Standing At The Back Of The Stage

Wicasta at Market on 7thWith a week off from the band, I’ve been given reason to think about my options and the way things have been going lately with Systematic Chaos. Our guitar player played a gig last Saturday with the guy who used to be in the band, in the very place where we’ve been trying to get a Saturday slot (this felt somewhat like a betrayal). Our drummer has hooked up with another band, which he claims will not distract from us, but which feels somewhat like someone is looking at other options to me. Of course, I can’t be too critical, since I’m going to be playing some with the Just In Time Band, however much I insist that there won’t be a conflict. Although, having said that, I feel there’s a distinct difference with me playing with the Just In Time Band, because I largely view it as me helping out some friends, not as me fishing about for other opportunities.

In a lot of ways I feel like Systematic Chaos is on life support. Which shouldn’t be much of a surprise, given that we’ve never had a clear direction or purpose. But with three of the four members also entertaining other projects, it doesn’t look promising. Whether it was or not, our last gig felt sort of final. Nothing went well, no one showed up, and none of us were particularly invested. More or less, we felt by the end like we were just trying to get through the night, and we cut short our sets. I went home figuring that might very well have been a fitting last hurrah, since our guitar player was playing a weekend gig in that very place with someone else, and our drummer was auditioning for another band and wanted to take a week off (which I assumed was related).

For my part, unless something fundamentally changes, I don’t see how I’ll ever get what I want creatively out of Systematic Chaos. Our ambitions are too dramatically different. I’m looking to expand my horizons musically, and I want to break new ground. But the other guys seem to sum up their ambitions with “I just want to play”. If they’re happy with just noodling around and playing other people’s songs, we are definitely not on the same page.

So… what do I do?

It seems to me that the logical thing is to stop worrying about Systematic Chaos. If all they want to do is noodle around, that’s fine with me. At least it keeps me in shape. But I can’t stop there. I have too many songs that need to be recorded. And if they aren’t interested in helping me, I need to just do them myself. Given that the recent re-mix of “This Old Dawg” turned out so well, I’m pretty much convinced that doing so is not a real problem.

Here’s the plan. I’m going to stop worrying about Systematic Chaos and being so frustrated by its inertia. I’m going to get down to the long overdue business of recording my songs, with the aim of getting some CDs up on CD Baby and tracks on iTunes. I’m going to work up a solo show on my acoustic 12-string and get into some of the quieter venues with solo gigs, performing both covers and originals. In short, I’m going to stop waiting for all the pieces to line up and start making things happen on my own. I’ve been far too passive for far too long.

I used to think of myself like I was just waiting for the chance to play the role of John Paul Jones to someone else’s Jimmy Page. But I think I’m finally beginning to accept that it’s quite possible that my role is to be the latter rather than the former. While I might prefer to sort of hang back on the stage and be a kick-ass bass player, the unavoidable fact is that I’ve just never ran into anyone who has more musical ambition than I do. Rather than sit around and wait for someone to come along and take the lead for me to follow, maybe I should get off of my ass and make stuff happen on my own.

I mention all this because that’s exactly what I intend to do.

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