Last night we had a “play everything” Filmstar rehearsal for tomorrow’s free show at Fergies with Cris Valkyria and the Opponents.
I joke that I love playing bass because only having to worry about one string at a time gives me plenty of time for choreography. It isn’t entirely a joke. When I am playing lead guitar or singing lead while playing rhythm I have no room for other thought. There’s not much room for mindfulness of how I’m standing or if I need to tighten up a rhythm or a change.
Playing bass leaves room for those thoughts. I can actually improve at every rehearsal, instead of simply maintaining.
It seems as though Glenn brings his new songs in pairs. The last pair, “Weight of the World” and “Silence Kills” were both incredible songs that I was lucky to get in on early. As a result, my bass lines are a big part of the backbone of each song, in some cases intertwining with Glenn’s guitar lines or Zina’s rhythms.
His new pair, “She’s Gone Home” and “The Hours In Between” are just as genius, but different. I don’t know if it’s that Glenn was farther along in his process, or that I hear them as more of a gestalt. Either way, I could tell immediately it wasn’t my job to act melodically or contrapuntally on these two.
Sometimes bass must be the basis.
“She’s Gone Home” clicked for me first. One of the first times he played it for us he remarked that it was slightly patterned after “She’s Leaving Home,” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Between rehearsals I listened to the album (never a chore), and realized a driving rhythm that matched Glenn wasn’t the right thing for the song. It would make it too heavy.
When we reconvened I had a neck-striding walking bass line. Glenn’s eyes lit – it sounded like it would fit perfectly with a riff he was working on.
“Hours In Between” is something else entirely. Try as I might, I cannot seem to pin down what it wants from me. I have some of the elements in place – a heartbeat pulse of bass on the verse, a quick hammer on the chorus, scales at the close. Yet, there’s something about its personality that I’m having trouble with. It goes from gray regret to wistfully sunny, and I need to be the ground beneath E as she sings us through the journey.
I’ll figure it out eventually. “Millionaires” used to be my least favorite Filmstar song, both to hear and to play, and now it seems like it might become the lead single from our next EP. How long did it take to figure it out? About nine months. We kept playing it during that time, of course, but I knew that it wasn’t right. One day it just clicked. Now I love the whole mess of it, a sweaty disco protest song.
I know the personalities of these songs better than mine or Gina’s.
As it turns out, not all my spare mindfulness is spent on choreography.