This article originally appears on Boston Band Crush ). We will be posting one set of One Night Band rock per day for the next 8 days!!! One Night Band’s random draw resulted in the great fortune of beginning the night with the very mighty Awesome Chariot!
Set Highlight: The band’s theme: “We Are Awesome Chariot”
Abe Lateiner (Hands and Knees)
Joel Reader (The Fatal Flaw)
Ad Frank (Ad Frank and the Fast Easy Women)
Jen De La Osa (Aloud)
Michael Potvin (DJ Fred Mertz & #1 Dad/Campaign for Real-Time)
The Morning Interviews and Name Picking
We Are Awesome Chariot: One band’s journey in ephemera
by Ad Frank
Part One: Pre-Show
When I was asked to participate in One Night Band, my first thought was that I would say no. This is primarily because I am not proficient in any instrument, so I am guessing that my principal role will be as a writer, and I believe that songwriting is generally something best not done by committee. Also, I can be difficult to work with and I am hesitant to inflict that on four people I don’t know.
But it is such a good idea that I cannot say no, so I vow to make myself behave like a nice man for a day, keep my fingers crossed that my ad hoc bandmates will be able to pick up my musical slack, write “Yes Please,” hesitate, and press reply….
Part Two: Morning
I have not even arrived and already my attitude is bad. The Boston Band Crush people, monstrously, have decided that 10 AM is an appropriate time to ask a bunch of musicians to embark on a major undertaking and, true to form, I have tied one on the night before.
I get to the Middle East and am reassured by the plentitude of familiar, friendly faces and the fact that I am not the only older person in the room. We are assigned band numbers and the room is transformed into a sort of stock exchange trading floor gone sour, with 40 scruffy, unwashed slackers walking around the room holding up fingers and shouting out their numbers.
I immediately find Michael Potvin. This is a great stroke of luck, as I have been a big fan of Michael’s previous band, Fantasy Mirrors, and even asked him to join my band about a year ago (He said “no.”) A nice young man named Abe joins us and says he plays drums.
Jen de la Osa, from Aloud comes over next. I know Jen well enough to say hi to, and her band, Aloud, are very good, but very different from the type of stuff I play (gay pop.) Another stroke of luck, as I know that Jen can sing her ass off and can totally play the guitar.
We are missing one, and a clean-cut looking chap named Joel pops over. I eventually realize that I sort of know him, and have seen his band, the Fatal Flaw, play several times. My one and only direct encounter with him was after their first show when I told him that he would sell more CDs if he didn’t stand so close to his girlfriend (She said, “I’ll leave the two of you alone,” and huffed away.)
I love Joel’s bass lines-and I don’t usually even notice bass lines-and he is a really good singer and songwriter. With two other songwriters who can sing better than I can, my fears that these duties would fall squarely to me are relieved. Michael and Abe also volunteer that they can sing.
As I contemplate this embarrassing amount of good fortune, it occurs to me that it probably isn’t luck at all, as Boston Band Crush has evidently taken very good care to invite good people.
The first challenge is picking a band name. They have given us fifteen minutes to do this, so I have budgeted in my head that it will take fourteen and a half, but Abe immediately says that he has always wanted to be in a band called “Awesome Chariot.”
Part 3: The Cover
We arrive at my space and I immediately declare that if we are going to be called “Awesome Chariot,” we need a song called “We Are Awesome Chariot.” Joel seems incredulous that I have already made a unilateral decision before even plugging in my instrument, but I am pretty sure he is not really annoyed.
Abe, the only unknown (to me) quantity, immediately sets a different concern at ease by saying he is not a writer and views his role a supportive one.
To my horror, the PA has not yet been set up and I don’t really know how to do it, so this takes me until noon. This gives us time to feel each other out and select a cover. Joel is thoughtful enough to have brought his iPod, and without much deliberation or argument, we pick “No Matter What” by Badfinger. I ponder voting it down, even though it’s a great song, because it gets covered a lot, but for One Night Band, it will certainly do.
The room is a lot smaller than usual with an additional set of instruments. I hint that I would prefer that Jen take on the heavy lifting, guitar-wise, and she modestly takes me up on my hint. She grabs the solo on No Matter What, and I grab the signature riff at the beginning and the fun arpeggios at the end. Abe quickly learns the drum part and Michael manages to come up with a keyboard part that works, even though there isn’t one on the recording.
The song is definitely out of my range, so that saves us from any deliberating on which boy will sing it. Joel nails the lead, and Jen is spot-on on the harmony.
Part 4: We Are Awesome Chariot
Now the part we have all been dreading. The first original.
Abe starts playing and Jen quickly comes up with a riff. Joel’s bass part is truly unexpected and amazing. Suddenly I cannot stop myself from singing: We. Are. Awe. Some. Chariot. I am concerned that I am already hogging the first original by appointing myself singer and writer of lyrics (if you can even call them that,) but Joel starts guiding us toward some chord changes on the chorus and Jen grabs a solo, so I am reassured that this is a true collaboration.
I am concerned that Michael may be left out but then realizing he has been thinking, and thinking hard, the whole time. He fills the whole thing in with a really great keyboard part that takes the song up a notch, so that we are no longer four assholes jamming on a Saturday afternoon, but something like…ummmm…a band. All five members are even singing on it.
The lyrics are shaping up to be about a very awesome band that indulges in recreational drugs, spends money with abandon, and has lots and lots of illicit sex, so I ask the band if I can write a Townsend-esque bridge that divulges our sensitive side. I bang out the worst eight measures of horseshit I have ever written in my life and the song is done.
