Wednesday, December 30, 2009

on music, being doomed, and the chance to start house fires

Out of my many obsessions (beer, popcorn, killing zombies), one to which I've always felt strongly connected was music. If I could be anything when I grow up, it would still, to this day, be a rock star...or at least a professional musician. I think I definitely have the mind for music, and lately, I've become convinced I also have the skills. For the first time in ages, I'm in a band that practices regularly, has gigs potentially lined up, and is playing songs that I would, if not in the band, listen to and enjoy.

However, there are issues. There are a few of the standard band issues; while this is going more smoothly than any other musical collaboration from my past, we still get into an occasional (yet tremendously polite) "this doesn't sound like a chorus to me," followed by "well, what should a chorus sound like?" debate. These are of no real worry for me, though. I am nothing if not adaptable.

What concerns me? The same things as usual: my own dumb luck and the conspiring hand of fate.

When we last discussed musical matters, I was still missing my distortion pedal, and my amp had just blown up. Well, the pedal came in, and, after two months (due to a backordered part), my amp was finally repaired. Together, they sounded great. One band practice, though, I decided to add my wah wah pedal to the setup, and I realized that whenever I moved (usually while pulling Rock Star Pose #24), both pedals followed, skidding across the floor, cords becoming tangled. When I bought a cheap digital delay at an after-Thanksgiving sale, the problem got worse, and I felt like I was leading a tangle of spaghetti on a walk.

I decided that having a row of pedals meant that I had to mount them onto a pedal board of some sort...that is, if I wanted to maintain any credibility as a musician. After all, if you're not going to have a neat pedal board, what separates you from the hoard of frat boys playing Guitar Hero? And I decided that rather than buy a pedal board, I would, driven equally by my innate cheapness and my need to assert at least a shred of traditional masculinity, instead build my own.

This actually went fairly well. Although I was utterly flabbergasted by the cost of professional-strength velcro, I quickly procured all the parts at my area hardware chain conglomerate. For the cost of a Corner Grill lunch, I conned a friend into breaking out some power tools and helping me assemble the final piece. And several days later, I managed to even hide all the cables (after riddling the top of the board with 368 holes).

Then, at our last band practice before Xmas, my channel switch quit working. Okay, I can do that one manually. Then I tried out the wah wah, and it started to cut out the volume of my entire rig. Sigh.

I decided, again in a fit of DIY/I'm too cheap to hire a professional/please let me feel like a man just this one time, to fix everything myself. I bought a soldering gun, and I decided to repair the channel select footswitch first. Before I could add a jack to the thing, though, I needed to remove the old wires from the actual switch. I heated up my soldering gun and dove into the task at hand. Of course, rather than simply remove some solder, I accidentally melted the switch.

However, if 39 unsuccessful years on the job market have taught me one thing, it's to never give up. After I finish with my current project, I will teach myself to solder. I will learn how to hook up wires to a switch! I will gain the skills to mod my new phaser pedal! I will build my own ring modulator! The masses of musicians will bow down before me! And it will all come to pass through the simple tool of a soldering gun!!!!!

Either that, or I'll burn the house down.

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