No vagina music!

Those were the very words that V, our bass player, uttered  shortly after we got together for our first loud band practice.

Ladies Rock Camp can be a very heady thing. It's liberating, it's exhilarating, and it's very female. There are always going to be songs written about being empowered women and breaking out of our shells and things like that. So V stated her strong preference right up front. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with J, our guitarist, saying that she liked the Indigo Girls.

I've been writing songs since I was 16. But this was my first time going through a completely collaborative process, both forming the band and writing our song. Sometimes one of the band members will have at least the start of a song, some lyrics perhaps. But we started from scratch, with a bass player and a drummer (me) just beginning to learn, a guitarist who normally plays classical guitar, and a vocalist who had never rocked out. We had all gathered under the banner "folk rock," but we weren't taking that seriously. Still, we had to figure out the direction each of us wanted to go—and hope we could find one we could all agree on!

J strummed a few guitar chords. M, our singer, came up with "I'm not a hearts and flowers kind of girl." See, girls rock camps tend to have at least a few Daisy Rock guitars around. Daisy Rock makes guitars and basses specifically for girls, and stereotypical ones at that: glittery, pink or silver or purple, and sometimes in non-standard shapes. V was playing a pink heart-shaped bass. J was playing a pink flower-shaped guitar. My drums were pink, although that just happened (we were assigned the practice room). Thus, M's initial rebellion. I think a few more lines came out. But horror of horrors, it was turning into a country song. A vagina country song! V can't stand country music, and I didn't want to play it either.

I can't remember if we started fixing that at the end of loud band practice or the beginning of quiet band practice, but soon the song had morphed into something more like a rock song. And the hearts and flowers had become a reference to being in hospital. I'm pretty sure it was M who came up with the first line of the chorus: "I'm a rebel in the I.C.U.," to which I replied, "Fuckin' unplug me because I'm through." New lines and rhymes flew fast and furious during quiet practice. By the end of practice, "Rebel in the I.C.U." had become the story of someone who was sick of being condescended to by medical people and wanted out.

So we had the lyrics, but not really a tune yet. We worked on that in our next loud practice on the following day. The band wanted to start off slow and get faster, so the first verse was very slow, followed by my stick click to go into the rock section. We had phrasing problems. We had timing problems. We were getting there, but slowly. And then we had to put it on stage for staff and fellow campers! We were not ready. We did our best, but we basically crashed and burned. After supper, feeling kind of low, we went back into our rehearsal room.

But V and J had a brilliant idea. Part of the problem was that we'd written some lines that needed to be twisted a little so they would fit. M was unsure of phrasing and so were V and J. So V and J "did the math," as I joked, and worked out exactly where the changes happened and how long each phrase was, separate from the lyrics. That freed M up to figure out how the lyrics fit. I did a lot of kibbitzing about how the lines might work with the music. Before long, we had a real song, not the thing we had played on stage a few hours before.

I had to remember during all of this that I was the drummer, not the guitarist, not the bass player. And I wanted to participate from where I sat and allow others to have their own input. And I did! I don't know if I could have done that a few years ago. I'm pretty headstrong. But despite the heat rising a bit at times, which is pretty much unavoidable in a situation like this, we cooperated really well. None of us ever stormed out of the room! We each brought our strengths, and the result was a real, albeit short-lived, band.

During quiet practice the next day, we did the song over and over "unplugged." That was probably a good thing for all of us being able to hear exactly what was going on. Then we had our final loud practice. We were still struggling with bits here and there. Band coaches floated in to give advice and support, as they had done all weekend. This time, they were especially good at pushing us to the finish. And instrument coaches popped in as well, to help our bass player get comfortable with her part, to help our vocalist get the volume she wanted without hurting herself. The staff at camp were just outstanding!

I felt great as M-Bedded took the stage at the legendary Satyricon on Sunday afternoon, right after Slutty Black Dress and just before Ghlam. Naturally, I forgot my earplugs. The monitor was loud! But no time to adjust. J strummed the first chord. M sang the first line. I started the slow beat, with cymbals fills just as V came in on bass. And then, four clicks and we were off on the rock part.

I don't know how it sounded. I'll have to wait for the official iTune, because we didn't have anyone recording or shooting video, as some of the bands did. I know I messed up some fills. Maybe something in front of me got messed up. But I think it probably rocked. I know we were loud! I've seen a lot of still photos—J concentrating, V looking properly cool as a bass player should, M looking every inch the star that she is, and me grinning like a maniac behind the drums, not being cool at all.

So let's see...a song about being condescended to by the medical system and rebelling against it. Yikes, maybe this was vagina music after all! Vagina music that kicked ass!


meeshiefeet said...

M-Bedded TOTALLY rocked it! I can't wait for the recording.

NessNixAnthony said...

You crack me up! LOL