We are Awesome Chariot
We are Awesome Chariot
We’re gonna muff it up
We’re gonna cover up
We’re gonna love you up
We’re gonna love you up
We’ll be at the Marriott
We’ll be at the Marriott
Why don’t you come on up
And let us love you up
Here we are on this chariot ride
Nobody knows we have a sensitive side
We have feelings
We’re Awesome Chariot
Part Five: Going Solo
Joel has proven himself an able taskmaster, writing out song and chord charts so we can remember what the hell we’re doing.
Abe and Michael go to pick us up lunch but give us the okay to keep working. I go to the bathroom for all of ninety seconds, and Jen and Joel already have the second song mostly written-AND, it’s really good. It strikes me as needing a piano more than it needs a second guitar, and I come up with a part I am happy with. Jen and Joel sing great together.
I am a bit sad that I haven’t contributed at all to the writing on this one, especially since the song is turning out so good, but then Jen says she needs to write the lyrics. I suggest that Jen, who plays in a band with and lives with her boyfriend, write a song about a girl who plays in a band with and lives with her boyfriend and then, by some crazy fluke, ends up spending a day playing music with four other guys and it turns out to be the best, most liberating day of her life. Amazingly, she calls me on my joke and does just what I suggested.
The song is called “Going Solo.” Whatever will Henry say?
I am terrified to see that Abe and Michael have brought back an eighteen pack of Miller High Life along with lunch and I can already see the afternoon taking a nosedive. Abe, as expected, picks up the beat pretty easily but I am worried that the Motown feel of the song will be entirely foreign to Michael’s electronic background. Surprisingly enough, his Moog sounds great on it.
Two down. One to go.
(I only know the lyrics to the chorus for this one, and don’t feel comfortable posting them without Jen’s okay.)
Part Six: Love Theme from Awesome Chariot
Everyone is tired now, except Michael who, for whatever reason, is hyper. Abe says he wants to play a song in 12/8 or ¾ and sets into this chaotic beat. Everyone looks troubled, especially Joel. Can we actually come up with something that will fit in with Abe’s depraved madness?
Michael starts playing some chords and we have a direction. Once again, I can’t keep from singing, and I suggest a few more chord changes. I am worried that I am hogging things, but then Joel starts singing something good over the new changes, transforming it into a chorus. Jen comes up with a lead that we label, for purposes of charting out the song, “the Hook.” I come up with a Thin Lizzy style harmony on the Hook, and Jen starts vamping some very cool vocals for the outro.
I ask if Joel wants to write the lyrics and he responds, “Only if I have to,” so I take the verse and he takes the chorus. Michael has correctly surmised that I am not comfortable singing my own melody and asks if he can take it. I have never heard him sing but, this is One Night Band, so why not?
He can sing.
The song is mostly finished, but we only have a half an hour to go over everything and get back to the Middle East. Oh, if we only had one more hour.
Hush hush, Indie Rocker. This is One Night Band.
(Again, this is just my portion. I leave it to Joel and Jen to fill in theirs, though I’m pretty sure Jen made all of hers up on the spot.)
Take a breath
Take a breather
Have a drink
Check your head
Check the window
Come to bed
Kill the light
Kill the bottle
It’s just a fight
Part Seven: Sound Check
The rehearsal space is getting pretty gamy, mostly because of me, so I am hoping for a shower between now and show time. At the Middle East, everyone looks exhausted, but happy. No horror stories to report so far.
Part Eight: Show
Fortunately, I make it back in time for Feedback, a band made up of teenage Zumix participants. This is great, not only because they are very talented and promising musicians putting on a really good show, but it also reminds me why I am doing this: First, to help raise money for Zumix, and second, because I remember that I still am very much the same dorky fifteen-year old who picked up a guitar for the first time in 1981 and wanted nothing more than to rock, and I am still every bit as excited as the kids in Feedback to have the opportunity to play for people, even if it is four songs I don’t know that well with four people I probably will never play with again.
That opportunity comes a bit more quickly than I’d hoped however, as Awesome Chariot are on right after Feedback. This can be good-more time to set up and more time to relax and get drunk afterwards.
The first disaster happens before we start playing. Michael’s Moog has gone rogue. He tries to resuscitate it, but the soundman tells us we have to start, so Michael does what he can on his second keyboard and spends the rest of the time jumping around in his hoodie like a maniac. All in all, I wish his Moog were working, but the jumping around is an acceptable substitute.
Everyone in the audience is smiling. Someone has even made an Awesome Chariot poster. I am suddenly feeling more like I am performing at an elementary school recital than a rock show, but this is okay.
A few more minor disasters-mostly me having no idea where in the song we were and coming in the wrong time. I am really missing Michael’s Moog parts, but such are the pitfalls of live rock.
It is over all too quickly, but Awesome Chariot has met its goal: not to completely suck.
I have fun the whole rest of the night. Seven more impromptu bands and not a clunker among ’em.
Thank you Boston Band Crush for a beautiful day and for my new friends.
Three days later I still have all three Awesome Chariot songs in my head. I think of new parts to make them better when we rehearse next, and then I remember. Parts for new songs come into my head and I say: “Hey Part for a New Song-where were you on Saturday when I needed you?” but then luckily, I still have my own band, and these parts, if they are any good, will surely find their home.
Some people call it One Night Band, but we can call it paradise.