international librarian of mystery

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's the vibe

I spent the entire day rehearsing the basslines for my audition with Bertel's band (which, for the purpose of this blog, will hereafter be known as Hamlet).

The band have been holed up in a studio apartment downtown (Bertel and I have spent a couple of nights at a hotel around the corner, to try and get a bit of privacy, but it would seem the cost of privacy in this city is fairly exorbitant), so I spent the day there with Bertel and Axel (the guitar player), going over the songs.

After dinner we headed off to the rehearsal room to play through the songs with the full band.

It's a bit tricky to describe the music of Hamlet without giving too much away, suffice to say it isn't technically difficult to play, but does rely on all the players being in tune (and not just the musical sense) with each other...

"It's all," explained Axel, "about the sonics. The ambience. The shifts and swirls and eddies. It's the vibe. Yes?"
"Yes," I agreed, as I pondered just what the first note of the song we were about to play was, and realised that I shouldn't have done all my practicing sitting down, as now, standing up in a semi-circle with the rest of the boys, I suddenly realised how heavy the damned bass was on my shoulder, and how much trickier it was going to be watching just where my fingers were going from an upright position.

As I pondered my posture, Jakob the drummer clicked us into the first song, and we were away.

Tell you what, if you think modern rock concerts are loud, try standing next to a Scandinavian rock drummer going at full throttle in a small rehearsal room. I could barely hear myself (which was probably for the best) over the splash and crack of his cymbals and snare. The accompanying waves of distorted guitar noise emanating from Axel and Arkin's amps were just about powerful enough to knock me off my feet. It was great.

We played through the set-list from start to finish, only pulling up a couple of times in some of the more free-form sections where I totally blanked out on what I should be doing.

"You have lost the vibe Natalie? Yes?"
"Err, yes."

Still, they were minor things, and Jakob was great, giving me all sorts of visual cues with the subtle raise of an eyebrow or not-so-subtle pointing of a drum-stick. Bertel, hand encased in plaster and sitting in an armchair in the corner of the room kept nodding his encouragement my way. The only person who didn't seem particularly enthused by my performance was Nils, the manager, but I've yet to see him enthused by anything other than the World Rally Champs, so that wasn't too disheartening.

After finishing the set, we stopped for a team-talk, and all the boys were suitably complimentary of my playing. The vibe, apparently, was feeling pretty good.

"We do it again, for real this time," said Nils.

And we did. Nils and Bertel made it a bit harder for me this time by dimming (and even turning off entirely) the lights at various stages of each song to emulate a live light show. Bertel even played the part of a drunken fan, and shouted a few rude things at me between songs to try and put me off, but I got through the entire second set without a major mishap (which is more than can be said for both Axel and Arkin, who both played a couple of terrific clangers when the lights went out).

At the end of the second set, Nils nodded. "Yes," he said, "that was good. Guys, I would like to propose a vote. All those in favour of Natalie being our temporary bass-player while the violent and valiant Bertel's hand mends, please say 'aye'."
"Aye!" shouted all the boys.

My shoulder ached from the weight of the guitar, and my ears were ringing from the onslaught of noise, but my physical woes were put aside as I flushed with delight and excitement at my promotion from band groupie to band member.

I'm going to play a gig! This weekend!