Bands are ticking time bombs. The reason is simple; the ingredients! Start with four or five people who all have an opinion on what they would like to accomplish musically. Then add in their egos, a dash of bravado, a smidge of God complex and mix it in a bowl of narcissism and what do you end up with? Every rock ‘n roll band ever created!
There is no way around the truth; bands are a recipe for disaster! The second a band is formed, set the detonator and get out of the blast zone. It is the only way to survive the wreckage.
When I joined OTG, the pin had already been pulled. I didn’t know it at the time but when the grenade finally exploded, it left a massive crater in its wake. It took almost two weeks to sort out the collateral damage but when the dust had finally settled, we decided to trudge on with some new band members.
And for a while we were doing well. We added a new guitarist and started rehearsing with the goal of playing the local bar circuit by the middle of April. Unfortunately, the original time bomb had a delayed fuse for a second detonation that was lurking behind the scenes. And as we rolled into St. Patrick’s Day, it exploded once again!
And when OTG self-destructed a second time, I was angry. I felt like I had just wasted four months of my life. Working on lyrics for the band and going to rehearsal on weekends took time away from my family. I felt disrespected.
It took a few days for me to let the anger go and to realize that our second implosion wasn’t anybody’s fault. We all had a hand in the problems; myself included! We all had different opinions about the direction we should have been taking and we didn’t communicate our thoughts to one another very well. So when the pressure finally built to a point of no return, the eruption left the band buried in a deep volcanic ash so thick that there were few survivors. We all said things we wish we could have taken back but we couldn’t. Time was the only element that would salvage the friendships.
I, on the other hand, reluctantly returned to the studio to audition a couple of new guitarists a few days later. As I drove to rehearsal, my heart wasn’t into moving forward anymore. After two large destructive blasts in the span of four months, I was thinking it was time to look elsewhere for a new musical outlet. There had to be a band out there that was focused on the same goals that I had been working hard to attain. There had to be…
…But I owed the members of OTG who had survived the detonations as well. Maybe it was a form of shell shock and maybe I was going through the motions but when I walked into rehearsal a couple of weeks ago, I did it more for them than for myself. That sentiment changed when the latest guitarist we auditioned burned up the fret board. It was a productive day and by the end of the afternoon, we had agreed that OTG would play a local benefit to aid the victims of the Tsunami in Japan.
We created a set list for the benefit and we all went home to practice. When we returned a week later to rehearse, we were missing someone vital to our success. Our lead guitarist didn’t show up. When we finally tracked him down, he reluctantly had to quit the band for personal reasons… BOOM!
As that Saturday afternoon rolled into Sunday, it looked like our appearance at the benefit, as well OTG in general, was doomed! But our bass player had a stroke of genius. He contacted the founding members and inquired about the possibility of a one night reunion concert for the benefit. After the gig, OTG would call it quits once and for all.
After a series of swapped texts, all four founding members agreed to play the benefit. I was on board as well. We hadn’t played together for months and had no time to rehearse before last Saturday night, but we decided to play the benefit anyway. It was for a great cause!
When I woke up last Saturday morning, my voice was shot. I started to develop the cold my kids had shared with me. I chugged down a lot of lemon tea, a few shots of lemon juice, spoke very little throughout the course of the day and canceled every activity until it was time to head out to the gig. I arrived at the Korner Pocket a little before 5:00pm and prayed that my voice would hold up through our 6:00pm time slot.
That is when I learned that the schedule had been disrupted. Our new slot was some time after 7:00pm and as the afternoon wore on, I did everything to keep my voice rested. But as the members of OTG waited to take the stage, the old camaraderie and the hijinks started. The fraternity of the band was as strong as ever. We genuinely all like each other but for one reason or another, we hadn’t been able to resolve our musical differences in the studio. And that is the most common story in rock’n roll. It happens all the time. The ironic part is that it happens in all aspects of life, not just with musical groups.
So as 7:00pm rolled around, we started moving our equipment onto the makeshift stage. This was it! For better or worse, five guys who hadn’t played together in months were about to turn up the amps, crank out a set of tunes and do our best to light a fire under the crowd in the tavern.
And that is exactly what happened! In a room full of musicians, promoters and fans of other local bands, OTG got the crowd jumping. By the time we slowed the music down to play “Pink Houses,” we were reeling in the crowd and when we finished “Messin’ With The Kid” and moved into “Soul Shine,” we had the crowd eating out of the palms of our hands. It was the perfect set, the perfect crowd and the perfect night to close out everything OTG had done over the past four years.
Did we make mistakes? Yes. Mine were apparent and I owned every single one of them. First rule of music is that if you make a mistake, act like it was a planned part of the set. And I did that and in the process did my part to entertain the crowd. Other mistakes were much more subtle and although the band knew what they were, the crowd didn’t. And that is exactly how it is supposed to be!
Everyone in that room during our set last Saturday night had a great time! OTG blew the roof off of the Korner Pocket and proved that when it came down to playing music; the founders of the band were as professional on the last day of the band’s existence as they had been on the first day they formed the group.
The added benefit to this concert was that my wife and children were in attendance! They were able to see that the hard work I had put into OTG had paid off. My family was extremely impressed and they weren’t the only people who thought we had done a great job. The local promoter (who had organized the benefit) told me that “OTG should stay together and get out on the circuit because we had a great sound!”
And the accolades have continued over the past couple of days.
It has been an honor and a privilege to sing with OTG. Martin, Greg, Phil and Jody are extremely talented musicians and although we are all undertaking new projects, I can definitely see a benefit in the future where we might reunite to have a little fun and to raise money for a worthy cause. But until then, I wish them all the best of luck in whatever avenues they pursue in the future.
These are a few videos that other people took last weekend.
Gimme Three Steps: