Thursday, June 12, 2008

Well, My Mind Is Goin' Through Them Changes

I couldn't say just what it was on 6/3/08 that I needed to do, other than that involved me both being strong and waiting for the right time. The band I've been in since January has gone terribly sour. Joel's ego hasn't left much room for creative thought, never mind his behavior outside of the band (alternating between the "genius poet and schemer" and drunken buffoon, though as he told me a few weeks ago, that was all "an act" since he felt compelled to perform - yeah...) has been inexcusably arrogant, reckless, and disturbing.

You know what? Honestly, the two people who regularly read and comment (M@ and Shelley) know all this crap, so I'll just skip it. Anyone else, I can tell you some time in person, it's just a lot of things I let snowball - but then again I knew we'd be in the Hendrix class together, so I knew I had to wait.

After a week or two talking to Andy and my friend Mark from the Hendrix class about it, I finally decided to just wait until the summer session was over since we were both in the same class, as much as I wanted to get it over with. At Mark's suggestion, I did it over the phone. I think it worked out better that way. Joel was...stunned.
In explaining to him why, I told him how I felt without being insulting. I talked about how all the songs were sounding the same, that there wasn't much creative breathing room, that we hadn't played any shows, and that we just weren't going anywhere.

He asked if there was any way I could be coaxed into staying, and I said no.

I used some techniques I learned Tony Alexander back on 6/1 about how to deal with difficult people. One thing I've learned from my own experience is that I can't stand self-pity, and possess a hatred for martyrdom/Eeyore syndrome.

Joel kept trying to get the last word in, trying some way to come out on top (that's what she said), and I just wasn't letting it happen. All of these comments from him that begin with "Well," were delivered in the "well, I gotta get going" tone of voice, while each "oh" was in a sheepish one:

1.) "Well, I'm sorry you had problems with us..."
"No, I didn't have problems with the rest of the band. It's just you."
"Oh."
"Jeff and Davis are basically session men, and I have no gripe with Nicole. In fact, she feels the exact same way."
*More on THAT in a second*

After I mentioned how he kept talking in pipe dreams instead of thinking more about the immediate future:

2.) "Well, sorry I scared you off."
"Joel, you didn't scare me off. You pissed me off."
"Oh."

3.) "I don't want to sound gay, but will this affect our friendship?"
"Umm...you, me, and time are the determining factors on that."
"In other words, you just need a break?"
"Yeah, sure."

Eventually, the balloon of his ego was downright deflated. Now, these next two I'm really proud of myself for, because everything else was at least sort of premeditated, and I at least knew how I was going to say it. These, however, came straight from the heart.

4.) Me first on this one: "I'm really glad I did this over the phone, because I didn't know if you were going to get verbally abusive, physically violent, or quite frankly if you would break down and start bawling."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you are completely unpredictable."
"*sighs* I guess I'm more like my dad than I thought."
"Listen, you're only what you make yourself be."

5.) "Well, maybe I'm just not cut out for music. I guess I'm more equipped as a teacher."
"What are you talking about?"
"You know, substitute teaching, since you and Nicole are leaving."
"There's no shortage of drummers or singing guitarists in this town. Let's face it, it was your band, anyway."
*Silence* - I'd thought he hung up.
"I don't know, I just thought maybe this was a bump in the road and we could get over it."
"Dude, this is a band. Not a marriage. I have no commitment or obligation to you at all. Marriages have bumps in the road, but when something like this stops being fun, you just have to get out of it. And that's all I'm doing."

6.) "Well, I can at least thank you for getting me and Becca together. Since I met her, I feel like I've really calmed down and mellowed out."
"No, you haven't."
*Silence*
"I thought I had."
Seriously, this was like talking to my old roommate David or something, just completely oblivious as to how he really is.

7.) "Well, don't be away for too long."
"Honestly, I don't care anymore."
"Oh.......LONG PAUSE..............well, best of luck."
"You, too."
"Later."
"Bye."

So, at best I talked him out of ever being a musician again. I'm doing both him and the world of music a favor. At worst, he'll sulk and shit-talk, then get another drummer who doesn't mind being put in his place by a no-talent imp, and they'll start winning Grammies.

Unfortunately, I learned something about Nicole - but for just one second pretend you're her. Until 10, you're at work and nowhere near a computer. So, you'll first get this text from me:
"I did it - when are you?"

Now, you get home, log onto Facebook, and see this in your inbox from me:
"I don't know if you'll get this or my text first, but I quit Rumweed. I called Joel, and it was a bit tense, but we both kept our tempers, heads, and wits about us.

Joel did mention he'd been feeling some tension between us for a while. When I told him it had been about a month, he was a little stunned. All I did was lay it out as to why I was quitting, and told him what I'd told you - that it just wasn't fun anymore.

An interesting thing came up, though. I'd told him you were feeling the same way, which once again surprised him only a little bit. What really caught me was that he said he voiced his "paranoia - which turned out to be right" to you. He said you had told him you didn't know what all was going on, other than that "we" (as in, you and Joel) "might need to start looking for another drummer."

Funny, because what you had told me was that you told him to just talk to me about it because you had no idea.

Oops.

Thanks for completely betraying my trust. I came to you as a friend, thinking we had the same feelings about the band and that we both wanted to quit. So much for us working together, unless Joel decided to lie to me at the last minute, but I really doubt that.

Great way to make friends.
Alex"

What I really like is how benevolent it seems at first, so from the inbox, the mini-blurb just seems matter-of-fact. Then you open it and read it.

The text msg I'd sent I had Shelley type for me since I was driving. After sending it, she asked why I would say that knowing what I know. I told her, "It's called playing dumb, not letting someone know what you know." Learned that one from The Godfather.

It just dawned on me this afternoon: this is the first time I've ever really stood up for myself other than to my parents. Ever.

It feels good.
Alex


Ignore the worst camera angles EVER, but this is Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox on bass, and drummer Buddy Miles in their legendary performance as Band Of Gypsys (spelling error intentional). This song is actually not a Hendrix tune, rather one from my recently deceased powerhouse drumming brother Buddy Miles. The song is called "Changes," and the title phrase from the song lends to the title of this blog. Again, shitty visuals, but an EXCEPTIONAL song. Pretty much sums me up at this point.
Also, with a new band already on the horizon, the thought of singing while drumming isn't completely unappetizing. Buddy could do it, and he kicked ASS at it. Why can't I?

3 comments:

m@ said...

Under the threat of being called overly parental, I want to say that I'm proud of you for how you handled this situation--both the situations, in fact.

The cool thing about standing up for yourself is that you're not just helping yourself. I'm honestly happy that you are doing it for you, don't get me wrong. But also, every time you stand your ground, you FORCE people to think and react. You are helping them as well as helping yourself. In Joel's case, you encouraged him to think about how he behaves and even led him to some serious introspection ("maybe i'm more like my dad than i thought"--paraphrase).

Hooray for accidental benevolence. Keep it up.

Shelley said...

I admire you. What you did is something I could absolutely never do. It might have been hard, or at least awkward, but it was something that needed to be done.

Matt is right - you did help him and you've helped others when you confront them.

Keep up the good work! Two Thumbs up! Good job! Nice Going!

Forrest said...

Dude, you handled that so much more professionally than what most would. How did you keep your head cool.