I am sitting alone on the step in the small front hallway of my house, playing guitar.
A cage of microphones, stands, and cables surround my body in such a way that I can’t turn or stretch. If I drop a pick it’s lost to me. I just grab another from the tin sitting beside me and keep playing.
Gina, Zina, and Jake are less than 25 feet away – I know, because that is how long the 1/4” cable plugged into my guitar stretches. I can’t see them. We have erected a wall of cardboard boxes in the door frame that leads from our hall into the living room. Gina and I puzzled it together on Saturday while she hummed the theme to Tetris.
I can hear them. Only faintly through the boxes, but loud and clear over my massive, ear-cupping headphones. Gina chirps in a variety of accents through her control room mic, keeping me informed of the action in the other room and singing my songs on my behalf. Jake and Zina communicate via their instruments.
Every track I have ever released has been engineered, mixed, and produced by me. That means any time you have listened to me as a performer I was also busy thinking about a lot of other things, like if the mics are placed correctly or if the bridge is going to clip.
I can’t do that from this side of my wall of boxes. The control room is 25 feet away. Gina and Jake are the ones engineering my songs, and Zina is driving them. My only job is to sit on this step and play guitar the best I know how.
It was hard during my first song. I was still barking commands and telling Gina just how to cue each track. That did not last for long. It didn’t need to. If I can put my musical life in Gina’s hands, then who else can I trust?
That’s the word I keep coming back to in my tiny guitar room, stare fixed on the sideways logos on cardboard boxes as Gina cues up another track. Trust. I don’t know if I ever understood rock bands before now. I liked them and obsessed over every detail of their album credits, but I don’t know if I understood them.
Now, in my little box, I understand.
Rock bands are about trust. Every note, every rhythm and chord, is another blind fall. If you cannot trust the rest of the band to catch you it will never ring true.
I am ready to plummet through another take.