I’ve been in a ton of bands and one thing absolutely never changes: the ‘hang’ is 80% of the gig. What I mean by that is a sense of team, that personal fondness, a certain degree of commonality, and genuine friendship are the linchpins in any successful band. Of course, we can all name a dozen bands with warring members that hate each other, but don’t get it twisted…at some point early on, they were the closest of friends.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that relationship has a direct impact on the overall productivity of a band. Not surprisingly, just about every band I’ve had the pleasure of being in has been quite productive. Modern Bronze is no different…which is what I thought at first.
Everything moved quickly, even from the start. The band name, the logo, the website, the photoshoot were all done and the writing was WELL underway within the first few WEEKS. We did a record before we played a show. Then a bunch of shows came while we wrote more music. Before we knew it, we’d finished making our second record and had only been a band for 18 months. That is productive. And honestly, that is what I had grown accustomed to. My previous band did 3 records, an EP along with tons of local & regional shows and a documentary series inside my 4 years with them. The band before that did 2 U.S. tours, released 3 records, a live DVD, we ran our own venue, and on and on. My intention isn’t to toot my own horn; I’m just making a point. I’m used to being productive and I’ve noticed that I generally do so as a result of some amazing friendships. Thanks to Modern Bronze, now I’m beginning to realize that can actually work in reverse too.
As you know, we’ve recently parted ways with our original guitar player, weathered the tricky audition process, and welcomed Fred, our new member. Now is typically the time for tiptoeing. It’s early, so you make small talk, learn about each other, explore musical tendencies, begin to grow friendships – but everyone has their guard up, so everything is calculated. Notice, I said ‘typically’ and I’m about to use it again. From Thanksgiving to New Years bands typically throttle back a bit, unless they’re one of the fortuitous bunch cashing in on a big NYE gig. Well, I’m here to tell you Modern Bronze is anything but typical.
The conversation between the 4 of us comes easy. Outside rehearsal the emails and texts flow while shared Dropbox folders swell with music. Favorite movie quotes fly around. We laugh. Musically, we can’t keep up with ourselves. Rehearsals overflow with keeping ‘old’ material polished, working out a half-dozen new ideas, and spontaneously jamming to birth another half-dozen. Seriously, there aren’t enough hours in the day! The desire to be together, writing, playing, chatting, laughing and occasionally drinking is obvious. Nothing is calculated. There is no tiptoeing. Fred walked into his first rehearsal and made suggestions about song arrangements, which is basically like calling your shot and hitting a homerun your first time up to the plate. Nothing is forced. Nobody’s guard is up. During the holidays we missed a rehearsal or two for the usual family holiday stuff only to see our productivity INCREASE! In her alone time, what did Christina do? Oh, nothing much…just wrote lyrics for AN ENTIRE CONCEPT ALBUM. I’ve never witnessed that. What did Adam do in his alone time? He rebranded our band, then overhauled and launched our new website. What did Fred do? He uploaded an additional dozen song ideas into Dropbox, wrote a piece around a drum groove I wrote a year ago, then wrote two more based on some of Christina’s new lyrics. Uh, he’s been in the band for about a month…which again, is something I’ve never witnessed. As for me, I half-heartedly planned to revisit my piano and said that aloud to a few people. Call it a silly New Year’s resolution or whatever, but I was interested in piano being a part of my life again. You may not have known that I was a classically trained pianist as a kid, long before I ever started hitting stuff. Well, one afternoon sometime after Christmas yielded a phone recording of me stumbling through 3 decades-old ideas on my piano in my living room. I wasn’t impressed, but in the spirit of productivity I convinced myself to share them with my bandmates. I sent the email and was truly shocked by everyone’s immediate, positive responses. So there you have it. Our individual productivity during this typically sluggish time has unexpectedly galvanized our friendships and absolutely fortified our foundation as a band. I suppose it’s just classic chemistry, really. ;)