Waiting outside Glenn’s factory rehearsal space, the sounds of derivative grind core bands fall out the second floor windows like sunlight, just as bland.
First to arrive is drummer Scott “Candy” Fletcher. He doesn’t see me as I hold open the doors for him and his gear. He is concentrating. He resembles that hard prayer you see in the photographs of Pope Jean-Paul II, leaning on his staff, willing kindness and mercy onto a world of 5 billion sinners. It occurs to me that my notes are few regarding DP’s killer drummer. He may be the best musician in the band. He is tattooed on the forearms and wears exclusively black. I will have to arrange a Q&A session with him soon. I will let some time pass, though. The memory of my disastrous interview with Nidhan (see previous post), the new bassist, has hopefully dissipated over the past couple of weeks. My journalism training kicks in reflexively and I call back to him as he almost disappears around a hallway corner: “Hey, Candy! How long you been kicking ass on the drums?” a simple flattering question designed to ease my way into a future interview. “Down this hall, second door on the right,” he replies. That’s the communal toilet he’s referring to. Such concentration. Oh well, next time.
Singer JC Penny arrives next. He comes to me directly.
JC: “Alex, wh-?”
AM (me): “Good. I’m fine. How are you? Oh, sorry, what?”
Crap. Also, I could tell right away that the events of my conniption interview with new DP bassist have not dissipated as much as I’d like.
JC: “Listen, Alex, the thing that happened with you and Nidhan, I think that-”
AM: “Jay, I am really sorry and embarrassed. I had a condition when I was a kid. I wasn’t a strong child and I used to hyperventilate all the time. It’s never happened to me as an-”
JC: “Alex, we need to change-”
NG: “WHAT’S HE DOING HERE!?”
It was Nidhan, the new DP bassist. He was standing 12 feet away from JC Penny and I, pointing at me with a deep fire in his eyes. I could feel my lungs starting to seize. I immediately bit my tongue for a first taste of blood and kept my eyes down. It was working. I could feel my childhood blanket again on my legs and began to relax. Penny was talking to me now and I struggled to keep a controlled appearance. I urinated a bit in my pants.
JC: “..until we get comfortable again, okay?” I had missed what Penny said but I was in no condition to ask for clarification.
AM: “Okay, no problem.”
That was the easy way out and probably saved my gig with these rock and roll geniuses. I quickly found out what it was that Penny said, however: as soon as all the members had arrived I was lead to a little wooden school chair outside the space in the hallway. Louie said “just be cool from here on and Nidhan’ll get more settled into the band, then we’ll see about letting you back in.” He handed me a beer and a smile and shut the door behind him. I was expelled from the rehearsal space.
Fury filled my head, and self-hate. “I am a journalist, a graduate of the Ryerson school of Journalism. No, I cannot accept this! It’s bullshit! I am a professional!” Was the self-respecting voice. “A professional would not have hyperventillated during an interview. A five year old would have given a better interview. Fuck, fuck, fuck..” was the other. This chewed on my insides for a while until Dirty Penny started and I recognised Hot Cocoa immediately through the concrete wall. They haven’t played this one live in a long time. Being acquainted with their practice patterns, this definitely means they’ll be playing it at the Horseshoe wednesday. I tipped my seating position back and stuck my ear to the wall and listened, making the best of the situation, letting the music distract me from my professional disgrace.
A bunch of rocker kids, obviously a metal band, lumbered by with nine thousand pounds of gear. They we’re all smiling at me as they walked by. “Hey, rock and roll, man,” one said. This cheered me a little and l raised my beer and took a swig, smiling back. A little comaraderie here in the lower intestine of rock and roll.. The swig went down and they were well passed me but still looking back curiously. I was missing something. Then it hit me. The beer had an extra flavour. I wiped my mouth with my hand and looked. It was blood. Rock and roll, indeed. I went to the bathroom. It was locked so I knocked. Then I remembered: It’s always locked. It’s like that here. Each tenant has a key. Glenn has a key. I waited until I was sure the rocker kids had left the building and then began to cry.