURDAY. DAY FOUR.

Had a date. None of you are invited.

SUNDAY. DAY FIVE.

The only reason I’m even thinking about arnold jackson is that I’m writing this. Still love the band, and am excited about Tuesday, but I’m also pretty focused on this girl. And that stuff’s none of your business. Wait a couple of months and there may be songs about it that you can make your business. For now there’s nil.

Spent most of the day with her. We watched Fight Club and an episode of Mr. Show, projected on a friend’s backyard wall. Got home after midnight and slept like a rock. If a rock could sleep six hours, that is.

MONDAY. DAY SIX.

First rule about this morning is I want to kick everyone’s ass. If you have to go to a cubicle in a tie on Monday, it’s not a good idea to watch Fight Club the night before. Not that I’m ever zealous about ironing dress shirts at 6:30 a.m., but shit. I’d rather be sailing than this. Honest to god, sailing!

Of course, I want to listen to music that’s more abrasive than the stuff I have with me. In the mood for Surfer Rosa or the Clash’s first album, but all I have is Death Cab for Cutie, White Stripes and new Sonic Youth. I could listen to our EP, and gosh knows I can’t get enough of that (Buy it for $8!), but I won’t. Maybe I’ll start an office fight club instead.

A concrete reminder of the show came around eleven today. Actually, it was more like cardboard. The secretary called and informed me that the CDs were delivered. Went something like this:

Secretary: “Bryson! YOU have a package at the desk!”
Me: “OK. I’ll come and get it.”

Because it really is that big of a deal. Life in the cube involves a lot of writing, but not a lot of being important. Even important enough to get a package. Oh well. Tomorrow I’ll be on stage.

Mark (our sound engineer) and I did a bit of flyering tonight. Our webmaster/graphic designer Kim Drummond made very pretty flyers, complete with these vintage toy robots I’m apparently obsessed with. Flyering is fun because it involves going into a lot of hipster joints and putting your rock and roll graffiti on the wall. Hipster joints like Earwax and Reckless and Gold Star, you know. In fact, one of the most gratifying things about tonight was seeing our band’s name in the window (the window!) of Reckless Records — indie rock mecca, as it’s known to the locals. It was plastered in the front window on a flyer for the headliner, the Nouns. Hopefully this means some people we don’t know will show up for the gig. But, you know…I’m not counting on it.

Flyering is kind of pointless in and of itself, as our last attempt at flyering — in spite of our grand efforts and gorgeous graphics — brought a grand total of zero curious strangers to the Mutiny on a Sunday. No, flyering is worth it mostly when you put them on the street, as you have to look over your shoulder every five minutes for the Fuzz. Soundtrack in my head tonight: Radio Clash, of course.

That’s quite a lullaby as I prepare now to dream about the show.

TUESDAY. DAY SEVEN.

Here’s me with not one but two jobs, and this morning in my cube I’m focused solely on the one that lets me put a guitar in my hands and scream at people.

Somewhat nervous about tonight. Kind of afraid no one will show but the sound guy, in spite of our best efforts to the contrary. This is a fairly big venue for us, and I’m hoping that folks just don’t shrug it off. I posted a couple of announcements to email lists as a sort of last-ditch attempt at marketing. But now I’m just tired of all that, and I want nothing more than to fucking rock already.

Jesus, I’ve turned into Gene Simmons.

Whatever. Time to work for a while first. See you after the show.

—-

Somehow made it to the show on time. Did our soundcheck last, as James Spence had a lesson beforehand. Soundcheck went well. We did an apology for the other bands — an up-tempo Nirvana-sounding number off our new EP — and got several unexpected cheers. Afterward Rez (the drummer for the Industry) said it sounded like I had some effect on my voice, which is cool since it’s nothing if not naked.

Not that I had time to think about it. All my energy was spent trying to shove down a portabella muffelatta in five minutes, as that’s how much time I had before the show.

The show was most exciting for me because I got to play a bunch of new songs for folks that have heard our old stuff before. I’m excited about our new material, and I like to share it with my friends. For me that’s all that all of this has ever been about.

Though it means nothing to most of you, we played the following songs:

crotchspotter (edit)
an apology
filthy the bartender
gorilla pieta made out of snow
i smoke thusly
hollywood, ohio
king-size
ivy
blue girl, brown coat
cocktails and aeroplanes
coco vin
frigates

Must have been a good set list, as we heard applause and cheers after every song. Only a few technical problems, like way too much feedback during hollywood, and my inability to get the chords right on cocktails & aeroplanes, but since no one seemed to notice, then neither do I. If a tree falls in the forest, you know.

Oh, at one point I screamed at people to dance. Sorry about that.

There was a good turnout for the show, though I didn’t really notice until after it was over. Up on stage all you can see are candles and faint outlines of bodies. I hear people after the songs are done, but usually it’s just like I’m playing to myself. Better that way, I guess…my shyness and all. Anyway, we got a lot of positive feedback from our friends. People are starting to get favorite songs. Some people I don’t know were telling me how much they dug the set, including some songs I wrote on a micro cassette recorder alone on a Saturday night in my undergraduate days. Not a bad gig, this.

After we were done, the Industry tore it up. Fuck corporate magazines, this is the band to watch. Any band that sounds like both the Pixies and AC/DC at the same time is worth the price of admission, folks. And I even got to change Johnny Payback’s guitar string! Swoon.

After the show we packed up our stuff in the aj mobiles and headed home. Before we left I made Jim stop the car, because I remembered that we were actually supposed to get paid for this. Spoke sheepishly to the barkeep — mumbled something about, uh…someone said we get paid for this? Turns out we brought as many people as the headliner, and ended up getting $60 for the door! Granted, it’s not a lot, but with the $60 from CD sales, that’s $120 for having a great time entertaining my friends. Why doesn’t everybody do this?

Oh yeah, rent.

WEDNESDAY. DAY EIGHT.

My life ended yesterday. I think. Not quite as exciting today. I’m back in my cube, sans guitar or stage. Hearing various reports from various sources that we rocked. Smiling internally, happy to oblige. Haven’t heard directly from a lot of people who were at the show. Kind of bummed about that. Though, to be fair, most of them chimed in last night.

I don’t know what else to tell you about today’s office space. It’s pretty much the same. Made slightly better by the fact that there’s another show in two days, and I get to do an abridged version of this all over again. Rock and fucking roll.

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bryson meunier lives and works in chicago as a search marketing manager/seo guru for resolution media. which means he knows what you’re searching for even before you ask.