We’ve started rehearsals for the third CD. On Friday nights we go to Room C of the Superior Street rehearsal studio and try out new songs for the next CD. The process of recording has become easier for me, but I remember still that first summer that I learned to record. It was last July and August before Brian’s hospitalization. At my insistence we turned the music room into a studio. I made repeated trips to the guitar mega-store and bought huge squares of acoustic foam to tack to the walls, while Brian mail ordered recording software and mastered its intricacies. In July we did our first digital demos of the first Short Punks CD.

I don’t know what I’m doing now, but I really didn’t know what I was doing then.

Brian made the music room a “drum room” and he recorded me playing while he was in the living room with the lap top. We spoke to each other via the mikes and the headphones. I still remember him counting in my ear “One-two-three-four!” This was my cue that the song was going to end and I needed to prepare the ending fills and finish the song. Since he was in the other room and I was in the music room with the door closed for acoustic purposes, I could not see him and the cues he would normally give me to end a song. So, over the guitar which wasn’t being recorded, he would count me in and out of the songs.

This was pure torture to me. I was so new (and still new) to drumming and recording that just ending a song at the right point was (is) a real challenge. And without the visual clues from him it was thought much harder. After the seventh or tenth take, tempers began to flare.

“Let me out.” I said.

“You said you wanted to do another take.”

“I changed my mind.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

I would breathe. Once. Twice.

“Wait…let me try it again.”

” You just said…”

“Never mind. Just let me do it again.”

And I would try it again. Inevitably, once we did ten takes or more, we would listen to all the tracks and realize that the best one was the first one. Meanwhile I was passed out on the couch, sweaty from the stuffy, hot air and frustrated with my incompetence.

The hard thing about being older when I started drumming is that I often gave myself no room to just learn. When I picked up the sticks I wanted to competent at drumming right away. I bemoaned my limitations to my first drum teacher, Ben. He listened and responded sagely, in a way that belied in his twenty odd years of age.

“That’s the nice thing about teaching little kids,” he said. “They don’t care if they sound bad. They just play.”

He paused. “Adults want to sound good right away.”

I thought about that later. It would be better, if I imagined myself at 8 years-old, or perhaps younger, learning how to drum as if nothing depended upon it. That’s when I realized nothing does depend on my drumming either well or badly. Even at a show in a club, the moment of the performance is ephemeral. If I suck on Saturday night, no one will remember. And there will be another Saturday night to try again.

That’s the little bit of wisdom from playing out that I’ve been able to take to recording. And that has made these last rounds or rehearsals and demos for the next CD easier. I just play. If it sucks, we record it again. Let’s just hear it, we say. And see what we’ve got.

Friday we demo-ed five songs. It was okay. A new sound is emerging. We don’t know what it is, but we like what we hear.

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